Wednesday, February 27, 2013

4 years ago today, at 5:55 a.m.

my world was changed.
the edges of my heart widened to let in more love, something i didn't know was possible.

today was a whirlwind, and i'm worn out.  but i was lucky to spend the day celebrating the life of an intelligent, beautiful, imaginative and silly little girl.  here's the day in pictures.

traditional door decorations:

a preschool field trip to the dairy farm,

where her teacher {my hilarious & awesome friend chelsea}
and her class sang to her:

and she found out that she and farmer joe share the same birthday

she made friends with the sheep,

fed and held some new friends,

let her baby sister come along for the ride,

and posed for pictures.

then she and i came home to play with her new ponies,
and get ready to go to the aquarium.

we picked up her brother and a couple of princess friends along the way,
met her dad there,

and spent a couple of hours admiring the wonders of ocean life.

after the aquarium, 
we had dinner 
and a carousel ride.

the friends were dropped off,
and we came home to open gifts and blow out candles.

in true leah fashion, she went to bed looking like this:

happy 4th birthday, 
leah layne,

the world is a brighter place because you're in it.

your family loves you more than you could know!  
can't wait to see what this year holds for you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

shedding the weight.

{one of my new favorite treats--frozen fruit in almond milk}

about 8 years ago when we were living in rexburg, my friend andrea, my mom and myself went to a few classes offered for BYU-Idaho's education week.  our curiosity was peaked by one that was specifically targeted for using the gospel to help with weight loss.  we sat down in the back of the classroom, opened up our scriptures and notebooks, waiting to hear the secrets of dropping pounds that the speaker would bestow upon us.  

within 5 minutes, we were each looking at each other, snickering and rolling our eyes. 15 minutes into the class, we quietly snuck out of the back doors.  once we were out, we started talking about how ridiculous the lady teaching sounded, directing us that when we desired to eat a cookie, to reach past the cookie to pick up our scriptures and "feast upon the word" instead, asking ourselves, what am i hungry for?  how can i fill myself up spiritually and emotionally rather than physically?

feeling she was quite possibly insane, we dismissed the 15 minutes of her lecture.  

when mama wants a cookie, she's gettin' a cookie!  i thought to myself.  sidenote:  sometimes i call myself 'mama.' 

well,  i get to eat a piece of humble pie, pun intended.  one made of leaks and kale and other leafy greens.

because today i am 30 pounds lighter than i was at this same time, last year.  

i didn't do this with pills, or surgery, or an addiction to green tea or caffeine.  it has come off slowly, sometimes the scale going back up before it's gone down again.  it started when i decided to finally do something about my addiction to sugar.  it was something i can say i really REALLY didn't want to do, because oh how i love my sugar.  it's been my best friend for...about 30 years or so.  but my best friend was only offering me outside comfort and immediate gratification instead of long-lasting nutrition and deep-down fulfillment.  

so last march, i decided to go off of refined sugars for 40 days.  i wanted to do it to prove to myself i could.  i have never touched alcohol, smoking or drugs in my entire life--the main reason being that i didn't want to put something into my body that could control me.  where i could wake up the next day and not remember things, or have details become fuzzy...that thought scared me.  not to mention i had raging addicts on both sides of my family, i knew i was probably predispositioned to head down the same destructive path.

and yet even without those other substances, i realized i was an addict of the worst form--the one who was in denial--feeling i was the exception to the rule.  i could walk the line, eating whatever i wanted, whenever i wanted to without repercussions.  in fact, diets made me angry and i stood in judgement of those who were perpetual dieters.  i didn't want to live that way, constantly depriving myself of the things i wanted in order to have a smaller waistline so i could feel better about myself.  i wanted to either love and embrace my body just the way it was, or to have an amazing body and lightning fast metabolism because i just did, like some of the friends and family i had around me.  like a 2 year old with a temper tantrum, inside i was yelling it's not fair!   to prove to myself how unfair it was, i ate sugar wherever and whenever i wanted to, and lied to myself that it was all in the name of "loving and accepting my body" when it really never was that.  

the truth is, i just didn't want to admit i was out of control.  

but last year, i had a moment when something inside told me that i had been fooling myself all along.  maybe before that moment i hadn't been ready to see it, ready to admit that i had a problem.  

i made my announcement publicly, wanting witnesses to help hold myself accountable.  those 40 days were surprisingly easy and surprisingly hard.  easy in the way that i realized i actually could say no to my best friend without feeling guilty.  guilt became replaced with empowerment.  the hard part was realizing just how addicted i actually was.  there were days when i would see something sugary in the cupboards or on the counter and i would obsess about it.  i could not get it out of my head for hours, sometimes days.  then i would get mad again, realizing just how much it was consuming my thoughts.  

and the ironic thing is?  when the obsessive thoughts got really bad....i reached for spiritual or emotional outlets.  whether it was through prayer or calling a friend, or emotionally investing more into my kids and husband.  by reaching out in this way, i found myself on the other side of obsession. i also did affirmations and wrote some of the most emotionally difficult blog posts during this time.  

so i guess that lady in rexburg knew what she was talking about so many years ago.  during the 40 days i lost 8 pounds.  

after it was over, i celebrated with a homemade chocolate chip cookie i had frozen and saved for myself for just this moment.  i didn't want to have to live completely without sugar for my entire life, but instead wanted to find a way to balance it without letting it take control of me again.

since that time i have done another 30 day sugar fast, for the same reasons as the first time.  to keep myself in check after my willpower lost all power during the holidays.  

i still love sugar, and still consume it, but it's in much smaller quantities and i'm constantly checking my emotional state when i'm eating it, searching to see if there's something else i'm avoiding while replacing it for a quick fix of physical satisfaction.

so i'm sitting here, typing this, 30 pounds lighter than i was this january of last year.  i can now see how much losing emotional weight coincides with the losing the physical. the emotional weight came first--fighting to gain control over my thoughts, actions and addictions, becoming vulnerable with not only myself but also publicly, continuing to work on codependency and self-worth issues with loving affirmations and positive thoughts.  

the shedding has taken both emotional and physical work, but today i'm sitting in jeans that are 4 sizes lower than what i was this time last year, and like myself a lot more too. the emotional shedding came first, and in my personal opinion is the one that matters most, because i was healing from the inside out.  but honestly, both feel amazing.

Monday, February 25, 2013


it's only monday and this week is already going by too fast.  is that even possible?  maybe it's my tendency to pre-stress about what's ahead, wanting it all to go smoothly.  a lot of good things, but just a lot, coming from someone who likes to run a low profile most of the time.

we're starting caleb in baseball tomorrow and we're all pretty excited about it.  this is one sport that might come easily for him, we play a lot of it in the backyard and he's great at hitting the ball....we'll see how the rest goes.

leah's birthday is on wednesday, and that day is packed full, starting with a field trip with her preschool to a dairy farm, then taking she and a couple of her friends to the aquarium, then dinner, presents and cake with the family.  the only thing she's put in a request for is dolphin cupcakes for her field trip and a my little pony cake for her party.  i think she's on a secret mission to cramp my brilliant idea of a store-bought birthday.

thursday i'm going to meet up with some family for lunch, and then somewhere in between these extra things along with the usual, i need to do laundry and pack because on friday afternoon i fly out to the lovely city of provo, utah!  i'm so excited about the weekend, to spend time with my sister and to meet my new nephew {who is doing much better, home from the NICU last week}.  i'm using allegiant airlines, which i initially thought was going to be so much less expensive...that is until i had to pay for my seat both ways and all of the luggage i'm bringing with me, it sure added up quickly.  sneaky.

anyway, here are a few more pictures from a rainstorm a couple of weeks ago.  we've had more rain this winter than i can remember since we've lived here--and a snowstorm last week!--and the kids {and I} have been in heaven.  our backyard turns into massive puddles and i spend most of my time trying to keep june from lapping up the water on the ground like a little puppy.

my goal to get through this week and keep it all together is to get to bed at a decent time.  is 11 pm decent for anyone else?  for me it's nothing short of a miracle.

i've been up late every night for the past 3 weeks or so working on something that i'm excited about, but won't share yet.   there is something to the "out of my comfort zone" theme for 2013.  so far it's pushed me to do things i normally wouldn't have the hootspa to even consider, let alone actually DO.

karaoke, for one:

{singing "somebody to love" with clancy.  the expression on my face here kills me, it looks like i'm in pain, i'd like to think it was taken when i was belting out a high note and just really 'getting into it.'}

yep, it happened.  i was terrified, even though i was singing to a bunch of drunk people at a bar at 1 o'clock in the morning who i knew i'd most likely never see again.  i was still terrified.

which just reminded me that i've never written about my weekend with rachel and clancy!  so like me...sigh.  another time, i'm supposed to be in bed in 28 minutes and need to wrap up this random post.

wishing you a fantastic week!

Friday, February 22, 2013

what did i ever come here for?

i've been playing this song on repeat today:

it's no secret i'm a brandi carlile lover, but i was {kind of} disappointed with her latest CD, only a couple of songs though.  they just weren't recorded as raw as i'm used to hearing from her.... "hard way home" in particular, because i listened to her live recording before i heard the version on the CD and it just felt watered-down.  but other songs were perfect, this one in particular.

needless to say, i'm still a fan.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

the greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.

{woke up to roses, truffles and a hand written poem...a throwback to several years ago, when all ben gave to me for "the day of love" was a card about skunks farting--and he didn't even sign it! this year he surprised me with traditional gifts, yet still managed to sneak the humor in.  totally my style.}

i kept starting new posts to try to come up with something creative related to valentine's day.  like last year, writing about the day we fell in love, before we even knew we had.  or love letters to my kids, or something equally exciting...but i'm drawing a blank.

i know there are a lot of skeptics about valentine's day, and for the most part, i'm not a high maintenance girl when it comes to celebrating this one.  even though they're great and appreciated, i don't need flowers and chocolates and expensive gifts.  it has been low-key for us partly due to our financial situation, partly due to ben choosing to work in a field that requires long--and often overnight--hours (especially on holidays), partly because we have three children...but also because we're both satisfied with the low-key.

i'm not a skeptic though.  there are plenty of days for skepticism.  i love celebrating this one, it reminds me how much love is in my life.  i know it is not a small thing, and not always an easy thing.  relationships are tricky, layered and complicated.  i know as my kids grow, these sweet and often sloppy kisses are going to become few and far between.  so, i focused on really spending time with them and for them today.

caleb may not remember how we read together and played outside this afternoon, or how he was hugged goodnight, then held by the cheeks while staring into his eyes and thanking him for what a good boy he is.  leah may not remember that she wore a valentine's shirt that was bought just for her because i know how much she loves hearts and to feel pretty.  she won't remember how many times she was helped in and out of the bathroom today or how she was given  4 different types of kisses (butterfly, eskimo, frog and bird) when she was tucked in (for the 10th time) tonight.  and june most likely won't remember how we shopped in the mall together today, sharing a pretzel and water while counting her fingers and pointing out other babies as they passed us by.  and when we heard one of her favorite songs, how we started dancing between the racks of clothes, while strangers watched.  she won't remember laughing as  she was being tickled on my bed and when i asked her for a kiss, she leaned over, making her "mmmmmuwah!" sound, and i took a picture to freeze this moment in time for me.

and ben may not remember that all 3 kids were taken to the grocery store right at dinner time (one of my least favorite things to do) to buy the food to make the amazing steak and asparagus meal that was cooked just for him.  or how we talked about how funny our kids are, and the crazy teenager he had to administer psychiatric testing on today.  how we lay in bed warm under the covers, looking at pictures of the dream house we want to someday build ours after, talking about the things we'd change and those we'd keep the same.

i try to close my eyes and take snapshots of these moments, to hold onto them so they can stay in my memory long after they pass.  but every day the sun sets and the moon rises and these memory snapshots fade.  these flashes of my life surrounded by four other people are what mold and create the feelings we have, the relationships that are continuing to form.

i hope today they could feel how much i love them.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

learning to breathe.

this past weekend was amazing, in its entirety.  exhausted both emotionally and physically, i started monday morning with a sleep-deprived hangover, already missing the two girls i had only spent a few days with, but who helped bring to words another fork in my road.  i was changed by these two and their courage and love.  more about that later.

last night my sister gave birth to a sweet little boy who was eager to greet the world, 3 weeks early.

baby gideon.
{gid-gidoni, giddy-up, baby G--
i have a feeling the nicknames from his
soon-to-be favorite aunt are going to be endless.}

he is struggling to breathe, but all signs point to him completely recovering, which helps the rest of us to inhale and exhale with reassurance.  

i was kept up to date with phone calls and texts, and a video my brother sent me.  it was the video that put me over the edge, listening to his little moan, watching his body work so hard.  tears began streaming down my face and all i could think of were the words of one of the most beautiful things i have ever read, written only a few months earlier by this little boy's mother.  

i spoke to her last night on the phone.  she sounded weary and peaceful.  the peaceful part took me by surprise; my sister and i have spent much of our lives on the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum--she, able to express easily, me not so much {something which has vastly changed in the past couple of years, i'm like a dripping faucet these days}.  while i became an emotional stuffer, remaining calm and collected on the outside and forcing down unwanted emotions on the inside, my sister expressed them easily and passionately.  it is something i have grown to love most about her.  so naturally i expected panic and fear given the circumstances she was facing, accompanied with weeping.  she had only been able to hold sweet baby G for a few moments before he was whisked away to face the tubes and needles awaiting him.  the peace expressed in her voice as she spoke of her experience and what was ahead for the next couple of weeks floored me.  

after hanging up the phone, i tried to make sense of it.  the tables had been somehow turned, as her soothing voice helped dry the tears that had been streaming down my face.  i wondered if this was the adrenaline rush after having a baby, or denial, or if she was just trying to stay strong for her other children and husband.

but then i remembered, i am not foreign to babies with tubes, IV's in tiny hands, and the beeping of monitors.  this is how caleb spent much of his first 18 months of life.  i remember others weeping around me as i stayed close to his little body, worried but surprisingly calm.  i felt somehow removed, and questioned myself as to whether or not i was really "dealing" with all that was going on.  

i can remember the feeling of a weight being lifted off of my shoulders each time he was admitted to the hospital.  typing that out now, i realize how strange it must sound to others.  but i felt so unprepared for caleb.  being my first child, i literally had no idea what i was doing, it was all guesswork at that point.  i had no others to compare him to, but something felt wrong from the start, deep down in my mom-gut, only i didn't know how to listen to it back then.  i was terrified when they sent him home with us without a stay in the NICU, with his little feeding tube and tiny, 4 1/2 lb body.  "the experts" said he passed his tests with flying colors, and then handed their torch down to ben and i.  

each time we had to bring him back in, for countless tests for 3 days ("the works" is what our pediatrician called it), then back in at 2 1/2 mos when he had spinal meningitis for 3 more days, then all of the procedures, sedations, blood draws and working with specialists, i felt peace handing him over to those who had been educated and trained to know more than i did.

that was the mother i was then.  young, naive, terribly afraid.  unable to trust my instincts because of the guilt that crept around my heart if i had made a mistake, if i had waited too long to take him in, or didn't take his cries seriously enough.  i understand how baby gideon feels, because i had my own struggle while learning how to breathe, relying on outside sources to force the air in and out as i grew and gained strength.

i sat there after this phone call with my sister and could see how much i had changed.  i was not crying out of fear for my new nephew and all of the what-if's, because i have stopped spending my energy on things i cannot control.  no longer a mother of fear, i have evolved along the way to a mother who has surrendered and is trying to live life based on listening to that deep-down feeling.  i'm all heart these days, it seems, breathing deeply and praying through each choice i make.  

i cried because i knew she and her new baby only had moments to be able to meet before he was taken, and that she hasn't been able to touch him since.  i know she will soon, but i cried for the loss of those first couple of days, the piece of heaven that hangs in the air above any sleeping newborn, reaching out and extending to those who are in their presence.  the whisper of the beginning of life, and the hope of the beauty that is to come to this fresh, new soul.  

this little guy knows a different beginning, one with its own piece of heaven and a fight for survival.  he is blessed to come to the home of a seasoned, loving mother.  and though she aches to hold him, she listens to the deep-down voice that tells her that time will come.  so while there is sadness, there is peace.

i get to fly out to meet him on the first weekend of march, and i can't wait.  to inhale his sweet baby smell, kiss his chubby cheeks and watch his tiny chest move up and down, as he continues to breathe.
welcome to the world, baby boy.  you are loved more than you know.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

a weekend for the soul.

i am here in the sunshine with this lady and this lady for the weekend.  there has been equal parts of laughter and tears, of the good kind.  conversation that ranges from the surface, to political, to the deep heart-burning questions and fears of the spirit.

so far we've stayed awake until the sun has peeked over the horizon, wandered the streets of tempe, eaten delicious gyros, met andrea for dinner and a movie {les mis--i went into the ugly cry--so good}, and taken ridiculous pictures of us leaping and cartwheeling through our hotel.

this is what my life has come to, with friendships.  learning to love myself has brought an ease of opening up that has never existed before, because before needed boundaries and space.  i can provide that for myself now without fear of another taking more than i can give, and it's an incredible thing, to feel free to give and receive more love without walls.

today holds a hike, massage, and then dinner and possibly??  karaoke.  yep, singing in front of a crowd, continuing with the "out of my comfort zone" for 2013.  living with this thought in mind has already changed me, and we're only february 2.  makes me so excited for what the next 10 months hold.

i don't want this weekend to end so i'm going to hold on to every little piece while it lasts.

also? i read this last week and was moved by it. 

"No matter the strikes against me, I am going to worship God. That is how I fight the lies. That is how I know He still works in me."

happy weekend!!