Tag: Imperfection

Patience – 3 Different Kinds – Which one do you struggle with?

Patience is always a Christlike attribute that I have struggled with. But I haven’t figured out what EXACTLY it is with patience. There are a lot of connotations and meanings of the word and as I was floundering in my spirituality recently, I think I have sorted out in my mind some of the different aspects of patience and why the trait seems to be so elusive to me.

So, if patience is something that you have questions about, hopefully this will answer some of your questions.

patience watching the clock tick

Connotations of Patience

For me, a whole list of thoughts or ideas comes to mind when I think of the word, patience. Here are some of the thoughts I have.

  • Waiting in a waiting room.
  • Trying not to get frustrated with those who make me wait.
  • Not getting a reward immediately.
  • My children having to wait for a treat.
  • Trying to bite my tongue when my husband is taking longer than I had decided he should take to complete something.
  • Watching someone struggle with something and having to teach them the same thing over and over again… aka children.

All of these can be frustrating if you are a person of little patience, like me. Not all of them are frustrating to me, but some are definite triggers.

But, I think there is a much more concrete way of looking at this word and dividing it, so that I can focus on one area where I struggle. I struggle with all of the aspects of patience, but there is one in particular that seems to get me down again and again.

1. Patience with Others

This aspect of the attribute is one that I seem to do okay with. While I may have impatience at the start, I usually notice and try to reign in my frustrations. After all, I am imperfect too.

Having patience with others is something that I think most people will find they are better at doing. We know we need to be charitable and we know we shouldn’t judge. We get those lectures all the time.

Impatience with Others

Usually, having impatience with others is a series of instances where a person does not measure up to your expectations.

Let’s break that down even further. This means that first, there is someone or something in your life with which you consistently interact. If you didn’t have this kind of interaction, there would be no need to have patience with them. Their offense would be fleeting and the impatience experienced with them would not force you to practice this attribute.

Second, you have unfairly imposed your expectations on someone else. For example:

  • I can’t understand why my child can’t read yet. I was reading by the time I went to Kindergarten.
  • Why is he always so slow getting out the door? It would have taken me 15 minutes to do this.
  • Why does she insist on making fun of me every time we hang out?
  • Does he have to keep tapping his foot in that annoying manner? Is anyone else tapping their foot?!
  • He should know how I’m feeling. I shouldn’t have to spell it out for him.

Does any of this sound familiar? This is like the story of my life. I have thoughts like these frequently and have to work extra hard to exercise a little patience. I’m sure some of you reading this, are professional patience practitioners and are shocked that people like me even exist. We do. And we are probably impatient with you at times.

patience with your spouse

Overcoming Impatience with Others

Now that we understand how we can offend the divine attribute of patience in this manner, there are ways that we can overcome it as well. I have listed a couple of steps that help me.

  1. Identify what is making you angry. (Usually impatience leads to anger and that is when we recognize the emotion.)
  2. Let it Go OR
  3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go
  4. Forgive Self

I will list them all again, but go into further detail.

Steps to Overcome Impatience with Others

1. Identifying the Cause of Anger

Evaluate the situation and reflect on how it made you feel. Try to identify what particular action triggered that emotion.

2. Let it Go

Sometimes, you don’t need to understand why someone is behaving in a way that irritates you to your core. Maybe the foot tapper has a nervous twitch that flares up when he feels uncomfortable. Take the opportunity to try and be grateful that you don’t feel anxiety when you are surrounded by other people.

With this step, I usually need divine help to actually let it go. I say a prayer and I ask Heavenly Father to take away my frustration and be able to focus on whatever it is I need to do. I have always felt peace when I ask for His help. He knows the other person who is frustrating you and will always want you to have more love for them too.

3. Address the Issue

This one is the hardest to do. It requires a lot of love, a lot of listening and a lot of love. Yep, love twice. Don’t even try to do this unless you take the time to love the person first.

Child Learning to Read

In the example with the child who is having a hard time reading. You could try something like this.

“Kayla, I want to talk to you about something. We have been trying to read for a while now, and I can’t help but notice that you don’t seem to enjoy it. Why is that?”

Then, you have to just listen. Listen until you can’t listen any more. Chances are, your child wants to read just as desperately as you want them to.

patience with children learning to read

Spouse is taking too Long

I wanted to use another example where the priorities of the two individuals may not be aligned.

You are trying to go somewhere and your spouse just doesn’t seem to take the hint that you want to go NOW. You watch as they dilly dally, take their time finding their favorite jacket, don’t help get the kids ready or whatever it is that keeps them from getting in that car.

Now it is important to address the issue by communicating your feelings. And just start with a blanket statement of how you feel. It should literally be only 3 words. ONLY THREE.

I feel (feeling word). Here are some examples:

I feel frustrated.

I feel annoyed.

I feel upset.

I feel angry.

I feel ignored.

I feel forgotten.

Don’t say, “I feel like you…” That’s just another way of accusing them of doing something.

They will probably ask why you feel that way and you can then explain by saying something like this.

trying to be patient with spouse getting ready

“It’s been very important to me to get to Carl’s gymnastics on time. The teacher has already talked to me about it before and so when we arrive late, I feel embarrassed.”

Notice that you are still not accusing your spouse of anything. If you accuse your spouse, they will feel defensive because they might have been trying to get ready fast too. Or maybe they feel embarrassed because they took longer than they thought they would.

4. Forgive

Once you have either let it go or you have addressed the issue with the person and then let it go, it is time to forgive them and move on. If you are not ready to do this step, you have not adequately done steps 2 and 3. Go back, and try it again.

 

Here is another example of when I lost my patience with my daughter.

 

Patience with Self

This kind of patience requires you to recognize that you are imperfect and be okay with your imperfections. Obviously you want to become better. That is part of human nature. Of course we want to grow and progress, but a lot of times our growth is not dependent on our own time table.

Let me share with you a personal example that I am sure many people can relate to.

Getting Back in Shape

I am 6 months postpartum. At 3 months, was New Years! And guess who made some awesome New Years Resolutions. Some of those resolutions centered around losing weight.

I decided I was going to do a work out program that was supposed to take 3 months and then BAM! I would have my fit body ready to show off to the world. If anyone watched my Beauty and the Beast – Mom Parody you will know that that did not happen. There is evidence in the video of that.

scale and tape measure

I lost a little weight, but nothing like I had planned. In a fit of embarrassment and shame I cried as I thought about all of my great plans. I was going to get a new swimsuit, fit into my old clothes again and basically be a babe. Summer was just around the corner and this was the year that I was going to be ready for it.

Confusion and despair threatened to overwhelm me. I had done everything I was supposed to do and when I had done this 10 years ago, I had lost the weight super fast!

But, I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. I have to have patience with myself and my body and it’s imperfections. That just means that I have to wait longer to get what I want. So, here is to the next 70 years of my life eating healthy and working out. I guess it will never end. What a great practice of patience.

stretching girl
This is what I will look like for the rest of my life I guess.

Overcoming Impatience with Self

The Steps in this one are the same as they are with overcoming impatience with others.

  1. Identify the cause of the anger.
  2. Let it Go OR
  3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go
  4. Forgive Self

This is a heart to heart with yourself. It’s easy for a lot of people to not worry about being patient with themselves. But this is so important. You are just as important as those other people you have impatience with. You have unfairly placed expectations on yourself that maybe you couldn’t meet.

 

Steps to Overcome Impatience with Self

1. Identify the Cause

Sometimes I just feel Meh as people describe it now. I don’t want to do anything or I just feel “off”. If I am feeling this way, it is usually because I am being impatient with myself. Some expectation wasn’t met and now I need to deal with it before I can feel like myself again. When I am feeling this way, I might just feel like laying on the floor with my cheek pressed against the carpet. Maybe I just can’t sit still. Or sometimes I am just depressed.

2. Let it Go

I only recommend this option if you have already taken the time to address the issue with yourself. If you already know why you are feeling this way and have taken the time to do an inventory with yourself, then you can start with Letting it Go. Again, this usually requires some divine help.

3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go

If you haven’t taken the time to identify how you are feeling and why, it’s time to dig deep. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to someone about it, write it down, pray about it, draw, scream or express yourself in some way. Find a way to work through those feelings and do it.

Once you have sorted out the cause of your impatience, say a prayer like mentioned before and ask Heavenly Father to take the feeling of impatience with yourself from you.

4. Forgive Yourself

Accept yourself for who you are. For me, I have to accept that I can’t lose weight as fast as I would like to. I did everything I could for 3 months and still lost the pounds at a snail’s pace.

But, I’ll be the tortoise in the Tortoise and the Hare. I just have to keep going, keep trying to be better even though I may not be able to see the results that it is yielding immediately.

 

Here is another example of when I lost patience with myself.

 

Patience with God

This is the one that I struggle with the most. When I follow commandments or do something good, I expect that all of my troubles and trials will be taken away. I expect to be rewarded for all that I am doing and I get frustrated when God does not do things in my timetable. Doesn’t He see how hard I’m working? Do my efforts not make any difference?

I am sure they do, that’s where faith comes in. But He does them in His own timetable.

He knows what we want before we ask Him and we may ask and not receive it, or maybe not receive it right away.

That can be SO frustrating.

 

Theatre

I have always loved performing, being in plays and showing off. That’s just in my nature. You might never guess from meeting me because I don’t have a very loud personality.

juliet's balcony
This is the balcony in Verona, Italy referred to as Juliet’s Balcony.

When I was 14, there was an audition for Romeo & Juliet. I was so excited because duh! Juliet was 14 in the play. I was the perfect age and thought that I could surely get the part. After memorizing and memorizing, praying and pleading I went to the audition. I was nervous, but I had done what I needed to to prepare.

Guess what happened. TOTAL FLOP. I couldn’t seem to remember the lines, got nervous and basically just froze. I left knowing I wouldn’t get it. What a terrible, embarrassing feeling. I wanted to crawl into a hole inside of a cave and die.

And the embarrassment led to anger. Hadn’t I been doing everything right? Didn’t I practice and work hard? Why hadn’t I received help? If my audition had at least gone smoothly, I could have been happy with that even if I didn’t get the part, but it was a disaster!

We’ll come back to this story.

Overcoming Impatience with God

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the steps with this one are the pretty much the same as the ones in the other two impatience categories.

  1. Identify the cause of the anger.
  2. Let it Go OR
  3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go
  4. Try to Align your Will with His

This type of impatience is a lot harder for me to overcome. I usually don’t want to let it go. I want to just stay mad, bitter and insulted. Real mature, right?

 

Steps to Overcome Impatience with God

1. Identify the cause of the anger.

A lot of times this springs from feeling entitled. We felt like maybe we deserved more blessings. Or maybe we had an expectation of God that He didn’t fulfill, even though He never agreed to it.

2. Let it Go

This is not the same as ignore it. You definitely don’t want to build up frustration with God. You need to figure out what is going on, recognize that you had an expectation of Him that He didn’t necessarily agree to and accept that.

3. Address the Issue & then Let it Go

He will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS talk to you about anything because He loves you. Say a prayer and let Him know you are disappointed or frustrated so that you can start to reconnect with Him. Don’t you think He wants to know how you are feeling? You can tell Him you’re angry. He will even listen if you are angry with Him. He’s not going to get defensive or offended. He is the perfect listener and loves you and wants you to come to Him, even though you may feel like that is the last thing you want to do.

4. Try to Align your Will with His.

This is different than forgive Him, because there is nothing to forgive. He is perfect, therefore we know that He did not make the error. Now, we need to do the hardest thing and let go of what we want and try to see what He wants for us. I promise it is always better.

Romeo & Juliet

I was disappointed for a long time and even more devastated when I found out that the ENTIRE freshman class was going to go and see Romeo and Juliet because they were reading the play that year.

That could have been me! Everyone could have seen me perform. I don’t remember why, but for some reason, I couldn’t go. I think I had a doctor appointment or something, which was too bad because I wanted to go.

Then, the next day, I heard the reviews. “It was terrible!” “The worst play ever.” “All they did was make out the whole time.” “Disgusting.”

Imagine my relief when I realized, that could have been me. That night I said a prayer of gratitude that I didn’t get the part. First of all, I would have been extremely uncomfortable with making out with some boy I didn’t know at 14 years old, when I had never kissed anyone. And I would have been embarrassed that everyone in my whole freshman class would have seen me ‘making out the whole time’ in ‘the worst play ever’.

I think God’s will for me was much better than my will for me.

 

Here is another example of when I lost patience with God.

 

Patience

It is hard for me to trust God’s timing. When I want things, I usually want them right away because that’s just how I am. I want to check things off my list, quit stressing and move on, but God doesn’t work the same way as me. He knows what will shape me and help me become the person I am supposed to be so I guess I can trust him.

Answer My Prayer – When it Feels Like You’re Not Listening

I am sure I am not the only one who has sat alone in my room and looked up, wondering if He really loves me. Am I the only one who wonders if He cares? Does He really know me? Will He answer my prayer?

Reassurance of a Parent

I have often wondered why, when I am feeling this way, when I really want to feel the love of my Father in Heaven, do I not immediately receive heavenly help? Wouldn’t my Heavenly Father want to remind me that I am loved, that I am not alone? Wouldn’t he want to reassure me that He is there?

answer my prayer the way I answer my daughter's request for a hug

Sometimes when I have prayed in anger at my lack of answers, I have told him that if my child needed to know that they were loved I would never hesitate to tell them. I would never hesitate to show them. If He was in fact my Heavenly Father, why would He not want me to know just as immediately.

Where are my guardian angels? Why can’t I feel the warmth in my chest? Is it too much to ask for a heavenly hug?

I wrestled with this question for months. Why wouldn’t He just reassure me of His love? Deep down, I was pretty sure that He did, but I felt like I needed to be reminded.

Unexpected

My answer came after much studying of the scriptures and General Conference talks. It came after praying and pleading with my Heavenly Father to just show me His love for me.

If I knew He loved me, I didn’t have to feel alone. When everything else felt like it was falling apart, I would at least know that He was with me.

After much praying, studying and crying, I finally stumbled across this talk. It was by Elder David A. Bednar, and He talked about ways that we can receive revelation from God. I wasn’t necessarily trying to find the answer to my prayers in this talk, I was just trying to draw closer to the Lord.

He used two examples during his discourse.

Example 1

When you walk into a dark room and find a light switch, you turn it on and immediately the room is illuminated with light. Suddenly you can see more clearly. Everything is shown to you at once.

answer my prayer like lightbulbs being turned on in a dark room

This type of revelation is infrequent and rare. It is most commonly used when you are in dire need of a course correction in your life, Elder Bednar says. This is one of the ways that we can receive revelation.

When this has happened to me, I have looked around me in shock that no one else seemed to feel what I was feeling. It felt so tangible and real. It also came when I really needed the assurance of God’s love. I have only felt this kind of revelation once or twice in my life that I can remember.

And to be honest, this is the kind of heartwarming, bosom burning answer from God that I was looking for. Elder Bednar goes on to say that while powerful, this kind of revelation is not necessary for receiving a testimony.

Example 2

Imagine you are  facing the east and watching the sun rise. First you would see evidences of the rising sun. The darkness would begin to lift and more and more of the surrounding wilderness would be revealed to you.

sunrise as an answer to prayer

In fact, you might not notice it was even happening unless you were watching for it.

Even though the source of this light is the most powerful source of light in our world, sometimes we do not even notice that we are using it.

This type of revelation, the kind that comes quietly is much more common and frequent. We can receive answers to prayers like this all the time.

 

Answer My Prayer

Suddenly I realized that He had been answering my prayer all along. He didn’t need to show me with trumpets and a burning bush. He was guiding me little by little in my life. My Heavenly Father could answer my prayer, simply by showing me that He was with me by BEING with me.

Just because He wasn’t answering my prayer the way I wanted Him to, doesn’t mean that He wasn’t answering it.

 

To Recognize When God Wants to Answer My Prayer

As I went through this experience, I realized something especially important. I wasn’t hearing the answer because I wasn’t actively listening. I was doing what I was supposed to; going to church, saying prayers and reading my one chapter a day.

praying to God to answer my prayer

But I wasn’t doing everything I could to discover what I wanted to know. In a way, I think I expected Him to answer my prayer without having to put in any effort. But when I didn’t go to Him, how could I hear his gentle whisper?

 

What I know

I know that God loves me. He loves all of us. I am constantly amazed at the evidences that He knows us each individually and wants us to return to Him. I know that He is always with us, always wanting to help us. We just have to draw close to Him and ask. As we are near Him, we will always hear His answer.

answer my prayer like a sunrise so it lasts longer

I am so grateful He answered my simple prayer with a simple answer. I learned way more about how to be close to Him than I ever would have if He would have just obliged my demands. He certainly knows me better than I know myself.

 

I have had God answer my prayer on many occasions. I am sure that I will write more, because His love constantly amazes me. General Conference is always something that inspires me and during this last one I received an answer to my prayers about loving everyone.

Love Everyone – Knocking Down Pedestals is Essential

Pedestal PicThere has been a lot of talk about stopping the hate. I hear all the time about how I need to love everyone and I absolutely agree. We do need to learn how to interact with more love. My only hope with this article, is to break down one of the stumbling blocks to the admonition to love everyone. What is holding us back?

My theory is that people are having a hard time with the idea to love everyone, because they don’t recognize how many pedestals they have set up in their minds. Everyone has heard the phrase “being put on a pedestal”. This is usually applied to people who are admired or looked up to. We set them up to be our idols, for better or worse.

 

Putting Yourself on a Pedestal

It should be obvious why this one can make it hard for you to love everyone. But, let’s go over it. If you are placing yourself on a pedestal, it really makes it impossible to love anyone. You are so much better than everyone.

Maybe you think you are better because you have more money. Maybe you are more in shape than everyone else. Are you lifting yourself up because you are a superior writer. Perhaps you’re smarter. Maybe you are a more beautiful specimen. Perhaps you think you are a better parent. Maybe you are willing to forgive someone who isn’t willing to forgive you back.Perhaps someone has offended you, hurt you or disappointed you and you would never do that.

Whatever the reason, you are putting distance between yourself and someone else.

 

Putting Someone Else on a Pedestal

Wedding pic of us on a pedestal
Austin & I literally on a pedestal.

This is something that most people will not immediately view as a hinderance towards the mandate to love everyone. After all, if you are looking at someone’s great attributes you must love, respect and admire them.

And while you may respect and admire them, the love you have for them is more of your idea of them. You assume that they are above or are more talented at something. There is the conjecture that if they are talented at one thing, or have more money than you or thinner than you, their life must be better than yours. There is no way they can possibly understand how you are feeling.

An even more dangerous strain of thought is when you start hypothesizing about how they got there. They must be naturally good at that. He probably inherited all of his money. She must have great genetics. We frequently assume that if someone has something we do not, they don’t have to work for it.

By putting someone else on a pedestal, we choose to distance ourselves from them and believe that they are different from us. We usually assume they don’t have to work as hard, don’t have as many troubles as we do and the next logical conclusion to draw is that they also view themselves on the pedestal. They must think they are better than everyone else.

 

How to Love Everyone without Pedestals

One of the hardest things to do is to love everyone and the one thing that will single handedly help the most is to knock down all of the pedestals you have built up in your mind. Knock down the one you are standing on. Knock down the ones that you have placed your friends or acquaintances on.

And when you’re standing in a field of broken pedestals with everyone else, you will start to see the most amazing thing.

We are all human, we all struggle, we all want to be better. At times we all doubt ourselves and are scared of being alone. We want to make connections with those around us. You will suddenly see everyone as they really are and not as you imagine them.

Try knocking down a pedestal and watch what happens to your relationship with that person. It might not be immediate, but I promise it will be different. (Also, you may have to knock down the pedestal many times. Sometimes we struggle to remember.)

 

I’ve even put myself on a pedestal over my daughter before.

General Conference – An Invitation to Become Better

What is General Conference

Every spring and fall, I look forward with great anticipation to my church’s General Conference. If you don’t know what this is, allow me to explain.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. People commonly refer to us as Mormons. Every six months, the leaders of my church who are literal Prophets and Apostles speak to us and give us new direction on how to grow closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. You can see it streaming online, broadcast on television and live in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Tabernacle before General Conference
Austin and I went to General Conference together for the first time when we were dating. We’ve watched it together ever since.

All of the members of the church take the weekend and listen to up to 10 hours of talks or discourses. It is amazing. And even though it is frequently only members of the church who know that it is going on, ALL are invited to watch and listen. Because, if you haven’t noticed from our 70,000+ missionaries around the world, we want everyone to come unto Christ.

 

Memories of General Conference

Since I grew up in the church, for as long as I can remember, I have been watching General Conference. We lived in Alaska, so the morning session started at 8 am. My parents would drag us out of bed and for the first session we would all lay in my parents’ room and try to stay awake while they talked…or at least try to make it look like we were awake.

By the time we had woken up for the afternoon session (which for us started at noon), we would have eaten and gotten a fresh wave of energy, so we usually busted out Monopoly and I would beat my brothers and sisters every time. It’s not their fault. They didn’t know that the key to winning was to get the orange monopoly every time. I figured this out early on in my Monopoly playing days.

Other times we would draw, do art projects, cook, or try to keep the noise down long enough to stay under my parents’ radar.

 

What I LOVE about General Conference

It seems like every time General Conference comes around, I try to think of questions I have that I would like answers. And I can’t ever seem to think of something specific. Because I have heard so often that we should go with questions and that we would definitely receive answers to our questions.

Temple Square with Austin
Hanging out at Temple Square in between Sessions

And pretty soon, my favorite time of year is upon me and I haven’t asked a question. I listen to the talks and suddenly all of the thoughts and concerns I have been having are addressed. Questions I didn’t know I had are being answered and I feel like even though I didn’t think I was prepared to listen, Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed to hear.

This was my experience today, after the first two sessions of General Conference. Later, I perused my Facebook feed and everyone else who listened to conference said that General Conference was tailored to them. How is that even possible?! Because I know that it was tailored to me.

It’s possible because God knows us each individually and His Spirit can touch each of us to guide us specifically for our lives.

Every six months we receive revelation, specific to ourselves, individually and it is up to us to decide what we will do with it. We can just listen and log it away. Or we can let it change us to become a better disciple of Christ.

 

New Traditions of General Conference

Now, we live in the Eastern time zone. That means that our first session of General Conference doesn’t even start until noon. So, we have the entire morning and Priesthood session doesn’t end until 9:30 or 10:00 at night.

Waiting for Music and the Spoken Word before General Conference in the Tabernacle
Waiting for Music and the Spoken Word before General Conference. Sorry the pic is blurry.

This year we started a new tradition. Austin’s brother and his wife are coming into town tomorrow, so we spent the whole morning doing some Spring Cleaning. So, I guess our kids will grow up doing some deep cleaning the morning of General Conference. What a way to make them look forward to it every year! We’re awesome parents.

 

Tomorrow

I am so grateful for General Conference and I can’t wait to hear what our prophets and apostles have to tell us tomorrow. And I guess with that, I mean, I can’t wait to hear what God would have us know.

Austin & I in Front of SLC Temple
We had no idea that less than a year later we would be getting married in that building behind us.

This is literally the best time of the year. If you have never had a chance to listen, please tune in tomorrow for the most uplifting experience of your life. You will not regret it. I have included the link at the beginning and again here.

General Conference is literally, my secret key to becoming One Helluva Homemaker.

Most Important To Do on your List Every Day

Cheesy Post Alert!!

Don’t care. Sometimes you need a little cheese. Today, it’s all about the cheese… and cute pics of my babies.

Most of my days end up just like today. I have a long list of things I should be getting done, but I don’t really get many of them done. But that’s okay. I think I did the most important to do on my list. I didn’t finish folding the laundry, or write this blog until super late. Dinner happened, but it was just Macaroni and Cheese, nothing special.

It seemed like a lot of things just got left undone. Some days I get even less than that done. But I always try and accomplish my most important to do. I try to remember to keep it at the top of my list. Because if I only do my most important to do every day, then my day is successful. If I accomplish it, I know that I am still One Helluva Homemaker.

In the House

Especially during the winter, most of the time we just hang out at home. Our home is our children’s world. They get to be in the place where they are most comfortable and can act like themselves the most. At home, it’s super easy to do your most important to do. And being at home all day, I love watching my babies just be. They are 100% themselves and they are so full of love!

toddler watching television in the middle of laundry
Sometimes, the laundry doesn’t get put away for a long time, so it becomes a nest for my toddler to watch TV in.
showing my toddler my most important to do
Her favorite spot to hang out while I try to whip together 3 meals a day.

My little boy

my daughter sporting some tude
I don’t know how I got a photo with so much attitude, but I absolutely love it!
most important to do in action from my son
This is what he looks like right before he goes to sleep. My heart!
Siena helping her brother
The little mommy helping her brother.
both my kids in the crib
Siena always loves to get in the crib with Grayson and play with him. He loves it too. I love watching them play together.

I love going out and letting them explore too. But, sometimes it is great to just be homebodies and enjoy being around each other.

Most Important To Do

That brings me to the most important to do. You could get absolutely nothing done ALL DAY LONG in terms of getting stuff done around the house, cleaning, shopping, whatever and still have a productive day as long as you do the most important thing on your list. Love your family. Just show your babies you love them. Show your spouse you love them. That’s all you got to do, and your day just became one of the best days ever. Literally, it is the BEST thing you can do every single day. That is what makes you One Helluva Homemaker.

most important to do shirt
Customize your shirt with different colors or choose from so many of the other products!

Remember it!

So, because I wanted you to have a way to remind yourself that you are amazing just because you loved your family today, I designed some shirts, water bottles and phone cases! I love how they turned out.

Check them out! 

 

My Husband, Perfect for Us

Prescriptive World

I read so many articles telling men and women what their roles should be in relationships. Women should be working, men should be helping more with the kids, women should be happy at home and men should be content providing for their family. We live in a prescriptive world where people feel the need to tell my husband and I how we should think, how we should behave and how we should raise our kids.

But, I don’t really care what other people think my relationship and my family life should be like. My family is amazing. We may not be the trendiest idea of a family right now, but who cares? It’s what works for us. My husband is the breadwinner and he is so good at it. He is also an incredible father and the love of my life. I am a Stay at Home Mom right now and I love it! (I don’t love it every day… nap time today was a monster.)

So, keep writing your articles, telling me how to live my life and how I am supposed to think and act. From now on though, I’m going to try and ignore them. So, ignoring the trends and the social norms, my husband, this is why I love you and us, just the way we are.

 

Dear Husband,

You may not see this post for a little while because I know how busy you are. I am so grateful that you come home and immediately play with the kids instead of perusing social media. That is amazing. I know that work is exhausting and that all you want to do when you come home is relax. But somehow, you make the time anyways. You are amazing to me.

Every single day, I may not always see it. I may complain, I may be grumpy or I may just not be looking for it, but wish that I could always see it. Because I know some of just how amazing you are. You are my husband and I hope to see all of your greatness one day, but for now let me tell you some of the little things that I know.

The Things You Do

I’m impressed by the things you do. You listen to your scriptures on the way to work. Sometimes you make dinner for us. There are so many times when you help get the kids ready or help me tidy up the house. I know you don’t have to. No one HAS to. But you do it anyway, because you love us. You ask me how I’m feeling and you really want to know. When you ask for my opinion, you really want it. You see me as an equal and you value my input.

When I talk with you about things that bother me, you infrequently argue with me. Instead, you discuss it with me and we work together to make it better.

You always drive when we’re together. It might seem silly to some. But I don’t like driving and much prefer to dork on my phone and talk to you while you cruise the streets.

You stop by the store on your way home from work even though you hate going to the store. That really means you must love me because you don’t want me to leave after you come home from work.

You go to work Monday through Friday. You provide for our family. I see you clinging to your pillow in the mornings and know that you would much rather sleep. I notice when you are so excited that it’s Friday so that you can have a break. You love your job, but it’s not always fun to work. I get that. But every single day, you go anyways even though you might rather stay in bed and snuggle with the kids.

The Things You Don’t Do

I’m impressed even more by the things you don’t do. You don’t criticize the house when it’s messy. There is never blame placed when something has gone wrong. In the mornings, when you have to go to work early, you don’t wake me up. You shut the doors so the noise and the lights will not interrupt my sleep.

my husband with our newborn sonYou don’t interrupt me when I’m talking or crush my dreams. I never question whether you think I am competent because you don’t do everything for me. You don’t expect meals to be ready. Sometimes, you don’t do the things that you want to do because you know there is something important to me that I want to do.

You don’t lie to me. You don’t keep things from me. There is never any reason for me to wonder if there are secrets I don’t know about. You don’t do things that would compromise your health.

My favorite thing that you don’t do though, is you don’t allow me to talk about your favorite person negatively. You want me to treat your favorite person with as much love as you have for her. You want me to be nice to her. And I try to do that even when my self doubt and insecurities would tempt me to not be nice to myself.

All that You are

Austin, I love all that you are. I love your strengths. You lift me up when I am weak and are seeing me struggle. When we got married, your strengths and my strengths became our strengths and now we are so much stronger together.

I love your weaknesses, because after we got married, they became our weaknesses and we can become better together and through Jesus Christ. Now we have each other to lean on as we work to become more like Him.

I love who you were. I love learning about where you came from and why you are the way that you are now. You have such a rich history and it has shaped who you are today.

I love seeing who you will become. The amount of potential you have sometimes astounds me. You are truly going to become something great one day and I can’t wait to see it.

I love who you are now. I get to see you right in the middle of your journey. You’ve come so far and I get to see the evidences of that character building every day in our home. You’ve got so far to go and I am ecstatic that I get to go with you. We are a team and get to be together forever. Thank you for being my partner. We are going to do such great things!

You are My Husband

But the reason I love you the most, is because you are my husband. I chose you. You chose me. We chose each other and the fact that we are committed to each other is why I love you no matter what. We promised to make this work and I plan on keeping my promise. I love you forever.

Love,

The Love of Your Life

 

My husband, me and my daughterYour Family

So, for those of you who are constantly measuring your family against the opinions of everyone else: stop. Your family works because you are the ones making it work. You are trying your best. Don’t worry that it might not be the way everyone else describes as the ideal. If you are happy, you are right.

I love my husband. My husband is right. I love myself. I am right. I love my family. My family is right.

We work to make it right every day.

Grandpa’s Last Words and how they Changed my Life

It is not very often that you get to hear someone’s last words. This experience, though special, is not something most people want to experience. Because inevitably, it means someone has died. I never really got to hear a ‘last words’ speech with either of my Grandmas and my other Grandpa is still alive.

Me and my Grandpa before he died and gave me his last words
Being with my Grandpa Haroldsen one last time before he passed away.

Getting to Know my Grandpa

My Grandpa sitting on the couch before his last words
I was impressed at his flexibility at 80 years old!

My Grandpa Haroldsen was a stern man. He always liked to be on time and he frequently didn’t have patience for the crazy antics of me and my four siblings. And to his credit, we were rambunctious kids.

He worked an egg farm and had spent much of his life working hard. Every morning he had a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. He read the paper and when we would come and visit, he would wake us up way too early in the morning by rubbing his unshaven, prickly whiskers on our faces. If you think an alarm clock is bad, you should try that.

One of My Memories

Because we grew up in Alaska, he and my Grandma would frequently fly up to visit us. This allowed us to spend some time with our grandparents without my parents having to drag all of us to the Lower 48. (And yes, that is what we call the continental US. My husband makes fun of me and says that we must refer to ourselves as the Upper 1)

One Christmas, when my grandparents were visiting, I woke up early to go sneak a peak at what Santa had brought for us. It was around 3 in the morning. And to my surprise, and honestly, disappointment, my Grandpa was sitting at the kitchen table with my sister’s globe that she had gotten for Christmas. He spun it on the table, obviously caught in some distant memory.

I said, “hi Grandpa.” Hoping that that would be my only required discussion with him, I anxiously looked around him to the couch where my presents were hiding.

“Good morning, Jennifer.” He then asked me if I knew where he and my Grandma had traveled.

I shook my head. And for the next 3 hours, he regaled me with all of his journeyings throughout the world. He pointed all of them out on the map. At some point I had to sit down on the floor, because I had gotten tired.

At 6 am I was rescued by my brother who emerged and distracted my Grandpa long enough for me to FINALLY see what presents I had. I will never forget that lecture of his world travel, at least the fact that we had it.

When My Grandpa was Dying

I was a sophomore in college. Right before I was about to go back home for the summer, I decided I would drive up to Idaho and keep my Grandma company for a couple of weeks. I wanted to be there for her and help her out.

Spending time with my grandma while i received my grandpa's last words

I also wanted to spend time with my Grandpa who had been diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago. He had been put on hospice, and I knew it was probably the last time I would see him. That trip holds some of my most tender moments with both of my Grandparents.

Aside from my Grandpa’s last words, I remember being by the dining room and kitchen when my Grandma got off the phone with someone. She held the phone and let her hand fall to her side before looking at me. “I wish people would quit asking me how I’m doing.” She started crying and I held her while I cried too.

She gave me that. That impossible urge to cry when someone else does was her doing. My mom has that curse too.

My Grandpa’s Unofficial Last Words

My Grandpa right before he passed away and gave me his last wordsTo me, they are his last words, because it was the last time he tried to impart wisdom to me. He said them to me in full awareness that he wouldn’t be seeing me again once I left and I wouldn’t be seeing him until I died.

He had just let me win a game of Twenty Thousand with him… I know, because I tried to let him win and was finding it extremely difficult to do so. And he was lying on his hospice bed and I was lying on my Grandma’s daybed that they had put in there for her. We were mindlessly watching some TV show. And while we’re both laying there, he says, “Honor your Marriage Covenants. That is the most important thing.”

Kissing my grandpa on the head before he died and gave me his last words“Okay, Grandpa.”

And that was it. His last words were short. I wasn’t even looking at him when he had said them, but they stuck. I guess that’s the thing about last words. They are impactful enough to stick.

Understanding His Last Words

If you are unfamiliar with my religion, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is important, because it will help you to understand the impact of what my Grandpa’s last words were when he said, Marriage Covenants.

my grandpa following his own last wordsWhen we are married, we get married in the temple. We believe that as Husband and Wife, we are sealed together as a family unit for Time (life on earth) and all Eternity (life after earth). This means that we are bound together, our children will be bound to us and nothing will be able to separate us, unless we break our covenants.

That means at the end of my Grandpa’s life, the last words that he felt were essential to share with me was his over arching wisdom that when all is said and done, our family is the most important. Family is the most crucial thing to fight for. If you honor your Marriage Covenants, you will get to be with your family FOREVER. And my poor Grandpa, knew that that is what he wanted after he passed.

He was going to be separated from my Grandma for a time. But he loved her so much and his children so much, that fighting to keep that bond in place was the most crucial thing he could have imparted to me, even though at the time, I was not married.

Keeping My Promise

My husband and I adhering to his last wordsHis last words still pop into my mind from time to time. Keeping your marriage covenants includes commandments such as being faithful to each other, loving God and loving our fellow man. The best part about these covenants is the more we adhere to them, the closer we grow to each other, the more we want to be together and the stronger our bond on earth becomes.

I love my husband so much. He is my strength and my support. There are many times when I feel like I am weak and he is there to lift me back up again and cheer me on.

My grandpa’s last words were not just important for the eternities, they are essential for me now. They remind me of my love for Austin. And by adhering to them, we become better friends every day.

A Note to My Grandpa

I know you’re not physically here now. I’m so happy that now you get to be with Grandma. But I hope you know that by having the courage to share some last words with me, you have impacted my life for the better. I know it was probably scary to share them with me, acknowledging the fact that we weren’t going to be together that much longer. You broke the unspoken rule and brought attention to the fact that this was temporary. I am so grateful that you did. It probably didn’t seem like it made much difference to me, but it did. I heard you and I’m trying to do as you instructed. I love you Grandpa. Save a spot for my family next to yours.

To read about one of the ways we are trying to honor our marriage covenants, you can visit: My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD without Medical Help

There are few experiences written on the web about Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD. They frequently get swept into the category of Postpartum Depression. But if you have ever experienced this, you will know that they are not the same and hearing about PPD all the time can make you feel that you are all alone in your struggle.

You are not alone.

taking care of my daughter after months of battling postpartum anxiety

 

My First Baby

I was obviously anxious about having a baby, but I was more focused on the delivery part of it. I figured that since I was the oldest of five, having a child would be easy. Having helped my mom change so many diapers, feed my siblings, gone babysitting, I just assumed that I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

 

The First 6 Weeks

For the first 6 weeks, postpartum, I was fine. We were with family and felt like we had a great support network. Our moms would gobble up any opportunity to hold Siena. They helped her fall asleep, changed her bum and were there for us to lean on physically and emotionally.

Literally, the day after my daughter was 6 weeks old, we flew all the way around the world and began living in China. There is nothing that could have prepared me for that kind of culture shock, but that is a story for another time.

 

Living in China

Facetiming to help cope with postpartum anxiety
My mom helped me through so much just by being available to talk to me whenever I needed to.

We were excited to go on this great adventure, but we weren’t entirely sure what it would be like with a baby. We had planned everything out and felt like we were prepared, we just didn’t anticipate the very real possibility of the mental health issues that might arise.

I was alone frequently during the day. Before we had left I didn’t think this would be a problem. I could make friends, and if not I could catch up on some of the things I’ve been wanting to do. I could blog, I could read, I could watch movies and of course I would be caring for our little angel.

Then I realized there was no one around me who spoke any English. And my Spanish only served to frustrate my attempts at learning Chinese. That was fine. I still had friends online… except that Facebook, Gmail, Youtube and any other American social networking site was blocked by the government. My saving grace was FaceTime, but the time change also made that very challenging. If it was four in the afternoon in China, it was two in the morning back home.

The afternoon was usually when it would start to get hard. I knew Austin wouldn’t be back from school for another couple of hours and by then I was at the end of my rope with Siena. I didn’t know how to make her happy. Being a Mama was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

 

Signs of a Problem

From the beginning, I was always a little paranoid about my baby girl. I was terrified she would just stop breathing while she was sleeping. A kid was coughing into her hands and then touching Siena’s hands… I about lost it. Fear gnawed at me constantly that something would happen to her.

We hadn’t been living in China for very long, maybe just a week or two when I started having the thoughts. Siena would be crying for hours and I would have no idea how to calm her and these unsolicited, unwanted images would flash through my mind. The images were a constant stream of me doing horrible things to my daughter. I couldn’t stop them. It seemed like the more I tried to rid myself of the thoughts, the more they permeated. (I will not get specific about what those thoughts were because I know that such descriptions can trigger images in people who suffer the same things as I did.)

I used to sit on my bed, sobbing and clutching my daughter with fear, terrified that somehow, I would do something that I had seen in my head. The fear that I would somehow do those things without wanting to may sound irrational to anyone not in my head, but it didn’t feel impossible to me. It felt terrifying and very real. 

 

Logical Explanation

mama who looks perfectly happy but battling postpartum anxiety
No one would know how I struggled unless I told them. You never know who could be going through this.

At first I thought that the only explanation for me having these thoughts was that I was a horrible mom. After all, how could I be a good mom if I was seeing all of these things in my head? It reaffirmed my belief over and over again because I couldn’t make them stop. If I was really a good mom, I wouldn’t keep seeing atrocities in my head. A good mom would never think these things.

The bad thoughts persisted so I finally looked it up online. At first the only articles I found were about postpartum depression and as I would read those, I thought, see… it’s just me. I’m the only one who thinks this way.

I finally clicked on a link labeled Postpartum Anxiety/OCD. OCD was never something that described me, but I certainly had a history of anxiety. As I read the article, everything made sense. I felt a relief just knowing that I was not the only one who had experienced this. Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t having these thoughts because I was a bad mom!

 

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD Explained

When someone experiences Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD they feel extreme anxiety about the well-being of their infant. The OCD describes ritualistic things done to help avoid the dangers that the mom foresees. As a mild example, a mom could constantly be washing her hands to make sure her baby doesn’t get sick. Another example is getting rid of items they perceive as being potentially harmful to the child.

For each of these mental illnesses, bad thoughts are a central theme. They could be bad thoughts about things in general, happening to your infant or things that you are specifically doing to your child.

Another core feature of Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD is repulsion at the images you are seeing. If you are experiencing a desire to do the things you are seeing or feel like someone is telling you to do those things, it is imperative that you stop reading my blog right now and seek medical attention. This is something called Postpartum Psychosis and is very treatable if you get help.

For all of these Postpartum Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis & Depression… it is not your fault. They don’t make you a bad mom. Merely the fact that you are worried about it and researching it on the internet proves you are a great mom. You are worried about the safety of your baby and yourself.

 

Postpartum Anxiety without Medical Help

I don’t recommend this. If you are experiencing any Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, OCD or Psychosis, please seek help ASAP. There are professionals who know how to help you.

I did not have this luxury. I was in a country across the world where very few people spoke English and it would have been extremely good fortune to find anyone who knew anything about Postpartum Anxiety. It was also hard to talk to my family about it because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand. But I did find a couple of things that were helpful in my battle for it alone.

I share these with you if you are in a situation like I was and cannot receive medical help. This may be a rare circumstance, but it was extremely frustrating to receive no guidance online beyond, go seek a medical professional when that was something I couldn’t do. If nothing else, these things might help until you can receive help.

 

Things that Helped

Talking to my husband was one of the first things that helped. I told him of my thoughts even though I was ashamed and embarrassed. Getting them out in the open helped to normalize the situation. He also shared his fears and even though they were not the same as mine, it helped to know that I was not the only one struggling during what should be “the most joyful time of our life”.

My beautiful angel who I fought for during my postpartum anxiety

When I did get back to America, I went to a group once. It was helpful to an extent. The other women there struggled with postpartum depression and it was hard to really share with them because I was embarrassed about the bad thoughts I was having. However, before anyone else arrived, I got to talk to the psychologist there one on one and having a medical professional validate my experience was helpful.

What helped me the most though was realizing that my fear behind all of the thoughts was that I was a terrible mom. I was scared that deep down maybe I really was this horrible person. Once I realized my fear, I also learned that this was a lie. I was not a terrible mom. I’m not a bad person. From that point forward, whenever I would see the horrifying images, I would repeat to myself “I am a great mom.” I would repeat it until I believed it and then they would leave me alone for a time.

To me, it seemed like infusing myself with truth was the only way to combat the lies that accosted me constantly.

 

Spirituality is Helpful, but Not a Curemy husband rescuing me when I needed help with postpartum anxiety - an answer to prayers

I am a very religious person. While I was going through this, I used to read my scriptures, go to church, pray and plead with my Heavenly Father to take this away from me. I tried everything I could think of to implore heavenly help. It came, but it came in the form of ways to cope until I could find professional help.

For example, I found an article that reaffirmed I was sick, that there was a name for something I was going through. That felt so liberating.

Another example is my husband would have strength when I had none. I have a picture of him standing, silhouetted in the dark while he held our crying baby and had saved me from emotionally crumpling in on myself.

Even though I was doing everything I could to stay close to my Heavenly Father, I still had the bad thoughts. And part of me likes to think that I went through that so I would know that this is a legitimate illness that is not imagined or something that you can just control. Because I know this, I can now be there to support other women who are struggling in the same way.

 

Length of Time

After I returned to America and was around family again, my bad thoughts almost went away. But they didn’t completely. Sometimes they would return full force and I would find myself crippled in emotional hell.

They came back more frequently when we moved to Detroit. I had read somewhere that it would last throughout the first year of your child’s life. This seemed impossible to me. How could they just go away? I would never be able to forget the images that had tortured me.

While that is true, it is also true that the illness went away. After a year, I was no longer consumed by it. I still remember every horrible thought I had with impeccable clarity. They are not easily forgotten. But, they don’t replay in my head over and over again, threatening to strip me of my sanity.

Instead I think, “my poor new mom self. I wish I could tell her how amazing she was for being strong when she felt impossibly weak.”

 

Will it Return?

Postpartum Anxiety and OCD is most common with your first pregnancy, but that does not mean it is impossible for it to return. As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I talked to my OB/GYN about my experience with Siena and she helped me take some precautions. She recommended some mental health professionals and prescribed some anxiety meds.

Taking the medication gave me extreme insomnia so I quit taking those. And I never did get to go see someone before my son was born, or after for that matter. I am happy to report that I haven’t needed to so far. He is 5 months old and I have been so happy. I didn’t know this kind of happiness postpartum was possible.

And in case you were concerned or wondering, the postpartum anxiety I had with my daughter does not in any way affect how much I love my children. I love them both the same and am so grateful that this time around, I got to enjoy all of the experiences that being a new mom can bring.

my angel baby and her big eyes helped me battle postpartum anxiety
My beautiful girl was a light to me during the trying times.

 

You Always Have Help

I am not a medical professional, I don’t have a degree or a license. I just have a lot of experience that can at the very least, assure you that you are normal. You will just need some help getting through this.

If you are struggling with this and have no one else to turn to, I am here as a resource. It will get better. It doesn’t last forever and you are an incredible mom.

If you would like to reach out to me, please send me an email or leave your comments below. I am sure there are many people who struggle with this and would be able to offer even more insight than I can. 

Cake Smash Fail – Definitely Not Pinterest Perfect

In my days before I knew that I was not Pinterest Perfect, I thought it would be a great idea to make a cake for my daughter’s first birthday and we could do a Cake Smash! Smashin’ idea, eh? It was going to be brilliant! I made a cake that looked like one of the owls on her precious owl blanket. This was going to be so fun!

And then of course, being the photographers that we are, we were going to document every fun, messy second. Bring the Cake Smash on!

one-year-old-in-the-middle-of cake smash

Building the Cake

I did two layers. I know, I’m so fancy! There were different colors of frosting that I had made with cream cheese so not only was it going to look pretty but it was going to taste pretty darn good. I spent an entire afternoon creating my masterpiece and I wanted it to look just like her blankie.

All in all, I think I did a good job. It looked like a cake fit for my princess to smash.

cake smash-cake, my perfect creation!

Finding a Time

This was tricky, because my husband’s work schedule was busy, the Holidays were upon us and we didn’t necessarily want a big audience around while we went crazy with our camera. We ended up having to wait a couple of days after her birthday before we could do it... which affected the density of the cake

Finally, we got her in her cute little bootie cover and got everything all set up. Time to show off our cute, messy angel to the world.

 

The Cake Smash

This Cake Smash wasn’t exactly what you would call a success. First of all, our daughter didn’t seem remotely interested in the cake. She was more interested in the lights we had set up and the big giant cameras in front of her parent’s faces.

Well, the Cake Smash was a giant FAILURE! My cake that I had spent hours meticulously baking and decorating was hard as a rock and she tried everything to dig into it, but to no avail. 

 

1-year-old-pushing-down-on-cake smash-cake

1-year-old-trying-to-penetrate-cake smash-cake-with-teeth

Finally, we tore a chunk off for her and she at least got to taste it, but her interest faded shortly thereafter.

trying-some-of-the-cake smash-cake

 

We tried the cake too. It was now like a calcified brick with baby slobber all over the top. Needless to say, we ended up having to throw the whole thing away. So sad!

Lessons Learned

Sometimes it’s just better to pay for a cake. I am obviously not a Cake Smash baking expert.

Don’t assume your child likes to get messy. Ours hates it.

When it comes to kids, it’s okay to let go of expectations, because it is never going to go the way you planned.

You will still get adorable pictures though!

1-year-old-not-getting-to-enjoy-cake smash-cake

More Mom Fails!

For more Mom Fails check out: 5 Mom Moments That Were NOT Funny at the Time.

Or, enjoy my failure at trying to teach my daughter how to use the potty.

My Daughter – Ambassador of Light

I’m sure most people feel the way about their kids that I do about my daughter. She lights up my world. My son does too. This post however, is about my daughter. It is over the last two years of having her in our home that I have come to realize just how special she is. Let me share with you what little I know about my daughter’s potential.

When I First Met My Daughter

My daughter was born in the afternoon after a grueling labor. Twenty hours of labor and three and a half hours of pushing. As I finally got her out of me, I collapsed in a kind of exhaustion that I think few have experienced. My body and spirit felt broken and I didn’t know if I would ever be the same again.

I was right in being worried; I never was the same again. But it wasn’t because of my delivery experience. It was because of the big, beautiful eyes looking up at me when they placed her in my arms. She made me a mommy. Her eyes were wide and it seemed like she was seeing more of me than I have ever seen of me. My baby girl was perfect.

my daughter-at-6-months-old-looking-up
Looking-at-my daughter-right-after-she-is-born

The First Sign

The first sign of just how special my daughter really is, was the complication with the umbilical cord. We found out after I had delivered that the cord was small and that it had a knot in it. If she had somehow managed to tighten the cord during her 9 month stay in my womb, she would have died. If it had pulled tight during delivery, she could have died. But somehow, through all of that, she survived.

Survival

She survived during a very rough postpartum for me. Our challenging stay in China would have been enough to rattle the calmest of babies, yet she survived.

I got really sick when she was just two and a half months old (bronchitis, tonsillitis, a viral infection and the flu). My temperature was 104 and I finally had to an IV with antibiotics to knock out the infection. Yet somehow, she never got sick. Not one time during the China trip did she get sick.

We rode in taxis without seat belts or car seats (because they didn’t have them) on what looked like some of the most dangerous roads we’ve ever had the pleasure of taking. Granted, we were observing with our Western eyes.

She has shown her resiliency time and time again, proving to me that she is here on earth to bring light to those in darkness.

waiting-at-a-bus-stop-with-my daughter

Helping her Brother

Grayson, has not been as easy-going as his sister was. Perhaps it is because he was not forced into a life of nomadic venturing from the very beginning. He gets very upset when he cannot go to sleep on his bed, our bed or someone else’s bed.

If we are out and about and he is having a hard time, Siena will grab his hand and say, “It’s okay.” She’ll give him her favorite blanket and her favorite baby. If I need her to, she will run and grab his pacifier so that he will have something to suck on. She wants to help her baby brother to be happy.

my daughter-holding-her-brothers-hand

Helping her Mommy

About a month ago, I got the flu after she did. She had thrown up, been miserable and then of course, it was my turn.

I was laying on the couch, perpetually letting Daniel Tiger occupy the screen so that I would have to get up as little as possible.

At some point, Siena came over and patted my hand and then climbed up with me. She snuggled next to me, grabbed my arm, put it on herself and held my hand to make me feel better.

my daughter-holding-her-mommy's-hand
My daughter-at-6-months-old

What I See

Every day she is learning. She creates new things, comes up with new words, or impresses me with her actions as she learns to be a good person.

One of the things she absolutely loves to do, is be a mama. She tries to do everything I do, so I have to watch what I do sometimes. I have to send her out of the room before I trim my bangs… because we all know what could happen if she found scissors and decided she wanted to be like mama.

She puts her baby and bunnies to bed. She tries to feed Grayson. Her favorite thing to wear when mama wears boots, is her boots that match. She likes to sit in the sink while I get ready and pretend to put lotion on her face while I’m getting ready. She loves to wear a backpack and get ready to go because I have a diaper bag backpack that goes everywhere with us. Our baby girl is a Mama in training.

Siena loves music. She dances, tries to play the piano and sings along when her mama is singing at the top of her lungs. She laughs when she tries new things at the thrill of doing something new. My daughter is the sweetest.

She is Human

She gets angry, throws tantrums and tries to kick the cat. My daughter is imperfect, but her human nature is not ever going dissolve her worth.

my daughter-sleeping-as-a-newborn

Rarity in Vision

It is rare that someone gets the opportunity to see just how special someone is. I think that is the role of a parent. I doubt anyone will see as much as I, her intrinsic value. She has overcome so much already and she is only two years old.

I can already see her doing so much. One day she’ll light the world. She is going to accomplish so much and become so much. I can't wait to be a witness to it. Even now, there are so many people who want to talk to her because she is lighting up their day. My daughter is an ambassador of light and one day, everyone else will see it too.