Sunday, January 30, 2011

budding photographer

Kolton really likes taking pictures.  Since, like most 4-year-olds, he doesn't have his own camera, he takes it upon himself to steal mine and take pictures every chance he gets!

Here is a sample of some of his latest work:

Thanks for the laugh, Kolton.  I love being a mom!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

wow.

Really, that's all I can say about the last week since I wrote these posts.  I guess that this time in my life is going to be challenging for awhile!  I have had several little health scares this past week that have pretty much flattened me.  I definitely feel humbled.  I hate to say it, but it's really been good for me and for my family.  Going through what I am going through right now has really made me stop and think (especially since I haven't been able to do much else - just ask my messy house, empty fridge, kids who played more Wii this week than they have their whole lives, you get the idea) - think about my life and what's in it even more than I already had.  Think about my faith in the Lord  - I guess I have been taking it for granted and in doing so it's weakened a little...only to the extent that I am having trouble just "taking the plunge" pertaining to a couple different situations, but that alone to me is enough to know that I need to step it up a notch and do what I need to do to fix that.  Think about the way I talk to myself and treat myself.  And the list goes on.

I thought I had simplified before, but this week I had to simplify more than I ever have before.  I'm not sure how I feel about it - on one hand it's kind of a relief and definitely more relaxing at times to just let myself begin to unwind the tight knots I seem to have inside me - but on the other it feels a little unfulfilling and I feel somewhat lost.  I've never been here before, wherever it is that I am.  But I think it's good for me.  I've learned to really stop and listen to the people around me that are giving me lots of good advice right now.  I've learned to receive from those same loving people who have given me so much support, love, and help.  I didn't realize how very independent I've been trying to be, but now that I do, I think it was a little too much and it was definitely a pattern I needed to break out of.

This is probably confusing, but I am still trying to sort all this out for myself.  What I am feeling right now is still so raw, so new, and unfamiliar.  But it's also good, and I want to remember, so I'm writing it all down.

1.  I need to take more breaks.  I need to remember to stop and give myself what I need.  Sometimes that's a date with Wes, sometimes it's a snuggle with my boys, sometimes it's sunshine, sometimes it's exercise, or a girls' night, or a new project, or even a nap.  I'm getting better in this area, but there is still room for some improvement.

2.  I need to accept help from others and not feel guilty about it, and not be angry at myself for not being able to do everything myself.  I am surrounded by people who love me and want to help me when I need it.  My job is to accept that help graciously and gratefully and without guilt when it's offered.  There is no such thing as a person who never needs help.  I truly delight in my ability and desire to extend help to others whenever I can, so I should assume that others are the same way - why do I make this so hard?

3.  I need to make more time alone for Wes and I.  Slowing down even more has made me realize how very fast we were going at one point.  That was fine then, but right now, we have a lot of big decisions and stresses in our lives and one of the best things we can do is continue to nurture our relationship.  We are a good team, and very strong together, and I think that if we stay strong and happy together then we can withstand the storms life decides to throw at us.  When I've had time with Wes, to give my love to him and let his love in, I feel comforted and so much stronger and more capable of handling the challenges I face in my life.  Having him with me makes any experience have so much more meaning and love come from it.  He is my hero.

4.  Even though I am a grown-up, sometimes I still need my parents.  And they love me more than I realize sometimes and willing to do whatever they can to be there for me.  And they still give great advice that I cherish and learn from.

5.  My kids still love me even though I am not perfect.  I always try to be a deliberate mother.  I know what I want my kids to learn and feel and experience in their lives.  I know what I want them to be equipped with in order to weather the storms of life.  I want them to know how fiercely devoted and in love with them I am, that I would do anything for them.  But some days I have more to give than others, and that's okay.  They probably won't even remember the bad stuff later on because when I think back to my childhood, I really only remember good stuff for the most part.  Kids are forgiving, resilient beings and there's lots of good reasons for that, one of them being that sometimes moms can do more and sometimes they can't.

6.  I need to learn to adapt sometimes.  I am a problem solver.  I have always prided myself in taking the bull by the horns.  I have always been willing to own my mistakes and shortfalls and then begin working on improving them.  But sometimes I can't just fix things....I have to surrender and adapt my life and myself to the situation and learn from it and find the good in it.

7.  I can never have enough gratitude.  I have always tried to keep this focus in my life as well, but I have been humbled once again to realize how many things I still take for granted day-to-day and my heart just swells with gratitude and awe for all the many, many blessings I really do have.  I don't know how I got so lucky, but I could never find the words to describe my gratitude.

8.  Even the tough stuff in life is precious.  Even during the challenges in life I face, there are still so many, if not more than usual, sweet, precious moments that completely take my breath away.

9.  If I slow down and listen to myself, I know more than I think.  Sometimes I over analyze things.  I truly believe our bodies are spiritual since they are housing a spirit, and when I stop and listen to mine, I know what I need.  Sometimes it's rest, sometimes it's sunshine, or laughter, or to not worry about this or to worry about that.  It's always right, and when I forget to listen or don't follow what I'm feeling, I tend to finally give in and do whatever it was I thought I needed to and then I regret now doing it earlier.  Same goes for my thoughts and my spirit.  I know what I need, and I need to accept and obey that better.

10.  I can do it.  I can do whatever I put my mind to, even when things seem so daunting and overwhelming, I truly am capable of conquering and enduring.

Friday, January 21, 2011

are you wondering how today went?

Well..........

Not tons better, but it could have been a lot worse.

I did get to sleep in.  But only because Wes changed his schedule to work the night shift so he could be available when his brother is in town next week.  He is working tonight and all day tomorrow.  Goodbye date night and weekend together as a family.  See you in three weeks.

The other part of why I slept in is because I am so stressed and so buried that I can't seem to shake this dumb cold, and I was up half the night gasping for air (when I'm under stress, I have trouble breathing at night for some reason).  And because Micah spent the morning in bed with me with an achy toe.  We finally called the doc today and we took him in for a check.  Right during naptime of course.  That makes two days with no naps this week.  Grumpy, wild boys and an impatient, annoyed, worried mom.  The doctor ordered some x-rays that showed nothing, but he thinks it's a hairline fracture in Micah's foot.  He said to check in next week because that type of fracture won't show on an x-ray for up to a week.  I'm hoping we never have to check back.....fingers crossed.

My eye is still driving me nuts.  When I close my other (good) eye, it looks like I rubbed Vaseline all over my eye.....that's how blurry and out of focus it is.  I'm glad and lucky I have stayed headache free because it's certainly annoying!

I stopped by my mom's after the radiology, and we hung out (or hung in there, depending on how you want to see it) together today.  The kids played and bickered and trashed the house and had a lot of fun in between the teasing and mischief.

Kolton pooped his pants.  Pooped his pants. WHY is he still doing this at all at his age?!  I was able to talk quietly and privately a little with him about how embarrassed he would feel if he had an accident at school or away from home (Grammy's house is home away from home).  I was glad we were able to talk a little, and that he is big enough to let him (with supervision) clean up most of the mess himself to hopefully make him think twice next time.  And Abby pooped too....on the carpet.  Twice.  Right before I left my mom caught her in the bathroom "cleaning up" by unraveling the entire roll of toilet paper to wipe her bum with.  Oh how I wish I had gotten a picture of that!  When I poked my head in to survey the damage, she looked at me and said, "It a mess in here.  I cleaning up!"  And it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud.  And Jonah fussed and cried almost the whole time.  I am guessing he just wanted to be home in bed because our routine has been so far off the last couple of days, and he's certainly a fellow who loves routine. 

Kolton said that he had a "way, way fun time today" and I was so glad to hear that.  It was nice to be around other people (we've been kind of hermiting here lately) and catch up a little.  And with that many little kids around, there are always many good laughs.  Just when you want to clobber them they just have to say or do something so cute or funny that it melts your heart and you forgive them wholeheartedly.  It's beautiful chaos, for the most part.  And even with everything going on most of the time, it's always nice to see my parents and talk about life and goals and laugh together amongst all the interruptions and exasperation.  It's annoying sometimes for everyone, but it's definitely unique, special, and something I am truly grateful to be a part of (having so many sibling my kids' age, I mean.).

Lucky for me, Micah fell asleep in the car and Jonah went right down.  I kind of missed snuggling them at bedtime, but at the same time I am a little relived and grateful for the break.  Now I need to go tackle another 5 loads of laundry and straighten up the house (it looks like a bomb exploded in it) before Wes gets home.  Then, hopefully we will turn in early and get some much-needed and overdue sleep.

You know what?  I've learned through my own experience that tough times really do make the good times sweeter.  And they can also give you a lot of good laughs.  I want to remember the hard and the good, and I truly feel grateful for all of it.  Even with sleepless nights, poop clean-ups, interruptions, ZERO privacy or time alone, I still wouldn't trade being a wife and mom, being home to take care of my family, for anything. It is so priceless to me.  I don't think I'll miss poop clean-ups, but I know, even now, that once these days of little people underfoot everywhere will be gone and I will miss them something terrible.  I already can't bear the thought of any of them growing any bigger.  Sending them off to kkindergarten next year is going to be SO HARD.  I love being the center of their universe, and I hope so much that I am setting a good example for them, and that they know without a shadow of a doubt, that they and their Daddy are the center of MY universe too, and that I would do anything for them.  I thank the Lord every day for the blessing and privilege of being their mom.  I am so incredibly lucky to get to be Wes's wife too.  I cannot imagine my life without them, and I don't want to.  No matter how hard and frustrating some days can be, these days of my life home with my own children and husband have truly been the very best of my life.  I hope and pray that they all know that. 

My cup runneth over....sometimes that's good and sometimes not so good.  But it always makes me feel so completely ovewhelmed with gratitude and awe that I have so many good things in my life to be grateful for. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Megan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yup.

Today was one of those days.

Funny thing is, I didn't really realize it until my mom called tonight and forced me to cancel Joyschool in the morning.  I guess I am lucky to have extremely positive and uplifting parents, and even luckier it rubbed off on me to the extent that I didn't notice I was at my wit's end until bedtime.

It started early in the morning.  I go to a mom's group called MOPS and this morning was our first day back since Christmas.  Wes was working the night shift tonight, so he decided to keep the bog boys home with him and bring them to me when he left for work.

Well, I left a little late. (I swear, babies have impeccable timing.  They always have to nurse and can't wait another minute the minute you need to be leaving.)  But I was doing okay because I had hit every green light along the way.  Wes had me take his car because he needed the carseats in mine for the boys.  I was waiting to turn at a red light and started to drive, but the car coming the other direction sped up, so I stopped and decided to wait.  A few seconds later, I felt a THUMP and jolted forward. 

I didn't take long to figure out what had happened.  But of course I was about to turn onto a highway with nowhere to pull over, so I had to drive five minutes away just to stop and check on Jonah and survey the damage.  Luckily, there was none.  Thirty five minutes late to MOPS and most of brunch (we always have brunch) was gone.  Bummer, but oh well.  I was planning on taking my mother-in-law to lunch after MOPS (hence the reason for Wes keeping the boys with him) and now I would be a little hungrier.

Well, I did go to lunch with my cute mother-in-law and added bonus:  Wes's cute little Dutch grandma, Anna.  We had so much fun!  When I went to grab the check at the end (for a birthday gift, Anna beat me to it.)  It was sweet, and not that big of a deal, but that was the present I was planning to give, so now I had and still have nothing else.  No biggie, I will think of something spectacular soon.....

After lunch, I had to take the boys with me to my loooooong overdue opthamalogist appointment.  My contacts/glasses prescriptions had expired, and I have been having some trouble and pain in my left eye, so I thought I'd get everything checked out and squared away.  We arrived early, which was great, because it gave me time to feed and change Jonah before all the madness began.

Things started off okay.  The boys behaved very well.  I had brought my trusty iPod touch and cell phone with me, and handed one to each boy to let them play games while I had my appointment.  The doctor came in and dilated my eyes (I don't know if you've had that done before, but it it MISERABLE).  He left for quite awhile (you have to wait 15 minutes for them to be completely dilated) and I think we were forgotten for a little while, because we waited in the exam room for about forty five minutes.

Do you know how hard it is for three little boys to be quiet and still for forty five minutes?  It's not possible.  Ever.  And today was no exception.  Especially Jonah.  He had had just about enough of his stroller and carseat by then, and he was DONE. 

Then the doctor came in and no matter what he did, my left eye was still painful and blurry.  He pulled out a "foreign object" from the back of my eye that he thought might be the problem.  But in the process of doing so, I unintentionally jerked my head away and said goodbye to half the eyelashes on that eye.  (I am one of those gals that has to have mascara on, so this is not good.)  I googled it and yup, it takes two months for eyelashes to grow back.  Great.

So I left the opthamologist with no answers, another appointment and more tests in two weeks unless my eye dramatically improves, and I had to drive home alone with dilated eyes.

If you've never had your eyes dilated, let me tell you how awful it is.  It feels like you are staring at the sun and looking a little cross-eyed and blurry and everything is smaller than normal all at the same time.  And really, it's even less comfortable than you are probably imagining.  To top it off, to perform one of the other tests they did, they also numbed my eyes.  Now that is a weird feeling.

I managed to get everyone in the car safely with the help of those hideous black glasses they give you when you leave.  But I still couldn't see great (it throws your depth perception off) and when I backed my car out I took out my sideview mirror on the passenger side of my car.  Dang.  There goes three hundred bucks.

I had to make a couple stops on the way home and finally made it home.  I hauled everything inside (every mom knows it takes at least three trips out to the car to get all the kids and diaper bags, coats, snacks, purses, etc.and at least that many when you get back home), turned off all the lights, put the kids in front of a movie, and put my jammies on.  I was planning on sleeping it all off and had just slipped into bed when the doorbell rang.  I assumed it was one of the neighborhood kids (they all love our kitties and frequently come over to play with them) and answered.  It wasn't a kid, it was the Lowe's delivery guys coming to bring our new chest freezer.  Great.  I just answered my door at five o'clock with no bra and my jammies on.  I had eight loads of laundry in the living room floor, and Micah's Geotrax trains were ALL OVER the basement.  I ran around with my hand shading my eyes, squinting while frantically trying to clean it all up.  I grabbed a jacket to throw on too.  Then, I just worked on keeping the boys out of the delivery guys' way.

Jonah started having some serious teething pain after that.  Poor guy.  He cut his first TWO teeth tonight.  By now, the boys were bouncing off the walls - well - more like my couch.  Once I got Jonah calmed down, fed, and ready for bed, I heard a scream from the other room.  Micah had jumped off the couch one two many times.

I deliberated whether or not to take him in to the E.R. for the next hour or so.  His big toe was all swollen and gray and he was white and crying harder than I've seen him cry in a long time.  But luckily, suddenly after over an hour, he felt much better.  I let them snuggle in my bed for a few minutes and sent them to bed.  That's when my mom called and forced me to cancel Joyschool.  I'm already thanking her for that one.

Then Wes called, saying he would be home late.  Poor guy had a hard day, too.

I am sitting here in my bed....I cannot wait to wait up and start over fresh in the morning!

But also, I can't help but think how much worse it could have been.  I'm grateful it was only as bad as it was.

I am grateful that Wes's car was unscathed this morning, and more importantly, no one was hurt.

I am grateful that I still made it to MOPS, and so very grateful for my mom and my MOPS ladies.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to enjoy quality, intimate time with my mother-in-law and Anna.....it is a first.  A first of hopefully many more to come.  :)

I am grateful that I have such an amazing opthamologist.  He truly is passionate of what he does, a good listener (rare in my experiences with doctors), and extremely patient and understanding of my three little bouncing-of-the-walls boys.  I've noticed that a lot of older people forget what it's like to have little ones and can get extremely annoyed with them.  He was so great with them.  And I'm grateful that so far, although my vision is having some problems, there's no diagnosis of anything degenerative.  (and I might be able to push up getting Lasik.)

I am grateful that when I told Wes about my mirror, he told me he was glad I was okay, held me close, and told me it was just a mirror.

I am SO grateful that we no longer have to stuff our upstairs fridge until it's practically spilling, and that we are so blessed to be able to buy all the food we need (and of the best and freshest quality).  And I'm glad the boys have so many fun things to play with (most of the time).

I am so, so, so grateful that I can kind of bank on a decent night's sleep since Jonah's teeth finally broke through.  And hopefully less biting me when I nurse him.  And I'm glad that Micah's toe is okay and that I didn't have to drag three little ones to the E.R. by myself tonight.  And also grateful for sweet neighbors who were there when I needed help.  And grateful for my mom who recognized before I did that my plate was way too full and I needed a break.  And that she gave me back the advice I gave her the other day:  take care of yourself or you won't be able to take care of anything or anyone else.

And most of all, I am grateful for my snuggly, warm bed and the fact that my sweet, sensitive, understanding husband will be snuggling me in it in just a few minutes, hopefully tickling my back and playing with my hair.  He always knows exactly what I need to feel better, and it's usually just having him close by.

So for now, I will survive, and hope that tomorrow will be better.  I'm going to crawl into my bed and hopefully unwind a little more.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Word of the Year

What is a word of the year, you ask?  Each year, I have my own special tradition of prayerfully and thoughtfully choosing a one-word theme for the upcoming year.  It helps me kind of catch a "vision" of sorts as to what I want my goals to be, what I am hoping to achieve over the next year.  This will be my fourth year, and I am eager and excited to see how it unfolds.

I really lucked out this year.  The last couple years I have deliberated for months about which word to choose.  But for some reason, this year, my word seemed to choose me.  It just kind of popped into my head one day last month while I was busy with the kids.  I grabbed a post-it note and wrote it down, and then set it in my M.O.M. cubby.  Each week I did my weekly review, I saw it there and mulled it over some more in my head.  By the time January first came around this year, I had my word and my goals all ready to go.  And man alive it is a good one.  I am SO darn excited about it!

My word of the year for 2011 is..........

EMBRACE.

I love it.  Just thinking about it makes me feel such a sense of peace and calm.  It's such a comforting word.  Maybe that's why I like it so much....it came to me at the craziest time of my life and I was in need of some major comfort.


EMBRACE: 1. to take of receive gladly or eagerly; to accept willingly

                    2. to avail* oneself of: to embrace an opportunity
                    3. to include or contain
                    4. to join in an embrace; to take or clasp in the arms; hug
*avail: 1. to be of use or value to; profit; advantage
          2. to be of use; have force or efficacy; serve; help


EMBRACE felt so fitting for me this year because I have spent the last six months or so (since Jonah was born....maybe longer) trying to figure out what could stay in my life and what I needed to eliminate.  I have been hanging on by a thread at times and really working hard to keep my sanity, telling myself that it's "just a phase" (thank you, Linda Eyre) and that it would pass quicker than I realized in the thick of it.  I really focused hard on keeping the "harmony" (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see here or here or even right here) in my life by truly soaking in and relishing every possible moment.  And I'm really glad I did.  Those special, quiet, even spiritual newborn moments are truly so fleeting.  They pass by so quickly and they never come back.  I am so glad I was organized, settled, and really content to just soak it all in.  All of it has been special.  Special to have yet another piece of heaven on earth, Jonah, who is now a permanent part of our growing family.  Special to get to know him as an individual, his own tiny little person hand-picked for me straight from my Heavenly Father.  Special to grow that much closer to my husband and as a family as we adjust and work together as a team.  And something special I hadn't really experienced before to the degree I have this time is watching my two big brother boys delve right into their new role with joy and gusto.  It has been such a precious, sweet thing to watch unfold before my eyes.  Every mother's dream.

Jonah being born was only one of so many changes we have gone through the last few months, and we are still experiencing that to some degree (more changes in the works....big ones!  I will share as soon as they are all figured out), but for the most part, now we are back to everyday busy instead of hyperdrive, and that right now to me is bliss.

There are so many opportunities we have been offered recently (in the past year).  Many we have been able to jump right into and take off.  Others that are just as important, have been slower starting, but I am excited to finally be at a point where my focus can really lie in those places, as well as right here in the thick of raising our family.

So this year, I am going to EMBRACE those things. 

Things like Power of Moms. I have so many ideas that I really haven't had the time to move forward on.  I am not a very practiced or good writer (which I am trying to work on now...can you tell?), and I am thinking I need to set myself some deadlines.  When I don't have something that has to be done at a certain time (most of the time in the near future) than that thing is usually the first to go when the going starts to get a little rough.  I am hoping that between working on my writing and setting up some deadlines that I can really take the task I have been given the opportunity to perform on that I can give my roles over at Power of Moms the full attention and potential they really deserve.  And by golly am I excited about it.

I am going to EMBRACE my role here at home.  I had a little lightbulb moment recently (well, actually a few) that made me realize that I have been feeling guilty of all things, about having the privilege and opportunity and responsibility to stay at home full-time and care for our children and our home.  I have a few good guesses why this has been happening so much over the years, but I won't go into it now (but maybe that's something to write about in the future).  I can only say that I am really working on tossing the guilt and EMBRACING my role (which I love so, so much) as a stay-at-home-mom (and wife).

I am going to EMBRACE the bad with the good.  I am so excited about paying off our student loans.  But I'm not so excited about watching ads and sales on anything from groceries to clothes to dates.  I am SO NOT a coupon-clipper.  I think there are so many more valuable things to do with my time.  So that in and of itself is going to be a tough one to embrace.....we'll see how I do.  Is it bad if I already kinda have my doubts? 

I am going to EMBRACE more adventure in our lives.  We have been working so hard to just stay in our home that we really haven't had the time, ability, or energy left a lot of the time, to just breathe.  to just enjoy life and all that's in it.  To really give ourselves permission to branch out and be the individuals we are (Wes and I) as people and not just parents.  I always was so proud of my parents for pursuing other interests and hobbies in addition to parenting.  I really learned a lot about "taking care of the person inside the mom" this year and it's changed my life and helped me find my old (but improved) self that I knew was still in there, somewhere.  (Welcome back, old self.  I really missed you.)

I am going to EMBRACE an earlier bedtime.  That is one I really struggle with.  I could be so much more productive if I would just surrender and go to bed.  And my husband would sure as heck be happy about it also (he can't sleep without me....cute, except when one needs a LOT more sleep than the other).  I have a feeling that I will be waking up VERY early if I really go to bed early consistently, but maybe that's not such a bad thing.  We'll cross our fingers and see if noise machines can keep my early bird, Micah, in bed once he hears me up and about.

I could probably ramble on about goals and EMBRACING things in my own life till the cows come home.  But for now, I will leave it at that few and challenge you to try having your own word of the year.  You will be amazed at what you learn and experience.  Good luck!

Now please excuse me while I EMBRACE my patient husband who is pleased as punch at the thought of me going to bed early to watch a movie with him.  :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Harmony Wrap-Up

I just thought I'd report a little on my 2010"Word of the Year" before introducing 2011's.  I have really loved "Harmony" being the focus for this year, and I'm sad to let it go.  I actually debated carrying it out into this year, but decided it was time for a change.  But man oh man, focusing my energy on harmony has really showered my life with incredible blessings and lessons.

Biggest blessing of focusing on harmony?  Hands down, it was being introduced to Mind Organization for Moms.  (If you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click here.)  Using this system has truly unleashed a much calmer, less worried, less guilty, more productive and fun person.  I am such a believer in getting rid of the old to make room for the new, and this system for collecting my thoughts has really left room in my mind for so much inspiration and conviction in my decisions.  It's also helped me to hang in there when things get tough - because I know immediately what is necessity and what isn't.   And when times are not busy, it's helped me get things done and also keep life at a generally slower pace, which I love.

I think some people think I am crazy for loving this system so much, and it has definitely spilled out in other part of my life (my home is more organized, our budget, our schedules, etc.) and it's helped me to be able to rely on myself more, and say "no" to things that I really can't commit to.  It's given me a place to put those "someday" things so I can revisit them during a season in my life that is better.

I went to a Motherhood retreat last June, three weeks before Jonah was due.  I felt compelled to go because despite the excitement of having another baby, and being eager for that moment to come, I was also terrified.  I heard so many horror stories about the "third child" being the worst, taking away any freedom you have left, and just generally being the hardest baby of all.  I knew having a baby was right, and we were all so excited about it, but I struggled with my fears and apprehensions a little.

When April got up and taught M.O.M. at the retreat, I knew that for me, despite my resistance to be an "organized person" (I've held such a stigma to this myself, that I was afraid of becoming what I had been judging others to be - lesson learned.  And it's interesting to see that there really is a stigma attached to it, and watch people resist and judge you and your good intentions sometimes) - I knew that for this time in my life, this was the most important and beneficial thing I had learned that weekend.  I immediately began setting it up the morning after I got home.  I was so glad, because it made us so much more prepared for Jonah's arrival, and I was able to enjoy so much more than I had ever hoped.  I knew what I could handle and what I couldn't.  I knew what kind of help I needed, so when people stepped in to help, I knew what would help me and my family the most.  It's continued to do that for me and my family, in addition to helping me keep in line with my goals and commitments, and help me toss the guilt when I have to say no. 

I never thought I'd say this, but man oh man being organized propels you so far forward in life!  I do more, waste less time, and although I'm more productive, I actually think I am a more relaxed person when I'm organized and know what is an emergency and what isn't.

Something else interesting to note:  as much as the first part of the year was about taking on good things, adding more into our lives, and getting organized, the second part of the year was about slowing things down and taking things back to the basics. 

I really like simple.  I think some people mistake simple for empty....but simple to me is far from empty.  It's about finding that balance - the harmony - in different aspects of our lives.  Once you have a good balance between the different facets of life, it lets in so much more room for moments.  Moments of inspiration, moments of fun and laughter, moments of so many other things.  Things are definitely slower-paced, but that just means that what is left is truly important and meaningful for our family.

One area I really had to learn to do more in this year was self-care. I think as a mom, it's easy to put off taking care of your own needs.  Someone's always hungry, tired, wanting to play, needing a diaper change.  The phone or doorbell always rings right when things seem to calm down.  It's really hard to make time for yourself when your job as a mom is a 24/7, unpredictable, always-on-call job.  You can shoot for schedules and routine to help as a guideline, but you still have numerous glitches every day (at least I do) and you have to be able to adapt on a whim.  That when self-care goes out the window for me.

Some days I literally don't get one second to eat or use the ladies' room before one o'clock, and even then sometimes I'll have three little sidekicks wondering what I'm doing or wanting a bite of my food.  Man, it's really tough to find those rare moments alone!  But I have managed, on many (but certainly not all) days to get all three sleeping at the same time for a half-hour or so, and we've also moved bedtime up a tad so Wes and I can get some time alone at night.  It's not always easy, especially on the days Wes is literally at work all day and all night, to get everyone in bed sleeping, but it always, always pays off.

I definitely still have to work really, really hard, and a lot of days it just doesn't pan out the way I want (like when I miss working out in the morning, it can literally take me hours to do a 30-45 minute workout with all the interruptions and demands, or when I sit down to make a few phone calls - of course that's when everyone needs to tell you something), but on the days it does, I feel so much better! 

Adding things in and letting things go is such an ongoing process.  Balance, in my opinion, is something we are always striving for, but never really attain completely.  Certain times in our lives (such as having a baby, sickness, moving, etc) call for things being a little more out-of-balance than normal, and that's okay.  In fact, I really try to enjoy and soak in the good moments during those times, because in hindsight they always seem so fleeting.  Everything really is just a phase.  But the other things to remember during those times, is to recognize when it's time to find balance again and then do it right away - before bad habits start to form.  I'm glad I was able to take a year to really focus and learn about harmony.  It's been a really good learning experience, and it actually led me right into my word of the year for this year (but that's another post for another day). 

Harmony:  consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts.

Friday, January 14, 2011

To Add to My Previous Post....

I just remembered a very sweet tribute to my Grandma that my cousin, Adri, wrote recently.  She is a very talented writer and this post brought tears of gratitude, memory, and nostalgia to my eyes.  Maybe one day I will write my own tribute, but for now....thanks Ade.  It really meant a lot to me.

I think we all think of my Grandma this time of year.  She was an incredible person who I really look up to.  I feel so grateful and blessed in many ways for her devotion and love for her family.  It is because of her and her alone that our family has been so close throughout the years.

I can't wait to thank her for that one day.  And I can't wait for my family to meet her. She would eat all these new little ones right up.

She sure left a beautiful legacy behind her.  Thanks, Grandma.  Miss you.

Christmas Carnival

Every year, my dad's side of the family has a bog shindig on the 23rd.  I love it, because everyone knows it's always that day, and so far, it's never really interfered with any other parties or festivities.  All of us - aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. look forward to it all year long and it's always so much fun!
This year, my aunt, Tara, was in charge.  She decided to think out of the box a little.  Normally, we get together for a potluck dinner, have a program and a nativity pageant, and the young 'uns (who drew names) exchange gifts and the adults bring a $10 wrapped gift for a present game.  It's always really fun, but as of late, there are a TON of new "little people" around and busy parents chasing them.  The family is growing.

What she decided to do was such a BLAST!  We had a "Christmas Carnival" complete with rides, games, and even pizza and an ice cream bar. No one had to worry about presents or potlucks, or even keeping little people quiet.  It was so much fun and a night none of us wanted to end.  I'm glad Tara thought of such fun and creative ideas to keep our party FUN!

Here's how our night began (and ended, and we also did this in-between activities too.  All the little kids, ours included, kept trying - and succeeding some of the time -to sneak into the gym to play more during the rest of the festivities.):
video
This was even more fun than it looks!  We were seriously playing all night, and when we finally left, Wes and I both agreed that we needed to get a group of friends together and do this for a fun date night!  And boy oh boy the kids sure slept good after that!

After we played for awhile, we all got together and had yummy pizza, even yummier salad, and ice cream.  My boys were in hog heaven with all the ice cream, toppings, and soda.  They complained of tummy aches after we left, and they knew without us telling that it was because of all the"junk food".  But I'm sure they thought is was worth it!  I know I did when I was eating vanilla ice cream with raspberries.  :)  I thought the food was extremely smart.....who doesn't like pizza, salad, and ice cream?  Yum!

After dinner, we headed into another room and had a special surprise visitor:
video


I'm sure my cousin, Dan was surprised to learn there was a gift for him in Santa's bag.  And even more surprised when he learned he'd be sitting on his lap!

 Here's some of the little ones anxiously awaiting their turn on Santa's lap:

Here's our big boy, Kolton, even more excited than he's letting on:

He looks upset in this picture, but he really was excited, as you'll see in the video below.  He's so shy, and he often tries not to smile or appear excited. Hopefully he'll grow out of that someday, hopefully soon.


Here's a short clip of him telling me about what Santa brought:
video


I'm sure my cousin, Alisa, was about as surprised and delighted as Dan was to sit on Santa's lap.  But really, they both were such good sports.
 My darling nephew, Jayden.  He wasn't to sure about Santa, but he managed to avoid crying.

Jonah kept himself entertained with everyone's strewn wrapping paper....

Is my younger brother, Jesse, to big for Santa?  Not a chance!

Jonah didn't mind, as long as he could have something in his mouth.


 Micah was nervous at first, but warmed right up once he realized that Santa came bearing gifts! Poor guy patiently waited through every single child.....he was the very last one to receive a gift from the Big Guy. But, by the expression on his face, do you think it was worth the wait?
Sorry about the poor quality of all these pictures and videos.  They were taken from my phone.  I need to get a decent camera soon.....hint hint Wes.  ;)

This boy is about as obsessed with trains than anything I have ever seen! He carries them around in a Thomas backpack. He sleeps with them, eats with them, they ride in the car with us everywhere we go, and they wait for him right by the tub (of course I won't let him take them in....between wooden Thomas and battery-powered Geotrax, it's not a good idea.....but if anyone sees any bathtub-friendly trains anywhere, feel free to let me know.



My mom got my big boys and my youngest siblings all ready to sing everyone a song they learned in Joyschool....

As you can tell by the video, this little part of the program was pretty much spur of the moment.  But they had fun just the same.
video

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jonah is getting SO BIG!!

I am so technologically behind....I have no idea how to do this kind of stuff, but I need to learn, so here goes.  (Hopefully it goes better than the several times in the last month or so I've tried texting or emailing videos from my phone.  If anyone knows how to make these have a better picture quality, let me know.)  This was back in November.  Jonah wants to get up and go with the big boys SO BAD!  I am savoring my freedom right now because I know once he gets going, it's going to keep me very busy!  Here's one of his many attempts to crawl:

video

Here's another one of him eating.  He gets pretty grumpy if you don't have a bite ready the minute he swallows.  He's a lot more patient now, but I still have to laugh every time I watch this:

video

I wish I could just freeze time and keep him my little baby forever.

Patience

In November, the pre-launch to Monavie's new product, RVL began.  RVL is Monavie's meal replacement/weight loss product.  Wes and I thought it would be good if I lost the baby weight using it so we would have "living proof" of how well it can work.

Well, it worked great!  The first few days were HARD.  I lost my milk and spent the rest of the week chugging Mother's Milk tea and nursing literally ALL DAY to build my supply back up.  It was really, really not fun.  And I am not a person that likes "meal replacement" products. I like "real" food.  I was actually losing weight pretty steadily before at about a pound every week or so.  Not anything to get excited about, but it was effortless.  Once I began the RVL, I lost almost 8 pounds the first week out.  And that's without the capsule (not a capsule girl either, plus, I'm nursing) and without exercise (due to having a baby attached to my boob 24/7).  I felt really great after the first week and actually really enjoyed having the shakes. It can get so hard to stop and fix breakfast for myself in the morning, and no matter when I do, even if it's EXACTLY what I am feeding the boys, they come over to me and give me cute little smiles and cuddles while they slowly pick away at my food!  With the shakes, it was nice because I could sneak into the bathroom or laundry room and slam my breakfast before anyone came begging to eat it.  :) 

I lost about 20 pounds in 2 months, and that's counting the week off I took for both Thanksgiving and another week for Christmas.  Thank you RVL!  Seriously the easiest weight I have ever lost, all while drinking chocolate shakes.  Yum!

After Christmas, I made the decision not to go back on RVL.  I miss it for sure, but I was gettting bored.  Boredom is not good for a weight loss or exercise regimen.  I had added in kettlebells for working out as soon as I could in November and fell in love with them. I am seriously, seriously obsessed with them.  I contemplated personal training as a career before I got married (I even had some classes at UVU), but I had to quit school and work my booty off when we got married to put Wes through school.  Anyway,back to kettlebells...they are wicked awesome for weight loss, working out, destressing, having fun, etc.  I seriously look forward to my workouts.  I have always enjoyed exercise, and believe me, you name it, I've done it.  Kettlebells and yoga are hands down the BEST in the results you will get and the fun you will have.  The other cool part about kettlebells...they burn 1,200 calories an hour.  1,200!  So when I work out for 1/2 hour or 45 minutes I've burned over 600 calories!  How cool is that?!  Added bonus:  I really think the kettlebell workouts got me through the last couple months when I couldn't get away from my kids or really leave my house much for months.  C'mon moms, you know you love your kiddos, but you NEED some space every so often to make you a better mom right?  Well, this was a great alternative for me while I didn't have that.  I got through an extremely busy, stressful time of year and kept everyone (including myself) healthy, happy, and enjoying the season's magic.  What a blessing!

Wes got me a new kettlebell DVD for Christmas.  I was so excited I put it in to check out the different workouts that day.  I quickly learned it was a faulty DVD and has to wait for a new one to be sent out.  Bummer.  Oh well.  It didn't take long because they ship from California.  In the meantime, I wrote the trainer that makes the DVDs, Lauren Miller, and she sent me a workout schedule.  I started following it, excited to lose that last 20 pounds I've had hanging around since I had Kolton, and promptly, one by one, each of the boys got a nasty cold, and now I have it also (watch out, Wes!).  Jonah has by far been the worst.  I finally got 4 hours of sleep last night, and I got maybe one for the past two nights before that.  He has been so miserable.  He's exhausted and so am I.  He hasn't napped very well either, poor guy. 

Here's his favorite place to sleep right now when he does:



And I feel like a human binky.  Needless to say, my workouts have been pretty inconsistent since Christmas, and I'm pretty darn disappointed about it.

I'm one of those people that LOVES the New Year's Resolutions.  But, I've had to learn patience this year so far because everything has started slow, everything needs something to happen before the goal can begin.  I feel like I am playing the waiting game, and I hate the waiting game.  But I realize that I am a lot less patient than I thought.  I'm trying to learn patience quickly so I can hurry up and get to the next thing....just kidding. 

Waiting to get better to lost that last 20, waiting to see where we will be living, waiting until our house sells, waiting to hear back about a couple classes, waiting for Joyschool to start again so I can get back to the normal routine, waiting to be able to sleep through the night, waiting until later to fold that last load of laundry so I can keep my promise to Wes that I will stop what I'm doing and come to bed instead of trying to do things while everyone's asleep and crawling into his arms at 2AM (sorry Babe!), waiting to find a bigger kettlebell, waiting for new glasses and contacts, waiting to find out where our sweet Tucker will be finding a home with, waiting for some FREE TIME....you get the idea.  Lots and lots and LOTS of waiting.

But you know what?  All that waiting has made it very, very easy to slow down and let things go.  Which is exactly what I need right now considering what we have all been through around here lately.  Slow is good.  I even got to take a nap yesterday, which got me through the rest of the day on the little sleep I've had.  We've been able to play to our hearts' content with new Christmas toys, read lots of books, I've been able to give everyone loads of massages (we all love those around here), let the boys snuggle in my bed at naptime and stay in their jammies all day - a lot.  I've been able to sort and purge and get the house ready for whenever we move.  I've been able to have an open and unoccupied mind open to receive all kind of inspiration and peace.  I've been able to stop what I am doing and snuggle my baby when I nurse him, which has been really hard to do the past couple months.  I've been able to sit down and blog, knit, watch movies, review my goals,work on a couple big projects, catch up with old friends, catch up on a cute quilt I am making, sit down and play my keyboard, flute, and guitar.  I've been able to listen to Harry Potter with the boys in the car, take a couple trips to the library (one of our fave places) and actually, to Wes's delight, actually sit down and do nothing while watching a movie.  It's been a really fun and relaxing few weeks.

I've also started remembering and missing certain things that really feed my soul:  ice skating, horses, any kind of art, writing, yoga, helping others, biking, getting ready and shopping for cute clothes, cooking really good food, and volleyball to name a few.  It's been fun to not find myself, but remember parts of who I am that I have forgotten. So being patient during waiting periods has been a huge blessing and renewal time for me and probably my family as a whole.

 I definitely hope that life doesn't ever go back to the speed it was moving the last couple months, and I know it won't drift by as slowly as it has lately.  But now I think I have a feel for a happy medium.  I just need to make sure I have the patience to prioritize and gradually add things in, and rely more on my husband for help instead of trying to do it all myself.  The hardest part about setting goals for me is that I can get overly ambitious and want to accomplish everything NOW instead of prioritizing what can be done later.  It always seems that everything I want to do is important to be done now. 

I think for now, my priority is rest and routine and continuing my organizing of the house.  Joyschool starts again next week and then my time will be a lot more occupied.  I think we all need to rest up and finish getting over our colds until then.  I'm just grateful we've been able to have this special time together, and prolong the holiday festivities just a little longer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why We Have Been So Busy Lately.....

The past couple of months have been the busiest months of my life.

In a good way.  But still very, very busy.

Wes and I have been trying out the "Dave Ramsey thing" on and off for the past couple of years.  We really are believers in not having debt longer than is needed, and have really wanted to get our ENORMOUS student loans from pharmacy school paid off so we can finally be free. 

During the times that we'd try in the past, something would always happen to sabotage our success in moving forward:  I had an emergency surgery that our insurance wormed us into paying for (our out of pocket maximum was supposed to be $2,500, but we ended up paying over $8,000 for this little incident alone) and then another giant chunk when Micah got really sick with RSV for the second year in a row.  Then, Wes went through a job change, I tried working to help out for awhile (SO not worth it for me), and then I got pregnant with Jonah.  I am sure I'm missing a few things, but it really doesn't matter.  The point is, we weren't prepared for any of these little emergencies, and with our poor money management skills coupled with massive debt from mortgages and student loans, we have been buried. 

It has been extremely stressful and frustrating.  Lucky for us, it never even got close to bad enough to affect our marriage, or really our happiness at all (other than the obvious).  We just have been stagnant.  Not a place I like to be for very long.  Ever.

But we finally made the decision to go for it and begin the process of selling our home.  We will most likely take a huge hit due to the real estate drop, but this decision, and all that's followed has confirmed to us that we are doing the right thing.

Once we made the decision to move, and really get angry and get rid of the debt, we have been showered with blessings.  Wes was offered an opportunity for about 15 extra shifts between Thanksgiving week and Christmas.  Walgreens offers time-and-a-half for extra hours, but because of the slower economy, extra hours have been nonexistent for some time now.  He jumped at every opportunity to work, feeling like it would come to an end at any time and that we should take advantage of it.  He is so amazing.  And he was right:  after Christmas, a new manager was hired at the store and extra hours were gone once again.  But the hours he got enabled us to get Christmas paid for, catch up on and pay off loads of medical bills, get tires for my car and a timing belt for his, among other things.  It has been a huge blessing and a huge relief.

It was also very challenging.  I got to be a "single mom" all the way through the holidays.  Wes did what he could, and I really had to buckle down and let go of almost everything, in addition to having to be WAY more organized and independent than I am normally comfortable with.  And women:  you know how emotional we are?  Not really an option for me for the month.  (Thank goodness kettlebells got me through in one piece, but that's another post for another day.)  Not only that, but I was dealing with everyone else's emotions during that time - the kids missing Daddy, Wes feeling left out and not wanting to miss a moment of anything, but also being WAY past exhausted when he was home, juggling extended family stuff, etc.  It was HARD.

But we made it, and we are stronger and more excited than ever.

The plan is to rent a much smaller space and a storage unit once we sell the house.  From the rough math, it will take us somewhere in the neighborhood of five years to be debt free, have an emergency fund of three-to-six months of expenses, and hopefully have the beginnings of a down payment for a home.  We are going on good faith that once the time comes, we will be able to afford a home that is much more suitable for us. 

I have a hard time thinking that far ahead because it seems impossible to me on such a conservative plan that we will ever find an affordable home we love.  But the Lord has never let me down so far....not only that, he has well exceeded my wildest expectations....so I am going to trust that is will all work out in the end.  :)

I am sad to see this chapter of our lives closing sometime in the near future.  We have some very dear friends, have loved owning our own home, and have experienced some pangs of regret for some poor decisions we've made (although I honestly don't think we really knew any better at the time).  But I am so glad to be moving forward, to be working together on such a big and challenging and notable goal.  I know that it's going to feel so good the day that we finally write the last check to our student loans.  I can't even imagine how good.....it has been a big burden and worry for us for so long.

I know that this stress beginning to change in my life has been a big part of me losing much of the weight I have lost since I had Jonah (more on that later), and it really has made us stronger as a family than I had ever imagined already.  I am excited to see how much closer we will feel once we have accomplished all this together and experience the pure joy and fulfillment and sense of pride we will feel once we have accomplished this.  (I think I already said that earlier...sorry.)

We've already said goodbye to our lovely, bug-eating, egg-laying chickens, and are in the process of saying goodbye to our dog in preparation for the big move.  Kolton prays every night (well, actually every prayer) about how sad he is that we had to sell the chickens, and his hopes of getting baby chickens and horses when we move again (me too buddy, but it's going to be awhile).  It's sad and hard, but it fees good....maybe because it's something tangible that makes the whole thing seem so real to me while so much is still unknown.

I feel like I have learned so much already.  I look in the faces of my little angels and I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I am lucky enough to stay home and be a full-time Mommy.  If it came down to choosing a more luxurious lifestyle and a much simpler one depending on whether or not I work, I think Wes and I would both choose simple.  My joy in life comes from my husband and family, and from knowing that I'm doing what's right and doing my best. 

Luckily my hobbies are free or inexpensive for the most part, and I'm excited to have a little more free time for them now.  I have had more time to read, write, knit, sew, cook, and exercise than I have in a long time.  I am starting to feel like my old self again, and it's so nice to see the same thing happening to my sweet husband.  Maybe someday while we're "on the cheap" we can find a place to play some volleyball together here and there.  That would be really fun!

I've been quite overwhelmed with all the changes and demands of our lives right now (even this moment when I am running off of one hour of sleep because Jonah was up with a fever all night last night).  My mom and I had to push back Joyschool starting back up because a nasty cold has been trickling through each of the kids, I got my visiting teaching reports in so late that it was almost too late, I have posted and read next to nothing on Power of Moms the last little while, the downstairs chest freezer broke and we've been cleaning and shoving what we can upstairs until we find a smaller one that can come with us when we move, and I've been busy just trying to continue showering every day and eating before one o'clock in the afternoon.  But I am so relieved the biggest part of the craziness is behind us and now it's just general everyday craziness.  The boys are finally starting to fall into a routine....most days I can get all three to nap at the same time for at least a half hour or so, and bedtime has gotten into a good routine also. I am SO excited and eager to jump into that church project I was taking about earlier, and also VERY excited for some upcoming changes and ideas to my section of Power of Moms, in addition to hopefully contributing sometime to the new blog in Deseret News.  Hopefully now things have died down enough to actually get to sit down and work on writing a little each day.   :)

Anyway, I'm signing off for now because my poor, sweet, sick baby has just woken up for his feeding.  But before I go, here's a picture of our little train-loving Micah when we checked on him tonight:

I had to turn on the flash and take it at kind of a funny angle to get a good view. I love this precious, silly boy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wes is 30!

Wes turned 30 on the 30th. He was so depressed and worried about it. He thought he was saying goodbye to his youth or something. I don't really understand what the big deal was, but I was a nice wife and respected his not-so-subtle requests of I'd better not throw him a party of any kind or do anything out of the ordinary. If I wanted to skip it altogether that was just fine with him. Haha! Well, I decided against the party, but I wanted to do something to help him see that the "sky is the limit" - no matter what your age. Earlier in the day, we took the whole family (and dad-in-law, Lee) rock climbing indoors at a fabulous gym in Sandy. We had so much fun and I think it's a birthday tradition that will stick for sure. :) Kolton climbed all the way to the top of the wall. He was so brave. Over and over he tried, and Grandpa Stewart was such a patient belayer. He'd convince him to go a little higher each time. Micah kind of lost interest in climbing once he realized he could let go and swing on the rope. Daddy was pushing him so high and he loved it! Jonah had a huge blowout the one time I forgot to pack an extra outfit. He hung out on a blanket in only his diaper. Oh well. Stuff happens right? He was pretty happy to people watch and play with his mommy and his toys. I didn't get a chance to climb being so busy with the baby, but it was fun watching everyone else. I just love our cute little family.

We hurried home and got ready for Wes's birthday surprise I had planned. I had some last minute glitches and I was still crossing my fingers that everything would pan out. I found out last minute - literally as we were on our way - that my dad could come also, so we grabbed him. My sweet mom took all three boys (we'd never left Jonah before, and I learned he doesn't really take bottles...sorry Mom) and Wes, my dad, and I left. Wes had no idea what was going on, right up to the point that we got there. I signed him up for flying lesson. He's always wanted to learn to fly, and so has my dad, so it was such a fun surprise. We got a fabulous pilot who was so much fun! He answered all our questions, let us take tons of pictures, and took us on a great ride through Parley's and back to SLC through Big Cottonwood. It was a really fun flight. We got to fly for about 15 minutes through the canyon and had so much fun! It was definitely an experience I don't think any of us will forget. Wes was so happy, and said he loved his 30th birthday. I was glad he got over the "30th birthday blues" and just relaxed and enjoyed the day.

I feel so blessed and lucky that I get to be married to Wes. Every day I am blown away be the amazing person he is, and by how completely perfect for me he is. I'm so glad that Heavenly Father told me he was the one, because there is no way I could have known at 19 how compatible we really were, and how much joy he could bring into my life. I have always been a happy person, but never dreamed I could and would experience the joy that I have in my life, all because of my knight in shining armor. Wes is such an incredible person, and every day I work so hard to make him happy because he deserves all the happiness he can get. He is such an amazing husband and father! I still get weak in the knees when he looks at me, and there's no better place than in his arms. I'm so grateful that I get to be with him for eternity.

30 things I love about Wes:

1.  His smile
2.  His laugh
3.  The way he looks at me.  Several people have actually commented on it.  I think he looks at the boys the same way.
4.  The way he never hides his emotions.  His face says it all, especially when he's happy.
5.  The sound of his voice
6.  The way he can't sleep until he's holding me in his arms.
7.  I love the way he lets me watch girly movies, and even took me to see New Moon and Eclipse without me even having to ask
8.  The way he values his health and sets such a good example to me and the boys
9.  He works so hard and never complains
10.  His testimony and knowledge of the gospel
11.  I love how every kid that meets him loves him
12.  He's so smart!
13.  He makes everything fun
14.  He is a peacemaker
15.  He is extremely patient and sensitive
16.  It's so much fun to watch him play sports.  I wish he'd do it more often.  It's so sexy.
17.  I love how much the boys idolize him, and what an incredible example he sets for them
18.  I am a champion interrupter (I HATE this about myself, I will be working on it this year.) and he never complains about it
19.  I love how he will try anything and have fun doing it(well, except shopping)
20.  If I ever do anything that makes me happy (from going out with friends to buying new clothes to taking up a new hobby) he is always so supportive and just happy that I am happy.
21.  The way he tells me I'm pretty
22.  I love the way he is always touching me - playing with my hair, kissing my neck, holding my hand...he even gives me massages.  Aren't I a lucky girl?
23.  I love how he never lies to me.  He'll tell me the truth even if it hurts.  I can always trust him.
24.  I love how he shares everything with me.  I feel so lucky and blessed that we are so close.
25.  I love how accepting he is of everyone.  And forgiving.  And loyal.
26.  He goes along with all my crazy ideas and takes it all in stride.  Sometimes he jokingly calls me "Lucy" (I Love Lucy) when I do something really out there.  But he never gets angry.
27.  Everything he does, he does full out.  No matter what it is.  Everyone loves this about him.  He always goes the extra mile.
28.  I love it when he reads stories or plays with or sings to the boys.  Dads just play different,and Wes plays with and enjoys his kids more than just about any dad I know.  He holds nothing back and is always game for anything.  In addition to, all my siblings enjoy him also.  And Abby's got him wrapped around her finger.  He's going to be such a good daddy to our daughter someday (when we have one).
29.  I love how he loves animals and nature.
30.  I love his leadership style.  He motivates me like no one else can.  Every moment I'm with him I want to be a better person.   He's a quiet, gentle leader. He lets everyone be how they are and accentuates the positive.  He takes responsibility for himself and is always positive.  He is not afraid to admit when he makes mistakes and is extremely humble (people comment on this all the time too).  He has no idea, but a lot of people hang on every word he says because when he says anything it's always worth listening to.  His humility and love for others makes it easy and natural to follow him.  He is the most Christlike person I know.

I love you, Babe.  I hit the jackpot when I married you 6 1/2 years ago.  I hope one day I can bring your life as much joy and contentment as you've brought mine.  You are a good person and I couldn't think of anyone better to spend eternity with.  Thank you for being my very best friend and for loving me.  I love you with all my heart and am in awe of you every single day.  I'm glad you were born 30 years ago and I look forward to sharing a long, happy, fulfilling life together, side-by-side.  xoxo

The beginning of a Catch-Up

I feel like a broken record when I say that I haven't blogged in a long time, and that I'm going to be blogging more often.  Well....all I can say is that the past few months have been (I think) the busiest of my entire life.  So hopefully now I will be able to find the time to do things I enjoy instead of just shifting into "survival mode" which is not a place I like to be.  For now, I'm just going to do a quick update (so I will have this to refer to....you mommies out there know how quickly you can forget the daily happenings) for my own personal record:

October:  My mom and I are doing Joyschool with Nathan, Josh, Hallie, Kolton, and Micah.  It's been really fun but CRAZY busy since we are each teaching every other week, and we each have a baby to look after when it's our turn.  Some days I've been more prepared than others, and some days I wonder if we're crazy.  But then one of the kids will say something that blows me away, and I am able to see that they really are learning and soaking in all the wonderful things we are trying to teach them.  Joyschool truly is an amazing program!  If you haven't heard of it before, check it out.

General Conference was amazing.  So uplifting and inspiring as always.  I have noticed that the last few times it seems like more and more focus is on family and parenthood.  Teaching our kids what's right, helping them develop a strong testimony of the gospel, and being strong and accountable for ourselves are such important things.  I also noticed that the speakers seem to take a simple gospel principle and explain it without the depth they have in previous years.  They are keeping things simple now.  I don't know if it's because so many nonmembers tune in, or if it's because there's a more definite division between members now; people wanting to bend the gospel principles and commandments to fit their own lives.  Maybe both.  Either way, I have loved it.  I think the gospel is a simple thing, and having simple teachings gives me something to refer to when I have a question or when I'm trying to teach my children.  Simple is good.

Halloween was really fun.  Different than I expected, but fun nonetheless.  My mom and I found a great deal on Disney costumes, and without planning it, Nathan and Josh picked Peter Pan and Kolton and Micah picked Captain Hook.  Abby was Tinkerbell, and Hallie was Princess Aurora.  Jonah was Roo.  They all looked so adorable! I'll throw some pictures up here once I figure out how to get them on the new computer.

It rained like crazy all night.  We didn't take Jonah out at all because of the weather, so Wes and I took turns passing out candy at my parents' house.  (we thought the kids would have more fun trick-or-treating together, and Wes and I liked that the houses were so much more spread out because there would be less candy to deal with - we were right. :)  It was hard juggling nursing Jonah and passing out candy, but by the third child, I don't "sweat the small stuff" nearly as much, and it was more comical to me than stressful.  He finally took a little nap on my parents' bed and I was able to sneak out with the boys for a little while - just as the rain stopped!  I was so grateful, because Wes was soaked to the bone when he got back.

All in all, it was a fun month and a fun Halloween.  A great start to the holiday season.

November:  MonavieRVL came out the beginning of the month and I decided to go for it. (RVL is Monavie's meal replacement/weight loss product they are launching in a couple days from now, and we decided I would jump on it for the pre-launch and figured the product would draw more attention if I was "living proof" so to speak, that it was a great weight loss product.)  We picked up my supplies toward the end of the first week.  I wasn't sure what to expect....I'm not the type that likes to "diet" to lose weight.  I had been gradually losing a pound or two every couple weeks and nursing Jonah was going wonderfully....I didn't want to lose our little rhythm we had going. 

I won't lie - the first couple of days on the product were HORRIBLE, I think because I was nursing.  I lost all my milk toward dinnertime on the first day and spent the next few days drinking Mother's Milk tea (not a huge tea fan) and nursing around the clock - literally all day long.  But I really, really didn't want to quit nursing yet and I didn't want to give up on RVL so quickly either.  Everything else in my life had to take a backseat for a week or so, but when I was 7 or 8 pounds down after my first week I was sooo glad I had persevered.  I have lost 20 pounds on the product so far - I kind of quit doing it after Thanksgiving for the weekend and since Christmas, I haven't jumped back on.  I really enjoy having something so quick and tasty to eat when I'm so busy, but I think I am so burned out from the holidays (I'll tell you why in a minute) that I can't seem to get myself to do anything that feels the least bit challenging right now.

Thanksgiving was great.  The gratitude tree went up and KoltonKolton kept putting "Mommy" on every leaf he put up on the tree.  Don't those sweet little moments make all the hard stuff so worth it?  I felt so special and loved.  The gratitude tree is definitely a favorite tradition around here!  Thanks Shawni!

For dinner, Wes's parents were out of town in the morning.  We usually play volleyball with them in the morning and then have dinner at my parents' house.  It's been great because my parents house is a lot more "kid friendly" than Wes's grandparents' house, and the boys are so much easier to manage.  We actually all got to sit down at the same time and all eat together. There's no way that would happen anywhere else.  We were sad to miss the Stewarts though, and hoping that next year, things will be a little easier.  (We have struggled to juggle our extended family on holidays for years.  We find something that works and then everything changes and we are back to square one.  So hard!  What do you do to balance time with your families and your own little family and keep the holidays fun?  Please leave me some suggestions!)  My mom, my sister, Melinda, and I all split up the dinner.  I made the yams, a pumpkin pie cake, gravy, banana cream pie, and a green bean casserole (I think that was it?).  My mom made her specialty: apple pie (seriously the best you will ever have in your life) and the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, appetizer tray, and rolls.  Melinda made Jello and soft oreo cookies.  She brought drinks too.  Dinner was so fun and delicious!  Everyone went all out for sure, and I was glad that we sat down to eat later than usual, because otherwise I would have eaten way too much.  There was so much left we had turkey dinner at my mom's for a couple nights after.  The kids really had fun and enjoyed the holiday too.  It was fantastic!

This post is getting long, so I will break it up into a few to catch up.  Signing off!

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