Thursday, December 11, 2014

On mirrors and self-esteem

Wanna know something funny? Well, ok, mostly sad. In our new apartment, we have more mirrors than in our last. Our last one only had two, one over each bathroom. Nothing full-length, which, for a while, I hated. I hated that I couldn't assess my entire outfit before going out. How frustrating that I couldn't see myself how others saw me! How could I possibly know what kind of confidence I should exude if I didn't know how I looked? 

But after a few months, I cared less and less. Certainly never enough to buy a cheap one at the store. On some level, I think I knew it was good for me.  Finally, I realized that when I simply chose clothes I liked, I looked good! I was happy! Because I stopped trying to see myself how everyone else did and focused just on how I felt. It was so liberating, and I didn't even recognize it until we moved in to our new apartment. 

Now we only have one bathroom, but its mirrors span the continents. Seriously, look:

Isn't that huge?? And awesome?? And also - it's right across from our kitchen. So if the bathroom door is open, anytime I walk through the kitchen (which is a lot), I see myself. And in just the few days since we've been here, I've already gotten more self-conscious. "Have my hips always been this wide?" "Why does my tummy stick out like this?" "Ugh why didn't I do my hair today I look so unkempt."

Hey, sister. 

CUT IT OUT. 

I'm talking to me, and to you too. Because I know we all have those thoughts. And it's ridiculous. 

Because I can move 20 feet to the right and be in my daughters' bedroom, where the largest closet I've ever had is, and it's covered by two sliding, mirrored doors. And when I look in those, wanna know what I see?

I see a beautiful mother, playing with her children, having so much fun basking in their adoration that I don't have time to look at what fat should go where. I honestly don't even look in that mirror much, because I'm either playing or putting kids to bed and I really don't have time to be so selfish as to think the way my beautiful body looks is of any importance at all. Plus, they don't care. They care that I'm present, that I try to be kind and good. Isn't that what most of us care about anyway? It's just so easy to get caught up in these petty comparisons that don't *really* matter. 

I'm not so stupid as to curse my body when I'm down, but I'm not yet smart enough to bless it when I'm neutral, so here goes:

I have awesome hair. And for that matter: I HAVE HAIR!! Something I was insanely insecure about on chemo. I have functional hands, which let me cook, which I'm really loving learning how to do. Those hands also let me tickle my kids, joyful to all of us. 

I have hips that are, thankfully, wide enough to hold children. I have a tummy that holds all sorts!! of delicious foods, including Peanut Butter M&Ms, and my life would be empty without them. I have eyes that let me see all this, that let me study the word of God and see my gorgeous husband and beautiful in-every-sense-of-the-word kids. I have pretty nails. I have a really cool birthmark on my right leg that sets me apart and I love it.

I am beautiful. What I'd love to see is people loving themselves more, for exactly who they are and what they want to be. We're all trying for something and I wish we enjoyed the process more, not just the destination. It's ok to mess up. It's ok to backtrack or take breaks. And it's ok to appreciate others for their flaws and strengths. It doesn't make us any less awesome to see someone else succeed. Sometimes, with love, I think it can make us want to succeed more. 

So tell me. What do YOU love about YOURSELF? Spare no detail ;)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A lil' update

I sent this as an email to my family and I like the way it turned out, so I decided to share it as an update of things I might not have mentioned on FB or Instagram.

It's fall so Texas is cooling down A TON. It's only been in the 80's here for the last couple weeks so I expect I'll see people start breaking out their parkas soon. (no joke. Saw tons of them last winter in 50 degree weather. PARKAS!) But it is a pretty cool time of year here - the birds are migrating which means hundreds and hundreds of them all convene at dusk, usually around grocery store parking lots, and all you can hear is the squawking of just tons of birds. I haven't seen this end of it yet but I remember last year they were all around for at least a month. It's pretty cool, just don't walk under the trees or power lines because the bird poop starts to pile up ;)

Chris is running a Ragnar race this weekend. He's on a team of 8 people and it's a relay with three legs, so they each run a leg of 3, 5 and 7 miles and it's the team that finishes all three is the winner! It's close to San Antonio and it's an overnight thing so we'll be camping out in "the mountains" (they told him to practice running at elevation. it's like 200ft above sea level.) with the girls Friday night. Wish me luck! Oh and Chris too.

Ariana is trying to learn more words and how to be polite and McKenna is trying to walk before she can crawl. She scoots a lot and now lifts herself to standing on things. Her palate is growing quite refined; I'm feeding her mashed up adult foods which she supplements with paper and plastic she finds on the floor.

Well anyway. I wrote this to procrastinate a workout so I'd better get to it. (I started a 12-week program with a friend and whoever skips a day first owes the other one a new workout outfit. Is that a thing? I've never bought clothes specifically to work out in, and she's got classy style so I gotta win!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

You just gotta be ready

I've been interested recently in reading some of the antichrist stories in the Book of Mormon. I understand the way things work now, with people distorting the truth in our day, but I wonder what it was like for people thousands of years ago, plus it's kinda fun looking at it from an outsiders perspective. Sometimes it helps you learn more.

So I was reading in Jacob 7 about Sherem. Sherem came about when Nephi and his family came to the Americas, and it's Jacob, Nephi's brother, who gets involved with him. As I read this account this time, I realized that the people of Nephi must have been a small group - still immediate and just barely extended family. So maybe there were only dozens of people? I mean, I can't imagine there were over a hundred, especially with Laman and Lemuel branching off on their own. Anyway, Sherem contends with Jacob, Jacob, the prophet, wins (shocking), the people that Sherem led astray were brought back and "hearkened no more unto the words of this wicked man" (v. 23).

THEN the scriptures say that the people were motivated to "reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth," (v.24) meaning they wanted to convert them/do missionary work, but verse 24 goes on to say, "but it all was vain, for they delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually."

and verse 25: "Wherefore the people of Nephi did fortify against them with their arms, and with all their might, trusting in the God and rock of their salvation; wherefore, they became, as yet, conquerors of their enemies."

Reading that before, I took the meaning to be that the people of Nephi were prepared in case something happened - they would be ready to go! And just by being ready, they were conquerors of their enemies. Now, typing it out, I can see that there still could have been altercations and it wasn't simply their preparedness but their might that saved them. But even still - what good is our might without readiness? It just struck me, the importance of being prepared, both physically and spiritually. I'm sure the Lamanites didn't send out memos when they were coming to attack; neither does Satan warn us when he will attack us spiritually. Under this light, being ready takes high priority. When we have the gospel in our hearts, or faith in our actions, we can stand up to whatever comes our way.

I'd love to hear any thought anyone has in response to this! I'll try to reply too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Burnt offerings

So I've started reading the Old Testament, but I started in Exodus after reading the Red Tent and it piquing my interest in old religion-y type things. So I guess I actually started in late Genesis but Moses is pretty interesting so I just kept going!

And I studied the OT for a year in high school in seminary, but let's be honest. It was 6AM and while I had great teachers, I don't have great recall for early mornings so it's been good getting back into it - with my trusty sidekick, the Old Testament Student Manual!

So yesterday I started Leviticus and it's talking about offerings, right? And so far, the manual has laid out the law of Moses to be one of love, rather than an oppressive law as some people (myself included) have viewed it. (Getting into that is interesting but not why I'm writing this.) It says that when burnt offerings are offered (did you know there are different types of offerings? Totally forgot), they are given because the work of getting the fatlings...here, let me just quote from the book:

" 'In the clean animals, which he had obtained by his own training and care, and which constituted his ordinary live-stock, and in the produce obtained through the labour of his hands in the field and vineyard, from which he derived his ordinary support, the Israelite offered...the food which he procured in the exercise of his God-appointed calling, as a symbol of the spiritual food which endureth unto everlasting life [see John 6:27, 4:34], and which nourishes both soul and body for imperishable life in fellowship with God....In this way the sacrificial gifts acquire a representative character, and denote the self-surrender of a man, with all his labour and productions, to God.' This offering was to be 'voluntary' (Leviticus 1:3). It was not forced, but served as a free expression of gratitude on the part of the individual. Anything less would violate a basic principle of free will offerings (see Moroni 7:6-10)." (before this it also says they have to be clean as the Lord defines it AND from domesticated flocks, so nothing wild.)

As I was reading that, I was picturing an Israelite man, carrying the first of his flock. The fattest, the oldest, the most perfect of the animals that he, himself, had raised. I saw him differently than before: here was a man whose life as a shepherd (as I create a fictional Biblical character, he had wavy brown hair and a beard. Original) was completely devoted to these animals. He helped birth them - probably their parents and grandparents, too - helped feed them, guide and nurture them, and, as we know from John 10:3, he probably knew it by name.

Wow! Can you imagine? Taking your livelihood - the best of your livelihood - and physically carrying it to the tabernacle entrance to have it be slaughtered? That symbolism must have been really powerful for the Israelites. And seeing as they were just coming from centuries of living with idolatrous Egyptians, I'm sure it was necessary.

It also made me think of parallels of today. When we provide fast offering, are we not doing the same thing? The money we work so hard for, we bring to the Lord as a voluntary offering, the same way they brought the fruits of their labors. I'll be frank, the only testimony I have of fasting is on faith, and I don't practice it very much. But this made me stop and think about it on a deeper level. If we offer our money to God, how much harder must it have been to bring an animal to be sacrificed, something you can develop an actual relationship with?

Also to note: they mention that burnt offerings were given monthly at the new moon, which is what made me connect it to fasting. It related to tithing too. Also please note that none of this is doctrine. Unless the quoted part of the student manual counts. But nothing I've said.

One last thing - when it says "anything less would violate a basic principle of free will offerings" - it's not how much we give the Lord, but rather that we are willing to give. He knows that if we give back Him, we will be blessed and have our needs provided for; it's simply the faith of offering to the Lord that is required, not any specific monetary value.

Anyway. I'm just really loving getting these new insights to the ancient Israelites.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Clothes are such a hindrance to childhood

For propriety's sake, since this IS the big bad internet, I won't post photos to go along with these stories, but rest assured they are documented for her sake when Ariana grows up. And for scaring off any boys, though, honestly, she's so fiery I doubt that will be something we will have to deal with. That child can hold her own.

The first happened when we were in Montana. She is a water-lover, and the reunion we went to was on this lake. Like, separated by some trees and a downhill hike and you were there. With family, I generally feel comfortable leaving her unsupervised, but being so close to the water I didn't want her out of an adult's sight the whole trip. (I know I promised to blog about the life-changes on this trip. It's coming.) At first I wasn't too anxious since she hadn't seen the lake the first day, but we took her down there the next one and boy oh boy did she love it. She was mad when we had to go, and since it was just a simple trail down, I knew she'd try to go back on her own.

Sure enough, at the big family softball game the last day, Chris and I dropped her off with Grandma and went to play us some ball. And what was the very first thing she does? Leads Grandma to the trail, and as she's walking - the child doesn't even wait to get to the water! - she strips off her clothes! Shirt, pants, diaper, the whole caboodle! By the time they hit the shore she is butt-naked and happy as a clam. The picture I have of her is her sitting on the half-submerged dock, hands under her legs and smiling up at the camera like she just couldn't be any happier than to be naked in a lake!

The second story (and not the only one of these) is from today's quiet time. She spends about an hour in her room alone every morning to cool down from what energy generally works up in her and into tantrums. This morning, she comes out of her room and plays around with me for a while in the living room, and we turn on a show for a few minutes. Well, in her focus, she pulls down her pants - which I had vaguely noticed were on backwards and inside-out, but who's to say that couldn't have been me? - and I see her tiny bum poking up out of them. I get curious and peek down her pants, and sure enough, her diaper was nowhere to be found! She had taken off her pants, then her diaper, left it on her bed and put her pants back on!

Luckily, she hadn't mistaken her bed for one big diaper so it was just a matter of getting her clothed again. I can't decide if potty training will make these habits better or worse. "You mean I can take off my diaper more?" But maybe she will learn to put it back on? Whatever. The kid likes to be free.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trying to be a morning person

I woke up before the girls - voluntarily - this morning, for the first time since McKenna was born. (I did do it with Ariana a couple times. Barely.) Well not totally voluntarily. Weeeeee got a dog. We found a different rescue and a puppy we are fostering to adopt - basically taking care if her for a while to see if she's a good fit for us, but we take her to events and stuff in the meantime. So Chris takes her to pee first thing before work but that's all he has time for, so she was back in her kennel and whining a ton! It was 6:15 and I hardly knew what I was doing before we were outside on a quick walk. I was motivated too because yesterday (her first morning with us) I tried taking her out with the girls and it was a disaster all around. So I vaguely wanted to see what would happen if I went out with her real quick before they were up. Don't worry my apartment is completely visible to me the whole time. And locked. :)

And it was so refreshing to be outside. Humid as heck but not suuuuuper hot yet so it was a good time to be out. Luckily she was done after about 10 minutes so we came back inside. And since I was already up and somewhat awake, since we left the house, I read scriptures, prayed, etc.

And. Well. People rave about how great mornings are and I've just never felt it. That's the nighttime for me. Magical. So today, mostly I just didn't feel like I was behind all day. I had a break early afternoon, and my first thought was to read scriptures, because I've been trying to do that before I do other "relaxing" things. (Facebook, TV, crafts, etc.) And when I remembered I had already read them it was such a relief! I enjoy it, I really do, but it can still feel like a chore. But in the morning I was able to devote time to it without worrying about taking time away from relaxing that doesn't feel like a chore. Which I know is silly. But there you have it. 

So anyway. The rest of the day flew by. Some things went wrong and others went splendidly. I did feel like I was very slightly more patient or relaxed or something because I didn't have the guilt of feeling behind all day, especially with the Lord. But it's not like there was some huge revelation about why mornings are cool and nights drool. I think I will have to be a morning person eventually (thanks, motherhood) but obviously I put it off. It hasn't been a big enough deal for me to change yet soooooo we'll see if this sticks. If I have something to keep me busy, like a whiny, energetic puppy, I think I can do it. I just hate mornings and love sleeping in.

And sidenote - what did the pioneers do to unwind? Before ample chocolate and Friends? I can't even imagine it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Defeated

Please tell me I'm not the only mom who's hidden in the closet.

Yesterday was a day that called for no fewer than 3 bowls of ice cream. It was a day where I had to warn Chris before he got home of everyone's mood. Then, when he did get home and asked what he could do, I said, "Take care of everything!!!" I handed over the baby and left to be alone for JUST A GOSH DANG MINUTE. (Which turned in to 30, but we don't count in these situations. Take all the time you need, sister.)

But where to retreat within the house? I was going to relax on the couch, but still would have heard McKenna's screams that have become her whole voice, and I knew if Ariana could see me at all, I'd hear the constant refrain of "mommymommymommymommymommymommy." So where was the most secluded place I could think of?


Ariana's closet. Currently being used for storage. 

But no one would ask me for anything!

In fact, when Chris found me in there a few minutes later (no! Go away!!!), he was puzzled but didn't ask much, and soon he even brought me dinner. I looked at old, packed away scrapbooks and escaped my current life for 30 minutes. 

Which life is really great. Normally, I love helping Ariana understand more about this great big world we live in. And while I could always do with less screams from McKenna - at least they are happy screams! I am so lucky to be their mother. And so so blessed to have a husband who can take care of it all when I can't. Because some days are throw-yourself-from-a-cliff kind of days. This whole week has been, actually. 

What do you do to chill or deal with hard days? I'm actually asking. I feel lost in this. And I'm talking about the days where your neck might snap if you hear one more _________ (whatever your pet peeves are).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rule-breaking

Tonight was a night where I just broke all the rules. Chris has been horribly sick all day so I made an emergency trip to Walmart, generally a huge no-no for Sundays. But you should have seen him, my poor sickly husband. It's been awful. I tried to get only the necessary things for his sickness, but I may have thrown some diapers in there. I know. I'm a rebel. AND I took Ariana with me, even though she was already in bed and it would delay her sleep even further. I'm a total sleep nazi, too which I guess means that even nazis can change, so there is hope for anyone. Sometimes you just need a break though, you know? But Ariana was wide awake anyway, it'd be one less kid for Chris to listen for when he's feeling so horrible. I did feel bad at the store, but diapers were $40 a pop which I think was my punishment. I bet they're cheaper on the other days of the week. It makes me seriously consider cloth diapering, except then I remember I would have to deal with poop EVEN MORE than normal mommy-ness allows, so that flew through the window. Some things are worth paying for.

Oh. I also went to bed without my nightly walk-around pickup of the house. But I did clean the George Foreman grill, because nobody wants to wake up to old hamburger fat. Gross!

Flash flooding?

The other day, I learned for real what a "flash flood" was. And I don't even know if it was fast enough to be considered that, because it didn't totally flood, but the water got real high, real fast.

I went to mail a package - to return a shirt I bought online, and isn't online shopping the MOST annoying when you can't try something on? I did it out of desperation and of course I didn't like what I got. Well, I did like 2/3 things so that's a win but still. I wish sites could be more descriptive OR have clothes for girls with curves. Anyway, I leave the postal shop around 4:30 and the guy and I were chatting about how it might rain, and sure enough, on my way out the door I felt a few droplets. and Yay! Because it's been storming here every day for like 2 weeks and I just love thunderstorms.

Well, my next appointment is to the physical therapist because my neck is shaped like an "s" instead of a backwards "c," so twice a week I do exercises for an hour to get my spine corrected. It was lightning and thundering like I haven't heard in years!! It was so cool! It may as well have been right above us for how loud and intense things were.

Then, after this has been going on for about half an hour, one of the therapists walks by and says, "the street outside is flooded." Uuuuhhhhhhhh WHAT? I jumped up from the massage table I was on to look at the window and sure enough, the water outside was at least 6 inches high! Which is a lot for having started less than an hour ago!! 


So I ask them for step-by-step instructions on how to drive in this mess because I've driven in a lot of bad weather before but never (hell or) high water. Mostly I was worried about the dip when you get out of the parking lot. They told me certain streets to drive on to get home. I know it's silly, but I live a mile away from this place and I was honestly worried about getting home. Do you see how much water is out there? It wasn't showing signs of letting up, either. And the roads here are terrible.

Well, I figured I better man up and get the heck moving because I mostly just stood on the top of the steps but that wasn't going to get me anywhere. So I drove and prayed and prayed and didn't stop and hoped the ditches I was driving through weren't secretly vortexes of terror because the whole thing was kind of a nightmare. I wonder if that's why everyone goes to Utah and drives so terribly because nobody can fathom driving in some snow they've never seen. (They get a lout of warm-blooded people up there.)

The scariest part was when I was about to turn on a street but saw everyone flipping their u-ies (you probably thought I was going to say birds huh?) and so I pulled over and saw this giant puddle where a car got stuck, and some of the bigger cars drove by and the stuck car was actually bouncing up and down in the water!

YIKES!!

Well the main street was better if you stay in the inner lanes but, sure enough, the road to my apartment complex was blocked because someone got stuck in the water. So I just drove on just past my complex, pulled into a restaurant across the street and walked home. Don't worry, the rain was almost stopped by now. I could have gone around the neighborhood but who knew how many cars were stuck along the way?

So all in all, I'm safe and now know that holy crap the rain here can rise fast! And when I went to WalMart 2 hours later, like I was supposed to right after my therapy, the streets were dry except the puddles of water in the deeper ditches. What the heck??

Monday, June 30, 2014

We're getting a puppy!!

Meet Alice and Edward




These are the puppies Chris found online for us to adopt about a month ago. Aren't they precious?? Well, at first, he found Alice, but as it turned out, she had been in an accident and Edward, her brother, was vital to her recovery. She didn't seem like she was going to make it until he started visiting, so they were a package deal.

I was wary about getting one dog, but after asking Chris about every uncertainty I could think of, I agreed. Then, we found Alice, and agreed to meet them, even though we couldn't possibly imagine having two dogs. I mean, wouldn't it be too much? What with just having a baby and all?

Then we met them. And boy oh boy did we fall in love. Like, I even fell in love. Their foster mom brought them to our house and I felt this instant connection with them - something I can't say for any other dog we've ever looked at. Seeing them walk around our apartment, it just felt like they belonged there. So even though it was unexpected, and more expensive, I was fully on board getting the both of them. 

We had to work, not through the foster mom, but a lady from the rescue organization, with whom we talked on the phone a lot. You see, she was wary because we had two little kids. She couldn't possibly see how we could handle two kids AND two puppies. Admittedly, it would have been a lot, but nothing we couldn't handle. The foster mom took us through their daily schedule and I found it absolutely do-able. We assured the lady that we were very willing to put in the time and effort for the both of them. We didn't mention this, but we had even bought all the supplies we would need - toys, a cage from CL we'd pick up later, two beds, a water bowl and two food bowls, etc. We were getting prepped and excited!!

Well, you'll notice my post says, "We're getting A puppy." A couple weeks passed, and the lady in charge was being wishy washy. "I need to talk to the vet to see if you can handle it," was her first stalling technique. Huh? What does your vet possibly know about our limits that we couldn't tell you? She gave us more stalls. Once a whole week passed without us hearing from her. 

Then, one day she contacted Chris. Apparently, there had been some sort of scuffle at the vet's over a toy, and the vet had taken the you away and the dog had nipped at the vet. So OBVIOUSLY this means they are unfit to be around kids. And now they are refusing to let us adopt them.

Maybe it's silly, but I am a little heartbroken. I seriously fell in love with these two pups. That just hasn't happened with me before. We have looked for dogs on and off for our entire marriage. Chris has always wanted one and I have always put it off, and we've gotten other animals to fill in the gap of not having a puppy. And then we found some we actually loved and wanted to be a part of our family and they denied us.

We were pretty sad for a few days. We still are, actually, but what can you do? Chris started looking again, and we went to an adoption event by the same people and found one dog who might work. We meet her at her foster home tomorrow and we'll see how that goes. 

So despite my sad overtones, we are very excited to get a dog! And I hope whichever one we get it clicks just as much. I know you might be thinking we were crazy for wanting two, and maybe we were, but we just felt so good about it. SO ANYWAY. Wish us luck with the next one! (And if this one doesn't work out, we'll go to a different rescue. Because come on. We're trying to HELP you get a good home for your dogs! Isn't that the point??)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Starting Yoga

I've been wanting to exercise for a while, but I don't push myself too hard after having a baby. I mean, I just had a baby. That's not a time where I feel I need to push my body because I just pushed a baby out. (Kinda.) But I know that, eventually, I'll start wanting to be more active.

I've also wanted to get into yoga for a long time. I did a few sessions when I was part of Gold's in Orem and they were fantastic. I thought it would be cool, but I had no idea yoga was such a workout! There was one teacher in particular that I loved, who pushed us really hard but still explained things really well for the beginners. I always felt rejuvenated after a class, something I had never been able to say for other exercises. Sure, I felt kind of energized, but the exhaustion always outweighed the happiness.

Well, my friend and I found this 30-day yoga challenge on Youtube so I started last Monday and I FREAKING LOVE IT!!! The first day was 20 minutes and since then they've all been between 11 and 17 minutes long. Totally doable during the day, especially considering you don't sweat super bad, so there's no requirement to shower afterward. That's something that always puts me off of harder exercising. I just don't have the time to spend 40 minutes working out, then a cool down, then half an hour showering and re-getting ready. Plus getting my hair wet that often really annoys me. With this yoga, I can just wear what I'm wearing, which is usually pajama pants.

The reason I'm so excited about it today is because the instructor taught how to get into crow. It's the position where your hands are the only thing touching the floor, with your arms slightly bent and your knees resting on your triceps, bum and feet in the air. Yesterday, when she did a quick preview, I laughed because, come on. This is day 8. And the other days have just been regular yoga, nothing too fancy, but even though she did a few super hard poses, there was nothing extreme. So I saw this and said, "Ok I'll try it, but lezbihonest. Not happening."

But guess what? It was pretty good!! She did a few minutes of prep, like explaining the best way to do it and then doing a couple exercises imitating it on your back on the floor so you know what to expect once you try it for real. And by the time I was on my hands, trying it out, I felt confident enough to try being JUST on my hands a couple times! Who knew?? I fell every time, of course, but I did stay up for like a second and a half, one time, so - Hooray!!

I'm really excited about this. Yoga is the first exercise that's made me feel confident in my body instead of overwhelmed or intimidated. I mean, it's intimidating, but in the good way. At the end of today, she was like, "I know it's hard! You shouldn't feel like you have to do it, but with yoga, improvement is inevitable. Just keep practicing." So it was super encouraging.

I just like it a lot.

Here's a link to the first day of the challenge if you want to try it out too. Day 1 has been the longest one so far at 19:35. 

Let me know if you do it too!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Conversing

I am working on saying things at the appropriate times. Sometimes I am super bad at saying something only vaguely related to a story a friend has told me and it completely kills the track of the conversation.

For example, tonight, a friend was telling me about how her son's birthday party turned out. She'd had to plan it over the course of an otherwise very busy week, so I wanted to know how his day had been - specifically, his cake, which was the only thing he cared about and he wanted it to be elaborate. So she showed me pictures of this really amazing space-themed cake.She is a gifted baker and the cake was two-tiered, black, with stars along the bottom layer AND it had the solar system planets revolving around the top of it. It was so cool! 

Now, would this be the best time to mention that most models of the solar system aren't actually to scale, because in order to be, they would cover a football field and a half, and the moon would only be the size of a pixel? Space is much more vast then we realize. This is what popped into my head in that moment. Isn't that weird? I think I need to get a life. It's an interesting factoid (just to me? Maybe?), but it would have been utterly out of place in our conversation. Even though what I have to say may be interesting, what's the point of saying it if I don't build a connection?

Isn't this so elementary? I mean, who doesn't know this yet? Well, it's taken me a long time to learn, and I think my overarching problem is the lack of a filter. I am trying to build one, to think of how the things I say affect other people. Also, how to connect appropriately from one subject to the next. I don't know what happened but my social skills have been seriously lacking and I've been having a hard time having real conversations with people. I have a hard time thinking of questions to ask, or continue on a subject I'm not super interested in, so I just...stop....talking.... I just feel so scatterbrained! It's so hard to focus! Is it because I spend my days with babies? Is it the move to Texas, so now I feel out of place? As Ariana would say, "No no no??" (I don't know.)

Hi, I'm Rosanne and I'm 27 years old. I wonder what other life lessons I will need to learn at an inappropriately old age.

Don't worry - I responded with the appropriate enthusiasm and the conversation grew. But is that just the weirdest? Am I the only one who does this?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A pep talk for future me (And you too, if you have a new baby)

When we know someone who has a new baby, sometimes we imagine that they don't want us around, interrupting, because they sit a lot just snuggling their sweet newborn. HA! It's funny, because I still think that way, even though I've now experienced it twice and know that having a newborn is anything but relaxing. I forget that babies are crazy hard, even while I have them. I just assume it's hard just for me because I'm weak and have a low tolerance for crying and fatigue.

So this post is for any new moms (or dads) who might need a pep talk, or for anyone who knows a new mom/dad and just wants a little more understanding of what they're experiencing, if they're anything like me. It's a pep talk I wrote to my future self when I have my next baby, so that I don't forget all these things I'm going through and freak out again that it's all not normal. It is normal, at least for me. If you've never had kids or never experienced any of this and are reading - please don't judge anything you don't understand.

I wrote this about when McKenna turned two months old.

K listen sister. Having a newborn is hard. HARD! Remember, all this is normal:
You’re going to want to kill your husband, and pretty much anyone else you come in contact with, around week 6, give or take a week and include those weeks as well. It’s going to last a while. Suck it up. Stay silent. Or rage at some paper. It’s ok. It’s normal. You’ll get through it.
You’ll regret your womanhood and become bitter that you are the ONLY one that can feed your baby most of the time. You’ll hate it. It’s normal. You’ll get through it.
You won’t sleep the way you want for a long time, and this will be SO HARD the first couple months. Ask for help. Seriously. Ask someone to take at least one child or something. You can’t do it alone. Well, you can, but why torture yourself if you have willing friends? And you’ll get through it. Even if you do end up being too proud to ask for help. (Which you probably will.) You’ll all live.
You’ll have a hard time bonding with your child. This is normal (for you), and you will grow in love. It’s hard for you for a while because the lack of sleep is so overwhelming you just feel like everything is falling apart and this baby doesn’t even respond to you and all the things suck. At first, it will be merely instinct holding you two together, but little by little, you’ll fall in love. You’ll admire the way light reflects on their eyes, or they’ll lock glances with you and you'll really see them, or they’ll make a cute noise, or you’ll just feel this incredible sense of peace while breastfeeding – hold on to those moments, and enjoy them. They will get you through. You will find little things to fall in love with, and before you know it, you’ll be entirely smitten by your own choice. Don’t feel guilty. It’s not personal. You're not a bad mom. It’s just hard. But you’ll get there. You’ll get through it.
Gas drops will come in handy starting around week 5. If they’re super cranky around then, buy some and try it out.
Acne around weeks 4-7 is normal, and hopefully it will be gone by 8 weeks/2 months. Don’t worry about it. It’ll pass.
Tummy sleeping is scary, but it helps with the gas. Do what you need to do to survive. Remember that Heavenly Father is invested in your children’s well beings also, and he will make up for what you can’t do. He will watch over them and let you know when they need help. Don’t be careless, but be smart about your limits and abilities. If your child screams bloody murder every time they're placed on their back, and for hours at a time - it's ok to try their tummy if they can hold themselves up. People have done it this way for decades, if not centuries.*
Speaking of which, when you feel like you’re going to throw the baby across the room (and you will feel that way), put them down and let them cry. Remember that Purple Crying video they gave you in the hospital and made you promise to watch? They do that for a reason. Everyone feels this way! Take a break. You work so hard, you deserve it. Don’t feel guilty. You need time to recharge or you’ll be overworked and hating life.
Also, did your older kid(s) eat cereal for breakfast, and bread for lunch, and then animal crackers for dinner? For the last week? Hey! Congratulations for keeping food in the house! You’re doing great. See her running around, playing? She's clearly fine. You’ll all live, and soon you’ll be wanting to put effort into food again. But don’t rush it. You’ve got time. You’ll get through it.
Remember, you can do this. It’s hard, and that’s ok. Ask for help. It’s not shameful or embarrassing. It’s necessary. And fine. And even great. Get through the first few months however you need to, and you’ll be great. Take advantage of the first few weeks where they just sleep through anything. Love them. Snuggle them. Adore them. And scream and cry and rant when you need to.

It’s all going to be oooooooooooooookkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. (Deep breath)

And if you're having a hard time, too, this is for you! Insert [whatever your struggle is here], and then remind yourself, "I'll get through it." You will. You really, really will.

*I don't want your opinion on whether or not I should let my child sleep on their stomach. Or anything else here. This post is intended to help, not hurt. The end.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Memorial Day weekend

You know how sometimes you make friends, and (if you're married or paired up) the four of you get along so well it's like fate brought you together? Chris and I have been fortunate enough to make a few friends of this caliber over the years and last weekend, we went to visit some of them!

Zach and Nikki live in Atlanta, which is about a 13 hour drive. Coincidentally, I have family there too, so we decided to take a long Memorial Day weekend and visit family and friends. SOMEBODY (I can't say who) (it was me) had the BRILLIANT idea to drive through the night. The idea was that the girls would sleep on the way there, making it easier since we all know how babies can be, locked in their car seat for hours at a time.

This is our outlook at the beginning of the drive:
Wearing headphones to drown out the already crying girls. 

And it only went downhill from there. 

I won't rehash the entire night for you because it was something I never want to experience again. But I'll recap so you get the idea. We left around 5 PM, just hitting rush hour, which in Houston is nothing to shrug off. But it only held us back an extra half hour or so, which seemed miraculous and insignificant in a 13 hour drive. The rest of the night included crying babies, hungry babies, a cranky husband and wife, a 2.5 hour detour starting at 1AM, roughly the same in sleep for each of us, and hours upon hours of screaming (done by the kids) (mostly).

You know how they say to take a road trip with your intended before getting married to see what they're like after being stuck in a car? Fabulous idea. I'm pretty sure we are in it to win it now. We took one long road trip while dating, but now we've done it with two screaming children, which just adds a whole other level. 

We will never do it again.

But we did see this gorgeous sunrise. 
Well, I saw it. This was during Chris's 2-hour sleep.
Ok! So the worst part was over. Onward and upward! We got to my aunt's house, where my mom had driven to with another of her sisters to meet us, spent some time catching up and then went to the darkest room in the lowest floor to sleep sleep sleep! After that, things looked much brighter. My aunt lives in an Atlanta suburb and it is just gorgeous there. So lush and not too humid, we spent a lot of time outside on her deck just shooting the breeze. My cousins arrived later that day with some of their kids and we had a great time getting to know each other more. (This is family it hadn't gotten to see very often growing up.) We didn't take many pictures that day, but it was simply great to see everyone and hang out for the day. It was the perfect start (not including the drive) to the weekend!

Oh. Except for the part where Chris made a joke about me being pregnant. And I almost started crying.

SO THEN on Saturday morning we drove up to the lake house in South Carolina. Again, it was a beautiful drive, and we ended up in a town that was so spread out, it hardly seemed like a town at all, just a smattering of houses and churches at an almost perfect 1:1 ratio. (We are in the South after all.) 

This is the back of the house, the view from the lake.

And looking down from the deck to the lake.

The fire pit where delicious s'mores were made and inhaled.
The lakehouse was simply dreamy. I can't recall what day held what, but I remember the experiences. 

There was the time we went paddle boarding
Actually that happened like 7 times, this was just the only time
I took pictures.
There was the time we took the convertible to the store (30 minutes away) and it started raining on the way home
Of course
There was the time I got to nurse my baby whilst eating s'mores and relaxing at the bonfire lakeside. (That happened in a hammock too. What a life.)

There was the time I texted this picture to my friend Whitni, asking if this was the DELICIOUS popcorn she had recently shared with me, and she texted me back a picture of HER with the SAME POPCORN she was picking up at the exact same time. Creeeeeeepppeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr!
You're welcome for the free advertising, Angie's
There was the time we went on walks, and babies replaced our husband's heads.
Chris said, "Can you tell which one is me?" :D
There was the time I was craving brownies so badly, I bought some at the gas station for an ungodly price and then Chris drew a smiley face in them. 

There was the time we hiked down a waterfall. It doesn't sound treacherous until you add two toddlers and two newborns. 

There was the time Kate played matchmaker

And then there were the times where we just got to hang out. Chat. Be friends. These neighbors lived below us while I went through chemo, recovery, pregnancy, and the birth of Ariana. We saw them grow their family as well, and it was just amazing to spend some quality time together.


I won't go on because I'm just getting sappy, so I'll just say - we had so much fun!


And here's a picture of the girls watching a butterfly eat poo. 

My view while Chris drove part of the way home. It was during the day, and considerably easier. Go figure. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

This is a trip to the grocery store

This is me after a shopping trip AND being in an air conditioned car and house for 15 minutes:

This is Ariana when she realized I was taking pictures:

This is our ice cream treat for being SO good and patient in the store:

And THIS is all the items I stored in the SAME cart as a baby who wouldn't let anything sit by her AND a baby/car seat:

Not pictured: Me grabbing an extra cart on the way out so as not to play Tetris around the babies again, sweating like a mad man, carting two carts all over creation, because I realized halfway to the car that I had FORGOTTEN to give the cashier my coupons (since I almost never use them), so I went back into the store, to customer service, where the lady had to cross check every item and it's like, "Really? Do you think I would drag ALL this back here with one baby who keeps calling for my attention and one who is crying, sweating like a pig, to scam Walmart out of twelve bucks??"

But I kept my cool. Which I think is the best part of this story. 

Or it could be Ariana lapping up her melted ice cream like a puppy:

Yep. Baby wins!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mommy's tired

McKenna will be three months old tomorrow, so I should probably be back up on my feet with all this energy and gusto and willpower to do ALL the things for my kids, right? Plus I should be more saintly because it seems to be that the more kids you have, the more people think you're patient and giving and all that, and apparently (I didn't know this before) having two kids is a LOT. Like, we're crazy anytime we go out in public to have two kids in tow.
You ARE crazy, Mom.
So I should be more patient but what I actually am is tired and cranky and lifeless. McKenna thinks it's normal to eat every two hours which is super cool because then my butt doesn't leave the couch for half the day. And since Ariana can't leave my side, that's where she spends a lot of time, too. Hey! Netflix should invest in Sesame Street so that while Ariana's parking her rear in front of the TV, she's at least learning something worthwhile. Instead she learns how to maximize comfort while sitting down, or the best way to finagle her way onto Mommy's lap while I'm feeding baby. I mean, these are good things (?), but they aren't exactly life skills. So I should find something that challenges her, but keeping them both alive is challenging me right now and it's all just overwhelming.

Mom! Mom! Feed me mom!
I know this will all pass, yatta yatta yatta, but today/this week/the last three months, it's hard. I thought things were getting better there for a while, but then I got called into the Primary Presidency (which means that during church I have get to work with the kids), and it's not really that demanding outside of church, but it's a whole lotta new info about new responsibilities when I just barely felt like I was getting used to the old ones.
I bet if you sat in this colander for a minute you'd be
less stressed. Feels kinda nice.
I wish Chris didn't have to work and we could live off love because then we'd be freaking rich. So at least I have that. (Love, that is.)

And these cute kids. I mean, they're adorable, even if they are exhausting.

I know you're tired but I'm so happy! YAY!
(^ She actually screams a lot which is why all her smiley pictures are blurry, you gotta be fast to catch them. Screaming doesn't affect later development, right? :/)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Infinity

I came across this article earlier this week, and I found it fascinating. Not necessarily because of its contents - it talks about the possibility of parallel worlds existing mere millimeters away from us in another form of space. I know I don't know much about science, but it seemed kinda far-fetched. I mean, I guess who knows, right? But still.

But it reminded me of something my biology professor told us once.

He was trying to explain to us the concept of infinity. He said that if it's true that ours is an infinite universe, it means infinite possibilities. That means that somewhere out there, there is a professor just like him, teaching a class just like ours, about just the same principle as he is now.

And not only is it happening once.

It's happening infinite times.

*pew*

That's my mind exploding. Every time I think about that, I just get dizzy thinking of it. And then my mind wanders to the possibilities. What if one of my hairs is different on another world? That's got to be happening somewhere else too, or perhaps another hair, or it's a different colored shirt, or maybe somewhere else everyone has different skin colors, or maybe trees are purple with that hair that's out of place, and maybe somewhere else my friend sitting next to me goes by Laura instead of Lu...

I can't do it anymore. My mind can't take it all.

But it's by far the best explanation of infinity I'd ever heard.

(Did you get dizzy thinking about it too?)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Knock and it Shall be Opened

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting today, and I had to sit with Ariana so Chris could take care of McKenna until I had to go up on the stand. I was the last speaker as well, and so I sat with Ariana for 45 minutes and tried hard to get her to behave all reverent like, with a lot of help from the family behind me. So when I got up there, I made an impromptu comment:

"I learned a secret today - the best way to deal with pre-talk nervousness is to wrestle a one-year-old for most of sacrament." (chuckle chuckle)

The rest of my talk went (roughly) as follows:

Hi! My name is Rosanne, my husband and I just moved here in December. I'm a SAHM of two little girls, I'm a BYU grad and a licensed cosmetologist, a cancer survivor, and I'm a Mormon!

(I'm so funny! The joke was Chris's but seriously. Hilarious. And only like two people laughed. If you're lost, our church encourages us to make videos/profiles about who we are and then say, "And I'm a Mormon" to show we have lots of different kinds of people in the church, but anyone called to speak in church is Mormon, so I was basically stating the obvious. :) )

I get my sense of humor from my dad. He was a jokester, and played pranks on his kids and just liked to have fun. He focused his efforts on his kids because he knew that family is of the utmost importance because it's central to God's plan, and above all, my dad is faithful. He loves his Heavenly Father very much.

My senior year of high school, my dad got sick. He was generally a very healthy person, so he thought it was just a bad cold and expected it to go away. It didn't, however, so he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with leukemia, one of the kinds that comes on fast and strong. They prescribed a treatment for him, one he'd probably have to repeat a few times to be fully effective.

Around this time, we were very close with the missionaries in our ward, and so before his treatment, they came over to give him a blessing. In the blessing, they said, "you will be healed according to your faith." Well that was just great! We had nothing to worry about! My dad was the most faithful person I knew, so from then on, I knew he'd be healed.

So he went through the treatment, and four weeks later, they tested his blood and the leukemia was gone! After just one treatment! He was healed, just like the Lord promised in the blessing. However, his body was weak and he still had a hard recovery ahead of him. He came home, but after a few days of being home, one night he started coughing up blood. So we took him to the hospital, and unfortunately, in the morning, he passed away. We learned that his body was too weak from the chemo, and he suffered a heart attack.

The topic I was asked to speak on  is "Knock and it shall be opened unto you." My dad was loved and respected by many people and I know countless prayers were offered on his behalf. We all knocked on heaven's door, hard, and faithfully. The missionary's blessing was fulfilled - my dad was healed! But it wasn't meant to be. Now, in this situation, I could choose to look at it one of two ways. I could say that God had betrayed us and let my dad die even though he promised that he'd be healed, or I could say that God blessed us to know he could be healed, but that it was still his time to go. I choose the second way. From this, I know that God is a God of miracles, but unfortunately, His timing doesn't always line up with ours. I don't know why my dad had to die, but I know that I can choose to learn lessons from it, and I'm glad that I had my Heavenly Father to lean on.

I like to compare this to going to a friend's house. If I'm going to see my friend Sarah, and I knock at the door, and her brother answers, am I angry that he answered first and not her? No! I know Sarah is there, and I know I'll see her soon enough. It's okay that her brother answered. I know I'll get who I need eventually. Similarly, when I knock on God's door, should I be angry when the answer given is different than the one I wanted? No! We are told that "no unclean thing" can dwell in the presence of God. If we are knocking on God's door, that means only good will answer, because that's all that's allowed to live with Him. It's okay that it may not be what we wanted, because we are guaranteed to get something good, so long as we are at His house.

In order to knock on God's door, we must draw near unto Him. Elder J. Thomas Fyans, in his talk "Draw Near Unto Me," outlines the necessary steps to come close to God. He says, "We seek him by studying the scriptures and listening to his prophets, through which we learn about him and his eternal plan for us. We ask through prayer and receive the guidance of his Spirit. And as we knock, the way is opened for us to gain eternal life and return to the Lord's presence through obedience to his commandments."

I really liked this in my research on this topic - in a talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson, he mentions Moroni 10:4, which states, "If ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ." To have real intent means that you really intend to follow the divine direction you're given. I think this is so important! It's not just that you really, really want to ask this question, but you need to be prepared to listen to what God has to say, even if it doesn't follow your timetable. You need to have faith that you'll have the strength to follow whatever answer is given, to follow God's plan.

Elder Fyans expands on this in his talk, and says that to draw near to the Lord, we need to sanctify ourselves. He quotes Doctrine and Covenants, which states, "Sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him;  for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will." It may seem intimidating or hard to do, but the Lord gives things, "line upon line." We don't have to be perfect now, we just need to build on it, "precept upon precept." And the promise He gives is worth it: Doctrine and Covenants 93:1 says that, "Every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am."

I think if, in the end, it allows us to see God's face, it will all be worth it, and I know He is there for us, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sometimes I get stabby

Sometimes I get stabby because my mind sounds like this: 


...the clothes in the dryer they'll have to get rewashed or they'll get mildew-y, but first I have to fill up this water bottle so that I have some for when I'm thirsty while pumping later since it's getting painful but maybe I should clean the living room first so I don't have to look at this huge mess while I pump and just get stressed and then I don't make enough milk though that's laughable I make enough of this for a village but that's gross and so are these dishes that need to go in the dishwasher but first I have to unload the clean ones but I can't do that right now because Ariana will try to play in it and I can't keep her occupied away from me unless it's in the bathtub but obviously I can't do that because a) I can't leave her alone in the tub full of water and even if I did she'd freak out that I wasn't there and b) we already took a bath today (oh crap our towels are still on the floor and did I drain the water?) and while it might be good for her diaper rash to clean off and dry out again I just don't have an hour to sit with her there which is as long as she'd play in the tub if I let her and she'd have a meltdown if I took her out before she was ready since she didn't take her nap today and I wish I could take a nap today but that's not going to happen because even if the girls are sleeping at the same time that means I can actually use the dishwasher without getting ambushed but I know I need to finish cleaning the kitchen so we don't find any more stupid roaches like the two I found yesterday oh that reminds me I need to call the office to make sure the bug spray people come tomorrow and where the heck are they all coming from anyway because we clean this apartment as often as possible with two little ones and we really aren't that messy but I guess we do have a one year old who gets crumbs everywhere even though we don't let her have food away from the table I guess it just sticks to her clothes or something oh crap that reminds me I have to switch out the clothes in the washer because if I don't put...



...On repeat. Looping on itself over and over and over and over and....