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Monday, April 17, 2017

Must-Read Memoirs and More

My sister recently asked for book recommendations, and since I never keep up with Goodreads, I thought I'd just share some of the titles I've loved here on the ol' blog. I can't believe I've even had time to read for fun this semester since it feels like I'm going a million miles an hour with school, work and the yoga videos. Some of the following I read a loooong time ago, but some I just got for Christmas.

I purchase a lot of books from the Dollar Tree and am always relieved when they turn out to be amazing stories. And in the event the book isn't my favorite, it's easier to part with it since I only spent $1 on it.

Below you'll find a list of titles with Amazon affiliate links, which means I'll earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through my links.

Thank you, and happy reading! Be sure to share any books you've recently enjoyed!

The Exceptions by David Cristofano KINDLE // HARDCOVER
Around the Next Corner by Elizabeth Wrenn HARDCOVER
The Pretty One by Lucinda Rosenfeld KINDLE // PAPERBACK
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards KINDLE // HARDCOVER // PAPERBACK
Matched trilogy by Ally Condie
Firecracker by David Iserson KINDLE // PAPERBACK
The Fame Game trilogy by Lauren Conrad
1. The Fame Game KINDLE // HARDCOVER
2. Starstruck KINDLE // PAPERBACK
The Preacher's Daughter trilogy by Beverly Lewis FIND HERE
Wonder by R.J. Palacio KINDLE // HARDCOVER
The Way Back to Happiness by Elizabeth Bass KINDLE // PAPERBACK
A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano KINDLE // PAPERBACK
Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman KINDLE // PAPERBACK
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs KINDLE // PAPERBACK
Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs KINDLE // PAPERBACK
The Other Family by Joanna Trollope KINDLE // PAPERBACK
The Living End by Lisa Samson KINDLE // PAPERBACK
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See KINDLE // PAPERBACK
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See KINDLE // PAPERBACK
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden KINDLE // PAPERBACK

Bossypants by Tina Fey HERE
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher HERE
Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman HERE
The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan HERE
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls HERE
Almost French by Sarah Turnbull HERE
Born Survivors by Wendy Holden HERE
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham HERE
...unfinished business... by Lee Kravitz HERE
Five Chimneys by Olga Lengyel HERE
Warrior Pose by Brad Willis HERE
Landon's Legacy by Amelia Barnes HERE
Mother, Can You NOT? by Kate Siegel HERE
The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz by Denis Avey HERE
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines HERE
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand HERE
My Life in France by Julia Child HERE
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson HERE
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert HERE

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Yoga for Busy Moms - Online Yoga Course


Well hello! It's been a while. I've been busy with school and work, and finishing up my online course, Yoga for Busy Moms. It's for sale now on Udemy, so CHECK IT OUT!!

Full retail price is $35, and that gives access to all five yoga practices, plus bonus material to help you get the most from your yoga experience. I provide insight into what the heck yoga IS, and how to use props to find your best version of a pose... and so much more.

If you're interested in the course, you can still get it for 50% off ($17?! What?!) simply by sharing this blog post on social media. Or if we're friends on Facebook, you can share THIS POST from my personal page. There's also my Liv Namaste Facebook group; if you're a member and share THIS POST you're eligible for the discount. Once you share, just send me a message and I'll get the link for the 50% off promo for you.

To see previews of the course material, click HERE. You'll be able to see some of the practices and lecture content.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Avoiding Wrist Pain in Yoga - With Plank and Downward Facing Dog Variations

I have a few more suggestions today for taking unnecessary pain and pressure off the wrists in common yoga poses. Two poses I used to struggle with regularly are Plank // Chaturanga, and Downward Facing Dog // Adho Mukha Svanasana.

Pictured below are two uncomfortable versions of Plank. The body is swayed in one direction or another. This disrupts the flow of energy from the crown of the head to the heels, and that can actually affect how good or bad the pose feels. We don't want to block or lose our energy; we want to use it to be strong and balanced in a pose!

Shifting the body too far over the hands is another common misalignment in Plank. When we draw the head forward, more weight is put on the hands than the feet and that pressure is uncomfortable on the wrists. This is a transitional pose for moving from Plank to Low Plank // Chaturanga Dandasana, and is not meant to be held for extended periods of time.

To give the wrists a break, take a look at the photo below. It's not perfect, but it's a little more comfortable than those above. The weight is more evenly distributed between hands and toes, and there's a long line from the top of the head to the heels. I'm trying to get my body to look like an actual PLANK. When my weight isn't pressing too far forward over the hands, I'm able to work on lifting up away from the mat. All ten fingers are engaged and pressing into the mat, as if I could push off the mat and float into the air. Having that mindset can help this pose feel less heavy on the wrists. My heels are also actively pressing behind me, lengthening the legs and engaging the large muscles in the glutes and legs. I didn't include a photo, but Plank can be done with the knees on the mat instead of the toes, or even on the forearms and toes. These are great alternatives to allow the upper body strength to build up before doing Plank on hands and toes.

In Downward Facing Dog, common misalignment is found in the shoulders, hips and knees. If the shoulders aren't pressing back to allow a long line from the hands to the hips, we're putting extra weight on the wrists. If we don't keep the shoulder blades spread apart and the elbows rotated toward the ears, we're putting extra weight on the wrists.

If the tailbone isn't extending up toward the sky, we're putting extra weight on the wrists. If we're so focused on straight legs with heels touching the floor, we may be keeping the hips too far forward, putting extra weight on the wrists. Pictured below, you can see how far forward my upper body is, and the amount of pressure my wrists experience as a result.

When I'm in a more comfortable version of Downward Dog, I can actually lift the heels of my hands off the mat. Before I learned how to properly shift my weight, this pose hurt my wrists SO MUCH. It's called a resting posture, and is meant to be a place for catching the breath and regrouping in a sequence. But it NEVER felt like that to me. Then I learned more about it and how to make it work for my body!

I generally have tight calves, and that prevents me from connecting my heels to the mat in Downward Dog. I thought I had to make my heels touch, though, and I struggled. When I realized I could bend my knees as much as I wanted, it was a huge breakthrough for me. Bending my knees helped me lift my hips higher, which helped me lengthen my spine and drop my head and take weight off my wrists. Now I no longer dread Downward Dog.

These aren't the only ways to implement variations in poses, so if these tips don't help you find something that works for you, feel free to let me know. I'd love to explore other options and help you enjoy yoga!

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Avoiding Wrist Pain in Yoga - With Upward Facing Dog Variations

I received a question in the Facebook group (Liv Namaste) about wrist pain during yoga, which is something I have personal experience with. When I first started doing yoga, my wrists hurt a LOT. Every pose that required me to be on my hands was uncomfortable.

In time, I learned it was largely related to my alignment as well as my strength. When our muscles aren't yet developed to provide enough strength to hold us in a pose, we often end up relying on our joints. We sink into the wrists, the shoulders, the hips, the knees, etc... and let those bones do the work for our muscles. So I had to work on accepting variations of poses and understanding that doing so didn't mean I wasn't good at yoga. It meant I was honoring my body and helping it take a step forward on my yoga journey.

Today I'm sharing a few pictures to show some alternatives to Upward Facing Dog // Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana to help relieve pain and fatigue in the wrists. These are great choices as you continue to develop upper body strength. Pictured above is Baby Cobra, or Bhujangasana. There's barely any pressure on the hands, and the lift comes from the abdominals. Pictured below is Sphinx, or Salamba Bhujangasana

Sphinx puts the weight in the forearms rather than directly on the wrists, and it's a great way to open the chest a little more without going into full Upward Facing Dog or full Cobra. Now, if you're ready for full Upward Facing Dog, that's great! Pictured below is uncomfortable vs comfortable alignment for it. In the top photo the shoulders are hunched, the back is dipping, the legs are heavy, and weight is pressing down on the hands. This puts stress in the wrists and doesn't feel good. In the lower of the two photos, notice the elongation of the neck, the space between the shoulders and the head. There's also a subtle, perhaps imperceptible shift of the chest; try drawing it forward without bringing the shoulders beyond the hands.

The goal of upward poses like this isn't to gaze up at the ceiling. These heart-openers are meant to draw the lines of energy through the chest, and allow the body to inhale. In a well-aligned Upward Facing Dog, there's lift out of the hands and and the tops of the feet. There's extension through the spine although there is a slight back bend. The thighs are lifted off the mat. Watch a dog do this stretch and you'll see it's about reaching the hind legs and creating length in the whole body.

Hopefully this helps you make adjustments. Don't be afraid to have someone snap a pic of you in a pose so you can be more aware of what you look like. Mirrors are great, but sometimes just turning our heads to see ourselves can change how we were actually holding the pose. Please let me know if you have more questions about these poses or others! I'll have more variations coming to the blog/Facebook group later this week.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Yoga for Beginners

A friend recently asked for advice regarding getting better at yoga. She was wondering how it can get easier for her, and how often she should do it. My response is based on my own experiences with yoga, as well as the training I'm undergoing for my 200-hour RYT certification.

As a beginner, it can feel overwhelming and exhausting to practice yoga. My first suggestion is to set a goal for how many times a week you'd like to do yoga, and not to worry about how often you think you should do it. For me, I have delayed onset muscle soreness (which basically means I feel sore TWO days after working out, and not the day immediately after), so doing an every-other-day schedule for my exercise works well. It means I can pay attention to the muscles that are telling me they're sore or tired and target them with specific yoga poses. But that's my maximum; I don't actually do yoga every other day because I'm lazy. And I took advantage of my winter break between semesters to focus on other things before school starts again and I have to do a lot more yoga. Right now I'm doing once practice a week for myself.

To get started, maybe you'd like to do one practice a week. That's awesome! To feel successful, find someone, or a video (mine coming soon, I promise!), or a gym, or studio that caters to beginners. Many facilities have schedules available online and make mention of whether or not a class is good for all levels. Or make it known that you're a beginner so the instructor can give you lots of options to help you feel comfortably challenged instead of frustrated.

I also recommend starting with the basics, like Sun Salutations or Moon Salutations. By themselves, they're a great warm up and workout. You don't have to do a long, complicated practice to benefit from yoga. Especially if you're just starting out! Get your body and mind familiar with the poses; learn the rhythm of your breath; find confidence in the repetition. If you do the same series of poses each week (whether once a week or multiple times) you'll see and feel the changes being made in your body. There are a lot of variations, too, so you can increase the difficulty in just the Salutations when you're ready.
Warrior II variation // Side Angle variation // Triangle variation
In general, poses can be adjusted with a couple of changes. Standing poses like Warrior (I and II) or Side Angle can feel less strenuous if the lunging leg is kept more elevated. Don't go as deeply into the bend. Instead of extending the arms, keep the hands at heart center. In a pose like Triangle, invite the body to stay more upright rather than trying to reach the leg, or foot in the side bend. For Standing Forward Fold or Downward Facing Dog, keep the knees significantly bent. In all my years of yoga, I still keep my knees bent in almost every Downward Dog I do. It just works better for my body. There's no rule that says you have to go 100% into a pose every single time in order for it to be successful. Yoga is a journey, and I like to think every practice you're starting from the beginning.

Also, use props. I talk about it in my videos, but I'll give you a little tip here: props can be anything you have on hand that helps make a pose more enjoyable. A towel can be used as a strap to extend your reach; a pillow can be used to elevate the legs in a seated hamstring stretch; a wall, table or chair can provide stability in balance poses, folds, lunges and more. Embrace variations! I used to smugly think props were for people who weren't able to do the "real" version of a pose. But that's not true at all. Props help us learn what our bodies are capable of, and they can keep us better aligned in our poses, which affects the circulation of breath, blood and energy in the body.
Forward Fold variation // Downward Facing Dog variation
I will have a video that breaks down some of the most-used poses, as well as an entire practice that uses props so you can see how beneficial they are. There's also a practice that goes slowly through each pose, allowing for variations and adjustments. I include Sun Salutations at the beginning of each practice, and my producers and I have discussed eventually making bonus videos that include multiple variations of Salutations that can be a stand-alone practice or a warm up.

I believe yoga is for every BODY, from kids to seniors, able-bodied to differently-abled. I wish I could give everyone a personal yoga session to show how many options are available. Hopefully if you're local you can attend one of my free classes; if not, thanks for being patient while we work on preparing my videos for release!

PS Thanks to my 6-year-old for snapping photos of me this week ;)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas 2016

Kevin had to work on Christmas this year, and in order to avoid the stress of last year's Christmas, we decided to use his only day off (Christmas Eve) to celebrate. So on the 24th, when everyone was up (8am, hallelujah!) we got to open presents and pretend it was Christmas Day.

I was so smart this year and wrapped the kids' presents in specific paper. Almost all of Aspen's were in Tinkerbell and Lincoln's were in Spiderman. It made it easy for the kids to get gifts out for themselves and take turns (mostly) opening them. 

Linc really wanted a Mac launcher (because months ago I mentioned he should make good choices or I wouldn't give him the Mac launcher his Daddy and I had bought him for Christmas) and Aspen really wanted a little bunny and hutch from American Girl. My mom was extremely nice and shelled out the $$$$ for the AG bunny that is seriously the size of a Happy Meal toy. I laughed so hard when Aspen unwrapped it because IT'S SO SMALL! Whyyyy did it cost so much money?! ;)

The kids were both really happy with their Legos (Uncle Seth gave them each a set, and Aspen got one from us as well), action figures, art supplies, books, toy cars and more. As a nod to my own childhood, I put Aspen's and Linc's stockings outside Linc's bedroom door (the kids both slept in his room the night before) so whenever they woke up they could immediately go through them. The only hitch is that Linc still sleeps in a crib (YESSSSSS!) so when Aspen got up, she found her stocking, abandoned Linc, and sat in front of the tree in the living room to dump it out. I don't know when she got up, but around 8 she burst into our room and woke us, saying Linc wanted to get out of his crib. She dropped his stocking in for him and he refused to get out until he'd gone through all the contents. He was pretty psyched about his first ever baseball mitt! Too bad we can't find the wiffle ball we have somewhere that he pretends is a baseball. He was so mad... two-year-olds are tough, man.

There's that dang bunny ^^ Thanks GG!

After unsuccessfully trying to get the kids to eat some breakfast, we finally moved the plant I'd put on the table so Aspen could see THE NEW BETTA FISH YAY!!! Once she saw him in the tank, she was willing to sit at the table and at least pretend to eat some food other than candy.

She named him Gill and she stares at him so much throughout the day. He now lives in her room on her dresser, but she often wishes aloud that he could always be on the table so she could see him more.

Aspen also received her first pair of high heels, and she wore them alllllll day. And of course we got a beautiful foot of snow on Sunday so I carried her through the un-plowed parking lot into church the next day. I'm so glad they fit her tiny little feet! I always measure and carefully go over size charts, but Aspen's feet are so mini (she's kind of between a TODDLER 9/10) I never seem to order the right size online. This pair is still a little big, but I'm sure she'll wear them into the ground.

Linc also got a set of superhero masks and capes, and I already regret that purchase. For many hours each day, I have to wear one and we have to punch each other. The highlight is when he hauls me to "jail" and I get to sit on the floor of my closet for a while in peace.

It was a really lovely Christmas, and it was fun to have our first Christmas that was just our little family. We usually host people and I stress about feeding everyone and having gifts, but this year that didn't matter. Seth came over before lunch and he didn't even complain when I admitted I'd ordered groceries while on cold meds and had accidentally ordered DELI HAM instead of a ham I could heat in the oven and serve with potatoes, stuffing, veggies, etc... Coincidentally, he brought over some amazing rolls and we all enjoyed ham sandwiches for our official Christmas meal. It's all good!

It has been a little sad that Kev doesn't have any additional time off for Christmas, and I'm just hoping I survive the break without another grown up to serve as a buffer. These kids are wearing me out! I was very lucky Seth agreed to come to church with us on Sunday morning so I could sing in the choir without bothering anyone else to watch my kids for me. He braved the un-plowed freeway to meet us at 9am and then spent the entire day with us. He even insisted on moving car seats into his truck when we headed to Orem later in the day to see Sophia and her family. The roads were a lot better, but since Kevin took my SUV to work we didn't think driving the little Mazda after the huge storm was smart. It was so incredibly nice to have someone help with the kids, play with them, trick Linc into eating, and chauffeur us around. A Christmas miracle!

We also got to Skype/FaceTime with Jeshua and his family, plus my parents, and I enjoyed being able to share some time with all of them on Christmas, too. One of these years we need to have a Christmas in July together in Maine, or forgo all other gifts and meet in Disney to Christmas. A girl can dream, right?

I hope you had a great holiday!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

That's a Wrap

Photos by Mariel
On Monday I drove up to Mariel's and was in awe of the mess we had to make in order to film in her living room. Her couches, chairs and Christmas trees were pushed out of the room, blocking the front door and crowding her kitchen. She's a trooper for letting us take over her house and film for most of the day.

Nikki met me there and let me use some of her make up. It felt so fancy to have someone doing my face for me!! I'm so glad she not only took time to shop around with me, but that she also took time to actually do my make up for me. It was fun to have her there and get some feedback from her after we filmed the first segment.
Photo by Nikki
I was really nervous, but I just tried to remember to breathe. The luxury of not having to speak while doing the practices on camera was that I actually could breathe... I didn't have to worry about keeping count in my head and also keeping the dialogue straight.

We filmed a warm up first, which will be applicable to the five different sequences I created. I was so nervous about doing everything exactly as I had planned, but I realized I'm the boss of the yoga and could improvise without anyone knowing :) So I relaxed a bit and just did what felt right. I had my cue cards and a timer and managed to do almost all five practices in one take each.

It was almost three hours of yoga, and my body is in so much pain today. I woke up the day after filming and had a big head cold, so that didn't help my sore muscles. But I'm so glad it's done and it went well. Noah and Brigham were easy to work with and they're hoping to get edits done by the end of this week. Next week I head north again to do the voice overs for the sequences, so I'll get to watch my videos over and over and over... and over... and try not to be too critical. I'm sure they're great, but it's going to be weird to watch hours of footage of myself doing yoga!

When they're complete, I'll be sure to share information on how to purchase! And if they do well, we may be able to branch out and provide different styles (like prenatal, yoga for kids, etc...). This experience was a lot of hard work, but it was a lot of fun, too. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to do something like this.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Yoga Videos

In November, Mariel (the owner of the blog I work for) called to ask if I'd be interested in creating some yoga courses to offer via Udemy.

Um, yes.

A couple of her brothers have a production company so we started brainstorming ideas while I was in the midst of studying for finals. It has been a CRAZY few weeks and there have been countless nights since this all started when I can't sleep. I keep picking up my phone to make notes of all the ideas spiraling out of control in my head. I think of sequences, dialogue, resources, and spent a couple of weeks I was seriously stressing about getting my hair done in time to be filmed doing like, six hours of yoga (I'm getting it taken care of this week so I can stop worrying about that).

But it's a dream to be doing this. I'm so excited and I don't really mind that it's taken over my brain for a few weeks. What an amazing opportunity to be asked to create different yoga practices and share them with others! Now when people ask me to recommend videos they can purchase and do at home, I CAN RECOMMEND MY VERY OWN. We start filming next week.

This has been really hard, though. I've agonized over what poses to include, how to make everything fit into 30 minute classes, and I've started to earnestly practice those practices with a timer and cue cards. I also try to remember to smile or at least not look like I'm going to pass out while going through sequences. I'm so glad we agreed up front that I'd do voice-overs instead of trying to direct the classes while being filmed. 

Today I had a chance to visit with Nikki and get some make up advice. We tried out different products and I made some big-girl purchases to supplement my drug-store-supplied make up bag. It was fun to play with make up and do some of the easier prep work today.

Much like finals, I'm just ready to get it over with. Or, at least, get started filming so I can get comfortable and know what to expect. It's hard to prepare for something like this, something I've never done before. Yes, I taught live classes for four years, but I usually went with the flow... literally. I would stand in front of the class and ask what they needed that day. I'd keep an eye on the clock and fill the hour with poses that catered to the needs of the individuals. And if I messed up we didn't have to stop and go back and fix it; we just powered through it with a shrug (if anyone even noticed!). I joked with Nikki that I used to roll out of bed at 5:15a.m., put in my contacts and swipe on some mascara before heading off to teach early classes at Weber. Those were the easy days of yoga! Now I'm worrying about whether or not my eyelashes will show up on camera without those extensions everyone's getting these days.

Regardless of my nerves, I'm glad for this chance to do something I love so much. My RYT classes this semester have changed my approach to yoga, and I know what I've learned will make these classes better than ones I've taught before.

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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Christmas Tree - writing prompt

Last year the kids really loved the Festival of Trees at the Expo Center. I got so many photos of Aspen staring at displays in awe, and I was looking forward to it this year. I thought both kids would enjoy it and decided to put it as an activity in their advent calendar this year. 
I planned it on a day Kevin had off, so I didn't bring a stroller for any tired kid to relax in. That was probably a mistake. Going on Saturday instead of Friday afternoon was probably another mistake. Not bringing enough snacks was also a mistake. Maybe going at all was a mistake ;). The kids didn't seem to have any fun!

We went straight to the gingerbread houses first and even though they were great, Aspen wasn't into it this year. She just moped along and complained any time Linc touched the chain that keeps people away from the displays.

We only spent a few minutes looking at the trees, and more of our time was spent in the back so Linc could hold the chains and run along them. That's pretty much all he wanted to do. And then he was depressed because he couldn't take home the cool airplane/teeter totter on display. He kept saying he wanted to get something for his house and I was like we can't fit an airplane into our car, buddy.

Maybe it was just an off day, but it wasn't much fun. Kev suggested we take out all the advent activities and instead just keep those ideas on reserve for days the kids are in better moods. But I already spent a lot of time looking over the calendar and all our schedules to find days in the first place; I don't know how I can just relax and wing it the rest of the month. It takes a lot of work to make Christmas magical, dang it!

On the plus side, the kids decorated our little Christmas tree a couple of days after Thanksgiving and that was a lot of fun. I pulled out all the ornaments and narrowed them down to ones I didn't think they'd break. We only had one casualty, so I'm proud of us! And I haven't rearranged a single ornament after letting them do it themselves ;). I love our little four-foot tree and am glad the kids were able to spend some time with me, looking at our ornaments and talking about the memories we have of many of them. So at least we had that nice experience this month to help us focus on family and the importance of being together.

Today our advent activity is baking cookies, and hopefully that will be a hit with everyone.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

When I Grow Up - writing prompt

When I grow up I want to remember what it was like to be a mom of young children. I want to be mindful of the younger moms around me who may be flailing and in need of help. I don't want to show up unannounced at their doorstep during the bedtime routine and interrupt. I don't want to call about things that could easily be discussed via email or text or without them at all. I don't want to burden them with requests to do things they simply don't have the energy, time, or desire to do. I want to remember to give them a break.

When I grow up I don't want to forget how hard it is. I don't want to smile and tell younger moms "those are the best years of your life!" because, honestly, sometimes they're not. I don't want to grow up and make younger moms feel ashamed they're not enjoying every minute of mothering young children. I don't want to grow up and come across as a know-it-all simply because I survived all the tantrums and siblings spats and the potty training and the fights about meals and FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY JUST PUT SHOES ON WHEN THERE'S SNOW OUTSIDE.

When I grow up I want to be like the woman in my neighborhood who called me about an opportunity to serve. But after a few minutes she said "Forget this! You're too busy with those young kids and I don't want this to be difficult for you." She's the woman who also reiterates there's a season for everything and sometimes when your season is motherhood there isn't room for much else and that's okay.

When I grow up I want to listen to my kids tell me about how obnoxious their kids are, and I want to be able to tell them I'll be over the next day to babysit so they can go sit in their parked car somewhere and have some peace and quiet. I want to listen to my kids tell me about how amazing their kids are and I want to be able to tell them I'll be over the next day to babysit and soak up their elfish voices and make art projects with them.

When I grow up, I just want to remember how it all feels so I can emphasize with younger moms and let them know they'll eventually get themselves back. And it will be worth the wait.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Reflections Program 2016

Last week I received an email from Aspen's school about the Reflections program. It was to invite me to the assembly to watch Aspen receive an award. The PTA didn't specify if it was the advancement award or just one of merit, so we weren't sure what to expect. A second email came through asking if Aspen would be willing to read her artist's statement in front of the school during the assembly.

Hmmm, let's see. Would Aspen like to hold a microphone on a stage in front of room full of people who are forced to look at her? YES, YES SHE WOULD.

Coincidentally, Kevin had the day off and he was able to attend the assembly, too. As I stood on the sidelines and listened to the specifics of the Reflections program and how entries were ranked, I realized Aspen was the winner of her category. That's why she would be reading her statement. I was so excited for her!

Aspen received a certificate of participation, a trophy, a Coldstone gift card, some coupons for meals at restaurants, and her watercolor will advance to the district-wide Reflections competition.

It was so exciting and I almost cried. I'm so proud of how hard she works to develop her talents. She's very smart and artistic and I hope we can continue to nurture her interests and help her explore them and feel confident about her abilities.

Linc was pretty proud too. We told him Aspen won a trophy, and compared it to the Piston Cup to help him understand. He wanted one, too... so we took him home and let him ride Aspen's pink Barbie Power Wheels car around the neighborhood.

Aspen's entry is entitled "Splitter Splatter," and this is the statement she read:

"I am an artist so this watercolor shows me painting a beautiful picture. The rectangle next to me is a pile of all my artwork. I sing songs in my head while I create and it helps me name my art. It makes me happy."

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Class Presentation

We're at the point in the semester that each student in my Intro to Yoga class has to teach a 30 minute practice. I spent some time last week preparing an outline, and hosted a free class on Saturday to give it a trial run. I'm really grateful people showed up and I had a chance to go over the outline and make edits.

I was originally scheduled to teach for my peers next Monday, but I today spontaneously volunteered to fill a spot left by a sick classmate. I wasn't necessarily prepared, and my notes were a wreck, but I'm glad I did it. It feels good to get it over with, and now I won't have to worry about it over the holiday.

Three other people presented before me, and I was challenged with squeezing my practice into a smaller chunk of time at the end of class. The only disappointment to me was being so short on time that my peers weren't given an opportunity to critique my practice and give suggestions. I was really looking forward to feedback!

It felt good to be in front of a class again, and I appreciate my teacher's feedback so much. She's the reason I'm going to cram three classes into spring semester instead of just two; she's definitely teaching the practicum in spring, but is not guaranteed in the summer. I want to have her for my practicum because it's going to be a LOT of work. After each lecture with her this semester, I feel like I've been given a big hug. I think I'll  need that kind of nurturing during the practicum.

This semester has flown by and I can't believe it. College felt like it lasted EONS, but this course has been so fun and quick. I guess a huge difference, besides loving the subject matter, is that I'm not a young twenty-something desperately trying to find myself. That played a part in college feeling overwhelming, I'm sure.

Quote from HERE // Graphic by me

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Family Pictures - writing prompt

I don't have many photos of my childhood. Some survived the house fire, though, and for that I'm grateful. I even have some of my whole family that were taken in a studio setting, in addition to the random snapshots of candid moments.


With my own family now, I usually feel like getting pictures professionally done every few years. Since there are so many easy ways to print and preserve photos (hello Chatbooks!) I can't resist. It's not like these photos will be taken and left to gather digital dust; I'm good about making canvas prints for the walls and keeping the Chatbooks readily available for everyone to look through. I try to make it a very fun experience for everyone, and the last two times we had photos taken, we went to Wheeler Farm. There's a small fee to have a photographer on the farm, but it's worth it to have a setting the kids enjoy. There are good distractions for them, and being outside makes for such amazing light. I'm glad the latest trend for photographers is natural light.
I know FotoFly recently increased their prices, but they're one studio I really love when it comes to indoor (and they do outdoor, too). I only used them once when I had one kid, and she was the only subject so it was pretty easy. When they were cheaper, they rushed you around the studio to use all the different backdrops and it was like musical chairs. Multiple photographers and clients were darting all over the studio and it was a little crazy. But any time I see people's photos from FotoFly, they look fantastic so I think it's worth it.


I've been lucky to have a number of friends dabble in photography, and they usually have awesome prices when they're just getting started. I still have photos displayed in my home from the times I had Linsey take pictures of Aspen (at about 4 months, and again at 1 year).


And we all know I'm not shy about using the self-timer and photographing my family randomly. For years Kev and I used the self-timer for our Christmas photo, and they turned out pretty good! Even Maddie made appearances in them. And although the quality varies, I did a pretty good job regularly photographing both kids once a month for a special letter I wrote to them every month for two years (see those HERE).
Today when we got in the car to visit the library, I noticed Aspen had a Chatbook in her hands. She looked through half of it on the way there, and finished it on the way back. I'm glad I'm already seeing a return on the investment I've put into having lots of photos of our family. Lincoln loves the bigger books I sometimes make through Shutterfly since they're a little easier to look through.

I'm running out of wall space in my home since I have a hard time switching out photos (or use canvas prints instead of frames) but that's okay. It's worth it to walk around my house and see those moments smiling (or frowning) back at me.

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