Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hope you all had a great Christmas! Ours was fantastic. Jason was off the whole week and we did lots of fun family stuff. It was perfect! I could make this another one of my "longest posts in the history of man" but I'm tired and want to go watch a movie with mi familia, so instead, here are a billion pictures!! (Although most of the pictures are pretty fuzzy, either because kids wouldn't hold still or because of the fact that we have an old crappy camera.)

Taking the kids to see Santa Claus at the mall.

Making/decorating a gingerbread house.

All the presents ready under the tree on Christmas Eve!!

Our neighbors gifts, ready to go.

I bought a million white plates from the dollar store and then slapped some vinyl on them to make these cute plates to put our goodies on. :) They turned out so cute!!

Jason and Jack in their pajamas all ready for our traditional formal Christmas Eve dinner in our pjs!

Payson digging in!

Jack being a cheeser.

We don't have a traditional meal each Christmas. We just choose whatever sounds delicious. This year it was homemade Cafe Rio salad. SOOOOOO good! We made the pork barbacoa, the creamy tomatillo dressing, fresh pico de gallo and guacamole, and tortilla strips. We cooked up Tortillaland tortillas which are always fresh and magically delicious. We had fresh cilantro, sour cream, lime, and cheese. The works. It was perfect!! Oh! And Martinelli's of course.

The set up.

After dinner, the kids opened one gift.

Jack was so excited about his Cars ornament.

Payson got Tangled. :)

Growing up we played Christmas Bingo every Christmas Eve. Someone (I think it was your mom, Kimber!) gave us a cute set that my mom still has to this day. But it's starting to get ruined after billions of years of use and storage, so I got myself and my mom a new set this year. A friend of mine makes them and sells them. (Let me know if you want one!!)

I think this was one of the kids' favorite things.

The cute, cute Bingo cards. We used the cereal as our pieces. We planned on using Christmas candy, but ran out....oops.

After Bingo we read some traditional books. We always read "The Polar Express" by Chris van Allsburg and have a little bell we ring to see if we can still hear. :) And "I Believe in Santa Claus" by Diane Adamson, which I HIGHLY recommend EVERYONE read on Christmas Eve. I LOVE that book. It compares Santa Claus to Christ and reminds us all that Santa Claus isn't so commercial, but is a real symbol of Christ at Christmas. It's awesome.

Then the kids left Santa's goodies and a note out by the gingerbread house.

The half eaten treats and Payson's note to Santa. He wrote her a long letter back. :)

We finished by reading the nativity story from Luke. Then the kids checked one last time for Rudolph's nose glowing in the sky outside before RUNNING upstairs and going to bed easier than I've ever seen them. It was rad.

While they were sleeping, Santa filled their stockings and left behind some fun presents.

Red for Payson.

Green for Jack.

And white for the family.

The kiddos were up bright and early to see what Santa brought!

Jack was so excited about his presents! This is the least blurry photo because of ow much he could not hold still.

Payson getting in on the action.

Santa (so smartly) hit up the stores the week after Thanksgiving to stock up on dress ups! The kids have worn them just about every minute of every day.

Sir Jack, the Knight.

Cow girl, Payson.

Bumblebee was a big hit too. As was Spiderman. Payson also got Ariel and a cheerleader costume. She was beyond thrilled.

We always take a break after Santa presents for breakfast. Waffles with fresh berries and whipped cream, juice, bacon, and sausage. So yummy!

After that was all cleaned up we headed back for more presents!!

Jason with his pile of loot.

Payson's stash.

Does Jack look happy about those presents?

AWFUL photo of me! But it's the one and only shred of evidence that I participated in anything this Christmas. So you get afro haired, make up-less, pudgy prego, swollen bosomed me. Lovely.

Payson freaked out when she realized her coolest aunts ever got her a scooter. Jack got one too. They've been riding them around in circles in the house. It's hilarious. Jack even tried to sleep on his last night. :)

It was such a perfect day! We spent the whole day playing as a family. I got everything I wanted (which was simply a blender, the soundtrack to "Newsies", the movie "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", and a gift certificate stating that I can buy a new leather sectional. Which I've been DYING to do for EVER! I think Jason and the kids enjoyed their Christmas just as much. It was the perfect balance of STUFF and Christ and family.

Now we're getting ready to celebrate the New Year in just a few days. Hope you have all had a wonderful 2010 and are looking forward to an even better 2011!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Free Willy, Flash Mobs, and Hormones

Lately I have been ridiculously weepy. Even with so many recent pregnancies, I seem to forget about that sudden onset of crazy emotions that appear as if out of no where whenever they feel like.

Example #1: The other night I fell asleep for my now usual afternoon nap. However my nap took place later in the afternoon and lasted longer than usual, resulting in me up late that night. I curled up on the couch to watch some random late night tv and hopefully fall back asleep. Free Willy was the only thing on, aside from infomercials. And I found myself sobbing at the end as Willy jumps the rock wall above Jesse while Michael Jackson sings, "Will You Be There". Cheesy much?

Example #2: Today I was sent a video of a flash mob singing Handel's Messiah in a mall food court. Again, I sobbed. The music was beautiful and flash mobs are one thing in this world that is still purely good.

I'm sure there will be more moments like these in my future where I find myself wiping away embarrassing tears while watching McDonald's commercials or see two random children holding hands crossing the street. It's silly, but I have to say I'm grateful. Grateful for the hormones that indicate a healthy baby growing inside of me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I have this funny thing with dates. I can't remember them a lot of the time. Ask me if I remember your birthday. I probably don't. But I remember all of my family members' birthdays perfectly. Even a few of my exes and my brother's ex girlfriend. :) Weird. I'll remember certain dates that are a year away, but if I have something specific coming up in a week and it's not on the calendar I won't remember it at all.

The reason I'm bringing this up at all is because I've got some other dates floating around in my head because of this last year. Lots of them. Mostly negative. And they're burned into my brain. I think about them almost daily. Which is really annoying. Especially since I feel like I've healed from our losses this last year really well. Of course I'm still sad, but I feel very much like I'm on the other side looking back most of the time. I can recall the extreme pain, but it's not so fresh like it used to be. So if I think I'm doing so great and feeling so normal, then why are these dates floating around so often??

I have this list. Our first loss was December 19th. That's tomorrow. I delivered my sweet baby boy at home. It was heart breaking. But that wasn't the only date associated with that heartbreak. We found out about our loss on the 16th. And the baby had actually stopped growing even earlier at 8 weeks 6 days. And then baby was due July 6th. Then our second loss was on July 25th. I was 7 weeks 1 day. Due March 12th. I remember all these not-so-random dates perfectly. Constantly.

So all of these dates float around in my head. I find myself marking my current pregnancy by them. Getting past 7 weeks and 1 day was the first hurdle. And it was a Sunday. Same day of the week as my second loss. It was so familiar. I woke up that morning dreaming about finding myself soaked in blood again. But we made it through the day. It was a relief. Getting past December 16th was another hurdle. And getting to today, 9 weeks, 1 day past 8 weeks 6 days, was another. Getting through tomorrow will be one more. December 19th, the one year anniversary of our first loss. Has it really been a year? An entire year of heartbreak?

And we have a few more dates coming up. I want to make it past 11 weeks and 4 days, when I lost our first. And past March 12th when our second should have been born. And July 6th again, when our first should have joined us. And then July 25th, when we lost our second.

Silly dates. Dates no one else in this world will remember. Not even my husband, really. Just me.

But the truth is, there is so much hope associated with other dates that wipe out all of these negative ones. Like July 23rd. The day this little one will hopefully heal our hearts and join our family. Like December 10th, the day we heard that beautiful heart beating away for the first time. And more importantly, like December 25th. Celebrating the birth of a Savior who lived and suffered and died to heal my broken heart. And April 6th. The celebration of His resurrection making it possible for me to live with ALL of my babies again some day. All six of my beautiful babies.

So maybe remembering all of these silly dates isn't so bad after all. Passing each one is a reminder that we have hope. Hope that this little one will be here soon enough. And a knowledge that my Savior has and will continue to heal my broken heart.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I spent all night last night either trying to distract myself with hulu or sobbing. I tried so hard to sleep, and finally crashed sometime after 5AM. Just in time to wake up a couple of hours later and get Payson ready for school (barely in time, since we slept in!) and Jack ready to go to a friend's house, let alone get myself ready.

We barely made it on time to our appointment. I kept telling Jason that the worst thing they could do was make me wait. I was already sick to my stomach. I had already convinced myself that this was going to be just like the last two. I was preparing myself for the news and was already grieving a loss in my mind. That may sound silly to some, but after the year we've had it felt like the best way to protect my previously broken to pieces heart.

They took us back to the exam room immediately and I was a little relieved to know that I wasn't going to wait. And then more than 30 minutes later the doctor came into the room.

Both Jason and I were pretty quiet the whole wait. I was just praying silently. Just for the Lord to be with me and to get me through what was coming.

The nurse and doctor both asked me how I was doing. I told them to ask me again when we were done.

I had mentioned to the nurse that all I wanted to do was see that little heart beating. She reminded me that sometimes "dates can be off and even if we don't see a heartbeat not to worry". As soon as she left the room I told Jason that I know I'm not a doctor, but my dates have always been perfect. I knew exactly how far along I was. For heaven's sake! I got a positive home pregnancy test before their fancy clinical test could tell! I know my body. If there was no heartbeat, I knew what it meant. She couldn't reassure me.

When they started the ultrasound I saw that sweet little blob on the screen. And nothing. No flicker. And my heart dropped.

(Sorry for the pictures taken of pictures. Jason's working nights and I can't seem to figure out much technology without him.)

And then for just a second, tiny movement right in the middle. I caught my breath and asked quietly, "Was that a heartbeat?!" And the tears came.

My doctor's WONDERFUL assistant unfortunately had a miscarriage shortly before my first one and has been there to talk to me and help me through this entire last year. She had the tissue handy and felt so much more like a friend in the room than medical staff. She passed me a tissue and gave me a loving pat and all I could do was stare at the screen and sob.

The baby was wiggling and it took a minute to get a clear shot of that flickering heartbeat again, but then there it was. And suddenly we could hear that little thump, thump, thump, pumping away at 171 beats per minute. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. Yes, more beautiful than my other children's heartbeats. Because with them I didn't understand what a blessing that little beat is.

(See those beautiful waves at the bottom? Funny how something seemingly so simple, little white waves on a sheet of glossy paper, can bring so much happiness!)

And then there was something else on the screen. Another tiny little blob, hiding just below the first. See it down there?

(Not the greatest picture. But it was the only one we got with both.)

Turns out, baby was twins. Who knows why, but apparently only one survived. And I'm okay with that. Does that sound morbid? That I'm okay with losing a baby? But it was so small and so early and we didn't know and I just don't know that it really was a baby. And I'm just so overwhelmed with gratitude that I can't really feel anything else right now.

Baby was also measuring big. Just by a few days. I am 7 weeks, 6 days today. You can see (barely) on one of the pictures that baby measured 8 weeks 3 day, 8 weeks 4 days, and 8 weeks 1 day on a few different measurements. This was just icing on the cake. Since the numbers are so close, my doctor didn't change my due date. Still sticking with July 23rd ish. Although both kids came early. I'm hoping that if this one continues to grow this way and ultimately joins our family that he or she follows suit. I'm not very good at that last month of pregnancy! :)

I think I'm still in shock that things are still going well. I've been so sure that this was over so many times already. And to be honest, I'm still petrified that it won't last. Sure we've made it this far and things are going INCREDIBLY well. But we lost our first baby much later in the game. Exactly 8 weeks and 6 days. Although we didn't find out until much later. I hope making it through next week and passing 8 weeks, 6 days will be one more hurdle passed and one more sigh of relief.

Even then, I'm not sure when I'll feel comfortable and confidant again. Other women I know who have experienced pregnancy after loss have told me things seem to ease up around 20 weeks or so, but never really go away. I hope by then we're relaxing a bit more. And by "we" I mean "me". :) I hope feeling the baby move will be reassuring.

I wish I could share some of the more personal details of today with you all. Some are maybe a little too sacred to share publicly, but I can't believe the blessings our Heavenly Father pours out upon us when we simply ASK Him. He has blessed me so richly, even with my lack of faith and moments of complete weakness.

I found myself thinking about some of the lessons I've learned about faith and my relationship with both my Savior and my Father in Heaven this last year. I wondered if all the pain was worth those lessons. I don't know that I'm ready to say yes. But I know that I am so, so, so grateful for the lessons! And although I have SO much more to learn through this experience and in my life, I do have a better understanding of faith and trials and my Father's love for me. And I don't know that I could trade that.

I've posted much about my Father in Heaven lately. But I haven't acknowledged someone else who has been so important this last year. Another blessing from my Heavenly Father.

Jason has been there for me through my weakest, darkest, ugliest moments. He has lifted me, loved me, and pulled me through. He has supported me and put up with so much of my crazy. He has been the positive when all I felt was darkness. He has stayed worthy to give me priesthood blessings whenever I needed them. He has prayed with me and for me and has been the best partner throughout this last year that anyone could have asked for. There are times we have laughed and wondered how we ended up with each other. This year I have seen why my Father in Heaven gave him to me. He is a more incredible father and husband than I could have imagined for myself. I'm so grateful for him and everything he's done, big and small.

And just to brag a little extra for a minute, I'll tell you a few of the incredible things he's done. Like doing ALL of the laundry one week (on HIS week OFF) so that I could nap. (First trimesters are so draining! And I've been through 3 of them this last year!) He has shuffled kids to and from school and other appointments, done the dishes, cleaned, given me massages, put kids to bed just so I wouldn't have to. And this morning, after getting 4-5 hours of sleep yesterday and then working all night long, he stayed up to come support me at my appointment today. He then came home to get maybe 3 hours of sleep and then work all night again. He may not be out slaying dragons, but he is my knight in shining armor and I love him more and more every second I have with him.

Thank you all so many thousands of times for your prayers and support and love. For your emails and calls and texts and comments. They have seriously supported me through some super rough times. I have felt so much love. And when I felt like my faith wasn't strong enough I knew I could rely on yours. So thank you all for being my friend and for loving me and supporting me through all this drama. I love you all!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting Through Tonight

My ultrasound is tomorrow morning at 10. I will be 8 weeks on Saturday.

I have loved this little being for 2 months now. Maybe 8 weeks doesn't seem like a long time to some people. Especially when you consider there are still (hopefully) seven months to go.

But I have spent every single one of the last 31 days since we found out about this little one thinking about him/her, praying for him/her, worrying about him/her, planning for him/her, and loving him/her.

So maybe it hasn't been that long, but even just one day of that would have brought a connection between us that no one else has. I am giving this child so much of me. And I don't even mean physically, although there is a lot of that kind of giving too.

And so I am petrified. Nearly paralyzed with fear. I don't know what to do with myself. I have spent today either in tears, sleeping, zoning out trying not to think about it. (Except for a much needed 2 hour escape with a friend for lunch.)

All I can do is wonder. Will there be a beautiful little heartbeat on the screen along with that sweet little body? Will that precious baby be wiggling and reassuring its mama? Will there be innumerable tears of joy shed?

Or will this be like the last few times? Will there be silent clicking as the ultrasound technologist tries desperately to find that little flickering heartbeat? Will there simply be an "I'm sorry" in place of the "congratulations" we so desperately want to hear? Will I shed tears of sorrow and grief once again for my sweet unborn babies? Will I see glances of pathetic sympathy from everyone I pass as I leave the doctor's office?

I am trying so hard to have the faith I need to get through this! I am trying so hard to not let me fear be stronger than my faith. But my fear is so strong and so real and so fresh and raw. It is so hard!!!!

I can only pray for the strength to accept my Heavenly Father's will, whatever it may be. I can only ask Him to hold me as I wait and wonder.

I don't know if I have the faith to move mountains or to prevent miscarriages. But I know that I have faith in my Heavenly Father's plan for me. I know He loves me and wants only good things for me. I know He blesses me daily with little miracles. I know He has surrounded me with the most loving and amazing people He can to help me through whatever I'm facing.

And more than anything I have faith in the power of the atonement of His Son. I know that with that power I can face the scariest and hardest things in my life and I will be okay. It won't be easy. It will hurt. But I can get through it. Whether it's just the awful waiting tonight, another devastating loss, or anything else I face. I know without a doubt that my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ, are here for me through every moment of it. And with them, I'll be okay.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Am I Worth It?

I was reading the Book of Mormon this morning. We received a challenge from both our Bishop and our Stake President to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. Well, I'm a tad behind and have some catching up to do. So I was doing LOTS of reading this morning. :)

Anyway, I happened to be reading in Mosiah. King Benjamin is speaking about how worthless we all are. How our Heavenly Father has given us EVERYTHING, including lending us breath for a time so we can live on His earth. He is speaking of how we should serve one another to repay our Heavenly Father in part for all He has given us.

But then he reminds us that even that isn't enough. Heavenly Father answers our prayers and blesses us for serving. So not only has he given us life and everything on the earth, but then he gives us even more blessings when we try to repay him. So we are never even. We are always indebted to Him.

For a moment I felt pretty worthless. And then the thought struck me that those feelings came directly from the adversary and no where else.

I was immediately reminded that I am NOT worthless. I may not be able to repay my Father in Heaven or my Savior for all they have given me. But to them I AM WORTH IT. Otherwise, why would they continue blessing me with all that I have?

I'm so grateful for that reminder this morning! That even with my millions and millions of imperfections and inadequacies, I am of significant worth to my Heavenly Father. Each of us are. Simply because we are His.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I don't know what to title this post. I don't really even know what to write. I'm sure words will just flow, but they are not organized in my head like my posts sometimes are.

I don't know how to really express what I'm feeling and make anyone understand. And the truth is, even if I did, the only ones who would really get it are the ones who have been in my shoes.

I fear judgement. I don't know why. I usually don't care what others think of me. I just try to be me. But this part of me is the most vulnerable part of me that has ever existed. It is terrifying to put it out there for others to read and form opinions on.

I am pregnant. This is my third pregnancy in the last year. Less than a year, really. It wasn't exactly planned, but it wasn't really unplanned either. We thought we would wait a while still after our second loss in July. But things just didn't work out that way. I am now 6 1/2 weeks.

I have debated whether or not to share, who to share with, etc. We have never been secret keepers. But this news isn't the exciting kind like our first pregnancies were. We now know a new reality. Pregnancy does not equal baby. It should, but it doesn't always.

So it hasn't been easy to figure out how to tell someone. When they congratulate me and ask how I'm feeling I don't know quite what to say. I don't know how to express myself without sounding completely pessimistic. Because I'm not! I really, really am not! I just DON'T KNOW!! It's early. And I don't know if this will be like the last two or if third time's a charm. And no matter what anyone says, they don't know either.

So I've told a few close friends and family. People I know will understand me. And they really have. I've been able to talk openly about how I feel, positive or negative.

I had decided in my head that no matter what, I wasn't going to announce a pregnancy and a miscarriage on the same day again, like last time. That was horrible. And I don't want to do it. But I've wondered how and when I wanted the world to know.

I finally decided tonight. On Sunday I will be 7 weeks and 1 day pregnant. July 25th of this year was also a Sunday. I was also 7 weeks and 1 day pregnant. It's too familiar and there has been so much fear in my heart in that realization!

I need people to know. I need people to know that regardless of the outcome I love these babies. They are my babies! I am their mother. How could I not love them, even if only for a short time? I hope with everything I have that I will hold this one in my arms. But if I can't, I need the world to know that it hurts. I know I'll be okay, but it will be so, so hard! And facing that unknown is just so terrifying.

So far things are looking good. At least as far as we can tell. I knew immediately that I was pregnant. I was barely 3 weeks. Meaning that technically I'd only been pregnant for barely a week. I took a home test and it was surprisingly positive that early. I immediately called my doctor, as he'd advised me. They got me in a couple of hours later.

The urine test at the doctor's office came back negative. The lab tech apologized. I told her it was fine. I still knew I was pregnant. I have been through it five times. I know how it feels. So I asked her if we could do a blood test to confirm. She said they don't generally approve a blood test without a positive urine test. I asked her to check anyway. My doctor heard my name and immediately signed the referral.

Jason was confused by the results. He picked up a digital test (the first home test had been regular) and asked me to take one. It came back negative. I knew it would. It was early and I had been chugging water all day. We were testing water.

An hour later the blood test confirmed what I already knew. I was pregnant. Betas were low. Only 14. Just proved that it was still early.

They ordered another draw a week later. That one came back 139. It was doubling every 1.2 days instead of every 48 hours, like it was supposed to. A good sign. But still too low for a sonogram to pick anything up. We needed to be at least at 1200.

So the doctor started me on hormone supplements and scheduled another draw a week later. This time we were hoping for at least 1200. We hit over 9,000. Someone said to me, "Either you're having triplets or that baby's on steroids!" I said I'd take what I could get but one steroid baby would be just fine.

My doctor won't be in the office much for the holidays so the sonogram isn't scheduled until the 10th. A week from Friday. I'm anxious, terrified, nervous, excited, fearful, hopeful, you name it I feel it. I just want to get there and to know. I want to see that heartbeat. I want confirmation.

But even then, I don't know if we will make it further. Anything can happen. And I suppose I'll feel that for quite a while, until we either lose the baby or I've gotten far enough along to ease some of my anxiety.

In the mean time please pray for us. Of course I'd love for you to pray for this sweet baby. Pray for it to grow and grow and grow!! But really, what I need is prayers for me. Prayers that I will be able to accept the Lord's will no matter what that is.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Cards!!!!

We are completely inconsistent about holiday cards. Some years we do them, some years we don't. And usually they're cheap and not so cute when we do. But GETTING holiday cards is one of my favorite things about Christmas time! I love catching up with everyone and seeing cute family pictures. It's so fun to go to the mailbox and find a fun CARD instead of bills or junk mail!!

This year shutterfly is giving away 50 free holiday cards to bloggers! So of course we're taking advantage. :) AND their cards are completely adorable! There are plenty to choose from so I don't even have to worry that one of you will steal this genius idea and happen to have the same card I do. :)

I'm loving all these fun colors! And I love that I can create our holiday cards at home. SOOOOO much easier than trying to figure it all out while standing at a kiosk at Walmart like last year! And they have calendars and invitations and birthday cards. Jason wanted to make his mom a 2011 calendar for Christmas (hope she's not reading this!!) which will be ten times easier now. And we have tons of birthdays in January in our family, so we may be stocking up there too.

I'm still undecided on which photos and which cards we'll be sending out, but go here to sign up for your free cards!!

P.S. If you want to receive our family Christmas card this year leave me your address in a comment or email it to me! I got a new computer in January and all of my addresses were saved on the old one. I wasn't smart and didn't transfer them over.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The end of the Gratitude Posts

Yes, I'm done with my gratitude posts. No, I didn't post everything I am grateful for. Just some of the many, many things. Some days it was harder to come up with something and other days it was hard to choose between so many.

For those of you who didn't care for them, congratulations. You made it through. They're over. :) And for those of you who enjoyed them, including me, I think it will be a goal of mine from now on to post some things I've been grateful for every week or so. Nothing specific. But I definitely want to keep reminding myself of all my incredible blessings.

I'll end my gratitude posts with one last one. The last thing I've wanted to post about is my Savior, Jesus Christ, my Heavenly Father, and all they have given me. They have blessed me with an incredible family to grow up in and learn from. I have an amazing husband and beautiful children who support me and love me unconditionally. I have the gospel in my life. That one comes with a lot. Scriptures, the gift of the Holy Ghost, a prophet, apostles, and leaders to all guide me. The blessings that the Temple bring to me and my family. A knowledge of my Heavenly Father's love and concern for me. And the atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of that I can repent daily (and more often when needed!) and try harder every day. I can strive to live worthy to live with Him again and to spend eternity with those I love.

I'm so grateful for those things and the richness that they bring to this time of year! Without those things this Christmas season would be so meaningless! I am grateful for that knowledge and for the birth of Jesus Christ that we get to celebrate this month.

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving! I can't wait to post my pictures from our trip! :) Now Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude on Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving!! Today I'm grateful for about a million things, but especially for all the wonderful memories I'll be making with the people I love most while eating the yummiest food in the world!!!!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude Day 24

UGH!! I have the cutest picture of me and my sisters and this won't let me upload it!!!!

Today I'm grateful for sisters. :) For nearly 14 years I was the only girl in the family. Now I'm hanging out at the condo and getting to spend time with my two little sisters. Most people probably take their sisters for granted. I left home when they were 4 and 5 ish...maybe younger. We didn't get to live together for very long and I missed that a lot, especially when they were young. Now it's so fun to watch them grow up from a distance. They have come out to stay with me during summers and weekends and it's always a blast when we get together for family vacations. LOVE these girls. They are my favorite!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude Day 23

Today I'm grateful that we made it safely before the storm to the condo in Park City. Now I'm going to enjoy some time with my family!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude Day 22

Today I'm grateful for my cute parents. They have called me so many times today to make sure that we knew about pending storms and to help us figure out when the best time to drive would be. :) They're always so concerned about us and have never had anything but our absolute best interest at heart. They are ALWAYS there to listen or give advice when I ask. They both always say the right thing, even when it's not what I might WANT to hear. They have prayed for me every day of my entire life. And I have felt those prayers when I've needed them most. They have been the best example to me of righteousness, even when they've made mistakes. They showed me how to apologize when they were wrong. They have taken us on the best vacations and provided all kinds of awesome memories for us growing up. I can't say enough about all of the things they've done for me. It would take me days to post it all. You should just know they're pretty incredible. And you should be totally jealous. Because my parents are way awesomer than yours. ;)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gratitude Day 21

Today I'm grateful that kids are so resilient. Payson woke up super sick late last night and puked in multiple spots on the floor. Not so fun for cleaning. We had a long night together on the couch with towels and a big bowl, but by morning she was perfect again! I kept her home from church as a precaution, but she's been totally fine. I hate lingering bugs and am so glad that she got better so quick!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gratitude Day 20

I'm grateful tonight for the Sabbath. I love that no matter how crazy my week has been or how busy I am with meetings on Sunday I always feel recharged and refreshed. Taking the sacrament helps me recommit to being better throughout the upcoming week and gives me the strength to overcome the challenges I face. My meetings take my mind off of silly worries and direct them towards serving others. And best of all I get to spend the day with my family who I love so, so, so much!! I'm so looking forward to tomorrow!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gratitude Day 19

I'm grateful for Bunco. Mostly for the fun I had with the ladies in our group tonight. I hosted and sometimes I stress out unnecessarily over things. I did that this week. But tonight was worth all the stress. I love getting together with such awesome women and just laughing until we pee in our pants. I love watching timid friends come out of their shells. I love getting to act like a teenager again for just a little while. I'm grateful that life is to be ENJOYED, not just endured!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gratitude Day 18

I'm most grateful today for this one:

That sweet boy has two sides, for sure!! He can be completely sweet one moment and then throwing a full blown tantrum the next. But for the most part he is just a sweet, sweet boy! He's such a mama's boy and I love it! He loves to snuggle me and gives the world's sweetest kisses. I honestly can't get enough of them!

I love bed time with this kid. After baths and stories and prayers and everything he climbs into bed and gets the most cuddly. He'll rub my face or my arm for a minute and then curl up close next to me and doze off. And is there anything cuter than a sleeping baby? (Yeah, I know he's almost 3 1/2, but he's still MY baby!!)

I'm so lucky to have Jack. I love every day with him. I love picking him up from preschool and hearing what he's learned. I love the funny things he says and does. I love how smart he is and watching him soak everything up! I love watching him play "Cars" or "Toy Story" and quoting all his favorite parts from the movies.

I'm so grateful for my baby boy and his beautiful blue eyes and that gorgeous grin of his!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude Day 17

Today I'm just grateful for being grateful. That may sound silly, or maybe even like a cop out. But the last few days have been jam packed with busy-ness and stress. It has been so good to sit down at the end of the night and think about what I'm grateful for during the day. It gives me a few minutes of peace and even on my worst day I can find so many things to be thankful for. I keep considering continuing this in some form after November. It feels good to focus on positives. Especially for a complainer like me who is so good at whining about the hard things. Having this silly little goal of posting one thing I'm thankful for each day has been significant in my daily life. Every time I've started to get too stressed I've been reminded to be grateful. I have so many blessings!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Day 16

Tonight I'm grateful for the upcoming holiday. I've been super stressed the last week or so and there's just more stress to come. And I keep getting through it because I know that in just a week I'll be in a condo in Park City without a care in the world surrounded by my favorite people. I love getting together with my family and just hanging out. We laugh a lot. They are fun! I love having my husband around. I love watching my kids play with their aunts and uncles and grandparents. I love being with my cutest sisters and pestering my brothers about who their dating. I can't wait!

So tonight I'm grateful for the promise of some incredible stress relief with my fam.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Day 15

Both my Bishop and Stake President have recently issued challenges to our ward to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. The Stake President specified that he wanted us to read with a small notebook to keep track of our thoughts and feelings and to mark passages specifically about the Savior.

Initially I felt that this challenge was overwhelming. I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to reading. And then I realized I need to simply MAKE the time. If I can find time to do the things I WANT to do, then I should SURELY be able to find time for this. So I have.

And I have received strength daily as I read. The is a power in the scriptures. I find myself humming the tune to "Scripture Power" each time I think of it. :)

Because I want to be like the Savior, and I can
I'm reading His instructions, I'm following His plan
Because I want the power His word will give to me
I'm changing how I live, I'm changing what I'll be

I'll find the sword of truth in each scripture that I learn.
I'll take the shield of faith from these pages that I turn.
I'll wear each vital part of the armor of the Lord
And fight my daily battles, and win a great reward

Scripture power keeps me safe from sin
Scripture power is the power to win!
Scripture power, everyday I need
The power that I get each time I read.

This song states how I feel EVERY time I read from the scriptures. I have found a peace and happiness each day as I have followed the counsel of my Stake President and Bishop. I am so grateful to the Book of Mormon and for ALL scripture. It is uplifting and holds real power. It allows me to strengthen my testimony line upon line, precept upon precept.

I have such a deep love for the words of the Savior, my Heavenly Father, and His prophets. I LOVE feasting on those words each morning. I hope to instill this love in my children and everyone I meet! I want everyone to feel the things I feel when I read.

If you would like to know more about my church and about the Book of Mormon pleas go here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gratitude Day 14

I'm so thankful today for music. Lately I have found that when things get tense at home music will turn it all around. If the kids start fighting and arguing I turn on our Primary songs and things calm down within minutes. On Sunday's we play hymns and primary music and other LDS music all day and it brings an incredible spirit into our home. The kids have come to love it as well and immediately turn it on in the morning or right when we get home from church. I love the way it affects each one of us. Everyone is calmer and happier when we have good music playing.

We have even come to leave the tv off and just play music. Whether it's Disney songs, musicals, oldies, or anything, as long as it's uplifting we have it playing almost constantly. The kids rarely watch television and movies anymore (except for our designated family movie not on the weekends, of course!) and seem so much happier to play together instead of zone out on the couch.

Music helps me through my day when I'm feeling flustered or angry or overwhelmed. It soothes me and helps me to focus on things that are important. I am so grateful that my parents introduced me to so much good music growing up and that I am now able to share that with my family.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gratitude Day 13

Can I be grateful for my husband again today? He got up this morning and worked from 4am until about 9pm. He then had family scriptures and prayer with us, helped me put kids to bed, ate his dinner, and then helped me clean the bathroom before going to bed. Not because I asked. (Because I specifically told him he should be in bed!) But because he knew I was overwhelmed and exhausted and that I had to get up early too. Although early for me was 6. He was up around 3! What an amazing guy!!!! I am so so so blessed to have him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gratitude Day 12

I have the BEST ward!! I am so grateful for them! They're awesome. We had a activity tonight to collect money for Pennies by the Inch to donate to Primary Children's Medical Center. The primary was over it, but the entire ward, every auxiliary, stepped up to help making it SO easy!! And we brought in so many more donations than we have the last couple of years!! It was awesome!!

And on top of that, everyone just had a blast!! It was such a fun night! The kids were running all over the place all playing with each other. Young men and women playing with the little kids, adults playing with the younger ones. Everyone just gets along so well. It was just such a fun night. And it always is in this ward. I look forward to every activity because I know that no matter who attends we'll have a blast. Everyone is included. It's so great.

We've attended wards in the past where it's felt so exclusive, so feeling so much love and friendship and acceptance from our ward family has been such a blessing, especially with a husband who has to work so much. There are a lot of other women who are in my same shoes and really get it. We are all able to support and help each other. There is just so much unity in our ward family. And we are so, so grateful!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratitude Day 11

I am generally unappreciative of my body. I worry about my weight and shape and complain and wish that I looked like so-and-so. But the truth is I think I would find something wrong with someone else's body and miss my own if it were possible to switch. So I'm trying to start appreciating my own more.

Today I am so so so thankful for my body. I have not been so kind to it in the years it has been mine. And yet I can still walk, run, play with my kids, breathe, and function. I can do just about anything I want to do. My only limitations are in my head.

My body has suffered through a LOT this last year. Multiple pregnancies, surgery, and a slew of other crap. And yet I am still healthy and feeling good. I have been working out again this week and my body still allows me to do the exercises and strengthen my muscles somewhat easily. It's amazing to me.

Lately my body has gotten me through busy days, moving from early in the morning until I finally crash on my bed at night with the aches and pains of a day of work. I love that feeling and it is helping me to be more grateful for this body of mine, flaws and all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gratitude Day 10

Today I am most grateful for your comments. Specifically on my post yesterday, but really all the time. Some of you related, others just encouraged. It was good to feel like I'm not alone and that I'm not judged. Not that I expected judgement. But I even find myself judging others' financial situations at times. And then I have to look at myself and realize how hypocritical that is!!

Anyway, I really am thankful for the comments that I get on my blog. Less than a handful of times I have received a negative comment. Generally from "anonymous". Your comments over the years I have been blogging have made a difference. They have cheered me up, helped me feel loved, encouraged me, made me feel included, helped me through some really difficult times, comforted me, helped me to make difficult decisions, etc. You are great!!

Now I should remember how much I love them and get back to commenting on others' blogs more like I used to. Oh to find the time....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The best things in life are free

But you can give them to the birds and bees

I want money

(That's what I want)

Is that song stuck in your head now? Because it is in mine!!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Gratitude Posts to bring you this completely random (but interesting!! least to me...) post!

***Beware. This is so long. But interesting! And helpful! Did I mention interesting? I really do think so. :)***

Jason and I are AWFUL with money. Ask my parents. I've honestly been bad with money since I made my first nickel giving my dad foot rubs. I spent every penny I made growing up. Of course, my parents taught me to pay tithing first. And I did. But I always spent the rest on penny candy from the liquor store down the street (sound weird, but it wasn't) or the ice cream man. So I've spent a LONG time teaching myself awful financial habits. And I've learned them well. I'm pretty sure I've rubbed off on my husband a little bit. It's not such a good thing.

We both came into our marriage with debt. Jason brought (minimal) student loan debt as well as the payment on his Rodeo. My debt was not so pretty. It was ridiculous actually. I'm embarrassed to admit it. But I feel like I have to admit it in order to give you a real picture. So here you have it:

Ridiculous debt from school...which I had dropped out of to marry him and move to Idaho (with only a few months left until I would graduate...ugh!!!!). And the rest of my debt belonged to small credit cards and creditors for bounced checks. Yep. Bounced checks.

For some reason I let myself think, "I don't have the money for that. But I could just write a check and then I'll get paid before it clears and everything will work out fine!!" Turns out it doesn't really work out that way.

In my head I excused those bad financial choices because I was young. Young and stupid. But the truth is, we didn't do any better when we got married and started to "grow up".

Jason had a job. It paid around $8 an hour, which was pretty decent for Rexburg at the time. I planned on finding a job quickly and working as well. And then we got pregnant...not so planned. (Although I wouldn't trade that girl for the world!!) I got super sick. For months. I threw up all day every day. I was miserable. Plastered to the couch watching reruns of Law and Order and making frequent trips to the bathroom to give up anything I'd attempted to eat. We were barely making ends meat. In fact, we weren't. We were scrambling to pay the basics.

We made the decision to move to Utah. We would be closer to family and the job opportunities would allow Jason to make more money. He transferred schools and got a job that paid $10 or so an hour. We thought that was HUGE! We moved in with my parents for a couple of weeks while we looked for a place. And we found one down the road from family. It was great! And I started feeling better. So I got a great job. And for a few months with 2 incomes we felt like we were doing alright.

And then Payson was born. A month early. So I quit my job. We were back to one income. But at least this time it was better than before. Problem was when we made more, we spent more. And we continued to make stupid choices. We were now drowning in debt and had a family to take care of.

Eventually we chose to file bankruptcy. Our debt felt that bad. We felt like that was our only choice. And for a little while after we felt relief. Our debt was gone and we had a fresh start. (Just an FYI, if I had it to do over again I would NEVER make this same choice. I would have worked harder at saving and been smarter and paid things off, even if it took forever.)

However, although our debt had changed, our habits did not. And after a few years were were starting to see the debt creep up again. Jack was born. More mouths to feed. More bills to pay. We tried moving into a less expensive apartment. Jason switched jobs. Even quit school and got a second job. Things were tough, but we were surviving. We had considered me getting a job, and for a time I had worked from home for my dad. But that had ended when Jack came and we felt strongly that I needed to be home to raise our kids.

Then the economy changed. The housing market was declining. Jason was working for a building company doing truss design. But fewer and fewer people were building. His store eventually shut down and they transferred him. They had done lay offs. We were grateful to have been spared, but we were scared. We kept our eyes peeled for another job. Eventually things looked bad and Jason took a temp job with the power company. The company he had been working for before filed bankruptcy and shut down. When the temp job ended we looked into making it permanent, but it didn't work out.

We prayed and prayed and prayed and finally felt like we should try summer sales with my cousin's husband. They were doing really well and we felt confident that even at the minimum we should be able to at least make what Jason was making in a year. And if needed we could supplement that income in the months after the summer. So we packed up and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. And after about 6 weeks of making nothing, we prayed and cried and stressed and prayed and fasted and prayed some more. We talked with family and didn't know what to do. We were so confused. We had felt like this was what the Lord wanted for us. But now we had maxed out credit cards, incurring even more debt.

We finally decided to come home. My dad gave us the money we'd need to get home and we moved in with my parents. We were so grateful and humbled by their love and help. But it was hard. Jason looked and looked and looked every day. In the mean time he took a sales job. He made very little. Sales obviously wasn't his thing. And he didn't enjoy it at all.

Because of previous jobs, Jason had his CDL so we looked for truck driving jobs. They paid well, but the idea of him being gone so much was hard. Eventually he found his current job in the oil field. The money looked good. Really good. But we weren't sure about the job. Especially the fact that it would require him to work some Sundays. So again we fasted and prayed and went to the temple and counseled with family. Eventually we realized that, for whatever reason, this was what the Lord wanted for us. We were even very sure of which of the four possible locations the Lord wanted us to chose.

And so Jason left for Wyoming while I stayed with the kids at my parents' in Utah. At one point he needed to leave for training in Oklahoma. We didn't see each other for 5 or 6 weeks. It was challenging. But we knew it would be worth it and so we kept going.

We found our apartment and the kids and I finally moved out just before Thanksgiving in 2008. The job was hard. There have been challenges. Jason's accident last year was difficult. This last year has been emotionally draining. For MANY reasons. Things have changed. But change is something we have come to expect with Jason's work and with life in general.

One thing that hasn't changed is the feeling we've had from the beginning that this is where the Lord wants us to be. We have considered changing jobs again or moving or a million other things. But it is clear that He has lead us here. We have purpose here. And aside from the awful weather, the lack of shopping, and the ugly, dead, dry, high dessert landscape, I am finding that I love it here. I love my neighbors and my friends. I love our ward, my calling, and our leaders. I love the schools and the kids have great friends here. We are all happy.

And yet, one thing hasn't changed. We still find ourselves living paycheck to paycheck with no money in savings. With more income came more spending. How have I not learned my lesson?!

I recently found myself looking at Jason's paycheck stub. I noticed the amount in the "year to date" column. I was SHOCKED!! Had we really made THAT MUCH this year already? And there are still a few paychecks left in the year!!

WHERE DID IT ALL GO?!?!?!?!?!?

I was seriously sick to my stomach. We are making MORE than the average family in America and we are still struggling?! How is that possible?

Things HAD to change. Drastically. So I started trying to budget. We have never really budgeted. ONE month in our marriage we tried. And we did well. At the end of the month there was money leftover! But then there were things that we wanted and we got lazy and eventually we were just spending again. Turns out budgeting is not simple if you've never done it.

Eventually I discovered Dave Ramsey. I bought some of his materials and have fallen in love. We decided we'd try it out. But even then we haven't been consistent. However, I fully believe in his program and methods and I have his workbook sitting in front of me once again and plan to dive back in today.

And then a short while ago I stumbled across a blog post of someone I went to high school with. I decided to look at the website she'd mentioned knowing that I can use all the help I can get when it comes to budgeting!

I didn't try it out right away. I thought maybe I'd try budgeting on my own the old fashioned way. You know. Write it all down and keep receipts. I created a binder with some forms, budgeting each paycheck carefully. We just started with this last paycheck on October 30th. It seemed like it was working. And then the other night I got annoyed because I was having to do so much math manually and I couldn't see certain things that I wanted to and blah blah blah. So I decided to try this Neo Budget website. Besides, I could do try it for free!

So Neo Budget uses the envelop method of budgeting. This is the same method Dave Ramsey suggests. I like the idea that this website can just be a tool to go along with the financial advice I am already looking into.

As I started to try the free plan I realized that I wanted more than 10 envelops and more than one account. So I decided to pay for one month for only $4. I figured if I didn't like it after a month I wouldn't pay again and it was only a few dollars so I wouldn't be out too much cash.

And I fell in love. I LOVE this thing! It WORKS! It's simple and it makes sense to me! This is coming from someone who has never budgeted!

One of my favorite features is the "history". I can go into my accounts, choose an envelop, and see the history for that envelop. I recently looked at the history of my "unallocated funds" envelop. It was so great to see the excess things I was spending on. It gave me a clear picture of where I can cut back to make a difference for the next paycheck.

I also love the way I have my savings account set up. Jason and I have just one savings account right now. But that savings needs to go towards multiple things. So I can set up these envelops to divide the funds and see how much I have for the kids' education or retirement or our car repairs or whatever. Love it!

I know this is such a long story to get to this point. And it's just about budgeting. But the truth is, I feel so good about this! I feel like I can stick to it. We may not have an overwhelming amount of debt compared to some, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming to us. This is helping me to cut back where I need to and make better choices so that I can tackle that debt more quickly and free my family from that unnecessary stress. We can get our debt taken care of quickly and save up quickly. Like Dave says, we can use this tool to "live like no one else, so that later we can live like no one else."

(I am not being paid or compensated in anyway for this post. No one asked me to write this. I just wanted to share this information about this website and the things we've been through in case anyone else out there feels like they need the same kind of help that I do!)