Friday, March 13, 2015

38 things about me

to celebrate this day which marks my 38th year of life i thought i'd tell you 38 things about me. you may or may not already know this stuff but, ya know, whatever the case...

1. i am half persian. jeremy calls me his hairy iranian. so sad but oh so true. he also calls me food nicknames - pumpkin, muffin, cupcake, buttercup.

2. i was adopted when i was two months old. the story goes that i was in foster care for two months because my biological father did not want to relinquish his paternal rights.

3. i don't know what ethnicity the other half of me is.

4. i was born in iowa city, raised in waterloo, iowa.

5. i graduate high school in 1995.

6. one time i tried unsuccessfully to find a picture of my biological father in a university of iowa yearbook. long story, but after that failed search i took it as a sign that finding my birth parents just wasn't meant to be.

7. i moved to oklahoma when i was 18 to go to college. i originally planned to go to a different university but switched at the last minute to follow a friend to bartlesville wesleyan college. (can we say co-dependent?)

8. while i moved to oklahoma my parents and brother moved to russia. (probable cause of the co-dependence)

9. i had to go to my professor's house and use his aol account and dial-up internet to email my family while they were overseas. i also baked chocolate cookies in his oven and did laundry in his washing machine.

10. although originally declaring a psychology major i switched to biology because most of my friends were science majors (again, co-dependent). i shoulda stuck with pysch.

11. i was SUCH a lost soul (not spiritually but probably in every other way...and, yeah, probably spiritually too) during my college years.

12. i dropped out of college my junior year because i was completely aimless and sad about a boy.

13. there were many people in oklahoma who adopted me as their own, gave me a family and a home. not one single day goes by that i don't think of at least one of them.

14. i used to work as a certified podiatric medical assistant, taking x-rays of feet and filing toenails.

15. i used to work as a nanny. loved it!

16. i used to work as an assistant youth pastor. those youth have now graduated college - crazy!

17. once, when asked by a questionnaire to use one word to describe myself, i thought at length about it and wrote mercurial. in many ways i think that word still suits me today. the volatility has faded but the molding to fit my environment remains.

18. i learned in therapy yesterday that adaptability does not negate authenticity. think on that one for a while.

19. i used to work in the music industry.

20. i used to work as an event planner for three wealthy commercial real estate brokers. they gifted me the most comfy rocker/glider and ottoman when i was pregnant with harrison.

21. i met my husband on

22. jeremy said i love you first but i knew i would marry him first.

23. we got married in bartlesville, oklahoma in 2004, outdoors in july (sweaty!) on the porch of the most beautiful southern plantation style house (the home of the family i nannied for).

24. it was one year from our first email to our wedding day. it was nine months from our first in-person meeting to our wedding day. it was five months from our engagement day to our wedding day.

25. i love jeremy more now than i did then. truly.

26. we spent ten days in the dominican republic for our honeymoon. jeremy planned it and surprised me. i had no idea where we were going until we boarded the flight out of miami.

27. we still live in the same townhouse jeremy owned before we got married.

28. i feel content in our little townhouse but i'm ready to find our next house.

29. i have a good handful of very dear friends but i'm not sure i have ever had one all-time best friend.

30. i am just awful at keeping in touch with people. it is one of my worst flaws.

31. my favorite food is potatoes - mashed, baked, fried, roasted, hash-browned...i'll even eat them raw...but NOT scalloped!

32. i am an introvert but people find that surprising (might be due to #17).

33. if you looked in my closet you would see lots and lots of horizontal stripes. i guess i have a thing for them.

34. i prefer to have my hair pulled back out of my face.

35. i prefer not wearing make-up but i think i look better when i actually put the stuff on.

36. i prefer wearing loungewear all day every day. don't we all?

37. i love living in colorado.

38. i love jesus

and a pinch to grow an inch...

39. my favorite bible verse is probably isaiah 54:2 which says enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. if you read the previous chapters leading up to that verse the meaning is so cool! basically, the nation of israel is being compared to a barren woman and god is finally telling her listen, i'm about to bless you with so many stinkin children you're gonna have to build a bigger house to hold them all, so get busy sister!(interpretation mine)

that's how i feel on my birthday this year - so very blessed. and i know god will continue to shower his love down on me (because that's what he does) so my plan is to open my arms wide to receive it all. i love being 38 but i think the best is still yet to come.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

how to dress kids for outdoor winter activities

whether it's for a family ski trip, a neighborhood sledding adventure or simply playing in the yard on a snowy day, it's important to know how to dress your children for outdoor winter fun.

because i once lived in oklahoma and now live in colorado i get the pleasure of advising warm-climate out-of-towners about the gear they'll need in order to keep warm in the rocky mountains. we were blessed to see two such families last month! here's the information i gave them.

our family uses a three layer system: base layer, mid layer and outer layer. this concept works for both kids and adults. it is great for any weather because one layer can easily be added or removed. by keeping to just three layers it prevents getting too hot, which can cause excess sweating. if your child gets too sweaty and that perspiration stays near the skin it will make them cold.

base layer - this should be a thin, wicking layer that is made from polypropylene or polyester. no cotton allowed! a synthetic fabric will help perspiration evaporate whereas cotton holds moisture in. dry clothes are warm clothes.

our favorite brand base layer is hot chillys but again, just read the label to see what the garment is made of. most packages will say something like "moisture wicking" or "draws moisture away from body".

mid layer - this layer is strictly for warmth. it's typically some type of fleece. polartec fleece is a good option as is a 100% wool sweater. again, no cotton. we go with columbia brand gear for our kids mostly because it's great quality and we can buy it for a discounted price at the outlet store near our condo. i prefer a mid layer that can zip into the outer layer so it becomes one coat. dressing kids to go outside can be laborious and time-consuming; it's helpful to minimize the number of items they need to put on. HERE are some good options.

outer layer - this is a lightweight shell jacket that is both windproof and waterproof. HERE are some good options.

it should be noted that you could choose to purchase an insulated, waterproof winter coat for your child which would negate the need for a mid layer because the coat would provide enough warmth on its own. then you'd just go with a base layer and the insulated coat.

pants - our kids wear insulated, waterproof ski pants with a hot chillys base layer underneath. this provides plenty of protection and warmth no matter the activity or the temperature. i highly recommend buying pants instead of bib overalls. while the overalls might keep them slightly warmer they make it much more difficult for kids to go potty!!  HERE is a great pants option.

in both coats and pants i look for "outgrow" options which many brands offer now. what this means is that the coat and pants are made with a two-inch hem inside the sleeves and legs so, as your child grows, the garment can grow with them if you let out the hem. another way to save money and extend the life of your outerwear is to purchase plain patterns and/or neutral colors so coats and pants can be passed down from older to younger, and maybe even from boys to girls. i also tend to buy one size up in hopes that my kids can wear a coat for at least two years.

now on to the accessories...

socks - only wear one pair! don't fool yourself into thinking two pair will keep feet warmer, it's just not true. i recommend smartwool brand socks. they are a bit pricey but the tootsies will stay toasty. one other tip: do not tuck the pant legs of the base layer inside the sock. the sock should be against the skin, then the base layer, then the boot.

gloves - we've used both gloves and mittens with success. mittens do keep fingers just a bit warmer. the most important factor is that they are insulated and waterproof.

neck warmer - for super cold or windy days a neck warmer is a good idea as it can be pulled up to cover the lower part of the face. i like the turtle fur brand. all the kids in the photo above are wearing neck warmers, some pull over their heads like a hat whereas some just rest on the shoulders like a scarf. both work equally well.

boots - for playing in the snow our boys wear basic snow boots i bought at target. occasionally i wish i had purchased better quality boots for them but, honestly, most of the time they never complain! skiing or snowboarding boots will need to be rented along with the rest of equipment for those specific sports.

hats - helmets are required for skiing and snowboarding so when doing those activities the boys' heads and ears stay warm without a hat. when they are playing outside in the snow, though, they always pull up their fleece-lined hood or wear some type of hat. i don't have any specific recommendations other than to just make sure to wear one.  :-)

sunscreen, wrist guards, goggles - i am always hounding my family to put on sunscreen. it's a must-do in the mountains. wrist guards are a good idea for snowboarders, especially beginners. goggles are fantastic for any kind of outdoor activity on snowy, windy days. on calm days and for low-key activities a pair of sunglasses would suffice.

whether you're headed to the mountains for a winter vacation or you live in oklahoma and get blessed with a rare snowstorm, these are the rules to follow to keep kids warm outdoors.

this website also offers great, detailed information.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

why i said goodbye to facebook


i've lost track now how long it's been since i quit facebook. i'm guessing a month, maybe more. i used to count the minutes, then the hours. it took me a solid week to stop picking up my phone again and again and again to check my newsfeed. it took me longer than that to stop wondering what's going on out there in the world of status updates. in fact, i even texted a friend at one point to ask her what was happening on facebook. her response: just the usual woes and brags.

apparently, i wasn't missing much but it sure felt like i was.

i legitimately like facebook. i grew up in iowa and my family is still there. i lived in oklahoma for ten years and have dear friends there. facebook is a fabulous way to connect and share life with those near and far! but what kills me about facebook is when "friends" use it to announce things that should really be done in person or over the phone or, god help us all, at the very least through a text message. when you find out your brother got engaged by reading about it on facebook that kinda sucks. when you discover your favorite aunt's cancer has returned and is terminal on facebook that kinda sucks even more.

i deactivated because i got tired of facebook being more important than the people on facebook. 

the truth is i'd been considering dropping off social media for a long while before i actually pulled the trigger. it was more than a year ago that my therapist mentioned studies which determined facebook can lead to depression. i've read, and been fascinated by, essays about people's breaks from social media or the internet altogether. they suffered withdrawal symptoms but ended up living a fuller life offline; most began using technology again after a predetermined timeframe but they felt more purposeful in doing so. then i stumbled upon a ny times article about how one viral tweet caused a woman to be fired from her job and forced her to leave the country to avoid the media frenzy that followed. i must admit, too, that the more and more common cyberattacks have made me wary of the internet in general. (yes i understand the irony of that statement given that i'm about to publish this on my personal webpage). ultimately, though, i disconnected longing to decrease the white noise that infiltrated my daily life and, more so, to connect with people in a real-er way.

so what can i tell you about life since saying byebye to facebook? surely i use my time more wisely now that i don't have my nose in a newsfeed multiple times a day but i couldn't exactly tell you how. it's safe to say i've been reading books more, the house has been a bit tidier, i've paid more attention to the boys, i've said "just a minute" to them less, my phone has been plugged into the wall more and by my side less. i have certainly made more phone calls or sent more texts instead of relying on facebook to tell me how my friends are doing. all incremental changes. all good ones.

but i do miss the ability to connect with people who mean a lot to me. i want to see photos of new babies. i want a reminder notification when it's a friend's birthday. i wish i could post a quick status update to get recommendations for a local cleaning service. i want to know about the progress a friend is making with her family's venture to start a's all that stuff but mostly i just honestly, sincerely miss all the plain old woes and brags.

so, who knows, maybe i'll join facebook land again one day. until then i'll just keep posting my own woes and brags right here. 



here are some articles about social media you may find interesting...

going null on social media by john saddington

how one stupid tweet ruined justine saccos life at the ny times

too much facebook leads to envy and depression at cnn money

technology is destroying my family #help at

Monday, March 9, 2015

free therapy advice

i had to schedule an emergency counseling session with dr. vermiller a few weeks back because of a family incident that got me stewing. after day three of frustration and self-loathing i reached out to ask for help. i'm so glad i did.

here's what i learned that morning in therapy:

1) i am a child of god, gifted with sensitivity, keen insight and intuition.

2) not everyone is gifted in this same way.

3) i am comfortable talking about things.

this is mostly because i know who i am and what i believe. pretending to be anything other than my real self just doesn't work for me. chatting about my feelings is not hard because i'm just sharing part of myself with others. debating with someone who carries a dissenting opinion is easy because being grounded in my own beliefs allows me the space to offer others the ability to be grounded in theirs. i'm open-hearted, willing to changing my opinion if so moved. i think the freedom with which i can discuss things is also due to an deep understanding that we're all in this together, we all experience pain. i know the pain goes away more quickly, and we feel less alone, if we talk about it.

now, when situations pop up that cause me to question myself? that's when i get back to therapy to get grounded again. (in fact i've got another appointment with the good doctor tomorrow).

4) not everyone is comfortable talking about things the way i am.

5) in order to be an authentic person one must be both vulnerable and assertive.

vulnerability is a keystone for authenticity. be who you are no matter what, even if it's scary. assertiveness, too, is important because people should feel confident expressing who they are, what they believe, what they like, what they don't like, what they want and how they feel. these are the qualities we need in order to show up and be real with each other.

6) authentic relationships (whether with a spouse, parent, child, friend) can only exist if people allow themselves to be vulnerable with others and feel comfortable being assertive with others.

7) not everyone is authentic. not everyone is capable of participating in an authentic relationship.

8) i can show grace to those who don't possess the same qualities i do, but i am not responsible for how they live their life or how they react to the way i chose to live mine.

9) my only obligation is to honor god with my words and deeds and thoughts; to be who he created me to be - a perceptive, self-actualized human being.

10) all this is much easier said than done!

11) all this is much easier when you have a therapist to coach you through it!!

so what about you? in what ways do you think you are gifted? are you a talker or a under-the-rug-sweeper? would you consider yourself an authentic person? is it easy for you to be vulnerable? how 'bout assertive? do you like reading about my therapy sessions???  :-)

happy monday to you all!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

a real life conversation

after just waking up i walked to the boys' room to check on them. graham was awake but still lying in bed so i crawled in next to him. he started whispering to me...

graham: mommy, i have a joke for you. well, it's kind of a riddle.

me: ok.

graham: how do you put a hippo in a frigerator?

me: i have no idea.

graham: you open the door, stuff him in, then close the door.

me: [skeptical about this riddle]: oh, i see!

graham: how do you put a giraffe in a frigerator?

me: um, you open the door, stuff him in, then close the door?

graham: yes, except you have to pull the hippo out first.

me: oh, of course.

graham: mommy, there's a river. there's a sign that says "beware alligators" and the bridge is out. how do you get across?

me: you jump?

graham: no, you swim because the alligators are at a party.

me [smiling]: that's pretty clever, graham.

graham: who can't cross the river?

me: i don't know. buddy.

graham: the giraffe! because he's stuck in the frigerator!

here are a few cute word-mishaps harrison has said lately...

"give me those cards! staff!"  (he meant to say STAT)
"don't temper me with cookies"  (he meant to say TEMPT)
"we need a new suspenders"  (he meant to say SUSPENSION for the car)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

the superficial things that are saving my life right now

from serious to's a few of my favorite things of late.

after my last cleaning my dentist gave me a new toothbrush. it's the colgate slim soft toothbrush and it feels like i'm brushing my teeth with a cloud!

along that same line, i've been using crest whitening strips, the professional luxe series. i drink coffee therefore i need white strips and these work great. i use them two nights in a row then one night off so my teeth don't get too sensitive.

let me introduce you to your new best friend: the victoria's secret sports bra!

my physical therapist recommended these lightweight, flexible running shoes because they allow my feet to function the way god created them. the nike free 5.0 series. i love them. i also love that i can buy them for super cheap at the nike outlet store!

the clarisonic mia. if you've read reviews and wondered about it i'm here to tell you it really is amazing. i got one for my birthday last year and although i still have problem skin (especially if i eat too much sugar) i do think my skin is the best it's been in a long, long time...maybe ever. it's pricey but worth the investment.

jeremy and i are binge watching nbc's the blacklist, usually getting through two episodes each night after we tuck the boy into bed. we've almost finished the first season.

masterchef junior wins the award for favorite family tv show. the boys love it and, bonus, it inspires them to get in the kitchen more!

modern mrs. darcy is my current blog obsession. if you love reading you will love this blog.

that completes the list of random things - just the first few that popped into my head - that making life better right now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

what's saving my life right now

i read something a few weeks back that got me contemplating. blog writer modern mrs. darcy, inspired by the book leaving church, challenged her readers to consider the things that are saving their lives.  she wrote, "even though most of us can easily articulate what’s killing us, few of us pay attention to what’s giving us life."

guilty as charged. 

i cannot tell you how frequently i catch myself saying the kids are killing me or this weather is killing me or all.the.legos are killing me!

so i did indeed feel challenged to shift my focus toward what brings me back to life.

1) waking up before my children. i'm writing about this first because i honestly feel it has been the simplest, yet most profound thing i've been doing to refresh my spirit. i used to read about moms who woke before their babies and thought they were crazy. now i realize there are different stages of motherhood. the season i'm in now, with children ages 6 and 7 who wake consistently around 6:30am and can dress themselves and even make their own breakfast if necessary, makes it easy for me to get up at 5:30am. i enjoy a quiet hour of reading, thinking, praying...sometimes wasting time scrolling through my phone...sometimes just staring out the window (to catch the sunrise!). all while sipping a piping hot cup of coffee. waking up in peace is the very best way to start the day and it allows me to feel settled and readied for the frantic before-school rush.

2) vitamins. i wrote about my vitamin regime here.

3) exercise. a friend told me yesterday about working out, "you're so dedicated". i'm not sure it's dedication, i just know doing some form of physical activity most days makes my brain and body feel better. 

4) writing. i process my life by writing it. i've said repeatedly that writing is my therapy. not everything is published on this blog because, although i'm a fairly open book, some topics are better left hiding in a file on my computer. or written long-hand and burned! but they all get written out. 

5) keeping a very simple schedule. routine is my life-blood and i enjoy a simple one. i know i am incredibly blessed to do so! my days are typically all the same: wake, quiet time, get boys to school, exercise, errands, pick up graham, housework, pick up harrison, homework, dinner, bathes & bed for boys, tv time with jer, bed for me. on thursdays i spend the morning volunteering at the boys school. that little tweak in my routine often throws me for a loop; i get home and need a nap! on valentine's day i volunteered at the school plus coordinated graham's class party, drove home to eat lunch, then headed back to the school to be with harrison during his class party. i was exhausted at the end of that day and woke up with a migraine the next! all that to say, i know a simple routine saves my life. 

6) saying no. i have become accustomed to saying no to things in order to keep my routine as simple as possible. not because i don't want to do them but because i've grown to understand they come with a cost. the things i can say yes to (meeting friends at the park) i'll jump at. the things i need to say no to (helping coach the soccer team) are easier to decline because i'm firmly grounded in knowing how much i can handle. we purposefully limit the boys' commitments (lessons, sports, teams) too!

7) daydreaming. regarding the photo, sometimes when jeremy or i feel like something (mostly parenthood, let's just be real) is killing us we put our arms around each other, close our eyes and whisper "mexico, mexico, mexico" until we remember the ocean, the breeze and the unadulterated stress-free beauty of our week there. taking a moment to transport ourselves saves us.

so that's what's saving my life right now. what's saving yours?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

a weapon against hardship

i've got a friend in marriage counseling after discovering her husband has been hiding an addiction.

i've got a friend battling depression and anxiety.

i've got a friend adjusting to a new city and realizing the reason she moved there isn't what 
she thought it would be.

i've got a friend fighting aggressive cancer.

i've got a friend struggling to make the pennies stretch.

i've got a friend unhappy about how her body looks and feels.

i've got a friend purposefully carrying a few layers of fat as a shield from the world.

i've got a friend bottling emotions so deeply they make her hyperventilate when they come to the surface.

i've got a friend concerned about her son's development, unsure what to do for him.

i've got a friend filling the void by shopping.

i've got a friend exhausted by the unspoken expectations of motherhood.

i've got a friend going the extra mile to help others but feels unworthy of receiving help herself.

i've got a friend who had one daughter released from the hospital only to have her other daughter admitted. double sickness, double stress, double bills.


these lives we lead aren't easy. there is struggle and strife and sadness. there is hurt and pain and emptiness. there is a relentless pursuit, a dirty scoundrel desperate to mire us in a spirit of heaviness and make us feel alone.

but there is a weapon against such sorrow: praise.

praising god in the midst of a trial is kryptonite to a heavy heart.

he will give you: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise for heaviness. for god has planted you like a strong and graceful oak for his own glory,  isaiah 61:3

sometimes praise is the furthest thing from our lips. maybe gratitude seems too hard. maybe the depths are so deep you cannot see what you have to be thankful for. the good news is that praise doesn't have to be verbal. it doesn't have to be documented five bullet points per day in a journal. it doesn't have to be sung with hands lifted high during a church worship service. praise is not an extra task on your already long to-do list. 

praise can be as simple as living life anyway. 

getting out of bed anyway. being kind to a stranger (or your children) anyway. unloading the dishwasher anyway. saying i love you anyway. 

praising means refusing to roll over and despair  when all the world is gripped in darkness. to praise is to remember the victory that already belongs to us, even when our reality makes us sad. praising means soldiering on in the face of dismal odds and getting out of bed every day because god gives us the strength to do hard things. praise is sitting in the dark with my tears but knowing i don't sit there alone. - shannan martin, flower patch farmgirl

i have many lovely friends. they are beautiful humans inside and out, gifted in such various ways. each one is unique yet aren't we all the same? we plow forward in this thing called life, facing the trials, holding hands in the valleys and hugging on the hilltops. 

this is my encouraging word to you today; a lengthened version of texts i sent last week to three special ladies who needed a weapon to take into battle. 

life is hard. but you can do hard things. and by doing the hard you become the physical embodiment of praise. and by being the praise you automatically make the hard things just enough easier. 

trudging on together,