Friday, October 30, 2015

Caramel Apple Salad Bar

This caramel apple salad bar is a spin on caramel apples, but much simpler. This is an easy addition to a Fall party. If you're looking for a last minute Halloween party idea, this might just be what you're looking for. 

You'll start by making the caramel apple fruit salad. 

Put the caramel apple salad out along with some favorite caramel apple toppings and you've got a perfect autumn dessert. 

Sprinkle you're favorite toppings onto your fruit salad and enjoy! 

To make the Caramel Apple Salad:

Prepare a box of instant butterscotch pudding.
Wash and 2-3 apples.
Toss apples along with 2/3 cup of Cool Whip in the pudding. 

Salad Bar Topping Suggestions:

The sky is the limit with these toppings--chocolate chips, nuts, sprinkles, coconut, toffee, etc.

This salad is simple and delicious. 

What is your favorite way to enjoy a caramel apple? 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How We Wore It//Dark Fall Colors

Now that I'm participating in this How We Wore It collaboration as often as possible I've learned a few things:

1. The month flies by!
2. The more you make your husband pretend to be a photographer, the easier it gets for both of you
3. The more creative you get
4. The more confident you get (more on that with the next collaboration!)

Here are the basic ins and outs of the How We Wore It collaboration:

Brooke is the mastermind behind this collaboration and she does such an excellent job with this organizing everything and putting it together. Brooke sends us a picture of the outfit inspiration and we are all supposed to put our own spin on the outfit--not go out and purchase a similar look. I love the different styles it has introduced me to, not to mention all the bloggers who participate each month. If you want in on the next round, head to Brooke's blog and sign up!

The look for we were given came from Style Lovely:

At first I thought--oh, I have this-black and white are my wardrobe staples. I have SO much black and white. I just love it. 

But the day for pictures came and I suddenly changed my mind--I thought that instead of just going the black and white dressier route--which is my "go-to" with black and white, I'd do something casual-like a chambray top with a black skirt-in my head it was an amazing combo and I was so proud of myself for thinking past my initial comfort zone. But the chambray didn't quite pan out--my chambray top wasn't quite long enough and not as dark as I would have liked for the look I was going for. So I went with my original look but decided to add some denim. 

The look is casual yet edgy. My look is a bit dressier-but I tried to keep the edge with the "leather" on my skirt and the boots--I tried to tone it down a little with the denim jacket. 

The black and white top I'm wearing came with tags still on from thredUP--it was under $10. (Use this link for a $20 credit to thredUP and see why I love it so much--or read this thredUP review of mine)

And now for real fun--check out how they wore it:

Brooke at Silver Lining
Alexa at He and I
Aubrey at Aubrey Zaruba
Hannah at Hannah Rae
Sierra at Sierra's View
Berkley at Berkley Anne
Amy at Harris Inc.
Brooklyn at Brooklyn Jolley
Amy at Lamb & Ivy
Autumn at Stay Gold Autumn
Brielle at Breezy and Co
Riley at Riley Jo Blog
Maren at Maren and Co
Kyla at FordOlogy
Robin at Penn & Quill
Shelbie at R+S Brereton
Jennifer at Jennifer Sikora
Sarah at My For Real Life
Deidre at Deidre Emme
Rachel at Rachel Sayumi

How would you style the original  look? 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Line Upon Line

I'm taking a measurement and geometry class this semester. The class serves two purposes, to increase teacher content knowledge of measurement and geometry and to help find ways to understand and respond to student thinking about measurement and geometry. 

Measurement and geometry have never been strong areas of mine--math in general wasn't until college, but geometry was a killer year for me in high school. The only thing I remember from that class was my teacher's name and I sat next to a kid who called himself "The Wolf." 

I'm taking this class for the second time (long story, but no-it's not because I failed). I have noticed this time around that I am understanding SO MUCH MORE and I've also noticed that my questions and comments have gotten SO MUCH BETTER from the last time I took the class. I think it's a combination of continued education, continued experience, and new classmates to help and support me.

But I am an elementary school teacher in a class full of mostly secondary teachers and their understanding of measurement and geometry far surpasses anything I can even pretend to know. Just when I think I'm understanding something, someone asks a question and I feel completely lost--almost as if I know absolutely nothing. I feel like I've made no progress which is frustrating because I know I have, but I'm still so incredibly behind in my knowledge compared to some of my class mates. 

When Zach asked how class was this week I didn't know how to respond, "Okay." Was my initial response. On one hand, I had moments where I felt like I was learning and improving and I felt proud and excited and good. On the other hand, though, I had moments where I was so lost I couldn't even start to summarize some of the conversations because they made no sense. I was tossing my conflicted emotions about the class in my head last night, and I came to this conclusion:

My experience in class is a perfect metaphor for life. There are moments when we feel like we're on a roll--we just learned something and walked away with a brand new perspective. Life will be different from here on out! But the life happens and suddenly the moment passes and we feel in over our heads. Maybe we have a lot more questions. Maybe we feel like we've made next to no progress, even though we had experiences that helped us learn and grow in ways that we are fully aware of, yet here we are "back to square one." 

I think that life is our chance to take the same class over and over again. The material might seem a bit different--as we continue learning, having life experiences, and as we surround ourselves with new and different people. Suddenly we're enlightened with new perspectives and understandings. It's good to feel good about that progress and recognize the learning and growth. It's important to understand, though, that we get to know people who might seem to have a piece figured out or are further ahead than us in one area. That doesn't mean you aren't learning and that doesn't mean that the knowledge you DO have is worthless. 

When we use what we know, we continue the process of learning. If I were to discount all that I've learned, I wouldn't apply my knowledge and my learning wouldn't progress. 

I have made a goal to find a scripture to choose one scripture a week to study (or ponderize) weekly and with this epiphany, my scripture this week is: 

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
-2 Nephi 28:30

The part that stands out to me the most about that scripture paired with the thoughts I had about my geometry class is this:

"For unto him that receiveth I will give more."

As I study this scripture this week, my hope is to really start appreciating and applying the knowledge I receive without worrying so much about how much farther I have to go. If I receive it, I will be given more. What an incredible promise. 

Do you feel like learning happens precept upon precept? What's your experience with that?  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

I am not much of a baker--you might remember that from this post about my favorite cookie recipe. Usually recipes in the kitchen turn into disasters. A few weekends ago, I was going to try out my new donut pan to make pumpkin spice donuts. The first batch came out and I tried to take them out before they had cooled enough and I ended up with pieces of donut everywhere. Since I didn't have enough to batter to make a dozen more donuts, nor did I have any more patience left. I decided to make muffins instead. 

pumpkin donut recipe

These muffins are perfectly filling and not overly sweet by themselves. The sweet maple glaze adds the perfect touch to these Fall muffins. Trust me when I say, you need to make these. 

fall muffins with maple glaze

Muffin Recipe (adapted from Shanndelier)
*2 cups all purpose flour 
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
*2 teaspoons baking powder
* 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 cup pumpkin purée
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 cup milk

*1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze Recipe
*1/4 cup unsalted butter
*1/2 cup pure maple syrup 
*1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325*

Lightly grease a muffin tin. Combine all dry muffin ingredients in a bowl. Add pumpkin, eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla and beat on low with a mixer until well combined. Scoop batter into each muffin tin and cook for 23-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow a few minutes to cool in the pan and then take them out to cool on a wire rack until they are ready for the glaze. 

While the muffins are baking, combine the butter and maple syrup for the glaze in a small saucepan, whisking together until butter is melted and liquid is smooth. Remove from heat, add powdered sugar, whisk together, and set aside to cool and thicken. If you're a fan of maple, you might want to try this by itself before adding it to the muffins--so good! 

recipe for pumpkin muffins

Once the muffins are cool, either dunk the tops in the glaze or spoon the glaze over top of each muffin. You can allow the glaze to set a bit or you can dig right in and enjoy! 

Recipe yields 12-15 muffins. 

Are you a maple fan? Have you ever combined pumpkin and maple?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Screening Your Messages

A while back I collaborated with Tayler on a post about loving your body. One of the suggestions I made to show and develop love for your body was to Screen Your Messages.

This is the second thing (exercising for enjoyment/to celebrate my body was first) I started doing and it took me a long time to make that change. It started with ditching a workout buddy and slowly moved itself to removing people or influences from my life that weren't allowing me to make the change I needed.

It wasn't them (necessarily), it was me.

surround yourself with positive people

And that's the truth and that's what took me so long to make those changes. I would tell myself, "If it's bothering me that's a problem with me and I need to suck it up and deal." 

True...and false. Yes, it is absolutely a problem with me, but I also can't just "deal" I need to change and I need to remove any obstacles that might be hindering that progress--for now at least.

I've really taken to turning to prayer and scripture study to help me with my journey (more on that later) and I have dedicated a few Fast Sundays to the cause. One Sunday I was fasting for guidance for the next step for me in making improvements. I felt the impression to unfollow any social media accounts that were negatively impacting me. 

And as I browsed through my feed I realized that some of the very uplifting/encouraging accounts about healthy living were actually some of the ones that resulted in negative thoughts. Whatever I'm struggling with, they weren't helping. So I deleted them and immediately felt a sense of relief. That way I wasn't going to be hit abruptly with a message that made me feel like a bad person because I wasn't adhering to a super regimented diet program, counting calories on my phone, or any other number of things. Those accounts weren't allowing me to progress because I needed to start sending myself differing messages that conflict from the constant stream of messages I've received for the past 30 years. 

After I did that, it was actually amazing how much more discerning I became about the other forms of messages I receive. I started to really recognize when something was being sold to me that wasn't really true. Magazine headlines, comments from people, and even messages on my favorite workout videos. Interestingly, I realized that all along these things have been bothering me but I dismissed it as jealousy or worry that I wasn't tough enough or disciplined enough--but now I truly believe that my spirit has known all along that these aren't the types of messages my Heavenly Father wants me to take to heart.

I noticed that the workout videos I do at home sometimes send messages I don't like. Things like, 

"You give me 30 minutes and I'm gonna give you the body you've always wanted."

"If you need a little motivation, just picture yourself jeans shopping." 

"Nobody likes grandma arms."

I think I might dedicate an entire post to my rebukes to these statements, but here's what I think about these kinds of things now: 

My body is just fine--it does everything I could ever dream. It made the most amazing little girl and it allows me to still feed her, hold her, comfort her, and play with her. I'll give you 30 minutes to focus on all that my body can do, not to focus on wanting something different or "better." 

I would never ever want my daughter to hear that statement-I would never want her to think that there is a certain way to look in order to make jeans shopping enjoyable. Instead, I want her to celebrate finding clothes that make her feel good-no matter what size or shape she is.

Nobody likes grandma arms? Nobody except a little girl who can't understand what those are and only knows that they are what hold and comfort her. 

It's so important to be able to discern the things you're hearing and really figure out what is untrue about what you're hearing. It's important to make sure that you surround yourself with messages that make you feel good about yourself, encourage healthy living, and don't shame you into change. Screening my messages is by far one of the best decisions I've made. Just the simple act of cutting back and honoring my feelings and my need for progress has resulted in a improved way of taking in the things I hear and read on a daily basis. 

Have you noticed that you get tense/uneasy with certain social media accounts? What are your reasons for unfollowing? 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Just Mom

JaiseAnn runs happily to greet her dad at the door every day. She greets my mom for Sunday dinner with such enthusiasm it would make the softest heart melt. She laughs for my brother almost effortlessly and kisses his girlfriend with little to no prompting.

Me? I don't get those over the top greetings and I don't get kisses without quite a bit of begging most days. And some days I get laughs and smiles easily and other days I have to work really hard.  And you know what? That makes me really happy.

just a mom

While I'm sure it makes Zach feel amazing to walk through the door to such a happy greeting, I'm glad that I don't get that. Because Zach is being "greeted' and I rarely need to be. I'm there. Every day. All day. I'm just mom. I'm the regular and the normal. Everyone else in my daughter's life is exciting! They are a change from the normal a change from me and that's fun for her. And while that might make some people sad, I feel beyond blessed to be just mom.

I'm grateful that our days together are her normal. That she knows nothing else--so the change is what excites her. I'm grateful that my face is the face she sees the most and that my voice is the one she hears the most. 

When I really stop to think about it, it's such an incredible responsibility. For her to spend as much time with me as she does, puts a heavy responsibility on me--to teach her, to be an example, to love her, to discipline her. It may not be the exciting. It may not be quick feet running to the door or a loud and enthusiastic, "HI!" when she sees me, but it is the most constant thing in her life.  I love knowing that she wakes up each day expecting me. Expecting our routines and boring old mom. I love it. It is the greatest blessing in my life to be just mom.

Do you ever feel like you're just_____ to someone in your life? How do you feel about that? 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Changing the Purpose of Exercise

As I talked about in this post, I have learned so much about true health and positive body image and how those things are related. I have learned that weight has very little to do with it. Exercise is one of the things that I have had a drastic change of heart toward. 

I had always heard that you should find something you enjoy and do that as a form of exercise. The thing was, there was never anything I really enjoyed. I did enjoy the feeling after exercising, though. I had basically decided that I was just a person who didn't like exercise. I enjoyed running sometimes and I could walk all day long--unfortunately I have a daughter who enjoys a very limited amount of time in the stroller. Just before summer, a friend of mine invited me to join a group of women at a church building for Zumba.

exercise is not punishment

I went. Mostly because I wanted to see this friend and also because she convinced me that it would be a good time. I hadn't ever tried Zumba and I'm not sure why. I went to my first class and I loved it! I loved it so much that it became an obsession for a few weeks-the rest of the week I worked out using Zumba videos online instead of my regular workout videos. I had actually found an exercise I loved doing. 

This may sound dramatic, but it was a life-changing discovery for me. It actually gave me a chance to hear the way I spoke to myself about exercise and what that communicated to me. I would wake up on the morning (it's now become mornings-YAY!) I had Zumba and I would be excited about exercise. If I decided to do a different workout on the other mornings, I would find that I would think, "Ugh. I don't like this." But my "motivation" came from things like, "But you need to do it. You need to lose weight. You need to get things in control. You have to." What was shocking, though, was realizing that I was mentally bribing myself, "When you lose the weight, you can workout however you want." 

I've mentioned this before, but having JaiseAnn has made a huge difference in how I perceive things related to health/body image. I started to think about what messages I wanted to send her. What was more important--being a thinner version of myself or teaching my daughter to celebrate (not punish) her body through exercise? And that's when I freed myself from forced exercise. I've created exercise boundaries for myself (I will do a post on that later) which is my way of being accountable and making sure I get some form of exercise in every day. If I want to do a Zumba video, I do. If I want to go running, I do. If I want to work out to an at home DVD, I do. I make sure that I take time to think about how I would like to spend my time exercising that day and then I go with that. No more rigid programs. No more feeling forced. Now I embrace each activity as it's my choice rather than my punishment. 

This discovery has been so liberating. I encourage everyone to try it. It's so fun. Like I've said, I haven't lost the weight yet, but I know that I'm in a good place with exercise and I'm so proud of that. I have been working out more consistently than I ever have before in my life--and I love it. 

What is your attitude about exercise? Do you have a favorite form? Do you (or have you) ever treated exercise like a punishment? 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Being Proud of Your Spouse

A few Saturdays ago, I had class all day. I was really not in the best mood about it. While I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity I have to be in school right now, it doesn't mean I don't get sad when I have to spend a Saturday without my family. Our weekends are precious and I was feeling a little sad. Saturdays are also a big homework day for me--Zach watches JaiseAnn in the mornings so I can get homework done and then we spend the rest of the day together as a family. With a Saturday class, I knew I'd be behind on homework/work all week plus more work from the class I was going to. I didn't have a lunch or breakfast ready and I was running a little late. When I finally left the house, I was in a terrible mood and everyone inside knew it.

After I parked my car and started walking toward class, I checked my phone to see what time it was. I was late already and had a good 10 minute walk to class. I sighed and noticed a missed call from Zach with a voicemail. I quickly checked the voicemail, just to make sure everything was okay. The message went a little something like this, "Hey. You left a folder here and I'm not sure if you need it or not.  I'm assuming it's not for this class, but I just wanted to be sure that you didn't need it today. I also wanted to let you know that I'm really proud of you. I don't tell you that enough, but I am. And I really appreciate how hard you're working..." The message went on with some other kind words and I wiped away tears as I headed into the building.

I sent Zach a quick message and thanked him. But that message has been with me for weeks now. A little recognition meant the world to me, and softened my heart right away. Not to mention, it's made me feel good and even more motivated all week long. I had to ask myself, "When was the last time you told Zach you were proud of him?"

I don't think it was super long ago--he recently passed a certification test and we had a mini celebration at home and I told him I was proud.I realized, though, that I was proud because he had already accomplished something. What if Zach had waited to tell me he was proud of me until I was done with school? Or even the semester? So I've been reflecting on whether or not I let Zach know how proud I am of him--all the time, no matter what he's working on or doing at the moment. Whether he's in the process of something, doing the daily stuff, or accomplishing something.

I've decided to set a goal to work on this this month and I've got some ideas and tips in mind for this:

*Reflect on the Big and Little Things
I've found that when I take time to look at the big picture or when I take time to notice the little things, I find that I feel a ton of gratitude. There will be days that I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude for the way that Zach and I have worked on common goals together and I think I need to take those opportunities to let Zach know that I'm proud to be married to him. When I am reflective about the positive aspects of our relationship (and our life) I find that there's a lot to be proud of-and I need to share that more! 

*Share It
notes, in word, etc....
LET THEM KNOW! I don't think there's such a thing as "too often." I think it's important to communicate in a number of ways. Telling your spouse in person is important, but sometimes a little time spent putting it in writing--or adding those words to a simple little gift, make a difference.

*Make Others Aware of Accomplishments

Zach doesn't always communicate with his family on a regular basis--so I'm usually the only one who knows of his accomplishments. Whether he'll admit it or not, I know he appreciates recognition. I don't think I need to announce his big and little accomplishments on every social media outlet, but I can give his mom a head's up or let my family know when Zach has moments that should be shared. 

I'm linking up with A Prioritized Marriage for my marriage goal this month. 

Do you like to hear that your spouse is proud of you? What ways do you show your spouse that you're proud? 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mommy and Me Activity Tree--Fall Version

You might remember this activity tree from the summer that I used as a sort of "bucket list" to keep track of the fun things I wanted to do with JaiseAnn. I liked it so much I decided to make a Fall version. 


This tree is simple to make. I drew a brown bare tree, cut out some very poorly designed leaves in orange and yellow, and added my bucket list items to the leaves. I then taped the leaves on the tree. As we complete the activities, I will move the leaves from the tree to the bottom of the page--to demonstrate the falling leaves! 

Some of the activities listed are:

-Visit the pumpkin patch
-Bake a treat and deliver to a friend/neighbor
-Make Dad's birthday extra special
-Go thrifting for holiday books (more on that later)
-Photo shoot
-Halloween craft
-Bake a treat and enjoy for ourselves
-Thanksgiving gratitude craft
-attend my old school carnival
-decorate a pumpkin
-go on a walk along the greenbelt and enjoy the not-so-green-ness of it this time of year
-visit the temple grounds and have a 6 year family celebration  (our wedding anniversary will also be a chance to celebrate as a whole family)
-play date

It sits on our fridge as a reminder when I go to plan out our week/days. 


What are your Fall "must do" activities? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why I Haven't Lost the Baby Weight

I know how to lose weight. And I'm a very disciplined person when I want to be. When I set my mind to something I make it happen. Recently I had to ask myself what was keeping me from setting  goal to lose weight and obtaining it? And more importantly, why?  I knew that if I really wanted to I could at least drop half of the pounds (I'd done it before. I'm not sure whether or not I can drop them all right now as I am still nursing JaiseAnn and feel it could play a part). 

I must not want to. Or must not want to enough

But why? I had to take a good and honest look at myself and after a lot of reflecting I think I've figured it out--at least partly. 

Allow me to back track a bit. 

It's New Year's Eve 2012. Zach and I are on our way to his sister's house for the holiday weekend. We are road tripping, so of course unhealthy food is in abundance. I feel awful, but I keep eating. And then obsessing about what I'm eating(and what I've eaten over the holidays, too). Once we finally get to his sister's house, I'm feeling so bad about myself. Knowing I want to enjoy this trip (and the food on it) I keep having this mental battle in my mind, "After this weekend, you can start eating healthy. You haven't done anything major and you'll get back on track. Get through the weekend and you'll be fine. Just let it go and enjoy yourself." I battled this and yet still wanted to go get a hot chocolate to enjoy while we played board games.  So I went and got hot chocolate. Despite the fact that I'd had SO MUCH JUNK that day and despite the fact that the "food" I was eating was causing me so much mental distress, and even despite the fact that if I'd actually listened to my body--I really didn't need it. 

Of course when Zach's sister called hot chocolate one of her "favorite desserts" I started obsessing again. "This isn't a dessert? Is it? It's a beverage? Oh my goodness, I must have the worst eating habits of anyone ever if I don't think this is a dessert? No wonder I'm "fat."" (I put "fat" into quotation marks because I have come to truly loathe that word with every bit of myself. But I've surely said it about myself enough along with a million other things.)

I wake up the next morning and get dressed, "Phew, my pants still fit." An honest worry of mine because if I go up a size I'm "fat" because that's the size I was freshman year of college when I was "fat." I check myself in the mirror and take a few pictures of myself on my point and shoot camera just to make sure I "look okay." We go out that day and play at an arcade. While Zach and I did play a few games of air hockey, we all kind of did our own thing. I am not exaggerating when I say I must have gone into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror at least 30 times in the two hours we were there. THIRTY TIMES! Checking my face, checking my side profile, checking my love handles, and promising myself that I would "be better" once I got home. 

There's more to that weekend  but I'll not go into too many more details, but an other example includes me telling everyone I was going to be healthier and my sister-in-law criticizing my decision to order a salad instead of french fries and told me they were the same amount of calories. Which then turned me mean and grumpy as I would have rather had fries and I was upset about the idea of "all those calories."

I probably didn't truly enjoy anything I ate on that entire trip. I felt guilty about everything I ate but also entitled to it so I ate anyway. More importantly, though, I wasn't really present for much of the trip either. I don't have a lot that I remember--except feeling down and sad and frustrated with myself.  I went home feeling so gross and sluggish--and really badly about myself

That is a very honest look at my life in my pre-pregnancy size. While that's just one instance, it's very reflective of my feelings and experiences for much of my life for about a decade. I constantly felt tension about my weight, my eating habits, and my body image. I have been working for years to remedy this, sometimes making great improvements, and some sliding back a bit I guess you could say. But in hindsight I see now that I was truly sick. Something was wrong with me and it wasn't my weight. 

It was my fear of being "overweight" or "fat." It was my fear of losing whatever version of confidence I thought that I had. Sure I had moments especially when I made active decisions to move forward and learn to love myself, but I had far, far too many low moments like the one described above. And when I think about them all, I want to cry. 

And honestly, my fear of being "overweight" is a reality now. I have seen numbers on the scale I never thought I'd see and do you know what?

The world didn't end. 

And do you know what else?

I see the same person in the mirror I saw back then. Same size and all. Maybe I had an unrealistic view of myself then. Maybe I do now. (I'm going to guess, though, it's the former). I know I'm bigger because my clothes don't fit, but I see the same person starring back at me in the mirror. But instead of spending all my time convincing myself I'm not her or that I will be a better version of her, I'm actually learning to accept her and better yet, love her. 

And honestly I'm much healthier in many many ways than I was then. I exercise daily and do it because it makes me feel good and I do the kinds of exercise I enjoy. I eat more vegetables and wholesome foods. My diet is far more balanced than it ever was before. I still overeat too often and I still over indulge my sweet tooth and those are the things holding me back right now, but I honestly feel like I'm holding myself back on purpose. I maybe was unaware of that until now, but I see it. 

You see in some ways, I'm actually happier carrying these extra 30 pounds than I was without them. It might sound crazy, but  that's the honest truth. Do I still want to lose the weight? Yes. BUT (and this is a big but) I don't want to lose the weight if it means going back to that same place. I want to get better before I get there. Fixating so much on my body and my eating made me a selfish person and I like this new version of myself much better. I want to be stronger for my own personal sanity and in order to set a good example for JaiseAnn.

I have always struggled in my relationship with food. And I've struggled with my relationship with my body. In the past, I've tried to address my relationship with food first. If I tend to my diet then I will love my body. But that's never really worked because my relationship with both my body and food has never seen lasting improvement. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. So I'm doing something different. I'm loving my body first this time. 

I think this quote from Glennon at Momastery captures how I feel about this process perfectly: 

"Here’s what I’ve come to accept: Progress is not linear. We don’t go from here to there and put things behind us. Progress is a spiral staircase and we just keep coming around to the same issues again and again. But every time we face the same demons: we do so with a higher consciousness and stronger muscles and heart from the climb. So we do a little better each go ’round." (See full post here)
For now, I'm going to keep climbing the staircase. I'm taking away a timeline-it hasn't worked. I'm going to keep taking care of my body. I'm going to keep working on loving my body. And maybe I'll lose weight and maybe I won't. But I'm not in a place to pull out the "big guns" and tell myself I can't eat something or that I have to do something because I need to lose weight. Because the weight isn't the problem, my problem is the perception about myself regarding my weight and that is where I need to start. 

I'm actually at a point where I'm grateful for this struggle. I'm honestly grateful for the extra weight and the difficult adjustment and my past struggles with my body. I am grateful because they were the cost of learning some incredibly valuable lessons. I am really excited to share this journey to loving my body with you all. I'm sharing some snippets over at The Morrell Tale today and I will be sharing my first post next week. 
I'd love to hear any of your thoughts/feelings or experiences on this topic or on the topic of progress in general. Can you relate? Even if it's not weight related, is there something you struggle with and feel like you're on the spiral staircase? 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Moms & Politics

My heart has been so heavy lately. Whether it’s a new story about Planned Parenthood,  a story about yet another school shooting, or a family on my social media feed that just lost their child to something—an accident, a disease, something cruel and unfair and I just ache. It's not just the news that makes me feel heavy-hearted, though. It's other people and their response to the news. I don't participate in a lot of social media and I refuse to "fight" with anyone about these issues through a computer screen--I can't think of anything less productive, or less sensible. I won't even fire a shot in your direction if you take the opposing side. 
Since becoming my mom, my relationship with politics is so interesting. On one hand I have never been more firm in my beliefs. I know where I stand and I know why and my heart is in that all the way. On the other hand, my heart has never been softer. I see the other side in a different way. I see the moms out there. And I know they are just like me. Every child that they hear about is another break in their heart. Another, "that could have been mine."  Our hearts are always breaking for those hurting moms—no matter where we stand.

moms in politics

When I heard about the  Umpqua shooting, JaiseAnn was napping in my arms. I silently prayed for those families and those scared students and then I prayed for our world. I prayed for my daughter as I wiped tears away from my eyes and held her a bit tighter. I felt scared, sad, sick, a bit hopeless, and a little lost.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that when a mom hears about a tragedy like this, she might react similarly. She might not do the exact same things or feel the exact same emotions, but I would bet money that the feelings are pretty close. And I bet if you polled those women, they would all have differing political views that run the political gamut--not all belonging to extreme sides on either end. 

Abortion, gun control, socialized medicine, welfare programs, education, and more—I have very strong opinions on all of these things. Those opinions are based on a number of factors-including my moral beliefs, the concern for the safety and welfare of my family, and the value of every human being. My beliefs are anchored in the things that I value most. I stand on a side because that’s the side I feel best protects those things.

 I know other people that have completely different views about these things. I would not for one second dare assume that the people that have those differing views don’t have moral beliefs or don’t value human life. I wouldn’t dare think for a second that a mom with a differing viewpoint than mine is thinking differently because she cares less about her kids. In fact, I am pretty sure her thoughts and beliefs are also there because that’s what she feels will best protect the people and things most important to her. 

Just like me.

I cry for those moms and their lost children. I pray for them. I think about them often. Many times I go on walks with JaiseAnn and I just think about all of these things while holding back tears and wonder, “What can I do? How can I help this?” I won’t assume that just because you have different beliefs you don’t do the very same thing. I won't assume that just because we might arrive at different kinds of solutions that you love your child any less or are any less worried than I am. 

I think that instead of arguing with each about who cares more or shaming each other about our differences, we should start with our common ground--and we do have common ground. While we’re so busy fighting—people are still dying and we’re treading water while we argue. The divide between us just becomes greater and we become that much further from a real solution. A solution to the fact that we even need to address these issues in the first place.

It's clear that there is plenty of hatred, too many assumptions, and a lot of violence in our world. How are we ever going to make this world better by adding more? No matter who's side "wins," we still have not addressed the bigger issues--the hatred, the cruelty, the blantant disregard for others--we don't value them or their thoughts or opinions. We assume that we understand their values and priorities based on a political viewpoint? How small and silly. That's a world I would prefer not to pass down to my daughter. 

We women can change the world. Whether you’re a mom or whether you’ve got a mom’s heart—we care about our children---and they are ALL OF OUR CHILDREN! Let’s start there. Let’s start the conversation there. Yes the issues need to be discussed and yes something needs to be done, but shouldn’t we start with what we all care most about-our babies? If we did that, I imagine we could really be vulnerable, open our hearts  and talk and relay our fears and our feelings. Mostly I feel like we could finally  listen to each other and, maybe more importantly, hear each other. And maybe, we could see some solutions to these issues and maybe—just maybe- we could change the world.

I invite all comments, but ask that they be kind and respectful. I promise to respect all opinions shared kindly here, but reserve the right to delete and block hateful comments. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Getting Ready For LDS General Conference

This coming weekend is much awaited! It is LDS General Conference weekend. 

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said, "What a marvelous privilege it is to hear God’s messages for each of us during general conference! Let us prepare well for this great blessing of divine guidance delivered by His chosen servants.For this is no ordinary blessing."

Full Talk Found Here
The older I get, the more and more I appreciate this special blessing and privilege to hear God's word through his servants. I look forward to it with great anticipation. In order to make sure that I do not take this opportunity for granted, I prepare for conference so that I am ready to hear the words God has in mind for me and my specific circumstances and needs. 

We pray for a while leading up to conference and generally use the Fast Sunday before conference to pray for inspiration or answers to questions during conference. I usually narrow down 2-3 big questions or things I feel I need help with before beginning conference and pray about them often. I find that this prepares me to receive inspiration prior to conference as well as during. It also makes me eager to listen to the talks and better able to pay attention as  I am listening for some specific things. 


I used to take notes often during conference--in my life before motherhood. I did this because I felt that the things I felt at the time I first heard the message were different and important. Reviewing and studying the talks later is always an option, but the things I might feel/think during conference might be forgotten once it's over. 

Many people take notes very different ways. This free printable from Brielle at Ready-Or-Not is perfect for taking notes and is super helpful. 

I just visited with a lady from my ward who had a great suggestion. With each talk, she writes down the speaker--a bit about the topic--and then she rates the talk. She doesn't rate the talk as "good or bad" but rates on a scale of 1-5 to determine how much this relates to the things she needed to hear and the questions she had going into conference. 5 is a "THIS TALK IS FOR YOU!" message and it goes down from there. She said that she then spends the six months until the next conference studying the talks--those with the higher ratings are the ones she hits first and spends the most time on. The ones with a lower rating are the ones that she still takes time to study--she says that often after she's spent time studying and getting the answers she needs, the lower ratings impact her differently. I've never done this, but it seems like a really easy and effective way to engage during conference while still being a mom. 


Food might seem trivial, and maybe it is. But for me, it's not. Not just because I like food, but because I think it's okay to sometimes (or maybe even a lot of times) associate food with fun family traditions. Like Thanksgiving dinner, making sugar cookies at Christma..I want conference weekend to be one of those special and memorable times for my family. Not just because of the food, obviously, but because of the whole experience. I also think that taking time to plan for special meals during this weekend is a great way to send a message to my daughter that this weekend is special and it is important to us.

On the Sunday of General Conference, we spend the day at my parents' house. Zach and I bring something for breakfast and my mom makes dinner. I am going to bring a few things:

Pumpkin Spice Donuts with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Autumn Fruit Salad

If you're not in the mood for the things on our menu--how about some of these fun treats:

Pumpkin Streusel Cinnamon Rolls

Amish Baked Oatmeal

For more suggestions on how to get the most out of conference, see here.

What are your favorite ways to prepare for conference? 
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