Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Slow Enough to Make a Difference

This morning the light of the sun stirred a fierce desire in me to get out of the house. I wanted to break in my new running shoes and TODAY! was THE DAY!! With no husband at home, three children under the age of 4, and no jogging stroller to call my own, my prospects for a good workout were dismal at best. But I am an eternal optimist, "Maybe if I just get out of the house, it'll work out better than I think it can!"  Slightly encouraged that it might work, I rallied the troops, got us all dressed and out the door. I loaded Jocelyn in the Chicco, got Lincoln and Atley outfitted with their helmets and bikes, and we were on our way.

About 15 seconds out, I realized this was not going to be what I had hoped for. Lincoln was pushing on at about the pace of a snail working its way through some Black strap molasses. Atley was whining that she couldn't get on her bike, period. 2 minutes later and about every 5 minutes after that she had to sit down on the dirt to dump out bits of sand and gravel that made their way into her pink Crocs. We finally made it to the paved trail behind our house and I had hope stirring again. I had it - a brilliant idea! I would run ahead of my kids for about 15 seconds then wheel back around the other way and run towards them. (Running in circles - it's the only way to do it with kids.) It wasn't perfect, but it was kind of working! Until I realized that we needed to cut through a couple more desert paths as there was no way my kids could ride their bikes through the whole back trail and around the entire development. By the time we made it through the sandy portion of the walk, with me carrying Atley's bike, I had pretty much resigned to the fact that today was just a day to walk, and very slowly at that. 

I wanted to get back home, give myself a mini pity party and a good shower - not that I had earned it with a great sweat or anything. But 4 days - that's pushing it, even for me. And that's no April fool's day joke, folks.  So when Lincoln said, "Mom! Trash!" indicating that he saw a plastic Arizona juice bottle to pick up and throw away, my knee jerk reaction was, "No, we're not picking up trash today." I thought about it a second longer and the Spirit gently nudged, "Go on and pick it up." So I did. Suddenly it was like all I could see was trash. Trash! Trash was everywhere and it needed thrown away or recycled! We were moving slowly, but that was incidentally the perfect pace to make a difference in my neighborhood. Instead of wishing to just get home, I realized that this was a teaching moment for myself and my children. I started to direct and encourage my kids to pick up all the trash they could find along our path. And by the time we made it home we had acquired quite the pile:


(I found it poetic that almost every item we found to pick up was related to some self-indulgent vice. But that is another post for another day.)

We recycled what could be recycled, threw away what needed to be thrown away. And we went inside and washed our hands very well. :)


Today, my kids helped me move past a self-oriented objective toward something better. I don't know how many times they have to do that a day, week or month before I realize that's just what motherhood is, but I just relearned this lesson for the umpteen millionth time now. My track record (no pun intended) suggests this won't be the last time, either.

Atley "washed" her hair with the hose when we got back home. She was excited to be a helper and put her find in the recycle bin.


And Jocelyn? She's content being her beautiful little self. She lights up my life with her beaming face. So much joy in one little person. I can't get enough of this gal.

Here's to motherhood, and moving through today just slow enough to ruin all our plans, learn the lessons others have to teach us, and make a difference in the process. Happy April, my friends!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Match Day Results!

 Oh, med school! It has been a ride and it's very quickly coming to a close. 
After interviews in seven states, lots of prayer, deliberation, compiling a rank list, and waiting and waiting and waiting. . .

Today was match day! The day when all the fourth year medical students find out (if they matched) where they matched, for residency. Want to know the results of our match?! 

We discovered we will be living the next three years in ---------->>>


 POCATELLO, IDAHO!!!


This program was our #1 choice! I'm so proud of Squire for all he has accomplished. The family medicine residency at ISU is a perfect fit for Squire and what he wants to learn to be a proficient rural family practice physician. He's so happy and I'm so happy for him! I'm looking forward to being able to keep pet chickens and try my hand at small town living! (We'll see if this hippy city girl will fit in!) Pocatello is a nice midpoint between both our families, too, so hopefully we will be able to see more of them.

It'll be quite the adventure to start from square one again. We will miss all of the dear friends we have made here in Tucson.  It's amazing how about 4 years ago, when we moved to Arizona, we knew nobody at all. And now, we will be leaving what has become home to us. It's a bitter sweet day. With blogs, facebook, and cell phones - we're really not so far away though, right?! Right?!

 Onward we go for a new adventure, my friends. Thanks for following us on our journey!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How I Do It All! ;)


After my last blog post on food, my long-time childhood friend, Courtney, commented on my facebook account with these kind words:

"I am amazed by you! Honestly how you find the time to make so many amazing recipes, sew, ect and be a mom and wife is beyond me! Kudos and so much respect to you!!! Teach me your ways haha!! How do you find the time or the patience for all life throws at you and extracurricular activities"

Thank you, Courtney. I can run on a good compliment for days and you've given me some much needed fuel after a really long week, and honestly, a pretty nerve-racking month. All of us mammas need that! I know I do. I love getting compliments that highlight the good things I AM accomplishing.

Because while I was accomplishing all my canning and cooking, and nursing and blogging, and herding cats children, fill in the blank with whatever it might seems I get done around here: _______________ . . .  I didn't get this done:
 
 
See that pressure canner? It has pinto bean juice filling the bottom of it. And that big old pot got some pinto beans burnt on the bottom. It's been soaking for two days now. See the stuff to be recycled? See the leftover sweet potatoes from lunch that I still haven't put away (even as I type this post?) I'm not proud of this by the way. It's just the truth of the matter. 


See my awesome couch, badly needing repair, and draped with a blanket to keep the fluff in? (It's not working by the way.) Atley had an accident on this chair in late December. (Does saying late December make it any better?) I took the covers off and washed them. I decided I was going to repair some wear and tear on the cushions. I didn't even see the hole in the side until it has quadrupled in size because well it's been almost a few months now, and you know - kids. Oops! 

 
Here is the laundry I have gotten behind on that I moved from my washer and dryer. At least it was washed! (See the napping baby? Notice how dark all these pictures are?! That's the only way this blog post is happening right now. It's Siesta time around here. I make that happen by blocking out as much light as possible each afternoon.) Naps/Quiet time are a necessity every day for my sanity and happiness. And sometimes my kids take them, too. ;)

When I moved my clothes pile from the laundry machines so I could actually fold them, I saw this inspiring picture hanging on my wall - perfectly, a little crooked. And it hit me. This is life as a woman - for you and for me. For all of us! 

We each have heavy loads to carry and striking that balance of maintaining a home, caring for children and a spouse, contributing to our communities, doing a paid job and incorporating "extracurricular" activities into our routines is quite shifty business! Sometimes we are on, and sometimes we are off. Some days are for creating and extending and some days are for preserving and maintaining. Some days are for giving and for growth, and some days are for receiving and for healing. Because we are each only one human being, we can only choose one thing to give our priority to in any given moment. If I seem extra productive, it's often because I'm sacrificing some home maintenance. If I'm seeming rather absent on my blog, it's probably because I'm more present somewhere else. Do I feel guilty about what I haven't accomplished yet today? Nope! Am I going to get up off my bum and clean up my messy house after I finish this post? You betcha! We're all just doing the best that we can and that is perfectly enough!

The most important thing you can do as a person, is to know the direction that you wish to move and just start moving. I promise you this my friend - if your desired direction (and pace) match up with God's desired path for your life, the ugliest beast in hell won't be able to stop you from moving forward until you've accomplished your life's work. You'll undoubtedly shed a flower petal or two, and brush up against a bush here and there, but that isn't as important as what you are accomplishing on the whole. Just keep your eyes on God's goals for you and for your family. You're sailing a whole lot more smoothly than you think.   

 http://www.artcountrycanada.com/images/christensen-responsible-woman.jpg
"The Responsible Woman" By: James Christensen (Image Source.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Latest Rampage (+I think I've found my food "niche")

Food. I love it. Probably a little too much. But you know what they say about not trusting skinny cooks - so it's all good. ;)

People who know me well know a desire to be a homesteader has been growing within me for several years now. I have drastically, though not completely, reduced the amount of processed foods from my family's diet, and learned a whole lot about cooking and preserving foods from scratch in the process. But right now, I'm feeling a serious urge to increase my knowledge about all things food, and I'm making even bigger changes. It's surprising to me how steep the learning curve is for us Americans to figure out how to do "real" food. It is counter-cultural, sometimes intimidating, even revolutionary in a way, to incorporate high-quality, non-GMO, organic/naturally-grown foods into a growing family's diet. And to do it on a dime? Double the challenge! 

Navigating the world of food is made even more difficult by the extreme opinions on every front. Food is up there with politics, sex and religion in the level of controversy discussing it can bring. Seriously. 

No animal products! No meat!
Animal products are fine if they are ethically raised.
Meat is ok if it was ethically, locally raised, and humanely butchered.
No animals or their products, but fish are ok.
No farm-raised fish, only wild caught.
Animals are fine raised on grain, just make sure they weren't given antibiotics or hormones.
Eat meat (and lots of it!) but only if it dined on a pesticide/GMO-free pasture.
Eating meat is fine, just don't eat too much of it.
No beef.
No pork.
Only Kosher or Halal processed meats.
Don't consume milk products at all. It's unnatural to consume another animal's milk.
Consume them only if they are pasturized, rBST free.
Consume them only if they are raw, from grass-fed cattle.
Only eat meat, dairy, eggs from local sources.
Stay away from all gluten.
Stay away from all grains.
Eat grains, but only if they are sprouted first.
Eat any kind of flour, just use a natural yeast.
Only eat older forms of wheat like Eikorn or Spelt.
Eat this that and the other food item, all the time - it's super healthy!
Eating this that and the other food item will give you thyroid problems!
I don't care about the nutritional value of this that and the other food item - it tastes really gross.
Don't eat anything from a can or that had a barcode on it.
Sugar substitutes help cut calories.
Sugar substitutes give you cancer.
No refined sugar, period.
Honey and maple syrup are fine replacements for sugar.
Honey and maple syrup are only good if they are raw.
No fat and skim milk wherever possible.
Full fat dairy, bacon grease and real butter.
Margarine, vegetable oil and canola oil are fine.
Only coconut oil and olive oil.
No food dyes, additives, unrecognizable ingredients.
Low carb diet.
Eat only fruit.
Eat everything cooked.
Cook everything in waterless cookware.
Cook everything in stainless steel or cast iron cookware.
Non-stick cookware makes clean-up a breeze and is a non-issue.
Eat everything raw.
All fruits and veggies should be peeled before eating.
All fruits and veggies should be eaten with the original skin.
Fruits and veggies should be consumed as juice.
Eat local food. Period.
Eat food grown from your own garden.
Eat only USDA Organic food.
Eat fruits and veggies grown with organic principles, but don't only go USDA organic. It cuts back diversity. 
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Being an American in this day and age makes it even harder to figure out how best to eat to nourish our bodies. Because our country has put so much value on eating cheaply and getting our food fast, we have allowed ourselves to become the greatest science experiment in the history of the world. Our food products are more different than any ever consumed in all of human history! And because of this (IMHO) we are sick, fat, greasy, tired, and paying a whole lot more for healthcare as a result of our malnourishment. Because we have been eating this highly processed food for decades now, and because food is so emotional for us, it is really hard to break the cycle and do something different. Especially when it requires time, work, or shopping in ways or locations outside our comfort zone and busy schedules.  

Navigating all of that is what I've been trying to do. For years. It's a never-ending battle with periods of learning and plateaus. Right now I am in the midst of a serious learning phase. 

Here are a couple of the things I've made very recently (some were things I've had on the back burner for several years):
 
Herbed Sourdough Rye Noodles (recipe on page #176 of The Nourished Kitchen), made with the sourdough starter (purchased from King Arthur). I have managed to keep my starter alive for about a month now. Don't plan on killing it any time soon! :) This book, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, is great for the sourdough newbie. Also beans. Lots of pinto beans. I have decided I spend way too much on canned beans. Canning will save us money, and decrease our BPA intake, as well as our intake of other unnecessary additives that find their way into canned food.

Homemade "Good Ketchup."
Homemade Ketchup. The recipe is on page #173 of Canning for a New Generation. I've done this one before, but I've decided we're never buying store-bought ketchup ever again. It's a new food Era in the Hepworth house, baby! 

Up-and-coming projects (that'll only take me about 30 years with the rate I've been going):

 - Adding lots of new recipes to our repertoire that are not only extremely healthy but also extremely delicious.
- Rendering and canning my own leaf lard. Try crackings for the first time.
- Making my own sour cream (it's only heavy cream and buttermilk, people!)
- Try raw, grass-fed milk for the first time. Make some butter with it, too.
- Making my own cheese, starting with Mozzarella.
- Fermenting and canning my own relishes, sauerkraut and pickles.
- Sprouting grains, legumes and seeds.
- Baking with sprouted grain flour.
- Baking with all kind of whole grains, not just wheat.
- Learning more ways to incorporate Kefir in my cooking than just smoothies.
- Once Squire graduates and we move, I want to learn how to garden with Permaculture principles. That'll be a doozey.
I think I've decided that I generally fit within the WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) camp philosophically. Though we don't eat that way fully yet. One step at a time. Someday, I'd love to have the majority of our food come from our own backyard. How awesome would that be?! But for now, I'm finding out other ways to get healthy foods in on a budget. I want to share a handful of resources I have found on my journey you may be interested to know about, too.

These books: 


I particularly love Jennifer McGruther's ,The NourishedKitchen. It is filled with wisdom and beautiful photos. It makes eating a traditional foods lifestyle so accessible.

These websites:
www.westonaprice.org - More info about WAPF
www.azurestandard.com - A natural food co-up. Buy in bulk and save.
www.eatwild.com - A listing of grass-fed and pasture-raised meat producers.
www.realmilk.com - Listings of raw, grass-fed dairies.
www.bountifulbaskets.org - Food co-op. Get lots of produce for a great price. Organic option, too.
www.the3000club.org (for Tucson and Phoenix friends) - A food rescue program. Pay $10 and get up to 60lbs. of produce, often organic! You have to be ready to process it within a few days though.
www.mountainroseherbs.com - The best place to buy organic herbs and spices in bulk.
www.theprairiehomestead.com - Love her blog for learning about homesteading topics.
www.youtube.com/user/Michigansnowpony - Love her youtube channel for learning all things homestead.

Any other great resources you care you share, my friends?! Feed my obsession! (Pun totally intended.) Talk to me about the food in your life!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Golden Miracle in the Switchback Staircase

My heart is so full of joy and awe today. God is a God of miracles. He always has been and always will be. And He graciously enlists our help and the help of angels in His work. And let me just tell you - the wages of God do not disappoint! Today, our family was blessed to be witnesses to and participants in a small miracle.


It all started out, mundanely enough, picking out an outfit for Atley to wear to church. My good friend Amanda passed on a great dress to us that her daughter had worn and has now outgrown. It is fitted in the bodice and it has a full poofy skirt. It definitely fits the bill for a Christmas Sunday wardrobe choice. Well, Christmas is gone now, but I thought Atley would enjoy wearing it, so I pulled it out for her to wear last night in preparation for the Sabbath. I didn't realize that Squire had already picked out an outfit for Atley. I almost put the poofey dress back, but decided to keep it out as it didn't need to be ironed like the other outfit and it would save us time in our preparation for church. I chose Atley's silver sandals with silver flowers to go with the dress. After fixing Atley's hair and getting her dressed this morning, I had the thought that she should wear her pearl necklace with the golden bow. This necessitated a change to black shoes (to avoid the gold/silver clash), which I had to request Squire get down from a tote in the garage. This final point reveals my OCD with matching clothes and probably a little vanity. It is also a testament that Atley's choice of outfit was indeed guided by the spirit. The work that went into getting her dressed today - definitely an increase from the normal routine - was noticeable.

We got into the car to drive to church. It was foggy (weird for Tucson, right?) and pretty cold. I thought, "I should have put her in the outfit Squire chose! She'll be cold today in her short sleeves!" But a voice in my head said, "No. This was the right choice."

On the other side of Wilmot road, another family dressed their sweet little girl, Atley's age, in a ruffly neon pink dress. This little gal is in Atley's same nursery class. Today, her mom explained, that she insisted on wearing a gold flower in her hair. Though it didn't match, she indulged her daughter's request for the gold flower anyway. (This is the healthy way to feel about clothing, people!) ;)

Fast forward to the end of church. We were in our classroom with our little 3-4 year old students waiting for their parents to come pick them up. Squire said, "I'll go get Atley from nursey." "Sounds good." When he brought her back, I noticed that she had a new accessory in her hair - a golden poinsettiaish flower. It looked great with the gold bow on her pearl necklace and Christmas dress, but it wasn't ours. I informed Squire it wasn't, and he left Atley with me and ran back to the classroom in order to make sure the golden accessory got back to its rightful owner. 

On his way back up the stairs (our primary classes are upstairs), a gaggle of children made their way down the steps, delaying his ascent. "Good luck!" a friend said, noting the flow of little bodies making their way down the crowded staircase. Squire waited a few moments and made his way up the stairs. He was the only one going up. Just as he came around the corner to the middle landing, he saw a little girl falling face first down the steps (about 10 steps total). She plunged from the top step and was about to land face first three steps up from from the landing! And!!! . . . Squire caught her with one arm, and then supported her with the other. She was a bit shaken up, but otherwise unharmed.

I have one last detail to add - that for the last few weeks, Jocelyn has been nursing during both the first and third hour of church. Because I nurse her at the end, I have been the one to get Atley from nursery. This Sunday though, Jocelyn slept right on through that third hour. If I had been the one to get Atley from her class, I would have recognized the flower wasn't hers immediately and no second trip up the stairs would have been made.

I testify that this was a miracle. To think what would have happened to that little girls' face or head had I decided to put Atley in the other dress, which would have required a different necklace! With no gold to make her nursery leaders think that that fallen accessory was hers, and thereby cutting out Squire's second trip to the other side of the chapel and return up the stairs at no less and no more than the exactly perfect time and step to be able to catch her! I testify again that a miracle happened today!

Albeit . . . a small miracle. There are even greater miracles than this. So much greater!

Today in primary singing time, we learned a new song that filled my whole soul with the Spirit I feel when I know I am hearing truth undefiled. 


The message of the song is most poignant in its beautiful, swelling chorus:

"Jesus is a God of miracles. Nothing is at all impossible to Him. But I know this, of all His miracles, the most incredible must be, the miracle that rescues me."

I testify that Jesus is a God of miracles. I love my Savior for all that He has done for me, and for the life He lived. I love Him for the miracles that He performed in person for others during His life and ministry, and for the miracles I have seen Him direct in my life and lives of others. I love Him for letting me witness and participate in these things. And I testify that whosover will put their faith in and follow Him, will be rescued and be granted Eternal life - life with Him and with our Heavenly Father. It is troubling at times, how the world is darkening at an ever-increasing pace. I testify that the number of miracles we see will continue to grow and increase in greater measure than the darkness. There will be no limit to the miraculous happenings we will experience in coming years. And all of them, as incredible as they are and will be - even in all their breathtaking detail - will pale in comparison to the incredible miracle of the atonement that our Savior Jesus Christ offered in Gethsemane, on the cross and out of the tomb. As we dedicate ourselves to Him, we too will have eyes to see and ears to hear the miracles that are already happening all around us. These things I know are true. I share this in love and Gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ - who has miraculously rescued both you and me.

Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 Update: Stuff I Want to Remember about Life Right Now

I started to write a witty little facebook status about some cute things the kids have done lately. Three paragraphs into the construction of the status update, I decided it was best to just write those things here on the blog. I'm not sure how witty this hodge-podge blog post is going to be, but these things are important to me. They are the things I want to remember about my little family and our lives together - today. 

Lincoln: He is such a goofy, hilarious, observant little boy! He read his first word on Tuesday, January 6th: "mat." He was so excited he jumped up and hugged me. He was laughing with delight at learning a new skill. He feels silly when he works on writing letters and they look, "a little wonky." I do my best to introduce him to all kinds of music (Jazz, Classical, Symphonic, International, etc.) and his favorite station on Pandora is?. . . Weird Al Yankovic. While I was boiling pasta for mac and cheese (deceptively delicious style) he said, "The noodles are dancing in the bubbles!" Also, he requests for Atley to nurse his bunny, and gets upset if/when she refuses to, "But he's hungry! My bunny needs to eat!!" He loves to be read to. The other day I read Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece to the kids before nap time. Lincoln was walking around the house later that day singing, "Oh, I'm looking for my missing piece, I'm looking for my missing piece. High-dee-ho, here I go, I'm looking for my missing piece!" He's getting schooled in the ways of old school cartoons by his dad: on Saturday mornings he gets to watch one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Spiderman, and eat a bowl of sugar cereal. (Sugar cereal from his Dad's Christmas stash - the poor man requested Peanut Butter Crunch as a gift this year, as I've been depriving him for about a year, now. ;) ) He started attending Sunbeams on Sunday. I think he was both excited and shell-shocked by the transition. He ran to hug his dad when he saw him in singing time. (We team teach the other Sunbeam class together in our ward.) I'm looking forward to seeing him warm up to the whole experience and really start singing in singing time because he has a great ear and voice for music.  He'll be four in February.

Atley: She is one sweet, independent little gal as evidenced by her insistence that she do everything "self!!" But she isn't so independent that she doesn't love to snuggle close to me in bed each morning and whisper, "Love you, Mama. Love you." She is often wearing several dress-ups and accessories at the same time. This little woman has style! She LOVES pink so much that it is a rare day (and very precariously discussed) that I can get her to wear anything else. She got a play food set for her second birthday - the kind that slices apart. She brought me a piece of bread with a strawberry attached at the velcro and said it was bread with jam. We recently fought (and won!) the  "like it!" (Translation: "I don't like it!") food battle with her and she is feeling pretty proud to be eating food on her plate, "Self!" She has the cutest little nasally voice. She loves her baby "Jothelyn" and helps me by bringing me dipes and wipes for her. She also helps me put away the dishes from the dishwashing machine each morning. She is quick to be a helper and listener which is wonderful for her mama! Sometimes, she whispers her answers to questions I ask her. I have no idea why she does this, but it makes me laugh. Squire has been away for interviews a lot lately, and Atley always insists we pray for "Daddeeeeee! or "Daddy-O."

Jocelyn: She is very observant and alert. She is really cooing and baby talking now which I adore as much as her bright smile that can be found in both her mouth and sweet round blue eyes - these often go together - double win! She is keeping her baby hair so far *fingers crossed we bypass the old man hair-do.* It is still light brown, but auburnish in the right light. She has one longer patch of hair on the crown of her head that curls straight up. I call her my little cockatoo because of this. She is calm in nature, but very active and strong. She loves being worn in my Sakura ring sling - she requests with some squawking to face out to see the world these days. She is delighted by the toys that hang from the bar in her bouncer and coos at them with joy. She nurses great and sleeps a manageable amount. I'm not a total zombie! ;)  She is gaining weight and her double chin is growing, but she has a less chunky baby body than Atley did so her g cloth diapers fit just right. 

Squire: Squire has been interviewing at residency programs all over the Western part of the United States (Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nevada) for the last couple of months which has kept him away from home quite a bit. He just finished an independent study and wrote a research paper on Obesity and ways to treat it with lifestyle and medicine. He is almost done with medical school at the U of A and will graduate this May!!! I'm not sure which one of us is more excited. Our 3 1/2 years in Tucson have gone by in the blink of eye. He loves to listen to Dave Ramsey while helping around the house or wood-working, and he is excited to start making money so that we can pay off our debt. He doesn't care that we have a lot of money, he just wants to be able to care for his family's needs and do that with a career he has felt led to do by God. I'm so proud of all he has accomplished, and the good, loving man that he is. He has the most unique dance moves I've ever seen - those get busted out regularly for Hepworth family only dance parties. ;) He is always reading a novel of some kind to the kids. This past year he read the first couple of books from the Little House on the Prairie series, and is currently reading Charlotte's Web to them. He is so loved by our kidlets. They like to ride him like a cow. Not a horse. A cow.  We just read Christmas Jars together - a tear-jerker that inspired us to implement a new family tradition in our home.
   
Me: I am feeling overwhelmed . . . with joy and peace! I love my life and my little family! I never divulged much on this blog, but last year for several months (really, much of the year before I got pregnant with Jocelyn) I had a lot of struggles with my physical and emotional health. I suspect I was struggling with adrenal fatigue and some postpartum depression. It was hard. Really hard. There was a lot of time when I didn't know how to keep going when all I felt like doing was curling up in a corner to sleep or disappear, but I am pleased to report that I am fully back to my own self in mind and body now, and I am cherishing this wonderful time by sucking the marrow out of life. Having Jocelyn has been a gift in our home. I'm enjoying my kids and homemaking more fully than I ever have. I get a kick out of doing Zumba and other video workouts with my little rugrats these days. It's hilarious - and also kind of difficult to not step on them with their excited frenzies about it all. I'm currently reading a lot because nursing forces me to sit quite a bit. Right now I'm working my way through Approaching Zion by: Hugh Nibley and pondering on the topic of preparing my family and associates for the Second coming of Jesus Christ. ("What does Zion look like? How can I create that in my home? How can I foster that in my relationships with others?") I pressure-canned chicken for the first time in November with my family and Misty's help, and am getting ready to pressure can beans, and to learn to sprout. I'm feeling really motivated to add a slew of new, healthy recipes to our repertoire, particularly dietician approved and low-meat or vegetarian dishes. (If you have any you love, I'd love if you'd send them along!!) :) I am looking forward to see where God is going to lead our family for residency - we find out in March. I'm excited about all the possibilities and know that wherever we go, it will be just the right place for us.

2015 is starting out as a beautiful and exciting year for our family. Life is good. I hope things are going just as well in your corner of the world! Thanks for caring enough to read about our lives. That means a lot to me.

Sincerely,

Jami

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Goodbye Processed Cereal! Hellooooo Homemade Granola!

Do I have a recipe for you! This granola recipe will make kicking processed cereal to the curb a breeze. Give it a taste and see if you don't agree! :)


Jami's Classic Granola

(This is great over yogurt or with milk as a cold cereal.)
  • 7.5 cups of old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 2.5 cups unsweetened coconut (I buy "wide slice" and "thread" from my local Sprouts store and do half and half)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil (heated in the microwave until liquid, about 30 seconds)
  • 3/4 cup high-quality honey
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350* Farenheit.
2. Mix well all the ingredients but the coconut oil, honey and vanilla.
3. In a small, separate bowl mix the coconut oil, honey and vanilla together and pour over the granola mixture. Mix until well incorporated.
4.  Spread mixture out on two rimmed baking sheets (half sheet pans) lined with parchment paper or silpat liners.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring mixture on each pan and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until a light golden brown. Be careful to watch the granola: it will quickly turn from golden to burnt and will continue to cook as it cools when you take it out of the oven. Mixture will be moist when it comes out of the oven but will crisp and clump as it cools. Keeps for 1-2 weeks in an airtight container.

A couple of serving ideas:
Mash a banana up with some plain Greek yogurt, and sprinkle this deliciousness on top.
Serve with milk (we do whole around here!) and a handful of fresh raspberries or blueberries.

Thanks to Mel at Mel's Kitchen Cafe for the inspiration recipe, which can be found at this link:
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/classic-granola-and-french-chocolate-granola/

Friday, January 2, 2015

Here's a New Year's Resolution: Get Rid of Stupid Guilt


(**This post is written unabashedly from a Christian, LDS, perspective. I don't know how to authentically and fully share this post in any other way as so much of what I have found helpful on this topic is so rooted in True Gospel principles. I hope that whatever you believe and however you live your life, you find something of value, here.  Also - there are NO affiliate links in this post.**)

I've been pondering what to write about this topic for several months, now. With only about 30 seconds of focused effort on the subject, my mind was able to conjure up at least 9 specific friends who have mentioned feelings of guilt in private, recent conversations with me. These friends of mine (all women) are wonderful, good people, who are accomplishing great things in their families and communities. And yet they are guilt-ridden. They are trying to do their best in all the areas of life that matter to them, and they feel they come up short every time. They feel bad for their inadequacies. They criticize what they do accomplish. Then (and this is the worst part, isn't it?), they know they should be feeling grateful and happy and that others have it worse off than they do and . . . they feel bad for complaining and feeling guilty.

It's a vicious cycle. And I have a massive, undeniable, grotesque hunch weighing me down (figuratively speaking, for now anyways) that my 9 personal friends aren't the only ones in the universe who need some loving advice and encouragement in this area.  
  
Before we tackle this topic, though, I must mention that there are two kinds of guilt in life: helpful, God-given guilt and what I like to call stupid guilt. The scriptures back me up, here:

"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Corinthians 7:10)

God-given guilt (godly sorrow) is a gift from a loving Father in Heaven who wants more than anything else for us to live with Him again. To live with Him again though, we must be perfect. ". . . no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence. . ." (Moses 6:57) God has given us the gift of His guilt so that we will want to repent, or change, through the grace of His Son, so that we might qualify to live with Him again. This guilt often starts with a stinging realization of our nothingness, and our unworthiness. It is sometimes the most painful kind of guilt. The culmination of this kind of guilt though, should fill us with hope: hope in our Savior, hope that we can change through Him, and a clear path of action. God's purpose in giving us guilt is to inspire us to change. He doesn't shock us with guilt just so we will just sit paralyzed in fear and shame about what we've done and hate everything about who we are. If your guilt is paralyzing, or leading you to hate yourself, you can be pretty certain that guilt is inspired of an evil source. This is stupid guilt.  

Stupid guilt (sorrow of the world) often comes from our own (foolish) expectations. It is inspired by Old Scratch and his minions. It causes us to feel bad, but doesn't inspire us with a way to get out of the hole it traps us in. It blinds us to the good things we are accomplishing with God. It fosters enmity within us for others. Honestly, it is downright depressing!
Me, myself and I? We have all had our fair share of stupid guilt. We have also found out through trial, error and Heavenly guidance, how to generally eradicate the stuff. ("Enough of the plural third person, please. It was amusing in the first sentence, but by the second it was getting old." Ok. Point taken.) I really don't suffer much from stupid guilt. I am pretty comfortable with who I am, who I am becoming, and I trust the One who is helping me accomplish all of that. Over the years, He has instructed me how to trust Him more, and as I have done that, I have found more confidence. Some of the things I am sharing are broader principles, and some are specific behaviors. They are all things I have felt were inspired, inspiring, and life-changing for me in getting rid of stupid guilt. Tune in to the Spirit as you read and see if there isn't a message here for you. 

Use the atonement, not only in dramatic circumstances, but all the time. Are we not all beggars? We are! God gives us every breath we breathe. He gives us our health, all that we materially possess, and all our skills and talents. We are indebted to Him for everything we have and are. In the words of Hugh Nibley, "Work we must, but the lunch is free." The sooner we realize where our lunch comes from, the less attention we have to focus on working for a lunch that has already been gifted to us. The grace of Jesus Christ's atonement not only helps us when we make mistakes, but it also enables us to accomplish and become so much more than we could with our natural capacities. We have nothing to prove, no one to compete with - only one master to serve in love and humility. And in doing so? We will feel His love more deeply and be blessed even more boundlessly.

In ditching stupid guilt, throw out the temptation to stop trying. That will only compound the problem. No offense to you, me and everybody on this Earth, but you really aren't perfect just the way you are. This is a pernicious lie from Old Scratch being perpetuated in myriad ways by his lapdogs, the popular media, meant to sedate you to mediocrity. Everyone has room for improvement. Of course you should try! That you always strive is your essential contribution. As you do, just remember who gives you your lunch.

Pray to see yourself as God sees you. Whenever I feel really down about myself, I remember the advice my mom gave to me in my struggling teen years, "Pray to see yourself as God sees you." His perfect love has never failed to lift my spirits to see the potential I possess, even amidst mistakes and outright failure. And that really makes His love for us all the more inspiring, doesn't it?

Less stuff is more freedom. Sometimes people feel like they have too much on their plate to manage, because they literally have too many plates, and toys, and clothes, and stuff, and stuff, and stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff! The more things you can get rid of that you don't absolutely need, the less time and effort you will spend worrying about things that absolutely don't matter, to impress people who absolutely don't care. Minimalism is a pretty awesome movement. It goes beyond getting rid of physical stuff, too. I recommend you join the party and ditch the stupid guilt you carry because you simply have too much stuff to manage.

Tune out of social media and generally competitive people. How many articles must we read like this, and this, and this before we learn that excessive Pinterest/facebook/pretty much all social media time, is bad for our mental and emotional health? If you're getting depressed about your lack of craftiness, rock hard bottom, or perfectly coiffed couch pillows, maybe an assessment is in order. Track how much time (and energy) you are devoting to social media. Less just might be the prescription for less stupid guilt. OR - a change in how you use the sites? Only you can determine that for yourself. Think about it and proceed with a plan. Online and in person, there are people who are a drag with their one-upedness. If there is someone in your life who always has to compete and compare themselves with you, limit your time with them and your stupid guilt will diminish correspondingly.  

Throw out spiritual checklists, and tune in to the Spirit. This one is huge. MASSIVE I TELL YOU!!!! Did you hear me shouting, there? Why is this so big?!?!?! When our spiritual things find their way onto our checklist of things to accomplish, we have really missed the whole point, haven't we? The point of reading scriptures every day, praying every day/all the time, doing FHE once a week, church meetings every Sunday, going to the temple X number of times a year, doing visiting/home teaching once a month, feeding the missionaries twice a month, listening to Mormon Tabernacle choir every morning, doing a secret act of service each day . . . is to come closer to God. If we are closer to God, we feel more loved, more inspired to do good, and to be better. When we robotize (is that a word?) or sterilize our spirituality by trying to spell it out as a specific formula, we shouldn't be surprised when those things stop being uplifting. I'm not undercutting the importance of doing those things and if you are successfully managing them, this is not an encouragement to drop excellent habits. I'm just saying that we have to always keep in mind the purpose of why we do those things in our minds. We should be careful to not offer or accept righteous routines as the actual Gospel principles/truths they espouse - or to think that a righteous routine in place, excuses us from giving more of ourselves, or time or talents, when prompted. When we focus on structured religious behaviors instead of the principles behind them - and the voice of the Spirit instructing how We might live them - we will discover an abundance of stupid guilt. So, do the opposite: focus on true principles and how the spirit instructs you to incorporate righteous habits in your life. It is so much more effective, and much less guilty-making. I highly recommend John Pontius' book, Following the Light of Christ Into His Presence, on this topic.  
Speaking of routines . . . ;)

Keep a simple household routine. I know it is kind of in vogue to brag about how filthy our houses get as stay-at-home moms these days. We all know the Law of Entropy is alive and well in all houses - especially those with toddlers. But, let's talk about how to overcome (or at least manage) that, shall we? Having a decently tidy space helps keep everyone feeling happier, less guilt-ridden, and more productive. Here a few things I do each day that make all the difference in managing my household with three very young children. I wake up, make my bed and get down on my knees to pray. Then, I throw a load of laundry into my washing machine and go empty the dishwasher. I fold the load when it is done (and usually start one more, too). I load dishes at each meal. I make my kids tidy up their toys/books in the proper places before they go down for nap/quiet time each day (or else they lose the toys they leave out for a day). I make sure I have started a load in my dishwasher before my head hits the bed at night. By doing these things every day, my house stays generally under control. We don't have to deal with mess crises. Figure out a systematic routine for managing your household, and your stupid guilt load will come out clean. I highly recommend Daryl Hoole's, The Ultimate Career, on this topic. I recently read it, and got so many amazing ideas for household management.
  
Do something that will last, every day. Daryl talks about this in her book, and I have thought this myself, too. So much of the things we do are never-ending chores: laundry and dishes, specifically. If we can spend a little time each day doing something that isn't one of the those never-ending chores it will help us feel more accomplished. Write a blog post. Sew something. Do some family history research. Go on a hike. Read a book for 30 minutes. Organize a closet. You get the idea. Doing this will give you a boost and help reduce stupid guilt. 

Read words of life. What is your favorite scripture? Do you have a positive mantra you like to say to yourself? Put it up where you can read it and think of it often. On my microwave, I currently have this scripture posted:

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." (2 Nephi 31:20)
 
Perhaps a positive phrase or scripture, oft-seen, will help you internalize a more Eternal perspective, and keep your stupid guilt at bay.

Take accountability with your words. My midwife, Sharon - came to my house at my 6-week postpartum visit. She made a comment, "Where's the popcorn for your tree?" I have a naturally-decorated tree. To feel bad about not having strung popcorn on my tree would be stupid guilt. To apologize for this would be encouraging stupid guilt. I said something sort of like this, "I decided not to this year. I have in years past, and I love the way it looks, but this year our time was more limited with Jocelyn arriving and all. I decided to snuggle with her instead." Then, I let it go. We only have so much time. We have to choose our priorities. When we have chosen what is most important to us, we should own it, and ignore any nagging stupid guilt, to do otherwise would just be stupid.

Throw out the scale - or weigh yourself less. Truly make it about taking care of your body - not a number. If you must weigh yourself, let it be only once a week. Look to principles of healthy self-care and incorporate those into your daily living - not as a fad or diet, but as a way of life. Things like consuming more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods or soda, and incorporating consistent physical activity into your routine that is enjoyable to you. As you focus on those sustainable principles for healthy living, your energy will increase, your muscles with strengthen, you will feel better in your own skin, and the stupid guilt will melt away.

Write stuff down. Don't waste time worrying about things you might forget. Don't waste time feeling guilty about things you forgot. Write it in a journal, or notebook, or sticky notes on the fridge, or in your phone. Whatever. Just write it down.

Watch less TV and spend more time doing things that will truly enrich your life. If you feel guilty for how much time you watch TV (and yes, Netflix counts as TV), it is almost certainly for good reason. TV is generally a waste of precious, God-given time. We all know it. That is why we feel bad when we sit in a mindless stupor in front of the stupid box, which feeds us commercials which also contribute to stupid guilt that we don't own stupid things. Watch less TV and substitute reading of wholesome, uplifting literature. Substitute focused time spent with your family. Substitute more time worshipping and serving. More time developing talents. Do this, and your stupid guilt will diminish. 

Recognize the efforts you put forth each night, and Thank God for His contribution, too. Learn to be content with whatever it was that you accomplished. Thank God for giving you whatever resources He did to make that happen: time, health, physical resources, children, skills/talents, etc.

Spend time with people who love you. Oftentimes, we spend too much time with those people who are trying to compete with us, and too little time with those who really love us and make us feel happy to be alive. Spend more time with the latter. They are the ones who will let you know if the guilt you are feeling is worthwhile, or if it should be ground up in the garbage disposal. Talk with them. Spend time with them. Become - with God's grace - the kind of person who uplifts others and helps them want to be better, too.

Get to bed at a decent time and rise earlier. I'm a night owl. Always have been. Still, I know that this advice when followed in my own life has made all the difference. It seems that stupid guilt often attacks late at night when we should be sleeping. So, sleep instead. Live more life in the sun light, and the light of the Son will lift your confidence and energize you to accomplish more than you ever could without Him.

If you have read this (Thank you!) and are now feeling guilty because you don't do everything on this list, I'm here to tell you that that is stupid guilt! You and me? We're not competing with each other. We're friends. Take what is helpful, throw out the rest - and as always - let the Spirit be your guide. 

Have a Happy New Year, my friends. A happy, stupid-guilt-free year!!

How do you conquer stupid guilt in your life? Please, share in the comments section!

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