Wednesday, November 18, 2015

mero cruise 2015

last november, my brother, evan, called me while i was out running errands. this is what he says to me... "hey em, so we were all talking at thanksgiving about trying to go on a family cruise in march. would you and mark be in?" um yeah! actually, i think i said, "that sounds awesome but let me run it by mark real quick." and then i realized how stupid that sounded...of course mark is gonna want to go on a cruise! oh, and it was going to be over the week of our 14th wedding anniversary. perfect.

march 7th we were on a plane to puerto rico. we stayed the night in puerto rico, ate some amazing local food and explored all the next day before boarding the ship. it was beautiful. someday i'd like to go back and just vacation there.

our stops were: st thomas, barbados, st lucia, st kitts and st marteen.

i'm not sure that i could pick my favorite place. st thomas had the clearest water and whitest sand. we swam with turtles in barbados. took an island tour of st lucia and went to the coolest waterfall. we went zip lining in st kitts and i conquered my fear of that specific moment. and i met the cutest little monkey that i wanted to sneak back home. man, adorable. okay, so maybe i can say that i have a favorite...every time i think back on the most fun i had, st marteen comes to mind. look up videos about people watching planes take off at the st marteen airport. i wish we had a video of it. i haven't laughed that hard in a long time! trust me, look it up.

probably my favorite picture. ever.

left to right: amy, jess, cassie, rachel, laura and me.

extra props to amy and rachel for surviving a cruise while pregnant. and to laura who had just discovered she was pregnant and pretty dang sick.

chillin. joe, evan, mark and me.

st lucia. rachel, me, amy, cassie.

always a good time with mr steve brown. his face!

puerto rico

mark had our room decorated on our anniversary.

see! cutest thing ever.

leaving st lucia.
 I think cruising is my favorite way to vacation. so many cool places without having to pack and unpack at each place, so much food, sunshine and fun!

disney. all day, every day.

after writing the post title i feel a bit spoiled. and i guess i am. while in CA we decided to get disneyland annual passes. we were only about an hour away and we figured we might not ever be that close again. i have to say, it was one of the better ideas we've ever had. but that's not saying much because we have a lot of bad ideas too. ha!
we ended up going to disneyland/california adventure almost every week for a while. i think i loved going almost more than the kids. it was just so much fun to take a break from reality, enjoy the rides and eat a ton of sugary foods. we figured out which days were less crowded, thanks to an app i had, and we'd hop in the car and go. i'm pretty sure izzy could give you a guided tour of both parks. the point, we were there a lot. and i'm so grateful we had the chance to experience something like that. good old CA blessed us with some fun times.

so that's batman. aka christian bale. aka my favorite newsie. we were waiting in line and suddenly he and his family were at the front of the line. hopped on the ride real quick and then disappeared again. must be nice to use the disney tunnels to go from ride to ride.

ps. my kids look like babies in these pictures. crazy how much they grow up in a year!

Monday, November 09, 2015

showing up. again and again.

you're surprised to see this, right?  ha! i don't blame you one bit. i'm surprised that i'm writing on my blog again! i was thinking the other day about things that make me happy and blogging came to mind. i always loved sharing and expressing myself in this way. i love all the connections i've made through it. it's like therapy sometimes to just sit and type. so here i am. 

quick update. we are living in colorado these days. mark's solar job has brought us out here. over the summer the kids and i were in utah with family and mark was in arizona doing some work training. yeah, we were split up again for 4 months. remember how i said i would never do that again? silly me. sometimes there are other plans. but we are all together again and loving colorado. it's been a huge blessing to be here already. we've really been watched over and taken care in so many ways. this is where we need to be.

so out of the last 22 months, we've moved six times. i'm a moving pro, y'all! also, mark and i have been living in different states for 10 of those months. 6 months here, 4 months there. can i just say, it's not fun to be apart. it's crazy how quickly we became used to doing things on our own. mark was like a single dude. he's had to get used to the kid's noise levels again, which isn't something you'd think would be hard, but it is. we've had to get used to each other again. all the opinions, quirks, moods and so on. and i'm not gonna lie, having my own bed and alllllll that space was nice. ha! but it's even nicer to be a whole family again. i will say, i sincerely have so much respect for single parents. it's so not easy. i don't think i ever got the hang of it. i did my best but fell short in some areas.
i realized the other day that i've only been surviving, not thriving, most of this year. surviving all the moves, surviving all the changes, surviving as a single mom, surviving as me. but i can say that i showed up. showing up to me is taking on all the changes, challenges, issues, opportunities, chances and being present for them. feeling them, not pushing them away. looking at them head on, being unsure and still going for it. being me as much as i know how to be. i was surviving but i showed up. that was me being brave when it was hard.
also, i'm not saying that i haven't experienced joy. i mean, being around family and seeing two (now three) little babies come into the mero family was the best. seeing the kids enjoy cousins and old friends was wonderful. reconnecting with my friends. summer evening walks with my mother-in-law. endless shaved ice. visiting national parks i'd never been to and learning more about myself and my little family has brought joy. but at the core, i was lacking, just surviving.
i'm ready to thrive. to get back to doing what i love to do. to be a happier person. to be a more giving person. sometimes while trying to survive, i forget to give to others. giving is my love language and i had stopped doing it. i blocked that kind of happiness out but didn't realize it. i see that now.

remember all my past rants on this blog about being purposeful? well, i need to take my own advice and give it another try. i survived. i showed up. and now i'm going to be purposeful and thrive. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

california livin

first things first.
the kids and i joined mark in california about a month ago.
about time, right?
i'm sure all my complaining was starting to bug a few people. we are settling in just fine. i love my house and the area. but truth be told, this was the hardest move for me to make. we've lived away from family and friends before but it was never this difficult. i know, i'm never happy! ha! don't want to be in utah without mark, don't want to be away from utah. our neighborhood in utah was the best. period. all my family was living within miles from me. adorable nieces and nephews aplenty! however, i know we are supposed to be right where we are and that makes it a bit easier. but please, come visit us, people! i'm ten minutes from the beach. enticing? any takers? the door is always open.

speaking of the beach, we go at least every sunday but sometimes more. mark and friends play volleyball and then we do some swimming. i can't even tell you the amount of joy i have watching my people enjoy something that i've always loved so much. mark and the kids are mountain people. but they are quickly becoming beach people. it makes my heart happy.

Friday, January 03, 2014

change is here

an oldie but a goodie. the pic, i mean. we aren't that old. yet.
i know you're shocked. but i'm back. too much has been going on lately so this post may just seem like a bunch of word vomit but so be it. it is what it is.

mark left for california this morning. the kids and i are in a new house but in the same neighborhood. i couldn't let my husband go AND leave my neighborhood. that's craziness.

back to mark. he's starting his new job tomorrow. this has been coming for a long time now. i knew during the summer that change was coming. i knew we weren't going to be in our house much longer. i had no clue where we were going but i knew change was coming. and because i knew that, i kept trying to force the change. like every time i heard about a new job, i'd hound mark to apply for it. or if i ran across a cute place to live, i'd set up a time to walk through it and convince myself this was the change i knew was coming. funny thing is though, you can't force things to happen when it's not the RIGHT time. november came and suddenly it was the right time. everything lined up. it was kinda freaky, to be honest. everything kept falling into place. over and over.

THIS was the change i had felt was coming.

so, we moved into the home of a couple in our ward who are currently on a mission. the house is fully furnished. today is our second full day in the new house. we are adjusting.

mark is currently on a plane. he will be gone for a week and then come back for his car and drive back out to california. then we will probably only see him once a month til june.


here's the thing. i quietly cried on the way to the airport (didn't want to freak out my kids by being a mess) and stayed silent on the way home (except when 'thrift store' came on the radio... all four of us couldn't resist singing, i mean come on) after leaving mark at the airport. i sort of adore my husband, if you didn't already know. this situation is not what i want. at. all. and i'm a very independent chick, y'all. mark teases me that the thing i say the most is "i can do it" whenever anything comes my way, whether i actually can or not. and then my pride kicks in and i usually can do it because i'm not going to let people tell me i can't. you get the picture.

but this...this is feeling overwhelming at the moment. it's more difficult than i had planned on.

however, it's the RIGHT thing to do for now. i know that. i feel it. i can do it. we will all be fine.

the sacrifice is small compared to the blessings that have come and are continuing to come.

i was reading through some blogs today that i haven't had much time to read lately and something i read stuck me. it's exactly what i believe and what i've been reminding myself of the last few days, but especially this morning. it's from the blog 'hey natalie jean.'
"i've always believed that every new breath is a new chance to choose happiness. it's been my rallying cry for most of my adult life. happiness is a choice. it isn't a place or a set of conditions, it is a fight that you take on and then take on again, every single day. you can't let yourself forget to choose to be happy. i mean, i let myself forget all of the time, but that's not the point. the point is to remember and then get back into the battle the second you can. i'm generally a very happy person because of it. but i'd forgotten that strength is a choice, too. as is warmth. and laughter. and light. 
i can choose to be light. that is a choice that is worth fighting for."

i choose to do this. i choose to be happy with it. i choose to have strength through it. i choose to be warm and light for my kids. i choose to be happy because this is the change i knew was coming and had to happen. 

and everything will be okay in the end. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

uncle tommy

dad, grandma and uncle tommy. my wedding dinner. 2001.

you know those people who can make you laugh just by giving you a certain look? or people who can tell stories that can keep you entertained for hours? or people who instantly make friends with the cab driver, waiter or street vendor?

my uncle tommy could do all of those things.

tommy is actually my grandmother's little brother so that makes him uncle to my dad and great uncle to me. but he's closer in age to my dad. they always had a good relationship.

tommy passed away a few months ago. his wife, my aunt kathie, wanted to spread his ashes in the san francisco bay (the bay area is their home and a place he loved dearly) but during the winter months having a memorial on a boat just wasn't going to happen. so she waited. his memorial was held this past weekend. my parents and all my siblings, except joe, flew out to california. no spouses and no kids. just meros.

and it was one of the fastest trips i've ever been on. but man, it was great. lots of old stories, inappropriate jokes, eating way too much yummy food, taking the ferry, visiting with extended family, walking the san fran wharf...and that was just in the first 12 hours. that was how we spent saturday.

sunday was the memorial. about 60 of us boarded a boat and set out to a spot that kathie wanted to spread tommy's ashes. the weather was cold and windy and raining on and off. and super foggy. oh the fog! we joked that tommy was looking down on us and laughing at us fools out in miserable weather. but i also know that if he was looking down on us, he was in tears watching all of us gathered together for him. he was a softy. also something that made him pretty great.

while sailing, a cd of tommy's favorite music played and everyone mingled and laughed and enjoyed the moment. kathie started the memorial by talking about some of tommy's loves, including the san fran giants. a giants flag even flew at the top of the boat. then family members shared their favorite stories about him and talked about how tommy's true love in life was kathie. and that's truth.

tommy is definitely missed. and still loved very much.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

march, april + may

i like blogging. really, i do.
let's just move past the fact that i've been ignoring this wee little blog.
i'll catch you up on life since march.

12 years of marriage. our anniversary was march 10. a weekend in park city, LOTS of gluten free cheese bread and pizza, outlet shopping and just me and my bearded man. i tell you what, that beard and his unruly curly hair is pretty much the greatest thing ever. not to mention his ability to handle my own special brand of crazy with the amount of patience that he has, he's a good one. i love my mark.

easter. lots of egg dying, candy consuming and a large family dinner. that makes for a good time.

charter school acceptance. after three years on the lottery list, the kids were accepted into american prep academy. some days they are excited about it but most days they are just plain mad at me that i'm pulling them out of their current school. someday they'll see what a wise and wonderful mother they had for putting them in a better school situation. maybe. i hope.

backyard fires in our fire pit. or as we affectionately call it "stump fire." we've been burning down a tree stump and roasting marshmallows on it. two birds with one stone. or something like that. we also have two beehives and five chickens. we're turning into farm folk. not that there's anything wrong with that. but do you know me? animals and campfires...sort of not my thing. however, it's growing on me.

we've been fishing with friends. i've updated some furniture for my bedroom. i redecorated the living room...cause ya know, that's what i do every few months. we've gone to school carnivals. consumed a ton of frozen yogurt. izzy finished her gymnastics class and did a great job at it all year. we celebrated olivia's birthday in april and mark's just a few weeks ago in may. and i realized that i am the same age as my mother was when she gave birth to her sixth child. i was 12 when that happened. my mom was a real mom with real mom responsibilities. know what i mean? how did i get to this point in my life so quickly? mom and i are both freaked out by this.

and just recently, i started selling doTerra essential oils. when you find something that helps your family feel better (including my weird stomach i've been feeling better than i have in two years) you kinda want to tell other people to give it a try, ya know.

i have pictures to go along with most of those events but i will spare you from all 264 of them. i didn't actually count. i'm sure the actual number is way higher.
but here's a few from the last couple of weeks since school has been out...

^^^spent a day with some friends at tibble fork up american fork canyon^^^

^^^soaking up the sun. these moments. i love them.^^^

^^^first day of summer break = shopping trip. thank you old navy!^^^

^^^mark's birthday present. he was kinda sad when he had his last soda yesterday. ^^^

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

olivia rae and her story

before i attempt to catch up on this blog and post all the happenings from march (march was kind to us!), i just wanted to give some attention to my olivia rae.

born april 23, 2004.

she was born nineteen months after ethan. yes, it was planned that way!

i knew, without a doubt, that i was supposed to be pregnant with olivia at a very specific time. i just knew it. can't really explain it.

i talked to mark about it and he was totally supportive of the idea. i was kind of afraid he would freak out due to the fact that he was working crazy hours, in school full time and we were barely hanging on financially. but i think he somehow knew too deep down that this pregnancy was supposed to happen.

and it happened like clockwork.

i stopped nursing ethan, let my body go through one cycle of "that time of the month" and then i was pregnant. i also knew she was a girl before we even found out. and knew what her name was going to be. olivia rae. olivia was a name i loved as a teenager and i thought it was perfect for this little baby girl. rae is a family name on both sides of our families and just seemed to fit with olivia.

my pregnancy with her was easy.
her delivery was easy.

well, you know what i mean. eight hours and two pushes later she was out. much better than the 15 hours and 90 minutes of pushing it took mister ethan to appear.

she had a hard time breathing in those first few moments after delivery. nurses were doing what they could to get her to take deep breathes but she was breathing very quickly and very shallow. soon a few more nurses came into the room. after they attempted to help, the dreaded red emergency button was pushed. it seemed like all labor and delivery nurses (okay, not really but that room filled up quickly) were suddenly in our room. the nurses grabbed mark, placed olivia in his arms (i think to give us a sense that everything was in control) and rushed him down the halls to the nicu. and there she stayed for just over a week. to say that evening was emotional is an understatement. i know that there are families who have had to deal with bigger challenges with a newborn...and i know that olivia's condition was not as bad as it could've been...but it was scary just the same.

olivia's lungs were not expanding properly. she was injected with surfactant, a fluid that coats the lungs and allows them to expand as needed. she was on oxygen and in a plastic bubble for a while. while in the nicu she picked up pneumonia. so every day and night i would sit by her wishing i could hold her. the nurses were heaven sent. i will forever adore the way they took care of olivia and made me take care of myself as well.

after eight days of that, we all went home. olivia was still on oxygen and strapped to an O2 machine. for three months those two things were with us everywhere we went. after six months, liv was a healthy, thriving baby. to this day she hasn't had any more issues with her lungs.

so, yesterday being april 23, she turned nine years old. she is a happy, creative, lovely, spunky, dramatic, music loving gal. she brings a lot of energy and happiness to this family. she has her father wrapped tightly around her fingers. they have a wonderful bond. she is my mini me. that brings me a lot of joy and frustration at the same time! we are grateful she is apart of our little family.

happy birthday, liv!  

coming home

sweetest brown eyed girl

Friday, March 01, 2013

this thing called body image. and why i'm kicking the bad image to the curb.

not a hat person. but this is me trying new things. and now i kinda love beanies.

i'm just going to jump right into some uncomfortable stuff. i've been debating this blog post for a while now (like a very long while) and through a few different aha! moments (thank you, oprah for that saying) and some serious work and changes on myself, i'm ready to say something. 

body image. weight. self worth.

all very uncomfortable things for me to even acknowledge. yes, even the self worth one. i don't like seeing these things as real concerns in my life. i don't like thinking about them. i don't like dealing with them.

body image and weight. i admit that i don't really know what i look like. kinda funny to say. but i don't. pictures have a hard time convincing me. growing up i was awkward, rounder and, thanks to my french ancestry, a lot more hairy than i care to admit. eyebrows galore, people. i had wonderful friends and caught the eye of a few guys here and there but i definitely wasn't cool or among the so called "beautiful girls." and then i hit eighteen. the body changed. the face lost some baby chub. you know what i mean, we've all been through it at some point. and since then my body has been on a roller coaster. babies and age will do that. so if you ask me what i think i look like, i can't tell you. in my mind, i identify most with the awkward teenage stage of my life.

i rarely feel like i am a good looking person. somehow, if i acknowledge that i feel good about myself, that seems vain and annoying. but i'm learning (in my wise old years, wink wink) that it's okay, and actually healthy and freeing, to feel good about myself. if i'm happy on the inside i should show it on the outside and not let my ideas of my physical imperfections rule over and conquer my happiness. the number on the scale should not dictate whether or not i have a good or bad day. it's a number, for heavens sake! everyone's number will be different because everyone is in fact different. crazy thought, right? and, by the way, i'm thinking that my scale will end up in the trash any day now. that thing is evil.
by taking care of my body - eating properly, getting regular exercise, getting sleep - i can feel good about my body without the number. i know the number is helpful in some cases, like when i go to the doctor's office or whatever, but it shouldn't define me. or you. i feel happier, beautiful, more fulfilled when i'm being kind to myself, to my body image and to my self worth. i am more than a number.

here's another thought. comparing myself to others is damaging. like a lot. i have a quote on my cork board in my office that says "comparison is the thief of joy." so true! a quote floating around pinterest (indulge me in my pinterest obsession for a min) says something to the effect that we shouldn't judge our behind-the-scenes with someone else's highlight reel. again, so true! we see that woman at church or the grocery store who looks put together and then compare ourselves in our at home cleaning attire to their "perfection." i have been working on this. it's not fair to me to treat myself like that. my self worth should not be founded in those thoughts.

one last thought that was an "aha" moment. i stumbled across the video at the end of the post a while ago. watch it. fat talk among women needs to stop. it's okay to share our concerns about our health and whatnot, but that's as far as it needs to go. we don't need to dominate our conversations at family gatherings, girl's nights or even church, with fat talk. i don't need to point out my physical flaws at every turn. i wouldn't like to be around other people who point out my flaws and belittle me, so why do i do it to myself? sure, it's because of insecurities or trying to cover up a deeper issue that i don't want to address (like anxiousness or guilt or hopelessness) but i need not put myself down. it doesn't help anyone.  i need to address the real issues head on so that i stop punishing myself with the fat talk. by the way, my deeper issues are being addressed, no need to fear! i've got this.
also, i might add, there are much more interesting things in life to talk about. that's why when i bring up weight to mark his eyes glaze over. can't say that i blame him. he's totally open to talking about health and taking care of ourselves, but when the weight thing comes up, suddenly the conversation has become boring.

side note: husbands love us, girls. they married us. they like us. they believe in us. and they are attracted to us. don't try to convince him otherwise with the fat talk. and i know that that's not our intention, but that's how it comes across, i have learned anyway.

i want to be interesting and fun and happy and complicated and messy because that's who i really am. that's what people should know about me. those qualities are what healthy lives and conversations should consist of. let's uplift each other and help each other and support each other and make each other laugh, ladies! life is just better that way.

so i'm learning. i'm learning to not be so afraid of the words body image, weight and self worth. and i have to say, it's freeing and wonderful.

here is a link to a blog campaign for beauty for the month of march. i think it's a great idea!

and the video.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

crockpot chicken tacos

i have a little gluten free recipe for ya. you can make it with "normal" ingredients but the recipe below is how i've adapted it so that i can enjoy it along with my family. it's beyond easy and delicious. and it'll do in a pinch when you can't get to costa vida. 
seriously, i could eat there every day. 

your view once you've thrown everything into the crockpot
dinner is served!

chicken tacos

1 cup chicken broth, pacific home style brand (or whatever kind you like if you aren't gf)

1 cup pace picante sauce

1 can sweet white/yellow corn, drained (check labels)

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed (check labels)

1 package McCormick taco seasoning

3 or 4 frozen chicken breast

put everything but the chicken in the crockpot. 
add chicken.
cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.

serve with normal taco toppings. make a salad or put in corn tortillas.
if you're feeling like you need a little something extra, try THIS dressing recipe. it's divine. there are also many recipes for dressings like this floating around on pinterest.