We didn’t do anything out-of-the-ordinary…but that doesn’t mean we did nothing extraordinary

We didn’t do anything out-of-the-ordinary…but that doesn’t mean we did nothing extraordinary.
This spring, we:

Celebrated life at 38 years old…

Explored the world…
We watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony and found ALL the represented countries on our map.



Appreciated fine workmanship…

The BYU Museum of Art hosted two wonderful exhibits simultaneously. One was E.C. Escher (famed “Impossible Constructions” artist) and the other was Tiffany stained glass. Nate’s a big fan of the illusions and I’ve always been a big fan of these lamps.
The kids and Rob were studying this display of different glass and I was elsewhere. Nate asked Rob to choose two favorites. A couple of minutes later I came over and Nate asked the same of me. 
Guess what? Out of all these samples, I happened to choose the same two favorites that Rob chose. Match made in heaven, we are!
Were awestruck by nature’s resilience (and OUR OWN!)…

Worked hard and went for it…

Visited the House of the Lord as an eternal family…
Played a prank on mom (who HATES PeeWee!)…

Expanded newly discovered brain cells…
Played at the Happiest Place on Earth in Utah…

Nate doesn’t look quite as happy here as he did on Cannibal.
Snuggled our peeps…


Created joy through craft…

Can you see Nate in his tank (with working gun)?
Every so often we clean out the fridge/freezer and pantry and let the kids “cook” 
with all the throw-away ingredients. They get such a KICK out of this tradition! It started when Nate was a wee lad of 2 and I caught him “cooking” in the kitchen with food he found.
  
Now he’s making stuff like this!
And we basically just keep growing up way too fast!
These are extraordinary days that will be cherished forever.

A Good Day for a Photo Jam

Today is a good day for catching up on Fall and Winter 2017 photos and happenings. Note that I used to do this monthly or so but now I seem pretty happy with myself if I get to it on a quarterly basis. Life…right?!

Caroline’s 7th birthday festivities (Please ignore the various tripping hazards):

Nate-er Gator turned the big 1-2 in December.

After, let’s see…10 years?…I finally convinced Rob to put on a jacket for church again. Doesn’t he look oh, SO debonair?

Whoops! Wrong picture. My bad! Here’s the one I meant to post. Of course, he had to throw in the ever-so-classy Hogwart’s tie:

Christmas woodland creature pjs.

What the…morbid massacre?!

See that giant trophy? Madeleine joined the school’s ballroom dance team and they won the sportsmanship award. I guess they don’t do “winners” but it was the second biggest trophy awarded so that must mean something, right?

 

She only looks a tad nervous.

This is the sweetest. Madeleine is helping her read.

One story from Little Miss Literal:

Over the spring Caroline started complaining more and more about sore legs. She would collapse when she was running outside and would crawl inside to tell me, very sadly, that her legs hurt too much to play. At first I didn’t think much of it but it kept happening more and more and she was miserable because during those episodes she couldn’t put any weight on her legs. During one of these episodes I told her that I would carry her so she didn’t have to try to walk. I assumed it was growing pains, but then remembered she had some hip problems as a baby and her joints are loose like mine (which flare up occasionally).

After a month or two of these fits, and me carrying her around regularly, I decided to just have her checked out by her orthopedist (since she had hip issues before) because all this was happening right before we were headed to Europe where we’d be walking a lot.

At her doctor appointment, which Cara literally limped throughout, the diagnosis was…wait for it…growing pains. Betcha didn’t see that one coming! After the appointment Cara was walking juuuuust fine. I confronted her, asking “What the heck?!”

Her response…”You said that one time that I should rest my legs so that’s why I’ve always been having you carry me around, but they don’t really hurt.”

Cue the deep mom sigh…

Love this cuckoo crazy family of mine…even on days like today…

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Emotional Vomit (or Purge on a Page)

Gosh, I could talk for months about emotions. In fact, Rob and I have been doing just that. I usually have a pretty well-thought-out idea of what I want to say when I start writing, but when it comes to this subject my mind goes all over the place and I can’t nail down what it is that I actually want to say. So this time I’m rambling.

One thing I’ve been working on recently might seem small and petty, but that has helped me tremendously. It’s this:

I’ve riddled myself …my entire life…with substantially overusing the phrases I SHOULD do this. I SHOULD be like this. WE SHOULD. THEY SHOULD. IT SHOULD be this way. Also, I NEED to do this. I NEED to be like this. WE NEED. THEY NEED. IT NEEDS to be this way.

You get the picture.

I’ve come to realize how damaging this has been to my psyche/spirit, because when I say those things I’m not giving myself (or others) any wiggle room, any acceptance, any consideration, any way to ever be anything but an impossible, optimized version of what I deem to be “perfect”. 
I used to tell myself I was just an optimizer and if I wasn’t doing my best ALL the time then I wasn’t good enough. The problem is…not only is no one perfect (which I did already knew), but it’s not even possible to try my hardest to be as perfect as possible all the time (which I didn’t already know). In other words, I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I thought I had to try SO HARD to be as perfect as I could be all of the time.

Trying so hard…because I SHOULD be and I NEED to…is exhausting. And painful.

One day I just woke up to what I was saying and realized how unnecessary, how untrue, and how damaging saying those seemingly little phrases over and over again have been to myself and others. I started changing those two tiny little awful words to I COULD do this. They COULD. It COULD be this way. Also, I WANT to do this. I WOULD LIKE it to be this way. It WOULD be nice if.

Doing that slight little shift has opened my eyes and heart to other possible answers and solutions. It has taken so much pressure off of me to always do the perfect thing or to be the perfect way. 

What am I getting at? I don’t know, honestly. There are a thousand other things I could type about.

Honestly, this last year of emotional growth has been an amazingly eye-opening experience for me and Rob, one that has brought so many answers to so many questions regarding:

  • Who we have been
  • Why we have been who we have been
  • Who we really are
  • How to be who we really are 

After all the emotional turmoil Rob and I have both been working through together we’ve learned so much more about ourselves than we ever thought possible. I mean, it was freakishly crazy when one moment we thought we really, deeply knew ourselves and each other…and then suddenly realize that we have to start all over from scratch. We abruptly came to find out that a lot of who we thought we as individuals were, is not really who we are, but a “part” or a “character” we’ve been playing to help us get through life.

We used to think to ourselves, “This is my just my personality.” Or, “This is just who I am.” As it turns out, there are reasons we have certain personality traits and they have more to do with coping mechanisms rather than the true person we actually are at the core.

Sure, maybe we’ve gone our whole lives thinking we are “like this” but what if we don’t want to be “like this” anymore? Guess what? We can figure out why we are the way we are and be honest to ourselves about how our life circumstances have affected us. Once we clear out those closets, we can hit reset. And breathe.

It’s been a miracle to finally realize that just because “I’ve always been…” doesn’t mean “I always have to be…” There’s a surprising amount of freedom we have found in finding out about, and learning how to let go of, the parts of ourselves that don’t accurately reflect who we are and who we want to be. 

Admittedly, it’s been an awkward and even a downright hard transition at times. Fortunately, we’ve both been entirely committed to working through it together. Two or our true personality traits are commitment and hard work. Thankfully we’ve both still got those pieces firmly in place. 
I’m fairly certain that every single marriage goes through a period of tear down and regrowth. If not, then there are probably some serious issues that haven’t been admitted or allowed to surface. Because…when you marry (especially when you’re both so young when it happens) how can you possibly expect either one of you to remain the same person throughout decades of life? If you do expect that, then there is obviously some emotional maturation that needs to take place. 
Emotional maturity. Gosh. I thought I had it. Rob thought he had it. Turns out, neither of us had a clue. But…now we do have a few clues along with a few tools that we are learning how to use. And you know what? It feels right. It feels real. It feels like we are finally learning how to really care about ourselves and each other in healthy, genuine ways. 
Yes, these last 9 months have been growing months for sure. Uncomfortable. Scary. Selfish. Maddening. Sorrowful. 
These last 9 months have also been incredible. Tender. Honest. Loving. Selfless. Healing. Forgiving.
Over my lifetime I’ve heard, thousands of times, people saying they’re grateful for and stronger from their trials and that they’d never trade them for anything. When I’d hear that, I’d always want to raise my hand high and shout, “I don’t believe you! I’m JUST fine just the way I am. I’ll grow on my own without needing any prodding from trials. I can make that growth happen all by myself and save myself from hard things, so I’d rather not test out that theory, thank-you-very-much!”
Well. Now I finally understand what everyone is talking about. My eyes have been opened to how God uses our own failures and shortcomings as opportunities to bestow bounteous blessings upon us. The stuff people say about being grateful for the lessons learned from trials is all true. At least, it can be if you’re committed, hard working, and humble. (I can also see how easily it would all go awry, depending on specific situations.) 
I’m not trying to get at anything here. I’m not necessarily trying to make a point and wrap this up all pretty. I don’t have any final words of advice or motivational quotes or helpful tidbits. Just rambling…for my own sake. Just getting these chaotic thoughts out so I can think and feel more clearly.
This is my emotional vomit, my purge on a page…because sometimes we’ve just got to let it out.

Keeping You Posted on the Kidlings

It’s about that time…time to post an update on what the kidlings are up to these days. I tell ya, they’re fun. These ages (11, 9, 7) are super easy and Rob and I are revelling in it while it lasts.

NATE

 

He is almost 12 so we bought him a suit. Snazzy! I feel like I should win the Best Mom Award when he puts that thing on. Today was wear #2 and he came home from church covered in dirt and ketchup. Boys.

He is hilarious. He is so witty can rightly pull off sarcasm, puns, inside jokes, body language, sophisticated humor, and anything else in order to gain a laugh. He’s more of an introvert though, so it’s mostly us who gets to see this side of him but we relish it. Here is a fake movie trailer he made this morning. Rob and I laughed out loud so many times while watching it. Here is the link.


 He is doing well in school. He is still off the charts in reading and science. His handwriting has vastly improved. He has learned how to better handle his frustration when he doesn’t “get” something and is getting better at staying focused rather than letting his mind wander so much.

He worked hard over the summer, earning enough money to buy a used xBox. He’s learned how fun it is to have his own purchasing power.

He and his sisters have “Sunday Fort Day” every week. They first come up with a concept and a name for it. Past examples include animal sanctuary, haunted house, no giants allowed, carnival, etc.  After they do this they draw up plans and execute. It’s a giant mess. Furniture gets moved, toys come out, and pillows and blankets from the entire house are gathered. But…it keeps them busy for a couple of hours and it’s amazing sibling bonding time. I’ll take it.

MADELEINE

She is a solid 9 now and what a little lady she is becoming. She’s pretty mature and just seems to “get” whatever there is to get. She’s beyond the age of letting me buy her clothes without some serious input because this girl has her own taste and I can never seem to capture it.

She is observant and a very quick thinker. Her reasoning skills are unmatched. She will try her darnedest to win any disagreement and confidently makes the twists and turns required to succeed. Behind her pretty freckled face is a brain that is pretty unstoppable. Her memorization skills are one of her spiritual gifts. I’m not sure how that gift will be used in the future, but I’m positive it will somehow be a great blessing to her and others.

She has been exploring her feelings and emotions lately. Her natural tendency is to bury anything negative deep down and pretend they don’t exist. We are working on making her feel comfortable and confident enough to acknowledge them, feel them, and work through them. She doesn’t love it, but it’s brought her closer to me and Rob.

 

She is participating in Ballroom dance class at school twice a week. She is game for anything in the performing and creative arts. She has never been into playing with toys, even when she was little. All she ever wants is art or craft supplies. She keeps herself busy on different projects just about every day.

CAROLINE

She just turned 7 and lost her first top tooth tonight. She buried it under her four pillows and made a sign pointing the tooth fairy in the right direction. We tried to get her cavities filled this week but fought off the laughing gas like a champ and screamed and flailed her way out of it.

She is a good little student. Her teacher told me how quiet and obedient she is at school. They aren’t working too much on math yet but she loves it and has gone way ahead in her book. It’s pretty cute seeing her sit at the table all studiously and working through it quickly and surely. It reminds me of how her dad looked when working through his math problems in school. Good for her.

She has started dance lessons at a little neighborhood studio and just loves spending the time with her friends and doing something on her own. She is naturally so strong and flexible that it all comes incredibly easy for her. She is still a strong singer. I only wish she’d sing in public the way she does at home.

She is a giggly girl. Whenever she is with her bestie cousins or bestie friend she turns into a crazy person, laughing so hard she can barely stand. She just thinks they are all so hilarious and she can’t physically handle it.

 

SCOUTS

My kids now read this blog every so often and they’ll be so happy if I take a moment to write about their beloved cat sibling. So here it is…

He’s super aggravating with his excessive meowing every morning at 6 am. I’m guessing daylight means nothing to this animal. He also hates this time of year when it’s getting cold outside and he doesn’t want to go out when it’s offered. Then he meows to go out. Then he doesn’t go out. Then he meows to go out. Then he doesn’t go out. On and on every morning from 7-9am and every evening from 9:30-11:30pm. It drives the adults in the house absolutely crazy.

He still lets the kids snuggle right up with him, carry him around all over, dress him up, play with him, and any other whim they come up with for him. He’s gracious and selfless and couldn’t be more sweet.

THE END

A Drowning Duckling Dies: How We Deal with Sadness

One beautiful summer evening our family walked around a park full of trees, flowers, and a pond. In the pond lived some fish, turtles, and ducks. The children love prancing around the perimeter of the fenced-in pond, interacting with the little creatures as much as humans can.

Rob and I wandered off and left the kids to play. I returned a short time later and all three children ran up to me, frantic and full of feelings. They told me of tragedy, taken place right before their innocent eyes.

One of the little baby ducklings was missing patches of down (probably the result of bullying, the kids concluded). This little guy had caught their eye and they’d been keeping a close watch on him all evening. Suddenly, the duckling found himself too far from the shore and unable to catch his footing on the rocks. Stuck in deep water, he tried, helplessly, to swim. Still new to this sport and being further impeded by his missing built-in flotation device, his bitty head slowly dipped lower and lower into the water.

With big eyes and the inability to save the duckling through the fence, Nate, Madeleine, and Caroline looked on in helpless horror as the dear little duckling drowned to death.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Now, a few different morals to this story could be had here, but I’m not here to talk about morals. Instead, I want to focus on the dissimilarities in emotional response encountered by each member of my family. For an event that was experienced together, it’s interesting how they individually coped with it.

Once the retelling of the event took place and the initial shock wore off, each child was left with the horrible (yet completely natural in nature) scene stuck in their brains. I found myself empathetic to their plight and immediately initialized my comforting-mom mode.

When Rob arrived at the scene, the children frantically retold the happenings once again. Caught off guard and unprepared to respond appropriately, Rob laughed. I chided him with “the look” and he composed himself, then offered due comfort. Once the children’s trauma was acknowledged by both parents, each of their true distinctive emotions became evident and began to show and seep.

Each child reacted to the same trauma in starkly unique ways. Nate became suddenly quiet. He was solemn. He worked hard to hide his tears, even after Rob and I assured him it was okay to cry. After some minutes of allowing himself to feel really sad, he was able to come back up for breath and refocus on moving forward.

Madeleine, through brute force, instantaneously allowed her spunkiness and goofiness to override any of her sorrow. She didn’t want to feel anything unpleasant so she ignored the fact that something bad even happened. She became hyper, silly, and tried so hard to get everyone else on board. She wanted to move on, pretending nothing was wrong. Even though her brother and sister were feeling deeply, she wouldn’t allow herself that opportunity.

Little Caroline openly bawled, unconsolably, for 30 solid minutes. No amount of hugs or listening ears or words of comfort had any effect. The terrifying image replayed itself over and over again in her head and she kept saying, “I just like the word death…I don’t actually like death in real life!”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Don’t you find it fascinating how each child responded to the same event? Of course people cope with hardships differently, but to see these three contrasting emotional responses by three different children at the same time was an eye-opening glimpse into their hearts.

Nate needed reassurance that it was okay for him to not be a “brave” big boy, and that feeling sad isn’t something shameful. Madeleine, in addition to learning how to allow herself to feel a completely natural response, also needed to understand that others may have different emotional needs to be acknowledged instead of ignored. Caroline needed to feel the full extent of her grief and given enough time (and patience on our part) to do it.

As the father and mother of these sweet souls, Rob and I are working harder than ever to not only listen to them, but to feel with them. We are working harder than ever to not only be in their proximity, but to truly connect them to us through honesty and a sense of emotional safety.

Rob and I both used to believe that this type of parenting would raise weak personalities. However, we are slowly learning that the opposite is true. We are now beginning to see the differences between coddling and comforting, cajoling and communicating. We are now beginning to understand that the intentional act of consistently offering a feeling of emotional safety and emotional acceptance are, indeed, at the core of confidence.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I’m really sorry that an innocent little creature had to perish and that our children had to witness it, but I’m also grateful for the glimpse it gave us into who our children really are and what they each really need. It is an understanding that we will need to tap into throughout many future occasions, I’m sure.

For the last 6 months, Rob and I have been working so hard at becoming emotionally whole human beings.  We have a long way to go, but these little moments of clarity are the fruits of our labors and the motivation that keeps us moving forward together.

Honesty with Self

A few weeks ago I was asked to talk in Sacrament Meeting about the topic Honesty with Self.

I was so nervous of crying in front of everyone that I forced myself to keep my focus on the page in front of me rather than on the congregation and I put forth a lot of effort maintaining a steady voice. Therefore, I’m afraid that I wasn’t the best orator…but I didn’t care. I was just so happy to have gotten through it without a major breakdown!

Studying for this talk (as always, it seems) was a blessing.

This is not a full transcript of my talk but it’s mostly intact. I’m not going to take the time to rewrite it for reading, but you’ll get the idea.

Honesty with Self


There were a few times the last two weeks where I was this close to backing out but decided that being asked to talk on this subject wasn’t mere coincidence and that I needed to go through with it.


I have to admit that not many of the following words are not mine. I ended up using about 8 different conference talks and gospel doctrine lessons.

The Issue is Truth

How can we be honest with others if we aren’t honest with ourselves?? Is it even possible?


Satan is the father of all lies. ALL lies. Not just the big lies. Not just the lies we tell others. But Satan is even the father of the lies that we tell ourselves.


The Savior constantly rebuked those who professed one thing publicly but lived differently in their hearts.


Wars in the inner self that are fought subconsciously, leading to defeats or overreactions, which also hurt us subconsciously.

Subconscious DEFEATS are reflected in our conscious life as a lack of self-confidence, lack of happiness, lack of faith.


Subconscious OVERREACTIONS lead to pride, arrogance, indecency, or cruelty. Our minds can play tricks of reason to impress others, to get gain, to intimidate, or to manipulate. These are the vain results of deceit.


In contrast…


Christ often spoke of blessing us with answers, gifts, faith, and other spiritual gifts if we but have an honest heart.


The only way to find truth is through uncompromising self-education…to see the “real me,” the child of God, in its innocence and potential.


Howard W. Hunter said that when we promote an honest, earnest integrity within ourselves, it will be one of the greatest accomplishments of our lives.

5 Categories of Self-Honesty

So how do we find our true nature? How do we self-educate ourselves to find the level of our self-awareness?


I thought of five categories of self-honesty that we can contemplate on and answer in order to truly know ourselves and thus find the “Real Me,” The Child of God.


1- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Feelings


Repressing and controlling our feelings is a form of self-manipulation that we all, at times, perform in an effort to control others people’s responses to us. We could be seeking responses of approval…or…we could be trying to protect ourselves from their hurt, anger, or displeasure with us.


When we choose to deny our feelings, inevitably our life and relationships with others begin to feel unfulfilling and superficial. This is the price that we pay when we are more committed to avoiding upsets than we are to living and interacting with authenticity and integrity.


To combat this damaging cycle, we must recognize and identify our feelings as they arise. We must let ourselves experience them. By doing so, we will be better able to honor ourselves and others through honest and productive communication and actions.



2- We Must Be honest with Ourselves About Our Own Desires


“For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts”


Notice that the Lord combines the two…works and desires. They inevitably go together, no matter how often we try to convince ourselves otherwise.


Neal A. Maxwell said, “Our desires profoundly affect the use of our moral agency…even when we do not really want the consequences of our desires.”


For good or for bad, “What we insistently desire is what we will eventually become because “God granteth unto men according to their desires.”
(Alma 29:4)


We must acknowledge our responsibility for our desires. Lukewarm desires cause apathy, melancholy. Righteous desires need to be relentless. We must know them and love them and allow them to move us forward, closer to Christ.


3- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Weaknesses


Larry R. Lawrence says we have to ask ourselves some difficult questions, like “What weakness needs strengthening?” “What is keeping me from progressing?”


The perfect time to ask ourselves these questions is when we take the sacrament and our hearts are turned toward heaven. This allows the Holy Ghost to gently and reverently tell us what we can do. “The Holy Ghost doesn’t tell us to improve everything at once. If He did, we would become discouraged and give up. The Spirit works with us at our own speed, one step at a time.”


President Uchtdorf reminds us, “There is a difference between the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and the sorrow that leads to despair.”


We should be persistent but never discouraged at our inability to reach perfection. In our mortal life, we are just meant to lay the foundation for the perfection we will obtain in the next life.


4- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Strengths


Just as the spirit can show us our weaknesses, he can also show us our strengths.


“For there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited.”
D&C 46:11-12


When we begin to examine our strengths and capabilities, we can’t get caught up in comparisons and recognitions. Those aren’t true measures of our gifts.

President Uchtdorf said, “We too easily and too often get caught up in seeking the honors of men rather than serving the Lord with all our might, mind, and strength. Individual recognition is rarely an indication of the value of our service.”  


He also said, “God knows that some of the greatest souls who have ever lived…are the blessed, humble souls who emulate the Savior’s example and spend the days of their lives doing good.”


5- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Testimony


Our testimony is a knowledge of the truth, a knowledge that is felt in our heart even when our mind doesn’t know. Each of us will be tested, tempted, and tried on our testimonies…to find out if we will remain true.


Robert D. Hales said, “Doubts can be resolved when an honest desire to know the truth leads you to exercising moral, spiritual, and mental effort. Only after that can we gain a testimony of the TRUTHFULNESS of the Gospel through the Holy Ghost.”


“Having dropped all pride of your mental stature, having acknowledged before God your confusion, having subjected your egotism, and having surrendered yourself to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to begin to learn.”


“Mere passive acceptance of the doctrines will not give the testimony.” You have to fight for a testimony and you have to keep fighting.


We must live and share our testimony. It will assist others who are searching for the truth and wanting to embrace the truth.


Spencer W. Kimball said, “The truth you seek is tied to the person you are. Light, spiritual answers, and heavenly direction are unalterably linked to your own honesty and truth.”

Enduring Truth

Once we reflect and ponder and pray about these truths of ourselves, then what? Do we compare our truths to someone else’s truths? Do we wallow in our shortcomings? Do we give up on our never-ending, unreachable path to perfection? Do we convince ourselves that it’s impossible to be 100% truthful in all things?


Enlightened by the Spirit of truth, we will then be able to pray for the increased ability to endure truth. In the depth of such a prayer, we may finally be led to that lonesome place where we suddenly see ourselves naked in all soberness. Gone are all the little lies of self-defense. We are shocked to see our many deficiencies.


But that’s good.


This is that place where true repentance is born. This is that place where conversion happens.

As the hymn goes,


More holiness give me,…
More patience in suff’ring
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior
More tears for his sorrows
More pain at his grief
More meekness in trial
More praise for relief


When we allow ourselves to feel the truth in our feelings, our desires, our weaknesses, our strengths, and our testimony…this is the place where we suddenly see the heavens open… as we feel the full impact of the love of our Heavenly Father, which fills us with indescribable joy.


Truth is knowledge of ourselves as we were, as we are, and as we are to comeThe knowledge that we are each a Child of God.

Things I Admire About My Children

I have been thinking a lot lately about my children and how much I truly admire their individual qualities.

I can definitely understand why Christ tells us “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Nathan:

  • Has always been the nicest big brother. He helps his sisters with everything. He is so patient with their demands. He gives them his advice. He teaches them. He makes them smile.
  • Loves to have discussions with his mom and dad. He likes to talk about the day, his interests, struggles, politics, anything having to do with science, and the gospel.
  • Gets very sensitive about hurting feelings, his own guilt, and disappointing others. It takes very, very little to correct him. 

Madeleine:

  • Is gregarious, joyful, smiley, and playful. She reads, acts, sings, dances, bounces, and loves life to the fullest.
  • Tries really hard to be inclusive. She is a caretaker. She gives up her own needs for those of others. She is gentle with little children. She is selfless. 
  • Craves physical touch and loves to hug, wrestle, hold hands, and anything else that helps her feel important and connected with others.

Caroline:

  • Has constantly shifting emotions but tries really hard to be her best self. She works to follow rules and instructions. She tries hard to overcome obstacles and impulses. She never gives up.
  • Is soulful. She is learning what feeling the spirit is like and what she can do to feel it more often. She is in tune with how good it feels to have the Holy Ghost with her and bursts into song about it. 
  • Smiles a lot. She laughs. She giggles. She loves surprising others and making them laugh. She wants to be in on the joke.

Admittedly, I don’t always feel only gratitude and awe at these little ones…but I’m realizing more and more how much I need them.

I need them to teach me. I need them to lead me, guide me, and walk beside me. I need them to help me find the way.

I also need them to love me.

And the amazing thing is that even through all of my seemingly insurmountable motherly imperfections, they do!

What a gift.

The Arduous Story of My Sight (and Rob’s Miraculously Healing Eyes)

Warning: This is a very long and boring story. Proceed at your own risk.

-1989-

I failed an eye exam and got my first pair of glasses. Mind you, geeks weren’t cool back then like they are now. Nope, I was just a lowly, uncool geek. Still am, though.

(Ummm. Can we just focus on the silkiness of my hair and not on my
ridiculous glasses, lone fang, and double-decker bangs? Please?)

-1993-

I switched to contact lenses since I was entering junior high and had to Cool Up, for my own sake. Although, I don’t think it worked. Actually, I do know…it didn’t.


-1999-

I started wearing small glasses because they suddenly became cool. Soon after this I went back to contacts almost exclusively because my eyes get tired when wearing glasses.

(Ummm. Could this picture be any more pink? This was during my gothic-leaning days. 
Please excuse the weird hair. Strike that…the very weird hair.)

-Spring of 2016-

I started seeing double or “ghosting” when watching tv or reading. My night vision was suddenly reduced and I couldn’t read any road signs until they were right next to me. Even then, they were blurry.

(This is my thinking face while, or instead of, working.)

-June of 2016-

I went to the eye doctor with my complaints. He told me that what I was experiencing is normal as I age. Along with a slight prescription change in my right eye only, he diagnosed me with astigmatism in both eyes.

After fitting me with new contacts, I told him I still couldn’t see that well. He told me to take a week or two for adjustment and then he’d change the brand or strength, if needed.

-July-

I still couldn’t see very well so I went back to the dr. and tried different contacts and waited for adjustment.

-August-

I still couldn’t see well so I went back to the dr. and had him check my eyes again. He confirmed my astigmatism but gave me a slightly different prescription and I waited for adjustment.

-September-

I still couldn’t see well so I went back to the dr. and again, tried different contacts, and waited for adjustment.

-October-

I STILL couldn’t see!

I finally took the time (and expense) to get a second opinion from a different doctor. He and his optometrist both checked my eyes and not only gave me a different prescription than what I’d been given, but (here’s the kicker) told me that I do NOT have an astigmatism in either eye. At all!

I was given new contacts and I CAN SEE!!

This was after I had ordered a bunch of contacts from the old doctor (at the time, thinking my prescription was correct). When I tried to return them, the doc never took the time to see me or apologize for giving me bad vision for almost 5 months! I also didn’t get a refund for my appointment cost but he DID give me a year’s worth of lenses in the corrected prescription for free…most assuredly as a bribe to keep me from blasting a bad review all over online.

I’m still annoyed.

…………………………………………………………………………

Now, this isn’t the end of this dull story, oh no. This next part took place at the same time that I was having my contact lens issues, making for even MORE frustration:


-August of 2016-

Since my prescription changed slightly in June, I finally decided it was time to upgrade my glasses.

Buying lenses for me is really expensive due to the high prescription (-7.0 and -7.25). I hate buying glasses because I have a hard time finding frames that:

a) work with very thick high-index prescription lenses

b) fit my tween-sized face without boasting tween-themed colors such as hot pink and adornments such as kitty cats and peace signs

c) are stylish but not too stylish since I don’t want to go through the whole rigamarole all over again as soon as a trend passes on by

So, even though I like wearing glasses, it took a long time to find any that actually fit the criteria.

I finally found a pair in Murray. I paid the almost $400 it cost to get mediocre frames with expensive lenses. Then I waited two weeks for them to come in.

When I went to pick them up, I made the mistake of not taking out my contacts when trying them on. I just trusted that they would be great. Wrong move.

That night, I tried them on properly and noticed immediately that there was something wrong with the lenses. I could only see through a dime-sized hole! If I moved my head or eyes up or down or even just looked off center, I became very dizzy.

Back to the store they went to be fixed. On top of them being made wrong, they decided it was probably best for my prescription if we went to the second thinnest lens rather than the most high-index one.


-September-

I picked up my fixed glasses and tried them on in the store without my contacts in. The lenses were fine. I did a quick glance in the mirror and left the store.

When I got in the car I did a selfie to send to Rob but when I looked at the picture of myself I thought the glasses looked horrible! I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong but I knew I didn’t like them (after spending the $400 and waiting over a month for them).

When I got home I continued to study myself in the mirror, trying to figure out why I hated them so much after I loved them in the store. Finally, I noticed two things:

1- The frames weren’t the same color I tried on. The variation in the tortoise pattern was so different that they ended up being much darker than the sample pair.

2- Due to the thick lenses (even though they were the thinnest I could get) in the bigger frame, they really morphed the sides of my face. So when looking through my lenses at my eyes, the sides of my face looked way narrower, making the frames look way too big for my face.

This is where my breakdown happened. After looking, waiting, and forking up hundreds of dollars, I still hated them! Time to start ALL over again. Sigh.


-October-

I didn’t want to go back to Murray for the 3rd time to return my glasses so I found a closer location, told them my issues, and hunted for a new, smaller, and narrower frame that wouldn’t cause such extreme face morphing.  I didn’t really find any that worked so they ordered in a couple of pairs from a different store for me to try on. This meant more waiting.

When the frames came in I went and tried them on but one of them was too big and the other one was ugly. After more looking, I finally found a pair of child-sized glasses that actually fit, would work pretty well with my thick lenses, and weren’t too ugly. I ordered them and waited.

FINALLY it was time to pick them up. I took out my contacts, put on the glasses, and left the store. It wasn’t until I started driving in the daylight that I noticed a very large streak running top to bottom on the right lens. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

BACK to the store. It was determined that the coating wasn’t applied correctly at the lab, requiring me to send back the lenses to be redone. AGAIN.

{REMEMBER, all this was happening at the same time that my contact prescription was corrected so my glasses were ordered with the slightly wrong prescription. I couldn’t stomach calling and getting them corrected AGAIN so I just went with it. Luckily, they work just fine. Phew.}


-November 2016-

My new glasses arrive. They fit. The frames aren’t exactly what I wanted but they’re as good as I can get. The lenses are quite thick and cause some morphing. But again, it is as good as I can get.

That’s THE END end of my sight story. Super long. Frustrating. Maddening. Annoying. Expensive.

Worth it in the end? Eh. Not really. Whatever. I’m just glad it’s over. I’m hoping to wait a good long while before having to go through all this again.

And in case you’re wondering, yes I’ve thought about getting corrective eye surgery but no, it’s probably not for me.

MEANWHILE…

Rob required glasses before his mission and through the first 10 years of our marriage. Then, suddenly, his extraordinary eyes magically healed themselves to perfect 20/20 vision.

Yet, he isn’t satisfied with being perfect so he takes it a step further and wears glasses to get him up to 20/15 vision. To get said glasses, he just makes a request to an online store, they send him five pairs to try on, he chooses one, and he is out the door for a hundred bucks and no hassle (and, really, not even a need).

This doesn’t bother me at all
Nate now needs glasses to see the board at school. 
Caroline has needed a slight prescription since she was three but still doesn’t wear them often. Madeleine, so far, has vision perfection just like her dad and will probably never need glasses. 

Random Photo Roundup

Here is a fun roundup of random photos and videos from the past couple of months.

Panning for gold on the 4th of July at This Is the Place Heritage Park.

This man’s hoop dance was AWE-Mazing.

Cute girls, cute selfie!

Rob’s insane bed head has a life of its own.

https://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/5481774982_ZnzmRfx?width=640&height=360&albumId=63817335&albumKey=cMqwCQ

He had a simple task of moving two wall speakers a mere 6 inches. I came home to this. It’s not even the wall where the speakers were mounted.

Madeleine made this sweet craft for me. “Love. Kind. Willing. Nice. Chef. Boss. Thoughful.”

My dad took this picture of my handsome husband while waiting for my niece and new husband to exit the temple.

We spent a Saturday trying very hard to catch a fish. No luck. 

So we climbed trains and played with a lost snake instead.

https://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/5497018004_kZH6KR9?width=640&height=360&albumId=63817335&albumKey=cMqwCQ

These next 3 videos are from Father’s Day 2015 but I just found them and think they are cute.

https://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/5494892662_DN9Q8sZ?width=640&height=360&albumId=63817335&albumKey=cMqwCQ

https://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/5494890173_x34w59j?width=640&height=360&albumId=63817335&albumKey=cMqwCQ

https://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/5494888769_C2SD5fJ?width=640&height=360&albumId=63817335&albumKey=cMqwCQ

Here’s a drawing Cara drew of me. I’m sleeping in bed and those are hearts at the bottom. Yep. I love my sleep. See?

Caroline called me into her room to take a picture of her with Scouts.

Sissys

One Sunday afternoon we drove up to the South Mountain Flight Park to explore and take in the view. The kids got a huge kick out of Rob driving through a mud puddle. We are pretty adventurous!

This video of Cara is a good ending for this post. She always makes me laugh!

https://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/5496623015_wnNx6hs?width=640&height=360&albumId=63817335&albumKey=cMqwCQ

The Worst Things

Before I continue with my post I want to take note that today our family blog hit 62,500 views. Wow! Granted, that’s over a 10 year period and with 942 posts we are only averaging 67 views each. Not very much at all but but when it’s all added up is sure sounds significant for just a ho-hum family blog. Moving on…

Lately I’ve been working on (and not being very good at it) having a more positive outlook and attitude. However, it’s been a while since I’ve done a “rant” post so here goes a quick list of my worst things lately.

  • Sushi. Ew! I tried it for the first time in forever and I ended up repeatedly dry-heaving over the nice restaurant’s table while trying to swallow a big bite of it. The texture, uck! The taste, eek! What’s even worse? I was completely out of water which I NEEDED immediately in order force the chunk of goo down my gullet. I had to quickly steal my friend’s glass before I completely lost it. Embarrassingly, my pretended sophisticated-and-cool countenance quickly disintegrated in front of a group of actual sophisticated and cool friends.
  • Still wearing sweaters at the end of May. My arms need to see the daylight!  
  • Our stupid cat’s addiction to meowing frantically to go outside and then immediately turning around and meowing frantically to come back inside and then immediately turning around and meowing frantically to go back outside and then…well, you get the point. When the weather is nice I can just leave the door open and hope the flies don’t come in but usually it needs to stay shut. We are all going batty over this never-ending game!
  • Chronic shoulder pain. I need to do something to remedy this but I’m not sure what the optimal treatment is and I’m too lazy to go about figuring it out.
  • Lowering my own hourly pay by loosing focus, procrastinating, and spending too much time writing articles about animal feed processing, employee onboarding (which isn’t actually a real word but I had to write about it anyway), RV insurance, how to use a walker, and a hundred other things I know nothing about and have to B.S. my way through anyway. I should be doing that now but instead I’m writing this silly post. 
  • Making any decision. About anything. Ever.
  • Having to try on 30 pairs of leggings before finding a pair that isn’t too small in the waist AND too big in the legs, aren’t a thousand dollars, or see-though when my butt is up in the air. 
  • Never being able to complete dinner within the recipe’s estimated time frame. I feel like a loser every time.
  • Crayons in the dryer.
  • Thinking about wearing a swimsuit to our new community pool surrounded by everyone I know and hold in high regard. AWKWARD.
  • My beautiful, lush Ivy houseplant turning into a sad, dying, stringy mess.
  • Is cooking really worth the dishes it produces? My sink is never empty of dirty pots and pans.
  • Paying for a library cd that is stuck in my car’s cd player. Also, broken car cd player.
  • So many end-of-year school activities crammed into the last few weeks of May. Let’s spread it out a little, eh? Also, multiple backpacks full of garbage. I have seen PILES and PILES of used paper enter my home. I mean, can’t it just be put in the school’s recycle bin?
  • The dust seriously accumulating in unreachable places.
  • Always having ground flax stuck in my teeth.
  • The vision I have in my head for my yard vs. reality.
  • Birth control decisions.
  • Loud music playing continuously. It’s like I’m in torture training for the Navy Seals. Okay! I break! I’ll tell you anything you want to know! Just make the noise stop!
  • Finding Cara used half my bottle of expensive shampoo for bath bubbles.
  • I love going to my backyard for quiet, alone time. It’s peaceful, I hear birds chirping, none of the kids are bugging me. BUT for the last 6 weeks when I go to the backyard, breaking the silence, is some negligent neighbor’s dying smoke alarm. Every 30 seconds, FOR 6 WEEKS is that faint DAGNABIT chirp interrupting my zen. *^##$@!!!
    • Opening the finished dishwasher after one of the kids loaded it.
    • My fatigue and soreness flare ups can be a real downer. The other day Madeleine asked why I take so much medicine and why I’m in bed so much. (I’m not really but in her little eyes I am and that makes me sad.)
    • My exploding linen closet because I’m the only one in this household who knows how to fold a blanket and put it on a shelf and I’ve refused to do it this week.
    • All three of my kids inheriting my un-fittable feet.
    • Because of my stomach pooch, Caroline asking me, repeatedly mind you, when I’m going to have a baby and saying, “but your stomach is sticking out!”
    • Stinky washcloths.
    • Nate’s bad attitude when he has to wear clean pants rather than dirty shorts.
    • The tupperware cupboard. ‘Nuff said.

    Wow. That’s a long, sad list of Worsts and I could probably think of about a hundred more if I let myself. But really, if those are my “worsts” than life is still pretty darn amazing. Lucky, blessed me. 
    (See that positivity blip I put in at the bottom? That makes me a better, not so negative person…)