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!