Thursday, September 4, 2014


I remember sitting in my bedroom at the age of about eight, reading about Mother Theresa and feeling a little tug on my heart. My mom had given me the children's version of her biography and I devoured it! I had no idea there were so many people suffering all over the world. How could that be when my family was so happy and comfortable? I decided I wanted to serve people the way she did, but in Africa (I'd been obsessed with Africa for a while at this point). At the time I had no idea that humanitarian work was something that many people aspire to or even how I would get there; I just knew I wanted to help, and it had to be Africa.

In High School and college I did a lot of research and studying, trying to figure out what program to join, what country to visit, and how to get halfway around the world on Wingers tips and birthday money. 

It looked bleak. 

I started saving and praying for an opportunity to become known to me, realizing that it would take several years to get there. After college I felt a little lost, having just let go of another dream and feeling very unsure of my path. Then I moved into a van in Jackson and started dating Josh, and found my way again, but Africa seemed as distant as ever. I kept trying to fit it into my life and still honor my other dreams of being sealed in the temple and becoming a mother and it never felt like the right time. So, with a very heavy heart, I tucked Africa away, promising myself that I’d find a way, someday, somehow.

Flash forward to last January. I heard a rumor that there might be a trip to Africa in Sunrise's future. 

I think my heart stopped for a moment. 

As incredible as this was, I didn’t dare get excited or even really talk about it to anyone but Josh because I couldn’t handle the heartbreak that would surely come if the trip fell through. I’m not an overly superstitious person, but if the trip fell apart because I jinxed us, I would never forgive myself!

Now, however, our tickets are confirmed, nasty vaccines injected, and funds (mostly) raised. I am bursting with joy, anticipation, and plenty of stress!

So here are the glorious details!

We leave September 25th and return October 9th. The first half of the trip will be spent building a small school for the children of Lusaka, Zambia. After that we will spend a few days on a canoe safari down the Zambezi river (that way the animals come to us rather than us driving around in Jeeps looking for them), landing in Livingstone where we will visit Victoria Falls and rest before saying one last goodbye in the village and flying home.

It truly is a dream come true and I just can’t believe I’m finally going to Africa. The Lord truly does answer prayers in His own time and way. I'm so grateful and excited I can hardly stand it! I feel a bit like Bilbo. 

“I’m going on an adventure!”

Friday, January 10, 2014

"…How Does Your Garden Grow?"

My word for 2013 was Cultivate and here are some of the ways I applied that theme:
Janie's blessing day.

Jane's first swimming pool experience and live theatrical performance!

I was very pleased with Jane at the Playmakers Production of The Wizard of Oz. She watched and listened to the music with perfect attention and even clapped when something exciting happened! It was real cute.

We planted our first garden this year and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!

We were blessed with a bountiful harvest.
 I made almost all of Jane's baby food out of veggies from our own garden!
 Our first camping trip!
I'm super proud of my milk supply. I was able to breastfeed until December 13th, a full month past my goal and Jane had stored breast milk until after Christmas!
I love this guy. He really is wonderful! I owe a great deal of my happiness to him!
The thing about Cultivating something is that it’s slow, gradual, and sometimes painstakingly laborious, but in reference to my previous analogy, suddenly you look out the back door and see vegetables sprouting everywhere! That is how I felt this year! Sometimes, as with some of my relationships, I didn’t even recognize all the work and effort I had been applying until I suddenly reaped the sweet reward and felt deeply humbled and grateful for what I didn’t even know I had been missing before. Some of these experiences are too personal and precious to share here, but know that the Cultivation of relationships had a tender, lovely influence on my life this year.

As I look to the new year, I anticipate some potentially difficult times coming, especially in the Fall. While I’m preparing myself for the inevitability of change, I’ve decided to focus on others. Following the garden analogy I’ve been working from, after seeds have been planted (creating an Increase), nourished, and Cultivated the next logical step is to pick, gather, and enjoy the fruits of labor. Well, if you’ve ever grown a garden you know that there is never enough time, recipes, belly space, and freezer storage to contain it all, and so you Give it away!

This year my theme is Give. I want to share my time, talents, compassion, service, and means with others. I also, especially in the gloomy month of January, want to Give to myself. I want to Give more understanding, time, and especially compassion to myself this year. I expect a lot from myself and sometimes I think it need to literally, 
Give me a break.

2013 will be tough to beat, but as I focus on Giving, I welcome 2014 with open arms and a grateful heart for all it has to teach me!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Confessions of a Working Mother: How I’m Striving to Cultivate All Aspects of my Life!

Here are some of the lessons I’ve been learning in the last ten months:

1. No matter what I do, there will never be enough time in the day and week. And that’s ok. Life, and particularly motherhood, is not a race.

2. Although I believe we have a special relationship, Jane does just fine without me while I work. In fact, I think it’s good for her to be around other people. Her Nana and Auntie Hil love her so much and she lights up when she sees them. I am so thankful for the time and attention they give to her and they teach her things that I forget about or have less patience for.

In fact, here are some of the things Jane learned from her Auntie Hil:
How to stick out her tongue over and over
To dance to ALL different kinds of music
To say (in her own little language) “Are you a….Chowhound?!”

And from her Nana:
How to climb stairs up AND down
To not touch things that are off limits
To “Ride the Horsey”
To clap and flap her arms like a little bird-it’s super cute!
That Mommy always comes back and it’s ok to be away from her
…and so much more!

3. For the first time in my life, I see little value in making lists. I know. Gasp!
But here’s why: See #1. There will never be enough time and something will UNDOUBTEDLY get in the way of my control-freak plan, so rather than beating myself up for not accomplishing all the little things, I’m trying to keep the important things at the forefront of my mind and go with the flow. The little things will work out. Or they won’t. And that’s ok.

4. My time at home is PRECIOUS and I try to take full advantage of my time with Jane.

5. At the end of the day, I feel more satisfied with a messy house and a happy child, husband, and dog, than with a clean house and a child that hasn’t had a story read to her, a husband who hasn’t been kissed and smiled at, and a dog dying for a walk. It’s really easy for me to sacrifice those things for clean laundry and a scrubbed toilet and it just isn't worth it!

6. Also, husbands seem a lot more excited to help scrub toilets on a home-cooked-meal-fed tummy!

7. My attitude truly does determine the mood of our home. When I am peaceful and loving to my family and to myself, everyone seems calm and happy. It’s amazing how a short prayer and decision to change my perspective can restart my day.

These are not lessons I have learned; they are lessons I am learning and it can be really challenging to keep a positive attitude, especially when I’m tired from working the night before, but it is worth it. I am so incredibly thankful for my job and family and the amazing people with whom I get to spend my time, especially my sweet little girl!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Jane!

We celebrated Jane's first birthday on Saturday! It's hard to believe my little Peanut has been on the Earth for a whole year (on Tuesday)! It feels simultaneously like yesterday and a lifetime ago that I was preparing to deliver
So weird.

We chose a Sheep theme for Jane's birthday because for some reason she has a lot of stuffed sheep and just adores them! Every time she finds one in her toy box she pulls it to her face and in the sweetest little voice coos, "Awwwww." 

It's pretty freakin cute!
I originally planned to go way overboard but realized that I have 17 more super fun birthdays to plan and I need to pace myself, so I chose to simplify and boy did I feel relaxed! It was nice to actually enjoy the weekend with family and friends rather than stressing over all the super-cute-but-inevitably-labor-intensive details!
Bobbe and I made the invitations with the help of my handy-dandy Cricut and Hilary helped me make these darling little sheep! Aren't they cute?

Bobbe made all these adorable cupcakes as well as Janie's smash-cake. 

She's so talented!
My mom, her husband Richard, and Cara helped us get the house ready and make some yummy snacks.
I felt so very blessed to be surrounded by so many family and friends who love and support us. I always have a moment at every party I throw, when I feel a flash of anxiety that my guests aren't having fun or I've forgotten something. This time I wondered if I lacked entertainment or a game of some kind, but as I looked around I noticed that not only did each guest seem to have someone to talk to, but that almost everyone was watching Jane with love and enthusiasm in their eyes. I realized that she was the entertainment and her guests were happy to be there to enjoy my sweet little girl. 
I didn't feel pride, only joy and gratitude.
Josh and I went into this party fully prepared for Jane to get fussy, throw her cake at someone, or get bored opening presents, but she did great! She was engaged the entire time and even showed off her walking skills for the group! She won't walk a single unaided step today, but yesterday Janie was a little ham! She loved her cake (but who could blame her) and I think she ate way too much! She LOVED opening presents! She practically crawled into the gift bags and flung the tissue paper over her head (right into my face) to get to the presents within!
Jane attacked her presents with ferocity!

This little girl enriches my life every single day. Her joyful, sweet, expressive personality is a gift and a blessing for which I grow more thankful daily. 

I never imagined that I could love anyone like I love this little family of mine. 
Happy Birthday Jane!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Little Update

Has anyone noticed that casual bloggers post in waves? Well, everyone else is catching up so I will too!

After Josh and I had been married for a couple of months I asked my friend, Kellie, who had been married for two years and was contemplating her second child, "Man! Life got so busy after we got engaged and hasn't slowed down. When does it slow down?" 
She giggled.
Now I understand.
This little kiddo keeps me very busy! She is walking here and there, into everything, and exploring her boundaries. She "helps" me with the laundry, inspects Rosie's food and water, thoroughly organizes our DVDs, and cleans out my tupperware cupboard several times each day. 

Speaking of Rosie, it makes me so happy to see them become friends! I grew up with animals and I am so grateful to have such a sweet, good natured dog to look after little Janie. They share Cheerios, Rosie gives Jane baths, and Jane looks for Rosie every morning and squawks until she is released from her kennel!

Listening to Jane explore and experiment with language is a highlight for me. Each day she seems to have found a new sound to wrap her little tongue around and sing while she plays. 

Some of her words include:
Nigh Nigh (which loosely translates to night night or feed me)
Dat! (that)
Diss (this)
Chitchen (kitchen)
and Nana swears she said Hot Dog the other day!

 Jane is proving to be a very social baby. She is happy to play by herself as long as she's in the same room with me so she can talk to and show me what she's doing. We love our walks and reading books together-thank goodness she's mostly out of the ripping pages stage! She loves music and dances with us and sometimes will match pitch with me and sing along at bedtime!
Reading stories with Briley
Jane is really good-natured (until she's hungry and then all bets are off), so she goes everywhere with me (with a healthy stash of puffs and baby food) and is usually just happy as a clam to be out and about with me. However, as I mentioned, she's testing boundaries so we've had a few tantrums and Josh and I are finding a balance between ignoring (not reinforcing the behavior) and protecting her from flailing her little head into sharp objects...

...she has a flair for the dramatic. Surprise!
And then we sing and read before bed and she just snuggles right in and my heart feels about to burst with love for this little sweetheart!

Josh is busy as ever at work (and you all thought things calmed down after the Summer Season. Hah!) but he's happy. School House Rock opens tomorrow! I am never more proud of my husband than when a parent of one of his Playmakers kids tells me what a difference he's made in their lives. 
He's so great!

I am finally back in the swing of things at work and really enjoying it. It's nice to have a little rhythm again and it's a little less the-end-of-the-world to be back at work. And I think it's good for Jane to develop relationships with others. I think that's part of why I can have her in my YW class while I teach. She checks in with me throughout my lesson, but is so good to sit and play and not be TOO much of a distraction. The rule is the girls can hold her after the lesson if they participate. 
It works out most of the time.

All in all, I am so happy. Life is not perfect and I've obviously omitted the dramatic waves of guilt at leaving my daughter for work or not feeding her a wide enough variety of beans and the process of adjusting your marriage from couple to family that no one warns you about...but I'm happy. 

I feel deeply grateful to be married to a kind, patient, hardworking man who encourages me to love myself like he does. I'm thankful for our rewarding jobs and the means to provide for our family, and I'm thankful for my supportive and loving extended family. And above all, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the privilege of being Jane's mother.