Sunday, April 13, 2014

Catching Up


Fair warning: I don't have any coherent blog post here, guys.  Just a collection of random thoughts as they enter my head.

Texas is trying to kill me.  Not just me, my whole family, in fact.  We have never gotten sick as often as we have this winter.  Flu, stomach bugs, the black plague, you name it, we got it.  This past week was probably the worst of it.  Whig took the week off -not because we were planning a vacation or anything, just to get some odds and ends done and maybe sleep in a day or two.  But instead of accomplishing his grandiose plans, he spent the week either nursing us back to health, or being sick himself.  And now that it's Sunday he's finally starting to get back to normal.  Just in time to go to work in the morning.  Poor man.

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I think I would rather give a speech in my birthday suit than play the piano in church.  It's seriously sooooo stressful for me.  I played the piano in Relief Society today and it nearly killed me.  I don't know why but I am TERRIFIED the entire time I'm playing.  Take today for instance.  I was anxious all during church, dreading that third hour.  Then when it was time to play I could barely breathe I was so scared.  My hands were sweating and clammy, so my fingers alternately stuck to and slid off of the keys.  I hit some of the keys too hard, some to soft, making the music sound off.  Then there were the keys I just got plain wrong.  And any time I mess up it really throws me off because I want to go back and correct myself, but I can't because everyone else is still singing and oh crap I lost my place!  Where am I? What are all these black dots and lines swirling around the page?! Um, um, um...oh, here I am.  Ok, start playing again...right hand...now both hands.  Phew!  Keep going...keep going...don't mess up, don't mess up...
Aaaannnndddd rinse and repeat.  It's a miracle I didn't give myself a heart attack.  The good news is it's not a calling, just a subsitute gig.  Bad news is I have to sub next week too.  Cue the panic attack.
But really, I'm kinda glad I'm doing this.  It's crazy terrifying, but it's a great chance for my kids to see me do something that's really hard and scary.  Also it forces me to practice, which I have been sadly neglecting to do the past...ever.  So, yay for hard things!

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I started our garden!  I'm very excited about it, though man! it's a lot of work.  First, I tilled the ground.  Then the kids and I attached two additional feet of fencing along the top of our current fence so the chickens can't fly over.  We also stretched a 5 ft tall fence across half the back yard to keep the garden half separate from the regular half.  Then we raked up rows, mounds, and grow boxes (only without the actual boxes). Next we mixed in composted chicken poop and peat moss. Then came the landscape tarp thingies to keep weeds from taking over the aisles,and the irrigation system to, well, irrigate.  Finally, we planted the seeds. Though, to be honest, we haven't gotten to that part yet.  Getting sick last week threw a wrench in my plans.  We should (fingers crossed) be able to finish it all tomorrow.
It's been loads of work, but I find it so darn satisfying.  I always have loved outdoor chores more than indoor ones.  No, that's not true. As a kid I hated gardening.  I thought my parents were the meanest people EVER for making me do things like rake and pull weeds and kill squash bugs.  But now I find it all very rewarding.  (Ok, not the killing squash bugs part.  That's still groady.)  Hopefully I can instill some of that love of work in my children.

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I have been reading some amazing books lately, which I really want to talk about here, but it is getting late and I'm going to call it a night, though maybe I can keep going just a little bit longer, just for the sake of this atrocious run-on sentence.

Till next time, fair minions.  May your days be filled with rewarding work and terrifying challenges that make you grow, though hopefully none that include vomit.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Digging (Life by Design, Part 1)


Aurita was only in my life a short time.  She was an old Army buddy of my husband's and since she needed a couch to crash on, and he lived nearby, she called.  He happened to be out of town that day, so he gave her my number.  I said yes, of course you can come over, though in reality I was quite hesitant because I had never met her before and am shy around new people.  Aurita showed up an hour later.  Turns out she had flown in to SLC from Alaska late the night before.  Wired from her long flight, she opted to go salsa dancing instead of getting a hotel room for the night.  Now it was morning and all she needed was a few hours sleep before driving down to St. George.  See, she was going to attend a three month long survivalist school -the kind where you learn to live off the land.  Aurita had won a scholarship, so tuition, which normally ran in the thousands, was free.  It was probably her essay that got her the free ride, she speculated.  She wrote about her past in Army intelligence.  She made good money, had plenty of job security, but she wasn't doing what she wanted in life.  So when her time was up, Aurita got out and moved to Alaska.  She worked as a rafting guide.  She didn't make much money, but she was happy doing something she loved.

Three years ago Aurita slept on my couch for a few hours, ate spaghetti with me and my kids, and left.   I've never seen her again, and I've never forgotten her.  Because to me, there is something unbelievably inspiring about a person living their life by design.  Instead of going with the flow, and letting life take her where it would, Aurita decided to ditch the safe path, the easy path, and forge one of her own. 

I am an extremely visual person, so when I think of Aurita and people like her, I envision a river.  We're all of us out on the water in canoes and rafts.  We have paddles, so we can steer right or left, and go faster or slower.  But in the end, we're all at the mercy of the river.  We follow it's path.  But there are some people who say, "Screw this! I'm digging my own river!" So they paddle over to the bank, jump into the shallows, and start digging a channel.  It's backbreaking, muddy work.  It's scary, because they don't really know where this new river will lead.  But they dig.  And dig. And dig.  And eventually, their ditch fills with water and they paddle down it.  Sometimes this channel leads to a dead end.  Sometimes it leads to crocodiles.  But sometimes it opens up into a brand new river that is headed exactly where they always wanted to go.  It's filled with people like them -people living their life by design.

That's what I want.  I want to create my own river, forge my own path.  And you know what?  I've already started.  I know where I want my life to go. I've even paddled my canoe over to the embankment and jumped out.  Now I just need to start digging.  It's going to be a thankless, tedious task.  I will need to dig every day for months and weeks and years, but the end result will be the life I've crafted, the life I want.

And guys?  There are shovels everywhere, just waiting to be picked up.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This Cold House

I love our new house.  Well, new-to-us house.  It want to say it was built in the 70s.  It's sooooo much bigger than our last place (almost three times bigger, now that you mention it), and it has that random charm that you often find in older, added-onto homes.  I've always said that I love living in older homes, but I would not like owning an older home.  They are just too much maintenance.  I want a brand-new home that feels old.  All the convenience and efficiency of a new home, with the character and charm of an old one.
Anyway, our new place.  Since it's so big and parts of it are insulatedly-challenged, we've had to be a bit creative with our heat usage.  We live out in the country and our heat is propane, which can get pricey.  We also have two furnaces and two water heaters for the house -which can also get pricey.  So to try to save money, here are five things what we do:

1. One furnace heats the master bedroom and the living room and the other heats all the other rooms.  On super cold days I only turn on the heat to the living room, then close the doors to the rest of the house.  The kids and I spend the day snuggled up on the couch with lots of blankets, hot cocoa, and a fire in the fireplace.  We do homeschool, read, watch Man vs. Wild (Gigi's new favorite show) or Gravity Falls (everyone's favorite show), and make occasional forays into the freezing kitchen for provisions.  On not-as-cold days I go ahead and leave both thermostats on and we use the whole house.

2. The playroom is a long room on the south side of the house. It used to be an enclosed porch, I'm guessing, because there are about three hundred windows along two walls, and a glass door leading to the backyard.  Since this room is on the south side and has five million windows, it warms up faster than the rest of the house.  Which means it doesn't really need the four heat vents it has in there to be open during the winter.  So I closed them.  When we do have both furnaces running we keep the playroom closed off until it's had a chance to warm up on it's own from the sun.

3. Our laundry room/pantry has a door leading outside which is not very well insulated.  To keep it from sucking the warm air out I hung a heavy curtain over the doorway between the laundry room and kitchen.  It works amazingly well.  Today it was a good 10 degrees colder in the laundry room than in the rest of the house.  Take that, Winter!

4. The master bedroom also has a door leading outside that is not hung very well.  Basically any time the wind blows we get a fine layer of dirt on whatever is next to the door.  I can only imagine how much heat is getting sucked out of there.  Since we never use that door anyway, I covered the cracks all the way around it with painter's tape.  Not very stylish, but it gets the job done.

5. At night I turn all the heat off and we stay warm with little space heaters in each of our bedrooms. Everyone stays toasty and we're not wasting gas trying to heat empty rooms.  Win-win.

So, that's that.  Looking forward to those fabled days of spring.  Looking less forward to the sweltering days of summer.  That's going to have it's own challenges.

Happiness and Dishes: Is There a Connection? Stay Tuned to Find Out

Random Fact: There is a direct correlation between my outlook on life and the number of dishes there are in my kitchen sink.  It's true.  I noticed this peculiarity over the past few days.  Whenever there is an empty sink and clean counters, my mood is fantastic.  I feel optimistic about life and ready to face anything.  But if there are dishes piled up in the sink, spilling out onto grimy counters, my mood plummets. I hate everyone and everything.  I grouse my way through washing dishes and cleaning up, and once it's done, viola! The sun is shining, birds are singing, and all is right with the world.
Am I the only one who does this?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Even Though

I'm feeling pretty good lately.  Strong.  Confident.  Capable.  -Not every second of every day, but overall.  I don't know why.  Maybe because I'm actually doing some of those things I've wanted to do for so long.  I've started homeschooling the kids the way I've always wanted but have been too scared to try.  I'm eating the way I should even though it's not nearly as convenient as I'd like.  I'm going to try a new diet for Dale even though that will be crazy hard.  I started teaching yoga again even though I was so rusty and out of shape.  I'm moving past the 'too' (too hard, too scary, too much work) and onto the 'even though'.  It's a good feeling.
I still have a half million things on my to-do list (purge, organize, and deep clean the house; start the Total Money Makeover program; file our taxes; order seeds for spring; read up on companion gardening; practice new yoga routines; and on and on and on...), but I no longer feel overwhelmed by it all.  Instead I feel kind of energized.  Like, "Come at me, bro." 
I can do this. 
I got this.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Two More For Month Two

Month one of my two-pronged plan of attack for the new year is complete.  Let's see how I did:

2014 Goals:

1. Wake up at 6 am every day during the week.

I did okay on this one.  Not great, but not a complete fail either.  I'd say I averaged 1-2 days a week of waking up by six.  Now, normally I'd be super bummed at how badly I'd done on this goal.  I used to look at goals in a very all-or-nothing way.  If I didn't wake up by 6 every. single. time, then I had failed and what's the point of even trying anymore.  But then I read a great article about looking at resolutions as life-changes.  The author talked about how we are like boats -we get going and pick up speed, and after awhile the momentum makes it hard to stop or change directions.  We can't expect to just change a habit or form a new one on a dime.  We need time to change course.  So that's how I'm looking at my resolutions this year.  I didn't keep it perfectly?  That's okay.  I'm slowly changing course.  I'll get there if I keep steering in the right direction.

Okay, tangent over.

2. No screen time while my kids are awake.



This was far more difficult than I'd like to admit.  I am nowhere near eliminating my screen time during the day (especially when it comes to my phone, which is my biggest hurtle), but I am slowly cutting it down.  I think overall I have spent more time reading actual books than reading facebook statuses and blog posts, so I count that as a win.

January Goals:

1. Start teaching yoga again by the end of the month. 

 
I did it!  It's so nice to have a goal that I can check off as done.  
I teach yoga twice a week and it has been fabulous to get back on that horse.  I'm amazed at how much my body remembers and how quickly I've been able to pick it back up again.  Of course just because this goal is done doesn't mean I can let this area of my life slide.  I'm going to work hard to keep learning new poses and sequences so I don't let my teaching get stale. 


2. Blog every day for at least 10 minutes and publish what I write, even if it's terrible.


I wrote 11 blog posts in January. While not the 31 that I should have had, it's a whole heckuva lot more than I did the month before.  In fact, you want to know how many blog posts I published in 2013?  18.  That's right, I wrote over half as many posts in the last month as I did all of last year.  So, yeah.  I'm happy with my progress.
I'm going to try very hard to keep this up.  And the nice thing about my two new goals a month plan is, if I find myself slacking off in the blogging department I can make it one of my monthly goals again.

Okay, now for my new monthly goals:

February Goals:

1. Kneel down in meaningful, non-repetitive prayer every morning and night. 

I have such a hard time with this!  I'm either too tired or too lazy or too forgetful. No more excuses!  Time to turn the boat around.


2. Remove certain foods from Dale's diet which he might be sensitive to, in an attempt to help eliminate or at least lessen some of his Asperger's symptoms.

I've been doing a lot of research lately on the link between diet and autism.  Turns out eliminating things like sugar, gluten, dairy, preservatives, food dyes, etc. from Dale's diet might be able to help him function better.  While we mostly eat Paleo at home, I'm not as strict with the kids as I am with myself.  When we eat out they have burgers and chicken nuggets.  They can eat candy and cookies at friends' houses.  I buy them treats at the store. 

While transitioning to a GF/SF/CF diet won't be as traumatic as it would have been pre-Paleo, it will be quite a bit of work on my part.  I need to get rid of everything in the house that he can't eat.  I have to plan out snacks, pack sack lunches for when we're on the go, and talk to his friends' parents and his teachers at church.  

I'm going to spend this week prepping and next week will start the actual diet.  I'll take notes on how he does and any changes I see.  I'll do this for one month, then evaluate his progress.  It is going to be a lot of work, but hopefully it'll be worth it.



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That's all for tonight folks.  How are your resolutions going?  Remember, you are not built to change overnight.  It takes time. Cut yourself a little slack, and keep turning that boat in the direction you want to go.  You'll get there.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I Don't Know Why I Expected Anything Different

For family night we watched Kid President's Pep Talk.  Here, take a minute to watch it.  Even if you've seen it already, it's worth another go.



Afterward I handed out notebooks and pens and we wrote down a short pep talk to ourselves.  Something we could tape to our bedroom door and see every time we left the room.  Something to cheer us up or get us motivated.

Here's mine:
You are awesome! Go make the world a better place!  -Or the house a better place, anyway.

Dale's:
You're ok.

Whig's:
They're all gonna laugh at you.
(In a good way.)

And of course, Gigi's:
Go make the world a better place by telling people, "Puppies have free will.  Let them run free!  Don't act like they're going to attack you.  I had a pit bull and only once she snapped at me.  Once!  Go make the world awesome, people!"