18 February 2013

Overcoming Fear: Sharing My Ambitions

Some of you who are still following along may remember this post where I express my longing for authenticity in parenting and blogging. Particularly for myself and with the people I know and love.

One of my personal blocks that I am striving to overcome is to be open and honest with the very people I care about. This skill comes easily to me when I don't know someone, but fades away the closer I get.

I had a boyfriend in college who called me out on it. When we first met, I played the guitar and sang a song I wrote for a room full of people. Once we started dating and I became friends with that whole room of people, I don't think I ever sang again. When I said I was too shy, he laughed and said, "Yeah right, you sang before you even knew us. You think I'll believe you are all of a sudden shy now that we all love you?"

I guess that is exactly what I wanted to believe. I didn't want to face that I was insecure or that maybe they might stop loving me if they saw my flaws. Naturally, this is not my favorite quality in myself.

Over the past few years, I've been working diligently on overcoming this roadblock. In this journey, I am learning to do scary and uncomfortable things. And scary and uncomfortable is exactly what I did yesterday.

I have a business where I help people get healthy and I've got BIG dreams for it. Instead of keeping those dreams to myself (hiding my light under a bushel), I applied for a scholarship (using a YouTube video) and uploaded for all the world to see.

It is a new week and here is the second scary and uncomfortable thing I am doing: I am sharing my hopes and aspirations with people I know and love. 

If you are reading this blog, chances are I know you. And if I know you, I love you. Sharing this video makes me feel more vulnerable than I prefer, but that's how manifesting your big dreams feels at first.

I want to win a scholarship to attend Marie Forleo's online marketing course (B-school) that will teach me the tools to grow my business in amazing ways. Part of the criteria is reader engagement: number of views, comments, and likes on the YouTube page. I believe this is Marie's way of making us put ourselves out there, and boy did it work. I thought this would be the last thing I would ever want to do. Turns out not trying to win (because I AM going to win--how's that for visualization) is even scarier than pouring my heart out to the internets.

For your viewing pleasure, here is an 85-second peek into my heart:

Go to this link to comment or like the video: http://bit.ly/WBkddo

If you any of this resonated with you, I'd appreciate if you'd do two things:
1. Like the video on YouTube
2. Comment on the video on YouTube

If you are an overachiever, feel free to share on facebook or twitter. Something like this could work:

Wanna be Vibrant Sexy and Strong? Let’s help @JenniferHuntVSS #winBSCHOOL with @marieforleo http://bit.ly/WBkddo

or…

.@marieforleo needs @JenniferHuntVSS to #winBSCHOOL so more women can be Vibrant Sexy and Strong http://bit.ly/WBkddo

Entries are closed at 3 pm EST today with decisions being made in the next couple of days. Wish me luck!


09 November 2012

Letters to My Children: General Election 2012


Almost...



Dear Jonas and Miriam,

On Tuesday, Mitt Romney was defeated in his bid for the presidency by sitting president Barack Obama.

When you study the history, people will tell you why Governor Romney lost:
·    He was too aggressive, he wasn’t aggressive enough
·    He was too moderate, he wasn’t moderate enough
·    He was too soft, he wasn’t humane enough
·    His plan was too strong, his plan wasn’t strong enough

They will have forgotten that an election isn’t only about winning. Strategy is not the only factor in becoming president. They will have attached themselves so strongly to a desired (but unrealized) outcome that they believe if Romney would have just done things more perfectly and crunched the numbers a little better, he would be the 45th president of the United States of America.

An election is not about transforming yourself into the perfect candidate. Yes, you want to fight with a fire in your belly and get your message out. You want to win. But changing who you are for the sake of winning? That is the exact lack of integrity we abhor in the political system.

A candidate brings him/herself to the table. The hindsight saved for everything Governor Romney woulda-coulda-shoulda been would have turned Romney into anyone but himself.

An election is about presenting possible solutions to our country’s real problems. Then, the people decide if it is a desirable option in light of the alternatives. It is about agency.

It was not a divisive election or campaign as many have suggested; however, it did show the great divide between the schools of thought in this country. In the moment President Obama’s re-election was confirmed, it became very evident to me that I am much more different than at least 50% of the population--every other person I meet.

Fundamentally, I believe Americans (generally) want the same things. We want clean air and we want to help the needy, we want equal rights and happy lives. We just have different ways of getting there.

The person we choose on the ballot hopefully sets out to achieve those objectives in the same manner that we would. If that person is unsuccessful in securing enough votes, it does not mean they did it wrong. It means more people didn’t like the idea than did.

Governor Romney ran a beautiful campaign. The man was genuine and authentic. He played hardball without sacrificing his dignity. He represented humanity well and, along with his wife Ann Romney, presented a clearly different option to achieve our goals as a nation.

At the end of the night, the American people decided they did not want what he had to offer.
You may learn in your history class what happened in the flurry of social media. On both sides of the election, political leaders were quoted out of context. Scriptures were quoted out of context. General Conference was quoted out of context. There was much talk of the Apocalypse and of the righteous being rewarded, and all of it was presented as Truth.

This is not Truth, when someone takes Bill O’Reilly’s remarks or Jon Stewart’s remarks, filters them with their own blinders and paradigms, and then presents it as Truth. This is not Truth, when someone manipulates a scripture and presents it as the only way.

Truth is that feeling in your soul that tells you, after you have studied to the very best of your ability, that you chose right for you. You can vote for Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Gary Johnson, or Popeye and be in good standing with your God.

Truth reveals itself to you in your stillest moments. It reveals itself to you in your rowdy moments too, but you may not hear it as well. Truth is the feeling of peace that washes over you as you watch the very man you did not vote for remain president of the United States, despite the tears in your eyes and the loss in your heart.

People will talk of the winners and the losers in the campaign. But you are the winner in this campaign if you followed your conscience and listened to your intuition. The person sitting in the Oval Office on January 21 is of very little consequence.

All my love,
Mama

26 October 2012

A Heart to Heart about Family Life


Our family recently returned from a month-long road trip. We learned incredible things about ourselves and our family unit while traveling 2,000+ miles in our ’98 Subaru Outback.

During our trip, we also spent a lot of time in the homes of friends where I realized something incredibly profound: Our friends are all really great parents.

This is not unheralded flattery. I do not think for a second that any of them are perfect. But their resolve to be the very best parents for their children is inspiring. Undoubtedly, some of their children will make choices that are not optimal, but there was one thing that was very clear: each one loves their children with a fierceness that cannot be matched or surpassed, with the exception of the Savior’s love for us.

Even more striking is how similar they all are: to each other, to us, and to every other parent we know. No matter the tactic used, each family is trying their best. We most certainly don’t agree on every parenting approach out there, but we’re all on the same team.

We are striving to create more joy in our families.

I’ve wanted to revive this blog for a while and it’s finally time. Patrick and I have done tremendous work on ourselves and on our parenting with the desire to be a more cohesive family. My most valuable lesson in all of this?

We can’t do this on our own.

Parenting isn’t getting any easier. We don’t live in a tribal society anymore where everyone raises their children together. That is one reason we moved home. I remember the day when I distinctly realized, “I am not meant to be my child’s only mother.”

So if you will, please mother with me. Tell me the things that work, the things that don’t work, your pains and your joys, your triumphs and your failures.

For several years, I’ve carefully painted the picture of myself that I wanted displayed to the world. It isn’t a dishonest picture; it’s merely incomplete. It’s the same story I’ve been telling myself, truly believing that if I try hard enough, I can be supremely independent of everyone else and do everything on my own. It’s the part of me that is guarded and protective over my extremely sensitive heart, afraid that if I let the real me shine through, I will have no light left for myself.

For the time being, I’m dedicating this blog to a raw and honest conversation about family life. The ups and the downs. And boy, are there a lot of downs. I have finally embraced the idea that being heartbroken is not the same as being ungrateful. Being fallible does not mean I’m setting a bad example for the youth. Being angry, sad, petty, worried, discouraged, or depressed does not mean I don’t have a testimony of the Great Plan of Happiness.

I am finally ready to talk about my Real Life, but not in a complainy sort of way that hides what my heart is really saying. Not, “It’s so annoying that my daughter won’t sleep, I’m so tired” and laugh it off.

More in the way that says, “My daughter won’t sleep and it gives me anxiety. I fear she will never heal because sleep is so crucial for healing. What if she is sick forever because I can’t teach her how to sleep? What if she can never be a normal child? Or have children because she’s too unhealthy? Or…or...or...” 

The spiraling fears that seem so ridiculous when I write them out, but are genuine thoughts that crowd out the very best things in my life. The thoughts that aren't usually at the forefront of my mind, but are a constant buzzing in the background, despite fighting tooth and nail to eradicate them. The real pains of my heart that I can only give to my Savior if I face head on.

I love my children and they thrive when I am transparent, authentic, and genuine. The questions and the answers, the confusion and the epiphanies, the pride and the humility…these are all part of the Real Me. The Real Me is who I want raising my babies, because that’s who my babies want to raise them.

If you are still reading this nearly-defunct blog, please join the conversation. I know you are a good parent, even if you do not have children. And you are the light that I want in my life.

Much love,
J

04 July 2012

Splash Pad Bday

We held Jonas' 4th birthday party today (a water themed birthday), but I found these cutey photos from his 2nd birthday in my drafts. Looks like we seems to have a thing for water. Oh the fun of summer birthdays!










02 July 2012

Once Upon a Time I Decided to Start Blogging Again

Blog, I miss you. Sure I have that other blog of mine and my journal and my kids' journals, but what about all those other things in my life?

Like when Mark Zuckerberg got married on my birthday weekend and he looked remarkably similar to a Mark I almost married. I felt like I was looking at the wedding-picture-that-almost-was, but had nowhere to share.*



Or when Katy Perry and Russell Brand split and I was sad for days and days.**


Or when Sid the Science Kid officially became more annoying than Caillou (unconscionable!)***.


You see? All this frivolty needs an outlet.

I am ready for a reconciliation. Blog, will you forgive my absence? In penance, here is a story from this evening.

The Littles love to be in the kitchen with me. I sit them on the counter and we cook together, which is great. Except when the counter is dirty. The width is approximately me + one child, so there's not much space to stand.

This weekend I made play fences and pulled one over to give myself some cleaning solitude. Displeased, they were! The fences are easily (and often) moved, but when the intent was decidedly unfriendly-Kitchen's Closed-they felt like victims of mutiny.


Despite the betrayal, I love my new barrier. The whole kitchen was sparkling by the time I opened the gates to the desperate crowd. My sis-in-law made the genius suggestion of using it for the bathroom too. So many possibilities.

Upon entrance and in a rare moment of camaraderie, the prisoners embraced. After having experienced such horrific conditions, the two found common ground and could celebrate the end of their bondage.



*Image Source
**Image Source
***Image Source

18 December 2011

19 November 2011

She walks

Little Miss is 17 months old and officially taking a couple of steps every now and again. Monday was her first day, and she walked across the room.

Upon Bucket's request, here is some adorable footage. She's practically runway-ready.

Walking
video

Thinking about walking, but resorting to her preferred method of transport

video

25 September 2011

Family Photos


I love weddings that do the photo booth. Too bad the one picture where my kids look great is marred by Patrick and I looking less-than-great. Oh well. That golden ticket is pretty elusive.

29 August 2011

Missing Lee-lee



Every now and again, Jonas says "I want to play wif Lee-lee and Shames."

Me too, bud. Me too.




25 August 2011

Special Women: Ola and Loretta

Our move to Utah was awesome. We are so happy to be here and being with our family is even better than I could have imagined.

But I really miss our Texas family. A lot.

One special part of our Texas family are the beautiful grandmothers who took in our children. We were in our last home for just under 4 months, but this didn't stop these two women from giving our Jonas and Mimi all their love. The night before we left, they brought gifts for the children to occupy them on the loooooooooong car ride home and even tried to get us breakfast and lunch the day we were moving but we were too crazy to even think of eating.

Meet Ola.
She is the reason we moved to our last house. Patrick was looking at it without me and came home to tell me about the most delightful woman who lived across the street. He spoke so favorably of her that we both just knew we wanted her as our neighbor and friend. That is a choice we don't regret. She made the neighborhood for us and was a sweet reminder of how good people can be. The only regret we have is that we couldn't stay longer and get to know her better.






Meet Loretta. She wouldn't accept Jonas' reticence and won his affections quickly. He would often "race real fast" when she came by, showing off his running skills, gleefully enjoying her company while she doted on him. Loretta had an uncanny ability to turn Sir Grumps-a-Lot into Mr. McSmiles. Observe.





We love these women. They have impacted and inspired us more than they will ever know.

16 August 2011

Just the 8 of Us

When we decided to move, we were unsure about what our situation would be like when we got here, so we sold nearly everything we owned (including vehicles), piled the rest of our stuff into a 5x8 trailer (half of it was workout equipment), and took a 5-day road trip to the motherland.

In case you were wondering, a 5x8 trailer is NOT very big.

Observe...


We may not have taken many possessions with us, but we took a lot of people. Serendipitously, the Boyer children and their Expedition were needing a family to drive them up to Idaho the very same weekend we left. Here's the motley crew:


Everyone told us we were crazy to drive 2000 miles with 6 kids. We kind of thought they might be right, but since we already sold our van, we really had no other options.

We are delighted to announce it is confirmed: We are crazy. Not because we took 6 kids, but because we LOVED having six kids. We've been road trip warriors for several years now, and this was by far one of the most memorable and most fun. We miss you Boyers (and we REALLY miss the third pair of hands named Morgan).

Maybe we can move back just to do it again.

More road trip pics to follow. I promised Sam I would get them up and I had better make good on my promises. It's been so long that she has already forgotten my name.

22 July 2011

A Lonestar Farewell

Texas, I love you. You are one of the many places I call home.

This is where we came into our own as a married couple. We moved away, 1600 miles from the nearest family member. Our traditions were our own to create. We struggled. We clung to each other during a desperate time of infertility. We found a happiness together that the first three years of our marriage could not match.

This is where we started our family. First our Jonas, then our Mimi. Two angels sent directly to us.

This is where I learned to be a mother. That I am a softer person than I could have ever imagined. That my heart is in the right place. That I am not very good at it yet, but that my children know they are loved and that I can experience joy in the mundane, menial, daily acts of family life.

This is where I really started to see my priorities for what they were. What was important. Where I needed to simplify. That I would never be able to do it all and that's okay. That preparing every needful thing is not the same as preparing everything. Needful is not as much as I thought.

This is where we learned life isn't fair. It's a chaotic dynamic of everyone's choices affecting everyone around them. A challenge in mental fortitude, to be sure, but an exhilarating one.

This is where we embraced our health, first learning I had an uncurable autoimmune disorder, then conquering that so-called uncurable disorder. Where we took steps to heal ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.

This is where we embarked upon adulthood. Started careers, ended careers, went through a 10-month period of unemployment, worked on a start-up business, faced tax issues and insurance issues and retirement issues, bought a house and an investment property, short sold a house and an investment property, lived in 7 different places. Spent months (and years) searching for the perfect doctors, perfect farms/co-ops, perfect family activities, perfect babysitters, perfect accountants, perfect investment managers, perfect chocolate shops, perfect fajitas... and succeeded in finding them all.

This is where we found best friends, learned about human nature, lost best friends, discovered who we wanted to keep in our lives forever, and discovered who felt the same way about us.

This is where we created our life together. A very beautiful life.

And yet, Texas is where my family will never be.

So we moved.

Goodbye Texas. You will always have the sweetest of places in my heart.

Hello Utah. You have my family, and therefore, my heart.

29 June 2011

Raising Them Right

Nothing quite says Plan of Happiness like Jonas' nursery badge


(Click to enlarge. You'll be glad you did)

28 May 2011

March

These two. They save me every single day from what could possibly be a very boring life.

Our budding chef

Everything's better in boots

Being a baby is very serious work


Thankfully Lent is over, and he is back to napping (reluctantly)

(Houston winters are the best. This pic is from February.)

08 May 2011

On Motherhood: Loneliness

Young motherhood is a lonely time. There are incredible husbands and fathers, there are millions of women doing it at the very same time, there are play groups, there are girls nights outs, but ultimately, we do it on our own.

No one but you understands your own child. We relate, we empathize, we listen, but we can't really understand.

No one understands the very real challenges we currently face. Not our dear friends, our family, and sometimes not even us. We handle it as gracefully as possible, but there are things that cause me to cry and worry into the night. There are times when I doubt the spiritual promptings and confirmations I've received because well-intentioned friends say, "It's not that bad" or "I don't see anything wrong" or "You're a good mother; it will turn out just fine" or "I don't know why you're worrying about that" or "That's perfectly normal" or "This too shall pass" or... "Your kids will grow out of it" or ...

(And I am most assuredly guilty of uttering or at least thinking all of these statements in regards to other mothers)

No one understands the constant struggle it is to give another child what they need when your other child has more needs than any 20 people can physically and emotionally meet. The guilt that comes along with that, the occasional resentment, followed by the shame and regret for harboring such feelings.

I watched Parenthood for part of the first season. In one episode, Max was recently diagnosed with autism. Hattie (the older sister) is asked to be patient and understand that this particular situation is about Max. Hattie retorts with something like, "It's always about Max. It's always been about Max. Face it. Ever since he was little, everything has been about Max."

This scene haunts my mind several times a week. I can't remember if that's exactly how it went, or if that's what my brain has spun it into, but it doesn't really matter.

Perhaps there are women out there saying, "Yes. I do understand. I am going through/have gone through the same thing." To which I reply, "No. No, you haven't."

I don't respond that way out of disrespect; I recognize I am not the only person in the world to have two children. I am, however, the only person in the world to have my two children.

You see, motherhood is very individual.

There is no one like me, who responds exactly like I do. Another may have similar feelings, but our life experiences are different, which ultimately affects how we process things. The same goes for my children. There may be similarities with other kids; that does not mean they are the same.

If I had twins that were just like my Mimi, I truly believe twins would be easier (as does my husband). And before any of you mothers with twins scoff, saying, "You have no idea how much work it is to have twins!" let me stop you right there. Because you. are. right. I have no idea. Just like you have no idea what it is like to have an anxiety-riddled two-year-old.

And that, in essence, is my point. We can look at the lives of other mothers, assess what they are doing right and doing wrong, and decide what would be "easy" for us and say "I wish I had that." But we don't really know.

Based on my limited understanding of what I think twin Mimis would be like, the physical work of twins appears easier than the emotional work of our current situation. I don't know if it is easier, nor will I ever know.

In General Conference, Elder Holland (?) said perhaps we need these children just as much as they need us. When I heard that statement, with my baby attached for a feeding and my son running around like a maniac throwing train tracks and screaming for strawberries, I said, "I already know that. I know this is what I need to develop long-suffering, charity, and all the other Godlike attributes. But it's haaaaaard."

That's not to invalidate what was taught. My challenges are tailor-made for my specific spiritual needs. And realistically, when my head is clear and I can step out of myself for a moment, I do indeed love this stage of our life, just as it is, challenges and all.

So during this Mother's Day season, my present to myself is to STOP.
  • Stop judging my situation against other mothers' situations.
  • Stop caring that other people may be judging my situation.
  • Stop doubting my decisions. I follow the Spirit and I know it.
  • Stop being embarrassed or apologetic because of my "strange" choices.
  • Stop forgetting that there is, indeed, one person who understands. That is one of the many purposes of the Atonement.
  • Stop viewing things so short-sightedly and underestimating the eternal partnership with God: motherhood.
I think that's a pretty good start. Happy Mother's Day.

Motherhood: An Eternal Partnership with God

04 May 2011

Birthday Wish List

I turn 29 this month. I asked Patrick to do this for my birthday:



He said he may not have enough time to pull it off.

Sheesh, I lose 55 pounds and I still need to wait for my husband to be able to use me as a kettlebell in a Turkish get-up.

What's that? You hadn't heard?

Yes, I've lost 55 pounds since August and weigh less than when I got pregnant with Jonas, so I'm a much lighter kettlebell now. With no PCOS symptoms.

Paleo rocks my world.

(PS My husband is still quite strong, even if using me in a Turkish get-up is not part of our future)

02 May 2011

Yonder Way Farm, from the Perspective of a 2-Year-Old

Jonas remembers everything. So much that I need to be extremely careful about following through with everything, as consistency is probably at the top of his values list. If I tell him at 8 am that we will water the plants after his afternoon nap, he bursts through the door at 3 pm, blurting "I water plants now" before I can even say, "Hi Jonas, how was your nap?"
If I tell him we are going to a friend's house (who lives 40 minutes away) and decide to take a different route halfway through, he starts whining because he thinks we missed our freeway exit.

When we visited a local bookstore for the first (and only) time, after passing it a month later, he told me which books he read and the bookmarks that he found interesting. He even named the place the Library-Bookstore By Da Hippo Park (there is a hippo at a nearby playground).

Jonas knows when you keep promises, and when you break them, even if they were made months ago.

It's really very hard to keep up with, but I thought I was doing a pretty decent job.

Which is why I was utterly, completely, totally floored when he recounted our last farm experience to me. Back in November, we visited a local farm to see where our meat was being raised and to meet the farmer. Jonas wasn't really saying much more than a few words then, and he hasn't said anything about the farm since we visited.

Two weeks ago I mentioned we were going to the farmer's market, which he mistook to mean the farm.

In his words:
A farm wif a cow an a cluck an a oinky

an I saw da cottadoos (cocka-doodle-doos)

an da trackers

An I ride m' bike

An da chickens

an da gobble gobbles

an I fay wif my cars

wif da chickens
 

Da big oinkys run
 

an I fay on da fayground
 

Der was water
 

an I frew rocks in da water

an I was skirred (scared)

an I fell down

and it was mud and dirty

an I fayed on a tracker

an Mommy an Daddy an Jonie an Baby went home

I'm not kidding. This is the story he told me, in this order, which happens to also be the order in which all of the events conspired. Five and a half months ago. That's genius, right?

It is as if he's bottled up all of his life experiences in his mind, just waiting for the moment when he his language abilities match his cognitive abilities. His mind is always racing, and when he can share as much as he so clearly wants to share, we may very well have a little chatterbox on our hands.

The things he didn't say that I'm sure he would have if he could get all the words out:

Mimi was adorable, as usual, and got lots of sunshine.
 

She spent most of the time in Mommy's and Daddy's arms 
 

or sleeping in the stroller.

Some boy tried to take m' bike

So I took it far away from him

The farm itself is phenomenal. It's clean, it's grass-fed and organic, and they're everything I look for in a farm. They process their chickens on-site and welcome anyone to observe or even participate if desired. Their beef and hogs are processed by a local family-owned business that is also very open-door with their facilities. If you are in the area and need some quality meat, Yonder Way Farm also delivers to pick-up groups around the city.

And best yet, visiting is a fun, memorable experience (as Jonas can attest).