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 issues...like 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.


Friday, January 18, 2013

joy in january

january and i are not friends. after all the holidays and cheer, january just seems to throw real life back in your face without any apologies. people are sick, the weather is outrageously cold (below zero usually when i take the kids to school) and the month just drags on. it's not my favorite.
however, there are a few things that are bringing me great joy right now and keeping me distracted from the fact that it's still january.

around the house:

we've had a big empty wall in our bedroom for a while and i finally found a few things to throw up on it. i made the chalkboard out of an old mirror. i really love it. it's the perfect place for little love notes to be posted. each picture means something to mark and me. owls, i'm obsessed. bees, he's obsessed. we were married in the manti temple. and the 'for wither thou goest' quote from the bible is something we have made a priority in our marriage from the very beginning. you'll see it hanging up in other areas of our house too.
my owl light switch cover! my mom gave this to me as part of my christmas present. she knows me well! i put him on my closet switch because, as mark claims, i never turn that light off after i walk out of the closet so the owl is there to catch my eye and remind me to turn off the light. so far it's worked! i know, i'm a child.

my very first apron in almost 12 years of being domesticated. also a christmas gift from my mom and mark teaming up to make it happen. it's almost too cute to cook in, right?
at the store/online shopping:

target $1 bins have been a gold mine lately! i could buy one of everything. i'm slightly obsessed with arrows lately too. and glitter. and twine. and for just a buck you can't go wrong.
forever 21 hair bows. so cute for my girls. or me. and for less than $2, that's always an easy decision. go here to find them.
ever been to shopbando.com? go! it's a little pricey, especially compared to forever 21, but i love pretty much every single thing on their website. these hair clips are screaming my name! my bangs just aren't quite long enough for this look, which i wish i could wear everyday. naomi, from love taza, has been rocking this lately and it's just awesome.
 world of blogs:
i've been reading the following blogs for a while but recently my love for them has grown. i'm not sure why but it has and i'm loving it!
nat the fat rat: natalie lives in nyc with your husband and adorable son. i like the way she describes things when writing, all of her cool pictures as she walks nyc and her simple, yet adorable tiny apartment. oh, and she's lds.
the alison show: if you are a crafter, alison is for you! she is one of the most creative blogging ladies you'll run across. and her style is right up my alley. pretty much everything she makes is a home run by my book. and she's funny. and she's lds too!

and lastly, music:
i have a whole list of songs that currently are on repeat. but there's one song that i've been throwing on when izzy and i need to jam out in the car or need some energy in the mornings to get the day going. it's funny because it's not normally my brand of music. hey, sometimes you just gotta go with new things! also, izzy and i have major crushes on adam. i mean, seriously now! ps. the video is kinda odd...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

expectations are confusing. or maybe it's just me.

so apparently life thinks it's funny to mess with me.
i wrote my post on wanting to feel purposeful not that long ago. i even stood in fast and testimony meeting at church and talked about how i wanted to be more purposeful. i want to show my gratitude for my life by showing that i know my purpose here on earth.
and then last week happened.
nothing serious or horrible.
but i've been finding it difficult to keep my focus on my purpose.
i'm still getting a lot done in my day to day life. i'm still taking care of my family.
but i think maybe i set my expectations a little high.
expectations are funny, aren't they? we are supposed to have them for ourselves. and to a certain extent we can have them for our spouse, our family or friends...but for the most part we need to let others govern their own lives and not dictate or judge how they live life.
that is what's difficult for me in my attempt to be more purposeful. i can only control my actions.
example. i can make and give the kids a new list of chores and a more structured schedule, right? that's me being purposeful. i can try to enforce the newly established structure. that's purposeful too.
but here's the trick, they are going to fight me on it. they are going to complain. i will have to remind them over and over and over to do what i asked them to do.
and then the purposeful feelings i once had start to leave. my expectations for my kids to follow my schedule are being shredded. and then i feel defeated.
does this make sense?
but in reality, i shouldn't let it get me down. my kids are just like other kids. they don't like cleaning. hey, neither do i! i shouldn't let my expectations for them or my attempt at trying to get life on the right path, lead me to believe that i've failed or that i'm being defeated when i have to persuade the kids to do what i've asked them to do. they are still good kids. i'm still a good mom. i can still find purpose in frustrating moments.
i don't have to let my expectations for others distract me from how good they really are or what they actually do accomplish. 
i'm sort of babbling.
i'm just feeling stuck.
i'm struggling.
while i've been working through all these feelings of expectations and purpose, i've been talking to my mom. bless her ever helpful, loving and kind heart.
here's a little background: mom had six kids. i am the oldest. she homeschooled all of us. she ran a daycare at the same time for a few years. she took care of my handicapped aunt who lived with us for my entire growing up years. she was also president of every church organization that women run in the church. sometimes twice. and now she lives in the basement of her own home so that my aging grandparents and handicapped aunt can live upstairs.
she's done a lot in life. and her expectations for herself have always been bigger than just accomplishing those other million things she had going on at the time.
this is where i come from.
but she said something to me last night that made me think. it was something she had to teach herself. she said, "Relaxing the standard isn't slacking." 
in my mind the music started playing and the sun suddenly appeared!
it makes me tear up to even think that by giving myself some slack, by allowing myself some room to not be perfect, and to not be so upset when others aren't perfect, i'm not failing. my family isn't failing.
see, the thing is i know that already. i preach it to everyone. i'm the first to tell everyone that they need to give themselves a break.
i just can't seem to give myself one. or my family one. because after all, i'm running the family (mostly) and if i'm failing, they are too.
but i need to relax the standard. that's exactly what i needed to hear.
i will have expectations for myself. i will continue to be purposeful. but i will not set the standard so high. i will allow room to grow one step at a time. i will allow myself to not be perfect. i will allow the same for my family. i will allow myself to be the real person i've always tried to be. mistakes will happen. new beginnings will occur over and over and over.
and i will try to remind myself that i'm okay.

this video reminded me that expectations are good. of course, they need to be based on reality too.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

my heart oozes love for these folks

my brother in law, aaron, took some family pictures for us back in september. i posted a few on instagram but completely neglected to post any on this little blog. i love, love, love these pictures of my kiddos. they are beautiful, aren't they? and they are mine! crazy. all three kids are looking too old. when in the world did that happen? it's fun and exciting and completely terrifying all at the same time. sometimes i look at olivia and izzy and my mind jumps into the future where they are sixteen and twelve. what am i going to do with two girls at those ages? seriously, tell me because i have no idea. 
but i'm getting distracted here...
wait, let me add a disclaimer and then we'll move on...
i had just had my stupid iud surgery and still wasn't feeling good but i wanted to get the pictures taken before the weather started to turn ugly. so i'm not wearing what i wanted to wear and color is missing from my already normally pale face. oh, and my necklace broke but i didn't realize that until after the pictures were over. i'm sure a little photoshop can help with all these problems but you're getting the real deal today.
okay, moving on...
these pictures bring me joy. truly. i love those four people i live with more than anything.

these last two i just grabbed from my instagram account...hence the black border. my apologies. oh, and thankfully this is the one family pic where izzy's shoulder is hiding the broken necklace.

aaron has a photography page on facebook if you want to check it out. just go here
i'm hoping we can book him again very soon!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

christmas twenty twelve

i found a lot of joy in christmas this year. i usually do, don't get me wrong, but this year i really felt organized and enjoyed moments about christmas that i seemed to have ignored in previous years. 
i tried to slow myself down and take on little projects that i've been meaning to do. i'm in a crafty sort of mood lately and christmas is the perfect time to put those skills to use, right? i made my own wrapping paper. i loved it! it became my favorite part of preparing for christmas. i posted pics in the previous christmas post. i also made sugar cookies with the kids. i'm not awesome at sharing kitchen space...i definitely need to work on not being such a kitchen hog...but it was a lot of fun. 
also, you know those times when you see something that you could either make or buy for someone and they'll just love it because it has their name written in BIG letters all over it and it's screaming at you to pick it up and buy it already? i felt like that was the majority of my gift buying experiences this year. that hardly ever happens to me! but i would love it if it would keep happening, that's for sure! i'm still just so happy thinking back on all those experiences.

we spent the weekend before christmas down in southern utah with mark's family. everyone was there this year and it was a lot of fun! mark's mom requested that we have a nativity put on by the grandkids and then a family talent show. both were a hit! everyone participated by either singing songs, playing the guitar or reading christmas stories aloud. 
we were also able to meet up with some friends we haven't seen in a long time. definitely a highlight! they just need to be my neighbors already! this long distance thing isn't working out for me very well. but i am grateful to have such wonderful people in my life!
you can't see izzy's wings but she was thrilled to be an angel. also, i may or may not have stolen some of my mother in law's handmade decorations off of her tree before we left. i was dying over them. and how awesome is her peacock on top of the tree?!
the girl's baby dolls from grandma janie
christmas eve was pretty low key. we ran some last minute errands, went out to dinner (a tradition) and then watched 'elf' while we played a game. 
and then life became interesting.
mark woke up at 3am with the stomach flu. poor guy was miserable and didn't sleep a wink. when the kids woke up at 8:30am (i love that they sleep in!), he made an effort to join us for stockings and presents but spent most of the day in bed. i felt so bad for him. 
in the afternoon i went to my parent's house alone to talk to my missionary brother who was calling home. i love that boy. like a lot. he's doing such a great job and it was awesome to hear his voice for awhile.
i then went home with presents for mark to open from my family, watched him open those and then the kids and i returned to my folk's house for dinner and more presents. we missed mark all evening. anyone who knows him knows that he adds so much fun to gatherings like that and he was missed, that bearded man of mine.
but it was still a good night and the kids loved every minute of it! 

most of the grandkids. my mom put together bags for each kid and put their wrapped presents in the bag. after the kids had opened everything, we just gathered up their stuff and stuck it bag in the bag with their name on it. it was perfect! mom is a genius!
after christmas olivia and i ended up with mark's flu as well. oh, and so did a lot of my family and mark's family and some of our friends. it was spreading like wildfire last week! i'm very grateful it's all over now. 
despite the sickness, we had a great holiday! really, it was one that won't be forgotten.
thank you, christmas of twenty twelve, you brought us good memories!

Friday, January 04, 2013

becoming purposeful

this is how i documented my 33rd birthday. it was as low key as this picture seems. but that is a post for another day.

i'm doing things a little out of order here. let's talk about the new year before i post the christmas pictures. i've been giving the idea of traditional new year's resolutions a lot of thought lately. 
here's what i decided - i don't like new year's resolutions.
they bug me. 
exercise more. vague. 
be a better person. even more vague.
what i do like about a new year is the symbol of starting something fresh. obviously we can grow and change and start over throughout the year as well but the new year is good place for some of these changes to begin. a new year brings hope. 
so with that in mind, i've thought about who i hope to become this year and throughout the rest of my life.

one word keeps popping into my head - purposeful

i want my intentions and motives to be purposeful.
remember this post? yeah, it's been on my mind for a while.
i can stay busy all day. do ya feel me, moms? we can pick up a room ten times, do the dishes three times and run all sorts of errands all day long. is there a useful purpose behind those things? sure. 
but what about the rest of life?
 my kids need loving attention, friends need uplifting and laughter, small moments are being missed out on. 
so it's gonna be okay if i only pick up the room half the time in exchange for a more purposeful action. now i realize there are some days that go better than others. sometimes all i do is try to survive the day. but even in those moments when it seems rough and the kids won't stop complaining, i want my reactions to be purposeful. i don't want to just yell because i've had enough. i want to react in a useful manner and in a way i would want to be treated. 
yep, purposeful is the word i will carry with me this year.  
it is a motivating, life improving resolution for me.
my intentions and actions toward my family, friends, my church calling and my testimony, my daily tasks, my hobbies and my body will be purposeful or it will not take up space in my life.
this word is already calling me to action. 
to be honest, i tried out this purposeful thinking in preparing for christmas and i feel like it was one of the most enjoyable holidays we've had.
so i'm on board! i'm convinced this will be good for me.
here's to 2013 being purposeful!

spiritual enlightenment that has helped me with this purposeful stuff: click here