Feelings

I think that I’m feeling all of the wrong things.  Improper things.  Things that shouldn’t be felt a mere two and a half weeks after a loved one dies.

Aside from my Grandma passing away a few years ago, I have never experienced a death in the family.  I never expected it to feel this way.  I can’t help but wonder if my feelings are normal, or if I’m just a bad person.

Because, right now, I’m feeling like an awful person.

Why?

I’m feeling angry and upset that I haven’t seen my Mom since she died.  Yes, I am fully aware of how completely irrational that sounds.  How could I see her?  She died.  In retrospect, however, I now realize that I have been unconsciously wishing and hoping for years for a special visit from my Mom after she died.  I always knew that she would die “young” and I just assumed that she would stop and make a quick visit to me before she got busy in the spirit world.  I didn’t fully realize how much I counted on this special visit happening until she died and such a visit never occurred.

It sounds so stupid, I know.

I have heard stories in the past of relatives visiting loved ones after they had died to say goodbye.  I honestly just assumed that my Mom would come to me.   I can’t help but think that maybe she didn’t love me as much as I thought she did.  If she did love me that much, than why can’t I see her?  Why can’t I even feel her near me?  Perhaps I’m not spiritual enough to be allowed to be in her presence.  I feel as if I’m thinking about her constantly, but I can’t help but wonder if she is enjoying herself so much that she doesn’t even care about me anymore.  I have been wanting to feel her presence so badly that I’m starting to imagine things.  She has become some sort of an imaginary friend.  It’s ridiculous.

A few days ago I was really frustrated with Bryce.  He was acting up and was simply ignoring me (I suppose two-week “vacations” do that to kids).  He kept coloring on our walls with crayon and I yelled at him.  And then I felt embarrassed because I realized (or imagined) that my Mom probably saw the whole messy scenario and was disappointed in my behavior.  Now that she is on the other side, I feel like she will see what kind of person I really am and realize that I’m not as good as she thought I was.

It’s funny, but I have an easy time imagining that my Mom is near me when I’m not on my best behavior.  I hope that I will one day feel her near when I do something that she would be proud of.

I’m terrified by the simple fact that I still have so many more years to live on this Earth (hopefully) and she won’t be here for any more of them.  I’m scared that her memory will somehow fade away.  That she eventually won’t feel as vivid to me as she does now.

I have been wearing some of her clothes.  They still smell like her and it’s comforting.  But I am eventually going to have to wash them.  Then what?  How will I keep her alive?

I made banana bread yesterday, my Mom’s recipe.  I thought about her the entire time.  I knew that when she was alive, she had measured the same amount of flour and smelled the same sweet scent in the air.  It made me feel a bit better.

I promised my Mom on the day that she died that I would write a book about her.  She was worried that her grand-kids wouldn’t know who she was.  To be honest, that thought scares and saddens me as well.  For this “book” that I’m writing (mainly for close friends and relatives), I’m including excerpts from her journal (the good stuff), church talks that she had written (that I was able to find), her favorite recipes, a collection of memories from friends and family members, her favorite scripture passages, song lyrics, her favorite quotes, a family tree (complete with a few pictures), letters that she wrote to family members, and a few other things.

I’m hoping that this “book” that I put together will help keep her alive.  From what I have been able to read from her journal so far, it has been really nice.  It feels like she’s talking to me.  This experience has strengthened my resolve more than anything to keep a journal.  I currently write in my journal nearly every day and I am so grateful for that habit.  I know that my journal will be a treasure to my posterity, as my Mom’s journal is to me.

The sad thing, however, is that she stopped writing in her journal in 1990.  I was eight years old.  This was also round the time that she first started getting sick.  I can’t help but wonder if there is a correlation.

Following 1990, she started scrap-booking.  Her house is full of beautiful scrapbooks.  That was her preferred form of journaling, I suppose.  I wish, however, that she would have written at least a few more lines in her journal.

I love my Mom so much.  I miss her.  It’s true what they say.  You don’t realize how much you love someone until they are gone and you aren’t able to talk to them any longer.  I suppose that I will eventually feel her spirit.  Maybe, perhaps, I already feel of her spirit but I’m simply not recognizing it.

It feels good to vent!

I apologize if I sound like a horrible person.  But feelings are feelings.  And these are mine.

Losing a Mother is Hard

  I have felt such an array of emotions over the course of one week.  It’s hard to believe that it has only been one week, as it feels as if thousands of years have come and gone.

Tara and I both knew that our Mother was going to die.  The doctors didn’t tell us this, we just knew.

We were in denial at first.

This can’t really be happening, right?  I’m probably just scared that she’s going to die.  She’ll pull through this bout of sickness successfully, just as she has been doing for years.  The spirit can’t possibly be telling me that she is going to die.  Especially when Dad and the doctors both seem hopeful.  That’s not possible, is it?

Yes.  I have learned that it is very possible for the spirit to tell us things that we don’t want to hear.  Things that we are not quite ready to accept.

Our Dad kept insisting that Mom was going to be fine.  He told us not to come.  Tara and I live in Lancaster, CA and our parents live in Logan, UT.  It’s a solid 12-hour drive away.

I knew that this was “it” for my Mom.  As horrible as it was to feel something like that, I couldn’t deny it.  Tara felt the same way.  We both knew that we needed to get to Utah as quickly as possible in an effort to see our sweet Mom one final time in this life.

We packed our babies (Tyler and Mason) into Tara’s car and we drove all through the night.  This proved to be somewhat difficult, as neither one of us had slept the night before (we were worrying too much to sleep).  We cried nearly the entire drive.  Why?

Because we both had a strong feeling that when we returned to Lancaster, we would not be able to call our Mom and tell her that we had arrived in safety.  We would, in fact, never be able to call her again.

Our hearts were broken.

I didn’t pack church clothes.  If I didn’t pack church clothes, then I wouldn’t need them.  Right?  I would just go see my Mom for a few days and then head back home in time to attend my own ward.  Admittedly, the word “funeral” skipped across my mind a few times as I was packing, but I refused to believe it.

As Tara and I walked into our Mother’s hospital room the morning that we arrived in Utah, our fears were confirmed.  Our sweet Mother was in terrible condition.  She was suffering so much, made evident by her facial expressions.

Tara and I immediately broke down.  We couldn’t control our tears.

We gave our Mother our permission for her to leave this life and end her suffering.  Did she need our permission?  Maybe.  Would she have passed away anyway?  Perhaps.  But when we gave her our permission, I feel as if it eased a heavy burden on her soul.  She was a fighter.  She would have suffered for days on end (in addition to what she had already suffered) if she didn’t feel like we would all be okay without her.

Will we be okay?  I suppose so.  Will I miss her?  Terribly.

A decision had to be made.

Would we rather have her here with us and continue to watch her suffer, or could we allow her to continue her work in the spirit world completely void of pain or discomfort?

This was a decision that our Dad had a difficult time making.  When he finally made the decision to let her go, her health declined very rapidly and she was gone within a few hours.

She did, in fact, need permission to go.

On our Mom’s final day, her ability to speak was taken from her.  She was intubated.  Strong medication made sure that her heart continued to pump.  A machine was causing her lungs to function.

However, she wasn’t in an induced coma.  She was able to communicate with us through writing.  Toward the end of the day, however, her alertness seemed to decline and she was visibly more exhausted.  Too exhausted to write legibly.

One of the gifts that our Mother gave us on her final day, however, was the fact that she was intubated.  As a result of her intubation, we have the majority of our communication of her final day recorded on paper.  It is a blessing that I will treasure forever.

Tara and I (and our two other siblings) spent the day praising our Mother.  We thanked her again and again for everything that she had done for us throughout our lives.  We told her how great she was.  We told her how lucky that we were to have her as a Mother.

We told her that she was the best Mother in the world.

At this compliment, she wrote something that I will never forget.

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She wrote:  “I am the best mom.  Just like you guys.”

I can promise you that Tara and I were bawling our eyes out.  Our Mom had finally admitted that she was a good Mom.  After years of feeling guilty and feeling as if her illness had prevented her from being a successful mother, she was at peace and accepted the fact that she was a good mother.

Seeing our Mom feel good about herself on her final day was a precious gift.  The fact that she added “Just like you guys” was icing on the cake, but hardly necessary.

The last moment that I saw my Mom is a very special memory of mine.  I stood next to her hospital bed, held her hand, and carressed her forehead.  No words were spoken.  Our eyes were locked.  My Mom’s eyes were wide open, trying to communicate something with me.  I yearned to know exactly what she was “saying” with her eyes, but I can only speculate.  My mom was well aware of the fact that she was dying.  She knew that this may have been the last time that I would have the opportunity to look into her eyes in this life.

What were her eyes telling me?

I love you so much.  Never forget that.  You will be okay without me.  I will be in a better place and I won’t be suffering any longer.  Please take care of Dad.  Please help Alyssa.  Don’t forget me.  Make sure your children know who I am.  I love you.

And then she beckoned me to lean down.  I placed my cheek by her mouth and she was able to lift her head up ever so slightly in an effort to kiss me goodbye.  I didn’t feel her lips, as she was intubated, but that final kiss from my mother is something that I will never forget.

She then motioned me to exit the room with her hand.  I looked back one final time before leaving the room, and that was the last time that I saw my Mother’s beautiful eyes.  The next time that I saw her, her eyes had been closed forever.

My three siblings and I left the hospital after saying our goodbyes and headed to a hotel about 15 minutes away.  Part of me believed that I would just go to sleep (I was exhausted) and go back to the hospital in the morning to spend another day with my Mom.  The other part of me feared that she may not make it through the night.

I didn’t realize that the phone call from my Dad would come so quickly.

Dad called me and told us to return to the hospital because Mom had just died.  He was crying.

Even with all of the medication and machines, her heart simply wasn’t strong enough.  It failed.

I screamed “NO!” at the phone and threw it against the wall.

I told my siblings the news before immediately calling Jon.  When Jon answered the phone I lost control.  I yelled at him and told him that Mom had just died and that he didn’t get to say goodbye to her.  I hung up the phone and continued to scream and yell at the top of my lungs.  I don’t even remember what I was saying.  It just felt good to scream.  It was purely reflex.  It wasn’t until I looked in the corner of the room and saw my 2-year-old neice crying in fear that I realized that I had scared her.  I stopped screaming and started crying.  I called Jon back and told him to come right now.  I needed him.

The first time that I walked into my parents house after my Mom’s death was very difficult.  I found myself waiting for my Mom to walk down the stairs or to clean up the messy counter.  It never happened.  And it never will again.  I immediately went into my Mom’s bedroom and grabbed a pair of her soft pajamas, laid down on her bed in fetal position, and cried and cried as I clung to her pajamas.  Somehow, holding her pajamas helped.

I found myself praying and praying for a miraculous vision.  I wanted to see my Mom again.  I wanted to see her one final time and say a proper goodbye.

It never happened.

As I write this post, the funeral is finished and her body is buried in the earth.  I have visited her grave twice already.  I am trying to get as many visits as possible in.  She won’t be in California.

I feel incredibly empty.

I had just talked to my Mom on the phone for an hour and a half the Friday before she passed.  I told her how much I was looking forward to Christmas this year.  I wanted to spend Christmas with my Mom more than anything.  I missed her terribly last Christmas and felt incredibly homesick.

I had no idea that I would never be able to spend another Christmas with her again.

In that last phone conversation, I told my Mom that we were trying to get pregnant but that it would probably take a while, as usual.

I had no idea that when I actually do get pregnant, I won’t be able to call her and tell her the exciting news.

I am only thirty year old.  I feel much too young to be without a mother.  And my siblings are younger than I am.

Over the past few days, Tara and I have been helping my Dad clean out our Mom’s closet.  He couldn’t bear to do it himself, so we were given the assignment.  My Mom had the same taste in clothes as I do.  She preferred casual over fancy.  Although my Mom was shorter and smaller than I am, I actually found quite a few clothes that fit me.  In fact, I could probably discard all of my old clothes and completely replenish my wardrobe with my Mother’s clothing.

Since I feel horrible about sending her clothes to Goodwill, I’m talking most of them home with me.  I hope that Jon can forgive me. 🙂

I can’t help but feel bad.  I feel as if I’m benifiting from my Mother’s death by taking her clothes.  I don’t want to benefit from her death at all.  I would rather torture myself.

Anyway, I have rambled on long enough.  I am positive that more posts will be coming regarding my grieving process.

Now, stop reading and go and give your mother a big hug.  If you live far away from her, call her and tell her how much you love her.

Although I know that my Mom is at peace now, I would still do almost anything in the world to be able to give her a hug right now.

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Hormones: Blessing or Curse?

I have discovered something extraordinarily covert since I have been married.  You may or may not have discovered this secret yourself.  Chances are, if you are a woman who inhales oxygen, this particular secret has incalculably blessed your life.

So, what exactly is it that’s so hush-hush?  It’s simple, really.

As a woman, you can blame absolutely everything on hormones.

Consider the following scenario.  Your husband comes home late from work one day and finds you relentlessly snapping at your children.  He leans down to kiss you on the lips and is genuinely surprised when you apparently fail to notice his romantic antics as you politely (at least you thought that you were being polite) command him to assist you in picking up the miniature blocks that are scattered all over the kitchen floor, which are somehow prohibiting you from accomplishing anything of worth.  Your husband looks at you for a brief moment and then the all-too-familiar phrase escapes his lips.

“Is it that time of the month?”

or, more commonly,

“Is your period going to start soon?”

or, my personal favorite,

“You must be pregnant.”

So, what if you’re not on your period, not experiencing PMS, or if you are undeniably not pregnant (because you had just urinated on a home-pregnancy-test and it unquestionably lacked an extra line).

Our husbands don’t know that.

This is where the top-secret trick comes in to play.

When your husband comes home from work and finds you in a similar scenario, we have a right (as hormone-saturated women) to forgo taking responsibility for our actions…don’t we?  Because we’re not really grumpy, snappy, mean, and horrible…right?  The hormones are absolutely to blame.

So what do we tell our husbands?

“Sorry, honey.  It’s my hormones.”

It truly is that simple.  Chances are, if your husband is anything like my husband, he will politely smile and give you the apologetic look.   Then he’ll proceed to tell the children to clean up their mess (which they will do, without complaint, 97% of the time…why they listen to their dad so effortlessly remains a mystery to me).

The truth of the matter is that our husbands don’t know what it feels like to be a woman.  We truly do have raging hormones at times.  These hormones cause us to feel an array of emotions ranging from depression to elation.  In actuality, would it not be an accurate statement to assume that every single woman is bi-polar to some extent?

If I happen to snap at Jon regarding something inconsequential, it’s not really my fault, right?  If I crave a chocolate-peanut butter-banana sandwich (with Oreo ice-cream on the side), it’s not really me with the horrid craving, right?  So what if I want to go to bed at 4:00 in the afternoon or cry for no apparent reason?  It’s not me.   It’s my blasted hormones.

Hormones are to blame for every negative aspect of my life.

Because, deep down, I’m actually a good person.  If my hormones weren’t a factor in my existence, I would totally eat healthy 100% of the time.  I would never snap at my children.  I wouldn’t get frustrated.  I wouldn’t get angry, upset, bored, jealous, or feel embarrassed.  I wouldn’t need time to unwind.  I would never murmur.  My house would look immaculate because my hormones wouldn’t have prevented me from incessantly cleaning.  Without hormones, I wouldn’t ever experience bouts of insecurity and decreased self-esteem.  I would surely do my visiting teaching every single month.

In short, without hormones, I would pretty much be perfect.

🙂

Although blaming my hormones for my poor behavior can often be quite beneficial, I can’t help but wonder…are hormones truly to blame?  What percentage of my less than desirable behavior is actually driven by hormones?  What if I’m actually a grumpy and impatient person, regardless of any hormones that may or may not exist?  What if I’m actually sad and I cry for a valid reason and not simply because my hormones are causing me to be emotional.  What if, after all of these years, we women have been blaming our hormones when, in fact, they are unquestionably innocent?

At any rate, I’m quite finished evaluating my behavior based on the existence of or complete lack of hormones.

I am me, with or without those dreaded hormones.

I’ll keep pushing through, day by day (second by second), and continue to try my best.  If I slip up (as a result of hormones, or not), all that I can do is learn from my mistakes and try to improve! 🙂

No one is perfect.

But I can’t help but admit that men may have it easier on their road to perfection.  They just have to overcome the natural man, not hormones as well! 🙂

Good luck with your hormones, ladies!  And don’t be afraid to use them as an excuse…your other half will never know! 😉

Big Foot

The other day I was looking at some of our photos and I found this:

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In spite of the fuzziness, I found it oddly familiar.

It seems to me that I had seen versions of this photo among various reading materials over the years.

And then it hit me…

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I found Big Foot!!!

🙂

Simplifying General Conference

I love, love, love General Conference.

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I look forward to it more than anything in the world.

Well, nearly anything.

I must admit that I really looked forward to marrying my husband and I was quite thrilled about
pushing each of my babies out after being pregnant for nine months…but General Conference
seriously excites me just as much! 🙂

I love soaking in the incredibly inspiring and spiritually uplifting words that the leaders of the
church have prepared just for us. Quite often, in fact, it seems as if they have prepared their
remarks just for me.

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Since having kids, however, I have learned that it is somewhat difficult to listen to General
Conference as effectively as I would like to. All that I want to do is sit and listen to eight hours
of talks in complete peace and serenity without any interruption. Additionally, it would be quite
nice if each of my children (Mason included) would sit still and reverent for every second of
those hours and be able to quote the prophet word for word at the conclusion of his talk. I mean
really, is that too much to ask? 🙂

Apparently, it is way too much to ask.

For the past few years I have bent over backwards in an effort to help my kids get the most out
of conference. I have printed out conference packets, bingo games, and endless church-related
coloring pages. I have built immaculate tents out of blankets right in front of the TV in an effort
to reenact General Conference in King Benjamin’s time. I have made apostle matching games
and various file-folder games. I have made little treat bags with pictures of the different apostles
on them, the idea being that when that particular apostle spoke the kids would get to eat the treat
from his bag. The kids have decorated music batons to lead the music with the conductor during
the songs. I have searched the internet far and wide for any idea to help keep the kids occupied
and focused during those long eight hours of instruction.

Where did all this preparation get me?

Absolutely nowhere.

By the time the opening song had commenced, the kids were rolling around and trying to
smother each other with the blankets that I had so carefully made into a tent. By the time the
invocation was completed, the packets that I had so vigilantly put together were torn into pieces
and crayons were scattered all over the carpet. Apparently, my kids aren’t as mature as the other
nameless kids around the world using the exact same General Conference packets. My kids
didn’t really care to examine the color of tie that the prophet was wearing.

What is wrong with my children?

The conducting batons were quickly used as beating sticks. The stickers that the kids had used to
decorate their batons with were stuck all over the wall (or inserted into their mouths because they
somehow resembled chewing gum). The treat bags were a complete disaster. Every time a mere
seventy or (heaven forbid) a woman spoke, the kids would complain relentlessly. They could
care less about the talks…they just wanted their stinkin’ treats! 🙂

Now, I realize that this scenario that I have just painted makes my kids seem like spoiled rotten
brats. They aren’t. They were simply being kids forced to be something that they obviously
weren’t meant to be. I fully expected my children to be quiet and focused for eight hours. Why
wouldn’t they be? I bent over backwards trying to entertain them in the proper way! My kids
were supposed to soak in every single word that was spoken and become one step closer to being
translated. Right?!

Seriously…those General Conference packets were meant to keep my children focused!

I learned something from the past few years. I have, somewhat hesitantly, concluded that
General Conference packets aren’t for everyone. All kids are not created equal. A 3-year-
old down the street may find it absolutely entertaining to color ties and create toilet paper roll
apostles…but mine is perfectly content in playing with his miniature pirate ship. My kids are still
quite young. Honestly, until they are old enough to read and write completely independently, I
think that I may put a halt on printing out packets.

Keeping these realizations in mind, I made a conscious choice to simplify my efforts this past
weekend. Translation: I prepared absolutely nothing for my kids. No packets were printed. I
made zero plans whatsoever and decided to merely go with the flow. It worked wonders. Who
would have thought that simply not putting forth any effort whatsoever would have ended up
being the most successful tactic?

I was able to listen to nearly every single word this past weekend!

It was absolutely wonderful.

I gave my children their agency. I did, however, make sure they were in the room when the
prophet spoke. Ironically, with this new found General Conference agency that my kids were
granted, they ended up playing right in front of the TV for the most part. I sat on the floor,
turned the volume up incredibly loud, and was able to listen to nearly every word as my children
played at my feet (or on top of me).

Truly, lowering my expectations was my key to success. I experienced no frustration at the fact
that the packets that I had printed out were not being used correctly. I wasn’t forced to miss
half of each talk as a result of trying to explain to my kids that they couldn’t eat a certain treat
because it wasn’t the “proper time”. Rather, I generously threw food in their faces whenever they
asked for it and I told them to eat, enjoy, and leave me alone. 😉 I didn’t care that my kids were
participating in secular activities (playing with non-church-related toys). There were crayons all
over the carpet, like before, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest because I allowed them to be
there.

My kids were happy. They loved General Conference! Lizzie was even able to tell me that
President Monson talked about being obedient. What more could I ask for? And honestly, I
don’t really care what color of tie he was wearing. 🙂

In conclusion, I have learned that simplifying General Conference and lowering my expectations
have turned out to be one of my best mothering decisions.

You may look down on me for “giving up”. But I don’t care! As is always the case, what works
for one family may not work for another. Our casual watching of General Conference this past
weekend was a definite success for us! 🙂

Packets may make their appearance again in the future…but I am happily taking a break for now.

🙂

Percentages

The other day, Lizzie and Bryce were watching a movie and Bryce fell asleep.  After he fell asleep, Lizzie kindly covered him up.

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Honestly, if Lizzie didn’t tell me that he was there, I wouldn’t have realized it on my own.  I would have walked by the couch and not taken the time to even glimpse at the heap of blue blanket.  I may have even jumped right on top of it.  Or, I may have thought that the blanket didn’t belong there on the couch and I would have folded it up and put it away.

I started thinking about percentages.

As you can see, the above picture is approximately 94% blue blanket and 6% Bryce.

I compared those percentages to actual life.

What percentage of my time do I actually spend with my children?  Do I spend a larger percentage of my time with Lizzie?  Or with Bryce and Mason?  What percentage of my time is spent folding laundry, doing dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, picking up clutter (I mean…toys), preparing meals, and filling sippy cups?

Of the time that I do spend with my children, what percentage of that is actually spent interacting with them?  Reading to them, talking to them, or teaching them?

Or do I spend a larger percentage of my time existing in the same room as my children…but mindlessly moving cars across the carpet (or nibbling on the fake food meals that they prepare for me) while concurrently reading a book?  What…that scenario doesn’t sound at all familiar to any of you?

What percentage of the day does Bryce spend in time out?  Or being threatened with time out?

How often am I on the computer?

How often am I genuinely in love with my calling as a Mother?

What percentage of my time do I kiss, hug, and laugh with my babies?

How often do I drool over pictures of recipes that I will most likely never make?  Honestly, I am getting to the point where I am completely done looking at food blogs.  There will always be another recipe to try.  I need to just stick to the tried and tested ones and stop experimenting altogether.

What percentage of my time am I secretly wishing that I was somewhere else?

How much time do I utterly waste by comparing myself to others?

You know, the answers to these questions don’t really matter.

Each mother is unique.  Each mother chooses to spend her time differently.  Each mother has her own strengths…and her own weaknesses.  And I honestly believe that each mother, no matter her circumstance, is genuinely trying to do the best that she can.

I know that I am!

To be honest, I’m a little disappointed with my percentages on some days.

But on other days, I rock! 🙂

No one can be perfect every single day of their life!  However, I believe that it is possible to have perfect minutes.  Or even a few perfect seconds.  And that may be all that I can handle on most days of the week! 😉

The following is a quote by Elder James. E. Faust that I like to refer to when I am feeling overwhelmed.

“You cannot do everything well at the same time. You cannot be a 100 percent wife, a 100 percent mother, a 100 percent church worker, a 100 percent career person, and a 100 percent public-service person at the same time. How can all of these roles be coordinated? Says Sarah Davidson: “The only answer I come up with is that you can have it sequentially. At one stage you may emphasize career, and at another marriage and nurturing young children, and at any point you will be aware of what is missing. If you are lucky, you will be able to fit everything in.”

So there you have it.  You can’t do it all!  Even if you really want to.  It’s impossible!

So stop being so hard on yourselves.

Stop comparing yourselves to others.

Maybe, perhaps, stop reading blogs and browsing Pinterest if all it does is make you feel guilty and like you will never measure up.

I don’t have a Pinterest account.  Mostly because I know myself and I have heard that it can be pretty addicting.  I just decided that Pinterest was simply something that I could do without.

In today’s society, I have learned that people (particularly women) are obsessed with comparing themselves to others.  It seems as if they are always in a silent competition with one another.

They want their child’s birthday party to be the best.  The coolest theme, the most fancily decorated, the funnest games, the best party favors, and more.  And not only that, but everything has to come together perfectly at little or no cost.

Whatever happened to the birthday parties of the past when a few kids came over, the cake was sloppily decorated by the birthday boy himself, and where no theme existed.  The kids simply played together.  Gifts were given and that was that.

I often wish that I were a mother back then.  Life seemed so simple.

I try not to get caught up in it all…but sometimes its really hard to resist.

Why in the world do we make everything so complicated?

We are hurting no one but ourselves.

And, perhaps, the very reasons why we do all of these things in the first place.  Our children.

In our quest to become better, are we neglecting our children?

Are our minds so preoccupied with other things that we sometimes walk by our children and not even take the time to glimpse at them?

My children are my life.

I’m gong to put forth a stronger effort to balance my percentages in favor of my children.

Bryce won’t always be an adorable little boy with peanut butter smeared on his face!

They grow up so fast.

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My Favorite Dinner Rolls

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I’m a sucker for carbs!  And I love, love, love these dinner rolls.  I have a recipe for whole-wheat dinner rolls as well that I resort to when I am trying to be healthier, which I’ll post another day.  These are so good they melt in your mouth!  I made these for Easter and I now have a giant bag of them in my freezer, ready to be warmed up as needed! 🙂  I have mentioned before that I have a big problem with chocolate…if it’s in my house I’ll eat it.  I can’t ignore it!  If I know it’s there, then I can’t simply forget about it.  Are you kidding me?!  I have the same problem with freshly baked bread (or rolls).  I just can’t stop eating them!  So putting them in the freezer helps them last a lot longer.  And it also helps me not to gain a zillion pounds by eating the entire batch in one sitting!! 😉

Anyway, here’s the recipe!  You won’t be disappointed!

Dinner Rolls

1 cup warm water (105 F to 115 F)
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 -4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
additional melted butter (optional)Directions:

1 .  Combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl.

2 .  Let the mixture stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.
3 .  Stir in butter, sugar, eggs and salt.
4 .  Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough is too stiff to mix with a spoon (some flour may not be needed). At this point, use dough hook or knead on floured surface for 10 minutes until dough is smooth.
5 .  Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled, or at this point it can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
6 .  Grease one 16.5×12-inch or two 12×9-inch baking pans.
7 .  Turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured board.
8 .  Divide dough into 24 equal-size pieces (about 50 grams each).
9 .  Roll each piece into a smooth round ball; place balls in even rows in the prepared pan.
10 .  Cover and let dough balls rise until double in volume, about 1 hour. (Remember if you are using dough that has been refrigerated and is cold this step will take longer).
11 .  Preheat oven to 375°F Bake until rolls are golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
12 .  Brush warm rolls with melted butter, if desired.
13 .  Break rolls apart to serve.

Crafting Through Those Long Days

Recently, more than one person has mentioned to me that they were under the impression that I did crafts with my kids on a daily basis.

That is completely and undeniably false.

For the record, I do not do crafts with my kids every single day!

Okay, I admit that I may have gone a bit overboard for Halloween and Christmas.  But doing crafts with your kids does not make you a better mom.  Seriously!  I do crafts with my kids because I enjoy it.  If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t do it! 🙂  Honestly, doing crafts with my kids help the days go by quicker…which is (sadly) my main motivation at times.  It’s actually quite selfish of me.  But I quickly justify my selfishness because Lizzie truly does nearly constantly beg for me to do crafts with her! 😉

So it all works out perfectly for everyone involved, right?

Like I mentioned, doing crafts with my kids help me get through the sometimes long and monotonous days.  Especially the days in which I know that Jon won’t be coming home until late.

Like today.

I wake up at 5:00 in the morning.  The kids wake up around 6:00.  The days begin super early around our house!  Lizzie is out of school for Spring Break (which I am absolutely LOVING) and aside from helping time move quicker for me, I wanted to do a few crafts with the kids because I knew that Lizzie would enjoy it.

We made these cute little cotton ball bunnies.

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Lizzie wanted to draw eyelashes on hers.  And she also wanted to make sure that the ears were floppy. 🙂

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They painted Easter eggs.  And I didn’t feel like looking for paintbrushes and so they used plastic forks instead! 🙂  I’m sure that they would have turned out more aesthetically pleasing had they used paint brushes…but they had fun anyway. 🙂

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They cut up yarn and glued the pieces to egg-shaped paper.

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They assembled these cute little chicks!  I just quickly cut out the pieces and the kids assembled the chicks onto a piece of construction paper and added some googly eyes and a beak.

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Even after all of that fun…it was only 9:00 in the morning.

I decided to be creative with the kids’ lunches today.  Again, not because I’m trying to be an awesome Mom.  Being creative with food simply helps break up the monotony a bit!  Everything that I do is purely selfish. 🙂

They were served egg-shaped flat bread, decorated with hot dog and string cheese.    The “eggs” are sitting on cucumber grass and I put a few black olive and mandarin orange flowers in the background.  Oh, and I sprinkled some dried cranberries on the plate just for fun. 🙂

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They both gobbled it all up!  Well, I couldn’t get Bryce to eat all of his cucumbers…but he did manage to eat a few! 🙂

For dessert, they got to eat one of these birds nests that we had made the day before:

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We make these every year around Easter time.  I usually use chow-mien noodles, but the bag that I had just purchased from Wal-mart a few days ago had already expired and the noodles tasted like dust.  Yuck!  So we used cheerios instead.  I just melted 2 cups of chocolate chips, mixed it in with some cheerios, and then the kids helped me form little “nests” and they placed a few robin eggs in each nest.

Lizzie looks forward to these nests every year!

Anyway, the kids are now in bed (obviously, or else I would not be writing this blog post).  Jon should be coming home soon.

Even though it was a late day for Jon, I had a great day.  I had fun with my kids.  We went to the library.  We visited Grandma for a bit.  We played outside in our beautiful backyard.  We watched a few episodes of “Super Why!” (Bryce’s new favorite show).  We ate.  I kissed a few boo-boo’s.  I filled up Bryce’s sippy cup with water no less than 200 times…seriously.  I wiped bums.  I disciplined.  I changed diapers.  I worried that Mason is going to dehydrate.   I helped tie shoes.  I read books.  I sang songs.  I counted to 10.  I counted to 10.  I counted to 10…again.  I took a few deep breaths.  I read 2 apology notes from Lizzie.  I brushed the kids’ teeth.  I worried.  I prayed.  I played.  I hugged.  I kissed.  I loved.

I am so blessed to be a Mother!

Even if I have to do crafts with my kids every now and then to help me get through the day, there truly is nothing greater.

Look! My Telescope!

I have been meaning to blog about this for a while.  Not because anyone else will care about it, but because I just think that it’s so stinkin’ cute and I want to record it for the sake of posterity! 🙂

As I have mentioned before, Bryce is obsessed with pirates and anything that has to do with pirates (swords, telescopes, swords, treasure, swords, and swords).  The first thing he has done every single morning for the past year or so (after peeling his pee-soaked pajamas off of himself, of course) is put on his pirate hat and grab his sword and telescope.

He has had a few “real” telescopes (I’m talking about the cheap kind that we find at the dollar store) but their lifespan hasn’t lasted longer than a few weeks, unfortunately.  As such, I have made it a habit to give Bryce the paper towel roll after all of the paper towels have been used up.  He has had in his possession countless numbers of these paper towel roll “telescopes”.  Like the cheap dollar store telescopes, however, they don’t last long.  Mason usually ends up getting a hold of it and chewing it up.  I often end up throwing his beloved paper towel roll telescopes in the trash after Bryce has drifted off to sleep.

In the morning, after Bryce has looked long and hard for his telescope, he finally spots it.

“Look, Mommy!  I found my telescope!”

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Yep.  He is under the impression that I wrap paper towels around his telescope.  On purpose.  Just to make him frustrated.

I can’t help but laugh every single time that he says this.  He is always so elated to have finally found his telescope!  He frantically grabs the paper towel roll and starts to take the paper off of it.  I always have to stop him, of course.

But not after I get a good chuckle out of the absolute hilariousness of the situation.

I love my Brycie-boy!

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