Monday, February 28, 2011

Early to Rise

image via

I've been starting my day in a new way, lately.  Since I became a mom, I've almost always let my kids be my wake-up call.  I attribute it to having young children.  It's rare when someone isn't awake during the night be it bad dreams or teething or ear infections, and even if I'm just listening to sleepy feet headed to the bathroom, I'm awake listening.  The lack of completely restful sleep led me to try to get every extra minute in the mornings.  The idea of waking up earlier and making my day any longer than it already is seemed to me a combination of silly and impossible.  But now, I'm doing it.

The husband leaves early for work.  His morning commute it about 35 minutes due to the lack of traffic at dark thirty in the morning.  Over the past little while I've asked him to wake me up before he heads out for the day, and I've been shocked at the difference it makes.  I have time to read and study my scriptures. I have time to pray. I have time to think and to organize my day.  I have time to do some morning blog reading.  On really good days, I have time to shower and get ready.  On even better days, I have time to make a big breakfast instead of our normal instant oatmeal or bowl of cereal.  But on the best days, I'm still in bed reading and the kids come pile in and we cuddle for a while and read together. 

This morning Miss A said to me, "Mom, I love how happy you are at us this morning."  That's been the other great change with my early rising.  When the kids were waking me up, I was often irritable with them for disturbing my sleep.  Now, I feel happy to wake up because I actually see the husband for a minute before he leaves for his long days at the office, and I am excited to have a few minutes to myself to start my day on the right foot.  I feel ready for the kids to wake up and can enjoy their fresh faces and warm bodies and bed-head do's.  It's making a huge difference, which is making me think this is a change that will stick.

What do you think?  Are you an early riser?  Do you want to be?  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Five on Friday and a Winner!

image via

 1. My first order of business today was a visit to random.org which happened to choose comment #35.  The lucky comment is...
Janell R. Cropper said...
Thanksgiving Point is one of my favorite places around here. Love it :) Congratulations, Janell!  Please send me an e-mail. Thanks to all who entered.  We may see another give away, so stay tuned. 



2.  This is what I woke up to this morning.  Luckily, the sun is now shining, it's melted off the roads, and I suppose we're bracing ourselves for more to come the next few days. 

3.   This boy was happy to be out in the snow before the melting began.  The light makes him look even more pale than he actually is, a little scary.  I need to perfect the art of pictures via iphone. 

4.  This boy is thinking about cutting back to one nap a day.  After an unsuccessful attempt at a morning nap, I went in to his room to find him like this.  He's pretty much adorable and happy all day long.  

5.   Our weekend agenda is filled with things like laundry, hot chocolate, playing in the snow (that is expected to continue), a visit to see my dad, and tidying up the house.  I'm also excited for some time with my best friend who happens to be in town for some work meetings. Hooray! 

Posting has been a little light this week.  I've just been busy with the day-to-day, but I'm hoping to pop in this weekend with a few things to share. 

Happy Weekend!


 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm No Expert

print via

I'm really enjoying this new space, and I hope you are, too.  However you've found your way here, I'm glad you've come, and I hope you'll stick around. 

I felt a need to throw out there that I'm not a pro at this thing- or anything really.  I'm a blogging rookie.  I haven't cornered the market on inspiring (and that's why I'll be sharing more from you- coming soon).  I don't profess to have a life full of happiness and perfection.  I don't have suffering and trials all figured out.  Motherhood does not always come easy for me.  Laziness definitely comes easy for me.  I could go on, but let me cut to the chase. 

Please don't compare.  Please.  Don't.  If there is anything that I don't want to happen, it would be for someone to read this blog and feel badly about their own life/circumstance/personality/family/etc.  Just because this blog is focused on being better, it doesn't mean that you're not good enough.  We all have a personal best.   And it's just that- personal.  I'm sharing my own journey to be better, but my journey is not your journey, and it doesn't have to be.  I hope that I can convey that in a way that lifts and inspires without making anyone feel like less.   

I'm still learning who I am.  I know that life is still hard... good, but hard.  But I choose to be happy.  I choose to surround myself with the good as much as possible.  I choose to be an optimist, to find the lessons during hard times, to seek out the good.  I choose to work to improve.  I choose to be me.      

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Everyday

a common scene in my everyday- picture taken last summer by my dear friend Melissa
Ah, what a nice break it was yesterday.  Nothing too eventful, but a break nonetheless.  The husband stayed home yesterday although it wasn't a scheduled holiday for him, partially because he's fighting a cold, partially because he was so sick when he arrived home from his business trip that our weekend of family fun didn't really happen.  Yesterday was a much needed day to catch up and enjoy each other.  The sun was out which instantly improved my mood.  The kids were happy to have dad at home and to play.  Everyone loved dinner- and getting my kids to eat a salad for dinner felt like a small miracle of sorts.

I love days like yesterday when it seems like the small moments of good become glued in my memory, later to become reminders during the hard times (of which there are plenty) about why I love this time of life.  I took notice of the way the muffin is changing his play, becoming more interactive and curious all the time, and how pleased he was to say his brother's name for the first time.  I relished in the cooperative cleaning up that took place and the eager helpers when I was scrubbing the floors.  I admired the husband in his element playing with the kids, trying to convince Miss A why she should consider a future career in computers and humouring de-Man with Star Wars conversations of which my knowledge is much more limited. 

The everyday is beautiful.  It's what makes me happy- if I'm grounded enough to remember it during the really hard, exhausting, difficult times.  Seeing the Everyday is a magazine written in this same vein.  I love reminders like this of simple goodness and think a subscription is on my wish-list. 


What are your favorite everyday moments?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The day that changed everything

image via
It was my first day with all 3 kids by myself, and things were going pretty well.  In fact, it seemed to be our smoothest transition with a new baby to date.

After Miss A things were really rough.  I can think of a lot of reasons why things were so hard at that time.  Looking back, I think the biggest thing was that the adjustment from 0 kids to 1 kid is truly the hardest.  But the fact that it was the holidays and I was experiencing major difficulty with nursing in addition to an intense recovery after a terrible delivery and I went back to teaching 3 weeks post-partum all contributed to the hard transition with our first baby.

When de-Man was born, things were better with our adjustment aside from the fact that we came home from the hospital and promptly got the stomach flu.  It was really a doozy, to the point that I couldn't get out of bed to pick up de-Man when he needed to eat.  This is the point when the husband would've stepped in, except he was in worse shape than I was.  The husband has Crohn's disease, and what may be a normal stomach flu for you and me turns into a serious condition for him without a lot of effort.    He developed pleurisy during the whole ordeal and took a while to recover.  In the mean time de-Man had jaundice so I was lugging him back and forth to the hospital and the doctor's office for blood tests and appointments.  My first couple of weeks with two kids is not an experience I'd wish on anyone.

Three weeks before the muffin was born, the husband was admitted to the ICU for several days.  Again, what seemed to be the stomach flu at the beginning turned into something much worse.  I'd go to the hospital to see him and nurses would look at me with confusion, trying to direct me to a different area of the hospital, and then with pity as they realized that my husband was indeed in the ICU narrowly avoiding septic shock and I was indeed very pregnant.  When he was released from the hospital, we felt grateful to have each other with a fresh reminder of how fragile life is.  I also felt optimistic- thinking we were getting our big post-baby test out of the way ahead of time so we could just enjoy our new arrival without any of the stresses we experienced the first two times.

So enjoy we did for 11 blissful days.  The husband would take Miss A to preschool a few times a week.  de-Man would follow him around all day.  I was feeling pretty good and began doing things around the house more quickly than I had the first two times.  On that first husband-less day, I sat on the couch and had a great conversation with one of my best friends, my sister-in-law.  She had called to see how I was holding up that day, and we chatted about the transition and my new bundle of sweetness and how she was holding up with 9-month-old twins.  While we were talking, my cell phone rang.  I knew our conversation was winding down, and when I saw it was my brother I didn't feel a rush to answer but decided to call him back when I was through with my current conversation.  As I was saying good-bye to my sister-in-law, I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Even now the dread and tension comes back as I recall the events of that day.

I picked up my cell phone and dialed my youngest brother (I have two younger brothers, you see).  He answered quickly, asked how I was, and then cut to the chase.  "Dad had a stroke yesterday."  Yesterday?  Why was I finding out about this a day later?  And how bad was it?  And I'm still sitting on my couch in sweatpants with a newborn dozing on the nest I'd made with my legs criss-crossed because I have a baby who's 12 days old, so what am I supposed to do right now?  I'm sure my brother heard a lot of questions, and I don't remember a lot of the answers.

A lot of the answers didn't come for days, some for weeks.  But I knew that day that everything had changed.  I knew that my plans about getting the hard stuff out of the way before the muffin were naive.  In fact, that hard time before the baby?  Well, we were just getting warmed up.

In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better.  I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience.  If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.        

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Weekend and a Giveaway!

Picture of Thanksgiving Point Gardens via
Hooray!  It's the weekend, and the end of the first full week of posting here at Bee a Little Better.  If you're just joining us, welcome!  And don't worry, we haven't been here too long, either.  In fact, we're just getting started.  I go to bed at night with my mind racing of stories to be told and things to share, and I'm excited for what the future holds for this little blog.

After talking about kindness yesterday, I have a little kindness to pass along today. My family and I have been enjoying Thanksgiving Point for years.  It's very accessible to where we live, and my sweet grandma has given us a pass for Christmas the past several years.  Winter boredom is easily fixed with a trip to the dinosaur museum.  I love to visit farm country during spring and fall while the animals are still fun to see but not too stinky- ha!  And the majority of my summer visits are to the gorgeous gardens- in my opinion the crowning jewel of Thanksgiving Point.  My kids adore the childrens discovery garden, and we go at least weekly all summer long.  The classes are another awesome feature of Thanksgiving Point.  There are so many great offerings- especially pertaining to gardening which is such a hallmark of Thanksgiving Point.  Miss A took a nature class last summer with a friend and had a blast.  She's hoping I'll sign her up for more.  I've drooled over their cooking classes for a long time trying to decide on just the right one to sign up for.  We've celebrated family occasions at their restaurants and banquet rooms and really enjoy the atmosphere there.  

Thanksgiving Point is a wonderful organization. I feel like their purpose is something that really resonates with me.  I love part of their mission statement:


"In a world that is frenetic, over-programmed, and increasingly disconnected, Thanksgiving Point offers a respite from the demands and stress of daily living. With quality at the core of what we do, we contribute to the lives of individuals, families and communities by offering experiences that change lives through The Promise of Discovery."

I wish there were more Thanksgiving Points in the world promoting these types of experiences.  

It's our lucky day at Bee a Little Better, because Thanksgiving Point would like to give one of you a family membership ($175 value), valid for one year!   

If you'd like a chance to win, please comment on this post by Thursday, February 24th.

For extra entries: (a new comment must be left for each extra entry)
-Blog, Tweet, or Facebook about this giveaway with a link back to this post.
-Subscribe to Bee a Little Better.

The winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced Friday, February 25th.

(Thanksgiving Point provided me with a family pass for attending a blogger event at Thanksgiving Point, but I am not being paid for this post.  I've been a Thanksgiving Point member for years already, and actually gave my pass away because I already had a current membership.  All opinions expressed are my own.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kindness



I should've filled you in earlier in this week, but did you know that it's officially Random Acts of Kindness Week?  Of course this is not to say that such acts can't be done at other times, but I think it's wonderful to commit for any length of time be it a week or a month or a year to focus on performing an act of kindness daily.  It's the kind of habit that can truly be life-changing as we focus less on ourselves and more on others. 

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has a site full of inspiring stories as well as amazing information.  For example, I had no idea about the amount of research regarding the positive effects of being kind.  I guess it just seemed like common knowledge to me, but it's nice to read about all of the proven benefits. 

I'm always amazed by how what seems like such little effort on my part can make such a big difference in the life of someone else, or vice versa.  For example, my husband has been out of town for work this week.  Tonight I went over to my sister-in-law's for dinner.  It probably didn't take much effort for her to make a bigger pot of the delicious soup she was already making for her own family, but it made a huge difference to me at the end of a really long week to enjoy a nice meal and some of my favorite people.

Miss A is going through a big note-writing stage as she continues to improve her writing skills.  Quite often, they're the thing that can make my whole day.  My favorites are the ones that say, "Dear Mom, I love you.  Thanks for everything."

There's a woman I know who loves nothing more than a visit over the phone.  Her circumstances make it difficult to call on others, but a phone call means the world to her and gives her connection and purpose.  

It doesn't have to be anything big to be appreciated.  Send your own note today that says, "I love you.  Thanks for everything."  Make an extra big dinner and invite someone over.  Call a friend you haven't chatted with in a while.  Think about others.  Be kind.

"Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else's life forever." -Margaret Cho

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Words to Live By

Just the reminder I need mid- week. Be back tomorrow with more to share!

Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past, and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities.

We have work to do, you and I, so very much of it. Let us roll up our sleeves and get at it, with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord.

We can do it, if we will be prayerful and faithful. We can do better than we have ever done before.-Gordon B. Hinckley

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The problem with bedtime

The bigs at bedtime after a trip to Costco
Last week I was corresponding with a friend about one of the great mysteries of the world: when is a good time to take family pictures.  She suggested how dreamy it would be (pun intended) to have family pictures taken at bedtime, to capture the freshly scrubbed faces and footie pajamas and story time and cuddle time and rocking time.  It did sound dreamy.  But when I talked about it with Ed, he brought me back to reality.

"That wouldn't be a good idea," he said casually.  "Why not?" I felt defensive, eager to know why I couldn't have those idyllic Norman Rockwell type bedtime scenes captured forever and hung around our house.  "Think about how bedtime is at our house."  I hated that he was right, but he was right.  Bedtime at our house is not my finest hour.  I like to think I'm a decent mom for 10 or 11 hours a day, but when it gets to that crucial last hour of the day I'm really starting to lose whatever good things I've had going earlier in the day.  Meltdowns are rampant, and I'm not just talking about the kids.  Ed is good to usually take over the bedtime scene, because if it's left to me the drill sergeant within emerges and instead of lovingly winding down our day and enjoying our bedtime routines I'm shouting commands of jammies-teeth-potty-prayer.  And really, shouting about praying?  You know I've lost it.

As I've realized the bedtime disconnect, I've started to think about the positive bedtime experiences I want for my kids.  A story from my friend Natalie  came to mind that she posted about several years ago, but it's stuck with me (probably because the first half of her experience is so familiar to my own- definitely click over to read her beautiful words).  She talked about her own bedtime bedlam and at the end of a particularly exhausting day, she got her kids back out of bed so she could make it up to them and end the day on a happier note.  As they were reading scripture stories together they came across the story of Christ's miracle at the wedding of Cana turning water into wine, and she realized that this same miracle of turning something ordinary into something extraordinary can happen through His power- even if that means turning a hard time of day into a happy time of day.

I came across the following quote recently on 320 Sycamore, a decorating blog I enjoy, and thought I'd share it again.

"Parents, remember that now is your opportunity; you may feel yourself harassed as you struggle through the days with an unruly child, but you are living the happiest and the most golden years of your life. As you tuck them into their beds at night, please be kind to them. Let them hear a kind voice amid all the angry, vile voices that they will hear throughout life. Let there be an anchor to which these little ones can turn when all else fails. The Lord help you so to do."
                                                                                      -Harold B. Lee

Speaking from experience, I know that bedtime will not get better for me without some divine intervention.  I'm too tired/ornery/insert-negative-adjective-here at the end of the day.  But I can ask for help.  And I know when I do, it will get better.

Monday, February 14, 2011

All you need is love...

via Etsy

I love the above quote from Mother Teresa.  To me this is the essence of Valentine's Day, and really, everyday.  It's easy as a mom to make elaborate holiday plans and think that all of that effort will definitely show our love to our family.  I'm not trying to discount the work and love that goes into grand celebrations, because I also believe that love is in the details.  But I have been thinking about how ironic it is that often in the getting ready for such celebrations, I get irritated with my family along the way, usually in their efforts to help.  I've been thinking about how I've missed the boat if the holiday celebration is supposed to convey my love, but I'm not showing it in the everyday little things.  Would my kids rather have pink pancakes and wrapped gifts, or would they give those up entirely if they could have a mom who was always patient and kind when trying to find shoes and coats as we were leaving the house?  Would my husband enjoy an elaborate meal every Valentine's Day, or would he trade it in if he could always be met with my best self as he came home at the end of the day instead of the tired leftover me he usually sees?  I love a good holiday party and the traditions and fun that we have as a family.  But I think this year I won't be sad if I put a little less effort into the "special occasions" so I can put a little more effort into the everyday occasions.   Life is made up of the small things.  Today I'm going to work on doing the small things with great love. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

By Way of Introduction

First, let me tell you that my blog was designed by my very talented friend Hannah.  She captured my vision perfectly and I love sitting down to write and clicking on the blog- it feels so homey and perfect.  I think I'm going to like it here.

Second, let me tell you a few things about me.  There are a few topics that are sure to surface over and over again, along with a cast of characters (aka the fam) and I thought a little background may be helpful, although I hope that like any good blog, you'll get to know me along the way, and before long we'll feel like old friends. 

I grew up in the east and in the west.  I moved across the country when I was 13 and count it an experience that really helped to solidify who I am. 

I got married to Edsger (his self-chosen pseudonym thanks to some nerdy mathematician, hereafter referred to as Ed) at the ripe old age of 20 while attending Brigham Young University, and although it was the perfectly right decision, I felt like I was giving in to all that I was fighting against in attending BYU in the first place.  I didn't want to be that girl, the one who married young and sacrificed her education in the process, or so the BYU stereotypes said.  So I finished school and taught history for a short while and enjoyed not quite being that girl, although I did fit half of the stereotype.

While Ed and I were starting to date, my parents separated, eventually to divorce.  People have a lot of opinions about divorce being hard on kids, but I think experiencing this while in college made me realize divorce is hard on kids at any age, whether they're 9 or 19 or 39.   I'm now at a place where I can say my parents divorce was a necessary thing, but it took me a while to get to that place. 

I have three kids who keep me consistently busy and happy.  Miss A started kindergarten this  year and is thoughtful and sweet and pretty much awesome.  I feel lucky that she's so understanding as I learn more about motherhood, and she helps me grow.
de-Man (pronounced not D-man, but duh-Man, as in the way a 4 year old would say "the" if he couldn't say th) is 4 and a happy mischief maker.  He's always been happy, and for that I am grateful.  He's currently the child pushing my buttons, but ask me in a few weeks and I'm sure my answer will be different.  It's so nice how they take turns being the hard one.
My muffin is 1 and likes to eat, explore, and laugh.  He's been a definite ray of sunshine since he's joined our family, and in some ways he's been the glue during some really difficult times. Someday I'll have to stop calling him muffin (or muffin-head, or muff for short) but for now while he can't say what he thinks, muffin it is. 

Eleven days after the muffin came along, my dad had a massive stroke.  He went to an inpatient rehab facility for weeks while my life turned into phone calls (to the hospital, to my brothers, to insurance companies, to social security) amidst the newborn care and oh yeah, I have two other kids and a husband.  A month later, we drove to Idaho to pick him up and moved him back to Utah to live with us.  After about 9 months, he moved to a nursing home for several months and just two weeks ago moved to an assisted living facility. It's been life-changing to say the least.  It's been harder than I can express (although I'm sure I'll try), but it's also been an experience where I've been abundantly blessed.  It's been a time of growth and closeness in my marriage, and a time of distance from some who I thought would be supportive.  It's been filled with learning.  It's also been the catalyst for this blog.

As I've gone through this experience, I realized how much strength we all have as people.  We can do so much more than we think we can, especially when in the situation where we have to.  But what about when we don't have to?  I think we can also choose to do more- to be more and to rise above the mediocrity that abounds.  We don't have to just phone it in.  We can choose to improve.  Everyday.  In big ways or little ways.  And often, the little changes are what turn into the big changes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jumping In

print via The Black Apple
Welcome!  So glad you've found your way here.  Bee a Little Better is a project that's been on my mind for almost a year.  Finally I've given up the excuses and the fear and decided to just start.  There are a lot of things I'm not good at, and a lot of things I'm not interested in being good at, but one thing that I have learned about myself is that I'm always trying (or at least desiring) to be a better person.  Bee a Little Better is my journey to improve and a gathering place for the inspiration I find along the way.

One of my greatest motivations is seeing the examples of others.  I love watching the dedication of runners training for marathons.  I marvel at the strength of mothers who make great sacrifices and endure great heartaches in the raising of their children.  I am amazed by those who experience physical challenges and manage their lives without complaint and instead with a passion for life.  I believe people are awe-inspiring.  Everyone has a story, and the learning and sharing that happens when we share our stories is powerful.  I love these thoughts:

""We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other... We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other. These friendships are a necessary source of sustenance."- Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Bee a Little Better will celebrate the human experience and all that we have to learn from each other.  I have a lot to learn, and I'm excited to see where this adventure takes me.  I hope you'll come along for the ride.