a happy list.

I feel like I've been sounding a bit negative lately, but I have so much happiness in my life as well. So, my friend Emma inspired me to write a list of things that are making me happy lately.

+ Jake does this really cute thing lately, where he gets all excited and hugs our necks and then attacks our chin/face/neck/nose with kisses. It is as completely adorable as it sounds.
+ Yesterday I scored big-time on a Buy/Sell/Swap Facebook page, and got yards and yards of beautiful and fun fabric all for a whopping...FREE. I am so excited for some fun projects, and hope it motivates me to actually do them.
+ We have been making efforts to eat healthier and it makes me feel good to feed my family healthy meals.
+ Going on walks with Jake last week when the weather was warmer was so nice. I'm anticipating when it decides to stay warmer....
+ Some very exciting news that I can't share yet.
+ Purchasing (what I hope will be) the perfect gift for TJ's 25th birthday (in May).
+ Sending out postcards and thank you cards using these apps.
+ Planning for the beach in May (I always start craving the beach around February/March when winter just won't let go).
+ These candy bars that I don't have to feel so guilty about eating. I know I'm like a broken record, but when I find something I like, I share. A lot.
+ This blogger creates well-designed, beautiful, LDS-themed printables. I'm a visual learner, and I need constant reminders of principles and messages....so basically I want to print everything and hang it on my walls.

What's making you happy lately?

PS, TJ captured this face that is now one of my favorite pictures of Jake.


the future is bright.

I've hinted at it here and there, and only those very close to me could probably tell. Last year was a difficult one for us as a family. And while I don't feel comfortable sharing the nitty-gritty details, I'll be honest. Becoming parents was not an easy transition for us. Becoming parents while mom works full-time and dad goes to school full-time and other human problems arise and exist? Definitely difficult. I wouldn't recommend it, but somehow we survived. While I ultimately believe in God's timing, and I wouldn't trade my sweet Jake for anything, there were times when I questioned our decision to become parents when we did, for a number of reasons, not all relating to the arrival of our son:

Why would God provide me with a great job and a pregnancy at the same time?
Why would God allow us to go through ________ at a time like this?
Why can't we have an easy baby when we're already dealing with x, y, and z?

And even, on darker days:
God, are you there? Do you know me? Do you feel my pain?
And if so, then WHY?

That why is a tricky question. It's full of doubt, and doubt brings fear. But you know what? When you ask a question, God answers it. He doesn't always explain the why, but He gives you little bits of hope to fight back the fear and the darkness:

It will all work out.
It will all work out.
It will get better.
Yes, He is there. He does know me, better than I know me. He does feel my pain.
Why? I don't really know yet, but I will, someday. SOMEDAY.

It will. all. work. out.

Are we out of the woods? No. But the woods are thinning, and I can see the sunlight through the branches.



seven months.

Dear Jake,

This month has been quite an adventure! Here are some things about you in your 7th month.

-Your bald spot is disappearing finally.
-obsessed with the Xbox controller. You will stare at it or reach for it until we give it to you. You also like to eat the TV remote. You try to chew on our phones, but we don't let you. We gave you dad's old phone and one of his Xbox controllers (minus batteries) to play with.
-giving kisses. You mostly do this with mom or dad, and it is so funny. Big open mouth, sometimes tongue out, wet all over our faces. You'll hold our face in your hands and come at us.
-giving "hugs"
-starting to get attached to mom and dad. You get super excited to see us, and cry sometimes when left with the babysitter.
-TRYING SO HARD TO CRAWL. You do a modified army-crawl, where you drag yourself forward on both arms at once, face down, bum in the air. It's pretty cute until you get frustrated and start to cry.
-TEETHING. I don't want to talk about it.
-The weather is finally starting to warm up, and we are re-discovering your love of the outdoors. Now I remember how we used to walk around the complex when you were little just to try and calm you down.
-You love to reach out and grab anything and everything, especially if we are using it. Laptop? Bang bang bang on the keys. Keys? You must hold them and fling them up and down to make noise. Water? You must also have a drink, even if you dribble most of it down your front. Pen? In the mouth.

Here's my take on your personality. You are sensitive. Every emotion you feel is to the extreme. If you are happy, you are the happiest baby around. You are smiley and talkative and laughing. If you are not happy, you are the unhappiest baby around. You are whiny and fussy, and if we're "lucky," screaming. If you are solemn, nothing will make you smile or show emotion. This typically happens when we're out and about; strangers comment on how quiet you are. And I laugh in their faces (not really).  If you are hungry, you let us know and then eat with gusto. I think you are almost hyper-aware of your surroundings. I've said it before and will say it again: you have been so AWARE from day one. It is exhausting sometimes, and thrilling at others.

We sure love you, little boy! Thanks for the adventures.

love always,
Momma


too much: thoughts on blogging and social media.

*I feel that I should include a disclaimer. I'm not trying to sound critical or holier-than-thou in this post. These are my thoughts and feelings as they relate to ME and MY life, and it isn't my intent to belittle or criticize anyone else for their own habits and preferences. Some of you might have no clue what I'm talking about, and that's okay too.* 

Since taking myself out of the blogging rat race, if you will, I've come to some personal revelations.

It's just. too. much. There is too much competition. Too much guilt (I'm not sorry anymore when it has been over a week since I last posted). Too much materialism. Too much instant validation. Too many giveaways. Too many wants that are labeled as "Oh my gosh I need that." Too much obsession with outward beauty and not enough talk about inward beauty. Too much following the crowd, and not enough being your own person. Too much "involvement" with others' lives, and not enough presence in our own.

I'm guilty. So guilty. I've been caught up in it. Still am, in some ways. But I'm taking baby steps out.

Don't get me wrong, I think blogging can be a very good thing. But every good thing can also be bad if it's "too much." All things in moderation, right? I follow some blogs for ideas, some for inspiration, and some to just be able to relate to someone. I've "gotten to know" some really beautiful women, and deepen some real-life relationships. I've laughed out loud at stories, and wept silent tears for others.

So I've cut back. I read a blog if it falls under one of the above criteria. If it no longer does, then I stop reading it. I try to keep the number of people I follow on Instagram below 100. I read less than 50 blogs (is that still a lot?). Let's not even discuss Facebook, because that is a beast all its own.

Some of the very most popular "mommy blogs" are wearing on me. I'm tired of getting the message that I need to spend a lot of money in order to be a good mom. I'm not keen on spending $50 on an outfit my baby will just spit up on, or poop on, or both. And when he's a toddler, I fully anticipate that he will play in the dirt and mud and get holes in his jeans because that's what kids do. At least, the kids I remember. I don't remember what kind of clothes my mom wore, but she always loved me and encouraged me and put up with me. She was always there when I needed to talk. And I didn't care if I was crying into her shoulder covered in vintage silk (which it never was) or a cotton t-shirt from Target.

And I know Jake won't care either. He will remember the times I let him play in the dirt better than the clothes I put on him. He might also remember when I let him choose his own clothes, and how proud he was of his purple Batman t-shirt paired with his favorite striped swimsuit. He could also remember when I wasn't present because I was too involved in my screens. I don't want that. I also know TJ doesn't care if I'm wearing a $50 dress compared to a $20 one (actually he does, because that means I spent more money on it, but that's beside the point). All he asks is that I care about my appearance and feel good about myself. That's pretty darn sexy to him.

Jake will love me because I'm his mom, not because I was current on the latest trends. I hope he will look back at pictures of himself as a baby and not care that we walked to Wal-Mart in an average stroller dressed in average clothes and bought average things. I hope he will see that his mom cared about him and enjoyed spending time with him (even if she did huff and puff up that hill because she was out-of-shape from too infrequent walks). I hope he (and our future children) will remember being happy, and having a mom who was present and involved.

And that is good enough for me.

wordless.










I strive to capture emotion in images, even if that emotion is not always happy. I think I accomplished that with these. More to come.

remember.

I think God must need a few more choice spirits on the other side, because He has taken another beautiful woman from our life: my grandmother, Eva Lue Hassell.

On Wednesday evening (February 6th), after visiting her newest grandchildren, twins Cecily and Jonathan, in the hospital, Grandma lost her balance and fell, hitting her head and losing consciousness. She never regained consciousness, and passed peacefully around 9:15 pm, in the Provo Hospital. The doctors say that she likely had an aneurysm, and the fall caused it to burst.  I have never lost a grandparent before, and was lucky enough to grow up with both sets of grandparents alive, and healthy for the most part.

That night I was overwhelmed with a range of emotions that first started with guilt. Why is guilt my first instinct? I felt guilty for not emailing more. For not calling, hardly ever. I felt guilty for not making more of an effort. I have never lived in the same state as my Grandma Hassell, but our visits were always wonderful. TJ held me as I cried, and reminded me that I shouldn't feel guilty.

I also felt so very sad. Grandma never got to meet Jake in person, and only ever saw pictures, and was able to FaceTime with us at Thanksgiving. She was supposed to meet him in March, when she and Grandpa were going to come visit their Arizona children and grandchildren. March. Less than a month away.

Then I started to remember.

I remembered all the beautiful things that Grandma did for me. All the little things, like the time she came to babysit us while my parents went on an anniversary trip to San Francisco. I remember that we made peanut butter cookies and she let us eat the cookie dough. It was probably the first time I ever had cookie dough, because my mom is slightly paranoid about food-borne illnesses and the raw eggs are a big no-no. I remember that she cut cucumbers into spears and sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and that's how I've liked them ever since. I remember that she made some chicken strips marinated in soy sauce and I thought she was brilliant (I was 7, OK?).

For several years, Grandma would always send Christmas pajamas that we would open on Christmas Eve. One year she made matching nightgowns for me and Kyndra, with pockets. Inside one pocket was a smaller pocket that held a little flannel bunny she made. It was so fun to have a secret pocket with a cute little bunny! She always knew how to make things fun for us kids. When we visited her, she would give me bread dough to play with and sculpt into little creations that would harden when they dried. Grandma's house was a place filled with happy people, homemade honey crunch, and Wallace and Grommit were the only shows we watched.

Grandma and Grandpa traveled from Utah for my high school graduation, but didn't get to actually attend because of the rain (which caused the location to change and me to only be allowed two attendees: my parents). She bought me a nice winter coat for me to wear in Flagstaff when I moved here for college. I have long arms, and so a medium coat was too short in the arms, but the large was too wide in the torso. So, we bought the large and Grandma stayed up late carefully unpicking the seams inside, taking the coat in, and sewing it back up. You can't even tell. That coat has kept me warm in our cold winters, and I think of her when I wear it and the service she gave me.

They were on their second LDS mission to Russia when I got married, but Grandma was in town just before that and got to go wedding dress shopping with me. The last time I saw her in person was April of last year, when she and grandpa came to see my brother before his mission.

I was pregnant when I last saw Grandma, and I was also dealing with some private struggles. I remember being a little flustered because of this, and Grandma sat in my parents' kitchen, watching me. She probably saw that I was struggling and stressed even though I was trying to grin and bear it. She said, "Kylie, let me talk to you about babies."

So, I sat down at the kitchen table with her, and she told me about raising babies. She told me about her father, Herb Burrows, and how he was with babies. He would sit them on his lap and talk to them, not in just baby talk, but in a sweet and simple way that just captivated their attention. She told me about how her youngest, my Uncle Martin, would get fussy or start to get into trouble while she was trying to get things done. She learned that when she stopped what she was doing, and scooped that boy up into her lap to sing with him or read him a book or do a puzzle with him, that he would soak it all in, and after she had spent that little one-on-one time with him, he would go about his merry way and play on his own. She learned the value of giving that attention to her kids.

My Grandma raised 11 children. When she was told she would never have children of her own, she and Grandpa adopted 7 children, one of which was my dad. Five of those children were biological siblings, and the other two each came from different families. A few years later, she would miraculously bear 4 of her own. 11 children. She was constantly giving. Always serving. She was full of beauty and grace, even in humble circumstances. She was humble herself. She had beautiful, hardworking hands. I never heard her speak ill of anyone, even if they had wronged her. She had a passion for music, and for God, and for womanhood. She taught piano lessons to some people in Russia, so they could have music at church. She could speak Russian, write shorthand, and made delicious, simple food. She was always telling me how proud she was of me for my choices and accomplishments. She told me I was beautiful. She was everything you could ask for in a Grandma. She is a choice woman.

I'm grateful for my ability to write, and grateful I could finally write out my thoughts and feelings. I miss her terribly, but I know I will see her again someday (and that is the beauty of God's plan for us). She has set for me a beautiful example, and I can honor her legacy by following that example.

I love you, Grandma.