Friday, May 29, 2015

Turkey Sandwich with BBQ Dip

I love condiments! 

In the book The Help there's a part where grits are being described and they are described as a vehicle for whatever it is you'd rather be eating. That's me with condiments. I look for ways to have condiments. 

What can I have with mustard? 

What could I have with this dressing? 

How could I use fry sauce with this? 

Could I eat terriyaki sauce on that? 

You really should try honey with fried chicken.

How many ways can I use BBQ sauce? 

sandwich dip

And BBQ sauce is my all-time favorite condiment. I've been known to eat it on sandwiches, corn, with fries, and then all the usual stuff. I live for ways to enjoy BBQ sauce. 

While many of you probably wouldn't love BBQ sauce on your corn (but you never know), you are sure to love this warm BBQ sandwich dip. 

A sandwich person I am not, but I love a warm, toasted sandwich, dunked in this sticky goodness. It's an easy and delicious meal. Try it!


For the sandwich:

Sandwich bread--you'll want the good stuff

Cheese (we use provolone usually)

Deli Sliced Turkey-again, you'll want the good stuff


Sandwich toppings of choice--onions, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

For the sauce:

1 Cup Favorite BBQ Sauce--this changes for us regularly

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cup Water

delicious summer meal for guests

Mix BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and water in a saucepan and slowly warm on stove

As sauce warms, through your deli slices into the pot and heat them there 

While sauce/lunch meat  is warming-turn your oven onto broil. 

Line a cookie sheet with your bread facing up (add butter if you'd like) and a slice of cheese. 

Set in oven for 3-5 minutes, until bread is crispy and cheese is melted

Remove from oven and add deli slices to each sandwich. Top sandwiches with toppings, and the other slice of bread.

Pour sauce into ramekins

Dip your sandwich, eat, repeat. And enjoy! 

What is your favorite condiment?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Every Time Your Child Goes Up a Size in Clothes Checklist

Every time JaiseAnn goes up a size in clothes, there are a few things I do besides cry and look longingly at her newborn pictures. (Just kidding! I only cried when she moved out of her newborn clothes, but I still do get a bit sad realizing that I'll never see her little bottom in those pants again.) I set aside an hour one afternoon and just tackle the issue.

hand me downs

Our Moving Up a Size Routine Includes:

-Pack up the clothes that don't fit. I have two categories for this. I first package up any especially sentimental pieces. (I'm keeping these to someday make something special like a quilt). The second batch is for her potential future sibling/cousin/donation items.

-Put new clothes in drawers and hang in closet. I wash all of her new clothes and hang and put them away.

-I pick one or two outfits for the diaper bag or emergency car kit

-I put a few pieces of the new clothing (or some of the baggier/bigger older clothing )in her Toddler 72 hour kit.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Expectations in Marriage (Part 2)

"Do you think she should be a cupcake and we could be bakers? Or would you rather her be a sunflower and we could be gardeners? Or is there another one you like better?" I continued to press Zach for a response as we searched for JaiseAnn's first Halloween costume. My eagerness to choose the perfect costume was met with responses like, "I don't know," "Sure," and "I guess?" Our family venture to pick out our daughter's first Halloween costume left me feeling disappointed and defeated. 

On our drive home, I was sitting next to my husband and reviewing all the reasons I was upset: He wasn't taking an active role in this experience. In fact, he rarely took an active role in any experience. Didn't he care? Didn't he love these things as much as I did? Why was he not participating in our family? Fuming, I was just about to begin sharing ALL THE FEELINGS with him, when I had an epiphany. An epiphany that was likely five years too late, but still. Maybe Zach didn't have a picture in his head about holidays like I did. Maybe he didn't have the same expectations for holidays and if I didn't clearly share those with him, how would he know? 

handling holidays as a married couple

Rather than yell at him, I decided to calmly explain to him that this experience was a big deal to me because I wanted to have a fun family costume for JaiseAnn's first Halloween. I was picturing going to our ward Trunk-Or-Treat, visiting family to show off JaiseAnn in her costume, and cute pictures of our family's first Halloween together--perfectly placed in her baby book under "Your First Halloween." 

I picture everything--I picture the rest of my day when I wake up, I picture date nights, I picture holidays, and I picture parts of our future on a very regular basis and I still don't realize that my husband doesn't. If I don't clue him in on what those things look like to me, it's hard for him to care. And if he doesn't seem to understand how important it is to me, I get upset, disappointed, and I get my feelings hurt.

We have a long way to go, but I now realize that I need to let Zach know that I expect him to wake up with (or before) me on Mother's Day and make me breakfast. I have to let him know that I'd like family pictures on Easter. I have to let him know that it would be nice if Santa left something in my stocking. It's give and take--Santa visits every year, but I have never gotten a visit from the Easter bunny. I have to share the way I see holidays and expect them to play out with my husband, and it's important that he listens and takes it to heart. I also have to let some of the things go when he doesn't play along with my silly games and forgets to care about something that matters to me.

One of those future things I picture, is a future us where we have finally figured out the expectations thing. Zach cares a little more and I care a little less. We are not there yet, but someday I hope to be. In the meantime, I have learned that if you have an expectation in your marriage that is left unshared--it can cause a lot of disappointment and heartbreak that otherwise could have been avoided. 

How do you handle expectations in your marriage? Are you on the same page as your spouse when it comes to holidays?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Waiting for Marriage--FAQ

You asked, I am answering. Actually you didn't ask, but that's okay. I've been compiling a list of arguments or thoughts people have about waiting for marriage and am going to address them anyway. (Like I said before, this topic is near and dear to my heart and as such--please share it with anyone who might appreciate or need it).

Before I post on the topic of how waiting for marriage has impacted my marriage, I first thought I'd share my take on a few common arguments I hear regularly from people who don't choose to wait. 

saving yourself for marriage

You Wouldn't Buy a Car Without Test Driving It First
I have so much to say about this very flawed argument. Most people who respond this way do so with a manner of sexual elitism--as if they care more about their sex life than those who wait and they are more sexually mature. To begin with, I would highly argue that a couple that chooses to abstain from sex until marriage--cares very much about sex. The very act of waiting for a commitment as big as marriage to be intimate shows just how serious the couple takes sex. It is important to them. The very act of waiting shows so much more regard for the intimacy and importance of sex in a relationship than those participating in casual sexual relationships.

Another point I strongly wish to make is that I didn't make the rules, God did (see scriptures about abstinence here, here, and here, to start--all of those come from the Bible. This talk about chastity is also a good one). I firmly believe that God values sex and wants married couples to enjoy it. I also know that He wants us to wait until marriage. I could go on and on with how much sense this commandment makes since sex is a means of procreation, sexually transmitted diseases, major heartache, and more. It makes sense that if He loves us, He would ask us to safeguard sex and our bodies.

My personal experience is that God if He asks you to do something that seems impossible, He will provide a way. There are many things God asks of us that are not convenient or favorable, but that doesn't give us the option to choose to forgo them just because they are hard. He will help you stay strong prior to marriage and He will help you overcome any struggles you may have in marriage--including struggles with intimacy. I have heard of couples who waited until marriage who have problems with sexual compatibility after marriage. I have also heard of couples who didn't wait who still struggle in marriage. I have a very hard time buying into the "blame abstinence" argument.

In my personal experience, Zach and I had many (many!) a make out session prior to us getting married. Some of those memories are memories that I am not proud of, but I did know from some of our experience prior to marriage that we were compatible in that way. While I don't encourage exploring compatibility during courtship, I do encourage discussing it. Zach and I also talked about sex a lot. (Yes, our experience was slightly different because Zach has been married before). But we discussed what we expected from married life regarding sex and what we were and were not comfortable with. If you can't comfortably have that conversation with the person you are going to marry, then you may not be in the right relationship.

It Puts Too Much Pressure on Your Wedding Night and There's Bound to Be Disappointment

Too much pressure? How about so much excitement and anticipation. I've only ever had my one experience, but I am guessing that there's not much that can beat your first time being with someone who just committed to you for eternity. Sharing that experience with someone for the first time creates an incredible bond, deepens your love, and allows you to explore a whole new world that is just yours together.

Like I said, in my personal experience I was very comfortable with Zach and so there wasn't pressure to do or be anything other than myself. From the very beginning, we've been able to laugh when things don't seem to go entirely as planned and that made for an easy transition into married life/intimacy.

Everyone Knows That You're Having Sex--It's Not Very Private
Yep, this is true. I was the teenage girl who would go to a wedding reception and then say, "OH MY GOODNESS, THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE SEX TONIGHT!"  There's no way around it, people know. And I'm the type that gets embarrassed about this kind of thing, but it is what it is. I'd rather have people know I waited and be embarrassed about it than compromise my virtue. (True story: I had a former Young Women's leader of mine straight up ask me at my wedding reception if I'd had time to do the deed yet. Not joking. Mormons aren't as prude as some people like to think.)

Sexual Repression is a Real Thing--I Should Be Able to Do What I Want/With Whoever I Want/When I Want

It baffles me that I will see people post stuff like this and yet they will restrict their food intake and up their workout all the while bemoaning this new lifestyle change. "I just want chocolate!" Yet, they choose to exercise discipline because it is good for their health (and let's be honest, their appearance.) When you suggest abstience, though, suddenly it's unfair and repressive and impossible. It is an agrument I'll never understand. 

Again, it's a commandment and anything is possible. But it doesn't mean that it will be easy. I chose to not kiss anyone until I met Zach and I am so grateful for that decision. It kept me out of many potential situations that would have tempted me to compromise. It didn't make it easy, though. Once I met Zach--it was difficult to stay on track at times--very difficult. I never once considered that the decision I was making was wrong or it was "too hard." Rather, I knew that I wasn't making good choices or trusting God enough. I knew that I was the one that needed to make changes, not that commandments needed to be altered.

What are your thoughts on waiting until marriage? Have you heard or made these arguments before?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Common Misconceptions About the Common Core

It's come to my attention lately, that there are many misconceptions about the Common Core. Well, actually I've been aware of this since the beginning, but there have been a few conversations I've had lately that have led me to this post.

Before I address three misconceptions about the Common Core, I will first give you some background about me. I taught elementary school (grades 3-5) for six years. I worked hard in many different committees and took a lot of extra classes during those six years. I was able to work with committees within my school, district, and even had opportunities outside of my district to dissect the Common Core, learn about it, and find out how to apply it to teaching. In addition, I enrolled in graduate school in 2012. I have five classes remaining before I  obtain my degree. The plan (was/is/I don't know right now) for me to obtain a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction with a Mathematics Consulting Teacher Certificate (that's a mouthful). With the Common Core, districts and schools are highly likely to hire math coaches and my plan was to become one. This is all to say that I have a relatively solid understanding of the Common Core mathematics side of things and I'm pretty well-versed in the standards.  

Common Core new math

Some of the common misconceptions about the CCSS include:

1. Common Core is a Curriculum
The Common Core is a set of standards that have been adopted by many different states nationwide. Schools and districts have been operating on their own set of standards for years. The Common Core is a nation-wide set of standards and the standards are much higher than many/most districts have ever seen. The standards require critical thinking and application skills from early on. The bar has been raised for our students.

I often here or see comments like, "This Common Core problem I saw..." and that statement is misleading and inaccurate. Districts adopt or use whatever curriculum they choose that meets their standards--just as they always have. The problem that a person is often referring to was created by a textbook company, a school district, or even the teacher him/herself but was not created by the Common Core. The Common Core tells teachers what they need to cover in their classroom every year, the problems/tasks/lessons they use to cover those standards come from their curriculum or are their own creation. To see and understand these standards (and to see that there is no curriculum or set of problems attached) see here.

2. The Common Core is Introducing "New" Ideas and Pedagogy
This is math specific as I haven't heard anyone yet complain about the "new writing" that they are teaching kids these days. I sure have heard a lot of "new math" comments. The math isn't new. Math is math. It has always been. The approach to teaching math is a new concept and idea for many, but even that isn't new. In fact many of you likely use the approaches and strategies used to teach mathematics conceptually without realizing it. I have sat in on many math classes as teachers are being taught to teach math conceptually and most teachers will say, "Oh! I do that, I just didn't know I could/should/or that I was doing it!" 

Without a full understanding of the scope and sequence of the mathematics Common Core, it's hard to see how it all fits together, but it does. The approach to teaching math allows students to access a problem from a variety of angles and ways. This is something that people in mathematical career fields do inherently anyway.

This math that has been introduced has been used in other countries successfully for years. Countries like Singapore and Finland teach math conceptually and some of the most renowned mathematicians have been constructing mathematical instructional books with specific instruction to lead to conceptual understanding in math for years. This is the first time their approaches have been outright honored by standards, but they should have been taught all along. 

3. The Benefits of the Common Core
This new approach to math was introduced in many states prior to the Common Core. Idaho was actually one of them. All teachers were required to take an updated Developing Mathematical Thinking course that the state paid for. This course addressed this idea of teaching math conceptually to students. Many of these states introduced this approach because state colleges were seeing high declines in students entering science and mathematical fields. We want good jobs in those fields and we want them in the United States. We want our nation to remain competitive and strong, so we have to increase those numbers and we have to help our students gain a more solid understanding of mathematical concepts.

Futhermore, when you pool together the resources and money from many different places to create standards, you're more likely to find quality work. The standards flow well together, they work with one another, and they promote higher level thinking and critical thinking skills. This does not happen with limited resources and professionals working together to create a scope and sequence for grades K-12. 

What are some things you have heard or think about the Common Core? Can I help clear anything up?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Partners in Parenting

Zach and I generally adhere to pretty traditional gender roles in our home. We feel that it is what is best for our family. When JaiseAnn was born, I decided that our plans for me to stay home with her couldn't wait. It had to happen now. And Zach put in the extra hours of work to make it happen. I was still working from home, but only ten hours a week, while he put in about sixty. His main job was to pay the bills, my main job was to take care of JaiseAnn. 

Working from home has had it's moments. It's such a blessing, but it has brought its own set of stress and angst.  It's hard to find time to work with a baby like JaiseAnn who is a poor sleeper (though we're very slowly getting a bit better), furthermore, it's hard to work at all when she's awake because I'm doing this for a reason--to care for her and our home. Work falls during nap times and after bed time...which makes making room for Zach and myself a bit tricky most days. The worst part about working from home, though, has been the lack of stability at this point. Anything I've been able to find has either been contract or freelance work, which means I've worried about this little time in my life ending before it has really even begun. 

The stress was literally consuming me. Which is most likely why I have been so reluctant to share about my life on here in any personal way--and honestly I still am reluctant to post this. I found two jobs at the same time both are temporary but both will add skills to my resume that will hopefully help me find something more stable. Both are in the education field which allows me to at least look forward to opening up my computer when JaiseAnn goes to bed at night. One of them, though, required a week-long all expense paid training to Washington D.C.

During my phone interview I expressed that I would want to bring my daughter/husband with me on the trip as I am not yet ready to be away from JaiseAnn. The company was so supportive and while we had to cover the cost of airfare and food for Zach, we didn't have to cover the cost of a room--which was a huge blessing. Zach didn't bat an eye, when I asked him to fly out there with me and watch JaiseAnn while I literally attended training into the evenings. 

I was so nervous to leave her during the day, but she loved staying with her dad. They stopped by to visit a couple of times during my twelve hour days so I could play, talk with, and nurse JaiseAnn. It was honestly a little fun. JaiseAnn got sick while we were there and instead of making memories in D.C. with his daughter, Zach spent his days with a sick little girl sleeping on him. He did such a good job with her. 

There were roughly two hundred teachers at this training with me and I didn't get to know them all, but they saw my husband and daughter waiting for me between classes and they were constantly stopping me to check in on how she was doing and how I was holding up. And every single one of them said, "You're husband is awesome!" 

Yes, yes he is. Marriage after kids has been incredibly rough in a lot of ways. I plan to share more and more on that in the coming weeks and months, but I am so proud of my husband. I'm proud for people to know that I chose him and he chose me. I am proud of who he is as a provider for our family and who he is as a caretaker for our daughter. Finding time together has been hard. The stresses of adjusting to less money has been downright painful at times. But we are partners in parenting--whether we're taking care of JaiseAnn, our home, or our finances--we're partners. 

This opportunity was for me, undoubtedly. I needed to utilize my strengths and talents and I was so excited when this chance came my way, that I literally cried. But I also need to be home with my daughter in a way that I cannot even describe. I am grateful for a husband that supports me in both. This trip was another step in the right direction. Another opportunity that we hope and pray will open doors to more. 

In the meantime, we'll keep plugging along--working toward the same end goal. 

What goals are you working on with your spouse?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Date Night: GIF Activity

So many times we are trying to put away our electronic devices for date night! We do that, too! It's a major rule at our house. But every so often, it's fun to involve electronics in your date night. The other night I created this Gif Activity Date Night after having to search Gifs (something I'd actually never done because I'm actually 80) for a introductory video for my job. (If you're wondering, I chose this Gif and I at least know two people who will totally appreciate it). 

cheap date ideas

Anyway, this at-home  date couldn't be more simple. You'll need:

-Two phones/tablets (one for each person)
-A timer
-A comfortable place to sit 
-This printable list of prompts

One partner reads the prompt and sets the timer (you can choose the time, we chose to limit to five minutes because you definitely can scroll through GIFs for days).

Each partner searches for a Gif that fits the prompt (some great GIFs search sites include Giphy, GifMe, and Reaction GIFs)

When the timer ends, share your Gifs and a good laugh/discussion

*A GIF that describes your spouse's philosophy on life
*A GIF that portrays your disagreements
*A GIF that reminds you of your honeymoon
*A GIF that reminds you of your spouse's job
*A GIF that reminds you of one of your in-laws  (add another element of fun by showing the GIF and seeing if your spouse can guess who it represents:)
*A GIF that reminds you of your feelings about your favorite restaurant
*A GIF that describes how you feel about your spouse
*A GIF that reminds you of your first date
*A GIF that reminds you of your friends or your spouse's friends (add another element of fun by showing the GIF and seeing if your spouse can guess who it represents:)
*A GIF that portrays your view of your sex life 

What are your plans for date night this week? Would you try this? If you do, I'd love to hear about it! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Requesting Your Child's Teacher: Why & How

The topic of whether or not you should request your child's teacher in both the teaching world and the parenting world. Some teachers argue that it unfairly "stacks" a class while some parents believe children should just adapt to the teacher they're given, because you'll have to in the real world.

I support parents allowing their children to experience growing pains and personality differences with their teacher. I feel that you can still do this when requesting a teacher. Requesting your child's teacher doesn't mean that your child will automatically have an easy time or not be held accountable--especially if you choose a teacher that you know will do those things.

should I request a teacher for my child
Add caption

Why You Should Request Your Child's Teacher

I know that pretty much anyone reading my blog will agree that our kids are the most important things in our lives. We carefully/thoughtfully decide how they will be cared for before they're even born. We take extra precautions during pregnancy, seek the best health care for our wants/needs, and seek the best birthing experience. Once our children are here we carefully, thoughtfully, and often prayerfully decide who will care for them. Will mom or dad stay home? Will we leave our child with a grandparent, friend, or choose a daycare facility? If you choose daycare chances are you made phone calls, asked for opinions, and visited the center before enrolling your child. You may also follow similar procedures when choosing a pediatrician or dentist. When it comes to our kids, I feel like it's best to assume nothing. That means you don't assume that just because a doctor has a medical license and is employeed by a hospital that you should assume he is the best fit for you. 

The same goes for teachers. Teachers are not all created equal. Usually this is a good thing. Offering a school/parents/students differing strengths and abilities. But often times it also means that there are some bad apples. Many parents assume that if the teachers is educated and employed, then it's the best fit. Some parents also assume that teachers take their child's personality into account when putting them into a classroom for the next year. That isn't always true (see note below).

Your child's teacher spends more time with them during the day than you will most days. S/he helps shape character, build understanding, and helps develop your child's outlook on learning. Teachers play a big, big role in your child's life and it's important to be involved in the process of selecting a teacher. 

A Little Background:
Teacher placement happens differently in every school. In some schools the administrator,counselor or secretary handles placement. In many schools, the teachers do help place the students in their classes for the following year. It is, however, important to note that there are many factors considered when placing students. Students are usually placed based on four things: gender, ability level, ethnicity (this is important in issues of language and was especially relevant during the No Child Left Behind days), and personality. This means that a teacher can go in armed to put a whole slew of kids in particular classrooms but sometimes the needs of the teachers/school put the personality matches on the low end of priorities.

Tips for Choosing Your Child's Teacher

Some school districts do not allow teacher requests, so your first step is finding out if yours does. If it doesn't, and it's important to you, ask what you can do or who you can meet with to petition for a change. You might meet with the superintendent or the school board. If your school does accept teacher requests there are often rules and deadlines for this. Call the school and speak with the secretary. Find out what paperwork is necessary (if any) and what deadline.

Visit the Classroom
In all my years of teaching, I've only had one parent come watch me teach before choosing a teacher (she didn't choose me, by the way). I felt like it was so incredible that she took the time to visit each room without solely relying on word of mouth. In most schools there isn't a "best" teacher. There's usually a "best teacher for your child." When you have a selection, you'll want to note things like:

-Classroom Environment--is it cluttered or clean? Is it organized? Is it over stimulating? Each kid is different and each child will thrive in a different type of environment. You'll also want to note the way the teacher arranges her classroom/desks and the overall feel for the classroom. How the students interact with the teacher and each other.

-Teacher Expectations--You'll also want to know a bit about the teachers expectations. How accountable does the teacher hold students and will you be able to support that accountability at home? What is the discipline policy and how does the teacher view behaviors and discipline?

-Teaching Style--Pay attention to the way the teacher teaches. Does she use a variety of methods--particularly the method your child needs most? Does she encourage critical thinking? How do students participate in the learning experience?

Talk to Other Parents--Carefully

Other parents are an excellent resource, but exercise caution with this one. Some parents pick a teacher they like for other reasons than those listed above and it's important to use your judgement when you talk to parents. I know some parents in my neighborhood bad mouth a particular teacher but when you talk to them it's all word of mouth from one or two parents where the problem originated and it sounds (to me) like the original parents had problems because of their child's poor behavior. It's important to note your source and ask questions like, "How is discipline handled?" "What kind of homework does the teacher send home?" "How does the teacher communicate with parents?" Etc..

Go With Your Gut

You might just have a feeling about a teacher. Her classroom might be crazy and disorganized, but you just know she's got what your kid needs. Trust that and go with it.

Would or do you select your child's teacher? What is most important to you in a teacher?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

FHE: We'll Ascend Together

As per my Marriage and Relationship goal this month, I am working on improving the spiritual aspect of our marriage/family/home. I want Zach and I to become stronger, spiritually, together. I also want to start good habits for JaiseAnn as she grows. We already say prayers as a family and read scriptures, but there's still some things we need to do.

We need to get rid of some of the stuff in our home that doesn't belong there--gossip, inappropriate television, etc. And we need to add some thoughtful quotes, some more order, kinder words, and we need to start truly implementing family night. 

Each Sunday I will post our FHE plans for the following Monday. Our topics will be based on the latest general conference talks and Zach and I will take turns choosing them. (If these posts assist me in being more prepared for FHE, it is likely they will continue past the month of May), so please let me know if they help you. 

FHE ideas

We'll Ascend Together talk by Linda K. Burton
Uplifting and helping your spouse to become the very best s/he can possibly be. 

Read the talk in advance. 
Take turns sharing one or two quotes that stand out to you.
Have an open/honest discussion--In what ways do you feel you help your spouse best? In what areas can you improve?
Share with your spouse some of the potential you see in him/her. How do you plan to help him/her reach it?

If you feel comfortable and ready, discuss you own personal answers to these questions that posed in the talk:

  1. 1. 
    When was the last time I sincerely praised my companion, either alone or in the presence of our children?
  2. 2. 
    When was the last time I thanked, expressed love for, or earnestly pleaded in faith for him or her in prayer?
  3. 3. 
    When was the last time I stopped myself from saying something I knew could be hurtful?
  4. 4. 
    When was the last time I apologized and humbly asked for forgiveness—without adding the words “but if only you had” or “but if only you hadn’t”?
  5. 5. 
    When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be “right”?

Family Application/Activity--Toddler Friendly
Play a game as a family where mom and dad work together as a team. 
JaiseAnn is so little--she's really into hide and seek right now, so we'll probably hide together and then when she hides we'll find her together.

JaiseAnn and I will make our FHE treats the day of FHE and we'll try to find more clean/toddler friendly treats like these

This week we'll make these three ingredient bars

What are your thoughts on FHE? Do you have a family night? How does it strengthen your marriage/family/home?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Motherhood Did Not Steal My Identity

I remember hearing things like, "Before I was a mom, I was ___." "It's hard to remember the me before motherhood." Hearing these things made me feel anxious and even a bit fearful  about motherhood--like I had to protect and safeguard Sharlee. If I wasn't careful, Motherhood might come and steal all of my intelligence, talents, opinions, preferences, and such. That would be no good. Certainly, I'd have to watch out for that.

But then JaiseAnn came and I became a mom all at the same time. And I quickly discovered that Motherhood hadn't come to take me away from myself. In fact, Motherhood has helped me find myself. 

For years I joked that I lived in a constant state of struggle between being my mom or being my dad. I had parts of both my parents in my personality and I felt like I was constantly at struggle between one or the other. It was funny and it was a great way to explain how I felt, but the truth was it was difficult for me.

maintaining identity during motherhood

There were times that I seriously felt trapped between these two battles...constantly choosing which parent to emulate more. I could not decide which part of me I should embrace and which part to shut down.  And could I ever really have either without the other side tugging at me to change a little?

But then I became the parent and motherhood freed me of that. Instead of feeling like I am torn between taking after one of my parents or anyone else for that matter,  I am free to decide "What should JaiseAnn's mom do?" This freedom has allowed me to dream bigger, say "No!" when I need to say it, and to say, "Yes" when I know I need to as well. It has helped me find and discover interests that I didn't know I had and it has made me want to strengthen parts of me-- my faith, my body image, my health, my drive, and my marriage to set a good example for her.

I have found and enhanced parts of myself, not just as a mother, but as a wife, educator, friend, blogger, Target shopper, and chocolate consumer. I am finding myself an even bigger dreamer than I knew. I find more things I'm interested in and more things I am good at every day.  I haven't lost myself, I've found myself. I have discovered parts of me that were hidden all along, just waiting to come out. Motherhood has allowed me to embrace my inner dreamer, my inner homemaker, and my inner song-writer. I've found the goofy and the super sensitive side of myself. I have found discovered a stronger fighter and I have desired to learn more and search for more faith.  I have found a self-love that I didn't know existed as I get to be someone else's whole world.

mother daughter pictures
Motherhood has stolen hours of sleep and a bit of independence, but it has given me so much. All the sleep in the world couldn't repay what Motherhood has given me.  It's freed me to grow and evolve and develop into so much more. My heart has grown, my dreams have grown, my talents have grown, my priorities have improved,and my faith has grown. I am grateful every day for the gift of Motherhood. 

How did your identity change/unfold after motherhood?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Toddler Bucket List

JaiseAnn loves babies! Whenever she sees a baby, she goes to him/her, gets close, and leans in for a kiss. She will stroke a baby's face and she's always super gentle with him/her. I have been moved by this display a number of times, but sometimes I just want to shout: "Hey JaiseAnn, don't you know you are a baby?!?!"

Calling JaiseAnn a toddler, still feels foreign and a little heartbreaking. It would be nearly impossible if she didn't act so much like a toddler...the walking, the fits, the affection, the mimicking, all the big girl things are just beginning. It makes me sad and it also makes me excited. There is so much that I have been excited to do and explore with her ever since I met her. Here is a small Toddler Bucket List I've kept running through my mind for quite a while:

Rock Painting


Spa Day--baths, nails, hair, etc.

Grab a Special Treat Together

Watch Live Animals (You can easily find live streamings of eagles or other animals online.)

Visit the Zoo

Make a Mess 

Bubble Play

Build a Fort

Make Pizza Together


Feed the Ducks

Play with the Water Table

Finger Painting

Wash Cars

Bathtub Play (with and without water--just take some bath time in the middle of the day)

Play Dough

Messy Playdate (who wants to come over for this one?)

Tugging Box

 Pick fresh food from the garden and have a treat (I'm thinking our raspberries this summer will be a delicious blast!)

*For more great ideas follow me on Pinterest!

What else does this list need? What is your favorite toddler activity?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I have made it a personal goal to fill my blog with uplifting or helpful posts. I carefully plan each post and continually try to improve on my topic ideas, photography, and engagement. But I have been leaving out a very key component and I'm not sure why--I haven't been casual enough to be engaging. I started throwing posts out there and they cover some big topics. I share some very personal feelings, but I don't really have any light-hearted conversations with the readers of this blog. Basically I'm like the lady behind you at the grocery store her bares her soul to you. She tells you ALLTHETHINGS and you stand there nodding your head and mumbling a few words. So I'm making an effort to share some casual posts more often. I'm going to start by linking up with Jenna and Anne  (the first Wednesday of each month) to bring you a few of the things I'm currently doing. 

I'm Currently...

Designing: As much as I'd love it to be, designing isn't really my thing in any way. But I have been trying to pick out curtains for my living room. I'm really torn because I have a version of a bay window (instead of three windows, though, just two. A main, larger, window and a small window off to the side. My big dilemma is whether or not to treat it like one big window with one set of curtains or treat it like two separate windows. Any advice?

Enjoying: I have started some contract work for two educational companies that I am really enjoying. It's hard to squeeze in time to work during the day--so I usually only work at night or during JaiseAnn's naps. I used to dread the work that I was waiting for me after a hellish 1 1/2 of bedtime routine. Now, I look forward to the time to do some work. It's a really good feeling and I pray that I can continue to find work I love. 

Ordering: With these new jobs, I've needed a few new things. I'm getting a super cheap new computer (my husband found a great deal for me. It's nothing fancy, but it meets my needs). I have also ordered a few educational books.  

Celebrating: Mother's Day is just around the corner. I'm all sorts of nostalgic thinking back to last year when JaiseAnn was just a tiny little thing...and even more nostalgic when I think back to two years ago when I found out I was pregnant on Mother's Day (sort of). I have asked Zach that instead of the "pamper me" types of gifts that I normally thought I would want for Mother's Day, I would like gift certificates, money, or activity kits for things I can do with JaiseAnn as a mom.

Tasting: As summer nears, I find myself craving beverages more and more. I am really interested in trying different infused water recipes. Lately I've just been throwing a few orange wedges and maybe a little lemon in my water and it is so incredibly good. What is your favorite way to infuse water?

What are you doing currently?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I'm just a beginning blogger--with a small following. When I get contacted to review a product, it really makes me excited. When Firmoo contacted me to review their eye wear I initially decided I would decline. I don't wear glasses and I have actually been against people who wear glasses for fashion. I don't really know why other than I thought it was silly to wear something to make it look like you had an impairment you didn't actually have.

*If you are new to Firmoo and want to check them out--you can get 50% off of your eyeglass order

But I have set some private goals for myself recently (I'm working on a social experiment of sorts and I can't wait to share it with you..but be patient). So I readjusted my thinking and thought, "Here's a chance for you to step out of your comfort zone!" And so I decided that I would go ahead and review some "frames for fashion."

I hopped on the computer and immediately uploaded my picture onto the virtual try-on system. There are a lot of things when it comes to fashion and beauty that I'm clueless about--glasses are definitely one of them. I have no idea what would look good on me. I quickly uploaded my picture and started browsing through the selection--with all the frames set to my face.

I placed my order and was impressed with the customer service Firmoo offered me. I was likewise surprised with the quality of the glasses and the accessories that came with my order.

Most of all, I loved playing around with glasses for fashion and doing something out of my comfort zone. I don't love the look of myself in glasses just yet, but I did have fun sporting them around the house and in public.

I liked wearing them, they felt a little like a small costume for me. There are five places I want to wear my new lenses:

-Around the house when I'm having one of those days. When people who wear contacts are having one of those days, they put on their glasses and you just kind of know. Those of us without glasses don't have a secret accessory like that. I'm definitely going to put these on when JaiseAnn wakes up with all sorts of teething trouble and let the world know that I'm can't come out and play today.

-To the library or a coffee shop to do some work. I am going to note how I perform with glasses on--will I feel smarter? Will I feel as thought I'm perceived as smarter and therefore perform better? We shall see.

-On a date night. I'm thinking that this would be a super fun way to switch things up and make us laugh at the same time. Plus, the glasses bring out the makeup and details of your eyes and that's pretty romantic. (And Zach likes them on me, so there's that.)

-To professional meeting...I don't know if I'll have the guts to do this because it feels like I'm lying, but I might just have to see how it feels to pull out some glasses with colleagues. It will be kinda like the coffee shop experiment except with people I know...and everything will feel more intense.

-A Target Escape. These glasses don't really hide Sharlee all that well. I still look pretty much like me. Still, I'd like to see if they disguise me enough that I could roam the store one night without running into anyone.

Do you wear glasses? What are your thoughts on wearing glasses strictly for fashion?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Growing Stronger Spirtitually

My goal for my marriage this year has been to renew it. I honestly feel that in some ways, I already feel and see the success of that. There are a few areas that I feel could use some work--one of them is spiritually. We say our prayers and read scriptures as a family daily at home, but after hearing the talk: Defenders of the Family Proclamation  I knew that I wanted to improve my own spirituality. 

making home a haven

" We need to take a term which is sometimes spoken of with derision and elevate it. It is the term homemaker. All of us—women, men, youth, and children, single or married—can work at being homemakers. We should “make our homes” places of order, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived. What a difference it would make in the world if all people would see themselves as makers of righteous homes. Let us defend the home as a place which is second only to the temple in holiness."

Talk on family and the attack on the family was abundant in conference. I can see it for myself--far more clearly now that I'm a mom. Our home has always been a treasure to me, it has always been a refuge. But now I see it as a place for relationships to grow, for confidence and faith to develop, for memories to be shared, and the place where my daughter will learn the most important things in this world. I want my home to be second only to the temple in holiness. That is the place where my marriage will thrive and where it will survive the tough stuff. It is the place where Zach and I can each come to know we have each other and we have our family-and that's all that really matters. 

This month, in order to help us grow spiritually:

-We will hold weekly Family Home Evening

-We will continue saying our prayers and reading scriptures

-God is a God of order--so I will encourage order in our home. Cleanliness and discipline with eating/budgeting/time management

-Make a firm decision to discontinue watching inappropriate television shows 

-Attend the temple together 

How do you strengthen the spiritual aspect of your marriage?

Marriage & Relationship Goals

New to the Marriage & Relationship Goals Link-up? Goals help our relationships grow stronger and get better with time as well as help us to continue moving forward and avoid the "ruts" of life. This link-up was created in hopes of inspiring your relationship with your significant other no matter your chapter in life and love. We would love for you to join us in making the things we do in our relationships intentional. If you would like more information, click here.

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