Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Well, we're in the home stretch. Our baby girl will be here in about 7 weeks (we hope- but on the flipside I'd rather have her bake as long as she needs to, to be healthy).

I've been spending a lot of time trying to get the house ready (and by the house, I mean my parents' house as they have been kind enough to let us crash here to save money while Jeff is in his last semester) and I have been finding myself feeling more and more like a beached whale.

Its so funny how the world around us changes. I have had so many friends deliver babies this summer and I have a few that are due right before me and right after me- its been interesting to see Facebook light up with pregnancy related statuses and to see what's ahead of me at different stages, and to remember what I've been through. It seems like the whole world is pregnant right now...

As my beached whale feelings have started to surface, I've been looking to my friends that have just recently had babies and seeing where they are physically, mentally and emotionally. Many of them lament the loss of the body they had before baby. Many of them, to me, look amazing for having had a baby as recently as they did, but when you complement them on it they graciously thank you, but add that they still have a lot of work to do...

I have been hoping that this beached whale feeling would go away, but I fear it may last a little longer than I would like. As these fears have surfaced, I had been finding myself wishing I hadn't eaten this or that, wishing I hadn't gained as much weight as I have ( 34 pounds so far, and I'm sure I will gain more) and dreading what is to come for me personally.

My weight has always been a struggle. It wasn't until I was diagnosed as insulin resistant in 2003 that the light finally turned on and I realized how I could eat like a bird and still be overweight. The funny thing is, I'm not even as heavy right now as I was when I was first diagnosed back in the day. I struggle because I know what a hard long journey it was before baby to get the body that I had and I fear the struggle that may come after she gets here.

Amidst all this self-loathing I was completely awestruck one day by the miracle it was to feel this little girl moving around inside my belly. Lately, I've been finding myself really enamored with my body and the miraculous things that it is doing right now- and in a weird way, in spite of the beached whale feelings I've been having, in spite of the recent pictures people have taken where I feel like I look like I have 4 chins (seriously- I don't see them when I look in the mirror, but when I take a picture its like they materialize!)- I am finding this strange sense of comfort.

Let's break this down...

Point #1: 33 weeks ago my genetic material happened to be in the right place and fused with Jeff's...immediately cells, microscopic but full of life, began to divide into a mass of random tissues...from this mass of random tissues somehow a baby has managed to form- if I really sit and think about it my mind is officially blown. I know some of you darlings don't believe in God, and that is okay- but please don't be offended when I say that when I sit and think about the miracle that is the creation of life I can't help but think of what a genius He must be. This process of dividing and growing is so intricately designed, I can't help but have my testimony strengthened that God does exist. How blessed am I as a woman to be able to experience the growth of life first hand? It boggles my mind to think of everything that goes into the formation of a healthy embryo, then fetus into what will eventually be a baby. How blessed are we to have order in nature?

Point #2: At the beginning of this 33 weeks, my body inherently knew what to do to protect the healthy mass of dividing tissue that would be my baby. My body naturally did what it needed to do to make sure that this mass was not only protected, but nourished. Did you know that when you're first pregnant your blood volume increases at least 50% in order to cater to the growing baby. Without this extra blood supply, a baby cannot grow or thrive. My blood has for 33 weeks been nourishing my baby. Not only that- my blood has for 33 weeks been her source of oxygen...I didn't tell my body to do that- isn't it amazing what our bodies do without us even asking?

Point #3: You body creates and releases special hormones to aid in delivery starting at the second trimester and continues to do so until birth. This hormone, known as Relaxin, is created and distributed throughout the joints of an expectant mother allowing for her to stretch further. It literally, as the name suggests, relaxes her joints so that her bones can spread to make room for a growing baby and so her pelvic bones can spread during delivery...My body is doing ALL of this right now...while I live my life, while I clean, while I shop, while I teach...without me even feeling aware of it...

Point #4: While I've been carrying this baby, my body has been preparing to be able to nourish her even after she is born. My body will produce food for my baby- I will be able to continue to protect her by sharing my antibodies through that nourishment during the first few weeks of her life, and after that my caloric intake will provide the calories she will need to continue to grow and be strong outside the safety of my womb...wrap your mind around that for a minute- without me even telling it, my body knows how to do this- and thank heavens my body knows how to do it- I wouldn't even know where to begin...I think we women folk are all lucky that we don't have to think about how that is even accomplished and have to tell our bodies to do it step by step...I may be a good multi-tasker, but I don't think I'm that amazing!

So...in short...I find myself wondering- what is the use for mourning for the body that I had before my baby took it over (brain and all) I should be celebrating my body that IS...its pretty remarkable and amazing. While I know that all of these realizations and thoughts that are boggling and blowing my mind aren't going to help me lose weight to look the way that the fashion magazines tell me I should look, I also know that I wouldn't want it any other way.

Here is to feeling like a beached whale! That beached whale feeling is accompanying a process that is pretty darn amazing. No- I may not be my pre-pregnancy size 4, but no matter what size of jeans I end up in I know 2 truths:

1- I want to celebrate my body for the miracles it has performed during this time
2- As long as I do what I know I need to do to be healthy everything will work out.

I can add a truth #3- something my husband reminds me of every day...I am beautiful (and Jeff wouldn't tell me that I am if he didn't mean it.)

So, this is for all my friends who are struggling after the birth of their baby, for all those who are currently joining me in the beached whale phase, for all of those who are struggling dealing with the movement from regular jeans to maternity clothes, and for all those who are barfing up every meal- It may be hard to see, and believe me, I'm not perfect at it yet (remember I have 4 amazing disappearing chins...) let's celebrate our bodies. Let's love what they do for us every day without us even having to think about it.

Perhaps this is a lesson for all of us darlings- you may not have the body you want. It may not be cooperating with you so that you can accomplish some ultimate goal ... our bodies are pretty amazing. We should remember to love ourselves a little more and worry a little less about what Anna Wintour tells us we should be. I think, more than anything, I have decided that I want to test a new theory...

are you ready?

Love your body and it will love you back.

Try it on for size darlings, let me know how it works out for you- I will definitely keep you posted on how testing this theory works for me.

Hugs and loves until next time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life's a Funny Proposition After All

Its so funny to think how quickly life changes. I have been sitting here reminiscing and it baffles me. When people used to tell me that life changes quickly I used to get really frustrated with them and think-"Maybe for you..." At this time last year, I had been dating Jeff for a few weeks. Things seemed to be going well, if you would have told me on this day last year that Jeff was going to be proposing to me in exactly a week I would have laughed at you and told you that you were taking crazy pills. Jeff had me fully convinced that he wasn't looking to get married anytime soon, and as far as I was concerned, I was over the hill- a factory reject- and that I was never going to know what it was like to be married because nobody would want me. If you would have also said,

"Not only are you getting engaged next week- but by this time next year you will be having a baby."

I likely would have called State Hospital South in Blackfoot to see if they were missing a patient.

I think I've come to a conclusion- when we are willing to be content with life the way that it is and accept it for all its beauties, and intricacies- when we stop thinking "woe is me" as we wish for what others around us have- that is when life changes so quickly.

Is it God? Maybe- atleast in my case I believe it was. I believe that I had a major lesson to learn in patience, I also believe that I had to learn to love myself and my life for what it was instead of continuing to wish that I fit into a mold that other people created for me. I needed to accept myself and finally allow myself to believe that maybe- just maybe- I could be enough for me and the rest would work itself out.

I looked at the calendar today and realized I was a week away from the 1 year anniversary of my engagement and I thought, "Maybe I should plan something sneaky." But then, I realized the irony of life...

I got engaged when I should have been in my evening class. Instead I decided to take a walk with Jeff, he proposed, and we ended up driving to Idaho Falls to announce it to my family...

Here's the ironic part- on the 1 year anniversary of our engagement next week JEFF is the one who has a night class...and as its his last semester I don't think I could dream up a scheme that would get him to skip it (well I could...but it would likely involve me faking labor pains and freaking him out and I'm not that cruel...LOL)

I am so abundantly blessed. I have an amazing family...they are infuriating at times and confusing- but they're mine, and I love them and I have this amazing, amazing man who has swooped in and changed everything.

As I'm sitting here reminiscing a song comes to mind...a song I sang at my last recital at UM. Its an old, old Broadway classic that is more often performed now as a jazz standard. The major gist of the song is that life is crazy and everyone worries so much about stupid stuff that really doesn't matter. The last line of the song says "battles exciting and fates we're fighting until the curtain falls, Life's a very funny proposition after all." What if we all stopped worrying so much about what we don't have yet and focus on what we do have? What if we all could look at our life and instead of fighting battles, we decided to celebrate and embrace what is yet to come.

there is another line in the song that says, "today may be a day of smiles, tomorrow's still in doubt and what brings me joy may bring you care and woe." this is deep- well to me it is, since I didn't really get it until now- every situation in life is what you make it. You choose how to act and react. It often used to amaze me that people could take the horrible hands they've been dealt in the game of life and turn them into something positive...I've watched people lose loved ones and instead of thinking, "woe is me" they focus on the positive aspects of the loss- they move along and instead of trying to make sense of things they can't make sense of- they try to make lemons out of lemonade.

I spent a lot of time in my early 20's with a whole bunch of lemons- don't get me wrong, I was always trying to be positive- but I let myself get bogged down and because of that I wonder how many of the quick changes that life brings totally went over my head.

Life is a funny proposition- its funny if you haven't figured out that you are the captain of your ship and you decide where you're going.

My life changed course quickly as soon as I realized that- and I couldn't picture it any other way.

A year ago today my life was one week away from major upheaval and change and I wasn't even aware of it. I was just working to get through school and try to do what I believed I needed to do to make my life as happy and fulfilled as possible with my given circumstances...

Once I was willing to steer my life and stop waiting to be given a handout I steered myself right into the blessings I had been waiting for.

Thank God for life and all its craziness. Thank God for the wonderful experiences I've had. Thank God for the crazy twists and turns that are still yet to come- and most of all Thank God for the people I get to share those crazy twists and turns with.

If you're having a hard time darlings- please have faith. Know that you are loved and being looked out for. Know that you don't ever have to be alone. Make the choice to embrace the beautiful parts of your life and do your best to overlook the bad- a negative experience can always be turned into a positive change.

Thank you Jeffry Nielson for asking me to marry you. We aren't quite to the 1 year anniversary of that day yet, but as I sit here I think of how blessed I am because you made that decision and to be honest, I couldn't picture my life any other way. You make it beautiful, wonderful, and exciting.

Hugs and loves until next time darlings!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Preschool Update

It occurred to me that I have a few friends who read my blog that are currently doing homeschool preschool with their kids. I thought I'd give you all a bit of an update for what I've been up to with my niece.

We just finished a unit on health and the body (some of you may remember that we did a lifesize drawing of Raylee that she got to color) we learned about washing our hands, staying germ free, how to cover our mouths when we sneeze and cough, and we learned about healthy eating.

I capped it off today by reading "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Suess. After the book was read, we talked about the moral of the story. The guy that says he doesn't like green eggs and ham had actually never tried them. We came to the conclusion that when our mommies and daddies try to get us to try something new, we should because we just might like it- just like the character liked green eggs and ham in the end. Normally we start preschool after lunch, but today I had her come at her regular lunchtime because after we read the book, we made green eggs and ham for lunch. Here is the recipe we used if you're interested in trying:

2 eggs
2 drops food color
1 tsp milk
onion powder, salt and pepper to taste
2 slices deli ham diced

crack the eggs, put the food color, onion powder, salt and pepper in with the eggs and scramble. Add the eggs to a greased pan to scramble as usual. Sprinkle the ham over the top and stir until they are cooked.

I wish you could have seen the look on Raylee's face as the eggs turned green. It was a mix of shock and exhilaration that no one can really describe.

I took a bite, but once they were done she ate the whole bowl by herself and I ended up eating some Ramen noodles.

We also decided to try a new food- apricot fruit leather. She didn't really like it, but we talked about how good it was that she was brave enough to try it without complaining. She was tickled pink with herself!

We've been learning letter sounds as we've been learning letters. I found some worksheets at www.education.com that were a fantastic way to introduce using the sounds to read words. Raylee read her first words today! I was so thrilled. She even innately knew the sounds of letters we hadn't covered yet. We would go through each letter of the word individually and figure out what sound it made, then put them together. All by herself, without any help, Raylee read the words: Eel, Clam, Can, Am, At, And, Cat, and a few more. I was really floored when she read the word Clam. We got to it and I was expecting to have to help her but she had it sounded out and read before I knew what to do. :)

We've also been discussing how we use shapes to draw different pictures. Here is the result of one of our shape drawing sessions:

Its been awesome to see the changes in her drawings since this. She seems to love to draw stuff for everyone these days, all because she loves figuring out what shapes to use to make what she wants to make.

I took this "shape drawing" idea to the next level and we used the capital letters that we've worked on so far to make drawings yesterday. Raylee came up with some very interesting ideas, like making a lion out of the letter E...

If I don't have a doctor's appointment tomorrow we will likely end up doing the same thing with our lower case letters that we've worked on so far. Its the perfect blend between working on our penmanship and using critical thinking to be artistic and create something new.

Yesterday we also learned the song Baa Baa Black Sheep to go along with our continuing discussion about the number 3. I drew a big picture of a sheep with three bags next to it and then had Raylee trace the numbers 1 2 and 3. Then as an arts and crafts project we used paper curls to give Baa Baa Black Sheep black wool.

Today we started our weather/seasons/times of year unit. I suspect this will take a while. I intend to teach Raylee about the seasons (obviously) what weather you can find in the seasons, what holidays are in what seasons, and then we will start to learn about calendars and the months/days of the year. We had a special guest for part of our preschool today- my niece Addie, fresh home from Kindergarten. She came along with us for a walk. During the walk we talked about how you can use the trees to find out which of the 4 seasons you're in. The girls cleverly announced that we were in summer, then I pointed out the red and yellow leaves that were peeking out at the tops of the trees. They squealed with excitement when they realized that winter was after fall and that means that Christmas is on its way. When we came back from the walk, we all made a special craft to show what we had learned about the trees during each season. Here is what it was supposed to look like:
I didn't get pictures of the girls' finished products, but let's just say they got ahead of me and started putting leaves on all the trees that we made...I plan on using mine for a weather lesson next week. We are going to talk about how the weather is during each of the seasons and what kinds of clothes we wear. I will have some paper doll cut outs with clothes that correspond to each of the seasons. She will dress the doll up by gluing the clothes to it and then we will put it in the picture next to the tree.

I need to find a wall in our "preschool space" where I can put up a calendar soon. Once we get to learning about calendars, we will showcase the day's date and what the weather is like outside in some way. I have a few ideas, I just need to decide which one I am going to go with.

We also had some cheese crackers for snack time and worked on reinforcing our addition today. Raylee doesn't know how to write all the numbers yet, but she is a star counter! Its been really easy to give her simple math problems using little pieces of candy or toys to count. Today, with her handful of cheese crackers, we put together groups of crackers in different numbers and then I showed her the math problem (i .e. 5+3=) she counted the crackers and came up with the answer. She already has some of them memorized. Its been fun to call out, "Hey Raylee, what's 1+1?" and have her shout back "2!" with a lot of excitement.

Here is a little view at what our classroom is starting to look like. I've been having a lot of fun drawing pictures and cutting them out to showcase the number and letter symbols. They have come in handy. Sometimes Raylee can't recall off the top of her head what a number or letter is supposed to look like when I quiz her. All I have to do is point at the number or letter wall and when she looks at it, she instantly remembers what she should be drawing.

We also have a small alphabet chart that is a color sheet. As she masters a letter, we color it in so she can see how far she has come. You can kind of see it in the corner of this picture of our alphabet wall. I haven't had time to let her color the last few letters in that we've learned yet, I should probably do that tomorrow- she would love it. She is very proud of her alphabet chart. When her penmanship is really good (because even if we've mastered it, we keep reviewing) and I praise her she always points at the chart and says, "Of course its good! I'm a letter master!"

Here is a picture of our current behavior system. Its a game. She starts out the day getting 3 rolls of the dice if she is good all day- if she starts to misbehave she goes down to 2, then 1- if she gets to no rolls of the dice then she has to start having a time out (we haven't had to use time out yet) At the end of the day, she rolls the dice to see if she can get to the end of the game board (great for our counting practice as she moves the game pieces) If she gets to the end of the game board, she gets a treat. If not, her piece stays where it was last left after her rolls and she can try again tomorrow, with the option of using a second game piece to double the amount of treats she gets for being good. Since I've started using this, I can honestly say she's only been down to 2 rolls once, and has made it to 3 rolls by the end of the day every day since then. She loves that she gets a special treat if she is lucky enough to roll the right number and she knows that the more rolls she gets, the more likely she is to get a treat.

Attached to the bottom is a game we use for our free time. In the baggies are cutouts of different pictures that can be used to make faces. If we have spare time at the end of the day, we draw the shape of head that she wants to have and then she gets to glue together a silly face. She loves it!

In short, we've been very busy and having a lot of fun. She LOVES learning and gets really excited when she knows something that her friends at church or cousins don't know because of our special preschool. I have been super blessed to have this opportunity- that is for sure!

Hugs and fun until next time darlings!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Finding My Inner Pioneer Woman

As baby time approacheth, I don't really find myself nesting...

Don't get me wrong, I want things to be clean just like I always do...but what I have been finding is a much deeper urge.

I have been really thinking lately about being self-sufficient. I think most of this urge comes from the fact that I am opting to try to have a natural labor (I'll let you all know how it goes, of course- though I totally reserve my right to wimp out and have an epidural...) My saying has been- If a pioneer woman could do it, why can't I?

This has become my motto lately. It started with teaching myself to crochet- which has now become a little business venture but has become much, much more.

I've always been someone who wants to know how to do things myself. The summer between high school and college, I taught myself how to can using a water bath (I still want to venture into the land of the pressure cooker), when I was little I helped my mom looked for recipes for our food dehydrators, after learning basic stitches from my grandmother and mother, I taught myself how to sew and follow a pattern, I learned cooking basics from my dad before he passed away (because he was our in house chef most of the time) and I taught myself the rest from there.

I think our world today is getting so obsessed with ease, comfort, and speed that we are forgetting some very VERY important skills. When I got to college, I was shocked how many of my roommates couldn't cook without a box of packaged ingredients...

Jeff and I find ourselves talking a lot about being self-sufficient and teaching our kids those skills as they grow. Our latest discussion has been our dream to have a house with a huge garden so that I can use a pressure cooker and water bath and can enough vegetables and fruits to get us through the winter without having to buy a single canned good from the grocery store. We also have talked a lot about how we want to be in a position where, even if we don't have a lot, we can share with those that are less fortunate. Jeff even mentioned the idea of using a chunk of whatever land we end up having as a ward garden- a place for our brothers and sisters that don't have the possibility of having a garden on their own place to have an opportunity to grow something of their very own...I have even told Jeff that I would like to can food and ask the bishop who could use it most, and if the bishop isn't comfortable sharing, dropping it off to him so that he can share the bounty...we want our kids to know how to cook, how to fix things, how to sew- we want them to have skills that are quickly being lost as we live in a world where everything is done for us in advance.

Its funny that I've been feeling this urge and Jeff and I have been talking about this so much lately, because on Sunday our Relief Society lesson was on being self sufficient and independent. I wish I knew what talk it came from- I know it was an address Elder Packer gave a few years ago at a Stake Conference. He mentioned that the youth of the church needed to focus on being prepared, that they needed to be ready to do without luxuries that they had come to expect, and that they needed to know how to do things that they never thought they would have to do... this only added to my sense of urgency- I need to make sure that this child that I am carrying now and every child we bring into our home has the skills to run a household without modern conveniences.

Its so funny to think how lazy people are these days- I'm guilty of it too...but I am trying to get better. I've been learning how to make clothing using a crochet hook and yarn, I am practicing my pattern reading skills in order to make baby slings, car seat covers, stuffed animals...the list goes on.

We need to make an effort to stop being so lazy. In these tough economic times we need the skills to do things without the aid of a machine more than ever. All I can say my friends is that I will help you where I can, and I hope that you can help me. We need to remember that our greatest resources are each other. We need to not be afraid to ask for help, or to ask to learn a new old fashioned skill that we thought we'd never need.

Yesterday I made a roasted chicken for dinner- today I used the bones and leftover meat to make chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles. Homemade noodles are SOOOOO easy. I've been making them with my mom since I was a kid. In an effort to share, here is the recipe:

2 cups flour
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 c water

Put the flour in a bowl, sprinkle with the salt, then make a well. Add all the eggs into the well and start to mix until crumbly, then add the water until all the ingredients join together in a dough. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface as thin as you can possibly get it (I always find it easiest to split the dough into 3 different balls and then roll those out individually) Cut the rolled dough into long strips and add it directly to your soup. You can allow the noodles to dry and save them in an airtight container to boil later, but we always just find it easiest (and tastiest) to add them directly to water and use them right away. I suppose if you had a pasta press this would be much easier, but let's face it- what if we are faced with no electricity one day? Its a scary thought, but sadly, it isn't that far fetched.

I'm not trying to depress anyone, I'm not wearing a sandwich board that says "THE END IS NEAR" but what I am saying is that it doesn't hurt to be prepared. Take it from someone who knows, you never know when these random skills you may acquire could come in handy. I have used the skills I've acquired in so many ways its seriously funny. It definitely doesn't hurt to be prepared! :)

Hugs and Wishing you Self Sufficiency Darlings!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Mr. Nielson

This will be a short post-

Today I have been thinking a lot about something my husband said the other day...

I was getting ready for the day, finishing my makeup and he came into the bathroom and just stared...

I asked him what was wrong, assuming that he was sad I'd put on makeup (he prefers me without, I prefer me with...what's a girl to do?)

He just stared, smiled and said, "I just can't believe that you once thought you were a factory reject."

I wanted to cry- but instead I kissed him-gave him a big, fat, wet smooch...

When I miss him like I'm missing him right now, its nice to have those moments to think about. I love him so much and I am so blessed that he loves me...

Its amazing what having an amazing husband can do for your self-esteem...

You're right Jeffry- I can't believe I ever believed I was a factory reject either...because you've loved me so well that I can't remember what it was like to feel that way.

Just one question for you, my dear Mr. Nielson, MY Mr. Nielson- is forever okay with you? because its certainly okay with me.

Hugs and wishing for your happily ever afters!