Monday, August 29, 2011

Figuring It All Out

Since we've been through some crazy grief-inducing events regarding our children this year, we decided that maybe it would be a good idea to finally talk to a grief counselor. We met with our Bishop who referred us to LDS Family Services. I wouldn't have it any other way. Having an LDS counselor was #1 on my priority list. Our faith has the biggest impact on how we're "dealing with" all these emotional trials.

So a couple weeks ago was our first appointment. As it turns out, our grief counseling has turned slightly more toward communication counseling. We discovered that we didn't know how to communicate what we were feeling with each other, and the grief of our trials this year was only adding to the stress.

Now, I was a little leery about writing about going to counseling because it's kind of "none of your business"..... However, I've already learned so many things in this first couple of times that I have to share a bit.

1. Humans are not mind readers. Don't expect your spouse to read your mind and don't expect to be able to read theirs.

2. In regard to #1, say what you're feeling. Even the little things (especially the little things). An example: If it bugs you that your husband puts his dishes in the sink instead of loading them in the dishwasher, kindly mention it. He probably doesn't realize it bugs you. Or how much you would appreciate it if he just loaded them. When you keep it inside, over time it keeps building up until one day you explode about it. Then and argument about nothing is sparked. Because seriously, not loading the dishes isn't the end of the world, but in that moment it might feel like it. Frustrations come flooding out from both people and a silly thing can become something ridiculous and unnecessary.

3. Learn how your spouse likes to receive love. Learn their Love Language (Click to take your own love language quiz, have your spouse take it, and share your results with each other). For example, my strongest love language is service. I feel loved when Justin helps me around the house etc. His strongest love language is physical. I feel like I show my love for him by having the house clean when he gets home from work. While he appreciates this, he'd rather I be waiting at the door to give him a big hug and kiss when he gets home. We automatically give love in the way that we most like to receive it, but the other person may not recognize that we're trying to show it. When we learn their love language we can make efforts to show our love in ways that they'd be more likely to notice and appreciate.

4. Compliment each other. Show verbal appreciation. Praise. Be positive..... SMILE. Making your facial muscles smile actually releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel happier, whether you're actually happy or not.

It's amazing the difference in our home since we've gone to a couple sessions. We were by no means fighting, yelling, etc. all the time. We've always had a happy healthy marriage and family life. We have little arguments occasionally, just like everyone else. It just kind of felt like there was always some little stressor or grief cloud that made life a little ho-hum and tense sometimes.

As we're learning more and more how to communicate with each other, we're realizing we can work together to get through stressful times and by being honest, can feel the warmth of the Holy Ghost residing in our home every day. It's awesome. You should try it....

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What We've Been Up To While Carrie's Been Gone

Carrie tried to "help" me pack by filling an entire suitcase with her dolls, stuffed animals and play food....

On Carrie's last morning here, I made some delicious dark chocolate raspberry cupcakes for a friend's baby shower

Complete with tangy raspberry curd filling, raspberry vanilla frosting, and raspberry glaze drizzle. Yum!

Carrie sure enjoyed hers!

And Saturday morning, we passed her off to Justin's parents for the week! On our way home from dropping her off we stopped at Kohl's to spend the rest of a forgotten gift card from Christmas. Justin got a nice new button up shirt (no picture, sorry) and I got this cute maxi-dress on clearance!

Then the real work began. All week instead of relaxing while Carrie was gone, we tried to cram in as much work as possible! During the daytime, I mostly painted. I finally finished the kids bathroom which has been almost done since before Christmas. Then I started on downstairs. In particular, the garage door entryway and half stair wall.

Finished! This is the same color that's in the hallway upstairs and on a couple walls in our bedroom and bathroom. It's become my go-to neutral.

Next came the front door entryway. Which has very high ceilings.... Even standing as high as I dared on our 6 foot ladder, I still couldn't reach the top couple of feet. It's on my to-do list to borrow a taller ladder from a friend to finish it soon.

Then Tuesday afternoon, with help from several friends, we started the crazy work of installing a sprinkler system in our backyard....

Justin and Trent with the trencher

Burrowing under the curbing so sprinkler pvc pipe could be run through underneath.

An example of the huge slab-like mounds of concrete we kept finding a few inches under the surface of the dirt.

The trenching machine was a huge help, but still annoying hard work in and of itself. (And I wouldn't even really know, the boys did that part)

Justin and Eli and some ditch-digging, pick-swinging fun.... At 5:00 pm.... In the record breaking 116 degree heat....

Carrie's wagon worked great as a form of transportation and storage for the little supplies.

We had hoped to get it all done (or at least mostly done) in that first day. Not even close.... We worked every day this week and it's still not done. One thing we made sure we finished though was Carrie's new swingset!

By last night we were exhausted and ready for a break. Lucky for us, we had a ward luau to go to! We got to wear our new matching Hawaiian wardrobe. Justin's grandma recently visited Hawaii and sent us Justin's shirt and my dress (Carrie has a matching dress too).

We had delicious pork, pineapple, and rice burritos, fruit, and sweet coconut milk filled rolls for dessert.

We also had some dancing entertainment. A family from the Stake performed and then we took turns going on stage to learn some of it. The men went first doing one of the yelling, chanting, stomping, slapping dances. It was very entertaining :) (Justin's on the far right)

Then the women learned the Hukilau.
(I'm in the middle in the red-flowered dress) They gave out prizes for the best dancer in each, and I won for the women! Woohoo! Hula is fun!
The point of it all.... Family

Now that our fun and work-filled childless week is over, this morning we drove to meet Justin's parents to bring Carrie back home. Since we'd been working so hard all week and then stayed up late last night, we thought it would be a good idea to bring something to keep us awake on the drive...

She had quite a fun-filled week too... And a very long day of driving. Six hours in the car makes me want to take a nap too...

Once we got home, she was very excited to try on all our lei's from the luau!

And celebrate our family being back together again with pizza night!

Friday, August 26, 2011

What Carrie's Been Up To

This week Carrie has been with Justin's parents in New Mexico. Just for fun. It seems it's becoming an annual tradition in late summer. Here's a peek at what she's been up to this week!

Eating lunch with her cousin Logan at Nana and Papa's kiddie table
Eating a whopping-huge bowl of strawberry ice cream with sprinkles because she ate all her dinner
Posing big time for the camera

Getting her nails done in a salon with Nana's activity days girls.
Complete with polka-spots! (As she would say) ;)

Swinging with the neighbor kids

Playing with puzzles at Nana's office

Chillin' on the couch and occasionally staying up past bedtime to snuggle with Nana and watch a movie. :)

We've sure missed having her at home! From the few phone conversations and camera-phone shots, we're pretty sure she's having a great time, but we're glad she's coming home tomorrow!! Apparently this morning she told Nana, "Let's go to mommy and daddy's house".... I guess one week is the home-sick limit for this two year old! (And for her mommy and daddy too!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Little Miss Sunshine

How are we going to survive the next week without this precious little ray of sunshine in our home?!

Carrie, we hope you have fun with Nana and Papa, because we'll sure miss you like crazy here at home!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cool Eatin'

This is the inside of my upright deep freezer in the garage (partial view).

Do you see the stacks and stacks of freezer meals in there? It's like looking at heaven.....

Yesterday I planned out, shopped for, and made freezer meals with my little sister. (With a pretty big amount of help from both my parents too.) By the end of the day we counted out that we had made 53 small-family-sized meals! All for $134 and a couple of things my mom already had in her pantry. By the time we split up the cost between my parents and two of my siblings, we ended up paying $40.

It was long hard work (which I confess, I only worked on for about 2 1/2 hours because I had an appointment to go to in the middle of it all). But we all scored big time! I came home with 15 meals to put in my freezer :) My sister got the lion's share since it was her idea and she's having a baby in a week and a half....

Someone had made a comment on facebook recently about wanting to make freezer meals, but they didn't know what to make or how to do it. It's super duper easy (yes, I know that's a cheesy way to say it, but it really is no nonsense) You can freeze almost anything! Starches don't freeze very well (potatoes, rices, and pastas); They only last a week or two, but other than that, seriously. Almost anything.

The few meals we decided to make were chicken cordon bleu, chili, chicken enchiladas, meatloaf, chicken pockets, chinese sundaes/hawaiian haystacks, parmesan chicken, and sloppy joes.

This added to the chicken chimichangas, veggie stir-fry, homemade avacado hamburger patties, spicy chicken tacos, pork roast, and several bags of plain cooked hamburger for quickie hamburger helper and tacos etc. that I already had in the freezer.....

I love having dinner already mostly made for me. Especially in the summer when it's so stinking hot! And because we're trying to conserve energy by turning our air to 83 during the day, (ugh), I have a hard time finding the energy to cook!

Another tidbit that I've learned is a HUGE help is this....A menu. Justin found this magnetic backed whiteboard (8 1/2 x 11) and it is on display on our fridge. I'll admit I'm not always the best at using it, but when I do, my week goes SOOO much smoother! I save money on groceries because I can plan ahead and only buy what we need, rather than guessing and having to go back several times in the week for ingredients.

It's also nice because I don't have to figure out what's for dinner every single day. I take about 20 minutes once a week, flip through my recipes and my pantry and make up my list. In this case, I have meals planned for two weeks at a time. I don't know why, but it's awesome. Other than milk and bananas, I shouldn't have to grocery shop until the 26th. Dinner is kind of my daily bummer. But these couple of things make my job a ton easier!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sharing Time

I survived my first time teaching Sharing Time today!!! I don't know how because last night I had no idea how it was going to work, but it did! And amazingly so.... The topic? Modesty. It's one of those things that's pretty straight forward, but sometimes people think the "guidelines" are super flexible. Mostly, I was worried about a scenario like this, "What if one of the little 6 year olds has on a sleeveless dress and feels bad when I mention that 'shoulders should be covered'?! She probably didn't pick out that dress, and besides, it's not like she's 16 and flaunting around in a tubetop..."

But I got lucky. No awkwardness was had by anyone in our primary today. Whew!..... Next week, word of wisdom. Should be much less nerve racking.

Justin and I had a mini-date last night running a couple errands and gabbing some quick dinner at Native New Yorker. Our errands were pretty exciting though. Carrie is going to spend a week with Justin's parents next week. While she's gone, we're going to try to get as much of our backyard in as we can. (With the intent to make it easier on ourselves when we get sod, you know, having to stay off it for a few days....)

Anyways, our date consisted of buying our new swingset, and figuring out all the supplies and cost for doing our sprinklers. I hope Carrie is super excited to come home and find her own personal park in the backyard :)

A cute little on-the-spot story. As I'm typing, Carrie is in the background singing. She's never seen the movie Cinderella, but knows the character. And apparently likes her a lot. *She has her favorite pink blanket that she has dubbed the "Cinderella blanket", and her plastic fancy dress up high heels are the "Cinderella shoes"*

Back to right now though. She's singing random notes all over the place repeating, "CinderELLa! CinderELLa! CinderELLa! CinderELLa!" I guess we should figure out if someone has that movie we can borrow so she can get to know it better. (Especially since I've been planning her Cinderella halloween costume for months in my head)

Friday, August 12, 2011


I got my hair done today. My friend and fellow Primary Presidency counselor Jayna, offered to do my hair to give me a little pick-me-up. And it worked. I felt like I had finally gotten my hair to the right color of lightness I liked. So instead of changing it completely, she dyed the bottom darker (which apparently makes your hair appear longer, yipee!)
And did a weave of highlights throughout the top.

Since I'm trying to grow it out, she just did a little trim to even up the edges. This picture does it absolutely no justice, (and I think actually does a bit of the opposite) but it was the best picture I could get. Trust me, I took like 30 trying to get a good one. Whatever....

Anyways, while I was taking so many pictures, Carrie wanted hers taken too. And she posed for it. She's learning fast ;)

She thinks this is just the coolest trick ever. Dangling her legs through the railing from the loft. Although when I went to take a picture she suddenly turned shy....

The other day when we were headed out to the store, she brought me my flip-flops. Like this.... (Look closely)

She was so proud of herself! ;)

Hopefully you can tell I've been in a much better mood the last couple days. We've all been getting along, feeling good, and being much happier than we were the beginning of this week. We hope it stays this way for a long while!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

All Over the Place

I have neither the desire nor the energy to make sense today. Therefore, this post is going to be literally all over the place.

Carrie has created this "nap corner" in her room. She throws her extra pillow, all her animals, baby dolls, blankets, etc into the space and somehow manages to find a little room for herself to sleep. (That is, on the rare days she actually takes a nap....)

When I chopped her hair off several months ago, I immediately regretted taking away the ability to do piggy tails. Don't get me wrong, I loved her cute little A-line bob, but I surely missed the piggies. A few days ago, I decided to try it again. And hooray! It's just barely long enough that I can do the "waterfall double piggy" style of piggy tails!

Yesterday we went to help my mom finish setting up her 6th grade classroom for the school year to start tomorrow. My mom thought it would be fun to get a piece of butcher paper and draw a life-sized outline of Carrie.

And now to show off my mad art-eest skills.... I drew this poster-board sized cartoon version of my mom to put on her bulletin board in the hallway. Apparently I was an instant celebrity with her students at back-to-school night :)

Carrie had fun coloring on my mom's smart board. I liked it because there was zero risk for coloring on herself! It's all digital!

This morning a friend called and invited us to go to McDonalds with her and her kids. We went, ate breakfast, the kids played in the playplace.... it was fun! A few minutes before we left, I was trying to coax Carrie to come down the slide by calling her name from the bottom. A random little boy came over and starting helping me call her name. When Carrie finally came down, he helped her down, and they started holding hands and staring into each others eyes.... It was bizarre!! I'm pretty sure "that moment" isn't supposed to happen for about 20 more years! Anyways, they stuck to each other like glue for the few minutes before we left. His mom and I had to almost literally pull them apart from each other while they were whining, "No, I want to stay with Joey!/Carrie! I want you to stay with me!"...... *Remember, they had only met a few minutes before...* It was very strange and adorable at the same time!

Here is a close-up of the mini cupcakes I made last weekend...

...for THIS awesome new missionary. He left this afternoon to go to the MTC. Elder Christopher Beeson will be serving the Lord for two years in the Chile, Santiago North mission! (Justin was in Santiago West). His family have been ridiculously close friends with my family since he and my younger brother were in the same kindergarten class 14 years ago. We're so proud of him and especially excited that he's going soooo near to Justin's mission!

I'm having a pretty blah couple of days, but hopefully they'll turn around soon. It's annoying to feel like sludge when I still have things to do around the house and cute stories of Carrie to tell.....