Saturday, February 28, 2015

On being selfish...

About a month ago, my husband asked me, “So, do you still blog?”

It was an innocent question. At the time, my last post was three months prior. Lots had happened in the three months since I had written anything down on my beloved blog. Lots that I would, normally, post about.

“Yes,” I answered him. “I just needed a break.”

He didn’t probe any further, my answer was sufficient for him. But I continued to think about it. And the why behind my simple answer.  I love to write. I love to record my family’s history. I love to sort out my thoughts and emotions not by speaking, but by using those 26 familiar letters.

But it was true, I did need a break. More than that, I needed to be selfish.

Last October I was not in a good place. I was tired. And grumpy. And sad. And overwhelmed. And feeling inadequate. And lonely. And just not enough.

I can’t pinpoint one single reason, but I could give you a list of one thing after another that slowly but surely began to bring me down. One negative thought led to another, and again to another, and another. Things that shouldn’t normally matter weighed upon my shoulders.

I wasn’t as good as this person. I wasn’t as capable as that person. I wasn’t as patient as her. I wasn’t as knowledgeable as him. I wasn’t as fit as I used to be. And I just wasn’t feeling like ME.

So I took a step back and made a decision to be selfish. To focus on myself. To not wallow in my own misery, whether it was real or imaginary. To live by the words of Gordon B. Hinckley, when he said, 
Respect yourself. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Do not dwell on unkind things others may say about you [and I would add or that you may say about yourself]. Polish and refine whatever talents the Lord has given you. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with great and strong purpose in your heart.
I had plenty going for me. I have a handsome, loving, hard working husband. I have two beautiful, strong, courageous daughters. I live in a safe, friendly (albeit cold) community. My daughter goes to a wonderful school where she gets great support. I have a warm house. A working car. If I budget correctly, I have plenty of money each month for the things I need. And despite my destructive thoughts, I was a good, capable, patient, knowledgeable, fit person. But I just felt like I was drifting.

So I let go of some extra things in my life. Some permanently (hopefully). Others just for a time. And I focused on me.

I continued to write, but just for me. With my little pen (PaperMate Flair, medium tip, if you were wondering). In my little notebook.

I joined a fitness challenge where, over the course of 8 weeks, I lost more than 15 pounds (most of which I had gained during my poor-me phase) and gained a lot of strength and confidence. I came in thirteenth place out of 126. (I have to mention that the top 12 got a monetary prize, so I kind of felt like I came in fourth in the Olympics, but that’s a story for another day.)

I worked on a few other personal goals. I checked in on myself daily and weekly. And sometimes hourly. And I improved.

I steadily climbed out of my pit. And hopefully I carried out others I had pulled down with me a few months before. The climb wasn’t easy. Sometimes it hurt. And even though I feel like I’m out of that particular pit, I’m sure there are rocky paths and mud pits and debris on the path ahead. But taking the time to refocus and take care of myself was just what I needed to give me the strength and confidence to continue to carry myself and my two littles up and over and around the mess. And to see the beautiful scenery on the way, which was something I was completely missing.

In the end, being selfish actually helped me to be more aware and more in tune and more selfless for those I need to focus on.

So yes, I still blog. I took a break. To be selfish.

And now, I’m back. 

*I will be filling in some of the gaps from the last few months, simply for my own benefit (hmmm...selfish) and they will be postdated. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

To remember...

Nothing extraordinary here. Just a moment I want to remember. She might be reading Little Miss Naughty (and that might be a book she can relate to well at times), but I always want to remember her still chubby cheeks and fingers, her tiny little toes, her stick-straight hair, how much she loves her red blanket and ugly pink bear. Some days can crawl by and she knows how to push my buttons, but she brings light and joy and life to my days and I'm ever so grateful for her. 

Especially during naptime. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Eight is Great

Eight years ago, this little one surprised us with her arrival a few weeks early. In the eight years since, she has continued to surprise us...and teach us...and humble us...and stretch us...and make our whole world simultaneously crumble to pieces and burst with joy. She is happiness and strength and courage and perseverance and love personified. Happiest of eighth birthdays to our little Leah-licious. 

Kate and I surprised her for lunch at school on Friday. We brought Wendy's (including TWO hamburgers for Leah, which she devoured in no time).  

She was spoiled with presents, but I think her favorites were her horse socks and the card from the Oakes family with 8 things they love about her. 

She loved her 8 cake - and blew out the candles all on her own. There are positives to her heavy breathing, I guess!?! We celebrated with cake and ice cream with our Iowa favorite - the Oakes family!

And one of my favorite things is on their birthdays, kids at Leah's school can pick a book to donate to the school library. Then, once it's all barcoded and in the system, the birthday girl or boy gets to be the very first person to check it out and they get their name in the front. Leah's was a perfect fit and it made us all so happy to read it! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pajama Party

Eight good friends filled our house today to celebrate our sweet eight year old. 

They wore their pajamas, made cereal necklaces, decorated pillow cases, tied simple fleece blankets, opened presents, played Pin the PJs on Leah, ate pancakes and donuts (little sister wasn't allowed at the big table) and doted upon Leah like you would not believe. These are good girls with good hearts and they're good for my heart. I'm so glad they could all come and celebrate our eight year old. 

Based on her giant grin we couldn't wipe off if we tried, I think the birthday girl had a great time.

Now I need a nap! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things

I co-hosted a seriously fun favorite things party with my good friend Jill tonight. It was so much fun! So many wonderful ladies + their favorite things + a rousing (and a little heated) exchange/stealing process = tons of fun.  And hopefully no hurt feelings! 

I, of course, wrapped my gifts in brown paper packages tied up with strings. 

Can't wait to do it again!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Virthday? Balentine's day?

Valentine's Day is a big day in our house. And not because it's the day of love. But because it's dad's day! Ryan is the valentine of all three girls in our house AND it happens to be his birthday! 

We did do some different things to celebrate both of them. 

We frosted cookies (Leah obviously used her computer to tell us what color frosting and sprinkles should go on the used-to-be-monthly-but-recently-annual sugar cookies). 

The girls checked their envelopes for a daily surprise leading up to Valentine's Day. 

We had fun creating our own valentines to give to friends at home and church as well as classmates and teachers/helpers at school. 

This dynamic duo teamed up to create a seriously fabulous valentine box - a monster Leah! Leah was the brains, Ryan the brawn. 

The girls I work with at church gave a "heart attack" to Bishop Moose, the ecclesiastical leader of our congregation. 

Leah had a class party - that Kate was more than happy to attend. 

For Ryan's birthday, we started the day out with my first-ever attempt at eggs Benedict. It was deliciously successful, albeit time consuming. 

We gifted Ryan with a few small items - Kate was happy to open them all. 

The girls also gifted him with naps: the best gift of all. 

We made him his favorite pink cake...and then helped him eat it. 

 And then Ryan and I went out for a hot night on the town - to Village Inn - because when you only have a babysitter for 3 hours and the waits at every restaurant are 3+, you keep it classy.  

Happy 34th birthday and happy Valentine's day to our main squeeze!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wonderfully Wintry W day

Today's preschool lesson was brought to you by the letter W and the number 12. We learned about Winter, working out, ate watermelon, drank water and so much more. And, because Valentine's Day is coming up, they also got to decorate a little bag and exchange cards and treats with one another. 

It was a fun-filled, busy, quick day of learning. I always have so much fun with these kids!  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Frozen and some fabulous friends

Leah went to a fabulous Frozen birthday party today. I'll be honest: sometimes I actually dread the fact that Leah gets invited to birthday parties. I know. Horrible. But it is often such a glaring reminder of all that she can't be. All that she could be if it weren't for Rett. It's extra work for me and I'm pretty sure she doesn't want me hanging at her side at every party and get-together she goes to. It's hard to watch the other parents drive up, drop their kids off and drive away with a few hours to themselves. But, such is life. 

Today, though, was a different story. Leah has such an incredible group of friends. They include her. They help her. They adapt to her needs. They play with her. They talk with her, not at her. Watching these seven year olds adapt to her needs and joyfully include her in every game and craft makes this mom's heart swell. 

Don't mind me. I'll just let these girls take over, step back and snap a picture to remember this moment forever. 

a perfect snow day

Today was a perfect snow day. And I dare say we've earned it this year! 

Lots of snow dumping down this week + warm temps today (I took my coat off!) + a killer hill right in our backyard + great friends = a perfect combination for a great snow day.

So much fun hiking up and racing down, building snow chairs and men and just enjoying time outside without getting frostbite. Thanks for coming, Oakeses! I'll take another day like this, please, Iowa. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


It's pajama day at preschool today. 

Otherwise known as the best day of her life.