Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What a beautiful ride

I once told Adam that 2009 was the hardest year I'd ever experienced. My stepmom's diagnosis of cancer, Adam getting laid off multiple times, and my worst CF exacerbation to date were just a few of the things that made it such a difficult time. But it was also the year that I got to experience the miracle of being pregnant and bringing my little angel into this world. Even with all the hard things we endured, we had so much to be thankful for.  

I dare say that this year has rivaled 2009 as far as loss and heartache. My grandpa and two uncles passed away, as well as a few good friends of mine - many of whom were far too young. But I can't deny the fact that 2011 has also been one of the happiest and most blessed years I've known.  

Life certainly is unpredictable, but isn't that what makes it so much fun?  

The struggles make you stronger
And the changes make you wise
And happiness has it's own way of taking it's sweet time
No, life ain't always beautiful
Tears will fall sometimes
Life ain't always beautiful
But it's a beautiful ride
 ~ Gary Allan
Life Ain't Always Beautiful



Man, it's been a beautiful ride!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Moganko for Cystic Fibrosis Awareness

One of the perks of having CF has been getting to know some truly amazing people who never would have been a part of my life if it weren't for our shared challenges. One of those people is my friend, Josh Mogren.

Josh is kind and funny with such an ENORMOUS heart, it's a little ridiculous! Josh also has cystic fibrosis, and he has made it his personal mission to help others (specifically children) within the CF community.
"I'm a lifelong Muppet Fan and my sister and I loved watching the Muppets while we did our daily CF treatments. I wanted to figure out a way to combine my personal experience with that same humor that made me smile as a child while teaching CF families and the general population about Cystic Fibrosis. I wanted to create something parents could share with their children that shows them how to deal with their daily healthcare routine for this serious disease with love, honesty and humor. I wanted something light-hearted that adults with cystic fibrosis could share with their friends and family, explaining a little bit about what they go through every day."   ~ Josh Mogren
And so... Moganko the puppet was born. Together, he and Josh have created several fun, upbeat, and educational videos like this one:


Recently, Josh and Moganko launched their biggest project so far:

The Moganko for Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Project!  


Josh's goal is to get Moganko to meet the Muppets and be featured in a public service announcement about CF. This is huge, friends, but it won't work without your help. So, here's what you can do:
Now, here's where I take just a moment to get serious. This has been an especially hard year for the CF community. Far too many lives have been lost to this disease! Sadly, off the top of my head, I can think of four individuals who have passed away just in recent weeks. Because of continued medical advances and the dedicated work of doctors and scientists, the outlook for someone with CF continues to get better. There are some amazing things in the works, including a very promising breakthrough drug that is currently awaiting FDA approval. Even still, the median age of survival for someone with CF is only mid-30's, and there are those who will not even live to see that many years.

I'm taking the liberty of speaking for the CF community as a whole when I say that we are positive, we are happy, we are strong, we are persevering, and we are living our lives with joy and hope... but we can't win this fight alone. WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Call me optimistic, call me crazy (trust me, you wouldn't be the first) but I THINK THIS WILL WORK, and I really want it to! Why? Because I love my friend and want him to succeed, because I've seen the good he does and I want him to keep sharing it with others, because this will raise some major awareness about CF (and awareness is key to finding a cure for this disease), because CF has taken the lives of too many children, spouses, friends, siblings, etc... and I'll be honest, I want this to work because I'm a little selfish. I want to live to see my daughter get married and have babies of her own someday. I have a lot of living left to do and about a million more memories to make.

Helping is easy and will only take a few clicks. Again, you can help by:
So what do you say, can we count you in?


Click here to visit:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

To you and yours

"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace." ~ Agnes M. Pharo
May this season end the present year on a cheerful note and make way for a fresh and bright new year. Light and love from the Livingstons.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't even get me started on "Grandma got run over by a reindeer"


Jingle Bells

"The horse was lean and lank. Misfortune seemed his lot. We got into a drifted bank and then we got upsot."

Growing up, I always thought they just changed it from "upset" to "upsot" so that it would rhyme. But now that I'm a little older I know that... well, truth be told, I have no idea what "upsot" means.


Deck The Halls

I still don't know if it's "troll" or "toll" the ancient yuletide carol.


Santa Claus is Coming to Town

He sees me when I'm sleeping? Creepy.


The Twelve Days of Christmas

Let's face it, there are so many things wrong this song (like, who wants a bunch of guys in leotards jumping around the dinner table while they're trying to eat... which has always been the image that pops into my head when I hear "lords a-leaping") but one of the strangest things about it in my opinion is all the birds.

Wouldn't that just be the WORST CHRISTMAS EVER? By the time day four rolls around you know they're thinking, "Enough with the damn birds! Can we just get to the gold rings, already?"


It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

"They'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago."

Ghost stories? Um... wrong holiday, dude.


Do You Hear What I Hear

"Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, Do you know what I know? In your palace wall mighty king, do you know what I know? A child, a child shivers in the cold. Let us bring him silver and gold."

The kid is naked and freezing. Should we take him a blanket? Nope. Maybe a space heater or something? Nah. What about some silver and gold? Yeah, that's just what he needs... some BLING!


Baby, It's Cold Outside

"The neighbors might think"
               "Baby, it's bad out there"
"Say, what's in this drink"
              "No cabs to be had out there"
"I wish I knew how"
              "Your eyes are like starlight now"
"To break this spell"
              "I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell"
"I ought to say no, no, no, sir"
              "Mind if I move a little closer"
"At least I'm gonna say that I tried"
              "What's the sense in hurting my pride"
"I really can't stay"
               "Baby don't hold out"
"Aah, but it's cold outside"

This whole thing seems a little sketchy to me. Put your hat back on and go home, lady. It's not that cold.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love, yourself

Last week I found a box of fruit snacks hidden in the back of a cupboard in the employee kitchen at my work. On them was this note:


Sometimes I'm blown away by my own thoughtfulness. I mean, how did I know that one day I'd be rummaging through the kitchen looking for something sweet and fruit snacks would be just what I needed? It's little things like this that let me know how much I truly care about myself.

You know, come to think of it, I just don't know what I'd do without myself; I can't imagine my life without me in it.

Though I might be a little freaked out if I start receiving messages from Future Jenny. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bucket of fun


... and giggles, and germs, and copious amounts of snot. Oooh, the snot! Earlier today she coughed in my mouth. IN MY MOUTH!

Ahh, the joys of parenthood.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Essential Oils for Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis

Disclaimer: This is not professional medical advice. I am not a doctor. I use DoTerra products but am in no way being sponsored by their company. I am simply sharing this information for anyone who may be interested in learning more about essential oils or who may be considering adding essential oils to their treatment regimen. Please talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your health.
  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(A Few) Oils and Their Uses

Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus radiata
Because of the many influential compounds found in eucalyptus, it is a key ingredient in cough and throat medicines and chest ointments. Herbal practitioners have also noted its insect repellent properties, as well as its effectiveness in dealing with fevers and respiratory conditions. Eucalyptus is used widely both for its calming and clearing properties as well as to ease breathing. For aromatic or topical use.

Frankincense Essential Oil
Boswellia frereana
Perhaps the most precious of the ancient oils, frankincense is highly sought after by modern consumers for its many uses including relaxation, immune support, and mood enhancement. Records dating back to 1500 B.C. document the use of frankincense oil, by physicians and priests alike, for the treatment of disease and illness. For aromatic, topical or dietary use.

Geranium Essential Oil
Pelargonium graveolens
Geranium has incredible benefits for soothing skin and is a common ingredient in many skin care products. It increases blood flow, detoxifies, regenerates tissues and nerves, and may balance the sebum - which is the fatty secretion in the sebaceous glands. Also useful for joint support and tempering minor aches and pains. For aromatic or topical use.

Melaleuca Essential Oil
Melaleuca alternifolia
Recognized by its more common name "tea tree oil", melaleuca has been revered for its cleansing and regenerative properties, especially for the skin. Antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic. Melaleuca is active against Staphylococcus aureus, including MRSA. Composed of more than ninety different compounds, melaleuca has limitless therapeutic applications. For aromatic, internal or topical use.

Cypress Essential Oil
Cupressus sempervirens
Distilled from the twigs and foliage of the cypress tree, cypress essential oil is popularly used to ease breathing as well as a throat gargle. It can be used to ease tight or tense muscles, promote sleep, bring stress levels down, calm anger, improve circulation and ease bronchitis symptoms. For aromatic or topical use.

Peppermint Essential Oil
Mentha piperita
One of the oldest and most highly regarded herb oils for soothing digestion. It may also improve gastric motility and digestive efficiency, and has positive effects on the liver and respiratory systems. When inhaled, it can improve the senses of taste and smell; improve concentration and mental accuracy; directly affect the brain's satiety center, helping you feel more satisfied after a meal. For aromatic, topical or dietary use.

Oregano Essential Oil
Origanum vulgare
Used as a cleansing agent as well as for digestive and respiratory support. High in antioxidant activity, oregano contains phenolic acids and flavonoids. Oregano oil has proven itself as an outstanding antioxidant that provides powerful help in fighting the effects of free radicals. For aromatic, topical, or dietary use (be sure to dilute when using topically).

Breathe Oil Blend
A proprietary blend including laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon and ravensara cleanses and soothes the airways, and can easily be applied topically to the chest, back, or bottom of feet. Its pleasant aroma is calming to the senses and perfect for night time diffusion allowing for restful sleep. For aromatic or topical use.

OnGuard Oil Blend
A unique, proprietary blend formulated to support healthy immune function. Studies have demonstrated citrus oils to produce some of the most prevailing benefits for eliminating unwanted bacteria, viruses and molds. Wild orange essential oil, combined with clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary offer a fragrant, natural and effective alternative to synthetic options for immune support. It is also safe to use on counter tops, as a non-toxic way to cleanse surfaces, or to purify the atmosphere by diffusing. On Guard is superb for eliminating and controlling pathogens due to the potency of its constituents. For aromatic, topical, or dietary use.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suggested Protocol for Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis

Rub 3 drops each of Frankincense, Cypress, Eucalyptus, and Melaleuca along with 10 drops of coconut or olive oil (as a carrier oil to make the blend go farther) on chest, throat and back. If possible, do so in the morning after showering and again at night before going to bed. After a week substitute this blend with Breathe Oil Blend for three days, then return to the blend mentioned above. These massages should act as an expectorant and help prevent airway infections.

Rub 2-4 drops each of OnGuard Oil Blend and Peppermint on the feet every morning.

Rub 2-3 drops of Breathe Oil Blend on the feet at night and cover with socks.

Diffuse10 drops each of Eucalyptus and Melaleuca nightly (throughout the entire night if possible).

Randomly diffuse Geranium or Breathe Oil Blend into the air.

For immediate relief, deeply inhale Breathe Oil Blend or a Eucalyptus and Melaleuca oil blend (about 5 or 6 drops each) by making a steam tent, adding drops to a bath, or in a shower with the drain plugged.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ .

Personally, I don't follow the above protocol exactly. Because I was going through the oils quickly and because I felt like it wasn't necessary to do all that when I'm feeling well, I cut back on a few things. I regularly put a couple drops of oil on my chest and feet, and I often add some to my bathwater, but I only do the major back and chest massages when I'm not feeling well (chest tightness, shortness of breath, or increased cough).

I bought a diffuser that I absolutely love and the water reservoir is large enough that it will diffuse from the time I go to bed to the time I wake up. I run the diffuser in my bedroom each night, usually with the Breathe blend or a combination of two other oils, such as Melaleuca with Eucalyptus, Geranium with Cypress, Peppermint with Melaleuca, etc. 

Another thing I like to do (which isn't mentioned above) is take Oregano as a temporary dietary supplement when I get sick. The bottle suggests drinking one drop in 4oz of water or juice, but the oil is so strong that it burned my mouth too badly. I now take 4-5 drops in gelatin capsules about four times a day as soon as I start feeling a cold coming on, and I continue doing so until all cold symptoms have subsided. I've had two colds in the past four months (one of which was pretty nasty) and I was able to get over both of them before they made me sick enough to require a hospital admission - a huge accomplishment considering the run of bad health I've had this year.

Do I think that these oils are a miracle cure? Not at all. But, have I felt better since I started using them (in addition to all my regular treatments)? Without a doubt!

There is so much more I could share here but since this post is already extremely long, I'm going to stop now. If this proves to be something that people have interest in, I may post about other oils and their uses in the future. Thanks for reading!  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Related articles:

(Using DoTerra oils for Cystic Fibrosis)

(Studying the effects of essential oils on methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus)

(Same protocol listed above, with some additional information and suggestions)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Currently loving

1. Christmas Music


Adam has never been a fan of Christmas music and every time I randomly belt out "PINE COOOONES AND HOLLLLLY BERRIES!" he rolls his eyes so hard that I can practically hear them hitting the back of his skull. But I just can't get enough of the stuff this year! I love to crank it up while I'm driving, cooking dinner, doing the dishes, etc. I've been listening to this mix over at xmasfun.com and a couple different holiday stations on Pandora.


2. Essential Oils


I started using DoTerra essential oils earlier this year (along with the rest of the world, apparently... I swear, at least twice a week I get an invitation to some kind of party involving DoTerra). There is a protocol specifically for cystic fibrosis that I started following about three months ago (though I've made a few changes as I've discovered which oils I like best and which ones I feel work for me). November marked my fourth hospital-free month... the longest stretch of health I've had in a year! During those four months I was able to conquer two pretty nasty colds that I'm certain would have landed me in the hospital earlier this year. I honestly feel that the essential oils are at least partially to credit for that.

(I'm working on a full post about the oils I've been using and the benefits they have, so keep an eye out for that if it's something that interests you. Oh, and if anyone from my clinic happens to be reading this, don't worry, I promise not to nebulize peppermint oil!)


3. Hobble Creek Candles


Every year I have the opportunity to purchase Hobble Creek Candles at an incredibly discounted price through my work. They are hands down the best candles I've ever bought! Among my favorite scents are Jack Frost, Home for the Holidays, Citrus Pine and Cranberry Wood Spice. I've constantly had one on the burner since the day I brought them home. They make my home smell so Christmasy, and I love it!


4. Old Friends


In the past few weeks I've been able to chat and reconnect with a couple old friends, and it's been great! There aren't many people in my life with whom I've formed such a strong connection that regardless how much time passes between our visits, when we finally do see each other again it's as if we were never apart. I'm so happy to have a couple of those people back in my life.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Let it snow!


Winter is in full swing here, and today was such a gorgeous day that we spent most of the late morning and early afternoon playing outside.




This is the only picture of Dixie I was able to get that wasn't just a blur of fur because she was running around the yard so stinkin' fast. She absolutely loves the snow! Little Nora? Not so much.


 

My favorite part was the way the snow was so light and fluffy that you could still see individually formed snowflakes. Well, either that or the way that Shylee kept whitewashing herself.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hi, my name is Jenny and I talk with my coworkers about inappropriate things

On the way to my employee Christmas party tonight:

Me, looking at my watch:  We're early. The drive didn't take as long as I expected.

Adam:  Well, we still have to find the dance hall.

Me:  I can just text Sandy (my boss) and ask her where it is if we have a hard time finding it.

Adam:  Oh. It's right there. Yeah.... we're definitely going to be early if we go in right now.

Me:  We could always sneak off for a little while, you know, maybe go have a quickie on a back road to pass some time.

Adam:  I don't think I know this town well enough to find a vacant back road.

Me:  Hmm... maybe I can text Sandy real quick and ask if she knows where one is.

Adam, seeing me glance at my phone:  You're not really texting her, are you?!?

Me:  No, I'm not texting her. But I'm totally telling her about this conversation when we go inside.

Monday, November 28, 2011

"The best birthday ever!"


Over the weekend we had an impromptu birthday party for Shylee. Her actual birthday is on Wednesday and she's turning six years old, a fact that blows my mind so much that I like to pretend she's only turning four.

We didn't do much, just ate some cake and ice cream and let her open a few presents, but she went on and on about how it was the "best birthday ever!" The jewelry her aunt Randi gave her was the "beautifulest" jewelry she had ever seen in her whole life! Those boots and that nail polish? They were "magnificent", and we had the "most delicious cake in the whole wide world!"

May she always be so easy to please.

We love you so much Shylee Bug, and I can't imagine
my life without you in it. Happy birthday, kiddo!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A little less to worry about


Since Adam is working late tonight, I made the trip to pick Shylee up by myself today. After a brief conversation with her mom, Shylee and I walked back to the car hand-in-hand. As I pulled away from the little convenience store that has become our designated trade-off location, I looked at Shylee in the rearview mirror. It was a familiar scene: Shylee excitedly squirming in her seat, a giant mischievous grin plastered on her face.

Just a few miles into our trip I'd already heard about the Thanksgiving stories her teacher told the class, what foods the school served for lunch this week, her friend who has the "most beautiful dress", and another friend named Lincoln whose older brother is apparently kind of mean to the younger kids.

I'm used to this kind of thing; there's never a moment of silence when Shylee's in the car. I was nodding and saying "uh-huh" in all the appropriate places, but I have to admit that I was only kind of listening until she said something that really caught my attention.

"I don't think Lincoln's brother is really mean," she said. "I think that maybe he's just sad. Sometimes when people are sad it makes them be mean."

"That's very true," I said, surprised by her insight.

"So I like to ask what's going on, and then they tell me why they're sad. Mean kids need friends too, you know. So I like to be nice to them."

At this point, I was thoroughly impressed. "Shylee, that's a very nice thing to do. Where did you learn that?"

"From my mom and dad... and you, Jenny-mom."

I was suddenly all choked up. I wiped the tear off my cheek before I turned to tell her how special she is and how proud it makes me to hear that she's such a good friend. "That really means a lot," I told her.

The truth is, what she said means more to me than she'll ever know.

I worry about Shylee almost constantly. I worry that despite our best efforts this whole "split custody/having two families" thing will have a negative impact on her. I worry at times that we aren't doing right by her. I worry about her self-confidence. I worry that she'll be resentful. I worry that we could and should be better parents to her. I just worry.

But when she says things like she did tonight, I feel like just a little bit of that worry is taken away. Even more than the fact that she is becoming a very sweet little lady, it means that despite the trials and hurdles we've had to overcome in our effort to be a family, we (Adam and I, as well as Shylee's mother) must be doing something right.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You are smart, you are beautiful

One of my favorite things about working with the public is listening to the interesting conversations people have. Today I overheard two women discussing their children and during the course of their conversation one woman mentioned that she doesn't think it's appropriate or necessary to tell her son that he is "smart". Her reasoning was that she doesn't want to him to grow up thinking that he's smarter than others or that he's somehow better than other children because he's intelligent. The other mother agreed and said that she absolutely refuses to use words like "pretty" or "beautiful" to describe her daughters for similar reasons. She doesn't want them to be vain.

I quietly listened to these women as their conversation drifted to things like holiday shopping and what dish they were planning to bring to the upcoming church pot-luck, all the while keeping my eyes on my work, hoping they didn't realize I was eavesdropping. After they left I tried to forget what they said. Stop thinking about it, I told myself. You had no business even listening to them. But for some reason I was really bothered by what I heard.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Morgan and I have a nightly ritual that started several months ago. After she has brushed her teeth and we've said prayers, she lays down in the crib and I kneel on the floor next to her. I put one of my hands through the bars of the crib and while tickling her arm, I repeat this affirmation:

You are smart.
You are beautiful.
You are important.
You are kind.

I don't know why I initally chose those words in particular. I'm willing to bet that one night she was crying and in an attempt to calm her down, I just started talking. However it came to be, it has definitely stuck. We often talk about other things during the few minutes that I kneel by her crib but at some point before I leave the room I always, always say it:

You are smart.
You are beautiful.
You are important.
You are kind.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

I understand that I only heard a few minutes of their conversation today, so I don't know the whole story behind why these women feel the way they do, but I do know that the way they said those words -- "smart" and "pretty" -- was if they were filthy, curse words.

I'm sure that in these women's opinion I'm ruining Morgan by telling her these things on a daily basis. How dare I tell her that she's beautiful! Don't I know there are more important things than beauty? And that fact that I tell her she's smart is surely going to make her treat other children as if they're stupid. I suppose I can just blame myself when she grows up to be a self-centered brat, what with all that "you're important" nonsense I fill her with. Right?

I just don't buy it. I don't believe that this kind of thing is damaging (if it's done with good intent and not taken to extremes). I personally think that it's perfectly acceptable to say these things to our kids, in fact, I think it's necessary. We are their parents and if they don't learn these things from us, where and when will they learn them? I personally know people who don't believe that they are pretty, or important, or intelligent, or worthy of love simply because no one has ever told them that they are. 

Children are so impressionable, I believe that now is the best time to to instill these beliefs in Morgan. It is my hope that constantly reinforcing positive thoughts and feelings can give her the confidence she'll need later in her life.

I hope that she will one day be faced with a problem and think, I can figure this out. I am smart.

If she's ever feeling unattractive because she didn't get asked to the school dance or she's tempted to go on a crazy crash diet with her friends I hope she'll think, I'm already beautiful just the way I am. 

I hope that continuously telling her that she is important can help her avoid feelings of worthlessness.

It is my dream that someday when she sees someone in need of a friend, she'll be the one to break away from the crowd and put her arm around them because she knows the importance of being kind.

You are smart.
Your are beautiful.
You are important.
You are kind.

I'm not trying to ruin her by telling her these things. On the contrary, I'm trying to help her realize who she can become and all the great things she'll experience in life if she believes in herself. I want to be sure she knows from an early age something that took me a lot of years to believe about myself: that she will always be loved - nothing she can do will ever change that - and she will always, always be "good enough".

~~~~~~~~~~~~

What are your thoughts? Do you mind sharing them with me?
I really, really want to know what other people think about this subject.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just when I start thinking I might want another one

Yesterday was one of those rare times when Morgan was so ridiculously sweet and well-behaved that for a brief moment I began thinking that maybe (just maybe) those strange people who have 16 kids aren't as crazy as they seem. What? You don't know any of those people? Come to Utah. Meet my Mormon relatives and neighbors.

Most days I can't comprehend why anyone has more than one or two kids. That's probably because most days spent with a two year old are the emotional equivalent of being run over by a garbage truck, but yesterday was one of those beautiful exceptions where Morgan was happy ALL DAY LONG. More than once I found myself watching her and thinking maybe one day I could actually handle more than one of these things.

Fast forward to this morning.

Adam's cell phone went missing after Morgan had been playing with it, and because sometimes God likes to have a good laugh at my expense, the phone was on vibrate mode. When we called from my cell phone and heard a very quiet vibration coming from our room, we immediately began The Bedroom Demolition. We moved the entire bed, looked under the pillows, shook out all the blankets, drug the dresser away from the wall to look behind it, used a flashlight to peek under all the furniture, tore through the whole closet and dug through all the dresser drawers, and do you know what we found? Absolutely nothing. Well, we actually found an alarming number of toys, blankets and goldfish crackers that Morgan had stashed away in random places, but no phone. However, we could still hear it vibrating somewhere in the bedroom every time we dialed his number.

In the middle of tearing apart our bedroom, I realized a little too late that it had been a while since the puppy had gone outside. Fortunately, her piddle puddles are only about the size of a quarter. Unfortunately, I found four of those puddles. While I was cleaning them up, I heard Morgan open the refrigerator door which never leads to anything good, so I jumped up to see what she was getting into. By the time I reached the kitchen she had already managed to spill an entire bottle of coffee creamer down the front of her body as well as all over the kitchen floor. The white pool of liquid was slowly creeping underneath the fridge and oven. Adam immediately put some towels down and started cleaning the mess in the kitchen while I wiped Morgan's sticky body off with a wet rag and finished cleaning up the puppy's mess, stressing about Adam's missing phone the entire time.

Two hours and 58 phone calls later (I really, really wish I was kidding) we still hadn't found his phone, and the fact that we could hear it but not see it made things even more frustrating! Morgan had taken full advantage of her father and I being occupied with our search for the phone and there were now toys scattered across the entire living room floor. Frustrated and upset, we decided to stop looking long enough to eat something, hoping to regroup and come back stronger, more focused.

As Adam and I were in the kitchen getting lunch ready, Morgan casually walked in... WITH ADAM'S PHONE IN HER HAND. We have no absolutely idea where she found it. I'm blaming those thoughts I had yesterday on a momentary lapse of reason. Because those people with more than just a few kids? Clearly they're nuts!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And they call it Puppy Love


A few of you have asked how Adam reacted to our new puppy. To be honest, he didn't throw the tiniest fit about it. I didn't even have to play the truck card. "She's cute," he said, "and I'm glad she makes you happy."

Ummm... okay.

Part of me suspects that his reaction had something do with the text message I sent warning him that I'd done something naughty and asking him to please, please, please not be upset when he got home. Apparently while thinking about it on the ride home from work, he came to the conclusion that either a) I'd wrecked his truck or b) I was having an affair. So coming home to find a puppy (and nothing else) curled up in bed with me was a welcome relief.

A few things:

- We CANNOT decide on a name for this little gal. We've considered several, and we've even tried a few on for size, but nothing has stuck yet. She may be "The Puppy" for the rest of her life.

- Dixie suddenly seems impossibly huge! I've always considered her a "small" dog but compared to the puppy, she's enormous.

- The puppy spends about 20 hours a day sleeping and if she had it her way, she'd spend that 20 hours sleeping right in the crook of my neck. She absolutely loves to cuddle.

- Every other sentence out of my mouth is something like: Morgan, please don't drag the puppy by her ears. Morgan, the puppy can't breathe when you hug her that tightly. Morgan, please don't bite the puppy. Morgan, please don't put the puppy in the toilet; she goes potty outside.

- I have a feeling that potty training a two-year-old and house training a puppy at the same time might actually drive me crazy, so if you have any tips or advice please feel free to send them my way.

- Right now, as I'm typing this, the puppy is asleep on my lap. A minute ago I felt her move and thought she was repositioning herself. Turns out she was just so relaxed that she slid right off my leg like a slinky. It was awesome.

Monday, November 7, 2011

All I want for Christmas

... is for Adam to NOT freak out when he comes home from work and discovers the newest addition to our little family.


In my defense, this is nothing compared to that time he bought a new truck while I was in the hospital.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

National Adoption Month


When I learned that November is National Adoption Month, I knew that I wanted to post something about it here. As many of you already know, my sister and her husband adopted their two children. I could tell you that Halle and Miles are some of the cutest, funniest little kids I've ever known and I'm so incredibly grateful to be their aunt (though I don't get to see them nearly as often as I'd like). I could tell you that Chris and Teresa are absolutely amazing parents. I could go on and on about how I truly believe that Halle and Miles were always meant to be my sister's kids, but I won't. Not today.

There's something else that I just can't stop thinking about today: the courage, selflessness, sacrifice and pure love of not only Halle and Mile's birth mothers, but of so many other women as well. Since I don't have any personal experience in this area, I wanted to share with you something that Teresa wrote in a Mother's Day post earlier this year:

To these two amazing and strong young women I owe a debt of gratitude that I can truly never repay. Because of their heartbreak, my heart was healed. Because of their pain, I have happiness. Because of them I am a mother...

...I don't know if I could have had the bravery that these women did. I don't know if I could have had the strength to make the same choice. I love them. I admire them. I thank them. And on this day, every year, I recommit to be the best mother that I can be, not only for my children, but also to honor the decision of these birth mothers.

She is a mother. As a mother myself, I truly believe that is the greatest gift a person could give. So in honor of my sister and her sweet family, the countless children waiting to find a permanent home, and the strong women who bring children into this world and selflessly place them in the arms of another, I wanted to share a few things that you can do to help celebrate National Adoption Month.

   * Read the Presidential Proclamation. (That link will take you to this year's proclamation, but I personally like last year's even more, so here's the link to that one as well.)

  * Write a letter to your local newspaper about how adoption has blessed your own life or the life of someone you know.

 * Find and share songs or videos about adoption. I liked this one by Mark Schultz, written for and dedicated to his birth mother, whom he has never met.


   * Read an adoption story as a family.

   * Ask your local library to display adoption-related books.

   * Learn more about positive adoption language.

   * Write a blog post about adoption.

   * Spread the word about National Adoption Month on your blog or Facebook.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween













I hope you all had a great Halloween!
We sure did!


P.S. In case any of you were wondering, Adam and I are still married... he's just good enough at avoiding the camera that I seem like a single mom.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beautiful Heartbreak

Because I'm a firm believer that beauty exists even in the midst of pain; because there's currently a lot going on in life that I don't understand (yet); and because this touched me too much to not share it, here's a little something I think you should watch:



I had it all mapped out in front of me
Knew just where I wanted to go
But life decided to change my plans
And I found a mountain in the middle of my road


I knew there was no way to move it
So I searched for a way around
Broken-hearted, I started climbing
And at the top I found


Every fear, every doubt, all the pain I went through
Was the price that I paid to see this view
And now that I'm here I would never trade
The grace that I feel and the faith that I find
Through the bittersweet tears and the sleepless nights

I used to pray He'd take it all away
But instead it became a beautiful heartbreak


I never dreamed my heart would make it
I thought about turning around
But Heaven has shown me miracles
I never would have seen from the ground

Now I take the rain with the sunshine
Cuz there's one thing that I know
He picks up the pieces along each broken road
 
Every fear, every doubt, all the pain I went through
Was the price that I paid to see this view
And now that I'm here I would never trade
The grace that I feel and the faith that I find
Through the bittersweet tears and the sleepless nights

I used to pray He'd take it all away
But instead it became a beautiful heartbreak

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 2011 Newsletter: 2 years, 2 months


Dear Morgan,

One day you're going to learn how to drive a car and knowing you, you're probably going to drive that car very fast (and to all sorts of places you shouldn't). The thought of you behind the steering wheel terrifies me almost as much as peeling the wrapper off a cylindrical container of dinner rolls, waiting for them to POP! But that's not the point. The point is that after you've been driving for a while and you've driven to the same places (school, work, the grocery store) over and over again, every once in a while you're going to pull into a parking space or stop at a red light and suddenly realize that you have no recollection of actually driving there. You'll find yourself thinking, "How did I end up here? Didn't I just leave my driveway ten seconds ago?"


That's how these past couple months of parenting have been for me. More than once I've found myself looking at you and thinking, "How the heck did we get here? When did you start speaking in whole sentences? When did your hair get long enough to pull up into a single pony tail? When did you start saying Shylee instead of Yeylee?" I can't put my finger on exactly when these things happened, all I know is that you're not the baby of last year or even the toddler of a few months ago. You're a little girl, and I have no idea how it happened so quickly (but don't get me wrong, I still call you my baby).

You currently love: watching Yo Gabba Gabba, coloring (on paper, yes, but even more so on the walls or any other surface you shouldn't be coloring on), riding in your stroller when we go for a walk, playing dress-up with your sister, taking baths, riding your tricycles (yes, you have more than one), going to any of your Grandma's houses, and eating as much candy as you can get your hands on.


Your vocabulary has really taken off in the last month or two and I'm constantly amazed at the things that come out of your mouth. The other day you burped and then exclaimed, very proudly, "Mama! I tooted mouth!" You make demands on a whole new level now, often adding a "RIGHT NOW!" for effect, and you really like to say the word "really" (I really have no idea where you picked that one up).

You still struggle with correct pronunciations, so a lot of your words are kind of funny: you say "ya-poom" instead of you're welcome, "babaloo" instead of caterpillar, "fooda" instead of soda, and so on. Since you still get the words you and me confused, you frequently say things like "hold you me" or "come with you me". Part of the porcelain on our toilet cracked a while ago and when it happened we warned you not to touch it so that you didn't get cut on the jagged edge. Now, weeks later, every single time you walk into the bathroom, you point at the toilet tank and say very seriously, "That will REALLY cut you me."


I have to make a confession: I may have underestimated these Terrible Two's. I knew it would be rough, I knew I'd go a little crazy, but I honestly thought we'd be able to survive the experience intact. Now? Well, now I'm not so sure. Did you know that there have been more books written about how to parent a two-year-old than any other age group? (Trust me, I've been looking.) It seems that I'm not the only one who is having a hard time with this phase. One thing we've really been working on lately is learning to name your emotions. Rather than the drop-and-shriek reaction you usually have to any perceived injustice against you, we are trying to have you tell us what is wrong. Sometimes I have to scoop you up in my arms, limp and sobbing, and ask you several times before you'll give me any kind of answer. But once you're willing to tell me how you're feeling, we're able to talk through things and figure out a solution. We've been having a lot of conversations along these lines:

"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!"
"What's the matter, Morgan?"
"Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!"
"Morgan, are you hurt? Or are you sad."
"Saaaaaaaaaaaad!"
"You're sad? I'm sorry, it's no fun to be sad. What is making you sad?"
"Dixie make me sad."
"Oh no, what did Dixie do?"
"Dixie eat cracker!"

Nine times out of ten, you've completely stopped crying by the time you tell me what happened. And that makes me think that maybe...just maybe... we'll pull through this okay. Simply having you put a name to your emotions has been the most monumental step in learning how to navigate these Terrible Two's so far. Maybe I'll write a book about it.


I love you to the moon and back, little one.

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kissing cousins

Morgan and her cousin Logan
Have I ever mentioned how much Morgan loves her cousins? Sure, they get on each other's nerves and sometimes we have to make them apologize for punching each other in the face, but when it comes right down to it these kids are best friends. I'm just so happy that Morgan will be able to have the kind of relationship with her cousins that I got to have with mine.

But we should probably put a stop to their open-mouthed kissing before too long.

Monday, October 17, 2011

How To

HOW TO ANNOY ME:

- Pronounce the word photography like "fertography".

- Act like you're the first person who has ever been clever enough to say "I love you, Jen-nay" to me (a la Forrest Gump).

- Lean over the counter until you're directly in my work area, let out a huge sigh and/or cough, then proceed to tell me how miserably sick you've been for the past week and a half.

- Whistle loudly in public places. Even better? String together a bunch of random notes that don't resemble any tune in particular.

- When I've prepaid for $30 in gas, stop the pump at $25.07 and force me to wait around for the next ten minutes as the numbers ever... so... slowly... creep the rest of the way to $30.



HOW TO WOO ME:

- Love me despite the fact that after beating the high score on Michael Jackson: The Experience, I turn to you and say with a fist pump,"Now that's how you Beat It!"

- Ask if we can have "cheesy bums" for dinner.

- Call me Jen. I don't go by Jen, and I really don't ever plan to, but I feel an instant camaraderie with anyone who is comfortable enough to shorten my name. Even more so if it's the first time we've met.

- On a night that I'm too lazy to cook a real dinner so I end up "making" chicken nuggets and french fries, enthusiastically tell me that you just love chicken nuggets and I'm the best step mom you've ever had.

- When we're watching a movie together, point out the weirdest/most dorky/quirkiest male character and say with a smile, "That's the one you think is sexy, huh?" You know me so well.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn in Utah

Why I love autumn in Utah:








Why I despise autumn in Utah:



All of these pictures were taken in the past two weeks, and they do a pretty good job of summing up the cruel mind game known as Utah Weather.