Wednesday, September 30, 2015


'We are mothers. We pride ourselves in taking care of our children, and others, and putting ourselves last. We may not do this intentionally, it just happens by our nature and the demanding nature of young children.

I've recently discovered the >>>JOY<<< of taking care of myself! It is magnificent. It is life-changing. I realized I was very selfless by nature and in always caring for others and not myself, I had become slightly unhappy because I was DRAINED. As I have had this God-given change of heart over these last few months, this is one of the major changes I've made, and it's made one of the biggest differences in my overall happiness. I was talking with some friends the other day and someone mentioned the sheer necessity of taking care of ourselves and two different women asked, "how do we do that?!" I was surprised that this idea was new to them but I quickly realized I was in there same place not long ago. I am so elated to be past that place and be where I am today. I always knew I should "take care of myself" but I didn't think it was really possible or have any practical ideas to really do it. I thought I would share a few ideas I've learned on how to be just a little more selfish and take care of OURSELVES! (And don't worry, it's not really being selfish. Doing so makes everyone around us happier, especially our husbands and children!)

1. Politely but firmly excuse yourself of guilt. 

Have you ever gone out for a girls night or dropped your little ones off for a friend to watch them during an appointment? After you dropped them off did you wonder and worry about how they were doing and check up on them and hurry home as quickly as possible? Or did you fully enjoy your time away from them? However small or for whatever reason you are away, make the most of it! There is nothing to feel guilty about when leaving them. You are their MOTHER. You give your all to them day and night. When you get a little break, TAKE IT! Make it just that, a break! Don't fret over your children the whole time or feel like, "oh, I should be there. They probably need me..." Turn your mom-o-meter off and enjoy yourself! Think about yourself, your goals, your dreams, your interests, listen to your favorite songs, etc.

2. "Daddy's in charge."

With me working, we've had the blessing of having Dan get to spend full days taking care of the kids, from morning until night. I'd come home and anxiously ask him how the day was. He would casually reply how they ate great vegetable-filled meals without complaint, went BM with no issues, didn't complain and whine, casually took a nap on the couch, played independently while Dan cleaned the whole house and made homemade bread, and happily went to bed at 6:30. I was bewildered. One time, Dan took the boys to church when I wasn't feeling well and Dan said Jude fell asleep in the car, transferred into the church pew, and slept all the way through Sacrament meeting on the chairs. THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME. I would watch Dan and us and wonder what was different. Why were the kids so much more independent and easy-going when I wasn't around? I realized when I was around I would micromanage not only my kids but Dan and how he took care of them. "They need this! Don't forget to do this..." etc. I would also get on Dan's case about not giving them enough attention and "ignoring them." But if they were more well-behaved when I wasn't around, maybe my constant worrying and doting was just making them more whiney and dependent.

Sometimes, when I would get home from being away, they (mostly Jude) would start whining, crying, and complaining. I would ask Dan if he'd been like this and he said, "no, not at all!" I realized I had a lot to learn from Dan and he needed to take the reigns to teach me a thing or two. When we were all together from then on, I would say "Daddy's in charge!" And anytime the kids would need something (from some food to some discipline) I would gladly tell them that Daddy's in charge and if they needed something to talk to him. I learned a lot from watching his more relaxed approach and it's helped me try to apply those principles in how I care for them.

One time, Jude turned to me and in an extremely whiney, high-pitched, complaining voice he said, "Mommy, but I really want some waaaaatermelon." ALL I said was "Daddy's in charge." He turned to Dan and he said in the most pleasant, appropriate voice, "Daddy, can I please have some watermelon?" To say I was shocked and appalled would be an understatement.

3. Budget time and money for you, mama!

I'm a really frugal person by nature and my natural response to anything that cost any money was always the same, "no thanks." I just didn't spend money on anything "extra." I wouldn't go to play dates at the toddler gym because it cost. We wouldn't go out with friends because of the money. I wouldn't go out on girls nights to save the money. Since my change of heart, I realized it was OKAY to spend some money on MYSELF. Yes, we don't make any money. And yes, we're in debt, but I can't wait until we're financially stable to start LIVING MY LIFE. That is essentially what I was doing. I was missing out on opportunities, experiences, and little drops in my happiness bucket because I didn't want to spend the extra dollars. Well, things have changed. I'm worth it. My kids are worth it. It may only add up to an extra few hundred dollars a year. That is worth me going out to get ice cream with my girlfriends. That is worth me and the kids going on an outing to the museum. That is worth Dan and I paying for a real babysitter and going out to dinner. 

When I was first coming out of my sadness hermitdom, I NEEDED some time to myself. My dear mother knew I was struggling and knew I needed a break so she gifted me for my birthday some money to pay for a babysitter and just go out by myself in the day and recharge. I would also hire a young 12-year-old girl from my church congregation, have her come over after I put the kids to bed, and I would leave her a list of nitty gritty chores to do around the house! How ingenious is that?! My kids were in bed and I would come home to a clean house. And that girl could work! You have to really look around to find the right boy or girl who is willing to work. It felt amazing to go out on a date and then come home to a cleaner house. Win. Win. Win. 

We also do date night swaps with our friends. We will put our kids to bed and have a friend come over and hang out on our couch for two hours while we go out. Then we will return the favor another night! Win. Win. 

Now I'm the one planning dates with Dan and girl's nights out with my girls. It has honestly helped me so much to let go of my extreme need to not spend. I AM WORTH IT. (Say that out loud in a confident, convincing voice!)

One more example. My friend's husband was out of town for a whole month on a medical school rotation. She had been through pretty much everything that month and she decided to take herself out on a date! She went to a steakhouse and enjoyed a nice, quiet meal by herself. She then went to a movie! You go girl!

4. Truly believe the fact that you're worth it and you deserve it.

You are worth it! You are beautiful inside and out. Embrace this fact by taking care of yourself. My grandmother used to say, "you have to fill your own tank before you can fill anyone else's."

5. Realize it's okay to put your needs before your childrens sometimes.

I used to exhaust myself "taking care" of my children all day. I wouldn't even give my mind a break. I was always thinking about what they needed next, what I needed to do for them, etc. By evening I was a dehydrated, dysfunctional sponge. When I realized I deserved more, it changed everything. My friends have running group, walki group, and play group. I didn't go for a YEAR after Abraham was born because he needed his nap, etc. I started to get depressed. I wasn't living my life as whole-heartedly and passionately as I could and I felt like something was missing. I had to "take care of the kids" by staying home to cook, clean,ap and let them nap?! They weren't living either. Now we go running with friends twice a week, walki at the park once a week, and play group once a week. So four mornings every week I am out exercising, enjoying being outside, chatting with my friends, and my children are playing with other kids and we get a break from each other. It's marvelous. I'm not bei selfish by going out running so I can be fit. It's as much for them as it is for me! I am happier and healthier, so I'm a better mother and wife and friend and person! 

6. Take advantage of the small moments. At the park, bring a book.

Like I said, I used to not even give my mind a break from the worry and angst of motherhood. I have let it go. I've let it all go. I've embraced the fact that I can't heal Jude immediately, I can't ensure a lengthy nap for Abraham every day. I can't control that my children will eat a perfectly balanced meal three times a day. I have stopped worrying about things I can't change. And my mind now has so much more time and space to learn more and just be content. I read more now. (Full blog post all about that below) After the kids eat and they are settled, I leisurely lie down on the couch and read a book. If they come up to me needing something, I politely tell them that I am reading right now and I'll talk to them in a minute. I deserve that time. I don't have to wait until they are both in bed to enjoy some time to recharge myself. When I go to the park or story time at the library. I will bring a book or my journal and excuse myself from my duties (safety is always my duty, of course, and I never excuse myself from that!) and enjoy MY time in peace. Even if it's only ten minutes. That's ten minutes. I don't feel the need to catch my child at he bottom of the slide, meet them at the other side of the tunnel, or narrate their play. It's good for them to have a little independence, interact with other children, and feel like I trust them to play on their own. (This obviously varies greatly by the age and circumstances of your children. Mine are just joyfully at the ages where they can play at the park on their own pretty safely.)

If your husband gets home early and can help out the kids to bed, tell him you are going to let him experience the joy of putting the kids to bed on his own and you will be locked in the bedroom. Take advantage of any opportunity you need to nourish yourself! You know when you are stretched too thin and you need to take care of yourself. You deserve it! Make it happen!

7.  Try to maintain a more long-term perspective.

A dear friend of mine, after having two boys very close together, has made "all is well that ends well" her motto. How refreshing! Don't get too caught up in the moment. Remember that they are growing. They won't be babies forever. They won't be toddlers forever. They will grow so fast and before long they won't want to spend every waking hour with you. When they get a little older they play together! Without supervision?! (I hear that will happen eventually.) It's okay if they don't get their vitamins today. It's okay if they look homeless today. It's okay if your house is a wreck. They won't remember what the house looked like or what you made (or didn't make) for dinner. They'll remember how they felt at home. They'll remember how mom made them always feel loved and special.

I love the wise words of Jeffrey R. Holland, "Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You're doing better than you think you are."

_____ _____ _____ _____

I have reconnected with my love for dancing throughout this journey of finding myself again. It's an outlet for me. I dance as often as possible. The other day while Jude was asleep, I felt like dancing! And recording it. So I did. Now that was a three minutes well-spent and I feel like I rock star when I watch it. I'm sharing this because I feel like it perfectly depicts the new me and how I've just learned to embrace life. No, I didn't get all ready that day and I didn't make a fancy dinner, but I was happy. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Last night I was leaving the house and I told Jude I was leaving and gave him a big hug and kiss and told him I loved him and good night. He seemed totally (okay, relatively) okay with it. I walked to the door and when I turned around to bid one last adieu, he had trampled off towards the stairs. I figured he had ran up the stairs to see Daddy.

I was talking to Dan about it later that evening and Dan asked, "So Jude was pretty upset that you left?" I explained to him that no, she was happy as could be! Dan told me that when he came downstairs and saw Jude he looked like he'd been crying. Dan asked him if he'd been crying and he replied, "I haven't been crying." He then shuffled over to the chair and pointed to two wet puddles on the cushion. Dan asked, "Have you been crying on the chair?" Jude confessed that he had, after all. They then embraced and all was well.

Sometimes it gets a little exhausting to feel so overwhelmed by young children who are so dependent and especially partial to the assistance of their mothers. But moments like this help me remember how precious this time is. I left the house and he was so overcome he just burst into tears because he just longed to be with me! Can you imagine if I got that sad when Dan left the house? Besides that I would probably be unstable, it's just evidence of how passionate children are in their love. They're not trying to be strong. They just love us so much it almost hurts! They are so transparent and innocent. 

Jude is sleeping in his teepee and almost every night he comes in and climbs into bed with us, usually first thing in the morning. I've tried to get him to stay in his bed and he knows he's supposed to stay. So now almost every morning when I wake up, he's lying so uncomfortably on the floor. He just wants to be near me! He would rather lie on the hard floor and be within a few feet of me than be in his nice, cozy bed. How precious. I remember feeling that way as a child, I just wanted to be BY my mom and dad! Jude is so loyal to me and I'm so grateful. I hope to cultivate our relationship and develop that trust so he will always want to be with me and consider me someone he can always trust and talk to and who is always there for him!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Preschool for Jude!

My little boy is a school-goer! He started preschool and we are excited for him and his growth. My friend here in town transformed a room in her house into a preschool room and has a great little set-up. She's spent a lot of time creating lesson plans and games and songs and other activities for the boys! His class is 9:00-11:30 on Tuesdays and Thursday's and there are five boys in his class! 

I'm really excited for him to progress and have this experience. He's so ready and had no problem at all going off on his own! 

I thought it started at 9:30 and spent the morning getting everyone and everythingn all ready! My thoughtful friend, Brittany, texted me, "are you coming?" And I got a pit in my stomach when I realized what I'd done!! Our pleasant morning quickly became chaos and we rushed into the car and off we went! Luckily our neighbor, Kara, was in the same boat as me and we were late together!

Jude didn't have much to say about it but it wasn't hard to tell he really enjoyed it! He learned about the letter "A" and later in the day asked questions about te days of the week. We also worked on his A sticker worksheet and I was proud of his determination in doing a good job on it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fleeting chubby faces

Dan showed me a 18 second video clip yesterday from his phone that I had never seen. It was Jude at 2 and his favorite color was "mama" and my heart was breaking. Life is so surreal. Jude was my ENTIRE world then, yet I don't readily remember details about the things he would say, how his voice sounded, how he looked when he walked, or his favorite things to do. At the time, I'm sure I felt like he'd be two forever and I couldn't imagine ever forgetting all those things I experienced every day. But I have. Sometimes I'll look back on Abraham's entire first year and wonder what we did, what his firsts were, of how his little boy looked as he crawled. All I seem to be able to see is he moment I'm in right now. Sometimes I anticipate future stages or mourn over the loss of past stages. But how can I embrace and find joy in right now? (which will surely help me to remember it more)

Sometimes my boys will say or do something so heart-breakingly cute, but I'm in a hurry to do whatever "needs" to be done and I don't stop to write it down. I think, "oh, I'll remember it and write it down later." Or I'm just used to their cuteness I take it for granted! 

Right now I am vowing to prioritize journaling and writing down the things they say and do as one of my top. Before I know it they will be reading chapter books in their room and I will wonder where my needy babies went. I want to have plenty of pictures, videos, and written memories so I will never forget. (Organizing them is a whole new problem I have not yet confronted!) I do enjoy the simplicity of Instagram and Chatbook, but I also don't like feeling constrained to their rules and I don't like feeling like I'm journaling TO other people (as opposed to simply writing for myself or for posterity's sake.) Anyway, here are a few things I never want to forget. (Along with a few unrelated pictures!)

... ... ...

December 31, 2014: "I went to the store. I saw a big huge Easter bunny. I really liked it. I was two years old. It was in Texas it was a long, long time ago." (Randomly remembered from 8 months previous and we hadn't talked about it since!)

... ... ...

April 2015 - "My heartbeat is telling me that wasn't very nice."

"Those fruit flies are heart-attacking those oranges."

... ... ...

Jude went to primary in Las Vegas (August 2015). It was his first time going to a different primary and I was so proud of how mature and independent and unafraid he was. The teacher also informed me that he was very reverent and "perfect!" On the way home, I asked how church was. He replied that it was good. He then said, "there were some girls at church..." I replied, "Oh? What were the girls like?" Then for the first time of his life he did a embarrassed sounding exhale giggle and said, "they were really pretty." When probed further he said, " I were a couple seats away from them. I saw some big girls." I asked him about it a couple more times and each time he did the embarrassed, bashful exhale giggle and would tell me they were pretty! I was dying! This natural attraction for girls is just that, natural, and it makes me a little nervous!

... ... ...

All the following are from Summer 2015 (age 3 1/2)-

Jude: What would happen if Heavenly Father did something wrong?
Dan: Heavenly Father can't.
J: What if he did?
D: Then would cease to be Heavenly Father.
J: Who would he be then?
D: He would just be a normal person.
J: And then we'd have to take him to the chief judge?

... ... ...

We saw a food truck on the side of the river while floating down the Comal River. Jude saw it and asked, "Is that the mobile library?"

... ... ...

(I was at work and this is Dan telling me about what they did while I was gone!)

"We had Family Home Evening and our lesson was on being fishers of men and how Jesus told his disciples to teach the Gospel. So we got fishing line and braided them into bracelets and put them on the boys. Jude cut his own pieces and was so excited when we were making his. He said "I'm never taking mine off. I'm going to show it to all the animals when we have a farm. I'm gonna wear it when I'm a Daddy. I'm going to wear it all the way up to heaven." 
Abraham loved his too. Before bed I said "Abraham let's take yours off" and he just kept yelling "no!" and was pulling his hand away. So they're both still wearing theirs!"

... ... ...

Judes prayer this morning: (age 3) 

"Heavenly Father please bless daddy and mommy and Abraham and jude. We went to the temple and saw where you used to live. Please bless Mimi and papa and tubby and Mimi and papa and Abraham Lincoln and Steve Irwin and tubby. When are my brother and sister going to come down from heaven?"

... ... ...

"Some people don't have any God. You know what I'd do? I'd give them some of my God. Because I'm filled with God. I have tons of God in me!"

... ... ...

Jude: "Does gas make cars go?"
Rachael: "Yes."
Jude: "Do toots make cars go?"
Rachael: "No..."
Jude: "Why? It's gas."

... ... ...

I was putting Jude to bed in his crib and as I was turning around to leave, Jude said in his tiny little voice:

"Mommy, I just love you and I would really love it if you sat with me for a little while."

So I sat outside of his crib and just touched his little face and sang to him. There are no words to describe those moments!

... ... ...

"I just want want to move on out of this hot world. I'm ready for fall."

... ... ...

Jude's prayer this morning:

"Please bless us that we won't die before we get to move to the woods!"

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The power of reading.

A few months ago I had an awakening, a rebirth, a complete change of heart. And it has changed my life. I was a really "gifted" reader as a child, according to standardized tests, but throughout my schooling I would refer to Spark Notes more than I would read an actual book. It seemed daunting and unrealistic to read through a whole book. As I've ventured into motherhood, I put reading into a fantasy cloud of my middle-aged future. "I don't have time to read." I would say. About a year before 

"Super Nutrition for Babies"

literally changed my life and spring-boarded me into the world of whole foods and nutrition, which has become a great passion for me and it many ways has led Jude on his path to healing and health.

I also read the first half of 

"French Kids Eat Everything" by Pamela Druckerman 

and it showed me a new reality of how we don't have to have spoiled, "picky" eaters for children. It taught me a LOT. (And I didn't even have the gusto to finish the whole book!)

Then my reading hiatus begins again after Abraham was born. I had "no time."

Then my epic change of heart and mind occurred where I decided to make time for myself, start reading and expand my mind.

It started out with an inspired text from a friend around this same time recommending a few books to me. I focused in on

"Hands-Free Mama" by Rachel Macy Stafford.

It was written for me at that time. She eloquently and clearly expressed so many thoughts I had felt but didn't know how to articulate (or even think) in a concrete way. It gave me hope and inspiration and ideas and tools and everything else I didn't even know I needed. It was EPIC.

I was so thirsty for more. I was super bummed when I finished the book so we scurried over to the library and I picked up 

"How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm" by Mei-Ling Hopgood and then

"100 Tips for French Parenting" and then 

"Bringing Up Bebe" and my mind was


These books showed me how my definition of "a good mother" was completely cultural and there were a hundred incredible ways to really be "a good mother." I was already a mother all my own and did what I felt was best for my children, and then reading and expanding on these ideas rocked my world. This probably doesn't make a lot of sense because I'm not getting into everything specifically. But it was incredibly refreshing and guilt-abandoning and refreshing to learn about raising children in other cultures and what works for them. 

The American "culture" of bringing up our babies is far from my ideal and I now feel so much more confident in who I am and how I raise my boys. It is okay to be a different kind of mother than everyone around me. It's refreshing. It's how we learn from each other and grow.

I'm so grateful that I have overcome my non-reading ways and have realized the power and growth that comes from reading good books. Now I can't read enough. There are so many people to be inspired by and so much to learn. I recently read 


the biography of Camilla Eyring Kimball (President Kimball's wife). This woman was a powerhouse of faith, but she was also a REAL woman who went through trials and had many insecurities of her own. She is so honest and shares her struggles from sore nipples in breastfeeding to being lonely and missing her busy husband. It is so INCREDIBLY refreshing to me to read about the lives and times of others. I am drawn to and intrigued by other time periods and absolutely love learning details about the lives of inspiring women. I highly recommend all these books and if any of them sound interesting to you, grab a copy at the library! 

And let's not fail to add, "The Magic of Tidying Up - The Japanese Art of Decluttering." See blog post below for more that one! But it once again - changed my life! (I don't throw that term out loosely, people. My life has literally been changed and these books have helped!)

Side note: My boys and I can't get to the library enough! We loved going to the library every week or two and borrowing 20, 30, or even 40 books!! It is so fun for us to have new books to read and we always learning. As I have started to read more (and read around the children), I have noticed a significant increase in their desire to read. I will find them both flipping through books on their own. Jude will look through interesting books and come running up to me asking me questions about what it means. Abraham will waddle up to me with a little board book and say "book! book!" It's been beautiful to watch ten develop a love for reading and I hope to continue to nurture and encourage that. Reading is a gateway to anything and anywhere and is the most important skill one can attain! If you can read, you can learn anything!

Monday, August 3, 2015

My Journey to Less

Over the past several years I have been introduced to and intrigued by the idea of having less "stuff" in order to live a simpler life with more time to do enjoy the simple pleasures of life like simply spending time
with my family. I have read different articles and books and talked to others about this and, over time, have really come to believe it would help me be able to have a cleaner, more organized home and live a life closer to the life I dream of.

Right now different items from different categories are scattered throughout the house. I have more things
than can comfortably fit in my cabinets and closets. I have difficulty finding what I'm looking for. I have many items in the house that have no real home, just a junk drawer if they're lucky. It's all I can do to keep my house "picked up," while being actually clean and truly organized has honestly never happened! At any given time, I have an impressive pile of laundry in the laundry basket, next to the laundry basket, in the washer or dryer or both, and usually a clean pile on the floor of Dan's office. If I get a spare moment, I'm picking up random things or trying to find a place for random belongings. It's an endless and exhausting job.

It causes me stress when the house is a mess or even when it's picked up but I know there are a bunch of things hiding under the couch and the bed and my drawers are overflowing and the linen closet is overwhelmingly disorganized. I have really come to believe that the key to a truly clean, organized home is owning far less. A sizeable fraction of the clothes in my closet I literally wear a handful of times a year. The majority of items in the office closet or the attic I have not used in over two years.

Keeping things because they hold a random sentiment does not add anything to my life. The memory itself does. Guilt follows me as I refrain from discarding it but try to store and organize it and move it time and time again. I can discard that item and still have the wonderful memory from that experience as vividly as I did with or without the physical object.

I am learning through sad experience that all these things that are meant to make my life "easier" and more enjoyable are in reality making my life more complicated, difficult, and are clearly taking away from the things that truly matter. For example, I have spent hours researching iPad cases, cracked screen options, troubleshooting, or wasting time on meaningless tasks when a few years ago I was perfectly content setting aside the time to sitting down and using my computer when I needed to. Adding to that, I now check things randomly on my phone/iPad that may seem important at the time but are NOT of true value. Oftentimes I'm spending my time looking things up that I need to know about how to take care of and maintain another object I own that I really don't even need! Think if I still only had a laptop or desktop computer, if I had something to "look up" or do online, I would plan and group them together and when the kids were in
bed or I had an appropriate moment, I would sit down and do what I needed to do. If something truly was not necessary for me to "look up," it would fall from my mind by the time I sat down to use the computer. With our handheld devices so readily and easily available, we are using them CONSTANTLY to do things that are essentially meaningless and we are oftentime using them at inappropriate times. Just imagine the sum total of the minutes and hours we spend doing meangingless things on our devices and what else we could be doing with that time. Thinking about it makes my heart skip a beat.

I can't tell you how many clothes have never been worn, how many plastic toys have broken, how many projects have never been tackled, how many pictures have never been hung, how many books have never been read, and how many toys have never been touched, much less appreciated. I feel that if we are more intentional and better plan and purchase products of lasting quality, they will last longer and be used. I visited a friend for dinner a while ago and was all but obsessed with the "vintage" metal tractor collection. I was even more enamored when I learned that those toys belonged to her husband when he was a boy and that he has vivid memories playing with them. What an incredible concept that seems hard to believe now! Those toys were built with such quality that they are still working great for the next generation to enjoy. Toys are built so extremely cheap now, they barely last a year! (In my family at least!) I marvel at how much I could save and how much more we can enjoy our things if they are of the utmost quality.

I am choosing to end the exhausting cycle of consumerism in my life. I do not need several pairs of tan shoes or need to spend my time shopping for things I don't need. (Siyanara, Target!) I want a better, simpler, more
sustainable and frugal lifestyle for myself and my family and I believe I can achieve it. I am ready to make a change in my life. I will no longer keep things out of obligation or guilt. I am freeing myself of things that are
cluttering my house and working to creater a cleaner home and an environment where my children can learn and plan and the Spirit can dwell. I feel that it is essential that I have a clean, organized home environment in order to truly teach my children and I, as the mother and "homemaker," am in control of my home.

Just as removing social media from my life has exponentially increased my time for reading, pondering, and simply being present with my family, removing unwanted and unneeded "things" from my life will bring more order, cleanliness, and increased time to pursue other things. The piles of laundry I constantly have would be greatly reduced if I had one or two loads TOTAL for all of their clothes. Consider purchasing zoo or theme park passes, a coupon for a day at the park or the river, etc instead of toys for your children. Instead of rewarding them with toys from charts or for good behavior, have their prize be a fishing trip with Dad or date with Mom or a bike ride at the park or a mini "pool party" in the backyard with a friend.

I recently read "The Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering" by Marie Kondo and I highly recommend it! It changed my mindset and I believe that is the greatest key in being able to move forward. It took that book for me to be able to make the leap I needed to in the process of cleaning out and organizing my home. I am taking baby steps and still have so far to go when I discover something life-changing, I can't help but share it!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I feel so incredibly inadequate to even TRY to write anything half-decent on this subject, but I'm not going to let that stop me. I had absolutely no idea about this before yesterday and know that I know, I am grateful so I can take steps to protect my family and myself.



Smart meters

Ring any bells?! None of them did for me until yesterday when I attended an educational class held by the Weston A. Price Foundation San Antonio chapter. They hosted a guest speaker, Sheila Hemphill, who has dedicated her life to spreading awareness about electromagnetic radiation.

I am going to share with you, in my incredibly simplified terms, what I learned and what I'm changing.

Light = life = energy

I hope we can all agree on that to start this off on the right foot!

She first described two mushrooms to illustrate her point. One is an organically grown, healthy mushroom which was emitting lots of energy, as a mushroom is a living thing. The other mushroom was a conventionally grown mushroom that's biofuels had been dimished by the chemicals used and it emitted little to no energy. She described that second mushroom as "having a body but being brain dead." Which one would you rather eat?! 

This isn't about food, though. It's about energy. We, as people, emit energy and life and that is recorded through an EKG and EEG. That is what makes us alive! 

Here is a chart that illustrates how much energy these different things emit.

Sorry about the poor quality. I was snapping pictures during the presentation. Brain waves emit 10 Hertz. The earth's frequencies were 6, if I remember correctly (but definitely less than ten).

Cell phones (namely, smart phones) emit 1 BILLION Hertz of electromagnetic fields! Did you know in every smart phone users guide there is a warning to not keep your phone within an inch of your body?! 

That one above looks a little outdated, here are the current guidelines from Apple. (The safety guidelines are based on a highly unreliable test that is not even conducted on humans or animals, but a "manikin" head with a gel like substance inside with a thermometer stuck in the top to see how close the cell phone has to get before the temperature rises a full degree, called Specific Absorption Rate. I kid you not. That is the test.)

Robert Baker, a 2000 Nobel Prize nominee said "I have no doubt in my mind that at this present time the greatest polluting element in the Earth's environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields."

Our grandparents grew up with little electromagnetic radiation. It began with radios and was minimal. Our parents grew up with little electromagnetic radiation. Mostly radio and television. (Phones with cords are safe compared to cordless phones). And then our generation and those after me came along. The mobile phone became commonplace within the last 15 years. The cordless home phone became popular. Then the Internet. Then WIFI. Then mobile devices, smart phones, iPads, smart TV's, baby monitors, smart meters (to measure our electricity usage), smart appliances. And now even Apple watches and FitBits that we wear on our person at all times. 

This is all relatively RECENTLY emerging and NEW technology. Do we even think about how this all may be affecting us? All these modern conveniences are not harmless. It is a undeniable fact that these devices all emit electromagnetic fields, which is synonymous with ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION. Radiation. Cancer-causing, health-disrupting, as-bad-as-it-sounds radiation. I don't know about you, but I would rather not have myself and my CHILDREN be the subjects of an experiment as we figure out whether our constant exposure to all this EMF is safe.

Our children are exposed to this through wifi in our homes, stronger, more powerful wifi in their schools, in our church buildings, at restaurants, and every moment of the night as they are sleeping in their beds or simply living in their homes. Is it unreasonable to ask if there may be a correlation between this and the inexplicable rise in ADD, ADHD, autism, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disorders and disturbances and even autoimmune disease that we are seeing in our very own children?

Cell phones and home phones used to have antennas, which would direct the radiation away from our bodies. But we wanted smaller and more compact so they now have done away with antennas and those electromagnetic fields are not being directed anywhere but our HEADS. 

France recently BANNED wifi in preschools because there is enough research and undeniable evidence to show it is harmful to adults, much less a small child.

France is not the only country. Australia, Canada, and other countries across Europe are taking steps in the same direction.

I didn't even know what a "smart meter" was until yesterday, but apparently there is a lot of controversy about their safety. Smart meters are digital meter readers for our power that are replacing our analog meters (with the spinning wheel) that emit massive amount of EMR and are very harmful. Dan and I found a documentary describing the situation with the Smart Meters and other EMR called, "Take Back Your Power" and we were able to watch the whole documentary for free on YouTube. I do not have the adequate knowledge or ENERGY (ha ha... ha) to try get into all of this and all the other facets of this issue or even cute all my sources, so I urge you to do your own research and decide for yourself.

We need to educate ourselves and be aware of the harmful effects of this radiation. We are not the first to be innocently exposed to harmful, cancer-causing substances. Think about lead, asbestos, cigarettes, radium and even the x-ray machines at the department store to better see how your shoes fit. In some of these cases, it took hundreds of not thousands of years for this clearly harmful substances to be removed. (Usually because companies were making lots of money off them.)

Here are a couple statements published by the World Health Organization, but obviously not enough for many to recognize a need for change.

For the sake of our own health and the health of our children, we can not wait until the government deems this radiation "unsafe" because we already know it is. There is irrefutable evidence through peer-reviewed, evidence-based research, not to mention the innumerable testimonials of those who have been affected. 

Click on the picture above and zoom in if you can. All the red dots are the physical symptoms that have been reported through reliable research from the effects of EMR (brain rumors, other cancers, heart problems, disrupted calcium metabolism, DNA damage, infertility, sleep, and disrupted immune function). People start to report adverse effects when the electromagnetic fields are as low as 0.000001 mW/m2. The FCC (the agency that is regulating and supposed to be protecting us) "Maximum Permitted Exposure" is 10,000 mW/m2. 

Please don't brush this off. I'm not saying we all need to get rid of our cell phones and move out to the country, but there are little things we can do to reduce the radiation we are exposed to through electromagnetic fields. Check to see if you have an analog or a smart meter (they will install these without your awareness or permission). If you have an analog meter, do all you can to protect it from being switched to a digital meter. Turn off the WIFI in your house when you are not using it or at the very least, at night. (This is the most crucial time!) Turn your mobile phone off or on airplane mode when you are not using it. Avoid playing a movie for your child from mobile device that he is holding as it is closer to his head/his person. Avoid using your phone, charging it, or giving your child your phone to watch or play games in the car. It is worse in the car because the frequencies are trapped inside the car.

We can not see these frequencies that are constantly being sent out and in by our cell phones, the radiation coming from the cell phone towers, or the signals the smart meters are constantly sending back and forth from our smart appliances. We can not tell how much electro-magnetic fields are affecting us as we look at our phones bright screen right before bed and leave it charging right next to us. Do not charge your devices in your room at night or the room you are in.

I only scraped the surface on this issue and there is much more to educate ourselves on. Awareness is key and I am so glad I learned about this yesterday. I challenge you all to watch "Take Back Your Power" on YouTube to better understand how this all affects us. Do a google search about "health effects of EMF." When it comes to my innocent children who have been entrusted to my care, I do not feel comfortable to wait until the government has received enough complaints and has "enough" evidence to tell us this is unsafe. I will not let this experiment be conducted on my children, as the first generation that is literally being affected by this from birth and in utero. I am going to protect my children and not rely on the government or other agencies (who have let us down constantly in the past) to tell me what is and is not safe for my family.

Please feel free to share any insights you have on the subject!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Learning. A LOT.

I am so incredibly grateful for every experience in my life, for each one educates me and molds me into a more refined and stronger person. I am far from the refined, yet powerful, woman of faith I dream of being, but I feel like I am taking baby steps in the right direction. I can feel God guiding my life and that is truly a good feeling.

Every phase of life is so very different, but right now I'm in one of my favorites. I'm learning to enjoy the little moments with my boys. To drop the rush and stop in the middle of the grocery store and grab Jude's cheeks and say "I love you baby. You are Jude James Mulder and there is no one better than you." (That's what my parents would always tell me.) Finding a perfect balance is something I'm far from but I've seen myself finding more of a balance in my life. It's ironic but when I used to stay home a lot more, I wouldn't get hardly anything done. It's when we get up early and go to running group and go to the zoo and do things like that, I accomplish so much more in general. I know I am happier and I know the kids are happier. I have changed myself immensely over these last few months and I can see a change in Jude, as well. He is very attentive to me and as faithful to me as the day is long. Since I have become more relaxed, energetic, fun, spontaneous, and productive, I have seen him grow in these areas as well. It's quite true (and quite alarming!) that so much of who our children become depends on the behaviors they learn through us. So much more often through observing us than the words we say.

I had a friend inquire about the day to day changes I have made that have helped me in this "great change of heart" I have had. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, scroll down and read the post "letting go and living!") I am doing those things I mentioned in that post (although I do catch myself saying "hurry up" still). So here is my attempt to formulate and articulate some things I am trying to do!

I get out almost every day and exercise outside, with or without my children. It does worlds for my attitude. 

I have become a much more no-nonsense mother. Looking back, I feel like my children controlled me more than me controlling them. I have stopped tolerating the bickering and bargaining. (He still does it, but I don't engage.) I do not tolerate whining and am trying to implement "the naughty step" technique I learned from reading Jo Frost's Supernanny. Although I don't have to do it often. I try to be the most loving mother I can be, yet also the most hands-off. It sounds contradictory, but I love my kids with a fierce passion and we are constantly laying together and hugging and kissing and playing and holding hands, yet also realize I don't need to constantly intercede and help them up when they fall. We are surrounded by "helicopter parents" in our society and I think we could all agree it's exhausting. To watch and to do! I try to show my kids I trust them by giving them as much freedom as possible and letting them work through conflicts, struggles, falls, frustrations or whatever else it may be, on their own. I used to think a good mother was one who was constantly self-sacrificing. I didn't ever consciously think this, but looking back I realize I prided myself on being tired from "taking care of my kids." Like the more I "sacrificed" my own time, interests, and health even, the better of a mother I was. Every mother sacrifices. It's just part of the territory. But I've realized the best gift I can give my boys to be truly HAPPY and to enjoy life. I'm doing them no good by feeding them nutritious meals but being tired all the time and not nearly as happy as I could be because I don't take time for myself. I realized I had to be my own advocate. I am obviously the kid's advocate and that's really my life's purpose, but I was letting my own needs dwindle. I took charge of my own happiness and said a stern, unapologetic goodbye to guilt. I go out with my friends in the evening without an ounce of guilt for letting Dan put the kids to bed. When I go out, I try to leave my motherly duties behind and have fun. I bought lipstick for myself that I love and I wear it boldly. I'm a mother and a wife and I love it but that doesn't mean I'm not going to wear a saucy dress and some bright purple lipstick and look good doing it. I sometimes feed myself BEFORE I get the kids food ready if I am hungry. I usually always wait until the point of cranky starvation, but they usually have eaten more recently than I have and they are capable of waiting.

I stopped trying to solve all my kids problems and prevent them from frustration. I used to think a good mother prevented her children from crying and being frustrated. A good mother calmly went over to her child and helped talk him through the problem or get the zipper unzipped or broke up the fight or gave the stolen toy back. I've realized a good mother, in my opinion, oftentimes does NOT intercede. I will let my kids cry and be frustrated and 95% of the time they work through it themselves, or even better, help each other work through it. I show them I trust them and believe that they are capable of working through frustrations by not jumping at their every need. If I am having a conversation, they can be respectful and wait until I'm done to receive help. As much as it really does, my children do not need to feel like my life revolves around them. That is unhealthy. They need to realize there is work to be done and responsibilities that ey have as members of the family. 

I try not to let the judgments (assumed or real) affect the way I care for my children. If we are out in public and my child wants a snack but I know we will be eating lunch or dinner soon and he doesn't need a snack, I'm not going to give him one just because he is crying or throwing a fit and I don't want people to think I'm ignoring my child. I know what is best for my kids and as I consistently show them the way, they will learn it and realize whining and crying is not going to get them their way. And the whining will lessen.

I used to think I had to be centered around my children from their waking hour until the closing of their sleepy eyes at the end of a long day. I have realized I need to fuel myself through reading, dancing, music, or whatever else it may be throughout the day. If I want to read (and my children are taken care of, obviously) I will sit and read and let them play and do what they want to do. It's okay for me to say, "I'm reading right now, honey. You can talk to Abraham or yourself, but don't talk to me right now. I'll be done in a few minutes." Imagine that! It is so good for children to see their parents pursuing their own hobbies as it instills in the a desire to have their own hobbies and get their own work done.

We don't play any electronic games or iPhone, iPad, or computer games and Jude watches about 30 minutes to an hour of TV or movies a week. I have always been this way, besides a few lapses, and really feel like it has benefitted everyone. They are very good at entertaining themselves and do not feel the need to be entertained. They can wait, sit through grocery store visits, etc and find a way to entertain themselves without an electronic device clutched in their chubby little fingers. This benefits them greatly and it is why I originally did it, but I did not realize how much it truly benefitted them and myself. And I'm sure the benefits will continue to be made known as time progresses. This seems like something that would make my life more difficult instead of easier, but it truly makes my life easier in that they can entertain themselves effectively in various situations and do not expect to bee entertained by either myself or an electronic device. Also on this topic, I don't bring toys to the park or store or other places. I want my kids to be able to be amused with the outdoors themselves or observing people and things at the store or in the car without always having toys or books, etc on hand.

I spend quality time with Jude every day reading and doing our "lessons." I feel that he is more able to play on his own and not need me all the time because I have given him undivided, quality time. (They both still pretty much are rarely more than two feet from me!) 

I don't worry about germs (and safety!) as much as you probably do! I worry about food a lot due to allergies, but when they are outside, they can eat all the dirt and bugs they want and I don't stop them. (They're not bug-eaters, though!) I obviously am concerned about safety as much as I need to be to keep them from harm, but I don't prevent every tumble. Since Abraham was just learning to move, have done this (unless it would have really hurt him) and he has learned very fast because he knows no one will miraculously catch him. I try to give them as much freedom as I can so they can learn for themselves. If they do fall, I do not run to them right away but I give them time to work through it and 80% of the time they get back up and don't need me at all. I do not use cart covers at the grocery store. I don't sanitize anything ever except after public bathroom encounters. (Which are very rare because I avoid them at all costs). I RARELY stop Abraham from putting things in his mouth unless there's a choking hazard. Even in an airplane he gnaws on the magazines and seats and everything else! I know you are totally grossed out, but I was the opposite with Jude and he has a weak immune system so I figured I'd try the opposite approach with Abraham and it is working! He has gotten sick a few times, but very rarely and he recovers very quickly. I know there are many factors that can contribute to this, but I truly do feel this has helped. I don't worry immensely if Abraham is taking another child's toys or grabbing a strangers leg or grabbing a friend's purse (all within reason). I know I wouldn't mind if another child was doing that to me and they usually don't mind. Children take toys from each other and I think it's good for them to learn how to deal with it. If your child takes a toy from my child, don't go get it and give it back to him! He is fine and will learn to overcome this trial! I constantly say, "he is fine!" because he is! Motherhood is ridiculously difficult and exhausting, let's not make it harder than it has to be!

I did not know what I was going to write about but that's what came out! These are the things that have made my life EASIER as a mother and over the last few months, have completely changed me. I am more relaxed. I am happier. I am more energetic. I enjoy life more. I enjoy my children and my husband more. I am enjoying life more! I hope we can all try to just enjoy motherhood more. Judge less and embrace and support each other more. We are ALL trying our best and although we all go about it in different ways, we all really are trying. Our journeys can be so much more enjoyable if we walk together, lifting and be lifted along the way.