Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Biggest Accomplishment from the Past Few Months

After a year of putting it off because I didn't feel "qualified," I finally recorded a podcast with Power of Moms about Intuitive Eating!

Some of you may remember that I recorded a podcast with them about my experience of going to counseling and learning about the cycle of unhealthy stress and negative self-talk in my life.  This is the follow-up podcast to that first one, focused more specifically on eating disorders and learning to listen to and love my body.

It was scary to record this because I am so far from living all of these principles perfectly all the time--BUT I do believe in these ideas 100%, and I am so SO much happier than I was a few years ago when I was trapped in the diet-binge cycle and loathing myself for my inability to lose weight. So even though I felt inadequate and vulnerable recording this podcast, I am proud of myself for getting up the courage to just do it and put it out there for other women who might need it.

I think sometimes I feel like I can't be a spokesperson for Intuitive Eating because I'm not thin--but this isn't about being thin.  This is about being happy.  And sane.  And not hating yourself all the time.   And not allowing your life to be consumed with thoughts of dieting, desserts, calories, cellulite, food journals, clothes that no longer fit you, the judgement of others...the list goes on.  It's exhausting.  And emotionally damaging.  And there is another way to live!

After recording this podcast, I felt even more committed to living these principles.  I can explain them intellectually a lot better than I can actually live them--but I do believe that it is possible to become a truly intuitive eater, and I have several friends who definitely live and eat this way.  It's inspiring. 

I want to continue on this journey--continue learning how to respect, listen to, and love my body.  Who will join me??

If you ever feel like you are war with your body (constantly worrying about your weight, pledging to start your diet "tomorrow," eating in secret, or feeling self-loathing daily), this podcast is for you.  And even if you are in a good place with your body image, it might be worth listening to learn some ideas for maintaining sanity in the midst of a culture that is obsessed with weight.

Here is the link:
https://powerofmoms.com/listening-to-and-loving-your-body-through-intuitive-eating/


Let me know what you think!

And P.S. I kind of wish the feature image wasn't of a woman eating a salad because Intuitive Eating is about so much more than that!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Break Traveling Craziness

I don't know if it was my relief that winter is over or a momentary surge of bravery (insanity?), but for some reason, I got all crazy and planned a long and ambitious trip for Spring Break.  And most of it was just me and the kids, making things even crazier.  I am a creature of routine and comfort, and I don't particularly like traveling with my kids even when I have Ryan with me, but we had a lot of family that we wanted to see, so I just decided to make it happen.

First we headed to Utah and saw Noah's birthparents.  Katie is currently in the play The Little Mermaid, and we knew we wanted to see that!  She was the most beautiful "mersister" up on that stage, and Noah enjoyed the show.  His favorite part was Prince Eric's ship.  And flirting with the mermaids after the show.



We also got to go to the park and dinner with Drew, whom we love, and we stayed the night at Katie's Grandma's (so Noah's biological great grandma), and he got to spend some special one-on-one time with her, doing puzzles and building a ship out of tinker toys.

 

From there we drove to the SLC airport and flew to Denver.  I hadn't been planning to go to Colorado, but my older sister has been struggling with severe depression this past year, and when she told me she hasn't been able to make dinners, keep her house picked up, or get out of bed in the morning, I decided we would make the trip to keep her company for a week.

I love my sister.  She is such a huge support to me, even when she herself is struggling. Despite the depression she's been feeling, she was still so much fun to be with for a few days.  We watched tons of Modern Family while eating chocolate chip cookies and Cadbury mini-eggs, of course; we put together and hosted a 4th birthday party for my niece Jade; we made several dinners and freezer meals to help keep the family fed for the next little while; we refereed our kids fighting (they are best frenemies) and sent them to their rooms for quiet time when we'd had enough; and we went shopping and out for dessert one night.  Honestly, I think the trip was just as therapeutic for me as it was for Sarah, and the kids certainly loved being together!


 

Oh and in typical Colorado fashion, it was 70 degrees the first two days I was in town and we spent all day playing at the park--and then we got 19 inches of snow in 12 hours.   Ha!  Colorado weather is completely nuts.  The kids had fun making a snowman with Bapa!




 

I also got to see my grandparents, whom I completely and totally adore.  My grandpa has been getting so frail in recent years, and he was in the hospital for almost a week this month with the flu!  I have been so fearful that I wouldn't get to see him again in this life, so it was such a blessing to spend time with him.  He drove me and the kids to the airport, and when we said our goodbyes, he hugged me close and said, "You have been the light of my life."  It meant the world to me to get that hug and to hear those words that will stay with me for a lifetime.  I hope I have many more years with my grandpa, but I also don't want him to suffer so we are all putting it in God's hands.  My grandparents are as good as they come, and it is a treasure to see them with my children.


We flew back to Utah, and then drove straight to Pocatello for Easter weekend with Ryan's family.  Phew!  What a whirlwind!  But it was worth it.  So fun to be with the Nielson family.  (And Ryan met up with us there so I was no longer parenting solo!) We dyed eggs, drove remote control boats in the reservoir, played with cousins, had an egg hunt, snuggled with our favorite Uncle Tanner who was home from college, and of course went to church and had an amazing Easter feast made by Grandma.

 

 

 


 

 

Little Sally and her cousins made quite a splash in their Easter dresses.  I couldn't get over Sally's Easter hat, and I think she and Lucy look like little ladies headed to Grandma's for tea.

  


Another highlight of the weekend was getting to meet my newest niece, Gracie.  She was born to Cole and Sara two months ago, and she is a bundle of sweetness.  I almost ate her for Easter dinner, but I refrained.  Instead, I let her sleep on me for an hour.  Heaven!  My Sally is obsessed with babies and she was delighted by Gracie, and Noah was so cute with how he "baby talked" to her and wanted to hold her all by himself.

 

 

 

 

All in all, I am so glad that I took the plunge and made this long trip with my kiddos! Is there anything in this world as fun and comforting as family?? As completely chaotic as it can sometimes be, the relationships are priceless. I love these people with all of my heart!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Winter Lows and Highs

I've come to realize that I really hate winter.  I actually like snow, but the winter months make me extremely blue.  When I look back in my journals, it is obvious that every winter I struggle more with depression than I do the rest of the year.  So the months of January and February were a little bleak for me this year, but in spite of that, we managed to fit in a lot of family fun and memories.

We went tubing with our little family; we went skiing with extended family, including cousin Kate who went for the first time and my dad who came to hang out with us in Sun Valley; we bundled up and went to the park with friends; we went for rainy bike rides to discover worms; we went on a couple of fun preschool fieldtrips...






 

 
 

 

 

We spent plenty of time lounging at home and wrestling with Dad, and we had some fun Family Home Evenings based on action-figures of Book of Mormon heroes that I found at Deseret Book.  (Can I get a fist-bump for actually planning a few meaningful FHEs?)

 

 

As is our tradition, we had a fun Secret Cupid week in mid-February.  I sometimes feel like I am running out of novel ideas for this holiday, but this year Ryan and I went on a date to Target and each took thirty minutes to pick out a gift and a card for each other.  We then sat in the food court and wrote our notes and exchanged gifts.  Classy!  I picked an extra big card for my Sexy Dexy. ;)  The kids and I also surprised him by sneak-attacking his car at work.



The highlight of my winter was going to San Diego for a sisters' weekend!  The weather was perfection, and there is just nothing like spending time with my sisters.  I also LOVED seeing my nephew Luke, who is at the cutest age and is so friendly and loving.

  

 


So there were plenty of bright moments this winter, in the midst of the gloom.  And I cannot tell you how happy I am that spring is here.  I have been feeling so much better the past few weeks.  It's crazy what a marked emotional difference I feel once we get past February! Onward toward spring walks and backyard barbecues...hoorah!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Four--AND A HALF!

  

My boy is four and a half!  He loves having a half birthday cake every year, and after his very modest celebration (we light candles, sing, and eat cake--that's it), he feels very important and much older.  "Four and a half!" he tells everyone when they ask his age. Half birthdays are a fun and easy tradition, so I'm willing to make them happen.  (Plus, let's be honest, I like an excuse to eat cake.)

He has become quite a builder and spends his hour of quiet-time every day creating elaborate worlds out of Legos, train tracks, and Magformers.  I am often amazed by his creativity and ingenuity when he's building.  Here he is making a pirate face as he shows off his Lego ship, looking pleased with himself about his triple decker train track, and giving me a thumbs-up about the world of water that he created.

 

 

 

He loves shoveling the driveway when it snows, and I hope to encourage that habit.  He thinks it's fun to be outdoors as a family, and he often asks to shovel the neighbor's as well.  I have to work a lot harder to get him to help out with chores in the house, but he seems to enjoy the chores outdoors.

 

He loves skiing.  For the past three years, he has gone with his dad and mostly just cruised between Ryan's skis--going super fast and hopping over jumps in Daddy's capable hands.  Unfortunately now that he's old enough to ski on his own, he thinks that he should be going as fast as he goes with Dad.  It is frightening!  He is reckless and hasn't really learned how to stop on his own.  Just this past weekend, we finally got him to start turning on his own instead of just bombing straight down the hill.  He took a few nasty falls, including one that ended up with me crashing into a net fence as I tried to stop him.  Ha!

I realized the other day that Noah is a snuggler.  I don't know why this just dawned on me, because I think he's always been this way, but with his high-energy and spunk, maybe I haven't thought of it as one of his primary characteristics.  But he is always so willing to give me hugs, and he loves to climb into bed with me in the morning and cuddle for a few minutes.  He often asks me to lie with him at night, and when he is upset or angry, a hug and some snuggle time usually calms him down.  I absolutely love his cuddles, as is evidenced by his comment the other day when I was hugging him too tightly, "M-om, can we stop with the snuggles?"  "You don't want to snuggle me anymore?" I asked, pretending to be sad.  "Mom, I do want to snuggle you. I just want to take a two-week break!"

He is learning how to read--just really simple words, but it's exciting for both of us.  He's known all of his letter sounds for a while now, and I've thought that he could probably sound out easy words, but he would protest and say, "Oh, Mom, just read the story!" when I would point to a word and ask him to sound it out.  One day I realized that the way to get Noah to do what I want is to make him think that he's defying me.  We have an ongoing game where I tell him that he's "not allowed to grow up!" and he thinks it's hilarious.  So one night as we were reading our bedtime story, I told him, "You better not learn how to read!  You better not even try  to sound out this word--because you are never allowed to grow up!"  With that, he quickly sounded out the word, and I made a big scene and tickled him, saying, "Noooo!"  Now he wants to sound out words all the time.  Sneaky mommy.

He is as spunky as ever, making all of us laugh on a daily basis with his grown-up and hilarious comments. Here are a few from the last couple of months:

When I asked him to go get his coat, he shouted, "Aye aye, Mother!" (I could get used to this response.)

One evening Ryan fell asleep on his bed while Noah was playing on the floor nearby.  All of the sudden I heard Noah say, "Nice tooter, Dad!  I haven't heard you toot for a long time!"  Ha!  Someone must've been gassy in his sleep.

When he was showing off his toy alligator to a friend he said, "I got this from Katie.  She's my birthmom and my birthday cake maker.  She always makes my birthday cakes!  And guess what? Now she is married to a man named Drew!"

When we play with Legos together, he always gives me the pinks and purples, and he takes the blacks, greens, and browns for himself.  He says, "These are more boyly, Mama.  I only play with toys that are boyful."

Out of the blue one afternoon he said, "Mom, doesn't Annie want to make anyone happy?"  Confused, I said, "Who is Annie?" His reply? "The lady who makes that gross macaroni and cheese!" Hahaha!  Apparently he's not a fan of the famous organic brand!

Noah does not like to be scolded or forced to do things.  After he's been in a time-out, I take the advice from the parenting books and say, "What did you do wrong, and what are you going to do differently next time?" He refuses to answer these condescending (and, frankly. annoying) questions.  He says, "Mom, I do know what I did wrong, but I really don't want to talk about it!"  Touche, Noah!

I overheard him playing alone during his quite time, and he was saying, in the most dramatic voice imaginable, with long pauses between each phrase, "And then the Titanic was never ever seen again. Because it sunk...to the depths...of the ocean."

When we were snuggling in bed one night, going over the events of the day, he said, "I really liked those brownies that we had after dinner."  I agreed enthusiastically, "Me too!" And then he got quiet and turned to me with a sneaky look in his eye, "Mom, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Ha! I think he wanted me to become his accomplice in sneaking brownies off the top of the refrigerator.

Noah says his "th" sound like an "f" sound.  It's subtle and adorable and I love it.  So what he really said that night when he wanted to sneak some brownies was, "Mom, are you finking what I'm finking?" ;)

One day he came bounding out of preschool wearing a ridiculous mustache sticker.  I burst out laughing and said, "Hey, nice mustache!" He smiled slyly and said, "Thanks! I grew it for M-day."  He truly thought he had me fooled.




He absolutely loves preschool, and his teachers are the best--planning fun events like Pajamas and Pancakes Day (pictured above).  The other morning he told me, "Mrs. Stevens is pretty good at everything. She somehow knows when it's just the right time to clean up, and do book time, and go outside to play.  She really does know everything!"

I'm glad he has his beloved Mrs. Stevens in his life, teaching him all sorts of life lessons.  The other day I was encouraging him to get his shoes on so we could run errands.  He was distracted by a toy and ignored me the first three times I asked.  I finally went over and took the toy out of his hand, and he got very angry.  "MOM!  Mrs. Stevens told us that we are never supposed to take something out of someone's hand when they are playing with it!" I explained that I had asked him nicely several times and he had ignored me, but he was unconvinced. He said, in all seriousness, "Mom. You really need to go back to preschool." ;)

Finally, Noah is quite the comedian at church and makes everyone around us laugh. We recently had a broadcast as our Sunday service so several different congregations could listen to the leadership at once.  When we got into the pew and Noah looked up and saw the screen with the projector, he gleefully announced, "Oooooh, TV time!"

When my dad was visiting us this past week and we were at church, Noah said to him after the passing of the Sacrament bread, "I wish I could have two pieces of that bread, Bapa. It was sooooo tasty!" And later in the service, he suddenly said quite loudly, "I'm just meditating, Bapa.  It's good to meditate when you're at church."  The people in the pew behind us couldn't stop chuckling.

Noah makes me happy.  He fills my life with laughter, snuggles, and love.  Although I tease him that I don't want him to grow up--and I do often feel nostalgic about the years and phases that have passed--I also love getting to know him better and better and seeing his personality and talents emerge as he gets older.  I love that motherhood allows me to be a part of every phase of my children's journeys. It is a blessing and a privilege for sure!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sally Grace, 18 Months


My Sally Grace is 18 months old.  She is so super cute right now.  I said to Ryan the other day that I think she's at her cutest age yet.  She's just this tiny little lady (she still only weighs 20 lbs) yet she wears hip clothes and shoes that I wish came in my size, and she has big sea-blue eyes, a few craggy teeth, the sweetest dimple, and little curls fanning out by her ears.  Scrumptious.



 

This is also a needy age for her because she can't communicate her needs yet, and it frustrates her.  She whines to be held and entertained whenever we are home, and she is starting to throw tantrums when she doesn't get her way.  There is no way I can get any computer work done when she is awake, so I try to keep us busy with errands, outings, and play.  But despite the typical 18-month-old neediness, I know she is an easy toddler and I am grateful.  She takes a good nap every day, goes to bed without a fuss, eats anything and everything, and happily goes to babysitters. Compared to my strong-willed firstborn, this girl is a piece of cake. ;)

She's not a big talker, but you can tell that she understands a lot of what we are saying to her these days.  She will run and grab her coat if I tell her that we are going outside or start stripping off her clothes if I mention "shower."  She is so pleased with herself when she folds her arms for the mealtime prayer with the rest of the family.  Sweetest.


The words she does say include the following: "More!" (usually referring to milk), "Mine!" (anytime she wants something), "Noah" or "Brother" (she looks for him constantly), "Bye!" (she shouts this anytime we walk away from someone), "Hi!" (her little voice saying this kills me), "One, two, go!" (jumping off the bed into Daddy's arms), "Watch!" (now that we have a TV), and of course "Mama" and "Dada" (because we are her favorites).

She says "Shoesh! Shoesh!" constantly as she carries everyone's shoes and boots around the house. ;)  She also says "Cheese!" anytime I point my phone at her to take a photo.  Little diva.



She is obsessed with cups and with drinking water.  She shrieks for a real glass at mealtime--she will not accept a sippy cup--and she drenches herself, but I continue to let her do it because I hate the shrieking.

A worrisome habit that she has picked up recently is biting.  BITING!!!  So far she has only ever bit Noah (thank goodness), but it cannot continue.  When they are fighting over a toy or something, she will open her jaws wide and try to take a chomp at him.  Terrible.  Other times she is not angry when she tries to bite him, and I honestly think it's intended to be a love nibble, which is sort of hilarious considering that her mother and her aunts have a serious problem with "cute aggression."  She and Noah will be cuddled up watching a show, and I will see her start nibbling on his back, arm, or foot.  Oh man.  I guess I need to stop gnawing on her belly when I change her diaper and eating up her cheeks when I am overcome by her cuteness.

It's honestly funny to see her pick on her big brother.  She really knows how to get under his skin and annoy him, like every little sister should!  Yet she adores him, and I swear half the time she hits him just so she can give him a hug afterward to say she's sorry.




She's following in her brother's footsteps by learning to love Legos!  She started playing with Duplos recently, and I am amazed by how well she can put them together.  She will sit and stack Legos for fifteen minutes without losing interest!  She'd rather do that than watch TV.

She is still super friendly and walks up to people and puts her arms up to be held.  It is charming.  Who doesn't like a darling little toddler asking to sit on their lap?  She also hugs other babies and toddlers, whether they like it or not.  She is a hugger.

She started the Nursery class at church this month (hallelujah! no more wandering the halls all during church!), and she did great.  She looks a little tentative when I leave her and lays her head on my shoulder and squeezes me tight for a few moments, but she doesn't cry when I hand her over to the teachers.  It's like she is saying, "One last hug, Mom!  Okay, I trust you."  Nursery leaders and babysitters have told me that she likes to be held when I'm away from her because she is feeling a little insecure, but she never cries.

When she's in the mood to hug, she drapes her whole body against your shoulder and nestles her head into the crook of your neck.  It is a full body snuggle.  If you rub her back or sing to her a little, she will stay there for a few long moments.




She's a goofball with tons of personality who loves to be chased. It's her favorite game, and she giggles like crazy.

She's a runner, and I honestly can't keep up when she takes off.  This is made even cuter by the fact that she has a leg problem called "tibial torsion" so her right foot turns in quite significantly; she has to hoist her leg up high so she doesn't trip herself as she runs.  She really gets her arms moving and her legs pumping!  She is probably going to have to wear a leg brace under her clothes to correct her turned-in foot, and who knows how fast she will be after that is fixed.  Heaven help me!

She's gotten tall enough to open doors in the past few months, and she loves to let herself into the bathroom to splash in the toilet or turn on the tub.  Sometimes I swear I have to change her clothes five times a day because she keeps getting wet!

When she dances, she look so uncoordinated, and it makes me laugh because it reminds me of how I look when I dance.  She mostly just waves her arms up and down like a Jazzercise instructor and occasionally falls over.  Ha.  Kinda funny that her middle name is Grace!

We took away her binky this month.  Ryan was insistent.  She has a super strong suck, so her binky was really affecting the formation of her teeth, and it drove Ryan crazy.  We'd talked about taking it away for a while, but I always refused because I didn't want my easy sleeper to go away!  But one evening when I was gone for youth group, Ryan put her to bed without it.  When I got home and he told me, I was kind of mad, but I could also tell how important it was to him, so I decided we could try it.  She had a couple of hard nights, but we stuck it out, and honestly, I'm shocked by how well she has done without it. After those first few days, she seems to have forgotten about it, and she still goes to bed willingly and usually sleeps 12 hours at night. 

The most amazing part?  Her teeth have totally corrected themselves.  I thought Ryan was being paranoid about how much the pacifier was affecting them, but it is so obvious how much her teeth have changed since we took it away.  I guess six years of schooling actually did teach him something about children's teeth.  Ha!  (And I should add that some kids' teeth are fine with a pacifier until age three, but with Sally's strong suck, it was moving them fast.)

Speaking of teeth, she still only has six--four on top and two on bottom.  She's a slow teether.  A few molars are popping up right now, which might be why she's been especially cranky this past week.  She had her first dental appointment with Dr. Dad a few days ago, and she did great.

 


She pretends to blow her nose.  She will grab a wipe and put it up to her nose and blow a raspberry with her lips.

Her very favorite toy to play with at church is a dried-up Glue Stick.  She loves to take the cap on and off.  It keeps her occupied for at least five minutes. Yes, only five, but I'll take it.  Church has been a little more bearable since we started going early so we can sit in a pew instead of the cultural hall.  She still gets restless, but she's not nearly as wild because we can corral her better.

She says "Ow!" when she doesn't want me to do something, like wash her hands or put on a shirt.  She doesn't understand that "Ow" indicates pain--she just knows that it makes adults stop what they are doing, and she uses that to her advantage.

She likes books now and will choose one out of her basket every day when we head into her room for naptime.  I love reading to her.  Her favorites are "Peek-a-Boo Polar Bear," "Shake a Leg," and "Good Dog, Carl."

She hides under her linen blankies while she is sitting in her crib after naptime.  She puts them right over her head and keeps them there.  When I look on the monitor, I can see a little ghost girl sitting up and awake in her crib.

She loves all vegetables and food.  She will down raw mushrooms, kale, peppers, cucumbers, whatever.

She also loves her sweets, such as the massive chocolate muffin that I let her eat at Costco recently, just to keep her in the cart.  It is impossible to shop with this little girl!  She wiggles her way out of the seatbelt in the front (I called her Houdini), and when I put her in the back, she climbs all over the food and smashes it.  I can't win.  I now only go grocery shopping on Saturdays when Ryan is home so I don't have to take the kids!

 

She is an impish rascal, and she will grab things that she knows she's not supposed to have and make a run for it.  She gets this sneaky little grin on her face and then snatches the contraband and dashes away before you can stop her.

My favorite thing is our tradition when I put her to bed at night.  I lay her in her crib and then I walk to the door and say, "Goodnight, Sally!  Sleep tight!  I love you so much!"  I wave and blow kisses, and she gets so excited that she can't help but stand up and wave joyously back.  We play peekaboo and giggle for a few minutes and she blows kisses, and then I slowly shut the door while telling her how much I love her.  She never cries or protests but just lets me leave on that happy note.  Pretty amazing, right?

I just adore my little big girl, and I'm so grateful to be her mama!