Thursday, May 26, 2016

Launching into Summer

Yesterday was the last day of school so today was officially the first day of summer vacation. I'm SO glad to be done with the school year and have my kids to myself a lot more. They're growing up so fast and I just don't feel like I get enough of them during the school year!

We got up late, had a special breakfast, lounged around in our PJ's a bit, then got going on setting up our Loosli Learning Adventures Summer Camp. We brainstormed all the fun activities and field trips everyone is excited about doing together. We went over all the things the kids need to do each day and printed out their charts for tracking their "must-do" completion (must-do's include reading for 30 minutes, doing a quick page of writing - journaling or using the list of writing prompts we've got, doing a couple quick household chores, getting exercise outside for at least 30 minutes, praticing/working towards one of their summer goals...the must-dos take like an hour and a half each day, leaving them tons of time for relaxing, playing with friends, and doing fun activities and field trips together). Tomorrow we'll start working on their summer goals (learn about summer goals in a podcast I did with the twins a couple years ago here).

We've been doing this family summer camp thing every summer for 7 years now. We've figured out some systems that really work and it has been great for us to have some structure as well as a lot of fun.

If this sounds like something that might work for your family, check out the post I did several years ago: Do-it-Yourself Summer Camp. I originally wrote the post mostly to keep track of what was working well for our family (I didn't want to forget important details between summers!). But wow, that post became one of the most popular posts of all time on Power of Moms - it's been read by over a million moms now.

If you read the post and want help getting your family summer camp set up, check out our Summer Camp Kit that has all the instructions, tracking charts, brainstorming sheets, etc. that will help make it extra easy. And as one of my blog readers, I invite you to use the coupon code "SUMMERFUN" to get 20% off and get the kit for just $24.

Hope this info is helpful as you think through what will work well for your family this summer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


So last Thursday, I got back from a week in London with two of my favorite people in the whole world, my sisters Saydi and Charity (so sad Shawni couldn't make it - her daughter was graduating from high school the only week we could make this work! But she'll be going to London with her family in a couple weeks so it's all good). Saydi called me up a couple months ago and said "Want to go with me to London for Charity's baby shower in May?" My initial response was that it probably wouldn't work out - our travel budget was shot - we would have just come back from Costa Rica a couple weeks before the London travel would happen, I've already been Europe TWICE in the last year thanks to our family trip to Bulgaria and Italy last May and my trip with my mom and sisters to Switzerland, Austria and Germany in October (twice in one year after not going to Europe for 14 years has been such an unexpected privilege!). But Saydi found an amazing deal on airfare and Jared told me I really should go - it would be a great Mother's Day present for me and would help offset all the expensive hobbies he so enjoys. Plus I realized I could do a bunch of work on this "New Mom Kit" for Power of Moms with my sisters while I was there so I could combine business and fun. So I decided to do it!

It was such a wonderful whirlwind week of talking with wonderful people (my dear sisters, my wonderful sister-friend Amy who was practically part of my family growing up and now lives in London with her great husband and 4 lovely daughters, and lots of wonderful people I had the chance to get to know through a photo shoot that Saydi did and through Charity's baby shower) and visiting favorite places (I lived in London when I was 6, 7, and 8, when I was 16, and then spend 6 months there on study abroad when I was 19 so London feels like home to me in many ways). I sort of felt like I was in a dream much of the time - partially because I couldn't believe my good fortune to be able to be in such a great place with such wonderful people - and partially because I don't think I ever quite got over jet lag! We talked about pregnancy, childbirth and baby stuff non-stop (and made some podcasts and planned out other materials for the New Mom Kit that Charity is going to take the lead on and that we'll offer on Power of Moms next year). We walked a ton, rode bikes through the city, rode on the top of lots of double decker buses, helped Amy put on a really beautiful and fun baby shower for Charity at the home of some great people who became fast friends, ate wonderful food (love how there are these great places to grab fresh, delicious, and relatively cheap sandwiches and salads on pretty much every corner), enjoyed gorgeous weather, visited all our favorite London sites (Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, walking along the Thames by the Houses of Parliament and London Eye, St Pauls, Tate Modern, Millenium Bridge, Tower Bridge, Portabello Road, Knightsbridge, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Gallery, Camden Town, St James Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent Park - such great weather for picnicking and riding bikes through the parks), spent some time out in the countryside with Amy visiting the amazing Hylands Estate right up the road from her house as well as the gorgeous town of Cambridge. We packed in a lot! It's so easy to do a lot without any little kids in tow!

I think Charity did such a wonderful job describing our time together - so go here to her blog for details. But here are some of my favorite pictures from our time together and you can see more here on Instagram:

Now it's back to my real life with all it's challenges and charms - challenges like long boring end-of-the year awards ceremonies for the kids that leave me feeling somewhat inadequate as a mom, piles of papers and art projects they've brought home from school that need to be organized, laundry to catch up on, a dusty and dirty house to take care of, food to be re-stocked, Power of Moms work to catch up on that feels so overwhelming right now, fence-building to do (this stupid fence thing has taken such a chunk of time and money and has caused so much stress!), break-ins to deal with (a whole rash of petty theft in our neighborhood over the past month and last night our cars were both broken into and not much was taken but it felt so violating!) and charms like going on walks with the kids in the beautiful super-green that our abundant spring rain has brought on (feels like I'm still in England!), picking kids up at school and hearing them tell me about their exciting end-of-school activities, laughing together around the dinner table as we share memories and jokes, watching Isaac, Eliza and Jared do the Ogden half marathon last Saturday and finish so strong despite having to run the whole time in pouring rain and freezing cold, seeing Isaac and Eliza help little kids at church and watching Ashton walk this sweet older lady out to her car after church, saying prayers with them and tucking them in at night and having the twins so often tell me that I'm the best mom in the world (they always make me feel better about myself!).

Sunday, May 08, 2016

My Talk in Church Today

I spoke in church today. I speak a lot so it shouldn't have been a big deal but somehow it was. I knew I was in trouble when I kept finding myself in tears as I prepared my talk - motherhood is a topic that is so near and dear to my heart! Then as I sat up on the stand waiting for my turn to talk, I looked at my wonderful mom and my beautiful children sitting there on the second row and I had a pretty strong feeling that I would have a hard time getting through my talk.

Sure enough. I was pretty darn emotional as I delivered my talk. But I think people could understand me despite my somewhat shaky and halting delivery. And I hope people took away whatever message they were supposed to get.

Anyway, here's my talk:

I was asked to talk today about what modern day revelation teaches us about motherhood and instructed to weave in a lot of personal stories.

There are SO many beautiful and important ideas that have been presented by our church leaders in General Conference and in lesson manuals. And of course, the Proclamation on the Family offers powerful and helpful principles to help guide mothers. Plus each mother can receive her own modern day revelation as she strives to take great care of the precious children God has entrusted her with.

But today I want to focus on the talk that Elder Holland gave in General Conference last month. His talk is called "Behold Your Mother."

Throughout my life, I've heard that motherhood is supposed to bring us closer to Christ than just about anything else we can do. And when I think of those with Christ-like qualities that I want to emulate, my first thoughts are of my own mother and grandmothers as well as my mother-in-law and other great moms that I know.  But in Elder Holland's talk during conference last month, he helped me to more clearly how beautifully connected motherhood is to the life and work of the Savior.

In Elder Holland's talk, he said:
Prophesying of the Savior’s Atonement, Isaiah wrote, “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”1 “[Jesus] came into the world … to bear the sins of the world.”2 Both ancient and modern scripture testify that “Christ redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old.”3 A favorite hymn pleads with us to “hear your great Deliv’rer’s voice!”4
Bear, borne, carry, deliver. These are powerful, heartening messianic words. They convey help and hope for safe movement from where we are to where we need to be—but cannot get without assistance. These words also connote burden, struggle, and fatigue—words most appropriate in describing the mission of Him who, at unspeakable cost, lifts us up when we have fallen, carries us forward when strength is gone, delivers us safely home when safety seems far beyond our reach.
But can you hear in this language another arena of human endeavor in which we use words like bear and borne,carry and lift,labor and deliver? As Jesus said to John while in the very act of Atonement, so He says to us all, “Behold thy mother!”6
Today I declare from this pulpit what has been said here before: that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. When Isaiah, speaking messianically, wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us.7
This kind of resolute love “suffereth long, and is kind, … seeketh not her own, … but … beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”8 Most encouraging of all, such fidelity “never faileth.”9 “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed,” Jehovah said, “but my kindness shall not depart from thee.”10 So too say our mothers.
Certainly no mother is perfect. I know that there are many here who did not have mothers who fully grasped the divine nature of motherhood or who didn't have the experience or ability to be a really effective or Christ-like mother. I run a website for mothers and in my work, I've met mothers from every walk of life. Some seem to quite naturally embrace the sacrifices and burdens of motherhood and find joy in motherhood quite readily (my mother is like this). Some have more of a need for "me-time" that can make the sacrifices motherhood requires of them feel somewhat more burdensome (I’m one of those). Some have other important pursuits that are hard to balance just right and feel pretty overwhelmed (I’m in this boat as well). Others find that they feel so stretched by motherhood that it's hard to find the joy (sometimes I feel this). But the vast majority of mothers in this world love their children dearly and, almost without thinking, make big and little sacrifices for them every day without hardly batting an eye. Simply bearing and delivering a child involves discomfort, pain and sacrifice that goes way beyond what most any person on earth would experience on behalf of another person.

When our twins were born, I was able to deliver Oliver relatively quickly and easily - he was so small compared to the other children I'd delivered. As I held tiny and perfect Oliver in my arms, I was filled with that unique and gorgeous joy of meeting your own precious child for the first time and felt this wonderful adreneline as I thought about delivering and meeting his brother in a few moments. But it turns out that Silas was stuck and they had to quickly take Oliver away from me, put him in Jared's arms, send the two of them out of the room, and prep me for an emergency c-section. I've never been so scared - not for my own life, but for the life of my precious baby who was in distress. They quickly put me under and next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room. I woke up in an amazing amount of pain as I'd come around before they had the morphine fully set up. But all I could think of was my babies. Was the second one OK? Where was he? When could I see them?  In the midst of the greatest pain I've ever felt, I had concern only for others. God gives us these opportunities as mothers to feel the intense mixture of sacrifice and love that helps our souls progress and brings us closer to our Savior. As we bear and deliver our babies and then go through those sleepless nights and that rough time trying to balance our needs with their needs, we become more Christlike in a deeply meaningful way.

Then, as our babies grow up, we continue to have so many opportunities to learn to understand and rely on the Lord and his Atonement. As Elder Holland said:

"You see, it is not only that [mothers] bear us, but they continue bearing with us. It is not only the prenatal carrying but the lifelong carrying that makes mothering such a staggering feat."

I'm the oldest of nine children and my amazing mother bore with me and my siblings through SO much as we were growing up. She is seriously the most self-less and Christlike person I know. She's the first to admit that she was not perfect (she actually wrote a book called "I Didn't Plan to be a Witch" that offers great insight to those of us who often struggle with patience as we face overwhelming situations as moms!). But her constant and unconditional love was something that gave each of us so much comfort and her deep love for and emulation of Jesus helped us to all develop unshakable testimonies. She didn't preach to us. She showed us through word and deed how a true disciple of Christ should act.

When I started high school, my mom bore with me as I went through a really rough time. I didn't feel like I had any friends. I would wander the hallways of the school at lunch time because I didn't want to sit alone the cafeteria. Somehow in the midst of the babies and toddlers she was taking care of and the books she was writing and the amazing amount of cooking and cleaning and carpools that ruled her life, my mom found time to come pick me up at lunch time at school for a time so that I wouldn't have to be alone at lunch. And she told me a story about herself when she was my age. She hadn't felt like she had any friends. Her mom, my wonderful grandmother, taught told her to look for someone who looked much more miserable than she was and to step outside herself and show love and friendship for that person. She was sure there could be no one more miserable than herself. But once she really looked around, sure enough, she found a girl who seemed truly lonely and miserable, reached out to this girl, and they become good friends. She showed me Christ-like compassion while teaching me to show the same to others. Again and again, as I've been through hard things, my mom has followed Christ's example by offering me comfort and respite from my hard times while empowering me to step up and do my part to solve my own problems.

My dear grandmothers have also followed the patterns of sacrificing and bearing and delivering and empowering that Christ set forth for us.

My dad's mother, Ruth, lost her dear husband Dean when their five children ranged in age from 5 to 15. She figured out how to support her family on the combination of her meager salary and the rent she brought in from renting out a couple small apartments in her home. She sacrificed a great deal to provide a good life for her children and empowered them to get a solid education and become the best that they could be. She served a mission and served as a Relief Society president and helped to mother thousands of children in the fabulous preschool that she ran for many years. She has born with her children through many choices they've made that proved to be challenging. Through her example, she taught all her posterity how to interact with little children in fun ways while teaching them important lessons (many of you have seen her influence in the way my children act with the little children in this ward). She bore over 50 years of widow-hood and many years of dementia before she was finally delivered from this life to go to Heaven and be with her beloved Dean.

My mom's mother, Hazel, had a life full of sacrifice and bearing and delivering. She wasn't sure if she'd ever be able to bear her own children. She taught school and helped mother many children through her school teaching but she didn't find her husband, Roy, until she was almost forty and he'd already raised a family with his first wife who has passed away. When Grandma Hazel married Grandpa Roy, they didn't think they'd be able to have children of their own so they adopted a 5-year-old little boy named Lloyd who'd been born into very rough circumstances and offered him a loving home. Then they were surprised and thrilled when they were able to have two little girls born to them in quick succession - my mom and her sister, Lena. A little while later, my grandpa Roy's daughter from his previous marriage passed away shortly after giving birth and Hazel took over raising that baby, Roger, alongside her children. After several years of raising baby Roger, his father remarried and took Roger back to live with him. My dear grandmother felt like she had lost a child. At nearly the same time, their adopted son, Lloyd ran away to return to his abusive birth father. My heart-broken grandmother Hazel bore all this with all the love and patience she could muster. Through all this, Grandma Hazel was helping to support her family through teaching school full-time and teaching piano lessons to scores of students while helping her children excel in music themselves. Sacrifice and hard work were expected parts of life for Grandma Hazel. She didn't expect to be delivered from the hard stuff in life. She simply expected to bear it well and to help others discover the importance and joy of working hard and accomplishing their potential. Through her example, Grandma Hazel taught us that we shouldn’t expect to be delivered from our problems but should bear them well and that Christ would always be there to lift us up.

As my mom's posterity has expanded to over 45 people, she is still sacrificing and bearing and delivering every day as she helps each of her children through hard times, makes every family gathering wonderful, makes everyone who walks in her door feel special and doted upon (whether they are family members or someone she just barely met), and holds yearly "Grammie Camps" for her grandchildren where she teaches them about their ancestors and about art and music in a fun way, and writes books and gives speeches to help moms all over the world bear and enjoy motherhood in a more beautiful and Christlike way.

As these examples illustrate, whether we are on the inside or the outside of motherhood, motherhood offers us abundant opportunities to see what it really means to be Christlike.

I'll end with this beautiful letter from a young mother that Elder Holland shared.

“How is it that a human being can love a child so deeply that you willingly give up a major portion of your freedom for it? How can mortal love be so strong that you voluntarily subject yourself to responsibility, vulnerability, anxiety, and heartache and just keep coming back for more of the same? What kind of mortal love can make you feel, once you have a child, that your life is never, ever your own again? Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it. What mothers do is an essential element of Christ’s work. Knowing that should be enough to tell us the impact of such love will range between unbearable and transcendent, over and over again, until with the safety and salvation of the very last child on earth, we can [then] say with Jesus, ‘[Father!] I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.’11
On this special day, I hope that we can all reflect upon the sacrifices and examples of our mothers and grandmothers and the other great women whose examples and actions have benefited us in various ways. I hope we can try a little harder to be a little more like them as we each strive to sacrifice and bear our burdens with a more willing heart and as we attempt to be saviors in the lives of those who need us. And for those of us who are mothers, I hope we can find greater joy and meaning in the sacrifices and bearing of burdens that motherhood asks of us as we realize how these experiences bring us closer to Christ and lead us towards becoming the joyful deliverers and saviors on Mount Zion that God means for us to be.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Mother's Day Angst

Oh, Mother's Day... one of those days that is supposed to be so meaningful that it carries all sorts of stress. I always want to honor my mom so deeply and meaningfully but after over 40 years of doing stuff for her for Mother's Day, it's hard to come up with something fresh every year. And while I try not to expect much of my husband and kids, I can't help but hope that they'll do something nice but I don't want to get my expectations up...Sound familiar to anyone else?

Here's a post I wrote a while back and just polished up and re-published on Power of Moms that helped me to get my mind in the right place - and maybe it will be helpful to you.

Mother's Day with Less Stress and More Meaning

And here's a great one by my sister Saydi that helped me as I was thinking through this whole Mother's Day thing.

What I Really Want for Mother's Day

And this one is my favorite post about the angst that Mother's Day can bring on:

Readers' Favorite Mother's Day Memories

I was asked to speak in church on Mother's Day. The topic is modern-day revelation on Motherhood so all week I've been meaning to spend serious time exploring conference talks on Motherhood but instead I've been spending serious time researching property law and codes. But I'm excited to really delve into the great insights that I can find on motherhood as I get going on searching conference talks. Anyone have any favorite talks I should be sure to look at?

Fence update: This morning, we sent off a very polite and carefully-worded letter to the neighbors explaining the situation from our point of view and stating that we're happy to take responsibility for moving/replacing the section of fence that most needs to be moved/replaced right away and then work together for a longer-term plan/timeline for moving the rest of the fence to the property line. Fingers crossed we can resolve this amicably and get the fence in a place that everyone feels good about!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

Have you heard that phrase before? Good fences make good neighbors? I've never really thought about it much before - then I had a big fence experience a couple days ago.

First of all, let me set the stage. We had a HUGE windstorm on Saturday night lasting through Sunday. We had a big tree branch narrowly miss our house as we ate dinner Saturday night (it brushed against the window of the dining room and scared us big time!). We woke up Sunday morning to the power being out and tree branches and debris all over the neighborhood. Church had to be cancelled with no power and pretty scary winds continuing throughout the day. So we had a cozy day at home, reading together on our big bed, playing games, huddling by the gas fireplace, holding our own little church, and taking a walk around the neighborhood to survey the scene - huge trees uprooted, big branches down, one car totally smashed by a tree, amazingly not too much property damage but roof shingles and branches big and small all over the place. We ended the day with a candle light dinner (luckily the stove is gas so we could make food) and games by the light of our camping lantern. All in all, it was a really different and pleasant day.

We finally got the power back on Monday afternoon (and the food in the fridge and freezer - which we told the kids NOT to open - seemed to have survived just great - other than the ice cream that was soft-serve consistency on Sunday night so we grabbed it out of the freezer quick and invited some neighbors over for an ice cream party).

Monday afternoon, after feeling so glad that our 4-year-old backyard fence had survived the windstorm while so many had not, I saw someone I didn't recognize in my backyard, doing something to our fence.

I went up to the man and saw that he was taking out some screws attaching the slats to our fence and asked him what was going on. Then I recognized that he is the landlord of the property on the other side of the fence who I'd met briefly approximately 2 years ago when he was similarly taking apart a section of our fence and told us he'd like to move the fence to the property line which was 2 feet from where the fence currently is and potentially move our A/C units that are currently placed on the property line (they were placed there by the people who renovated this house 8 years ago - with the full cooperation of the previous owner of the house next door). At that time, I'd told him that we had built the current fence in cooperation with the previous owner of the property in the same place where there had been a very old fence that had blown down during the big windstorm of 2011. That evening, I had people waiting for me in the car to head out to an event for which we really couldn't be late so I couldn't have a long conversation but explained that that the fence was built with the permission and involvement of the prior owner and that I had every reason to believe it was built on the property line but that we'd be happy to talk further about the issue - I just couldn't talk right then.

We heard absolutely nothing from the property owners after that for about 2 years until I found the owner out there taking the fence apart this past Monday afternoon.

So back to Monday afternoon. In answer to my question about what he was doing, the owner said that the fence was unstable due to the wind event and pulled on the fence to show me that it indeed had more give than it should. I told him we could shore up the loose support post and fix it, no problem. Then he grabbed the fence and yanked hard on it, pulling loose one of the support posts completely so that the fence became quite unstable.

I asked him to please stop and he said the fence was a liability that could fall on a car or a person and it had to come down. I suggested we shore it up with some 2x4s and told him I had some in our basement and then my husband would fix the fence that evening.

He then said that the fence shouldn't have been built on the old stem wall that the previous owner agreed to have us build it on (I remember him saying "I don't plan to do anything with that old wall, you might as well use it for a good foundation for the fence). Then the owner began ripping the fence apart - quite violently. I told him we'd simply built the fence the way that made the most sense at the time but that we're happy to talk about relocating it. I asked him to please pause for a moment and let me know his plan. While continuing to rip the fence apart (destroying perfectly good materials which belong to us), he said "I'm figuring it out as I go along but I think this fence has to come out and then we'll put in a new one on the property line - we need the foundation this fence is built on to build a carport." He then walked away to his car that was parked nearby in his backyard. I stood their waiting for some time then finally poked my head through the hole he had made in the fence and said, "Excuse me - could we please talk about this?" He didn't acknowledge that he had heard me but came back over to the fence and resumed ripping it apart.

As he resumed ripping the fence apart, I explained that the fence was our property and we have no attachment to that one foot strip of land he said was his based on the survey he obtained. I said we would be happy to coordinate on moving the fence but could he please stop ripping it apart as the materials were good and could easily be reused. I told him I was very concerned about having the fence down as we need it to protect our children in our backyard (there are illegal activities happening frequently on his property that make us nervous and we don't want our children in the backyard without a fence in place). He refused to listen to my pleas, kept ripping away at the fence, and seemed like he was intent upon ripping out the entire $5000 fence we had worked so hard to build 4 years ago.

When he was not responsive to my repeated pleas ("Please don't do that! Please stop!" while there's this awful wood-cracking noise and destruction going on), I told him I'd need to call the police but he ignored me and kept going. So I called called Jared and asked him what to do and he said he'd come home asap but that I'd better call the police to stop the destruction. The police came and talked to both parties and took a report. We choose not to press charges for vandalism or destruction of property but were told we probably had grounds for a civil suit. We told the officer we'd rather just work things out with our neighbor and that we were simply worried about his lack of communication and his somewhat violent and non-communicative behavior.

Later that day, I received a phone call from the wife of this man who told me that they had been planning to put in a new fence along the property line at their expense and leave the area of the fence where our A/C units were placed on the property line by the previous owners but that because I had called the police on her husband, she was now insisting that her husband not do anything to help move the fence and told me it was our responsibility to remove our fence from their property including the area where the A/C units were and they did not plan to help in any way with the re-placement of the fence. She said if we did not do so right away she would call her attorney and have him "drop papers."

I told her we would have been happy to work with them about plans for moving the fence but that her husband's actions without any prior notice or explanation and his refusal to talk about his actions put me in a position where I felt that I needed to involve the police - I was scared and simply didn't know what else to do at that point. She asked what my plan was to move the fence and I told her I'd be talking with my husband and would let her know later. She said I'd probably just push it off like I did when her husband talked to me 2 years ago (for like 5 minutes! And he never said what he exactly wanted or when! And he never followed up!). She said she didn't think I was taking her seriously (because I wasn't yelling back or getting really upset?).

The phone call was well over an hour and she was yelling at me and cutting me off. It was a real challenge but I was proud of myself that I remained calm and kind throughout. The call came to my phone just as I got in the car to leave Costco with the twins. I thought I recognized the number and picked it up expecting someone else. I sat there in the car trying to politely answer questions while being yelled and and cut off. When I was finally able to get off the phone, the twins said "Wow, that lady sure was yelling! We could hear her really well!" I said that maybe she was dealing with some other really hard things in her life or maybe she didn't learn how to communicate properly when she was growing up. It ended up being a good discussion and teaching experience.

In looking into property law, it looks like the current owners should be honoring the agreement we had with the previous owner regarding fence placement and that we have no legal obligation to relocate the fence. We have no problem with the fence being moved. We'd just ask that the current owners leave the fence as it is in the area where the A/C units are. We are happy to help rebuild the fence and contribute the materials from the fence we built towards the new fence.

We've always been good, cooperative neighbors and have every desire to work things out in a way that can be in the best interests of both property owners. But our experience with these people so far suggests that they may not be interested in a friendly resolution so this may be a big pain.

This is the last thing we need right now. Both Jared and I are overloaded with work projects, there's a lot to do to get our house in St George fixed up and sold, we had no power for almost 2 days thanks to the windstorm and a big branch nearly hit our house which has sort of thrown us all for a loop, we've been helping with neighborhood cleanup of all the debris after the windstorm, after years of thought and saving up, we got our plans for our kitchen expansion approved by Landmarks (our house is on the Federal Registry of Historic Homes so it's quite a process to get any changes approved) and now we're in the midst of trying to get bids (and realizing this will be way more expensive than we thought), we've had a lot of unexpected expenses that are quite large lately, we had two people in our ward die last week (older people whose deaths were entirely expected - but still so hard for their families and Jared is helping out in every way he can and needs to be involved in funeral arrangements and all that), and of course, the kids always need plenty of time and attention and we want to prioritize family relationships above all else but wow, sometimes that's hard!

Anyway, I guess I just needed to type this out to get it out of my mind a bit. I've been thinking about this way too much and spending a lot of time on it. I now know a lot about city ordinances and codes, property law, and the like. I have to DO something about whatever I'm upset about so I find myself researching and writing and discussing with Jared and coming up with different scenarios and waking up in the night worrying. I hate feeling like anyone is mad at me or frustrated with me. I want to get along with everyone and I have this dream world in my head where everyone is kind and obeys the golden rule and wants what's best for everyone - and when that dream world butts up against reality, it really throws me off-kilter...  Jared's WAY better at compartmentalizing than I am and he's good at just moving things forward and doing what he can do and not letting it consume him. I need to figure out how to be more like him.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Behavior change doesn't have to be so hard

I've been able to make myself do a lot of things in my life - hard things, exciting things, stressful things - everything from putting on conference for educators around the country to putting on Retreats for moms to doing TV segments to climbing mountains to running a couple Ragnars. I'm pretty good at doing the big, hard things that feel right to me.

But I'm not good at doing some of the small, simple things that I know I really need to do. I keep resolving to floss my teeth more regularly. But I don't do it. I keep resolving to do sit ups and push ups every day (I run and hike but I'm terrible at making myself do strength training which I know is so important especially as I get older!). I keep saying I'm not going to eat anything except fruits and veggies after 8pm but then those cookies we made earlier in the day are just so tempting. I keep committing to getting to bed by 10:30pm so I can get the sleep I need and then there's always some reason I really need to stay up a bit later.

So I really appreciated this Ted Talk that helped me to see that I CAN fix these little things (that can add up to big things). I just need to start really small and attach a new tiny action to an existing regular action.

BJ Fogg's Ted Talk: Tiny Habits

So here's where I'm starting:

  • After I brush my teeth each night, I will floss the top or bottom of my mouth.
  • After I go to the bathroom each time, I will do 3 push ups
  • Before I eat breakfast in the morning (after I get back from dropping off kids at school), I will do 30 crunches.
So I'll start there. And I'll let you know how I do.


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