Baloney.

This post may seem like a rant.  It’s not intended to be.  I’m not even angry.  It’s just me analyzing life in general and trying to get past the myths of motherhood. (For the record, I know how bologna is really spelled, but this alternate spelling seemed like the best fit when used as an exclamatory phrase.)

Do you know what one of my least favorite pieces of “advice” is when I complain about something I’m struggling with (because I am a horrible person and I do complain)?  It’s this juicy morsel:  “Just wait.  One day they’ll be grown and gone, and you’ll miss it.”

That’s a bunch of hogwash.  (a.k.a. Baloney.)

I happen to believe that parenting is a little like cancer, not only because it slowly kills you (I’m kidding. Kind of.), but because it comes in stages.  (On the bright side, anyone who has had cancer or any other life-changing trial will testify that it is a refining fire and brings them closer to God.  Also, I haven’t really thought this analogy all the way through, so take it with a grain of salt.) Stage 1 is a very physically demanding stage– it’s the baby and toddler years where everything you do is awash in a haze of diapers and sleepless nights and picking up toys and doing laundry. You wonder if your body and mind will ever return.  I’d say there’s about a 50% chance of full recovery.

Stage 2– where I am now– is when your children finally break free from total dependence and start to exert a tiny bit of functional intelligence.  It means you can step outside and talk to your neighbor on the driveway for 5 minutes and leave your children unsupervised (with an obvious level of assumed risk).  It means you can give out chores and instructions and expect that they can be done.  Unfortunately, this functional intelligence does not come with a social compass or any real common sense, so you spend most of your day listening to your children argue with each other about absolutely meaningless things or constantly talk about poop, farts, or how hilarious it would be if so-and-so tripped and fell in the toilet, etc.  As far as I can tell, this is the mentally exhausting phase because, for the most part, you are required to have conversations throughout the day that make your brain want to explode if you haven’t already self-combusted due to a completely depleted reserve of patience.  You also find yourself repeating the same requests and family rules over and over and over and over and over again and wondering if your children’s brains will ever work rationally.  Again, I’d say there’s about a 50% chance.

Stage 3.  The teenage years. I haven’t been there yet, but I’ve spent a lot of my years working with youth either professionally (as a teacher) or in church callings.  All I can say about this stage is that it seems like it will probably be the most emotionally challenging one.  There will be much to worry about as you watch your children grow and make decisions of their own– often wrong decisions.  You will be in the line of fire of their own hormonal and emotional roller coaster.  There are clearly some things to look forward to (like *maybe* kind of real conversations and camaraderie), but let’s not be naive– it will be challenging.

Stage 4.  This is the stage that Matt and I fantasize about the most– the one where they go off to college or on missions and we only have our very own messes to clean up at home.  I obviously have no real experience with this stage either and I know that like every other stage, it is fraught with challenges.  Adult children still make lots of dumb decisions and come face to face with a cruel world, and you probably struggle with how much to help and how much to let them struggle.  I imagine it is a stage of worry and anxiety with respect to your children, and perhaps a little longing to be more a part of their lives.

However, I promise that when I am in stage 4 parenting, I will not miss stage 1 and 2 parenting.  Will I miss my children and the joys that were a part of that stage?  Absolutely.  I will sometimes crave the sweet little newborn head that fits just right in the crook of my neck.  I’ll miss the eyes that stare up at me with unending trust and love while the baby nurses.  I’ll miss the giggling, the tickling, the hugs and kisses, the holding hands.  Oh, the holding hands.  It’s one of my favorite things– how they reach up for your hand instinctively as you walk them to preschool or through the Costco parking lot, how they choose to be connected to you.  I’ll miss looking over and seeing them sitting on the couch with their arms around each other reading a book together.  In short, there are plenty of things I’ll miss.

But I won’t miss what I’m complaining about in each stage.  I can’t imagine myself in my golden years reaching for the TV remote and wishing that someone had hidden it under the couch cushions.  I won’t walk into a room to find it exactly the way I left it and then wish that there were Legos and wrappers from sneaked food on the floor.  I won’t do a project from start to finish and wish I had been interrupted for 3 diaper changes and argument arbitration.  I’ll admit that I sometimes might think it’s too quiet.  Maybe.

So in summary, when young mothers whine about their exhausting struggles, please don’t tell us that we’ll miss them when our children are grown.  Should we wish it all away?  No.  Should we cherish the parts we love in every stage we’re in?  Absolutely. We will miss our children and the loveliest points of parenthood (and of course there will be new challenges at every stage), but we’ll happily kiss the hard parts goodbye.  President Monson says I’m wrong.

“If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly.”

I can’t help but think that when he says “them,” he means the children, and not the fingerprints and laundry. Am I delusional? What do you think?

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GCBC Week 15: “The Spirit of Revelation” by Elder David A. Bednar

One of the things I love about Elder Bednar is how he takes gospel principles and breaks them down into really digestible steps or categories.  This approach makes the application of those principles seem much more manageable or understandable.  He’s a great teacher that way.  In this particular talk, he analyzes the nuances of receiving revelation through the Holy Ghost.

“The Spirit of Revelation” by Elder David A. Bednar

Some of my favorite quotes were these:

“These tools of the adversary can impair and eventually destroy our capacity to recognize and respond to the subtle messages from God delivered by the power of His Spirit. Each of us should consider seriously and ponder prayerfully how we can reject the devil’s enticements and righteously “apply unto it,” even the spirit of revelation, in our personal lives and families.”

“We frequently may press forward hoping and praying—but without absolute assurance—that we are acting in accordance with God’s will. But as we honor our covenants and keep the commandments, as we strive ever more consistently to do good and to become better, we can walk with the confidence that God will guide our steps.”

What parts of his message stood out most to you?  Did he help you better understand your own experiences with revelation?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  If this is your first visit to GCBC, visit here to learn more about it and join the fun.

ROLL CALL:  We’re a little more than halfway through all the talks since April’s general conference.  It’s typical that by now, some of our participants and comments are starting to dwindle off.  It’s a busy time of year and easy to lose momentum.  I’m curious to know who is still “playing along” in GCBC, even if you’re not commenting.  If you’re still reading the talks with us, say hi in the comments just so we can all get a better sense of GCBC community.  And if you haven’t been and want to start now, or recommit, this is your chance, too.  The more, the merrier.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Lara

Okay, blog friends, I’m really excited to introduce you to Lara. Once you get to know her and read her blog a little, you’ll start to be mad at yourself for not knowing her sooner.  She’s a remarkable woman who sees herself as incredibly ordinary.  But to those of us who have read about her adventures, we know better.  She is a talented singer, a gifted photographer, a great writer, and a down-to-earth, full-hearted mother.  She and I have discovered that we were in a lot of the same places at the same time and even got married just a few weeks apart, but alas, we’ve never met in real life (we think).  Someday, Lara, someday. Here she is.  Meet Lara (Isn’t she lovely?):

Hi!  My name is Lara (rhymes with car-a, not core-a) and I am going to be 37 next month (not sure yet how I feel about that, but it is what it is).  My husband, Joel, and I just celebrated 12 years of marriage last week and we have three daughters:  Bria (10), Chloe (8) and Sophia, who will turn 5 in a couple weeks and just lost her first tooth.  We have lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (which makes us Yoopers) for the past two years and hope to finally stay put after never being anywhere more than 3 years.

I grew up in Orem, Utah as the oldest of four children and the only girl.  This meant two things: 1) I was teased mercilessly and 2) My dad never got mad at me.  I like to say that the reason I was sent three little girls was to make up for all of the torture that my brothers put me through growing up, and to somehow let me experience what it might have been like to have the sister I so desperately wanted.  I went to BYU and majored in music (vocal performance) and then served a mission in Bucuresti, Romania.  I actually met my husband just before I entered the MTC because he had just returned from his own mission in Romania.  He also majored in music, so when I got home and finished up school, we ran into each other a lot.  We were married after a year and a half of dating, and then we put Joel through two more music degrees, and he is now an orchestra conductor and professor of music at the university in our town.  I teach voice lessons at the university and in our home and perform when I can (it pays to be married to the local orchestra conductor when it comes to getting gigs), but spend the bulk of my time “staying at home.” (Whoever decided to call it that, anyway?)

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

My favorite part of motherhood is my children.  I absolutely love learning who they are, what they think about, and what interests them.  I love watching them learn about the world.  I lovelovelove all of the crazy and wonderful and astute things they say.  I love the things they teach me on a daily basis.  I love how when I am looking at them in a quiet moment and my heart just bursts with surges of love for them.  I love the cuddles and the conversations we share.  I love them.  They seriously make every difficult thing about motherhood completely worth it to me.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?

My initial reaction would be laundry, but my husband has offered many times to do it for me and I won’t let him.  I guess I am a little anal about how the laundry must be done, so I probably will never be able to let go of that control, no matter how difficult it is for me to stay on top of it.

My second choice would be cooking, but I actually have subcontracted that out to my husband.  He loves to cook and gladly does it unless he has to work late.  In which case my kids will often get scrambled eggs or mac-n-cheese or cold cereal for dinner.  But they don’t mind, and I don’t have to “cook!”

Besides, now that I think about it, neither laundry nor cooking is really part of motherhood—everyone has to have clean clothes and food. So I guess the part I really wish I could have someone do for me is bedtime.  I really hate bedtime.  Especially in the summer, because it doesn’t get dark up here until nearly 11 pm and do you know how hard it is to make kids to go to sleep while the sun is still shining?

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

Much to my husband’s chagrin, I think the number one thing on that list is to learn to play the bagpipes.  I adore the bagpipes, and I will learn to play them one day.  I’ve even found a teacher up here already: don’t tell Joel!  I’d also love to travel as much as possible.  We’ve been able to do a little bit, but not nearly enough!  I would also like to record a CD of lullabies someday.  I want to serve a mission (hopefully to Romania) with my husband.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

I can sing.  I am a pretty good photographer.  I love to learn.  I will do as much research as I can about whatever is interesting to me at the moment, and can go on some pretty voracious learning sprees (or “kicks” as I like to call them) which is how I’ve obtained many of my talents.  I forgive easily.

What are you loving lately?

Greek yogurt, fresh berries, John McWhorter’s latest book (What Language Is), Tosca, Stephen Sondheim, Flavia de Luce, summer weather (finally!), Instagram, and my husband’s new grill.

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

I love to read all of Moroni 7 as often as I can.  I feel like it helps me center myself on what is important in this life.  It’s so easy to get bogged down in the mundane tasks that must be done and sort of lose the eternal perspective.  I particularly love verse 48:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ, that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.  Amen.”

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

Reading.  I love to read as much as I possibly can.  When life is relatively calm, I usually read about 3 or 4 books a week.  When it is crazy (as it seems to always be), I hope to still get through one book a week.  My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas and it has been incredible to have!  Hooray for carrying around 100 books in your purse!

The computer (reading blogs, Facebook and email) is also something I tend to do in my spare time.  I think it still counts as reading, though.

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?

That as much as I love spending time with friends, I crave my alone time.  I am an introvert to the core and I need time to myself.  It’s even taken my husband a really long time to figure this out (even though he is just like me this way) and he now realizes when I just need to go do something all alone.  It’s refreshing for me.

I also hate talking on the phone, so if I don’t call you often…don’t take it personally.  It’s just one of my (many) neuroses.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

That Heavenly Father is aware of me and my needs.  He knows me personally and answers my prayers just how I need them to be answered, even if it isn’t what I thought I wanted.  That tithing is a true principle and we are blessed beyond measure when we pay it.  That Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and that by living His gospel we will find true joy in this life and in the life to come.

Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal?

Fettucine Alfredo with chicken and broccoli.  Lots of bread.  And pumpkin pie for dessert. (Yes, you’ve read that correctly—no chocolate.  I don’t really like chocolate that much, possibly another of my neuroses.)

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?

Cleaning the kitchen.  I have no idea how one little room can be such a mess in a matter of minutes!  It feels so good to have all of the dishes clean and put away, the counters wiped off, the floor swept and mopped…just so that we can make and eat dinner and turn it into a crazy mess again!  But I sure do enjoy those few minutes every day when it is actually spotless.

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?

As a girl who pretty much lived in the same house for her whole life (and most certainly in the same town), I never thought I would move so much once I got married.  I also never really thought I’d live so far from Utah.  While I wish my mom lived across town on a daily basis, I know that I am a better person for it.  I’ve had to break out of the introverted shell and learn to make friends.  I’ve had to become closer to my husband and children.  I’ve had to learn to rely on people that aren’t my mom for help, which may have been the hardest thing for me.  It’s hard to let others serve you, but I have learned that it is truly a gift to learn to allow others the blessings of service, and to receive it with a grateful heart.

Tell us about your blog.

I have been blogging at Overstuffed since 2005.  It got its name from the very full plate I always seem to have, but also because my life overflows with blessings.  I blog about my experiences as a wife and mother, but also as a singer, a photographer (I take as many pictures as I possibly can) and a daughter of God.  I try hard to recognize the lessons that the Lord wants me to learn and I consider my blog a way to remember those things.  It astounds me how much I have already forgotten whenever I peruse my archives, and I am so thankful I have kept a record.  I also have an unhealthy relationship with parenthetical statements (perhaps you’ve noticed?)

Isn’t she fantastic?  Thank you Lara! A question for readers to answer in the comments:  Based on this interview, If you and Lara went out to lunch, what topic do you think you’d end up talking about?  (This is my attempt to suck more comments out of you.  These find-a-friend Friday interviews are so fun to read, but a little hard to know what to comment about.  And if the volunteers are like me, they probably click over 47 times to see if anyone had anything to say.  So say something. 

Was that too bossy? :))

Humble pie.

I’ve been thinking about judgment quite a bit lately.  I’ve always loved getting to know different people and learning about different cultures, and I think I do a good job of appreciating those kinds of differences.  And yet, somehow, in our own communities and shared cultures, we’re so quick to judge because maybe we think that people “like us” should look more or act more like us.  And when they don’t . . .  we compare.  We either put them down or envy them.  Frankly, it’s stupid.  Unfortunately, I’m not immune to stupidity.  A couple cases in point:

When we were house shopping I was annoyed with strangers who don’t take care of their yards.  All the houses around them seemed to look well manicured, but there always seemed to be one or two dump-yards.  I thought, Seriously, how hard can it be to put in your grass and maintain a yard?  Well, we made a huge landscaping “mistake” at our house recently that resulted in having to tear up our lawn, our sprinkler system, and other things that should not have been damaged, but were.  The result has been a completely unsightly, in-progress yard and a bill that is way over our heads.  It’s impossible to make it look like I want by the time I want it done because of our existing time and money restraints.  So, ladies and gentleman, I am those people.  I have become what I judged.

Yesterday, I went to Arctic Circle (I’ve never been before, but my kids had a coupon for a sundae) and while I sat and ate lunch with them, I watched an interesting crowd come and go.  At one point, a … shall we say large in girth?… family came in and ordered an abundant meal.  My mind wondered why people do that to themselves.  And then I realized, Hello Stephanie, YOU are at Arctic Circle eating lunch in a pair of pants that used to fit you a lot looser than they do now.  And it has been a struggle for you.  I talked to my girlfriends about it last night and we joked how maybe it wasn’t a different lady up there at all, but a mirror and I was ridiculously criticizing my own reflection.  Because I kind of was.

So in light of all this recent self-discovery, I’ve been thinking a lot about these quotes here (below) and trying to figure out how I can move them from the “great ideas” category to a whole-new state of mind, a new way of seeing people. If I can really understand it, I can take “stop judging” off my to-do list and put “love as He loves” on my to-be list. …..

“..The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”  –1 Samuel 16:7

“Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly?  In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.”  –Hymn #221

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” –Mother Teresa

“[Charity] It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.”  –Thomas S. Monson

Then I watched this video today, and I thought, I can do better.  I can.

I wish there were an easy way to just actually get to know people and get past what they seem to be, like some soul x-ray or something.  Moroni taught that the gift of charity is something we should pray for, so I guess that’s a good place to start.  In the meantime, I’m eating large doses of humble pie, and just hoping it doesn’t make my pants any tighter than they already are.

——

[p.s.  I need a volunteer for Find-a-Friend Friday this week.  With everyone on vacation and summering and such, my gracious volunteers are sometimes late to get invitations or unable to participate right away.  I’ll start giving out more advance notice throughout the rest of the summer, but meanwhile, does anybody feel like answering lots of questions about yourself in the next two days?  I’ll go ahead and take the first volunteer in the comments (check your email!), and if anyone else is interested, I’ll add you to the list for later.]

GCBC Week 14: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage” by Elder Richard G. Scott

I cried through almost all of this talk when I first heard it on General Conference Sunday back in April.  It was such a sweet talk, so sincere and heartfelt.  You could just tell how much Elder Scott  loves his late wife and how much he misses her.  It was also a wonderful reminder of how importance day-to-day kindness is in family relationships.

“The Eternal Blessings of Marriage” by Elder Richard G. Scott

He told lots of stories that were filled with examples of love and service.  As I listened and read, I knew that there are things I can do better to show my love for my husband.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

Two of the vital pillars that sustain Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness are marriage and the family. Their lofty significance is underscored by Satan’s relentless efforts to splinter the family and to undermine the significance of temple ordinances, which bind the family together for eternity.

—–

As a mother you have been given divine instincts to help you sense your child’s special talents and unique capacities. With your husband you can nurture, strengthen, and cause those traits to flower.

—–

I think one of the reasons that we are counseled to get married early in life is to avoid developing inappropriate character traits that are hard to change.

How about you?  What were the main points that you felt like were take-away principles from this talk?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Julie

A few months back when I had the first ever Diapers and Divinity girls night out, I had the pleasure of meeting Julie, and I’m so glad I did.  As you read about her and visit her blog, you’ll soon see too what a great mom and all-around person she is.  I’m excited to introduce you to Julie:

This is supposed to be the “Hi! I’m Julie!” paragraph, but can I tell you how weird it is to be “let me tell you all about me! And a little more about ME!” So you can tell from that I don’t like to be the center of attention – even on our wedding day it felt weird.  I’m a 35-year-old wife and full-time mom of four, and I’m tired.  Nathan and I were married in the Oakland Temple 8 years ago and have packed a lot of living into a short time. My sons are 6 and 5 and my daughters and 3 and 8 months.  Our first and third children are biological and our second and fourth were adopted.  We really love adoption.

I grew up in Los Angeles and went to church and seminary in the church building on the temple grounds.   After high school I went to Ricks, and then Southern Utah University.  I really loved SUU and Cedar City. After graduation I moved to Walnut Creek, CA where I worked as a 1st grade teacher and reading specialist and went to graduate school for reading education.  Nathan and I met in the singles ward and then I retired from teaching when we had our first baby in 2004. We moved to Northern Utah in 2006 after we came here to adopt our second baby, and decided this was a pretty nice place to raise a family.

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?  

Watching my kids sleep.  It’s the only time they’re quiet and calm.  Hallelujah!   But really, I love teaching them and watching them learn.  I loved teaching school, and teaching my own kids everything from reading words to singing songs to how to say their prayers to how to put away laundry is so much more rewarding because they’re my very own kiddos.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?

Potty training!!  I’m starting with my 3-year-old the day this interview goes live (please send chocolate, diet cherry pepsi, patience and sanity asap), and if any of you would like to come on over for 5-10 days and take over for me, email me for my address.  I’ll do five of your least favorite motherhood tasks in return!

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

Travel and explore and travel some more!  I’d be thrilled if my husband could finagle an international assignment at work – we’ve been talking about it for years.  Just something we can do for 2ish years and then know we can move back to the comfortable USA with a guaranteed job when he’s done with that assignment.  I’d love to head to India, or a lot of places in South America.   I also dream about buying a motor home and homeschooling for a year while we travel around the lower 48.  Oh, that would just be heaven in a few years when everyone is a bit older so all the kids could remember at least a part of it.  There is so much to see and experience!

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

I’m excellent at exposing my kids to good literature and reading to them every day.  We are big fans of books at our house, and believe in exposing our family to lots and lots of good printed material.  Our city’s library isn’t the greatest, so we joined the county library system in the next county over.  We head over about once a week and stack up, usually bringing home several bags full.  The kids are used to seeing me read (which is a big part of a child becoming a reader themselves), and are becoming avid readers themselves.  We read to the kids on our laps from the time they’re tiny – when they love books more because they are chewy than because they are well written. 🙂  They learn to cherish the words and pictures over flavor of the paper soon enough. Once you learn to love books and libraries the world just opens up and possibilities are endless.  It sounds cheesy, but books and loving reading…very little is as important.

What are you loving lately?

I’m loving pinterest. Have you all discovered it yet? SO fun when you have just a few minutes and want some fun visual inspiration. I’m loving the fireworks tents in the parking lots, all the red, white and blue that’s out, the new patriotic bunting I bought for the front porch after wanting some for years, huge watermelon displays, fresh strawberries, and just perfectly warm days with a tiny bit of breeze.  I’m loving pebble ice, clean dishes, girlfriends that make me laugh, thinking about the super soft towels my mom had at her house last week when we visited, and sifting through vacation photos.  I’m loving watching my baby try to become a toddler, my 3-year-old try to write wobbly yet hopeful letters, the photo of my five-year old writing “Trader Joe’s” in the sand at the beach, and my 6-year-old smile when he tells me how much he loved playing at his baseball game.  I love being just-right tired because it means the day was full of fun and satisfying work and now I get to rest for a few hours before we start all over tomorrow.

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

Oh, how cute that someone thinks I have unscheduled time!  Well, of course I do, but not very much.  I’m actually trying to try harder to have more unscheduled time, to just go with the flow, play with the kids, and just be. I have a wooden sign in my kitchen I had made to remind me of the inscription on a bench in a church courtyard in Carmel, CA that I loved. It says “Rest and be thankful.”  I don’t do that enough.  By the time the kids go to bed, I’m DONE.  If I can find a few minutes to sit down I love to read, I like to pretend I know how to take pictures, I love to bake and I like to try to be crafty.  I love to spend time outdoors in nature, gardening or cloud watching with the kiddos.  I love to take bike rides with the family and try to identify all the birds and wildlife we see on the trails just behind our house. I love to fish and hike. I enjoy talking to and laughing with my husband, being with friends, and daydreaming.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

1) God knows me and he will never, ever leave me alone. 2) God speaks to you in your language. One of my most proficient languages is the hymns, and that’s how I’ve had many prayers answered. For our first adoption attempt, we were matched with a woman pregnant with twins.  When she chose to parent the boys, they were 3 days old, and we were devastated.  Because of multiple blessings I’d had while we were waiting for the babies, my faith had a magnitude 10 earthquake hit.  For different reasons, I felt like I not only lost the babies, but a relationship with my Father in Heaven.  He still sent me comfort that first worst day through the words of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” and it let me know for sure He hadn’t forgotten more, knew me, and loved me. More of the story is at this post.

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?

I know what I was going to say, but I asked my husband what he thought my response would be.  He said #1: clean floors. It’s true, so it’s funny I hadn’t thought of that.  Even when there is not a baby crawling around, I need my floors vacuumed and mopped. I have to say that I have chilled out with the mopping (and a small bit of the vacuuming) ever since I got tennis elbow from it.  YES, it’s true – housework can be dangerous business. 🙂  His #2 answer: cooking.  Which is really generous of him since I haven’t been great at the cooking good meals for a couple months!  My #1 answer was: I love making bread and I’m darn good at it.  I feel sad when people are scared of yeast breads and would love to help everyone see how easy it is to bake lots of kinds of really delicious, healthy bread at home (and save a ton of money, too).

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom.

You don’t need what everyone tells that you need!  Weddings and babies are such a business.  To expectant moms: A baby needs a food source, a place to sleep, clean diapers, warmth and love.  And 2 of my babies have needed a swing.  That’s it.  Don’t fall for the hype of feeling like you need to have the newest everything from Babies R Us.

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?

I had really severe postpartum anxiety and depression after I gave birth to my first baby.  That was certainly unexpected and unwelcome. It was horrible, terrible, awful, no good, and very bad, not to mention terrifying and isolating.  My head was in a place where I felt I couldn’t tell my husband or doctor, and so it was a few long months before I got treatment.  After I was better, I was terrified to become pregnant again, since the doctors couldn’t give me a good percentage of being healthy or not after the next pregnancy.  We came to learn that we were supposed to keep adding to our family – through adoption.  I have since gained a testimony that I was given that trial after my first pregnancy to lead us to adoption at the exact right time, to bring the children into our family who are supposed to be here.  It was a hard trial to get through, but boy oh boy was it worth it to get the two children we have adopted.  Adoption is a miracle and a blessing and we are so thankful for it!

  If your life had a theme song, what would it be and why?

Celebration by Kool and the Gang!!  There is ALWAYS something to celebrate – finding a new bird on our family bike ride, the first day of spring (even though it usually feels like spring doesn’t really come to Utah until it’s officially summer), hearing the frogs croak for the first time that year in the pond near the house, watching a child learn a new skill, bringing home a new bouquet of pretty flowers, getting a stubborn stain out of a shirt, or laughing with the baby.  Celebrate good times – come on!

If you could make a pie chart (graph) of your thoughts during the last week or so, what would take up most of the space?

15%: unpacking from vacation and laundry are no fun
50%: I have to be in the right mind for potty training this weekend, I have to be in the right mind for potty training this weekend…
5%: Why are my kids are SO hard this week?
10%: I have the best kids EVER!
10%: Why do the older 3 never slow down, but I always want a nap in the middle of the day? Yawn.
10%: I love really my family.

Tell us about your blog:  A few months ago I decided to let my 5+ year old blog rest in peace (I am the blogger formerly known as the rarely-home mom;  I dumped the blog largely because what I thought in 2004 was a funny play on “stay at home mom” meaning me and the kids were always out and about, was interpreted by a lot of people as “she don’t want to be home or with her kids”.  Ack! Couldn’t have been further from the truth!), and started a new one, kbmo.wordpress.com.  KBMO is a saying my dad brought back from Scout Camp when I was a kid: kick back and mellow out.  Good reminder, isn’t it? Come drop by and say hi!

Thanks so much, Julie!  Loved your introduction.  I hope you all take the time to say hello.  It’s never easy to put yourself out there like these brave participants do, and it feels great when people enjoy getting to know you.