Wednesday, June 3, 2015

If you are struggling, you're not alone

I am writing this post on the 10th birthday  of my 3rd child.  We have a 4 year gap between child 2 and this boy. We waited and hoped for him, we were told we may only have 2 children due to some health problems of mine.  He is a miracle boy and came out beautiful and perfect. 

He turned out to be a hard baby, he had reflux and ear infections. He was hard to soothe and didn't sleep well. He wore me out day after day. I was so grateful that we were blessed with him and yet I felt guilty for struggling to find joy with him. 

The struggle extended into toddler and preschool years. He was totally different from my other two children. They were much calmer and more compliant. He was wild and destructive and so smart and demanded my full attention. He was 2 when my daughter was born and I have story after story of the destruction he caused while I was feeding or changing the baby.  Once when he was 4, I was putting my daughter down for a nap and he and his friend climbed the fence in my backyard to the neighborhood park which we backed up to and took off, it took me several minutes to find them. 

I was having a hard time finding  the joy in the journey of parenting this child that some days I honestly had a hard time liking. I loved him to pieces and his adorable face, dimples, smile and amazing eyes softened my heart daily (God knows what he's doing). 

I was praying and pleading daily to have help and patience. I had a degree in early childhood Ed for heaven sake, I knew how to teach and discipline right? Turns out I didn't have any answers for this passionate, intense child. I was humbled and needed help from above. (God knows what he's doing). 

Many times God answers our prayers through others. Five or 6 years ago I went to a church meeting that was just for the women in our area. It was a good meeting and I was enjoying the music and speakers. Our stake president, (leader over several congregations) President Shields got up and started to speak to us. He said he felt prompted to put away his prepared talk and speak from his heart and what God was telling him to say. He started talking about one of his sons.  He talked about how this son challenged him and was wild and crazy. He talked about how the household was calmer and less contentious when this child was away from home. This boy was difficult for him and he struggled to find joy in him. At this point I was crying the ugly cry in the meeting because I knew exactly who he was speaking was me! 

He then went on to tell about an accident that his son experienced at age 5. They didn't know if their son would make it, he was in ICU for an extended stay.  It was during this hospital stay and sitting next to this son's bedside that President Shields saw his son for who he really was. He saw his character and his potential and his heart was changed.  Then he said this, "If you have a child like this who you struggle with, know this...these are the kids who are going to change the world. These are the kids who have the charisma, the determination and the will power to change this world for the better." 

Honestly that one quote changed my life. I knew exactly why he was supposed to put away his prepared talk and speak from his heart. God was answering my prayers and pleadings.  This talk didn't change my changed me. It changed my whole outlook on his personality.  Now that doesn't mean things have been easy or are a walk in the park for us. It's still hard to parent a very intense, passionate, tender hearted perfectionist. But I can see who he is becoming, I can see that his passion and drive and hard working attitide will take him far in life, my job isn't to change him or break that spirit, it's to channel all of that in the right direction.  He's extremely different from me and so many times i don't know what I'm doing but my prayers and pleadings for this child (and my other children of course) are constant,  God hasn't failed me yet. I make mistakes and yell and get frustrated way more than I like. But I also love and snuggle and talk and compliment way more than I yell. My relationship with this son is really good. We laugh and joke and talk about his passion and enthusiasm and energy in positive ways. We talk about how to channel his anger when things don't go his way. We are working on having conversations and not just asking questions (the average child asks 144 a day...I'll bet my son asks 500 a joke). 

Now it a joy to parent him, even though it isn't easy. But it has taken much work on my part to get there. One of the best things I did was to write down all of his character qualities. I wrote those that drove me crazy and turned them into something positive. Loud and obnoxious became enthusiastic and expressing himself, wild became energetic and passionate.  It was another perspective shift. (By the way, I got the idea of the character list from the book "Raising your spirited child" by Mary Kurcinka...a really great book!)

I know I'm not the only one out there who has struggled like this. If you are struggling know you are not alone. Part of the reason that talk by President Shields was so powerful is because I didn't feel alone anymore and my guilt was taken away for struggling.

Here is one of my all time favorite quotes by Lynn Robbins, a leader in the LDS  church:

"A sweet  and obedient child will enroll a father or mother only in Parenting 101. If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505. Rather than wonder what you might have done wrong in the premortal life to be so deserving, you might consider the more challenging child a blessing and opportunity to become more godlike yourself. With which child will your patience, long-suffering, and other Christlike virtues most likely be tested, developed, and refined? Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?"

I am grateful for this boy. I am grateful for the Mother I have become because of him. God has whispered to me on more than one occasion that he is exactly how he is supposed to be.  I needed him to become a better, more patient and loving person myself.  I'm forever grateful to God for sending him to me. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Easy peasy lemon squeezy...hardly!

Yesterday our family headed south about an hour to attend the new Payson temple open house. For my non LDS friends, a temple is a sacred place to us where we worship, learn about God's plan for us as his children and make covenants with God. Normally you have to be a member of our church in good standing and have a temple recommend to enter but anyone can attend during the open house, which happens for a few weeks before the dedication. That means our children could go in and see this beautiful, peaceful place. They can go to the temple at 12 to certain places in the temple, but they have to be much older to see all of it. 

This photo looks pretty picture perfect right? Let me share some of the things that happened leading up to this. My husband and I bickered on and off all day, several of my children did NOT want to make the drive and wanted to stay home, there was major fighting in the car, horrible traffic on the freeway so we got off to go another way and that was was worse, we got lost, my 16 year old was driving so that made it more stressful, several children didn't like the picnic I packed for dinner, we didn't have tickets and went standby so the wait to get into the temple was an hour, the kids were restless. I could go on but you get the idea. Needless to say it was crazy! 

Honestly it would have been easier to stay home or turn around once we hit the traffic and go home, put on pajamas and watch a movie. But then we would have missed out on this picture filled with light, we would have missed out on the smiles I saw on my kids faces in the temple. We would have missed out on the memories created and the lesson that the temple is important to us and that even when it's inconvenient and hard we still go. One of my friends pointed out the contrast of dark and light in this photo and we certainly had the contrasts as we made our journey. 

Doing the things that really matter isn't easy, often it's inconvenient and messy and really difficult. Raising a family isn't supposed to be easy, it's a learning and refining experience. Once we learn to accept that it changes our perspective. 

All of my kids agreed at the end of the night that it was worth it and they loved going.  And Dave and I kissed and made up...

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mother's Day is for martyrs?

I am a champion of Motherhood. I am passionate about uplifting and strengthening Moms so they can strengthen their families.  So don't take this the wrong way because I believe Mothers are amazing people who should be celebrated and applauded. However there is a trend I have noticed surrounding Mother's Day. Sometimes I get the feeling that we become martyrs and become a bit selfish around this holiday.  

I have seen blog posts and Facebook posts saying things like, "I had better be pampered and spoiled this Mother's Day or else..." It's a sense of entitlement that really rubs me the wrong way. Hopefully those we love really show us their appreciation and love on this day, but let's be grateful for the gestures they do and not begrudge anyone if it isn't the "perfect day" due to our unrealistic expectations. The day I put my expectations away of what Mother's Day should br is the day I became much more grateful for what it actually is. Communication about some nice things our loved ones can do for us is key, our husband and children aren't mind readers. 

I  saw this graphic this week on Facebook 
I though it was ironic that on the very day we celebrate Motherhood and the blessing it is, that many women want the day off of parenting?  That makes no sense to me. I love a day off from the mundane tasks such as laundry and cleaning and I am for sure going to enjoy sleeping in Sunday morning believe you me! But I am going to completely enjoy being surrounded by the 5 munchkins who gave me the title I am most grateful for in this life, that of Mom, Mama, Mommy.  I am going to soak it all in, I adore the handmade cards and presents, the extra hugs and snuggles. I have big people as children now and even they make me cards and give me extra hugs on this day. 

Maybe instead of focusing on ourselves we need to focus outward and focus on our gratitude for our own Moms and other women we admire, let's make their lives better this Sunday!  Check out this video, how will you make someone's life better this weekend?

I am far from a perfect Mom, I have so far to come. However I absolutey love this life of mine and the little (and not so little people) who have stolen my heart and have made me a better person by being their Mommy. I cannot imagine being upset over not getting the perfect gift or meal or a perfectly clean house.  I am grateful every day for these incredible souls I am allowed to raise and I cannot imagine my life without this opportunity as hard and exhausting as it can be.  Life is beautiful and Motherhood is a privilege and a refining process that turns us into new creatures. I'm so grateful for it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Utah county mini retreat

What a wonderful day we had on Saturday,(even if I did forget to take a photo of the group)!  We had group of about 25 amazing Moms.  We had some who had one little child, some who had several young children close together, we had a mom who has multiple special needs children and a mom of 6 who had from teens on up  We had such a diverse group which made for great discussions.

                   Lacy, Me and Mandy

This retreat we focused on taking care of ourselves as people so we can give more to our family.  We focused on thriving in life rather than just surviving.  Mandy Cheney who is one amazing lady and one of the trainers who presented talked about her Happiness Project.  Last summer she had some really challenging weeks with her family and felt absolutely depleted.  She decided she needed to make some changes and feed her spirit more so she had more to give.  She made a chart of things to do each day to feed her soul.  They are simple actions that when accomplished on a daily basis made a huge difference in her life.  Things such as prayer/meditation daily, 30 minutes of exercise, eating healthy food, an act of kindness, writing in her gratitude journal, enough sleep etc etc.  She said it literally changed her life.  She is one of the most dynamic, happiest people I know.  She shines from the inside out!  I am starting my own happiness project for the next 100 days and can't wait to see how it changes me.  She said a phrase that has stuck with me and I will put up on my bathroom mirror... "Fill Holes, Feel Whole."  I love that!

Lacy Anderson is also a trainer who presented with us.  Lacy is also a beautiful, happy woman who has 4 young children.  I don't know how she does all she does!  We had this retreat in her beautiful, bright, sunny home.  Lacy talked about "branding our motherhood."  To have a mantra or a "momtra" as she puts it to guide us to be the Mom we want to be.  My "momtra" is three simple words, Fun, Happy, Loving.  We talked about how we are teaching our children what adulthood and motherhood looks like.  Are they learning that it's frustrating, exhausting and no fun?  Or can we be the example that life is beautiful and joyful even though it isn't perfect?

I talked about setting Margins and boundaries for ourselves.  Don't let other activities or people guilt you into sacrificing your time and energy for things that don't really fill you up or make you resentful and unhappy.  If you are taking time away from your home and family make sure it's something that is worthwhile and that you feel great about doing.  Learn to say no.  Having margins and boundaries in our lives gives more time and space for joy!  I also talked about comparing ourselves to others and how social media can be so unkind to Moms.  Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest have everyone's highlight reels posted and yet we compare our every day lives that are messy and complicated to those highlight reels and allow ourselves to feel guilt and shame over our own lives.  Life your own life, not a version of someone else!  Comparison is the thief of joy.

My biggest take away from Saturday was to say yes more.  Yes to more joy, yes to my kids requests to play tag outside, to have popcorn in the playhouse, to Play-doh and bubbles (oh I hate playdoh and bubbles).  To find those "serendipity" moments with my family by saying yes to them.  Many times it means saying no to the pile of laundry, the to do list or to our schedule, but oh the joy that can be found in saying yes!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to share these things with other women.  Oh how we need each other, we need the support and the encouragement.  One of my favorite things about these retreats is they are so empowering and uplifting, we focus on the positive and how we can change for the better.  I love being a part of them!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Shades of Grey

I am taking a stand.  I am putting my very strong opinions out there and they may not be popular with the masses, but I am not concerned about being popular.  I am concerned with what is right and what is wrong and protecting my family.

Our world today lives in shades of gray.  Absolute right and wrong is dismissed as being judgemental and intolerant.  As I have gotten older I know that life isn't always black and white and sometimes grey areas exist. So many social issues are polarizing and divisive.  Pornography is one of those that many see as a shade of grey.  In many circles it is accepted as normal and acceptable.  My circle is not one of those.  My family has been affected by pornography. My strong stand  is that any form of pornography (and I include not only hard core porn but also things like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue as porn) is unacceptable.  It is addictive and can destroy marriages and damages so many, it absolutely ruins our young children's perceptions of what a healthy relationship is, it desensitizes those who watch it so they need to find more hard core material to satisfy their addictions. Not to mention it degrades and dehumanizes women and fuels the sex trafficking trade.

I am sure you have heard of the movie 50 Shades of Grey coming out on Valentine's weekend.   It is being marketed as a romance. It depicts a young, introverted, innocent woman who meets an older, rich, powerful sexy man.  They develop a relationship mostly sexual in nature.  I won't go into detail because I want my children to be able to read my blog and I don't need to share specifics.  The relationship is not a healthy one, Christian Gray coerces, manipulates and controls Ana to the point of emotional and sexual abuse.  I am not the only one who thinks this, there are many psychologists and feminists who also believe the same way (I will provide links to articles at the end of the post). 

When the book first came out I got a free sample of a chapter on my kindle.  Having never heard of the books I read a few paragraphs of it until I couldn't stand anymore. The writing was absolutely awful and the sexual content was so graphic it made me sick. 

The other day I was in line and had two teenage girls behind me.  They started discussing the books and how sexy Christian Grey was. They both stated how they wanted a man like him.  Again I got sick to my stomach and turned around, I planned to say something to them but when I did I realized their Mom was standing there as well and heard the whole thing. She said nothing. I was in shock.

It frightens me that a movie that barely dodged an NC-17 rating is mainstream. It is pornography plain and simple playing right in regular movie theatres. Teens will see this movie, young adults will see this movie. What is it teaching them about relationships? Why is this okay??  It isn't a shade of grey, this is a black and white issue and it is wrong. 

I guess the questions should be, would you want your daughter in a relationship with a man like this? Would you want your son to become a man like this? I would think most would say no. 

We must take a stand, here is a petition to sign against the movie. Boycott it next weekend, encourage others to do so as well. Instead give $50 to a battered women's shelter

Here are a few articles regarding the movie:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oh yeah...ME TOO!

(I have no idea why my text is all messed up with white background on part of this post.  I'm done trying to figure it out.)

The other day I was scrolling through facebook when a friend of mine asked this question:

"Ok, just out of curiosity, has anyone had a home energy report that was efficient? Or close to your neighbors? Both our Questar and Rocky Mountain Power energy reports are like off the charts. It's like crazy bad."

I said, "ME TOO! This happens to us every month!"  This question caught my eye because every single month on our power bill it states that we have used the most energy of anyone in our neighborhood and tells us we need to do better at conserving energy.  It makes zero sense that we use the most, we have one of the smaller homes in our neighborhood.  But every month it makes me feel a little bit guilty.  However from the other comments on my friend's post, it seems like almost EVERYONE else also gets this notice that they use the most power in their neighborhood. Apparently the power company likes to make everyone feel bad about their power use too ;).  It sounds totally silly, but seeing others comment that they also get this notice made me feel 100 times better.

I have been thinking about this over the last couple of days.  Why did reading that other people get the notice too make me feel so much better?  I know it's because I realized I wasn't the only one, I felt validated. So if something as trivial as knowing others felt this way about  a power bill,  how much more impactful is it when we truly open ourselves up and share the hard stuff?

Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and other social media show us snapshots of everyone's highlight reel.  Rarely do we see the hard, messy, real part of life.  We don't open ourselves up to that, I for one am a bit afraid of what others might think if they see it or know about it, I don't open myself up to many people very often.

However,  vulnerability and  sharing the real stuff can not only help us, but it can help other people realize they aren't alone!  We don't have to be negative about life to do this, but we can share the reality of life with each other.

So I am about to get real here and share a few things that are going on with me.  If you feel so inclined, share some of your messy life as well.  

So here are a few things I am struggling with right now:

  • One of my children is not being included socially by his so called friends.   Deep down I think I  knew  it was happening but tonight I saw it with undeniable proof when I saw the entire group together and nobody had thought to include my son.  It breaks my Mommy heart and I don't know that there is anything I can do about it.
  • I have so much going on in my life and in my brain and  I have forgotten many things recently (it doesn't help that my phone loses appointments I have put in it).  I appear to be a total flake sometimes.
  • My house is disorganized and messy much of the time.  Our kitchen, closet space and bedrooms are a fraction of the size we came from in Vegas.  If someone shows up at my house unexpected I am embarrassed....when I know someone is coming I clean  like a crazy lady. 
  • Money is really tight, I am looking for a job or a way to earn some more money.  I want to find something to do from home so I don't have to leave my 4 year old with a babysitter.  Kids are more expensive the older they get and I see the future with missions, college and weddings and feel great anxiety.
  • I miss my community of friends in Vegas.  I miss them terribly.  It's been a year and I think I miss them more than I did a year ago.  I miss that my ward was my family.  I feel like those friends really know who I am, they love me and my family for who we really are.  I know it takes time to build those relationships (we lived in Vegas for 12 years), but it doesn't mean my heart doesn't ache for that even a year later. We went to visit last week and it was wonderful to see them, but it made all of us miss our "framily" even more.  

So there you go, some of the not so picturesque moments in my life that I don't open up and share with very many people.

 What are you worried about?  What plays over and over in your brain?  Do you ever feel like you aren't enough as a woman, wife or mother?  Do you worry for your kids (of course you do, we all do!)  Do you think your life isn't as good as others?  Do you worry what people will think of you if you are vulnerable?

I have been pondering this for a couple of days.  I don't have any answers but I do know when others share their heart with me it makes me feel so good... 1. that they would share with me and 2. it usually helps me feel better about my life as well.

So what do you say we share more of real life with other people?  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Riverton Retreat

On January 10th, I co-presented at a Power of Moms mini-retreat in Riverton, UT with a great group of women.  We had about 25 in attendance and it was a wonderful morning.  We talked about Family Systems, which are based on 3 systems that all successful companies and organizations have. So we scale those down a bit and apply them to families. They are a family economy (work and money), family legal system (rules and consequences) and a family culture (traditions, love rituals...basically the glue that holds families together).

Here are my amazing co-trainers Lacy (on the left), me and Mandy (on the right).  We worked really well together.  Basically as trainers we are discussion facilitators.  I love hearing the comments and small group discussions these women have.

We had fantastic discussions with this group of amazing, deliberate Mothers.  I really think if we had enough time with these groups of Moms that come to retreats we could solve so many of the world's problems :).  

Some of my big take aways from this retreat are to have positive assumptions about my kids, have a "chef's helper" every night for dinner to divide up dinner responsibilities and to better teach my kids how to cook, work on teaching generosity with money, "brand" our family better (by that I mean create more things to have a stronger family identity), work with my husband on infusing our home with more a positive atmosphere. I remembered so many positive tools that I haven't used for a while, man I love these retreats.

I love these retreats, I have been to 5 or 6  at this point and even though the content is the same with each, I learn something new every time.  It refocuses me and helps me set new goals for our family.  We had a great time, we laughed a lot and I feel like I have new friends.  Thanks to those who came and made it so great!