dirty dishes and tight hip flexors

There a few things that symbolize for me how well I am faring both emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  Strange, these items might seem, but true nonetheless. A new concept I have started to grasp is gravity problems and anchor problems. Gravity problems will never go away, they are just there. Anchor problems are things you won't let go of, that keep you down. A house full of small children is a house that will always be messy. That is a gravity problem. Not filthy, but messy. But cleanliness and organization is a solvable problem, staying on top of the cleanliness and orderliness of the house keeps my spirit calm, my kids calm, my husband calm, and the house peaceful.  It's never perfect, and it's almost always messy, but underneath that it is clean and organized. And that has made a big difference.

My kitchen sink

 If it is clean and empty I am happy.

Clean laundry

I'm peaceful when they are no more than 2 loads that need to be washed. I can't do the allthelaundryinoneday bit, I get overwhelmed and quit. 2 loads a day, rain or shine, helps keep me sane.

Matching Socks

If everyone has matching socks in their drawers my blood pressure is lower. It also signals I'm on top of the laundry. (this excludes the older children in charge of their laundry, they can worry about their own socks)

Hip Flexors

if these are tight it means I am uptight and stressed and not stretching. recently I have been uptight a lot.

My photo storage

this keeps me up at night. our iMac is ancient and has zero storage. We also have approximately 5billion photos that need to be printed and put on discs. We haven't done this. I still feel guilty. It feels like a gravity problem, although I know it isn't. I can start working on getting the photos archived and printed, and also just bite the bullet and buy a computer that isn't 10 years old. 

oh, and it's raining today. so how is that for a random post?


Reading Good Books

I made a reading goal this year. Reading has been on my back burner for a long time, and I can't believe how happy it makes me and yet I wasn't making time for it. Alas, the problems of most adults. But my goal in life is to do more things that I enjoy, and to do this I have to set little goals to get there. When I read I am happier, I am more reflective, I am more peaceful, I don't feel like 45 minutes of my life was sucked away through the evil Netflix monster. I also believe that everything we experience mentally and spiritually will go with us after this very short mortal life, and that makes me even more passionate about self improvement and experiencing all that life has to offer, and what history can teach us, through other people's experiences and lives. I can't believe how many places I can travel and how many people I meet through books, from my cozy little couch.

The lofty goal of 20 books this year is what I'm aiming for. That may be normal for some, few for some, I won't admit what a big jump it is compared to the last several years. Eek.

My first few books in 2017:

The Burnout Cure. Please read this if you are a tired ( feeling burnt out) Christian mother, or if you are a Christian mother who isn't too tired and overwhelemed...yet.

Alexander Hamilton. Amazing. Wonderful. A beast of a book but worth it. If you are a friend or neighbor you know I've been reading this since January because I'm a total nerd without an edit button and can't help sharing everything I was learning during his story. Also, I had to look up words about every other page (sometimes 3 times on a page). Chernow's vocabulary is...vast.

1. It doesn't matter where you came from (stop using that as an excuse)

2. It also doesn't matter if you had a crappy childhood (his mother was a prostitute, died when he was 13, creditors came and took everything (which wasn't much) He caught his first break because of his own hard work and dedication. Which brings me to #3...

3. Hard work and education can get you far (Read, read, read, read, read)

4. Marrying the right person is kind of important

5. Be open to new methods and ideas, with open, even medicine (both Hamilton and his wife survived the Yellow Fever because of this)

6. Follow your passions

7. Stick to your guns: your beliefs, your values (and maybe even literally, your gun)

8. Friendships impact who you are, choose very wisely

9. Grief changes you

10. Family is everything

The next book I read was the perfect one for after Hamilton:

A Man Called Ove. Please read, I laughed. I cried. I loved all of the characters, especially Ove.

Designing Your Life This was an interesting read about learning how designers think during invention and applying that to your life path. Written by two professors who both changed their professions in their mid 40's/50's and now teach this class at Stanford.  I can't recommend it enough for anyone feeling stuck in their profession/life, trying to decide which way to go for their profession/life and especially parents of High School seniors and seniors themselves. Way interesting to find out how effective life plans are found and prototyped (what lights you up, what energizes you, what drains you etc), also how most people will live 2-3 lives as far as professions and personal life.

Next up...
How Reading Changed My Life

Forget Me Not (By my friend Ellie Terry! Her first novel!!!)

I'm on the hunt for more books this year. Let me know any suggestions.


the best vacuum for a house full of dirt and pets

I have been on the hunt for a good vacuum, since ours recently died. When we first moved into the house I splurged on a Dyson. It was amazing. Its form and function flawless, and it SUCKED big time. I loved it. I washed the filters and thought they were dry (they weren't) so moisture got into the vacuum and over time, think 5 years, it lost suction. *Sidenote, if you have a Dyson and when you turn it on or off it sounds like an airplane taking off of a runway, you have moisture in the engine. You're welcome. Oh, and we also had a carpet beetle infestation and I used the dyson to clean it all up. This took, like, 6 months and I couldn't even look at the Dyson without dry heaving. I haven't written about the infestation yet, because, well...still dry heaving. Urp.

So of course I went to Target and bought the cheapest vacuum there was, a Shark Navigator. There was no way I was going to spend money on a nice vacuum on the off chance my house was still, cough cough, infested.  At first the Navigator worked awesome as far as suckage power, but it's design and form. UGH! It fell over every time I used the wand attachment. I don't curse but I think I cursed more than 100 times over 18 months with that dumb vacuum. When it first broke I was like YES! A new vacuum, but my stupid handy husband fixed it! My excuse was gone. Then it broke again!!!! Again, handy awesome husband fixed it. And then the 3rd time it broke (not even joking) I finally threw in the towel. I had had an amazing vacuum for 5 years and then this flimsy one couldn't even handle my abuse for 18 months. Weak sauce.

I then began the hunt. I literally (ok probably exaggerating here) read 1 million vacuum reviews for a house with hair. We have my long hair, the girls' hair, our narcissistic cat's hair and our horny dog's hair. Oh, and 2 acres of grass and dirt. So yeah, we need a good vacuum.

These are the THREE Vacuums I tried, I know. I'm crazy.
Electrolux Canister

Dyson Complete

Bank Vault Canister

I decided on trying a new brand, since the Dyson scratched our wood floors and the Navigator was the bane my existence. I went with an Electrolux Canister, I love our Electrolux washer and dryer so wanted to try it out. It was really great for our tile and hardwood floors! Super easy to use and pretty to look at. I was happy! It SUCKED! It was great! And then 5 days later the vacuum carpet head attachment was squeaking. Like that plastic, squeak, squeeeeeeeak, squeak, squeak. And I had it. I shipped it back the next day. No way am I paying $$$ for a vacuum to have it squeak at me after 5 days.

As I like the canister type of vacuum I then went with a SALE! on costco for The Bank Vault canister vacuum. I know, really pricey, I'm not sane remember? But this was bagged, and we have family with allergies so I felt it was worth the purchasing price. And oh baby, I really like it! Sturdy, form, function, suckage power were all hitting 5 stars for me!

But then....I was at a costco warehouse and the Dyson Animal Complete was on sale, like, big time, and I couldn't' resist. So I bought it to try it out. At this point I have two vacuums in my house. Can I also add that I hardly, ever ever ever return things? Like, I'm just stuck with it forever no matter what. But not this time, nope. I was determined to find the right vacuum, and the Dyson was so much less (and came with so many attachments I had to google what they do) so I went for it.

**another sidenote, I need to use the word "so", like, so much less**

I decided to find the ultimate vacuum test. I moved our bed to vacuum completely under it. It has been a year since I did a deep clean under there. I took the Bank Vault canister and slowly ran over the area where the bed was FOUR TIMES. Then I took the Dyson (which sucks, holy cow batman, it's strong) and quickly ran the same area over, but only TWICE. You guys, the canister was full of dust and dirt. FULL. It was disgusting. So my lovely Bank Vault was returned. I just could not live with a vacuum that I can't fully trust like that. I felt betrayed, all those promises and it could't pull through for me.

So here I am, with the Dyson. Admittedly, it isn't as awesome on hard wood or tile, but it has a FAN and high shelf attachment. Seriously, I can dust my fans like zippittydooda! easy!  And i can't tell you how much dirt, hair and dust it picks up. Every day. It's gross. I will also admit, I can tell I sneeze a lot using the Dyson, I think bagged vacuums are better for allergies, but I still sleep better at night knowing I'm getting the upper hand at the constant dirt  and hair battle.

The End.


the coach master

We now have a middle schooler in the house this year. And because our county school district is full of a bunch of not so smart individuals who run the transit system plans (seriously, screw drivers have more purpose on this earth), her bus is supposed to pick her up first, then drive 30 minutes to get the farthest kids out of town, and then drive back past our house for school.  So of course, I drive her. It's actually nice, we get a few minutes alone and confirm the day's plan. Who is picking up whom, where are we going etc. Every day is a different gamut.

And every day, as I turn down the road to get me home I drive past one of our many trailer parks. I would consider this one a little more nice. It's tidy and small and there is a sense  of order to it. And the second trailer in along the road is the Coachmaster. I would say, circa 1970's. Why do I notice the coach master? Because it's gold trim is still shiny. After all these years, someone has taken a lot of pains to keep this beauty looking quite fine. There is also a sense of ord to the items around it. The chairs, the porch, etc. And as I pass the coach master I wonder, who lives there?

Are they snowbirds like everyone else? Or as we like to call them at church "Winter Sisters".  I always guess it's a single man in his 60's/70's. Is he from Idaho, Montana or Utah? I would say he isn't local because unfortunately the majority of local trailers are not kept up that nice and neat. It's a lot easier to keep something looking new if you only use it 3 months out of a year.

What does he cook in his trailer? Where does he like to visit? What are his favorite tv shows? Does he read? Have children? Visit family?  Does he have an ex-wife, or is he a widow? Does he have 4 ex-wives? A pension? Step-children, adopted children? Retired mine worker? Lawyer? These are the things that rotate around in my brain as I drive home.  And then I pass the other mom. I see her every morning, and I reflect on my parenting.

Lately I have been working on my parenting with my therapist. It has taken me two years to finally get to talking about this. I tell my therapist, I don't really know how to be a mom to a teenager. My parents were both 40 years older than me (most of the time double the age as the other parents) and not around very much. By the time I was entering the teenage years my mom was a school teacher at an at-risk inner city elementary school and getting her Masters degree at UNR. My dad always had two jobs, a dental practice here and there. During this time he was the head dentist at the prison. I don't remember seeing very much of either of them around this time, or remember them parenting. I really had a more free-for-all reign of my life (again, as far as I can remember). I could hang out with whomever, pretty much whenever. Luckily this is when I started dancing and that kept me more busy and out of trouble.

When I was a brand new parent I was 100% positive I knew exactly what I was doing in life, and as a mother (even though I didn't). Slowly over the years as disappointment, lack of sleep and reality filled the years I had a aggressively  malignant  fear that  someone, somehow would find out the truth,  that I have no idea what I'm doing as a PARENT. I think I can guess that this is a universal fear for most adults, but what I didn't know was that the first people to call you out on your parental failings would be your own children.

Most of my parenting to my oldest children has come from guilt and shame. This is when they are acting out and/or arguing with me, it used to be when they refused to wear the cute outfit, or have an accident in their cute undies, or dare to be fussy at church. When this happens I'm 99% positive I have created a monster and this is ALL my FAULT so I must FIX IT right away to show them how awful they are being and to not be awful but be amazing and fantastic instead. It is simple no?

This usually doesn't go well. UGH.

I constantly hover around them like flies at a summer picnic and everyone gets stressed out and starts lashing out.  Of course, this is with the older kids. With the younger kids I feel like I have these rose colored glasses on  and am enjoying every tooth falling out and every milestone and every cheesy art project brought home like it's a Davinci. Then I feel even more guilt and shame because I was completely out of it and in a dark, dark hole when the older kids were going through the same milestones so take said previous shame and add in MORE guilt and MORE shame because I just plain suck at motherhood.

But not now. Nope. Now my new mantra is NO SHAME.  No shame or guilt about my parenting. Take it completely out of the picture, its' not there. It is what it is and there is no going back. I'm doing the best I can. I was doing the best that I could (even though at times it was really, really atrocious) I always will make mistakes, but NO GUILT.

This is what I think when the small middle schooler climbs out the other mom's car. The door opens and the smoke billows out in waves. Every morning, smoking smoking smoking. And i think "NO SHAME". I'm doing the best I can, that mom is doing the best she can in her circumstances. Yes, I want to pull over and shake her silly with all of the information on second hand smoke and just use one ounce of self control to NOT smoke in the house or in the car but I can't.

I just watch. And think. And am sad for her kid. And sad for other kids. And sad for moms swimming in the guilt. They are doing the best that they can, even if it stinks.

Maybe there is a mom who lives in the Coachmaster, and maybe they had a few kids, and maybe she parented out of guilt and shame and so the years were filled with contention and darkness and they don't have a relationship with Sally or Bob and their grandkids in Milwaukee. I'll probably never know. But I do know that the gold trim is kept nice, and that's saying something. I don't know what, but definitely something. At least it's nice to drive by when it glimmers.


seen and heard

We battled a small sickness the week before Valentine's day. So of course I was proud that boxes were still made and Valentine's addressed and brought to school. I felt pretty on top of it considering. I sent the food for the class party (I now sign up for about 99% less of school activities to help out) and happily picked up the kids at the end of the day. I was now the one that was sick, so even more props for getting them there right?

Elementary School:
As my kindergartner walks up to me he states ever so matter of factly, "Yeah, I didn't have enough Valentines? And I didn't bring a bag. But it's ok, someone gave me an extra one!" and he pulls out a sparkly girl panda bag.

I try not to hyperventilate, "You didn't have a bag? You were supposed to bring a bag or box?" breathe, breathe breathe. (Thinking, I've finally reached "that mom" status that forgets everything! and he had a horrible holiday because of ME!)  I ask again, "Rodney? What happened? Were you ok?"  

He looks up at me and says, "Mom, it all worked out just fine!" and smiles as he shows me all of his loot. "Do you know what my favorite candy is ever?!" he asked.

"FUN DIPS!!!!!!" he screams and then skips to the car.

Middle School:

Our middle schooler had a class where they were required to write two Valentines, and only two. You had  to sign your name on the Valentine and all Valentines were going to be stapled onto the wall.

I asked Ty, "What kind of sick social experiment is this?!" These poor kids, you have to only pick two friends, and you have to sign your name. Resulting in the popular girl is going to get, like 10 Valentines, and then there are kids who are going to receive NONE, and everyone can read every single one?  

I have a great idea! Let's take time away from learning our subject (where our County has the lowest high school matriculation rate and college graduates in the country) and take time investigate the total awkwardness of prepubescent hormones, our small town's intimate social stratum and add public popularity competition to it and post it on the wall!

This is when I think home school moms might be onto something. But then, if it doesn't kill you it only makes you stronger right? Ick.


hello, is it you?

Most of the time I plan to write on here, I start typing it all out yet can't push post. There is a mount everest of things over the last three years that have kept me from writing. From sharing. I'm a little older now and cautious about how much I write about the details about our lives. Some of my things are too personal. Some I'm not ready to share, although I know I need to. I know there are other moms out there wondering, is it just me? And feeling lost and desolate and alone and angry. And so, I'm going to pull up my britches and write. This is my first attempt. The older the children get the more private I feel, because it is their lives, and not my right anymore to share their intimate details and journey through childhood, and now adolescence.

 So maybe the tone of my writing will be a little different, (maybe I'll edit? ha! lolzzzzz!) not so much a journal of our day to day, but a deeper journal of my motherhood, my frank journal as an adult. Funny tidbits, honest reflections (even if it is things in my small town and people will know what I'm referring too) and the struggles of an everyday Christian woman balancing a house full of children, a dedicated marriage, a part-time job, a very busy part-time volunteer job at church and a plethora of other commitments.

All important facets of my life, and all if not balanced, can make you go crazy. I know this, because I went crazy and I'm slowly getting better. Or maybe I'm not, either or, I'm willing to talk about my adventures in wonderland. Who I am, who I was, who I think I am, who I think I was, and how my world has changed inside and around me.

I write for the one. The one woman, the one mom, the one struggling parent. When I am brave, and dare greatly to write my truths, my struggles, there is always the one. The one email, or someone who stops me at the store, or corners me at church, or even just sighs a compete relief at her phone screen when she realizes she isn't alone, she isn't crazy (or she is and is brave enough to reach out for help), and that post helps her to not give up. To take the rose colored glasses off of her problems and issues that are just NOT working anymore, even if it's messy and it's going to get worse before it gets better. Because honey, it always gets worse before it gets better, and then it just rinses and repeats.

I also am not as naive, I know that there even what I write today will be outdated in my life in 5, 10, 25 years. But that is not a reason anymore for me to not to share. This is my reality now, these are my truths now, and that is still important.

 I've found (meaning, I've worked my tail off to find) some ways to smile and stay freaking CHEERFUL during those derails, sidetracks, pauses and reroutes now. Life is too amazing and too short to stick your head in the sand and pout when it isn't going your way or look the way you want. I'm willing to write about it for that one. All that glitters is not gold sister, sometimes it's a pile of horse poo but no one is willing to talk about the stink (or the clean up or the difficult lessons learned). I will try do do this, without exposing myself and my family to too much exposure. Because that's a steaming hot pile of crap too.

Also, the blog name changed to www.prettycheerful.com, just because I'm not feeling as witty as I did in my 20's, and I only try to look pretty on the Sabbath. Haha! The one day I blow dry my hair and add an extra layer of mascara. Also, I'm able to be cheerful with the help of over the counter neurotransmitters, because turns out my brain stopped making a lot of them, a LONG time ago. You can ask my psychiatrist and therapist about this if you don't believe me.

So if you are here dear reader, or if this is my great grandchild that has been following along every topsy turvy, incoherent post over the last 8 years, until next time...because I am here, and it's me. It very truly is.
San Diego Padres game 2016, baseball is a happy place for us


seen and heard

I think it's been so long since I've posted there were cobwebs on my blog page. Almost every other morning I have this jolt of inspiration and need to write it down on here. And then my day gets swept up in a tidal wave of errands, appointments, chores, and kid stuff. These kids need to go to lots of stuff, eat lots of stuff and use a lot of stuff and then leave a lot of stuff to be picked up. Still trying to figure out how to have less stuff, which after Christmas is not the smartest move. Like dieting the day after Thanksgiving, lots of questions and self loathing.

BUT...I can not let the funny things these kids say go amiss. I know I will forget. 

Phoebe, very distraught the morning after losing her second tooth:
"The tooth fairy didn't come last night!
Abby walks in in her pjs and matter of factly states, "Oh, she always takes a few days for my teeth, don't worry."

Out of 4 schools Phoebe took second place overall at the speed meet

All day school has proven quite the task for little miss Phoebe's goals. She is TIRED and cranky most days. She is trying to run at least a mile every day during recess, besides playing with her friends and bouncing of the walls 24/7 to boot.  She's also proving to be a true 7 year old with statements like, "YOU HATE ME DON"T YOU?!" and "I"M JUST THE WORST EVER!".  Ah, seven year olds, like a good cheese they get more tolerable with age. (I have never tolerated 7 year olds very well, they are like ICK age the entire year). There, I said it.  Phoebe is still my favorite Phoebe though, of all time. 

Rodney, oh where do I start with his quotes? This boy freaking LOVES school. Loooooves it and it still crushes my soul. Ty dropped the kids of a little late the other day and had to walk him through the hallways to his classroom. That night while I'm making dinner he said, "Did you know Rodney knows almost everyone at that school? Almost every single kid and teacher said, 'HI RODNEY!' and he knows all of them too.  Let's just say, he is very friendly and funny according to his teacher. 
Rodney's teacher sent this to me. Swoon.

It's true though, when I drop him off there are these little tiny adults that yell at me "HI RODNEY"S MOOOOOM!!!!!". I'm famous I guess. 

Some of his best quotes lately:

He loves to get to school early so he can be "KING of the playground!"  I don't even know what that means because he basically just frolics around with lots of jumping and talking to himself. 

After we sent Santa Christmas letters: "Mom, do you think Santa can read without spaces?"  Teachers will laugh at that one. I assured him, that yes, Santa can read all languages and even letters that don't have spaces between the words. hehe.

Rodney loves to whistle. All.Day.Long. When he eats (I know right?), draws, plays, everything. His Grandpa Leavitt asked him the other day, "Rodney, how did you get so good at whistling?" 
Rodney blurts out, "I practice when I go to the bathroom!"

"I love sitting on your lap mom!"..."It's SO soft and squishy!"  hmmm, not my favorite quote but funny nonetheless. 

Every Sunday morning, "Is it Sunday today?"  "Yes it is, all day!" I respond. "Oh, I think I'm sick. I don't feel good. My tummy hurts."  Or the best, "I HATE SUNDAYS! THEY ARE THE WORST! WHY DO WE HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH?!!!"

We took Uncle Taylor and Aunt Megan to see Star Wars for his birthday and Phoebe, Lucy and Rodney all fell asleep. But Rodney fell asleep, and didn't wake up until the next morning. In his bed (and it was a Sunday). I've never seen that boy so mad in my life.  He stormed into my bedroom, "WHY did you let me fall asleep at the movie? We are going back to the movie TODAY and do NOT let me fall asleep!!!!"  I'm pretty sure he was stomping with every single syllable.  

We still haven't gone back, he has survived thus far. He really likes Star Wars by the way.

Abby has turned 10 and is as delightful as ever but with small spurts of hormonal upset sprinkled here and there. She took birthday treats to her classroom and of course made sure to bring dairy free treat for her friend that is lactose intolerant. Whose kid is this??? Not mine, that's for sure. The night of her birthday party she gently asked, "Do you think anyone will remember my party?" Oh Abby, everyone will remember! She truly is a delight in our home.
Abby's party!
Happy at Disneyland 

Lucy is in full middle school mode. Shoes are VERY important, and clothes, and hair and ohmygoshmomican'tbelieveyoujustsaidthat/worethat/drovethatway. It's amazing! I love having a personified version of the voice in my head that points out my every false move and failing!  I assure her that yes, I am the worst mom every because I won't let her have a smart phone/tablet/ipod touch and someday she can raise a family and be the BEST mom ever!!!!!  
Ty bribed Lucy to shoot the AR15

She picked up the flute as her middle school instrument and I must say, it sounds so beautiful. I love hearing her practice. It's totally worth the 10 minute fighting match to get her to play it. She also gets pointe shoes this week! Ack! I can't believe it!!! 

I have been seeing a therapist for almost two years now ( I still haven't written about my mental breakdown wonderful life change two years ago) and the other night made some huge progress with Ty. We arrived home late, on a school night, from a family get together and I was losing my shiz...completely with the kids. This is par for course for this kind of scenario.  I plopped down on the couch next to Ty and asked, "How much of this is the kids being totally awful and how much is this me being crazy and irrational?"  I basically just won the Olympic gold medal for recognizing my epic emotional dysregulation episodes that happen. You're welcome.
Early Thanksgiving morning hike

 Here's to better mental health for 2017!!! What are your goals? 

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