6.15.2017

Routine

Life is normal now. As normal as can be with two under two. Which is... Well, it depends on the day. Sometimes it's pretty normal. Other days I want to pull out my own teeth! Super! 

First item of business today, testing out my webcam. Because it's a new one, got it yesterday, and I'm starting work next week. Which is a whole 'nother kind of "normal." The kind of normal you need to brace yourself for, by hanging black out curtains in the nursery to hopefully get your babes to sleep longer, and the kind of normal you DON'T brace yourself for because you want to take advantage of staying up as late as you can for as long as you can. When you work at 4am, you can't stay up late anymore. Or you can, but then you look like death in the morning.

Webcam works. And this is my blogging room/office. And Joe's office. Hah. Blogging room. As if I blog.


Oh the babies are asleep. I think one of them is sick. That's why I'm blogging. TIME FOR IT.

The last month.

The last two months?

Bought a house, had my in laws in town for a week, had my mom in town for two weeks, had a baby, had my mother in law in town for a week, had husband off work for two weeks, visited Utah for a week...

It was a lot. It was a lot of not routine. And now we're getting back to it.

But that two weeks of husband off were pretty swell. Preettttty swell.

First, the basis. He gets two weeks of paid leave for vacation time. Which is really hard on me. I joke that as a teacher, you get paid in vacation time. And working for VIPKid I get all the time I want. So when we're put on a constraint like TWO WEEKS it really freaks you out. Don't even get me started on next year when we're hitting up the big H. As in Hawaii. Without kids. Whatever.

But Joe's work threw us a bone in the form of two weeks paternity leave. Didn't get that with child #1! It almost makes it worth it to have kids... almost ;) WINK WINK WINK.

Wait. Don't read into that. I'm not pregnant. I'm joking about having kids being worth it, because of course it is. But two weeks makes it extra super.

So we crammed those two weeks full of as much as possible.

Part of which was a lot of cleaning and finishing the last touches of unpacking. Which Joe was less than thrilled about. It's a rough thing when you learn that your wife cleans the house, YES, every DAY! Because she's a little obsessive about crumbs on the floor and the toddler is a little obsessive about leaving crumbs on the floor. It's his primary hobby.

But we also hit up Tucson. We're not in a hurry to live there... Though the mountains were nice.

Speaking of mountains. I was going on and on, on the drive to Tucson, about the mountains. Joe at one point laughed and said they weren't mountains, they were glorified hills. Sure.... but there WAS a respectable mountain in Tucson. Anyway.

Also hit up Utah, and when you see the mountains in Utah, you realize where "glorified hills" comes from. Living in AZ has me saying a lot of AZ things like "Wow, look at those mountains!" and "It's so green here!" and "Rain would feel really nice." and "Only 95? It's a beautiful day!" and "Three whole pine trees? This feels like the mountains!"

We used to joke, as kids, because my grandparents would talk like that a lot, and we thought it was old-people talk. Nope. It's AZ living talk.

K. Hit up Tucson for the LDS Tucson Temple Open House. It was gorgeous. It's a very unique building! A very beautiful one. The grounds were desert landscaped, which we noticed was a trend through Tucson. In Gilbert, people seem to try to forget that we live in the desert.

Huh.

Oh, hit up the Grand Canyon.


Yes, little one #2 is wearing clothes. Just not a lot, because we were wrapped together the whole time and it got hot. And never mind our weird squinty "Where do I look" eyes because the sun was everywhere. I cannot emphasize how much sun there was.

Joe: "Lara, have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?"
Me: "I think so, but not since I was really young."
Joe: "Then you must have been M's age, because you'd remember it if you were older."

Oh. 

That there is a joke about my memory skills that are slightly alarming. 

We'll talk about that later, but it involves the unfolding tale of me realizing I remember things back to 1 year old, vividly, and my mom saying that maybe that means I've got some kind of social disorder or something.

We'll talk about that later.

But the Grand Canyon. You get there, you park or ride the bus or however you get there, and you'll probably hit up the visitor center first, it's only smart. And there you'll see that there's a 5 min walk to the nearest lookout, so that's what you'll do.

5 minutes later, you'll be there, you'll see this big ol hole in the earth, and you'll realize what the big deal about the Grand Canyon is.

Guys.

It's a freaking huge hole in the earth. It's mind blowing. It's fascinating. It's hypnotizing.

And then you'll say "Ok swell, we've seen the Grand Canyon!"

But since you decided at 7pm the night before to drive up there, you decide to make a day of it and hit up all the stops at this big ol canyon, not expecting much.

But oh there is much to see.

It's interesting how interesting a big ol hole in the ground can be from every angle.

Reminds me of a quote.

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.

Funny quote of the Grand Canyon.... But I don't like baseball. That can't be emphasized enough. Though I do enjoy sitting in a baseball stadium if it means there's interesting smelling food, interesting looking people, and the promise of fireworks.

Well.

This has been all very rambly. And has had very little to do with routine.

But I did say I'd blog, didn't I? So here you go. Me. Or you... Or whoever this promise was made to.

Martha Stewart, signing out.

OHANDPSWEHITUPUTAHTOOANDI'LLBLOGABOUTTHATLATERBECAUSETHISHASGOTTENLONGANDBORINGANDMYMOMNEEDSTOSENDMEPICSBECAUSEIFORGOTTOBRINGMYCAMERAANDI'MHAVINGAHARDTIMENOTPRESSINGTHESPACEBARWHILETYPINGALLTHIS.

5.19.2017

A Birth Story For The Newest

Well well well, what have we here.

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to staaaart FOCUS.

Ok.

Late summer, I was hit with the overwhelming panic that I was pregnant. I wasn't pregnant though. It was impossible for me to be pregnant when I thought I was, far too early. But still, I bought a lot of tests, wasted a lot of money, did a lot of googling, panicked a lot. I finally reassured my brain that it was just random panic, that I wasn't really pregnant, that I could calm down.

Until two weeks later I WAS pregnant. I cried a lot. I was really scared, I won't lie. I'm a planner, as I've been saying a lot lately, and this was definitely a big change in plans. Our town home was too small, the Lion was too young, and I was NOT mentally ready.

But 40 weeks and 4 days is a long time.

The pregnancy was very easy. No sickness. Very little weight gain. My hair grew like a glorious weed. I had a thought about the nature of my child, that he was determined and driven, but that he was also very considerate and sensitive. My gallbladder went on the fritz a couple of times, but since the new one has been born, I haven't had any problems there either. All in all, there were a lot of tender mercies sent my way during a really scary time for me.

Which worked out in our favor, as we had been asked by our landlord if we could possibly be moved out of our apartment on our due date... and we were being asked this just 6-7 weeks before said due date.

So the stress picked up. Lots of prayers asking this baby to stay put were said.

And those prayers were answered. We moved in and unpacked. My mom came to town to help with the oldest and watch him when we would inevitably drive to the hospital. And the baby stayed put.

I became very frustrated when I was checked during a weekly appointment, at 39 weeks, and was told that I had zero progress. I took some deep breaths and resolved to go to the front desk and schedule an appointment for 40 weeks, on my due date, and to, at that appointment, schedule an induction. After all, my mom couldn't stay in town forever. We needed to have an end in sight. Alas, the front desk was unable to fit me back in for another appointment until I was a week over due.

And while those 39 weeks flew by, suddenly time got mixed with a bowl of honey, and things came to a near stand still. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. I just convinced myself that pregnancy was a state of life that I would be stuck in forever. After all, I've spent the majority of the last 2 years pregnant.

But the signs were all there. Every night I'd experience regular contractions. Painful enough to wake me up, but not painful enough to stop me from sleeping. And no closer than 10 minutes apart. This went on for several days. I expressed my exhaustion and frustration to a friend of mine, Amanda, a doula, a saving grace who lived a state a way... (check out her business here, Utah friends. She is incredible.)

Amanda suggested that maybe the baby was posterior. Which explained 100% of what was going on. The oldest child was also posterior, so this made a lot of sense. She sent me some articles with suggestions of how to get the baby to turn. I put said practices to work, and that night was not cursed with the contractions! I slept! Through the night! No contractions! I was relieved, but also a little sad, in a way. The contractions were telling me that I was close. With them gone, I had nothing to tell me an end was in sight.

Until 8pm the next night, the day after I, presumably, turned the baby. 5 minutes apart, going steady. I worked out a lot of pain management techniques on my own, enough to let Joe sleep. I didn't really, at any point, tell Joe what was going on. I didn't want him to get his hopes up and lose sleep if he had to go to work the next morning. So I labored on my own until about 10pm, when I got one blessed hour of sleep in which I dreamed that I sold my soul to the devil for that one hour of sleep. Woke up at 11pm to the contractions coming on strong. I managed the pain on my own again for one hour, as they grew closer together, 3-4 minutes apart. At the one hour mark, I woke up Joe and asked him to help me put the last few things in our hospital bag.

He helped me, or did all of the work as I screamed into a pillow.

"But Lara, are you emotionally prepared for them to send you home if it's not time?"
"They are NOT sending me home. I can't TAKE THIS PAIN. I will tell them I'm almost a week past due and I will throw a fit until they keep me."

Oh, I was GBS positive too, which meant I had to receive two rounds of antibiotics, which would take about 8 hours.

Hah.

I went into my mom's room and told her we'd be going to the hospital and I went into my oldest's room and held a very confused him as I sobbed into his cheek and smothered him with kisses and thanked him for being my first baby, and promised him that he would always have that special place in my heart, that we would always be a team, him and I.

I forgot to mention that during that day, the Lion child was sick with quite a high fever. We battled it with Motrin, but my heart broke, leaving him, worrying about him...

A 25 minute drive to the hospital with Joseph prying my fingernails out of the back of his hand.

We get to the hospital and the nurse tells me she'll check me to see how I'm doing. I was pessimistic.

"I'm famous for not progressing ever... so..."
"You're at a 7!"

And I almost cried. I never expected to hear that. I had the terrible adrenaline shakes and shivers that people don't tell you about, but I assumed it's because by that time, it was 2am, and it was cold for Arizona.

The epidural was heaven send, because at that point, my pain management techniques were failing me in a major way. That epidural was like chocolate to a person that just ran across a dementor. It warmed my very soul. And literally warmed me too, I was a little freezing.

The nurse, bless her heart, started me on the antibiotic drip at around 2:15am and then let me sleep. She'd come in to help me move to a new position every now and then as this poor baby was stressed and his heart rate kept dropping.

A little before 6am, the nurse very briskly started moving around the room, very nervous about baby's heart. She called in another nurse to help try to get his heart rate back up. While the nurse was coming, she checked me again, and I was at a 10, and ready to go. Which explained the baby's stress!

The doctor came into the room and everyone was set. Well...

I was so nervous. I'd been up all night, it was so early, I was exhausted, I was TERRIFIED, and the baby's heart was not handling labor well, to that point. And the antibiotics hadn't had enough time. I didn't really want to talk much, I was mentally preparing myself for a c-section, because I didn't think I had the strength and energy to get the baby here before he became too distressed.

Until about 5 minutes later, after 3 pushes, when my second born child, another son, a beautiful baby boy joined our family at 7lbs, 14oz, 21.5 inches, 6:09am.

And I cried. I didn't cry with the first born. But a hole I didn't know was in my heart was filled in that moment, when I held him for the first time. And we cried together a bit. And I whispered to him how loved he was, how wanted he was, how I would be there for him for the rest of his life, and how we've prepared a spot in our family, just for him.

And now we're a family of four. And our family feels whole.

Welcome to the world, little one.




The kind of person

If, for some reason, this blog says that I'm publishing as Martha Stewart, it's because I am. And when I say that, I mean it's because blogger won't let me log out of my husband's account so unless I want to do some back alley shady browser business to get onto my account (like I had to do yesterday) then I have to use my husband's account. That still doesn't explain WHY his account name is Martha Stewart, but honestly, we can't explain that either. It's a weird thing that happened about 2 years ago to his account and we can't fix it. So. While it may appear that Martha Stewart is writing my blog posts, just know, it's actually me, Lara. I can see how you'd get confused, we have a lot of letters in common, we both are great around the house, and we are big into ankle jewelry.

That last bit is a lie. I hate ankle jewelry.

Well, before his younger brother makes a debut on the blog in the form of a birth story, I wanted to pay tribute to the oldest, the Lion as I call him.

And the kind of person he is.

He is the kind of person who will hysterically laugh at your foot tapping on the floor until he falls over backwards.

He is the kind of person who will wake up from your tandem nap earlier than you, sneak away, and find something to stuff in your mouth while you are still sleeping. Yesterday it was actually food, which could be a good or a bad thing.

He is the kind of person who is "aggressively friendly" as we call it, who will get up in your BUSINESS in the name of friendship. He is still learning about personal space.

He is the kind of person who will hear a kid crying across the room, or across the grocery store, and start shouting some kind of nonsense at them. Not sure if it's reassuring or threatening. It depends on the day, maybe.

He is the kind of person who will bargain with you to get what he wants. And gosh darn it, he's got puppy eyes, and we have a real hard time not giving in. I've got a heart of coal though. So the kid is out of luck.

He is the kind of person who wakes up in the morning and walks around the house singing. Joseph will walk around the house humming when he is happy, that is one of my favorite traits. You can tell Joseph is happy when he's humming. It would seem that his son is taking after him.


He is the kind of person who will stubbornly help you. Try sweeping with him. He will find something in the house that resembles a broom and neatly disperse your dirt pile back all over the house before you can get to a dust pan.

He is the kind of person who will open his mouth when you throw water in his face to wash him off. 

He is the kind of person who doesn't even have to LOOK at spinach to know he doesn't like it, and pick it up off his plate to drop it on the floor. He seriously doesn't even look at it.

He is the kind of person who loves the hug game, where I sit on one side of the room, and Joseph sits on the other side, and he just runs back and forth between us and our open arms, giggling and hugging.

He is the kind of person who had every right to be terrified and perhaps hurt and angry over welcoming a new brother into his family, after all, he had been the total center of our lives, the center of everyone's attention for his entire life, and suddenly the spotlight changed. But instead he took to his brother, gently touching his hair, nose, hands and feet, giggling and staring with big eyes, loving immediately. 

He is the kind of person who has taught me more about myself and unconditional love over the last 16 months. And I adore the living daylights out of him. 

5.18.2017

A Woman of Her Word

Pretty sure I promised you guys a blog post in May.

And guess what.

It's May.

Wow ok so. A lot has happened. I'm actually interested in getting back into blogging, but more on that later. Maybe in this post or another one in the future. Either way... I want to write more, and this is where I can do that. Because I could fill up books and books of Moleskin journals with all the writing I want to do, but that would hurt my hand. And I'd run out of pens. And journals.

Well.

How do I want to go about this. I could make this an essay post? Or I could write just a LOT in this post. Let's just see where this takes us.

We'll start with the easy.

We bought a house.

It all started at the beginning of this year, as the clock struck midnight, and we wrote a resolution to buy a house this year. There were a lot of reasons behind that decision, we needed more space, we were tired of renting, we wanted a new adventure.... A few months passed. More like a few weeks. We signed a contract on our rental town home one more time, with the end date being September 2017. We'd look on Zillow for fun, we learned different things about buying houses...

Until Joe's work implemented a policy stating that remote work was no longer an option. This was a bummer for us, but imagine the bummer it was for our landlord, who worked for the same company, but lived in Colorado. He was given a few weeks, and was asked to come back to the state. Of course he wanted his home back! So he asked us to think about moving out, if we could. He knew we were buying a house anyways, and just asked if we could move up the timeline.

We did.

A lot.

Found a realtor, a mortgage company, a house, put in an offer, went through a nightmare of negotiations but a daydream of financial windfall and enormous blessings, closed, cleaned, and moved all within the space of 6 weeks.


We became first time home owners the day before Joseph turned 28. Happy Birthday, Joseph dear. 

We moved in on Joseph's birthday! A busy and exhausting day. Furthered by the fact that...

Number two big update, it was a week before my due date.

Ah. 

I never did tell you.



Well, yes. Late summer I was met with a whirlwind of emotions and two pink lines on a test. No one really talks about what you go through, emotionally, with a surprise pregnancy. Especially when your oldest isn't even a year old yet, and the surprise definitely wasn't in your plans. I don't think this post is the place to dive in deep on that. But maybe another time.

But the last year brought a lot of growth. A lot of surrender, in a lot of ways. A lot of prayer and reliance on a plan that had to be greater than my own, it was the main way I could stay positive. That had to be certain. A lot of conversation with an unborn child, trying to learn about who he was, what he was like, what his nature would be. 

So we moved, when I was 39 weeks pregnant, and the baby boy stayed put for another 11 days, making a very abrupt arrival. But his arrival deserves a post of its own, so stay tuned for that.

I did say I wanted to blog more, right?

Well.

We live in a new area. We're still in Arizona, but it seems like a different world. Rabbits and road runners run across our front yard. We HAVE a yard. We have rose bushes and fruit trees and all sorts of everything! There's parks and ponds and pools and parties. We live a 5 minute walk from the park.

And oh this walk. 



Down a pathway lined with flowers and trees. It's a little too perfect, a little surreal. 

Life has taken a lot of uh. Analysis lately. A lot of change came about in a short amount of time. Joseph hit his 2 year work anniversary today, and I was surprised that it had already been so long, but surprised that it had only been 2 years as well. 

In those two years we've moved to a new state, brought two boys into the world, bought a house, I started a new job.... With the majority of all of that happening in the last 9 months. 

With all that change, it's easy to lose who you are. You become so busy DOING that you forget maybe why you are doing things. I've had many conversations with myself, figuring out who I was and what I wanted.

Thank you Kon Marie for helping with that!

I cut things that didn't bring joy, and welcomed the empty space to fill it with joy that was purely choice, not mandatory. 

Things that bring me JOY (in no particular order)

My husband, my sweet Joe.
My two boys.
My job (just teaching in general).
My beliefs. 
My family
Yoga
Writing
Being outside
Gardening
Tidying

That list is not comprehensive of what brings me joy, but things up there are things I'm using to fill my time. 

So here is the New World Adventure. ALL INCLUSIVE. Is that what I mean? Nothing barred, it's all on the table. You know all my big secrets! I'm looking forward to exploring through writing again, to making it a part of my life and a way to meditate. It will be interesting! All that change I talked about, there's a lot to catch you up on, a lot for me to learn more about as I write.

So let's see where this takes us.


Post Script:

Joseph will appear in pictures, I swear hahaha. The boys' Oma (my mama!) has been in town and her camera has gotten a lot of use, mostly when Joe was at work. But maybe a dAtE nItE post will be making an appearance on a blog near you! A BLOG SO CLOSE IT'S THE ONE YOU'RE READING RIGHT NOW.


1.10.2017

The Recent

Goodness. It's been a month or six....

The babe is asleep in my lap and if I move, he wakes up. Battery is low... let's see if we can get this done before "the end."

I don't even know where to start! I guess if you want to know all of the last 6 months, ask me, and I'll tell you. Maybe you'll even get some little sneak peeks here and there around my blog. I've been MIA around here. Writing a blog regularly was starting to become a chore and as part of a minimalist lifestyle, I didn't want to do something that wasn't a need if it didn't bring me joy. And speaking of a minimalist lifestyle, most everything I do these days brings me some amount of joy, so that's pretty swell.

Hm. But there were vacations, sicknesses, new lives and lives lost, hard times and high times, family visiting us and visiting our families ourselves.

It's been busy.

To say the least.

But I thought I'd do an update as of late!

Recently!

Our baby boy turned one year old. He's not much of a baby. He learned how to walk around the time my blog dropped off the face of the earth. He now runs and plays with his bike and laughs and is a regular toddler. We still like him. We'll keep him.

I got a job! I work for VIPKid now. They're an organization that contracts adults in the US to teach children in China how to speak English. For more info, check out this link! It's my first post-graduation job, and the pay is pretty decent. It's pennies on the dollar in comparison to Joe's full time job, but were I to do this full time, I'd be making near what teachers in Utah make full time.

For a rundown of my day, of late...

4:00am- Wake up
4:10am- No really, wake up
4:12am- Put on a bit of makeup so the webcam doesn't make me look dead or asleep.
4:14am- Put on orange shirt (uniform for VIPKid)
4:15am- Get a granola bar or pretzels
4:20am- Look over lessons for the day
4:30am-6:30am- Teach 4 tutoring sessions.
6:30am - Clean up "office." Some day we'll have space for a real office, and the daily set up and take down won't be needed. But I've got a snazzy system down now.
6:45am - Watch Netflix and attempt to sleep again.
8:00am- The babe wakes up and comes and sits with me while we play with quiet toys or read books as he struggles out of sleep. Somehow an hour goes by in this time. Sometimes I'll get messages from graphic design clients around now, and I'll work in my schedule to get the day set up.
9:00am - 30 minutes of yoga. I'm working through Yoga with Adriene, doing the Yoga Revolution series. I adore it. It's progressive, and it's exactly what my body and mind needs right now.
9:45am- Clean up yoga stuff
10:00am- Clean the house and get breakfast going for the little lion child. His favorite is chocolate... but uh what? No I never give him chocolate for breakfast! What! Crazy... hah...
10:30am- Shower and get ready, as well as shower the little one and get him ready. This is a process. So usually around...
12:00pm- We're finally ready to face the world. Now is when client work gets done, lesson prep for the following day, grocery errands get run, appointments are made, and laundry is done. Sometimes we go to the park! I'm not going to lie. Sometimes we watch a lot of Netflix and take naps.
5:30pm- The dad of the house comes home, and the little lion child promptly releases his hold on me and leaches onto his dad for the rest of the evening. Poor Joseph. Works all day, and works all night.
Now we get to cook dinner together.
Now we get to wrestle food down the lion's throat, and wrestle the food off the floor.
Now we get to wrestle him into the bath.
Now we get to relax for a few fleeting seconds.
Now we get to prepare food for the next day.
Now we get to laugh.
Now we get to engage in deep conversation. Or laugh at the makeup of the weather girl.
Now we get to brush our teeth and hair and rest our bones and sleep before the day wakes us up again.

I've never been so busy. Something about waking up at 4am makes you feel like you can't waste your day, so you do a lot more. I've also never felt so fulfilled and optimistic. I never realized how much I missed teaching until I started this job, and now there's a fire put back into me that was just getting by before. I love that I can still work in graphic design, I can still be there for every moment with the kid, and I still get to be with my Joe. I'm not at a point where I'm ready to return to a traditional classroom, though I miss it too. This has just been everything I've wanted.

Vulnerability...

This last year was hard. 2016 sucked and all that ya ya ya... but some personal challenges came into my life which I struggled with far more than I ever thought I would. I was feeling the "me" parts of me being taken away, and I didn't have the passion or energy to fight for them anymore. Perhaps I'll talk more about those challenges later, but it was rough. I don't think I ever fully sank into depression, and the lowest points never were as low as my all time lowest points. But it was hard. I set goals, I made promises to myself that I wouldn't let myself go, I would maintain who I was, I would maintain my passions, yet I did not. You know how easy it is to wake up and say "Today we just won't... today is hard. I'm allowed to not do anything, today is hard. I've done enough already, I've given enough, I don't want to do anymore." For a while there, that mindset became daily.

And I don't know what it is about these last two weeks. Maybe I'm still running on a post-vacation high. Maybe it's the new year and feel of a fresh start. Maybe it's the job... I don't know. But now I have that gusto back again.

And it's not without sacrifices.

I would be remiss if I didn't give honorable mention to my wonderful husband, Joseph. Joseph works so hard to provide for our family. He works long hours. My heart shattered this week, on our baby's birthday, while watching videos of him through the year and hearing Joseph say "Some day in Heaven I want to watch him grow up like you did." People give dads a hard time lately. Moms have it hard, moms deserve a break, but going to work for 8+ hrs a day is no break. And still, Joseph comes home and runs to his boy and says in the voice I will always remember "Heyyyyy! Look at you!" He helps me make dinner. He cleans the lion up after dinner. While I set up my "office" at night, he reads the lion stories and puts him in pajamas. Between 4:30-6:30am, he's the one to hold the lion if he cries, despite the fact that there will be no time for him to nap during the day. And if ever I say I'm thirsty, he gets me a glass of water. He's always there to serve me, and he's stood by me in helping me chase my dream of teaching. Yes, I bring home money, but the added things asked of Joseph during this time deserve far more pay than the money coming it. But he does it because he sees the excitement it gives me, and because it is something I love to do. I've been overwhelmed with gratitude towards him in the past few weeks.

Well.

That took a direction.

Of sorts.

I don't know when I'll blog again. Probably... before May... or around May... maybe. We'll see. Big things are happening in our lives this year, big things! Some known, some unknown. The new year has that buzz about itself saying "This will be eventful. Pay attention or you'll miss it." So far, it is off to a great start!

7.25.2016

The one that I tried to keep light but some heavy stuff snuck in (THE STRING PROJECT)

I'm gonna try to keep it light because this blog seems really heavy sometimes. But I'll keep it light for the first bit.

Life has been pretty nuts. I haven't been HOME home in ummmm a month. We spent the last week of June with my family in Utah, came home for a week-ish, went to Utah again for Joe's brother's wedding, came back to house sit for a while. I still make it home every day, to make sure the candles and paint and electronics aren't physically melting in this heat. But it's just not the same. That's ok though. We're coming to the end of the craziness here.

Life with the kid is pretty neat too. He's 6 months old. He crawls. He yells at me. He laughs a lot. He stands. He grows much too fast.

Life with the husband is wonderful as usual. He's 327 months old. He walks. He doesn't yell at me. He laughs a lot. He stands. He doesn't grow anymore physically because his growth plates have closed but he grows emotionally and mentally and spiritually.

Oh it's my birthday this week? So now when I tell people I'm 24, I won't be lying! (Note: I've only been saying I'm 24 for the last few weeks. I'm a rounder. I round. Makes life more spicy.) The spoils for my birthday have been spoiled already, with a sewing machine from my mother that I use to make dresses that make me look like a hospital patient (because I'm not great) and dozens of pillow cases. You can just let your mind imagine what I'd do with that many pillow cases. And the other spoil is yoga gear that my Joe needed me to pick out so I wouldn't raise eyebrows at him when he presented it to me.

I've been seriously kicking my butt with yoga and kicking yoga's butt with me. It's an every day thing. It makes me feel alive and wonderful. It gives me the connection I need. I'm ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE NOW where people are all "Oh I have this problem" and I'm all "OH YOGA FIXES THAT ASAP."

So I fill my days with yoga... having a kid that likes to yell means I'm interrupted a lot, and I read books to him and play with him until he's fine with me leaving him alone for another 5 minutes. So while normal people can do the routines I like in an hour, takes me about 3. I don't mind. I love it.

I fill my days with website testing, where I go on this website and they have me record myself saying "Oh uh yes this head bar is really uh... striking. And I like the... intuitiveness of the... intuition... buttons." But I make pretty good money doing it. I mean.... as much as a baby sitter would make. But I don't have to actually baby sit anyone besides the baby that lives in my house already! Score.

I miss teaching. Oh so much. I don't think a day goes by where I don't think of it. I feel blessed to have found my passion in life as fast as I did but it makes it hard to miss. What's that saying... "How lucky I am to have someone that makes missing them so hard..." Except replace those human words with like.... teaching word things.

That sentence there is a prime example of what makes me a fantastic educator!

And now for the deep stuff.

This week has been hard. I do a good job of keeping the hard stuff to myself. I think it's the lack of home-ness? Part of it is that my home is tidied and in tip-top-spark-joy fashion and being away from that for extended periods of time causes me to lose things and feel out of place. That doesn't make me boring. I think it's good for a person to have found a place of tranquility, and even better if that place is their own home. So it's fine for me to miss it. Do I love travel and visiting and such? Oh so much yes. But yeah, I miss my own home, and it brings challenges.

Also maybe it's the time of year? The extreme heat that drives me to clothes that aren't my comfort zone (sweaters and long pants for life... that doesn't make sense for a desert girl but then again I don't make sense, pretty much ever, so c'est la vie, which is pronounced Say - lah- vee- and not pronounced phonetically, which I learned recently.) Because this time last year was hard too. So here I am again.

But I've become much more disciplined. The hard times I just take rather than panicking over and worrying about. I know they come and I let them hit me and pass. I don't enjoy the hit but I let it pass.

Anyways what am I talking about.

Let me preface by saying that I appreciate my friends and family and well wishers so much. And when you say things like "You don't need to worry about that, you look great!" I really appreciate it. I know you mean it and I know it comes from your heart.

But I deal with body dysmorphia. That means essentially that whatever it is you see, I don't. Maybe my eyes are broken or something but I truly see someone different in the mirror.

Yoga has been a passion of mine because after my first month of doing it, I think I saw the real me for the first time since I can recall. That was wonderful. It didn't last forever, but I remember that. And things have been much better since doing yoga, in general.

And yet those hard times I talk about still come. And I don't let them totally consume me but they do hit me. And I look in the mirror and think about throwing out all of my clothes because who am I kidding, they don't fit, they make me look like a sausage in casing and blah blah blah.

Melece, my dearest friend, has gotten the brunt of my venting. I feel bad about it but I think it may be because she doesn't think it's the end of the world for me when I do come to her with my challenges. So she gave me homework last night.

"Take a roll of string, and think about how big you are in the place you think you are biggest. Take that roll and cut the string to the circumference of what you think the biggest part of you is. And then actually hold the string around you, to see what you really are."

Well, essentially that. Sorry if I slaughtered your words, Melece! I didn't go for the biggest part of me, but I went for where I was bothered at the moment.

It took me a while. To estimate what the circumference of "where I was bothered" was. (So many "w" words there.)

I wanted to be honest. In the moment I was struggling, but whenever I held out the string my mind kept saying "No, that's too big. Be honest. Be honest with how you feel right now. Don't be excessively mean right now, because you will know that you weren't being honest."

And yet I wondered what would happen if I estimated myself too small. I think that would be even worse. I think that would have ruined me. So I sat there for a good long while, holding up different lengths of the string until I came to something I thought was accurate.

*Snip*

And I held it around me.

And I took the ball of string and wrapped it around me once and cut the string to compare what I thought I was with what the reality was.

There was a marked difference.

And as Melece said "You will see that you tend to be mean to yourself."

I held the strings in my hand for a while, and stared at the difference, then wrapped them into loops and put them in my wallet as a reminder that I'm better than I think.

I stared at the strings though, for a good long while. And I thought about how I treat myself vs how I deserve to be treated. You always see those things that say "Find a man or friend or something like that who treats you how you deserve to be treated" and honestly that wasn't that hard. I live by the golden rule and people treat me with fairness and kindness, because usually I treat them the same. But I don't apply the same principle to myself. My body has done me so much good and I think of it in such low regard. That's not something I intentionally do. It's not something I can just fix with a flip of a switch. But those two strings helped more than I could have helped myself in that moment.

And then I thought about Melece, and THIS IS WHERE IT'S BOUT TO GET SAPPY Y'ALL but have I ever told you how I met Melece, or most of my dearest friends? It's because once upon a time I sent out letters once a week to some guy and I needed  a support group while I did that for some reason, so I joined one, and met my friends. Sometimes one of them would message me and we'd start talking and become soul sisters, and sometimes I got the guts to message them. But that's what happened and I was lead to people like that. People like Melece, who, in that exact moment of my life knew exactly what to do to help me.

I'm grateful for my family and husband who do that so often, who I met through just being born, or met through a blind date (hint: That one is about my husband)... but those random friends I met on the internet are something unusual, I think. And I'm so grateful for them. Call these things what you will... fate, karma, "the universe", or God (personally, I attribute it to my God), but these were friends I needed for various stages in my life and I believe they were put here for a reason.

So now this got WAY more deep than I intended but there you go. I guess I got bored and needed to write. So.... yes. Ok bye now!


5.25.2016

How To Survive Your First Born

I used to blog like.... every day as a college student! Why was that?! I blogged about the most random stuff in the world, like the in-proportionate ratio of cookie dough to trays of cookies and scooters. I talked more about scooters than the people who make scooters.

And maybe I grew up and lost my sense of humor or maybe I grew up and started caring more what people thought of what I wrote. Oh the joys of childhood, when you knew nobody cared.

Well I want to blog more. I really do. Sometimes I toy with the idea of become blog-famous and then decide not to do that. It's all for you, readers, so that if you say you read TNW, you can be all hip in saying that, because you're literally the only one who does. Keeping my readers fresh and hip.

Today I'm here to talk to you about....



 ... Because if anything makes me an expert on this subject in its entirety, it's the fact that my first born is only 5 months old and I haven't been doing this for that long.

But maybe some of you out there have first borns that are like... a week old. So that makes me something of a bit more experienced. Hah. Who am I kidding. We're all winging it.

Except!

There are a few things I've learned.

*thinking*

There's got to be a few things I've learned....

*thinking*

OH! Like. Ok. So, you know how before I had a baby, I had dreams all the time of walking into our nursery and finding a baby there and realizing I already HAD a baby and I'd just forgotten about him, and he was suddenly very sick and hungry due to me forgetting about him? Well. I've learned that babies cry. If they want your help, they cry. So: Tip: If your baby cries: Figure out why and: Feed/change/play with said baby... and they usually stop crying.

Except for if they're colicky, then you're just out of luck, fellas, sorry about that. I hear like... gas drops help with that but I also heard something about the fourth trimester that NO ONE tells you about so it could be that too.

Something else I've learned. Hmmm... There will come a point when your baby will become very interested in your food. And up to this point, you or your husband may have enjoyed holding baby on your laps during meal time, and that's ok. And it's ok if you want to keep doing that too! But BE AWARE that those babies hands reach further than you expect, and you very well may end up with soup poured all over you. It happens.

Or you may leave your husband at the table at Zupas with your baby and your cup of soda so you can go wash your hands and when you come back, your soda is spilled all over the table and your husband shyly explains that he thought he had a strong enough grip on the cup to keep the kid from ripping it out of his hands, when he was sorely mistaken.

I guess that's pretty much it. In reality I could tell you things like "Get a convertible car seat and skip the baby bucket... baby wearing is funner and it's cheaper to skip the bucket!" or "Get a stroller and go for lots of walks" or "Buy bibs" or "Read lots of books" or "Make funny faces and teach your baby to blow raspberries because it will keep him entertained for life" but really...

Parenting is one of those conundrums. No matter how many advice blogs you read, no matter how many books you read, you're still going to end up with a baby. And it's going to be easier to take care of him/her than you though, in many ways... your instincts will likely kick in and you get to know that tiny human and pick up on their cues pretty quick. And then on the reverse side of it, no amount of book reading will ever prepare you for how little you will sleep or how tired your arms will get or how run down your molars will get as you grit your teeth trying to comfort the baby that is screaming in your ear and confused about the amount of hair you have as he tries to pull it ALL out...

So in reality. I guess just.... do your best. If it's any comfort, people have been doing that for millenia and almost all of humanity has turned out to be pretty normal. I mean... there's a few here and there that you'll notice *cough*2016presidentialelectionbringsoutthewildinpeople*cough* but could anyone have really done anything to stop that? It'll work out guys.

5.24.2016

Things That I Do

What oh what have I been doing.

Hmmmm.

Tsk tsk tsk.

Well, I haven't been blogging, that's for sure.

Other than that, it's hard to say.

I guess it all started around 12 months ago, or so, when I found out I was pregnant. So, for the last 4ish months I've been raising a human. He's at that fun stage of being very very cute. He smiles and laughs and is ticklish and talks and blows raspberries and plays and is very very curious. I'm gradually getting busier and busier with him. Today we drew eyebrows on his face, played with red paint in a bag, and played with a tub of water and got very soaking wet. And then the normal like looking in the mirror (because the kid is VERY conceited) and reading books and stuff. You know. It's pretty great stuff.

Last weekend the mister (as in, B├ęcar) and I went up to the mountains. There's a beautiful place about 2 hours from our home. On the Mongollon Rim. You turn left at the visitor's center and drive down the road about 1.5 miles and there's a small parking lot with 5 stalls and you feel like you're on the top of the world. The rocks are placed so seemingly-intentionally and the world just drops off, almost beneath your feet. And you're on the top of the world. There's a paved path, and we thought it would be fun to go up and walk the path and have a picnic. It was in the high 90s when we left home, and the low 50s when we got there. We were dressed for the high 90s. And let me tell you... low 50s in AZ is like low 10s anywhere else. Never mind the wind that would blow you right off the tops of those perfectly placed rocks if you let them have the chance.

Needless to say, we didn't hike it. But we'd driven 2 hours up there and we had a picnic and we weren't about to give up and go home. So, on the hunt for a new small trail to walk/hike. The hunt lead us to a sign that said "Fish Hatchery, 5mi -->" When you see a sign like that and you have time to spare, you follow it. We ended up, essentially, in the middle of nowhere. A forest, in the desert. And a park, in the forest. With trees and grass and verandas and cabins. And a pool full of fish. A couple of sticks with fishing line, and what must have been crack-for-fish stuck to the hook, and before we knew it, we had two very expensive trout in our buckets. Joe managed to rip the jaw off one of the fish, thus the bucket full of blood. The baby was enthralled. A picnic in the woods and a splash in the river later and we were home. A year in the state already, and there is still much left to discover.

Other things I've been doing: yoga. If you know me, then you're sick of hearing me talk about it, so move along. Or read on, I mean, you're welcome to do so, I won't stop you. But I get all preachy about yoga and that's dull.

Mah BFF got me started doing yoga after I expressed a desire to be a hot mama jamma, yet, because of my "history" I was worried about starting a serious, strenuous work out routine and diet. Thus, daily yoga was born into my life. Every morning I wake up, change and feed the baby, and put him in his play gym while I stretch out a beautiful mat on the floor next to him so he can laugh at me while I do yoga. It doesn't insult me, his laughter, because he laughs at everything. He's got a weird sense of humor. I've been yoga-ing it up every day now for ehhhh almost a month. And it feels fantastic. My abdominal muscles magically vanished post baby (you'd think that the act of HAVING a baby would help you develop muscles but you are wrong there. Very wrong. It's ok. I was very wrong too). But slowly those abdominal muscles are creeping back. My posture is fixed. My headaches are fading. And I'm quite enjoying myself. Mornings no longer are the bane of my existence. It helps, since the young boy-child is a morning person himself, so I'm mimicking him now. The first few days I felt so much stress and frustration in my body just doing a simple downward dog. But now I'm enjoying all of it. The burn in my muscles and bones and skin. It feels less like the fire of death and more like the fire of living. I've found danger in the past in self awareness, but yoga is teaching me a new form of self awareness and it's leading more and more to self acceptance. I've been glad to find something that I like!

Well. Ok so that's all the things I do, lately... besides cooking and cleaning and walking and working and visiting and all those other things. Reading writing so on and so forth... watching. Yeah I watch Netflix. What of it. You know you do it too. It's all good. It's all love. Nothing but love for you all.

Peace -- <3




3.22.2016

That Book About Cleaning Everyone Likes

Alright. Yeah. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna blog about that book.



That book that it seems every mom on the internet has read. Apparently I'm one of them now, I've joined the club.

I'm not ashamed!

I wish I joined sooner.

Let me tell you.... My story. *dim the lights*

It all started when I moved to Arizona. My mom had just read this book. I was talking to her about how I was wanting to get our house unpacked and in order, and she shared a few tips from this book from me.

Mainly.... throw away my stuff.

"But mom, I can't throw away my stuff. I have a lot of stuff I need!"
"Like what?"
"Well... my teaching things... Christmas decorations..."

And then I thought about it. In our house we have three huge walk in closets, a laundry closet, a pantry, and a hallway door closet. Were all of those things truly jam packed with teaching supplies and decorations? Short answer, no. True answer? No. So I started throwing away things based upon my mom's tip of throwing things away. She briefly told me about the "Spark Joy" method, which essentially boils down to... if you don't love something, why do you have it?

I rid myself of many clothes and many boxes of things I knew I would never use. The months passed and still my house was cluttered. I had my excuses. I was busy, I had a baby on the way, I was tired and pregnant, or my favorite "It's not that bad!" I'd justify the mess, I'd get it to livable and then live in it and do nothing about it.

Everything changed one day, a Sunday, when someone noted that their Sabbath day observance was hindered if their home was a mess. I reflected on my life and noticed that if my kitchen, in particular, was a mess, then I couldn't focus. My mind would wander back to that kitchen and stress over the mess I had to clean. So I got to work on getting the kitchen clean. But not always clean. It was a disaster Saturday night, and then 5 minutes before going to bed I would rip my hair out, pretty much, and polish the thing down, only to then return home from church that day and destroy the house once more.

I'm not a clean person, guys, I'm not. I just never really HAD to clean. My mom was a great cleaner. And I didn't have that many things in college, so I didn't end up in a mess.

But that there was the key, I didn't have that many things.

Two weeks ago, I decided to pick up that book. It had been sitting on my bookshelf since Christmas, my mom brought it to me. I picked it up and read it. I had been hit by an urge to clean, and I thought if the book had some tips on how to do it, might as well read it.

The next day, this all happened...




The picture on the left shows the clothes I threw away, the picture on the right, the clothes I kept. Before you get all panicked, I didn't throw them away in the trash. They're sitting in another room in bags, waiting for me to take them to be donated or sold. It's not a waste.

And now, my wardrobe is full of clothes I love. I tried that "spark joy" method. I thought it was nuts at first. But I notice days when I put on clothes just for the sake of needing to wear something, and I notice other days when I put on an outfit that I truly love, first time. The first day described, I find myself throwing outfit after outfit on the ground, trying to find something I actually like, before getting frustrated and giving up. And I haven't done that for a few days now, ever since doing this. Every item of clothing I wear is something I love. Every outfit I don gives me confidence. That is an amazing feeling. 

I still have a lot of cleaning to do, but I've gotten started on the rest of it. I stress... let me tell you my stress.

The first time I cut down a Christmas tree, Joe's family tied it to the top of their car, and Joe and I followed behind them. Joe said "Doesn't the tree look a little sad on top of the car?" and I was ravaged with guilt. That poor tree... cutting it down in its prime, taking it away from its family....

Simply put, in my mind, my things have feelings, and to discard of something, to me, was to tell that item that I didn't love it anymore.

But think about this now. All of my things were sitting in boxes and drawers, the most of which were never seeing the light of day, and the things that were being used were being thrown about with no true home. To give my things a NEW home, they could go to someone who would use them! Maybe not immediately, maybe they'd be sent to the thrift store a few times, but eventually they would find a permanent home. That's better than I could give them. A home where they would be out in the light of day, being valued. 

There were some things about this book that stressed me out. For example, she goes through the process of throwing away books. That is just... nearly blaspheme in my mind. You can't throw away books. You can't donate books. She mentions at one point, something along the lines of "Are you truly happy surrounded by books you've never read?" and in my case, the answer is yes. Yes I am. But the true brilliance of this book is that YOU are the standard of clean. When you start to discard, you throw things away until you are content. And for me, I noticed I had two copies of the full works of Oscar Wilde, and so I discarded one, and I was content. I am happy surrounded by books, and that is ok. Others may see my shelves lined with books and feel uncomfortable, but I do not. 

Now, there are some things I got rid of that were securely fastened to memories. Tiny golden snitches. Wrapping paper. Notes passed in high school. I held onto these things, sure that one day I would pull them out and the memory would flood me. And as I cleaned, the memory did flood me. I thanked the item for the memory it gave me, and I discarded it, while writing down the memory in a journal. Some day will come in which I would pull out those items and be unsure of why I kept them, and the memory would be gone. Writing the memory in a journal allows me to preserve the memory while keeping my space clear and open and fresh and clean. I anticipate those bookshelves full of books will soon be full of journals, and I will need to buy more shelves! But that only means that my dream of a Beauty and the Beast Library is close at hand!

And lastly. 

The part that I thought was the best. 

The author discusses why this is life changing. Let me share with you a quote. 

"The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don't."

I don't know how to explain how, but this book has helped me find peace with where I am at in life right now. It has helped me let go of things, forgive people, and embrace what is most important NOW. It feels great to walk through the store and not be filled with the impulse to buy everything. I brush an object with my finger tips and feel no joy in doing so. Why would I purchase something that does not add joy to my life? This has been particularly useful as we're saving to buy a house! Simplifying has freed my mind of stress, and filled my days with time.

As Marie Kondo boasts, tidying only has to be done once. You simply have to discard what you don't need (or decide what you do love) once, and then find a place for what you have. Now those Saturday nights are no longer full of stress as I frantically clean the kitchen. I'm not done tidying, quite yet, but my house sings of the difference already! The big tasks of cleaning wait for the weekend when Joe is home, and he can help me with the baby (while I've taken a liking to tidying, Isaak has not taken a liking to me not giving him constant doting attention...) but the small tasks each day take little to no time, and I find myself looking forward to them, to returning my items "home" and thanking them for their service. 

I've truly been blessed by this book. I believe even the cleanest person could benefit from reading this book. It's kinda a silly notion, a book on tidying... but truly. The author is very engaging. And the concept is quite fascinating. I give it all the thumbs up that I have. For just about any problem in your life.... struggling with a break up? This book. Unhappy at work? This book. The concepts in it can reach you wherever you stand, and lift you up!




3.01.2016

Things that have made me a bad mom

I HAD ALL THESE PLANS. About what I was gonna do as a mom and what I definitely was NOT going to do as a mom.

And Joe laughs about them because he notices them now. He remembered them. He remembers that I'm giving up on all the plans right away. And *I* am the one with the killer memory, not Joe.

Like... first day of middle school I wore a yellow shirt and tan shorts and had my hair in two side braids and the principal told me my shorts were too short and she was wrong, because they weren't, but she didn't like me. And that's ok, because I didn't like her. That's my memory. Or I remember the exact day Joe and I saw Interstellar... it was Feb 13, 2015.

But Joe is remembering things even I don't remember now and it's giving me a run for my money.

So I was gonna be the perfect mom because to the outside world, my degree in school was "How to mom other people's kids" even though my degree was "How to make kids be brilliant, confident, world changing geniuses." But both of those should mean I'm an excellent mom.

Teaching elementary school is a lot different than momming.

I have read extensive books and research articles on everything under the sun, and if you try to tell me something that isn't true, I will come back at you with "Actually!" followed by a really annoying statistic. Just ask anyone in my family. I am a very fact and research driven person.

And then I put none of it into practice.

So it may have seemed that I would be just MOMMING UP THIS PLACE LIKE CRAZY. But nope. And if some of you wonderful women are feeling like you're not doing great, just look over here. I, who allegedly and self proclaimed-ly knew everything.... I am not perfect.

Because no one is.

And if anyone wants to feel better about themselves. Here are some examples that will make you feel better.

One time I was eating oatmeal and coke for breakfast. Because these days, every morning is an "I need a coke morning" and if that caffeine is getting to the youngling somehow, so be it. And the youngling was screaming and both of my hands were occupied with trying to eat as fast as I could, and I was sitting on our bed and he was laying next to me, so I pulled out a great contortionist trick and held his binky in his mouth with my toes. It was rough.

I was never going to bed share because it is dangerous and SIDS and dependency and bad habits and so on and so forth until one night I was so tired and he wouldn't sleep, so I sat him next to me, and curled up around him trying to get him to be quiet so he wouldn't wake daddy and my next memory was 3 hours later, when we both woke up. And now this happens a few days a week. Oops. Sorry, hospital, who told me to never ever. Sometimes you gotta.

I forgot to feed lil lion before going to the grocery store for 20 minutes, and he wasn't thrilled about that, and was very vocal about disagreeing with my choices, in the form of screaming loudly in my ear. And I just let it happen for the duration of the shopping trip because I was frazzled and had no idea what to do. And someone in the cereal aisle glared at me for treating my child in such a way.

I needed to do the dishes so badly, so I put Bug in his bassinet and closed the door and did the dishes while he cried. And I let him cry. And he will likely resent me for the rest of his life because of that but part of me needed a break for a few minutes and the other part of me needed the dishes done.

Along those same lines. I am a mom but I also keep the house, and in addition to that, my eyes reflexively twitch when the kitchen is messy. But lil Bug doesn't like to be alone. So I put on Gilmore Girls and turn up the volume and put it by his bassinet so he thinks someone is there. That's right. TV is watching my child. Unfortunately he is getting too smart for this so I will have to learn a new trick.

One Joe especially teases me about is this "routine" I definitely was going to have. Some routines are still set and solid, and I'm proud of those. But diaper changing. It was going to be a very strict routine. With the mat on his changing table in his room. He'd get used to diaper changes being in there, every time. And then the first night home.... yeah I wasn't going to get up in the middle of the night to go change his diaper in a different room. I dragged the mat into our room. BUT DURING THE DAY! The changing pad was in HIS room. That was where diaper changes happened! Er... during the day. And by the end of the first week, the changing pad was in our room. And it's been there ever since. I'm not dragging that thing all over. When Bug is old enough for his own room, then it will go back in his room. But today is not that day.

There's lots of other things. Like, feeding things... I've gone back and forth a billion times on a billion different feeding routines and options and methods. All in all, life is very different from what I planned it to be. And that is ok, because life is what is working. My son is just as strong willed as I am, and it's a lot harder to convince a baby to follow your plans than it is just to compromise. And that's what we do. A lot. As parents. We compromise.

Despite things being different than planned...

The youngling is healthy. He is happy. And he is loved.