December 18, 2014

Simple, Meaningful Christmas Traditions your Family will LOVE! (And Momma Too!)

By Sherie and Laura
Introduced by Amy

Yesterday we talked about the goal to simplify, de-stress, and happy-ify Christmas traditions.  So, to get us started, I asked two wise ladies for input. (They are both my big sisters!  I have another big sister just as wise, but she's dealing with sick kids right now, so it's not the easiest time to sit down and write.  Love you Julie!) I asked how they accomplish simple, fun and meaningful for their families' Christmas...And here are their genius responses.  I am pretty freakin lucky to have three older sisters who teach me the ways of motherhood.  :) Enjoy!
-Amy


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From Sherie:
Christmas can be overwhelming with all the crafts, projects, outings, gift-giving, and Pinterest-inspired things to do. So keep it simple and keep it meaningful.

One of our favorite traditions is to go Christmas caroling. Singing favorite Christmas songs to neighbors has become a lost art, but we love to continue the tradition.

Growing up we’d go caroling a few times during the Christmas time. We mostly went to people who were lonely, elderly, or struggling in some way. I loved seeing the joy our singing brought them and the spirit that Christmas music brings. I remember one particular time caroling to an older man who had recently lost his wife who loved music. Tears filled his eyes and he thanked us over and over for our humble renditions of “Away in a Manger” and “Jingle Bells”. Our small service brought joy and a smile to all of us. We had a fun time together running from warm houses loading back into our van for the next place then piling out again. When we were older, we had two singers for each part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and it was fun harmonizing together. I loved it when “Silent Night” in four part harmony brought tears to their eyes. I take my little family caroling up and down our block and to certain people in our area that could use an uplift. We belt out “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and leave a simple gift. Some have heartily joined in our singing, others have smiled and thanked us for the fun, and we’ve even gotten a puzzled look a few times…. which made me laugh so hard I couldn’t sing! We love sharing our joy we feel as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and hopefully bring a little of it to those we visit!

Another tradition we enjoy was one that we did growing up as well. We have a simple, wooden manger (a shoe box can be converted as well) which we keep under the tree.


We remind our kids at the beginning of December that Baby Jesus needs “hay” to fill his manger. We keep a small gift bag filled with strips of cream material to represent the hay. When the do a secret good deed or kindness for someone, they can place a “straw” in the manger and hopefully have filled by Christmas day so it’s ready for the baby Jesus. It’s fun to see as Christmas gets closer, the kids scramble to find good deeds and be excited to serve others and make the connection that serving others is also serving our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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These are such simple traditions to do, but give the maximum joy and meaning to the Holiday, don't you think?  And now I want to go caroling with her family! :)  Thanks Sherie!  Now let's hear from Laura, with her genius gift-giving strategies and simple tradition ideas.

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From Laura

Since there are so many things to do around the holidays, I ask each of my kids what their favorite Christmas tradition is (I pick one too) and then we focus on doing those and don't stress out about the other extra things because I don't want to spend the money or time on doing things if they don't care about it anyway. This is a twist on the idea that my sister Sherie McDaniel told about the straw and the manger. I have a big bowl of red craft glass rocks that I put next to our kids nativity. They look like red jewels. They can put in a "gift" for baby Jesus every time they do something kind/serve. They try to fill up the bowl before Christmas. I don't get too picky about how they serve or are nice to keep it fun.

Simple no-stress, no cost, activities around Christmas time I like are: making paper snowflakes, playing games, singing songs around the piano, walking around the neighborhood at night to see the lights, reading Christmas books, just sitting on the couch looking at the Christmas tree, acting out nativity story with kids, and making homemade Christmas cards for those that might feel forgotten. On Christmas Eve, after we read the story about Jesus's birth while burning a candle with the lights off, we all write to all of the family members on notecards a little "love-note" and then put it in their stockings to read on Christmas!

When I plan out Christmas presents for my kids, I have then write out their Christmas lists to Santa in order of what they want the most, down to the least. I have them make a list of big presents and a list of small presents. So then I can just go down the 2 lists according to the budget and if I want them to have it. Every year I get each child: one present that promotes physical activity like a volleyball, mitt, scooter, bike, jump-rope, dance shoes.... I get a present that promotes creativity (art supplies, legos, craft kits, sewing, playdough... I get a present that is practical and useful for a long time. This year we are doing nice sleeping bags that they can use their whole lives that they will need anyway for girls/boys camp and family vacations. I get a few presents that are toys they really want even if I think it is kinda stupid or annoying.

I make a spreadsheet that has each child on their with the budgets so as I buy things, I can just hide the present and then type in what I bought and the cost so I keep track of what I have hidden and how much money I have left. It works out really well!

After I am doing buying everything, I then decide which presents will be from Santa and which from mom and dad and wrap them accordingly. So the kids get the same number of presents to open (you can put 2 together in one package if they are related). My kids will all get 7 presents this year, 3 from Santa and 4 from mom and dad. Then I dig them all out of the crawl space and wrap them so they all get the different kind of wrapping paper...maybe that is getting a little crazy but I think it is fun for them to have a variety. If somebody has all smaller gifts, wrap one in a big box so their eyes can pop out as much as their siblings at the size before they open it. Everything looks fair and equal!
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See, what did I say?  Genius. :)  Thanks Sherie and Laura for sharing. :)  

I especially LOVE Laura's list of super simple ideas, cause I am a lazy momma.  Ha!  I remember having the Jesus' manger tradition growing up, and doing like 5 acts of service every Christmas Eve to fill Baby Jesus' bed before Christmas!  So fun. :)  I also like the idea of asking each child what tradition they love best; then you instantly have your priority ones to hit, and the rest can happen if you get to them--or not--and everyone is still happy. :)

How about you?  How do you handle Christmas gifts for your kids?  Do you go off of a budget that is the same for every child and don't worry about how many gifts they get? Go by number of gifts? Adjust the budget according to age?  Or just go with the flow and buy presents willynilly?  I love Laura's way.  Oh, have you heard this gift-giving mantra? --"Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read." That's a good one too!  

Well ladies, Christmas is right around the corner.  Don't let the busyness overwhelm you; sometimes the simplest things are the best!

Please PIN, Share, and/or Like so lots of mommas can hear these awesome ideas!  Thanks.  :) And if you're new here, Welcome! We'd love to have you hang out with us, so be sure to Like Swag On, Momma on Facebook or follow through Bloglovin or Google Friend Connect. We have a lot of fun around here! :)



December 17, 2014

Have Less Stress and More JOY this Christmas!

By Amy

Holidays...How can one word make us so happy and so stressed at the same time?

Now, I LOVE holidays.  It's so fun to have something to look forward to on the calendar--a time to celebrate the things that matter most to us, the things we don't take time to appreciate in our day-to-day.  Plus, I love reasons to get together and excuses to party.

However, they can take a lot of work.  As kids, we didn't really understand how much time goes into making a magical, memorable holiday.  But, now as moms, WE KNOW.

Here's the thing: I think we experience much more stress during the holidays than we need to.  We've got lots of burnt-out moms overwhelmed by too many holiday traditions; they're simply trying to do too much. We see other's traditions showcased on Instagram and Facebook and think, "Now, SHE is a fun mom. Why don't I do that?"  And we try to up our game.  Or, we had years that we were able to do more, and as time passes--we have more kids, busier schedules, and less energy--it starts to wear on us.  Moms try to keep up till they reach their limit, then in frustration they start quitting stuff.  But that sucks, cause then their kids have expectations from past holidays....They're like, "But moooom, why aren't we doing______(insert over-the-top time consuming tradition)?"  Great.  Add a fat dose of mom guilt to the burn-out.   No wonder some moms start to dread the Holiday season.  (Click Here for a hilarious blog post from Rage against the Minivan about over-the-top holidays.  I bout died!)

Right now I only have a toddler and an infant.  My toddler is getting close to the age where he might actually care about/notice traditions.  As this Christmas approaches, I feel like I am in the perfect position to purposely decide what--and how many--activities and traditions to incorporate into our holidays.  My goal is to prevent the cycle of holiday stress and burn-out.


I decided (this is the teacher in me) to create a tradition evaluation list.  To make the cut, a tradition has to:
1-Be meaningful.
2-Be relatively simple to accomplish.
3-Be fun for my kids.
4-I actually enjoy doing it.  (Or at least it doesn't make me lose my will to live.)

The best traditions will hit all four.  But three out of four--that's good too.  :)  I mean, some things are just for fun--not really packed with deeper meaning, like sledding and hot chocolate.  Some meaningful things aren't necessarily "oh my gosh I'm having so much fun!" like scraping an elderly neighbor's walk, but can bring a lot of joy.  Also, a few things might be less simple to accomplish, like baking for the neighbors or making homemade gifts for loved ones, but if you enjoy doing it, then it's still good!  However, if you aren't into the time and craftiness of homemade, or just can't do it this year (like when you're having health issues or caring for a newborn) let go of that expectation and remember that a thoughtfully bought gift can mean just as much!

Now, please know I'm not out here to pick apart others' traditions.  It's personal to each of us, so you gotta ask yourself: do I feel overwhelmed or bothered by a specific tradition?  If so, it's gotta go.  Some ladies love traditions and packing in the holiday activities, and are naturally inclined to do them.  If this is you, awesome!  Do what you love!  If you're all about nightly secret gifts or Elves on Shelves or hidden Leprechaun gold on St. Patty's morning, elaborate themed holiday breakfasts, and you have a separate box of decor for every holiday, then go for it!  (Just don't tell my kids about it, haha.) But only do it if you enjoy it.  If it's a crappy obligation that causes you to hate life, I say scale back.  If you find a certain tradition is too draining, I think it could be really good to have a real conversation with your kids telling them that a certain tradition is too much; they will see by your example that's it's important to make priorities and to not over-schedule our lives--aka--run faster than we have strength.

Personally, I love holiday parties and get-togethers, but some people find the holidays too busy and decline parties.  That's totally fine!  For me, I am pretty extroverted, so I love going to any kind of shin-dig; however, I feel stressed by hosting them, so I don't very often. :) Again, figure out what's best for you and your family.

I believe cutting back is the way to bring back the joy into holidays and squash the stress.  Holidays don't have to be elaborate to be wonderful.  I think spending time with family and friends, serving others, laughing, eating good food, and having fun makes a wonderful holiday.  And that can be achieved very simply.  

Plus, with the religious holidays, too much extra stuff distracts from the important reason for the holiday. So there's another good reason to cut back. :)

Now, tis the season for Christmas cheer, so I've been pondering how to help my family have the happiest and holiest Christmas possible for the years to come.

Here's what I'm thinking:  I want Christmas to be about serving, giving, fun time with the family, and Christ!  

Here are the Christmas traditions that I want to keep:

-The Christmas tree!!  Some like having a family tree with all the kid ornaments, and another tree that momma gets to decorate by herself....aka, the fancy tree!  This is an awesome idea, but I'm just gonna try to balance between kid ornaments and aesthetics cause I only want to deal with one tree. :)  I like using gold balls, both plain and glitter to be the main color of my tree.  Having a dominant color makes my tree still look cohesive when I add all of the sentimental, mismatched ornaments from my childhood.  I also want my kids to help decorate the tree...to a point. (Ha, I mean if I need to fix a few spots, cause there's 7 red balls in one spot, then I will...after they've gone to bed. :)  

-Christmas music out the ying yang.  (Starting the day after Thanksgiving.)  Daily dance party in the living room?  Yes.

-Simple, but beautiful Christmas decor.  I love wide gold and red ribbon and simple garlands. (Click here for the cutest garlands of all time!) I'm probably going to hang garlands and ribbon all around my house, hang some sparkly stars and call it good! :)  It's nice that you can use the same stuff year after year, so it isn't overwhelming.  But, if you LOVE decorating, and like to switch it up every couple years, that's cool too! :)

-Help my kids to make/buy gifts for a sibling.  Some of my favorite Christmas memories are planning and secretly getting a gift for one of my brothers or sisters.  We rotated our assigned sibling every year, since getting gifts for every sibling in a family with six kids is A LOT.  This teaches children the joy of giving, as well as the ability to graciously and gratefully accept a gift.  (Even if it's some weird popsicle stick creation from your 4 year old sister. Haha)

-Secret Santa and service!  Find a family who can't afford Christmas presents (you could ask your bishop, pastor, school counselor, etc) and let your kids help you pick a gift or two for each family member.  Or, grab a little tag off of one of those trees for children in need.  Your kids will be so excited to help pick the gifts! :)  I get overwhelmed to do the 12 days of Christmas (that's almost two weeks to commit to!) cause some nights are super busy for fams and other nights the weather is crappy, so it makes it simpler for you to just drop off the gifts on their doorstep in one happy dump of joy! :)  My sisters will both share awesome traditions in their posts that help kids get excited to serve. 

-An evening of singing carols to older couples, widows, widowers, nursing home, anyone lonely, friends, neighbors, etc.  You don't have to be the Von Trapp Family Singers--it's having visitors when you are lonely that means so much!

-Seeing Christmas lights.  This is super easy, cause you can do it on your way home from the grocery store for heaven sake!  Just slow down or pull over by an awesomely lit up house and let the kids oooh and ahh.  Those people can go to the trouble of hanging over-the-top christmas lights, and you can enjoy their efforts from your warm mini-van. :)

At Temple Square in Salt Lake City to see the lights with my bro and sis-in-law.  Cold, but fun!
-Papa Murphy's pizza on Christmas Eve.  (I made this tradition up.  Can you tell?  Ha!)  This one makes life easier for mommas: Cause who wants to have a fancy meal to prepare when you've got to make a big ol' turkey dinner the next day?  I'm gonna do the same thing for Thanksgiving Eve.  (Actually, I think I'm gonna try to incorporate take-and-bake pizza into every holiday...)

-Decorating Christmas Sugar Cookies (or some kind of variation).  If baking is your thing, awesome!  (Invite me over! Ha!)  Problem for me is, I despise baking.  And...I binge out on cookies, (and the dough) then I feel ashamed.  So, unless my hub wants to get ambitious...I probably won't make trays of sugar cookies.  This might be a special "at Grandma's house!" tradition.  I could modify this one...either store-bought cookies to frost or just skip it and make hot chocolate and orange rolls (from the pillsbury cans) instead.

-Gifts: I want to use my sister Laura's genius method for my kids' gifts (Which she will be sharing on the blog soon, so stay tuned! :)  As of now, I don't worry about getting gifts for my kids, cause they're so little.  I just let the Grandmas spoil them. :)  My husband and I make a list for each other to chose from and we give a gift to each of our parents and the assigned sibling from each family.

Last year, at my in-laws house for Christmas, Hayden's favorite gift of the day was little box of Goldfish crackers from his stocking! Ha, see simple really is best. :)
-As for taking goodies to neighbors, I think I'll start doing what my mom does...she buys some pretty ornaments in the day after Christmas sales, and hands them out the next year with a happy Christmas note to friends and neighbors.  Or, like my neighbor did this year, put a cute Christmas tag on a Mason jar and fill it with Christmas Candy!  Genius.  Then I don't have to bake.

-Christmas movies! This is a really easy, fun, and nostalgic tradition for the whole family.  A few of my favs: "Muppets Christmas Carol!" The old "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." "It's a Wonderful Life." and "Elf".  Also, for Sunday evenings, there are some beautiful movies depicting the Nativity.  

-Christmas Stories.  I already read a couple books a day to my toddler, so why not swap out "Hop on Pop" for "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."?  Everybody needs to own that book.  I love it!!!  Check out a few more that I love: "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" and "The Gift of the Magi."  They are both gorgeously illustrated, and both make me cry--in a good way! :)

My little dude and I reading a Christmas book....cozy!  
-Remembering the Savior.  There are some really great, simple ways to remember Christ at Christmas.  (Two of which my sisters will share in the next two posts!) For Sunday evenings in December, as well as Family Home Evenings, I want to share true stories about Christmas giving.  (If you're like, "What is Family Home Evening?" Let me explain: Mormons are encouraged to gather as a family one evening a week, usually monday nights.  Often a lesson, activity, and treat happen, but anything as a family goes!)

I love to reserve Christmas Eve as a reverent time to spend as a family focusing on the Savior's birth. After all, that is the good news of Christmas!  Growing up, every Christmas Eve my family sang Christmas hymns and brought down the nativity one piece at a time, while reading about the Savior's birth from Luke and finishing with John 3:16.  We'd talk about how He gave His life as the ultimate gift to each of us, then we'd go around the room and each share how we personally felt the Savior's love and blessings that past year.  After that, my family wrote notes to every person in the family and left them in each other's stockings.  I love reading those little notes of love from my parents and siblings.  Our Christmas Eve traditions still mean so much to me.  I'd feel so close to my Savior and my family those nights.  I think it's good to take the time to celebrate the Savior on Christmas Eve, then enjoy a day of fun, gifts, and partying on Christmas day!  You make sure to get in the most important part before all the crazy fun. :)

I'm still not sure on Christmas Cards (Thinking about addressing and mailing all of those envelopes makes me wanta vomit.)

Well, that's my list!  I will have to see if it's too much as the years go by and cut if needed.  But, for now I like this list!  This Christmas, and Christmases to come, I don't want to do things out of obligation--I want to do them because they enrich the holiday season for the whole family, mom included.

After all, Mom shouldn't have to become a frazzled slave every December.  She deserves to enjoy the holiday too! 

That's why I chose to make/keep traditions that bring joy, not stress! :)

Well, thanks for reading, friends!  I'd love to hear your input...what simple/awesome traditions do you love to do with your fam?  Have you ever experienced holiday burn-out or cut any traditions? Do you send out Christmas cards?  (I totally wanted to this year, but my hub just informed me it's too late; they won't get there in time! :(  Phooey, I am such a procrastinator.)

If you appreciated this post, please Like/Share it!  And if you're new here, Welcome!  We'd love to have you hang out with us, so be sure to Like Swag On, Momma on Facebook or follow through Bloglovin or Google Friend Connect.  We have a lot of fun around here! :)

Also, be sure to tune in tomorrow for a guest post with a couple genius/simple Christmas traditions from Laura and Sherie, two mommas who got it all figured out. ;)  (They'll roll their eyes when they read that. Ha!)



Ps. This post will be linked up to the Be.You.Tiful link party...there are TONS of great posts there every week, so check it out! :)




    

December 1, 2014

Sunday Thoughts: Meet This Mormon!

By Amy

*Sometimes, I share a post that is less about toddlers throwing tantrums in Walmart and more about the bearing of heart and soul.  This is one of those.  Here on SOM, we talk about the things that matter most to us--for many of us that includes our faith and religious beliefs.  I hope that we can all show respect and learn from each other's perspectives, even if they are different from our own.
Thank you for allowing me to open my heart to you!*

So, there's a new movie that came out in theaters called, "Meet the Mormons."  I haven't seen it yet, but I'm excited to see it (cause I am one! Ha!) and it will be so interesting to see how we as a group of people are portrayed.  (Ps. I've heard that it will be coming out on Redbox and Netflix, so you can check it out there too!)  But, ya know, if "Meet the Orthodox Jews" or "Meet the Amish" or "Meet the Buddhists" was in theaters, I'd be excited to watch any one of them.  I love learning about other cultures and religions.  (I was a Geography minor in college--I'm pretty much a geography nerd.)  I love people and hearing their stories. :)

Because of this extra exposure that my church is getting (as well as the negative attention and misunderstanding we've had in the media off and on through the years) it seems like more and more Mormons are trying to be super open about their beliefs, to welcome any questions and clear up misunderstandings.  Kind of like saying, "This is who I am and I am happy to let that shine!"

Sometimes people ask, "Why are you guys so into telling others about your church?"  Here's the way I think of it:  Let's say I go to a new restaurant that's not super well-known.  And it is AMAZING!  Seriously, the best food I've ever had.  The first thing I want to do after that delicious meal is tell everyone, "Oh man, you GOTTA try this place!!!"  You want to tell the world!  It's human nature--we like to share what we love so that others get to experience it too!  And that is just a silly example.  My faith is so much more important to me than an awesome restaurant.  It truly brings me so much happiness and direction in life, so why wouldn't I want to share that joy with others that I care about?  And, it's ok if I share my beliefs with someone and they tell me they aren't interested, I totally respect that, and our friendship is still the same. :)  But, I like to share cause you never know who is searching for a way to come closer to God, and maybe I could help them on their path. :)

(PS. Just for a little clarification, the real name of our church is: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints".  We are 100% Christian!  The name "Mormon" is a nickname, since we believe the Book Of Mormon (an ancient record written by the prophets God called in the Americas) to be scripture along with the Bible (which you probably know is an ancient record written by God's prophets and apostles living in the regions around Jerusalem).  And since our name is kinda long, people started calling us "Mormon" and it stuck!)

Anywho, I'd like to tell my own story...so you can meet this Mormon.  :) (It's kinda long...but some stories just are.  You have been warned. :)

I grew up in a Mormon home.  Before I can remember, my mom was singing to me, "I am a Child of God." and "I'm trying to Be Like Jesus." (classic Mormon children's songs.)  My parents taught me to pray, to read the scriptures, to be kind, and most of all to follow Jesus.  I was a happy little girl, who sang constantly.  My family called me "Amy Poo Lovey" and "Lovey" cause I was such a hugger.

At eight, I was baptised.  I was young, but I knew that I wanted to follow Jesus my whole life, so I was excited to make that choice.

But as I got older, I became less open-hearted; I was skeptical and jaded.  At some point during Jr. High, I decided I never wanted to be "girly" since people equaled being "girly" with being "weak and silly."  So it became my mission to be this tough tom-boy; I laughed at anything I considered emotional or cheesy.  I literally RAN when my mom tried to give me hugs.  I would roll my eyes and snicker when my parents got emotional talking about love or spiritual things.  (Sheesh, I was such a brat.)  I don't know why I was such a pain...teenage hormones or something.  Also, I think in part, this was a way to kinda mini-rebel against my parents, who I felt were too strict. (Now I know they were doing their best and I was being very dramatic about it.)  I wanted to rebel to hurt them, but I didn't want to do anything stupid that would ruin my life like doing drugs or getting terrible grades.  And I was way too scared of boys to rebel by dating some bad boy!  Haha!  So I just stayed bratty to my parents, even though I never quit going to church or praying.  At family scripture study and prayer, I just acted too cool to care.

During this time I didn't have a strong relationship with God like I had had when I was a full-of-faith, open-hearted little kid.  I didn't even know for sure if He was there.

The weird thing?  Even though I acted too cool, I desperately wanted to believe there was a God.  I hoped He was there.  I wanted to trust in Him.  I just didn't know.  Everybody talked about feeling God's love or feeling the Spirit...but I didn't think I had ever felt it.  I thought I was broken, since everyone else seemed to feel and recognize the Spirit.

I also started to worry: what if I was only in this religion cause it was how I was raised?  After all, I was only 8 when I decided to be baptised, just a little kid!

My church taught about Jesus Christ.  But, how could I know if He had really existed?  I didn't even know if there was a God, so how could I know if he sent His Son to earth to die for our sins?  And how is that even possible?  It seemed far-fetched at times.

My church also taught that the Book of Mormon is a book of true scripture: that while the prophets and apostles kept records of God's dealings with them over in Jerusalem, on the other side of the world, in the Americas, God called prophets and taught those people too!  The Book of Mormon was the record that they kept--it also testified of Jesus Christ and His gospel and works in harmony with the teachings in the Bible.

My church also taught that the same church that Jesus Christ organized when he lived on the earth--with apostles who had authority given to them by the Savior--had been organized again on the earth.  That after the Apostles and early christians were killed off and the pure gospel doctrines were distorted over the hundreds of years that followed, God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet again on the earth--a legit prophet, like Noah and Moses.  Once again Jesus Christ's church was on the earth, led by a prophet and apostles who had the same authority that Christ had given His apostles in the ancient Christian church!  That the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons) was that restored church, with all of the full teachings and authority once again restored, not by a man, but by God.  That Christ leads our church through a living prophet of God today!

That is a pretty freakin bold claim.

I didn't know if it was true.

I wanted all of this to be true, cause so many people that I loved and trusted believed in it.  I knew they weren't lying to me, but I was so scared that we were all just believing what we wanted to believe.  I desperately wanted to know if God was there, if Jesus was real, if my church was truly Christ's own restored church--all of it.  But I was scared.  What if I asked God and I didn't get an answer?  So I kept scoffing at spiritual things and acting flippant, to hide how worried I was that I didn't know what everyone else seemed to know.

Looking back, I can see that I was being controlled by fear.  My anxiety and skepticism was blocking me from feeling peace from God.  It's like I would feel good at church or while praying and I'd talk myself out of those feelings!  I'd replay all those doubts in my mind, thrusting out the seed of faith every time it was planted.

Deep down, I always had those feelings of faith there.  I had a strong foundation lovingly laid by my parents.  They tried to help me and answer my questions, but I didn't really want to hear it from them. They were wise not to push me as I searched for my own answers.

And, these answers did come, as the scriptures say, "line upon line" a little at a time.

The first time I remember strongly feeling God's love as a teenager was during a really hard trial that my family went through.  Remember my sister Sherie's post about when she lost her first baby not long after she was born?  It was devastating.  I was distraught and could not understand how a loving God could let this happen.  No one would be better parents than my sister and her husband.  It was so hard to see my sister in such pain.  While my tiny niece lay in the NICU, kept alive by tubes and machines, I prayed harder than I'd ever prayed before.  I remember pleading with God to provide a miracle. Then, ever so softly, I was filled with the peace.  He assured me that He loved me and would care for my sister and her husband, but He couldn't answer my prayer in the way I wanted.  And I kept feeling His assurance and love through the funeral and the next few days.  Many in my family, including my sister and brother-in-law, later talked about feeling God's love lifting and supporting them through their grief.  Little Jana's few days on earth profoundly influenced my faith, as well as many others.  I fully believe that I after I die, I will get to meet her again and I look forward to that day!

After this trial, I knew that God was there and that He loved me.  I had felt his love so strong, and I no longer doubted. I knew I hadn't dreamed it up, He really had comforted me and taught me.  After that, prayer became much more real to me--it went from, "Well I hope someone is listening" to "Hi Heavenly Father, I know you're there."  But I was still searching for answers about everything else.

In my seminary class (many Mormon teens take 4 years of seminary, which are classes where they study scriptures) that year we were studying the New Testament.  As I read the accounts of Christ--His life, His compassion, His teachings--in the Gospels, I just knew it was all true.  I was so moved by His miracles and His love for the poor, the sick, and the doubtful--people that others forgot and ignored.  I cried when I read about Him being beaten and spit on, then giving His life for us...for me! I imagined the sorrow of the apostles, His mother, and the other early saints and followers, followed by their overwhelming joy when they saw Him resurrected.  It felt so real to me.  I had been told these stories my whole life, but this time, really studying them on my own, my faith began to flourish.  I loved Jesus and believed that He was the son of God.  I loved how He lived--and just like when I made the choice to be baptised at 8, I knew I truly wanted to follow Him.

One day, my friend's dad, (he served in church leadership with my dad...he's such a great guy, super fun, but so wise!) asked me if I knew for myself that the Book of Mormon was a true book of scripture from God.  He also asked if I knew for myself that this was Christ's true church and if I knew that Joseph Smith was truly called of God as a prophet.  I trusted him and felt safe answering him truthfully, so I said, "I don't know.  I believe it's true, but I can't say that I know."  And he said, "Do you want to find out?"  I said that I did.  So he told me, "Then you'll have to put in the effort.  Show God that you're willing to do your part.  You need to study and really pray and He will answer you."  So I did.  I began to read the Book of Mormon with more intent, really studying it.  I also asked God to help me know if it was true or not, and if the church was true.  But, I didn't really know what to look for as an answer.  People described feeling the Spirit as a burning in their heart or like a "warm blanket."  So I kept waiting and waiting for a warm blanket feeling while continuing to study and learn.

Then, at a seminary testimony meeting at the very end of my senior year, I was listening to the other kids share their testimonies of the gospel.  Suddenly, I literally felt compelled to go share my testimony.  Like I would pass out or puke or die if I didn't!  In a panic I silently prayed, "But Heavenly Father, I believe it's all true and I think it is, but how can I say I KNOW?"  And I felt assurance like I should say it anyway.  Talk about scary!  Me--the girl who scorned showing emotion--was suddenly in front of over a hundred other teenagers, crying and saying, "I know that God lives and this is Christ's true church."

I believe it was God's way of asking me to take a leap of faith, to trust in all the good feelings I'd been having for the past few years of my search.  So I did.

And you know what?  As I said the words, I felt so good!  When I sat back down, the thought came to me, "This is not how a person feels when they tell a lie.  I really do know it's true!"  And I cried even harder, because FINALLY I had my answer for myself.  I wanted to shake the person next to me and say, "How crap, I really really DO know it's true!!!!"

It's so funny to look back and see that God was trying to guide me all along, but I was resistant because of my own doubt and fears and skepticism.  

I learned that faith takes an open and soft heart.

Plus, everyone feels the Spirit differently...I most often feel it as peace and joy and just "feeling right" about something--never the "burning in my heart" physical warmth that I was looking for as a teen. :) Haha, I don't know why I was so hung up on needing to feel that!  So, I was receiving my answer all along, I just didn't know how to recognize it.

My conviction grew and grew, and over time, it became so much who I am; my faith shapes my desires and decisions.  After three years of college, I decided to serve as a missionary for my church. It felt like my chance to give back to my Heavenly Father for the blessings and spiritual guidance He’d given me in my life.  If I could help others feel the joy of coming closer to Him, then being away from my family, wearing a dress every day (yikes!) and halting my education for a year and a half would be worth it.

Here's a couple pics of me as a missionary in Missouri and Oklahoma.

I'm on the right, with two of the missionaries I served with!  I served with so many AMAZING ladies! (And guys too!)

Such a sweet man!  He was baptised when he was like in his 70's...he inspired me so much.  When many people become more set in their ways as they get older, he loved learning and increasing his faith.

Some cute kids in a family I taught.
Since my high school days, I've realised that getting a testimony is not just a one-time thing.  Over and over again my faith is strengthened.  Like when I have an answer to prayer, when I feel uplifted by a lesson at church, when I read a scripture that turns out to be just what I needed that day, when I reach out in love to my children and others, or when I am having a hard time and someone reaches out to me!  I feel God's love and my testimony is renewed and strengthened--It keeps feeling right.  I see now that even when I was a skeptical, bratty teen, He was always there.  And I know He always will be.

Now that I'm a grown-up, raising kids of my own in a world that's got a lot of evil in it, this reassurance gives me the courage to move forward, trusting in Him, knowing that He will guide me and my family.

My three favorite scriptures also give me courage that I don't need to fear the future if my foundation and first priority is living as a follower of Christ.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33.

"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." Doctrine and Covenants 6:36.

And this scripture where a prophet is speaking to his sons: "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." Helaman 5:12

I love those three scriptures so much!

Now, I get to teach my children how to pray and love others and follow the Savior.  (I hope none of my kids will be as bratty to me as I was to my parents...but it will serve me right if any of them are!  Ha!)  I know that in this crazy world that seems to just be getting worse, the best protection I can give my children is to help them nurture their faith, so that they will have their own strong foundation.  When we are on the Lord's side, we don't need to fear!

Well, that was my very long story. But, it's all true and I'm glad I could share it with you!  Please tell my your thoughts, especially if you have questions for me! :)  If you believe in God, how did you come to know that He was there?  I'd love to hear. :)

And, whoever you are, I know that God loves YOU.  You are precious to Him because you are His child.  If you'd like to get to know Him or learn how to pray, I'd recommend putting forth the effort to gain a relationship with Him.  It is life-changing.  Here's a good place to start.  If you already have a relationship with God, but you'd like to gain more knowledge and understanding about His plan for you, I'd recommend this website to you too! :)  It's so good!

I hope you take this post as I meant it, to share what is important to me.  Please know that I while I love to share my own faith, I love and respect all people for their beliefs!  :)  If you appreciated this post, please Like and/or Share.  Thanks a million!  I think sharing our stories can open hearts and bring about better tolerance and understanding of each other.

Remember, I'm always looking for ladies to share their stories, so please check out the "Wanna Contribute?" button up on the right side of this blog! :)  And if you're new, Welcome!  If you wanna party with us, follow along through BlogLovin, or you can like Swag On, Momma on Facebook, or your can join this site through Blogger.  So many options!  We have a lot of fun around here. :)



November 12, 2014

8 Reasons Why Spring is the Only Time to Have a Baby

By Amy 

Nature does things the right way.

In the Spring, babies are being born all over the place, right?  Well, nature is pretty dang smart, cause I've decided that the months of March through June are the only time that I ever want to have a baby.

What brought me to this conclusion?

Having a baby at the end of August.  Allow me to explain:

1: Sickness. RSV puts lots of little babies in the hospital.  Everywhere you go from October to February, you are walking into a cocktail of germs and viruses.  Stores, church, the library...they're just giant petri dishes of sickness waiting to infect your baby.  Ok, so that is a bit over the top, but I just spent 4 days in the hospital with my newborn who had viral meningitis.  It was terrifying.  Nine weeks is tooo young to be sick!  But being isolated at home for 2 or 3 months to get through the flu and RSV season is rough on a momma battling post partum hormones--it can be become very lonely.  However, if you have your baby in the spring when sickness isn't so rampant, you can enjoy getting out of the house and introducing baby to friends and family without such a high risk of sickness!

9-week-old Miles in the hospital
2: It is NOT fun to endure July or August 9 months pregnant.  It's rough having a bun in the oven when it's 95 degrees outside.  I thought ladies were exaggerating when I'd tell them my baby was due in August, and they'd be like, "Oh, you have to be pregnant in the summer, you poor thing.  It's SOO terrible."  But, I found out that it's real.  You cannot get cool!  You can't take off enough clothes.  A menopausal lady having a hot flash in a sauna can't sweat as bad as you.  You feel like you're having a heat stroke after being outside for 5 minutes...IN the SHADE!  I am not kidding.  The heat sapped all energy/desire to live from me. 


3: Easier to exercise!  If your baby comes in the spring, you have a good amount of time before the weather turns chilly--that makes it SO much easier to get outside and get moving when you're ready to lose some of the post-baby weight.  During the summer months, it's wonderful to take a walk with baby in the morning or evening when it's not so hot.  Gentle outdoor exercise, like walking, can be a game changer for combating the baby blues during that first month or two.  It's not fun to go outside when you're worried about freezing your baby (or yourself!)  But, when it's cold and I try to workout inside, it doesn't last too long.  The couch is in close proximity and that's usually where I end up.

Trying to work out inside.  Tummy time for baby Miles...
...and planks for momma!  Ha, my husband walked in and took these...he thought we were pretty funny.
4: Outdoor relaxing for Baby.  Most babies love to be outside.  I sat in the shade with my little Hayden and read books while he sat in his bouncer for probably an hour everyday of his first summer.  It actually kept my cranky infant happy!  Since they really aren't coordinated enough to play with toys in the early months, it's nice to be able to entertain them by taking them outside.

4-month-old Hayden relaxing outside

5: Self control around food during Oct-Dec is freakin hard.  Trying to lose baby weight and get back into your jeans when you are surrounded by Halloween candy and cookies is MADNESS!  And then comes Thanksgiving.  And I stuff my face.  And then Christmas.  I stuff my face again...the whole month!  Darn you, Christmas goodies!  Oy.  I wish I wanted to have self-control, but...who the heck wants to say no to holiday treats!?  (Or any treats for that matter.)  Maybe Jillian Michaels can say no to frosted sugar cookies or pumpkin pie, but not me.  What I need is Jillian to hang out in my chicken and slap goodies out of my hand while yelling, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, WOMAN?!!?"  I bet that would help.

6: The Darkness.  I'm not trying to allude to anything creepy, I mean it's literally darker. If you have an infant waking you multiple times in the night, when 7 am rolls around, you feel like you got hit in the face with a sledgehammer.  Add the fact that in the winter it's still dark outside in the morning; it is really hard to get your poor body awake and moving (more like stumbling) around when it looks like the middle of the night outside.  Also, it gets dark so much earlier.  You can start to feel like a mombie living in a dark cave.  In my opinion, sleep deprivation is much easier to handle emotionally in the spring.  :)  The sun makes us happy!  

7. The Cold.  At birth, a brand new baby emerges from their warm, peaceful uterus hot tub, and suddenly...BAM!...they're in a cold, cold world.  It can be rough.  Like when I'm desperately trying to keep the carseat cover from flying around in the wind as I'm walking through a parking lot, and my unsuspecting infant gets a blast of frigid Idaho wind to his little tiny face and starts to bawl.  I feel so bad!  I don't like taking an infant out when it's really windy and cold.  I don't even like taking myself out when it's windy and cold!  I know if I had a baby in December, I'd become a hermit.  The thought of getting myself, an infant, and a toddler all bundled up, out into the cold weather, scraping and warming up the car, and braving slick roads...forget about it!  Not much is worth that effort to me.  Therefore I would talk myself out of setting up playdates, going to storytime at the library, I'd even skip cruising Fred Meyer and lounging on the gray sectional I covet. (I want that sectional so BAD.) I'd become hermit with cabin fever in no time.  As babies get older, it seems to be easier to get out....I'd brave the cold with a 9-month-old baby, but probably not a 1-month-old baby unless absolutely necessary.

8. Holiday visits. If your babe was born is the spring, hopefully by the time the holidays roll around they are sleeping a little better at night--which makes traveling and staying with family much easier.  Plus, a 9 or 10-month-old gets excited by pretty decorations and twinkling lights and is all cute and friendly with family...it's magical experiencing the holiday through their eyes!  An infant, on the other hand, couldn't care less.

9-month-old Hayden...first Christmas!

SO EXCITED! :)
Well, that's my list friends!  What do you think?  Which ones do you totally relate to?  Which do you disagree with?  What would you add?  Which month do you think is ideal for having a baby?  And... I must admit that there is one major pro to having a winter baby: you can hide a post-baby belly by wearing big slouchy sweaters during the winter months! :)

Now, I have to add that obviously we can't always choose when we become pregnant, or other factors make our choice for us.  Also, I know there are many women out there who have a difficult time becoming pregnant.  If this is you, you may be thinking right now, "Sheesh, you're pretty ungrateful!  I'd be ecstatic to become pregnant, who cares what month!"  Yes, you are so right.  These reasons are such insignificant sacrifices in comparison to bringing a baby into your family!  I'm just saying, if you have a choice in the matter, you might as well try for the situation that will be the most pleasant for everyone.  :)

Don't forget to give your feedback on these reasons!  I'd love to hear from you.

Ps. If you enjoyed this post, please Like, Pin, and/or Share! :)


October 31, 2014

Halloweeeeen!!


By Amy

Just for fun, I'm gonna show you a couple of my costumes as an adult.

Cause costumes are the best part about Halloween!!!

And creative costumes are one thousand billion times cooler than "sexy" costumes.  That is what I will teach my daughter if I ever have one.

Thriller zombie!!!  My roommates and I were all zombies and we won the group costume prize at our church's Halloween party!  Wahooo!!!  And, yes I know the thriller dance.

Bon Qui Qui!!!!  GURRRL, I will CUT you.  (Have you seen the "King Burger" MadTV skit?  If not, WHAT?!  You must watch it right now.)
At a super fun murder mystery party!  I was definitely single and definitely NOT pregnant.
My hub and I as HOMIES!!!  This is our first married Halloween.  (I have been told I look like Beiber in this pic.  Joy.)

This year!!!  I ran a Halloween 5K with my momma-in-law, hub, and two little bros-in-law.  I am a Mombie!  (Newborn making me sleep deprived.)  And, the race sucked, btw.  I despise running.   But we looked good! :)  Notice my toddler as a freaking adorable jester. :)  
My toddler and hub were jesters for the race the year before! :) 
As a kid, I'd draw out my costume ideas for months ahead of time.  One year I was a Jack-in-the-Box, and I walked around in a huge decorated box all night.  I had a handle to turn--someone would turn it and I'd crunch down inside and sing a tune till I popped out of the box!  It was pretty spectacular. :) The jester hat my hub and son wore in the race is from that costume...I've kept it since middle school! :)

I already loved Halloween and dressing up, but I'm pretty sure helping my kids come up with epic ideas as they get older will make me LOVE it even more. :)

Here's a weird trick-or-treating thing that happened to us last Halloween night: a couple teenage boys knocked on our door and asked us for cigarettes! WTFreak?  They weren't dressed up either...it was sooo weird.  Ha!  I was like, "Um...no.  Here's a sucker."

How about you?  Do you love to dress up or not so much?  What awesome/original/quirky costumes have you or your kids dressed up in?

Oh, and if you haven't seen it, you've got to check out this post about my sister's family and their INSANELY cool Halloween costumes!

Friends, have an awesome Halloween!





October 21, 2014

This is for You Mothers

By Kimberly (Kimbo)
Introduced by Amy

Kim is a blogger--but not a small potatoes blogger like me, oh no.  Her blog, "A Girl and a Glue Gun" has thousands and thousands (and thousands!) of followers.  So I pretty much feel like Oprah is on my blog today.  Yay!!  (I'm sure Kim just rolled her eyes reading this...Ha!)

Even though Kim is one of the popular kids of the blog world, she is amazingly nice and down-to-earth.  We live in the same good ol Ideeho town, but I met her through a high school friend's facebook group.  After checking out Kim's blog I was like, "Yowza.  This girl knows what she's doing!"  And since I'm still a newbie and we live in the same town, I really wanted to meet up with her so I could ask a trillion questions.  I felt pretty cheeky asking her for a personal tutoring session, but she was super cool about it!  So we hung out and she was so chill and nice that I forgot to be intimidated.  :)
Kim is a craft blogger, but I read her blog because of her voice!  Crafting isn't my passion, but if she wrote a blog about fly fishing or plumbing, I'd still read it, just cause she is so fun to read!  I'm excited she's sharing some of her mothering experiences with us today on SOM.  Enjoy! :)
-Amy

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This is for you mothers.....
The ones that said, "I will never buy a gun for my son."

This is a cheese quesadilla.

I have also been "shot" by: a rock, french bread, a flosser holder, a stick, my glue gun, a kitchen aid attachment, a kleenex, playdoh, a broken headband, safety scissors, a sucker stick, a...........


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If You Give a Kid a Binky...

Kameron started crying last night and I knew it was because I left her binky (the one with the clasp that will hook to her clothes and not fall out of her bed) at her grandmas. So she starts crying right when I am about to fall asleep..like semi coherent. And this is my thought process....If I go upstairs to put her binky back in her mouth, she will see me and want up. If I get her up, I will have to make her a baba to go back to sleep. If I make her a baba, I have to change her diaper. If I change her diaper, than I would have to turn on the light. If I turn on the light, than Jordan would wake up. If Jordan wakes up, she will get in my bed to go back to sleep. If Jordan sleeps with me, I will be uncomfortable all night. If I am uncomfortable all night, I won't get a good night sleep. If I won't get a good night sleep, I will beastly tomorrow. So, I had better stay right here and let her cry it out so my kids won't suffer tomorrow. And then Jordan came down and got into bed with me anyway because Kameron woke her up.


---
Today, I have been shot by 3 different guns and played dead. I have been kicked in the shins twice. I have held a beautiful wedding on my floor between a unicorn and a pony. I started a water fight that did not end when I wanted it to and I ended up soaked. I was interrupted when I was getting ready and forgot to put on mascara on one eye, and noticed at 10:00 at night. I kissed one burned finger and two boo boos on heads. I got told 4 knock knock jokes that ended in pee pee or pooh pooh. I mopped the floor twice because someone was being "helpful" with the orange juice. I said the words, "do your homework" over 15 times. I stepped on a lego and I'm walking with a limp now. I have changed two poopy diapers. I killed one spider.

And I am thankful to be a mother...sometimes.



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The Chair.

Does this chair look particularly appetizing to anyone? Does is scream "Sit on me"? Does is look like the most amazing chair ever? Yeah, not really...but for some reason this chair (more like spot) is the cause of at least 3 fights a day (more if we have a treat at the table or do a craft at the table.) When I yell, "time to eat" Kaje screams out "I get the middle chair" and then they both run and dive for it. Like an extreme version of musical chairs...without music. Someone ends up getting pushed onto the floor and screaming, "I want to sit there!!" I started making dinner the other day and Kaje came and sat down and watched me make the entire meal...too afraid to move in case he lost the coveted spot. He seriously sat there for like 30 min. I just don't get it....it's like any excuse to get in a fight. You should see them at church over the sacrament. They literally got in a fight over who had the biggest piece of bread.

I will not sell my kids...I will not sell my kids.


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I was cool in high school.

Remember back in high School when it was lunch time....and there were 3 of you...and you all crammed into the front a vehicle because gasp! heaven forbid one of you had to sit in the back by yourself. So uncool! And when you drove to lunch you would gossip about what boy you thought was cute and you can't believe..{fill in the blank} wore that outfit, I mean it was totally uncool like totally?

Flash forward a few years...a few more. Okay about there. Back in the car, going to lunch. You are a taxi cab. You are now alone in the front while you have 3 kids in the back. I mean how uncool is that? And if anyone was going to gossip about clothes it would be about your clothes...because you just looked down and gasp! realized that you are still in pj bottoms or have mismatched shoes...(true story) and back in the day before you knew better you said that your kids would always look cute and their hair would always be done....but you now look in your rearview mirror to find that your son has insisted on wearing the same spiderman shirt three days in a row and he has decided to have an opinion on his hair...(He likes it FLAT!) and your daughter has also decided she is old enough to dress herself, which usually means something weather inappropriate and something mismatched. If there is pink in the shirt and pink in the skirt they match...doesn't matter that one is a plaid with red and white and one is hot pink with rainbow stars. And the gossiping? Nope..too busy looking for a volkswagen beetle (slugbug) out the window so I can call out the color before my daughter can.

Back in the day I had the coolest music..totally hip. (on cassette tapes of course) Now my cd player is filled with Disney cd's and a Junie B. Jones book on tape.

Instead of worrying about finding a date to the dance or finishing your homework in time for class....it is trying to make sure you got everything you asked for in your happy meal and especially...and this is important...going through the happy meal to make sure you don't get duplicates of the same toy. (I have had to knock on the drive through window to ask for a new toy...I have no shame.)

I was cool in high school.
-Kim

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Haha, I love her. :)  Thanks Kim for guest posting today! 

So check out her blog! (I highly recommend you follow her blog on Facebook...she posts awesome questions and stories and is generally entertaining to have in your feed.  Just saying.)

 agirlandagluegun.com II Twitter II Facebook II Bloglovin II Instagram

Here's Kim and her cute fam! 



Welllll, folks...thanks for chilling with us here at SOM today!  

Be sure to Like and/or Share this post if you loved it too!  And, which of Kim's stories do you most relate with?  My kiddios are still little (toddler and a newborn) so lots of these experiences are in my future, but I definitely have already watched my own coolness dwindle and die.  Ha.

If you're here for the first time, Welcome!  If you'd love to read more stories from other cool ladies (like you!) then Like and Follow this blog on Facebook or BlogLovin so you never miss a post!  We have a lot of fun around here. :)


October 19, 2014

Meningitis Blues

By Amy

*I am posting this a couple days after writing most of it...cause babies don't care if you'd like uninterrupted time for writing, so it's tricky to ever finish a post.  :)

Friends.  *Sigh*  It's been a rough week.  Last Wednesday night my little baby Miles started running a fever.  After a doctor appointment, a fever of almost 104 degrees, two trips to the ER, a three day hospital stay, a chest x-ray, numerous blood tests, a urine culture, and a spinal tap, we learned that our little dude had viral meningitis.  I can't even tell you how beyond grateful I am that it wasn't bacterial meningitis, which can be devastating in its long-term effects and can even be fatal.


It was terrifying to see my little 6 and a half week old baby so sick.  My husband and I switched off being at the hospital with Miles and being at home with our toddler, Hayden, who unfortunately was puking for several days during all this.  (Most likely they caught different strains of the same virus.)  All while my husband was supposed to be going to his classes. (He's a full-time Physical Therapy grad student in his last semester of classes.)

So, to say the week was rough seems like quite an understatement.

I cried a lot.  Emotionally, my husband and I went through the wringer.  We felt heavy, heavy worry and fear for our tiny little babe; the uncertainty of not knowing what was wrong while we waited and waited for a hundred different test results was exhausting.  Both of us felt helpless holding our poor toddler who was sobbing and writhing with tummy pain, stuttering through his sobs, "I don't don't don't...don't want pukes anymore!"  It was heartbreaking.  I couldn't help crying right along with him.  He kept saying, "I'm sorry, Momma." which made me cry even more!  I kept trying to tell him, "You didn't do anything wrong, buddy.  It's not your fault!  We just want to help you feel better!"  Plus, my husband and I were both so tired and overwhelmed.

But, I know that God was looking out for my little family.  We felt His help many times this week.  My husband and dad and father-in-law gave priesthood blessings to Miles, which gave us comfort and peace.  We had some amazing doctors and nurses who truly wanted to do whatever was necessary to get our little baby better.  We felt the prayers of our our whole extended family as well as friends and neighbors.  So many friends on facebook have given us encouragement, love, and support.  My amazing in-laws came to help, as well as my selfless mom, who stayed for a few days.  They basically saved our bacon and got us through this week, risking getting sick themselves by being in our home.  And a friend brought delicious dinner one of the nights that our babe was still in the hospital; she brought probably the most fabulous chocolate chip cookies that I've had in years.  I am not exaggerating people!  They were hot when she brought them, and I may have scarfed 5 in the kitchen as soon as she left.  (Ok, 6.  I was really stressed!)  It's kinda pathetic how much those cookies cheered me up! :)

We couldn't get his fever to go down, so we had to strip him down to just a diaper to try to cool him down.  

Little Dude feeling a bit better!  But, he's offended that they've got him in a dress.  Ha!

Now we are all home, and Miles is doing so much better!  I love to just look and look at him, alert and content, instead of flushed with fever and pain.  What a relief.  It makes me cry.  Guys, he is freaking adorable.  (Well, he's a little less adorable when he wakes me up wanting to eat every two hours all night, like last night.  Haha!)  And even though Hayden is still on the mend, he hasn't puked today or yesterday and that is a big deal!  He made some jokes, and even danced a little to the Daniel Tiger theme song.  We've been marathon watching it since it's Hayden's favorite and it helped keep his mind off of the nausea.  I'm pretty sure the Daniel songs will be stuck in my head till 2016.

I can't thank Heavenly Father enough for my sweet sons and for my husband Patrick, who would give anything to take care of the boys and I.  I'm a pretty dang lucky girl.

So, our week was rough.  But life is good. :) 

Ps.  Have you ever had a one of your children sick in the hospital?  Ever one of your babies?  It sucks, huh?  What was the hardest part for you?

October 7, 2014

Babies and Boobs and Poop...Oh My!

By Amy

Friends!  Long time no see!  :)  I miss you.  It's been a bit crazy in my home.  And in my brain.  Ha.  I can't seem to get my crap together enough to write a blog post.  But, baby Miles is officially 6 weeks old and my hormones have leveled out, and I feel like life is going to chill out a bit.  Hopefully I can get back to writing posts, cause I love how creative/therapeutic it is for me, and I miss hanging out with YOU!  Adult interaction, even the virtual kind, is nice when your life is a never-ending cycle of babies, boobs and poop.

Besides being in the newborn haze at our house, my husband is in his last semester of classes and writing his huge thesis-project-thing, which means he takes our laptop to class most days and uses it in the evenings writing his beast of a paper.  So, I've missed my blogging and writing time.  But, I've been so happy to share the last couple guest posts!  I hope you loved them as much as I did! :) Pretty amazing ladies, huh?

*PS. I am always looking for more guest posts!  I know you've got things to say, so email me, baby! (amy.the.graham@gmail.com)*

I've been asked for an update on how life is going with an infant plus a toddler...I'm working on a post, but it is slooow going.  Lots of scattered, sleep-deprived thoughts.  I'll share it when I can get it coherent. :)  So probably next year.  Ha!

For now, here's just a couple pics and stories.  

HAHA!  I was trying to get a pic of Hayden kissing Miles on the forehead, and I caught Miles's yawn!!!  HAHA!

Baby Miles on his blessing day.  Look at that HAIR!  I AM OBSESSED!

Momma and Miles.  Thanks Sherie for this sweet pic!

Dude just chillin.
It's been funny to hear all of Hayden's questions since we brought baby home.  His mind was blown when he first saw me use a breast pump...the whole concept of "momma's milk" is kinda throwing him for a loop.

Then, the other day he walked out of my bedroom and into the kitchen like this.  I died!





Man, that kid is so freakin cute.

Sorry the pics are blurry, probably cause I was laughing my bum off.  He said all distressed with his little stutter, "There's no no no...no milk in my tummy!"  And, today he put my nursing cover on and stuck Bob the Builder up his shirt. The WIC breastfeeding ladies would be so proud.  Haha!

Here's another "Hayden Funny":

So, Miles is a GASSY baby.  The poor boy cries like he's in pain and wakes up a lot in the night, so we're experimenting with different formulas to help out his little tummy.  (I supplement cause I don't make near enough milk.)  Well, he has constant and LOUD poops and toots.  (We laugh pretty hard every time!...Except when he poops all over my hands when I'm changing his diaper.  Then I dry heave. That boy is such a pooper.) Anyway, in church on Sunday, my hub was holding Miles.  Suddenly, during a quiet moment, my baby let out an impressive explosion from his tiny baby bowels.  I mean, it was loud.  So, I'm trying not to laugh out loud, when Hayden giggles and pipes up with, "Oh, Momma's woofin!"

UH...Whuuuuut!?  For crying out loud, I wasn't even the one holding him!  Why would he think I did that!?  And of course everyone around us heard.  The shoulders shaking with silent laughter gave them away.  My face was on fire!  The lady in front of me turned around and whispered, "Wow, Amy!"  Her whole family was cracking up too.  Ha....thanks Hayden.

Well, it's almost 10pm and I'm pretty much brain dead and sooo tired.  Until next time my friends!

Ps.  Mommas of two or more, if you nursed, how the heck did you explain it to your curious kiddio(s)?  Do you just nurse right in front of your older kid (kids) or do you cover up?  (K, I'm not talking about a twelve year old, obviously!)  Just curious.  :)  Kinda like I wonder when I should no longer leave the door open during the day when I'm going to the bathroom or when I get out of the shower.  What is the cut-off age? (Admit, you've wondered it too!)  I don't really want my son to have memories of seeing his momma nake...haha!