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A Boy Turns 6

Man, we are so lucky to have this little Kaceroo in our lives!IMG_0798 He is adventurous, and sweet and silly and sensitive all wrapped into one adorable package. He is quick to give loves and quick to smile and play. This year he has worked so hard on being a friend to his sister. And he is even excited for his new little sister to join our family soon.

He had many other firsts this year.

First Father and Son camp out, including hatchet throwing.IMG_0362Learning to ride a two-wheeler bike. DSC_0551Learning to swim underwater across the pool all on his own. DSC_0159

First day of kindergarten and riding the “big kid bus.”IMG_1150

We really do just love this boy so much. And we are so proud of how well he has done with year. He is learning to read and write and do math. He also has a major knack for music, so for his birthday we gave him piano lessons and we are very excited to see how he does.

For his birthday day he requested a Plants vs Zombie themed birthday, which I completed with a zombie cake, zombie hunting (shooting balloons with nerf guns), and pin the cone had on the zombie head.

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He and his friends had a wonderful time. And we were so happy to help him celebrate his special day.  And also can I just note how generous parents are these days, all of his friends brought him the nicest gifts, he felt so special and I was just floored at the generosity of others. It was a really fun day.

We are so lucky to have this little guy in our family.

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2016 Young Women’s New Beginnings

Our Ward (congregation) is having it’s Young Women’s New Beginning Program later this month and we have been doing a bit of planning to make it a special night for the girls. I thought I might share some of what we are doing in case anyone out there is in need of some help planning theirs.

The Young Women’s New Beginning Program is a time to present the new Mutual Theme to the Young Women, welcome in any girls who will be turning 12 and entering the Young Women’s during the coming year and to reinforce the Personal Progress Program for the parents and youth.

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This year the Mutual Theme is “Press Forward with Steadfastness in Christ,” 2 Nephi 31:20. In addition to this theme our Young Women’s presidency has added the idea of Defy Gravity, from the talk by Bonnie L. Oscarson “Defy Gravity: Go Forward With Faith.” Our basic agenda is to help the girls understand that as they strive to press forward with steadfastness in Christ they will be able to rise above the muck and mire of the world.

Our program for the evening will go as follows:

Conducting: Our Laurel Class President
Opening hymn: #81 Press forward saints
Opening prayer: by invitation
Welcome: Brief words of welcome by one of our young women leaders

Personal Progress Program: Personal Progress Leader (An overview of the Personal Progress Program and how it relates to this years theme)

Introduction of values: Young Women (our PP leader is assigning one value to each girl with the assignment to share a two minute talk about how that value can them defy gravity and press forward with steadfastness in Christ)

Defying Gravity: Young Women’s President (a talk based on the talk by Oscarson)

Movie presentation: 2016 Mutual Theme: Press Forward

Bishops Remarks: Bishop

Closing Hymn: #225 carry on
Closing Prayer: By Invitation

Refreshments Served

For decorations we will be having some large arrows around the room, with pictures of Christ and possibly some targets. The centerpieces will be quivers with fake colorful arrows in them. Refreshments will be simple, though delicious, a six layer chocolate cake served with milk.

We are giving the girls a charm bracelet like this one, but are also giving them colored beads to add to it, to help them remember the YW values, this will be on the table and the girls can assemble their bracelets as during the program.

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As each girl presents her value that evening she will gift each young woman an elastic hair tie in the coordinating color, like these one here.

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I am trying to attatch our invite and program, so that you may use them as you wish. I am not sure how well the following jpegs will work but if you want to take the jpeg and put it into word and add text boxes to fill in the missing words for the invite or program you are more than welcome to use them. If you have Adobe Indesign and would like the file, or a jpeg file, please email me (reinventingthemommyhood@gmail.com).

Invite: Here is what my final one looked like:

excellence invite exampleInvite Template:

excellence invite templateProgram example:

excellence exampleProgram template:new beginnings program template

Best of luck with all of your Young Women activities this year.

-Heather

*In full disclosure my template was mimicked after this one for sale on Etsy, so if you ward has the budget and/or you don’t have the time or resources to make your own, please visit this talented woman’s shop.

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Mud = Success

Sunday evening I had a definite successful parenting moment.

I often lament the lack of outdoor exploration in children’s lives. We have a wonderful creek right in our back yard, we share that creek with many neighbors of young children and yet, I rarely see any children playing in this creek, let alone playing in their beautiful back yards at all.

Kacen was in need of some outdoor play Sunday afternoon. So we ran outside and played a little star wars on the trampoline. That wasn’t quite quenching my desire for outdoor play so we walked over towards the creek. I turned to Kacen and asked, “ya wanna go get in the water?” He quickly replied, “NO!” and began to back away. Was my son really afraid to go into the creek?! What have I been doing wrong as a parent? Why was his intitial reaction to this wonderful stream of lulling water, fear? First I felt bad, I failed his childhood. Then I felt indignant. How dare you fear this creek? What sort of soft pansy childhood have I dealt you that you don’t even want to feel the water?

I quickly kicked off my shoes and went to show him how nice the water was. I beckoned him to come in with me. But still he would not. In fact, he began to run away. I told him if he went inside he would sit in time out, haha I don’t know how to be a mom. He didn’t care and still backed away up the hill. Luckily, before he made it inside my two year-old had woken up from her nap and came wondering outside to find me. I hollered at her to come get in the creek and luckily her fear and inhibitions have not quite settled in and she gladly let me undress her and place her in the water.

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Finally, after watching his sister enter the water and double checking that there were no “sharks” or “lobsters” in the water he let me help him into the creek.

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At first there was some trepidation. He would only tip his toes in then back up onto the dirt, and repeat over and over again. But within five minutes his shell of fear just broke, it was absolutely gone, he was splashing his full body in the water and quickly had to be stripped down to his skivvies in order to lather his body in mud.

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As I watched my two little filthy monkeys splash and play in the water and mud I felt a real sense of success as a mother. I had taught my children to feel free and safe in their back yard, an extension of our home. I remembered that a bath at night was worth an hour of entertainment. I taught my children the name of bugs and plant life in our little stream. It was not just play time, it was a reconnection, a learning experience, a full sensory immersion experience of life, of the beauty that surrounds us so closely. Yes, it was a very success Sunday afternoon.

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I got skills

Ya wanna know something?

 

I am NOT the best mom there is.

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And boy it becomes awfully apparent at times.

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One instance of this happened while I was substituting at my daughter’s preschool last Friday. My two wonderful, loving, Zen-like friends run this Waldorf/Montessori inspired preschool. They have created a warm, rhythmic feeling through both the atmosphere and their interactions with the children. This particular morning I was helping some of the children bake our morning snack. We hadn’t even made it past the hand washing and I was nearly brought to tears. Two of the girls, including my daughter, began to fight over a chair, and one boy did not want to share, things quickly began to careen into maddening chaos. I was trying my best to be calm, to offer solutions, to help each child feel needed and heard. But it was not working. There was screaming, yelling, crying, and pushing. Suddenly from down stairs a melodic calm voice invited the children to change from baking to playing make believe in another room. It was that simple, with one question she broke the fighting and yelling and screaming and I was left quietly alone in the messy kitchen.

Instantly the thought came “I just do not have the same skill set as my friends. I am not soft spoken, I am not generally kind and patient, I don’t use affirmative language, positive reinforcement or natural consequences. I do not have their skill set.” But before I began to cry I thought, “That is ok, because I DO have A skill set. MY skill set.” Now I don’t know exactly what my skill set is. But I do know it doesn’t feel like the model preschool teacher. But I do have wonderful skills, wonderful characteristics that my children demonstrate and have learned from me.

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Being a mom is tough work. I do love my work. I know that I usually try my best. But mostly every night I think how grateful I am that my children are so resilient. Even when I know I have had a terrible, no good, horrible, very bad mom day, my kids still want ME at the end of the night to read to them. They want ME to sing to them. They want ME to rock them. And they want ME to kiss them and tuck them in. No, I am not the best mom there is, but I am sure grateful that my kids haven’t learned that yet.

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World Hijab Day

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“The brainchild of this movement is a New York resident, Nazma Khan, who came up with the idea as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women (non-Hijabi Muslims/non-Muslims) to experience the hijab for one day.

For many people, the hijab is a symbol of oppression and segregation. By opening up new pathways to understanding, Nazma hopes to counteract some of the controversies surrounding why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab.”

-Worldhijabday.com

I am not a Muslim, nor am I terribly educated in the practices or beliefs of the Muslim faith. But I have recently been introduced to the World Hijab Day facebook group and I have been reading many of the firsthand accounts of women across the world about their belief and the choice to wear hijab.

In case you didn’t know, it is a choice. While some women, particularly in Afghan militaristic dominated areas, are forced to wear hijab in fear of male dominance, many Muslim women choose to wear a hijab to demonstrate their obedience to Allah (God), and show respect for their body which they view as sacred.

“When a Muslim woman covers her hair, chest and body, she is sending a silent message that she respects her body and like a pearl in the ocean, she covers it with her beautiful shell (Hijab). No one has the right to observe, gawk at and judge a Muslim woman by the highlights in her hair or curves on her body. Instead they judge her for what is in her mind, her character, and her goals and ambitions.  Hijab is prevention from being accosted by ignorant minds who only judge a woman by the clothes she wears and the skin she shows. A woman’s body as you know is sacred and this is why Islam encourages women to strive to cover and protect it.”

-World Hijab Day

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I too come from a religion where we view the body as sacred. I too wear a covering which helps me reverence my body and keep my dress, thoughts and actions modest. That is why the idea of a hijab really isn’t that hard for me to understand.

It is rather perplexing that our modern society where most people, at least in business if not in personal life, value honesty, integrity, knowledge, good judgment and conviction, yet there is a tendency to ridicule religious devoutists because they are constantly striving to embody these religion taught characteristics. It is time that we start to value people who are devout in their faith and value their devotion to their God and the good characteristics that most world religions strive to teach their followers.

That is why I am choosing to participate in World Hijab Day, February 1, 2015. I want to show support and tolerance for these women who are choosing to show their devotion in outward demonstration. It is often felt that women in the LDS (Mormon) faith, which I practice, are discriminated against, or forced to be submissive and unequal to their male counterparts. But I am sick of people pitying me or thinking me uneducated, brainwashed or unaware for CHOOSING to be part of religion that I find all of life’s answers in, that I find joy and fulfillment in, simply because I cannot hold some of the religious merits a man can. So I stand in support of my Muslim sisters, and their value on modesty and religious devotion.

I will be wearing a headscarf/hijab to my Sunday services, because WHD falls on a Sunday this year. I will probably remove it for parts of our sacrament meeting but I do not feel that is should be distracting or held in poor view in any way. If a woman feels more modest and comfortable covered up then it is hear right to do so. I hope that I can come to understand how hijabi Muslim women feel every day in their head covering. I hope that I can help others see that it is not something that these women need to be ashamed of. I hope that I can be an ambassador of tolerance, peace and love.

Al-ḥamdu lillāh “thanks be to God”

How to wear a hijab:

Start with a large scarf or hemmed piece of fabric, I had a black one, but you can choose any scarf with any color or design. fold the scarf over about 3/4 of the way to half.

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Use a safety pin to pin the scarf evenly around your face.

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Take the left side of your scarf and wrap towards your right side over your head, use a straight pin to pin it in place.

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Do the same with the right, and waa laa, you have a hijab head scarf.

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And have no fear while wearing your scraf and when you take it off you are still the same wonderful woman you have always been.

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Where does a week go? Issac Winder’s Story

Man, I had good intentions of getting out three posts last week, but apparently my life had a different plan. And isn’t that how it will always go? Our life, set out on it’s divine course will always have it’s own agenda only slightly altered by our choices.  Today I need to do my part in sharing a story about a young man whose plan was probably a little different too.

Not to let the title deceive you, I don’t presume to know Issac Winder’s full story. I am sure his life was full of many amazing things, hidden secrets, deep loves, and untold adventures. All I can share with you is the small parts I have read online, and sadly this is only the story of his death and a plea to help his family.

I had a friend from high school, his name is Issac. Issac lived on a farm in a cemetery. Issac and his best friend, and cousin, Clay loved practical jokes. After a creepy evening walk through the cemetery we went back to Issac’s house where they proceed to scare the living daylight out of my friend by using a gorilla mask, cruel but hilarious. He and Clay also planned the most epic scare I had ever seen as a Birthday surprise, for the same friend. Issac and I were not close friends but I knew that this kid loved adventure. As it often goes with high school acquaintances, you don’t do much talking when high school is over.

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Issac, Candalyn and Adair photo taken from thelittlefigs.com

Apparently Issac went on to get married to a beautiful woman, and have an adorable daughter. This small family went to China on a grand adventure to teach English. Two weeks ago Issac contracted food poising, this and possibly some other complications led to his body shutting down. While the U. S. healthcare may not always be the best, it sure seems better than China, where his family had to pay for treatment everyday before it would be administered. A daily bill in the ICU was $1,700, I believe he spent over a week there, and on top of that the payment for dialysis was $10,000 every day for at least two days, in advanced. Issac passed away Sunday morning. Can you imagine how monuments that must be for this new widow who was teaching English in China for minimal wages to fathom paying for, (loans were accrued)? I know we all have financial trials but please if you are able please visit this blog of Issac’s sister, read his story and donate whatever you can. People have been generous already but I am sure they could still use more support.

Issac and his brother and father, the day before he died. Photo taken from thelittlefigs.com

Moments like this remind me of the fragility of life, they remind me that while my kids may drive me nuts I still had today with them. This is such a heartbreaking story and I hope this family can feel all of the love, peace and comfort God in Heaven is able to pour down upon them.

 

 

 

A raw emotional aside-

I rather hate condolences. What can I, a person unacquainted with grief, offer to this family in their time of deep loss? The only loss I have ever known is a distant adolescent memory of the loss of my grandmother, which was easily overshadowed by teenage egocentricity.

It seems simple to offer some spiritual affirmation of peace and hope when you are not the person enveloped in the grief of death. But it also seems somewhat trivial and trite. I do truly hope they can evetually have a lasting comfort about this situation, but I also feel like I want to tell them it is ok to be pissed off, to be angry for all your family is loosing, for all that his wife will have to pick up and make a life from. For her immense loss. And for all that Issac will never see or do, namely for and with his little girl. It makes me mad that she will never deeply know the man whose genes she bares. I would hope they allow themselves to feel each emotion, let it run through them, accept each emotion for what it is. Eventually let the bad go, release anything that cannot help them advance. But never be ashamed for how they feel, for the moments of self-pity, they are warranted.

And if they are able, be patient with the rest of us who are in a distant way trying to make sense of this situation, trying to grow from it and realizing our fears and regrets.

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Greek Food Bazaar

When we were children my parents loved taking us to cultural events. Some of these events have been to see the spiritual practices of other religions. Our yearly favorite was the Sri Sri Radha Krishna celebration, just seeing so many people express their faith and come to celebrate life and culture was so enlivening. I have grown up as, and am still a practicing Mormon but I love learning about all faiths and religions. So when on my busy day of running errands I saw the Greek Food Bazaar at the local Greek Orthodox Church I decided to take a break from our busy day and swing my kids over to see something new.

IMG_0404 Their church building was so beautiful, especially with all of the iconography inside.

IMG_0399If I would have had reinforcements with the two wild monkeys on the bottom left, I would have loved to sit through a guided tour and explanation of their religious ceremonies. But I did gather many bits and pieces of the societal aspect while I waited in line for 45 minutes to get into the food court. Many times I felt like I was on the set for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the people all looked so Greek, I just loved how they wore their culture in their features, it was so wonderful.

IMG_0394Check out these yummy pastries, I bought some baklava (of course, who wouldn’t?), koulourakia (butter twists), Kataifi (a shredded phyllo baklava) and ahhhh mouthwatering so delicious want them in my belly now Loukoumades (deep fried bread dough slathered in honey) oohhh man sooo good, like I want 20 more right now.

I have always wanted to try a nice Moussaka (eggplant and meat lasagna of sorts), Pastitsio (pasta, meat and beshamel bake) and Spanakopita (spinach ad feta pie), however with the new diet I was off meat and dairy, though I did try the spanakopita and the pastries, which I am sure were slathered in butter.

IMG_0405I also bought Ky a dolmathakia (rice and meat stuffed grapeleaf). Dude that was such good food. I love trying new foods and was so thrilled to take my children to see that beautiful church and interact with some many people who were celebrating their culture.

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A Week of Firsts

This past week was a fun week of firsts, I learned a lot, had some really fun cultural experiences and had a wonderful holiday with my family. I have felt something lately that just makes me want to try all sorts of new things and I just love it. The “old” me used to love having new experiences, I was usually up to trying anything, Heather of late seems to be a little more stuck in her ways, going along with hum drum. But I am so excited to be finding new experience to immerse me and my children into.

This week was:

my first week on a plant-based, wholefood diet

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my first time making dinner in a pumpkin

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my first time making sushi

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my first time going to Greek Food Bazaar

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my first time needle felting and learning to puppet

and my first time leaving Kacen at a Birthday party

I’ll chat a little more in detail about each of these events through the week. I just realized that most of these revolve around food, hopefully that doesn’t bore you. Hope you had a wonderful weekend and a happy Halloween, check in tomorrow for the first, first: plant-based wholefood eating.

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When Children Sleep

Dude, I love my kids. But being a mom is so tiring! My newlywed sister in-law and brother in-law were asked to baby sit some friends kids for four days. My sis has zero kids, our friends have six! Please read the following texts sent on different days:

“How the crap do you parents do all this stuff? I’ve been up since 6:40 and even though they are literally the easiest kids I’ve ever met, I’m exhausted. Lol”

“Dude for reals….I feel like I’m blown away by mothers right now, haha. I have mondo respect for you man. So crazy.”

Yeah I know, we do deserve “mondo respect.” What we do is freaking hard EVERY SINGLE DAY. I know so many women who hold this mantle of motherhood much more gracefully than I do but even with my mantle swaying and wobbling I am still holding on, mostly.

But I do have to admit, I live for the naps guys. Nap time is awesome! Bed time is awesome!

My kids are car sleepers and I love it! We get in the car, they do this:

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Then mam pops on her NPR podcasts, yep I am that cool.

However napping in the car goes awfully awry when you get home late from a fiesta and go to pull the little one out of the car and you end up picking this sleeping beauty up.

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Laughing Kyle says, “I swear I only gave her one tiny piece of chocolate.” riiiiight.

I don’t know how she made a mess that huge with one piece of chocolate but it was pretty funny. Still though I really love my kids when they are sleeping, messes or not.

Sitting on the Bench: Thoughts on Suicide Prevention

After one particularly hard day about a year ago I tucked the children into their beds, and then went to my room completely out of energy. I had nothing left to give to that day. I climbed into my bed at 8:30 and then my world collapsed around me. I began to think about how hard motherhood was, how I was inadequate in many ways and how sick I was of feeling as though life was so hard to deal with. I pulled my knees to my chest in the fetal position and began to sob. I prayed that God would just let me die. My mantra became ” I just want to die. I just want to die.” I thought, “If I just don’t wake up I could finally be at peace.”

My husband was at work and I sent him a heartbreaking message telling him how I couldn’t do it anymore, how hard my life was and how I just didn’t want to exist any more. He was shocked, I don’t think he quite knew how to respond. I imagine that many people do not know how to respond to a situation like that. It must be hard thinking you are trying your best to build a happy family life and yet your spouse simply wishes they didn’t have to live another day. Kyle assured me of his love for me, and reminded me that I can do hard things. He also encouraged me to go see a doctor and counselor, which was all I wanted, I had many days where I just though “I wish someone would take my hand and make a doctor appointment for me, and help me fix what I am unable to fix.”

I am not alone in these feelings, many people suffering from depression have thoughts of suicide on a regular basis, or at least think about the release of death. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just released a Mormon Message this week titled “Sitting on the Bench: Thoughts on Suicide Prevention.”

This is an honest film about suicide and I feel so grateful that depression is becoming an open subject.

Sitting on a Bench: Thoughts on Suicide Prevention

That week, a year ago, I got an appointment with my doctor, to begin antidepressants and scheduled an appointment with a therapist. It is miraculous for me to feel now, only one year later, that I am recovering from depression. I do have bad days, a similar episode happened only one month ago, so things aren’t perfect but I know there are people who love me and people who support me and rely on me and my life here is valuable.

My hope is that we may all try our best to be a little more compassionate, a little more understanding and little more free with our love and kindness towards others, because you may never know who needs your help.

* I do need to mention that my mother in-law was my angle through this whole time. She was there to tend for my kids when I simply could not do it. She was there for me to cry to when things were too hard. I will always feel supremely indebted to her for her efforts in helping my and my children make it through my toughest of times.