Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What reality do you portray?

Yesterday I had a headache. Which really is nothing new for me, I get them a lot.
But yesterdays headache came after several weeks of pretty crummy health problems that left me bedridden for a significant amount of days.

Normally I would just lay on the couch all day watching movies with whatever kids were home, do some cereal for dinner (which my kids think is like the coolest thing ever, go figure) and then hope and pray they all just went to bed nicely and didn't fight with each other. 

But frankly I was tired of being sick. 
I was tired of spending my life as a mom laying on the couch and watching my children fend for themselves. 
I was tired of cringing every time my beautiful children laughed with each other.
I was tired of avoiding playing with them because it just made my body hurt more.
I was tired of feelings like a mediocre, always sick, mom.

So this time I decided to try and push through.
I get a lot of headaches, like I said before, so pushing through and just living with a headache and trying to force a smile in spite of the battle raging in my head is nothing new. 
I fixed fried chicken for dinner and tried to laugh at the kids jokes at dinner but by the time dinner was over and I had been head butted and hit in the head with a toy car, I gave in to the war in my head and laid down on the couch.

Tayton, my 3 year old, kept laying next to me and rubbing my head and telling me he was protecting me from the loud noises. 
Aowyn, my 2 year old, kept kissing my face and laying on top of me.
Landon, my 7 year old, got everyone ready for bed.
Braddoc, my 5 year old, would talk loud and immediately follow it up by, "Sorry mom, Ill try to be more quiet."
They all were being so sweet and trying so hard to help me, and really all it did was cause another battle to begin in my head..... the guilt trip kind.

I'm sure we have all been there as moms. 
We have had those days where we look back at the end of the day and feel like we failed miserably at our one job.
We have those days where we go to peek in on our sweet sleeping angels and our eyes well up with tears because we so vividly remember how many times we yelled at them and why we yelled and we kick ourselves because we realize that there was no good reason for it at all.
We have those days that we replay in our head over and over again and wish that we could have changed so many things. We wish that we would have done things differently.
We have those days where we just feel absolutely defeated.
I hate those days. I really, really, really loathe them.
Because I'm not a bad mom, I think I'm a pretty great mom. 

But in the quiet of the night, when the noise has calmed down and the chaos has ceased, we can find ourselves lost in thought. We can re-asses all the events of the day and often times we can feel like we just didn't measure up to the person we want to be.

Last night was one of those nights for me.
When I finally made my way to bed I began to sob.
I tried to hold back the tears. I tried not to let the flood gates open, because I knew that once they did there would be no closing them until all the tears had found their way out.
Needless to say, I was not successful.
I sobbed until my snot and tears ran together.
I sobbed until my chest hurt from heaving in and out.
I sobbed until I could barely breath.

I cried because I was tired of being sick. I cried because of all the moments in my life that were robbed from me because of my kidney disease and because of Graves disease. I cried because of bowls of cereal being eaten for dinner. I cried because my sweet 7 year old boy had to get his siblings ready for bed. I cried because my 3 year old has gotten so good at taking care of me. I cried because my 5 year old had to say sorry every time he laughed or yelled out of excitement. I cried because I just wanted to be healthy and feel good for a real, solid, significant amount of time.

 I cried because I was angry. I was angry about everything. 
 I was angry that my body would not let me be the mom I wanted to be. I was angry because I felt like my mind was alive and wanting to break free but my body was weak and failing me. 
I was angry because I want so much more for my kids then them having a life where they are so used to their mom being sick that they know so well how to take care of me.
I was angry because of all the guilt I felt.

Mostly I was angry because in my moment of weakness I felt very alone. 
I feel like we as mom's (as people) try to hide all the bad stuff.
We only talk about the good. 
We talk about how perfect our lives are, and how amazing everything is everyday.
We do this because its easier to talk about these things, its a lot easier to talk about our strengths then it is to admit our weaknesses.
People treat us like we are terribly horrible people when we talk about how hard things are. They tell us we are being "negative" and that when we have a negative opinion its hard to be happy.
Sometimes I just want to scream at the top of my lungs that, "LIFE'S NOT PERFECT!! SOMETIMES LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY HARD!" 
Talking about how hard it is and sharing with each other when we have a rough day, or sharing with each other our inner most feelings of guilt or failure is not a negative thing. In fact I think it can be a positive thing. 
I think that when we start to share these things with each other, when we stop hiding our pain and our hardships behind a fake wall of "perfectness" we start to realize that we are not alone. 
We start to realize that we are all to one degree or another, the same. 

When I'm crying at night and feeling down on myself and wishing that things were so different, I can't help but be a little jealous of all the moms I know out there who have it so much easier then me. Mom's who aren't raising 4 kids. Moms who aren't raising a child with Autism. Mom's who don't have headaches every day. Mom's who don't have health problems plaguing their lives. Mom's who don't struggle with any big problems in their lives. I think about all these moms and I wonder why my life is so much harder then theirs. 

Once the tears dry, and the anger fades though, I realize what a lie it was to be jealous of all those moms. What a false reality it was that I was wishing for. A false reality created by other women, other people, who act like they have no struggles, and if they do have struggles who act like they handled it so gracefully. When we hide behind false images of reality and sell these images to other people we are creating a whole huge world filled with people being burdened down by guilt. 

Its not real, the idea that there is a perfect, trial free, struggle free person out there.
 None of us is with out trials. None of us is without the dreaded mom guilt, or the scars on our hearts caused by regretful decisions we have made. 
I am surrounded by people who I really know nothing about. 
People who consume my mind on nights like last night.
People whose false lives float through my mind and cause me to shed painful and jealous tears.
I think of these people who have never shared their struggles with others, and who never share their weaknesses and I realize that they do this because of their own fears.... their fears of being seen as weak, or imperfect.

Oh how silly this all is.
How silly this false reality is.
Who does it help? Who does it strengthen and uplift?
Certainly not me, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

This morning when I woke up and my mind was clearer and free from false realities, I was able to ponder on my female heroes. The women whose paths I have had the pleasure to cross and who have shared with me their own trials and feelings of weakness. I think about the other women I know who battle nasty health problems and the women who have gone through bitter, pain filled divorces. I think about the women who have shared with me their inner most fears and feelings of inadequacies and I think about how much I admire these women and how much I hope I am like them. When I think about these great women in my life I see them as everything good in this world. I see them as the champions of motherhood. I never see them as weak or negative or shameful. These women are the reality that we should hold on too. They are the reality we should think about when we are feeling down and less then perfect. 

When we feel alone and when the tears won't stop coming, we need not see the false realities of women blasted on Facebook or parading around in front of us. What we should really see is these women of strength and of courage, the real women. The women who know what we are going through because they are going through it too. That is reality. That is what we should share.
And that is what will help dry our tears and give us the courage to continue on, and get back up every time we fall and feel that all consuming guilt.

I know that I have many more days like yesterday ahead.
I know that there are many more tear filled nights in my future.
And I hope and pray that in those moments that I won't ever again feel alone but that I will realize I am in great company and that that knowledge will give me strength.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Agency and why God doesn't have control over everything

The past few days I have been seeing a lot of news stories talking about parents abusing their little children. Most of the time I can't even stomach finishing reading the article because I am just so saddened and sickened by these events. 
Most of the time I'm sure we tend to think, "Why?" 
Why did God send these babies to those families?
Why could these people have kids when so many great people can't?
Why were such sweet spirits allowed to suffer so much? 
Why would these people ever resort to such behavior with their children?

Of course I don't have all the answers.
I don't know why people do the things they do, or why they choose to abuse precious little spirit children of God.
But I do know part of the answer to most of these questions and the answer has everything to do with AGENCY.

We teach that agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and “to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon.” 1 Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions. Our agency is essential to the plan of salvation. With it we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.”-Robert D. Hales

As part of my faith in God as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I know that he does not just sit in Heaven and watch these events transpire and do nothing. 
He may not be able to step in and change the course of events, but he does weep for his beautiful little spirit children. He sees the pain that comes upon them and I know without a doubt in my mind that God loves these children so much that he wishes with everything he can that he could just swoop in and physically take them in his arms and protect them for the evils of this world.
He does the same thing for each one of us when we are suffering, or lonely or depressed. 
He wants to remove whatever it is in our lives and in these sweet babies lives that is causing the pain, but he can't.
Not because he doesn't love us, but because he does.

When we were in heaven we all made the choice to come to this earth to receive bodies and to be placed in situations that would be hard, so that we could grow. 

"We are in the mortal life to get an experience, a training, that we couldn't get any other way. And in order for us to become gods, it is necessary for us to know something about pain, about sickness, and about the other things that we partake of in this school of mortality."
-Joseph Fielding Smith

We had to come here to gain experiences that we would not be able to get in Heaven.
Adam and Eve came to earth and partook of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil so that we could all come to this earth. That great act was the first use of Agency and from then on, every person was sent here to exercise that same Agency.

We are all given situations where we have to make a choice every day and each of those choices comes with a consequence, good or bad. There is always a consequence. We are all beset with human frailties and weaknesses and we all make a bad choice every now and then. Life wasn't meant to be easy or blissful every second, if that were the case we would still be in heaven, learning nothing and never knowing true joy.
If you really think about it, its the times after the great trials of our life, when the darkness fades and the sun shines bright that we really learn what joy is and when we really learn what true gratitude is.

One of my favorite quotes as a kid was by Dolly Parton,
"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."

I think that the beauty doesn't come till after our trial of faith.
Its not till after we have been tested and come out victorious that we really see how strong we are and how loved and blessed we are. 

“It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffer some anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even some failure is normal. Teach our members that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out. There is great purpose in our struggle in life.”- Boyd K Packer

There is great PURPOSE in our struggle in life. 
Its not always clear to us what that purpose is. 
Its up to us to exercise our faith in God and to trust him, to know that he sees the big picture when we can not. He sees the work of art he is creating in each of us as we struggle through life and as we find and learn true joy.

I heard a poem years ago that brings tears to my eyes every time I read it,

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

We don't know what God has planned for us, just like I don't know what Gods plan was for these children or their parents. I don't know if the Mother who beat her child was give a trial where she needed to learn patience and she made the CHOICE to give into her human frailty over and over again until she lost all sight of who she was and became carnal and selfish and these acts lead her to commit a terrible crime for which she seemed to feel no remorse. God doesn't have control over that. He can't make her choice for her but I know with ever fiber of my soul that he is right there with those sweet babies holding them tightly and weeping for them and with them every time they are placed in these horrible situations.

Know this, that ev’ry soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be;
For this eternal truth is giv’n:
That God will force no man to heav’n.

I have a mother who was given the trial in life of Bipolar Disorder.
As a child I was the victim of her rage on many occasions. 
I can remember so many nights crying and pleading with God to take me away from this home.
EVER SINGLE TIME he came to me or he sent angels to me to bring me peace and comfort.
Through a terrible situation I was blessed to be able to grow a deep testimony of my Heavenly Father because he wept with me when I wept and held me close when I felt so very alone.

I wish that these parents on the news had simply turned to their Father in Heaven and pleaded for his help and guidance in their times of struggle and that these sweet innocent little babies would be spared the pain they had to endure. But I have no control over their Agency, only they do.
I have no control over the choices they decide to make or the directions of the path they choose to take, only they do. And I know as a mother that I ache for my children when I see them make a wrong choice or slip up. I want to rush in and pick them up and fix the situation for them, but sometimes that's not helping them. Sometimes I have to watch them stumble and fall and rejoice with them when they learn how to get back up. If I feel that way as an earthly mother, surely our God, our Father, in Heaven feels this same way, but to a degree that we as mortals will never understand. 

The answer to ALL my Whys, is not a simple one, nor will I know all the answers here in this life, but I do know the God doesn't LET these things happen to people, he LET'S people make their own choices and exercise their own Agency because that was part of the plan of coming to earth. I also know that God doesn't just sit by and idly watch these tragic events transpire. He weeps for them and pleads for them to stop and to turn to him. He wraps these babies up in his arms and protects them as best as he can. And sometimes he takes these babies home with him, to a place where they will never know such pain again, to a place where they will be protected and loved and watched over. 

God doesn't make or let these things happen, People do!
But God is always there, doing anything and everything he can to bring some light into the darkness.

(To learn more about what Mormon's believe about Agency go here.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crack Coconut Chocolate Bars

I found a delicious looking pin on pinterest a few weeks ago and it has been on my mind almost daily since then. 
I had a house full of sick kids and then surgery to remove a kidney stone and just have never gotten around to making the beautiful creation I found.

That is until yesterday.
I finally pulled the pin up and dove into baking.
And I kid you not it was so EASY that it should be illegal. 
Its so delicious and addicting that it should be illegal too.
In fact as soon as we finished off the pan I wanted to make more. (I'm trying to be strong and not make them till Tuesday... that's enough time in between right? right?)
I have dubbed them (because of there quickly addicting nature) Crack Bars.

Doesn't that just look delicious?
If you never listen (or read, whatever) to another word I say promise me you will at least listen to this..... You need to make this, you won't regret it. 
{Okay maybe you're waist will, and your inner thoughts of "did I really just eat 5 of those?"will}
But really you'll just be glad you listened.

So this deliciousness is over at Inside BruCrew Life.
 I seriously wish this lady was my best friend because she has some absolutely delicious recipes.
You can find her recipe here.
All you need is...
1 chocolate cake mix 
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
4 cups shredded coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream
Go Visit her site to find the full details of her recipe!!!

So side note... does anyone else love to lick the can of sweetened condensed milk clean? No? Just me? Okay well know yall know my dirty little secret!!! Shhh, don't tell!

I of course had to do some adapting because we are Gloriously Gluten Free, (I have to add the gloriously in there to make me feel special, since there is such a lack of Gluten Free specialness {yes its a word, or maybe I made it up} out there.)

So In my adaption I used Betty Crockers Devils Food Cake mix. 
Seriously Betty has saved me so from so many hair ripping out incidents. 
Before she started making these GF boxed cake mixes I was forced to look at heavenly treats like these Crack Bars with only the wish of being able to have them. It was either wish or spend many painstaking hours trying to figure out how to make a GF boxed cake mix on my own (yes I tried, and obviously I was not successful.) 

I also VERY RARELY have whipping cream in my house. 
Is that a staple in houses? Im clueless about that, cause its sure not a staple in mine.
So I have learned to adapt.... us Gloriously Gluten Free peeps have to learn have to do that a lot.
I make my own whipping cream, and its super easy.
The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of whipping cream and the following recipe makes a cup. 
So for this recipe just half it. Also this recipe is not as thick so I threw it in the freezer for about an hour to get the chocolate to harden up faster. Then I left it out on the counter covered and the chocolate stayed hard.

All you need is whole milk and butter.
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup butter 
1. Melt the butter.
2. Pour it into the milk, and stir.
3. Use in place of one cup of heavy cream.
See? Super easy right?
You can do this!!! 
Go make them now! You know you want too!!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mini Me Wynnie

Aowyn follows me around everywhere.
She likes to do everything that I do, and eat everything I eat (including stealing my gum).
She loves to sing and dance and play dress up and help me cook and clean.
She is basically the perfect little girl.
Plus she is super smart, after we put her to bed one night she figured out of the open her door, so we put the child lock knob on, she figured out how to take that off, so we locked her door and she figured out how to unlock in all in less then 10 minutes.
This lead to us changing around the lock on her door at 4 am, yes you read that right, we preformed a very delicate door knob changing procedure at 4 am (well Noah did, I slept).

She is so funny and cracks me up all the time.
She laughs so hard and makes the silliest faces, and she knows she is funny. I love to listen to her laugh at her own jokes and at her own silly faces.

She wants to be a big kid with her brothers so she tries to do everything that they do. And most of the time she is very successful.

I got a bunch of peaches to can and they were sitting on top of the microwave. 
I was folding laundry and came to check on her.
She had a butter knife and was cutting the peaches in half and taking the pits out and putting them into my kitchenaid.
Apparently she thought she was being super helpful.
She was very proud of herself.

She loves to just go and lay on the stairs. 
She will run away from me and then giggle as she throws herself to lay down on the stair, its like her "base" or something. Its pretty funny to watch. She is almost giddy out of the exciting fear of getting caught.

She loves to put on dress up clothes and has also learned how to climb onto the counter to get a cup out. She usually does this if Im not getting her a drink fast enough. I have to put the stool in the pantry so she can't use it to climb on the counter.

She loves jewelry, purses, ponies, shoes and baby dolls. I can always find her walking around with one of these things

Her and Tayton are the only two home for 3 hours a day during the week and this has made them become best buddies. I love watching them play together. Especially when Tayton decides he is going to play with the "girl stuff" too.

Aowyn got a baby doll swing for her birthday. She thinks its for her.
She sits in it all the time. I swear she is going to break it very soon.

She potty trained herself.
Santa brought her undies and one day during Christmas break she yelled to me "POTTY!" so I laid her down to change her diaper, but there was nothing in it, so I told her she was clean and she yelled potty again and took off for the bathroom.
I sat her on the potty and she went and has only had about 5-6 (pee only) accidents since then, it has almost been a month.
She is also usually dry during nap time too, and will yell for us in the middle of the night if she needs to go potty.
Its pretty wonderful.
Tayton was still having accidents and he has stopped those since Aowyn got potty trained, he can't let his LITTLE sister out do him.

Every day when Braddoc gets home from school they have the sweetest embrace. She is dancing out of excitement as soon as she sees him. He usually hugs her and picks her up. 
They are such good little friends.

All of these pictures are on my Iphone, so excuse the blurriness of them. I feel like the only pictures I ever have time to take anymore are on my phone.
I sure do love this little girl.
She has changed my life in so many wonderful ways.
She has changed all of us and made us all a little better.
What a sweet miracle little lady she is.