Friday, March 30, 2012

Checking In+Weekend Plans

View the full informative+awesome infographic here

This week was another whirlwind!  My brother came to town on Sunday and left yesterday.  My kids were in heaven to have an uncle doting on them, and I was reminded how nice it can be to have an extra set of hands around during the day.  I was also reminded that single life feels like eons ago.  When my brother was ready to get the party started for the night, I was ready to crawl into bed.  By get the party started, I mean begin the baking.  He dabbled with culinary school and loves a little time in the kitchen.  As much fun as it was to make very involved+decadent s'mores cupcakes, it also made me realize how different my current approach to cooking is.  I'm all about simple but delicious because I can't spend 3 hours on cupcakes in this stage of life, and I'm totally ok with that.

Construction started Monday, and my house is filled with the sound of hammering and loud music (currently listening to two turntables and a microphone).  Framing and electrical should be about finished this afternoon, and I've still got my head in the clouds planning rooms and figuring out how it's all going to come together.

Today will be spent cleaning and shopping and cooking in preparation for General Conference this weekend.  I need to get rid of some more of this clutter that's making me crazy, so I'm sure I'll be paying a visit to DI today.  I've planned a few favorite crock pot dinners so I can spend the days listening instead of cooking, and Miss A requested our favorite sweet chex mix as a conference snack.

I've spent the last month getting excited about Conference this weekend as we've been teaching the kids in primary about the importance of this event.  I had the opportunity to review the messages taught at Conference 6 months ago, and it was a gift for me to review those words and to share the things that stood out to me with kids who were eager to learn.  I hope my excitement for the coming conference rubbed off on them.  For me, Conference is a time every 6 months to refocus.  It's an opportunity to be quiet and to listen and to learn and to feel.  It's a springboard for growth in the coming months.  It's a reaffirmation of the love of my Heavenly Father.  It centers me.  It brings peace.  I hope you'll take the opportunity to watch.

I'll be back soon.  I'm sure my head and heart will be way too full of things to share after the messages of the weekend.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The calm

One of the great new inspirational art prints I'm swooning over from Sarah Jane

And just like that, it's Friday.  This week has been filled with crossing things off several lengthy to-do lists. I'd say I'm one-tracking, but there are several things currently capturing my attention and leading to a lack of sleep, so if there's something I'm one-tracking on I suppose it's productivity.

The basement is at the forefront.  If I'm not laying awake at night thinking about it, I'm dreaming about it (and the craziness of pregnancy dreams sure isn't helping that). Last night I dreamt that a design team/construction crew came in and while they were framing they went ahead and put in the kitchen and chose a dogs+carnival theme.  I was livid and went toe to toe with the head designer on why I refused to live with the canine-inspired room.  It was hideous.

Despite my busy mind and attempts to check things off my lists, I feel surprisingly calm.  I know that somehow things will all get done.  I feel lighter as I sort through old things (like my entire collection of cd's from the '90s-totally embarrassing) and get rid of things that are no longer important to me.  I keep thinking about the storage areas we will soon have and wondering what they'll be filled with as I desire to eliminate more and more possessions that don't mean something or serve some sort of purpose.

I have been a little distracted along the way with projects I've been meaning to get around to.  I've been painting frames and hanging pictures as I try to create more places to store all of the basement contents for construction to begin.  It's silly how long it takes to get around to simple things like hanging pictures and organizing shelves and closets.  They're so easily displaced by the more busy and important and urgent and pushed to the bottom of my lists, but they don't take too long and bring such enormous satisfaction.

I'm hopeful that I can continue to feel the satisfaction of making progress and the sense of calm amidst the storm that is sure to come during the construction zone+increasingly pregnant state over the next month.  Calm is not a word I would use to describe myself, so I'm always aware when I find myself in that place and spend a lot of time trying to figure out what has helped me get there.  Currently I'm attributing the calm to warm days+a clean house+getting rid of stuff+sweet and funny kids+recognizing answers to prayer+the husband working from home a few days this week+feeling love for those around me+excitement about things to come.  Not a bad place to be.  I'm always grateful to find myself in a pocket of calm.

Posting may continue to be light until construction gets under way, but I'll be back soon.  As always, there's much to share.  Hope your weekend brings a pocket of calm.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Five on Friday

free printable via eighteen 25


The week has gotten away from me (again).  Let's catch up with a list.

1.  The first half of the week was spent taking my dad back and forth to the hospital for iv antibiotics.  He's had a staph infection in his toe for over a month that won't go away.  I'm hopeful the latest round of medication will do the trick.  I was also reminded this week of the blessing it is that he's at the point where he is now.  Two years ago at this time things were 1000 times harder.

2.  I had the chance to share yummy food and catch up with friends several days this week.  I have some pretty amazing friends, and it did me good to get some much needed adult conversation.

3.  Today I'm 28 weeks.  I'm off to complete my glucose test this morning before my regular appointment.  I'm still happy to say this pregnancy hasn't been too eventful.  I'm also realizing that I'm slowing down.  By the evenings my ankles are swollen and I'm ready to sit.  But I truly can't complain, and I'm getting more and more excited to meet this little girl and see what she'll look like and who she'll be.

4.  The husband and I talked about the room rearranging that will happen post-baby, and he made it known that he thinks we should accomplish all of that pre-baby.  That started the ball rolling and I've been in "let's finish the basement" mode since Wednesday.  Today the contractor is coming over to update the bid he gave a couple of years ago.  This weekend will be spent de-junking and cleaning out (and I'm sure many evenings and weekends to come).  I've been pinning like crazy trying to organize my inspiration and figure out exactly what we want.  Anyone who's been through this process is welcome to weigh in on basement must-haves.  The plan at this point includes 3 more bedrooms, an office for the husband, a small kitchen, a huge family room, a full bathroom, and a seriously giddy me.  I'm also crossing my fingers we can make it work to do some closet demolition and create my office nook upstairs off the kitchen.  I know Bee is not so much a home improvement or decorating place, so forgive me when some of this excitement spills over to the blog.

5.  The weather this week has been beyond gorgeous, and it makes me so happy.  I know that it's supposed to get cold again, bla bla, but these peeks of spring are good for my soul and bring a large helping of motivation.  Aside from the de-junking, weekend plans include an adult dinner at church, some grocery shopping, getting ready for Sunday responsibilities,  figuring out what's got the muffin so off this week (lethargic Sunday+rash started Monday+teething on Tuesday+repeat all week), and soaking up a little sun.

Hope your weekend is perfectly wonderful.  Back soon!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Notes

One of my favorite cards via Sarah Jane

On Saturday night I spent way too much time (especially considering I was already going to lose an hour of sleep that night) reading through old emails.  I read emails from my college friends and remembered some of the fun adventures we had.  Those girls are funny.  The summer after our freshman year was spent writing to each other often, and those emails are now a treasure of our individual adventures in our various summer landing spots.  The long lists of roommate emails were peppered with some emails from high school friends.  I read about plans we were coordinating during college breaks and tried to remember the details of those times together.  Many emails were read while I shook my head at past lapses in judgment and silly choices.  Eventually I got to emails we sent sharing big life events with each other.  So many of these emails chronicled important things I couldn't bring myself to delete any of them.  Almost all of them made me laugh- a treasure of humor to save for a rainy day.  They also brought gratitude for good friends and the relationships I've been blessed with over the years.

I opened one folder of emails from the husband.  The first years of correspondence were full of sweet notes filled with love and encouragement.  Over time the emails changed to information about benefits and travel itineraries and coordinating schedules with an occasional love note.  I shared my observation with him and we both laughed at the way our emails have changed to mirror the way our roles and responsibilities have developed.

A few weeks ago while going through stacks and stacks of papers that have overtaken my house, I came across a pile full of cards.  Some were old birthday cards with quickly scrawled birthday wishes.  There was a stack of cards and letters from my grandma, many I couldn't part with as I read her details about their garden and her words of wisdom about how fast time passes as a mother.  Then I began to come across card after card sent while I was caring for my dad.  Some of them were only a line or two- "thinking of you" and "you can do this".  Others were filled with pages of encouragement and strength.  These letters are treasures to me.  They are reminders of love and support received when I needed it most.

I've been reminded recently of the importance of notes. Be it a quick email or a lengthy letter, I am always amazed at how powerful they can be.  I'm hoping to make it more of a habit to send regular correspondence, be it through cards or email.  I want to lift those around me, and this is something I can do that I'd like to make a more regular part of my routine.

Happy Monday!  My kids are currently outside enjoying our 60+ degree weather, and I'm ready to relax for a few minutes before beginning the dinner rush.  Be back soon.

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Traditions

lovely quote art via holy handouts


I loved my minor in college.  Learning about marriage+family was something I knew would stick with me forever.  I remember several units in various classes studying family traditions, and the thought of creating traditions for my family had me very excited.  Putting it into practice has been much more difficult than I initially thought it would be.  New traditions sometimes feel forced or awkward when you're trying something for the first time and hoping it will be enjoyable and meaningful enough to stick.  It's easy for me to put a lot of pressure on myself surrounding traditions.

Yesterday we started a new tradition, and I'm pretty sure it won't take a lot of effort for this one to stick around.  Ten years ago yesterday, the husband and I got engaged.  I've been wanting to start this tradition for years after learning about it in college, but yesterday we finally made it happen.  We decided our anniversary is more about the two of us celebrating, but we'd turn the anniversary of our engagement into a family holiday, Felt Family Day, and spend the day celebrating with our kids.  The husband stayed home from work and we kept the kids home from school (after a good 30+ minutes convincing Miss A that it was really ok for her to skip) and ate up a day full of time together.

We spent time in the morning cuddling in bed and told the kids the story of when we got engaged (a story I'll have to remember to share sometime- maybe next Felt Family Day).  We had breakfast and got ready and headed to SLC to the children's museum for a few hours of play (and to prevent the idea that everything was completely ideal, our first 45 minutes there we were overrun by several schools on field trips and our meltdown total while at the museum was somewhere around 7).  We went to lunch at the bakery we went to after we got engaged (which admittedly is not my favorite, but we still go to sometime for nostalgia's sake).  We came home and while some of us rested others played games together.  We had a snack-y dinner since we were still pretty full from lunch and played the wii together for a little while before bed.  We talked throughout the day about our growing family and how happy we are to grow together.  Even though it wasn't necessarily perfect (I could have done without the meltdowns and with a more delicious lunch) it was perfect for us and a tradition we're already anticipating next year.

The husband has had long hours lately, and I've done my fair share of flying solo in the parenting gig over the last couple of months.  It was so nice to have all of us together and to have eliminated other commitments so we could focus on each other.  And it was nice to start a new tradition that we could all easily get on board with.

Today I feel refreshed and recharged and ready to make the most of the gorgeous weekend forecast.  Hope your weekend is full of good weather and good time with those you love.  Back soon!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happiness

fantastic free printable via on-hand modern

I've had several conversations/interactions lately all relating to the subject of happiness.  Happiness is such an interesting thing.  We all desire to be happy.  We think about it, we learn about it, we work towards it, and for some it seems totally elusive.

I remember several years ago a yearly check-up with one of my kids and our pediatrician.  I commented on how this child really seemed to struggle to be happy.  He asked questions to make sure there weren't signs of depression, and then he gave me advice that has stuck with me.  He instructed me that my job as a parent is not to make my children happy.  He validated my efforts as a parent and told me that I was providing an exceptional set of circumstances for my children to grow up in, but ultimately even the best circumstances don't make someone happy.  He also helped me realize that my child was still young enough that hopefully the period of fussiness/discontent/pessimism would be something they'd outgrow, but even if they didn't, it was not my fault if my children were unhappy and that I couldn't base my success as a parent on the happiness of my children.  

It was definitely food for thought.  I think every parent wants their child(ren) to be happy.  Some go to great lengths buying up every toy/outfit/treat imaginable to make their kids happy.  Others give their child every opportunity through music/sports/lessons/outings/travel.  We all have our own approaches as parents of things we do to try to help our children be happy.  

The bottom line, and not just when it comes to kids, is that no one can make anyone else happy.  To try to do so is unfair to ourselves and unfair to the other person.  Taking on someone's happiness (besides our own) as our responsibility is an impossible burden to bear.  Letting someone else believe we are responsible for their happiness is a lie and it removes their ability to choose it for themselves.  And really, true happiness will only be found when we choose it.  The beauty is that we can make that choice every single day.  Our circumstances don't matter (although some are definitely more ideal for happiness than others).  Our age, race, gender, occupation, marital status, fertility, finances, house, or anything else are not characteristics that happiness is based on.  They're just not.  All of those things can definitely bring heartache, but it's wrong for us to think that if one of those things were different, then we could be happy.  Happiness can be found amidst heartache.  Our happiness is completely up to us.  

It's a definite shift in thinking for many people to take responsibility for their own happiness.  Although this is a principle I feel like I try to live by, I still sometimes catch myself, particularly in my relationships with my kids, saying things like "your choices aren't making me very happy," or "I'm not happy about x,y,z that you're doing."  Those phrases seem harmless, but I don't want to send the message to my kids that my happiness changes based on the actions of others.  I tell them frequently that they can choose to be happy, and I want my actions+attitudes to reflect that truth.

Forgive me for coming back with a few deep thoughts after several days away from the blog, but this seems to be such a persistent theme right now in various life situations that I just can't shake it.  I wish everyone could free themselves+others from the unrealistic expectations of making each other happy.  I don't mean that it gives us all license to go around being unkind with the excuse that our actions shouldn't make people unhappy.  There's never an excuse for that sort of bad behavior.  But I also think acts of kindness and love would go even further if we're already in a positive place instead of waiting around for those things to happen to "make" us happy.

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For more great thoughts on happiness, read A Blog About Love if you haven't already started.  It's such a breath of fresh air on how to be happy in marriage, but the wisdom shared applies to so many other things in life.  Word to the wise-this is not a blog for those of you who like to skim- these words are meant to be read!

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Hope your week is off to a great start.  Yesterday was completely gorgeous weather.  Today my mom is in town and spent an embarrassing amount of time steaming clothes that have piled up needing to be ironed.  She also played with my kids and helped with other various things around the house that have been neglected and made me wish that an extra set of hands came standard with the third trimester of pregnancy.  I'm excited for what the rest of the week has in store.  Back soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A taste of summer

Gorgeous book cover via new-to-me artist Julianna Brion

I know I said in my last post that sweets are causing heartburn.  While that is still very much the case, I've found that I can still satisfy my sweet tooth with treats that aren't quite as sweet.  For a serious treat-eater like myself, this delicious peach buckle (a variation on cobbler) fits the bill nicely in the not-too-sweet camp, although I'm sure many of you more disciplined dieters will find it way too sweet for your own more sugar sensitive taste-buds.  I'm lucky to still have a stash of peaches in my freezer, so I substituted frozen peaches for the fresh that are called for.  This recipe is from my grandma, and I made it last night.  I am proud to say I used self-control this morning and did not have it for breakfast.  I even made it through the day and waited until the kids were in bed for the night.  Sometimes I like to pretend I have self-control.

Peach Buckle
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
2 cups sugar, divided
1 T. baking powder
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 T. lemon juice
ground cinnamon or nutmeg
Melt butter in 9 x 13 dish
Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add milk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.  Pour batter over butter in dish (do not stir!) Bring remaining cup sugar, peaches and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Pour over batter (do not stir!). Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes.  
*Best eaten warm (so if you don't eat it all in one sitting, reheat before eating some more) and topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Today was spent recovering from last night's dinner and doing some decluttering. If you are currently a paper in my house without a place to be, watch out.  I'm hoping I can keep a good thing going and do some more deep cleaning in the weeks to come.  I need to share some of the treasures/lessons I've come across in my cleaning frenzy, so see you soon!