Ya know I think 2020 may have tried a little too hard to continue its rein of terror dontcha think?? Good grief what a start to the new year! I'm really hoping for smoother waters as the year progresses.
This year we have a few goals as a family, a few house projects we want to get done, and some personal goals of course. I've said it before but it bears repeating that I don't like resolutions. I don't like the pressure that comes with that term to make lofty goals that you may or may not (most likely won't) achieve. Kinda buzzkills the whole thing for me. BUT I am a firm believer in knowing your own limits and setting the goals you know you can manage.
For me, this is going to be a year of figuring out my space in the universe. Rediscovery if you will. I know I want to remember who I was before I got married and became a mother. Those two things are very very important and I would never change them or trade them away BUT I feel like I may have forgotten that I was an individual before all of that. I want to rediscover my passions and joys. I want to find my middle ground.
Finding a middle ground is the hardest part of growing. I feel pulled in a few directions but know in my heart that there's not necessarily always a perfectly right answer. I've had to dismantle a lot of biases and traditions and cultural demands to really get to where I want to be. To find where my soul is truly at peace within myself. I've had to learn that what seemed so black and white when I was younger is so much more complicated and grey than I thought. That I have grown up and have found my own opinions and have had to remold myself to be who I really am. I have a lot more to still do but I'm proud of the progress I've made thus far thanks to friends and some amazing therapists that have made resources available through social media to help us see things more clearly. (Dr Julie Hanks, Hey Tiffany Roe, and CelesteDavis are a few that have helped me immensely)
I want to grow my little side business more. I thoroughly enjoy making shirts and all of the goodness that comes from meeting new people and seeing their happy faces with my products. I want to build a community of friends this year. I have a hard time making friends more often than not to be honest. I am a painfully shy person until I get to know you better and then there's no holding back hahahaha
I want to read more. I also want to read more diverse books and diverse authors. I've made pretty decent headway from nothing but still want more and I love learning different things from the different authors and their stories. My goal is to read 50 books this year and so far I've read 10! Almost 11 but the last one was just boring as heck so I stopped hahaha I plan on doing Book Round Ups when I remember to on here but if you ever want to know what I'm reading, I update my Instagram often and my Goodreads/StoryGraph accounts so you can follow along too!
So for now, here's where my 2021 begins (January was a trial run hahaha) and I hope you all will join me for a year of fun and rediscovery!
Nothing's ever truly lost....
Last I wrote on here, I was looking forward to things slowing down a bit and getting ready for school to start, well, school did start but it did not start off well for us in our personal lives.
My grandpa passed away on July 16th and his funeral was the 24th (the second day of school). I talked some on my Instagram about this whole experience but I haven't written it down anywhere yet. So please bare with me as I get a bit raw and real here.
My Papa was my first best friend. As the only granddaughter I had many privileges hahaha I was allowed to not only touch his beloved baseball cards, I was even able to suck on them as a baby.
We ate ice cream for breakfast, I would go with him to his Institute classes and help him teach the students or just participate in them. (they lived across a driveway from the institute building in Santa Monica) He was the one I always asked gospel questions, he knew so many things about the scriptures and church history that I never got bored lsitening to him talk or teach about it. He was also a general history junkie and he and I would have lots of talks about all kinds of places and times - WW2 was both a time of passionate research for us. We even got to stand by the treaty that eneded the war on the USS Missouri!
He had the best laugh. Loud and booming, he could always find a joke. I remember countless hours of playing Cray 8's or Go Fish and just laughing our heads off. When we would visit them on summer vacations he and my grandma would sit us down to make a plan for the entirety of our stay so we could make sure to get all the things done we wanted to while we were there. The Santa Monica Pier, Tito's Tacos (a couple times lezzbe honest), Olvera Street, movies, Institute, and Venice Beach were always on the list.
He was always fair. He loved everyone and everyone knew it. It was a genuine love and concern for everyone he met. His generosity of both spiritual and temporal means is something to aspire to. He was the most Christlike person I know.
He went into the hospital for the final time on the 4th of July. He'd only been back home after being in a physical rehab center for a month when he slipped out of his bed. It just started a chain reaction of things and when I got the call to come quickly so I could say goodbye I sadly wasn't surprised. It's like I knew this was coming but it didn't hurt any less. I immediately started sobbing in Target while I ushered my kids back into the car. I drove them to a friend's house because I did NOT want them to see Papa like he was at the end.
I walked into the room and my heart stopped. I felt such conflicting emotions of peace, love, sorrow and guilt. Guilt that I hadn't spent even more time with him and that I hadn't brought my children to say goodbye (even though I KNOW he wouldn't have wanted that either). Sorrow because I knew this was the end of his life here on earth and I miss him every day. Love for this giant of a man that helped shape me and who loved my family so entirely - he even loved Andrew before I did hahaha. Peace from knowing he'd want to be home with his Savior instead of here on a machine. The Spirit was so strong and I was able to hold his hand, speak to him and kiss him goodbye. I kissed him for the girls and told him to watch over us especially as the girls get older - they'll need their Papa to keep them safe.
As we then celebrated his life the following week, it was wonderful to see all of the family and friends that were able to come. Some of these cousins I had never met or it had been years since seeing each other. We all joked that Papa would have hated it hahaha he's be tucked into a quiet corner somewhere avoiding everyone and all the noise - which is completely true. The sadness comes and goes. I know hes happier and with his mom, dad, best friend Jack and all the others that have gone before him but gosh darn it I miss him so much. I know he's watching over me, I've felt his presence throughout the weeks since he's been gone.
When he passed I knew I wanted something to help us remember and grieve - so I asked my sweet friend Nichelle to make us a necklace with his favorite hymn (If You Could Hie to Kolob") and then on the back we had his handwriting ;) It was the most perfect thing we needed!
I'm going to get a bit spiritual here, you've been warned. I am so grateful to KNOW I will see my Papa again! While it doesn't diminish my temporal sadness here and now, I know it helps me to know he'll be waiting for me with open arms when it's my turn to go home. I'm grateful for a Savior that knows my pain and anguish. He knows my conflicted soul and helps to soothe it. I'm grateful for a family that comes together and strengthens each other - I could not have made it through without my husband and kids. Papa is the first of my grandparents to pass, so in that I know I've been extremely lucky to have had him for 30 years teaching and loving me.
I love you Papa, Save a seat for me <3
We need to change the story
Most of you know that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I have a calling (volunteer position) of teaching the Beehive class who are 11-13 year old girls.
This year we are having the girls teach with us and they get to pick the lesson. I was surprised when one girl picked "Why is chastity important?" as the lesson we would teach together. But I was also humbled knowing that she felt comfortable enough to suggest this one, without even giggling, and prepare for it.
I knew I needed help with this myself so I went on Instagram for opinions and insights on this sensitive subject; specifically, what you wish you had been taught as a young woman that you didn't know until you grew up. The response I had from my friends and colleagues on social media was astounding.
So many amazing insights and differing perspectives and I'm going to share them here because this is a conversation I feel we ALL need to have with our children. Especially our sweet girls.
As a youth myself I remember this lesson and feeling the blush come up on my cheeks just hearing the word chastity. That lesson was always a source of embarrassment and uncomfortable. But I never felt like I was being guilted or told I wasn't enough ever in those lessons. I was also incredibly lucky to have my mom and her two best friends as my teachers for 5 of those 6 years in Young Women, so the lessons, while weird, were never to make me feel like my only worth was in staying pure.
For others, they were not as lucky. They got the "chewed up gum" or the "mud splatted white fence"
lessons of guilt and worthlessness should they transgress. The worst thing some one shared was of a leader saying in a lesson like this was "what man could ever want someone that wasn't clean or pure?"
When I heard that from this incredible friend I felt like I personally had been punched in the gut. What a horrible thing to say!
While the law of chastity is there to help keep us pure and IS important to follow, that does not diminish our worth in the eyes of God if it is broken or a mistake is made. It shouldn't diminish anyone's worth in our own eyes.
Most of the time in our religious culture (almost regardless of which religion it is), women are shunned if they transgress with this law. I feel that this is so egregious and horrifying. Instead we should be so loving and open and willing to help them heal.
How do we help them heal? We talk of the healing power of the Atonement. The power of the Atonement is overwhelming when you start to understand it. Jesus Christ literally suffered for ALL of our sins. He did this so when we mess up, NO MATTER WHAT, if we repented of and forsook it, He would remember it no more because He already atoned for it. That is something amazing to realize.
Even if you do transgress in this way, you can recover, You can be healed. You are still so loved beyond measure. He will never forsake you, believe on that and your healing will begin. A friend equated it to a broken bone: over time you nurture it and it will heal, so will your heart.
An amazing woman opened up about how she wished that she had been able to be more open about her changing body. But she felt that every part of her was sexualized and therefore felt embarrassed to even think about asking. She feels that maybe if that had been more out in the open, she would have been able to recognize the times when she was being sexually assaulted and been able to do something.
So much of what we're taught and discussing needs to change.
We need to teach more about what our bodies are capable of: growing human beings, feeding those same babies, preparing to hopefully be able to conceive those babies as well. We need to change the story of breasts being nothing but things to oogle at. We need to change the story that women are inherently sexual and want that at all times. We need to change the story that women are the only beings "responsible" and the only ones that have to "deal with the consequences". We need to change the story that our girls have to be constantly worried about becoming a sexual object by anyone of the opposite sex.
This lesson started as just the question of why is chastity so important? It became so much more to me personally as I read story after story of heartbreak and abuse.
Moms. Sisters. Leaders. Teachers. we need to change how we speak to our young girls and boys. Chastity is a hard thing to describe and explain to a room of preteens. I want to change that. I'm not saying we share intimate details with other people however I believe that an open communication channel between kids and adults they trust is imperative. Be open about what our bodies will naturally do and want to do. If we make it so taboo to even speak of who will they go to for answers when things are hard? I want my kids (my young women included) to feel comfortable to come to me with any issues they may have. I may not have all the answers they seek, but I can help them find them.
We have a long ways to go in our society to change how we perceive things. I only hope we have enough time to teach our kids this: Sexual feelings are natural. You're supposed to have them, it's ok. It's also ok if you don't have them right now. Sex itself is a wonderful natural gift we've been given to show we love someone else so much. But it is also so much more than physical. Save that experience for the one you know will treasure you forever. Someone who will stand by you no matter what. At the right time. In the right place.
But also this: You are loved even when you make a mistake. You are worth more than all the treasure of the earth. NO matter what.
I want to wrap every single one of these amazing ladies in the biggest Mama Bear hug possible for being so brave and sharing these very intimate experiences with me. I also am sending a virtual hug to any and all who may be dealing with this now.
If you have felt shamed for anything, please know that I see you. I hear you. I hold space for you and want you here!
Social Media and Righteous Women
More often than not we hear about the evils of social media, or that there's just more bad than good.
Well I'm here to attest to the absolute goodness that exists BECAUSE of social media, blogging, and networking. And no, not for profits (though for some that is a huge blessing as well).
I am here to show you some of my dearest friends. All of them I've met through blogging or social media. And THEY are the good in the world.
I attended an event recently that talked about the positive force of righteous women. And how powerful we can be. As women I know we can sometimes be more harsh with ourselves and others than needs to be. A lot of us are self conscious about something or other. BUT we are also the caretakers, the peacemakers, the fighters, the drive behind some amazing things.
I have become such a better person after getting to know these amazing women (and more) in MY life. I sat with a few of them at this event recently as we also talked about the upcoming Light The World campaign for Christmas. The Savior taught us how to be compassionate, serving, loving, and above all to think of others before ourselves. All of these women have taught me something that helped these values become a part of me.
These friends of mine have shown me how to become a better mother, wife, writer, influencer, and human being.
There IS some good in social media. If I hadn't started blogging in 2008 I never would have met these amazing ladies and learned so much about myself. I've learned to stand up for things even if they aren't popular. I've learned to be myself no matter what. I've learned empathy and compassion
for those who experience different trials than my own. "The world needs righteous women" - I couldn't agree more and these are some of the most exemplary ones I know.
Precious Moment in Time
Ok I'm sorry to take a break from the giveaways, but this has been on my mind for about 2 days and I need to at least type it out here so I get it out ;)
For the past two weeks I had planned to attend an event that Elise and Nichelle had put together for us AZ bloggers ;) I was so excited to finally meet these amazing girls I know through the blog-o-sphere. I had a sitter, I had plans to wear a cute outfit, do my hair, SHAVE MY LEGS, oh yeah the whole caboodle.
Everything was set up, I was pumped, and things were going great all day. Then my sitter had to cancel, but I was ok with that "I'll just take her with me - no big deal. Plus then all the girls can meet my adorable daughter!" I was determined to make it a great night. Then I get a call from my grandma telling me that Rory was having a really rough time over there (I had forgotten to pack her medicine too - that was a "my bad") so I said I'd come over as soon as I finished getting dressed and fixing my hair real quick. I rushed over to their house to give her her medicine, and as soon as I walked in, I knew I wouldn't be going to the blog party.
She was sleeping on my grandpa, but her breathing was wheezy and she was very hot to the touch. The Dr said this would most likely happen because of the 4 shots she had that morning but she hadn't reacted at all to the first round, so I had assumed she wouldn't this time either. Lesson learned no worries. When she woke up, she woke with a cry, heard my voice, and once I wrapped her in my arms she calmed and snuggled in close.
I instantly started to tear up. At first it was because I was going to miss the party I had planning to attend for 2 weeks. After all, I didn't think that one night not smelling of baby, wearing a cute outfit without drool or spit up, and hair done was too much to ask. But then I chastised myself. My daughter is WAY more important than me having a night out. I felt so badly for my initial reaction, that the tears spilled out of my eyes as I held my baby close and comforted her as she whimpered about her pain. She has another tooth coming in next to the first one, plus the shots. She was not a happy baby.
As I drove home with my sleeping babe in the back, the tears spilled out again. Because I really did want to go out for a party, and meet people and make blog life friends real life friends. And again, the guilt came back. When I got Rory home, I rocked and hummed her to sleep and she fell asleep right away. I thought to myself "This is a moment I will cherish forever." My sick baby held close to me, soothed instantly by the sound of my not-so-great singing voice, and falling asleep with a little sigh was one of the brightest star points so far of her life with us ;)
So as sad as I was to miss out on the party, and I really was, I was happy that I was able to show my daughter how important she is to me and to help her feel better with my mommy magic.
Joys of Motherhood
Every week Rory stays with her great grandparents for a few hours so Andrew and I can run errands, go on a date, or whatever else we need/want to do. The other week I really wanted to nap, then realized all the things we had put off couldn't be put off any longer, so the nap didn't happen. But last week I totally got one! A nice 4 hour nap ;) Now I know why she's always so happy after a long nap ;)
Anyways, one of my favorite times is bathtime ;) Rory is now getting the hang of sitting in the water, and we're teaching her to splash and she gets all smiley about it, but for some reason we still don't like the idea of swimming...might be the wet diaper thing...not sure...I digress! Bathtime is so fun for me cuz after we get her all snuggled in her towel, I rub her lotion on which she loves, get her all dressed and we just sit and chat for awhile ;) She's so relaxed and happy and will just tell me all about her day and how it went hahahaha
I also love when she's so tired but she refuses to sleep, so I have her in the prime sleeping position, and she'll just coo at me and smile, then when she starts to fuss, binki goes in and her eyes droop and she looks like a drunk ;) And off to dreamland she goes.
I love rocking her to sleep humming Disney/Primary songs, so far she really likes
"A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes"
"When you Wish Upon a Star"
"I am a Child of God"
"A Child's Prayer"
I always feel so close to my Savior while I hold my little nutball and listen to her talk to me or watch her sleep ;)
I'm the luckiest girl on the planet.
Where Were You?
My mom came in and woke me up saying "Ali you need to see this." So I groggily got up and walked out to the TV and all my sleepiness washed away. I saw the second plane hit the tower and watched them fall. I felt a sense of dread that I hadn't felt before, and all I could think was "please let this be some sort of freak accident" until I heard the reporters talking and they said it was terrorists. And I'll be honest, I'd never really heard of terrorists before, cuz they weren't all that real to me yet. 9/11 changed everything.
I was 13 and in 7th grade. There wasn't any teaching that day, no homework not really a lot of talking even at lunch. We just sat watching the TV all day and discussing things we didn't understand with our teachers.
My dad was supposed to fly home that day, but luckily he had found a flight the night before. I remember thinking about the pain of all the families that lost their loved ones that day. What we as a country lost. I was devasated until I realized that this was just a trial we would have to endure as a country. I believe we have, when has our country been stronger and more united? Strangers help each other more often now, people from all walks of life shared this tragedy and we became stronger for it.
When I graduated high school, we went on a trip to New York as my graduation present and we visited Ground Zero. Never have I been so humbled by what I saw, and tears flowed freely as we walked through a chapel that was across the street from the site. I believe the Red Cross used it as their site for awhile. There was a group of teenagers being super disrespectful and my grandma walked up to them with tears in her eyes and gave them a piece of her mind but without raising her voice. Needless to say, they shut up and apologized.
Where were you when the towers fell?
want a baby. Really bad........
we want to start our family. I get discouraged on occasion, and it's just hard when I know so many people that didn't mean to, or want to get pregnant and have.
And then there's me. I want to be a mother sooo bad. And it's difficult when I feel blocked, almost like trpping at the finish line. Yeah I know, I know, "live your life together before you bring kids in". Well, we don't believe in that. We've also been together for a long time and we want a child.
I'll admit that I get jealous, but at least I can hold other babies. I'm just ready to have my own little bundle of joy......know what I mean?
Oh well.....I know it'll happen in God's time, not mine, but still...... sooner is better than later......and I want one
I hate to get all down-in-the-dumps but right now I just need to for a brief moment.
I'm tired of either being at work all day or at home doing nothing. If I was at home being able to craft, or plan, or have people over it'd be different. Now I know this kinda conflicts with my desire of being a stay-at-home wife/mother. But if you think about it, if I was able to be home all the time, I could actually DO some of the things I keep putting on a list "that I'll do later". But right now all I've been able to do is a little bit of this and that.
Plus I really want a baby....I know. People think I'm crazy cuz we just got married in December. But really, I'll be 23 this year, and I've been wanting a child for a long time. I love my little Sunbeams and my kinders, but I want my own.
I also want some friends. Some real, flesh and blood friends. Married or single doesn't matter really, I just want a friend...(I'm sorry but books and fictional characters only get me so far.) I get lonely while Andrew is out, and I miss the social interaction and getting close to someone. I miss knowing that I have someone I can count on. I also fear rejection, so I'm not one to throw myself out there in the world. Which I know you basically have to do now in this world to meet anyone.
So I will now jump off my soapbox, and continue with some other happier posts later on.
A little mushy
I'm gonna be a little mushy. Prepare yourselves ;)
I basically have an amazing husband. He's such a sweetheart, and I truly am the luckiest girl around. I know I talk about him a lot, which I think is fine seeing as we're married and all.
Quick tangent: After I moved into our apartment, I couldn't find my journal. Now I don't write often in a journal BUT it had all the notes and letters from Andrew to me while we were dating, and some from his mission! I was devasted thinking that I had lost it. I knew it was in the apartment somewhere but couldn't find it.
Until today!! After Andrew went to work, I destroyed our closet looking for it, (and things for our Disneyland trip) and I found it in a box I had never unpacked!!
So back to my amazing husband, while reading the old notes he wrote to me, I realized that he's still just as cheesy, and adorable, and sweet to me as he always was.
Here's an example of what I mean:
"...but you inspired yet again,
and helped me write just what is true,
that through whatever strife or pain,
I always have and will love you."
He left that in the window of my car on a day that we knew we wouldn't be able to see each other.
Thank goodness I found them!! Plus I gotta keep them for my daughters one day, they'll wanna see how cheesy their father was ;) What have you found in your closet lately? Or what does your husband/loved one do that you just love??
Here you will find love, magic, bookworm favorites, Disney tips, and a family on their journey to Happy Ever After!