The Anecdote to Mommy Guilt

3.29.2013

Do you occasionally suffer from Mommy Guilt? If you’re a mother, I’ll bet you’re raising your hand. It’s simply a part of motherhood territory.

At the end of the day I sometimes find myself wondering if I was enough for my children. Did they get enough attention? Am I teaching them what they need to know? I analyze how I handled my {naughty} toddler. I beat myself up for using the television as a babysitter. I feel like I come up short as a mother more often than not.

But the good news is, I have an ANECDOTE! (An anecdote that works really well for me anyway.)  It’s simply known as quality time together.


About two years ago when my oldest boy had just turned one, I noticed that I had spent an entire day with him but was never really there.   I fed him, changed him, read him some books, and went for a walk.  As evening approached, I realized I had never really connected with my son all day long.  Even when we played together, my mind wandered. I kept thinking of the list of things that needed to be done, something I read, thought about a friend, or what was coming up that weekend. I had a hard time clearing my mind and concentrating solely on my little boy.

That’s when I decided then and there to try to be present—in both mind and body—for at least a few minutes each day.  I made it a point to really play with Jed; to interact, to make him laugh and see his eyes light up because little children live in the moment.   They become completely absorbed with what is in front of them.  And I want to be a part of that.

Over the last few years I’ve learned that when mommy guilt starts to rear its ugly head, I need to put my “to-do” list on hold.  I’ve learned to stop what I’m doing and get down on the floor with my little ones.  I like to bring out the play dough or crayons.   I like chasing my toddler around the couch.  I like putting on shoes and heading out the back door to play outside.  And as spring debuts and the weather warms up, the list of things I can do with my children is growing.  I am so excited!


A friend once told me, “Your children won’t remember how clean their home was, but they will remember how much time you spent with them.”  That statement has stayed with me.

I know that when I’m spending quality time with my children—taking in their smiling faces and giving them the best I have to offer—I am doing my job as a mother.  My children are getting exactly what they need.  I feel good from the inside out.  And at the end of the day it is I am enough.    

Hope you have a Happy Easter Weekend!
Post originally posted HERE

March Happenings

3.26.2013

::  We are 99% positive Jed flushed a pair of his underwear down the toilet

::  I signed three different checks this month each reading well over a thousand dollars.  Thanks to a nice tax return, we have officially paid off our debts!  {Everybody clap and cheer!}  Well, free of all our debts except the mortgage, the car, and the new heat pump we had installed this past Fall.  But the new lack of monthly bills feels liberating, nonetheless!

::  We finally lowered Levi's crib mattress a few inches, just to be safe.  My baby's growing up!  He's beginning to rock on all fours.  We'll have a crawler around here before we know it.

::  I've opened the windows on a few occasions to let in some fresh air.  Hearing birds chirping is music to my ears!

::  I got my hair highlighted and cut off a few inches.  I love my new locks.  It feels great!

::  We had a water fight in the bathroom.  There was water on the ceiling!  It began when we were bathing the boys and Bron decided to spray me with the little toy whale.  I went into the closet to change my wet clothes when Bron came after my bare naked bum.  After screaming and running around like a crazy woman, I sought refuge in the warm tub with my children.  They thought it was funny.  Then they laughed hysterically when Bron sprayed me with the cold shower water.  Jed did help my cause by throwing some toys at his dad, but I think Bron won.  Bron always wins a water fight.

::  I'm adding furniture/redecorating the house.  One thing just led to another... and now I'm busting at the seams, I'm so excited!  The violin/photography money I've been saving is GONE.  So is part of Bron's pay check.  Hehe  But there are no regrets.  I can't wait to show you!  (An entire blog post on that will be coming soon.)

::  In case you haven't heard, you will no longer be able to follow this blog via google reader come July.  Yes, you will always be able to plug in my URL address and have this site pop up, but for those of you who follow multiple blogs (whether you have a blog of your own or not), might I suggest Bloglovin'.  
Come follow along.  Hope to see you there.  Thanks!
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Easter Season

3.25.2013

I am so happy we celebrate Easter. I love everything about it: the first buds of spring, the colored eggs and candy, the adorably cute chicks and bunnies, and excited little children all dressed up in their Sunday best. It’s simply fun! It represents life in all its best forms.

But I’m also grateful. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to reflect on our Savior’s life: His birth, His ministry, and most importantly, the atonement and His resurrection.

This year I’m participating in our Stake’s Easter Cantata: an hour long medley of songs sung by a choir and accompanied by an orchestra (that’s where my violin skills come in) to honor our Savior Jesus Christ. Last night at practice (when I wasn’t playing, of course) I sat with my eyes glued to the rotating pictures of Christ that had been prepared to go along with the music. The pictures combined with what I was hearing had a surprisingly powerful effect. I felt my eyes well up with tears more than once.

As I sat contemplating the atonement, I remembered a trip I once took as a teenager to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. I learned some horrifying facts that still haunt me to this day. For instance, Hitler experimented on pregnant women. He tied their knees together during labor. The pain for these women became so intense that they bled through the pores at their temples before dying.

It lends some perspective on the atonement, doesn’t it.

Fortunately, Easter is about celebrating the miracle of Christ’s resurrection! It’s about rejoicing in the fact that our elder brother overcame the world so that I—and you too—can live with our Heavenly Father again, to have all that He has, to be reunited with our loved ones forever.

I can only imagine the peace and joy we will feel.
The very thought makes me want to be a better person, a better wife, a better mother.
It makes me look forward to that day when everything will be made right.
And that right there is the very essence of the gospel. I believe it with all my heart and soul.

Happy Easter!


Bedtime and Snapshots of Life Lately

3.20.2013
"Parents, remember that now is your opportunity. You may feel yourself harrassed as you struggle through the days with children, but you are living the happiest and most golden years of your life. As you tuck them into their beds at night, please be kind to them. Let them hear a kind voice amid all the angry, vile voices that they will hear throughout life. Let there be an anchor to which these little ones can turn when all else fails." --Harold B. Lee

There are so many good things one can take from the above quote, but what sticks most with me is the fact that these are indeed the happiest and most golden years of my life--right now!  Bedtime may be a mundane routine if I let it be, but  for me it's not.  It's the little things--more specifically the innocent little things my boys do--that make my life so rich and rewarding.

Bedtime is actually one of my favorite parts of the day.  It's a lot of work, yes, but I love the smiles on my boys' faces when I mention the word "bath".  Levi kicks his feet with excitement on the tile floor when he hears the water begin to tumble.  I sit on the sidelines of the bathtub contently watching my little boys play for the good part of a half hour before I usher them out and wrap them in their cozy dry towels.  They smell divine!  Then it's jammies and teeth and lotion.  And don't forget to fill those humidifiers! 

Around 8:20PM, Levi smiles and fusses a bit.  I turn out the light and bring him close to nurse.  His eyes slowly close and he relaxes.  It only takes a minute before his breathing becomes rhythmic and heavy.  I stare at my baby in the dim light.  I memorize every curve of his tiny round face.  I marvel at how long his eyelashes are.  And I say a quick silent prayer of thanks for this precious little soul that I get to cradle.  What a sweet, sweet blessing he is.

Jed is even more fun to put to bed!  We kneel in a circle as a family in his bedroom.  I grasp his tiny hand inside of mine.  Jed closes his eyes and nods his head, then looks up at us for approval.  He always has a silly grin on his face.  After prayer, we exchange hugs.  Jed's hugs are the best!  Then Jed gets to pick one story to read.  He climbs into bed and I cuddle up next to him.  While I read, I steal glances at Jed.  He wears his thoughts on his face.  His eyes and mouth tell a whole other story; the story of how a two year old perceives the world.  Jed's world is so innocent and full of wonder!  It's magical to witness.  Then I tuck the covers up around him, kiss his forehead, and tell him, "Goodnight.  I love you!  I'll see you in the morning."  I turn out the light and blow him a kiss.  Sometimes I even get a kiss blown back to me in return.  That right there melts me into a thousand pieces.

I live for these precious moments when all is calm and love freely abides in my home.

Because Levi is so anxious to eat "big people" food, I thought it was time he learn to feed himself and perfect his pincer grip.  I roll his sleeves up and let him go for it.  He has done surprising well!  Yes, I still spoon feed Levi his fruits and veggies.  He chows down on oatmeal like there's no tomorrow!  This baby is not a picky eater.
Those pudgy knuckles are so cute!
Levi's first time in the sandbox!  He cried when Jed took his truck away.  I fully expect to find sand in his diaper all summer long.
One of Jed's favorites: wrestling with the dog.
Some photos of Levi from last month I never shared.  I love this baby!
Play dough + trucks.  Can life get any better?
All bathed and playing away in the crib just before bedtime.  That little lip kills me.
 "I run!" exclaimed Jed.  And he ran that ramp at least twenty times.
Silly and cute.  Jed really is a good kid.
I am so happy/relieved it's that time of year again!  Sunshine is my best friend and catalyst for quality time with my boys.

Did you know that I am the only person who can read Jed a bedtime story?  Jed insists.  And if I'm occupied elsewhere, Jed won't drift off to sleep until I come kiss him goodnight.  There's a similar story for Levi.  He is a true momma's boy, through and through.  And though I am somewhat proud of that, it makes it hard to leave him for a few hours.  Well actually, Levi makes it very hard for his babysitters.  He cries the entire time; no distraction comes close to filling the void for momma.

This tells me that a. Either I'm an excellent mother or b. My boys don't know any better.  I like to err on the side of a.

I love you, Jed and Levi!  Thanks for making me your momma.  It makes me feel happy and whole, like I was born for this.

A Baby Shower for Amy + Weekend Highlights

3.17.2013
Over the last year and a half, my neighbor Amy and I have become the best of friends.  We run errands together, our children play together, we go on double dates with our husbands together, we swap babysitting and share dinners... we see each other quite a bit!  It's been a lot of fun and I'm lucky to have a friend like her.  So when Amy announced that baby #3 will be a bouncing baby boy (she has two pretty little girls), I knew she deserved a party--more specifically a shower dedicated to all things little boy!

So Dani (another sweet neighbor friend) and I whipped one right up!  I'm glad I had her help because it wouldn't have turned out nearly so cute.  Dani is so classy!  Let's just say that estrogen levels in my home were soaring high on Saturday afternoon.  We ate, we played games, and Amy opened a bunch of adorable gifts.  Congratulations, Amy!  I can't wait to meet that sweet baby boy either.

 A Chocolate Fondue Smorgasbord!
 On the menu: pineapple, bananas, strawberries, pretzels, pound cake, and marshmallows... 
all dipped in chocolate!
 Dani decorating the cake
 Name that mystery baby food.  No tasting!
 A genuinely happy prego lady
Dani's amazing blue zebra cake.  It tasted just as good as it looks!


Other Weekend Highlights:

:: A girls' afternoon in town with Momma Nelson and my sister-in-law Amber on Friday.  We tried on clothes (I got a new outfit!) and ate lunch at Red Robin.  Momma Nelson spoiled us rotten.  It's always fun shopping with the girls.

::  Bron and I kept true to tradition and had dinner at Texas Roadhouse with the guys and their wives.  (Thanks for babysitting my bawling momma-sick baby, Merri Sue!)

:: Dinner and a movie at the Raiger's home with the kids, of course

:: When Bron brought Jed home after the baby shower, Jed opened the door and enthusiastically announced, "I'm baack!"  It was stinkin' cute.

:: Jed just about died laughing at his dad's voice after sucking the helium life out of a balloon

:: The fire/carbon monoxide alarms going off several times in the middle of the night.  Scare. Me. To. Pieces.  It so happens that our alarms were picking up the helium leaking from the party balloons when the heat pump fan shut off.  Bron figured it out around 3:00AM and promptly took those balloons outside to pop them!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We'll be Outside if You Need Us

3.13.2013

With a forecast for sunny skies and temperatures soaring into the 60's,
Bron predicted that I'd be absolutely worthless this week.  

I think he predicted right.
(In my defense, I did dust the house from top to bottom--including baseboards--during nap time.)

Is a three mile run,
playing in the backyard,
a trip to the park,
and a bike ride 
too much for the first real warm day of spring?

Me thinks absolutely not.

We had a riot yesterday.
See those faces?  Pure happiness.
Levi had his first real swing experience at the park.  I think he's hooked.
And Jed begged to go higher!

There is nothing better than spending quality time outside with my boys.
I love, love, love, love it.
It makes me happy from the inside out.

So bring on Spring!

Skibum Bron

3.11.2013
Skiing in Sun Valley
Look at how stunning those mountains are!

This winter Bron has had a lot of fun hitting the slopes on the weekends.  He has often described his powdery death-defying glade skiing (aka avoiding trees) as "epic".  Last Saturday was probably his biggest ski day of the season.  Bron and friend Nick headed up to Sun Valley to ski 'ol Baldy.  While on the slopes they traveled a total of 60 miles and covered 42,000 vertical feet.  Yup, they had a good day.  And yup, they were sore that night.  But they had a blast! 

And we wives at home let them have their fun for a few reasons:
1. Our husbands deserve it and we love them
2. Our men come home feeling rejuvenated.
They are better husbands and better fathers and ready to take on the stresses of a whole new week.
3. Sometimes they bring home chocolate

Next up: Mountain Biking Season!

We Be Happy Sickies

3.07.2013

EVEN THOUGH...
:: Bron is gone to a conference and left me to be a single mom all week
:: My phone died because I left the charger in the bag Bron took to Reno
:: The boys have nasty coughs, stuffy noses, and fevers
:: We are out of tissues and up to our eyeballs in snot
:: I'm sleep deprived because my babies need me in the middle of the night
:: I accidentally left the oven on with the door ajar and made the fire alarms sound (see above statement)
:: I didn't shower today, didn't wear makeup, and threw my hair up into a bun

I AM GENUINELY HAPPY
Not dance and sing from the rooftops happy, but content happy
(Tell me, when did I become okay with these kind of things?  It's crazy!)

HAPPINESS IS...
:: Making silly faces and taking pictures
:: Reading stories, fun finger-plays, and playing on the floor
:: Steamy midnight showers holding my baby close--skin to skin--in hopes of clearing his little nose
:: Going for a walk and feeling the sun on my face
:: Pancakes for dinner with real maple syrup
:: Smiles and hugs


I would do anything for these boys of mine--all three of them.  I love them to my very core.
As long as there's some sunshine and my boys, it's a good day.
Get better soooon, Jed and Levi!
(And pray your mama doesn't get whatever it is that's keeping us all up at night.)

The Weekend Anna Came to Visit Idaho

3.06.2013
This last weekend we were reunited with one of our favorite pieces of our former life in New York: Anna!  Anna is one of our most beloved friends.  She is sweet and thoughtful and the kind of person that makes me want to be a little better.  It felt so good to see her again!  I'd been counting down the days to her arrival for a full month.  Really, I was so excited!

Anna flew in to Boise, Idaho with a group from Miner Institute on Saturday afternoon.  Miner is the research farm where Bron did his thesis and received his Master's degree.  Miner asked Bron if he would show them some dairies that he now works with as an educational opportunity for their group of undergrads on Monday.  Lucky us, that meant we had an entire day and a half to steal Anna away for some fun!

We met in the hotel lobby downtown.  Oh, it was the best squeeze I've received in a long time!  Anna recognized Jed, of course, but hardly knew him he's grown so much!  Though it's been a year and a half, she kept saying it didn't feel like she'd left Chazy.  Our friendship picked up right where we left off.

Bron and I took it upon ourselves to be Anna's official Idaho tour guides.  Although Boise isn't our stomping grounds, we still know the ropes and how to have a good time.  There are a lot of things unique to the West that aren't back East and vice versa. 

Idaho Steelheads vs. Utah Grizzlies = Awesome Game Night
I think we snagged some of the best seats in the house: first balcony, first row.  We had a footrest and nothing to interrupt our view.
Bron's fake smile.  Picture pooper.

Saturday's Highlights:

::  Picking Anna up!  She rode in the truck and read Jed a brand new book she brought with her.  Jed was mesmerized.
::  Saw a few local dairies.  Anna loved the snow-capped "mountains"
::  Dropped the kids off with my mom and went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  Anna and I shared an entree so that we'd have enough room for dessert!  Rich and delicious.
::  A Steelheads Game!  It was an exciting game that became quite heated.  The teams went into overtime and then the Steelheads won the shootout.  Suhweet!  There was so much energy in the arena that night, it was contagious.

Anna behind her lens.  It's so much fun to have another photography happy person around.
Showing off my new yellow skinny jeans I found at Gap for $15.  Yes, a steal.  Best of all, they're comfortable AND flattering, a rare combination.
Real friends love your children too.

Sunday's Highlights:

::  Our family went to church in the morning.  Then we decided to take a break from our normal Sunday activities and take advantage of the time we had with Anna.
::  We introduced Anna to Cafe Rio for lunch
::  Walked around Cabela's.  We saw some giant stuffed animals and watched the fish eat.
::  Shopping at the mall!  Anna found an adorable spring dress, Bron found a steal on a winter coat, and I scored some colored jeans.
::  Levi ate half of my fruit smoothie
::  Took a leisurely walk around the green belt of the Boise river.  Though it was sunny it was still pretty cold, but refreshing nonetheless.
::  Introduced Anna to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory caramel apples
::  Spent time at my mom's house just hanging out and enjoying Jed's silliness

If you're wondering where Jed was for two days, he was with his grandma and two uncles having the time of his life.  He loooves playing at Grandma's house!  Grandma spoils him with sugar and something like six stories at bedtime.  
Thank you, Mom!  You helped make our time with Anna so much more relaxing.

My heart still feels happy just thinking about the weekend.  I'm also trying to pace myself with all the maple candies, maple cream, and maple syrup given to us as gifts.  My taste buds have died and gone to heaven.  Thanks for coming to visit, Anna!  I hope we get to see you again soon.

A Peek Inside The Diaper Bag

3.05.2013
  Liz Lange // Target

I feel like we've been on the go a lot lately.  We've been running errands in town, hanging out at the DMV (I loathe that place), and best of all, going to visit family and friends across the state.

By the way, we just spent thee most wonderful weekend with our sweet friend, Anna!  It was so much fun and sooo good to see her.  (An entire post on that is coming soon.)

Anyway, as I was running around the house quickly gathering all the things I need for a day out with my two little boys in tow I thought, "Is this ridiculous?  Do I really need all this stuff?"  So I pulled it all out to analyze.  And then I thought I'd snap a few pictures while I was at it to share.  I love peeking at how other people do things and gleaning ideas.  Anyhow, perhaps this will serve as a reminder of just how crazy these days with little children are!

My diaper bag seems to be in a state of constant rotation; it evolves as my child grows and his needs change.  Jed is almost three years old and isn't a baby anymore, but I still find myself packing a few things for him too.  After all, it is nearly a thirty minute drive into town and I'd rather have a content passenger than a grumpy one.


My Diaper Bag's Essential Items:

1. A blanket for Levi.  It's cold outside!  Plus, it doubles as a nursing cover.
2. Three diapers for Levi
3. Plenty of wipes
4. Three pull-ups for Jed
I'm not brave enough to go to town by myself with Jed in just his underwear.  We're still working on the whole pooping in the toilet thing, so I'd just rather not deal with the headache.  Perhaps this summer...
5. Wallet and Cell Phone
6. Water bottle.  I'm a nursing mama, enough said. 
Sometimes I bring another water for Jed.  And sometimes we just share.  Gross?  Maybe a little.
7. Snacks!  Gerber puffs for Levi. Pretzels and fruit snacks for Jed. Cheese for me.
8. Toys!  Levi is a fan of something hooked to his car seat.
9. An extra outfit for Levi, just in case.
10. Changing pad.  I also have a plastic bag inside my diaper bag for messy clothing, etc.
11. Hand sanitizer
12. Chapstick
13. Lotion
14. Baby nail clippers and files
15. Hair ties
I should probably carry a pen too!

And last but certainly not least...
A cup holder packed to the brim with hot wheels.
Do NOT leave home without some.


Note: On Sundays I carry even more!  Cards and games to keep Jed quiet are a must.

Optional:

This really is the coolest spoon ever!  Yes, it's squeezable.  Such a convenient lifesaver!  If I know I'm going to be out for quite a while, I bring this little baby with me filled with apple sauce or some other pureed vegetable.

So that's it!  It amazingly all carries nicely in my trusty diaper bag.  I'm not sure what I'll do when the day finally arrives when I don't need one anymore!  I'll be feeling light, naked, and unprepared for a while... and maybe even missing those tiny hands that need so much.