Friday, July 29, 2011

Love Week Day 5- Becoming Better

art available here

I remember in my single days hearing the wisdom to find someone to marry who made me want to be better when I was with them.  I think it was some of the greatest advice I've ever received, and I've found it to be a wonderful part of my marriage.  When I'm with the husband, I can so much more easily let the little things go.  To me there is rarely an issue so big that makes me want to bring contention or hurt into our relationship.  When I'm with the husband, I try to speak kindly.  He's rarely heard uttering an unkind word, and it helps me try harder to do the same.  When I'm with the husband I gain perspective that to work towards our relationship being eternal, we need to improve and be the best we can right now.  I don't want to be standing in the way of forever because of complacency or laziness.

I hope that no one has the mistaken idea from my posts this week that my marriage is perfect.  I know of few that are.  I have a lot that I can improve on to be a better wife.  There are times when I'm grateful we were friends first because that foundation of friendship has helped us through difficult things when being a spouse felt more difficult than being a friend.

But I can say that my marriage relationship is second only to my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Sometimes it's easy to forget that with all of the other demands in life.  Marriage is worth my very best efforts, and it's been a good thing for me this week to refocus on what I've done right in the past and what I should be doing right now.

.....

Happy Weekend!  Hoping to find time to celebrate the anniversary sans kids, along with a big birthday party to attend and the normal weekend chores.  As much as I've loved focusing on marriage this week, I'm excited to be back next week with other things to share.  Hope your weekend is full of summer fun!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Love Week Day 4-Trials and Selflessness

sweet print available here

If you want to see me become a mushy mess, ask me about how the husband was while we cared for my dad after his stroke.  Although I've fallen more in love with him as we've brought each of our babies home, I was surprised that I had the same experience of deeper feelings and greater appreciation when we brought my dad home.  I watched some of his gifts truly shine during a time of great difficulty.  He was compassionate and supportive to my dad, helping him with his at-home therapy, walking with him to ensure his safety, cleaning up messes that he wanted to shield me from.  He was concerned about helping my dad maintain his dignity, and he never did anything to make him feel badly about needing help or living with us.  He was my biggest fan with nightly pep talks that I could keep going and that we were making it through.  It began to wear on him that same way it wore on me, but he was a voice of reason when things felt crazy.  

When I took time to reflect throughout those months on the sacrifices he was making, they were nothing small.  They were sacrifices that I think most husbands would say no to.  Not only did he take on a great challenge with me, but he did so without complaint. He worked side by side with me and followed through on every commitment.  He was my most trusted confidante through the most difficult period of my life.  And he helped bring happiness and perspective to our home at a time when stress was always readily available.  He helped remind me how to dance in the rain.  

The way we grew closer during this period of our marriage leaves me with little room for doubt about our future.  Trials can tear couples apart or bring them closer together.  We've had a lot of practice at becoming closer through difficult times, and I'm so grateful that we've made that choice.  

Selfishness is the root of so much marital strife, and is something that must constantly be re-evaluated because it's a natural trap to fall into.  Neither one of us are perfect at being unselfish.  But this trial was definitely a time when I can see the husband was completely selfless.   

 "Whither thou goes I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die." ( Ruth 1:16-17)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Love Week Day 3- The Anniversary


We were babies nine years ago.  We were excited about an eternity together, plans for the future, and the fun we were sure to have along the way.   In 9 years we've lived in 3 places.  We've had 3 kids.  We've finished 2 degrees, and just this week we were both talking about another one (we'll see if those dreams come to fruition).  We've held more jobs than I can keep track of (I'm thinking 5 for you, and I can recall at least 5 for me).  We've lost jobs.   We've been in the hospital, me to have babies, you to get better. We've been to New York three times, Moab twice, Oregon once, Disneyland once, Las Vegas twice, and Idaho more times than I can count.  We've held many church callings and supported each other as we've spent time serving.  We've worked hard and played hard.  We've laughed and cried (mostly me on the crying).  We've talked and listened (mostly you on the listening).  We've grown individually and as a couple.

We knew what some of our trials would be as we began our journey together, but we never could have imagined some of the other experiences that would bring us so close together. You've been the best through it all, never leaving me to deal with what could have been deemed my own problems, but embracing every challenge as ours.  

I couldn't get over how great you were the whole time we dated.  My roommates grew tired of hearing me at the end of every night, "isn't he just great?"  Nine years later and you're still great.  And I am blessed to call you mine.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Love Week Day 2-Learn Together

darling sign available as part of this fundraiser found originally on pinterest


From day one of our marriage the husband and I have been in it together, side by side, and it's one of my favorite parts of marriage.  Although there have been some areas where I've had more experience and others where he's had a stronger knowledge-base, there have definitely been situations where we've both been green and had to learn how to do things together.

I remember in the first few weeks of marriage we came across an experience new to both of us, and we weren't quite sure what our next step should be.  I deferred to the husband, thinking he might have an answer, and his response was classic: "Well, I don't know, last time I did this it was a complete disaster!"  It was such a clever way to diffuse the tension that can come in marriage as we entered unchartered territory, and I needed the reminder that sometimes he didn't know any better than I did and we would have to work out a solution together.  It's become our standing joke when we are confronted with a new situation, and it instantly helps take away any frustration that we could be feeling with each other.

I've never been a wife before.  He's never been a husband before. We've never been parents before.  And although we've been married for 9 years now and parents for 6 1/2+, we're still not pro's by any stretch.  There are still new situations where I have to determine what my role as a wife should be in that particular set of circumstances .  But I know that we're in it together, and we can be patient with each other as we figure things out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Love Week-Make an Effort

print via

This week the husband and I will celebrate nine years of marriage.  I've been nostalgic all weekend thinking about how blessed I am to be married to such an incredible man.  I thought I'd share lessons learned through marriage all week because, well, I'm kind of sappy.  And I want to remember some of the moments that have defined us as a couple.  And I want to remind myself of the things I need to work on.  I'm sure there won't be much that is new to you, but I hope you'll indulge me this week.

So without further ado: lesson #1.  The more effort I put into my marriage, the more rewarding it is.  I will admit there are times I have been lazy in my marriage.  I've taken for granted the fact that we have little conflict, and I've used the excuse of the kids zapping me of all energy to not focus on the husband at the end of a long day.  But the times that I can set my long days aside and really have a good conversation when the husband gets home, I feel so much happier in our relationship.  The times when I try to be more thoughtful to make life easier for him, to anticipate his needs, to serve him beyond the normal everyday things that are always done, I feel a great increase of love for him.  I love the above sentiment- so many things in life are ordinary, our love should not be one of them.  Time has taught me that relationships become ordinary when efforts decrease.  Today's challenge for me and for you: leave the ordinary for the amazing.

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Amazing Weekend Wishes

print via pinterest via this shop

Good morning!  I'm happy it's Friday, and as an added bonus it's the husband's Friday off.  I'm a little sad it's Friday because it's one more week of summer drawing to a close.  Popsicle consumption has been at an all time summer high this week, and I can't believe it will all be over soon.  I'm thinking I need to get my shopping started for the incredibly long list of school supplies for my first grader
Do you have fun weekend plans?  A mix of work and play, heavy on the play, are my hopes for our weekend.  And I'm thinking catching up with friends I haven't seen for way too long would make it even better.  Sunday is Pioneer Day, the Utah state holiday celebrating those who made the state great, and pretty much an excuse for a 4th of July repeat.  I'm hoping for a BBQ after church, but need to get planning.
I thought I'd send you into the weekend with a few links I love.

-a little mom pep talk over at My Favorite Things
-this video that I can't get out of my head
-a challenge to do better at Bloom

Hope your weekend is ridiculously amazing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Favorite Summer Salad and a Blog-Hop


Have you read Miranda's blog?  It's definitely a favorite of mine.  She tells a good story, her creativity oozes through her blog (you have to look at her parties), and she has a beautiful perspective on life.  When Miranda asked if I'd participate in her Blog Hop this month, I happily agreed.  The topic is Favorite Summer Salad, and when I began to think about my favorite summer salad (could it be this one? or this one? or maybe this one?), it was kind of like asking me to pick a favorite color of the rainbow or a favorite child- next to impossible (although most days the color is red and the child is...well...never mind).  

I decided to share the current family favorite summer salad, and because it's a family favorite it's in heavy rotation this summer.  Luckily, everyone from my 1 year old (who eats the chicken and beans, at least) to my non-salad-loving husband loves this salad.  In fact, it was the husband who inspired me to make this in the first place.  We went out to Paradise Bakery and he ordered the BBQ chicken salad while I stood there in line almost too shocked to order my regular Californian Turkey.  After that I was on the hunt for a BBQ chicken salad recipe to make at home.  I've tried a few variations, but this is the one I'm making most frequently.  BBQ chicken salad purists may balk at the extra veggies that make an appearance in my version but hey, if I'm getting my family to eat vegetables, I'm going to pack in as many as I can. 



BBQ Chicken Salad

BBQ chicken:
2-3 chicken breasts, frozen or thawed (or skip the cooking and use a rotisserie chicken)
your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's, although someday I'd like to make homemade sauce)

Put chicken breasts in the crockpot, remove when cooked (cook time will depend on if they started out frozen or not, usually around 5 hours).  Shred cooked chicken breasts.  I love cooking chicken in the crock pot and don't usually encounter a problem with them being dried out, but if your crockpot seems to dry things out then add a little chicken broth while the chicken is cooking.  Mix shredded chicken with enough BBQ sauce until it's well coated and starts to stick together a little, I'd guess 1/4-1/2 cup.  (In case you can't tell, I'm one of those people who doesn't measure too much when cooking- sorry!)  Refrigerate BBQ chicken mixture until ready to use.  

I'm separating the salad into the sections of ingredients I always use and the things I add if I have them on hand- that's why I like this recipe- easily adaptable!

Must Have:
3-4 hearts Romaine lettuce (or whatever your favorite lettuce might be; adjust quantity depending on size of salad you desire)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed, or fresh corn steamed and cut off the cob
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 of red onion, chopped (or I've used a few green onions if I have no red onion)

Optional Additions (I add any or all of these depending on what I have on hand):
1 cucumber, diced
1 yellow squash, peeled and diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (or any other diced fresh tomatoes)
1 avocado, diced
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
1/2 cup jicama, diced

When it comes to the dressing, I have two versions- the planned ahead version (Mel's BBQ Cilantro Lime dressing is delish!), or the in-a-hurry version that is used the majority of the time.  

Quick version:
1/4-1/3 cup of your favorite Ranch dressing
1-2 Tbsp BBQ sauce 
Mix together until well blended.  

Assemble salad ingredients, add BBQ chicken, and toss with dressing.  Yum!

Now comes the fun part. Hop over to the other participating blogs to check out even more favorite summer salads.  Enjoy having new summer salad recipes to try.  Recipes that involve not turning on the oven and still eating fresh, seasonal, delicious food?  Yes, please.  









Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Compassion

love this printable via Bloom via Modern Parents, Messy Kids

I just got home from doing some visits for Primary.  Although this calling has been overwhelming while I'm still getting the hang of things, it has also been humbling and full of lessons in the short two months I've been serving.  For the past several years, I've been working with women at church.  It's come easily for me to know how to love them, to relate to them, to mourn with them and to celebrate with them.

It shouldn't feel different doing those things with the children I serve, but somehow it does.  I've been used to being on the other side of the situation, discussing adult problems with other adults and wondering how those problems may affect the children.  Now I'm seeing how the children are affected as I interact with them, and trying to piece together the problems as well as possible solutions.  It has been extremely moving for me to see heartache through the eyes of these children.  They have real problems- problems so much bigger than children should have to endure. They have hard things whether it's illness that they must go through, or the illness of family members.  They struggle with friends and they struggle with themselves.  They have two parents or one parent or grandparents.  They need attention.  They need guidance.  They need love.  Sometimes they don't get any of those things.

I hate admitting that it is taking an increase in patience for me to always know how to love them, how to relate to them, to mourn with them and to celebrate with them.  Some kids feel harder to love.  Deep down I want the same thing for all of them- a knowledge that they're a child of God, a feeling of love and acceptance, a friend, loving parents, stable homes, faith in Jesus Christ, a desire to be good.  Some things I can't change in their circumstances.  But the things that I can influence in nurturing their faith and in helping them feel loved, I hope that I really can influence.  Problems seem much harder through their perspective.  I hope these lessons in compassion will never leave me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A little catching up

Remember how I was going to turn my day around last Thursday?  Well, I finished my post, put the baby down for a nap because he woke up way too early, and went outside with the big kids.  And then I found this.  
 
totally flat, nail not pictured

Suddenly it was a stay at home day, so out came the sprinkler and on went the swimsuits.  We ate lunch out back.  We spent time playing and not accomplishing much by way of to-do lists, but that was ok.  Besides, eating raspberries (or wearing them in the Muffin's case) and driving toy cars doesn't seem too bad, does it?

raspberries are delicious, and so are those cheeks
Although a few chores were done, ditching the to-do list ended up being the theme for the weekend.  The husband and I went on a long overdue date Friday night, and we set out without plans.  We ended up at a restaurant I'd been wanting to try, and then instead of turning left the husband turned right and suddenly we were on a two hour drive over the mountain and down the other side.  It gave us a lot of time to talk and catch up and reconnect, and it was totally perfect.  

awaiting certain death as mountain driving is semi-stressful to me 
Saturday we had two objectives: visit my dad and take him another aquarium (he has a fish hobby), and go to BYU for new hats for the husband and de-Man.  I somehow relaxed from the strict nap schedules and even strict eating schedules (who needs lunch?  we all survived) and enjoyed the day.  We set up the aquarium for my dad after running the needed errands to get supplies, and we visited for a while.  We shopped at the bookstore and wandered around campus with the kids for much longer than I can usually handle wandering. We drove by where we lived while in college, and after the kids were completely exhausted we came home.  

I think it just may be possible to teach an old dog new tricks.  I'm figuring out how to be in the moment with my family.  Not that I've totally got it down, but I'm learning, and I'm really enjoying it. 

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As a quick side note, have I mentioned that I love food?  I do.  Food that's healthy.  Food that's indulgent.  I love making food.  I love eating food.  I thought maybe I'd start sharing more about how my life is a little better with food.  I'm excited to return to this topic regularly.  To get started, here's a peek at some of our weekend food.
-Friday night date  (I had pomodoro with mozzarella which was fantastic, and a mixed greens salad to start)
-breakfast sandwiches on Saturday morning (made with bacon at our house, and I have to say I can't wait to eat some that are still in the freezer)
-raspberries from the neighbor's garden in heavy consumption
-perfect pancakes (as breakfast for dinner Saturday night- I threw blueberries in half of them)
-new favorite salmon recipe for Sunday dinner
-chocolate covered cinnamon bears from the BYU

Thursday, July 14, 2011

a pep talk for myself

quote by Gordon B. Hinckley, print by Our Daily Obsessions via  Kelly on Pinterest
This week has been a mixed bag.  It's been nice to have less going on.  But now that we're at Thursday, it's starting to feel a little monotonous, just waiting to cross the finish line to the weekend.  It's been a little bit productive and a little bit lazy.  Today I'm feeling a little restless.  Everyone had been awake for less than half an hour this morning when the brother/sister fighting started.   My response to said fighting was not my finest parenting moment.  Needless to say, it's not even 9 am and our day is not headed the way I'd like it to be.  This week the above quote has been in my head.  Some summer days feel long.  Sometimes the daily to-do's of scheduling doctor appointments and paying bills and meal planning and refereeing feel suffocating.  But I need to get back to the enjoying instead of the enduring.  I shouldn't just be waiting for the Friday's, I should be enjoying the everyday.  Nothing a little summer fun can't cure.

I'm off to turn my day around.  An apology to my kids is first on the agenda.

Hope your Thursday is (unlike mine) off on the right track.  But if it's not, turn it around.  It's never too late.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Entitled

image via

Growing up, I remember my mom watching Oprah regularly.  One day I was as mesmerized as she was when I saw that Oprah's guests were a large family.  I counted the kids and couldn't believe they were all brothers and sisters.  I have always romanticized what big families must be like, and to see one on tv was definitely captivating to me.  I found out that the parents were Linda and Richard Eyre, parenting experts, and I remember thinking it was a good thing they were experts since they had nine kids!

Fast forward to today and I am still captivated by the Eyre's as I see a family who knows success in the most worthy pursuits- individuals who work hard, who love each other, who are dedicated to their chosen fields in life be it education or business or motherhood, and who serve those around them.  I love seeing Richard and Linda's latest parenting books now that I'm in the stage where I could use help from a parenting expert.  The latest book from the Eyre's, The Entitlement Trap, has definitely caught my eye.  

When I was teaching school, I saw an increasing number of students who felt entitled.  They were entitled to good grades because of their sparkling personalities, and they couldn't make the connection when those grades weren't as good as they were hoping for that they hadn't done the work to earn said grades.  Sadly, after I met with parents I frequently saw where their entitled attitudes stemmed from.  I knew it was a battle that I could not easily overcome to instill values of hard work in those students.

One of my biggest fears as a parent is that my my kids won't know how to work.  I realized that my role is to teach them how, but it's hard to know how hard to push sometimes, especially at different ages.  I don't want to coddle my sensitive 4-year-old, but I don't want to hold him to the same expectations I have for my 6-year-old, either.  And I don't want to give my 6-year-old a never ending list of chores, but I want her to contribute in appropriate ways to our home and to begin to feel self-motivated.


The Entitlement Trap helps give parents tools to teach their children about work and ownership, the antidote to attitudes of entitlement.  It's not just a book, it's the beginning of a movement to help overcome the entitlement that is cankering society today.  I recommend pre-ordering to get the book for an even better price and to help it debut on the best-seller list so more parents will take note of this great resource.  I'm not usually the kind to line up for a movie premier or to anticipate a book release, but I admittedly can't wait for this book.

....

How do you teach your kids to work?  How do you combat entitlement?


Try

available via
Just a little inspiration for a Tuesday morning.  Back soon!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Snapshot of a Saturday



Saturday morning donuts
+kids running through the sprinklers while the husband and I sat outside
+running 4 errands within an hour with my girl
+raspberry picking from a generous neighbor's bushes (and then snacking on said berries all.day.long)
+home improvement project 
+afternoon spent alternating between the swing-set and the ride-on toys
+dinner picnic on the lawn
+laundry and chores
+evening rainstorm that we didn't mind playing in with a rainbow thrown in for good measure
+ironing out details for Sunday
=Summer Saturday Perfection

This has been just the weekend I needed. 


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Most Important Things

one of my favorite prints via

When I was a freshman at BYU, I met a girl who left quite an impression on me.  Our interaction was brief as we were introduced by a mutual friend, but she was the kind of girl who isn't easy to forget.  She was genuine.  She was warm.  She was friendly, and always said hi when I saw her around campus.  She was the real deal- full of goodness, and I definitely learned from her example.

It's funny how blogging makes the world feel smaller.  Several months ago on Bloom I saw the smiling face of this girl, and I smiled back at the screen, excited to read about her good example at a new stage in life.  As I read the post, I realized that not only was she still amazing ten years later, now a wife and mother, but she was also enduring great pain with unbelievable grace as she cared for her husband suffering from brain cancer.  I bookmarked her blog and read through past entries, feeling of her optimism and strength.  I've continued to check in on her sweet family as they experience great trials with patience and faith.

This morning a new post showed in my reader with the sad news that her husband passed away on the 4th of July.  And although this is a family that I don't know well, I feel heartbreak for what sweet Lori must be going through right now.  She's an incredible woman. There is no doubt in my mind that she will rise to the top and continue to do amazing things.  But the sadness of the current reality has stuck with me this morning, reminding me of what is most important in life.

Families can be together forever.  What a beautiful promise.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thoughts After a Long Weekend

via
Hope you had a fabulous 4th!  A three-day weekend was perfect to welcome the husband home, and our holiday was great despite a little drizzly weather.

Last weekend when we were driving home from Las Vegas, the husband and I had a lot of time to talk.  Two out of three kids slept for at least part of the drive, and we talked about dreams and plans and goals we hadn't talked about for a long time.

We currently live in the town the husband grew up in, and although it's grown by leaps and bounds and feels more suburban now, it definitely felt like a country town in his childhood. I think because of this, he has a major draw to urban living and a desire to try out big city life.  We spent a long time talking about the if's and when's of this life change, and if it's something we really want.  After a lot of discussion, we tried to determine if it was really a dream worth chasing, or more of a "wouldn't it be fun to..." thought that usually doesn't amount to more than a thought.  The husband admitted that it wasn't anything he'd look back on and have great regrets about not doing, but he does like to daydream about the adventures we could have experiencing city-living.

This conversation has pushed me to think about change.  As I've looked back on our almost 9 years of marriage, I feel like a lot of the changes that we've been through have been due to circumstances rather than changes that we've instigated.   I wouldn't consider either of us people that fear or dislike change, but I also don't see many times when we've actively sought big changes.  Although we talked about the benefits of some things remaining the same (job security, financial stability by staying in our home, etc.), I have felt somewhat bothered by the fact that we seem so passive in our life.  But then I've had to remind myself that we're actively making the choice for these things to remain the same.  We revisited what some of our goals are or what they could be- a life full of jet-setting to broaden the world-view of our children? College funds and rainy day savings?  Seeking change for change's sake, or being content to roll with things and adjust to the frequent changes that life brings?  I hope this is making sense- I've been sorting through these thoughts for the past 10 days.  

I think the conclusion that I'm beginning to come to is that I don't need to make major life changes to feel like I'm taking a more active role in my life.  Just because we're not researching city lofts and urban dwelling with kids doesn't mean that I can't make meaningful changes in how I approach living.  I'm realizing that much of my frustration in feeling that I've been passive has to do with the reactive state I find myself in so frequently lately- reacting to messes made or sibling fights or sassy talk- instead of being proactive in teaching and disciplining, or even heading it off in the first place.  The passive is where I've been far too often lately, cleaning up behind my kids instead of staying a step ahead.  And it's not just parenting- I think it's spilling over into a lot of aspects of my life.  I've been too busy putting out the fires of various kinds to feel like I'm planning ahead.  It's starting to get to me.

When I woke up and saw Sarah Jane's new printable this morning, it was complete perfection.  I plan to print it out pronto.  I need to live my life on purpose.  I need to stop being on auto-pilot, just reacting to the situations that come my way.  I need to make plans.  I need to dream a little.  I need to realize that the intentional decisions, however small they may seem, will amount to big changes when I make them every.single.day.  I need to remind myself that change often doesn't happen over night, and when it does it's usually the kind of change that I don't want.  I need to change my approach to living instead of my circumstances.

I am grateful for the life I have.  It is messy and crazy and beautiful and blessed.  And change is good.  But I think change is really good when I'm changing myself instead of wishing to change everything around me.

Back soon with more to share.  You know my head is never quiet long.  :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

As American As...


via
One of the best holidays of the whole year commences celebration this weekend, and the fact that the holiday itself lands on a Monday to create a three-day weekend makes it even more fabulous.

I used to teach U.S. history.  The Fourth of July is kind of a big deal for my America-loving heart.

I'm hoping to find time for a viewing of one of my favorite America-themed movies (and if that's not nerdy enough, I will also be happy if I can catch A Capital Fourth on PBS). I'm also hopeful that much of our weekend will be spent showing our independence and hard work with some serious house/yard work.  I'm sure that play will make an appearance- after all, who can endure 90-degree weather without a little water fun?  And then on Monday the best pulled pork ever will make an appearance at our late afternoon family bbq.

I can hardly wait.  Hope your weekend is full of fun- and maybe a little US trivia.