Friday, November 30, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 30

Whew! You guys are probably so sick of me by now! It's been really hard to do this every day (or mostly every day....I fully admit that I had to back-date some of these. I'm not perfect.).

This past month has taught me a lot about myself. How countless my blessings really are. How deeply grateful I am for so many things in my life. How much more often I should be expressing my gratitude. How, once again, if I really am determined to do something, I CAN do it.

So today, I am grateful for my determination. I am grateful for my (rather large) stubborn streak. Although it has certainly brought me a lot of grief in the past, I'm learning more and more about how to use it in a positive manner. I'm learning how to be determined instead of stubborn...and there IS a difference.

I'm grateful especially for the many people in my life who have and continue to teach me. People, like my mom, who are not perfect, but who still manage to love me despite my shortcomings, and despite how much I have hurt them. I am grateful for their ability to forgive me, and for teaching me that it's okay for me to forgive myself.

I'm grateful for my life, for my ability to love and to be loved, for my freedom to choose, for my talents, and yes, even for my weaknesses and my trials. I am grateful for my ability to learn, even if it does take me 10 times longer than is any sort of right to learn from my mistakes.

I'm grateful for every blessing present in my life, and I'm grateful for this chance to enumerate some of them. They really are abundant and countless.

God is good.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 29

Today I am thankful for no class. I needed a break and had (have) a ton of homework to do. It was nice to have a break and get to spend time with Brett and the kids.

I love being in school, but the end of the semester is always so stressful. I'll be glad when this one is over.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Diet Update, Week 3's been three weeks already? Holy cow!

There's not a whole lot to say, really. I'm still on the wagon. I'm still not really losing weight. Meh. Whatever. That'll come soon.

I don't even want fast food anymore. It just does not seem appetizing. At all. (Maybe minus 1 or 2 things from Jack in the Box. Old habits really do die hard.)

Soda is easier, but still not effortless. It's a lot easier to dismiss my soda cravings now, but I still have them.

But I'm still going strong!

Giving Thanks, Day 28

Today I am thankful for naps.

I don't feel good. The kids have colds and are fussy. We got up this morning, had a little bit of breakfast, and then the kids were so fussy that I put them both back down, and they went back to sleep. So, I had a fantastic nap that I desperately needed.

And I feel mostly better. Yay for naps.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 27

Yesterday I was grateful for Amy.

Today I'm grateful for my son. What a sweet boy David is!

David was a little unexpected. Not entirely. We'd planned to start trying soon anyway, but I figured it would take a while, like it did with Amy, and that I would need medication (like the doctor had TOLD me) when I wanted to conceive again. I thought maybe we'd be pregnant by December...not be having a baby! So, he was earlier than I expected him to be, but not any less wanted!

David started teaching me from the moment I found out I was pregnant. I have learned so much more about trusting the Lord's timing, even more than I learned from waiting for Amy. I learned more humility (try not to die of shock, Mom). I learned that sometimes, I really do need to ask for help. I learned that it's okay to ask, that it doesn't mean I am weak or incompetent. Since I was on bedrest for a month with a young child, I didn't really have much of a choice. I was severely depressed. I had to be medicated for the first time in my life, and I saw a therapist weekly. It was, quite honestly, horrific. And it taught me to rely on the Lord.

Giving birth to David without medication, I learned more about my body. I learned that despite how I may feel about my looks, my scars, my cankles, my stretch marks, or any of the other plethora of things I can nitpick about the way my body looks, that I am powerful. I am a powerful woman. I am determined. And I can do hard things when I put my mind to it. Amazing things.

David is so different from Amy in so many respects. He definitely wants to go places! But he has a more laid back personality, which is good, because I really don't know how I would maintain what's left of my sanity if I had 2 kids like Amy running around right now. He loves his big sister. He wants to be like her, and he trails around after her like a little puppy...when she's not chasing him. :) He learns quickly and seems to be ready to be a big boy already! (Which I have strictly forbidden. He doesn't seem to be listening.) He's already walking quite well, almost exclusively.

He is quick to smile and to laugh. I love his giggle. It is just infectious. Often, when we're in the car, I'll hear David start laughing, probably because Amy makes faces at him. He starts to laugh, which makes Amy laugh, which makes him laugh even more, which then makes me laugh, which makes both of them laugh harder. It makes for some seriously fun car rides!

He loves to play. He doesn't particularly care with what--just give him something to hold, and he will find a way to be fascinated by it. He eats like he won't get another meal. He is so deliciously chubby! I love it.

I am so grateful for this sweet little man, and for the privilege of being his mama.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 26

I know I mentioned my family before in my "thankful" posts. And I feel like I haven't gushed too much, which I try hard not to.

But today I'm grateful for my little girl. She has already taught me so many things in her short 2 years. She is sweet, curious, adventurous, and incredibly energetic. She has a special wonder for everything she comes in contact with. She is friendly and loves to hand out smiles and waves like they're going out of style. She loves to be helpful (or at least try). She loves imitating me, whether it's "cooking" or mothering David or strutting around wearing my shoes and purse. (And yes, she does strut. She preens. She's got her own little 2-year-old swagger that says, "I'm hot stuff...and I know it.")

She loves to express her opinion about everything, whether it's actual words, nonsensical babble, a loud and emphatic "NO!", or an outright temper tantrum.

She is very caring and protective of David. She can maul him til the world ends, but heaven forbid if she doesn't know you and you try to "take him away" from her. I have no fear that David will EVER be kidnapped with Amy around. She'd make too big of a scene.

She's using a lot more words these days. One day she was in the bathroom with me while I was primping...I think the Wednesday before our family pictures. She was babbling away at me and seemed to be asking a question, so I told her "I want to look pretty for Daddy." Now she's picked up on "pretty". She'll tell me "pretty" when I'm doing my makeup, or when I'm fixing her hair. It's sweet, although of course the overprotective mother part of me is hoping that I haven't already managed to give her body image issues.

At one point in our marriage, I was afraid we wouldn't be able to conceive (despite Brett's continuing assertions that everything was fine and I was overreacting). I prayed so hard for Amy to come into our family. I begged and pleaded with my Heavenly Father. I went to the temple often, and sat quietly, crying, begging. "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition."

I am so grateful for this sweet person, for the tiny little ball of energy that made me a mother.

Giving Thanks, Day 25

Ahhhh...home again, home again.

I am grateful to be home, in my own bed (even if it's not as nice as the bed I was in for the past few days). I'm thankful to be able to visit family and have a fun time. And I'm grateful for familiar things again.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 24

I know most of you will probably roll your eyes, but I can't help myself. :)

I'm grateful for minor league hockey teams. Barbara, Brett, Amy, and I went to a hockey game last night! Since the NHL is locked out this season with no end in sight, we've been going through hockey withdrawals. Yes, for real. We miss our hockey.

Fortunately, Dayton has a minor league team, and we got to watch a really feisty hockey game, complete with a goalie fight partway through the first period. It was pretty fantastic. Dayton's team won, and fun was had by all! Amy has been asking for hockey lately, so she was pretty thrilled. (Yes, 'hockey' is one of, like, 15 words she'll say consistently. And it's always a question. Hockey? Hockey? Hockey?)

So, as silly as it may be, I'm thankful for the opportunity to partially satisfy our hockey appetites. Go Dayton Demonz! (Yes, with a 'z'. That's really how they spell it.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 23

Now that my waistline has expanded considerably......

I'm grateful for all the early explorers and groups like the Pilgrims. They faced incredible dangers and hardships, coming here. But they persevered, and through it, helped to create a great nation. I am so thankful for them, and for their determination.

And I'm grateful for turkey and shrimp ball.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 22

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am grateful for so many things! I am immeasurably blessed, and I am grateful for that. This post is going to be pretty darn long, so strap in.

Since I am 26, here are 26 things I am grateful for:

1. My life! With the burn injuries I sustained and the infections I had and as malnourished as I was, it wouldn't have been a far stretch for me to not have made it. Also, as I've dealt with depression most of my life, which has sometimes been quite severe, I'm grateful that I never took my own life. I love my life, and I am so thankful to still be living it!

2. My parents. I am so incredibly blessed to have been taken in by such wonderful people. Mom and Dad both have their faults, of course, but I have never doubted how much they love me. I never felt different from their other, biological children. I have never doubted that they want the best for me. My life would have been so different had Mom and Dad not chosen to take me into their family, and I am eternally grateful to them for that. I love my parents very much.

3. My sisters. I haven't always gotten along with all of them. There are 7 of us, after all! I haven't always been close with them, and even now I'm not as close to my older sisters as I'd like to be. But they have always been good to me. Much like my parents, I always felt like they accepted me as part of the family. I never felt like an outsider, even as a foster child. I admire my sisters. Each of them has traits that I hope and try to make part of myself. I feel very blessed to have the sisters I do.

4. My husband. I know I rave about Brett. I really try not to be sickeningly mushy, for your benefit. And Brett certainly has his faults. But I just cannot say enough good things about this man. He is a loving husband and father. He treats me as I should be--an equal partner in our marriage. He is concerned about me and does everything he can to ensure that I am happy and that my needs are met. He is affectionate. He loves our children and is involved in their lives. He helps to care for them. He plays with them. He is a righteous priesthood holder. He is funny and smart and curious and loves to learn. Brett is everything I ever wanted in a husband, and I'm so glad he puts up with me! I am so grateful to be his wife.

5. My kids. Yes, they most definitely try my patience. Frequently. Repeatedly. Endlessly. But I more or less knew what I was getting into. After all, they've got me for a mother! I'd be deluding myself if I thought my kids wouldn't be strong willed. Ha. But they are such amazing little people. Amy is loving and caring and smart and curious and everywhere all at once. She is fiercely protective of her little brother and loves to pretend to be me. :) David is adventurous but has a much more mellow personality than his big sister--although he definitely has the same stubborn streak! I am so blessed to be their mother. I remember a time when I feared I would never have children, and I wish I could go back and reassure myself. I love being a mother, and I'm especially grateful to have these two special spirits in my family.

6. My Savior. I'm grateful for his life, his ministry, his atonement, his death, and his resurrection. I am grateful for his love for me and his willingness to forgive me for my innumerable mistakes. I'm thankful for the relationship that I have with him.

7. The gospel. I'm so thankful to have the gospel in my life. I'm grateful for the knowledge and the comfort that it gives me. I'm grateful for the meaning it gives to my life. My faith plays such a huge part in who I am, and I'm so glad that it does.

8. Modern revelation. This includes scripture, prophets, and personal revelation. I'm so thankful to have modern revelation to guide me. I'm grateful that I don't have to rely solely on a 2000+ year old book (not to say that the Bible isn't great!). I'm grateful for the clarity that modern revelation provides. I'm especially thankful for personal revelation--for answers to prayers, for the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and for the watchful eye of my Heavenly Father. I know I can receive answers to my prayers, if I am willing to hear the answer.

9. Air conditioning. I live in Missouri. It gets hotter than heck here during the summer, and it's really, really humid. Because of my scar tissue, my body doesn't sweat like a normal person, so I can get overheated very easily. Summers are really uncomfortable! So I'm very grateful that I live in the time of air conditioning. Especially when I was pregnant. Whew. Super toasty.

10. Plastic surgeons. If it weren't for my doctors, I wouldn't be alive. Enough said.

11. Medicine! Medicine for me, medicine for my kids. Pain meds, antibiotics, immunizations. (Yes, immunizations. I've done the research, and I immunize my kids.)

12. Hospitals. Although I do NOT like being a patient these days, I'm grateful they're there. I'm thankful I can take my kids somewhere in an emergency and have them receive great care. And I'm thankful they're there to occasionally suture Brett's leg when he slices it open.

13. Missouri Children's Burn Camp. This camp changed my life as a camper, and it continues to have a profound effect on me as an adult. I'm grateful to have had a place to go where I was NORMAL. Where people didn't judge or point or laugh or whisper or tease because of my scars. Where I was accepted. And I'm so grateful now to have the opportunity to give back, and to be a counselor.

14. Friends. Current friends, past friends, rediscovered friends. Friends who have come and friends who have gone. Friends who stood up for me. Friends who stood by me. Friends who comforted me. Regardless of who or when, each friend I've had has changed me as a person. I am so grateful for the many people who have been and are a part of my life.

15. A home. We've moved several times in our marriage, but we've always had a home suited to our needs. I'm grateful to have a roof over our heads, and to have a comfortable, safe place to raise our children.

16. Basic necessities. This ties into the above. Despite being dirt poor not being very well off, we have always been able to meet our basic needs somehow. I'm grateful for the many opportunities that have presented themselves, allowing us to have everything we truly need.

17. Cell phones. I love having a cell phone. I'm grateful to know that no matter where I am, and especially in emergencies, I can always get the help I need. Especially grateful for it, since I have 2 small kids.

18. The Internet. Yes, granted, I can waste oodles of time on Pinterest, but it's also super useful. I can look through the college's database of articles without leaving my couch. I can get directions to anywhere. I can keep in touch with friends and family. I can find fun new recipes, and ideas for crafts and gifts. I'm grateful to have such easy access to such an incredible resource.

19. Service. While I'm definitely grateful for service rendered, I'm most grateful for the opportunity to serve. I've grown more aware over the past few years of the blessings that come from serving others. I really do feel closer to the Savior when I forget myself, and I learn to better love God's children when I'm serving them. Even though the service often takes me out of my comfort zone.

20. Service. Yeah, again. As mentioned, I'm grateful for service given to me. I hate asking for help. I mean, I REALLY hate asking for help. I don't like to inconvenience other people, and I don't like admitting that I can't do everything myself. It's really hard for me. But when I do admit it, I'm grateful that there are always people willing to help me. This was especially evident during David's pregnancy when I was put on bedrest, and the women from our ward at church brought meals 3 times a week for a month. They called and checked on me. They offered to come help in other ways. And I was overwhelmed at their willingness to serve me. I'm grateful for that service, and very touched by it.

21. Electricity. Because how else would I read books until 3AM?

22. Other modern conveniences. Especially, with little kids, my washer & dryer, as I've mentioned in a previous post. My dishwasher. My oven and stove. Indoor plumbing and running water. I love the convenience of living in a modern age, and I'm grateful for the measure of ease that it brings to my life. I'm grateful that it allows me more time to spend on other writing absurdly long blog posts.

23. My brain. I'm so grateful for my intelligence. And no, I'm not bragging or trying to make myself look good (although at one point in my life, I would have been!).  I am grateful for my ability to learn, and the ease with which I usually do it. I'm grateful for a keen, curious mind. I'm grateful for my love of books. I'm grateful for the intellectual gifts I've been given. I really think I'd be a dreadfully dull person otherwise. I'm just not funny or witty enough. :)

24. Cars. I probably could've included this in my "modern conveniences" section, but really, it deserves its own mention. How drastically different would our lives be without these huge mechanical beasts? I love being able to hop in my car, plug in the portable DVD player, and drive 6 hours to go see family. I love being able to zip to the grocery store (although the process takes 4x as long with kids in tow). I'm so thankful for the opportunities I'm afforded by having a car.

25. My parents-in-law. I've told Brett and his parents many times how lucky I am to have them, and I've probably mentioned it on this blog, too. But really. I honestly dreaded the prospect of marrying into a family. I was terrified that I'd get stuck with some evil, mean-spirited people that I'd have to endure being around occasionally so as not to offend my husband. And I am so grateful that's not the case! I love my in-laws. They really are like a second set of parents to me. Barry and Barbara are such loving, kind people. I'm grateful to know them and be a part of their family.

26. My Heavenly Father. I'm so grateful to have a loving Father in Heaven who watches over me. I know I have a mission in this life, and I know He would never give me anything I can't handle without His help. He loves me enough to give me trials and challenges, knowing I will have to rely on Him to get through them. I'm so grateful for His guidance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Diet Update, Week 2

Still going strong and proudly on the wagon!

I still haven't really seen any change in my weight, but again, I didn't really expect to. I rarely even think about fast food these days, unless I'm writing an update! The soda thing is getting easier, although there are still occasions when I miss my Coke.

It might be all in my head, but I feel like I have more energy these days. I don't feel so sluggish. I don't feel like I've got a brick in my stomach after I eat! Woo hoo! Seriously, though, it definitely seems like my body is changing for the better in the absence of the crappy food I was eating.

I looked through all of our transactions on both credit cards and the debit card since January 1st of this year and tallied up how much we've spent on eating out this year. Not just fast food, but any eating out, including dates, special occasions, etc. I am just appalled at how much money we've flushed down the toilet! It's a ridiculous amount. Seriously.

Once again, more proof that my obsession with fast food is NOT WORTH IT! Not to my body, and not to my wallet! (And the amount isn't taking into account the cash I've spent, either. Which is probably a pretty high amount.)

Brett and I have talked about this several times throughout these 2 weeks. We've agreed that we're pretty much just done with fast food. The past 2 weeks have been an eye-opener. It doesn't take much more time to ensure that we've got food readily available at home, at it's a lot faster and less expensive.

I will most likely pick soda back up, but on a much more limited basis. Since we won't be eating out as much, there won't be such a big draw to drink it all the time. Pretty simple!

I'm really proud of myself, and proud of Brett, for committing to this, and keeping this committment.

Giving Thanks, Day 21

Oh my goodness. Today is just turning out to be a fantastically fun day (said in the most sarcastic tone humanly possible). We leave after Brett gets off work to go to Ohio for Thanksgiving (woo hoo! Shrimp ball, here I come!), the laundry isn't finished yet, which means I haven't even started packing, the kitchen needs to finish being cleaned up, and I still have a few errands to run. (Oh yeah...and that 10-page research paper plus 20-minute multimedia presentation for my final in 2 weeks...)

To top my morning off....or should I say, to START my morning off, I was greeted by a disaster in the kids' room. No, Amy hadn't taken her diaper off, we put her in her jammies backwards now.

She took David's off, instead. Yup. And, of course, he'd pooped, and then he pooped again post-diaper. So, he was filthy, and poop was smeared all over his sheets and the bumper pad and him. And various spots on the floor. I may have cried. (Yeah...definitely cried.)

So this morning, I am grateful for my washing machine. Oh my goodness, am I grateful for it. It means I can just chuck nasty, dirty, poopy stuff in there, turn it on, and let the machine work its magic. No scrubbing for me! (Although I did rinse his PJs out. Small price to pay.) I can spend the time I would have spent scrubbing the clothes by hand doing other things! Like bathing both children and trying to get poop out of the carpet, all while not losing my temper. Another modern convenience that has changed our lives.

Yes, I am most definitely grateful for my washer & dryer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 20

Tonight I'm grateful for the convenience of living in a 1st world country. Granted, I have major issues with the politics that go on (from BOTH parties). But tonight it's one of the simple things in life that I'm grateful for.

Grocery stores.

Yup. I'm thankful to live in a time and a place where feeding my family is as simple as going to a store, buying food, and taking it home and cooking it. I don't have to worry about growing it myself, or hunting it, or gathering it. Mostly I don't have to worry if it's going to make us sick or kill us.

I get to just wander through the aisles, smelling produce and picking out the most ginormous turkey they have. (For the record: 21.54 lbs. I hope it fits in my roasting pan.) I push my cart up to the checkout line, swipe a card, and voila! My family has food.

It feels a little silly to proclaim my love of and gratitude for grocery stores, but there you have it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 19

Last night we had an interesting experience. Occasionally Amy has nights where she (sort of) wakes up screaming, can't be calmed down, and will repeat the experience several times through the night. Last night was one of those nights. I'm not sure if it's a bad nightmare, actual night terrors, or something else. But it's not consistent and doesn't happen terribly often. When it does, though, it makes for one crappy night.

I went to bed early last night since I was exhausted, so, around 10pm. A little before midnight I woke up to Amy screaming bloody murder. Brett had already gotten her and was downstairs trying to calm her down, and it just wasn't working. I got up to help, and after a while she finally settled down and Brett put her back in bed. 15 minutes later, she was screaming again. This time I got up, brought her into our room, and put her in bed with me in the hopes that having me there with her would help her fall back asleep for good. A couple of minutes later, Brett came into the room and said he felt like he should give her a priesthood blessing.

In the LDS faith, worthy men hold the priesthood, or the authority to act in God's name. They can use the priesthood for ordinances in the church (such as baptism), and they can also give blessings of comfort, counsel, and/or healing. Brett holds the priesthood.

Amy and I sat up in the bed, and Brett proceeded to give her one of the most powerful blessings I have ever witnessed. We're not sure why the Lord wanted Amy to have that blessing last night, but He did. Amy went to sleep soon thereafter and slept through the night.

I am so grateful Brett holds the priesthood, and is worthy to use it. I'm grateful that he listens to and obeys promptings he receives from the Holy Spirit. I'm grateful for the power and influence of the priesthood in my own life. I've always had a firm testimony of priesthood power, thanks to my dad. I'm so thankful the Lord has given us such a tremendous blessing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 18

Tonight I'm grateful for opportunities to step outside my comfort zone. A couple of days ago, I was asked to sub for the teacher in Relief Society (our church's women's group) today. I've never taught a class of adults before. The women in my ward are incredibly intelligent, and many of them are older than I am (which makes it hard for me to feel like they're my peers, even though we're all adults). So, I was really intimidated at the prospect of trying to teach these women anything, especially since the topic of the lesson was raising children in light and truth. I'm just starting out on my journey as a parent, and most of the women have older children, or grown children.

I was seriously terrified. Not going to lie. I've mentioned before about how I am a GREAT worrier. So, of course, I started worrying. What if no one participates? (Probably my greatest fear...a silent room.) What if I don't have enough material planned? What if I have too much? What if, what if, what if. Seriously, my list of worries was pretty much endless. I considered telling them no, that I wouldn't teach. But I felt like 1)if they're calling me, they're probably pretty much desperate, and 2)I'm being given this opportunity for a reason. So I accepted.

As expected, it was terrifying. :) I was shaking pretty much the whole time. BUT. There was a ton of participation from the women (thank goodness), and I ended my lesson right on time. I really felt guided by the Spirit as to what to say, and I thought the women had some really great insights. All in all, it was definitely a success! A great learning experience for me.

And hopefully one I won't need to repeat for a really, really long time. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 17

Nine years ago, my sister Heather was in a horrific car accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down. At the time, in my completely selfish, bratty, obnoxious mindset, I was angry and felt inconvenienced. (I am so sorry, Heather and Mom. You both deserved far better than I gave you back then.) Fortunately, I've done so much growing up since then.

Today I am especially grateful for Heather. I am grateful that she survived, and even more so, that she LIVES, each and every day. I am grateful that she chooses to find joy in her life. I am grateful that she is a strong, courageous, beautiful woman. I am grateful that she gave me the opportunity to really learn to love her by serving her. I am grateful for my friendship with her. I am grateful for the incredible example she is to me, every single day. I'm also grateful that we live fairly close, so that my children can grow up with such a strong example of courage and integrity.

Once again, I am indescribably grateful for the eternal nature of the family. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to be sealed to my parents for eternity. I am grateful that, so long as I remain true to the covenants I have made with my Heavenly Father, I will be with my family forever. I'm so thankful that Heather is a part of my family.

Giving Thanks, Day 16

Today I am grateful for my trials.

NOT because I enjoy suffering, or because I want to play the martyr. I don't. Really.

I have learned so much, and continue to learn about myself because of my trials. The adversity I have faced has made me a better person than I ever would have been without it. My abuse and my burn injuries have helped me to be a more compassionate, empathetic person. My history of abuse forced me to face truths about myself, and my fears of being a parent and continuing the cycle of abuse.

Because of what I have been through, I am strong. I AM strong. I am determined. (Sometimes stubborn or downright pig-headed.) I am patient. I love to serve and help others. And while my trials shape who I am, they do not define me.

I am grateful for a Father in heaven who knows me, and who knows what I am capable of. I know all of this is part of His plan for me, and that I have an important mission in life. I'm thankful for His faith in me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 15

Tonight we spent the evening at our friends' house. We ate, played games, and dealt with crabby kids. :) (Mostly ours.) And then we had a massive explosion in Amy's diaper. Not really sure where that came from, but, suffice it to say without getting into disgusting detail, it was NASTY.

So, tonight, I am grateful for a husband who says, "It's okay, Laura, I've got this one. You go in the other room." I'm grateful for a husband who loves his children. I'm grateful for Brett, who is a wonderful father, who is helpful around the house and with the kids. I'm grateful that he is so involved with our children. Yeah, he has his moments when he doesn't want to deal with them, but so do I. (And what parent doesn't?!)

I am so thankful for a husband who truly believes in an equal partnership, and practices it.

And yes, that he is willing and offers to change some of the most disgusting diapers ever known to mankind.

Brett, you rock. Thanks for being an awesome guy. I'm glad I married you and that we made 2 cute kids together.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 14

Today I'm thankful for school. It's hard. It's stressful. It's occasionally seriously boring. But I love it!

I love to learn. I have a true passion for learning, and I am so grateful I have the opportunity to go back to school to finish my education. I'm grateful for the support I get from Brett. He realizes how important this is to me, and wants me to accomplish the goals I set for myself.

I'm grateful that I get this second chance at school. My younger self didn't  understand and didn't care. I was so used to skating by in my classes with little to no effort, that I just couldn't comprehend a world where I actually had to TRY. I actually have to STUDY. I actually have to *gasp* NOT wait until the night before to do 10-page papers. Who knew?! (Other than Mom, of course.)

So I'm grateful for my education and my opportunity to continue it. I'm grateful for teachers who have and continue to push me to do better. (More about that later.)

I love school, even when I'm complaining about all my homework or the group project I have to do. Learning is fun. :)

Diet update!

Since getting some flack from my sister-in-law about the naming system Brett and I use, this will now be referred to as the anti-McDiet. (Better, Nancy? ;) ) Don't want to be confusing people or anything. ;)

My diet is going fairly well. I'm surprised at how easy it's been to avoid the fast food. The first day or two were pretty tough. I felt like my mouth was watering nonstop and all I could think about was big, juicy Sourdough Jack with a large Coke, light ice. Yes, that specific. Wednesday night, after not getting my usual fast food on my way to class, I actually had DREAMS about it. Not even joking. And I seriously drooled on my pillow. Who wouldn't?!

It's been a lot harder not to drink soda, much as I thought it would be. Coke is my go-to pick-me-up on those days when I haven't slept well (which happen more than I'd like), but I've got to be up with the kids. Like today. Today would SO be a Coke day. I actually thought that when I was awoken this morning by Amy banging stuff on the walls in her room. "Wow, today is definitely a Coke day....oh wait." Yeah...bummer. But I'm determined not to fall off the wagon! So I'm going to keep myself as busy as possible this morning in the hopes that when we get home, the kids will crash and so can I. :D I really hope they cooperate.

According to the dreaded scale, I've lost a little over 2 pounds...which really doesn't amount to anything since your weight can fluctuate by as much as 4 pounds daily. I'm not really too bummed about it. I didn't expect huge results on the scale since I'm focusing on diet and not adding in exercise yet. But I'm confident that I'll see changes in the long run.

Physiologically, other than weight, it's hard to quantify any changes. I don't think about fast food as much as I did at the beginning of the week. I'm not really feeling the "need" to go get a burger, although admittedly, it still does sound REALLY good. (Sourdough Jack, anyone?) But it's a thought I can easily dismiss rather than feeling like I have to give into it. Soda-wise, I still do feel like I need Coke, at least on a morning like today. (Amy is definitely NOT sick anymore, and is making up for her last two energy-less days.) Well, I guess "need" isn't really the right word here, either. It's a thought I can dismiss. I think, "Wow, a Coke would really be great right now. Give me an energy boost, taste yummy...Nah. Not worth it."

That's the biggest change for me right now, and it is one that I'm thrilled to be seeing already. My willpower is winning! I can look at fast food and soda, and even though it looks great and I can practically taste it when I think about it, I can also tell myself that it's not worth it! And then I just move on. No more debating with myself, trying to talk myself out of it and failing miserably. No more feeling guilty. No more hiding.

Just the assertion that is is NOT WORTH IT. And it's not.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 13

There's actually been a lot of talk about Phineas and Ferb among my sisters, but I can't help myself. Since we're on Day 2 of Amy apparently not feeling well, today I'm grateful for Phineas and Ferb! Amy loves watching it, and since I'm pretty much tied down all day, I'm glad there's a kid's show that I don't cringe at. I actually really love this cartoon! It's so funny, and I don't have to worry about innuendos. (I'm surprised at how many kid's Disney shows there are that have some really inappropriate content for young kids.) Also, even though they're "getting away with stuff", they don't talk back to their parents and they aren't rude. That's my biggest pet peeve about most kids' shows--they show the kids smarting off to their dumb, clueless parents, who do nothing about the bratty way their kids are behaving....and somehow this is what we want our kids to watch? Pfft. No thanks.

So, I'm glad there's a cartoon out there that DOESN'T feature that. I'm glad my sick little girl and I can watch Phineas and Ferb curled up on the couch together. Thanks, Phineas and Ferb!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 12

Yup. Today I'm grateful for medicine! Specifically, children's medicine. Amy's been sick today and has thrown up a couple of times..including on me. Not sure how she ALWAYS manages to vomit on me, but she does. Since today was the observance of a federal holiday, Brett was off work, so I got to jump in the shower while he dealt with the mess. (Poor guy. What a trooper.)

The one good thing about Amy being sick is that she's WAY more cuddly than usual. I'm not sure how it happened, but neither of my children likes to cuddle, and both will barely tolerate being held for more than 30 seconds, if that. So, when someone's sick, I actually get to cuddle with one of my kids! It's kind of nice.

At any rate, I ran to the store and picked up some lovely bubble gum-flavored Pepto Bismol for children. Sounds AWFUL, doesn't it? I shudder to imagine. But, apparently it worked, as we had no more puking incidents. We don't use a ton of medicine in our house, especially on the kids, but boy am I grateful it's available when we do need it! Over-the-counter meds and prescriptions alike.

I feel so blessed to live in a time when we have medications readily available so I can help my kids feel better and get better faster.

Giving Thanks, Day 11

I am so grateful for the men and women who defend our country. From those like my Grandpa who fought in World War II (and those who fought in earlier conflicts) to those who are fighting now in the Middle East, these men and women deserve nothing but our respect and support. These men and women are heroes.

Why? Because they risk their own lives to protect our freedom, and to protect those who cannot protect themselves. They protect our right to elect our president, and they protect our right to complain about it. They protect our freedom of speech, of religion, of assembly, the right to bear arms. They put themselves in danger every day, because it is their job.

I am honored to have veterans in my family. I am so proud of the service they have given to their country, and to me. And I am thankful for them, and for every veteran who has or will serve this country.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 10

I am so grateful for the Atonement. I have made many, many mistakes in my life. There are periods of time from my past where I pretty much regret everything. I was not a good person. I was young, I was stupid, I was selfish. I am so glad that part of my life is over.

But I'm even more thankful for my Savior. I'm thankful that He came to this earth, lived a perfect life, and loved me so much that He suffered for MY sins. He felt MY pain. He knows my regret, my shame, my self-loathing. And He loves me anyway. Despite how imperfect and unworthy I am. He has taken on all that sin and imperfection and paid for it, so that I can return to my Father in Heaven.

I don't deserve it. He knows it. And I know He knows it. And that's why I'm so grateful.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 9

Yes, a day late. My bad.

So today/yesterday, I'm grateful for friends! Friday I watched a friend's kids so she and her husband could go on a date. :) They have four kids, who are a ton of fun. I had a blast (and really wore the kids out, since I forced them to be outside for over an was too beautiful to stay in our little townhome all afternoon! So they ran. A lot. Mwuahahahaha...)! I was glad for the opportunity to sort of pay Melissa back, since she's watched our kids several times, in addition to helping me can stuff. I wouldn't mind doing it again, either! Although, admittedly, it WAS nice to have a quiet house after they were gone and our kids were in bed. Amazing how exponentially louder it gets, the more kids you have in one place.

I've had a lot of friends over the years. Some new, like Melissa. Some super old, like Lindsay, whose just got married to an amazing guy a month ago. Some who have chosen to leave, which is always extremely painful for me. Some I've chosen to leave. Some that I've wronged horribly, and some who have done wrong by me. Some who forgive. Some who don't.

It's interesting to look back at my friends over the years. My friendships tell the story of my life, I think. They tell how I've grown and changed as a person. My friends have changed and shaped me, laughed with me, cried with me, and taught me valuable lessons. I'm grateful for each and every one of them, even those who no longer call me a friend.

Thank you for making me who I am.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 8


Today I am so deeply grateful for the love and support of family and friends.

Yesterday I posted about my diet, and I shared the link on Facebook, asking for positive thoughts and prayers.

I am so completely overwhelmed by all the encouragement I have received. I know there are people who love me (or at least let's hope so!). But the number of supportive and loving comments is just astounding. I'm just blown away.

I CAN do this. And I can do it because I have a support system. I can do it because I'm incredibly pigheaded stubborn determined. I can do it because an entire host of people has my back.

So thank YOU. Thank you for your sweet, insightful, loving, encouraging, supportive, helpful comments. I'm so thankful to have people like all of you in my life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 7

Today, I'm grateful for media. Yeah, you read that right. Last night, Brett and I watched a documentary called "Supersize Me".

It's a documentary by a man named Morgan Spurlock from 2004. After seeing headlines about 2 teen girls suing the fast food industry for their obesity, Spurlock set out to see if they really could be held responsible. He went on a "McDiet"--eating only food from McDonalds, 3 times a day for an entire month. (When he started out, he was in incredibly good health. He consulted with 3 different physicians and a nutritionist during his experiment.)

Everyone knows fast food is bad for you. I know it. But we keep on eating it. Why? Because it's cheap and fast and easy, and it's everywhere.

Even knowing that it's "bad", I guess I didn't really put together just HOW bad it is. After 3 weeks, Spurlock's health had deteriorated so quickly and dramatically that all 3 doctors recommended he stop the experiment. (He did actually complete the last week.) His cholesterol had more than doubled. His liver enzymes had almost quadrupled. He gained 16 pounds. In three weeks. At the end of the 4 weeks, he ended up gaining over 20 pounds. He was fatigued and depressed.


I eat way more fast food than I should (duh). I'm actually embarrassed about how much fast food I eat, so much so, that when people ask me about it, I usually lie about it. How sad is that? I am so addicted to this crap that I really do treat it like an addiction. I defend it. I hide it. Really, I do. Sometimes I really want some, so I'll stop while I'm out and get some food, pay with cash, and then throw everything away in the dumpster so Brett won't find it. (Brett, if you're reading this, don't hate me.) It is absolutely ridiculous the lengths I go to in order to get my "fix".

To be truthful, I either eat or get a large soda from a fast food restaurant 3-4 times a week on average. Sometimes up to 6 times a week, and occasionally twice a day. Ugh. I can't believe I'm admitting this. When I actually look at my behavior and my "need" for fast food, and especially what I do to conceal it, I am seriously appalled!

So, no more.

I'm going on my own "McDiet", and we'll see what happens.

For the next 30 days (starting today), I will not eat ANY fast food or drink any soda. Of any kind. (That's the part that's really going to kill me.) I know I should get into the habit of exercising as well, but let's start with baby steps. This is going to be more than enough to occupy me for now.

Whew. Yikes. I'm nervous.

I'm not going to post my current weight, mainly because I'm kind of embarrassed about how big I am, and it's none of your business. :D But I WILL track my weight. I'll post weekly updates on my diet--if I'm keeping up with it, if I've had any slip-ups, what's going on with my weight, and how I'm feeling.

Positive thoughts and prayers are appreciated as I take this first step to tackle my food addiction.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 6

I voted today! Did you?

Today I'm grateful for 2 reasons. 

1) I have the right to vote and let my voice be heard concerning who I want governing me and how I feel about certain issues. How many people in this world don't have that right? An astounding number. But in this great nation, we DO have that right. And we have that responsibility. I feel it is everyone's responsibility to vote as soon as they are of age, and it really bothers me that some people either don't bother to register, or don't bother to go to the polls. And then they complain about the results of the election. If you didn't take part in the election, then don't complain. You had your chance to voice your opinion, and you chose not to exercise your right to vote.

2) I have the opportunity to turn Election Day into a teaching moment for my kids. Brett and I decided to go together today and take the kids with us. I want Amy and David to grow up going to the polls. I want that to be normal and expected of them. I remember going to the polls with my parents, not every time, but enough that it made an impression. I want them to see Brett and me voting, and I want to be able to stand in line, like I did today, and explain to Amy why it is so important that we go vote. I want to raise children who are conscious of their civic duty and take pride in it. I'm thankful for the opportunity to model responsible behavior for them.

How grateful I am to live in a country where my voice is heard, where I can express my opinions without fear of retaliation, and where I have a say in my own government!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 5

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

In 1605, Guy Fawkes and 12 other men attempted to blow up the House of Lords in the hopes of beginning a revolution that would lead to greater religious tolerance for themselves and the rest of the Catholics living in Protestant England/Scotland.

Today, I am so grateful for the many freedoms we enjoy in the United States, but most especially religious freedom. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I belong to a religion that is not particularly well-liked nor understood. My faith is such a huge part of my life and affects so many aspects of it. My religious beliefs are extremely important to me. I don't expect others to share them, but I do demand from others the same respect that I show toward other religious beliefs.

I am so thankful for the freedom I have to practice the beliefs I hold. My knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for me have changed not only the way I live, but who I am. I am also grateful that others have the privilege to live according to their beliefs, whatever they may be. How blessed we are to live in a country that protects our religious freedom!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 4

This is sort of silly, I guess. But since we drove home from Ohio today, I'm so grateful for our portable DVD player. We spent, I think, $60 on it before our vacation to Pittsburgh this summer. It is a LIFESAVER. The kids napped for a couple of hours, and then we put on Tangled for Amy. It kept her quiet for the next couple of hours, which made for such an easier drive.

So even though it's a bit shallow and materialistic, I'm thankful for modern conveniences that make life a little easier and more pleasant!

Giving Thanks, Day 3

With the weather getting colder and the recent storms, I'm especially grateful for our home.

We've moved a lot during our 5 years of marriage, and although I really despise moving, every move has been for the better. Our most recent move has put us in a townhome, which we are LOVING. It's an older townhome, but it suits our needs just fine. We've got storage space in the basement, our own laundry room, and tons more space for our kids.

I'm so thankful for a house to keep us warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and to provide a fun, safe place for our kids to make great memories!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Giving Thanks, Day 2

I am so grateful for temples. I am grateful for the knowledge that Brett and I will be together for eternity. I'm grateful that we can be together with our children, even after this life. My family is so important to me, and I feel so blessed to know that families are eternal.

After I was adopted, my family went to the Chicago temple (since the St. Louis temple wasn't built yet). I still remember that day and the spirit that I felt so strongly. I'm especially grateful for the opportunity to be sealed to my family. This is especially sweet for me since my dad passed away so long ago. I have the assurance that if I live my life the best I can, that I will be reunited with my dad and the rest of my family.

"Families can be together forever,
Through Heavenly Father's plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can."

(Families Can Be Together Forever, LDS Hymnbook)

Giving Thanks!

I've seen the past couple of years people posting (on Facebook, etc.) every day in November about something they're thankful for. I LOVE that idea! I think it is so important to acknowledge the blessings we receive from our Heavenly Father. So, this month I'll be making (mostly) daily posts focusing on something I'm grateful for.

Day 1--

I am so grateful for my little family. We're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we're pretty darn good, if I do say so myself! Brett is a loving father and husband and enjoys spending time with all of us. Amy is such a sweet, smart, caring little girl. She's terrifyingly perceptive and curious about everything, and is just a little ball of energy! David is a mellow, happy little guy who loves to trail after everyone and is thrilled to be the center of attention.

I am so blessed to have these 3 people in my life. Although days can be long and stressful and frustrating, Brett and Amy and David bring so much joy and happiness into my life. The Lord knew what he was doing when he brought Brett and me together, and when he gave us 2 such fantastic kids.