Legos and Hair Bows

DSC_7872colorWe brought the kids to Toys R Us on Saturday.  One of them got a toy for Christmas that needed to be exchanged and a few others had some money burning a hole in their pockets.  It took us much longer than I preferred to get out the door.  I don’t think it should take us 20 minutes to get ready to go but this time it did.  It didn’t help that when we were 5 minutes into our trip we discovered that the toy we needed to exchange was left at home so we had to go back and get it.

I was frustrated and upset.  I had a plan and now it was delayed.

This isn’t anything new for me.  Lately I feel like I live most of my life upset or annoyed.  I let the small annoyances in life linger and fester inside of me.

As I was driving to the toy store I was thinking about my attitude and the fact that it really wasn’t helping the situation.  Is it really worth being so angry about something so meaningless?  The fact that we were a half hour later than I hoped didn’t make any earth shattering ripples in our day but the way I treated my kids because of it definitely could.  We were going to the toy store whether I liked it or not.  I could either get over myself and let the kids have their fun and maybe enjoy myself too, or I could be ornery, frustrated and snippy at them the whole time which wouldn’t be fun for anyone.

I chose to get over myself.  I let the boys look at Lego sets for as long as they wanted.  I even got crazy and let Baby Girl stay out of the cart.  She wandered around the store, pulled everything off the shelf, showed it to me, then said, “I buy it.”  All with her hair in bows that she did herself.

DSC_7844color

How can that not make you happy?

In the end, it was a successful trip. It wasn’t some grand memory that the kids will remember when they’re old.  It was simply a trip to the store where toys and candy were acquired.  One tiny step on the ladder of building a happy childhood for these kids I love so much and want the best for.  But it was definitely a success for me.  I showed myself that I can let go of those annoyances and let myself enjoy the moment even if everything hasn’t gone as planned.

And that is a something I will definitely use again because really, how often does life go as planned?

Learning Curve

Week #2 of my commitment to blog once a week and I’ve already learned a few things about myself:

  1. I procrastinate work much better with a deadline.  I’ve had all week to write a post to put up today and here I am on Wednesday afternoon, finally doing it.  You might think, “Hey, at least it isn’t Wednesday night.”  which is what I would be telling myself if I didn’t know what my afternoon/evening entailed and knew that this was the last possible moment I could write a post without staying up until all hours of the night.
  2. I tend to have a hard time focusing.  I sat down to write and all of the sudden I HAD to empty the garbage.  I’ve stuffed stuff into the full garbage can all morning but it wasn’t until that second that I simply couldn’t do anything else until the garbage was emptied.  Now that the garbage is emptied there is a messy desk calling my name.
  3. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have anything to say.  Even when I have a lot of thoughts on my mind, it’s hard for me to feel like anyone cares.  I kind of suck at social media for that reason too.  I look at Facebook and instagram all the time but rarely post anything on there.  I’m interested in what others are doing but I feel like people aren’t that interested in me.  Not in a “no one likes me, I have no friends” way but just in a “my life isn’t that interesting” way.
  4. I could clean my house all day everyday and it still would never be clean.  Yes, I know this has nothing to do with blogging but it’s just something I realized again today.  So, I’ve almost given up cleaning it at all.  If it’s never going to be clean than what’s the point right?
  5. I’m glad that only 2 people read this blog and they’re both my sisters.  Now I can post boring posts like this and not worry.

Committing

Back in October I went to a piano concert.  Some good friends of mine play and they invited me to a concert they were having so I went to support them.  I went alone and didn’t really think anything of it.  I thought it was just another event but it ended up being an amazing night for me.  The music was wonderful but even more wonderful was the inspiration that I gained.

While there I learned two important lessons, one of which I’d like to share with you today.  (Don’t worry, I plan on sharing the second lesson eventually.)  They had a story on the concert program about how the concert came about.  These 4 women all like to play the piano so they decided to get together and play with each other.  One of them has a room with 2 pianos in it so they set aside one night a week, meet at her house and play 2 piano duets together.  It’s late at night, after kids are asleep, homework is done and husbands are occupied but they make it happen.  They take the time for themselves to do something they enjoy and to use and build their talents.

I was also really inspired to see them up there on the stage.  They were up there doing something just because they enjoy it.  This concert wasn’t for any other reason.  They weren’t there for their husbands or kids although most of them were there supporting them.  They weren’t there as part of their church responsibilities or school volunteering or because they were getting paid.  They were simply there because they decided they would put on a concert to show the talent they have and the work that they’ve put into it.

The whole way home I thought about how I could take the example of my friends and use it to better myself.  I finally thought about writing/blogging.  It’s something that I enjoy and have wanted to get back into but just haven’t made the time for.  I’m in the same stage of life as most of these women so I know we face the same kinds of things on a daily and weekly basis but they make time once a week to do something that they love.

The last year or so I have actually been thinking and dreaming of what I want to be when I grow up.  I’ve never longed for a career.  I always wanted to stay home with my children and I am blessed that it is happening for me.  So, a career was never really in the plan but now I have dreams that I hope to fulfill and I think blogging can help me get there.  So 3 months after the piano concert experience, I’m finally committing to coming back to blogging.  I’m starting small and only committing to one post a week but considering it’s been almost a year since my last post that is big for me.

I hope you will join me for the ride.

 

Recipes

For awhile now I’ve been trying to cut processed sugar out of my diet.  It was really eye opening when I started looking for sugar and found it in places I never would have thought of.  Things like canned tomatoes, canned chick peas, chicken broth, taco seasoning, etc.  I realized quickly that if I still wanted to enjoy certain foods I was going to have to make them at home.  I have come up with a few recipes that I like and use often and I am frequently trying to come up with refined sugar free substitutes for some of our favorite foods.  The only problem is that most of my recipes look like this…

DSC_1417color

My chicken scratch on scratch paper that Baby B wrote on with a pencil.  So, I decided I needed a better place to keep them and I might as well share them with you.  Today the lucky winner is Taco seasoning.  I used to buy the big jar of McCormick from Costco but alas, it has sugar in it.  I’ve tried several recipes that I found online but none of them tasted like what we were used to.  So, I made up my own using the list of ingredients on the McCormick bottle.  I think it tastes pretty similar and will most likely be the only thing I use now.

DSC_1420colorTaco Seasoning

1 Tbl chili powder

1 teas cumin

1 teas onion powder

1 teas garlic salt

3/4 teas paprika

1/2 teas oregano

Mix it all together and use it how you use any other taco seasoning.  I actually kept my empty McCormick jar and tripled this recipe then mixed it all up in the jar.  It is so easy and almost as quick as buying taco seasoning from the store.

Beginning’s Cont.

I read the First Presidency Message in the Ensign today.  It is from Pres. Uchtdorf and is on planning and goal setting.  Part of what he said is exactly what I was trying to say in my last post, he just said it so much better.  He said:

Another thing we need to remember when it comes to setting goals is this: We almost certainly will fail—at least in the short term. But rather than be discouraged, we can be empowered because this understanding removes the pressure of being perfect right now. It acknowledges from the beginning that at one time or another, we may fall short. Knowing this up front takes away much of the surprise and discouragement of failure.

When we approach our goals this way, failure doesn’t have to limit us. Remember, even if we fail to reach our ultimate, desired destination right away, we will have made progress along the road that will lead to it.

And that matters—it means a lot.

Even though we might fall short of our finish line, just continuing the journey will make us greater than we were before.

I love it.

 

Beginnings

It’s that time.

The new year.

A time when we feel like we can start over, become better, or try again.

I’m no different.  I have my same goals.  This is the year that I will simplify and organize my house.  The fact that it’s been one of my resolutions for years doesn’t matter.  No, this is definitely the year that I’m going to make it happen.

It is also the year that I am going to train for and complete a triathlon, study my scriptures better, write more, get our finances in order, eat healthier and plan ahead.  All while trying to maintain a home and raise a family.  Should be a piece of cake.  (Right?)

My husband likes to make fun of “New Year’s Resolutions.”  It’s quite easy to do.  I mean, how many of us actually follow through.  When I used to go to the gym regularly I hated January.  There were always so many people there, using the machines I was used to having all to myself.  But, I just had to wait it out.  By February I usually had my pick of almost anything in the place again.

It’s not only the fact that people rarely follow through on their resolutions that he makes fun of.  It’s also the fact that everyone does it right now.  What is so special about a new year he says?  Can’t you set goals and resolve to be better on September 6th as easily as on January 1?

For me the new year is like a breath of fresh air.  November and December are busy.  If the major holidays weren’t enough we also have 4 of the 6 birthdays in our family between Nov. 25 and Dec. 25.  I feel like I haven’t stopped in months.  But now that is all behind us.  I can slow down, take some time to plan and try to see what areas need more attention.  I can set some goals.

And like I already mentioned, most of my goals are repeats from the last new year.  Things I’ve already resolved to fix several times but have fallen short.  That isn’t a good reason for me to not set the same goal this year.  That is exactly the reason why I am resolving to do it again.  I’m pretty darn sure by next Christmas my house isn’t going to look like I’d love it to look, my waistline won’t be as small as I’d like it to be, I’ll still suck at budgeting, and even if I have completed another triathlon I will most likely be back to not taking the time to exercise every day.  I don’t see all of that as a reason not to try.

I’m not looking for perfection in my resolutions.  I’m looking for progress.  If I can set the same goal year after year and never fully achieve it but see progress along the way then that is good enough for me.  I doubt I will ever get to perfection but as long as I’m progressing I will always be getting closer.

 

(p.s. My husband sets yearly goals every January like the rest of us.)

My House

Photo credit

I am not a very clean or organized person.  I’m also not much of a decorator.  All of these things are very apparent as soon as you walk in my front door.  Parts of my house would be more at home on an episode of Hoarders than in a design magazine. None of my dishes match, there is nothing on the walls in my living room, and there may at any time be a pair of dirty underwear on the bathroom floor.  Usually none of that bothers me much (except the dirty underwear) until we have company.

When I know people are going to be coming over and venturing out of the main areas of my home I start to notice all that I “should” be doing, areas that aren’t as clean as I would like them to be, projects that haven’t been finished, projects that haven’t even been started, etc.

Last weekend my niece and three of her friends came into town and stayed in our guest room.  They are all in college and were the nicest girls.  Of course the whole time they were here I was noticing all that bothers me in my house.  I was embarrassed about the Halloween decoration/costume boxes that were still in the downstairs hall.  I also commented on the fact that none of the bedding in the room matched.  Luckily I was able to make the beds with sheets that didn’t have Lightening McQueen on them but it wasn’t easy.

Opening my house up to guests is a very vulnerable thing for me.  I feel like so many of my weaknesses are apparent to anyone who walks through my house.  It always makes me worry about what they will think of me when they see the layer of dust on the shelves downstairs or the disaster of a storage room.

On Sunday I came home from church a few minutes early and my niece and her friends were getting ready to leave.  When I got home I went right into Baby B’s room and put her down for a nap.  As I was sitting in the rocking chair rocking her I heard one of my nieces friends say, “I love this house.  It’s so cute.”  I don’t think she knew I was home and I know she didn’t mean for me to hear her but it totally made my day.

I’ve been thinking about this subject lately and realized that the way my house looks doesn’t really matter to me.  If it did I would put more time and effort into making it look different.  When I have people into my home I don’t need them to be impressed by what my home is I want them to notice how my home feels.  I want them to feel loved and accepted and welcome.  I want them to know that I care about them and for them to feel comfortable.

That doesn’t mean that I’m giving up cleaning, although I definitely wouldn’t mind.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been working all day to clean up parts of my house because we are having people over this weekend.  Knowing guests are coming is one of the best motivators for me to do things that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  This time when the party starts, whatever isn’t done I’m not going to worry about.  I’ve had people over enough to know that it will definitely be messier when they leave than it was when they came.  I hope that I can forget about the mess and the projects and just enjoy the company because I’m pretty sure they are coming over to spend time with me and my family, not to check out the cleanliness of my floors.

 

Cascade Springs

DSC_9253color

Last week we brought the kids to Cascade Springs.  I had been wanting to get out and see some of the fall colors and this is one of my favorite places to do it.  We happened to have a day with everyone home and nothing planned which doesn’t happen too often.  It was cold and rainy that day and we almost didn’t go.  As much as I wanted to see the mountains at this time of year, a day at home with nothing to do was also very tempting.

As we were there, walking on the boardwalk through the marshy water, I was so glad we had come.  It was such a simple thing, easy to pull off.  It’s not a long drive from our house and since it was a weekday there were very few people out with us.  It is also a great place for kids.  The entire path is paved or boardwalk.  They can run and play and enjoy themselves.

PicMonkey CollageI spent my time there reminiscing on all of the memories that that place holds for me.  The first time I remember going there was when I was in high school.  My friends mom had a Jeep Wrangler and one summer Sunday we took the top off of it and drove it up to Cascade Springs.  We had such a good time that it we did it again soon after.

Another memorable visit was when my husband was deployed.  It was fall again and my sister and I brought my boys up there.  I remember all the places that we took pictures of them, trying to get a good one in front of the leaves to send to daddy.

PicMonkey Collage2The last time we went was two years ago.  We shared the springs with a mamma moose and her baby.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago to me but when I look at how little the boys look it makes me see how fast time flies.

I’m sure there are other times I visited this place, they just aren’t as memorable.  I love having a place that is familiar.  A place that holds memories, that has seen me in the many different stages of my life.  A place where you can go and reminisce and remember how good life is.

I never realized Cascade Springs was such a place for me until now.

Less Than the Dust

www.pinterest.com

I had a very humbling experience today.

This week is homecoming week at BYU and part of today’s festivities was a free pancake breakfast.  Never one to pass up free food that I don’t have to make, I loaded up the kids and we went.  While we were waiting in line for our blue pancakes I noticed a couple with a little baby in front of us.  The dad had the baby in a baby carrier on his chest.  It was quite a chilly morning, in the low 40’s, and the poor baby wasn’t covered up very much.  No hat and a bare leg and foot sticking out the bottom of the carrier.

I’m not sure what my exact thought was when I noticed the baby but I know it wasn’t complimentary to those involved.  I was very judgmental about how these parents could have their little baby out in the cold like that.  Of course I was a good mom because my baby had two layers of clothes on, the outer layer a one piece sweater with a hood (that her dad affectionately calls her Thneed).  I also had a blanket over her and a snowsuit in the car in case she got cold.  Seeing the difference in the way the two babies were dressed sure made me feel good about myself.

I spent a few minutes with thoughts like these going through my head when all of the sudden the thought to offer them my blanket replaced them all.  Of course I doubted myself.  I didn’t want to make them feel bad and didn’t want them to think I was judging them.  Funny, since I was.  Although once the thought to share the blanket came the judgmental ones left.  I really, truly wanted to help.  I’m not a social person and don’t like to talk to people that I don’t know so it wasn’t easy for me but I went up to the dad and asked him if he would like to borrow my blanket.  My baby was fine and theirs needed the blanket much more.  The dad accepted the blanket and as he wrapped it around his baby I asked how old she was.  He told me she was about 2 months.

2 months.

It was the only child they had with them so I can only assume that it was their first baby.  They had been parents for 2 months.  They probably have no clue what they’re doing.  I know I didn’t when I was in their position.  I doubt they’ve slept much either.  They definitely don’t need my petty judgements so that I can feel better about myself.  They need to be surrounded by people who help them, love them and try to lift them up.  Like we all do, no matter what our situation is.

This experience has had me thinking all day.  Why is it so easy to notice the mistakes others make and use them to try an build ourselves up?  There have been plenty of times that I have had cold kids because I wasn’t prepared like I should have been.  It doesn’t make me any less of a person.  And the fact that I was prepared today doesn’t make me a better mom.  More experienced?   Probably.  But better?  Certainly not.

All of this reminds me of a quote in one of my favorite talks by Elder Holland.  He says:

We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin.

This life isn’t a contest to see who dressed their baby correctly for the weather.  If that was the issue here, I think I had a slight advantage since I’ve been a mother for 9+ years compared to their 2 months.  The real issue is the race against sin and I definitely sinned.  I was full of pride.  If I hadn’t given that baby my blanket to use, it would have survived.  It had two parents that had coats that they could have used or other ways to keep it warm.  Or it might have been pretty cold for a half hour.  But if I hadn’t been reminded gently by a loving Heavenly Father to see if there is a way to help those around me instead of judging them I would still be filled with pride which is a whole lot worse than having a cold baby for a few minutes.

Even though it is hard to have a weakness so apparent to me I am grateful for the experience.  I am glad to have humility forced upon me and I hope that the next time I can quickly offer the blanket instead of letting a baby freeze for 10 minutes while I get my act together.

Back to School

DSC_7807color

The big boys went back to school last week.  I admit that this is the first year that I have actually been glad that school was starting.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys and love when they’re home but lately there is just so much fighting.  It is exhausting.  I know it’s really my fault because I don’t manage the fighting well which allows them to continue.  So I am glad for a break during the day so that I can think about things and try to regroup.  Plus, it’s really nice to only have to haul two kids everywhere.  I think I got more done today than I could in a week with all the kids home.

This back to school year I definitely learned some lessons.  The biggest one is don’t wait until after the first day of school to get your kids school supplies.  In true Heather style I procrastinated the school shopping trip until the last two days before school started.  In my defense, I was waiting on the supply lists that we would get on Back to School night.  Then when I went to Target I forgot the lists.  And it was packed.  See, I can usually handle having all four kids at the store and I can usually handle shopping a crowded store but when you put the two together I just can’t do it.  And since I knew I would forget to buy at least half of what was on their list I let Big Boy choose a backpack and I figured I would get the rest later.

On the first day I brought the boys to school and planned on walking them into their classes.  Big Boy is starting 4th grade this year and I asked him before we left home if he wanted me to bring him to his class.  I didn’t want to embarrass him if he didn’t want me there.  I guess I’m not too embarrassing yet because he did want me to walk him to his room.

Medium Boy is starting first grade and his first year in the French immersion program that our school offers.  Not only is he having to get used to being at school for the whole day, his whole morning is spent in a class where the teacher only speaks a language that he doesn’t understand.  It can be hard and I knew he was a little nervous.  I thought for sure he would want me to bring him to his classroom to help him get settled.  He still hasn’t caught on to the fact that mom’s can be embarrassing.  But on our way into the school he told me that I didn’t need to bring him, he wanted to go by himself.  So, I told him he could and I would come check on him after I brought Big Boy to his class.

DSC_7822color

I let Medium Boy go alone.  I stopped down the hall to try and watch him but he got lost in the sea of kids.  So I just brought Big Boy to his room.  The first thing his French teacher asked him is if he had crayons.  He said no.  After a minute of hesitation he went into his class and I went to check on Medium Boy.  When I walked into his classroom he was sitting at his desk with a picture on his desk that he was supposed to be coloring.  When I walked up to him his eyes were red, on the verge of tears.  He looked at me and said “I don’t have any crayons.”  I could see the nerves on his face  and my heart broke.

Next year I’m buying school supplies in July.