Friday, August 28, 2015

Each Season

At the end of every holiday with JaiseAnn--and even each season--I get  a heavy feeling in my heart. For the longest time I couldn't pinpoint why I felt so blue about it. I mean, I've always gotten end-of-holiday blues--especially anytime it involved time off with Zach only to return to our regularly scheduled programming, but this has been different.

I distinctly remember laying JaiseAnn down for bed after Easter this last year and a wave of sadness ran over me. I feel it now once again as summer comes to a close. I went to pick out some school supplies for my classes this year and I just felt sad. I tried to explain it to Zach, not really sure what to say, and I was able to pinpoint the root of the cause.

This is the only _________ (summer/fall/winter/spring/Easter/Christmas/Halloween/etc.) that I will have with JaiseAnn the way she is right now. The next year will bring a completely different set of memories with a very different little girl. Last summer cannot even compare to this summer--she's so different. And as I say goodbye to this summer, I am all too aware that I hold the memories. 

Will I even remember what our days were like? Will I remember the sound of her little voice? Will I remember the books we read on repeat and how she looked running around the backyard chasing me? Will I remember her smiles during swim lessons and her little stride on our walks? Will I remember enough? 

While I look forward to each new season with my girl--there's so much fun that awaits us--I still wish they'd come a little slower. I wish I had more time to document and savor each moment. I wish I knew what I might forget--so I knew what to spend a little extra time trying to capture. Maybe I'd try a little harder to get that smirk on camera or maybe I'd try harder to find the words to describe the way she acts and the way her personality shines through each day. 

I know that this is nothing new or monumental. Mothers have struggled to accept the speed of their children growing up since the beginning of time. But it's new to me. This sadness is new to me. Before I might be sad when new seasons came but more because I didn't look forward to what was ahead--whether it be returning to work or the dreaded winter months. Now I am sad to see each season pass because I'll never get these days back but I so look forward to the new. 

Motherhood is a constant set of conflicting emotions, but a set of emotions I'm so grateful to experience. My heart has never been more full. 

How do you handle the sadness of time passing and your children growing? 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Night Weaning Our Co-Sleeping Toddler

About two weeks ago, I decided to start night weaning JaiseAnn. I recognize that most of my readers here will think that sounds insane--She's like 1 1/2 right? Yes, you're right. And before I had kids I would have thought it sounded insane,too. I also would have probably cried a million or more tears--or not had kids at all if I had thought I would still be up several times a night with a 1 1/2 year old--but here we are. And you know what? I'm surviving and most days I do okay--more than okay even. But there are still rough nights and nights where I've had it and nights where I tell myself, "No more kids!"

At about 16-17 months JaiseAnn started sleeping a bit longer during her first stretch of the night. Until then she'd usually wake within the first hour of putting her down. She finally started sleeping 2-3 hours straight to start the night off. When that started,  I usually would try to refuse one nursing session throughout the night after I came to bed. (She woke anywhere from 4-8 times a night so one session still meant lots of nursing and I felt okay about taking the food away and offering other forms of comfort). For the most part, she handled those refusals really well so I kept thinking maybe she'd make some of the big progress on her own and kept allowing her to go at her own pace. My biggest hope was to let JaiseAnn have as much of a say in the situation as I could handle--I wanted to honor and respect her needs and really wanted to avoid anything too traumatic. 

About a month ago, something was going on--not sure what--and she was up all night long. It was bad and brutal and I decided it was time. I'd done a ton of reading from co-sleeping/attachment/gentle parenting parents and had basically seen a recurring theme. It seemed everyone carved out a stretch of the night that they wouldn't feed, they'd have a code phrase that they'd say, and they'd comfort their child throughout the night with snuggles/words/back pats, etc. Many of them admitted that there was crying, but after a few days the child got the hang of it.

While many of the posts and articles I'd read suggest a six hour stretch to start, I felt better about starting with a four hour stretch. I typically don't go to bed until close to midnight (because I'm working/spending time with Zach) so I decided to choose midnight to 4 a.m. as my first stretch of the night to not nurse JaiseAnn.

I've been trying to come to bed just before midnight so that if JaiseAnn wakes, I can nurse her while I'm still awake and before the clock starts ticking. After that, I've been telling her, "No nurse until morning." When she wakes. I also tell her she can cuddle with me and I try to pat or tickle her back. After two weeks things are better but they're not solid yet. (I promise to keep updating). 

Some nights she'll wake twice before 4 and I'll be up longer than I would have if I just nursed her, calming her down and waiting for her to fall back to sleep on her own. Other nights, she'll stretch from midnight to 5-5:30--which is amazing but also weird. My body isn't used to sleeping for that long unintterupted so I still wake frequently even if she's not awake. I'm hoping my body gets the message soon, too.

Once JaiseAnn is sleeping straight through for the 4 hours for a good few weeks, I will increase the stretch to six hours--but maybe she'll start going six hours on her own (fingers crossed). I am not sure I'll do anymore weaning after we hit six hours until we fully wean because of the way our bedtime/nighttime/morning routine works and because I plan to wean JaiseAnn near her 2nd birthday.) It seems JaiseAnn is making great progress on her own and I am hoping that she continues to do so. 

If you have any questions about this process or anything about our parenting choices when it comes to JaiseAnn's sleep, please feel free to ask them in the comments or email me. I'm happy to share. I also promise to keep you updated as we progress.

In the meantime, here are some helpful blogs/blog posts that I have read so many times in preparing to night wean/wean JaiseAnn:

Sleep, Changing Patterns in the Family Bed

The Milk Meg: Sleep Challenges Posts (possibly the site I frequent the most and the one that has been the most helpful for me)

The Leaky Boob: Our Night Weaning Journey Even More Questions Answered (this post contains links to other helpful posts)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How We Wore It//Summer Cool

Summertime and fashion don't usually go together in my mind as much--more like summertime and keeping myself cool and comfortable. I love the How We Wore It Series that Brooke from Silver Lining runs every month. One look inspires looks by dozens of other bloggers. I enjoy coming up with my own spin on a look and I equally enjoy seeing how everyone else styled their looks.

Our inspiration started with this look:
Via Gal Meets Glam
Of course this look was a little tricky for me once again--I don't have anything with fringe and I don't typically wear shorts. But I do fit into one of my jean skirts again (woo-hoo). It's snug, but it made me feel so happy to slip on one of my favorite summer styles again. I decided to be inspired by the mood of this look again. I took this as a cool and casual look--a little style added to something comfortable and relaxed.

I paired my denim skirt with a simple loose top and added one of my favorite summer cardigans. I love the crochet detail on the back that just ups the style factor just a little. 

I did add a necklace just to keep the front from feeling too "plain." 

Now for the real fun! Check out how they wore it:

Brooke at Silver Lining
Deidre at Deidre Emme
Jana at Bouvardian
Alexa at He and I
Aubrey at Aubrey Zaruba
Brooklyn at A Little Too Jolley
Ashley at Absolutely Ashley
Danica at Danakin Skywalker
Rachel at Rachel Sayumi
Emma at Ever Emma
Kyla at FordOlogy
Kalyn at Geez Louise
Kallie at Life Through a Lens
Tayler at The Morrell Tale
Bonnie at Life of Bon

Or head on over to Brooke's blog to sign up for the next installment yourself! 

What's your favorite summer style? 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dream Come True:My New Opportunity

It's really funny how things work out. And sometimes not-so-funny in the waiting. And sometimes it's not-so-funny in the fact that they feel like the "just fall into place" but really it's a matter of hard work on our part, faith, belief, and mostly the hand of Heavenly Father.

I've hinted about it enough, but I have a pretty amazing opportunity that I'm taking advantage of this year. When I quit my job to stay home, we never knew how long it would last, but we felt it was the right decision and even though it was scary, we knew it was right for our family. Over the last 18 months things have been crazy. I have known stress that I've never known as I was working an unstable job and Zach was working tons of overtime and we had a baby that didn't sleep. On the very generous flip side, though, I have also had some amazing experiences through some opportunities I never would have seen coming.

First and foremost I've been home. Being home is so important to me and to us and I feel incredibly grateful that I have been there for every moment with JaiseAnn. The time is flying by and I'm so happy to maximize that time at home with her. In the evenings, only after my little girl is asleep, I have had opportunities to write freelance articles, language arts content for an educational website, and my summer project has allowed me to put my heart and soul into designing a digital math curriculum with teachers from all over the country. These opportunities have helped me fuel a passion of mine, allowed me to grow and expand my skills and abilities, and helped me meet some amazing people. And the cherry on top? I feel that having these outlets has allowed me to be a better wife and mother. 

A while back I just had this feeling that I needed to return to school. (I started a graduate program in 2012 and have about half of my program left to complete--I explain a little about my background here.) There are more opportunities to work from home with a Master's and I wanted to complete my degree for a number of reasons, but I also felt that this was the time and that I needed to start. I enrolled in a summer class (I shared a bit on that here) and one class for the fall. I had no idea how we would pay for it or if where/how I would be working but it just felt right. It felt like it was what I needed to be doing. 

About a month ago I was officially offered a graduate assistantship at the college. I will be working completely from home (part-time) for a professor that I have worked with and admired for years. I can't  believe that I get to work as her assistant and hopefully learn so much from her-this next year is going to be invaluable to me as I learn while working directly with her. In addition to working from home doing something I love and am passionate about with someone I can learn so much from (that's a mouthful of blessings right there), I will also be going back to school full-time. My classes are completely paid for by the college. I will have my Master's degree by this time next year. My classes are also online or at night. 

It won't be easy. It's going to be time consuming and schedules will have to be juggled and I will likely end up missing my husband quite a bit--our time together will be stretched even more thin than it already is. But it is so worth it. We both feel really good about this opportunity and I can't tell you how many times I've felt my eyes well up with tears of gratitude that this is actually happening. 

It's honesty all the things we've been praying for for the last 18 months rolled into one:

Please bless mom to continue to stay home with JaiseAnn

Please bless us to move ahead financially

Please bless us to find a way for me to finish school 

Please bless us to find opportunities that will allow me to stay home and move forward with my goals and passions

It's everything. I wish I could find a better way to explain all of the thoughts and feelings I've had as this opportunity was presented. I wish I could tell you about my first meeting on campus with my professor and how excited she was for me. I wish I could tell you about it all, but I can't' seem to find the words. 

I love education. I love learning. I have loved every class I have taken on my college campus and I get goosebumps every time I return. I may want to work there someday and now I am honestly one step closer...all the while I get to be a mom--which brings tears to my eyes and gives me goosebumps in a completely different way.

What would be your dream opportunity? Don't give up on it! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

3 Ways to Support Your Child's Early Number Development

About two weeks ago I was taking an early numeracy class, I asked if anyone would be interested in a post sharing what I learned about helping young kids develop a sense of number. While nobody responded on that post, one reader did express interest on Instagram! That was all I needed to pump out a post sharing some of the things I learned about helping young children develop a sense of number.

One of the most powerful things I learned in my class was that with young children, it's really important to let their ideas come first. The second an adult tries to "teach them" how to think about number, the less sense things start to make for young kids--which really hit home with me because I felt that way as a child. The fact of the matter is that mathematical ideas are all around us. Ideas of counting items, fair sharing, arranging items to fit others, etc are all around us. Children actually grow up learning a lot about number and math from the world around them and most children actually have some really great ideas and ways that they've made sense of number, comparative relationships, sharing, and more. It's really important to explore your child's thinking with them. The more you understand what they're thinking, the better you're able to support them from where they are--versus telling them how to think. (Chances are, if you struggled with math, you might start to see how your struggle might have actually been influenced with someone not taking your ideas seriously to start and instead saying, "That's wrong--do it like this!"--You want to avoid that at all costs with children.)

teaching kids to count


Opportunities to count actual objects will increase your child's understanding of number and help them develop skills to become successful. Simply reciting "1, 2, 3, 4, 5..." isn't enough--they need opportunities to engage in different ways to count. There are five counting principles that children need to master by kindergarten to set them up for success with counting and working with numbers. The suggestions below target all five counting principles (one-to-one correspondence, s..order, cardinal rule, item irrelevance, and order irrelevance.) 

*Count objects--ask child to count and encourage them to name the amount they counted-How many cars are there? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. So how many cars are there? 5.
*Count backwards. For students to understand the order of number, it's really important to have them count forward and backward. In addition, make sure that rhythmic counting (chanting the numbers) is supported by lots and lots of opportunities to count things
*Count two different kinds of objects in one bin/basket--for example you might have some blocks and some toy cars. Put a few of each in a bin/basket and have your child count all of the objects. Some children will count the blocks separately and some will count them altogether. Ultimately, when you ask children to "Count the items in the basket" you will want them counting them all. Some won't do this right away--that's fine, they just haven't developed a sense of item-irrelevance yet (the type of item does not change the amount of items in a collection). Keep giving them an opportunity to count and model correct counting. 
*Give your child objects to count and then change the order and ask them to count. Some children will count the same number, others will see a change in the order as a change in the number. Continue giving them opportunities to count and change the order--and model for them how to count once the order has been changed. 

I learned this in a K-3 class a few years back and am in love with the idea. We all subitize-which means we see a collection of units and we're able to name an amount--like numbers on a dice. Often we can do this with larger patterns, too. We start to see three separate dots as a unit and then we can combine those units, "I see six because I see three and three." 

what is subitizing

Presenting young children with opportunities to subitize is very valuable and allows them to make connections between different numbers. There are lots of ways to help children subtitize. You can use big dice (I found the ones in the picture in the dollar section of Target) or you can even create your own patters with dot stickers on paper plates--they store easy and are large enough and durable)

Some tips for subitizing:
*With really young children, start with small numbers 1-5
*As children get older introduce more combinations and larger numbers
*Present the pattern and then take it away before asking how many there were.
*After the child has named the amount, you can present the pattern and ask how they knew. Encourage them to start using language to explain their mathematical thinking (SUPER valuable), "I saw two and then one more and I knew that was three." (They might struggle with this at first, so model it for them by showing them how you knew. You can then ask, "Did you see it that way or did you see it differently? Even if they see it the same way, have them explain it.)
*A few minutes a day would make a big difference. 

Making ____
While subitizing involves looking at a combination of units and naming a value, you also want students to take individual units and combine them (compose them) to make a given value. For example, you might encourage a small child to find all the possible ways to "make 10" or even "make 5." 

You can support this by giving them the set amount of objects and then giving them a scenario. If I have ten blocks and two baskets, what are all of the different ways I can split the blocks up between the two baskets? Never just let them show you, always encourage them to explain. You'll want them to try as many possibilities as they can. You can do this with any number set. Schools/educators tend to focus on 5's and 10's but it's importatnt to allow them to explore ways to compose all kinds of numbers.

This experience not only leads to an understanding of addition and subtraction, but supports ideas in algebraic thinking as well. (You only know the total, but you don't know the addends--thinking openly like that at a very young age is powerful). 

This will also support children as they develop a sense of flexibility with addition and subtraction facts later on. Using derived facts is a great mathematical tool that allows children to become flexible and fluent with numbers. That means that if a child knows how to double numbers (6+6, 3+3, 4+4, etc.) and knows how to make ten--s/he can access different addition facts using the doubles and making ten strategies. (For example if I child is presented with a problem of 4+3--s/he could use 3+3=6 and one more makes 7 as a way to think about the problem. Another example would be 7+4--if the child knows that 7+3 makes ten, then 7+4 is one more so it would be 11.)

In my class last week, the focus was on early numeracy--PreK-3rd grade was the grade band focus of the class. Yet, we worked through multiplication and division of fractions. Those things aren't covered explicitly in those grades--obviously--yet so many of the things that we learned to support early number development build the foundation for being able to understand the multiplication and division of fractions--it's crazy. All I can say is--start early, give lots and lots of opportunities to count and work with numbers, and take your child's ideas seriously--start with their thinking--you'd be amazed at how far that will take you.

Your children and your children's teachers will thank you later!

Did you struggle with math as a child? Do you have apprehensions about your child understanding/succeeding in math as they enter school? (I'm really passionate about math education--specifically Common Core Math and mathematics reform in education--I'd love to do more posts if there is an interest). 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mom Code

My husband and brother will sometimes share a few laughs when discussing "man codes." Unspoken rules for men--they have them in many situations but my brother's favorite topic for man codes is discussing using public restrooms. There are apparently unspoken rules about where you stand, what you do while using the restroom, how much talking is apporpriate and when. It's usually pretty funny to listen to.

Becoming a mom sometimes feels like I've walked into a public restroom with all sorts of unspoken rules except I don't know them and I'm lost. I'm the man standing next to you and talking while you're trying to use the restroom--at least that's how I feel sometimes. I feel like everyone else is probably saying things like, "What is her deal? Doesn't she know x, y, z?"

The area I have particular concern about is JaiseAnn's behavior. I remember pre-kids Zach and I always seemed to know the exact moment when someone else needed to take their kids out of the chapel at church, but when it was my own baby making noise, I was suddenly not so sure. Was this too much noise? Do I take her out now? Is a little more noise acceptable in Sunday School or Relief Society as opposed to Sacrament meeting? 

I kind of felt my way through that phase and feel like I have an okay handle on stuff in that regard. But JaiseAnn walks now, and she talks to people at church, and she wants other kids snacks if we're in a big group and they have snacks. She doesn't know any better, so she wanders over to them and eagerly attempts to get her own snack (or twelve). "No JaiseAnn, those aren't yours." I would quickly reply and head over to remove her from the snack situation only to be reassured by a kind and understanding mom, "She's fine. It's okay. They can share." 

But the mom code is weird and sometimes unfair. Just as you're getting used to the understanding moms--the ones who say it's okay for your kid to have their kid's snacks and the ones who let them play with their kid's toys--there come the not so understanding moms.

I work out at a church with some other women one day a week. I bring JaiseAnn. They have child care there during the summer months but I don't leave her in there because she cries. Instead, I just let her hang out with me. Most everyone has been super understanding. She stays close by me for the most part and doesn't get into too much. A few other moms keep their kids with them in the gym, too. Usually more contained with an electronic device of some sort and food. Sometimes JaiseAnn makes her way over to them--curious about the electronics and the treats. 

A few weeks back a few kids were eagerly sharing their snacks with her and I was pretty grateful. It was nice to have JaiseAnn happily occupied while I focused on exercise. I guess I got comfortable. The other day, she targeted the wrong kid. She took his snack and that mom didn't say anything to me, but rudely picked JaiseAnn up and moved her away from her kid with a mean and ugly look on her face. I hadn't realized JaiseAnn was being a problem--it hurt my feelings on so many levels. Was she thinking I was a bad parent? Why was she annoyed with JaiseAnn? JaiseAnn wasn't doing anything harmful or mean and she holds my whole heart so someone showing irritation with her for no apparent reason brought tears to my eyes almost instantly. 

I ran to grab JaiseAnn and I took her outside the gym for a bit. Mostly so that I could calm down and stop crying and also to try to get her to want to stay with me for the remainder of the morning. I just can't figure out the rules. Moms are so different--some so understanding and accommodating and others not so much. Some make you feel like you're all in this together and the others make you feel like you're out on left field by yourself. 

There's so much power in how we treat other people. While I shouldn't care what other people think--I still have feelings, all of us do. It was a good reminder to me to be a bit more understanding and accommodating of other people's kids--to be more warm and inviting. I want to be the mom that makes other moms feel like we're all in it together. 

In the meantime, can you help me figure out the code? What are the unspoken rules? I am so lost. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Summer Slump

Every summer it's been the same. June starts out great! I wake up every morning with energy and excitement to tackle the day. The day starts quickly and productively. I'm always so pleased when I've made breakfast, exercised, showered for the day, and gotten ready by 10 a.m. 10 a.m. in June would be the time you'd find JaiseAnn and I out for a walk and then headed to water the garden and play outside until lunch/nap time.

June means lots of time outside, lots of time in the yard--putting my roses in vases all over my house, watering my garden, looking for weeds, etc. June means swimming lessons, exercise, and days spent outside all day long. June means energy.

And every August it's the same. 10 a.m. finds me just getting started with the day. I barely make an effort to get out to my garden, I haven't cut roses in ages, and the outdoors don't energize me--they drain me. Every single August. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of starting off so hopeful only to slowly run out of steam a few weeks later. I am calling it the Summer Slump and while I have a name for it, I still don't know what to do with it. 

The plan was to make this little space much cuter-you know to take pictures of JaiseAnn and enjoy looking at. I wanted to add some flower pots and maybe a bird feeder (I definitely wanted to add a birdfeeder) Clearly that didn't happen.  

Does anyone else have this problem? 

This summer I started so hopeful about things like finally putting my hummingbird and (regular-I guess) bird feeders out in the backyard, decorating with flowers, and really putting an effort into my yard. (True story, people tell me they've been doing yard work all day and I'm like, "What are you doing? How do you do it all day? How do you know what to do? And...most importantly...Can you do yard work all day without putting money into your yard--I really don't think so which is probably why I don't know what to do. I'm limited in funds so I'm limited in changes to be made). 

This summer I started out loving the work I was doing and finding a perfect balance between working from home and being a mom, wife, and homemaker. I was on fire and loving it. And it seemed as though the slump hit slowly, but it was like a domino affect. First I stopped caring about swim lessons, then about being outside all day in general, then I took out our afternoon walk, and before you know it--I'm low on energy and low on productivity. I had two nights this week where I needed to complete an assignment for a class and I didn't have work to do, but I opted instead to go to bed early one night and to just hang out with Zach the whole night the next. Where did my drive go? 

In the past, I could always be sure I'd revamp once the school year began, you know putting all of my energy into that outlet. This year, I'm sure I'll have my reasons to revamp (more on that later). I think that since the Fall always brings with me a fresh start, maybe my mind or body need to take some cool down time to unwind. I think I should tackle this by setting small weekly goals to get me through August and I think that next summer, I'll make small goals to have my big projects completed by August 1st--then I have August to slump and decompress. 

In the meantime, I'd love any suggestions. What do you do when the summer slump hits? Or do you manage to avoid it altogether?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Homemaking Bucket List

There's something very satisfying about running a household. I'm not an expert and things don't always go as smoothly as I'd like, but I'm often proud of how efficiently I meal plan, how my grocery shopping schedule works, how well we're always fed and how we keep our house clean-ish most days.  Mostly I'm happy that my home is a home. It's filled with happy memories and lots of love. I'd love to be able to put some of my household successes on my resume because, in my opinion, those are the successes that count the most.

While listing off things like meal planning and grocery shopping might seem trivial--a little order goes a long way in keeping the home a happy place. Whether it's trying to cut the budget down, use more natural ingredients in food and other household products, make wholesome and delicious foods,or whatever else--I have some things to learn when it comes to homemaking.

I want to be primarily in the home--for an indefinite amount of time. (Yes, even when my kids go back to school and maybe beyond. My reasons for that are many but I'll save that for another day-maybe?) I feel like there's so many skills that I can learn as I spend my time at home. It's not easy with a toddler, but she loves to accompany me to the store and she's a great helper so I can include her in most of my bucket list items.

homemaking skills

Here are some things that I want to learn to improve our home:

Make My Own Laundry Soap
 I've attempted this twice now and the recipes just haven't worked. I'd like to try Jana's recipe for homemade scented sensitive laundry soap.

Make My Own Dishwashing Detergent
I found a recipe for liquid dishwashing detergent and a recipe for homemade dishwasher tabs.

Grow an Herb Garden
I want to find a way to grow an herb garden that works for our home--and our lifestyle. Some of the herb garden ideas I like are found here, here, or here. After successfully creating and growing my herbs, I want to really develop an understanding of what I can do with those herbs and I want to cook with them.

Become a Better Thrifter
 Dont' be fooled, I'm not a thrifter now. I don't actually want to become a "thrifter" but I'd like to become better at it when I do go. I want to find things that I can revamp and use for things I'm already looking for or need in our home. Thrift store hacks,

Learn to Store Food
 By that I mean, I want to learn a little about canning. I want to feel comfortable canning most things in a water bath at least (Begginers Guide to Water Bath Canning). I want to learn to operate our dehydrater (it's a hand-me- down from our neighbors and very different than anything I've ever seen so I need to figure out how to use it and start practicing) (dehydrating fruit tutorial) and I want to be better about freezing food. With our garden producing I would like to really make the most of every little scrap we get.

Be Better Prepared
If I am learning to store food, I need to keep it stored. I also need to put more effort (even if it's just a little bit at a time) in preparing for emergencies with other toiletry items.

Decorate--A Little More
Nothing says home like the welcoming feeling of a well-decorated house. I don't mean well-decorated in the sense that the home displays hundreds of ornate crafts, expensive wall hangings, and extremely time consuming DIY projects. I mean well-decorated in that the house displays a bit about the people that live there--what's important to them, what they like, and what they treasure. A well-decorated home, to me at least, is a home that set up to be useful--and practical. Decorating is expensive, but I have a small list of things I'd like to do--some additions to the walls, maybe a few curtains, and some throw pillows on the couch to start. A big thing for me is wanting my kids to read things in our home. I want books easily accessible and quotes on every the wall--at least on in every room. I want the quotes to reinforce important values that we hope to instill in our children. I think if I just start making attempts to really make our home show us then I will get the hang of it.

What sorts of things would be on your homemaking bucket list?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile

Tonight is a good night. It's one of those nights where things feel good. Our house feels good and peaceful, Zach and I are about to snuggle up and enjoy our show tonight, there is hope in the air, and I'm just so content

In my content state of mind I feel like sharing some things that are making me smile lately:

JaiseAnn in Converse shoes

toddler in converse shoes

*Watching Zach play with JaiseAnn

*Watching MasterChef

*Farmer's Market Peaches

*New Whole30 dinners that are going on "the list" for all future dinners! 

*Thinking of Fall (I know, I know. I love Summer, too. But it's hot and I'm just getting excited. Sure Summer can stick around a bit longer, but when Fall hits--it will be welcome.) 

*Seeing all of the back to school stuff and knowing that I get to still be home with my little girl. While there is sometimes a tug in my heart when I see the school supplies, I never was a teacher who liked the start of a new school year. (No, you can have your Augusts and Septembers--I love the Octobers/Novembers/Decembers--quite possibly my favorite time of the whole year.) While the option of staying home never feels solid, I'm always grateful to see the start of another school year knowing I get to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my girl every day and enjoy little adventures. 

*Planning some upcoming dates. We've been in a rut--but between some good ideas I have (and can't wait to share) and birthdays/anniversaries--we have a lot to look forward to. 

*JaiseAnn. No seriously, that girl kills me. She is so much fun and so funny. She loves to help out with anything and everything-dishes, laundry, making dinner, watering the garden-you name it. She loves to play chase and looks behind her as she's running with this sly little smile as she checks to make sure you're coming out with her--and then lets out this giggle that sometimes brings tears to my eyes. She smiles at me across the table during our meals, she brings me books to read to her (over and over again), and she loves to sing songs and dance. I smile so much--all day long-because of her. What a gift she is. 

*Naps. I take a nap with JaiseAnn every day. It used to feel restricting and confining, but I've decided to embrace it. The things I could do during her naps are things I won't remember a year from now, but her? I'll remember those snuggles forever. I am tired and I don't feel bad that I sneak a few minutes of sleep now and then. Sometimes I work by bringing my computer with me and working after she's asleep. Sometimes I read. Other times I sleep. The other day she slept for FOUR hours and I slept for 3 of them (she had been up at least a dozen times the night before so we were both wiped). I haven't slept for 3 hours for a nap--or probably at night--since she was born. It was a beautiful beautiful thing. 

What's making you smile these days? 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Why a 2nd Whole30?

I completed (alongside my husband) my first ever Whole30 challenge back in February. (You can read all Whole30 related posts here.) 

I felt great. I lost a great portion of my extra weight. I was excited and hopeful for the future. The weight stayed off for a few weeks and then I lost the work I was doing from home and stress got the better of me. I began to eat emotionally again--a constant battle for me. The weight went right back on and I found myself in the same place I started. 

Or maybe not.

reasons to do a whole30

When I started the Whole30 it was not to lose weight, even though I was hopeful. I wanted it to change my relationship with food--as the program promises. I went in with a narrow view that the Whole30 program would help me stop eating the foods that were "bad" for me. Instead, what actually happened was it allowed me to embrace food that is good for me-even food I didn't know was good for me--mostly I was surprised at how liberating it felt to embrace fat! It was so nice to fill my diet with wholesome food-not worrying about calories or restricting. Instead, the program allowed me to listen to my body and feed it whole foods. I ate well during that month and I learned that I wanted to be emotionally stable with food. I wanted to be at a place where I could trust my body and embrace food.

A few months ago I set out on a quiet journey to do just that. I've been listening to my body more and I've learned a lot about myself and I've become more in tune with how foods make me feel. For whatever reason, my mind/body have been drawn to this cleaner way of eating for the past several years. I continually take baby steps to making changes to our family diet. We eat so much better than we ate at the start of our marriage or even two years ago and I know that embracing this lifestyle will only get me closer and closer to the place I want to be in my relationship with food. 

One of the things I love about a a challenge like this is that it forces me to learn and get creative. A lot of people might view this as my attempt at a quick fix, but it's not. Instead it's a practice of self control for 30 days while putting extra energy and attention on listening to my body and following it's cues for 30 days. (I loved this post on 30 day disciplines.) 

I feel that I learn so much about myself when I exercise self discipline. Like any muscle, if not worked it won't be as strong. I also know that when I give myself a challenge with food--I find that I discover things I didn't know I loved or liked. I love condiments (as told in this post with the recipe for BBQ Dip Sandwiches-so good by the way)! I am crazy about sauces and dressings--our meals are rarely without them in some form. I also know that many of the sauces and dressings I use are filled with more non-food ingredients than food. I know that they are not clean or healthy for me. I have been wanting to learn how to make my own sauces for a while now and this challenge is going to push me to do just that.  

Zach and I start our second round of Whole30 today! It probably won't be our last. We like the idea of a reset a few times a year.  I am actually more excited about it this time around than I was the first time. I have 30 different dinners planned--4 special Sunday breakfasts planned, and more. (If you want the details of my meals--be sure to follow along on Instagram @mynewlines) 

What are your thoughts on 30 day disciplines? Would you consider a Whole30? Why or why not? 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Currently: August 2015

I can't believe it's August. I am sad at how summer seemed to fly by this year--I've been enjoying this summer so much. At the same time, I think I'm ready for a change. I'm ready to welcome fall. 

I'm linking up with Jenna and Ann again this month to share some of the things we're doing around here.

I'm taking a class right now for early numeracy--I'm learning about how young kids develop a sense of number, place value, and so much more. It's been interesting so far. I'm working on my assignment for that. I'm creating an assessment for a specific grade band to help evaluate a child's sense of number and identify weaknesses and plans of action. (Would anyone be interested on a blog about some things you can do with children to help develop a number sense?) In my class today, we learned that part of the reason it's so hard to teach number to kids is that unlike reading, which is a skill, math and number is a concept--at least in the beginning stages. 

Last month I told you that we were making some big decisions--there will be more on that later. One of those was that we had decided upon selling our house and moving closer to where Zach works. I will share more on the reasons why at another time. We met with a realtor and just felt like a move is definitely on the horizon but now is not the time. We're hoping in the spring, but still not sure. In order to put some positive vibes out there and show some faith-I've been putting a wishlist together of some of the things I'd like if we chose to invest in a home in another 6-8 months. If it doesn't happen then, it will happen someday. I'm not really in a rush of any kind--I love our home! But I still definitely don't think it hurts to start thinking about what I'd want in a new home. 

One of the reasons we are putting off a move (there are several) is that there's an awesome work (from home) opportunity for me on the horizon. It's like 95% a done deal--I'm really just waiting on a few formalities but I'll definitely share that when the time comes because it is such an incredible blessing and I'm inspired by the way it came together--I'd love to share it with you. 

Right now nothing consistent except for, of course, zuchinni. We are starting a 2nd Whole30 today actually. For more on that see Friday's post. 


Lately we've been watching MasterChef and loving it. It's been really fun to find a new show to watch with Zach and for it to be a reality TV show--which is new for us. More on watching TV with my husband.

What are you currently doing? 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Help Her Remember

In the LDS church we have a Prophet and 12 apostles. We refer to them as general authorities sometimes. We believe that they communicate with God and witness things that we don't. They communicate those things with us in a number of different ways. Many times we hear them speak. Whether at a temple dedication, general conference, or some other kind of conference or event--they come and speak to us and share their insights. Most of the time, we have access to these talks--in writing and in video--regardless of where the talk took place. 

Though we love all the general authorities, many of us have "favorites." And they're usually the same 3-4 different people. One of my very favorites is one of the "popular ones" Jeffrey R. Holland. (You can find some of my favorite talks: The First and Great Commandment, The Laborers in the Vineyard, We are All Enlisted ) The reason Elder Holland is my favorite is because when he speaks it's more than with conviction. He speaks with an sense of obligation. When he speaks you just know that he has seen and witnessed things, heard, and understands things that many of us don't. He is obligated to tell us--as a Witness--it is his obligation to let us know (Don't believe me, just watch this video) . My testimony is strengthened whenever I hear him because it is so clear that he knows and he must tell. He cannot keep it to himself. 

dog and little girl

When JaiseAnn was born I remember being overhwelmed by her perfection and the intesity of her spirit. She was so good. I could feel it. I remember a few very hormonal crying spurts where I told Zach or my midwives, "I don't deserve her. She's already better than me."

I can't say that I didn't feel underqualified to be her mom when I first met her. What could I possibly have to offer her? She was already better than me and already teaching me--what could I do? Why me?

Lately I've been marveling at all the amazing things about my daughter. (Lately? Actually I always do that!) I marvel at her beauty, at her love, at her intelligence, at her joy, and at her spunk. I love her so much and I am captivated by her amazing spirit.

The other day she got really excited and started running excitedly around the house. She does that sometimes-gets so excited that she can't contain herself. She runs around, then finds a spot and spins, and usually bumps into something, falls, or wears herself out.

While I was watching this I realized that there will come a day when she's not constantly finding joy in every moment. There will come a day when she's not so confident. There will come a day when she's not so spunky--and my heart sunk. I wanted to freeze time in that moment--I wanted to keep her spirit this pure and free.  As my heart sank and I felt tears come to my eyes, I heard this:

"You'll help her remember."

That's my job as JaiseAnn's mother and a very important one. I am the one to help her remember who she is and where she's from. I am the ultimate witness of her goodness. I know she was sent from Heaven and I know she has a spirit--a good one. I have come to understand so many truths because of her and I am here to remind her of those things when the world tries to take them away.

As her mom, I have no other choice than to tell her the truth about who she is. I am her witness. I know things that she might not know. My job and my responsibility is to help her remember. 

Do you see motherhood as the highest calling? How do you interpret the role of motherhood? 

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