Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkin Gratitude

The best part about yesterday was that as soon as I had finished my blog post, I got off the couch and got to work. I did three loads of laundry, took the little boys to the farmer's market for pumpkins and produce, picked up #1 from art club, did a Costco run, did the dishes, sent Brandon on a errand on his way home from the office and he returned with ice cream for the kids and flowers for me (yay!), made a wonderful dinner with my daughters (fresh corn on the cob, tilapia, rice, salad, rolls), and then we carved pumpkins for FHE. Here are the pumpkins:




I was tired, but grateful. There are days/weeks when I can't seem to muster up any energy or desire to do more than the bare minimum. Sometimes, I simply cannot. But on the days when I can, I'm so grateful! I feel like me again. Like the kind of mother I want to be, too.

What did you do yesterday that made you grateful?

P.S. This might be one of the shortest blog posts I've ever written!  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Stuff. Stuffy, stuff, stuff, stuff.

There was a school shooting in my best friend's town on Friday. The shooter targeted a specific group of people, shot several of them, and then killed himself. Two girls have died, one of which was very close friends with my friend's daughter (when they were younger). Others are still in critical condition. The senseless violence is just sickening. My friend was so grateful that her daughter attended school at a different campus, and they were also relieved that no youths in their ward were shot. (My friend's husband is the Bishop in their ward.) I cannot imagine all of their grief; I'm praying for them all.

This world is getting worse. I know we can't live in fear, but it scares me every time I let my kids go to school.

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I cleaned the house for 9 hours on Saturday. It feels good to be slightly ahead for once, as opposed to constantly behind. The nesting instinct is starting to kick in, and I have plans for massive organization, the entire house over. If you're bored, dear reader, you could always come over and help me! I'll let you do the heavy lifting!

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Hindsight is hard because it teaches me that I was being prepared for certain trials coming my way. Foresight is hard because I simply cannot see which way the road turns on the horizon and I can't read God's mind. I do know, however, that I need to remember this:


Also, this:


And this: 


And this scripture: 

"...we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 
And patience, experience; and experience, hope..."
Romans 5:3-4

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My amazing #1 is making our family's Halloween costumes. I plan on helping her (of course!) this week, but I'm grateful she's more interested in it than I am. I do not sew, I am not good at crafts, I don't really care about elaborate costuming. Halloween is fun, but it's not my favorite. *shrug* Our costumes? Wizard of Oz!

My lackluster Halloween prep also means we didn't make it to a pumpkin patch or festival or hay ride or orchard, or whatever. Yes, I know that's crazy, seeing how we live in Pumpkin paradise! But we also have a lot of people in our family. And everything costs money. And Brandon has a crazy work schedule. And I'm tired. Maybe I'll do a better job next year? At least I can comfort myself by going to a local farmer's market stand to purchase the pumpkins for our annual pumpkin carving FHE tonight! That's something...

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Next week marks one year since we moved to Pennsylvania. It feels... odd. I'll write more about it, then.

Happy Monday! (I think. I'm still deciding...) 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just Choose to Be Happy

Two days ago

My psychiatrist: "How are you feeling?"

Me: "Really good."

P: "Yes?"

Me: "Yes. I really am great. It's been an amazingly stressful few months, but I'm actually handling it well."

P: (Looks at me to go on.)

Me: "I just... I don't know how to describe it, but I'm thinking clearly. Rationally. I feel calm! Life isn't easy and the stress is hard sometimes, but I'm able to be rational about it. I can think through it and move on. When I think about it, I can see what I was last year, I can see how irrational I was, and the comparison is incredible. I'm... grateful. I'm feeling really good."

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I've noticed that people without mental illness have a hard time understanding how it works. I've heard phrases online, in person, and in essays: "Just exercise more." "Just get up earlier and go about your day." "Just choose to be happy." "Just focus on the positive." "Just... just... just..."

I was even accused last month that I was perpetuating this way of thinking simply because I insisted that learning to forget myself and serve other people was helping me get better. Which it was/did. But I'm not an idiot and my experiences are real and raw. I know it's not easy. Believe you, me, I've always wished it could be that easy. I tried everything. I've gone the holistic route, I've gone the exercise route, I've gone the positive thinking route. But this is what it's like, dear reader:

When I'm sick: I'm delusional, irrational, look for offense, dwell on unkind things, focus on the past, can't think about the future, hide in my home, get angry at everything everyone says or does, cry a lot,  stay in dark rooms, ignore friends, lose friends, ignore family, forget appointments/events, have no energy, stop exercising, stop eating well, forget to eat, eat too much, and pray A LOT.

When I'm well: I'm focused, rational, able to differentiate between intentions and actions, forgive more easily, laugh, curb my anger, make goals, think clearly, make friends, go out often, leave the past in the past, move forward, serve others, enjoy work, exercise, eat healthy, use the energy I have, and incidentally, still pray A LOT.

The difference is staggering. And I've gone back and forth for many years.

So, why, if made well, would any mentally ill person ever go back to being sick? There are a lot of reasons. Here are mine (and it's the most common):

1. I go off my medication because I think I'm better.
2. I stop going to therapy because I think I'm better.

The End.

I know there are a lot of people who think mental illness can be controlled by prayer and faith. I used to think so, too --doesn't the Atonement cover everything? (Big question to ponder when it comes to this.) But I found myself (more than once) in suicidal-land (seriously contemplating it, although never planning it). For me (and many more like me), professional medical help was the only thing that made the biggest difference. I'm also convinced that the Atonement covers everything, but we're also commanded to do things. Faith is a verb, dear reader. God can't steer a parked car.


A friend told me it's like this: If your arm was cut off and you were bleeding, do you think you'd beg God to just save you, or would you do what you could to get medical attention so they could stop the bleeding?


Another metaphor: If your child broke their arm, would you expect the Atonement to fix it, or would you take them to the doctor to get fixed?

Another: What if you ended up with an infection? Like... ebola?! Or something slow-moving, like some cancers? Would you rely only on prayer to fix it? Wouldn't you use the power of the Priesthood and medical help?

How is mental illness different from any other physical disease or broken-ness? It's part of the mortal body. It can be broken --and mended.


I don't think that means that people can only get better the medication way, nor do I think that means it's the only thing that has changed me for the better. I know people who have been able to eradicate cancer and mental illness through only holistic means --a very rigid diet and routine. But for me, and for many of my friends and family members who have faced mental illness, medication has been what works best. At the very least, it has given me an edge in order to be who I am supposed to me, and that's, well, me.

I absolutely believe that the reason I've gotten healthy is also because of prayer. The prayers of my parents and siblings and husband. Prayers of friends. They prayed for me and then convinced me to see a psychiatrist. God answered my prayers and asked me to seek psychiatric help, too (when I was able to listen, because let's be honest, feeling the Spirit is also incredibly hard when I'm really sick). Because of psychiatric help, medication, and therapy, I've also found I do other healthy things that are helping, like:

*read my scriptures almost every day
*pray more regularly and rationally (not just crying out for everything to just stop)
*serve other people, thereby learning about the gift of sacrifice and how losing myself is finding myself, thereby not dwelling on my sickness (which always makes it worse)
*lessen my priorities and stress --give myself time to heal, stop comparing myself to others (this one is really hard), be gentle with myself, change my thought processes and language, being kinder to my family, and focus on what I am doing well/right.


I am also asthmatic. Asthma is a good disease because I immediately feel the effects when I'm not taking care of it. Unlike mental illness, it's quick to remind me to "take my meds right now!!" If I forget even one day of medication, I find myself having trouble breathing. The cause/effect is incredibly easy to detect. So, I make sure I take it. (It's also much safer for my baby to take my regular meds than to use my albuterol often.)

The only time I ever ended up in the hospital for my asthma was about a year after I was diagnosed and I had decided to wean myself off of my medication because I was "better." (See the theme?) I ended up with pneumonia (in the month of June!) and was hospitalized for a few days. It was horrible because I had a nursing baby at the time! (It was #2 and she was only 4 months old.) The next time I stopped taking meds for asthma was when I was in the depths of depression (umm, last year) and I was overwhelmed with finding new doctors due to the move (another sign of my illness) and that leaked into a regular doctor who could prescribe asthma meds. I was a mess. Depressed beyond belief and not being able to walk up the stairs without nearly dying (seriously, I was using my rescue inhaler every two hours or so for those few months). It was pathetically sad because I didn't have to be in that place. 

The answer for me, honestly, was to just get some help --for both physical problems. Within days, I was breathing well again (and have been fine ever since), and within a few weeks, my brain was rational again. I mean, it's hard enough being a mom of six kids and being pregnant again without all the pain of my chronic illnesses, eh?

The goal: To remember all of this and maintain my mental and physical health as best as I can by utilizing all that I've experienced and all that I have access to... 

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Like Anniversaries of Stuff

Sixteen years ago, today, on Ocotber 20th, 1998, Brandon proposed marriage to me. Obviously, I accepted! Here's our very 90's scrapbook page of the event:


(This was back in the day when taking selfies meant you just got what you ended up with! You couldn't see them until after you paid for the film to be developed. Which means, we had to be very good or very lucky!) 

Here's the link to the story of how it all went down. 

Analyzing Friendship or Reconciling Boundaries with Personality

I've been pondering about friendship, boundaries, and my strengths/weaknesses all weekend. For a background, dear reader (since very, very few people know), a friendship imploded on Friday. It had been pretty weak for months, but when this friend's family members started attacking me (and I'm still terrified they'll comment on this post with more foul language --thus the comment moderation), it was pretty much awful and the friendship was over. For now, anyway. I always hold out that bridges can be built again. Forgiveness works miracles. But before that happens, sometimes it's best to let it lie for a while. The most frustrating part, however, was that until a few days ago, I thought it was being repaired.


Still, this whole thing made me wonder: "Is it I?"

I'm not a stranger to imploding relationships. Not really romantic relationships (although I've had my fair share of those, but the last 16 years has been full of Brandon, and that is a very good thing), but mostly friendships. And it's been hard not to think that I'm the reason they didn't last. Because what else is the common denominator, dear reader?

Sure, I have my reasons why they didn't last. And the truth is, friendships are meant to ebb and flow throughout life. Some of my dearest friends from long ago I rarely speak to (Christmas letters, birthdays), but we still feel a kinship that will never die. Some have just kind of faded with the wind... nobody's fault, no hard feelings, they just go. Some become acquaintances, some stay acquaintances, while the thing we have the most in common is mutual respect. Other friendships face incredibly tough trials and pain, but come through it stronger for it.

I spent a lot of time praying for answers and praying for the friend I mentioned at the beginning. Truth is (and you can disbelieve me all you want), I actually spend a lot of time praying for the friends and family who are no longer a part of my life. Just because our relationships have become toxic does not mean I hate them. In fact, I actually dislike very few people. I think what it comes down to is boundaries. Some boundaries mean I limit my interaction. Some boundaries mean I have access to express how I feel or how they have hurt me. Other boundaries mean complete silence/inaccessibility. And the more I prayed about it, the more comfort I received that sometimes (like in the current situation), silence is just best.

One friend said this to me (I'm not quoting her accurately or word for word, but this is the gist): "As a friend, I will be loyal. I will be loyal throughout all the hard times and I'll stand by you. But when you turn and attack me, then I'm done." It's honestly all about those boundaries! One can forgive the attacker without continuing to allow themselves to be attacked.


So as I was pondering over my life (I honestly even thought back to high school), I realized that most of the time, I was limiting contact and setting up boundaries to protect myself, but I've not always been very good at it. There's only been one incidence where I feel it was my fault for not just keeping quiet (and it was a doozy and happened several years ago). But I've decided that I can't dwell on these things. I make mistakes. Sometimes I make really big mistakes. Don't you, dear reader? Don't you find yourself making mistakes and saying horrible things to people without realizing it, or without meaning to? Do you ever find yourself crossing over other people's boundaries and hurting them, intentional or not?


Interestingly enough, Elder Cook said something that pricked my conscience. He said:


I know he was talking about how we disagree politically or religiously, but it can apply to friendship. Honestly, this is one of my hardest weaknesses to overcome. I'm not very sensitive to disagreements and I seem to long for friendships and companionships that reflect similarities in beliefs. But when it comes to friendship, shouldn't this counsel be so easy to follow? Shouldn't we all agree that the biggest concern is how we follow Christ? Yes, it should. Unfortunately, it's an every-continuing path that has not been fulfilled. How could it? We're mortal and we're going to mess up, thus needing Christ. This doesn't make Elder Cook's admonition untrue --it means we all have work to do. Well, at least I have work to do.

I remember, once, being screamed at by a friend who was guilty of being caught engaging in immoral activities late at night. The one who walked in on her was not reprimanded --I was. I remember how unfair that situation was, that I was the one being attacked over and over again, simply because I was the one brave (stupid?) enough to take it. I remember in college being treated horribly by a hurting roommate (whom I still love), and I hid my own knowledge of the awful thing she had done as to not hurt her feelings. I remember being the one to go to a friend who had decided, in one fell swoop, to eradicate her friendship from an entire group of close friends. I was the only one brave enough (calloused enough? Stupid enough? Blunt enough? Rude enough?) to confront her. I remember being attacked and complained about behind my back my ward members because I wasn't doing my calling "right." I have been the "middle-man" between friends, trying to resolve it for all of us. I remember losing the respect/friendship of some of my husband's extended family because I decided to call a spade a spade and confront situations that felt unfair and unfeeling. I remember that after burning one friendship to the ground and then carefully rebuilding it, I again confronted a hurtful situation and again the relationship was torn apart. 

Each of these would paint a picture, if I allow it, of a very mean-spirited and broken woman (i.e. me) and you, dear reader, would easily assume I was a horrible person. I have been called horrible things by many people. I have been mocked a lot, and I have been made fun of most of my life. I am still the butt of many old jokes (because "I can take it"), and I can give you examples of how I have been the fall-guy for many relationship situations simply because I have cared enough to try: from bullies in 6th grade, to well-meaning but teasing family members, to vicious attacks from strangers for what I write on this blog, to being the person accused of poisoning the minds of mutual friends and, again being the fall guy.

I don't tell you this, dear reader, to illicit pity or sorrow. I honestly don't want it. Please don't placate me, because that's not what I'm searching for. I'm writing this out because that is how I work through my feelings/thoughts, and because it is what it is. This is my attempt to figure out why this keeps happening to me. The pain is excruciating at times. And for a long time, I could not reconcile my personality and strengths of honesty (transparency?) with friendships because to me, they were always at odds with each other. No matter how delicate I approach a situation, my intentions are not always easy to decipher. I struggle with a lot of things, but I don't think I ever realized how much I struggle with friendship. And you, dear reader, might wonder, "well, then, why doesn't she just keep her mouth shut?" I have tried, dear reader. But for some reason, the honesty and can't-be-a-hypocrite gene runs deeply in the makings of my very soul. I'm getting better at silence, but I'm still a pro at just speaking my mind. 


I did have a thought, though, and a friend once told me this: "You care too much, Cheryl. You get involved to deeply." Perhaps. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing, although learning about boundaries is truly helping me to know when to get in deep and when to stay on the surface. Maybe if I didn't care so much, it wouldn't happen so often. Ha! That sounds ridiculous, though, and such a contradiction: "perhaps if you didn't care so much, people wouldn't be so mean to you." Well, there could be truth in that, because if I didn't care, it wouldn't affect me. But it always does. It always affects me deeply. 

So, dear reader, how do you go about setting up boundaries and maintaining friendships? When have you known it was time to let go or to stay and work it out? When have you felt the need to protect yourself or confront hurtful behavior? Have you ever made a mistake that cost you a friend? 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Blerg

Things making me really sad right now: 

*I just found out that a man whom I loved and admired passed away from cancer a month ago and I didn't even know he was sick. He lived in our ward in Provo, and I blame myself for not knowing, but I'm also so frustrated that nobody thought to tell us. I feel just sick inside that I lost the chance to tell him good-bye in this life and that I didn't realize he was gone.

*Another man in our Provo ward passed away this week, just a few weeks shy of his 100th birthday. He and his wife are my heroes in so many ways (his wife was such a dear friend), and just knowing that I'm not there to mourn with his wife and my friends is so hard for me.

*I have been deeply hurt by passive aggressive public flogging of me and my dearest friends for just doing what we truly thought friendship meant, where now the only option we have is silence (and yes, I realize this sentence is it's own form of passive-aggressiveness, but I honestly have been painted into a corner and can do nothing else. This mentioning of it is probably already too much and shows my immaturity).

*Making difficult (but not horrible) life decisions.

*Turning completely into a night-owl from my previous early-morning persona, which means the mornings where I only have one child are spent puttering around the house. And online. And watching episodes of Gilmore Girls. Instead of cleaning the house.

*My messy house.

*No energy to clean said house.

*Very little emotional support.

*#3's push-back on school (he'd do awesome if there was no writing or homework required. And the homework is actually not unreasonable and writing is a must in this world).

*Guilt about... everything.

Things making me happy right now: 

*Autumn

*Sunshine and Autumn

*Making good friends in the ward

*The scriptures

*A house, food in the fridge, cars that run, education for my kids, clothes, shoes, books, washing machines, dishwashers, heat, blankets, socks, friends I can count on, medicine, movies, Gilmore Girls, Jane Austen, beautiful children, sleep, and herbal tea.

*Knowing that even though the sad and hard is really sad and hard, I can do sad and hard things. Maybe not all at once, and maybe not right away, but I can still do them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Under Construction (Not the Blog. Me!)

It wasn't the best day, today. I'm not surprised. I just came off of a wonderful week with my husband and a spectacularly spiritual and peaceful Sunday. I mean, the kids and I even worked on their Faith in God booklets! (Well, #2 and #3 and I, although #1 did some personal progress, too.) FHE last night was  hit! We had such a great time (#3 taught the lesson on the Word of Wisdom and we played Apples to Apples and also practiced the song we're singing as a family in Sacrament Meeting in a few weeks.)

So, of course, I needed some kind of opposition, eh? I call it the Moses Phenomenon. And I should blog about what that is, sometime...


Let's see... I was down for the count during the morning. Incredibly joint pain along with exhaustion meant I needed to rest and that also meant #6 was on the iPad for way too long (he mostly watched "Animal Mechanicals," and that's educational TV, so, we're calling it a win, today). It also meant I spent the day in yoga pants (don't I often?). I was overwhelmed by some frustrations and consistent disappointments I'm facing in my life right now, and so emotionally, I was drained. Well, hormones don't help that, either. Go figure.

I got in a yelling fight with my oldest before she left for YW's tonight. That was lovely. Especially considering all the wonderful things she did (play with her brothers, start the laundry, help with dinner). Blerg.


I was so tired and gross-looking that I drove to the bus stop, and then on a whim, went through the drive-through at Chic-Fil-A for lunch with the boys to compensate for driving 100 yards down the street. I'm glad I didn't look super gross, too, because the person taking my money at the window was a young man who lives in our ward!

The news today was depressing, seeing child-killers and everyone trying to play God with fertility and suicide. More death, more disease, more problems in the world... The bills keep coming, the kids keep fighting, my struggle to get above pettiness and negativity feels inadequate at best...

I read more blog posts about how to be better mother and homemaker; I read other posts about how to just let it all go. Neither of them made me feel good today. I was annoyed with everything and everyone online. Angry Birds was the only thing that sounded reasonable, today!

When my husband walked in the door from work, he kissed me and then laughed as I was stirring up the end of dinner.
"Honey, I'm sorry, but this is too funny. You are barefoot, pregnant, and... stirring macaroni and cheese."
He laughed. Normally I'd laugh, too.
I said, "You can go back to work, now."
So he kissed me again, hugged me, and did the dishes. (Smart man!)


The house is a mess. Absolutely trashed. The oldest three are with their dad at the church for various activities and the younger three are with me. The table hasn't been cleared, yet, the rest of the dishes need to be finished, the laundry needs to be hung, and all I want is to be hiking (okay, maybe just sitting down somewhere) on Mt. Timpanogos in Utah.

I have no idea why, but I received a random magazine in the mail today that talks about the West Coast. Beaches, mountains, my old vacation spots, the Bay Area where we used to live (San Francisco is my favorite city next to London. Seattle comes in third). I think it was a cruel hoax, since I'm feeling so homesick right now. Don't get me wrong, PA is beautiful, but I crave my mountains. I crave REAL mountains with snowy peaks and jagged rocks and pines and aspens and elevation extremes. I long for the scent of that mountain air, along with sagebrush in the rain (so heavenly!), and the wind sweeping down the Snake River Valley. I want to know where North is just by looking at the mountains!

Gratefully, autumn is gloriously red and yellow and orange, here, and there are still plenty of leaves yet to fall. This means it will last a bit longer! The weather is absolutely perfect, too. 60's to 70's and holding!

Also, gratefully, I know these kinds of days do not last. They come and go, they arrive eventually, but they are like the wonderful days: just days that pass. It's trying to convince my brain of this truth that becomes the trick. I'm not sure if this is a Down Day or just a regular ol' bad day. I'm kind of praying it's a Down Day because that means I am so much better than I have been this past year. My last big Down Day was two months ago! TWO MONTHS! Dear reader, this is a beautiful and epic thing! My Down Days were 4-5 days a week for nearly 4 months... now it's only 1-2 days every 2 months?? I'll take it!!


You know, I won't always be so focused on my mental illness. I won't always have to struggle with it the way I do now. I won't always be pregnant. I won't always be obese. I won't always have tiny little children begging for my time. I won't always have a constantly messy and demanding household. Everything passes. Time runs on, and even though my kids feel it goes so slow, I look at their eyes and realize they know more than they did yesterday. One day they will remember how much easier it was being a child than an adult, and they, too, will see the passage of time begin to speed up with such... quiet relentlessness.


So, time goes on, the bad days and the good days meld together, my life keeps going, and optimism and strength will win out in the end. I'm fighting fierce battles, dear reader. Battles in my brain chemistry, battles against evil for my soul, battles against the information that could define my children if I let it. I'm a warrior, you know. And just writing all of this down has helped so much; I'm feeling much better...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Orlando Getaway

Brandon and I went to Orlando, FL this past week!

We originally had planned to take all of the kids, but a few months ago we decided we needed a few days together, instead. It also fit our budget better. Thanks to our awesome babysitter (Sis A. from our ward), we were able to have a great time!

Wednesday:
We flew down (via Boston), attended the fireside the BYU football team held (they do this every night before a game --it's all focused on the gospel and what matters the most to them, which is Christ!), and had dinner at a really cool restaurant that serves just appetizers.

Thursday:
We went to the Temple! We attended a session in the morning and it was wonderful. We took our time, and aside from rude remarks from people ("are you sure you're not having twins?? You're not due until February!?! You look like you're going to give birth next week!!" Sigh... Lovely, right? Why do strangers think it is somehow common courtesy to comment on the large-ness of one's life-giving womb?), it was such a peaceful time.



Then we went to the BYU vs. UCF football game! Holy huge campus! Apparently they are the largest university in the country (over 70,000 students). We spent some time at the BYU tailgate party, met some nice people from Idaho (who are related to me!), held alligators(!) and enjoyed a really exciting game. It was full of incredible highs and lows, and although we lost (still questioning that last play and the lack of a holding call from the refs), we had a great time.






Friday:
We got up early and went to Disney World! Yep! The kids aren't very happy with us, but oh, well. It reminded me of when we went to Disneyland on our honeymoon! I wore the wrong shoes (although my Chacos are usually perfect for this kind of thing) and ended up in a lot of pain by the end of the day (but a soak in the tub back at the hotel helped a lot). Still, it was a fabulous day! What is it about Disney? It's so clean, organized, efficient, fun, magical, and happy. The happiest place on Earth! Okay, actually, when I think about it, the Temple is much happier, but you know what I mean. :) The whole time we were there we kept commenting that "the kids would love this!" and "wouldn't this be great for the kids?" so we are seriously considering figuring out a way to get our kids down there sometime. It's been 8 years since we took our kids to Disneyland, and since they still talk about it (well, the girls are the only ones who remember), we know it's a vacation they would really love. It's only a day's drive for us, so it might just work! We'll have to wait and see. (Plus, #2 can't stop talking about wanting to see Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, so, who knows...)


















Saturday:
We flew home, again via Boston. We came home to a clean house and very happy children. Our babysitter was amazing! We then watched a movie with the kids and jumped right back into our routine. Sunday was so busy (music rehearsals, potluck, talks, and meetings).

It was a wonderful few days alone together, and aside from all the walking, it was relaxing, too.

Where have you gone with your spouse, lately? Or a long time ago? Or are you planning a trip, soon? 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Hello, Glorious October!

It's Autumn! It's Autumn! Pennsylvania is in full Autumn! Well, not quite full. Apparently it takes a bit of time. I'm not used to 6-8 weeks of glorious Fall! Usually it's only 3-4 weeks (in Idaho/Utah) and by October, it's over. It's just getting started, here! I'll need to take a million photos and share them with you soon-ish.



Things making me sad, lately: 

*People losing their testimony of the gospel and leaving the Church. How they place the blame on others for their own choices to leave (the list of reasons are very long). How quickly they change and begin behavior they would never have thought of doing before, now that they have all this "freedom." Watching it happen is hard and brings up all kinds of past feelings of when I saw it happening years ago to others I love.

*The Supreme Court being cowards and not just making a decision on the gay marriage issue and instead letting things drag out in different states until it's finally legal everywhere. Sigh... Gay marriage being legal everywhere. Inevitable, I know. Frustrating, though. I know people will disagree with me on this, but it doesn't change how I feel. I'm not angry about it, just... sad. The voice of the people has been shut down, not to mention what this does to individuals eternally. Religious and Voter rights are now a joke. And I have lost respect for the Supreme Court. I'm also nervous about what this means for public school education in the future.

 *My ribs are pulling apart even more during this pregnancy; I may need to find a chiropractor soon. They've always had a hard time due to my large babies and my incredibly short torso, but I don't remember feeling this separating pain this early in a pregnancy before.

*The let-down of real life and all of the worldly crud after the spiritual high of General Conference.

Things making me very happy, lately: 

*General Conference! And the realization that everything that was taught this last weekend was meant to give strength and resolve to people of God to withstand all of the scary wickedness in the world.

*Autumn!

*The breakfast Brandon made for all of us yesterday morning (it was a feast of deliciousness!)

*Sweater weather (I love to wear cardigans)

*My cold is finally dissipating and #6 is also feeling much better. Only a bit of hacking left!

*Accomplishing in giving our wiggly, screamed-at-the-salon-and-so-they-couldn't-even-do-it two year old a haircut this morning! He's a cutie:






*Learning to be confident in who I am (even more than before) and not worry about other's issues; not making their issues my own --especially when they are not under my stewardship.

*Talking to one of my BFF's on the phone today for 2 hours.

*Looking forward to a quick get-away trip for Brandon and I later this week! And grateful we have an incredible babysitter.