Happy Anniversary, Us!

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Today is our anniversary! Six whole years of wonderful, exciting marriage! Happy Anniversary to my Wild Man.

We don’t do anything big on anniversaries. We are happiest when we stay in, so tonight we’re planning on just that. We are going to grab food from somewhere yummy then enjoy spending the evening with our boys and each other. It probably sounds like nothing special, but I am so excited.

We were married on November 1st, 2012 in the Mount Timpanogos Temple. There was such perfect weather on that day and the whole day was so smooth sailing, lucky and honestly, relaxing. Everything felt right and good and happy. It was an amazing day. I had no idea just how incredible our future would be together. As I look at our life today, with our sweet boys in our cute little home in the little town we hoped we’d move back to someday, I get really excited for that newly married couple I see in that picture up top. Their future is so bright. Our future is still so bright.

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Happy Anniversary, honey buns. I love you to infinity and beyond.

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What I Learned from 10+ Days Away from Social Media

During General Conference a few weekends ago, our Prophet, President Nelson challenged the women of the church to go ten days without using social media or any other form of media that could bring about negative feelings. He also challenged us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. I didn’t think

10 Day Social Media Fast

I’ll be honest, when I first heard the challenge to stay away from social media for ten days I initially thought, no way. I love it too much. But it didn’t take me too many seconds longer to remember that if the Prophet is challenging me to do something, its wise of me to do what he says. So I agreed, in my mind, to do it. I started right then and there. I knew immediately that I would cheat only three times and that would be on Instagram – twice to post my weekly Sunday family picture on my instagram, and once on the day that E turned 11 months old and I’m proud to say that those were the only three times I logged onto Instagram and I never got onto any other social media platform. The only one I stuck with was SnapChat because I really only Snap Wild Man and my sisters and knew there was no harm in that.

The first 2 days were rough, I’m not going to lie. I was embarrassed to realize how many times I picked my phone up during the day to mindlessly open Instagram or Twitter. It all felt really foreign and uncomfortable for those first couple days. Like why did I even have a phone if I couldn’t get on to social media? Pretty quickly I learned to ignore my phone. I would leave it in the other room way more often. I’d hear a buzz come from it and not be so fast to run to see what was happening on my screen. I became more and more comfortable away from my phone and I didn’t realize it at the moment but I got happier, too.

It wasn’t until about six days into my social media fast that I realized I was genuinely happier. I’ve always preached that social media doesn’t get me down or change my mood. I truly didn’t think it did. But I guess I was wrong, because only using my phone for texting, calls and picture taking made me see my world in a whole new light. I felt like I was a much, much better mom and a better wife. I felt more attentive, happy and patient. I was pleased with what I had and felt good about myself. I don’t really know how to explain what I felt, but I just know I felt lighter and brighter. I felt good.

There were still a few times where I’d wish I was scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. I wondered what people were posting and what I was missing out on, but I gradually became more and more ok with feeling out of the loop. I was more invested in what was happening inside of my own little families loop and I knew that was more important.

During the times where social media really would have been nice to have, like during nursing, at night while I lay in bed trying to get tired, etc, I decided that in place of social media I’d read my scriptures from my phone since I had this new deadline to reach by the end of the year. Again, it was a little tricky at first, but ultimately became something so refreshing and so needed even though I had no idea previously how badly I needed that.

Read The Book of Mormon by the End of the Year

This challenge came at such a perfect time for me. The week before Conference I had acknowledged that I was in a rut in my scripture study. I was somewhere in the middle of The Book of Mormon but wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to read or really study. So when President Nelson asked the women to read the scriptures from beginning to end by the end of the year I couldn’t help but smile and get excited. I started at the very  beginning, eager to accomplish this goal – and I’m well on my way.

There haven’t been any life altering blessings coming to me since I’ve started The Book of Mormon this time, but I have felt a lot of peace. I’ve felt more patient and kind. I can feel the spirit easier and I am happier. I’ve been reminded that there is joy and there are blessings in simply obeying the Prophet.

Today

I have only logged onto Twitter four or five times. Maybe I’m speaking too soon, but I think I may be done with Twitter all together. I’ve realized that each time I log on I see a lot of negativity. I’m planning on going through everyone I follow soon and removing a lot of accounts. I want it to be a happy, uplifting place for me and if I can’t make that happen, I’ll likely be saying bye-bye to my once favorite platform.

Instagram, however I really did miss. I wasn’t miserable without it and I could have gone longer, but I was happy to return. Honestly Instagram doesn’t make me feel negative. I only follow friends, family, Disney accounts and some skin care and make up accounts and a couple bloggers so how can it really be that negative? But again, I saw the benefit in not feeling so addicted to it. I was cautious when logging back on because I wanted to make sure I didn’t get sucked into mindlessly scrolling again. So far, I’ve been pretty good about not spending very much time on there. I am back to posting, commenting and liking, but I’m not back to who knows how many hours a day spent scrolling and staring at a screen instead of spending time with my kids or doing something around the house. I’m proud of myself. I’m back on my blogging as well and feel refreshed. I don’t want to spend forever on here, but when I do post, I hope they are positive, happy and uplifting posts. The world has enough heavy, negative stuff – I want to make this tiny portion of my world light.

I’m still plugging away at reading my scriptures. Some days I get a lot in and some days I get a little. I’ve been loosely following a guide to keep me on track to finish by the end of the year and I’m doing pretty well. I’ve found a few new things within its pages I haven’t caught before. More than anything I’m feeling so much peace from reading The Book of Mormon daily. My anxiety has gone down significantly. My confidence has grown and I feel more well-rounded and happy. I’m proud of myself for listening to the Prophet and taking on his challenge. I’m proud of myself for sticking to it. I’m grateful to my loving Heavenly Father who ensured the world today would have this book to read and learn from.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think Social Media is bad. Used correctly, it can be really good. But it can suck you away so easily from whats really important. I learned that I spent way too much time on it. Seriously, I wish I would have counted the number of times I picked my phone up throughout the day those first few days only to remember I wasn’t doing the social media thing for a few days. I was embarrassed and I felt bad that I spent that much time behind my phone and not being present in my kids lives. Thats all changed now, though. Like I said, I still like it and will still use it, but I’ll do it so much less. I’m fine with leaving my phone untouched for hours at a time. Texts can wait. Social Media can wait. Emails can wait. I’m fine not being as active as I once was online. I’m so excited about this new life this fast showed me. I’m a better person because of it, I really am.

As for this Book of Mormon challenge, I just want to say again, there are blessings in listening to the Prophet and obeying his council. His words come from God. We are blessed when we are obedient and I’m seeing that in so many ways since starting and sticking to this challenge. I just feel so much better than I have in a long time. I’m in a really good place and I completely credit that to reading The Book of Mormon.

September

I’m not kidding when I say I anxiously look forward to September all year long. September is the beginning of fall – don’t fight me on this. I don’t care if the days are still hot and you sweat like crazy when you wear your jacket and jeans – it is fall now, ok??

Right now I feel really pumped up about this new month. I’m not sure why exactly, but I just feel like this is going to be the month I really solidify these habits I’ve been trying so hard to form. I feel like I have motivation I haven’t had in a while and will be able to better a bunch of different sides of myself. I want to focus on our home. I want to make it more cozy, organized and comfortable. I want to stay on top of keeping it looking at least semi-tidy. I want to focus on being a good example for my children. I want them to see me working, I want them to see me taking care of myself and my body and I want them to continue to learn, by watching me, how to be a good human being. I want to focus on service too. I have just really, really felt a powerful connection to that word the last few days and I know that can’t be coincidence.

I have some big goals for September, too. I don’t want to talk a whole lot about it yet while I’m still figuring out the game plan and such, but I’m going to attempt to start something. Its been a dream of mine for ages and I feel like I’ve finally got enough of a grip on the idea and my life that I can finally get the ball rolling on this and I am so excited!

I don’t know what September will bring, but I feel ready. I’m excited. Bring it on. But mostly bring on fall colors, cool weather and pumpkin everything.

Diaries of a Notebook Addict

I have this problem.. When I see notebooks I have this strong urge to make them mine. I love holding a new notebook and flipping through the pages, deciding what I could fill the pages with. I used to give into these urges all the time. It got bad. I would have piles of notebooks, journals, planners and notepads just sitting there – waiting to be used. The only problem was I didn’t have a use for them. Over the years I’ve got better about not always giving into my notebook addiction, but you can bet you’ll still find me in those aisles at Target, longingly holding fresh notebooks, trying to decide if I could possibly have a use for the empty pages of these cute notebooks.

Because of this problem I have found …made up… many reasons to ‘need’ several notebooks in my life. Maybe you are like me and want lots of pretty notebooks and pages to fill in your life too! If thats the case, this post is for you. Here are all the different notebooks I currently have and what I use them for. But heres the deal — If I’m telling you about all my notebooks, I want to hear about all of yours! Maybe you’ve found a reason for a notebook that I haven’t yet and will most likely now ‘need’ too, you know? Thanks in advance.

My Planner. I would be lost without my planner so this one is actually a necessity. Mine is from In The Leafy Treetops and I highly recommend it. I’ve been repurchasing the same planner every year for three or four years now and I don’t see how I could ever possibly stray from this one. I love, love, love it.

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My Journal. I have kept a journal and write in it at least once a week (but usually more) since I was 8, I think. I feel better when I write so this has for so long been an outlet for me. Its been my own form of therapy and its been a way for me to unwind, vent, relax and let my mind go. Pro tip: Buy smaller journals so you fill them up quicker and have an excuse to buy a new journal sooner.

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My Gratitude Journal. I decided I wanted to keep a gratitude journal because I found a really cute notebook a long time ago and couldn’t come up with a need for it until I remembered someone telling me they kept a gratitude journal. So I decided I too would keep one. I’m actually really glad I do this. Its helped me focus on gratitude with more ease and has become something I look forward to doing daily.

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Our Family Calendar/Planner. Every Monday we sit down as a family and discuss our upcoming week. Any family plans or bigger individual plans go in the family calendar/planner. Its an easy way to check in with each others plans and to stay up to date on stuff coming up. Yeah, I totally could keep all this information in my own planner (oh wait, i do), but its fun to have another place to write stuff down.

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My Boys Journals. I had the idea about a year ago to keep journals for my boys as if they were writing them. I try to write in them once a week, but it happens a little less than that usually. I just talk about their current likes and dislikes, their stats, their funny little mannerisms and whats going on in their life. I’m hoping someday it’ll be something they look back on and read and are grateful I did it.

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My Scripture Study/Church Notebook. I like to take notes and jot things down when I’m reading the scriptures or a Conference talk. I do the same during Sacrament Meeting talks and Sunday School and Relief Society lessons.

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My Healthy Living Notebook. This is where I put my fitness and healthy lifestyle goals. I write down my goals or challenges and write down positive affirmations and words of motivation. This thing totally holds me accountable. I’m very motivated by being able to check off a box (not on a phone – like with a pen on a piece of paper), so I like to be able to check off that I did a workout or drank all my water that day.

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So what did I miss? What other notebook/journal items do I need??

I Never Had to Split My Heart in Half

When I got pregnant with E, I was ecstatic. But almost as soon as I saw that positive sign, another weird, unexpected feeling rushed over me along with the joy. That was guilt. It instantly hit me that H would no longer be an only child and his world of near constant attention and having his parents all to himself would be over in several months. I knew having more than one kid was absolutely right for me. I knew I was going to have more than two kids even. But I never knew how part of me would feel guilty for growing our family. I never thought about that when I was younger and to be honest I never really thought about it much until I learned I was pregnant with my second child.

The feeling of joy was a million times stronger than the guilty and sad feeling. But when I let myself really dwell on those two words, it got worse and worse. I knew how much I loved H. SO MUCH. So how on earth could I possibly love another human as much? Was my heart even capable of somehow dividing such a strong, powerful, fierce love to two kids? How would H not just always be my favorite because I’d had him and known him the longest? Would my second child feel neglected? Would he see that I had a ‘better’ relationship with his big brother? Fear and worry would creep over me easier each time I allowed myself to think on these scary thoughts.

I did my best to ignore them. People add children into their families every day and guess what? The other kids are ok. The new babies are ok. The family is ok. The mom…I hope she is ok. I would switch my focus back to joy. Adding this new little brother to our family was perfect. He was going to be so sweet and handsome and I couldn’t even handle the thoughts of how cute his relationship would be with his brother. Having two sons was absolutely going to be the best thing ever. It was right. It was good. It was perfect. I was going to figure out how to split my love.

Split my love. I hated that phrase, but I thought it all the time. Somehow I’d have to figure out how to take half the love I had for H and give it to his brother. Thats where the real guilt came in. Would H notice I had to share my love? Would he feel like he was less loved and less important? Sure he wasn’t even two yet – but even toddlers notice change. Was he going to be sad? Was he going to be mad at me? Was he going to resent his brother for this big life change?

I never told anyone these fears. No one. I was worried saying I was worried I couldn’t love them both as powerfully, equally and strongly made me a weak mom. I thought it would make me a bad mom. I kept it to myself and I tried not to worry and focus on the joy. I prayed a lot. I tried to have as much faith in myself as a mother as I could.

Then the day came. November 10th happened and I had my second son that night!

I learned something incredible. The second my c-section started I started praying in my head. I prayed that the operation would go well and that my new baby would be safe and healthy. I prayed I would be healthy. I prayed that H was happy back home with his grandparents.

I prayed that my heart could figure out how to be a mom of two.

Something pretty cool happened then. E’s delivery was a little bit scary. As soon as he was out, he was taken immediately to a NICU team in the next room and my husband went with him. I was alone on the operating table with medical people around me. They were talking to me, trying to distract me from the scary thing that had just happened. They were trying to distract me so I wouldn’t dwell on the fact that my new baby still hadn’t screamed or cried or taken a very good breath. I was terrified. Their distractions didn’t work. All I knew is I had only seen my sweet son for a split second and he was gray and silent. I just wanted to hear him cry. I needed to know he was ok. Nothing else in the world mattered in those unknown moments.

Thats when it all dawned on me. I loved him with my whole heart. I loved him just as powerfully, equally and strongly as I loved H. But it wasn’t because my heart split in half. It was because my heart doubled in size in a way only the heart of a mother can do. My love didn’t change, it didn’t shrink or alter for H. It stayed big and the same – maybe it even grew. My love for my new son matched the love I had for H perfectly. I just knew all those worries and fears I’d had most of my pregnancy were all a thing of the past now. I knew that both of my sons had equal, huge love from me. It was such a calming, overwhelming feeling. I was so gracious.

It felt like forever, but not too much longer there were finally some loud and glorious screams from the room next door. My doctors all sighed with relief saying, “there he is!” or smiling really big at me. My anesthesiologist energetically patted my shoulder. My nurses cheered. He was ok. So was I. I loved that little boy I hadn’t really seen so, so much.

He was finally brought out to me where we had our little post c-section face snuggles. It was so spiritual and perfect. He was snorting in my ear and seemed to be telling me he loved me and he was comfortable and happy to be back with me. It was perfect. I told him I loved him and I felt that. I truly, truly meant it.

My heart never had to change its love for H. It knew what it was doing. Maybe all the while my belly was growing, preparing to deliver a child, my heart, too, was growing – preparing to love another sweet little baby.

A Listening Ear

I’ve had the itch to start blogging semi-regularly, again. In my kinda-sorta blog hiatus I’ve come up with a lot of ideas that I’d like to post about, the issue was just finding the time. My little boys take up a lot of my time and I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way so I have no real plans of switching my priorities around, but I’ve decided when I do find some spare time, and if I’m in the mood — I should blog.

 

As I’ve been searching my list of blog post ideas, its been kind of hard for me to decide what to post about first. So I decided to start at the top of the list. The idea simply says, “I’ll listen to you..”

Let me tell you where I’m at right now. I have a two year old and a two and a half month old. I also don’t have a car during the day (Wild Man sold his car and now drives mine to work while we wait for his car to be ready to bring home). Thankfully my very nice mama lives close by and will drive me places if I need to go somewhere, but I don’t like feeling like a burden of hers so for the most part we stay at home all day long, anxiously awaiting Wild Mans return from work for some new entertainment. I love being ‘stuck’ with my boys (i have mixed feelings about being stuck with the dog) and I want to make it clear that I’m not complaining. But sometimes motherhood can feel…well it can kind of make you feel like you’re going crazy. When I spend most of my day trying to communicate with The Captain and baby talking to my babbling newborn I love almost every second of it, but there are also those moments where… I don’t even know what I’m trying to say here. Moms put their kids first 99.9% of the time. It just gets exhausting sometimes and in a weird, not-all-that-bad way, you feel like you’re also kind of losing your old self. I’ll leave it at that.

There have been days where more than anything I just can’t wait to talk. To anyone who will listen to me. Preferably Wild Man. But my mom, sisters, mother-in-law and sisters-in-law are amazing at letting me just talk as well. The majority of the time I talk about my boys. I talk about my day. I talk about how I live in constant fear and worry and have anxiety about things that are completely silly. But it feels so good just to talk and be listened to. I feel less alone. I feel more understood and it gives me back that piece of myself I feel like I sacrifice sometimes. My family will never understand how grateful I am that they just let me talk and that they listen.

I want to return the favor. Even if I don’t know who you are and no matter what stage of life you are in, but especially if you’re in the stay-at-home-with-babies phase of life, I will listen to you! I have my email here on the blog. If you need to talk and you are feeling alone, losing yourself or just need to get some words out there, no matter how crazy or ridiculous they may seem, I’m your girl! I know how vital communication with other adults can be. I know how therapeutic talking can be. Please, if you don’t want to/can’t turn to anyone else – talk to me! I’m a real good listener and I think I’m a good friend.

I will listen to you! My email is ceeceesparkles@gmail.com (and if you know my phone number, text me!) Lets talk. About anything!! I’m here. I’ll listen to you..

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

My Words for 2018!

I am so excited for 2018. There is no real reason why, I just think I like the thrill of a new year. A fresh start of sorts. I’ve been working on my list of New Years Resolutions for the past couple months now and all the while have been trying to settle on my word for 2018 as well. I would get a good list going of creative words that I felt good about, but I always had the same word planted in the back of my mind during this whole decision making process. The reason I didn’t want to pick it though is because…it was the same word as I had picked for 2017. How boring and lame would it be to repeat the word? However, I pretty much focused on that word for January and February of 2017 then forgot all about it. In fact it wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally went back to my 2017 Resolution list that I even realized the word I was pretty sure I’d pick for 2018 was the same word I’d chosen for 2017. So I kept on searching for a new word and actually found two more I really loved, but I still couldn’t shake that original word. So I decided to mix it up a bit this year. Instead of one word for 2018, I have three. (the first is my original word)

KIND, BRAVE and TIME.

Kind: Heaven knows the world could use more kindness – why not try and put a little more into my small corner of the world? I have always felt a particular pull to this word. I want to be genuinely kind, always – or as much as possible. I want it to be real, too. It is easy to act kind on the outside but have a very different mindset on the inside. I want to have kind thoughts and kind words and deeds. I know very well this won’t happen overnight and will take practice and may be something I never truly master, but I do know I’m very capable of at least getting better at it. I want to be one of those people who everyone feels comfortable talking to and turning to because I am kind, gentle and loving. I know I’m not the funniest person, I’m not the most creative person, I’m not the wittiest person or most social person and I’m like 99% sure I never will be. But I can be one of the kindest people. I want to see the good in others, give people the benefit of the doubt, love unconditionally, be more charitable and give much, much more service. I want to be Christlike and be a light in others lives. I want to leave people feeling better than they did before.

Brave: This is definitely the scariest word for me. I am not very brave at all in any aspect of my life. I’m not saying I want to be brave in that I’m going to go hike to the top of Angels Landing and look over the edge (oh sheesh I just spiked my anxiety just typing that) because that is not going to happen. I want to be brave in my words and actions involving my family. I want to be better at standing up for myself. I want to be better at speaking my mind. I want to be better at not making it my life mission to avoid any and all confrontation. Stuff like that, you know? I’m getting antsy even thinking of potential scenarios…but I also know how life changing it could be for me even if I just improve a little bit. In 2018 I want to be braver than I’ve ever been.

Time: As I’ve reflected back on 2017 I noticed that the majority of my mom-guilt came from feeling like I didn’t manage my time well enough to give my kids, husband and even myself the best life I can provide. I am not good at time management and I probably never have been. But thats going to change this year. The priority for me is making sure my time is spent nurturing my children and creating a home that is a safe place for our family. I want to spend less time on my phone and on social media and reading blogs and more time on the floor playing with blocks, identifying shapes and colors and changing diapers while having funny conversations with my toddler and exchanging coos with my newborn. I want to be actively involved in conversation with my husband and be a sounding board for him when he comes home from work. I want to spend more time in the kitchen making meals and less time on the couch in front of the tv (but don’t worry, I’ll still make sure I save some time for tv because I’ve got to be me!) I am going to spend time tidying up the house and making it a place where you can have a clear head and less time doing something useless and letting things pile up on the floor and counter, creating a frustrating environment. My time is going to be much more well spent and my whole families life is going to benefit from this.

2017 was wonderful. I loved it, I really did, but I am so excited for this new year. Hello, 2018! I’m ready for you. Lets do this.

Happy New Year!