Saturday, April 5, 2014

Life as we know it

Well folks, life has been crazy lately. Isn't it always?

I'm movin on up in this world. I just got a new job. I'm now working at the Southwest Behavioral Center. I've only worked for one day and know its going to be right up my alley! I pretty much just watch kiddos, go to group therapy, do activities with them, and then go out to eat with them. Its a pretty awesome job and honestly it felt like I wasn't even working! In fact it reminds me of a lot of what I did as a volunteer at The Erin Kimball Foundation. Also, during the summer I get to go to girls camp! I LOVE camping and it sounds like its going to be a blast!

Then I have another job lined up with "Allies for Families" and its a partnership with DCFS. I would work with at risk families that are on the brink of losing their custody to the state. I would go in and work with them teaching them parenting/life skills so they can prove to the state that they can keep their kids. It sounds like it would be a fun/interesting job. The only problem is that during our home study the licensor said that they may not make any matches with us for foster care if I'm working for AFF because it may be a conflict of interest since I'd be working for the very families that may need foster care. So I'm not entirely sure this job will work out since in the end I'd much rather do foster care. We shall see.

We finally got licensed to be foster care parents!! I say finally but really it actually happened way faster than I was expecting! I mean we started this process back in February and we are already licensed two months later! Crazy! I don't think my house has been as clean as it was when we had our home study. I was stressing over the weekend that everything looked completely spotless. The licensor was such a gruffy guy and so chill that I think he hardly noticed.

We thought that we were only going to be approved for one child because our spare bedroom was like 2 ft too short for the requirements. The licensor measured Jayda's room and her room was almost at the cut off for the requirments so he said as long as we switch Jayda's room with the spare room we could be licensed for two kiddos! So of course we said yes. Now we just wait for Ben the caseworker in charge of matches to contact us to meet and get to know our family. Once that happens then it is just a matter of waiting for the call. It's crazy to think that everything may change as soon as this summer in our family dynamic!

In other big news, Jayda is starting kindergarten this year! We registered her last week and it was all surreal! She was so excited to go see her new school and when we went into the office she demanded to meet her new teacher and classmates. They of course said they couldn't do that because they didn't know but she didn't seem to understand. They thought it was so funny that this little girl who looked like she was 2 or 3 years old was talking like such a big girl. She may be small but her large personality makes people instantly gravitate to her. We met the principal and he seemed like a pretty cool guy. He even challenged her to a race down the hall. We go back on the 17th for assessments for which I'm sure she will do great! She's such a smarty pants.

Jayda is also into the phase of talking about getting married. She has a few husbands lined up and one week will be married to a classmate and the next week she will tell me she broke up with him. It's so funny but crazy that she's already boy crazy! She cracks me up!

She's quite the social butterfly too. Sometimes it scares me how social she is because she doesn't understand boundaries. The other day I found her outside on the sidewalk sitting next to this guy from baja talking to him. I dont know how many times I've talked to her about talking to strangers but she doesnt seem to grasp the concept. I told her to come here and said she shouldn't be talking to that guy because he's a stranger. She said, "But Mom, he smells good!" Talk about scary! I don't know what to do/say to help her understand that its not ok! She just sees the best in everyone that she can't fathom that anyone would do anything bad to her. I have to watch her like a hawk because of it.

Haven is getting so big! Well she's really not THAT big or as the doctor said at her last appt, "she's not breaking any growth records either". I think she was like 20lbs at her last appt. What is funny is Jayda is only about 6-7lbs bigger than Haven so to me Haven is huge! She is teething right now she she is straight up miserable. When she was a baby she was so chill but she's gotten quite the sassy little attitude. She lets me know if something is bothering her and isnt afraid to let her sister know who is boss. Jayda will try to give her a hug and she will just push her away and yell and then immediately come to me and give me a hug instead. Poor Jayda is just a sweatheart and gets her feelings hurt but I think Haven is just going through a weird phase right now. When she does give her sister a hug though it is precious and Jayda gets so excited.

Haven also doesn't like to say mama. I ask her to say mama and instead she'll smile and say, "Daddy, da-da!"

Haven currently loves to climb on EVERYTHING! I'll find her on the coffee table, on top of the jayda's kiddy table messing with the lights, the top of the couch, on top of the bed, etc. Then she gets pissed she can't get back down. So I have to put anything she can step onto high up so she can't climb anything. She also loves to play in the toilet and so I know if I hear splish splashing its Haven playing in the toilet when someone (cough cough...Jayda) forgets to close the lid. Also, she's pooped in the bathtub more times than I can count. Nothing like vacating the bath only to go poop fishing with a plastic cup. I don't know which is worse, tons of pebble poop or the runs. Yuk!

She also likes to sprinkle tuperware all over the house. I literaly can track her movements by tuperware lids.

Also, why did we buy new furniture? How could we have been so naive. Never again!

This is from the other week when we decided to go down to vegas to see the cousins! We were planning on going to Zions but it was terrible weather so we decided last minute to go down to vegas for the day.

As for me, lately I've been obsessed with crossfit and eating healthier! I'm determined to whip this body back into shape! I've been neglecting myself and my health and I need to change it. I've been going to crossfit almost everyday during the week either early in the morning before Chase goes to work or in the afternoon after he gets home. I've been at it for almost a month. I was getting super frustrated because I was working my butt off at crossfit, plus working out at home, and eating healthy and I hadn't lost a freaking pound! I definetely noticed a change in my body so I know that I was building up muscle tone but it was still completely frustrating working so hard and not seeing number results.

But this weekend I talked to my sister and she told me to toss my scale away or to have Chase hide it! So that's what I'm going to do. I'm also going to start eating completely clean this week and not eat something unless they have just a few ingredients on the label, sticking to whole foods, and not obsessing over calorie counting but trusting the process. The problem would be that I would step on the scale and see no progress and by the end of the week get so frustrated that I would just say who cares what I eat its not working anyways! So I think by throwing away the scale I wont get discouraged anymore. I mean how sad is it that a number on a scale dictates my happiness and mood for the day? The fact of the matter is I have felt AMAZING since becoming healthier and everything else will naturally follow.

I'm also proud because Chase has been coming to crossfit too. He screwed up his knee and it was all swollen so he had to back away for a bit but he's going to get right back to it. Its so addicting and I love going there because the trainers are awesome and the people that go are strong but not "in your face, better than you" kind of people. It's been really fun to watch my growth and myself getting stronger. And since starting about a month ago I've never done the same workout twice. I highly recommend it to anyone that is curious about it.

Chase is still doing the same ole same ole. Working his butt off as usual. This week has been extra hard for us because he's been working both jobs constantly so we havent seen much of him. But hopefully this next week wont be as bad. His girls (all of us) miss him but we gotta do what we gotta do sometimes! We're also trying to track down either an SUV or a....mini van. Yes I said that right. A mini van. We've come to that point in our lives where we just turn in our cool card for the old lady who doesn't care what people think and actually cares about economics and space card. So everyone can just suck an egg! We will rock that mini van...hardcore.

Welp that's life as we know it. Until next time. Click.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Big Life Decision #576

Well Chase and I have been busy, busy, busy!

Recently, we made a huge life decision. I know...another one!

Just know like all of our other decisions we didn't come to this lightly, without weighing the pros or cons. We've thought about doing this for awhile, but it was never the right time for our family.

Recently, Chase and I have decided to become foster parents!!!

I know, I know...that probably came out of no where! But this has been something we've discussed doing since before we were married. After we had Haven we quickly came to the conclusion that we are done-zoids when it comes to having more children naturally. Sure, its partly to do with my mean old uterus, but a lot of it has to do that we are just purely content in having just two kids the ole natural way. I know, not very normal in Utah, but then again I don't claim to be a normal Utah resident.

Many may not know that I have a degree in Psychology and that one of my main interests during school was of children who have been through trauma. I also plan to become a caseworker in either adoption or for CPS. Eventually I want to get my LCSW but dont plan on pursuing that until my kids are in school. So I am not uneducated in what we will be faced with as a family and I know that foster care isn't for the faint hearted. It's going to be hard work. It's going to require sacrifice of our time and attention, but its something we are both extremely passionate about.

I also believe in the training we are recieving from DCFS and the support system they have set up for foster parents.

When we were dealing with infertility we briefly looked into doing foster care to adopt. It was a cheap way of adopting and we liked the idea of helping children in need. But our hearts weren't ready to be broken when they were already broken into pieces over not being able to concieve. When it came down to it we wanted a baby and we wanted one that was going to be ours with a ZERO percent chance of being taken away. In foster care that just isn't ever a guarantee. We had to deal with our own baggage before we brought that into an already difficult situation.

Our hearts were just not ready for it.

I'm so glad we waited because our lives are in such a different place right now. We are completely content with our two children. And we are going into foster care with the perspective that our main goal is for reunification to the birth parents, not for adoption. We are very open to the possibility of adoption if that is on the table but its not what we are seeking.

One big hurdle was also the fear that I would be so heartbroken if reunifcation occured. But I had to change that perspective because in reality thats very selfish. If you only help people for the prospect of what you may or may not get out of it then you aren't thinking about the person in need but only about yourself. It's an understandable concern and I'm sure when that happens to us it will be difficult but I see no reason for that to be a reason NOT to do it.

Another thing...I understand why people may have reservations doing foster care especially when having young children. You don't know what these kids have been through and you wouldn't want to invite these kids to cause physical or emotional harm to your biological children. We understand this concern but we have taken the adequate provisions within our power and with our caseworker to prevent this. I have worked with children that have had traumatic pasts so I am not naive to this concern. And although these children can be a handful its important to remember that these kids need love and attention too. They aren't black sheep who need to be turned away. They are CHILDREN. Most of them are absolute sweethearts in a sticky situation.

In foster care they have 3-4 levels of placement difficulty. The first level is the easiest and most basic physical/emotional needs and up to the most difficult of 3-4. For first time foster parents they almost always match you with level 1 placements. As DCFS trains you more and you gain more experience they give you more difficult placements if that is what you want.

When I was in high school we had a family member come to us in need for a friend to have a place to stay for awhile. It was a man who had a family and was traveling. He was in a sticky situation and needed a temporary place to stay and so they thought of us. We had 3 open bedrooms and 1 open bathroom. We had plenty of space. My dad and I were very reluctant. We didnt know who this guy was and I was a little creeped out that he would be living near me--a teenage girl. I let fear get in the way of not helping this guy who was in need of help. My dad said the final say was up to me since I'd be the one who'd be in the same area of the house as him. I told my mom absolutely not! Then my mom said well I hope that when we sing the hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much" we can keep a straight face. I stuck my nose in the air and said "Too bad! It's just not smart."

Sure, maybe I saved myself from a lot of heartache and a bad situation but I still think about that man very frequently. I let my judgments and preconcieved notions get in the way of helping someone out. I really regret turning away that man that needed help. And have decided to not let fear stand in the way of helping others.

Does that mean that I won't be smart and put my children in a bad situation? Absolutely not! We've decided that teenagers are out of the question for the time being. We have asked for children from the ages of 0-5 and no older than 10 if in a sibling pair. We will be able to hear the background of every case before we accept or decline (as much as the caseworker knows of course). And we are asking for the most basic of needs to begin with. I won't ever put my kids in a situation that could put them at risk. My children will never be alone without my supervision. In fact our trainer said the first 6 months of any match he suggests watching the sibling interactions very very closely.

With that said, I know there are reservations and frankly people can think what they want. I understand foster care hasnt been a positive experience for everyone but we've done our research and feel comfortable with the decision we've come to.

We hope to expand our family through adoption of older legally free children but we're not going into it for that reason. We want to teach our girls to love unconditionally even if there is a chance that child wont get to join our family.

We appreciate others kind words of encouragement, but frankly I don't want to hear anything negative about our decision. We get its not for everyone and some people may disagree with our decision but if you feel that way please keep it to yourself.

Chase and I are beginning the 32 hour training every tuesday and thursday for the month of Februrary. After that we will get a homestudy and background check done and have to fill out a mountain of paperwork. They also have great support groups of other foster care parents in our area which I think will be such a vital thing to have. At that point we will then just have to wait for a match. It could take awhile to get a match or it may take no time at all. We are very excited for this next chapter in our lives!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Here we go 2014!

I know this is a bit late but we've been going non-stop the last few weeks that we hardly even have time to talk to each other until late at night!

I'm so excited to begin a new year! I feel like its been wiped clean and we can begin fresh. I'm not going to lie last year was especially difficult for me. At the same time, I grew so much as a person, mother, and wife. I wouldn't have changed it for anything. Some days I feel the need to move on but then it's difficult to change a mindset that you've had for 25 years all while your surrounded by people who believe as you used to. It's not that simple. My motto for this year is:

One thing that I've tried to focus on is to...

I know it's easy to get caught up in the day to day, but when I look back in life I want to say I lived for every moment. I don't want to just exist or to endure life, I want to live every day. There will be some bad days, some great days, and some days I just want to snuggle up on the couch, watch Scandal or my Real Housewives and just eat chocolate. That's the beauty of life.

Chase and I have also set some personal financial goals. When we first got married we were just kids. I was just barely 19! I seriously cannot believe I got married that YOUNG (not that I regret it of course)....but STILL! AND I thought I was getting too old! So bizarro! I'll admit when we first got married we were terrible with our money. We just spent it because we could. After we had Jayda, I was too proud to buy second hand things and as a result flushed a lot of money down the toilet. Money we didnt necessarily have or spend wisely. We both had good jobs but just were stupid.

Then Chase lost his job at State Bank of Southern Utah when his branch closed down because of the economy. I was a stay at home mom who was going to school. It was a rough time for us financially and for Chase as a provider for our family. He got a job at Red Robin but it hardly paid the bills. At the time we were already having troubles getting pregnant and I wasn't going to stop trying to get pregnant because I had no idea if I ever could get pregnant again. Some people judged us for that but honestly they can go suck an egg for all I care. Luckily by the time I got pregnant I graduated with my psychology degree and Chase got a great career opportunity and became an insurance agent for Farmer's insurance. He still works 2 nights a week as a bartender at Red Robin (makes way more than a server)because he likes it and likes the people he works with.

And recently I decided I needed to get out and started serving at Red Robin three nights a week (monday, wednesday, and Friday). I planned on getting my masters degree in social work but unfortunately there are no local options at the moment and online degrees are upwards to $50,000! I also could get a caseworker job with my bachelors degree but I find it important to not leave my kids at daycare. So when both of the kids are in school I will go back to work and school. For the moment though, I was finding myself really antsy to get out and have a break to be an adult once and awhile and we thought this was a good option.

As a result of our stupid spending early on in our marriage (and maybe even past that), we're still paying for it. Literally.

We've paid a lot of our debt off, gotten off assistance (thankfully when we needed it after Chase lost his job we got it!), and now our next goal is to save for a down payment for our own house. We're hoping by the end of the year we'll have a big chunk to put down so we'll have some equity right away.

I'm super stoked to be able to contribute financially and to see the debt going bye-bye! It's also made me realize that it's ok to go through rough patches. It's ok to get help when you need it. And working with some people who are not finacially ok, but are also some of the most hard-working people has changed my perspective. Some of the people I work with at Red Robin have two jobs, work their butts off, hardly see their kids and are still barely making it. It's given me the perspective that not everyone who takes assistance or help wants to...they HAVE to.

As far as the kiddos go...they have gotten so big!

Haven is sleeping better but still not necessarily through the night. She is teething right now and so she's pretty miserable. She's 14 months and STILL NOT walking! haha She's so freaking lazy! She's her own person and is such a little cuddler.

Jayda starts kindergarten later this year! She's so excited, but I'm sure she'll be sad to leave her friends she's had for the last couple of years. Luckily we have 4 more months before we have to worry about that. Recently her only friends on our street moved and she's had a rough time with that and has been pretty lonely. We're hoping a young family with kids moves in. She is very inquistive and loves going to the library to pick out books. She likes learning about space and she's been going through a "My Little Pony" phase. She'll do chores to earn money and will spend it at DI for little toys and ponies she finds there. She's still a bean and as always people think she's only 3, even though she's 4 1/2!

Chase is doing great at Farmers. He makes his quota every quarter and is actually getting a big raise in March. He also sold enough life insurance to win a trip to Disneyland for the two of us in September! He's a hard worker and never complains!

So that's about it for our family! Here's to a brand spanking new year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Don't be an asshole

So it's been a couple of weeks since my blog post. Wow. I have to say I was so surprised with the response.

I'll admit when I pressed the publish button I was expecting something like this:

Or this...

Surprising I mainly got this...

And maybe a little this...

Which I find a bit funny considering this...

But I digress...

After I posted my blog post I was told by many that they appreciated how I didn't seem bitter or angry. It's funny because I know exactly the type of people they are talking about. I get it. It's upsetting to see things against your church. And feel comforted that your newsfeed won't be filled with it on my behalf.

One question I have been asked several times since I posted is, "So what do you believe now?"

And honestly I don't claim to know all the answers and I don't believe that anybody does. There are parts of me that says it really doesn't make sense that there isn't a god. But then another part of me says that its very possible there isnt one. I don't disbelieve or believe in a God. I guess I just don't focus on that so much anymore. If there is a god I don't think it really matters. Should that change the way you live? Or the way you treat people? I think if there is a God he would be upset not with whether someone goes to church or not but with how much name calling and divisions there are among the people in the name of religion and politics. At least thats how I think the God I would want to spend eternity with would act.

I believe in compassion. I believe in doing good to others for no reason but just to be good. I believe in small acts of kindness. I believe in fascilitating empathy in your children so they can grow up to care about the world. I recycle because I care about my environment.

I'm just like you. I'm doing the best I can to raise my children with great values. I haven't fogotten that.

I guess all I'm trying to say is this: Just don't be an asshole.

Ex-mormon, mormons, people of the world: You can say what you believe or don't believe without being an asshole. It's really that simple.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Can I tell you a secret?

My hands are shaking as I write this post. Its nerve wracking and I feel completely exposed. Naked, really.

Back in March of this year my husband and I decided to leave the religion we grew up in and dedicated our lives to. We decided that Mormonism just isn't for us.

There I said it.

I know that people who are mormon have the first reaction to feel sorry for apostates. Please don't. Please don't feel sorry for me. I'm not sad about this decision. One bit. And I don't regret it for one second. What does make me sad is that I may lose friends or respect over this. That is what makes me sad.

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I could get into the hows and whys but I don't think that will result in any good feelings and I have no desire to "deconvert" anyone.

I will say though, that I think the mormon people are great. They are people and make mistakes. This has nothing to do with the people as many may think. I was not offended.

To be honest, I just simply don't believe the major truth claims of the religion. I found out some disturbing things about some of the doctrine and history that was contridictory to what I believed and that I was not aware of before. These have been things I didn't find on purpose and wasn't looking to leave the church over. It really just fell in my lap and when I found out it was such a painful experience. It effected me so badly that I literally felt sick, but I couldn't turn my back on the truth. I morally could not lie to myself or to my conscience.

I will admit I was angry it wasn't true. I was sad it wasn't true. I wanted it to be true. So badly. But it just isnt. It simply is not true.

If you are a believer and you are still reading, I'm sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. I know it's probably uncomfortable to hear this but it's what I believe. I respect the belief that people may worship how and what they may. Now I ask...will you respect mine too? I'm not asking you to agree with me or even to understand where I am coming from, but will you love me unconditionally and without strings attached?

"The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them." - Thomas Merton

Chase has had a much different experience in regards to the church. I don't want to speak for him and to be honest he doesn't really care to talk about it much. When I found out about some of the uncomfortable truths of the origins of Mormonism I asked someone who had left the church (who I will remain unnamed in case they dont want to be revealed) and asked him what I should do. Should I fake my way or should I tell my husband what I was going through and risk him leaving me (which sadly is a reality for some who come out of the closet of unbelief)? He said that I should fake it so I didn't ruin my marriage. It hurt, but I continued on going to church and faking it as best as I could.

About a month later we were talking to some inactive family about church. We got onto the subject and I let it slip that I didn't like going to church. Chase turned to me and said, "Well then why are we going?" At that moment I felt the tension release and I knew I could finally be my authentic self. We stayed up until 1 o'clock in the morning and talked about what we both were hiding from each other. Turns out Chase was doing the same thing I was doing. He hadnt believed for 4 years of our marriage.

I will admit I was terrified of what leaving would do not only to my social life but to my belief system as a whole. What did I believe now? What is the purpose of life now? How scary it was to go from knowing all the answers to not having any.

Those were some dark times but I will say I've come out of that darkness and have found a love for life so full and that I never knew existed. I've come to realize that I don't need to have all of the answers to have a fulfilling life. To the contrary actually.

I live life every second of the day because I don't know if it will be my last. I hold my kids close because I don't know if it is the last moment I'll ever share with them. I am more adventerous because life is about experiences and seeing the beauty in the world, instead of what is so wrong with the world. I am kind to people because it makes me feel good to give to others and not because I'm being told to so I can go to heaven. I can accept people unconditionally without the desire to change them. I can love people without qualifiers or the fear that their chair will be empty in heaven next to mine.

I quickly realized that some of the most authentic relationships I had were built on love of the person and not love of the church. I realized that I had been very unfair to my fellow men because I was so occupied with judging their choices or how they looked compared to others. I was so busy doing that when I was mormon, its an unspoken part of the culture, that I overlooked some damn good people. That was unfair of me and I'm sorry to whoever I stepped on the way to get to my heaven.

I liked Dieter Uchdorf's general conference talk this October. In his talk he said:

"The search for truth has led millions of people to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, there are some who leave the Church they once loved.

One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”

Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.

Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church.

In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves."

I didn't leave the church because I was offended or wanted to sin. Thats a huge misconception and one that I have been guilty of assuming in the past. Sinning was so far gone from my mind. In fact it scared me to even think those were possiblities to me. I liked the rules. It was easy to follow. In fact, even now I don't drink alchohol or coffee, smoke, or sell myself on the streets. Although I'm sure I would go for a pretty penny these days....I'll think about it.

Uchdorf also goes on to say many DO leave because of unanswered questions:

"Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past. We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history—along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events—there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question.

Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information and we just need a bit more patience. When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn’t make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction.

Sometimes there is a difference of opinion as to what the “facts” really mean. A question that creates doubt in some can, after careful investigation, build faith in others."

For me, when I was presented to with the "facts" it was pretty plain as day but not everyone sees it that way. Which is ok with me. I'm following what I believe is truth and what I believe to be correct. I came to a point where I had to look objectively at the situation, without any preconceived notions or expectations. When I did that the truth could not be changed to fit what worked for me.

That's not to say I think everyone should come out of the church behind me. I don't want that. I want to follow the dictates of my own conscience which is where I am today. I love others no matter what they believe. They can believe the flying spaghetti monster is their God and I would still love and support them. Its kind of like "love the sinnner not the sin" but instead "love the worshipper not the religion".

For me I was all or nothing. I couldn't fake my way through sunday school every week knowing I didn't believe what was being taught or what I believed was only half truths just to retain some friendships.

I was appreciative of the openness of the first presidency to squash the misconceptions of why people leave, but its not enough.

"Faith is believing in things you don't see. Delusion is beleiving in something even when there is a mountain of evidence against it." -Jeremy Runnels "Letter to a CES director"

This is an uncomfortable post to write and not one that I have been looking forward to publishing. Honestly I wasn't even intending to come out about my unbelief because I felt I didn't owe anyone an explaination about my personal relationship with God, but I felt in order to be my authentic self I have to come out and share my thoughts. It's hard when you've given everything up until this point to Mormonism to just up and walk away. It's almost been like a death in my life and something I've had to grieve for some time.

I also have been scared of the backlash. I know it's hard when people voice something that is so against your thinking. It's hard to not take that as a personal attack. I hope this doesn't come off that way. I have to be true to myself and my beliefs and not be scared into silence. There are so many people that are scared to say anything and just drift away slowly from mormonism. And I'm at peace knowing that if someone cuts me off or doesn't want to be my friend then it wasn't a friendship with that much substance anyways.

Please be kind. Be my friend. Love me for who I am. Don't judge me. I'm still the same Ashley. I haven't died. And I think if you really stay to look you'll find we actually have more in common than we don't.

And I do like cookies. Just please cut the strings off before you drop them by.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dear women, lets get a hold of ourselves.

I've been itching to write this post for awhile. I really need to get some things off my chest.

Women can be mean. Really mean. And man, are we just insecure? Why do we need to constantly bring each other down just to make ourselves feel better?

I've seen it countless times whether its about how much of a genius your kid is compared to others (and NO I will not vote for your freaking kid) or whether you are 2 months post partum and fitting into your jeans. We get it. You are amazing and everyone else just sucks.

One thing though. Your life is not that great and pretending your family is this little barbie doll dreamhouse is all fantasy. I don't buy it and I guarantee no one who isnt in your little orbit buys it either.

I'm sure a lot of people were witnesses to the viral picture of athelete and mom, Maria Kang. I'll admit it. She looks DAMN good and good for her. But ya know what I don't like? The shame she projected outward. Sometimes it isn't about your explicit message but the implicit one. She was implicitly saying, "Look how great I look. Now all you complainers who use kids as an excuse to not lose your weight and look good like me are a bunch of lazy fat asses."

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Now do you think that did any good? Do you think the mom that is feeling crummy about herself will now go to the gym because of that little piece of showboatmanship? Probably not. In fact, she'll probably pick up another pack of cookies and give herself a sugar high for the rest of the day and put herself deeper into the shame hill you've flung onto her.

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After I had my first kid I felt really crummy about myself. *Cue the sad violin music* I had just had my little baby 3 months premature. Her situation after coming home wasnt normal and I felt ridiculously overweight and unhealthy. I had post partum depression and I just didn't feel like life could ever get normal again.

I constantly would make myself feel bad because I couldn't find the energy to lose the weight and I also had a baby with a compromised immune system who needed constant care and attention. Finally I couldn't handle the guilt and shame I heaped on myself daily and decided to get to work on myself. I became so unhappy with my weight that I was so desperate. I was willing to do anything. My mom had just done that dreaded HCG diet. You know that god awful diet that only gave you 500 calories a day and big red sores on your butt from the shots you'd inject into yourself? You know because thats COMPLETELY normal! She lost a bunch of weight from that diet and on our way home from her house I just started bawling to my husband. I told him I couldn't stand myself anymore and that I needed to lose the weight. We decided we were going to do it once and for all.

The diet sucked but the pounds were coming off, finally. Looking back now I just didn't know much about healthy foods. I thought a home cooked meal was a Ricearoni box and processed tortillas with cheese. At the very least the hcg diet brought me back to whole foods like vegetables and fruits that hadnt been part of my diet for awhile. I only did the hcg diet for a few weeks but those few weeks propelled me into my journey of losing the rest of the weight naturally. It gave me the motivation to work for the rest. It wasnt a conventional way to start but regardless its what worked for ME!

After the hcg diet I began to eat healthy and I took up running. I started at a couple blocks, then 1 mile and worked my way up to eventually running a half marathon. I became OBSESSED with working out and eating healthy. I lost about 30lbs and looked GREAT!

But ya know what? It wasn't good enough for me. No matter how much weight I lost, no matter how good I fit into my jeans I never looked good enough. It seemed that it wasn't about what I looked like on the outside after all that was affecting me but the shame women are made to feel if they dont look absolutely perfect. If I got to my goal weight I'd push the goal further down the scale, always telling myself I'd be that much happier when I was at 110lbs instead of 120lbs. I don't know one person who isn't striving to make themselves better but its much more than that. Women often buy into the lie that we will never be perfect enough. Never thin enough. Never pretty enough. Never stylish enough. Never expensive looking enough.

But you know what I realized? If we buy into that we will never be truly happy with ourselves. I got to a point that I was working out two, sometimes three times a day. I was working my butt off to look good. I was obsessed. And if I cheated on my diet then I felt like a complete failure. Then figured what the hell I already cheated I might as well gorge myself.

There is a big difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is actually useful because it corrects bad behavior. Its focus is on the wrong behavior and not on the person. Shame, on the other hand, is very dangerous. Instead of guilt where the focus is on the bad behavior, shame's focus is on the person being inherintly bad. At the core, shame destroys your soul and your confidence. If you use shame to correct bad behavior you will never be happy and you set yourself for a mountain of self-esteem and worth issues.

I mean if we're being honest with ourselves how many times have we uttered these words in regards to our diets, "I don't care. I'm being bad today."

Why are WE bad? Why can't we say, "I'm eating bad today."

Subtle but big difference.

I think many of us have had heaps of shame shoved onto us throughout our lives, either by the media and/or friends and family. In the age of social media its gotten even worse. It's no longer shame resulting from just magazines and tv shows. It's gotten more personal now. Its seeing our friends...sometimes not even friends but people we once knew on facebook. We often present our lives as perfect to the world on facebook and save the bad things for behind the curtain.

It's such a sham! I often say that fantasy is what pictures people post of themselves on fb. Reality is when they are tagged by a friend on fb. If you compare the two they are often drastically different. They havent been through the filter of perfection and show the person as they really are. Without make-up and without the right angle to appear thinner.

After I had my second child I didn't want to go the same route. Even though I was so healthy after I lost the weight with Jayda I wasnt truely happy with myself. Haven is now a year old and guess what? I have a ways to go to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I've lost about 30lbs so far but have about another 15-20lbs to go. But I'm going a different route this time. I'm going to lose it slowly and without the shame heaped on me day after day. If I want a piece of candy its OK! Just have a little peice, not an entire king sized kit kat that I feel I need since I've deprived myself of any happiness in the world. And if you know happiness you know its cholcolate! Don't lie to yourself, it's CHOCOLATE!!

I'm not going to kill myself in the gym twice a day and stay away from carbs and sugars completely. Because guess what? Thats not reality! What person truely eats "clean" for the rest of their lives? Probably dedicated atheletes. But guess what...I'm a mom not an athelete. I don't need to impress anyone. Its not an excuse but reality that I've faced. I've decided I'm going to be kind to myself. I'm allowing time to make the change. The realistic way. If I have a serving of ice cream im not turning my back on everything healthy. Im allowing myself to have a little bit of a delicious treat and thats not anything to feel ashamed of!

And until we as women present ourselves as we are, stop heaping the shame onto others to make ourselves feel superior, and live to hear how wonderful we are from almost complete strangers on fb, then it will never be corrected. And over time we will not only destroy our inner confidence which by the way is so refreshing and beautiful but we'll eventually destroy each other.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Haven's first birthday!

I know I'm 5 days late but Haven turned 1 year old!! We just had a low key birthday over at my inlaws last sunday. It was perfect!

She's such a sweet little baby! Some of the things she's doing/loves are:

-She loves to play peek-a-boo. If I say peek-a-boo she will either put her hand over her eyes and then peer around them and smile or she will take some something and hide behind it. SO freaking cute! Jayda never played peek-a-boo like that when she was that age so its fun!

-She is pretty shy compared to Jayda and definetely gets stranger danger. Jayda never got stranger danger or really seperation anxiety so its a bit new for us.

-Also she HATES going to the doctor. When she goes she just clings on to me and when the dr walks in the room she will just bury her face in my chest. She knows shes going to get poked, prodded, and bugged. We recently had to take her to the Broncolitis clinic at the hospital because she had a cold and needed the boogers sucked out to help her eat and sleep. They get gowned up in a yellow gown and then laid her on the table to suck her out. We went a few times but after the first time the minute we hit the same room she just started crying because she knew what was coming. And when that yellow gown came rolling out she became unglued. Poor thing!

-Haven LOVES her big sister and she calls her "Ja". If I ask her where Jayda is she'll stick her hand out and say "Ja? Ja?" And look around for her.

-Haven loves to eat and has yet to deny any kinds of foods. Its wierd not being able to eat anything without her getting mad for not sharing. Jayda never did that as a baby so its a bit new for me.

-She is pretty mild mannered and goes with the flow but when she does get pissed she is not afraid to tell you. But for the most part she is a pretty relaxed baby.

-She still does not sleep through the night and she wakes up at the butt crack of dawn no matter what we've tried to do to change it!

-She's almost 20lbs! Crazy to think since Jayda is only like 25! haha

-If Jayda is playing with a toy she wants it. If Haven wants a toy, Jayda wants it more. Go figure.

-Another game Haven likes to play is to hit my face and I say, "Ow! Ow! Don't hit my face!" and she just laughs and keeps hitting me.

-She's crawling everywhere and shes gotten way fast. She's pulling herself to stand but I think shes still a bit aways from walking. That'll be so weird when she does though!

Anyways thats all I can think of right now but we absolutely love our little girl! She's such a joy and even after all we went through to get her here it was worth every tear and frustration. We love you Havey girl!