Monday, June 30, 2014

What I Want for my Daughter

I have a daughter now. Sorry, I know you know that. I just like the way it sounds.


 As such, I've become one of those moms who pins things on Pinterest especially for girls. Things like "Ten things I want my daughter to know before she's ten." "Five things to say to your daughter before she leaves the house." And the list literally goes on...and on.

One common denominator that I find unncessary in most  (not all) of these types of posts is this need to encourage girls to be "anything they want." 

I am thirty years older than my daughter and I didn't need the "even though you're a girl" precursor in front of the encouragement "you can be anything you want."  

I grew up wanting to be whatever I wanted to be that day.  In my childhood I went from wanting to be an illustrator to a veteranarian. I kept the dream to care for animals alive until high school where I quickly changed to nurse and then to teacher.

My mind did not change because I was a woman. My mind changed because I either lacked talent (illustrator), stomach (nursing), or the patience to continue my education for an extended amount of time (vet). 

There was never anything I wanted to do that I quickly entertained and then chased away with "No, that's a man's job." Today it's even more clear...a woman can be whatever she wants to be. The message has long been sent and received. 

My beautiful daughter will have the world at her feet, just waiting for her. And boy will she know it. I don't worry about that one bit. 

I worry about this societal shift that pushes the world on us and downplays family. I worry about this "have your cake and eat it too" mentality for women. If a woman wants that, I have no problem with it. But what all her heart wants is to create and sustain a family. What if she wants to marry and have kids? What if she doesn't want to" use" her degree in the world's sense? What if she finds her role as a wife and mother more fulfilling than anything else possibly could?

What if my girl wants to be feminine and doesn't want to wear pants to church? Will she be told that she's not exercising her "rights?"  Will she be scoffed at for being "old fashioned?" 

 If she doesn't want to wear dresses and skirts to church or ever, fine. I will not have a problem if those are her choices. 

But I worry that the world no longer values family. The world no longer values the honorable roles of the wife and mother. The world no longer values femininity..softness, kindness, virtue. Those things have become lost to the world.  The message is still being sent, but it seems as though few are receiving it.

I don't see a need to tell my daughter she can be anything...she will know that. 

What I want is to show my daughter the beauty of home. Though I would never wish a bad day on her, I know that day will come. And I want her to find solace in our home. 

I want to show her the satisfaction in keeping a house orderly. I want to teach her how to clean, organize. 

I want her to witness the joy I find from running a home.I want her to see me enjoy making a meal and I want to see her watch her dad and I work together to clean it up.  I want her to see the pride when I prepare for company or simply enjoy the feeling of clean sheets. 

I want to teach my daughter the gospel and show her faith by example. I want her to desire her own testimony that she can  cling to when times are tough. 

I want her to desire the blessings of marriage.

I want her to feel the love only a mother knows. 
I want so much for my daughter.  But these are the things I want most. These are what will truly give her the world. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

High Fives--Fourth of July Style

I'm handing out some high fives for some awesome ideas and products that are perfect for the Fourth!

This top is perfect for a 4th of July parade or barbecue. So light and easy and it isn't too over the top. 

If you want to win people over at your next barbecue or potluck,  this easy way of adding some refreshing spirit with these fruity ice drinks looks so fun!

This adorable headband comes in sizes newborn to adult and makes the perfect accessory to any outfit, no matter your size. 

 Of course you've got to save some room for dessert! Madison made these All American Sugar Cookie Bars--YUM!


And while this is not a 4th of July thing, I have to share a little about the Togetherness Project. My friend Jacy is amazing--to read a little about her story see here (this is probably my favorite post of hers). She's experienced a great trial in her life and as she's healed, she started The Togetherness project. Here is what is written on her blog: 

"If you are reading this right now and you feel alone, ashamed, and like there is little to no hope for you because of sexual addiction/betrayal, infidelity, divorce, abandonment, loss, living a life that you didn't have planned, I have a message for you: 

You are not alone, this is NOT a reflection of you, and there is so much hope.  Let us help you... Join the rare and compassionate sisterhood within The Togetherness Project and begin the road to recovery with friends who understand."

 I love what Jacy is doing more than I can put into words and I love it for a number of reasons. The next Togetherness Project meets in October in Midway, Utah. See The Togetherness Project's website for more information. And also, check out Jacy's blog because she is just about the neatest woman around! I'm so glad I've had the chance to get to know her, just a little, through blogging. 

If you have or know of products or posts that deserve a "High Five," I'd love to hear about it/them! Send me an email at mynewlinesblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Choice

Have you ever had a tough decision to make? Have you ever second guessed your instincts? Have you prayed for answers, but then felt too afraid to trust them?

My decision to quit my job after JaiseAnn was born was not easy and happened a bit unexpectedly.

While there are a myriad of reasons as to why some of you my not relate to my decision to stay home with my daughter, I hope you can relate to my feelings in the process of making a tough decision. My worries, anxieties, fears, prayers, etc. 


Before JaiseAnn was born, we discussed the option of me staying home. We didn't feel it was possible, so we planned and hoped that I would be able to work part time. Honestly, I felt that was the "best of both worlds." I wanted to get up and dressed every morning, spend time doing something that brought in a steady income for my family and that I had worked hard to be able to do, and then come home and be a mom. I told Zach that I thought it would be best if I always worked part-time even if we could afford for me not to. 

And then she came. And my world changed in an instant. I belonged to her and she belonged to me. We were partners entering a brand new world together. I was readmitted to the hospital only a few days after she was born and it was a really scary time for me. She needed me so much during that time. I could not sleep because she wouldn't be without me. She wouldn't let anyone else hold her. I felt like she saved me in a time when I was so scared and unsure. She knew I needed her and she made sure I knew how much she needed me. 

There were a lot of things that lead up to me finally saying to Zach, "I can't go back to work. I just can't. It will rip me apart."

There were so many reasons not to quit, finances being at the top. Everyone kept telling me, you have to make sacrifices to stay home." "If you want it badly enough you can do it." Well, I also have to make student loan payments. I was worried about my career. I was enrolled in graduate school and had a career path in mind--do I just leave that behind? I worried about my physical appearance. Would I take care of myself? Would I be able to go to the gym? 

But I still didn't want to leave my little girl. So I prayed for guidance. I prayed for help. I prayed...and prayed...and prayed. I don't think I stopped praying for weeks.

Little by little ideas or thoughts just came to our minds. Zach thought he should look into the remaining balance of one of his student loans. We had enough to cover that balance in the bank. It would deplete a good chunk our savings, but it would save our monthly budget. We paid it off. 

"Have Zach put you on his benefits." was a thought that came to me one day. That way I would be free to choose a job that was more flexible, part-time, or work from home. I could even run a daycare. If Zach put us on his benefits, it would open a lot of doors for us. So he did. And I waited for that first paycheck while holding my breath. I was so worried it would be too small. 

The check came and it was enough. Zach had worked overtime so we didn't really even notice the change. "I'll keep working extra." He promised. 

After that, I started searching for online work and plotting and planning a daycare. The ideas were coming like crazy. I wrote cover letters like I was a force to be reckoned with. I wanted this so bad and I was definitely being assisted in my efforts. I could feel it as I jotted down activities for a day care. I could feel it as I wrote out resumes. I could feel it in my heart. 

It came time to make a choice. With very little promise of an income for me, but all of these options out in the open, we decided to pray about it me quitting my job. When we decided that I would go to work the next day and resign, I felt a wave of peace wash over me. It was the right choice. 

 After resigning, I spent days at home worrying about the things that had already been tucked away safely, not to be worried about again. I am the queen of bringing those things back, and so I did. Every walk we took. Every time I nursed JaiseAnn. I started second guessing and hoping for a more sure situation. 

Then my boss called. She offered me the job of all jobs. It was the job I had been going back to school for. Only it was part-time and mirrored Zach's schedule. JaiseAnn would never have to go to daycare. She would never be without one of her parents. I would get to continue working in a job that I loved, but still be home more than half time with my baby. It was the best of both worlds

Except after that phone call, I sat down with my daughter and my heart felt heavy. I suppose I should have known right then and there, but I fought it. I wanted that job. I loved that I had been offered that job. I entertained the idea of taking it for several days. Zach felt that we had already received our answer, and promised he would work an extra shift after talking it over with his boss, but he also said he'd support me no matter what. 

We went back and forth on it, because I wasn't sold.  Zach told me to write out a pros and cons list to see how it added up. There were so many "pros" to taking the job. A steady income, continuing my career, having an income through next summer, and time for JaiseAnn to play with her dad. As I moved to the "cons" section I wrote, "Have to leave JaiseAnn." I felt like Ross on the episode of Friends where he tries to chose between Rachel and Julie. His only con for Julie is that she's not Rachel. The only downside to this job opportunity was that I would have to leave my little girl. Sure it was only a few days, and most people would jump at that chance, but the thought still left my heart heavy.

Our Heavenly Father is so incredibly patient with us, I know this because I still fought it. I wanted a deliberate answer right then and there.

The day I was supposed to call my boss, I was still teetering back and forth. Every time I decided out loud, I decided I wasn't taking the job, but in my head I still sort of wanted to and it was a struggle for me. Zach and I fought that day. We hadn't fought, really fought, in a long time. And this fight was a big one. One of our biggest. I spent that day angry and in tears. I was angry with my husband, but I was more angry with the situation. "If this job offer hadn't come up.." I began thinking and before I could even finish my thought, there was my answer. 
In our situation, this job wasn't a blessing. The offer had created contention in our home and stress that had not been there before. I wasn't supposed to take the job. So I called my boss and turned down the "offer of a lifetime."

"I need frozen yogurt!" I declared, and Zach, JaiseAnn, and I went and ate our yogurt while basking in the sunlight. We talked about how next summer, JaiseAnn could partake in my favorite treat with us and for the millionth time, talked about how wonderful our little girl is.

We tiptoed around each other, treading lightly, throughout the rest of the day.  That night, as I nursed JaiseAnn to sleep while rocking her just before we went to sleep, I felt a real wave of peace wash over me. I whispered to Zach, "I made the right choice."

Because here's the thing: I could list reasons to keep working or not all day long. I could hear valid arguments about it. I could make a million pros and cons lists with very good points for both sides. None of the options I have had at my disposal have been inherently bad. Which is why prayer seemed to be the only solution. Only He knows where I belong right now and why. 

Personally, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to leave my work behind and embrace this new job. For motherhood is truly the job of all jobs. I want to get to know the new person I've become.. I'm grateful that for now my answer is to be home with my little girl. There will always be time for work, but I won't get this time back. When she's grown, she's grown. I only get one chance to do this job and I want to (get to!) put my all into it right now.

Our finances aren't completely outlined on paper. I'm not sure what it will look like or how long it will last (honestly, I hope it lasts forever) but we've gotten our answer (more than once) and we're taking a leap of faith in following it.

Have you ever had a tough choice to make? How did you know the right choice? Have you ever taken a leap of faith?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Breastfeeding Tips for the New or Expectant Mom

Long before I ever got pregnant I knew that I would choose to breastfeed my baby. Like a lot of women, my journey at the beginning of motherhood was rough. Nursing my baby was rough. I came so very very close to throwing in the towel--we made it now and are on the other side. We've achieved a nursing nirvana so to speak. I love it! It's one of my favorite ways to spend time with my daughter.

Today I would like to give some advice to any new moms or expectant moms who want and plan to nurse:

Make a Commitment

I had done a lot of reading during my pregnancy and for me it seemed like six weeks was some kind of "magic number." However, any friend I spoke to who had given up on nursing because she didn't make enough milk, it wasn't working, she was unable to, etc...usually stopped before six weeks. When I was only 8 weeks pregnant I said to Zach, "Don't let me stop before six weeks. I have to at least keep going for six weeks no matter how hard it is."
Trust me, if you end up having a difficult time, it will be so tempting to throw in the towel. Like so many things in life, deciding beforehand will really help you. If after the time you've promised yourself, you decide it's not working for you and your family, that's fine, but I really advise setting a goal for a time you plan to commit. 

  Get Yourself a Supportive Team

Like I said, I asked my husband to not let me quit until six weeks. He promised and he sure held good on that promise. I would not have made it through those first few weeks without him. JaiseAnn wasn't gaining enough weight and we had to supplement using an SNS feeder. Zach had to get up with me for every feeding and fill a syringe with warmed, donated breast milk/formula and hold it in JaiseAnn's mouth as I attempted to latch her on (not easy) and sit there with me while she ate. We had a lot of hiccups. The tube wasn't in far enough, it was too far, she'd fall asleep, etc. I cried a lot during this time. I needed my husband and was so grateful for his support. 

In addition, I told my best friend that I'd probably be texting a lot with nursing questions and asking for encouragement. I am so glad that I told her ahead of time and knew that she was on board. She sent me an encouraging text during those first two weeks that lifted a major weight from my shoulders and gave me hope. She also was there to answer my questions about engorgement (I had none) and thrush. I highly encourage finding someone that you know you can ask for help/encouragement/etc...and use them! If that person needs to be me, I am totally willing. My email address is mynewlinesblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

I also highly recommend taking advantage of the lactation consultant associated with the hospital or birthing center you use, or seeking out a lactation consultant. The La Leche League is also a great resource. There's something in sitting and nursing around other women that helps you to get a feel for the whole nursing thing--plus it's a great place to educate yourself and ask real moms questions. 

Make it Your Primary Focus

You've probably heard it a million times, but I'm going to echo it...Let the house go. Let things go. If people come by to visit, allow them to help out around the house or bring a meal. Live on cereal and take out if you have to. Nursing is going to take up a lot of time at the beginning. The upside is, you will make special memories during that time. Snuggle your baby! 

I had a friend at work that said, "Someone once told me, the dishes will be there tomorrow. Spend as much time as you can holding/cuddling/rocking/etc.. your baby. I wish I had listened." As she said those words, tears came out of her eyes. Even though I'd heard it before, somehow coming from her, it impacted me. I spent my days as a a new mom napping with JaiseAnn, cuddling her, and feeding her. I didn't do much else. Some days felt like I never left the couch, but I am grateful for those moments.

Not only is it impossible to do it all,it's unwise. If you are choosing to breastfeed, it will be high priority at first. Focus on that. You may have to focus on it for a while and leave other things behind. For example, even though our nursing sessions are much faster these days and I'm able to keep up a little with the housework, I'm not losing weight. I exercise and try to eat a balanced diet most days, but the weight is not coming off. If I overwork myself, my milk supply will be affected and that's just not worth it to me. Even though my baby is six months old, I still have to make nursing my primary focus in other ways. 

 Weight Gain is the Only Indicator of Success

 I know it might seem silly, but I'm still a little angry about the what I was told by a number of people regarding this area. 

I was told that due to insufficient glandular tissue--I would never fully be able to sustain and feed my daughter on my own. Being only one week postpartum, this news devastated me. I spilled a lot of tears. Yet something in the back of my mind kept telling me that it wasn't true. So I kept on feeding and supplementing and hoping. 

It turns out, my intuition was right on. Weight gain is the only indicator of sufficient milk supply. The only indicator. It doesn't matter how much or how little your breasts change. It doesn't matter whether or not you experience engorgement when your milk comes in. It doesn't matter if you leak a lot or not at all. It doesn't matter if you "feel" let down. It doesn't matter if you pump less than the baby needs to eat. None of that indicates how much you are actually producing and baby is getting. 

JaiseAnn was slow to gain weight at first, but she's picked up and I'm feeding her solely on my own. Which is something that I had not only been told I couldn't do, but felt I had all the cards stacked against me (no let down sensation, no major changes in size, small pumping results, no leaking, and no engorgement) I thought I was the poster child for an inability to nurse.  If we're still going strong, it's very (very) likely you can, too.

There is Light at the End of the Tunnel

While those newly nursing days are sweet and full of cuddles, they aren't always easy. Things hurt, and latching might be hard, and your baby might be a sleepy eater, and you might find yourself feeling unproductive. You might be in pain and you might be struggling with getting your baby to gain weight. 

I was so glad I gave myself those six weeks to try it out, because by then, I was a little more settled. The pain didn't automatically diminish at six weeks. We didn't automatically have it figured out by six weeks. But we sure had come a long way by then. I wasn't about to throw in the towel after that. 

I promise you it gets better. It stops hurting. It goes faster. And you can nurse standing up in the middle of Target if you have to (true story). You'll get there! Just know that. 

If you have any tips/suggestions/advice to share, I'd love to have you share in the comments section! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Old Lines: Our Little Miracle

Monday marked the date of my very first ever positive pregnancy test, two years ago. A short six days later we said goodbye to that baby. I wrote about it and I'm here sharing it again. I'm so grateful that I wrote these thoughts and feelings down. It's so hard to see past the moments of pain and trial. Now that I think about it, it would be possible but highly unlikely that we would have gotten pregnant again and already had a baby. JaiseAnn was meant to be here in our home. She was picked just for us--of that I am absolutely certain. She was supposed to be our first baby. 

 Originally Written 6/29/12

6 weeks ago it was me, Zach, and the dog and life was good. I was fine with that. If we got pregnant, fine! If not, that would be fine, too. "It's all in the Lord's hands" was my motto and I felt I was being so faithful in thinking so.

If it didn't happen, someday we'd start the long road to adoption. Maybe even try our hand at foster parenting. These things have certainly been discussed over dinner with a very easy-going attitude of: things will happen the way they're supposed to.

Three weeks ago I saw a plus sign on a pregnancy test and my life literally changed in that instant.

Six days later we said goodbye to that baby with broken hearts.

Six days don't seem like a lot. Some my dismiss our loss because it was such a brief amount of time. Let me tell you what six days will do to you.

In six days:

-The already peaceful spirit in our home exponentially grew. It felt different in there. There is a power to be felt when a little one is on the way and though it was only a short time, we were not immune to its majesty.

-I started a wish list on I started researching the best strollers, car seats, and cloth diapers for our baby. Adding them all to the wish list.

-We formalized an exact plan for how we would tell our family and friends and would tear up when we thought about sharing the news.

-We daydreamed about everything: Having my best friend show up to look at our baby and take beautiful pictures. Zach blessing the baby in church with the men in our families (my dad, his dad, our grandpas, my brother). How the house would feel when we brought the baby home. I imagined the entire pregnancy and first year all day every day.

-We made  memories with the baby as we lay in bed at night talking about what we were most excited about, what we were most nervous about, and how it will be to bring that little baby home with a beanie on his/her head, whether we thought it would be a boy or girl.

-We made a place for that baby in our home. We planned the nursery, our possible date nights with the baby, and vacations.

-I started mentally reorganizing closets and furniture and posting things on Craigslist to make room for the little spirit that already had taken up all the room in our hearts.

-I had the blessed opportunity to build a bond.  Something magical that, if nothing else, I'm so grateful I got to experience. Everywhere I went, I had a little buddy...a pal tagging along with me. Everything I did was different. Do I yell at the student who is just staring at the board and not attempting the work? Do I still get pissy in traffic? I started rethinking every action because I was now someone's mother and that someone was already with me.

So, it may have only been six days that we knew about our baby, but those six days were life-altering. Our home changed. Our priorities changed. Our marriage changed. Our dreams changed. Everything changed in an instant...and then everything changed in an instant, once again, with that enormous loss.

I was nervous to post at first because I felt it was too personal. I was nervous to post too fast because people might not find me very genuine, but I wanted to share this. I want to acknowledge this loss, because this was our baby...our first pregnancy...and it was an incredible experience while it lasted and the trial of the loss has still brought enormous blessings our way.

I not only write for me, but I write for someone else who may be going through something similar, either today or down the road. Perhaps it's a woman who, with a prayer in her heart, puts "blogs on miscarriage" in her Google search and stumbles upon this...I can only hope it helps someone else along the way.


When we first lost the baby, I struggled with trying to mesh how I felt with what I believe. I felt personally responsible, but I believe God has a plan for each of us and His hand is in everything. I felt like Heavenly Father was angry with me for worrying about things that weren't worth worrying about; I believe that Heavenly Father loves all His children and hates to see them suffer and is always there available to comfort and guide them to becoming the best version of themselves. I felt like I deserved this trial; I believe that we all need trials to learn and grow if we will allow a trial to build us rather than break us.

I found it awfully ironic that at the very beginning of the summer I read Kelle Hampton's Bloom and while many things stood out to me, this quote probably stood out to me most of all:

"It's taken me awhile to grasp it all, but I have finally arrived at the grown-up place of life-is-what-you-make-it and there are lots of things we go through that aren't comfortable or ideal, but they could be so incredibly worse, and a simple life of comfort does nothing to change us, mold us, make us into better, stronger, more beautiful versions of ourselves."

I read this and thought, "Oh no! I have a simple life of comfort. What's going to happen next?!" Not exactly the best attitude, I know that. I worry too much. I know that. But in my heart, I knew something was coming. And when it did, I remembered those words along with a million other church talks on trials (as found here for starters).

So, I've been dealt this hand. I've experienced this loss. Why? What do I make of it? What can I learn from it? I don't want the loss of that life to be in vain. How can I make myself a better mother for my future children through this experience? How can I become a better spouse?

I remembered seeing this incredible music video on another blog. It talks about turning your heartbreak into something beautiful. My favorite line is, "It's the price that I paid to see this view."

I'm not done with this trial. I will always be sad about our loss and therefore, I hope to always be learning from it. But for now, I have already learned many substantial things. I thought I would share my new "view."

People are Good

Of course we know this, but we get to see it through different eyes when we are in the midst of the greatest storms. It's why I think one trial is never good enough. Many more will come our way, because we are forgetful. We forget how good people are. Right now, I'm so aware that I am less offended by others, less critical, and more filled with love for the people around me.

Surely that will fade, but I hope I can keep a small reminder of that, because trials really do open our eyes to all the good out there.

Faith Unites People

A lot of people think that religion destroys. There are so many different faiths and so many people believing they are "right" that we overlook the more important aspects like humanity and instead talk about how faith destroys. I've seen it do just the opposite. In times of trial, faith brings people together. Merely having faith in something unites people.

I've had prayers uttered on my family's behalf through this entire experience by many different people from many different faiths. I've had prayers from members of my church, I've had my name submitted to the temple for prayer, I've had non-denominational Christian friends, Catholic friends, and Jewish friends praying for me. I've even had friends that are not of any faith promise to keep me in their thoughts. It doesn't matter. Truly faithful people don't think twice about offering to keep you in their prayers no.matter.what. Through that opportunity to pray for others and to be prayed for. It brings us together. It brings people of all faiths together.

Gratitude is a Wonderful Teacher

I've been practicing choosing gratitude for quite a while now. It has made a huge difference in my life. When we first experienced this loss, we still said our nightly prayers together. First always offering gratitude for all that we do have. And we have so much.

Now that time has passed, we've actually found ourselves thanking our Heavenly Father for this experience. Not for the loss, but for what we've learned. We've thanked Him for the small amount of time that we got to experience that love, excitement, and how it's helped us to grow--as individuals and as a couple.

Being grateful has been the key in helping us learn all that we can through this experience.

The Atonement is Real

My in-laws don't share our exact faith. They share a common belief in Christianity. They have an understanding of Christ and His sacrifice that is inspiring. I leave any conversation with them about religion with a goal to understand and know my Savior more. I swear their motto is, "Give it to Jesus!"

I'm a control freak and I don't know how to "give" any control away. I know that I am not the one in control, but I still don't know how to relieve myself of feeling like I am, if that makes any sense.

The first three days after the miscarriage, I could not handle the guilt. I was filled with sadness but also heavily burdened with guilt. Oh my, the guilt! I felt so responsible. I felt a spiritual and physical responsibility for this loss. I loved that baby and I failed. I cannot begin to describe the hurt. Zach said to me, "Give it to Him, Shar. He'll take it." I refused. I was like a stubborn child. I cried and told Zach, 'I don't know how!" His response was simply, "Pray until you do."

The next morning I couldn't even pray. Although I do believe there is a need for praying properly I firmly believe that any prayer is a prayer. Whether it's verbal, written, in our hearts, etc...All I could do was cry and tell Heavenly Father that I was sorry, ask for another chance, and tell Him that I couldn't take the guilt, but I didn't know how to get rid of it.

After a few days of praying like that, studying church talks, and talking to Zach, the weight was truly lifted. Completely gone. I don't feel responsible, I don't feel guilty. Instead I feel loved and I feel peace. The difference is so huge that I cannot deny it. I cannot deny the power of prayer and the power of the atonement.

I not only know but I now understand that the atonement replaces guilt with peace; it replaces hatred/anger with love. As many times as I've heard that the atonement can transform--this was the first time I truly experienced it, and it's an experience that I'm not likely to forget. I truly felt a weight lifted from my soul.

Oh, How I Love My Husband

I've also learned so much about my husband. He's even more incredible than I knew. I regard him with a different kind of respect and even a reverence now.  There are no words to explain how good he's been. How patient, understanding, caring, and how strong he's been even though this is his loss, too. I have never needed anyone the way I've needed him the past few weeks. And he has been there without fail in a bigger way than I can describe.  Our relationship is stronger and even better than it was. We are even more ready to become parents.

There is nothing I would love more than to start showing next month. To be planning in every possible way for our baby to join us. I will forever be sad about the loss of our "Surprise February Baby." I am grateful for a faith that helps me to find peace and to learn from a difficult experience. I'm grateful to others who share their experiences with trials and set an example for me. I'm grateful to friends and family who went out of their way to make us feel loved. We lost a lot, but we've gained a lot, too. And that's something to be happy about.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Girl Talk: Defining Success

I am so excited to start this "Girl Talk" series. I've got some awesome ladies here today talking about success and how they define success.

I feel like success is a huge motivator in our lives, but sometimes it can seem like we're chasing a moving target. Our definition of success can often change and the way we feel about our accomplishments can change. For some of us, a daily workout is just a part of our day, for others we may feel very accomplished after that morning run. Why? Success is so individual, yet we often allow our society to attempt to make us feel the need to match a one-size fits all approach.

Meet Lauren

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 What does success mean to you?
 To me, success means feeling content with my actions. And not a contentment that resembles resigned indifference; instead a peaceful, at ease, joy and pride. 

What accomplishments have left you feeling the most successful?
As silly as this may sound, I felt incredibly successful after I married my husband in the temple. As a convert, the idea of reaching the temple seemed so far fetched. But after hard work and a lot of commitment, we were able to make it. After our wedding ceremony, I felt complete bliss and really proud of us. I knew we had made the right decision and I was filled with hope for the future. 
One other time I felt incredibly successful was when I birthed my baby girl with very little medical intervention. It was something I had strived and hoped for and had worried about. Holding my daughter in my arms, after working so hard to get her into the world, and knowing she was healthy… well, that was an absolute perfect mix of peace, joy, and pride.

Who are some people that you feel are successful? What makes them successful in your eyes?
  This might be really cliche - but I have to say it anyways… I feel like Oprah is really successful. And I'm not just talking about her money or shows or magazine. It's more than that. I really believe that she does what she loves and she loves doing it and seems content with her life. I don't see her as someone who is itching for more or craving the next "fix" for a fame "high." I don't feel like she has to TRY to get others to validate her because she validates herself.  She takes pride in what she does but she is humble. She seems at peace and at ease and radiates that easy going confidence and joy. I really do admire her.

Can you tell about a time that you felt like you failed and what was the cause for those feelings?
Before Brielle started sleeping through the night, she had a short colicky phase. At times, she would just cry and cry; the only thing that would calm her down was a ride in the car. Although I knew I wasn't the source of her discomfort and that there was very little I could do to help, I felt like an awful mother. I felt like I couldn't nurture her or give her what she needed and I felt like I was failing at being a mother. I was (and still am!) so new to being a mom, I was sleep deprived, and the hormones were raging so I beat myself up for it. I couldn't help but think I had let my daughter down. 
But I think the real reason for that feeling of failing was I had set an unrealistic standard for myself and then I, of course, failed to reach it. While I don't want to enable myself by lowering my standards, I do need to remind myself to be realistic… Just because my baby cries, doesn't mean I fail at being a mom!

Do you think your definition of success has changed over the years? Do you think it might continue to change? What causes the change?
I definitely know that my definition of success has changed over time. When I was really young I thought it meant money, toys, a big house - ultimately, I thought success meant THINGS. And then when I was in school I thought it revolved around my grades or scholarships or awards. But my perspective is different now. I don't feel like success revolves around things or acknowledgement from others…  And I don't feel like I have to constantly reach some lofty goal in order to feel success because I can feel it during every day of my life. And I can feel success no matter what my circumstances. Might this perspective change down the road? Of course. New experiences in my life might change how I view success. But I'll cross that bridge when I get there!

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What does success mean to you?

The meaning of success has changed for me over time. I used to think it was having a great job title, lots of money, and an Ivy League degree. But, I've learned that it's about accomplishing your goals-- YOUR goals, not somebody else's goals and certainly not society's expected goals.

What accomplishments have left you feeling the most successful?
Achieving a 3.91 GPA in college was the most successful moment in my life to date. Not necessarily because it's a great GPA, but because I worked hard to achieve a goal that I wanted for myself. I was involved in numerous extracurricular activities and worked multiple on-campus jobs during my time in college, so the fact that I did so well in my classes (All A's except for 3 B's!) still amazes me.

Who are some people that you feel are successful? What makes them successful in your eyes?
 My friend Laura is, in my eyes, successful. She would tell you otherwise, as she graduated at the bottom of her college class, will be in a career that wasn't her first choice and has no idea what she wants to do in the civilian world. But the fact that she graduated from the US Air Force Academy despite being told repeatedly she'd never make it through is what I deem successful. She saw a goal-- proving everyone wrong-- and worked to accomplish her goal. She wasn't perfect at it, and she made many mistakes along the way, but I'd still consider her the most successful person I know.

Do you think your definition of success has changed over the years? Do you think it might continue to change? What causes the change?
 My goals change as I myself change. My freshman year of college, I had a goal of graduating with a 4.0 GPA. Obviously that didn't happen, and I'm actually glad. I learned there's so much more to life than just grades. I have no idea what my future holds. Right now my goal is to work hard at my current job (as dead-end as it may be) and eventually get a Master's degree. Maybe I'll be content with the job I have. Maybe, in a few years, I'll get married and have kids and decide to be a stay-at-home mom. I can be just as successful as a stay-at-home mom as I can as a professional woman.
Bailey is talking more about goals on her blog today, check it out! 

Do any of the thoughts shared today resonate with you. What are your thoughts or experiences with success?

For more information on the Girl Talk series, see here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Have a Healthy Summer + {Giveaway}

 This post contains affiliate links.

Summertime brings out the healthy in me. Don't get me wrong, I usually indulge in my fair share of chocolate dipped ice cream cones, frozen yogurt, and hot dogs. I just don't FEEL as unhealthy or even bad about it, because I'm eating out of my garden, spending time outside, staying hydrated, and getting a tan. I'm know there are those who will disagree that a tan is healthy, but for me it is. Vitamin D people! I need it!

For most of us, the warmer temps have made us feel like summer is already here, but it actually becomes official on Saturday! To welcome summer, I thought I'd share some of my favorite healthy living products.

Viva Labs Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

My goodness, what do I NOT use this for. We always purchase 2 jars at a time. One for the pantry and one for JaiseAnn and I to share. We use coconut oil to make healthier treats like this or to simply cook up our veggies to add to a stir fry. There are so many health benefits to consuming coconut oil. See here if you're not convinced.

I don't use baby lotion on JaiseAnn --I use this. She gets a baby massage every night in this stuff and, while my mom mourns the absence of the Johnson and Johnson smell, she still smells heavenly. We've used it from the very beginning. It quickly helped clear up a rash on her skin when she was under a week old, she's never had craddle cap, and she's never had a diaper rash. We cloth diaper and coconut oil is compatible with cloth diapering. I use the oil on my skin to remove make up and to moisturize head to toe--even my lips. We just love this stuff. One tub lasts us 3 months.

GEFU Spiralizer

 I can't give enough praises about this little invention. It takes up very little space, inexpensive, and making noodles out of your favorite veggies is fun, colorful, delicious and healthy. This is perfect for summertime when traditional noodles will weigh you down. This will make a heavier meal seem light with only a slight modifcation. I gave a High Five to a favorite recipe of ours here last week, using the spiralizer.

Jillian Michael's DVDs

I love Jillian Michaels and she's perfect for summertime workouts. I know that I don't want to spend hours in the gym (especially in the summer). Part of that is due to sheer laziness and the other part is due to my wanting to be out and doing the things I actually like. (No, I'm not one of those that likes working out, especially if it involves strength training--that hurts). But Jillian makes the most of your time. You spend twenty minutes with her and you'll feel it. If you are diligent, you will reap the benefits. Two summers ago I combined The 30 Day Shred with running and I ended the summer doing a boudiare photo shoot. I wasn't perfect, but I was in shape enough to feel confident.

Cuisinart 12 Cup Elite Food Processor

This one is a bit spendier than the rest, but this is a must-have for adopting a healthier lifestyle. We use this thing often to make treats like banana soft serve.  We also use it to make green breakfast smoothies or to grate vegetables for a salad.

It's the perfect appliance to make healthy foods quick and easily. It also saves us money as we buy in bulk, chop/shred, and then freeze.

 Fruit Infuser Water Bottle

This hasn't made it's way into my hands yet, but I intend for it to. I have recently started the habit of drinking lemon in my water again. There are fantastic benefits to drinking lemon water and other fruit infused waters. Plus, it tastes good and keeps you hydrated. Hydration keeps you healthy, energetic, and looking good. It seems EVERYTHING we do has an impact on our skin. I want one of these handy little bottles that will help me reap those benefits without the goo or pulp of leaving the fruit in my cup alone.

 If you're wishing you had some of these awesome products, no worries!
 Why? Because the ladies below and I have all teamed up to give one of YOU a $50 Amazon Electronic Gift Card, on us! Spend it however you'd like. You could buy some healthy things or a box of candy bars. The sky is the limit..up to $50.00 of course.

La'Shawn from March to December // Sharlee from My New Lines // Charlene from Bisons to Buckeyes
Lauren at The Best F Words // Laura at Sincerely, Laura
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The giveaway will run from 12:00 am MST on June 17 until 11:59 pm MST on June 23. All entries will be verified so please be honest! Gift cards will be delivered electronically.
Best of luck!

Friday, June 13, 2014

High Fives

Happy Friday everyone!  I'm giving out some high fives today to some awesome products and blog ideas!

*Some products highlighted products may contain affiliate links. 

I don't watch The Bachelor (or Bachelorette) anymore, but I was an addict back in the day. I absolutely love this "Blogging the Bach" link up that Aubrey has going on over at Dreaming of Someday.  If you are a fan of the show, check this out! Sheer brilliance!

Zach and I are trying to embrace a cleaner and more wholesome diet. We were doing really well and then when I got pregnant we stopped. We've been working our way back. I made this recipe for "spaghetti" and meatballs the other night--our meal was Whole 30 approved (dairy, sugar, soy, wheat, and legume free!) and it was delicious. Zach usually tolerates my healthy experiments, but he actually asked me to make this meal once a week. It's that good. I don't like spaghetti squash, so I subbed it for spiralized zucchini instead.  

Which brings me to this spiralizer. It is a staple for every home. I am a zucchini enthusiast--no joke. I could eat it for every meal. Zach is not such a zucchini fan, but he tolerates our summer long fest. He loved the taste and texture of the "noodles" I made. 

Deidre has a Fashion Fits Everyone series that celebrates confidence no matter your size or shape. It encourages women to embrace their bodies and dress them well. I seriously love this series and think that we need more positive projects like this in the world! 

I bought this memory book when JaiseAnn was two months old. I love it. I jot down something memorable every night when she goes to bed. I can't wait to read excerpts to her when she's older at bedtime. I think she'll eat it up and I'll probably cry. At under $10 it makes the perfect addition to a shower gift. 

If you have or know of products or blog posts that you think should be given a "High Five,"  I'd love to hear about it. Please send me an email at [email protected]

Zach's Father's Day Gift

Someday I will write more about seeing my husband become a father. I will write about the way he handled the first few weeks after her birth when I was really sick. I will tell about all the times he's cried because he loves her so much. I will write about the words he said to me minutes after she was born. This Father's day is a really special one for us. In 2012, I gave Zach a Father's day gift and card to let him know of the impending arrival of a baby we never got the chance to meet. Last year, Zach got to tell his family about our pregnancy on Father's day as part of his 'gift." This year, she's here...and he loves her...and my heart soars. I like thoughtful and personal gifts. I wanted to make something special for Zach but also something he could enjoy with his little girl. 

I made him a book to read to JaiseAnn. I bought a photo album (it was only $2.00 at Target). This one has a cover that I could slip a cover into myself. This book will probably receive a lot of wear/tear/chewing. I wanted to buy s;postID=71308424817806128;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=6;src=postnameomething inexpensive, but durable.
It may not get me on Pinterest, but I still prefer to hand write my homemade gifts. How fun will it be to revisit this idea in a few years and have HER hand write it??

I wrote the following text and included a picture with each one. 

What My Dad Does

When I get older some people might ask me, “What does your dad do?”

They will probably be wondering what he does for work, but I know that what my dad does as a dad is the most important.

So here is what my dad does:

My dad talks to me like nobody else does. We have our own language.

My dad plays with me.

My dad smiles at me and begs me to smile back.

My dad reads to me.

My dad snuggles me.

My dad tries to comfort me when I am upset.

My dad loves me.

 He has since the very beginning and he always will.

"The greatest work we will ever do will be within the walls of our home."--David O. McKay

I also made him his favorite treat (banana bread) and we're taking JaiseAnn with us on a day date out to Tucanos for lunch.
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