January’s New Skill–Crochet

2014 is the year of new skills for me.  I set out to make a list of 12 new skills to learn… one each month.  January’s skill was crochet.

… and knitting. 

And then there was math.   

For school. 

Remember, I’m in college. 

And it is hard. 

I am not smarter than a 5th grader! 

That’s right, folks!  I am doing 5th grade math in college and I’m having a hard time with it. 

Fractions, improper fractions, decimals, multiplying fractions, common denominators… who needs ‘em?  Actually, I’ve had a lot of fun with it!  Never thought I could like that stuff.  The story problems on the other hand….  They are going to be the death of me.  No matter how hard I try I just can’t make them fun.  How am I supposed to know how many miles I can go per dollar if gas costs $3.20 per gallon and I can go 198 miles on 13 gallons of gas?

Whatever…

So, the knitting didn’t happen… yet.  But I did manage to crochet a couple of projects.  And when I did, I wondered why in the world I didn’t learn this skill sooner.  It’s pretty darn fun! 

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Whoops, how did that one get in there? 

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Go me! 

February’s skill is sewing.  Question is… what should I make?  I’m going to have to get my girls to teach me how to use the sewing machine.  For real… I know next to nothing.  :)

 

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Extracurricular Activities… Educational or Distraction?

This past Friday Miss A had her very first gymnastics competition. 

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It was during the day which meant that a lot of the girls competing were missing school.

There were grumblings about that little fact.  I overheard a couple of conversations.  One mom said, “I just don’t agree with this.  When it interrupts their education I just don’t agree.” 

Ok, I understand where she is coming from.  Sort of.  I used to be in a ‘school’ mindset also.  And way back then… ;)   I might have felt the same way. 

And yet, I completely (and respectfully) disagree with her. 

Call me crazy but I don’t look at it that way.  I see the extracurricular activities that my kids participate in as part of their education.  I don’t feel that it is an interruption at all. 

There are so many lessons to be learned.  Miss A in particular has learned far more from her time in gymnastics than I could have ever taught her on my own.  I’m not talking about all the tricks and flips she does, either.  I could have taught her all of that… easy peasy! 

Ha!  That was funny, right? 

Seriously, I’m talking about the life lessons she has learned.  One of the main reasons that my kids are involved with anything at all is because of Miss A.  Life lessons are the ones I am most interested in.  It is one of the many reasons that we homeschool. 

Miss A is a great kid and she has got a huge heart.  But she displayed very early on that she has got a major case of ‘middle child syndrome’.  Woo-ee!  That girl has got the guilt tripping down to a science and the manipulation she can swing is stellar!  From the time she was tiny she displayed a need to be active.  Sure, that’s absolutely possible to do at home.  Run around and play outside, right?  But she needed more. 

We already knew she had a gift for singing, drawing, and picking up on piano pretty well but anytime she tried anything sporty or active with neighbors, friends, or at family get togethers she just picked up on it right away and was naturally good at it.  It didn’t matter if she was kicking a soccer ball around or turning cartwheels.  It was apparent that she was very coordinated and picked up on things very quickly.  This is something we may not have noticed had it not been for the fact that Miss K was the opposite of this. 

No matter how hard Miss K tried to pick up on things they just didn’t come naturally to her.  She was quite clumsy and not very well coordinated, to be honest.  Anything she tried to do required her full, undivided attention and even then it didn’t come easily for her.  This has been proven to be true as she has grown into the beautiful young woman she is even now.  She has had to work really hard for every bit of success she has had with her dancing and her drawing.  Both are things she was very interested in and has a deep desire to be good at.  And she is! 

Miss A just hasn’t had to work as hard which was somewhat of a downfall in many ways. 

How could that possibly be a downfall, you ask?  Well, it’s like with anything in life.  Human nature.  It seems that if we don’t have to work for it, we don’t appreciate it as much. 

Miss A needed something to challenge her.  She was bored at home and I was having a hard time keeping her busy.  She needed a challenge. 

So, even though I knew that Miss H and Miss K would have been fine and content to be home, we found somewhere for them to go.  Somewhere to be busy.  Because how could we do that for Miss A and tell the other girls, I’m sorry but she needs this, you don’t.  And besides, they wanted it, we just didn’t have the money to allow the kids to be a part of anything. 

There came a point when we decided (irresponsible or not) that it just needed to happen no matter what. 

And so… along came the extracurriculars! 

I think I got a little off track here.  The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t consider these activities to be an interruption in my childrens’ education.  I think of them as PART of their education. 

They have learned so many life lessons such as:

  • How to work with others.
  • The importance and payoff of hard work.
  • Being happy for others and their accomplishments.
  • Working with a leader.
  • Making great friends.
  • Being a good friend to others.
  • How to be your own cheerleader in life.
  • Realistic goal setting.
  • And who knows… it could mean scholarships down the road. 

I’m interested to find out what all of you think.  Are extracurricular activities an educational distraction (if held on a day when school is in session) or an education in itself? 

P.S.  More to come about the competition. 

 

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Is God Real or Pretend?–Book Review

I was given a copy of the book “Is God Real or Pretend?” from TLC Book Tours.

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My first impression of this book wasn’t great.  It looked cheap.  You can see the words from the page behind throughout the entire thing.  I don’t know if it’s something that will be fixed in future publications or not. 

Within the first few pages the main character of the book, Franklin, reveals that there is no such thing as Santa Claus.  I don’t know about you but I know in our house Santa Claus is very real!  We are a family of firm believers and that includes Anthony and myself.  Needless to say, I was not impressed with that.  I was glad that this was a book I chose to read on my own for review.  I wasn’t sure what the content would be and didn’t just want to hand it over to my children as soon as we got it.  What a sad day that would have been!  (For the record, Miss K has known how the magic of Santa Claus works for a couple of years now.  Miss A just learned this past Christmas season.  If Miss H had been the one to read the book she would have been devastated.  Anthony and I have a very special way that we go about this subject.  Santa Claus IS real.  That’s another post for another day.)

So almost immediately I was turned off from this book.  It continues on and talks about Franklin’s findings through many different religions and what they believe about God.  While I’m sure that much of the information is true, I am somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to any one person or group writing about another’s religion.  From personal investigating I know that much of that kind of research is often misconstrued.  The author doesn’t always know what they are talking about, only able to draw from word of mouth, things they’ve heard, and possibly a google search.  I’m not saying that this is the case with this author.  I just know that my particular faith is a very misunderstood religion around the globe and when things are written about my church it is often only partially true or completely untrue. 

While the different insights to how different religions perceive God was interesting I wouldn’t say that this is must have book for my library. 

**And now you know that even when I get a book (or any product) for review I will always tell you the truth about what I think about it.  ;)

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Brady Needs a Nightlight- Book Review

I was a given a copy of this book for review by TLC Book Tours.  Please know that all opinions are my own.  I would never recommend something that I don’t love.

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Meet Brady… a bat.  Bats are not supposed to be afraid of the dark.  But Brady is.  How is he supposed to get any sleep in the cave when all he can do is think about is his fear of the dark?  And then he meets the fireflies. 

This book is written in a cute stanza poem format which I love.  It flows well and the story is very relatable to a child.  We really liked it at our house.  My kids thought was engaging and sweet.  The little fireflies become the heroes and it’s great to see Brady make some friends.  It was so refreshing to come across a book like this that is well written and captures the imaginations of children.  And the illustrations are great, though I have to admit that I would never have pegged that to be a bat without being told.  ;)

I guarantee that your kids will love it just like mine did.  It’s written by Brian Barlics who is a pediatrician.  I hope that he writes more books like this.

Brady Needs a Nightlight is highly recommended. 

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A. Singing ‘Let It Go’ From Frozen

 

A couple of years ago this little cutie of mine was able to take a few voice lessons and she loved it.  Since then she has done a couple of solos for church functions.  She sang the National Anthem at our ward 4th of July Breakfast 2013, the 4th verse of I Am a Child of God in the Primary Program, and most recently she sang the 2nd verse of I Wonder When He Comes Again in our ward Christmas Sacrament Meeting. 

Does she remember what she learned 2 years ago?  Not much.  She was only 8 years old and only had a very minimal amount of lessons (I think it was 5) but she has grown so much since then.  Her voice has matured even more and maybe I’m bias but I think she’s pretty good.  Could she use some training?  Absolutely!  But I can’t deny that she’s got some raw talent.  Please be kind if you choose to comment.  She’s a little girl. 

Frozen has become our favorite movie around here and she memorized the song very quickly.  There are a couple of spots that she forgets the words but she didn’t know I was going to be asking her to sing for the camera. 

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New Year, New Goals

Ok, it has been far too long.  Going back to school has kind of thrown me for a loop.  It was rough getting into the swing of things.  Then, when I finally DID get the hang of things I felt like I couldn’t wrap my head around blogging. 

I was way too behind to try and catch up.  Where would I even start? 

But it’s a new year which means a fresh start!  I don’t know why the beginning of a year kind of puts everything into perspective.  All of the sudden things seem doable again.  Make it a goal or a resolution and VOILA!  You’re back in business!

After a quick glance back at my blog I’ve realized that it has become something that I never really intended it to become.  It started as a place to write my feelings, my concerns, my happiness, my family happenings, my thoughts, a place to act as a journal, recipes that I love, and our homeschooling adventures.  It has slowly evolved into something else.  Not a bad something else but certainly not what I want. 

And so, resolution #1…

GET BACK ON TRACK! 

I don’t mind doing a review now and then and even a giveaway but I have neglected so many REAL moments!  I didn’t even document some of my favorite moments of the past couple years.  I’ll never get them back and it makes me sad to think… I have so many C stories documented and little B has come up with so many doozers of his own that I didn’t get written.  He’s just at that age where he’s doing so many crazy, mischievous things (and he is GOOD at it!). 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from going back to school it is this…

There is time for ALL of the fun things I want to do AND time for all the things I need to do also.  The trick is prioritizing. 

Have you ever seen that object lesson with the jar and the large rocks?  If you haven’t let me explain…

Items needed:  a large jar, some large rocks (Marbles will do also), sand, and water.  {Makes a great FHE lesson!}

Put the large rocks/marbles in first to the top of the jar.  Looks full.  Pour the sand in slowly to fill in all the gaps left between rocks to the top.  Now it’s definitely full, right?  Not quite!  Slowly pour water until the jar really is full to the brim. 

The most interesting part to think about is that if you do this in the reverse order it won’t all fit.  If you try to put the rocks in last there’s no way they will all make it in. 

The rocks/marbles represent all the things that are the most important to get done.  For me that includes scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, family time (quality time), school, date night, dates with kids, etc.  The sand represents all the extra things you want to get done.  For me it might be, oh I don’t know… exercising, working on a project of some sort, reading a good book, updating my blog with meaningful content, etc.  Finally, the water represents all the extras.  Maybe it’s facebooking, catching up on other blogs, playing a game, going out to lunch with a friend, watching a favorite TV show, etc. 

Putting the most important things first really does make a difference.  I’ve put this to the test over the last semester of school and have found it to be absolutely true!  Whenever I put the water and sand items first I run out of time for the rocks.  Very few of them get done.  But when I put my rocks first I am able to accomplish so much more! 

Try it for yourself!  Do it prayerfully.  Ask Heavenly Father what your rocks should be. 

Anyway, this blog is a priority for me.  I want this to be a record of my family.  I want it to be worthy of printing into a book someday (for my family).  I want it to be uniquely US! 

I’ve also got several other goals for the year.  It may seem like too much at first glance but I know if I prioritize things it can all happen.  Not perfectly, I’m sure there will be bumps along the way.  Here they are: 

Learn a new skill every month (or improve existing skills)

· January – Knit/Crochet

· February – Sewing

· March – Spanish

· April – Photography

· May – Running

· June –

· July –

· August – Canning

· September –

· October –

· November –

· December –

Make a big deal for birthdays and holidays.

Say ‘Yes’ more often.

Live in the moment.

Do Personal Progress with K. (Finish by October)

Dates with kids.

Temple once/month.

So, anyone got any ideas for the months I have vacancies in? 

Expect a catch up post, and a Christmas/New Year post coming up very soon!  And of course I’ll be updating on the progress of my monthly ‘skills’ as I learn. 

 

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12 Years Old {Please consider donating!}

Miss K is 12 today! This year for her birthday she would like to give instead of receive. We have been blessed by so many ‘angels’ in our lives over the years. K recognizes this and would like to take a turn helping others. From now until Thanksgiving she will be collecting new clothes, new toys, and gift certificates (Target, Walmart, or Toys R Us). She will be donating all items to various organizations throughout the Christmas season. (Toys 4 Tots, Angel Tree, needy families, etc.) We will keep you posted about the progress, where the items are going, and what she chooses to buy with gift certificates and such. Please let me know if you would like to donate!

K's Birthday

 

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The Way He Eats His Grapefruit–A Marriage Tale

So there we were… the new couple… the newlyweds.  Asked to give a talk in church. 

Oh man!  I don’t do talks.  Not good ones, anyway. 

Luckily, my topic was US!  They asked me to introduce us as a couple and just talk about our relationship. 

In preparation for my talk, I remember running across a story.  A story about grapefruits.  And it seems that when you are asked to give a talk or a lesson, you always find that you learn far more for yourself than you can ever teach to someone else. 

This grapefruit story was exactly what I needed.  And have since needed several times since. 

We all know the ‘correct’ way to eat a grapefruit, right?  Cut in half with a little bit of sugar on top… eaten with a spoon.  Isn’t that how we all eat them? 

You see in this story that I found, the husband ate his grapefruit all wrong.  He peeled it… like an orange.  Then he ate it section by section… like an orange.  I mean, WHO DOES THAT? 

The wife thought this was ridiculous and ridiculed her husband every time he ate a grapefruit telling him he ate it wrong.  She would ask, “Why do you eat your grapefruit like that?  You’re doing it wrong!” 

He would shrug his shoulders and say, “It’s just a grapefruit, honey.”

When I found this story in preparation for my talk, I realized that I was being THAT wife.  The one that ridiculed and belittled every move that my poor husband made.  He had no idea what he was in for when he married me.  And I can say the same for myself… I had no clue! 

Who was this man that brushed his teeth like that?  And what happened to the guy I was dating?  The one that I heard fart a total of THREE times in just over a year… on ACCIDENT!!  All of the sudden I was hearing 3 every hour!  Sometimes not just hearing if you know what I mean.  WHOOWEE!  ;)   The honeymoon ends, he’s got the girl and WHAM!  He let’s loose!  UGH!  (Still working on that one…)

And dinner?  Every night?  I’m supposed to know how to cook, too?  If you’re hungry, YOU make dinner! 

Suddenly, I realized what I was doing to this poor man.  The man that I loved!  I was embarrassed about it.  But I gave my talk, story included and got rave reviews afterwards.  Now I had to try and live up to what I had preached.

Sometimes I do well, and most of the time I don’t.  Just bein’ real.  And Anthony always reminds me, all these years later, “It’s just a grapefruit, Brooke.”  Any time I start picking at his faults (mostly quirks) he says it.  It helps me to realize when I’m picking on my kids also.  So what if they like their grapefruit different than I do.  It’s not wrong, just different. 

{And yet, totally wrong… cut in half WITHOUT sugar!?  BLECH!}

But I realize that I need to look past the way they eat their grapefruits.  Realize that if everyone ate theirs the same way I do the world would be a very boring place.  I didn’t marry me, I married Anthony. 

So today I say I’m sorry.  To my husband, to my kids, to anyone else whose grapefruit eating ways have been demeaned by me. 

I can truly say that I am glad you eat your grapefruits the way you do.  Peeled, cut, chopped, pureed (weird), grilled, in a cup from Costco, with sugar, without sugar, or otherwise. 

Happy GRAPEFRUITING!!

 

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Something New

I have wanted to learn photography for as long as I can remember.  Cameras have always been an important thing throughout my life but it wasn’t until last year that I finally justified getting a DSLR. 

And there is no looking back now! 

I’m already plotting to get another one (a nicer one!)… probably later rather than sooner, unfortunately.  :(

But for now I am having a blast with the one I’ve got. 

Last week I said something on facebook about wanting Photoshop and lo and behold a friend ran me her old copy of CS2 right over.  She had upgraded and didn’t need it anymore.  And that, my friends, is the beauty of the internet! 

Little did I know that Photoshop has such a learning curve!  I’ve been watching tutorial after tutorial on YouTube, all the while confusing myself even more with all the information that’s trying to fill my little brain.  I only have so many nooks and crannies to fill in that thing.  ;)

And so… a week and half later, I have finally edited my first two photos! 

GO ME! 

So, without further ado…

Before

Unedited 1

After

Edited 2

Before

Unedited 2

After

Colorized

I’m tired.  My poor husband has fallen asleep downstairs waiting for me to finish my edits so we can watch a movie.  (It’s been a couple of hours… ;) )  Yes, I said a couple of hours… for TWO, count them… TWO photos to be edited. 

I’m pathetic.   

Both pics were taken the same day… within the same hour, within the same 10 minutes… probably more like five minutes.  No, she didn’t change shirts.  It really is the bright yellow color in the first picture.  But I really really LOVE the way the second edit turned out.  The vintage-y feeling of it makes me happy. 

And no, I don’t have a favorite child.  She was just the only one willing to go on a mini session with me. 

Isn’t she beautiful? 

So, now I need feedback.  Any photographers out there with some advice? 

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Postpartum

For the past few days I’ve had a nagging feeling that I need to write about my experience with postpartum.  I don’t know why.  It’s not something that I ever meant to share with anyone, let alone family and strangers alike.  And yet, here I am.  Maybe there’s someone out there that needs to know they are not alone. 

That being said, I hope that by sharing my experiences I will not become the target of any harsh words or unkind remarks in regards to this very real situation.  It is a very real and sometimes very scary place to be within yourself. 

When I first found out that Anthony and I were expecting our first baby we were over the moon about it!  I admit that I was nervous.  I knew that starting a family with him meant there was no turning back.  And by that I mean this….

…There was a time in the beginning of our courtship and marriage that I was, admittedly, in love with someone else.  This someone else had gone on an LDS mission, I met Anthony a very short time later, ping ponged my feelings back and forth between the two of them and finally realized at some point that Anthony was the one that I was supposed to marry.  I know others in my family saw it very differently but this is the truth.  {More on that when I start on our Love Story}

Knowing that I was supposed to be with Anthony didn’t make it easy to write the Dear John letter to the missionary.  It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life and even as a married woman, I had an extremely hard time letting go of those feelings.  Any time that I was upset with Anthony for whatever reason, my mind would race back to the missionary.  Sometimes I would even create reasons to be upset with him.  There was actually a time that I thought about divorcing Anthony in the hopes that I would still have a chance with the other guy. 

I thought having a baby would fix all of this.  All the old feelings for the other guy would magically disappear and life would be perfect.  It was my point-of-no-return. 

It doesn’t quite work that way, as I found out. 

I was thrilled to be pregnant!  It was exciting to be starting a family of our own.  And Anthony couldn’t have been more ecstatic!  He had always wanted to be a daddy.  He had written about his desire to be a father in his journal during his mission. 

Postpartum depression wasn’t something that I ever thought about until my birthing class when they talked about it a little bit.  Now, I’m not one to feel invincible.  I am very much aware that something… ANYTHING could happen to me or someone that I love at any time.  And I often worry that something will happen.  I’m pretty much just one giant ball of worry at any given moment.  I’m always thinking of the worst case scenarios.  However, I never really worried too much about postpartum.  I didn’t consider myself at risk for depression… at least not then. 

Now, when I look back, I think that I was already at high risk because of the emotional conflictions I was having within myself at the time. 

So, baby was born, everything went beautifully, she was perfect, and we were elated!  I went through the normal ‘baby blues’ kind of thing, got the nursing thing down after a couple of weeks, and we were just happy. 

Except that I wasn’t. 

Just before having my beautiful baby girl was when Andrea Yates (sp?) had drowned her 5 beautiful children in their bathtub.  Do you remember this in the news?  I remember looking at my perfect daughter and realizing something… this child is completely, 100% dependent on me.  For everything!

I realized that I could do anything… and she would be powerless to stop me. 

It was an overwhelming feeling.  This feeling of being 100% responsible for another human being was just too much.  It’s not that I wanted to hurt her, I loved her!  I just knew I was in complete control.  

At first, I thought this was all just part of the baby blues.  But when it went on for more than just a couple of weeks I knew something was wrong.  I tried to hide it until I just couldn’t anymore. 

Finally, I told Anthony.  He immediately gave me the first of many priesthood blessings for this issue. 

When another week or so went by and things hadn’t changed much I decided to call my doctor.  The nurse told me she didn’t think I had postpartum after explaining things to her.  But I knew better.  I tried to believe her but I knew…

There came a point that when I was upset with Anthony in the early weeks of my daughter’s life that I would think, I should just scratch her to make him mad. 

Please don’t judge… I was in a place that wasn’t right for me.  I absolutely knew that wasn’t the right thing to do and yet, I just wanted to get through to him.  I knew that hurting her would get his attention… FAST!  Thankfully, I never followed through with the thought. 

{{Please know that I never, ever did anything to hurt my daughter.}}

He loved that little girl in a way that I didn’t know a father could love his daughter.  It was truly magical to see in those moments that my head was in the right place.  But in those moments that I wanted his attention all on me, it was all I could do not to throw a fit!

Things continued this way for several more weeks and I received a few more priesthood blessings from Anthony over that time.  Those blessings helped me to realize something… I was jealous!  Jealous… of a sweet, tiny little baby.  A baby that I brought into this world.  A baby that I love and adore!  I believe the blessings absolutely worked the way that they were supposed to and I was able to recover without the help of medications.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t think they are necessary.  

In one of the blessings I remember being told in one of the blessings to ‘not be idle’.  I talked to Anthony about it afterwards and we decided together that I needed a hobby.  Something to make me think happy thoughts.  Something that kept my mind on the positive… not dwelling on the negative and allowing idle thoughts to enter my mind.  So, I began scrapbooking… again.  I fell in love with it and Miss K is the only one that has a scrapbook.  Once I had two kids I was far too busy to scrapbook.  :)   (I was never going to be THAT mom!  But I totally am…)

Please, please, please if you are struggling with postpartum, PLEASE seek help from a professional.  I wholeheartedly believe that the nurse I spoke with was wrong in telling me I wasn’t suffering.  And yes, I was able to overcome it without medication but looking back, I think it really could have helped. 

There is absolutely NO SHAME in confiding in your doctor about any postpartum issues.  Ask questions, be aware, be HONEST! 

I’ve been lucky to have not had any postpartum issues with any of the other babies.  The chances of suffering it a second time are pretty high.  So please seek help if you have any signs at all.  Remember… NO SHAME! 

 

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