zumba: the good, the bad, the ugly

I certified to teach zumba in 2010. I had just moved to our small hometown where there was NO gym and my husband's schedule limited when i could go and run. We had 3 small children and only a double stroller. haha, how do you do that?

anyways, I grew up dancing ballet and almost finished my major in it (i switched to english last minute) at Brigham Young University where I was on the Ballet Showcase company my sophomore year. I have a deep LOVE LOVE LOVE for dancing. it's a large part of who i am.  zumba was a perfect fit for me, i had to exercise and i loved dancing. boom! done! also, i love helping people live healthy lives so that filled a large cup for me too.

i met so many amazing women over the next 4 years. i can't imagine my life without knowing all of them. every walk of life you could think of, we all had a blast just dancing away together. just writing about it makes me miss it! ah crap. i miss them.

dancing for exercise is still my favorite form of cardio, just amazingness all around. so much flipping fun. i also got in the best cardiovascular shape of my life (read: pant size)when i was teaching 3-4 times a week and had my regulars that were getting in awesome shape as well. super amazing to watch their dedication and smiles every day.

i think my most favorite part also was teaching the kids. SO MUCH FUN. it was awesome to see how fast they picked things up and the fun clean songs were my favorite. did i mention it was FUN? i'd love to teach another kids camp every year, but not zumba. annie's own dance factory or something fun like that. ha!

i had a neighbor that taught zumba when we lived in provo. she still does, she is amazing and super dedicated to a lot of forms of fitness. anyway, one day i saw her walking to go teach her class in the funniest outfit i and ever seen. oh! the neon! the tassels! the baggy pants with one leg scrunched up! what?! just silliness all around. "I will never be caught dead wearing something like that" i said. good gracious, it was brainwashing at it's highest form.

guess what? 

just a mere year into zumba i had bought all of those clothes. and i loved them! i fit in! i looked cute! who cares the tank tops were 30 DOLLARS. sheesh. i was a sheep and i was following the flock, the scantily clad flock. i didn't realize how sleazy the clothes were getting until i went  to a convention with Beto! The founder! and holy nudity, i couldn't count the amount of early 40's women wearing as little clothes as possible. eek!

the music: when i first started receiving my cd's (you get one a month as an instructor) there were 1-2 spicy songs on them. they labeled them with chili peppers...cuuute right? so you knew and you could look up the lyrics and know what they were saying. my spanish is muy mal so i would just skip the spicy ones altogether. by the time i quit teaching in 2014 about 4-5 out of 10 songs would be spicy every single month. I hadn't even realized how different the music and clothes had become just over 4 short years. it was all about being sexy, looking sexy, dancing sexy. ugh, i get sick just thinking about it. here i was paying them money every month to get this. I started more and more just relying on my own songs and choreography to make up classes and that was working. but overtime, listening to those songs 24/7 (I have to memorize them) just wore me down. i had had enough. i didn't want to listen to all of that anymore. i missed the days of just npr, classical music and a little beatles after dinner to do the dishes. i am so high strung as it is, i don't need music pushing me over the top also. plus, my kids were listening to it all in the car and at home. the videos? i had to watch in my room from the beginning, i wouldn't let my kids see those girls bouncing around half naked.

ok, here is the ugly truth. do you know what it takes to become certified? all you have to do is pay $$$ and show up for 8 hours. that's it. no test, no certification, no anything. just sign a paper. DONE. ugh, do you have any idea how many insanely under qualified and just crap zumba teachers there are out there? that is just scary. scary. scary. when i went and "certified" to teach "toning zumba" in san diego, California, the instructor, who was awesome, just straight up said, "You guys, if you want to be buff so people will want to come to your class, you have to LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS."  i couldn't believe it, i just paid $$$ to have someone tell me i'm selling other people a crap class and i just bought one too. sure it would break a sweat, but it couldn't give real results to anyone. ugh.

I couldn't keep paying a company money that i didn't agree with their moral values and goals at all. i know i am unique and not many people share my personal morals and values, but they are mine and part of who i am. if i'm going to pay to be a part of something, it has to align with my beliefs also.

i also knew that lifting weights is essential to getting strong and lifelong health and knew i couldn't teach that in zumba. yes, i got into great shape, but at a great cost also. spiritually and mentally i was at an all time low. all i cared about was being "small" and being "sexy" and i'm positive i don't have a body just to have that be my life long goal. and even though i was "small" i wasn't strong at all.

and so, here i am a little heavier, a lot stronger and on my way to reach my goals. all of them: mental, spiritual, and physical.

i don't want to be "small" or "sexy" anymore. i want to be...me. the best and strongest version of just me. and i am getting there by listening to church talks while i workout and johnny cash. my kids can watch me work out and i'm not embarrassed. i'm helping other moms find out how to lift weights and get strong. do i miss zumba? yes, i always will. do i wish someone who wants to teach cardio will teach here? YES! I'd love to pop into class for fun every now and then, but i couldn't have it a permanent part of my life anymore.

right now i'm focusing on my growth and my family's needs. yes, it has been hard to not have the extra money that i made that i would spend on myself (read: clothes and makeup!). but right now i'm spending more time on my house, husband, kids (not in that order) and really digging down deep to change my life. lifting heavy 3-4 times a week makes me so happy, trying to get cardio in (yuck!) is a necessity and figuring out food in a mentally healthy way also.

being healthy has always been important to me, and it always will. having an active lifestyle used to be just about "looks" for me, but it's about so much more than that. it makes me happy, it makes me whole. and zumba wasn't doing that for me.

 the end.


licking lab rats

in honor of joshlyn, who just had her 4th lab rat
For the past two years I have been praying to know if we are supposed to have another baby. For the past two years I have been struggling a lot, mentally and spiritually. It's like a WWF wrestling fight going on inside my frizzy head on a daily basis. And I mean, a full blown lights, camera action, spandex WWF fight. Somedays after an epic dinnertime battle with the 3 year old I would tell Ty, I don't think we are supposed to, and he would quietly agree. And then I'd see a cute baby, that was probably sleeping, and say maybe we should! Blast those cute sleeping babies. This is when he calmly tells me he doesn't feel like we are supposed to have one right now, and then he quietly lists all the medical reasons why he is afraid of me having another (besides that I battle post partum depression for 2 years after each one).

When we found out we were pregnant last Thanksgiving I thought, "Of course! This is it, I was meant to have another baby". I wasn't happy about it the initial few weeks, but at least my question was answered right? And then when I finally got excited about the baby we found out we were losing it. drum roll please.

Here I was again, very confused as to what the plan was for me. I know that 4 is a butt-load of kids for most people, but I am the youngest of 7 and I've always wanted to be a great mom. Growing up for me, having kids and being a great mom went hand in hand. Hence, my internal dilemma.

A few months ago Ty ended up having to work on our Saturday temple day. I was mad at him for some reason or other so I still went by myself, I really needed a few hours of quiet and sanity. It was just what I needed and I felt very peaceful that there isn't a need to have another baby right now. Believe it or not, I never thought that NO could be an answer to the baby question. But it was. As I drove home I tuned to NPR because Ty wasn't in the car (hehehe)

Yes, I'm a closet nerd. The program was a biology study all about these mother lab rats and what makes a "good" mother rat and what makes a not good mother rat. Of course I laughed at the similarity of the topic on air and the WWF fight in my head. Anyway, they studied a large group of mother rats and their babies. They noticed that the good moms licked their babies more than the crappy moms. In fact they licked them a lot more. A ratio that was large enough to easily measure and quantify. The licking stimulates the babies' (and this is where it got nerdy) brains and hormones and made neurological connections that permanently affected their DNA. This in turn made their female babies turn into good mothers that would lick their babies a lot and so on and so on. And so the chain of good mother rats continues for all humans to enjoy.

At this point in the program I'm bawling driving home. I DON'T LICK MY RAT BABIES ENOUGH! You can imagine how happy Ty was after work to have a hysterical wife explaining that we aren't supposed to have any more lab rats. Somedays I think he deserves an award for patience and sanity. Heaven knows God gave him enough of both for us to share.

So here is where I am today, the WWF fight has calmed down a lot in my head. It is now more like a quiet talk show between two old ladies. Super boring and you fall asleep most of the time listening to them. The annoying one with purple hair whose name is Comparison says things like, "All of your friends are having babies, what's wrong with you?". Or, "Look, that mom has 5 kids and she's doing a great job, you could do that if you worked harder, were thinner, ate better, were more patient etc. etc. etc." I think it's time to set her hair on fire and kick her out. The other one's name is Envy, she says stupid stuff like "Look how in love those parents are! It's because they have 12 kids!".  Envy is delusional and off her meds.

Despite these crazy brain ramblings, in all honesty even though i am peaceful about my answers, it's painful for me to be not having kids. And I don't think the pain of seeing pregnant women will go away anytime soon, and that's ok.  I know this ache that comes when being done is natural, and every woman experiences it. Whether they have zero children or 40. It's just not your time to be having babies, and that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it. It is normal that it hurts, and it is a process. It also doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with moms who are having more kids and who have lots of them.

I do know this, I have four beautiful lab rat babies. And most of the time I've tried to lick them as much as I can. I'm realizing how many licks I have in me, how many I missed out on, and how many I can muster up for the rest of their lives and their children's lives. And I'm going to be happy about my gorgeous kids and the peaceful answers I've received (and the funny ones). My Heavenly Father knows my sense of humor,  knows what my children need and knows how much my husband can handle. We've always known when it was time to have another baby, and I'm going to keep trusting myself today and try and turn off the tv show in my head.


phoebe before kindergarten

where do i begin about this little firecracker? i would be completely remiss if i didn't write down all the wonderful joy this little girl brings into our family.

this summer, around August, i started to regret our decision to not send Phoebe to Kindergarten this year. her birthday is 6 days before the cut off date, so when to send her had been a hot topic. i started to flip out and luckily my friend is the  K teacher here, she offered to do a quick analysis of Phoebe and where she is, but we were camping. of course. I had a lot of prayers and in the end stayed with our first feelings that she should stay home. we had had such an amazing summer that i was sure she would be bored to tears staying home with just me and the little dude.

fast forward 6 months and i couldn't be more happy with our decision. phoebe and rodney have formed a great friendship because they are the only ones home. i know this friendship wouldn't have blossomed with her gone in the mornings and napping when he naps. yes, they both nap still, i'm a sleep natzi.

their favorite game that they (i think she) invented is called "Mother". She is "Annie" and he is "Tyson". They go get groceries, and run errands, they clean the kitchen and basically "annie" has the stroller full of toys/food and bosses "tyson" around and everyone is happy all morning. when the weather is nice i love to keep the kitchen windows open and hear them chit chatting in the tree house while playing pretend. i think unmonitored play time like that is worth a million dollars to a healthy childhood.

anyways, phoebe's love language is GIFTS and ACTS OF SERVICE. since she was two she has been drawing pictures for daddy and leaves them on his pillow for when he gets home. it is so sweet, and even sweeter i know ty has all of them lovingly stored somewhere and he looks at them. one horrific day, ty worked overtime and then had a last minute auto project that had to be done that night..and it was cold out. so by the time he finished at about 1am he came in to the cutest little hand drawn picture with hearts all over it. it literally made everything a thousand times better. right now her current drawing obsession is unicorns, flying unicorns, flying unicorns with rainbow tails (it actually looks like the unicorn is powered by rainbow farts...haha). she also likes to get into the disneyland change jar and tape money onto pictures for you too. she is so thoughtful.
my dmv companion a few weeks ago

her recent acts of service have turned into cleaning. she's always been eager to help with windows, but a few months ago she started arranging the bathroom after the girls went to school. now she makes all the girls' beds, cleans up the kitchen (and washes dishes and puts them away..i don't even want to know eek!), folds towels and loves matching socks. she is full of such a desire to please people and make the house nice and i'm not complaining one bit.

her favorite time to help is at the grocery store, she holds the list and helps me find things. she unloads the cart with me, pushes the buttons and then helps me unload the car. if you haven't met phoebe she is quite tiny, the grocery checkers always smile with this teeny girl poking her head inches above the conveyor belt and lifting an entire gallon of milk up there.

last week we had to go into town for dr appointments and i picked her up a new stuffed pony. if you know me you know i hate "stuff" but i knew her little heart would just burst. and it did!

we all love this little girl so much and can't wait to see all she accomplishes in this life.

her physical skills are impressive too


The Keys of the Watchmen

My good family friend Kathleen C. Perrin wrote a novel, a real book! I'm so incredibly impressed. But I was even more honored when she sent me a copy to read and review for my blog readers. I received the book right before the COLD OF 2014 struck our house and my 2.5 week headache attacked my brain night and day. So sorry Chick it took me so long to get this review up but here it goes: The Keys of the Watchmen:
In all honesty, at first the book was a little slow for me, especially with a teenager as the focus, but I was intrigued with the setting and it definitely kept me interested. Kathleen weaves history and facts seamlessly into each chapter and I found myself learning so much more about this beautiful and historic place page by page. It doesn't hurt that I have wanted to visit France my entire life. Now Mont Saint Michel is added to my bucket list of MUST SEE places in Europe. 

But the book quickly sets pace around 100 pages and then I couldn't put it down, especially when the romance starts up (yup, I am your typical female reader). The kids kept prying it out of my hands and asking "Mom! What is that book about?!" By the time I finished the book I was more than ready for a sequel. 

I know a book is good when I keep thinking about if for days after finishing it, and that is exactly what The Keys of the Watchmen did for me. If you are a lover of history, travel and little bit of romance (hehe) you will LOVE this book.

Here is the official review from Amazon:
Katelyn Michaels plans on hating every moment of her visit to Mont Saint Michel with her father's new French wife. Once there, she is confused when she experiences sensations of déjà vu as she and her younger brother explore the medieval village and abbey. She is even more disturbed when she is confronted by two unusual young men, one who insists she has a sacred mission,  and the other who will stop at nothing, even murder, to stop her from fulfilling her destiny.

When the oddly-dressed but alluring Nicolas slips Katelyn a strange medallion, she is whisked back through time where her Watchmen hosts tell her she is the only hope to save Mont Saint Michel. Even worse, she learns that those trying to destroy the mount are led by a fallen angel intent on learning the mount's closely-guarded secret.

Katelyn is torn by feelings of anger at being taken back in time, inadequacy at finding a modern solution for a medieval problem, and responsibility for the mount's starving inhabitants. She is also perturbed by her surprising attraction to the ill-tempered Nicolas. Will she stay to learn why she was chosen by the Archangel Michael and find a way to save his mount? 


abby's baptism day

in our church, at the age of 8 you have the choice to be baptized a member of it. our little abby leigh made that choice yesterday! it was a great day. i remember the feeling of lucy's baptism and just being totally swept over with gratitude and at the same time an immense sense of responsibility. i am raising real human beings who are going to be real adults someday. it's pretty scary sometimes.

abby and i had a great time this week picking out her new scriptures and scripture case and dress for her big day. she was pretty happy to have her trusty dad there to baptize her and be there for her, he is always a good guy to lean on.

after she was baptized all of the family came over for dinner and just hanging out. the kids had a great time and i love when my house is full of laughter and kids running around.

i'm so grateful for the opportunity to have a home and a family to share it with. we missed my parents and more of my family being there, but really grateful for aunt danna and uncle guy making the long drive to be here! thank you!



we've been on a disney kick in the car recently. we have it tuned to a disney channel and the cheesy songs come on and everybody sings (including me). fyi: the kids don't appreciate my amazing voice. "That hurts my head mom", or "could you please turn it down?" meaning: me.

anyways, mulan came on and she's singing "When will my reflection show, who i am insiiiiiiiide?" and i've never really thought about that song, except that mulan can kick some serious butt and the misogyny in chinese culture even beats that of our small little town (another post, another day...but probably not). but then i got all...weepy. because i'm kind of having a midlife crisis over here. i don't know if you could call it that but since i exaggerate, then yah, it's a midlife crisis.

i've had FOUR kids. we are right smack dab in the middle of raising the kids, but not having them anymore. it feels as though everyone is having a baby right now (again, i exaggerate, give me a break) and it's not me. i love being pregnant, and i love my babies, so this is a hard adjustment for me. when i'm pregnant or have a baby i feel as though i know exactly what i'm doing and kept busy enough to not worry about "me". who am i if i'm not a mom with babies? that is a scary thought my friends for someone like me.

but today, in my reflection i see the 20 lbs i still haven't lost since pregnancy #5 and more and more wrinkles with every plus 30 year i add on. and anyone who tells you that they are comfortable and happy with their 20 extra pounds (or however more than that) is lying.  Yes, I love my body more than i ever have right now, but it still stinks. I have zero clothes that can fit, or fit well at least. And it just is not a fun party i like to wake up to every morning. I bought a new nutrition book (for athletes, cuz i pretend I am one) and guess what? I"ve just been eating too much food. What??!! Who knew? Oh wait, I guess I did but didn't? I don't know. All i know is, it's time to really buckle down and figure out what the crap is going on in my life.

last night as i went to bed i looked at this picture:
it has been on my bed stand for years and years. I love it, it was before we told anyone we were pregnant with Lucy and when we used to spend all day together, every weekend, every everything! We were blissful newlyweds! ha!  And it kind of stunk because i'm not that young, spunky and vivacious person anymore. I think I've turned into one of those bitter mothers. And instead of facing what's bothering me I just let it morph me into kind of a, cough, {hag}. You know what I'm talking about, the ones that talk about other people and tear them down to make themselves feel better? Yah, i think i do that a lot. face palm.

I want to be that person that gets to go hiking with my husband for an entire DAY and doesn't worry about the kids. I want to be that friend that is always positive and happy and can make you laugh. I want to be fun and vivacious and not cranky and tired. Side note: I've had a headache for a week and half so maybe writing a blog post was not a good idea. SO long story short, I don't think alone when as a mom i can admit, "I don't really know who i am anymore". I'm not pregnant, and I don't have a baby anymore, but i do have four amazing little monkeys that are pretty awesome (they really are) and we have a great time at home and together. And sadly (or not sadly?) most of that came from a tremendous amount of SACRIFICE from me. I sacrificed my body, my skin, my brain, my sanity, my time, my talents everything for having children. And yes, I'm finding a way to balance it out, because neglecting yourself entirely is a recipe for disaster. But I guess what I'm saying is, it's ok if I don't know exactly who I am right now, other than a mother. I am a dancer, an athlete, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a teacher. I have been giving countless opportunities to become better every day, and I {try...cough cough} to take full advantage of every one of them.

being a mom is the hardest and at the same time the best thing i have ever done in my entire life. and I have a weird feeling that it will always feel this confusing to me. sometimes i wish that I didn't really have a lot of things that i enjoyed doing before kids, because i  think maybe it wouldn't be sad every time i couldn't do them? but then i remember, someday the kids will be gone and i can go snowboarding, and travel and have a lunch in the middle of the day with adults. and i'm sure i will miss the kids while i'm doing it all.

if you stuck in all the way to the end of this post, you deserve an award.
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