Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Perspective Changing Experiences

I think that you experience things in life that changes you. It changes how you view life, what your perspective is, your understanding of things, and many other things. Sometimes these experiences are things that happen to you but sometimes they are things that happen to others that you know and love. In my life, I have had both.
Just over five years ago, one of my good friend's husband was killed in a car accident. She and I were both expecting and it really hit home for me. Thankfully, her husband had very good life insurance, but no amount of money can replace a loving, kind, and good man to have by your side. She was able to get through the difficult time with faith, love, and support from family and friends. She recently married an very good man who loves her boys as his own.
Almost a year later, one of my best friends was diagnosed with cancer. This was her third time trying to fight this terrible monster. The first two times were breast cancer and she was victorious. This time it had gone after her liver, and unfortunately she passed away about two and a half months after the diagnosis. She was a lady that shined with goodness and light. She tried to think of others and was always there when you needed her. She left behind a wonderful husband and three beautiful children. Two who were in their teens (or close to) and one sweet girl that was three. I had the blessing of watching her little girl for a few years. It gave me the chance to stay close to her family and have a little bit of her in my home each day. Her husband remarried a beautiful woman and her children have grown into wonderful people. There is hardly a day that doesn't go by that I don't think of her. She has influenced my life far more than I think she knew.
Just over two years ago, I had a beautiful daughter. She came after a long line of boys and is a joy in my life. However, after giving birth, I began to experience a dark time in my life. I had postpartum depression. I have already written about it in a different post. Suffice it to say, it was one of the hardest times in my life.
This month, I've experienced two more of those kind of experiences. First, I suffered a miscarriage early in January. I was about 8 weeks along, although the sac only measured about 5.5 weeks. Thankfully I was able to have an ultrasound to see what was going on and they could not see a baby inside of the sac. The term is called a "blighted ovum". Sometimes the sac forms but no baby formed. It was a great comfort to realize that although I did lose a pregnancy, I didn't lose a baby. It was still a loss, but not as emotional as if there had been a baby there.
Then last Saturday, one of my dear friends, suffered a venous stroke. She is a few years younger than me and has three children, one that is only two weeks old. Last I heard, she was struggling controlling the right side of her body and with speech. I hope and pray that she can fully recover from this life changing event.
All of these experiences have taught me many things. I'm constantly reminded to be grateful for the time I have with my wonderful husband, with my children, and with other dear loved ones. I have also been humbled and learned again and again that I am not in charge. My plan is NOT always what GOD's Plan is. HE is the one in charge and He knows what we each need. I also have seen many tender mercies given to my friends and myself to know that GOD does LOVE US!
So as you go forward and have life changing experiences, know that you are not forgotten, even when you feel like you are.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Living Life even when you Struggle

Hi All,
I don't really know how many people read this blog. I know that I'm not very consistent with writing, but hope to find a way to do more this year.
Life for the past two plus years has been crazy for us. We bought, remodeled, and moved into a new home all while I was pregnant with our fifth child. After the baby was born, the house was a disaster still from moving (we moved when I was eight months pregnant about three weeks before Christmas), I was sleep deprived and had a new baby that took sometime to figure out. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love our new home and our baby, but I was overwhelmed!

Then Summer hit and I hit a wall! I was grumpy with my kids, had a baby that was very fussy, a house that was still a mess, and didn't get much of a break from any of it. I would have thoughts about just driving into oncoming traffic so I could see what would happen. This WAS NOT me! Thankfully, my sweet husband told me "I can tell you are struggling. You need to get help NOW." So I went to my doctor and got a prescription for antidepressants and also started seeing a therapist.

Within a few weeks, I started feeling better and being more patient with my children. My crazy thoughts stopped coming and I finally felt somewhat normal. I have to say that most of that is due to the antidepressants.  I struggled connecting with my therapist and opening up to her. I tried, but I just didn't feel comfortable with her, so I couldn't be myself. I just put on the face that I put on most of the time. Anyway, by the beginning of 2017, I was off of the antidepressants and feeling good.

Then summer hit again and I could feel myself slipping. So I still had some of my prescription left and I started taking it more regularly. It helped. Once school started, I was able to wean off again. I can't say that I'm 100% but it's better than it was. I miss my old self and am trying to figure out who I really am. I think that mom's often feel like they lose a sense of who they really are. I know I feel that way sometimes.  This year, I hope to figure out who I AM!

Monday, April 4, 2016

General Conference Thank You Notes

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), we meet every six months in April and October for a General Conference (#LDSConf). It is an inspiring and uplifting experience and I always come away with a heart full of gratitude and a resolve to do and be better. 
This past weekend, we had General Conference. It was once again an amazing weekend of listening to those whom we believe are prophets and apostles teaching us the things that the Lord would have us do. 
As I listened to conference, I kept thinking of "Thank you" notes that I would like to write. I'm a Jimmy Fallon fan and love to hear his thank you notes that he writes. So I have come up with a few "Thank You" notes that I would write after General Conference. Here they are: 

1. Thank you, Elder Andersen, for letting us know that "While a child's earthly situation may not be ideal, a child's spiritual DNA is PERFECT!" That brings great comfort to this mom of a special needs child! Thank you!
2. Thank you, Elder Ballard, for telling us parents that what our children really need is someone to listen to them. And thank you for telling us all to put away the electronic devices and pay attention to each other a little bit more! 
3. Thank you, camera guy, for zooming in on Pres. Monson as he greeted Sister Ballard with a kiss on the hand. It helped us see how much he cares for other people!
4. Thank you, organist from Saturday Morning, for playing the hymns that were mentioned in the session as the postlude music after the meeting. It was beautiful. 
5. Thank you, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, for wearing blue during the Saturday Morning session. It made all of the families affected by Autism so happy to see you lighting it up blue in your own little way! (April 2 is Autism Awareness Day)
6. Thank you, Elder Holland, for helping to create a new tradition for many families of having ice cream after conference is over on Sunday night. My children appreciate you! 
7. Thank you, Pres. Uchtdorf, for lettting us see your heart as you stood with tears on your cheeks to conduct after Elder Kearon's talk about refugees. It reminded us, that you too, were once a refugee. 
8.Thank you, Elder Hales, for gathering the up the strength to come and share a wonderful message about the Holy Ghost and your witness of the Savior Jesus Christ!
9. Thank you, Sister Durham, for reminding us that the Holy Ghost will teach our children in the way that they learn the best. 
10. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for providing a prophet and apostles in our day to help guide us through this journey of life!

I could go on and on but I will stop. Here is a link to a summary of the messages from this weekend. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Helping your kids make school lunch

This year, I'll be making 3 school lunches each day. In the past, I have only had to make one. To help streamline the process, I have created a lunch making area in one of my cupboards. I keep all of the supplies needed there. I'm hoping it will help!
I also decided that my children need to help make their own lunches. To help them understand what to put in their lunch, I made this handy little chart and hung it on the cupboard with the lunch supplies in. I'm hoping it helps them in deciding what goes into their lunch.
What are some things you do that help lunch making go smoothly?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Keeping a routine during Summer Time!

One of the hardest things for me during the summer is changing up our routine and helping my kiddos adjust to being home all of the time. This summer I'm trying to help them understand that just because they are home, it doesn't mean that they get to be lazy or just play all day. They still have things that they need to do each day before playing. Don't get me wrong, their day is mostly filled of having fun, but I do need to have some help around the house. I also want them to having active learning experiences daily to help them stay sharp and remember what they learned in school. Soooo with the help of Power of Moms Summer Camp and Family Systems Programs, I'm trying to have a fun filled summer with the kiddos!
First I made a daily to-do list for each child. My kiddos LOVE lists so hopefully they will LOVE checking off this list each day. It's a basic list of things that they need to do each morning, afternoon, and evening. I'm laminating them so that they can use them over and over. I think I will tape them to our wall by our calendar and other family items. Here is a blank one and one that I have filled out.  So far, it's working well.
One suggestion that the Summer Camp program says to do is to have themed days for the week. I found a couple online that I liked, but decided to do my own twist. Here is a copy of what I came up with.
I'm still working on the daily jobs and will share that schedule after I get it done. I hope this helps someone out! The most important thing is to enjoy your kiddos and make some fun memories this summer!

Family Vacation: South Dakota

We just got back from our family vacation to Western South Dakota. We live about 10 hours away, but thought it would be a great trip for our family. It involved a LOT of driving (both to SD and around to the sights), but our kiddos did great. It helped that Grandma & Grandpa came along with us.

I have had a lot of people ask "What is there to do in South Dakota?" There is actually a lot to do. I was pleasantly surprised :) I decided to share some of the fun things that we did. I'll also attach our itinerary just so you can see how we did everything. Obviously, depending on how much time and the age of everyone going on the trip, would depend on what you do. But at least it gives you a jumping off point.

  1. Mount Rushmore - I know, I know, everyone knows about Mount Rushmore. Can I just say that is truly is amazing and spectacular! 
    •  Make sure that you go to the movie and learn about why and how it was built. 
    • Go in the morning for great lighting and less people.
    • Go to the evening Ranger Talk and lighting ceremony. Stay for the retiring of the flag for the opportunity to honor all of the veterans in the audience. 
    • Get the Jr. Ranger booklets for your kiddos to do. Then make sure they get their badge. (my kiddos learned a lot and thought it was great to get a badge). 
  2. Wind Cave National Park - This is one of the largest caves in the world. It is really cool. This is a great choice if the weather is stormy.

    • Go there first thing. They often sell out of tours. (It's first come, first serve).
    • Natural Entrance Tour is good for kids. We went on this one. It was a lot of walking and not as much talking. The kiddos LOVED walking through the cave and seeing how cool it was. They were patient during the stories that were told, but I think much more talking would have lost their attention. 
  3. Custer State Park - There is so much to do here!
    • Sylvan Lake is a fun place to stop for lunch. There is a beach where you can get in and swim. You can also hike around the lake and some cool rocks in the area. 
    • Needles Highway is a must drive. It is beautiful and majestic. Lots of great photo ops.
    • Wildlife Loop is great especially in the morning or early evening. We went during the middle of the day and didn't see as much as we would have at a different time of day. We saw buffalo, prarie dogs, wild turkeys, burros, deer, and antelope. 
    • Iron Mountain Road - Another cool drive with fun tunnels and bridges. If you can't do the whole thing, start on the Keystone side and just go up through a couple of tunnels and then turn around and go back down. 
  4. Story Book Island - This is a MUST DO if you have children younger than 12. It is a park themed after stories, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes.  We played there for a good 3-4 hours. It is free and one of the highlights of the trips for the whole family. I don't have any picture without my kiddos, but just trust me, it's SO FUN!
  5. Crazy Horse Memorial - This is amazing. I found it fascinating to learn so much about people dedicated to a cause and what they are willing to sacrifice for it. 
  6. Stay in Hill City - Hill City is centrally located but isn't as much as a tourist trap as Keystone and Custer. It's a quiet little city with some fabulous eating places (Bumpin' Buffalos, Alpine Inn, Hill City Cafe) and some fun museums and shopping. We stayed at Trails End Cabins. Can I just say, if you can at all possibly stay there, do so. Doug and Mary are the owners. They were so helpful and kind. They were willing to make suggestions and answer any questions that we had. There is a firepit, hot tub, patio, and bbq area that we enjoyed using. It is just a couple of blocks off of the main road and borders a forest area. It feels like your in the forest away from the city. Their prices were comparable to other hotels in the area and the service was beyond compare! 
That was our trip in a nut shell. If you want to see how it all came together. Here is a copy of our Itinerary. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Calling All Odd Squad Fans!

We made it through the birthday party! Yay! This was definitely challenge. I had to do it the old fashioned way! I watched several episodes of the show and played the games online. That helped to get the ideas flowing! Here is what I came up with.
 1. Badges as name tags
I made a page of badges and just printed it on yellow paper (saved me tons of colored ink :)). As each child came, they wrote their name and we taped it on their shirt. They also each received a small magnifying glass (dollar store, party favors section).  Unfortunately, the magnifying glasses didn't even make it through the party. (I think I would have just included them in the party favor envelope if I did it again).
2. I found a picture of a magnifying glass. I printed 3 pages off (2 per page). On each one, I wrote a mission (and numbered them). Here are some pictures of them.

I hid them all over the room and we had to find each mission clue and then do it before finding the next clue. We ended up skipping #4 because we had already done it as part of another game. The kids loved finding each mission.
The missions that we did were:
#1 - The shape monster came and hid all of the shapes. Can you find the shapes??  Each child looked for the shapes. After we found them all, we sorted them by shape and then colors.
#2 - The centigurps have escaped! The only way to get them back into their boxes is by carrying them on your head. Work with your team to get them in quickly! I bought a pom pom maker (such a great tool, I got mine at Micheal's) and made 20+ bright pink pom poms. They were a big hit! We divided the kids into two teams and gave them the same amount of centigurps. One child from each team ran with it on their head and dropped it into a box. Then ran back to their team and the next child went. The kids LOVED it and had a fun time. They enjoyed the centigurps so much that we put them all on a small parachute and tossed them up and down. When they all fell off of the parachute, we stopped and the kids had to catch them and put them back on. 
#3 - Agents need to stay in shape! Practice by going through the obstacle course. My friend has a gymnastics triangle and a hopscotch carpet. We borrowed those and used folding chairs for the kids to weave around ( you could use cones , we just didn't have any). We also had them throw ball pit balls into a basket. You could use anything around your house to make a fun obstacle course. The kids loved this one too! 
#4 - The ball pit balls are going crazy, try to keep them in the parachute without losing any! We didn't do this because we had used the parachute with the centigurps. 
#5 - All agents need to refuel. Take a break and have some lunch! I usually don't do food at parties because I would rather spend my time and money on games and the gifts we send home. However, I bought some cheap pizza and juice boxes for this party. I did this so I didn't have to worry about feeding my kids after the party. It was nice to take a break and eat for a few minutes. 
#6 - It's important to practice you counting skills! Play a little game of dice and cover the numbers as you go. I found some big dice at the dollar store and a four-leaf clover with numbers on it. The kids rolled the dice and cover the number. It was a fun game. 

After all of the missions were complete, we opened presents. We still had a few minutes before the party ended, so we decided to make special agent called #5 (that's how old the birthday child was turning). I found a number 5 and printed out a bunch and cute them out. The kids colored them, made arms and legs, and decorated them. 

As the party favors, I tried to put thing in that connected with the games we played. They each got a balloon, bouncy ball, two centigurps, a detective notebook and pencil.  I was going to put two dice in them, but forgot to pick them up at the dollar store when I was there. All of the items went into a small manilla envelope that had Top Secret written on it. I wrote their names on the envelopes as they picked them up. They had strict instructions that the envelope was top secret and should only be opened at home! The kids thought it was great!
The notebook had pages of activities that they could do. Some of the pages, I found online and edited them to make them work. Some I made my self. The notebook were the size of a 1/2 sheet of 8.5x11 paper. 
My kiddo that wanted the Odd Squad party was delighted with how it turned out. To me that meant that it was a successful party!
Here is a link to the files that I used.  As always, if you have any questions, please let me know! 
Have a Extraordinary Day!

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