Sunday, January 30, 2011

Exercise #4: Discovering Unexpected Blessings

Exercise #4: Discovering Unexpected Blessings

Pick one thing in your life to do differently this week.  Maybe it's taking an alternate form of transportation, or trying out that discount store you keep driving past, or experimenting with a new recipe, making something from scratch that you would usually buy "pre-fabbed."  See if there are some unexpected blessings waiting for you when you shake up your life a little. 
This week was supposed to bring us some unexpected blessings, and the thing about unexpected blessings is that they are just that--unexpected.  Blessings you wouldn't have thought you would be getting by changing what you changed. 

Here's Anne's experience:
I have been needing a break from being Mommy 24/7, so I decided this week I'd finally schedule some "Me Time." Porter and I go over to G&G Curry's every week (usually Thursdays but this week it was Wednesday because I wasn't babysitting Reese) and we spend the day watching Port play and chatting. I've never asked them watch Porter without a "good" reason though (like a doctor or dentist appointment) and I felt embarrassed to just say, "Hey, I need to run away for a few hours." I did have some legitimate errands, so after Porter went down for his nap I asked Verna if it would be ok if I headed out to get my ring inspected and shop for a baby shower gift. No problem, of course. So I went to the Masseys Jeweler at the mall and left my ring to get cleaned while I wandered around not really looking at anything. Then I went to the grocery store for a super-duper sale item (which they were out of, of course). Then home to put things in the freezer... Then I decided I may as well vacuum and mop since it's soooo much easier without Porter underfoot. So I ended up just using my two hours doing errands and chores. It was pretty depressing. So I planned to go to a late movie that night after Port went to bed. Only I took too long at Target getting that shower gift beforehand and I got to the theater 10 minutes after the show started... and I really didn't want to sit in the theater alone anyway and not have anyone to discuss it with afterward.

Long story short, I did have Me Time, but it turned out that I used my time a lot differently than I thought I would. At first I was upset that I couldn't even figure out something fun to do by myself, but I shouldn't feel bad if a "break" to me is doing necessary housework unencumbered. It was still a nice change.
So there you go.  It would have been wonderful if Me Time had resulted in feeling free, having a blast, and coming out absolutely refreshed.  (I sure wish for her sake it had been!)  But it didn't.  The unexpected blessing was that Me Time was simply a nice change, being able to do some "necessary housework unencumbered."  And while it wasn't grand, I can imagine it was nice! 

This exercise was a little difficult for me to wrap my head around at first.  I could think of lots of things I wanted to change, but nothing that felt within the realm of possibility with how full my hands have felt with Lily and Max (and Isaiah and Katie, etc.).  Then I lowered my expectations a bit, and started thinking about things I used to do, before I was pregnant with Lily, that have been left behind somewhere.  Maybe instead of doing something completely new, I could do something I used to do and haven't done in a while.  I re-read the exercise, and of course, "experimenting with a new recipe" jumped out at me and then I looked at the dinner menu hanging on the fridge, I gave in to my first thought: I was going to try some new recipes.  It has been almost a full year since I did my last dinner challenge, and in that year we went from having a made-from-scratch dinner five nights a week to Adam cooking at least once and eating out three or four nights a week.  We've been slowly getting back into the routine of cooking (and eating) homemade dinners, but they've been pretty easy favorites, pretty blah.  So this week I made some new things.  Not all of them turned out yummy, but we did find a couple new favorites, so I'm going to share them with you! 

Hold your horses, I know you're anxious (at least I am, trust me these are yummy!), but first let me tell you what my unexpected blessing was this week.  It has to do with my relationship with Adam, and I didn't even realize it until we were talking at dinner tonight.  I cook for Adam.  I always have.  He is the inspiration behind my interest in making our dinners taste good.  Sure, there have been additions to my household, other mouths to feed and please, but his opinion is the one that matters to me.  I was telling him this tonight, and it dawned on me that that was the blessing I received this week: Adam loved the food I made. Well, not all of it, he's a tough critic.  But I did get some high praise from him this week.  And it made me feel pretty good.  Okay, it made me feel about like I did when I received my engraved Valedictorian watch when I graduated from high school: totally awesome.  Successful.  Something I don't feel...almost ever.  And that's an unexpected blessing. 

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Coconut Rice
Special thanks to Kelie Stanclift, who made this for lunch one day and then graciously shared the recipe with me because I loved it so much!
I didn't take this picture...but ours looked like this. 

2 pounds chicken, cut into thin strips
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 tablespoon Curry powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 oz. Fish Sauce (I didn't have this on hand so I left it out)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Mix ingredients together and marinade chicken for at least 1 hour.  Skewer and grill on barbecue.  (I cooked mine on a couple of cookie sheets in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes--watch carefully, though!)

Peanut Sauce:
2 cloves minced Garlic
14 oz. Peanut Butter
12 oz. Soy sauce
8 oz. sugar
1 tablespoon Dry sherry
1 tablespoon chili oil blend
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon Red Curry Paste

Mix ingredients together in blender and heat over medium heat.  (This makes way more than what you need for the above chicken.  I halved it, and still had twice what I needed.  That's okay, it's in the fridge, awaiting our next batch!  You could also buy the peanut sauce premade.  But this recipe was excellent, Adam felt it made the dinner, and it made the house smell wonderful.)

Serve with Coconut Rice:

When cooking the rice substitute half the water with Coconut milk.  (I did this in my rice cooker, so easy peasy!  Next time I might use more coconut milk than water, it was a very mild coconut flavor.)
Chocolate Banana Bread
(found on
1 cup margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
6 bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup lite sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

2.In a large bowl, cream together margarine, sugar and eggs. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking soda and cocoa; mix well. Blend in sour cream and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

I halved this recipe because we only had 4 bananas (I only used 3), but I sure wish I could have made the full recipe.  We are not big banana bread eaters (even cake and cookies often go stale before we eat an entire batch), but this was gone in a couple of hours.  I won't tell you how much of it I ate....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lily - 4 months

four months

12 pounds 6 ounces
24 1/4 inches

Likes: watching big siblings, standing, being held facing out, kicking, bath time, chewing/sucking on hands, being outside, "spider" toy, reaching for and grabbing at things (especially Mom's hair), snuggling after nursing at night, Mom and Dad, peekaboo, singing
Dislikes: being cradled or facing in against someone, anyone other than immediate family members touching or holding, the car seat, swing and bouncer when awake, too much noise
Milestones: chuckling (not outright giggles yet), rolling front to back (only once), moving to own room

Ah, my Lily Girl.  You make me tired.  But, we are all getting a lot more sleep now that you have moved into your own room (and we shuffled the whole rest of the house to make that happen).  You are sleeping 5 hour stretches most nights, sometimes a bit longer even.  I love when you wake up in the morning because you always give me such big gummy grins and kick and wave like my face is the best thing in the world.  I am your favorite thing these days, no one else really gets to hold you much because if anyone gets close you are a basket case.  Except for Dad. You love him, too.  And you are the happiest in my arms with Max, Katie, or Isaiah talking or singing to you.  Max loves to do piggies and patty cake with you, and Katie will sing you whole ballads and play peekaboo with you.  Max is learning to be more careful with you, but he still can't resist sinking his teeth into your plump little feet every now and again.  And he's determined to share his food, blankets, and toys with you, no matter how dangerous. 

I am finding more opportunities to put you down on the floor these days, and that's a good thing since you've started really liking to be down and free, kicking and batting at toys, or just watching the commotion around you.  In fact, the floor is where you like to be best when you aren't in my arms.  You'll tolerate the bouncer for a while, but I think the swing is getting to be a thing of the past.  You are loving the bath more and more but getting out is still terrible.  You still usually hate the car seat, and usually only tolerate it when the car is moving (although occasionally you'll sleep for an hour or less in it after we stop).  You love to hold my finger while you nurse, and squeeze it so tightly.  I love snuggling you to nurse because you really aren't much of a snuggler anymore.  You are getting so grown up, and it is very bittersweet for me.  I love to see you learn new things, and you are becoming more beautiful and fun every day, but I hate to say goodbye to the precious newborn stage.  I love you, Miss Lil, and I hope you'll let me cuddle you for a while still. 

P.S. We got some good pictures yesterday which was a bit of a miracle because after your immunizations when you weren't feeling like this
 you were feeling like this
Unfortunately, today has been worse.  Hopefully you'll get over the yuckies soon...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Never Say Never

I hear moms say it all the time: "I swore I'd never do that once I had kids, but...."  Yeah, once you're a mom, you change your mind about a lot of things you were sure about.  But this becomes even more pronounced the more children you have.  I had a pretty good idea what kind of mom I wanted to be and would be before I had kids, and I pretty much was that kind of mom when I only had one.  And even two.  But it's a whole new ballgame once you have three and four, particularly if you have them close together.  Because even the best intentions cannot make you grow an extra set of hands or add hours to the day, and there are never enough of either to be and do all you intend to.  So things get skipped, or forgotten, or delegated, or just done differently.  For instance,

I Swore I'd Never...
  • Take my kids in public mismatched, in pajamas, without their hair done, dirty, without shoes, or in ratty dress-ups.  But I'm lucky now if one of my children is dressed appropriately, clean, or has their hair done when we go out as a family, and rarely is the same child doing all of the above.  I figure my kids are adorable even looking like little orphans, hopefully people will still see their sparkling personality.  And if not, who really cares about their judgement anyway?
  • Cedar City Christmas Parade, 2009 (Katie hadn't had her hair brushed in a day or two...)
  • Cosleep.  And for the record, I still do not do it intentionally.  But it happens almost nightly that I fall asleep while nursing and wake up hours later with Lily nuzzling me for another early morning snack.  I no longer judge the mother that chooses just to go with what is inevitable anyway.    
    Me and Katie, 2006 (apparently I fell asleep nursing then, too)
  • Neglect my children's nutrition.  But, let's face it, cold cereal is way faster and easier than eggs and whole-wheat waffles with yogurt and fruit, and my kids will eat it without complaint.  And does it really matter if they have pizza for breakfast or string cheese and an apple for lunch?  I do remember to give them vitamins about once a week...
  • Isaiah and Katie, Valentine's 2010 (I just made them eat those lollipops)
  • Ignore safety recommendations.  I hear rumors the AAP is recommending babies stay in back-facing carseats until age 2, but I refuse to look it up or find out for sure because I get excited for when my babies hit their first birthday and 20 pounds and can turn around.  And dropside cribs have all been recalled, but I haven't thrown out the crib that all my babies slept in (I did turn the dropside against the wall, and took off the bumper, despite the fact that my first three all have gotten limbs caught in the bars).  And, shh, I don't buckle Lily every time I put her in the swing.  
  • Lily (unbuckled, despite Max running around "helping") in the bouncer, December 2010
  • Leave the beds unmade.  I almost never make a bed, my own or anyone else's.  It's just not a priority anymore.  It is really sad to me when I look in our bedrooms, but not enough to give up something else to get it done. 
  • Katie's room, June 2009 (I was hard-pressed to find any pics of our beds, I'm pretty good at making sure they aren't in the frame)
  • Let my children play before they work.  After school is prime playtime in our neighborhood, and if I didn't let them play while they have the chance, there would be a revolution.  We still (mostly) get the homework done.  And I still make an effort to teach my kids responsibility through chores around the house, but not at the expense of what I now see as essential play. 
Isaiah, Max, and Katie throwing a birthday party for Giraffe (in their pajamas, no less!), November 2010
What about you?  How have you changed as a mom over time?  What things do you do that you never thought you would?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Exercise #3: Valuing Moms

This week's exercise is special to me because, you see, I have an amazing mother.  I don't give her enough credit, especially considering I have four rug rats of my own that make me crazy, so I'm learning what she went through raising me.  I am far too critical of her and the things she does, and I don't tell her often enough how grateful I am that I have her as my mother. 

Exercise #3: Valuing Moms

Write down five things your mom has done to help you become who you are today.  Share the list with her if possible. 

This is my mom, Linda.  I love how beautiful and happy she looks in this snapshot.

Mom, I hope you doesn't mind me sharing my list here, even though it is more personal than I would normally share on the blog.  I know you will see it here, and it is something I want to have documented.  Also, I am really proud to have you as my mom and now the world can know why!  These are five things that you have done that have made me who I am today. 
  1. Leaving my dad.  Next to conceiving me, this is probably the single biggest factor you controlled in making me who I am today.  It was a very brave thing to do at a very difficult time in your life, but it shaped everything about me and my environment, and I am forever grateful. 
  2. Maintaining a relationship with my step-family.  You gave me a family, relationships beyond what you could provide alone, even when it came at great personal sacrifice. 
  3. You taught me to appreciate the finer things in life.  We didn't have much money, but I always had nice, new clothes at the beginning of the school year, we went on some amazing vacations, and you exposed me to all kinds of cultural opportunities.  You taught me excellent manners (I can't say I've always displayed them...), how to use what I had to it's best advantage, and when to buy the more expensive item that would last longer and be a better value in the long run.  You have taught me the value of beauty and quality.
  4. Believing in me.  I can never once remember you discouraging me from being or doing anything I have aspired to.  From the time I was little I felt like the whole world was open to me, there was nothing out of my reach if I was willing to work for it.  And yet, when I chose not to follow some great career or go on adventures as a young adult, but to marry young and stay at home that was okay because you also taught me the worth of a mother.  You still build me up frequently when I am down by telling me what a good job I am doing (when I clearly feel I am doing anything but a good job), making me more confident as I take on the next challenge. 
  5. You gave me a solid foundation in the gospel.  It is a sacred legacy I am honored to attempt to pass on to my children. 
I am blessed to have such a woman to guide me into adulthood, and still love me even when, at nearly 30, I act like a rebellious teenager.  I love you, Mom! 

Coming next week...Exercise #4: Discovering Unexpected Blessings

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Exercise #2: Forgiving, revisited

Okay, so it didn't take long...

Last night we were getting ready to go to the store, all of us.  I needed to do grocery shopping, and Adam volunteered to come along to make it easier (sweet man!).  Getting ready to go out the door is probably the single most stressful thing that I have to do regularly (the most stressful ever is hosting a party, despite my continuing desires and efforts to keep planning parties anyway).  I hate getting 5 people's shoes, jackets, and paraphanalia together, making sure diapers are changed, babies are fed, and that I have all the details taken care of (shopping lists, return items, mail to drop off, etc.).  It never takes less than 10 minutes, but it easily takes 30 minutes or more to get everyone out the door.  So, say I need to shop at Walmart (like last night) and be back before the kids' 8:00 pm bedtime...I have to start getting everyone ready by 5:00 or 5:30, and that's knowing my shopping time will be cut in half with Adam's help. 

Anyway, as I was frustrated with getting diapers changed, shoes on, dealing with whining about Nintendo DSes, and making sure I had the Friend to read in the car for family home evening, I was getting more and more agitated that I was doing it all by myself.  Again.  It seems every time we are going somewhere as a family, Adam waits for me to get everyone ready, working on the computer or whatnot, and then acts annoyed when he's finally ready to go, and I'm still struggling with children.  It really isn't every time, it just feels that way.  So last night, I was huffing around getting irritated with him that I was getting everyone ready and he's MIA again.  Then, I remembered last week's challenge, and simultaneously walked into the kitchen and realized he'd cleaned everything up from dinner alone while I was getting ready to leave.  I was feeling abandoned at a stressful time, when in reality Adam was trying to help, just in a different way than I had expected.  I took a deep breath to try to calm the stress I was feeling and forgave him for not getting the children ready.  Then I made a point to thank him for cleaning the kitchen. 

It made me realize as well that it really isn't that he isn't helping that makes me agitated when we are getting ready to leave, it's just the stress of dealing with so many different people and things at the same time.  So what if he wants to check on work before he leaves to go out with me?  Shouldn't I just be glad he can go out with me at all?  It's not every husband that has such a flexible schedule and is willing to spend his time with me and the kids. 

So, there you go, I guess I did learn something! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Exercise #2: Forgiving

Exercise #2: Forgiving

Next time someone or something hits one of your hot buttons, let the anger wash over you for about ten seconds.  Then step back, try to analyze why the experience made you mad, and make a conscious decision to forgive the person and get on with your life.
I loved Anne's response to this one, she sent this to me on Tuesday:
I already have a good example of this one... Tonight Jer is setting up the tv room. (We moved furniture around yesterday and now he's rewiring all the speakers and computer and stuff.) I went down to see how things were going, and after helping him move the tv back in, I saw there wasn't much else for me to do. So I turned the floor lamp on in the big room (not sure what we're calling it now... the stove room? playroom?) and turned off the overhead lights. (Thanks for the compliment on those. We were very proud of ourselves for picking them out in under 30 minutes--quite the feat for a pair of ditherers like ourselves.) I figured that way he could still see as he moved things back into the tv room, but we would only have one bulb on instead of four. We have a long-standing argument about lights: I was always taught to turn lights off when you leave a room. Jer apparently was not. He points out that we use compact flourescents so it's not a big deal for our power bill, and that when he has lights on in half the house it's because he's using all those rooms (at the same time...). Aaaaaanyway, he got upset with me and demanded that I turn the overhead lights back on in the room he wasn't in so that he could see to wire up the tv. I usually would take the opportunity to point out my views on saving power, but I kept my mouth shut and just closed the door (loudly) and came upstairs. Then I read your email and analyzed my "hot button". And I realized that the only reason I get so upset about having all the lights on is that I was taught it was "wrong" or "bad". I do think it's wasteful, but we are doing our part to use low-energy lights, and if it makes Jer happy, what's the big deal?

So I forgave him. And then I finished going through my messages. One of them was the sweetest email I think I've ever gotten. Jer doesn't send me email very often, and when he does, they're almost always articles to read or things he wants to buy. But this time he bought me a song. A song that made him think of me. I cried all the way through it. I really do love that guy. :-) It's the little things, isn't it?
One of my favorite quotes came from this chapter. 
I remember one fight my husband and I had years ago in which he yelled, "You know we're going to stay married,so we might as well work this out now!"  That was just unexpected enough to make me laugh, but it was oh so true.  Since we were clearly going to end up forgiving each other at some point, it made the most sense to just do it right then. 
That made me laugh as well, and it really did change my perspective on forgiving someone I was angry with. 

I'll be totally honest and say I did not do this exercise this week.  I was trying to pay attention, and there were never any moments that I felt angry at anyone but myself.  Now that's not to say I didn't get after my children for hurting each other or interrupting my conversation for the 20th time or singing the same line of a song for 30 minutes straight.  But I felt that there was nothing to forgive this week.  Maybe I'm not understanding the situations I was in clearly enough, but I'll keep this in mind over time, and try to remember when I'm feeling angry to pay attention to why I'm feeling what I'm feeling and forgive the person I am dealing with. 

Preview for next week: Exercise #3: Valuing Moms

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Maui Top

Most everyone who knows us knows we went to Maui in December, and I've had lots of requests to get pictures posted. But, just so you know why a whole month has gone by before I've actually got it done, I had over 2000 pictures to sift through (between ours, Anne's, and my mom's--I haven't even looked at Doug's yet!), and we had Christmas, my birthday, and New Year's since. Between all of that it's taken quite a while to get it together to post, but here it is finally!

I have narrowed down the pictures considerably, but there are still tons. So, if you want to skip the last couple of posts, here are my very favorite pictures from the trip. I really wanted to keep it to my "Top Ten," but could only get down to 11. I just couldn't cut any of these pictures. Here they are in the order they occurred. 
Linda, Douglas, and Lily at the Las Vegas airport

Porter and John at the Salt Lake airport
if you look closely, you can see the rain DUMPED on us that first day!

hang loose!

Porter and Jeremiah
Max, Rachel, Adam (with Lily), Linda, Douglas, and John on the glass-bottom boat

Max and Katie at the Maui Ocean Center

Miss Lily the beach babe

Anne, Porter and Katie at the pool

Isaiah and his best friend from the trip, Aiden

Anne, hanging loose with the turtles

Maui- Part 2

We went to church in Kihei.  I noticed this truck with the surfboard in the back when we pulled into the parking lot, and I thought it was fun that Anne got a picture of it!

If you click on this, you can see that the truck advertises surfing lessons. 

We had a family barbecue and took a group picture Sunday afternoon and then our family and Anne's went for a walk on the beach.  It was a nice relaxing day. 

Monday we went to West Maui for lunch at Buzz's Wharf and to the Maui Ocean Center.  I had a horrible headache and we left the aquarium early, but it was really cool, and my mom and Katie said they thought they saw a whale from the wharf. 

Porter loved the fish at the aquarium!
Another whole-family outing (well, almost, Jer didn't go with us) was on the glass-bottom boat in Lahaina.  It was pretty fun, and Isaiah and John even saw a shark as we were headed back and everyone went up top.  It was nice that they had divers that brought different organisms up to the windows so we could see more of the wildlife, and they also provided cards to identify the different fish, which my kids loved.  But poor Douglas got pretty motion sick being in the stuffy enclosed boat, and Lily was miserable in the heat. 

While we were still in Lahaina, we saw the giant Banyan tree and had hamburgers for lunch.  Adam took our kids to a great little calm beach, and Anne and Porter watched Jer as he had a surfing lesson while Mom, Douglas, John, Lily and I went shopping.  Lahaina means "cruel sun," and it sure was hot!
Adam and I took the kids to the beach and the pool again while all the rest of the family took the famous road to Hana on our last full day on Maui.  They saw some awesome things and went around lots of hairpin curves.  Here are some of their pictures from the trip. 

Maui was so beautiful and quiet, even in the touristy areas.  The beaches weren't packed, and everyone was so nice.  Although there were Christmas decorations up in lots of places, it was easy to forget about the hustle-bustle of the holidays, and just relax with the family.  Here are some of the best shots that the family got that showed the beauty of the island. 

Just try to imagine standing there, the waves crashing, nothing else in the world to worry about...yeah, it really felt like that. 

Our flight home went pretty well, but we were zonked when we arrived at the resort in Vegas around 2:00 am.  It was an awesome trip that we will remember for a lifetime, and we were so lucky to be able to go with the whole family! 

Maui - Part 1

We started off our trip by leaving a day early and staying the night at the Worldmark resort in Las Vegas.  We did this at the end of our trip, too, and I think it really saved our sanity to not have to tack on an extra 2-hour drive after flying all day.  Santana was on our flights from Vegas to San Francisco, and from San Francisco to Maui.  I had no idea who it was, but could tell he was famous first because of his appearance, and second because everyone was asking to take a picture with him or for an autograph.  I kept taking pictures of my family and then sliding the camera over to include him (I know, talk about sly!), but I was taking them with my phone and it was a casualty of our last day on the beach.  So all my awesome pictures in baggage claim and the terminal in California, gone.  Luckily, I must have grabbed the camera from Adam for a minute in Vegas, so I have these:

Proof that I didn't just pull it off the Internet. 

A little closer up and less blurry. 
You see the lady travelling with him?  She stopped on her way back from the lavatory to tell me what a beautiful family I have.  As we were approaching Maui, a flight attendant came by showing off his autograph, and that's when I learned who the famous guy was. 

Here are some shots of my world-traveling family.

We arranged to have my someone present my parents with leis as we arrived on Maui.  Do we look hot?  'Cause the humidity hit us like a wall! 

You know all that rain that dumped on us here in Southern Utah (and in California, and elsewhere?).  Well, it started in Hawaii, and we caught a day of it our first day on Maui.  It really made us nervous that the rest of our trip would be rainy, but it only lasted that first day and it kind of forced us to take that day to recover from the long flight the day before.  That first day we ate at my favorite restaurant of the trip, the Five Palms.  It was a really nice fine dining restaurant in one of the hotels in Kihei.  It was really beautiful and peaceful, and they had the giant windows open, so we could listen to the waves rolling in and look out on the beach. 

No, you're not wrong, Max really did get more food than I did! (That's okay, he shared!)

When the kids got restless, we took them down to the private beach of the hotel. 

The second day of our trip, Adam took the big kids kayaking and snorkeling while I took the littles to the beach.  They said there were so many turtles, and they got so close!  Here are some shots from their kayaking trip, and from Anne and Jer's kayaking trip our last day on Maui:

Click on this one so you can see this turtle's face--so cool!

Yellow bikini woman will forever be remembered because she got in between Jer and the turtle in this shot that shows how close the turtles were. 

Throughout the trip, we spent a lot of time at the beach.  If I remember correctly, I think we went to the beach every day but two of our 8 days on Maui.  This slide show has some of my favorite of the beach shots. 

To Be Continued...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Exercise #1: Releasing Pressure

Well, I mentioned that Anne and I were going to be doing each of the exercises in I Hate it When Exercise is the Answer: A Fitness Program for the Soul in my New Year post, and here it is, finally! 

I love this book because it has a lot of great ideas to help you become better, and in bite-sized chunks that are really manageable.  But most of all, it's funny.  Like laugh-out-loud-while-you're-reading-even-when-someone-else-is-in-the-room funny.  Because of that, Emily Watts doesn't come across as preachy or syrupy sweet, but more like a great friend who's giving you tips in the midst of telling these really great anecdotes.  (Plus, it's really short, and let's face it, my attention span isn't great these days.)

I'm not going to quote any of the really great stuff from the book, so you're going to have to read it.  You can borrow my copy, or click on the link above and buy it from Amazon.  I think Deseret Book has it, too. 

This is not the best way to start an exercise program, late and incomplete, but it's the way it's going to have to be.  I'm planning to do an exercise each week, but I'm later blogging about last week's exercise than I planned to be and I wasn't entirely successful with it.  Hopefully I can continue to work on this one over time because it is something I really need. 

Exercise #1: Releasing Pressure

Take a minute at the beginning of the day to assess what bubbles might be building up in the bottle that is your life. If it looks like the pressure might be high, choose one of the strategies from this chapter (or a different one that works for you) and let off some of those bubbles right now before the whole thing blows up in someone's face.

Now, because I don't know if you've read the book, I have to give you a bit of background.  She suggested these things throughout the chapter to help blow off steam:
-a silent scream
-make a list
-spend 5 minutes outside
-planning something pleasant to look forward to at the end of the day
-laugh (watch something funny or call a friend)

Both Anne and I had a hard time anticipating when we might get stressed throughout the week, so it was a bit harder to take control when we got to that point.  But I do have to say that I saw Anne put this into practice on Saturday.  It was her little guy Porter's first birthday party on Saturday, and there were plenty of things to do before all the guests arrived.  As time dwindled in the morning we were starting to rush around without being necessarily effective, and Anne made a list of everything that still needed to be done.  It seems obvious, but it really did help. 

Did it stop either of us from becoming overwhelmed and stressed?  Not completely.  (I was still frustrated that my children were requiring so much attention while I was trying to help.  I was trying to blow up balloons while holding a fussy baby and repeatedly putting my two-year-old down to nap.  I snapped at Max and literally threw him into bed.  Yeah, not exactly a "Mother of the Year" moment.)  But I do think it took things down a notch.  And everything was ready on time.

Here's what Anne said about the week:
I never ended up using the bubble bursting techniques til the END of the day; my mornings are fairly stress-free.  It's usually in the evening when I've had a long day and Jer is MIA and I'm cleaning the kitchen AGAIN and trying to figure out what to make for dinner and Porter is whining and clinging to my leg... then that silent scream is amazing.  I already mentioned I'm a list-maker, and that helps prevent a lot of stress. 
I am also a list-maker, and while it does organize my thoughts and help me know what I need to be working on next, I also find myself overwhelmed as I don't get to everything on the list.  It helps to try to keep each thing on my list very simple, and to be realistic in my expectations. 

The tactic I relied on most this week was to ask for help.  (It wasn't one that Watts suggested, but it's good practice for me.)  I hate asking for help.  I especially hate feeling like I'm incapable of doing something by myself.  But I need a lot of help, and I end up feeling a lot less overwhelmed and lash out at others less when I know I can rely on someone else.  So, knowing that I was going to be driving alone to Salt Lake with my littles this week, I started praying that I would have help while I was there, and that I wouldn't be too proud to accept it.  No sooner had I started that train of thought, and my mom called and asked if she could come with me!  She was invaluable throughout the weekend, tending to Max every time I asked and lots of times I didn't.  I didn't exactly keep my cool all weekend, but I would have been a basket case if I hadn't let go and asked for help. 

Okay, I'm not going to be this long-winded each week, but I guess I had a lot I was thinking about tonight.  Preview for next week: Exercise #2: Forgiving

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Snow Day


Yesterday it snowed!  We don't get much snow here, so it is required that we go out in play in it quickly, before it melts.  Everyone got bundled up and ran outside for a snowball fight before breakfast.  

 Well, almost everyone:
I may have missed my only opportunity to use the adorable snowsuit I have for Lily (a hand-me-down, not something I would actually go out and buy, I promise!).  Ah, well.  Things were more peaceful this way. 

In the afternoon, Adam took the big kids looking for a hill that still had some snow on it so they could go sledding:

And just for fun, here are our snow angels from yesterday:

 And from last month:
Ah, Maui, I miss you...