Pages

10 December 2015

Application



Sacrifice has been a topic that I've been drawn to thinking about lately, particularly during my personal scripture study.  This morning I went to haul my sorry self out of bed at 6am, determined to sacrifice some precious sleep for my time with the Lord.  Truthfully, feeling a bit proud of myself.  Approximately two minutes later, there were noises indicating a very very awake child.  My frustration level rocketed sky high.  I said some very upset, tearful words to Tyler about how I don't get up early to have to spend more time dealing with my children - this is supposed to be my time to seek spiritual nourishment.

Tyler took one for the team, losing his own precious study time, and went to get the morning going with the child who was clearly not interested in sleeping more.  I started to read my scriptures about sacrifice.  And since I was listening, my loving Father in Heaven took this opportunity to teach me that I was missing a significant lesson on sacrifice at that very minute.

Sacrifice isn't giving what you think you should give, at a time and in a way that is convenient for you.  Sacrifice is giving whatever the Lord requires, whenever He asks for it, and in whatever way He prepares.  Like loving a little one at 6am during your coveted quiet time or simply saying kind words at 4.30pm on a day when no one slept enough, napped enough, or had enough space away from other family members and Daddy isn't home yet.

A burnt offering or sacrifice in the Mosiac law required burning the entire animal on the altar.  Not really because God loved the actual smell itself of a burning animal, but because of what that smell meant.  That the one offering the sacrifice was holding nothing back, consecrating it all to the Lord, even though sometimes it must surely have been hard to have given up one of the choicest animals of the flock to simply turn into ash, with no other purpose than to fulfill a commandment from God.  And why on earth would a loving God require that?  Because He knows how much more valuable our personal experience and understanding of sacrifice is than anything we could temporally use or possess physically.

I knew motherhood involved sacrifice.  Scratch that.  I thought I knew motherhood involved sacrifice.  I never comprehended the depth, breadth, and height of the sacrifices that would be required.  And truthfully, I am only at the shallowest end of this pool, there are many more years and experiences to force me out into deeper water.  Lately I've been so caught up in trying to read and study the word of God more that I have forgotten the most important part, that this gospel and motherhood are all about application

To quote from a powerful essay by Rachel Janovick in the book Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother's Heart and Hope,
"In the same way our bodies take the food we eat and make it into something a baby can eat, so our souls take what we believe about God and the gospel and faith and life, and apply it in the places that seem too little for it.

Imagine yourself in your kitchen trying to make dinner for a group of little kids who are tired and should have eaten a half hour ago.  Imagine that things are going wrong beyond that...

This is no time for a gospel presentation... This isn't a time for a gospel presentation because it is a time for gospel application.  This is a time to take the grace that God has extended to you, and feed your children with it.  This is a time to apply what you believe about God's mercy and kindness and longsuffering towards us, and pour it out to them - in a form they can believe in."

29 November 2015

How to write again aka whatever comes to mind

Apparently there is research that suggests that you are, essentially, the 5 people who you spend the most time with. I mean, obviously, you still remain you and whatnot, but you are heavily influenced by who you choose to spend your time with. As a full-time, hang-out-at-home mom, this has some interesting implications. I'm always wondering what exactly is wearing off on me from my hoodlums. So, if my behavior seems to have a slight 3 year old flair (I have no idea how to explain this to anyone who has not yet raised a 3 year old) you'll have to forgive me. And if I have a meltdown over dinner being something other than bread and chocolate, well, I do have a 20 month old in the house.


Life's been charging on lately. Apparently I'm already 29 weeks along! This hoodlum straight-up parties for at least an hour straight every day. Seriously. The kicking, punching, rolling, stomping is out of control. You know it's bad when Tyler notices it and he isn't EVEN TOUCHING ME. Belly jumping for the win. Which, by the way, still is so strange to me, watching my former six-pack abs (ha!) do gymnastics seemingly of their own accord.

I started getting up at 5.30am in the morning. This is both my saving grace and my total downfall. Approximately once every two weeks, I end up so totally exhausted that I sleep like the dead on a Saturday morning until at least 11. Then I take a nap with the kids that day at around 1pm and go to bed by 8pm or so. But my days are calmer, I'm getting time with God, and when Mili bursts through the bedroom door with indomitable enthusiasm and starving for breakfast, I'm no longer covering my face with my hands and saying silent prayers to help me keep my tongue in check and say only nice things.

29 October 2015

Wings

Mili, with uncharacteristic decision for a 3 year old, only changed her mind once about what she wanted to be for Halloween.  At first, she was set on Lilo from "Lilo and Stitch."  But, as we read in Fancy Nancy (bless you Jane O'Connor for writing books that are frilly, sparkly, and actually worth reading) and Fancy Nancy tried on multiple costumes, there it was - a butterfly costume.  Big, shiny, sparkly wings.  And Mili was set.

After some internet research and complete and total Pinterest avoidance (that site is a plague to all the earth, ahem), I found a set of DIY instructions for wings that both Mili and I agreed looked like Fancy Nancy might wear.  We set off one day for supplies, which included wire coat hangers and what not, and one of the stops was the dollar store.  As we wandered the aisles hunting down wire hangers or pink nylons, lo and behold, there they were: cheap, flimsy butterfly wings that were all Mili had ever dreamed of, gauging from the stars in her eyes.

No way.

My first thought was very mentally loud and strong.  NoNo way would my daughter wear the cheapest, dinkiest, obviously dollar store butterfly wings for Halloween!  I mean, how awful would that be?!

The next thought was quiet, a gentle whisper, and clearly a divine voice not my own, "Why not? Who is this costume for anyways?"

Those wings were all she wanted.  They looked like she wanted.  They were a color she wanted.  They had glitter on them.  They were everything her perfect little heart could imagine.  And is her dressing up in a costume about me and how awesome of a parent I am going to look like?  Or is it about moments of joy, the fun of dressing up and being, for a small moment, a butterfly soaring through the air?

I bought them.

The 5 minute drive home was unimaginably long for Mili as she clutched her precious wings to her chest.  We raced up the stairs and she thrust them at me so I could remove the tags and packaging that were in her way.  She strapped them on, climbed up on top of something to jump off of... Then stopped.  "Mom, how do I make them flap?"  When the answer was that these wings did not actually flap, those little stars slid out of her eyes, her smile dimmed, and after a few minutes, the wings lay discarded on the floor.

A prayer of thanks entered into my heart.  Not thanks that my daughter had finally shown some sense of "taste" or thanks that I had time to talk her into something else, but thanks for the gift of dollar store wings.  You know those amazing DIY wings I was going to make for her?  Shiny, bedazzling, show-stopping?  They would NOT HAVE FLAPPED.  And with my time management skills would have only been finished in the nick of time to have been met with disappointment and one sad little girl without a Halloween costume that she wanted.  I had no idea that she clearly thought it was a given that butterfly wings would always flap.

God's loving intervention through a quiet whisper in a dollar store aisle taught me not only to shelve my ridiculous pride and place my daughter first, but it taught me to look deeper, to ask better questions, and to never forget the magical place of a small child's imagination where it is still possible to fly, so long as you have wings that work.

So with time to spare before the Halloween parties began, I found a new DIY set of wings that would flap.  Mili came with me and picked out the pink and purple felt.  I cut and sewed away until I had a perfect set of wings.  This time my hesitation from pride only lasted a second as I admired my hard work, then I handed over the paintbrush and the glitter fabric paint and Mili's reality became even better than her dreams as she got to give those wings a most thorough sparkly makeover herself.  They were her wings, in her colors, that she had painted, and they flapped.  She hasn't stopped flying since.



26 August 2015

such a little change, so much work

I'm trying to be brave enough to go to bed at 9pm.

Brave enough to let go of that time that is mostly all mine, to use how I want.  Usually not very productively.

Brave enough to remember that getting to exercise in the morning makes my heart sing more than looking at Instagram pictures or reading a book or just talking about absolutely nothing important.

Brave enough to carve out other time to nurture my relationship with Tyler, instead of letting it be a casualty of my schedule.

Brave enough to admit that I must have my sleep AND exercise too.  And that I do, in fact, become the Wicked Witch of the West when sleep deprived.

"We must have the courage to be imperfect while striving for perfection."
-Patricia T Holland-


20 August 2015

Rusty but writing


I stumbled across this picture the other day.  Honestly, I had forgotten I had ever taken it.  This picture holds so many feelings, so many memories.  Some slightly sentimental shot I took of our front door in England means more to me now than all the pictures of the architecture or the sights or other pretty things.

Suddenly, I'm back in my first ever wool coat, giddy with excitement about the beginnings of a new international adventure and starry eyed over living in a flat by the beach.

A few months later I'm overwhelmed by school and cursing the British style of written exams that are causing me undue amounts of anxiety, but grateful to be learning and stretching and becoming a better scholar in so many ways.

Somewhere in there is a positive pregnancy test, announcing the news to the family and then the world, and finding out a girl was on her way to us.

There are late nights with Tyler and I full of research and dissertation writing and reading Harry Potter out loud.  Making up silly games together, walking on the beach together, cooking together in the smallest kitchen I've still ever been in.

Our first independent Thanksgiving happened, where we paid an exorbitant amount for a turkey that we had to keep outside in the cold because our dorm-sized fridge couldn't hold it.  Endless meals with missionaries, with pancakes and American cookies and Mexican food to keep their homesickness at bay.

My motherhood began here.  Motherhood with all of its joys, love, cluelessness, sleeplessness, and occasional bouts of despair.

Loneliness, real, hard, and deep hit here.  Loneliness exacerbated by the cold, the damp, and the lack of sunlight in a little backroom flat where a new mama tried to navigate raising a baby.

A first Christmas as a family of 3 happened.  Where the fattest tree took up half the front room and brought me immeasurable amounts of joy and Christmas peace.  When I realized the magic that a child really brings to that beautiful morning.

We didn't finish up our stay in England here.  There's a small little house in Holystone that also holds a piece of my heart.  And not to mention a few places in Arizona and a studio in Washington that I'll never forget.  Part of the problem of moving so often is you always leave a piece of you behind.  But if those little drops of myself can find their way back to me through pictures like these, then I think I'll be okay.

28 May 2015

And so I got this new bike...

We knew it had been coming for awhile.  Tyler switched roles at work and, consequentially, no longer could drive the work van.  We were back to one car.  Have you ever walked anywhere with toddlers?  It is painfully slow. So.so.so.so.slow.  Standing around the block.  Attempting to eek out enthusiasm for the hundredth leaf they have picked up.  And no matter how I kid myself, I will not voluntarily walk to anything further than a quarter mile away.  But, I will ride - a bike that is.

So, I tried out the whole two bike seats on one bike dealio.  A normal mountain bike.  It was alright.  My mother was worried for our safety.  I probably should have been too.  Eh.

Enter in some generous love, help, and Craigslisting from my mother (who happens to have a talent for finding ridiculous Craigslist gems), a whooooooooooole lot of tender mercies from a loving Father in Heaven, and the miracle of a bakfiet style bike actually going up for sale IN San Diego.

Add in a bus ride with two children, some walking, bribery (ice cream), a quick trip to a bank, and the nicest Craiglist interaction I've ever had.

And you'll meet Faith:



Isn't she a beaut?

So.  If you're asking if I need a lift or a car, I'm good.

I'm riding on Faith today.

---

For those who are interested, Faith is made by Virtue Bike, a company based out of San Diego.  This is their Virtue Gondolier, see here.  It's a bit smaller than many of the bakfiets (box in the front) style bikes out there in the US, but comfortably seats both my hoodlums on the bench.  There are also straps for the kids.  Steering took about 10 minutes to get really used to, but really, it's just riding another bike.  Since we live in an area that is full of really steep hills, we'll probably add an electrical assist.  For right now, I plan on being able to do about 2 big hills before my legs are toast and I am avoiding the really, really big ones.  I'll get stronger I'm sure.

Both kids love it and Noah cries because I take too long, in his opinion, to get him into the box.  Every time.  Longest ride yet was the ride home from buying it, 7 miles or so.  Today was our first attempt at a grocery run.  I can get a small grocery load, about 3 days worth for our family I'd say, plus kids in without a problem.

This whole thing was started because of my super awesome cousin Kayla who has a Madsen bucket bike and paved the way to show me what was possible on a bicycle.

10 March 2015

Mothers Are People Too

Exercise is my happy place. My happy, safe, liberating, joyous place. 

Long story, very short: There was too much on my plate. I gave up on regular exercise 3 years ago. Not my best idea. 

So. What to do, what to do. 

Well. I found my solution!  I joined a Masters swim team! It's huge. There's like 5 of us? I mean, that'd be a day with awesome turnout. But I pay money to show up at the pool at 5.15am and have somebody tell me what to do to workout. And make me push myself. But help me not overdo it. And expect me there. (And help my butterfly be not quite as embarrassing.) AND IT IS MAKING ME SO HAPPY!

I feel whole. 

As a mother, I can't just give up on things that make my heart sing its own little song. Sometimes I have to put them to the side for a bit. They are often the first thing to go in times of stress, family need, or emergency. And honestly, that's okay. Being a mother entails a lot of sacrifice and putting someone else's needs above your own more than I ever realized. God stretches me to help me love deeper and purer; helping me declutter my life. But He doesn't ask me to completely give up on my dreams. Just to put it in a timing and place that is more in line with His plans for me. 

I am remembering that in all the planning, trying, worrying, hoping, enduring, and praying of my mothering journey, that there I need my own dreams, plans, hopes, and discovery. Mothers are people too. 



18 February 2015

public transit


When Tyler proposed, he purposely planned a ride on the Phoenix light rail into our trip because he knew what a kick I got out of using public transit.  That alone probably speaks for itself about my level of experience using buses, light rails, and trains prior to our marriage - I simply had no experience.  Then for two years, Tyler and I were entirely without a car.  We were living the grad student dream in northeast England and our little budget didn't allow for it - have you SEEN British gas prices?  Thankfully Newcastle has a great metro system and we were in full-on adventure mode, so mastering bus schedules, metro maps, and train transfers was all just part of the fun.









Fast forward: We moved back to the US of A, had purchased a car before we even hit the soil, and reveled in the joy of grocery shopping with trunk space.  (Grocery shopping is the one thing that is absolutely, completely, undeniably the pits without a car.)  San Diego has its own trolley, aka light rail system, and Mili has been eyeing those bright red cars for some time now.  I knew it was high time to get back onto the public transit bandwagon.  With two kids in tow, one umbrella stroller, and a bag packed with lunches and snacks, we set off to Old Town San Diego to go visit the Mormon Battalion.

Pros:

  • It felt like a little slice of England!  Sometimes, I can really miss our time in that place.
  • The skills of utilizing public transit are apparently burned into my brain.  Didn't have any trouble figuring out which trains to take, where to transfer lines, and when to get off.
  • I didn't have to find or pay for parking at Old Town!  I hate parking in busy, big city areas.
  • Noah and Mili thought it was the greatest.  Mili's memories of a bajillion and one trips on the metro have clearly faded and our trip was long enough that I let Noah out of the stroller to stand at the window.
  • Just being around so many people was so nice.  Being a stay at home mom can feel so incredibly isolating - it was a relief to just be around a bit of humanity who were all just relaxing, saying hello, sharing smiles.
  • My gas tank was teetering on empty today, but I didn't have to fill it up.
  • It helps teach my children how to use these kinds of transit, to be unafraid to try them out, and to prevent them from creating any stigma about 'people who take the bus.'  Also, it exposes them to such an eclectic and varied segment of people; a breadth and depth that I simply cannot create for them in any other way.

Cons:


  • Noah is not as stroller-trained as Mili was.  Mili was super good at hanging out in the stroller like a champ, cause that is how we got everywhere and she spent a good chunk of time.  Noah doesn't get near the amount of time in the stroller and he would start trying to escape and practically falling out of the seat.
  • Our first metro broke down.  Of course.  I almost started laughing.  But again, it wasn't that bad because it just felt so old hat to me.  I knew the drill, didn't stress about time, just waited and talked about it all with Mili, who had a million and one questions.
  • You aren't supposed to eat on the trolley system.  That is near on impossible with two hoodlums under the age of 3 who you just traipsed all around.  I just fed them snacks in very small doses, to minimize mess and spillage.
  • It does take longer.  This could be a pro or con I suppose, depending on your kids, time scale, nap schedules, and level of desperate boredom/cabin fever.

All in all, it was an awesome day and I'm so glad we did it.  Mili Kay loved it so much that it looks like it may become a somewhat regular thing.  In the next couple weeks I'm planning a bus ride to Balboa Park. Anybody want to come?

07 February 2015

Resolutions that matter

I began 2015 with exactly one goal.

Read my scriptures. Meaningfully.  Every day.

Previous to this year I was already reading most days.  But there'd be some missed days.  Some days where I 'read' on my bed after a long, exhausting, sleep deprived day - not sure I even made it past opening the book on those days.

I committed to a year-long, self-motivated, love affair with the written word of God.

We are now 39 days into this new year.  My life has undergone a mighty transformation into a state of increasing happiness.  39 days, with a slip-up or two, where I have sought to carve out time for reading words of prophets.  Previous to this I was going through a rough patch with my daily life; feelings of discontent, restlessness, and boredom were becoming daily experiences. Scriptures unlock my heart to teach me, who I am, why I am here on earth, and what I should be doing with my life (credit to Sister Beck for explaining it so well)Reading these words has been a saving grace.

01 February 2015

Totally slanted

This is a post in which I will post all the best pictures that look so wonderful and beautiful and perfect.

And then I will tell you that yes, those pictures do document some of the most wonderful little moments of the past month.  But truthfully most of the last week was spent in pajamas and, on a good day, half-dressed as we dealt with head colds and one nasty case of bronchiolitis, the house was in absolute bedlam because who has motivation to unpack or do laundry or wash dishes when you are sleep-deprived and dealing with constant runny noses, and there was a very large consumption of cold cereal for all parties concerned.

It was a really good past month.  Really nuts.  But really good.

First.  The wedding.  One of my dearest friends got married.  And it was perfect.  I cried a whole bunch (are anyone else's tear ducts permanently stuck on weepy after having kids?), laughed, danced, and was so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so happy for Christin and Paul.  I mean.  Gosh guys.  No words.  And many thanks to their photographer Ryann Lindsey Photography (http://www.ryannlindseyphotography.com/), for getting this picture of Tyler and I.  *Cue slightly weepy happy eyes again.*


Second.  People.  We got a full 24 hours kid free!  They got Grama and Grandpa time, we got friend and wedding time.  Then we got some family time.  Tyler had to go home after the weekend and I decided to see some people, by myself with the two kids.  It was... hard.  But worth it.  I think.  I won't be reattempting it anytime soon.  So.  If I saw you, feel really really loved.  And if I didn't, please don't take it personal.  We about died as it is.

Third.  Colds.  Traveling with kids during cold season just about guarantees colds.  I surrendered to the inevitable and just starting washing my own hands like a maniac.  Noah and Mili got sick the night before we came home (three cheers for my sister and Jesse for holding a crying Noah while I gave Mili medicine!).  We survived the drive home then collapsed into the house, where, lo and behold, Tyler had a cold of sorts too.  The next week was a blur of nights on the recliner with a little boy who had his cold develop into bronchiolitis, days full of snot, and a lot of just really unstructured time letting it all be, disaster house and all.

Honestly, sans the virus invasion, it was a really healthy week.  There were lots of books, laughing, snuggling, and me being able to put the hoodlums first.  Tyler would come home exhausted after work and lay on the floor, playing whatever game he could invent where he got to stay still.  The kids ate it up.  Noah decided to start walking on his own!  Mili talked up a storm.  But, it was still super hard and exhausting and I'm very grateful that I'm getting some sleep again.  Overall it was good, but there were some moments.  You know.

And today.  Technically January is over, but some of the magic must still be in the air.  After a really good block of church, we took a trip to the temple.  For a few minutes, my world stood still and Heaven came down to visit.  

Again and again, in so many ways, God shows me that this path I'm walking down is the one He would have me be on.  

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 14:27