Saturday, January 24, 2015

Phase Two (Getting in Shape)

Today, I began "Phase Two" of  my goal to get in shape and lose thirty before I'm thirty! I've come a long way on this journey already which began in September. Phase one, I focused on my eating habits only. I may do a few posts giving tips about how I got to where I am now. I can't believe I am within just a few pounds of my goal weight, but it's not really about the number anymore!

I want to be strong and healthy for me, my hubby, and my three growing boys! I want them to see a woman making good choices and overcoming things that once seemed impossible. They need it as much as I do.

As part of my goal, I've decided to run in a local race that has sort of always been on my "bucket list," - Bloomsday! It's just over 7 miles, something I've never done, and it's got a killer hill that everyone calls "doomsday hill." I'm up to the challenge, and it will give me something to keep going and striving for.

My husband has also agreed to run it with me, which frankly will be a breeze for him. He ran track and cross country in college and high school, but it will be nice to have the support and the company. I know he'll have to hold back, there's no way I'll be able to run it in any sort of competitive time, but that's not what it's about, after all!

A few weeks ago, I got these awesome new running shoes! Who would have thought that Skechers makes some decent training shoes? They are so comfortable, and I love the hot pink! Totally empowering!

I went on my first training run this evening just before the sun went down. Just a short one, a little over one mile... but I am already feeling it! I have a lot of work to do! The weather was decent, still cold, but good for running, low forties. My lungs didn't appreciate it, though. I can still feel the cold down in my chest. My husband tells me it will go away with more practice, and my lungs will get stronger.

I have about four months to train for the race, which is the first Sunday in May. I am hoping to slowly add miles to my practice runs, and be able to get in a few long 7 mile runs before then!

Day one down... many more to go!!!

Friday, January 2, 2015

What is The World's Story About? Thoughts about My Grandma's Life and Passing

                                                                Barbara Jane Millar
                                                              ("Grandma Millar")

         "A child may ask. "What is the world's story about?" And a grown man or woman may wonder, "What way will the world go? How does it end, and while we're at it, what's the story about?"
          "I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught- in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too- in a net of good and evil.I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have only the hard, clean questions : Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well-or ill?"

                                        John Steinbeck- East of Eden

               No one can really say it better than Steinbeck. I guess when someone dies, I always find myself thinking about life and those hard, clean questions. What is the point? Why are we here? Are we making a difference? Is it for good?
              My Grandma wasn't just someone who died, she was my Grandma. I didn't know everything about her, but her hard questions, I think can be answered easily, though they really aren't for me to answer. I remember her mostly as a storyteller. She loved to sit around and talk about people, usually people I didn't know, but they were her people. I think she loved people more than I ever knew. I also think she touched more lives than I will ever know. She had her master's in education... I guess you could say little people were her specialty.
             But to me, the best thing that she gave this world, was my mom. And because of that. I know my Grandma must have been brilliant. My mom is anything, but ordinary, and some of that must have come from my Grandma.  She is kind and ambitious. She does the impossible ten times over. She is humble and generous, a tower of strength and a refuge whenever I need her.  She is the queen of resourcefulness (never buy anything, she tells me, I might have it already, or if not, I can probably make it)! My mom can make anything... out of nothing! I've always thought she could have chosen any profession and succeeded, but she chose the most humble, and in many ways the most important- just like her mom- a teacher! Where would we be without teachers? However, my mom isn't a regular teacher, and I have to assume that my Grandma wasn't either. The impact left of students will never leave, and in that way, somewhere out in the world my Grandma is still with us through the changes she left on the lives of others.
           My Grandma was many things, some of which I am still learning and hearing new stories! I think she would have liked getting to know her grand kids more. We got to see her on a "good" day a few weeks before she passed. She was in the hospital for a UTI, and I just had this feeling that we needed to stop by with some flowers. The boys helped me pick some out (cheerful purple gerbera daisies) and we were able to deliver them to her room. She was awake and in a happy mood when we came in. She didn't know who we were, but was still glad for the company. I sat with her and helped her eat her lunch. She told me funny stories that must have been about her own kids. I think she was remembering or thinking it was back then, instead of the present time.  She was talking about behavior issues and how important it is to keep those kids in line! She made me laugh several times during that visit, and she shared a smile with me too. I got to tell her that I loved her, and I will never forget that day.
          What is the world's story about? I think it is about moments like that one with my Grandma. That last light in her eyes, a smile of innocence and genuineness, and good, moments filled with so much good and love.
           I am going to end my thoughts about Grandma, with the following quote. We forget the simplicity of life and it's purpose sometimes, and I think this is fitting:

          "Child, though I am meant to teach you much,
           what is it, in the end,
            except that together we are
           meant to be children
           of the same Father,
           and I must unlearn
           all the adult structure
           and the cumbering years
           and you must teach me
           to look at the earth and the heaven
           with your fresh wonder."
                                          -Jane Tyson Clement

I wish I had the right words to say about her. I wish I could be more of a comfort to my mom, who I know is missing her so much. All I know, is that now she finally has peace and rest. You are loved, Grandma.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Moments!

Having kids makes Christmas 100 times more magical! The anticipation, excitement, and pure joy is something only children can create with sheer innocence. Here are a few of our favorite moments over Christmas this year!!!

Owen's first gift of Christmas: a special Ninja Turtle Drawing and Activity book!

Elijah's first gift of Christmas: A Batman watch!

Lunch with the kiddo's Great Grandparents!

A game of Checkers with Aunt Jenny.

Uncle James shows Owen how to play pool.

A couple of cold sisters huddled after seeing the eagles soar over the lake!
 We live in an amazing place!!!

Christmas dinner!

Christmas dinner at the kid's table!

Cousins in their Jammies!

Green Lantern became an instant beloved gift!

My littlest critter, reading Little Critter with his Little Critter!

William (and all the other kids) really loved this toy!

Me and my three boys!

We had William open the pots and pans first... and then showed him where he could put them... Check out the cuteness!

What a Very Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Toddler Kitchen DIY! Merry Christmas!

A couple of months ago, when I started thinking about Christmas, I decided William (our 2 year old) would really love a little kitchen. He is always at my knees when I am cooking, and sometimes can be kept occupied by a box of spoons and pans, etc. But how much better would it be if he had his very own little kitchen to play with!

Of course, I wanted to make it myself! Knowing my boys, those plastic ones wouldn't last long, and just aren't as cool, (or as boy friendly). I wanted to make a kitchen that was built for boys, sturdy, fun, and with everything a kitchen needs!

I will take you through some pictures to tell the story of how our lovely little kitchen came to be.

After searching craigslist... and a few contacts falling through (can't rely on strangers, I guess... ha ha) we found this table for $20. It was a little more than I wanted to pay, but it was the perfect size for this project, and it worked out for us to get it.

Step one: we cut a hole for the "sink."

Here is what it looks like with the sink in the hole. We found this metal bowl at the thrift store, and made the hole just barely smaller than it. I like the effect!
Note: keep those extra wood pieces in mind for the last picture I am going to share with you.

For the faucet:
We looked at several options, including a real faucet, but all were too expensive, even at thrift stores and used places. This is a plumbing part. I thought it looked like a faucet... especially after we spray painted it metallic silver! (which works really well in a paper bag, by the way)! It won't move like a real faucet, but it does the job!

The oven door!
I was so excited to find this perfect piece! It was on a coffee table of some kind looking like it was headed for the dump, outside a thrift store. Yep, they were going to toss it, and gave us the whole table for fifty cents! I love a good deal! I kind of wanted to keep the original hardware, but that little knob thing wouldn't open and close like an oven, and I thought would be too complicated for a toddler. So it had to go.

After taking off the hardware, I taped the sides of the glass, then taped a paper bag over the glass to prevent any paint from getting on it.

Here's the fabulous silver metallic spray paint job!

Back to the table itself... we sanded it, and decided to spray paint it a plain white. Boring, I know. It was tempting to do a real pop of color, but we agreed on white. It is classic.

I have to say, it looks pretty great all spray painted!

Here are all the parts layed out before we put them on. We found most of them at the Habitat for Humanity store for very cheap. Two sink knobs, two stove knobs, the oven pull, and three hooks for the side to hang things on.

This is just a close up of where things are going. I found it helpful to mark each thing, so hubby knew where to drill. We worked as a great team on this, which made it even more exciting and special!

Here is a close up of the top before the faucet it on. I traced a small bowl to get the burner sizes, and then used some grey paint to give it a swirl design. The knobs are on. I left them a little unscrewed so that they can remain moveable- to turn "off" and "on."

Ta-da! here it is all finished!!! The front view! Doesn't the door look great?
the sink shelf has some storage space so I put a few bowls with play-food on it.

I had to have a magnet board on the side! the kids love playing with magnets, so it seemed the perfect thing to add! The hardware store sells small sheets like this one for pretty cheap... $4 or $5?

I made a few little pot holders to go on the hooks out of placemats from the dollar store! And I love this little cream cup that we found at the thrift store! So cute, right!

And now, if you remember those extra pieces of wood that I referenced earlier... this is what we used those for! The hole that was cut for the sink, left us with the pieces, and I just saw pizza instantly! A little red paint, and some white puff fabric paint, and you've got a cheese pizza! I added some mod podge just to coat it. I think it all turned out pretty cute!

I cannot wait to give it to our little William on Christmas!!! We also got a few extra pans and wrapped them up for him! Now he will have the perfect little spot to play.

I may have to post a few pictures of him using it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The baby Weight... uhg!!!

Two years, ago Martin found me crying in the closet. It was a Saturday morning, and I was trying to find something to wear. Nothing fit. William was only a couple months old, and it was getting too cold for my summer maternity clothes, besides the fact that I wanted desperately to be done with them! The frustration of it all mixed with my crazy hormones had me in a puddle on the floor, completely hopeless.
Then my sweet, good intention driven husband suggested we get some new clothes that would fit. To me that felt like more defeat. I wanted to fit into the clothes that were already in my closet, the clothes that belonged to my previous body. That however, couldn't possibly be a reality. The body I was in had other requirements. Constant access to the boobs, for one. Let's face it, not every shirt allows for that. Some of this was familiar, obviously. This was my third baby, it should be "old hat," right? Wrong. The emotions that came with dealing with all of this felt brand new, though I knew they would come and I knew the frustrations of nothing fitting, and wanting to be back to a size that fits into something with a waist. Still, the hopelessness was overwhelming.
Finally, I allowed Martin to coax me into going to a thrift store to look for something to wear. I felt too guilty buying new clothes for this weird in-between phase that my body was going through. This is by far the worst body phase. No longer looking cute pregnant, but kind of fat pregnant because the belly is still there and the extra pounds that have distributed themselves... everywhere haven't gone away.
The thrift store didn't really help. I actually felt more depressed, because I had to buy a size larger than I had ever bought before. I obviously couldn't shop in the maternity section anymore, so moving up in size was the only option. oy. that was tough! but I got through it. I guess I have always had some body issues, what woman doesn't?
On the good days, though, the days when I could stay in my sweats and recognize the beauty and the miracle of what my body had gone through, those were the days that got me through. I reminded myself that my body was strong, that for ten whole months it provided the perfect place for the little life that I now snuggled in my arms. The body that fit into nothing, also provided important nourishment all day long for the newest love in my life. After that, it was about giving myself grace and time. I let myself off the hook, forgot about what other people might be saying or thinking, and just loved being at home with my baby.

Eventually I started to fit into things again, but it has been a long, hard road. It has taken so much longer than it did with my other two! After Elijah, I hardly tried at all, and I was back to my high school weight before getting pregnant again with Owen. I guess, with each kid a little more weight hangs on to those hips and middle. After William, I stayed at the same weight that I was when he was six weeks old for nearly two years!

I wish I could go back in time and give myself advice. I guess that is why I am writing this post, and also in hopes of encouraging other women that it can be done, but it doesn't have to be done instantly! I would go back to that morning, that terrible morning when I felt like I would never again fit into anything, and I would sit next to myself and say, "you are a strong and beautiful mother, and you are exactly what you are suppose to be right now for your children." Sometimes, I think that is all we need to hear.
I think we also need to give each other a break. Why do we even think about making an effort to lose any weight in the first year after having a baby? I have found the best way to spend that year, is tackling all of those firsts with your baby, learning how to breastfeed, keep a sleep schedule, and your sanity. I wish that we didn't live in a society that cares so much about weight and appearances, because I too, am susceptible to it.

I am proud to say that two years later... I have decided to get my act together. About 6 weeks ago I changed my eating habits and I am on my way to a goal of health and fitness that I now feel is attainable. I have lost a few pounds, and I would love to sit next to that past self, and tell her the good news... just hang in there, two years from now you'll fit into those jeans, I promise!!! Ha ha ha!

Though some days we all feel bad about ourselves, that's only human, I think we can always encourage each other about our purpose, about the things that matter far more than fitting into a pair of jeans.  Wherever you are on your motherhood journey, I wish you luck, and hope you won't ever have a morning spent crying in the closet over your beautiful body that has given life to someone. but if you do, I want to let you know, that it's okay. And it only gets better.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Gift of Christmas (yes, I'm talking about Christmas in October)!

What is it about Christmas that makes us feel all warm and cheery? I saw a row full of "Christmas" at Target today, and it unexpectedly made me long for that time of year that is just around the corner. The wreaths and the mistletoe, the red and green everything, the sparkly letters spelling out "Joy" or "Peace," it all made me sigh with sentimental delight.

Then I thought about why I love Christmas so much. For me, it's the time when everything slows down, for once. In my family growing up, Christmas break was really the best time of year because we were ALL on Christmas break. My parents taught school, so our breaks, were there breaks. It was truly a time of relaxing for everyone.

Some nights we would stay up eating ice cream out of jam jars and watching a good family movie, or playing one of the new board games we got for Christmas. We could sleep in, or wake up early to watch some cartoons, but whatever we did, we were together. The years that it snowed, we would take advantage. We didn't have all the gear that my kids get the privilege of having. I remember layering socks and pants, and then using a garbage bag to slide around on the snow. New Mexico rarely had enough snow to make a snow man, but one year, we got so much snow our Labrador got lost jumping in it! We built tunnels in the snow that year!

What else is it about Christmas that warms our hearts? Christmas morning is the best! Now if you try to think back to all the Christmas mornings you've had, I bet you can't remember every single gift you have received, but I bet you can remember how you felt. It's not really about the presents, despite what my kids tell me, it's the faces all around the room lit up with joy and love, those same words I saw sparkling back at me in the store this morning. I remember that slowed pace of Christmas morning. For our family it was never a rushed thing with paper flying everywhere. We gave each person a turn to be the center of attention. For some reason this made it seem more special and important. I especially loved watching my dad give gifts to my mom. One year he got her a new comforter for their bed. I think she was surprised, and I will never forget the blissful look on her face, like, wow he got it right this year... I love him so much!

I love pretty much everything about Christmas. The movies that come on every year that I have seen a zillion times. The music, which I might be listening to as I am writing this. The decorations!!! The snow, that comes at just the right time in this part of the country. The cozy days with a warm cup of something... coffee, cider, oh the possibilities! And of course, the opportunities that arise. Sometimes it's just an opening to talk about the greatest story ever told - our Savior! Sometimes it's the opportunity to help someone who's heart has been softened by the season, Sometimes it's those priceless conversations with my kids that happen because of something going on, or something they have heard.

I love the old traditions of my family and the way we grew up having Christmas, but I also love making new traditions with my little family. Sometimes it's hard to balance that, and fit in a visit with all sides of the families too, but in any case I can't help feeling the glow when I see those little hints of Christmas start to pop up. Some of you probably feel quite the opposite, and that's okay too. I'm home alone right now, and no one knows I'm listening to Christmas music and fantasizing about skipping right over Halloween and Thanksgiving just to get to that little piece of peace.

Someday my kids will look back the way that I do now, not remembering the gifts of Christmas, but I think they will remember the Gift of Christmas, and that is what really stirs up longings in me.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Happy Eighth, Elijah!

This boy turned EIGHT, last Thursday! It's the same every year, it always feels impossible no matter which child it is, and no matter what age they are turning. Eight seems big to me. Now he's in a whole new age bracket... and only one age bracket away from the teenager one! Eek! You know, 8-12. It's a fun age bracket too, though. I was very excited to put some things together for his birthday, some of which he won't appreciate or fully enjoy until he is much older. But I feel like this age is the beginning of true independence. searching, and a journey into becoming a young adult. I wanted to help him start his journey off right through a few special gifts. 

This is him opening his lego tool. For a long time now he has been using his teeth to separate the blocks, which drives me crazy, so this is a brick separator tool.

This book (above) "The Dangerous Book For Boys," is awesome! Okay, I have been eyeing it for some time, and knew that I wanted it for my boys, but once I brought it home, I almost wanted to keep it for myself! It has a little bit of everything in it from science experiments, to adventure stories, to how to master morse code, and speak Navajo. It has key history stories about our country, games, and poems that every boy should memorize. I realize that it may be a little hefty for an 8-year-old, but I think as the years go on, he will really learn to love it!
So on the very first page, there is an essentials list... things that every boy should have. It gave me an idea to collect all of these things and put them together as a gift to go along with the book. Finding everything on that list was a little trickier than I had first thought, but I got it done, after searching all over town and online. We even found this special lock box, to store it all in. 

Here is what the box included: a swiss army knife (I was a little apprehensive about this one, but we figured since it will be locked up, and rules made, it would be okay), a compass, a flashlight, bandaids, a box of matches(again, I know giving matches to a little boy -eek-)! a handkerchief (I love the idea of this, and all of it really, being so traditional)  a needle and thread, and a marble shooter.
He was so excited about all of it! And really he is a very responsible kid. I'm more worried about his little brothers, hence the lock code on the box.

After we gave him his essentials kit, daddy had a special few words to say to him about what is truly essential and important in life. He read a verse from the Bible, and added it to Elijah's kit.

This is the face of getting something he actually asked for... you would never guess... an electric pencil sharpener. Yep, he's a little quirky. I guess all that manual labor of turning the pencil over and over was really getting him down!

This was sweet. Owen had drawn him a few pictures for his birthday, this is him explaining them. I think he drew Elijah as a panda or something. He really loves his brother.

Oh yeah, it's my birthday! There are way too many candles on that cake!!!Right?! He can't really be eight! Which, it's not really cake, it's egg-free, dairy-free pumpkin bread. I knew Elijah wouldn't mind, I made it so that William could have some, and I wouldn't have to make a separate one just so that he could have something to enjoy, due to his allergies.

He blew out all the candles. He's officially an eight year old!

So, the next night after his birthday, he got to have a camp-out sleepover with his best buds and their dads. I was tempted to stay and spy on them, but instead William and I stayed at parents house so they could have their boy bonding time without a nose-y mother hanging about.
They had a great time roasting marshmallows, and twinkies, I am told.And telling stories deep into the night, and whatever else boys do...
Ha ha ha!

Eight. Wow. I feel too young to have an eight year old, but it's true! I think he will remember this weekend forever. And the journey begins!