Saturday, February 17, 2018

spiritual routine

i subscribe to a lot of things.

parenting help.
marriage help.
family help.
life help.
homemaking/cleaning help.
crafting ideas
monetary/financial help.
weight/diet/exercise/health help.
spiritual help.
comedy relief.

and i get these emails plentifully in my inbox each day.
"experts" blabbing on about their best advice.

well, today i got one such email in which an 'expert' shared her spiritual routine.
the way she wrote it out looked so cute, and now i just HAVE to delight myself with a list of my own:


DAILY:

  • family devotional (scripture study and discussion and prayer) this means inching our way through the book of mormon for the second time in ten years. we use the 'family version' which has suggested quotes for each verse. hubs and i take turns reading it, and sometimes kids will read it... about ten verses... and then we try to have a deep chat about what we read.


ALMOST DAILY... more like...WEEKLY

  • scripture study with my three eldest kids. on school nights we read a chapter or less from the bible, or other standard works. for the girls we use the picture books, but my eldest reads from his own set. right now we are in the isaiah chapters and its interested to see what he understands. i honestly get a lot out of these studies because i am not often reading anything BUT the book of mormon.
  • general conference reminders. on sundays we listen to a general conference talk and discuss it. this is always so good for my soul.
  • my personal study. this will mean reading one of three things: the ensign magazine, the relief society lesson/ sunday school lesson for that week, or brushing up on some topic that is on my mind that week... like chastity (when i had the sex talk with my son) or loneliness (making and keeping friends is hard for me these days). 
  • personal prayer. i could do SO SO SO much better at talking to God. i have a lack of faith.
  • FAMILY NIGHT. the prophet has counseled us to do this and no matter how pointless it feels i seriously try. we do have a lesson, an activity and a treat almost every time. lately it seems really lame, but maybe we will settle into a better routine with time?
  • couple prayer. every now and then hubs and i kneel and pray with thanks, or PLEAD for some strength to keep going. life is so so hard.
  • church attendance. we generally all go together, and this lasts a good three hours. i find that these days i am working VERY hard to get something out of church. it is HARD for me to feel the spirit at church and connected to my church family. but i am determined to not give up.
  • journaling. i blog a lot and not always here. i try to reflect and process my days. this counts as spiritual, right?

MONTHLY, or less
  • temple attendance. everything in the world works against me to get there. but when i make it... i am always glad i went. even the other week when i felt mad at the world, i came out happy. its a miracle worker, i tell ya.

this silly little list makes me feel like i am not completely failing at life. maybe i am doing more than i realize. i have a HUGE need for improvement, don't get me wrong, but i guess i see now that i am not as far away from God as i feel. and the answer is simpler than i thought it was. He is right here waiting for me to talk to Him and seek Him out. 

~holly 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

fourteen on the fourteenth

i think this is the perfect place, and the perfect day, to list fourteen things i love about stephanie.
she may not be my valentine, but she's pretty awesome.

1. HER HANDWRITING. you guys. its like an actual font. its neat, tidy, perfection. i love it.

2. HER COMPLEXTION. ok, so i am actually jealous of it, but still... its amazing. the girl needs no makeup. she is a natural beauty of perfection. i love the combo of her fair skin and dark hair and she always has the perfect natural blush. the contrast of color is sleek and she somehow always looks fresh and free of blemishes. its the truth.

3. HER PARENTING. i am serious when i say that every time i see stephanie she brings relief to my soul. she has this parenting style that is free and natural and authentic and its so magical. her kids are free spirits and she encourages it. she has an acceptance about parenting that i only hope to achieve one day. perhaps its that she, herself, came from a big family, or maybe she just picks her battles wisely, but whatever it is, i like it. no false images or pretenses- just real, raw life.

4. HER AUTHENTICITY. she pretty much says what she is thinking when she is thinking it. you never have to wonder if she likes something or not because she will let ya know. she isn't rude, mind you, she knows how to curb her words in a way that won't make you sob for hours, but she won't beat around the bush if you ask.

5. HER TALENTS. she has two major innate talents, and they are these: the gift of energy healing and the gift of knowing. she uses her talent of energy healing to understand people and help them and her talent of knowing gives her a strength to do what she knows is best no matter what.

6. HER INCLUSION. stephanie is never on a high horse of "i'm better than you"... she will include whoever wants to be included. she doesn't get intimidated by others and will allow anyone to be a part of her life, rich or poor, old or young, whatever. she has an open mind.

7. HER LOVE OF LEARNING. she's pretty much always learning. she is either in a college course or diving into a new book or project. she gets perfectionist about it, but it serves her well and she has a knack for excelling in all subjects.

8. HER SEWING SKILLS. the girl has serious talent. she made a mat cover for me once, in a matter of weeks, and had no pattern at all whatsoever but did a boss job. she has also created amazing costumes for her kids on Halloween.

9. HER WILLINGNESS TO SERVE. she offers service and company to anyone who needs it and she is serious about it. she isn't afraid to do hard things if it means helping someone out. she sacrifices a lot of normalcy to her schedule so that she can be a good friend to people in need. one time she came and took down all my christmas decorations while i fed my new baby on the couch.

10. HER VOICE. stephanie sings. she doesn't showcase it often, but she does sing and sing well. she sounds angelic and when i heard her duet with her sister in church i melted. she has a gift.

11. SHE'S OKAY WITH HERSELF. she has a peace and acceptance about herself that is refreshing in a world full of doubt. people seem to always be trying to be something else, but steph is 100 okay with who she is and embraces it. its not to say that she doesn't seek improvement, but she isn't afraid to be her and blow of people who don't accept her. she gives herself grace instead of guilt.

12. HER OPINIONS. she has them, folks. some people don't know if they like this or that, but stephanie does. she decides and quickly. corn? never. musicals? always. forests? creepy. sams club? always. the girl is not wishy washy... she knows what she likes and doesn't like... what works and what won't.

13. HER HOBBIES. i love that she loves musicals and puzzles like i do. i love that she enjoys creating fun memories with her family... camping, movie fridays, christmas jammies. i love that she loves yoga. i love seeing her come alive when she shops at marshalls. she is good at accomplishing projects whatever they be.

14. FRIENDSHIP. once apon a time, i had a very bad day at the library surrounded by people i knew, and i felt embarrassed that so many people who knew me saw the horror of it all. stephanie was among those people and was the only one who called afterward and cared. no judgement, just empathy. she does stuff like that. she makes dreams come true- like new years parties and blogs. she's just grand like that.

this list is silly i guess, but i hope it is enough to brighten her valentine day.
~holly


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Changes.

I hate change and I love it. 

Honestly.  That's how I feel.  I look forward to change, because change means progress, change means meeting goals, change means newness.  I tend to look at change positively from the planning stages.

Mostly I am terrified of it though.  Change to me requires a lot of faith, because I like to know what's coming up in my life... like the exact details.  I know this isn't how life works, but it's how I feel.

Right now we're experiencing a lot of upheaval in the change department.  A lot of mental and physical health challenges are giving us constant ups and downs, from day to day and within each day.  It's too much and requires a TON of faith to face it all in a positive manner.

My husband is also about to switch jobs.  He is finishing up his Masters degree and will be applying for new jobs starting this week.  I have NO idea where we will be living in 4 months.

We have to buy a new vehicle that will require a small miracle to fit into our budget, but we need a good quality vehicle to fit our giant family now that our Sienna is dying.  Such a sad sad time for that sweet magical mini-van.  It was a miracle that I've always been grateful for.  Is it too much to ask for another miracle, but with twice the price tag?

I know the majority of my life-changes are things that most everyone faces multiple times in their lives, but man I hate the anticipation.  It's just the worst!  Hopefully in June I'll have a more cheery outlook on my future.  Hahaha.  As for the here and now, I will start packing... just in case.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Failure.

It's too much.

Sometimes it all just seems like too much.

Depression.
Anxiety.
Cooking.
Caring.
Cleaning.
Organizing.
Decorating.
Playing.
Schoolwork.
Doctor appointments.
Recreational activities.
Cleaning little people.
Brushing their teeth.
Heck, brushing my own teeth!
Grocery shopping.
Listening.
Putting away the toys.
Washing the dishes.
Reading scriptures.
Reading inspiring books.
Reading anything!
Doing a puzzle!
MAKING LISTS!

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things on this list that I love to do, or that I even feel good about myself after doing, but for some reason it just gets overwhelming.  Overwhelming to the point where I lie in my bed and veg on Netflix or Amazon or just browse through Instagram and do nothing of any importance.

After 1-2 weeks of pretty harrowing depression I started to come out of it.  I had an amazing day.  It was hard, but I struggled through it.  I read my scriptures with my new amazing study guide.  I cleaned a lot.  I played with my baby.  I went to a self reliance class with my husband.  I ate lunch with my babies instead of just serving them one by one.  And then I woke up today and today was a different day where I didn't spend enough time with my lovely children or read my scriptures or clean enough or brush my teeth... 

That's my life.  My real life.  Sometimes you find a little strength in a funny phone message from a friend, or a giggling baby will lift your spirits, but the weight of the depression is often heavy and it becomes hard to physically move yourself to accomplish things. 

I am sure the adversary is working hard on me as I work so hard to change my life for the better.  I will win this war.  I will beat him back and do better at choosing to push forward and literally get off of my butt and MOVE.

In a workout group that I am in our coach posted about failure.  She said that when we fail, that shows progress.  It shows that we are pushing forward and trying new things and that the failure is simply a wall that we've hit, that we need to figure out how to get past.  I love that perspective.  I'm trying to get past a lot of walls right now and this perspective inspires me to try and think differently about things than I have in the past. 

Tomorrow is another day.  A new day to send Satan on his way.  A new day to choose to move and do.  A new day to build relationships.  A new day to workout and brush my teeth at least twice.  ;)

I hope you hit some walls of failure that you can figure out how to get past as well.

i don't remember

*writer's note* today's post is taken from THIS BLOG which inspires and gives different prompts for writing. to make this private while being accurate, i will be using Hubs as a code for my husband and C, E, S, W, G, R, J as codes for my children. 

isn't it funny how when you try to think of things you can't remember... all you do is remember? coming up with something that i don't remember is like being told not to think about pink elephants... or to make someone a vegetarian dish and then all you can think of is meat recipes!

i don't remember my mother-in-laws last words to me. i know we sat down at one point and attempted a chat and that one of those topics was my weird mormon underwear... but i honestly do not remember anything else that she said! i wish i would have recorded it and kept it forever. i wish i would have hung on every word and asked her to tell me all about her son and what i need to know about him and how to make him truly happy. i wish so much that i would have been more... well... i wish i could everything differently about my in-law relations.

i don't remember the last words i spoke to my dad, either, or what he said to me the night before his death. its interesting because now that i have lost him so suddenly, i always think about saying 'i love you' to Jeff before he leaves just in case its my last time. but in reality, i have no idea what the night before my dad's death was like. i only remember the day of vividly.

i don't remember picking up my sisters from the airport when they got back from their missions. i remember what it was like when they were on their missions, but i don't remember the call, the preparation or the actual departure and arrival of either of them. only my own.

i don't remember what it was like to have short hair. i have only had short hair once in my life, but gosh it must've been magical. i wish i would've lived it up. i guess i was just livin' life and too busy to care about hair, which is why i looked so hideous... but i bet it was awesome.

i don't remember my life before taking the 'power of moms' organization class with hubs years ago. gosh... what was that even LIKE? i can't even remember but it must've been awful. i sure fought the system when we were taking the course, but now i can't think any other way and its awesomesauce. i am not the best at maintaining my inbox, but at least everything has a place and i don't feel like i am losing my ever loving mind when my inbox is full.

i don't remember the last time we went to the duck park. i bet i could find it on my blog somewhere, but the truth is, they shut down that park before i even knew it was going to happen. i sure would've enjoyed it more if i would've known. heck, i would've enjoyed it more had i known i was going to move out to casa grande... because now i don't ride my bike with kids in tow. those were good times.

and thats a wrap.
for now.
~holly




Thursday, February 1, 2018

i remember

*writer's note* today's post is taken from THIS BLOG which inspires and gives different prompts for writing. to make this private while being accurate, i will be using Hubs as a code for my husband and C, E, S, W, G, R, J as codes for my children. 

i remember the first day of school.

i had homeschooled 7 children for six months prior, and the anticipation of their return to 'real' school was killing me. leading up to that day i worried and worried and worried. but the moment i dropped them off, i felt joyful. alive. free. i knew it was a great choice. and i knew it now with a deeper and more fervent zeal than before.

in their absence i returned home with a weight lifted off of me. i knew they were in a good place. they would not slip through the cracks. they would get the help they needed no matter what.

suddenly my time felt like a gift. i lay in bed feeling gleeful that now i could rest and take care of myself better. now if i needed to spend the day barfing, i wasn't deeply behind. workbooks didn't need grading, lessons didn't need teaching. minds were already developing in a good learning environment... and i was sure now, more than ever before, that i was not the one to do the job.

i knew now that the drive to school and the pick up line were worth every second and bump along the dirt road. i knew now that nothing held me accountable like this school did, and no matter how much i put into my homeschooling, there were always endless hiccups and excuses. i knew now that my kids would be not left behind. they would get computer time, library, PE and music.

my time in bed was glorious, but i was too happy to stay in bed. no matter how sick i felt, the day was too glorious to sit forever. i did chores with a new skip in my walk, a song in my heart. i took time to prepare a cute lunch for my at-homies, i read a book sweetly to little R, and i knew i still had a long list of many things that needed to be done- and more time to do them.

my life was new. it was grand. it was right.
that first day was the answer i had waited for in all my turmoil. and no answer was so strong.
experience.

~holly

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Weeds or daisies

The other day I felt insistent that my kids play out in the backyard.

only minutes after shooing them out the door, one of them popped their head back in to hand me a handful of flowers.

my first thought was, "daisies!" but then i realized they were just yellow dandelion weeds.

to my child, they were, no doubt, beautiful flowers- a gift just for me.

and as those flowers sat on the table in front of me i thought about them. i was surprised at myself for viewing them as daisies first, because usually i am a 'glass half empty' type gal. i felt some renewed hope for myself. maybe i am changing. maybe i am capable of seeing the good in my life.

a blog i read, drippingwithpassion.blogspot.com, just posted a new post about how she is choosing to view her current "normal" as a treasure, because its about to change with the arrival of a baby.

so today i want to post my current normal because, although my life is not necessarily that close to change, i think its good for me to reflect on what my now is like, and remember it years later. besides, are we ever really sure of when things will change? sometimes change comes like a thief in the night.

my normal has to be broken into days because each one is so different. i am going to try really really hard to be REAL in this 'normal' description instead of the 'ideal' that i dream of or want to present to you, dear reader.

school days (mon-fri) begin at 5:30. on a good day i can convince my husband to wake up the kids for me, but on other days i have to make the trek upstairs and wake them myself. both scenarios have pluses. if i wake up the kids, only the oldest three wake up and make it downstairs to help me with chores. if my husband wakes up the kids- all of the kids wake up, but he changes the diapers for me.
chores include making breakfast and packing lunches, feeding animals, laundry, dishes, vacuuming/floors, dusting, trashes, bathrooms, clean out car, plants, fly swatting, setting/wiping the table- all of which rotate monthly, and then daily- making beds, getting dressed, brushing teeth and saying prayers. this varies in its stressfulness depending on which job belongs to which kid.
i try desperately to (and succeed 50% of the time) make breakfast ready by 6... and that is when everyone stops what they are doing and come to the table for scripture study and prayer. this is important because my husband has to leave by 6:30, and i can assess where everyone is on their chore list and encourage them to get the most important things done first. on school days i always make a special breakfast: sausage and biscuits with gravy, waffles, smoothies, eggs and bacon, muffins, and occasionally pancakes, burritos, or pop tarts.
at 7am, i gather everyone up and load them in the car. this usually means last minute hair-dos, a job or two going unfinished, someone starts throwing a tantrum about the location of their car seat or what someone said to them when they were buckling up. once loaded, i drive down our dirt road and have the kids say an article of faith or practice a poem from school, and then when we are done i turn on my playlist and we relax to some music before drop off. its a twenty minute drive. now... from time to time... sadly about once a week... i lose my cool on the ride to school. tantrums get to me. unfinished chores annoy me. and slugglish kids make me feel out of control and disrespected. i don't always handle it well. so on those days i skip the article of faith and poem and cool off to music. then when we get to the campus, i pull the car aside, apologize, hug the child i lost my temper at, and then drop them off with a sincere 'i love you'. i like to have the kids at the gate before 7:30 because they all have tutoring tue, wed, thur, or they get a full recess.
when drop off is over, i either run errands because i have the others already buckled and ready to go, or i head home to finish chores because most times the little ones do not finish before take off. the chore finishing takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and its exhausting, but i really believe in teaching them to be a part of our home/family and involving them in good hard work. and besides... we have a big house and i loathe cleaning it all myself.
when errands and chores are done, i sometimes shower. i also have homework to dive into, or the class itself. i am currently taking a marriage class, so i read and do the assignments which often involve journaling, self reflection, watching video presentations and sometimes talking to other married folk. the class has taken me on many roller coaster rides, but i think its good for me overall. the littles often pine for my attention during this time, unless i am lucky enough for them to be content to play in the backyard or upstairs or even TAKE A NAP. they always want snacks, though, regardless. so i tell them they can have an apple, orange or banana. some days i never hear a peep from them. other days they are at each other's throats and sworn enemies. this makes my life very exciting. i rarely handle these conflicts well, and it largely depends on my mood that day.
at 11ish i make a lunch. i try to copy whatever the kids at school have in their packed lunches, but sometimes i resort to leftovers because my fridge is full. right now my stomach is particular about food, so i rarely ever eat what they are eating or when they eat it. this has been a weird pregnancy for me... i'm feeling very picky.
when lunch ends i try to encourage more play, but i sometimes feel tired or eager to get things done, so i have them clean up the messes they have made and put on a movie. this allows me to work in my office. i have a lot of papers pile that up in my inbox and to-do lists to cross off. so i slowly but surely make my way through the piles and tasks, sometimes getting distracted or deciding to call up a friend or sister on the phone. often i hit a wall of fatigue around 1pm and am forced to lay down and pretend my life doesn't exist. this means i will have broken sleep because no one will let me catch a break around here. again, everyone always wants a snack. and they don't like that the choice is always healthy.
at 2:15 i gather up the kidlets and have them load up in the car for pick up. this is hardly ever smooth. it plays out in a huge drama of someone needing something and another person upset about something else and everything is the end of the world because ITS NAP TIME. about half of the time i can be lucky enough for them to crash into a sleep in our car ride, but other times... i just feel sad that they missed their chance. i put on my playlist and try to clear my thoughts before my kids step into the van. i have made a goal for myself to never be on the phone when i pick them up and to ask immediately about their day extensively. they have come to expect this treatment and rather enjoy it, i think. also? strictly no food in the car.
we get home around 3:15 depending on traffic. now the kids get to play and have a snack- which is either finishing their lunches, a few energy bites, or fruit. on mondays i give them a more hardy snack because we have ballet and a late dinner. on tuesdays or thursdays i often let the kids ride bikes out front and i sit and watch them. on all school days i have to dive into dinner making pretty quick so that our evening runs smoothly. mondays are the hardest, because i have to make something that can sit for two hours and wait for us. wednesday i have to make sure i make something not very messy because my son has scouts and has to hurry off in his uniform. we generally (except mondays) have dinner at 5ish. its really hard to have dinner right when my husband gets home because his hours vary. but regardless, i make food- and me and the kids eat it together. i use my conversation jar to help me enjoy our conversations more. after dinner, on tues and thursday, kids take baths then do homework. if its not a bath night, they get on pjs, brush teeth, and head to homework. this takes them a good while. meanwhile the littles write in journals and read books. bedtime for littles is 7 or a tad earlier. bedtime for the others is pretty late depending on the day. usually no later than 9. but thankfully fridays they have no homework, so after dinner and pj's and teeth, i put on a movie and get ready for a date with my man. usually my husband puts the baby to bed and sings to all the littles, but from time to time i do. we usually get to split the baths between the two of us- i bathe girls upstairs and he bathes boys downstairs. but now and then i pull the whole thing off myself.
when kids go to bed, i find myself rarely getting things done, but from time to time i am productive or under a time crunch with a deadline. i am trying super hard to journal nightly on my private blog because if i don't then it piles up and i forget a ton of important stuff. if i am lucky i get to chat it up with my man and process my day, but other times we just go about our own tasks. sometimes i am so tuckered out from the day i crash early, but other times i stay up way too late. sometimes we both throw caution to the wind and watch a movie or a show.

saturdays are... madness. they are never ever the same. but there are a few things that we try to put in every single saturday: a deep clean, sunday prep (iron clothes and pack reverence bag), baths, grocery shopping and family night. sometimes these activities are bare bones because we can't fit everything in, but if anything, groceries are a must. my favorite part of weekends are that i can sleep in, and that the kids eat cereal for breakfast. family nights vary monthly because assignments change. right now my husband helps with the lesson and i help with the treat. we are trying to not spend money or leave the house, so that gives our kids some ground rules when picking activities and treats.

sundays start out with sleeping in and a cereal breakfast. instead of scripture study we listen to a general conference talk. then the kids have time to play for a bit while me and hubs get dressed and ready. next comes dressing all the chillun's and making a lunch. i try to make something that isn't messy so the kids stay clean. then we load up and pray that we dont have any tantrums on the way there. who doesn't love showing up to church after a contentious car drive? church is a journey each week as we wrestle the kids and attempt to get something out of our meetings. during sacrament the kids have to sit reverent but after the bread and water are placed back in place and the priesthood brethren sit down, the younger kids grab their one reverent activity to keep them busy and quiet for the remainder of the meeting. then they clean up and head to class. the baby is the hardest to juggle, and i try super hard to handle him most of the time, but other times i give up and pass him off to my man. after church the kids know to come and find me in the library. each child is assigned a buddy to pick up from class. i did this in hopes it would reduce running in the church and getting lost. after i close up the library and have collected all the materials, we drive home. now comes the real challenge. a snack for kids, a nap for my man, and i rest for a bit before diving into dinner. at dinner we have a family council and calendar meeting, then kids get ready for bed and have one on one interviews with dad and write in their journals. when they get in bed finally, sometimes we have a small couple council, and other times we just clean up and crash. the day is exhausting!

so... thats my current normal. nothing fancy. a lot of things that i should or could be doing in my day that i want to change or add or fix, but for now thats it. and i am deciding that its beautiful. its not perfect the way it is, but its still good in many ways. i have a lot to be happy about... both the daisies AND the weeds :)

~holly