Manic Motherhood at it's FINEST!!

Why "I am NOT a VOLCANO!"

Why "I am NOT a VOLCANO!"
click the volcano for the due explanation
"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." — Gordon B. Hinckley
Exaggeration is the spice of life

Book I am Currently Reading: Peter and The Shadow Thief

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"The Best Way Out is Always Through"

Giveaway coming soon!!!

I am SO excited to announce this! I have never done any reviews or giveaways other than my own home made items, and I am ready to jump in head first!

My first weekly Friday Flash giveaway is starting TOMORROW- so check back for that! There will be one every Friday, so tune in for THAT! (I know, the anticipation is already killing you. LOL.)

But that's not all! A wonderful new review and giveaway is on the way! I can't say what it is yet, because it's still in the works, but it'll be settled soon! I'm excited! You should be too!


Mama Kat's Writer's Prompts.

I chose prompt number 1:
What did you go through in order to get out?
"The best way out is always through." - Robert Frost

At first, when I saw this post, I thought hilariously about the Haunted Circus my girlfriends and I attended this past Halloween- the spinning rooms, the puffy tunnels, the chainsaws, the clown oven....- long story. The things I literally went THROUGH to get out of there.

And then, I noticed the complexity of the question.

When we say to someone who has had a hard time, "You've been through a lot," or "this situation is tough, but you'll get through it," we don't usually think about it as a physical thing.

Looking back, though, it does seem a bit more physical. Dark spots-tunnels, if you will- that eventually widened into caverns and then became bright again. I remember lots of them. I'm in one right now- a loooooooong, seemingly endless tunnel that gets narrower and narrower as the days go on. I'm sure that eventually, it'll make a great blog story about what I went "through" to get out of it. For now, you'll have to settle for a past experience.

You see, I sort of see my entire college career as "dark ages" in my life. The details of that are not really necessary- not terribly incriminating either, so don't jump to conclusions- but there was a heck of a lot of soul searching, getting to know myself and learning how to trust, and how discern when not to trust. A lot of culture shock.

And, not that I'm reminiscing at all, but I was involved with my first serious boyfriend. I dated him for two years, and we almost got married- but you see, it's obvious that we did not get married, which means that there was a breakup. It was absolutely the most distraught period of my life.

I worked as the early morning (read: 4am) baker at Smith's Bakery then. I drove an adorable little yellow Omni with band stickers plastered across the back window, I spent all day going to class, afternoons doing homework, and evenings hanging out with roommates who didn't really care about me, nor me them, and dodging "date nights" in our living room.

I cried- nay, I sobbed- while baking french bread and Mexican wedding cookies each morning, barely held it together while taking cake orders from customers, and was severely glad to just sit, staring at my teachers for 8 hours a day. Surely they thought I was deeply interested in what they had to say. In the Student Union Building, I often crashed beside the fireplace, curled up in one of the many love-sac beanbag chairs while trying to finish math homework, and snorted sarcastically when, during my Tai Chi final, my teacher expressed, with much gusto, how well she could feel my chi. I told her, without smiling, that I was just so incredibly happy. I still got the highest grade in the class.

My ex and I had all the same friends. We all met the first week of school. And when I broke up with him- yes, believe it or not, I must have had some kind of masochistic desire to have my heart ripped out of my chest, thrown on the floor, kicked through the dirt, and then stomped on until it stopped beating. I broke it off- I lost most of them too. Neither of us asked them to pick sides, but he threw parties a lot, and did "cool" stuff like rock climbing and sk8ing. There were few people I had left there, but one of them, Ryan- a boy I wasn't interested in at all, but who made me laugh, danced with me at Homecoming when I showed up stag, and let me bowl free because he worked at the alley and was captain(?) of the bowling team. I spent a night, once, sobbing so hard that I couldn't breathe in his dorm while he rented me a stack of chick-flicks, and brought me pizza.

Those days seemed to last forever. I truly loved him. But we didn't belong together. We wanted a million different things.

Of course, time took it's toll. I grew up a lot. Heartbreaks make cynics of us all. I came home from school a lot, and I started dating Brandon. You see, I'd made a really difficult decision, knowing it was the right one. My romantic belief that love always perseveres and that happy endings prevailed had been proven wrong. But I survived- and largely on my own.

Slowly, the tunnel lessened it's pressure on me, and let me escape. And I was still just fine, when it was all over.

The "through" is never as dark when you look over your shoulder as it is when you are surrounded by it.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I am STILL ACCEPTING the 25% off coupon code CYBERMONDAY11 on my etsy store

If you are interested in any of these lovely items, they are still available at my store- along with many other gorgeous items!!!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Touchy Topic Tuesday- "Everyone's a Winner"

Touchy Topic Tuesday
"Everyone's a Winner"

About two weeks ago, my oldest daughter, Lilly, won an award for this year's Reflections contest at school. As it seems it ALWAYS is, the topic was "Diversity."

Lilly wrote a story about a girl named Rosabel who left her stove on so her house burned down. (I know- morbid, right? But it was her story, not mine, and I didn't want to interfere, so it is what it is.) Anyway, Rosabel's house had only pink flowers. In her search for a new house, Rosabel came across houses with blue, yellow, purple or red flowers, but not pink. At last, she found a house with all different colors of flowers, and learned to love the diversity in them. Lilly gets to send her story on to the state competition, and the principal had her read it out lout at the awards ceremony.

Of course, I was a very proud mama. And, of course, the minute we got home, I announced her success in my Facebook status. Dozens of "like"s and 18 very supportive comments later, a man I went to high school with posted the following:

"Awards seem tempting at first but are ultimately more damaging to everyone involved. I wish our society wasn't preoccupied with them. It took me 30 years to figure this out.

"And yet I am constantly confronted by the farce that is 'academia' only, ironically, because I value the knowledge and the collaborative ideas of the science that is only there while despising the honor thereof."

I replied, saying "I don't know. I think awards are healthy. What I think is damaging is when everyone wins. That's not how life works. People lose sometimes. It's damaging to teach our children that there's no competition. Our whole lives are competition."

To that, the man replied "Obviously, the notion of reward, instead of award, is very deep.

"Academy awards and Nobel Prizes sound very chic and special, but only perhaps because they attune us to our indigenous predisposition for worship of ourselves or our heroes. It is this enmity, this belief in impossible superhuman ability in others that is damaging. All your kid will ever remember is that he never will be superman. (ME HERE: this line is specifically regarding my mention of Mahone, who entered but did not win the award.)

"I know this because I was the kid who never won anything. I never got good grades in school, was never recognized, but was taught by my elders and peers to seek after awards. Every single one of my 7 siblings each fulfilled an august gamut of scholastic recognition, including invitations to honor orchestras, student of the month and other such nonsense. when the time came for my coming of age, the oversight was abrupt and the unspoken tradition fell flat before me. I felt this very keenly. My brothers and sister sang in the elite choirs and acted leading roles in plays, set athletic records and collected diverse state-level accolades. I only wish I knew then whaat I know now. I suppose some people will never learn and that is a solemn tragedy.

"Awards in themselves are shallow artifacts made of cheap moral foil that are given subjectively, often unfairly, and disproportionately used to justify entitlement, nobility, intelligence, creativity, beauty, exceptionality, quality or worth. They are false, extrinsic trinkets that venerate the work of a few winners, while the rest are passed over in broken silence--their effort and their travail unheeded.

"I hope that I can teach my children to never evaluate themselves against an arbitrary awards scale, to respect them because society does, but never judge themselves or other by them."

(You remember how I once mentioned that I must have a sign across my forehead that says "I enjoy listening to your controversial opinions? Please, let me have it? Well, here is proof. I, in my excitement for my daughter, share her story on Facebook, and get a lecture about how not only am I superficial, and am ruining my child by letting her be proud of herself for winning an award, but also, I am ruining my son because I subjected him to a contest he didn't

Now, never one to let someone demean my children and then have the last word, I, of course, responded in a very mama-bear manner that will not be posted here. (Mainly because I am about to discuss all the points I touched on anyway.)

What I believe in most is good sportsmanship. Upon winning her trophy, Lilly posed, smiling, for photos with the principal, and, seeing Mahone's disappointment at not winning a trophy himself, handed hers over for him to hold for the remainder of the ceremony. Lilly did not gloat, she did not rub it in or make him feel worse about not winning. Instead, she helped her brother feel better.

Likewise, I believe that it doesn't always have to be about ME (or them, as it were.) It doesn't matter if you feel slighted or if you did not do as well as you had hoped. If you have a friend or family member that is being celebrated, you suck it up, and you make their special day live up to it's potential. It doesn't matter if your younger sister is getting married before you. It doesn't matter if your brother's wife is having a baby shower and you are having trouble conceiving. It doesn't matter if your best friend got the lead in the play - the part YOU wanted. You have NO RIGHT to take their success and joy away from them by acting like a put upon baby. It is ridiculous for anyone to think that their sorrow is so vast that those who have reason to be happy and celebrate should tone it down or walk on egg shells. Mahone, through his sadness, and with a bit of prodding from me- but let's cut him some slack, he's five- was able to hug his sister and tell her congratulations. She had done a good job.

There was NO WAY I was going to take Lilly's deserved recognition away to save her brother from disappointment. Disappointment, in the real world, happens daily. At some point, a person will need to learn to deal with it. I, personally, prefer to confront that probability head on, as it comes, so that my child is able to cope in a healthy manner both while I am able to stand beside them and help where they need it, and when I am no longer here, and they must face the dismal scene on their own.

A few months back, I was involved in a discussion with a friend of mine who happens to be a high school drama teacher. She was saying that her choice of musical for the year had been rejected by the principal because there weren't enough leads. The school she teaches at will only support performances that have like-sized speaking parts for all characters.

Do you find that shocking? I do. When I was in high school, we auditioned for parts, and if we got one, great, if we didn't, too bad. I'm not going to go ahead and say it was fair- there was a large amount of politics involved in the choosing of students for parts, and it wasn't always fair, and I, feeling that I deserved roles that I did not receive, faced disappointment. And that's the way it was. The same process went for all sports, cheer leading, and other clubs and extracurricular activities.

Want to know what's even MORE shocking? The reason the principal refused to allow a play with few large roles is not because of the kids- it was because of the amount of PARENTS who, in the past, had called the school and DEMANDED that their child be given a part! Honestly, I find it appalling.

The fact of the matter IS, this is how life WORKS. We are here to teach our children that! We are SUPPOSED to help them navigate the waters of disappointment in a healthy way- not protect them from every tiny unfairness! You see, for months, my husband has interviewed for jobs he was well qualified for, and for months they were given to other people. I do know for a fact that some of those jobs were given unjustly. But Brandon's mother can't just call into the office for him and demand that he be given the promotion he deserves. Brandon cannot call and tell them that this is unfair, they had better give him this job. Sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? Well, so is this generation's idea that we must protect our children from everything- everyone wins, or no one does.

When I was in third grade, I was involved in a machine pitch baseball team. And I've got to be honest, here- I was a real bonehead about the sport. At practice, I'd sit in the outfield and pull up grass with my cleats. I couldn't hit to save my life- in fact, I got hit by the ball on several occasions, and most of the time, I just stood around, punching my mitt with my tiny fist. But my team mates and I DID keep score. None of the coaches did, though, and my particular coach was a great, supportive man with a winning smile and praise for everyone- even the head-and-shoulders-shorter-than-everyone-else girl who couldn't run, hit, or catch. (And really, at the ripe old age of 8, I appreciated that, because there has to be a balance. I was a kid. I did NOT need quite the competition of a high school baseball team- however, I would lose respect for any coach who, fearing to hurt a 16 year old's feelings, kept a kid on the team who sucked at the game as badly as I did.) While I was terrible, the boy on my team, for their age, were fantastic! It so happened that out of the whole season, we lost only two games.

At the end of the season, every child who ever donned a "Utah Parks and Recreations" t-shirt got a trophy. I felt two ways about this- "Ohhh! A shiny trophy!" and "Wait....everyone gets one?" I very specifically remember standing there in the spring rainstorm that happened that day, thinking that it was kind of lukewarm to have gotten that trophy. Symbolic, yes- a memento of a pretty fun season of baseball. BUT, it wasn't a source of pride or accomplishment because earned or not, everyone got one.

Everyone wins. Truly, I feel that this mentality is only setting our children up to fail. One must learn to deal with disappointment, mourn the loss/lack of success, and then move on and try again. Not everyone CAN win. In Lilly's case, only 5 students from each category get to move on to state level. There were over 90 submissions all together. SOME judgement had to happen. All 90 submissions could not go on, and even if they did, not all of the thousands of submissions from other students in other schools could win either. In a play, not everyone can be the lead. And not everyone can be given the job that only one person is needed for.

So, what do you think? Exactly how far should we protect our children? When does it stop? Would YOU call the school and demand that your child's teacher change his grade or give him a place on the football team? If you would, how, exactly, do you justify that mentality? Please tell us how you feel!


For a small bit of humor, this School answering machine was taken from an Australian High School where such issues were a big problem. It's funny, but it's real, and they have a point.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday sale on Upcycled Sweaters!!!

Don't forget everyone! Midnight tonight until midnight tomorrow- 25% off EVERYTHING IN MY STORE: INCLUDING a select number of custom sweaters that will be available for purchase. (When they're gone, they're gone, so hurry!) Just enter CYBERMONDAY11 at checkout!

Look for some new things, enjoy some of the already existing things! It's going to be an exciting day!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankfulness Project, Day 25

Thankfulness Project, Day 25

November 25, 2011, Friday

I am thankful that I decided not to go out to do any shopping today.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankfulness Project, Day 24, Writer's Prompt

(Brandon after Boot Camp Graduation- Texas, January 2005)

Thankfulness Project, Day 24

November 24, 2011, Thursday: Thanksgiving Day

(These are terribly out of order...well...mostly they're backwards. Sorry.)

(Karaoke with all the mcnuggets- October this year.)

I am thankful that today, my husband has work off and gets to spend the holiday with us.

(Oquirrh Mountain Temple Open House, July 3, 2009- Mahone's 3rd birthday)

I am thankful that, after 8 years of marriage, my husband still calls me on every single one of his breaks, and misses me when he's at work.

(Family pictures, spring 2009. i love this one, because it's NOT picture perfect. Life is crazy- and so is this photo.)

(Our wedding day- November 21, 2003)

I'm thankful that he is completely oblivious to other women- even though he's very handsome and girls flirt with him in FRONT of me. If I mention it, he just looks confused.

(Brandon and my oldest son, Mahone- age 2- at my brother's wedding, December 2008.)

(Early February, 2008 when we blessed Scarlet. Lilly-almost 3, Mahone 19 months, Scarlet- 3 weeks)

I'm so thankful that he adores our kids and is such a great father.

(Disneyworld, December 2007)

(At a lighthouse on some beach in New Jersey....or New York. I don't remember. LOL. Mahone-10 months, March 2007.)

He puts up with a LOT of crap from me, and I don't really deserve his patience. But I'm thankful for it.

(Brandon and Lilly-11 months- on the pedestal of the Statue Of Liberty, New York, March 2006.)


Mama Kat's Writer's Prompt.

In honor of Thanksgiving Day, the prompt I chose is:

"A Favorite Thanksgiving Memory"


The truth of the matter is, I am not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving. That's not to sayIi don't appreciate the sentiment. Still, the holiday doesn't hold much weight for me, as far as tradition goes.

I suppose I have to mention the jigsaw puzzles though.

My family is a big GAME family- as in card, board and so on. We love games. And we love puzzles only slightly less. With all my babies running a mok everywhere, we don't break out the puzzles (500-5000 pieces) all that often anymore. But they still come out every Thanksgiving day and stay out until after Christmas.

Folding table


Several puzzles.

We all join in, get addicted, get frustrated, leave, meander back eventually. And when one is finished, it is put away and replaced within minutes by another one- often autumn or Christmas themed.

Often, my husband and I take our children to a new holiday movie after the meal. We started that tradition when we lived in New Jersey for the military, spent the day with friends who also had no family (they were military too) and after dinner decided to go see something. The day feels kind of anti-climactic to me once we eat and clean up. The movie helps bring it to a smooth end.

Still, all traditions aside, I have two favorite Thanksgiving MEMORIES- the first was the birth of my youngest brother, Bozton.

What I remember is that my mom had been in active labor with him for days, but was not progressing. My dad took her to the hospital Thanksgiving morning 18 years ago, and they sent her home because , long story short, they didn't want to do anything on the holiday. Unfortunately for them, babies don't care if it's a holiday or not.

My mom had opted to stay home from Thanksgiving, since she was literally having a baby, and my dad took my brother and sister and me to my grandparent's house for the family party. We walked in the door just as my mom paged (yeah- pager. Crazy how times change, huh?) my dad that her water had broken and the baby was crowning. So he left. We had Thanksgiving while my mom was at the hospital. She very nearly gave birth in the car but missed it by minutes.

Of course, sibling anticipation is always fun when you're a kid, waiting for a cute new baby. So, that's a fun memory. My brother will celebrate his 18th birthday this Friday, after thanksgiving.

My other favorite memory is of the Thanksgiving I spent in Jamaica. Brandon and I were married on November 21st in 2003, after which, we honeymooned in Jamaica- the place my husband had served his 2 year LDS mission. The hotel we stayed in was owned by an American and his Jamaican wife.

In Jamaica, they have this wonderfully delicious thing called "jerk"- Jerk chicken, jerk pork, guessed it, TURKEY.

Well, Jerk chicken and pork are sold on the road side all over Jamaica and it's fabulous, but turkey is not normally something they just do there. Still, having an American hotel owner, he threw a great Thanksgiving party for all the guests, and we ate from a buffet of a "jerked" turkey, lobster, fish, shrimp, oysters, and all manner of fruits. The hotel was right on the beach and our table overlooked the ocean and the sunset while we enjoyed a light cool breeze and Bob Marley playing on vinyl in the background. Hibiscus flowers the size of my head adorned our table. It was amazing.

Our lovely hotel. We're standing on the beach taking this picture.

Just ONE of the gorgeous Jamaican sunsets!

Yeah...that's me on the beach.

This little place was about a half mile down the beach from our hotel. It doesn't look like it, but I was actually really close to this bird, and I was trying hard to sneak up on him. LOL.

Gorgeous waterfalls- K&M or something like that. We got to swim there too. Such a gorgeous color to the water, and it was warm, and just so beautiful!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankfulness Project, Day 23, Wordless Wednesday

Thankfulness Project, Day 23

November 23, 2011, Wednesday

I am thankful for friends I've made who I now consider family. For people, other than my biological family, who matter, who will always be there, and HAVE been there, through thick and thin, through fights and tears, late night movies that had us sobbing in each other's arms, laughing so hard we couldn't breathe, or hiding behind each other's hands. Through loss and gain and to offer support whenever it's needed. I hope I can measure up and always be as good a friend as they are to me.


Wordless Wednesday

Don't deny it. I have GORGEOUS kids.


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Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankfulness Project, Day 22, Touchy Topic Tuesday: My Parenting Style Is Better Than Yours!!!!

Thankfulness Project, Day 22

November 22, 2011, Tuesday

I'm so very thankful for snow- soft, tiny bits of clouds that spread a silent white blanket over sleeping cities so that we can wake to a winter wonderland. Well...that and steam fresh pasta. 5 minutes to a meal my kids will eat.


Touchy Topic Tuesday:
I'm Right and You're Wrong. MY parenting is better than YOUR parenting!

If you know me at all, you know I have strong opinions. I have a certain way I do things, and I want to be left to do them that way.

Generally speaking, I have a strict "no judgement" policy for myself. I don't judge moms in the store whose kids are throwing fits, or whose 5 year olds have pacifiers. Unless the guy full on beats his child in front of me, I don't assume that the father who, in line at checkout, tells his kid to stand THERE, don't TOUCH anything, and BE QUIET, is abusive, neglecting his child, or has otherwise, as one dad blogger put it "broke" his kid. ( - BECAUSE I'VE BEEN THERE! I have been the mom with a normally sweet and well behaved child freaking out because she can't ride in the cart, or I told him he couldn't have that 22 dollar toy. I had a son who had his pacifier until he was almost 2 because we moved twice and his father spent 6 months away at a tech school in another state, and he took it hard and in the midst of it, I felt it was cruel to take away a source of comfort at the same time. And how the heck does someone know, when they've seen a parent and child for a total of 5 minutes, exactly what is going on? I'm sure there's a "perfect" mom's blog post out there about me and my kids because somewhere, in some line, after a long day and my kid (or multiple kids) simply WOULD NOT stop asking for something, even though I'd said "no" twelve times, and COULDN'T keep his hands off of EVERYTHING in the store, and absolutely REFUSED just stand there for TWO MORE MINUTES while I finished running a necessary errand. It's certainly easy for a dad who only has his kid every other weekend to have a bleeding heart about a little boy who "just wants a little ice cream." - Guess what? Parenthood, for MOST of us, isn't just a whole bunch of fun and games and excellent bonding experiences over chocolate vanilla twists with bubblegum on top. If a parent was hitting their child, would I call authorities? You bet. If someone was swearing profusely at their child or calling them extremely hurtful names, would I call authorities? You bet. But a swift spank on the bottom when a kid is out of line is NOT abuse, and while it's probably not appropriate, a mom shrieking "What's wrong with you!" when her kid knocks over an entire stack of oranges after she tells him calmly three times to PLEASE stay by the cart is also probably pretty innocent. The point is, you don't know ANYTHING from watching a parent for two isles in a store. There are hundreds of ways to correctly and effectively raise a healthy, successful child, and pretty much, if it's not your kid, it's not your business.

But I digress.

I am a fairly seasoned parent as far as infants go. I have successfully helped four of them survive past the newborn stage, and three of them are now in school. With every pregnancy, I obsessed over parenting articles, books, studies, procedures and so on. I pretty much have decided the best things for me and my family with my first child- everything I've read since has simply solidified my decisions. I have had epidurals with all four of my babies. I have ASKED for early induction with two of my children. I have had all of my babies sleeping through the night by 6 weeks. I vaccinate fully and on time. I give my babies pacifiers, and it doesn't bother me in the slightest that my oldest daughter sucks her thumb at night. I have breastfed some of my children, and I have not breastfed others. I believe the "family bed" is dangerous, and I put my babies on their backs to sleep in their own cribs. I feed them solids much earlier than is recommended, and I spank. I have circumcised both my boys and no, I don't think it is anything NEAR worthy of comparing to female circumcision.

Speaking of circumcision (no, this is not the topic today), a discussion on the matter is exactly what inspired my topic.

Now, it has come to my attention that, generally, when a mother (particularly those who participate in online parenting forums- you all know my trainwreck relationship with them.) feels strongly about a topic, anyone who has a different opinion on the subject is simply misinformed and, surely, if they had all the information, they would change their mind. Of course, that mother will inevitably feel that it is her duty to supply the information. If the mother she is trying to convince insists that she has read enough information and discussed the situation with her pediatrician (since, heaven forbid any parent make any decision at all without the consent of her child's doctor) and feels it is the best decision for her family, the dutiful mother will find ways to shoot down all the information the mother in question read, and also point out that doctors don't know everything, and that they prescribe medications and suggest formulas because they get kickbacks and favor mutilating surgeries such as circumcision for the simple fact that it makes them more money- so, in conclusion, a mother can't even trust a medical physician because they're out to get her AND her child. (And half of them think that there's a conspiracy doctors employ. They lecture regularly about not letting baby boy out of your sight lest the nurses circumcise him without your permission because they feel it's what's best. Having had to sign dozens of release forms and verbally give permission to several different people, I can assure you that's not true.) BUT, of course, if HER pediatrician supports her decision NOT to circumcise, he is, surely, enlightened.

Now, circumcision was the conversation that bloomed into this Touchy topic Tuesday and it wasn't the act itself. In fact, I guess one could say that it was ear piercing that really started the whole thing. Apparently, putting two tiny holes in a little girls ears without her express permission is mutilation, and irreparable, it seems. (Tell that to my ears that have been pierced three times!)

The conversation that happened is rather predictable, and in this case, doesn't matter much- at least not until the end.

You see, a good ten minute situation passed while the other mom tried to convince me that I had made a wrong choice. (Great friend, huh? Lets just try and convince a mom that she has permanently damaged her perfect baby boy, and leave her with the knowledge that there's nothing she can do about it, and that she was so devastatingly wrong that her child will never know what it's like to be complete. Sounds compassionate.) Such excellent words as "abusive" and "disgusting" and, believe it or not, "how could anyone who cares about their child DO something like that?"

Of course, I'm ever so much more eloquent when I write than when I speak, and I only ever think up the perfect comebacks AFTER someone behaves like a heathen to me. So I just sat there and let her say her piece, and when she finished, I just said "I would do it again. I just feel like this is the best decision I could make for my sons right now."

Before she turned on her heel and swaggered away, she told me "You know what your problem is, Brae? You just think your way is the right way, and you're usually wrong."

I cracked up right then and there, with my fat baby boy drooling and laughing right along with me.

What's so funny? SHE'S RIGHT!!!! At least in part. I DO think I'm right! But she's wrong too. I'm not usually wrong. Not when it comes to MY children. I have read as many studies and weighed as many decisions as she has- in fact, I've weighed more. Two more, to be precise.

I have heard it said before that moms who have older children think they have it all figured out and that they ignore new studies because they have been doing a certain thing for so long, they feel that "if it's not broke, don't fix it"- even if the new information means something healthier for their newer child.

In a sense, I agree- there was a lot of trial and error with my oldest child, but from there on, I had several more children very close together, and I sailed through. What I do with them works- they are happy, respectful, healthy children who, for the most part, get along with each other. And it's not like they're 15 years apart. I have four of them and my oldest is six. And, as I mentioned earlier, I re-researched everything with every pregnancy. And I'm not above change. I just sometimes think it's stupid. For example, when I was pregnant with Scarlet, the big BPA plastic scare was the big "thing." - I considered switching to glass bottles, and in the end, after studying many MANY official scientific studies, not stupid google scare tactic ridden articles by bloggers who know nothing, I settled on BPA free plastic. A good compromise. With Teague, the big issue was that new studies were apparently showing that the earlier you introduce solids, the more likely a child is to develop allergies to foods as well as obesity. Well....I used my own brain on this one and concluded that as far as obesity is concerned, it has more to do with WHAT and HOW MUCH a parent feeds their child throughout their whole life, as well as how much exercise a child gets, not how early they introduce solids. And it is my personal opinion that the opposite is true as far as allergies go. The United States is the only country that suggests longer waiting periods before introducing solids, and the United States has the highest number of food allergies among children. On every birth board, moms gasp angrily because grandma slipped baby a bit of bread while the family had dinner, or a taste of applesauce during snack time. Heaven forbid ice cream passes his lips before the exact moment of his first birthday. (Newsflash: dairy isn't poison, even before one year. No, I don't recommend giving your 6 month old a bottle of cows milk, but a bite of dad's ice cream once or twice isn't going to do so much as give your baby a stomach ache.) "OMG!!! Don't you know that giving my baby a strawberry before he's 5 will give him an allergy?!!!" - says a woman from a generation in which food allergies among children were rarely heard of, but who is the parent to a child from the generation that is riddled with food allergies. The difference? The older mother never worried about feeding her child foods he would be eating eventually anyway, and the younger mother is so terrified of everything she reads that she doesn't let her baby have anything but breastmilk until he's one year old or older. Heck, in India, peanut allergies are entirely unheard of, and they start feeding their babies table food almost immediately- table food that is almost always cooked in peanut oil. In America, we wait until they are two.

So, I feed my kids whatever I'm making for dinner, as soon as they look interested. And none of my kids have any allergies at all. Yeah, yeah, I know. Anecdotal evidence. Whatever. It's working for me. Why should I change it?

The glory in all of this is, while I refuse to acknowledge any other mother's accusations that I'm doing something wrong with my children, the fact that I'm right doesn't mean they're wrong.

I just don't want people who don't know me or my kids or what's going on to sit and tell me that I'm doing something wrong. When you spend 24 hours a day 7 days a week with my kids, and know them as well as I do- in and out, up and down, interests and disinterests, and everything in between, THEN you can make the parenting decisions.

What I want to know now is- What are YOU right about? What are YOU right about that everyone else is wrong about? At least when it comes to YOUR family, what are you doing right?


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Thankfulness Project, Day 21

November 21, 2011, Monday

Today I am thankful for my husband, and an eternal marriage that happened in the Salt Lake Temple 8 years ago today.

Marilyn Monroe said:

The perfect description of ME- And I don't know anyone who deserves me at my best than Brandon does.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankfulness Project, Day 19 and 20, Sunday Epiphanies

Thankfulness Project Days 19 and 20

November 19, 2011, Saturday

I am thankful for an adequate paycheck. To be able to finally go grocery shopping and buy what we need without having to sacrifice something ELSE we need.

November 20, 2011, Sunday

I am thankful for a handsome, loyal dog who checks on my children multiple times each night, and is trustworthy, when left in my house alone, not to mark territory, chew my furniture, or get into the garbage. I can't seem to keep him OFF the furniture when I'm not home, but at least all the does there is sleep.

Sunday Epiphanies

I have a restless, noisy soul. I attribute that to my family history of strong,creative, independent women. It's a good thing, not a bad thing, but sometimes it gets in the way, spiritually speaking.

As has been mentioned multiple times before, I am a teacher in the primary. I have been there for nearly 2 years now, and I swear I learn more there than I ever learned in Relief Society (the adult women's class.)

Today, the primary president stood and told us that she was going to drop a pin onto the pulpit, and asked the kids (and teachers) to to close our eyes and talk to the person next to us, and that we should raise our hands again when we heard it drop. No one stopped talking until the primary president told us to stop- she had dropped the pin and no one heard it because we were talking so loudly. Then she told us to close our eyes once more and be very reverent and listen very carefully. The children (and teachers) did so, and when we heard it drop, we raised our hands. Everyone could hear it.

At church and through reading the scriptures we are taught that the Spirit whispers to us with a still small voice. By the time we reach Sunbeams (the 3 year old's class), it's common knowledge. We sing songs about prayer, and the steps involved. And when you're done praying, the final step is to sit still and listen. We also have a song about being reverent at church, and the last words in the song are "shhh. Be still."

In my younger days, I took that literally. Sit still. Sit still while the sacrament is being passed. Sit still in class. Sit still during family home evening and while we are reading scriptures. Stay on your knees after you pray and listen for the answer.

As I have gotten older, though, I find little trouble in remaining physically still. I've become not just accustomed, but even GOOD at waiting- at the store, for the doctor, in line, for my turn when playing games. And silence, while rare in the daytime hours due to my vast number of children, and, of course, my ridiculous dislike for lack of sound in my home, is still something that I come by regularly in the evening hours. And I have also come to learn that being still in it's "physical form" - sitting still in a quiet room, staying on my knees after my prayer, listening to appropriate music on Sunday- is not enough. It's isn't really ABOUT being STILL. One can receive answers to a prayer in the loudest street of the biggest city. One can receive revelation in an upbeat conversation or in the lyrics of a vibrant song. That is, one CAN- if, in the midst of chaos, one's HEART is still.

I have trouble with this. It seems, in every trial of my life, I have followed the proper procedures. Have faith. Pray- especially when it's hard. Continue to pay tithing and Fast Offerings. Be generous to those that need it. Read the scriptures. Be still and listen for the answer. It WILL come.

I find it difficult, in this situation, to wait. I am impatient this way, though I try very VERY hard. And sometimes, I think that Heavenly Father must think it a great game to see how long he can make me wait before I lose my mind and he finally gives me an answer. The problem is, actions are easy. I know what I am supposed to DO. I know that I should pray, I know that I should go to church. I do those things. I lead my children in family prayer and in Family Home Evenings. We read scriptures and talk regularly about the gospel. I even think that, though I might explode from built up pressure, I COULD get along without complaining at all- the way good, strong, Christian women are SUPPOSED to bear it all with a smile. The problem, for me, is changing the way I FEEL. I can DO the things I've been taught to do, but if my heart rages and stirs and cries out inside of me, I am at a loss as to how to calm it. Be still, my heart- or I cannot receive the answers my Heavenly Father has for me. Easier said than done. When one is disappointed or angry- an appropriately calm outward demeanor is fairly simple to achieve. Even the right words at the right time, no matter how differently you FEEL are easy to give. It's the mixing and brewing inside that cancels out all the correct things I have done and continue to do. Until my soul is utterly broken, I can't be compelled to "shhh. Be still."

My conclusion is weak. And I pose the question: How DOES one change the way they feel?

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankfulness Project, Day 18

Thankfulness Project, Day 18

November 18, 2011, Friday

I am thankful for cinnamon- the scent and the taste. It's wonderful all around. It reminds me of summer days in my dad's truck, eating cinnamon disks (hard candy) and of freezing winters spent indoors, staring out the windows at fat flakes falling in the bright circle of the front porch light. Today it's going to snow. And my house smells like cinnamon.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankfulness Project, day 17, Writer's Prompt

Thankfulness Project, Day 17

November 17, 2011, Thursday

I am thankful, today, for rambunctious children. Giggles that mean they're getting along, and giggles that DON'T imply they're doing something naughty. Nights spent with Christmas music, coloring and stapling count down chains, and talking about Thanksgiving and the things we're thankful for.


MamaKat's Thursday Writer's Prompt
"List your life's Seven Wonders. Describe the most amazing 7 things you've seen with your own two eyes."

(Remember, folks, "wonder" and "wonderful" does not necessarily equal "good.")

1. In 3rd grade, my parents took us on a windy spring day to go fly kites at the elementary school playground. I remember lying on the ground and looking up at the kite- we used ALL the string and were at the very end of it. It was just a tiny ity bitty speck on the sky. It overwhelmed me a lot. And it was awesome!

2. In 5th grade, this boy named Mark shoved his whole fist into his mouth. And get this- IN FIFTH GRADE, he had hands big enough to PALM a FULL SIZED BASKETBALL! (That MIGHT count for 2 AND 3.)

3. In 8th grade, a boy named Adam shoved a DIME up his nose....FLAT WAYS....and it got STUCK. That was ALSO awesome!

4. In high school, I went with one of my dear friends, Jessica, and several more of our buddies, to her family's cabin over the weekend for her birthday. It was snowy and cold and we stopped on the side of the road in the canyon to stare in awe at the thousands and THOUSANDS of elk that were migrating over it.

5. Sometime in my teen years, I worked for my dad, who is a drywall contractor, and I "scrapped" houses with my brother and my dad's partner's boys for money every summer- which means, that after the guys who hang the sheet rock came in and the framers and everything, there would be piles of all kinds of garbage throughout the houses, and we would clean it out. Then we'd take it to the dump and unload it there. Once, while we were there, it was really really windy. All of a sudden, this really big dirt devil (miniature tornado) appeared and everyone ran for my dad's truck and piled in. I was last, and the door was LOCKED!!!! and I couldn't get into the truck. The dirt devil veered right toward me, ran right over me, and dissipated into thin air, leaving my long hair all grimy with dust and muck, and the 5 guys with me cracking up in the truck. Pretty cool to be caught up in a harmless tornado, though.

6.In college, once, I lived in a really dumpy and cheap apartment with 5 other girls in a 2 bedroom flat- AMAZING! No- really, though: Outside our door, there was a hole in the brick mortar where a little spider lived. It was in a corner, and he built a web there. Once, we were all standing out side, talking and goofing off, and a fly landed in the web- the spider came out, and wrapped the fly up in the web. It was like watching some kind of Animal Planet show. SO COOL!!

7. You know- I have seen some purely amazing things. A lot of them sincerely sentimental. The births of my four children? Absolutely. But they are 4, not one, and all amazing for their own reasons. And while my children are, ranked as one, in the top 3 best things in the WORLD to me- I kind of think childbirth is kind of "meh"- hundreds of thousands of women do it every day and I'll likely do it a few more times. I went to Jamaica on my honeymoon, and have never seen beaches so lovely, sunsets so firey or water so blue. I've seen some really spectacular storms full of lightning, snow, hail- there were monsoons and more tornadoes. I've seen some awe inspiring photography projects and some really cool optical illusions. I'd LOVE to see some of the REAL wonders of the world...but pretty much, I think I'm still "young"- I have a lot of life to live. And I'm reserving this spot for something truly wondrous.

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Thankfulness Project, Day 16, Crayons

Thankfulness Project, Day 16

November 16, 2011, Wednesday

I am thankful that Crayola products are both washable and non toxic. That way, when one or more of my kids decide that "sea green" looks more like "lunch", I don't have to have poison control on constant speed dial. And when one of them decides to leave a marker, or "midnight blue" crayons in their pockets, I know it'll come out of their brand new clothes.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness Project, Day 15

Thankfulness Project, Day 15

November 15, 2011, Tuesday

I'm thankful for two children with red hair and blue eyes. I'm thankful for two children with dark as night brown eyes and hair. Genetics have me amazed and baffled all the time and I marvel at the possibilities all the time. I can't wait to see what other combinations Brandon's and my genetics have in store. (No, I'm not pregnant. It's not an announcement. But we're not done. So there.)

My apologies to all those who love my Touchy Topic Tuesdays. I'm so sick. I just can't handle it. I'm turning this off and heading to bed.

Much love. I'll be back on it next Tuesday. Thank you for your understanding.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankfulness Project, Day 14, Not Me Monday, Captain America: Why he was important THEN, and why he is important NOW.

Thankfulness Project, Day 14

November 14, 2011, Monday

I am thankful that babies have fat, fluffy cheeks to kiss, and soft little pink lips that babble "mamamamamamama" when they wake. I'm thankful for soft shiny curls twined in my fingers and dimples in elbows and knees. Chubby baby bums to pat when it's time to give baths or change diapers, and lavender lotion to calm them and help them sleep, long lashes brushing the tops of those fluffy cheeks, so scrumptious to smooch, and snuggles in the mean time.


NOT Me Monday
(I would post a button, but I can't find it on her blog anymore)
link up at

I have NOT been made aware that my links on Not Me Monday are misleading because of my blog's name: I am NOT a VOLCANO. It was unintentional, and I am very sorry for those who were excited to see a story behind why I am a volcano- I invite you all to click the photo of the volcano at the top of my blog to read the explanation. I promise, it's valid.

I did NOT let my kids skip School on Friday because I was sick- they were just fine.

I did NOT spend WAY too much money at Savers on SO MANY new(used) sweaters because it was 50% off day on Thursday.

I am NOT done with my Christmas shopping officially, but I do NOT keep buying more things because I do NOT keep finding more and more things my kids would just LOVE to have!!!


I meant to post this on Friday, Veterans Day, in respect for our country, our freedom and our ideals, but, as has been mentioned several times the last few days, I have been very sick and am only just now getting the energy to do this. So, better late than never, eh?

Captain America:
Why he was important then, and why he is important now.
**Disclaimer- this is based on the movie, not the comics, as I never read them. However, my husband was an avid comic book reader and endorses this article.**

At the end of World War I, in 1918, the whole world suffered from a deep financial depression, which worsened over time until World War II began in 1939. Despite the death toll, the torture, the genocide and the slaughter that happened in countries the whole world over by those corrupted by inappropriate amounts of power, World War II was possibly one of the best things that could have happened to America at the time.

From 1939 to it's end in 1945, World War II improved America's economy, made way for women's rights, spurred industry and technology that eventually resulted in revolutionary technology we have today. At the end of World War II, America had cemented it's standing as a world leader among the great nations.

Captain America was first encountered in 1941, and added deeply to the already thriving area of War Propaganda. Propaganda kept the American people believing in their country, with the feeling that everyone can help in some way. By spending money, they boosted the economy. Captain America, took a very serious role in representing American ideals.

Representation 1. Steve Rogers was just a skinny little guy before he became Captain America.

American Ideal 1. Average Americans can be heroes too.

Representation 2. In finally being able to join the army, Steve is not the best soldier. He is weak, slow, and asthmatic. However, he is the bravest, works the hardest, longest, and solves problems by thinking smarter, not working harder.

American Ideal 2. Again playing the "average Joe" card, lest we intimidate our potential supporters, the ideal is that while not all Americans are or will be the best soldier- they may be weak, they may be slow. But they work hard, they work long and value bravery, intelligence, honesty, perseverance and integrity just as much.

Representation 3. Steve Rogers was chosen for the experiment that made him stronger, faster, bigger and more able because of his goodness. When asked if he wanted to kill Nazis, he replied "I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies, no matter where they're from." This showcases his deep feelings of compassion, and care for the underdog. He is warned that the serum used to make him the best he can be will increase both the good and the bad in him- which means increased compassion, empathy, intelligence, strength and other desirable traits.

American Ideal 3. The average American hero has exceptional compassion, empathy, and support for the underdog.

Representation 4. Captain America has a team full of the best of the best soldiers that fulfill his missions with him. They are a rag tag team of Americans that represent all the countries the world over-
"Bucky Barnes" - Purebred American
"Jacques Dernier" - French American,
"Timothy Dum-Dum Dugan" and "James Montgomery Falsworth"- British-American,
"Gabe Jones" - African-American and,
especially poignant commentary for World War II, "Jim Morita" - Japanese-American.

Furthermore, it is a GERMAN doctor that gives Captain America his enhanced power. The ULTIMATE in enemies during this era.

American Ideal 4. The realization that being "American" is about a set of ideals, not the nationality or ethnicity you began with. America is a melting pot full of cultures, races and traditions that all must be and will be respected and celebrated. This is also a commentary on the place that America should hold in the world- leading an international team - not taking on a solo mission- but leading an international team to fight the bullies of the world.

70 years later, we are facing another depression that surpasses that of the first great depression in some ways. We are fighting another war. And Americans are no longer proud. We no longer foster ideals of bravery and honesty and hard work- instead, we are obese and lazy. We want to keep immigrants OUT of "our states" and close the border. We give our votes to the most popular candidates, not the most able, to prove we are not racist or not sexist. Education is reserved for those who can afford it, and those who can't afford it incur debts they may never pay off. Trades are also no longer of value- only the paper that proves you have paid the money to sit in a classroom and attend lectures. Small businesses can't thrive and our government is bringing us down, not up. We don't want to lead the world and fight for the underdog. Instead, we want to "bring the troops home." We have developed tunnel vision, insisting that we must only help ourselves, even though the vast majority despise welfare, and insist that by paying welfare taxes, they are single handedly feeding, clothing, and putting a roof over the heads of a family the size of the Duggar's. We have a sock-it-to-'em mentality that pours smugly from our lips and into our protests against anything that may not benefit us directly. It has become a dog-eat-dog world, and our president has stooped to apologizing for the American People in speeches to other countries.

For these reasons, perhaps Captain America is even MORE important today than he was 70 years ago.

Veterans day was celebrated on 11-11-11 this year- one day that will never happen in another century. News stations found it more valid to cover babies born on the historic day, and birthdays celebrated this day that reached further coincidence- like the boy who turned 11 on 11-11-11 at 11:00 am rather than talk about those that deserved the real recognition. Many people ignored it, or did not know why businesses and homes donned American Flags, or did not notice the many parades across the country. Some schools did not even say the pledge of allegiance so as to protect the rights of the students to opt out, should they choose.

However, in every city, aged soldiers who put their lives on the line in WW II stood, removed their hats, placed hands over hearts, and with eyes glistening, sang "The Star Spangled Banner" in remembrance of their friends and comrades who fought and died for the pride, hope and support of a country they believed could reach true ideals, could prosper and protect, and which was worth the sacrifice they might have to make. I doubt if any of them regret it.

Around the world, soldiers, airmen, marines, seamen all followed suit. The country cries "Bring our troops home!" - and I daresay that, yes, that is where they would rather be. But every single one joined their military division knowing what they hung on the line, believing whole heartedly in what they are doing. Too many believe that our freedom is already won- that it never stands threatened or needs maintenance. Too many are wrong.

The point is ideals. Consume. Be brave. Work hard. Be compassionate. Accept the new. Improve. Be strong, loyal and honest. Have pride in AMERICA. Respect your neighbors. As of now, we are as much our own enemy as any terrorist out there.

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