Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Activity Days

With the start of school came the beginning of my new calling as Activity Days leader. I was really excited to start doing it, especially since Maggie's now one of the girls! It brought back really fond memories of having my mom as our YW leader growing up. It also gave me new insight into how it must've felt to try to lead and be a mom at the same time. Not an easy task. Sorry, Mom!!!

Anyway, I just wanted to share with the world wide web the printouts that I found/adjusted/created for my girls. The idea came from A Bushel and a Peck, where Angie is a graphic designer and made printable forms for Activity Days that you can download from her site. I took it a step further and used her borders to add other tracking sheets for the girls. I'm pretty excited with how they turned out, and the girls really loved them! Since Angie was so great to share her great ideas and hard work, I thought I'd do the same--you can click on each image to copy and use them at your discretion.

Just to explain--the reason I gave them so many tracking sheets was because, as I read through the Faith in God booklet, I came to realize that the requirements everyone focuses on--the activities in the four different areas, Learning & Living the Gospel, Serving Others, Developing Talents & Preparing for Young Women--are ACTUALLY listed under "Other Requirements".

The BASIC Requirements are:
1--Pray Daily
2--Read the scriptures regularly
3--Keep the commandments & live "My Gospel Standards"
4--Honor your parents & be kind to your family
5--Pay your tithing & attend tithing settlement
6--Attend sacrament meetings & Primary regularly

So, I thought I'd put the emphasis on the basics by giving them a way to track their progress on all of them. I probably spent WAY too much time on it all, but it was sure fun! :)

Cover Page

Binder Tracker--the girls get a treat & a sticker for remembering to bring their binder to each activity.

Prayer Chart--track night & morning using the green line dividing the days on the calendar.

Scripture Tracker

My Gospel Standards--not a tracking sheet, but a way to review.

Family kindness tracker--the girls mark off a box for each act of kindness they do for their family.

Tithing Tracker

Sacrament/Primary Tracker

Articles of Faith

Articles of Faith Tracker--the girls will mark them off as they memorize them.

Activities Tracker

Me, or Something Like Her

I'm nearly starting to feel like myself again. By "nearly" I mean, closer-than-I-have-in-months-but-not-quite-where-I-used-to-be. So many things have transpired since summer began, that I'm beginning to think I've lost the old me altogether. That may not be a bad thing. I haven't decided yet.

So, here's what the "new" me (if indeed that's who she is) is doing differently:

1. She's trying to hold her tongue more. You're welcome.
2. She's trying to be more conscious of others' needs (as opposed to her own).
3. She's trying to find a reasonable balance between stay-at-home-mom and business owner, though success can only be measured in moments at this point.
4. She's showering almost daily. Again, you're welcome.
5. She's trying to focus on the future rather than dwell in the past.
6. She's still a terrible housekeeper.
7. She's becoming a good cook.
8. She's searching for ways to circumvent her ADHD in order to maintain some semblance of organization in her life.
9. She's definitely a better wife.
10. She's trying to turn her self-talk (you know, that voice in her head...) from negative to positive.
11. She's reading more, though finishing 2 novels in 3 days probably has a direct correlation to #6...
12. She's giving up on making lists. Just kidding. She's not a schizophrenic...we don't think.

I didn't realize that letting go of those parts of myself that are ineffective or (for lack of a better term) cancerous was going to feel so much like an amputation. Some of my characteristics, behaviors and attitudes have been so deeply ingrained for so long that I've surprised myself with the domino effect of changing just one thing, let alone a long list of things.

So please bear with me as I make a monumental effort to put off the natural man. He's fighting me tooth and nail.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tired Thoughts and a Change in Perspective

So there are about a billion things I need to update on here, like how I won the Biggest Loser competition (that ended 2 months ago), or about our trip to Oregon with all the pictures associated with it, or the Stringham Family reunion at Henry's Lake that I didn't go to because I was still stuck behind my sewing machine, or the first day of school that started last week and today was picture day (Seriously! It's AUGUST!) , or about my not one but TWO new callings I got right in the middle of all my tie-making madness (guess that'll teach me to open my big mouth), or Hannah's 10th birthday 2 days ago, or Maggie's 9th birthday 4 days ago, or how about the night I slept for a full 8 hours? Wait...that hasn't happened yet.

Yes, each event does merit its own post, and I promise I'll get to it eventually, but today I need to get some feelings down that are still quite raw and tender. Hope you'll humor me.

The past few months have been the most stressful of my life. Too many things weighing heavily on me, and not much by way of relief. I wish I could say that I made all the correct decisions along the way, despite the pressure, but that wasn't the case. I only hope that my intentions can be recognized for what they are and have been--good.

Due to a few recent events that I'll not go into detail about, I've been pondering deeply the way I interact with other people. I realize that I'm really good at casual relationships, but when it comes to deep and meaningful ones, I'm seriously faltering. My version of "helping" tends to be judgmental and even selfish, and my pridefulness has been a source of unintentional hurt to those who deserve compassion and understanding. I'm grateful for a God that bestows forgiveness so easily. I'm also grateful for His mandate to change, and the tools He makes available to me to do so.

There continue to be stresses, both placed on me by others, and the ones I place upon myself, but as I try to trudge forward, I'm no longer praying for my burdens to be removed. Instead, I'm hopeful that I'll be given a back strong enough to carry it all, for as long as I need to carry it.

(I realize I sound depressed and brooding. It's really not the case. I'm just overly analytical and find that I work though it all best when I can see it on paper...or the computer screen in this case.)

I just thought of the scripture: "To whom much is given, much is required" in a very different way right now. I always focused on the "requirement" part--so much that's being required of me--but I just realized that with the mountain that's being required of me, it stands to reason that I must truly have also been given a mountain. A different perspective can bring much in the way of peace.

Exhaustion is setting in, and I'm not sure that the rest of my thoughts will be viewed as coherent by morning. I guess I'd better return to this later on, else someone views my thoughts as a cry for help....totally NOT, ok? :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Thoughts Exactly


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 2

Dear Mr. S.--

Today was.......less......good......than yesterday. A lot less. Dixon decided to wake up at 11:45, insisting on being fed a bottle. I was too tired to fight it. The alarm going off at 5 am was therefore a rude awakening to say the least. I turned it off and immediately fell back asleep. Luckily I woke up again just before 6, so I willed myself out of bed to get breakfast ready for the kids. (When I say "ready" I mean opening up their yogurt and pouring in the Bran Buds.) Apparently, the girls were all feeling the same as I was because it was like pulling teeth to get anyone to do anything they were supposed to this morning, and I was surprised that only one of them had to go change their clothes before leaving for school. (I'll let you guess which one that was...)

Bridget's day was a little better than yesterday, but I sure missed having her take a nap! In fact, Dixon only took about half of his usual nap, so I really got gypped. Hopefully now he'll be too tired to get up until morning. (Probably helped that I gave in with the bottle tonight.)

Meredith and the boys came to play for a while this afternoon. Somehow the kids ended up pulling down that wire that stretches from the house to the garage and were swinging on it. Not sure what kind of wire it is, but thankfully no one was hurt by it. I don't know what to do with it, so I'll just let you take care of it when you get home. You can take care of the dishwasher, too. For whatever reason, it decided to stop working today. Wish I could do that.

From about 3:00 on, chaos ruled. Maybe I can blame it on the yogurt they all ate this morning. I didn't check any expiration dates.... I dunno, but it was all I could do not to put them all in bed at 5:00.

Today was not all lost, though. I got my shipment of shirts in today!!! Yay!!! I've been matching up different ties to different shirts, and of course, I was having so much fun that I want to keep one of every shirt and one of every tie for Dixon!!! I'm trying to figure out how to photograph them so that I can get them up on my site (though I'm still uncertain if Etsy will let me sell them as sets since the shirts aren't handmade), but I may just have to consult with Jen on this one since my creativity is sadly lacking in that department.

So now, I'm done. Shirts and ties are strewn over the living room, toothpaste is all over the bathroom sink I cleaned earlier today, and the kitchen has a countertop and a dishwasher full of dirty dishes that I simply didn't have the energy to tackle by hand tonight, so I'm going to bed. Wish I was crawling in next to you. I miss you, and I can't wait for you to come home and resume your dishwashing and putting the kids to bed duties. Now I remember why I handed those jobs over to you. I hope I--I mean, WE--can survive the next two days without you. Please stay away from the bears.

Mrs. S.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 1

Dear Mr. S--

Today was a pretty good day. I got up at 5:17, but I really did try to be up at 5. Guess staying up until 11:00 the night before school starts wasn't the best idea. I made eggs and toast for breakfast so the girls would have some "brain food" and they were actually attentive as we read scriptures this morning. Hope you don't mind that we decided to start all over in 1 Nephi.

Got all the laundry washed today (folding is on the agenda for tomorrow) and even tidied the mud room, all while Dixon practiced going up and down the stairs. I'm not quite ready to let him off all on his own yet, but if he keeps doing this well we won't have to holler at the girls to shut the door much longer!

Bridget complained of being hungry ALL MORNING LONG, and finally I had her lay on our bed to take a nap because she was just so ornery! It was so heavenly having the 3 girls at school and Bridget and Dixon napping for 2 hours together today! I pulled and washed the couch covers, cleaned under the couches, swept the floor, repositioned the rug, cleared off all the junk on the piano, organized paperwork, paid some bills, and ran a load of dishes. Maybe Bridget should nap with Dixon everyday!!!!

After the kids woke up, we dropped off your pile of old jeans and my bag of old shirts at DI and then picked up the girls. They talked nonstop all the way home about everything that happened at school (exhausting me!), and after homework and piano I started dinner. Taquitos, pierogies, and corn. I know--totally healthy. I just haven't made it to the store yet, nor have I even gotten menus or a shopping list ready. Maybe tomorrow I'll tackle that one. Not the shopping, just the planning. I'll wait to shop when you get home. I know I'd be down to less than half of my usual gaggle with only the two kids, but the truth is, even one kid is a burden at the supermarket.

The apple crisp is sitting on the stove, waiting to be devoured, knowing that it only makes an appearance when you are not around to turn your nose up at it, so we'll be digging into that tomorrow...

Today I weaned Dixon from his bottle, and he was just fine. Now if we can just get the girls to stop asking him if he wants his ba-ba, we'll be in good shape.

That's about it for today. I'm exhausted, and it looks as if I didn't learn last night's lesson about going to bed at 11:00. Oh well. I got your message on my phone last night, and the note you left on our bed. How do I deserve you?

Hope you haven't met anything bigger or hairier than you in the last 24 hours. (Well, except Matt, of course...)

Love you and miss you.

Mrs. S.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Too Soon

I'm going to make a big confession here...

I only bathe my children once a week.

That's right. Saturday is bath/shower day here because frankly, I can't handle the watery mess more often than that. Not only that, but I stopped letting them take baths together long ago when more water ended up on me or the floor than actually in the tub. You can therefore imagine how time-consuming and hot-water consuming it is to get all 5 kids clean. So there ya have it. Our little non-hygienic secret is out. So, why the confession? In a word, Maggie.

Maggie is my super-energetic, smart, sweet, kind, almost 9 year old who gave me the biggest hug ever before bed last week.....and that's when I knew. She stunk. And not the regular kid-stink, either. I mean, I realize we've been a little crazy-busy around here lately, but I'm certain she'd had a shower just a couple of days earlier, so the following morning, I took another whiff. Oh dear heavens!

I said, "Maggie, will you do me a favor and smell your armpit?"
"Ewwww! No way, Mom!"
"Seriously, just smell it and tell me what you smell."
So she did. Her response?
"EWWWWWW!!!! I smell like YOU!!!!!"

So. There ya have it. My NINE year old now smells like a stinky teenager and will now be showering and wearing deodorant every day.

I can't believe it's happening already.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Raspberry Days 2010 or God's Trying to Give Me a Stroke

It was the day I had been anticipating ever since I put in my application as a vendor for Raspberry Days. 150+ hours of planning, buying, cutting, sewing, ironing, stitching, sorting, stickering, packaging and ignoring my children, husband, home and all other responsibilities resulted in this....

701 finished ties neatly displayed on my gridwall, eagerly anticipating some wide-eyed little boy, fashion-conscious mother, or doting grandma to take them to their new home. I invited my experienced craft fair friend, Eden, along for the ride, as well as my fabulous photographer, Jen, in the hopes that she would get some new leads as well.

Day 1 was nerve-racking, to say the least. Having never tried to sell my ties outside the anonymity of the world wide web, I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of negative feedback and zero sales. I was sure a stroke was inevitable, but Eden and I were able to set up the booth in a matter of only a couple of hours, which would prove to be useful information later on.....

In the vendor world, Thursdays are generally known to be the slowest day, so when sales were scattered and much lower than I'd hoped, I tried to remember the other vendors chanting, "Sa-tur-day! Sa-tur-day!" at our mandatory meeting the first night. Apparently, all vendors LIVE for Saturday, so I tried to remain calm about the slow foot traffic all day.

I had actually anticipated removing all my inventory nightly, then returning it every morning, but Search and Rescue was on hand all weekend to provide security throughout the night, so it was a welcomed relief not to have to do so much extra work. Since the fair opened at 10:00, we slept in a little (how heavenly!), took our time getting ready (yep--showered and all!), and arrived back at the booth a little after 9:00--just in time to discover that the Bear Lake wind had blown over our whole display sometime in the night!!!! We had less than an hour to set it all back up again, and literally just shook our heads as we picked up every tie, dusted each one off and replaced them all, along with all the hooks and signs. Since this was our second time doing setup, it went much more quickly, and we finished just in time to welcome our first customers around 10:00. I hadn't planned on starting to sweat that early in the day. Had I known what was coming later on, I surely wouldn't have chosen to wear my cute, white eyelet skirt along with these little babies I found for a $9 steal at Payless.

Around 5:30 or so, the wind really started picking up. We could see the dark clouds moving in over the mountains to the west, but really didn't think much of it since the previous afternoon "blessed" us with a few showers as well. Then it hit. For about 30-40 minutes straight, hurricane-force winds blew unforgivingly through our little tent city, snapping awnings like they were uncooked spaghetti (including ours), sending merchandise crashing to the asphalt, and sending people into a full-on screaming panic. Eden ran for the awning to try to hold it down, while I stood in front of the display, pushing against it with everything I had, just to keep it from pinning me underneath all its once benign hooks. I was nearly knocked down twice by stronger wind than I had ever before felt in my life, and I'm still in shock that I was able to hold it up while wearing those 3-inch heels. (Those of you who know what my ankles are like can marvel with me.)

I knew we needed to get the tarp off the sides and off the top, but I couldn't let go of the wall or it most assuredly would have impaled me in at least 15 different places, and Eden couldn't let go of the awning, or the wind would've swept the awning into the wall and it would've landed on the both of us. I kept wondering when the tornado was going to actually hit as I saw dust and debris flying sideways past the door of the tarp, and Eden was trying to strategically figure out at what point we should just run. That's when the firemen rushed over and literally cut the tarps off with a pocket knife, sending the wind rushing through the gridwall, and the ties FLYING. We were able to get the wall with its remaining ties to lay down, but by then it was raining pretty hard on us, so we started grabbing them and shoving them under the cut tarp to prevent the rest from flying away, and to keep them from getting soaked in the storm. Eden had the good sense to make me get my camera out to document it all, and I'm so glad I did.
Eden--shoving ties under the tarp.

Our neighbors, under their mangled awning, trying to gather and save all their silk skirts.

More vendors trying to brace their walls.
Our cute little neighbor and the table she hid under while everything fell around her.

Did that seriously just happen?

Laughing--what else could we do at this point?

Laying on the tarp as the wind picked up again, trying to save my ties, and holding another vendor's tie (totally not as cute as mine--trust me) that blew into my pile. Hope the irony is not lost on you.

While I'm laying there on top of the ties, I look across from us to the Kettle Corn people who have just dropped their awning and are trying to secure all their stuff. This guy in the white shirt walks up and asks to buy some kettle corn--right in the middle of Hurricane Hilda!!! I thought I was going to DIE!!!!! So of course, I took a picture to send to her so she could remember the most idiotic customer she's ever had.

These next few are of us after we've run everything back to the van amidst the downpour, with the help of the band's bass player who, after helping, tried to flirt with me in the middle of the monsoon. I'm just surrounded by crazies!!!

We got back over to Grandma's house with all our stuff loaded in the van, and plopped the tarp on her tile floor to sort through. I was convinced I'd lost most of my inventory, either to the wind carrying them out to the lake, or to the filthy asphalt that they were smashed into by the helpful firemen.
To my surprise, only 2 of the ones we recovered weren't in good enough shape for me to sell--miraculous!!! Eden and I set up a little ironing station, complete with Grandma's non-adjustable ironing board and two irons. We propped ourselves up onto other chair cushions and proceeded to iron all the ties. Every. Single. One.

"Are your ties very durable?" I've been asked. Now I can--without hesitation--give a resounding, "YES!!!"

The following morning came very quickly, and we got to the fair by about 7:30 to set up......for the third time. We did our best to rig the broken awning and reconfigured the space so that the ties were in the corner, instead of just along the back wall, that way we could secure the wall to the awning and hopefully prevent it from tipping over again.

The vendors were right about Saturday. We sold more than twice the amount we had on either Thursday or Friday, and LOTS of people were very interested in ordering online. (Which is fine with me--people buy more when they can slap it on their credit card!) One girl even recognized PickleFace Place from the internet, and said she'd been dying to buy one of my ties for months! How cool is that???

Despite the PTSD that stayed with us on Saturday, and swelled every time a gust of wind came up, it was a good day, and I'm SOOOO excited about the ideas I have for my booth for next year! (Yes, I'll be doing it again. I'm pretty sure I've already survived the worst fair experience ever.)

And this is me, now that it's finally all over.