Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 1055: Hooky

Is that how it's spelled?  As in, "playing hooky"?

So, last night did not go well.  To be fair, we stayed up later than we should.  HH has the good excuse of being out playing basketball.  Me?  I was watching "The Voice".  Should have been in bed sleeping.  Because, for those first few hours Darling A slept quite soundly.

Not so much later on.

So, as I sat nursing her in the early morning with HH offering to help get the kids up and ready for school, it occurred to me that it would be really nice if he just stayed home.  If he stayed home, I could go back to bed and sleep a couple more hours, he could come with me to Baby B's therapist appointment, he could watch Baby B while I met up with a friend for lunch (the last time I met this friend for lunch he threw a huge tantrum and gave her the stink eye the entire time!), we could decide which family picture to have blown up to hang on the wall, finalize the gifts we're getting for the kids for Christmas, he could get a nap himself (see, this wasn't an entirely selfish line of thought), and he'd already be home rather than having to come home early to get the kids to a rehearsal on time.

I threw the thought out to him and he readily agreed.


My morning nap didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped, but it was still nice to rest a bit while HH got the kids off to school and I did get about 30 minutes of extra sleep.  The appointment with the therapist was that much better for having both of us there to ask questions, listen, and learn.  The lunch appointment was great--the boys actually ended up just joining us.  It was with a friend who I love and really admire and haven't been able to catch up with for quite a while now, so it was nice to remedy that.  HH enjoyed a lovely nap in the afternoon, during which I had an amazing personal experience while doing my scripture study (sort of private to share, but suffice it to say, two thoughts that have always hung over my head even at the best of times are finally gone and I can honestly say I am excited and optimistic about my future finally!), then HH took the kids to their rehearsal while I...wait for it... went grocery shopping with the younger two TANTRUM-FREE!!!  It was nothing short of pure awesomeness.  Then a nice dinner with the whole family, kids to bed, Christmas gifts and photos decided on and ordered and then half of a movie with HH before we decided we were tired and headed off to bed.

I love random days off of work!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 1054: The Mess That Just Keeps on Messin'

The thing about kids is they can take a mess and manage to just somehow spread it everywhere.  Everywhere.  Ev-er-y-where.  Eeeeeevvvvvrywhere.

Be it toothpaste or doggie doo.

We maybe had issues with both of those today.

It was pure awesomeness.

Add in a 30+ minute full on screaming tantrum and a massive blowout.

But, guess what?  I'm doing fine.  I'm not feeling like I've been picked on, or my life is too difficult to manage, or that I don't want to get out of bed tomorrow, or that it just isn't worth it, or anything like that.

I'm laughing about it.  And proud of myself for being okay.

There were some fun moments with each of the kids in between all of that, too.  And the math homework was not nearly so emotional today.

And some laughs with my HH about the beautiful craziness that is our life.  And we're getting close to having all (most) of the Christmas gift madness decided on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 1053: Can't Wait To Go To Bed!

I don't care what age you are, there is just something magical about a Christmas tree lit up at night.  Isn't it pretty?

Last night did not go well.  Poor Darling A has outgrown her swaddle blanket and so, we went cold turkey without it.  We all woke up pretty tired.

As I said my morning prayer, I prayed for a little extra help in getting through today.  I struggled yesterday and wasn't as tired as I was today.  So, I was more than a little concerned about getting overwhelmed.  Especially because I had a pretty hectic morning.  The crazy morning rush getting the kids to school, squeeze in a quick workout, hurry home to meet the delivery guys with our new mattress (the old-new one was too firm, so they let us swap out for a newer, better mattress), then get ready for a few more toddlers to join us for the morning, entertain said toddlers while trying to get a poor exhausted Darling A down for a nap, and carry on.

So, I was worried.  And then it ended up not being so hard.  Certainly, things were challenging, but today was not such a struggle to look on the bright side of everything.

Except for the crying of my poor Darling A.  I hate listening to that.  It breaks my heart.  But, I was able to make the most of the time while she was out of bed with lots of extra snuggles and smooches.

Speaking of smooches, Baby B got quite affectionate just before bed tonight and was very kissy.  He usually hates kisses, so I'm not complaining about this.

And now, I'm eager to go meet my new bed.  At least I'll be comfy while I listen to those heart wrenching cries from my little baby.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 1052: Buddies

This morning Baby B was leaning over the changing table while I got Darling A ready.  He was wearing his new penguin hat and being a bit wild with his movements.  This makes me nervous, but Darling A wasn't concerned in the least.  She thought he was hilarious and could not stop laughing at him.

And then again just before bed, both boys had her in full on hysterics.  It was so fun to listen to.  I mean, what is better than a baby giggle?  Seriously.

And my day was sandwiched in between baby giggles.

I took the kids to the children's museum today because they got out of school early.  Not something I normally would have done because it makes the rest of the day (especially the day of piano lessons) that much busier and hectic.  But, I told myself to imagine everything with the best possible outcome, rather than the worst and to just go.

So, we did.  And we had a good time.

But, things were completely chaotic when we got home.  And I struggled to remain positive, calm, and in the right state of mind to parent in my ideal way.  I didn't go full swing in the other direction--I just didn't handle the situation in the best possible way either.

So, it was okay.  But, by the time dinner was over (the chaos continued--who knew learning to carry the 10's in addition could make life so stressful?), I was sort of at my breaking point.  I took a 5 minute time out.  Initially, my mind went into overdrive and I felt the overwhelming stress of my to-do list smothering me, but I was able to put it on hold.

It turns out I'm so overly tired (sleep training Darling A is getting to us), I was just struggling to challenge any of my thoughts and turn them around.  But, I knew that if I had more energy I could do it.  So, I was able to convince myself to put all of the stressful thoughts on hold for a later time when I do have the energy to challenge them and see that everything really is okay.

So, that's where I sit.  I'm hopeful that things will look better in the morning.  I'm pretty sure they will.  I just wish I was more optimistic about the amount of sleep I might get tonight...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 1051: To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I had another appointment this morning.

It was a little exciting.  First, after relating to him a couple of this past week's events, he joked that I should teach his next Marriage/Relationship seminar.  Nice.  And then we talked about setting goals.  Goals that, once achieved, will signal the end of my therapy.  Woohoo!

Here they are:

1.  More good days than bad days (this is the main one)

2.  Disciplining with Love more often than not

3.  Resolving conflict with HH in a considerate and productive way (we did that this past week)

4.  Becoming a better friend

Nothing that should surprise anyone who reads this, as those are things I've been striving for for a while.

Then I went home.  On the way, I began to put all sorts of details together.  The first being that those four goals fit perfectly with the quality I've been feeling ought to be my theme for the upcoming year:  Kindness.

It's no surprise to me that that all fit together perfectly.  I've been feeling a lot of that lately.

In fact, after we came home, I sat down to put some thoughts to paper in my Therapy Journal, and I began to recognize so many different experiences that prepared me to be able to apply the things I'm learning in therapy and to make rapid progress.  Way too many to detail here.  Suffice it to say it's been going on for several years.  Preparing me for all of this.

But, for a brief moment I had spiritual clarity.  And for at least a small moment, I felt like I had it all figured out.  That person I've always wanted to be (but for so long thought was impossible to become) seems within reach.  Not right away, but still, it's nice to feel that it's possible.  I've spent almost a third of my life wanting to go back to my 17-year-old self, thinking she had it all figured out.  But, I realized that, even though she had a lot figured out, she didn't have all of the experience and perspective that I've gained because of the depression.  And I saw for a moment how all of the different pieces of my life fit together to make a beautiful picture.

I tried to write it all down.  But, the trouble with things of that nature (for me, at least) is that it is difficult to get feelings and impressions adequately expressed through words.  And that's okay.  At least I can remember the peace and hope of that one fleeting moment and now have the empowering knowledge that this burden that I thought was holding me back was in fact adding to my foundation to build a beautiful, better me upon.

It was pretty neat.

This evening we decorated the Christmas tree.

I took a few less-than-great photos in the beginning and then forgot.  But, it was because we were having fun, so I'm okay with that.  The tree looks great.  I only had to fix 3 broken ornaments.  We updated the tree skirt for this year.  And I made rice krispie treats for HH because he loves them and I love him.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 1050: We Have Christmas!

That's what Baby B announced to his grandma on the phone tonight.

Because the older kids and I put up the Christmas decorations this afternoon while he napped.  I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by, but I'm excited for this season.  We started listening to Christmas music a few days ago (finally bought the Michael Buble Christmas album from last year--LOVE it!), so it feels nice to have the decorations up--just a little early!

Church was enjoyable again.

Make that amazing.

Sweet P played her violin this morning (accompanied by one of my very talented friends on the piano) in Sacrament Meeting.  She played "I Am A Child of God".  And she did fantastic.  She had a slightly rocky beginning as the intro was a little different than what she had practiced with, but she got her confidence back up and played it smoothly after a few lines.  It was so beautiful.  Really brought in such a sweet spirit.  And I was so proud of her.  She didn't seem afraid at all which was pretty amazing given how reserved she's been of late.

And then I got to play the proud mama for the rest of the day as everyone commented on how talented she is for such a young age.

Yes, yes she is.

And then there was a talk from a young man who recently returned home from serving a two year mission.  He reminded us about the healing that comes through the Savior's Atonement--spiritual, physical, and emotional.  It was a much appreciated reminder for me.

So, I shared all of that in backwards order but it was a great Sunday anyway.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 1049: It's Beginning

HH hung our Christmas lights today.

That's the first time we've ever had Christmas lights on the exterior of our dwelling.  It made me feel quite pleased as a homeowner.

I think it mostly made HH feel frustrated and cold.

And thankful that neither Sweet P nor Little M, who joined him on the roof, slid off.

I shared that sentiment as well.

This evening was one of frustration for me.  It involved a shopping trip, a missing wallet, a generous rescue by HH, and then still more shopping.  Not shopping I wanted to be doing.  And then coming home to too many things and people needing me all at once.

I think this is a guy thing, but in the midst of all of this, HH decided to go take care of one last thing outside.  I expressed my frazzledness.  Normally, he'd just kind of apologize and promise to hurry, or tell me to chill, or something like that.

Tonight, he put down what he was doing and said, "I guess that can wait.  What can I do to help you?"

If I hadn't been on the verge of tears, I might have kissed him and let loose with a little "Hallelujah Chorus".

Instead, he's getting this public expression of my gratitude.  A little delayed, but every bit as heartfelt.

I love you, HH

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 1049: Discipline With Love

That's been another recent mantra for me.

Now that I'm feeling so much more peace within, I'm trying to extend it beyond myself to those I live with.  I try to be patient with my children, regardless of good or bad behavior.  Sometimes I'm really pleased with the way I discipline, but sometimes I'm not.

Tonight HH and I had a great chat about the kind of parents we want to be.  Mainly, what we need to improve on so that our children will grow into strong and confident people who know who they are, Whose they are, that they are loved, and love themselves.  It was a really good conversation.  I'm so grateful to be married to a man who listens when I correct him in the exact same areas where I myself struggle.

And one that I can lift weights with and then sit with in the hot tub long enough that I about pass out on my way out.

Because that happened today too.

And our one Black Friday find was a pair of hats for the youngest two.  They are ridiculously adorable.  Pictures to follow...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 1048: Thankful To Be Me

I am.

And I mean that on multiple levels.  I am thankful to be me and to be living in this beautiful life I have been blessed with, surrounded by amazing friends and family.  But, also, I'm thankful to be feeling a lot more like "Me" than I have in several years, really.  It's an indescribably joyful feeling.

Today was beyond fabulous.  It started with the Turkey Trot.  This is my Thanksgiving tradition.  It has frequently had to give way for HH's family's tradition of bowling Thanksgiving morning, but since we're not with them, this year we were able to make both work.

The older two kids ran a 1-miler and HH and I ran the 5K.

Here we are pre-race.  His smile wasn't quite as big after I beat him by a few minutes.  Mine was.

HH originally suggested I buy the banana cream pie from Village Inn.  I contemplated it.  Then I decided to make a pretty pie all by myself.  Next year I'll have piping tip with a wider opening, but I'm still pretty dang proud of this pie.

Speaking of pretty dang proud--this is the first turkey I've ever roasted.  It tasted amazing.

We invited one friend over only.  I am doing better by leaps and bounds, but I didn't feel up to the challenge of ignoring pressure of inviting over a bunch of people with their own Thanksgiving meal expectations.  So, we kept it small and I'm so glad we did.

The meal went really well and so did the prep.  But, it was nice not to be fighting off feelings of stress and pressure all along the way.  I knew that if this turned into an epic fail, everyone involved would be just fine with a Thanksgiving Day pizza.

And then we met up with a bunch of friends at the bowling alley, so HH could still get his Turkey Bowl in.  We were comparing the cheeks on these two.  Pretty close, I'd say.  I had a lot of fun chatting with my girlfriends.  And actually bowled the best game I've bowled in about a decade, with a 101.  Oddly enough, I was limping the whole time.  I re-injured an old foot injury during the race this morning.  It wasn't very painful then, but after standing on it all day to cook, it was lovely and swollen and quite painful.  So, I guess my bowling approach (dubbed "The Flinstone Run) might have been holding me back all this time.

Of course, 101 was nowhere near close enough to touch HH's 170.  And he was disappointed because he felt he could have done much better.

So, we both have our strengths and I'm glad they're different, so we're not really competing even when we go against each other.

Tonight I'm so thankful for so many things.  But, foremost on my mind is sleep.  I'm exhausted!  So, to my mom and mother-in-law who have made every Thanksgiving dinner I've been to before this one--Thank you for your exhausting work!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 1047: Let's Do This!

So, tomorrow is a big day.  My first Thanksgiving hosted in my own home.

I'm seriously so excited.

The kids were home from school today, so I made the executive decision to just stay home from the gym and get my work out in through house cleaning.  And it was a success!  Clean bathroom, clean carpets.  Life is good.

And in between all of that (plus, a visit from a friend who is accompanying Sweet P on Sunday while she plays the violin in church!), I did all of the prepping I could today.  That meant some fabulous homemade cranberry sauce (I can't believe there is even a place in this world for the canned stuff because the real deal is so simple and tastes so fabulous), one pecan pie (my first ever!), and brine for the turkey.  And then, of course, placing the turkey in the brine.  An adventure.

This is what my turkey looks like right now.  We used a little creativity to help the brining liquid surround the entire turkey right now.  I'm a little paranoid the bag is going to somehow burst in the night and I will never be able to reclaim my fridge or its contents from the turkey brine ick that would cover the whole inside.

But mostly, I'm super excited for tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 1046: Embracing

Well, I was hoping to wake up in a good mood.  And I didn't.

Things actually got a little worse before they got better.  But, I kept holding onto that hope that things would get better.  Yoga helped.  As did being among people and friends again.

After, I was able to determine that in spite of all of my self talk about not getting caught up in false "pass, or fail" scenarios, I had done precisely that.  Getting down like that had been really upsetting and a little scary.

But, I came through it okay.  And that's when I decided to embrace what happened and see it as a success instead.  Because I'm still here.  I'm still trying.  And I still have hope.  And really, it's these types of challenges that will make me strongest.

Being able to remain stable when my happiness is being challenged (as has happened multiple times over the past few weeks) is important.  But, being able to get back up and hold onto hope while in the midst of depression is even more important.  That is where I really need to be stronger and you only strengthen the muscles you specifically work.

So, learning to stay open to the possibility of happiness is today's lesson and my new area of focus.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 1045: Just A Bump


So, as I sat here tonight catching up for the past few days, I was pondering in the back of my mind just what I would post for today.  Or, if I would post for today.  Today.  Or, maybe another day.  It's always easier posting in retrospect.  I have the benefit of posting after things are resolved and it feels less vulnerable.

But, in the spirit of baring it all with the hope of benefiting someone else, here goes.

Today was actually a really great day.  The morning was a tad extra chaotic and stressful, but we made it everywhere on time and the items that I forgot we did okay without.

I did feel a little sick, but I was just chalking that up to having another appointment with my counselor.  I always get a little anxious before those.  But, it went really well.  I actually left in a good mood.  And the good mood persisted.  In spite of a fairly ornery Baby B, being genuinely sick (not just anxiety), and being super tired.  When the challenges popped up, I was able to use my new concepts and stay on the sunny side, if you will.

We had a fun Family Home Evening, focused on Thanksgiving and gratitude.  Simple and nice.  And then enjoyed some pumpkin bread baked fresh this afternoon.

And then the evening began to go a bit awry.  And I tried to get back on track a few times, but somewhere along the lines, I missed.  And I'm not exactly sure what went wrong.  Or, how to get back on track.

And I think that is the part that is bothering me the most.  Because I've been faced with challenges over the past few weeks, but I was able to resolve things enough with the new cognitive therapy stuff that even though it didn't always instantly return me to a good mood (I don't have crazy expectations of someday being able to be 100% happy 100% of the time), it got me within sight of that light at the end of the tunnel.  So, it was just a bad day, or a bad moment.

This, however, is starting to have some of the darker tinge that depression means.

But, not entirely.  Yet.  I'm still holding out hope that I'm just really tired and that things will feel much better in the morning.  I'm just a little lost right now.  But, I know this will pass and things will get better.

And maybe, sometimes that's the best I can do.  For now, it's enough.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 1044: Things I've Noticed

Inspired by last week, I tried again to make today a truly enjoyable Sunday.

Nothing went as smoothly as last week, but by sheer willpower, I was able to enjoy it anyway.  A good thing to know and remember in the future.

Darling A's sleep issues are starting to get to me.  I'm so tired!  She hardly naps either, so HH gave me a bit of break during the middle of the day and kept her home while I went out for Visiting Teaching.  I really appreciated that.

I've got to get better rested though.

As my mood has improved over the past few weeks, I've notice a big change in my interactions with my children.  I'm more laid back and lighthearted and they respond to that immediately.  We've been smiling and laughing together a lot more and I just feel closer to them.  Sweet P and Little M especially are a lot fun, as we've had some really great, meaningful conversations.  But, today I was feeling more prone to tension and kind of short with them.

I don't know if they were consciously aware of the difference, but I sure felt it.  It's not like I was in a bad mood.  I think it's just the way I've gotten into the habit of being, so when I'm tired, it comes more quickly.

 But, I know things will continue to improve with time and that I need to be patient with myself.  And every moment is a chance to start over and do better.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 1043: Football in the Fall

So, although Darling A was pretty good natured during her bout with croup coupled with cutting two teeth, it drastically messed up her sleep.  Meaning:  She pretty much doesn't any more.

I was up feeding her every 2-2 1/2 hours last night, just like a newborn!  HH actually took her this morning sometime after 6 and went downstairs, so I got a couple solid hours of sleep in after that.  But, it was a rough night.

And it meant that I missed my yoga.

But, that was okay because I had a fun afternoon to look forward to.  A few weeks ago HH called to invite me out on a date!  How sweet is that?  He got tickets to today's football game through work.  A friend volunteered to watch all of my kids (I was too nervous to leave Darling A with a babysitter).  And some other friends were able to join us at the game as well.

It was so much fun hanging out with friends, watching some college football (we won!), and hanging out with HH.  We even got to go to a tailgating party.  My first ever.  I think those are probably a lot more interesting if you drink.  I don't.  The food was yummy, though!

And when we got back, Darling A was so happy to be reunited, she couldn't stop giggling at me.

It would have been nice to not have been yawning through it all, but other than that, it was a great time!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 1042: Sampling

Today was another good day.  I'm really embracing the freedom provided by realizing basically all of the pressure I put on myself is unnecessary.

And Fridays are almost always fabulous because they bring the weekend.

I had to pick up some items at Sam's Club, so the whole family ventured out with me this evening.  They were sampling all of their Christmas stuff, so we pretty much got a full meal while we were out.  I still made dinner when we got home, and then ended up putting almost all of it back in the fridge after because we were so full.

Still, there is something fun about free food.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 1041: Two Steps Forward

You know how they say, it's "two steps forward, one step back"?

Today was a two steps forward kind of day.  I'm still doing really well as I remind myself of these new concepts for me.  And things went well with Baby B today, too.  I know things will be rough as he adjusts to having limits and consequences consistently now (yesterday was a one step back kind of day for him).  But today, things went well and we were okay.

And it was nice.

Also, I got to take a sneak peak at our family pictures.  SQUEAL!  I'm pretty dang excited about how they turned out.  Yay!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 1040: Pass Or Fail

So, I've been doing all of this reading and pondering lately.  From a variety of sources.  It's interesting how much of it ties into my current "homework" assignment from my counselor.   The biggest discovery I've made this week is that I have a pretty solid "Pass, or Fail" mentality.  About pretty much everything in life.

When Darling A was only a couple weeks old, I would sit in my rocking chair, nursing her while viewing the chaos around me (i.e. Baby B screaming, Sweet P and Little M fighting, mess and clutter all over, and HH frustrated because a lot of things weren't getting taken care of, Z whining at my feet for lack of attention) and I would repeat inside my head, "What were we thinking?  This was a mistake.  I will never be able to make everyone happy again."

And I knew that I had failed as a wife and mom.

Because keeping everyone happy all of the time was the test and I failed it.

If I don't workout until I'm exhausted, or pretty near to it, I've failed in my workout.

If someone complains about one dish I've prepared, the whole meal is a failure.  My failure.

And so on and on.

I've known for a while that this was faulty thinking, but it was difficult to figure out how to change it and what exactly was wrong because I wasn't thinking of it in these exact words and terms.  But, now that I've become aware of this "Pass, or Fail" line of thinking, I've realized just how much I use it.  And how counterproductive it is toward my efforts to be happy.

So, when I find myself getting down because I didn't do something perfect, in addition to reminding myself that I have value, I also remind myself that it's okay.  Life is not about passing or failing.  At least, very little of it is.  For the most part, it's full of "do-overs".

And the most important part of that, for me, is that if I slip up and I don't use my newly learned tools to stay positive and I have a bad moment, or a bad day--it's okay.  Because being happy isn't something I can pass off.  I'm not going to one day walk out of my counselor's office with a sheet of paper saying that I've passed and I am going to live perfectly happy from then on.

And that's okay.  Because it also means that when I do slip up, I haven't failed.  It is worth trying again because this is all about progression, not mastery.

And that is a pretty liberating thought for someone so governed by fear of failure.

In other news, we had our family pictures taken tonight.  Kind of chaotic, but I am super excited to see how they turned out!

Day 1039: Bring On The Therapists

So, we've decided to see a counselor for Baby B, too.  And really, it's for us.  He's a good kid.  We've just, um, indulged him a bit much over the course of his short life.  So, there's a lady at the pediatrician's office who is great in helping us come up with creative parenting skills.

Today was the first meeting with her.  It went really well.  She gave us some good tips for Little M a couple of years ago, so a lot of what we went over were kind of reminders, with some tweaks to suit the differences in Baby B verses Little M.

And so far, it's working well.  We had a pretty good day.  I was able to get better cooperation from him than I have in a while.  And a part of that is that I think HH and I have just kind of avoided having certain expectations for him because we go to great lengths to avoid his tantrums.

No more!

Also, I've been reading some material from our favorite violin instructor.  It's all about mindsets.  And changing my interactions with my kids, especially Sweet P and Little M to help them have a growth mindset (i.e. nothing is set in stone, ability is not just something you are born with, and with hard work everyone can improve) has been really interesting.  And kind of fun.

They are growing up so fast.  Sometimes it makes me sad, but I am really enjoying being able to have "real" conversations with them and discuss things of substance.

I love my kiddos.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 1038: Teethers

Darling A has two teeth.

Lucky for you, you cannot hear the despondency with which I type that.  Doesn't she know how hard I'm trying to make her babyhood last?!  She's not even 5 months yet!  What is she doing with two teeth already?!

Stop it!

Other than that heartbreaking discovery, today was fabulousness.  Nothing extremely out of the ordinary.  It's just that the fog has gradually been lifting over the past few weeks as I've really been working on my therapy homework, and letting the sunlight back in feels great.

As in, Tony the Tiger GRRRRRREAT!

So, I checked a bunch of stuff off of my to-do list.  Including a little bit of service, which always feels great.  And I enjoyed a little time with just me and Baby B while the no-longer-toothless-wonder took a long nap.  And then a wonderful Visiting Teaching visit with two of my friends.

I even enjoyed violin practice with the kiddos tonight.  I didn't make myself crazy with guilt over being late getting dinner on the table.  And it was a really yummy dinner.  Enjoyed be all (except that Little M didn't like the potato part, which was funny because there were no potatoes involved.  Turns out it was the diced chicken.  What does it mean if your 5-year old mistakes chicken for potatoes?).

And then a great, interactive family home evening lesson by HH.

Simple, but GRRRRRREAT! nonetheless.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 1037: Church-y Church

Typical Sunday for me:

Get up, run around like headless chicken trying to get everyone ready on time (including me) without yelling at everyone, run out the door, run back in for some forgotten item, run out again, get to church late.

Spend first half of the first hour trying to de-stress after morning chaos, trying to not be bugged by my irreverent children, head to mother's lounge to feed a hungry baby for the second half of first hour.

Head to Sunday School with sleeping baby only to have her wake up as soon as announcements are over and lesson begins and then try to keep her quiet so others can hear the lesson, eventually give up and head out to the hall.

Head to Relief Society for the third and final hour with a finally contented baby, sit down, only to have her decide she's starving again as soon as the announcements are over and the lesson begins, head to Mother's Lounge to feed her, yet again.

And then we get home and I'm tired, hungry, and cranky and wondering why I do this each week.

Today was different.

I'm not entirely sure why.  Maybe my therapy has taken a more permanent hold than I thought?

The morning was still hectic, but I didn't feel the urge to yell at anyone and I didn't feel super stressed.  I was actually in a good mood when I got into the car.  We were late, but not as late as we have been.  I did have to leave to feed Darling A halfway through the first meeting, but at least I was able to take the Sacrament first.

And I finally remembered to bring her SwaddleMe blanket, so she took a pretty great nap and I got to enjoy all of Sunday School.  And today's lesson was just for me, I swear.  It was right along the lines of things I've been pondering lately and really well taught.  And then I even made it through Relief Society!  Darling A was awake and not entirely happy, but I stood in the back and was able to keep her quiet enough that we could stay and hear another fabulous lesson that was again really great for me to hear.

And given that the Sabbath is meant to be the Lord's day and a day of rest, I'm pretty sure it should be like this more often than not.

So, here's hoping that I've turned over a new leaf and am finally getting better at "choosing the better part".

It's a good thing she's so adorable!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 1036: The Kind That I Like

The kind of Saturday, that is.

It was both laid back and productive.

I got my hair cut and I love it!  I'm still growing it out, but the back was driving me crazy.

And we had a lot of family together time as we ran a bunch if errands together.  And it went really well!  At least, it went really well considering that we had four kids in tow, including a tantrum-prone toddler ( I only got kicked in the ear once during the outing) and a sick little baby.

And we got some Star Wars slippers for the kids for Christmas.  A small thing, but they'll be so excited.

Did I mention that we had weather in the upper 70's today?  How weird is that?!

And tonight it's supposed to snow...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 1035: Hitting The Highlights

Tonight HH highlighted my hair for me.  Yes, he is a man of many skills.  And he really got into it tonight.  In fact, I was concerned that he he got a little too into it.  And I might be too blond.

But, I'm happy to report that he did a great job and I love it!

On another front, I've been dealing with some anger issues ever since my last appointment with my therapist on Wednesday.  And again, I couldn't really figure out why.  Maybe it's just in the nature of the beast that delving into all of my dark corners that I typically try to avoid will bring up emotions not easy to understand or explain.

And tonight, as I prayed for help, I finally figured out why I'm feeling the anger (mainly because I'm afraid of failure) and was able to let it go completely.

After being quite troubled with it for the last few days, that was such a great relief.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 1034: Kindness Begins With Me

Or, with Baby B in this case.

I don't know what has come over the boy.  He had his moments today, but he had some really out of character ones too.

I was getting after Little M for not cleaning up some candy wrappers after being asked several times and Baby B just voluntarily went over and started picking it up with him.

A little while later, a similar thing happened with Sweet P and her jacket and there was Baby B heading toward the coat rack with it.  Although, as he passed by me, he said, "I can't reach."  Which was true, so Sweet P did have to help a bit.

And then later, I told Little M it was time to set up his violin for practice.  Baby B quietly went over and got his violin case and bag and brought it over to Little M.

Baby B, like a typical toddler pretty much never helps out, even when asked.  So, this was amazing.  Each time I was stunned and so happy.

Maybe we have peaceful days right around the corner after all.

I could go for that.

Tonight was the first meeting of a book club comprised of my friends.  It was fun.  Not a lot of actual book discussion, but plenty of discussion anyway.

And delicious buttermilk cinnamon rolls.

And then back home to my poor little Darling A.  She has croup and right now there is nothing more sad than her cough, followed by the most pitiful and weak cry.  Oh, it's heart breaking!

She's still so sweet and smiley when she's not coughing though.  I need to be more like my infant.  Is that normal?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 1033: Adjusting?

This morning, I went in to wake up the boys for school only to discover them already awake.  They were cuddled up on Little M's bed and he was reading to Baby B.  And the sight of it made my whole heart happy.

They normally fight like,well, brothers.  So, moments like this are just beautiful and sweet.

And Baby B has seemed to be doing better the past few days.  Fewer tantrums and not quite so extreme.  I am hesitant to put it into words here in case I jinx it.  I'm not sure if it's because of time passing, him growing up a bit, or me doing better emotionally.  Probably a combination of all three.

I will absolutely take it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 1032: Aahhh...

Well, it appears I have not internalized my new mantra as well as I thought.

A friend tried to pay me a very kind compliment this morning.  One that I didn't feel very deserving of at all, so I tried to brush it off by making a joke that essentially undid the compliment.  By which, my friend seemed bothered, at best.

After we parted ways, I began thinking about this exchange a bit more and I realized this:  This week I have made great progress in accepting that I have intrinsic and unalterable value in the eyes of my Creator and myself and also that those around me are not questioning this value.

What happened this morning requires another leap, though.  I need to believe that in addition to not pondering whether I lack value, some of those around me may actually be fully aware of my value (more so than I, even).  And a compliment made is a result of this and not just someone making something up in order to have something kind to say to me.

And I'm sharing this here because I know many women who have a similar reaction as mine when paid a compliment.  Does making light, or debasing ourselves benefit the individual paying the compliment in anyway?  No.  Nor do I believe that refusing to accept a compliment is a sign of humility.  Or, conversely, that accepting and, even further, agreeing with a compliment is a sign of a lack of humility.

So, looks like I still have more to do with my homework assignment.

But, there was an activity for the women at church tonight and I had so much fun!  And on the way home, I realized that for the first time in a long time, I didn't feel exhausted from the effort of putting on a happy face.  That was a really nice feeling.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 1031: Too Easy

Things are going really well with my new mantra.

Almost too well.  I find myself doubting how long I can maintain this.  It just seems too easy after being so down for so long that I could feel this well just from reaffirming to myself that I have value.

But, for now I'm just trying to enjoy feeling well and all that entails.  We had a great morning.  Feeling well has helped me be a better parent for Baby B.  Things with him have felt a lot less out of control lately.  We even ran an errand tantrum free.  Amazing!

Then we came home, vacuumed the upstairs, and bathed Z.

And everyone was happy thanks to the Bumbo seat a friend gave us last week for Darling A.  She loves being able to sit up and be a part of the action.

And Baby B decided to steal some of the baby greens from my salad at lunch and then pretend that he was Cookie Monster eating his cookies.  Green, leafy cookies.  It was so funny and also fantastic at the same time.  This is a child who really fights eating his vegetables, so watching him eat some serious powerhouse veggies of his own free will was just great.

This evening, the kids and I made caramel apples a la this.  It was fun to have their help, although, I must confess that at the end I just took over completely.  They were busy scraping the extra caramel from the melting bowl, however, and really didn't mind.

The finished product was not pretty (it is important to not substitute a Tablespoon for a Teaspoon, when the instructions say to add a tsp. of water with the melting caramels), but they sure were tasty!

And Little M taught us a Family Home Evening lesson on taking the Sacrament, which he came up with on his own.  HH and I had to supplement a little with some of the discussion and scriptures, but all in all, he did a great job.  I'm so proud!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 1030: Sacrifice?

Today was our Stake Conference.  Not to be confused with Steak Conference.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are divided up according to regional location at varying degrees.  The congregation we meet with is referred to as our "ward".  A group of congregations in an area are referred to as a "stake".  So, Stake Conference is the opportunity to meet together with several other congregations and be taught by those having stewardship over our Stake.

It was a great meeting, but the talk given by our Stake President really hit home for me.  He first asked how much faith do we really need?  He then answered this with the statement that we really only need enough faith to be obedient.

I really liked that because I often find myself worrying that I don't have enough faith, or as much faith as I should.  However, I reflected today, I do have enough faith to be obedient.  I don't think he was suggesting that we shouldn't strive for greater faith, but that having at least the amount of faith required to be obedient is enough.

And then Baby B threw a huge tantrum and I had to take him out as HH was holding a sleeping Darling A and we didn't want him to disrupt everyone else in the room.  At first, I was really mad.  I thought, "I really need to hear this talk!  It is right along the lines of things I'm working through internally.  This is so unfair that I am stuck out here with this crazy child of mine!"

And then the Holy Ghost quietly whispered that perhaps I had heard enough.

So, I calmed down.  Baby B calmed down a few minutes later and we went back in.

By this time our Stake President was sharing a personal experience of a time when he felt that he was living life as he should and then began receiving promptings that there was one thing in his life he needed to change.  He was surprised, as he didn't see that this particular thing (he never specified what) was really holding him back spiritually.  And he delayed his obedience to this prompting.  As time went on, he began to feel more distant from things of a spiritual nature and it wasn't until one day reading in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 84, verse 54:  "And your aminds in times past have been bdarkened because of cunbelief, and because you have treated dlightly the things you have received—"

And he realized that the spiritual distance he felt was because he had avoided changing this one thing.

Well, I too have recently begun receiving promptings to change something.  For me, it's giving up a particular TV show.  I think it's really funny, but it also has some inappropriate content.  I was kind of dragging my feet at this recent prompting, but sitting there today, I knew that I can't really afford to do anything that will result in distancing me from the spirit.  And that message felt like it was just for me.

Being close to the Holy Spirit is important at all times, but I feel even more so right now as I'm really trying to get better and be happy again.

And giving up a television show so that I can have the Joyful life for which I was intended, really isn't the sacrifice I was initially thinking it was.

And then I came home and finally read the article "Good, Better, Best" that I'd intended to read on Friday and it pretty much just reiterated that.  So, I'd say I've been given a clear message.

I'm listening.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 1029: When I Look At You

I was holding Darling A this afternoon after her nap.  I had her facing out because I was working on somethings and she prefers this position when we're not interacting.  But today, she wanted the interatction.  So, she kept making the big effort to turn her chubby little face toward mine.  When I would look down to see what she was doing, she'd look up at me with her sweet little smile and I couldn't help but smile back.  Which only made her smile even bigger, like she was in baby heaven.  And for a rested, well-fed baby, maybe a smile from Mama is all it takes.

It was so sweet.  I adore her!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 1028: Awakening

Okay, so I'm going to delve a little deeper here.  I debated whether or not to share the following because it is very personal for me, but in the hopes of someday helping someone, or maybe just my future self needing a reminder, here goes.

I started seeing a counselor a few weeks ago and it's been challenging because I have to be honest with him and I can't pretend like everything in my life is great like I do with everyone else (besides here, of course) or else he's not going to be able to help me.

HH and I felt very guided in this decision, particularly in choosing the individual doing the counseling.  So, I have a great deal of faith that he will be able to help me and that is pretty much the only reason I'm willing to sit there and discuss the icky dark parts of my life that I otherwise try to live in denial about.

He gives me a "homework assignment" each week so I'm working on things everyday.  The first two were very straight forward and relatively simple.  Today, was different.  He told me to invite friends over and intentionally leave my house messy.  And a few other things along those lines.  So, I'm thinking a couple pillows on the floor (Baby B apparently has a very strong belief that that is where they belong so it's an all day battle every day), no big deal.  But, then he reiterates what I am supposed to do (things that would normally make me cringe, at the very least) and says, "But, you're going to do it on purpose so it's okay."

Before all of this he told me he was going to wait and tell me the purpose of this assignment next week.  But, as I imagined a few of these scenarios in my mind and how it was going to make me feel, I was suddenly fighting back tears with all I had, repeating to him that "I'm fine.  I'm fine.", and hurrying to get out the door (it was time to go anyway).

On the drive home, I tried to pinpoint exactly why the mere thought of something like leaving my house messy when friends come over would make me cry.  And I wanted to figure out exactly what the point of this exercise was, so that I wouldn't waste that effort.  It was really bothering me for about an hour, until I felt prompted to write things down in order to sort out my thoughts.

I began with the various, interconnected purposes I thought this exercise might have:  Help me recognize that I have set some silly standards for myself; to see that these things aren't as important to anyone else as they are to me, to see that most of the time no one else even cares or notices, etc.

Then I moved on to why I have these standards to begin with:  I am super competitive and feel a strange need to "be the best" at certain silly things; I love getting praised and complimented on doing them well; I'm afraid of someone (even complete strangers) judging me for not being the best.

Then I came to the part that was really bothering me:  How do I find balance?

Because none of what I'm doing is inherently wrong.  It's not bad to have a clean house, to want to cook a masterpiece when we have someone over, to push myself in my exercise, to want to dress nice, etc.  But, doing these things at the expense of my sanity is a problem.  However, I have this huge fear that if I let things slip a little, they'll get away from me completely and I'll become a complete slob and disaster.

Interjection:  I don't apply these standards to anyone else.  I don't look at someone with a messy house and think they are a slob and disaster.  I think, "How nice to not have to stress about that."

Next, I wrote down some questions to ask myself in order to evaluate if what I was doing was worth the time, effort, and concern I was giving it:  Does it have an eternal impact?; Does it make me happy?; Does it make someone else happy?; Am I doing it just to feed my ego, or to avoid being judged?; etc.

At this point I was reminded of a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Good, Better Best and felt prompted to read it.  Getting ahead of myself just a tad, when I did go to read it, this talk came up first and I mistakenly read it instead.  However, I think it's exactly what I was supposed to read, and I'll explain that more later.

I looked over what I had written down and pondered some more.  And that is when inspiration truly struck.  The point of this assignment is to come to truly believe and understand this:  If I do not _________ perfectly, it doesn't diminish my value.

If I walk in the middle of a run because I'm tired or my plantar fascitis is bothering me, it doesn't take away from my worth.

Simple enough.  But a huge leap in thinking for me.

Then I went to my computer to look up the talk and read the one on focus and priorities.  And I gained even further insight.  Elder Oaks says, "Our priorities determine what we seek in life."  So, I asked myself, "Based on my actions, what are my priorities?"

Answer:  Making sure that everyone knows I have value by working hard to be "the best" at a few odd things.

What do I want my priority to be?  Building up the Kingdom of God.  And the best way for me to do that right now is in the raising of my children.  At which point I remembered when Sweet P was a baby writing down in her journal that the most important thing I had to teach her is that she is a daughter of God.  She possesses His divinity within her and should let that knowledge influence every choice and action she ever makes.

How can I convince her of that when my daily purposes is not to accept the worth I have simply because I was created by a Divine Being, but to try and prove it over and over again.  It's like trying to convince everyone around me that broccoli is green.  A fact so commonly accepted that no one ever even thinks about it, let alone questions it.

But, even more fundamental, even if someone truly believed that broccoli is purple, that wouldn't change the fact that it is green.

So, I need to stop making my life goal to convince people (and myself) that I have value by proving that I can have the deepest twist in yoga or can make really great bread sticks even with four children because I have value no matter what I do.  And no matter what I, or anyone else thinks.

So, today I developed a new mantra:  I have value.

Every time I've felt the need to do something not necessarily in my best interest, I've repeated this to myself.  And then focused on the peace and happiness that truly believing that statement brings.  Hopefully, if I do this enough, I will finally believe it and I won't have to remind myself every 5 minutes.

But, for now, it's helping.

And today was a good day.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1027: The Upside of Sickness

Baby B has been wild and crazy and ornery while I have been absent here.  I know, big surprise, right?

He's the only toddler who displays such behavior.  I know.

But, this morning he woke up feeling quite a bit "under the weather".  He's often sniffly and slightly on the sick side, so we don't typically stop the presses when this happens.  And these symptoms have been around for a few days.  So, I didn't fully realize just how yucky he was feeling until after I went to pick him up from the gym (at which point I realized that I probably shouldn't have taken him to the gym) and he was laying on the rug looking so sad and pathetic.

This might sound a little bad, but it was kind of nice.  Not that I am at all happy that he was suffering.  But, he was so calm and snuggly and sweet and easy to please all day (mostly, because all he wanted were snuggles and sleep).

And it was a good break from me.

I did take him to the doctor to make sure it was nothing serious.

It's not.

And I'm sure he'll be back at the tantrums in a day, or two.

So, I'm going to enjoy the calm while it lasts.  And comfort my baby all I can while he's feeling yucky.