Five Minute Friday: Open

It's Friday.  That means it's time to write without worrying if it's just right or not.  Five minutes flat, that's all it takes.  Won't you click over to The Gypsy Mama and join in?

Today's Prompt: Open

Go.

Open your eyes, precious baby.  Your arrival has been long awaited.  Not just through your time spent in Mommy's womb, but in the years that were spent trying to bring you to this earth. 

Open your tiny eyes and see the faces of your Mom and Dad who are doubtless never more grateful than they are now to see your face.  Feel the love of your Mother who was born to raise children- with her childlike heart and well of patience.  Feel the love and pride of your Father who is going to be the most amazing Dad.  Know that you are safe in their presence and more loved than you could possibly imagine.

Open your eyes and see they faces of your two cousins.  Special friends who will be yours for a lifetime.  They can't wait to play with you.  And see me, your Aunt, already a Mommy. I know the love of a Mother.  I know the love of an Aunt.   Feel the love I already have for you and joy that your arrival is near.  Your parents is so very special to me, and so are you!

Know the love of everyone in your family.  You have been born into a world of people who know your precious worth.  We open our hearts to you and welcome you to this life.  Can't wait to see what you make of it.

Stop.

My sister is in labor right now.  I am beyond excited to meet her little angel, and so thankful she is coming before I have to go home.

28 Goals Recap

My 29th birthday was last Wednesday and it's time to evaluate what I accomplished this year.  I am not too upset about what I didn't accomplish because, frankly, without making these goals I wouldn't be where I am today.  I feel great about what I've done.  Here is an update:

1. Go back to school- still working on this.  Going to add to next years goals.
2. Decide where to live- we're going to stay in Utah for now.
3. Exercise Regularly- other than the last couple weeks being sick I can definitely say exercise is a regular part of my routine
4. Learn to overcome some of my OCD tendencies This is and will likely always be a work in progress, but I have made positive strides in letting go of perfection and control.
5. Visit home more often I have actually been home a lot this year.  It's been great to spend so much time with them.
6. Potty train Zoe!!! Done and done.  I think we're going to try to get Paige potty trained before the end of next year.
7. Read 100 books- Changing this one for next year.  100 books is far to many for my busy life.  I think I read a grand total of 8 this year.
8. Take more pictures than last year (especially of Paige)- not sure how to figure this one.  I took pictures, but not as many as I would like. Still, I am pretty sure I took more than last year though.  I think next year I will make a goal to take at least 2 photos a week.
9. Replace porch light bulb- I did it, but now need to do it again because the black light bulb has been in there since Christmas.  :)
10. Get my piano tuned- definitely adding this to next year
11. Play piano 2-3 times per week- recently I have been, but not enough to consider this done.
12. Play flute 2-3 times per week- same as above
13. Sing full voiced as often as possible- I ALWAYS sing full voiced, and often.
14. Do one public music performance- I actually did three, and plan to do a lot more utilizing opportunities through Church next year.
15. Take walks regularly- adding to next year
16. Learn the guitar- adding to next year
17. Be happy with myself- I'm getting there.  Adding to next year.
18. Read scriptures daily-  I was doing well for a while, but dropped off, need to recommit.
19. Pray morning and night (at least)- same as above
20. Learn to be on time- excruciating that I haven't accomplished this one yet.  Much harder than I thought it would be.  Adding to next year.
21. Go to the temple once a month- Next year.
22. Drink 64 ounces of water daily on a regular basis- I regularly drink about 100 ounces.  Yay!
23. Start writing poetry again- I haven't written anything new in a while.  Adding to next year.
24. Find a place to go swing dancing and try to go often- Still working on this one.
25. Look for opportunities to provide service and take them!- I need to be more open to this next year.  Though I did accomplish some this year, especially recently.
26. Go rock climbing- next year.
27. Eat at least 1 serving of fruit and vegetables every day- Something that has definitely become part of my diet.
28. Quit my nervous habit- still at it.  Darnit.

Ten out of 28 completed is not half bad.  Especially for someone who never followed through on goals before.  I am especially proud of the strides I have made towards my health and my music this year.  I'm excited for what lies ahead for next year.  I will continue to focus on health and music but want to work more on spiritual goals and some of the others.  Stay tuned for next year's 29 goals page.  It's coming soon!

Closer

It's hard to believe we only have two days until Christmas.  My family and I have been in the throes of illness for two weeks now.  I am finally starting to feel like we might be nearing the end.  The relief of that feeling is indescribable.  You take for granted things like having a voice, being able to exercise, being able to breathe without coughing.  I can't wait until I feel like myself again.

I'm writing to you now from a hotel room in Cortez, CO.  We are on our way to my home, New Mexico, to spend Christmas with my family.  Unfortunately, the road into my hometown is closed due to a terrible snowstorm so we are stuck waiting. 

What do these two things have in common?

Being sick and being stuck in a hotel room, our home, a car together has brought us all closer.  Gratefully, I find my children endearing instead of feeling like they are driving me nuts.  Zoe spent the trip entertaining us with her new nicknames for us and her silly remarks. 

 Last night as we were all laying down to go to sleep she said, "Dad, I'm having trouble sleeping.  I think I'll count sheep."  We chuckled as she started counting aloud, only to burst out laughing when she said, a few seconds later, "Actually, I think I should play Angry Birds." 

Paige serenaded us with her singsong voice, talking until almost midnight and we were up early this morning because of her coughing.  Yet, as soon as she saw Dad up and awake she excited squealed, "HI!"  And suddenly the early hour wasn't so frustrating.

Not to mention all the time I've had to sit and talk with Matt, listen to music and just BE together while our two little ones enjoy movies in the back seat.  Blessed technology!! 

I'm grateful for the time to reflect and really enjoy my little family.  They are my greatest blessings and (especially after last year) I'm beyond excited that we are all together this year. 

Well, I'd better sign off.  The extra waiting has given me some time to get a little work done. 

Just in case I don't get the chance to get on here again, Merry Christmas to you all!  (Or Happy Holidays to those of you who celebrate differently.)  I'm so grateful to have you here!

Blogging?

What's that? I know I've been missing around here lately. What can I say except "life happens"? We've been busy shopping for the holidays, spending time with our extended family and each other, oh and some of the not so fun stuff like working, and the really terrible stuff like illness. Let's just say I've been a little busy around here.

I haven't even found time to exercise since last Friday! Yikes! I'm going through withdrawals. No really. Did you know you could have exercise withdrawals? Well now you do. In good news, despite my bad few days of no exercise I hit 10 pounds lost since the beginning of this health/weight loss journey. I don't know why, but hitting that number is extremely satisfying for me. Other than my random weight loss last year, I haven't seen these numbers in at least four, maybe five years. That is exciting! I'm also starting to really notice some changes, especially in my stomach area (finally!). That is always the last place to notice a difference. What this means is I am over halfway to my goal weight and then I can just work on maintaining and toning. Awesome!
Image Source
Another thing I have been busy with?  Music!  Yes, I joined my church choir at the invitation of the director after finding out they were doing a performance next Tuesday in addition to Christmas.  (I won't be here for Christmas.)  Unexpectedly, after joining, I also have the opportunity to play my flute.  It's hard to describe how happy all of this makes me.  Growing up, music was my life.  For the last few years, it hasn't really been that way.  Having this opportunity makes me feel like I've come home...to myself.  It makes me feel whole.  I'm very excited.

In just over a week I will be making the trip home to New Mexico to see my family for Christmas.  And hopefully to meet my new niece who is set to be arriving any day now.  So, there are many exciting things going on through the craziness! 

Last, my birthday is one week from today.  As I approach 29, I have looked over my goals I set for this year (see 28 Goals) and I accomplished far more than I thought I did.  Maybe not as many as I thought I would, but I made those goals a single Mother who had much more control over her time.  After getting remarried, things changed, but I still managed to accomplish a lot.  In the next couple weeks, I plan to write a new list of 29 Goals for next year, including some that I didn't make it to this year, and making a few of them more realistic (read 100 books, ha!).  I will, of course do a review of last years goals and cross off a couple more before then.  What I took from this year is that having something to work towards is the only way to live.  If you're not working towards something, you're not living, merely existing.  It's been amazing to live, and quite an eventful year. 

I would encourage anyone who wants to join me in making goals to accomplish next year (you can start them on your birthday and do them by age, or just make some resolutions).  Post them on your blog and leave the link in the comments on the 28 (soon to be 29) goals page, or just leave your goals in a comment on that page.  Check in with me when I post about goals or on the page throughout the year.  Let's see what we can accomplish!

Five Minute Friday: Color

It's been another one of those weeks. You know, the ones that pass you by in an instant. Where you know you were busy but you feel like you accomplished little. I'm ready to start a new week. Perhaps with a bit of an attitude adjustment. And plenty more playtime with my girls. Tonight is date night. Matt and I are doing our Christmas shopping for the girls. I'm so excited!! Anyway, it's Friday again! So let's get on with it. Want to join in? Please click on over to The Gypsy Mama.

Today's prompt: Color

Go.

Imagine a world without color. No yellow sun to brighten the days and bring out the vibrant blue of the sky and deep green of the plants. Every day would be that gloom of January. Gone would be the pink cheeks of my girls, Paige's bright blue eyes and Zoe's deep brown ones. I wonder how much the taste of our food is influenced by it's color and presentation? Nothing but the change of weather would differentiate the seasons. No pastels and vibrant colors for spring and summer, earthy tones for fall. What would Christmas be like without the signature reds and greens we are all so used to? I would miss the contrast of white snow against blue sky, the aqua blue of Matt's eyes against the contrast of his dark hair, and silly things like painting my nails- what would be the point?

Color is defining. It imprints itself into our memories, what we find significant or important. Color describes everything from our mood, to our taste, to our experiences. Without it, life would seem flat and dull and lifeless. My life and my memories are filled with color. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Stop.

What does color mean to you? (No really, cuz I had a lot of trouble figuring out where I was going to take this prompt.)

Five Minute Friday: Tired

It's Friday!  Please join me for five minutes of unedited writing prompted by The Gypsy Mama.  Please click over and participate!

Today's prompt: Tired

Go.

When I saw today's prompt, I had to chuckle a little at the prospect of writing about it.  I'm pretty sure "tired" is my state of being and has been for a long time.  At least since I became a Mother.  It is a feeling I am used to.

Sometimes it is my own fault.  I sit here writing this post, tired, at midnight, knowing I have to be up in five hours. 

Sometimes I'm up with one of the girls.

Sometimes I stay up to spend a little extra time with Matt.

Sometimes I just have too much on my mind and can't sleep.

But tired doesn't only mean lack of sleep. 

Sometimes I'm tired of what can be so mundane as a stay-at-home/work-from-home Mother.  Tired of these off-white walls and the view from my windows.

Sometimes I'm tired from the weight and the stress of my never ending to do list. 

Sometimes I'm tired of being the peacemaker, the housekeeper, the cook, the everything.

Until I remember that I'm tired because I have a job that allows me to work from home and be with my kids, I have a husband that loves me enough to lose sleep to hang out with me, I have two little girls who bless my life and the occasional late night with them is always worth it, and staying up late for a little "me time" while I write a post or read a book or whatever, that is cleansing in it's own way.

Tired, I'm used to it.   It's a part of my life.  It's a part of me.  Matt says, "I'll sleep when I die."  And though that may be a bit cynical, it's also something to think about.  Rest is important, but it's the things that make us tired, that are often our greatest blessings and sources of happiness. 

Stop.

What are you tired of?  Is the cause a blessing or a curse?

Please Help Me To Not Screw Up

I zip her coat as she bounces around excitedly, itching to go outside and play with the neighbor kids.  Her little fingers find mine as we descend the stairs to the front door.  After a few instructions I open the door for her and close it "only a little bit, Mom, so I can get back in." 

I stand by the window and watch as she slowly walks down our porch steps, approaching the other kids cautiously.  She is still so young.  Trying to find her way in the world.  Figuring out how to make friends and how to play with others.  Suddenly, one of them calls, "Hi Zoe!"  My heart rests as I watch her respond and break into a run towards them.  She joins their game and all seems right with the world.

It causes me to pause and realize that I'm going to have many more of those moments.  Times when I will watch as she is put in a situation where her self-esteem will be inflated or take a hit.  I wish I could protect her from the hits, but I know that won't benefit her in the long run.

As a Mother, I constantly worry about my children.  Especially how I am impacting them.  Am I getting after them too much?  Are they going to become perfectionists like me?  Will they have self-esteem issues like me?  Will they think I yelled too much?   Am I there for them enough?  Do I support them enough?  Do I build them up enough?  Do I tear them down?  Am I a good example of the type of person I hope they will become?

I like a good process.  How I wish there was a perfectly laid out plan on the best way to raise children.  Don't worry, I know there could never be such a thing.  I know that each soul on this earth is different.  I also know that I was sent these two girls for a reason.  I see pieces of myself and their Dad in them, but they still manage to surprise me with talents and abilities of their own.  Yet, I sometimes wonder if there was someone that could do it better.

I wish to let them shine like the bright lights they are in what can be a dark world. 

I pray every day to be a better parent.  I strive to discipline them calmly and not yell.  I try to remember they are kids.  Some days I do really well at this.  Some days I feel like such a failure as a Mom.  Some days I wonder if I've damaged them for life with my mood.

It's funny that I am a control freak.  I like to control the environment and situation as much as possible.  My children have been a good lesson to me that life is uncontrollable.  I know in my head that the only person I can control is myself.  It's just much easier said than done.  The control freak that can't always control herself.  Awesome.

I guess the best thing is that I keep trying to be better than I am.  I always apologize and try to make things right with them when I lose my head.  I let them know that is not the way I want to act, not what I expect of myself or of them.  I tell them I will keep trying to be better.  I hope someday soon it will stick.  All the time.

Because I know that a large part of my life and my parenting will bleed onto their kids.  I want them to be amazing parents.  I want them to be amazing people.  I want them to know that I will love and support them in everything they do.  I want them to know that they can do anything they set their hearts on.  Even if they can't.  Because dreams are always worth pursuing, even if you fail.

I hope they know all this.  I keep telling them.  But I know that you lead best by example, so I've got to keep working at it.  Time is running shorter as the days progress.  It won't be long before the world starts to have a say and my opinion matters less.  It is then that my example will speak volumes louder than my voice.  I hope I can live up to my own expectations.

People tell me it gets much harder as they get older.  That's difficult for me to imagine some days when I'm at odds with my two spirited beauties.  I know they will make mistakes.  I hope to be better at helping them to correct the mistakes so they learn from them, not repeat them.  I look back at myself as a teenager and worry about what's in store for me as a parent.  I know if they are anything like their parents, they will need me to be someone they can come to with anything (even when they feel like it's the worst thing they could have ever done) and know there will be a consequence, but that I will not shun them for it.  That is what I'm working towards.

Right now I bask in their smallness.  The funny phrases, children's songs, imaginary monsters and first words.  They drive me crazy with their whining and quarrelling one second, and give me the deepest hugs and sweetest words the next.  They are roller coasters of emotions I must teach them to navigate.  It is a beautiful, but heavy responsibility. 

I know I will continue to feel the tug of my heartstrings as they enter the world more and more and need me less and less.  If they leave home knowing that my heart holds them with a love that is deeper than words can explain, knowing they are smart and beautiful, knowing they are of great worth, knowing I will always have their backs, knowing I am grateful every moment of every day to be their Mother, I will consider myself a success.  Now it's just a matter of getting there. 

World, be kind to my girls.  Heavenly Father, please help me to prepare them.

Forgiveness: Part Two

This is the second post of a two part series on Forgiveness.  If you haven't read part one or you need a refresher click here.

Two steps left and I saved them for last.  Why?  Because they are the most important and the hardest to do.  We left off with making sure you've allowed yourself the emotions this wrong has brought upon you, you've felt them fully and are ready to move forward. 

Forgive

Once you've passed through all the steps the next one is to forgive the person. 

If I knew how to explain how to forgive, I would.  It certainly involves all the steps we've previously discussed.  Depending on the situation it may have taken you anywhere from seconds to years to come to a place where you can forgive.  Only you will know when you get there.  The funny thing about forgiveness is it's not really about the person you're forgiving.  It's about YOU. 

You deciding you're ready to let go of the past.  You deciding to move forward.  You deciding to release the feelings you've been holding onto.  You deciding to cast away the hurt, anger or sadness.  You deciding to let someone "off the hook."  You releasing the burden you bear. 

Forgiveness is good for the heart, the soul, the mind.  It is everything good about the world.  The opposite of hoarding anger and pettiness.  Forgiveness is cleansing.  It is the best thing about human nature- second chances.  Forgiveness is love.

I believe it is our duty to forgive everyone, everything.  Yes, everything. Even horrific things. For me it is a commandment, and one I follow willingly.  It is not up to us to be the judge of some one's wrongdoings, even if they deeply impacted us. Justice will be served no matter what. Be it civil law, Heavenly law, karma, no matter what you believe, justice will be served. 

If you're still having trouble with forgiveness towards someone, think of the worst thing you've ever done that someone has forgiven you for.  How did you feel knowing you'd done them wrong, made a mistake?  How did you feel when they knew?  Did they have pain in their face?  Did they cry?  Did they get mad?  Were there circumstances beyond your control that caused the hurt?  Did you get to talk through things?  When they forgave you, how did you feel?  Were you lighter?  Were you relieved?  Were you grateful?

If you've never been in that situation, I'd be surprised.  I will tell you, being forgiven for something, especially when you thought your entire world would crash down upon you because of your mistake, is one of the best feelings in the world.  Like a deep satisfying breath after a year of shallow ones.



I watch my daughter's face when she's made a mistake that she thinks she is in huge trouble for.  I watch her when I react calmly and we discuss things.  I watch as she realizes that she's not going to get yelled at and sent to bed immediately.  We come up with a fair consequence, agree that she shouldn't do it again, and I tell her I love her and it's OK to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.  The relief on her face spells out the feeling of forgiveness to me.  And I am grateful for her example of instant forgiveness when I go to her and apologize when I do overreact or yell.  She hugs me and tells me, "It's OK, Mommy." Always, without fail. 

The point is: find a way to forgive them.  If for nothing more than to release yourself.  Forgive everyone, EVERYTHING.  I promise it's worth it.  You will feel better.

In many cases you will let them know they are forgiven.  Sometimes it would only be awkward or even impossible to tell the person they are forgiven.  However, if someone has asked for your forgiveness, it is important that you let them know when you are able to do so.  They have put themselves in a vulnerable position and are waiting for you to tell them.  Even if it seems they've moved on, you have to tell them.  When you do, pay attention to how you feel.  You will know why forgiveness is so important.

Forget

The most important disclaimer I will make in this post is that forgetting (and forgiving) doesn't make what the person did OK.  It just means you are ready to move past it.  You will rarely completely forget the wrong done to you.  The human mind isn't built that way.  It is in our nature to store information surrounding our lives.  Forgetting doesn't mean to actually FORGET.  It means to let it go. 

Once you've forgiven someone- especially if you've told them so- you are not allowed to keep going back to it.  It's not OK to throw it back at them during a fight.  It's not OK to remind them of it.  It's not OK to keep going back to it, rehashing it, or making them relive it. 

Forgiveness is like starting a new chapter in a book.  The story keeps going.  The older chapters will always be a part of the story.  Forgetting is remembering that the story can never continue if you keep going back and reading the old chapters over and over again.  It doesn't mean you don't remember the old chapters, just that you've recognized the wisdom in continuing forward, not backwards.

It can be a long time before your own mind can move past whatever you've been through.  You can't always control where your mind takes you, but you can control your actions and what comes out of your mouth.  In time, your mind will find new things to dwell on.  Until then, will yourself to keep the forgiven person out of it.  Work through this last part on your own and start building new chapters of your life.

A Few More Thoughts on Forgiveness

My idea of a perfect forgiveness?  When someone has done me wrong, recognized it and talked through it with me, asked for forgiveness then given me space to deal with my feelings.  When I am able to truthfully tell them they are forgiven, let it go and move on with my life.  That is perfect.  This scenario doesn't always happen.  It could be considered rare.  But I believe it to be the best kind of forgiveness because it shows compassion.  It shows love and it allows for trust to be rebuilt.

NEVER tell someone they are forgiven before you're ready.  Not only would it be lying, but that kind of "forgiveness" is beneficial to no one.  It doesn't allow you to move on and it will eventually be revisited at some point in the future.  Go through the steps, and forgive when you're ready.  If someone is pressuring you to forgive them, remind them that they need to allow you time to process your feelings and you will forgive them when you can. 

If they are part of your life, try to be kind to them as you go through things.  Remember: you are not the judge and jury.  It's not up to you to punish them for their mistake.  It is up to you to do what you must to release them from it.  Repenting and paying the consequence is their job to police, not yours.

Last, there are only so many chances you can give someone. Be forgiving, but don't allow someone to keep impacting your life in a bad way. Don't give anyone that power. Ever. Forgiveness isn't cleansing if you have to keep bathing in old bathwater.  There are times where what happened was so destructive that you are forced to remove yourself from the person or situation. It is still possible to forgive and forget. But that doesn't always mean you have to keep that person in your life.Forgive, always forgive.  But don't allow it to keep happening.  As I said before, forgiveness is about YOU. Allow yourself to forgive and move past it, but remove yourself from the situation if it will cause you more harm, or if it is necessary. If it's a family member, be careful how you proceed. Rifts can be large and spread far. Make sure it is worth it. 

I will conclude with a quick rundown of the steps.  Recognize, communicate, feel, forgive, forget.  Do it.  Every time.  It's worth it. 

I've done my best, here, people.  It's not an easy topic, I promise you that.  I sort of feel like it's a huge jumble of words I've tried to make sense of.  I would really love some feedback.  What do you think of these steps?  Do you agree that forgiveness is always possible?  Do you disagree?  What experiences do you have with forgiveness?  Please take a moment to comment on this one.  Maybe we could have a great discussion.  Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving

Several of my Facebook friends started doing a daily status of what they were thankful for.  I joined in on the fun.  Traditionally, on Thanksgiving I write a post about everything I am thankful for.  I know that not all of my friends, family and readers have access to my personal fb page so I wanted to compile a list of them here for you, and for me. 

I thought it would be difficult to come up with 24 things to be thankful for.  At the end of the journey, I realize it wasn't difficult at all.  In fact, I could probably continue.  What a great realization to recognize just how blessed I am.  I hope all of you find yourselves greatly blessed as well!  (For those of you who have already read these, feel free to skip down to the bottom.  Though, I did add to a couple of them.)

1. I am grateful for my husband, Matt.  We have spent almost a year on new beginnings.  I'm thankful for how a relationship can be repaired through love, trust, communication and forgiveness.  He works so hard to support (in more than one way) me and our family.  And he loves me and shows it daily.  I love you, Matthew!

2. I am grateful for my girls, Zoe and Paige.  They bring a light to my life that is indescribable.  Never before having kids could I imagine my heart stretching more than it did when I fell in love for Eternity.  Then they showed up and my heart just stretched bigger.  I thank my Heavenly Father daily for sending these miracles into my life. 



3.Today I am thankful to have a home where I can raise my kids in a comforting and safe environment surrounded by friends.

4. I am so grateful that Matthew and I both have good, dependable jobs that provide for our needs. So grateful that we have a steady paycheck every two weeks. There are far too many that we know who don't have this blessing. My hope is that they have it soon and that I never take it for granted.

5. I am grateful to be able to work from home so I can bring in income while remaining my girls' primary caregiver. Short of not having to work, I cannot think of a better blessing than that!

6. I am grateful for Matt's family. They have become my own family and I love you all so very much. I am grateful to have spent the entire day with them yesterday and many more to come.

7. I'm grateful for my family. I grew up with wonderful, supportive parents and siblings who I could count on. I am grateful to have grown up around my extended family and how much a part of my life they have always been. I love you all and miss you so much!

8. I have some really amazing friends. Some span over almost my entire life, some I met in school, some at work, some at church, some just randomly and some across the internet. Every single one of them is a huge blessing in my life. Many of them are like family to me. Many of them would do anything for me and I hope they know I would do anything for them. I can't imagine my life without my friends. They are my daily sanity. Love you, my friends!

9. I am thankful for my Heavenly Father. Without Him I would have nothing, I would be nothing. He has picked me up when I was down, carried me when I could go no further, and nourished my spirit when it was broken. He has given me my beautiful family, and more blessings than I probably deserve. I am so grateful to have the relationship with Him that I do and I hope to continue to build it throughout my life.

10. Today I am grateful for our medical insurance, the best pediatrician I could ask for, and the general overall healthy of my girls and my family. We are so lucky.

11.Today I'm thankful to my husband, my Father-in-Law, my Uncle and all the other men and women who serve or have served in our military. Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you to the families who support(ed) them. Thank you for the sacrifice made for the good of others. Thank you for protecting the right to freedom and keeping me safe. Happy Veteran's Day!

12. I'm thankful that my hubby and our friend are outside hanging Christmas lights on my house. First time we've ever had them in our 8 years of marriage. So excited!!

13. I'm so grateful to have a husband that assures me that I'm beautiful when I don't feel like it, when nothing fits, when I have a horrible morning.



14. I'm grateful for a weekend full of time with my little family and our extended family. Lots of priceless moments, firsts, and we come out of it with a Christmas Tree set up and lights outside. Oh yes, we did!

15. Today I'm grateful for the occasional alone time I get to do whatever I want, without whining and complaining, or constant reminders to not touch anything at the store, or hearing "I'm hungry" or "I'm tired" and the whole time I am out. It recharges my soul and makes me a better Mother and a gentler Wife. Plus the reaction when I get back is always worth it. :)

16.  Today I am thankful my family will be together forever.

17. Today I'm grateful to the few people who watch or have watched my kids for me so I can go to work on the few days I have to, or so I can get out on a date with my hubby. I am indebted to you for life and there aren't words to express how grateful I am or how comforting it is to leave my precious girls with people I can trust to take good care of them. Thank you so very much, from the bottom of my heart.

18. I'm grateful for our regular date night...even when it's spent at home. :)

19. I'm grateful for the first time I can ever remember really enjoying playing in the snow because of my family and our great neighbors!!

20. Today I'm grateful for the opportunity to take the sacrament, for the Atonement, and for my Savior, Jesus Christ.

21. Today I'm grateful for little toothy grins in the morning, "loves", giggles, imaginary tales, and everything in between. Even the hard stuff. Motherhood is definitely a roller coaster, but it's a ride I would choose to get on every time.



22. Today I am grateful for the motivation (self and supportive) that I have right now to continue on my health and fitness journey. I don't know how long it will take to get my body to where I feel comfortable in it, but my mind is healthier knowing I'm working on it and my life will be longer and more fulfilling because I am taking care of it.

23. I'm thankful for my history. My own personal and generations of history of those before me. I'm grateful for what I was taught and everything I've learned from them. Mostly I'm grateful for the traditions i grew up with and treasured memories that go along with them this holiday season.

24. Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for the opportunity to spend a day with family remembering to be grateful for my bounty.  Yes, we will eat lots of yummy food, but I will spend the day remembering that I am greatly blessed.  I only hope I can show my gratitude daily.  There are plenty of wants I have, but my needs are always fulfilled.  I know there are many who can't say that.  My prayers are with you that you will be comforted and protected and provided for. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!  Yes, even to those of you who don't live in the US.  Take some time today to count your blessings!

Wow!!!!

Just a quick post to say, "THANK YOU SO MUCH!"  To everyone who reads, follows, comments, and spreads the word about my blog, I so appreciate it.  I have the Alexa  toolbar- which basically tells me my traffic rating in comparison to all the other websides worldwide .  Tonight I crossed the 1 million barrier and currently stand at 993,254 IN THE WORLD! 

You may all think I'm crazy, but to give you an idea, this blog started at 14 millionth in the world the beginning of September.  That's a HUGE leap!  To top it off, it is ranked at 141,765 in the United States.  That may not seem huge to you, but IMAGINE all the websites in the world and in the US.  Google is number 1 and Facebook is number 2. 

Anyway, I will stop gushing now, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU again.  I appreciate you all and love to have you here.  Please keep doing what you're doing, keep the comments coming, and sharing posts you like.  Have a great night!

P.S. If you want to help me out a little bit MORE than you already do, please click over to Alexa and write a review.  I'll love you forever!  Thanks!

Five Minute Friday: Grow

It's time again for Five Minute Friday.  Late because I've spent the morning trying to rest from trying to be a teenager last night and go see a movie at midnight.  What was I thinking??  Anyway, if you would like to join in, please click over to The Gypsy Mama and read the rules!

This week's prompt: Grow

Go.

This spirit inside me yearns to leap and grow beyond these walls.  To create, to do, to explore, to push.  It longs for freedom to do as it pleases and not worry. 

I wish to pursue so many things I sometimes don't even know where to start.  I throw myself into a goal only to find life gently laugh as it reminds me of my responsibilities.  You can face a goal head-on but there is always that balancing act of holding everything else together while you do.

I don't resent this life.  Not in the slightest.  I love my children, my husband.  I love to nurture and care for them.  I appreciate the time they give me to be me and to do things on my own.  I appreciate their encouragement.  Sometimes, when you have weeks like the one I've just finished, it's difficult to feel like your growth is not stunted. 

As a perfectionist, it's hard for me to keep encouraging myself.  Because I want the results now and I want them accomplished perfectly.  I know that life will never allow me that.  I suppose that is growth in and of itself- the knowing.  It's working on accepting that and moving forward that is difficult.

So I continue to press forward among the girl's requests for a dance in the kitchen, a snuggle with my husband, the responsibilities of my home and my job.  I know there is growth in those things and nourishment for the spirit.  They are important for me and for them.  Small miracles.  I guess my growing spirit just feels selfish sometimes.  It will get over it.

Stop.

Five Minute Friday: Unexpected

It's time again for Five Minute Friday.  We write for five minutes flat without worrying if it's perfect.  Please click over to The Gypsy Mama for instructions and to join in!

Today's Prompt: Unexpected

Go.

Life has returned to what will be the new normal for me as a single Mother.  I find happiness in my children, my friends and my small accomplishments.  Yet, my heart still aches from the pain of an unexpected divorce and the love I still carry for the man that was supposed to be mine forever. 

I find myself pondering over the last time I saw him, a few days ago, when things seemed strangely normal.  We were able to talk without that edge of hostility.  Talk a lot.  And laugh.  All foreign things since everything started.

We have been talking since.  Not just about the girls, but about likes and dislikes, music, every day things. It is friendly, and I don't quite know what to make of it.  I don't take time to question it too much.  It is nice to be friends for once.

I go about my day working, playing with the girls, meals, clean-up, the normal routine.  All the while carrying on a great conversation with him over text.  Until I get an unexpected message:

Do you think you could meet me to talk? 

My heart pounds loudly in my ears as I search it for an answer.  What could he want to talk about?  He doesn't want to do it over text.  It is obviously important to need to meet in person.  A million thoughts rush through my head, I lay them all aside immediately and text back the first thought that had entered my mind:

Yes.

Little did I know, that would be the first step to our second beginning.  I am so grateful I said, "Yes."

Stop.

What has come from the unexpected moments in your life?

Bouncing Around in My Head

My mind is a puzzle, but the peices never quite fit together.  Some peices aren't whole, or lost, and some are just too big to put anywhere.  If you understood that metaphor, congratulations!  I often have difficulty separating my thoughts and rarely can I turn them off.  Matt is constantly amazed at how many different topics I can spew at him at any given moment.  So today I thought I would do a sort of list of everything I'm thinking about right now.  Ready?

* I have fallen off the exercise wagon.  It's only been a little over a week, but I feel a lot of guilt over it.  It all started because of sick kids.  Then Halloween came with all the treats and the candy and the delicious bread and soups.  Our plan was to start Insanity completely over together on November 1st.  When we woke up, no one felt very well.  Then I just got lazy.  I plan to get a workout in today, so I'm hoping I can jump back on just as easily.  We shall see.

* I am a little shocked that I haven't gained any weight during this last week.  I'm not sure if it's just that my metabolism is a little better now.  Maybe I'm not eating as many calories as I think I am...haven't been keeping track.  Or, maybe I am losing all that muscle I worked so hard to get.  I'm not sure.  Anyone who knows is welcomed to weigh in.

* I've noticed that my lack of working out leaves me in sort of a sour mood.  I think I'm missing the endorphins.  Or something.  I don't like it.

* I have done shockingly little off of my to do list over the last week.  I hate feeling like I am playing catch-up on a daily basis.

* Daylight Savings time is evil.  I still haven't adjusted.  Many of my clocks still read the wrong time.  Paige didn't adjust very well.  I knew I should have started adjusting her schedule early!  Hopefully things settle into routine again soon.

* I HATE laundry.  I was one load of folding away from finishing it when I stopped a few days ago.  Today I have another mountain to wash.

* I feel like the only thing I ever accomplish everyday is getting and keeping the kitchen clean and doing the dishes.  Another job I despise.  I guess I don't like re dos.

* I am missing the summery sunshine.  The sun is out today, but it's that dim, winter sunlight.  I hate winter.  I hate snow.  I hate to be cold.  Hopefully this winter isn't too horrible.

* On a brighter note, I am so excited for Christmas this year!  Last Christmas, well, let's be honest, it sucked.  Yeah, I was with my girls and my family...but not having Matt was really hard for me and I am so excited for us to all celebrate together this year.  Plus!  My brother is back from his mission and can join us, and my sister should be having her baby while we're there.  I hope!  Exciting things!

* Yesterday I finally got the pictures hung in Zoe's bedroom.  We took them down to paint over 6 months ago.  Yeah...

* I've decided that Paige's room needs to be painted too.  Funny, my whole house needs to be painted...including my room.  Off-white is getting old.  But I suppose, as a Mom, I should be used to doing things for my girls first!  :)  Matt thinks Paige's room should be purple.  That sounds fun to me.  Need to figure out what I want to do in there.

* Speaking of decorating, I have an itch to get my whole house decorated and done.  I just wish I had the time and the money and the design sense to do it!!

* After reading the love story (so far) of Untypically Jia and her husband, Matt, I have decided that I was far too focused on myself, my friends and my world growing up.  So I guess that does make me a little bit of the snob people thought I was and I thought I wasn't.  Pondering this.

* I just realized that if I have all of this on my mind, it's no wonder I have a hard time focusing and getting things done.  The sad thing is, I could go on.  Instead I will spare you. 

What's bouncing around in your head today?

Five Minute Friday: Remember

It's time again for Five Minute Friday.  Please click over to the Gypsy Mama for the rules and spend some time with us writing for five minutes without worrying if it's just right or not.

Today's prompt: Remember

Go.

I remember the carefree days.  When I could run so fast the wind rushed past my ears.  When I would pretend my bike was a car and we would gas up at the end caps of the brick walls separating our properties.  I remember sleepovers.  Silly games like truth or dare.  The drama and fear of liking boys and spending endless hours talking it over with my friends.

I remember the comfort of growing up in the same house.  Always knowing my Mom would be home when I got there.  Having siblings I could count on.  A Father that always made sure we had what we needed.  Not everyone had those things growing up.  These years hold a lot of memories for me.

Some of my favorite memories of my youth surround my time in the Band.  From sixth grade on up I played the piano, flute and the piccolo in many different groups.  I even sang in the choir my freshman year.  I auditioned and made it several times in the state-wide groups and participated in the city youth symphony.  Marching Band holds some of my most treasured and fun memories.

Looking back, those days are some of the fondest times for me.  I find it a little sad that I don't know how to find the time to keep my music alive.  I need to make this a priority.  Music is not something I want to merely treasure with all of my other childhood memories.  How does one lose their passion in life?  I don't want to merely remember that I was a musician.  It is something I want to be.

Stop.

Is there something in your life you remember fondly and have let go of?  What do you think of when you hear the prompt: Remember?

Forgiveness: Part One

Forgiveness is a difficult topic to write about.  It's something personal and situational so it's hard to be general about it. But I'm going to try because I have a few things to say about it.  So many that this will take two posts.  Bear with me.

In my young life I have had many opportunities to forgive.  I say opportunities because that is how I view the chance to release someone from the guilt I'm holding over them.  I forgive in-part because it is my nature.  I forgive because I believe that is what we are supposed to do.  I forgive because it helps me to feel more balanced and less weighed down.

Since before I can remember, I have been relatively quick to forgive.  It hasn't always been a perfect forgiveness (we'll discuss this later) but often has been about me having to let go of the feelings.  I am not one to hold onto a grudge, anger, sadness or even guilt.  I definitely beat myself up over things, but I don't do it for long before I let it go.  I do the same for the people who impact my life with their mistakes.

Unlike some who do this, I don't release the emotion before I have passed through it fully.  I feel it all, get through it and move on.  In many ways this is beneficial to me.  It allows me to live with no regrets.  It allows me to work through problems and then move forward.  It could possibly be why I have no gray hairs.  Funny, but seriously, it could.

There are many things I have been through in my life that I have had to examine and eventually forgive someone for.  I'm not talking about petty things, small indiscretions, I'm talking about life-changing moments that had a huge impact on my life.  Most of those times I have literally told them I forgave them, others it was more of an inner forgiveness.  I am not about to drudge up all that history of mine and reveal their stories on the Internet for the world to see.  While it may be illustrative in my point, part of forgiveness is letting go- which means not continually bringing it up.  (Though, as I have done before, I will discuss my divorce a bit.)

Instead, I would like to go through my personal formula for forgiving someone, and the reasons why I do it, and why I think everyone should forgive.  Just to clarify: these are all my opinions and how my mind works.

Recognize

The first step to forgiveness is recognizing that there was a wrong done.  There are two ways this happens.  In the best of circumstances this is done by both parties.  Otherwise, it's just you knowing something wrong was done to you or impacted you and the other person either has no idea, doesn't care, or refuses to take responsibility.

In the best case scenario, this person knows what they did, they have apologized, and they are not going to do it again.  In this scenario, we are going to take this person at their word.  I call this the best case scenario because it is measurably easier to forgive someone who recognizes that what they did was wrong and is willing to own their mistake, apologize, and ask for forgiveness.  Sincerity obviously plays a large role in this scenario.  Especially in a case where trust was broken.  I firmly believe that you can gauge sincerity no matter where trust stands between you.

In other scenarios, it's all on you.  You recognize the wrong and then move on to step two.

Communicate

It is usually best if the person recognizes on their own that they did something wrong and talks to you about it.  It shows they are sincere and are genuinely sorry.  In some cases they may simply not have known they did something to impact you and once they find out, they too are sorry.  If they have apologized they might allow you to ask questions, get some answers, some closure, some truth, and allow you to process things before you forgive them. This is the most beneficial type of forgiveness for both parties. It allows for communication, a bit of self-induced therapy, and a sort of air-clearing. All of those things allow for a much more positive experience in forgiveness and often the best repair to a relationship if that is the case.

You certainly have a choice of whether or not to bring it up with the person.  In many cases this is beneficial if only to let them know that it impacted you and sometimes will lead to the best case scenario.  Sometimes they won't be willing to take responsibility for their actions, they might get angry, they might try to blame you or get defensive.  It is generally fruitless to attempt to convince them that they were wrong.  In this case, letting them know you were upset is enough to get the process of forgiveness going.  It just means they won't be much of a part of it.

In the event that the other party is unwilling to communicate with you civilly, it is helpful to find someone you trust to discuss the issue if it is bigger than you can deal with.  Counselling is there for a reason.  Otherwise, a religious leader, a mentor or even a very trusted friend can help you through this situation and give you a different perspective.  Just be careful who you air your feelings to. 

Anger can be a hard thing to keep from spreading around.  Trust me when I tell you that talking about someone behind their back- even if it's well deserved in your mind- will always come back to bite you somehow.  It is better to get your real feelings out directly to someone than it is to get them out to a third party and have that person find out second or third-hand.  Bottom line, if you need someone to vent to, make sure you can trust them.  Otherwise, vent in prayer, on paper, or aloud to no one in particular.  Just make sure that you communicate your feelings somehow.  Get them out so you can move on.

Feel

I was watching an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive last night and the therapist said something that struck me as a major truth.  It was something like, "It takes far more courage to feel feelings then it does to shut them off."  For some reason, society has decided that emotion is taboo.  We are a "get over it", "move on", "you've been crying or sad for too long" society.  Yes, there are limits to how deeply or how long someone should feel or deal with something before it should be called depression.  Especially if it was extreme or traumatic.  But often people think or feel that they are weak for crying or being upset.  I don't believe this to be true.

To hide feelings may seem beneficial in the moment.  The problem with hidden feelings is they eventually have to come out somewhere.  Take the example of the show I was watching.  Hoarders are a great example of what can become of feelings not felt.  You can't escape feelings.  If you don't deal with them, they can take over and express themselves in extreme ways from overreacting to an entirely different issue, to hoarding, to literally losing your mind.

The point is: feel it.  Deal with it NOW.  Putting it off will only make it more difficult.  Holding it in, especially if it's a bunch of small things say with your spouse, or being mistreated at work, or a friend who takes advantage of you, will never help it to be better.  Hidden feelings compound on themselves until they combine and create an explosion.  Dealing with them one at a time is always better.

I remember when I went through my divorce.  The feelings I felt then were the most extreme feelings I had ever experienced.  It was impossible to contain them.  I cried until there were no more tears.  I was more angry than I had ever been.  I was irrational and sometimes crazy.  I was this way for a long time.  I remember the day when I finally felt like I had a handle on things again.  I was in no way normal, my life still felt like it was in shambles, but I knew everything would be OK...no matter what happened.  It was then that I knew I had felt everything I needed to feel and could move forward.  The feelings came back in spurts here and there, but they weren't nearly as extreme, and I dealt with them too.  It was hard.  Ugly and horrible.  But imagine what would have happened had I tried to contain them.

If the other party doesn't want to take responsibility, is trying to deny guilt, or is angry, they might try to tell you that you're being irrational.  Don't let anyone tell you to feel differently than you do.  Ever.  You feel the way you do for a reason.  You are not crazy.  You are not emotional.  You are who you are and you feel what you feel.  Find out why you feel that way, do something about it, go through it.  Only then will you truly be able to move on.

I could go on about this forever.  Instead I will reiterate one more time.  FEEL IT.  Don't be afraid of your feelings.  Embrace them so you can move forward.

To be continued...


Five Minute Friday: Relevant

It's Friday, which means it's time to write for five minutes without worrying if it's just right or not.  Click on over to the Gypsy Mama to join in the fun!

Today's Prompt: Relevant

Go.

I often wonder how much of what I write is relevant to you and your lives.  Or how often I use the all-encompassing topic of "balance" to it's outer limits.  I don't often discuss things here that are relevant to what's going on politically or religiously. 

Instead, I discuss the smallness of my world and what I observe there, hoping there are others who are the same.  Others who notice the same things, or have the same joys and struggles.  Or, others how have different opinions and can teach me a thing or two.  I hope that I am relevant in that respect.

I write here because I love to.  Sometimes I have more time than others and I enjoy that there is no pressure to write on certain days or that no one really minds if I don't get on here for a week.  I like to think that people here understand the business of the life of a young, working mother. 

Still, I do worry that I'm not reaching people.  Because the bigger picture here, to me, is that I want to create a sort of community.  Not necessarily one of people that are all of the same mind frame as me-  no one would learn anything. 

I want a community of people who strive to seek balance in their lives, however that looks to them.  People who have joys and struggles like mine or different from mine.  People who are willing to share their experiences like I do.  People who want to be real.

Real, balance, and the pursuit thereof.  That is the matter at hand here, for me.  In that respect, I hope I am relevant.

Stop.

I apologize if my thoughts are jumbled.  Today's topic was a bit hard for me.  What comes to your mind when you hear the word "relevant?"

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

It's time again for Five Minute Friday.  Please click over to The Gypsy Mama to read the rules and join in. 

Go.

Look beyond her tired ponytail and pajamas as she walks hurriedly through the grocery store at two in the afternoon and see a worried Mom stopping to get medicine for the child she comforted all night.

Look beyond that distracted, stony-face and see a man's worry over whether or not he will make the bills this month as he bumps into you- accidentally.

Look beyond the cheery smile of the woman standing on your porch with baked goods and see the lonely soul looking for company.

Look beyond the uncombed hair and mismatched clothes of that man's little girls and see that he plucked them unexpectedly out of the house for some one-on-one time. 

Look beyond the snobby nature of the reclusive woman that is your neighbor and see that she is actually just shy and a bit socially awkward.

Look beyond the angry woman who just yelled at you for brushing past her arm and see the pain she feels at being told this morning that she wasn't important enough to stay with.

Look beyond the facade that everyone puts on for everyone else and see.  SEE.  We are all the same.  We all have our struggles.  We all need friends, a helping hand, a smile, and a little understanding.  We all need each other.

Stop.

What facade to do you put up for those around you?  What would happen if everyone was honest about their true feelings?  Would we have more disagreements?  Would we have more connections?  Both?  Discuss!

14 Months

Dear Paige,

A couple weeks ago you hit the 14 month mark.  Imagine my shock at how quickly all that time went by!  It has been ages since I wrote you one of these letters.  I only hope I can remember all the little things I have wanted say! First, and most important, your carefree attitude is my favorite thing about you.  I love how easily you go with the flow of whatever comes during the day.  You are generally the happiest baby I have ever met.  You almost always meet people with a smile, especially me when I get you out of your crib.  I love how you practically jump into my arms every morning and lay your head on my shoulder as you clutch your blanket and say "Ahhhh!"  I love that you still want to snuggle with me sometimes.  The feeling of your little head against my neck is one I am not quite ready to let go of.

Kind of a Mama's girl...
You are getting bigger.  Just today I noticed how tall you are.  You seem to age before my eyes.  You are learning things so fast!  In the last couple weeks you went from crawling to almost 100% walking.  You also learned to go up AND down the stairs.  You are so good at it that we took down the baby gate that has been at the top of the stairs since Zoe started crawling.  It's a little hard for Mom to watch as you walk across the grass all by yourself, when you don't want me to feed you, or when you want to figure something out on your own.  I love watching you bask in your independence and accomplishments, but I miss my little baby sometimes.  She's almost gone.


Adoring Uncle Eric just after you met
You had your first birthday party in New Mexico since Uncle Eric was coming home from his mission.  You love to rip paper so unwrapping presents was pretty fun for you!  My favorite part was watching you with your cake.  You kept looking at me like, "Is it really OK for me to do this?"  You would stick your pointer finger in the cake and get the tiniest bit of icing to taste.  Finally someone stuck your whole hand in the frosting and you took off until you got to the cake part.  Apparently you prefer chocolate cake over white cake as you kept spitting out the cake until someone gave you chocolate.  So there is a bit of Daddy in you too. 

Frosting is delicious
You are a fabulous eater.  Weeks after you discovered food that wasn't pureed, you were converted and have never looked back.  I'm shocked at the types of food you eat- foods that we would have just NOW started offering to Zoe.  You navigate things well with just your front teeth.  Your molars are finally coming in though.  I promise you will appreciate them after they finally break through those sore gums.  I hope you continue to enjoy a variety of foods.

The Birthday Girl
I love this age because you have become a little copycat.  You love Michael Jackson and Elmo, just like your sister.  Every time Michael comes on your head starts bobbing vigorously.  It is so cute to watch!  You love to dance to a beat and love to imitate my moves.  You are trying so hard to talk!  You can say a few words like, "Mama", "Dada", "Hi!", "Again!", etc.  You try to say many others after I say them. 

Presents!
What I love most is you point to things all the time, wanting to know what they are.  When I name it, you usually attempt to say the word.  You are excellent at answering "yes" and "no" questions.  You will whimper a bit and point until I guess what you want or need and then will happily shake your head "yes" when I give it to you.  You also try to copy words from our prayers while we say them together.  You love to copy your sister's funny noises.  Dinnertime will often find us laughing over you and Zoe saying things back and forth to each other.

State Fair Beauty
Your time with Zoe isn't always easy.  You both have jealousy issues and are a little rough with each other.  We're trying to change that.  Most of the time, you play together nicely.  You HATE it when Zoe wants alone time in her room and she closes her door.  You will sit outside it in the hall and cry at being left out.  Usually you are happy to play by yourself, though.  I think you enjoy not having to compete with Zoe for the toys.  When you get along, you play well together.  A favorite game recently is Zoe will lay on the floor and yell, "Somebody help me!" and hold her hand out.  You will go to her immediately and touch her hand "helping" her and suddenly she's free and fine.  I hope this serves as a small reminder that sisters are ALWAYS supposed to be there for each other.  You both love a lot of the same things.  I hope that means you will eventually be best friends.

Watching fireworks with Dad and Zoe
Some of your favorite things?  You love to be tickled and when Mom and Dad make silly faces or funny noises.  I love your giggles!  Peek-a-Boo is one of your most favorite games.  You love to be outside.  Especially now that you can walk.  You love your blanket, always biting it and giving it hugs.  Silly girl.  Your favorite toys are books, balls, your computer and the play kitchen.  When you get a chance to play with them, you love your Little People sets.  I love to watch you put the little people in all different places and push buttons.  You love music and dancing and you even try to sing sometimes.  You like to grab a book and climb into my lap knowing I will read it to you.  You love to taste-test dinner as I'm getting it ready.  Always impatient for it to be done.  Mostly, you love to follow me around wherever I go, creating mischief along the way.

Told you, Mama's girl
You have experienced a lot of firsts this year.  First fireworks, first trip to the Zoo, first trip to the state fair.  You are always so great when we take you places.  Full of wonder and excitement and rarely cranky.  You are a joy to be around.  Plus, EVERYONE comments on how cute you are and how gorgeous your eyes are.  Daddy better be prepared for the teenage years.

"Look, Mom!  Animals!"
You definitely have a little temper.  You are such a calm, happy kid most of the time.   But if you don't get your way, if someone tells you "no", or if you have to do something you don't want to, you throw a most impressive fit.  Crying (sometimes screaming) and writhing around or pushing yourself away from me.  I find it amusing most of the time because you are generally so mild mannered that these moments rarely find us.

My smiley, happy girl

Although I know you will notice less pictures, less posts about you, less attention than your sister got at your age, I hope you always know that I don't love you any less.  My heart is wide and full of love for both my precious girls.  I thank Heavenly Father every day for sending you to me.  My life would be incomplete without the presence of your special spirit.  I love you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Mama

Five Minute Friday: Catch

Time again for Five Minute Friday. Please click over to The Gypsy Mama and join in!

Go.

Unfortunately, the first thing I thought of when I saw today's prompt was more like "catch up!"  I have been away from this space all week doing just that.  Everything on my plate needed to be tackled and I have done almost all of it.  Somehow I have managed to keep up with the laundry and keep the house mostly clean all week.


I had to roast a batch of salsa so the vegetables I had to yank from my garden (before they froze) wouldn't go to waste. 


I had responsibilities I had been putting off that I finally had to attend to.  I put an ad online for the table that has been sitting in my garage for three years. 

I uploaded the pictures from July to present onto the computer.  Not to mention the daily needs and playtime of my girls, making yummy dinner meals, and keeping up with my exercise. 



Although there is still a list a mile long of things I need to do, I am feeling pretty good about this week and everything I accomplished.  It is nice to have the opportunity to catch-up a little.

And I owe a lot of it to Matt, because without all the help he gave me last weekend and during this week, I would never have accomplished what I did. 

My only regret?  Not getting a chance to write here more than once this week.  Oh well, there's always next week, right? 

Stop.

How did your week go?  I hope you have fun plans for the weekend!

Five Minute Friday: On Ordinary

Time again for Five Minute Friday.  Please click over to The Gypsy Mama and join in!

I live an ordinary life.  I wake up, work, get my girls up, eat breakfast, fit a workout in, work again, eat lunch, do some chores, some playing, work again, make dinner, and get them in bed.  That is how most of my days play out.  To an outsider, perhaps someone with a more extravagant life than mine, that might seem mundane, boring even.  The same schedule day in and day out.

What they don't know is, I wake up every morning to the sweetest man, and we have our conversations about the day ahead, strange dreams we had the night before, and I always get a deep squeeze and a kiss before he leaves.  I work until I'm interrupted by a shy smiling face coming into my room holding "bunny and blanket" asking if she can get up.  The first thing I get from her every morning is a snuggle in my office chair. 

This is followed by the widest grin of excitement when I go get Paige, who jumps into my arms and lays her little head on my shoulder.  I get, "Oh, thank you, Mommy!" for suggesting pancakes for breakfast.  I watch Zoe try to "workout" with me.  I hear her narrative all day long about things she finds exciting.  And Paige squeals with delight when she takes a few steps all by herself.  We find magic and adventure in books.  Delight in Zoe buttoning a jacket "all by herself".  Paige's proud face as she navigates going downstairs on her own. 

I hear screams of excitement when Daddy gets home, and little feet pattering toward him as he tries to kiss me first.  Zoe tells us stories over dinner, stories about our day, or some she makes up on her own.  Paige trying to copy everything we, or especially her sister, do.  I watch Matt as the stresses of his workday melt away at the sweetness of our girls as he relaxes into home. 

We calm down for the night with words from children's books, hear the prayers of a toddler, and sing "Goodnight Sweetheart" every night without fail.  After a couple attempts to stay awake, Zoe finally stays in bed.  Matt and I get some time to relax and reconnect before we snuggle up together in our too-small bed and sleep until morning when we start all over again.

And I know I went over my five minutes today, but that's ok because my life is far from ordinary.

Tell me what is not ordinary about your life...

Exercise

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my primary goal focus recently has been getting in shape, eating more healthy and focusing on feeling better in my skin.  Today I thought I would give you sort of a progress report, and touch on things I have struggled with the last few months.

Since Matt and I got remarried, one of our focuses has been to get in better shape.  Way back in March we started out really well.  We were doing P90x every night for a few weeks.  Then Easter came.  We travelled to New Mexico to visit family and all our forward momentum came to a screeching halt. 

Since then, we have started over and over again.  When is best to work out?  Mornings?  So we tried mornings.  Then we had too many mornings where we couldn't get up because we're just not used to being up before dawn.  So, since we are night owls, we thought nights will work better.  And we did fairly well, until there were nights where the girls got down late, or we ate too late, or we got busy doing things and it was too late to workout.  So we decided mornings again.  See a pattern?

Meanwhile, between the fact that all that weight I lost was fast and stress-induced and the fact that birth control and quitting nursing brought it all tumbling back, none of my clothes were fitting me very well.  And it was getting worse.

So finally I asked Matt if he would mind if I started doing it without him during the day while he was at work.  Things have been so hectic, he knew we wouldn't do it so he agreed.  And off I went.

Since then I have been working out consistently 4-6 days a week for about a month doing Insanity and other things here and there.  I have been watching my calories more closely (using myfinesspal) and I drink tons of water.  In general, I feel a whole lot better about myself.  I can see muscle tone in my obliques that I have never had.  I am starting to see actual calves on my chicken legs...something I NEVER thought was possible.  My arms are still wimpy, but seem stronger than ever.

Having always been a "soft" girl, I have enjoyed seeing these changes.  Unfortunately, not much has changed in the way my clothes fit.  I still have quite a mommy-pudge to contend with, and I have lost five pounds, but wanted to lose at least 8 by now.

I know much of the reason for my current weight is my body building muscle where there hasn't been any in many years, and in places I have never had muscle definition.  I know muscle is heavier than fat.  So that makes sense.  I have lost inches on my waist, a bit on my belly, and my hips.  My face looks a bit thinner too.  Yet, I know that I have given myself perhaps more "cheat days" than I should.  I definitely can eat less sugar and fat than I do, too.

Tomorrow Matt is going to try joining me doing early mornings again.  If we don't wake up, I will do it later in the day, but it gets hard with all the responsibilities I have between my girls, work and my house, among other things.  I would love to be more consistent with mornings so my days will flow better, and so I don't have to walk this journey alone.  We'll have to keep working on it.

This is a hard change for me.  Sometimes it feels easier to quit.  But I know I won't be happy with that decision.  I am motivated to make this a permanent lifestyle change.  I want to feel good in my skin, no matter what "weight" that ends up being.  I want my girls to see that an active lifestyle and that paying attention to what you consume is important.  I want to fit back into my clothes again!!!! 

If you have weight loss/fitness tips or advice, ideas for how to still eat chocolate on a diet, how to cook healthy AND yummy food for your family and kids, how to teach yourself to wake up before the sun, how you fit in workouts in your busy lives, or if you just want to tell me, "You can do this!", please leave me a comment, or send me an email.  I would appreciate all the encouragement I can get!