Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Right Now

Happy via Katie Licht via Creature Comforts via Kelly on pinterest


I'm currently:

-thrilled that the husband came home today.  He's been catching up on rest and helping out when he can and I'm grateful to see him improving.  The kids are elated to have him home.  Things feel better with all of us together.

-listening to the hum of the dryer.  I've been trying to play catch up around here after the craziness of the last few days.  Laundry has been #1 on the agenda.  Bathrooms and floors are waiting for me tomorrow.

-grateful for dinner from a friend tonight.  We got home this afternoon and the errands of school pick-ups and prescription pick-ups and settling back in and late day craziness ensued.  One less thing to worry about was so very appreciated.

-wrapped up in primary.  There is a constant list of things to do.  I wonder if it will ever slow down or if it's the nature of the beast.

-spinning wheels on a variety of things.  I'm mulling over good reading and great talks I've heard recently and trying to figure out where they fit for me.  I'm sure you haven't heard the last about this.

-nostalgic for the baby days.  The summer stole my baby and left me with a toddler.  He barely walked in time for summer (late bloomer? yes), and now he's thrilled by the chase.  His limbs stretched out, taking some of the baby rolls with them.  His vocabulary has expanded as his cries for "READ" have increased.  He is quite a ham and brings such joy.  But oh I'd love to rewind his baby days just a little bit.  He'll be 22 months this weekend.  Time flies.

-craving routine.  This week hasn't exactly gone according to plan, and I'm ready to get back to the habits I've been working to create.  We're still improving our groove and figuring out the best times of day for various tasks.   Piano practice works best before school.  Reading can wait for after school.  Chores are still looking for a permanent place.  So is exercise (on my schedule, at least).  I feel bad for Miss A and can relate to the trial-and-error feelings of being the oldest.  I'm still learning how to handle our increasingly busy schedules, and she's good to be patient as I figure things out.

-ready for bed.  Sleep hasn't been the greatest this week.

Be back soon with some recipes and sundry thoughts to share.

Slow Down

gorgeous print via Peas in our pod via pinterest (and I referenced this quote before here)

There are some things I can count on happening.

I can count on buying a big fall mum at Costco every year, promising myself this will be the year that I take care of it and water it and replant it before it dies a slow, painful death (and sadly I can count on that death coming to pass).

I can count on my lack of self-control every time I make any sort of homemade bread product be it rolls or muffins or loaves.

I can count on my kids being thrilled at the prospects of a trip to the park or the library every.single.time.

I can count on (re)learning some life lessons over and over again.

This time the lesson is that we have to slow down.  

The husband is in the hospital.  He went in on Monday night.  The big kids had each had a little one-day-throw-up over the past couple of weeks, so I tried to play it off as that throughout the day.  But I could see that we were headed down the same path we were on almost two years ago right before I had the muffin.  The fever and chills, the inability to keep anything down, the tingling face and hands and toes seemed like deja-vous.  We headed to the ER and the doctor barely came in before sharing the news that the husband would be admitted.  Another sepsis diagnosis, a myriad of tests to try to determine the cause, but we're feeling lucky he's not nearly as sick as he was two years ago and I'm not 8 1/2 months pregnant like I was then.  He's steadily improving with IV fluid and antibiotics and we're hoping he'll be home soon.

This time I think the lesson on slowing down is for the husband, although it's a good reminder for me, too.  He's been working like a crazy person.  Seventy+ hour weeks are becoming the norm with big projects rolling out and over a year of work finally coming together.  It's been stressful.  After a long weekend of working, the husband came home without his computer Sunday night (I think I can count on one hand the number of times that's happened in the past).  His phone was almost dead, but it didn't matter because he was planning to be at work by 5:30 Monday.  When his alarm went off at 4:30 the aches and fever started and he realized he wouldn't be going anywhere.  His phone died shortly into Monday morning and he's been disconnected from work in a way that he hasn't been, well, dare I say ever?  And even more than the antibiotics and the fluids and the zofran and the tylenol, I think it's been just what the doctor ordered.

I don't think it was a coincidence that Monday night's scripture reading before we went to the hospital included the verse,


"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." (underlining and bold added by me)

I'm hoping we're at the point of lesson learned and he can come home and cuddle our kids without the fear of them bumping his iv and talk with me before we fall asleep and go on bike rides and read stories and navigate the work/life balance once again.  The husband is full of goodness.  He is a hard worker.  He is (in the words of my 4-year-old) my best partner.

Tonight I'm grateful for the reminder to slow down- to focus on the truly significant- the things that matter most.

------

Take a few minutes today to slow down.  Errands will wait.  Lists aren't going anywhere.  Focus on the things that matter most.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Trickle Down

another favorite family picture by Melissa


There are times when I feel like everything I have is given to my family.  Time, talents, patience, resources are all easily depleted at the end of a day of mothering.  This is not a complaint, but more of an observation.  Honestly, it's probably not even the truth, but it is easy to feel completely spent.

There are also times when I realize how much I haven't given my family, especially my children.  I try to be purposeful in teaching them.  There are many values that I've worked to instill, lessons I've tried to pass on, and testimonies I've shared on topics ranging from the gospel of Jesus Christ to the satisfaction of hard work to the health benefits of smoothies.  Sometimes as I sit and think about all that I hope they learn from me, I realize things I've forgotten to teach them.

While I was in college, I took a class that was based completely on The Proclamation on the Family.  I studied it intensely and had a whole semester to allow those principles to sink into my heart and to shape my ideas for my future family.  I spent time reflecting on the family I came from and made parallels to The Proclamation, discovering traditions I wanted to continue and other patterns I hoped to change.  Because I spent an entire class studying this text, it is one I've become very familiar with.  I often find phrases from The Proclamation coming to mind at just the right time.  As I watch my kids play and see princesses playing side by side with firemen, I can't help but think "gender is an essential characteristic." When I take time to assess my parenting I remember that I will be "accountable for...the obligations," to raise my children.  During the time my dad lived with us, the phrase on constant repeat was, "Extended families should lend support when needed."

As I've thought about how I've taught my children The Proclamation, it's been a "trickle down".  It's a resource that I have drawn from, and hopefully the things I've learned have trickled down to my kids.  There are many things that are adequately learned through the trickle down, but I've realized that The Proclamation is so important to me it deserves much more than casual teaching.  I hope I can improve my efforts to allow them to really drink in the principles contained in The Proclamation.  It's brought great peace and direction to my life, and I know it can do the same thing for them.  

I'm linking up today with The Proclamation Celebration blog hop.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The past few days

art via found on pinterest

On Friday the husband and I ventured to the hospital for a routine colonoscopy.  The husband has had Crohn's disease for the past 13 years, and colonoscopies come with the territory.  He's been without symptoms for the past several months, and we were both hopeful going into the procedure that everything would be clean since he's been blessed to feel well for a while.

As we went back with the pre-op nurse, she inquired about his lack of medication listed in his history.  The husband has always struggled to be compliant with his drug regimens, and because he's been feeling fine he went off his medication.  She chided him and threw out a horror story about her friend who went off their maintenance medication and died of colon cancer at 31.  It was definitely not the kind of story you want to hear when going in for a procedure to determine if you may have the same fate, but we let it roll off our backs and talked and laughed together in pre-op after the nurse left.

I brought my primary stuff to work on while he was in surgery, and I cleaned out my big bag and tried to get organized.  Time continued to pass and I could no longer focus.  Things were taking longer than usual, and I began to worry.  Finally they brought me to recovery and he began to wake up.  I got him some ice.  He was joking around, and he seemed more alert than he has after past colonoscopies- a nice change.

The doctor came in and the husband joked, "Am I in trouble?"  The doctor replied seriously, "Yes, you are in trouble."  They removed several polyps, one which was incredibly worrisome because of its abnormalities from typical inflammatory polyps common with Crohn's.  They also found a new area of inflammation for us to be concerned about.  I began question after question, but many of them were put on hold as the doctor said we'd have to wait until Wednesday when the pathology report would be finished.  He threw the possibility of cancer on the table and then left.

It has been several stressful days.  We entered into the can't eat/can't sleep cycle as the worries crept in.  The days have felt incredibly long, the nights longer.  The doctor's office called the husband at work yesterday to schedule a time for us to come in and meet with them.  I wondered if they already knew things and tried to track down an answer, but my efforts were futile.  I jumped every time the phone rang, wondering if it would be the news we were waiting for.  The hospital called and my heart began to race, only to find they were calling to follow up and make sure the husband was feeling ok post-surgery.

This afternoon the call came, thankfully a little earlier than we expected.  "The doctor wanted me to tell you that your husband dodged a bullet," said the chipper nurse when I picked up the phone.  I confirmed, "So, it's not cancer?"  Not cancer, and not pre-cancer.  Words that were hoped and prayed for.

I feel a huge weight lifted.  I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who watches over our family and answers prayers.  I also feel incredibly introspective.  Staring the possibility of cancer in the face has spurred me to think about my priorities, about my faith, about how I handle trials.  I hope that much personal growth comes from what was thankfully only a scare, only a few bad days.  I can't express how blessed I feel that this wasn't the beginning of something more serious.  But even if it was, this has taught me about the invaluable support of family and friends.  It has reminded me of my love for my husband and family.  It has opened my eyes to the abundance I enjoy.  And it has confirmed once again the peace that can only be found in my Savior.  I am so grateful for these blessings tonight.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Inspiration+A Winner

via pinterest


Things have been busy on the home front.  I'll be back soon with a full report on the latest happenings, but I wanted to pop in with a great quote and announce the giveaway winner.  A copy of The Entitlement Trap will be sent to Karen.  Thanks to everyone for reading!  

I'll be back soon.  Lots on my mind and heart to share.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Worth 1,000 Words, but I'll still add a few

When a couple gets married, there is no manual handed to them on how to have the perfect marriage.  When people have a baby, the hospital does not distribute handbooks on parenting.  It's often overwhelming to think about the most important roles we can have in this life- those of husband or wife and father or mother- have little instruction given to bring success.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World is a wonderful guide for building a strong family.  The following passage is one I think of often, a great synopsis of things I should be working towards, especially with the lack of a parenting/marriage manual.  I love how this family picture goes along with the principles shared.  

"Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."

photo credit: Melissa, of course


I'm linking up today with the Proclamation Celebration Blog Hop.  

Also,I've decided to leave The Entitlement Trap giveaway open over the weekend.  Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM MST Sunday night, and the winner will be announced Monday.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Few Tips on Tuesday

I have a friend who often makes lists of things she wants to remember to talk about so she doesn't forget anything when she finally gets a chance to catch up with a friend.  I find it endearing and really, quite genius.  Mom brain changes things and I often can't remember everything I've been meaning to catch up on with someone.  In that same vein, here's my current list of things I've been wanting so share here.  

-I'm currently up to my eyeballs in produce preservation.  Aside from salsa, I've been sun/oven- drying tomatoes, making pizza sauce (roasting cherry tomatoes+garlic+onion drizzled with olive oil+salt+pepper, blending with a little basil, and freezing-thanks to my genius friend Ella for the idea), tomato soup is on the agenda (hoping to freeze quite a bit for the fall/winter), chili sauce will probably make an appearance, and I'm hoping to try my hand at my first batch of spaghetti sauce.  
Besides tomatoes, I used some of the abundance of squash to make muffins, and they were totally delicious- a lot like cornbread minus the grainy texture.  

-I love the feedback I receive from great readers, but I'm often wishing for an easier way to open a conversation with commenters.  Kami is the queen of quick tips, and her techy tip on how to link your email to your comments is a great solution.  I'd love to be able to reply via email to your comments, so take a minute to link it up!  (And while we're at it, my other favorite quick tip from Kami is on how to clean a blender.  It totally increased my morning smoothie consumption!)

-I've had some long parenting days recently.  I'm sure I'll share more about those soon.  In the mean time, I'm finding perspective from Shawni and Lori.  I'm also enjoying the proclamation celebration headed up by Jocelyn together with these great bloggers.  

-In case you missed it, The Entitlement Trap giveaway is open until Friday.  I'd love to send a copy to you.  

Forgive me for the randomness of it all and excess of links, but I feel much better catching up on all of this.  Hope you're soaking up gorgeous September weather and enjoying fresh produce- it's sure to all be over way too quickly. Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering



Post September 11 World
Infographic via

Today has been a somber day.  I've kept myself from a lot of the news coverage, but I did take time to watch the Tom Brokaw/ Mormon Tabernacle Choir tribute today with the family.  It was the first time we'd said anything about the events of 9/11 to the kids.  We didn't go into a lot of detail, but we showed them pictures of the skyline in New York with and without the towers.  It helped that they still have images of the city in their minds from our visit there last January.  Their questions were interesting.  Miss A was sure they must have had a bomb too, and couldn't seem to grasp that the crash of the planes was the cause of so much damage.  The kids wanted to know why people wouldn't like America and what would cause people to want to do bad things.  Difficult questions, ones I'm still not sure I know the answers to.

I have reflected on the events of today ten years ago.  I was a sophomore at BYU.  I was getting ready for work that morning and my broadcast journalism-major roommate had the news on.  When she said that a plane had hit the first tower, I remember saying "What kind of an idiot pilot could run into a building that big?"  Then we watched the second tower fall.  

I still continued to go to work and sat listening to the radio all morning in our office, because we worked at the Missionary Training Center and tv's weren't really available.  As soon as my shift was done I headed to campus and saw more coverage in the student center.  I don't remember if I went to class, but I know that as I returned home that night my roommates and I all felt the need to do something.  I think so much seemed beyond my control at that time of uncertainty, I wanted to feel like there was still something I could do.  We made a trip to the store and came back with red, white, and blue crepe paper.  We began to decorate our apartment buildings with streamers across the railings.  

Looking back, it seems kind of silly.  But I think it represented much more for us than just decorations- it was our faith in the future.  It was our pride in our country, our belief that we would emerge victorious, our hope that good would come out of the current tragedy.  9/11 was a reminder for the nation of our core values that family and faith are the bedrock of our society, things we collectively had probably forgotten to some degree.  As college students, we turned to our faith and our friends with softened hearts.

I don't think it was coincidental that the theme of our stake conference this weekend was remembering.  I've listened to beautiful messages all weekend encouraging me to remember the poor and needy, remember the worth of souls, remember who I am, remember my covenants, remember to be humble, remember Christ's sacrifice.  The calendar caused the backdrop of the conference to also be remembering the events a decade ago.  To me, it is all connected.  There is much to be remembered, all of it to help us appreciate our current blessings, to help us work towards a brighter future.  

I hope that I always remember what is most important.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Giveaway- The Entitlement Trap

gorgeous print via

So happy it's Friday.  Labor Day feels like ages ago- it's been such a long week it's hard to believe it's actually been a short week!

I've been thinking about Bee and what a great thing it's been for me.  I love having this record for myself and my family.  I love the space to record my constant commitments/re-commitments to improve.  I love the kind comments/e-mails received always at just the right time.  I decided it was high time to pay it forward around here, and what better way than a giveaway?  

You know how much I believe in the movement against entitlement (I've blogged about it here, here, and here), and the much anticipated book, The Entitlement Trap, was released this week.  

I'm giving away a copy of The Entitlement Trap to one lucky reader.  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win, easy as that.  Entries will close at 11:59 MST Thursday, September 15th, and the winner will be announced Friday, September 16th.  

Have a great weekend- find a way to pay it forward.  Good luck!

This is not a sponsored giveaway.  I purchased the book for the purpose of passing it on to a reader, especially after you've listened to me talk about it several times.  I won't devote blog time or giveaways to something I don't believe in.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September Momentum

gorgeous plaque from Raymond Designs found from Shawni

Recently my thoughts keep turning to this time one year ago.  Caring for my dad was still a full-time responsibility.  Miss A was just starting kindergarten, de-Man starting pre-school, the muffin was 9 months and very round.  I was tired.  I needed a change in a big way, and I needed to refocus.  

September is a very full month with church commitments in our area- stake conference (where we meet together with other members in our stake to hear from local leaders), stake temple week (where members in our stake are encouraged to plan ahead and attend the temple as often as possible during that week), the Relief Society General Broadcast (a meeting for the women of the church around the world), and the highly anticipated General Conference the first weekend in October (where we hear from the prophet and apostles and general leadership of our church).  A year ago I was serving in the leadership of the women at church and felt prompted to sandwich a ward Relief Society conference in the middle of all of these events.  Although it added one more thing to an already busy month, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to build spiritual momentum.  I hoped that these experiences could propel us forward, giving us many chances to learn and soak it all up, and hopefully emerge changed by the end of it.  

Last year I definitely had that experience.  I look back on the growth I experienced and feel gratitude for lessons learned.  I look back with compassion on the girl I was at this time last year, still holding it all together, but tired and fragile from the load I'd been carrying.  I look back at myself so ready to soak up every ounce of goodness that was offered because my well was dry and I was in a very teachable place.  I look back with satisfaction at the Relief Society conference that was beautiful in every way and far surpassed what I had hoped to accomplish.  I look back at the blessings of that September and remember how I was changed.  

I think I've been getting nostalgic for this series of events last year because although my life looks very different this year, I am again in a place where I'm ready for the spiritual momentum to build in my life.  I feel humble and ready to learn.  I feel blessed to have so many opportunities to take advantage of.  I am ready to devote time to learning and to service.  I want these events to be a springboard for change- helping me to become better.  

There are many things to enjoy about September.  The routines, the still-beautiful weather, the full gardens waiting to be harvested are all reasons to celebrate.  I am most looking forward to a spiritual harvest that I hope will come.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day+Salsa

Hooray for long weekends!   Boo on summer colds!  Today found both of the boys and I feeling crummy.  Luckily we don't have a long list of weekend plans, but I'm hoping I feel better enough to make another couple batches of salsa and fulfill church obligations.  In case you find yourself with extra time and a lot of tomatoes this holiday weekend, I thought I'd share the current favorite salsa recipe (I will say it's definitely time intensive, but worth it).  It is from my sister-in-law, the queen of a good tried-and-true recipe.  My tips?  Pull out the food processor to chop the ingredients super small, so really it doesn't qualify as chopped anymore it's so fine.  I like my salsa smooth, but if you like it chunky, get your chop on and forget about the food processor.


Salsa
15 Tomatoes (I probably used closer to 20, I just filled my pot as full as it would go and then blanched the tomatoes)
2 c chopped red and green peppers
2 c chopped onion
3 chopped jalape├▒os
5-6 cloves garlic (cut back if you don't care for a garlic-y salsa)
scant 1/4 c sugar (can increase up to 1/2 cup if you prefer a sweeter salsa)
1 T kosher or sea salt
1 t crushed red pepper
1 c white vinegar
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
ground pepper to taste (I used about a teaspoon)

Peel tomatoes, cut in quarters, put in colander to drain off liquid.  Mash and add all other ingredients in large sauce pan.  Bring to a boil; simmer at least one hour.  Put into sterilized jars.  Cold pack 20 minutes. If using steamer instead of cold pack, steam 35 minutes for pints.  Yields about 7 pints.  

Happy long weekend!