Saturday, December 5, 2009

Switched at Birth?

Abby is one of the toddlers in Rom's nursery class at church. Her mom, Robyn, shared the following conversation.

Robyn: Abby, we need to make good choices. Abby: I want to make Santa cry.

Rom swears she's a Proffitt!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kyara's Graduation

Tsk, tsk, tsk. I am really far behind! Well, in case some of you weren't aware yet -- Kyara graduated from high school! With honors, no less!

Although Hemet seems like a tiny little town, it is actually much bigger than it looks. We arrived early for the ceremony, but apparently not early enough! We found a spot high up in the bleachers spread over three rows. There were over 500 students graduating. We were lucky -- since Kyara was graduating with honors, we didn't have to wait to long before her name was called. We yelled and cheered! She was very cute and excited.

After the graduation ceremony, we all went out to dinner at Chili's. It was a sweet moment for all of us, knowing that our big girl would soon be moving on. And the chocolate lava cake. That was sweet, too.

Kyara ended up attending her grad night, which was held in the auditorium and lasted until something ridiculous, like 4 am. She had a blast, though, and I'm happy she went. I think she would have regretted it if she hadn't.

Congratulations, Kyara! We are very proud of your accomplishments. You are a pioneer in our family, paving the way for the rest of our kids, showing them what can be done if you put your mind to it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm Thankful

I love having Thanksgiving before Christmas. It gives me time to ponder the wonderful blessings in my life, and it puts me in the mood to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas. So, today I am thankful for my family.

My husband Rom was sent to me over 21 years ago. The moment he saw me, he knew he would marry me. It took him about three weeks to convince me. His purpose in life, as he says it, is to make me happy. He is very, very successful at it! I am the most spoiled, adored wife on the planet. He loves me, supports me, encourages me, lifts me, and makes me more than I ever imagined I could be. He is so much fun, and he makes me laugh every day. Life is an adventure with him. I can't imagine facing the trials I have to face without him.

Kyara was sent to me to make me fall in love with motherhood. From the day I first held her in my arms, she has been a joy to me. She is loving, funny, kind, cool, brilliant, and independent. Just as I held my breath waiting to discover who she was as a baby, I now hold my breath waiting to discover what wonderful thing she becomes as a "grown-up."

Romney is the one who makes me stretch as a mother. He is a very challenging boy! But that is because there is such a tremendous spirit in him that it is like trying to tame a wild stallion. There is a lot of power there, and I need to make sure it is used for good. He has a surprising sense of humor and is so much fun to be around.

Johnette, the Spirit once told me, was very eager to come to our family because she and I used to be such great friends in the premortal world. She is a gentle soul. She is compassionate and empathetic. She has always been so unique! It's fun to watch her face light up as she's telling a story. I love to see her coming into her own.

Anneli is the epitome of passion. There is fire in her love and in her displeasure. People gravitate to her, because she is very accepting and fun to be with. She inspires the people around her. She can be driven and excels at everything she puts her heart into.

Gabriel is determination personified. Whatever he sets his mind to, he achieves. Whatever he chooses to do with life, he will be unstoppable. He is smart, loving, kind, and fair. He is a great snuggler and gives the best kisses ever.

Gavin reminds me that life is joyful. He dances through life with such energy and enjoyment. He has a contagious smile. He can be so quirky, catching you off guard sometimes with a strange and witty comment. He is game for almost anything!

I'm also grateful for the family I grew up in. My children love to hear stories about my parents (Dad's "I'll pinch your head off!" and Mom's wind-up toy). I learned the most important lessons about being a parent from them: unconditional love conquers all, and keep on trying to be better. I love the bond I share with my sisters and the gallantry of my brothers. I embrace my whitetrashiness! At its heart, it is living life with no pretense and giving yourself, warts and all, to the people who love you.

Happy Thanksgiving! I love you!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Soccer Season!

Last May, my boys begged me to let them play soccer this year. I don't typically encourage my kids to play on sports teams -- I really don't like the added burden to our schedule. But, if it is something they really want to do, I'll support them. So, we signed up for AYSO soccer!

When we started in August, I was so unprepared for what I had gotten myself into! We had practices Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons. Then there were two games on Saturdays, sometimes as early as 8 am! Nuts. We experienced one of the hottest summers ever, even for Hemet. The heat has continued all the way through Halloween. Our first game was in September. Never having participated in soccer before, I did not know what to expect. Well -- luckily I had brought my own chairs, because there were none. Worse, there was no shade! I sat in 105 degree heat through Gavin's game. Then, I lost my car keys and spent an hour before Josie, my dear friend, brought me a spare set from Rom. I had just enough time to return home and pick up Gabe for his game. When I got home, I crashed from all the activity -- went straight to bed and was useless for the rest of the day! And I bought an umbrella for the next week.

And yet -- it was so much fun! Gavin had never played soccer before. He plays with so much zest and pizzazz! He dances like a butterfly all over the field. He loves practice, so he has picked up a lot of skills in a short period of time. Yesterday, he played goalie for only the second time ever. The other team was way better than us. They spent most of the quarter shooting goals -- and Gavin saved all but one of them! That was better than the rest of our goalies during the other quarters. He must have made like 10 saves. One time, his shoelace was untied, and he was trying to tie it when the ball came to him. He jumped up, made the save, kicked it downfield, and went back too tying his shoe. Too cute!

Gabe has never officially played soccer, but he has played a lot at school. He is a wild man! He's the smallest guy on the team, but he has no fear. He gets right in there and makes his plays. He's awesome at passing. He has excellent field awareness -- he does an awesome job staying in position, following the direction of the ball, and being in the right place at the right time. He's probably a little better on defense than offense, because he's not afraid to engage. He is so funny! He told me before a game a few weeks ago, "Mom, I bet if I play really hard today, I'll get player of the game." I reminded him to just do his best, and we'll see. I didn't want him to get his hopes up too much and be disappointed. Shouldn't have worried -- he played awesome, and he got the player of the game!

I couldn't make it through the season without Rom. He's so wonderful! He gets up early and goes to the 8:00 games for me. That means that he no longer has a day that he gets to sleep in for an hour or so, and that's killing him -- but he's loving it! The boys love having their dad watch them play. In fact, Gabe made his first goal with Rom there. He told me that Dad's encouragement made him play harder and stick with it when he was starting to get tired, and that's when he made the goal. I was sad I had missed it, but I was excited for him.

Here's a little video of the boys. Sorry the quality is so poor. I wonder if there's a way to focus manually instead of automatically? I'll have to play with it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tricks and Treats

We all had a fun Halloween this year! The kids enjoyed dressing up. We went to the Van Jindelt's annual Halloween potluck before going out trick or treating. Rom came home from work and took the kids out trick-or-treating. Poor Romney -- he's usually the one who scores the most candy, but this year he was supposed to meet a girl at the park for a party, and her mom wouldn't let her go at the last minute. He vows to not let any girl get in the way of his take next year.

I stayed home and handed out candy from my chair on the porch. I wonder ... am I getting old and crotchety? Or am I just plain evil? Our neighborhood is the neighborhood that people drive to for trick or treating. So, I put all the "good" candy on the bottom of the bowl, and crappy candy on top -- you know what I'm talking about: the sweet tarts, the gumballs, the smarties, the dumdums. I give out the crappy candy to most of the kids that come by, and I dig to the bottom of the bowl for the good candy when I recognize someone who is really from our neighborhood. Other signs I'm evil? When the kids come and stand in front of me with their bags open without saying anything, I just smile at them. I wait until it becomes uncomfortable. It finally dawns on them what is going on, and they say, "Trick or treat." Then I give them a piece of candy and wish them Happy Halloween. Final piece of evidence: I laugh (a discreet giggle, not a huge guffaw) when kids come running across my lawn and trip over the cords that hold my big blow up Frankenstein in place.

At least I didn't use my whip on anyone! (I mean, the kids at least! That was Rom's trick or treat.) ;)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hope on the Horizon

Many of you may have already heard about this from my Facebook page. Since some of you are not on Facebook much, I thought I'd share it here, too.

A new discovery is making news in the medical and scientific communities. Scientists have identified a new virus that is linked to CFS (as well as fibromyalgia and autism). While it is being reported with cautious optimism, the authors of the study are pretty confident that his may be the answer that has eluded so many people for so many decades. XMRV is a retrovirus that is similar in many ways to HIV. Because of all the work that has been done on HIV, researchers feel that we should be able to find effective treatments for it relatively quickly. They are also hopeful for a vaccine. A commercial test for the virus is expected in about a month.

Two and a half years ago, when I was about a year into this illness, my dad gave me a blessing. I remember it distinctly. He said in the blessing that 1. I would be diagnosed; 2. a treatment would be available; and 3. I would be healed completely. After the blessing, I confidently went back to my doctor for months of more tests. Everything came back negative, and I was so disappointed. I had to remind myself that sometimes things happen on the Lord's timetable, not on ours. So, I settled in to wait. Like most of you, I thought that maybe CFS was in interim diagnosis, that the doctors missed something, and that some brilliant doctor would some day discover the "real" reason I'm sick. Maybe, just maybe, my waiting is close to being over.

Hope is a dangerous thing. As I've thought about it since the news broke last week, my mind keeps wandering to thoughts I never allow myself to have. If I get healed, my kids can have birthday parties again. I can clean my house, even scrubbing the toilets and showers and mopping the floors. I can invite Nikki and Shandee over for a casual little get together. I can volunteer to host our book club at my home. I can take the kids to a pumpkin patch and let them choose their own pumpkins. I can help them carve the pumpkins. I can walk with my kids around the neighborhood to trick or treat. I can start substitute teaching and get the ball rolling to become a middle school science teacher. I can take walks with my husband in the evening. I can stay up and watch stupid sitcoms on TV and go to bed with him instead of hours before. I can stay up past midnight talking with my daughter when she comes home from college. I can drive down to visit family even if my husband is working!

I can sit with my family during Sacrament meeting and listen to wonderful talks ... or boring talks ... or mediocre talks. I can go to Sunday School when my husband is teaching. I can sneak into nursery when he's not. I can go to Relief Society again. I can share my brilliant insights with the sisters! I can hear the announcements. I can sign up to volunteer when someone else needs service.

I can exercise! I can get in the water at the beach, go out past the breaking waves, and swim until my arms ache. I can do situps and yoga and belly dance. I can get on the computer as a reward for getting things done, not because it's the only thing I have enough energy to do.

Ah. See? Hope is a dangerous thing. It makes me impatient.

This is a great interview with the people who discovered the virus. The ads are annoying, but it's worth wading through them.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Because If I Didn't Laugh, I Would Cry

Some days are just crappy. So, to combat, I find fun and funny wherever I can. Here's a gem Kyara introduced me to:

People Of Walmart

Anyone look familiar?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Romney's Big Adventure

Maybe it was a feeling of foreboding, or a premonition on Tuesday, but I started the day in a terrible mood! An elderly customer helped improve my mood slightly, but I really didn't want to be at work that day. Be careful what you wish for!

Just after 1 pm, I got The Phone Call that every mother with a boy knows they are bound to get someday. Romney told me he had just been in a bike accident. I asked if it was bad, and he said yes -- there was blood all over, he thought he had broken his nose, and he had lost a tooth.

Well, that was enough information to get me to close down the store for the rest of the day! When I found him, he was disoriented, bloody, and in a lot of pain. We ended up spending the rest of the day in the emergency room.

Here's what happened. Rom Sr. had jury duty that day (curse you, our jury system!). I would be at work. I could handle the morning carpooling, and I had the afternoon carpooling taken care of, but there was one problem left. Romney Jr. leaves HAAAT after lunch to go to Hemet High for swim and water polo, and I usually drive him. He thoughtfully suggested that, just this once, he could ride his bike to Hemet High. It seemed like such a good idea at the time! Since it was not our usual routine, it did not even occur to me to check for and insist on a helmet.

Romney started off after lunch and made it just past the busiest street in Hemet. The bike he was riding has a quick release for the front tire, and apparently someone had been messing with it, unbeknownst to us. The front wheel came off, and Romney went right over the handlebars, planting his face in the asphalt. He was very lucky that another bike rider came by right about then. Romney was wandering in circles in the middle of the street; the bike rider helped get him out of the street and over to a dentist's office where he could be taken care of while he waited for me.

He was so disoriented! I'm amazed that he had the presence of mind to remember that Rom was at jury duty and I was at the store. I'm amazed he was able to remember the phone number. I'm amazed he was able to tell me the cross streets where he was waiting.

We were so lucky (blessed) that it wasn't worse than it was! He had abrasions all over his face. He had one laceration on the bridge of his nose that didn't need stitches (they super-glued it). His nose suffered only a hairline fracture. He was wearing his favorite sunglasses, and they were destroyed, but they protected his eyes from damage. He broke one tooth that we were able to have repaired the next day. He'll still probably need a root canal done on it when he's healed more. Most of the rest of his teeth have been jostled around a bit, but the dentist said they should move back into place with normal biting and chewing.

He'll probably have a few more scars on his face. I told him that since he's such a handsome boy, he must have been trying to level the playing field a little.

I hope that's the last injury for this boy! I'll be amazed if he makes it to adulthood.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday (Sorry It's So Dark!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kyara's Big Date

OK, I know I have a LOT to catch up on, but I thought I would share with you Kyara's first date at BYU! I'm a little fuzzy about some of the details, so if I get anything wrong, Kyara will have to correct me in the comments.

Kyara met a boy and talked with him a bit on Facebook. He wanted to take her out, so she decided to give him a chance. The first thing he asked is if she looked as good in person as she does in her Facebook picture (it's this one -- isn't she gorgeous?). She told him, no, she only gets done up like that for special occasions. He asked if she would get dolled up like that for her date, and she said, no, curling her hair like that is too time consuming.

They decided on a lunch date. He wanted her to come over to his house while they decided where to go and what to do, but she declined. So, they decided they would go to the mall.

When he arrived and got out of the truck, Kyara noticed that he was a little on the short side. He was wearing a pink polo shirt (apparently he didn't pull it off as well as Romers does!). Her first impression was that he reminded her of an arrogant high school acquaintance that she dislikes.

After being at the mall for awhile, he asked Kyara if she was hungry and if she would like to get something to eat. She said yes. He then told her that he didn't have any money. So, Kyara bought her own meal and ate it while he sat there and watched. When she was full, there was still some of her meal left over. He said, "So you're just going to let that go to waste then?" And she said, "Yes, I guess I am." He then told her to go get him a fork. She responded, "What, am I your biatch?" Although, I think she left out the "a". He said something (I don't remember what) and Kyara rolled her eyes in his face.

Kyara didn't take the opportunity to end the date there. He suggested they walk around for awhile. They did. At the end of the date, he asked if they could do this sometime again! She told him no.

Can I just say that I am so proud of how I raised my daughter right now? There is one more strong Proffitt woman out in the world right now. I am feeling really reassured that Kyara will be able to hold her own in the dating world at BYU. You go, girl!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Because You Wouldn't Click the Link ...

All right, this is for my SISTERS, because I know my sisters are soooo going to love this! I posted the link below, but you were too scared of the bad words, so I am editing them out. Here is the PG version:

An Open Letter to James Thatcher, Brand Manager, Proctor and Gamble

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core™ or Dri-Weave™ absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from "the curse"? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my "time of the month" is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call "an inbred hillbilly with knife skills." Isn't the human body amazing?

As brand manager in the feminine-hygiene division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from Aunt Flo. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy! The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in capri pants. Which brings me to the reason for my letter.

Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: "Have a Happy Period."

Are you f*ing kidding me?

What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness—actual smiling, laughing happiness—is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything "happy" about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and KahlĂșa and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreens armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory. For the love of God, pull your head out, man. If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like "Put Down the Hammer" or "Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong"? Or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your accounting department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bull*t. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.


Wendi Aarons
Austin, TX

Sense of Humor?

I lost one more pound today ...

in my BOOBS!

Really, God? Is it that funny?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gavin's Turn

Gavin tells me, "Dad told me this story about when he was a teenager, like 32 or maybe 24, and he was wrestling, and there was this guy who was 185 pounds, and he SNAPPED his arm. It was just dangling in the skin."

Gavin informed me today that there was a freckle on his "privates." "Oh," I said. "How did the sun get down there?"

"The sun causes freckles?" he asked. "Yep," I answered. Sheepishly, he said, "I have no idea!"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Gabe and Gavin are responsible for emptying the dishwasher and putting dishes away each day. Gavin noticed two clean bowls that were sitting on the counter from the day before. He accused Gabriel of not putting them away when he was supposed to. Gabe responded, "There's no proof!"

Gabe and Gavin had just come home from spending the night at their friends' house. They had spent quite a bit of time playing with the baby. Gavin said, "Mom, I wish you would have another baby!" Gabe said, "Oh, Gavin, that's mean! That would hurt Mom!"

Gabe made dinner tonight -- chicken noodle soup from the can. He told me, "Do ya know why I'm so good at making chicken noodle soup? It's because I stir so fast."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sorry. I Just Have to Share.

OK, this just may be the funniest blog post I've ever seen! I found it as a link on Cake Wrecks. Fair warning -- it uses the "F" word once, and another less offensive obscenity later.

Wendi Aarons: An Open Letter to James Thatcher, Brand Manager, Proctor and Gamble

Monday, June 29, 2009

5 Ingredient Recipes

My friend, Shandee, asked for some easy 5 ingredient recipes. Well, I realized that most of my recipes were more complicated than that, so I went looking for some! I have tons posted on my recipe blog, The Flagging Chef . Check them out! And yes, I added "Moving Day Crock Pot Sauerkraut Butt" to the blog just because the word "butt" is so funny.

Do you have any great 5 ingredient recipes? I'd love to hear from you.

My Great Idea

As Kyara will attest, I am the queen of "programs." With six kids, motivation can be a problem, so I am always coming up with ways to entice them to do what I want. :) This summer, a brilliant idea came to me, so I thought I'd share it with everyone.

Every morning during the summer, I have the kids do a whole-house tidy before they can do anything fun. They are actually ok with this, because it means they have the rest of the entire day free without any work to do. However, my children have been known to bicker (gasp!) and finger-point whenever they have to work together.

In a sudden stroke of genius (inspiration? revelation?), I came up with our current system. Each day, I appoint one child to be the "manager." In order to be a good manager, they have to lead by example. They also get to give the other children assignments. However, again, to be a good manager, they need to assign tasks that are keeping with the other children's abilities and disposition. For example, if Kyara hates cleaning toilets, but Gavin doesn't mind, he should get the job. Also, Gavin shouldn't get the hardest jobs in the kitchen.

At the end of the tidy, the other children then rate the manager on how well he/she did on a scale from one to five. The manager then gets that many treats from my treat bowl as a "bonus." The manager then draws three jobs from the job jar, and whoever did those jobs during the tidy gets a little treat. (The job jar is just a jar with a bunch of small chores written on pieces of papers. It is also used as punishment throughout the day. :) )

It has worked wonders for our family this summer! I think we'll keep managers any time the kids have to work together.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Our Anniversary Excursion

(Yes, I am WAY behind!)

Rom and I enjoyed a fantastic three-night weekend in downtown San Diego for our 20th anniversary. It was so much fun! When we arrived at the hotel, they didn't have any more rooms available in our price range, so they had to upgrade us! That let us have the free breakfast every morning, and it was really very delicious.

We took it super easy -- no plans, no schedules, no obligations, no responsibilities. We'd go walking along the harbor, looking at boats and the art down there. We saw a cute little seal playing with his food. He had to dive under a number of times because the sea gulls were trying to steal it. We found a cute little art shop. We ate French pastries every day :). We ate at nice restaurants every night. We stopped at a bookstore our first day, so I had something to read in the afternoons.

You know? I really like my husband! Overall, it was just the best getaway, and I think we'll have to do it again next year!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Our Anniversary Excursio
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If At First You Don't Succeed ...

All right, I'm back at it. Rom and I are doing a detox this week. The, I'm going to go back to South Beach for two reasons: I have to eliminate a suspected Candida (yeast) overgrowth and stabilize my blood sugar (both are to help CFS). And, last time I tried to get healthy again, I actually gained 8 pounds! (Taking a deep bow.) Yeah, not too happy with my body image right now. I am taking two weight loss supplements from Enlyten -- one is an appetite suppressant that works by stabilizing your blood sugar (just what I need!) and the other is called a calorie burner, but it looks like it boosts your metabolism and increases your energy (again, just what I need!).

I'm giving away free samples of the new supplements, if anyone is interested. You can check them out here: Enlyten

If it's something you too would like to try, let me know and I'll get you some.

Also, since I don't tolerate exercise very well, I have bought and am using Fit Flops! They are from Victoria's Secret, and they are flip flops that tone your stomach, legs, and butt while you work. Stealth fitness, the only way to go!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kyara's Senior Pictures

We have someone from our ward who wants to get into the photography biz (not you, Shandee -- you're already there!), so he took these for Kyara for free! Too fun! I love her smile.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Kyara's Senior Pictures
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More Easter Pictures

Is it just me, or is this just too small a group of kids? We had a great time together, but we miss all of you that couldn't make it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Easter Fun ... In Case You Missed It!

Well, yes, I do have a lot to catch up on!

We had a wonderful time at Mom's house with Suzann and Mike and their lovely little ones. Here are the highlights, as far as the kids were concerned:

I left the rest of the pictures at home, so I'll post more later.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Great Video

I know I'm behind on posting about our family -- with the end of the school year in sight, there is plenty of that to come in the next couple of weeks! In the meantime, here is a video that I thought was wonderful. It brought tears to my eyes and made me want to go out and do this!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ready or Not -- Emergency Preparedness Blog

My famous friend Shandee (you were famous long before your new blog, Shandee!) just got back from Canada, and what did the ward do? Immediately gave her a calling as our Ward Welfare Specialist. Inspired by her calling, she has created a new Emergency Preparedness blog, Ready or Not. Check it out, and check it out often! I love the idea, and I know Mom was going to be sharing some emergency prep ideas with us, also. Great minds think alike!

I'll put the new blog on my sidebar, too, for future reference.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hmmm ... I Bet We Could Submit A Few Photos!

I found another fun website! It's called Awkward Family Photos. I have it on my sidebar if anyone wants to visit. Here's a fun little taste of it:

The Bird

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last Words

Thank you for indulging me and letting me share my journey with CFS!

CFS is often called the "invisible illness" because people can't actually see the effects and don't understand it. I believe, however, that everyone has their own invisible illness. It may be health, finances, or relationships -- something that makes you hurt, something that changes the course of your life from what you had planned. CFS is mine, and I own it, and now that it is out there, I can put it in the background of who I am and leave it there. Like everyone else dealing with life's surprises, I can adjust! I am happy, my life is rich and abundant, and who doesn't love a good adventure?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hidden Blessings

Sometimes, it's so easy to see everything you are missing when you have CFS. So, in a rare moment of quiet contemplation, I came up with a few blessings I have now specifically because of CFS.

1. A clean slate. It is exactly the fact that I can't keep up with my old activities that I get to start over. Before CFS, was I doing things because I loved doing them? Because I "had" to? Because it was expected of me? Because it was habit? Because it was an escape? Now, my functional time is precious, and I have much more stringent requirements before an activity even makes the list! I am choosing to remake me.

2. Permission to say "no." There is no pressure to agree to do something that I'm asked to do. I have to be honest with myself. If it is not physically plausible, or if it crowds out something of greater value, I get to say "no!"

3. Less doing, more becoming. I like the word "becoming." It has no beginning, no end -- it's a process. With so many activities stripped away, I'm left so often alone with myself. Am I happy with what I see? What do I embrace? What do I want to change?

4. Discovering hidden strengths. Faith, strength, patience, courage. Some I knew I had; others have been a surprise. This is an amazing opportunity not only to recognize but to use those strengths.

5. Becoming creative. I've seen this in other people with CFS, too. Perhaps it's all that internalizing that taps into it; perhaps it's a need to express the upheaval of your life. Maybe it is even because you have to become creative just to enjoy life! Discovering my creativity is a fun process.

6. Ability to find joy in the tiniest things. I can't believe how much I missed before! Lying in bed, listening to my boys play together, hearing their giggles. Walking outside and feeling the sunshine on my face. Being nearly asleep, but waking when my husband reaches across and kisses me so tenderly. I never had time for these things before.

7. Relying on others. To someone who is proud and independent, this does not immediately seem a blessing! But to be on the receiving end of love and service is something that stays in your heart and is treasured forever.

8. Relying on the Lord. My strengths pale in face of this enormous challenge. I am all too aware of my weaknesses and failures. I can see the hand of the Lord comforting me, strengthening me, and making it up to the people I love when I can't be everything for them.

9. Learning, learning, learning! Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, physically -- every day brings a new lesson, something I never knew before.

10. Gratitude deeper than I could have expected. For true friends, for good days, for knowledge and understanding, for small kindnesses, for my family, for my faith, and for a million things more.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Effects of CFS

Today, I am blogging about how it has affected my life. That means a trip down the old memory lane. It isn't something I allow myself to do often, because that usually means comparing myself to the "old" me, and that isn't always pleasant!

Before CFS, I was:

An interior decorator
A church volunteer
A gardener
A good homemaker
A genius
An exercise enthusiast
A social friend
A good wife
A really, really good mom
An avid cook
A nature lover
A shopper

Living with CFS is like living inside a box. Most of those things from the "old" me no longer fit inside my box. The things that are most important to me have to be reduxed just to be able to fit.

I am no longer an interior decorator. That was just a fun hobby for me and completely superfluous. I now volunteer one hour a month at church instead of several hours a week. My garden now consists of a single pot. My current exercise routine is about 15 minutes of stretching a day. I am hoping to be able to add 5 minute of aerobic activity soon. I can do laundry. I visit with friends once a month at my book club. I can cook a quick and easy meal a couple of times a week. I shop online. I still love nature; I just haven't visited in awhile!

My husband is a good husband. He loves me and supports me in every way. He has lovingly lowered his expectations.

Here's the hard part. I am no longer a really good mom. You see, being a really good mom is really hard work. You have to be able to set structure and follow through with consequences when it is breached. You have to be able to weather unhappy children. You have to be able to teach them skills to become independent. You have to work with them side by side. You have to be available to them when they need you, not just when you are feeling good. You have to get up pretty early for the little ones and stay up late for the older ones.

Now, don't get me wrong. I still love my children ferociously, and that goes a long way towards making up for faults. But. I can see how much this has hurt my family. I can see that they are a little lost without me. I can see some crumbling around the edges. I can see their yearning for their mom. You know, the "old" me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Managing CFS

There is no treatment for CFS. You treat the symptoms; you manage CFS.

This disease is like an abusive boyfriend, and I'm the stupid girl who is crazy enough to stick with him. I walk around on eggshells, afraid to do anything to piss it off. Then, when it hits, I blame myself. I shouldn't have walked to the mailbox today. I should have had the kids help me bring in the groceries. Why did I do that extra load of laundry? I shouldn't have lingered fifteen minutes after my show was finished before going to bed.

My routines are to help me avoid the crash and lengthen my energy window. So, here is what I do to take care of ME (get it?):

1. PACING!!! Pacing simply means making sure you rest before and after tiring activities. There is no drug or supplement or protocol that has done more good for me than pacing. My quality of life skyrocketed once I found out that you can not "push through" CFS. I still make mistakes ... and learn my lessons ... but overall, I do pretty well making sure I get plenty of rest between high exertional periods. It has allowed me to go from being a zombie 24/7 to being lucid and functional 3 to 7 hours a day.

2. Formal, scheduled periods of rest. This is a bit different from pacing, I think. Twice a day, regardless of activity level or level of fatigue, I rest for 30 minutes. I go in my room, put on my migraine/sleep mask, set the timer, and just rest. I try to add a little deep breathing and maybe some light visualization for relaxation. But I don't push it. Sometimes my mind races for the full 30 minutes; sometimes I fall asleep. Usually it's somewhere in between. I usually feel much better afterward, but if not, it's a great gauge that tells me I need to slow down a little more.

3. Supplements. I discovered pretty early on that you can be so desperate to get rid of CFS that you'll spend a small fortune to try anything! I use a little more restraint now. My rule of thumb is that it has to either be obviously effective or good for my overall health. At night, I take a multi-vitamin, calcium, magnesium, fish oil, and melatonin. In the morning, I take a mega dose of B12 sublingually, CoQ10, and a B complex. I take .75 oz. of dark chocolate twice a day, after my rests. I have begun taking additional anti-oxidants, including CoQ10 in the afternoon to see if it helps with my afternoon slump. I had been taking NADH, but I stopped for a few weeks to see if it was helpful. I think it was, so I'll start taking it again next week. I'm also going to be testing electrolytes and d-ribose.

4. Exercise. Right now, I do about 15 minutes of stretching daily to ease pain. I am hoping to begin adding 5 minutes of cardio. No panic, just something very low impact that I can monitor and pace carefully -- probably rebounding (mini-trampoline) because it has the added benefit of flushing the lymph nodes and improving the immune system.

5. Diet. OK, I have to admit this is more theory than practice at this point! Although I have made some progress by eating healthy dinners. I have easy, healthy recipes that even my kids can make if I'm not up to it (see my other blog, The Flagging Chef, sidebar). The next step is to cut down on the sugar and other high Glycemic Index foods so I have a more steady stream of energy. Ha! We'll see.

That's it! Overall, if I stick to the routine, I do OK day by day. I only have trouble when I cheat (Word to the kids!!! Cheating is bad!).

Tomorrow, I'll let you know how CFS has affected my life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fatigue and the Crash

Hmmm, explaining the fatigue in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. We've all been tired before. Does fatigue really need explaining? Well, yes and no.

You have all been tired before. You have probably even been exhausted before. That is what it feels like. However, I bet that when you went to sleep, the exhaustion went away. For me, that never happens. I wake up feeling just as tired as when I went to bed. It is like being in a desert, dying of thirst, and finally reaching an oasis. You take a long drink of water, expecting relief – but you are just as thirsty as before. You can never, ever quench that thirst.

The reason for that is that people with CFS have dysfunctional mitochondria, which simply means we don't produce energy very well. Think of it this way: if energy were money, and sleep were your “job,” then normal people basically get paid like a Fortune 500 CEO. I, however, am a Chinese sweatshop worker. Normal people spend their energy lavishly on such luxuries as “running errands” or “visiting with friends” or “helping kids with homework.” I have to live within a very tight energy “budget” just to make it through the day.

Thankfully, I have a small energy “window” in the middle of the day. For a few hours, depending on how I'm doing that day, I feel nearly normal. It's kind of like catching your second wind. This is when my mind is clear and I can get a few things done. But, I have to be very careful, because if I overdo it, then I risk THE CRASH.

The Crash breeds fear in the heart of every person with CFS. It happens when you push yourself too far. You spend more energy than you have, and you pay dearly for it! When a crash happens, your symptoms are magnified tenfold. The energy window slams shut. The exhaustion is so severe you have to go to bed. You are incapable of doing anything at all. You are completely out of commission for at least 24 hours, but it can take a week or longer to slowly come out of it and find your way back to “normal.”

Tomorrow, I'll tell you what I do to manage CFS.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ME/CFS Awareness: My Symptoms

CFS is a whole body rebellion! It affects the nervous system, the immune system, hormones, the circulatory system, muscles, and the gastro-intestinal system. However, every person experiences CFS differently. So, without further ado, here are my personal symptoms:

My Symptoms:

Fatigue (duh!)
Cognitive dysfunction
Impaired memory
Difficulty with word finding
Word switching (always humorous)
Post-exertional malaise (but usually not severe)
Unrefreshing sleep
Headaches, sometimes migraines that last days
Sore throat, but only when I've overdone it
Night sweats
Sensitivity to light
Sensitivity to sound
Sensitivity to cold
Eye spasms (blepharospasm or myoclonus)
Tinnitus (ringing ears)
Orthostatic intolerance
Jaw pain (TMJ)
Weight gain
Muscle soreness when I wake up

My worst symptoms are the fatigue (again, duh!), cognitive dysfunction, and the ever-embarrassing eye spasms! The rest of it is annoying and bearable.

Tomorrow, I will explain Fatigue and "The Crash."

Monday, May 11, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This week is International ME/CFS Awareness Week, and so I will be blogging a bit about CFS and how it has affected me. I thought I would start the week by answering Lauri's question, "How does your garden grow?"

Every year, about this time, I get a hankering for a garden. Not just any kind of garden, but a big vegetable garden like I remember from our childhood. I have accomplished it once -- when we lived in Oceanside, we had a lovely garden with zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, squash and more. I loved it!

Well, since I've had CFS, I've basically given up hope for having a real garden. The very thought of hoeing and planting and weeding and watering and keeping on top of it all makes me have to go lie down! However, this year, a spark of an idea came to mind.

And ... tada!!! Here is my vegetable garden, CFS-style:

I have a Patio variety of cherry tomato that is bred specifically to grow in a container, plus some basil and sage. I have those fancy water globes, so I don't have to hover over it trying to keep it watered. Just a couple of months, and I'll be popping sun-warmed cherry tomatoes into my mouth for that burst of summer flavor!

And THAT's how my garden grows!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Where in the World Is Kristi???

Hi! Kristi won't answer me (sad pout), so does anyone have her address? I think it's the last one I don't have right now. Thank you, kind family!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why I'm Converting to Greek Mythology

That's right -- I think I am starting to prescribe to the Greek idea of the deities. They are nothing but trouble makers that like to mess around with the lives of mere humans just for fun. You don't believe me? Here is my evidence.

Whenever I work at the store, I get TONS of customers! It doesn't matter which day of the week it is, my day is the busy day. I eventually settled on working Wednesdays because statistically that day has been the slowest so far. I worked yesterday, and I had about 15 people show up! I don't know what to do with these people! I'm not a "closer." I don't know the Art of the Deal. I got two sales out of all that. Now, granted, I'm a sweetheart, so a few of them might come back, but sheesh! All I want is a little peace and quiet while I'm away from the kids for a day.

The second piece of evidence is that when Rom works, nobody comes into the store. It is torture for him to pace back and forth waiting for someone to come in. He is a people person! He is a spaz! He needs someone to keep him company. Alas, a good day for him is when he gets five people in the store. And guess what? He will typically sell all five of them! Yes, he is that good.

So, there you have it -- proof positive that the Greek gods exist and that they are very active meddling with me and Rom. I think I can hear them giggling right now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Child Safety

Romney Jr. and I were driving in the car today. As I approached a light, it suddenly turned yellow, prompting me to hit the brakes a little more suddenly than I normally do. Instinctively, I threw my arm out in front of him.

"Mom, why do you do that?" he asked. "You do that all the time. It's weird." I then explained to him that back when I was growing up, we didn't have seat belts -- this was how a mom protected her children. "Very effective, don't you think?"

We had a good laugh together. "Thanks for the history lesson, Mom." Dang, I feel old!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CFS/ME Questions

As many of you know, I have CFS (also known as CFIDS or ME). But, I also know that CFS is baffling to most of you. This is a great video that answers a lot of questions about CFS from someone who has severe CFS. By the way, I would say I have moderate CFS - could be worse, could be better!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Valentine's Breakfast for Dinner

Whoa! Is this a little too telling? Yes, I am that far behind!

Years ago, once Kyara started seminary, I decided it was a little too much to get up at the crack of dawn and do a big Valentine's Day breakfast. However, as many of you have discovered, once you create a tradition, it is not easily terminated. My kids LOVE Valentine's Day breakfast, so we made a compromise -- I now do breakfast for dinner! Here's how it went this year (thank you to Romers for taping it!).

Friday, April 10, 2009

This Made Me Happy

And besides, you need something new to look at!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You Asked For It!

That's right -- you asked for it, and now you've got it! I finally took a video of me belly dancing, and it is all here for your viewing pleasure. Or mockery. That's cool.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Two Democrats on an Escalator

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Family Conversation

I've decided I want a Boston Terrier. It would be perfect for our family -- small, short hair, friendly, smart, doesn't require too much exercise. Now don't get me wrong, it probably won't happen for about three years. But, I'm planning it now.

I told Rom I could find a Boston Terrier for $300 to $400 dollars. He was surprised they were that cheap. I told him, "Well, you can get a dog from a fancy schmancy breeder for about $1000. Do you want to get me a thousand dollar dog?" He replied, "Sure -- if I get you a dog, I want you to have the best." Romers then piped in, "Actually, you just want to have sex." Gavin then replied, "No, he doesn't." He explained, "You guys are too old!"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Guitar Hero

Gavin (my 7 year old) challenged me to a face off (is that what they call it?) on Guitar Hero. He was on Expert; I was on Easy.

He was very sweet and encouraging. He kept reminding me to watch my side; apparently, he thought wandering eyes were my problem. He told me, "You're doing really good mom! Especially because you're so old!"

In the end, I barely eked past him. I think he was happy for me.

This is SO Rom!

Rom, you may know, is an amazing ping pong player ("That's table tennis, honey"). I had to post this for him! You have to watch to the very end of the clip.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Meme (Whatever That Means)


1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world

8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (No, but my brother tried to roll me off of Liberty Island)
18. Grown my own vegetables/fruit
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (I was there, but I didn't see it!!!)
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted (Montmartre in Paris)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (woohoo!)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason (all the time, thank you very much honey!)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt (thanks to being Mormon)
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (not yet!)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant
101. Read an entire book in one day

Rules: Copy and paste in a new post on your blog; highlight the activities you've done.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Quick Update

Sheesh, it's been awhile since I've posted! Things are busy (no news there!) and I haven't been feeling great lately. So, here's a recap:

Kyara and Romney started swim. They have their first meet tomorrow. Romney likes it because it helps him with water polo. Kyara likes it because it keeps her in shape and gives her a killer tan. I like it because it wears them out and helps them get to sleep at a normal people time.

Gabe, as you know, is in cub scouts. Since there are only two boys in his group, the leaders let Gavin come with him. Gavin thinks this is fantastic! Gabe likes having Gavin there, too. Last week was the Blue and Gold dinner. They had a cake decorating contest. Gabriel got first place for most creative; Gavin got second place for scout spirit. Now, before you turn your nose up, let me tell you, this was not one of those contests where every boy got an award! There were only the two categories, with a first and second place for each. Gabe and Gavin were thrilled that they beat ______ (fill in the blank with all the other boys' names). They told everyone about their awards. I had to remind them that it is not polite to brag.

The biz picked up considerably in February! Although, as is par for the course, as soon as we started to get really excited, things cooled off a little bit. I am becoming a star salesperson. I'm a better closer than the guys Rom has come in to cover periodically -- you know, the ones who have been selling for 15+ years. Rom gets excited and buys me dinner. He also gives me spiffs from time to time -- a little fun money just for me! (OK, I do have complete control over all the finances and can just TAKE a little fun money whenever I want to -- but it is more exciting this way!)

Johnette and Ana are fabulous, but haven't done anything new and exciting lately. Imagine that -- I teen and pre-teen without drama? I will enjoy it while I can.

I have been working hard on my CFS website. It is coming along nicely, and I'm very proud of it. Just so you know, the lifestyle tips are great for anyone, even if you don't have CFS. Also, my inspirational quotes are for anyone, too.

I have started a novel. I am being very secretive about it, though, because I don't want it leaked on the internet like Stephanie Myers' book was. I'm protecting my intellectual property rights. Anneli is counting on it to make us millionaires and allow us to finally buy a pool. Don't fret -- you will all get signed copies when it is published.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Kyara has been getting notices from the schools she applied to. She has been accepted to Northern Arizona University with a partial scholarship, University of Pacific with a partial scholarship, BYU Idaho, and now BYU Provo! She hasn't heard back yet from UCSD. We're very excited for her! It's nice that she has so many choices.

Fortunately, she's not going to keep us in suspense. She fasted today and decided BYU Provo was where she should be going! Yay! I, of course, am beyond thrilled that she chose my alma mater. I had such a fun time going there -- especially my freshman year. I know it is a different experience for everyone, but I really hope she is able to enjoy a lot of the things I did back in the day.

Kyara ran into so many obstacles just to get her application in on time. I'm so grateful to everyone who helped her through the rough patches and encouraged her to go in this direction.

I'm so proud of my girl! Go, Kyara! Go, Cougars!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Crappy Week

This has been ... a crappy week! I was overdone from last week, and I just didn't rebound very well. I reverted back to comfort food (in fact, I'm finishing some fries as I type), I stopped my belly dancing, I didn't cook, and I barely got in a half-hearted yoga session or two. So, I am proud to announce that I gained three pounds! Why am I gleefully sharing this information? Because when the water retention starts to melt away, my weight loss next week is going to look REALLY impressive.

Menu for next week: White Beans, Pasta, and Chicken, Kale, Lentil, and Chicken Soup, Baked Salmon, Skillet Vegetables on Cheese Toast, and Black Bean and Corn Stew.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Hold

Alright, I am not posting this week about how my health goals are coming along, because it's my birthday and I've got my womanly hormonals going on (yes, Happy Birthday to ME!), so I will be cheating and eating a lot of chocolate right now and I'm not going to let the scale JUDGE me for this.

The Best Husband in the World and You Wish You Had Him!

That's right -- Rom is officially the best husband ever. For my birthday, he has given me a gift certificate for not one but FOUR spa visits! We're talking aromatherapy, soothing scalp, neck, shoulder and back massages, salt scrubs, body wraps, and even WAXING if I so choose. (Hmmm, I haven't even thought about who I'd like to have waxed.)

You know how husbands are always trying to find just the right gift? And how it is often something you enjoy, but it's closer to what they'd personally like to get from the wish fairy? Well, congratulations, Romney Howells -- you have just hit it right out of the ball park!!!

Getting old is soooo worth it!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Book Review: The Last Lecture

First of all, before I get to the Last Lecture, let me just say that "Pastwatch" was not very well received in my book club! Few people could find it, so not everyone read it. Out of the women who did, only Nikki really liked it. Robyn was trying to be diplomatic, but I got the impression she didn't much like it, either. Oh, well! I must have particularly strange taste.

"The Last Lecture," on the other hand, was a big hit. The author, Randy Pausch, is diagnosed with terminal cancer and only given a few months to live. He decides to give his last academic lecture and share what he has learned from life as a legacy to his three small children. From that experience, he then compiled this book, "The Last Lecture."

There is so much good stuff in this book! He told how he was able to accomplish his childhood dreams. He put people and relationships before things. He says brick walls are for people who don't want something badly enough -- and that brick walls are there for you to discover how badly you want something. He talked about the people who care enough about him to let him know when he's screwing up. He said that when people stop correcting you, it means they've given up on you. All told with a nice dose of humor.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pursuit of Excellence

Here I am, nearly finished, but I've only posted once or twice! One of my favorite talks was "The Infinite Power of Hope," by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I was also lucky enough to give a Relief Society lesson on this. It was a great lesson (thank you friends for contributing!!!), and I learned so much. It is interesting how I have a tendency to zero in on those things that help us through trials. Maybe I've had a taste of those in my day!

I've often heard about faith, hope and charity, but it seems hope never gets much attention. I appreciated how this talk expanded my understanding of what hope is and how I can apply it more in my life.

"The things we hope in sustain us during our daily walk. They uphold us through trials, temptations, and sorrow. Everyone has experienced discouragement and difficulty. Indeed, there are times when the darkness may seem unbearable. It is in these times that the divine principles of the restored gospel we hope in can uphold us and carry us until, once again, we walk in the light.

"We hope in Jesus the Christ, in the goodness of God, in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, in the knowledge that prayers are heard and answered. Because God has been faithful and kept His promises in the past, we can hope with confidence that God will keep His promises to us in the present and in the future. In times of distress, we can hold tightly to the hope that things will “work together for [our] good” as we follow the counsel of God’s prophets. This type of hope in God, His goodness, and His power refreshes us with courage during difficult challenges and gives strength to those who feel threatened by enclosing walls of fear, doubt, and despair."

I also had the opportunity to give a lesson on unity from the talk, "Our Hearts Knit As One," by Elder Henry B. Eyring. As you all know, because I've said it many times, I love my ward! It is because the people in my ward really love each other, help each other, and serve each other. When we have discussions, we are not afraid to "let it all hang out," because we don't judge each other and gossip. We know that this is a safe place where we can find help in trials and discouragement as well as celebrate joys and triumphs. Being with these people, I can see why the Lord encourages us to "meet together oft," because it is so wonderful to not have to go this journey alone.

"What will become more obvious to us is that the Atonement brings the same changes in all of us. We become disciples who are meek, loving, easy to be entreated, and at the same time fearless and faithful in all things. We still live in different countries, but we come into the Church through a process that changes us. We become by the gifts of the Spirit what the Apostle Paul saw:

"'For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

“'Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.'”

I finished my lesson with a challenge to add one more thing to your list of New Year's resolutions -- Apply the atonement more fully in your life. That means be willing to lay at your Savior's feet everything that weighs down your heart: all your sins and imperfections, all your sadness, illnesse, trials and difficulties.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Next Season of Survivor

Have you heard the buzz about the next season of Survivor? Here's the basic idea:

Six men will be dropped on an island with one van and four children each--for six weeks. Each child plays two sports and either takes music or dance classes. There is no access to fast food.

Each man must take care of his four children, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, etc.

The men only have access to television when the children are asleep and all chores are done: There is only one TV, and there is no remote control.

The men must put on makeup daily, applying it themselves either while driving or while making four lunches. They must attend weekly PTA meetings; clean up after their sick children at 3:00 a.m.; make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla, and one marker; and get a four-year-old to eat a serving of peas.

The children vote them off the island based on performance. The winner is the first one voted off who gets to go back to work.

Hmmm, do you think that would spark a little manly appreciation for their women?

Gabe Has a Plan

Gabe has a plan. When he goes out to walk the dogs with Ian and Josh, if they encounter a man with a shotgun, Gabe is going to run away zig-zagging to ruin his aim.

Checking In

Why is that little (or not so little) number on the scales so important? It doesn't matter if we're looking better, feeling sexier, losing inches, or able to exercise more. For some reason, we need that number to validate us and tell us we're succeeding.

So, I lost three pounds this week! Yay! That's in spite of Kyara's most delicious homemade lasagna in the world! I splurged three days in a row. Fantastic. I also ate a good chunk of chocolate last night before Rom told me it was 330 calories -- per section!!! I also lost 1/2" overall, my percentage of body fat went down almost 2%, and I feel good. But all that pales before the almighty scales. Yes, it was a good week.

Here's my menu for the upcoming week: Tomato and Basil Flatbread Pizza, Crockpot Pineapple Chicken (because it was sooo delicious, and I want more!!!), Lentil Salad, Cajun some kind of fish (no recipe here -- I just coat with seasonings and grill on my Foreman grill), and Almond Beef Hawaiian (I'm going to try to conquer my fear of beef here).

I'm still looking for good, healthy, EASY recipes! Leave a comment or submit on my website.

How are the rest of you doing with those New Year's goals? Any progress? Need some love? I'm always willing to cheer you on!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Annnnd Another One!

How to keep an idiot busy (and maybe a few of us who aren't!).

K - I'm Just Surfing Now

This was a fun test. See how your handwriting stacks up! (I made this guy fall in love with me:)!)

Handwriting test

New Fun Website

This was actually very funny! I've got it on my sidebar, too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

IHOP Free Pancake Day

Rude to post this right after a diet update, but I have to share!

IHOP is having a free pancake day nationwide (sorry, Shandee!). Here are the details.

Honesty is the Best Policy, Right?

So, here's an update -- I went up 1/2 pound this week, thanks to the calorie counter analysis not being right and a bad choice at a restaurant this week. I lost 1/2 inch around my thighs :), and the rest of me stayed the same. I'm enjoying my yoga and belly dancing, although I am NOT posting pictures until at least next month, when I'm not as spastic and I have some of the moves down right! For now, you'll just have to imagine me doing a figure 8 with my hips while quivering my legs. Yes, that should give you nightmares for awhile!

Rom has lost 11 pounds so far and is doing great! He does a lot more working out than I do, plus he's a spaz. Go, Rom!

This week, I'll be eating Rice Enchiladas, Indian Tofu with Spinach, Moroccan Lentil Soup, Avocado Veggie Tacos, and Lime Steamed Salmon. That leaves one day for leftovers and one for eating out. All my recipes and more can be found at my recipe blog, The Flagging Chef.

I'm still looking for new recipes! If you have any easy family friendly favorites, please share either here in my comments or on my CFS website Chronic Fatigue Community, bottom of the page.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go eat lunch and find some chocolate.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dang! A Technical Difficulty

OK -- well, you know to get healthy, I'm using the calorie counter as a guide to dieting. Well, I just figured something out. The analysis they did and the number of calories they recommended for me was to maintain my weight, not to lose any!!! So, that explains the PLATEAU that I have been experiencing, and why Rom has busted through his and is losing weight nicely. So, to get to my goal weight, I need to eat 200 less calories than I have been. Go figure! So, here's to starting over!

I'm still belly dancing, though -- too fun! Guess which of these is me!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Gift from Grandma Howells?

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is This You?

The service area was located on a main highway leading to the beach. The pump attendant was accustomed to seeing tired and sunburned occupants in the cars that pulled in to tank up. When a rusty old station wagon containing a very tired looking couple and seven screaming children pulled into his station, the attendant tried small talk to cheer the occupants.

"Hope you had a good day at the beach! Nice looking kids there. Are they all yours or is this a picnic?"

Wearily, the driver replied, "Yes they are all mine and it is NO picnic!"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day of Reckoning

So, Rom and I detoxed for one week, and we've been counting calories and eating healthy for one week. I've watched enough "Biggest Loser" to not be discouraged by my results today. I did not gain or lose weight this week. But, considering you typically put back on a pound or two after a juice detox and week 2 is notoriously a plateau, I'm feeling pretty good about our direction!

Lynda made a comment about my BMI not looking too bad -- Yep, it's pretty good, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Once my CFS hit, I made a common mistake of trying to keep up with my normal exercise routines ... which led to major crashes ... which led to no exercise at all ... which led to 33% body fat and several inches gained around my mid-section (the danger zone), hips and thighs. So, I'm actually trying to eke my way back into shape and change the fat to muscle. This week, I've lost a total of one inch in those problem areas, so I'm feeling like I'm on track!!!

By the way, ladies, belly dancing is so fun! The moves are surprisingly pretty simple, and you feel so sexy! I highly recommend it for anyone hating exercise in general.

I wanted to throw out one more item to add to your New Year's resolutions -- Pamper yourself!!! This is especially for you new moms and preggos out there. Do something NICE for yourself everyday! Here's a favorite of mine -- I bought a big, fluffy spa towel, and before I get in the shower, I throw it in the dryer for 5-10 minutes. Then, when I get out of the shower, it is still warm and cozy! It feels so good! My other favorite -- fuzzy socks! They feel so soft on my feet, it's like I'm walking on air all day long. Love it!

Are you on track? How did you do with your resolutions this week? Do you have any good pampering ideas? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Poem for Danya

Mom posted this poem for Lauri, and I thought it was beautiful. My friend, Danya, has the opposite problem as Lauri -- health issues that keep her from having babies, so she's started the road to adoption. I think this poem is just as perfect for her (with some modifications) as the rest of us!

How enviously
I watched
The rose bush
Bear her bud-
Such an easy,
Lovely birth.
At that moment
I wished
The sweet myth
Were true -
That I could Pluck you,
My child,
From some
Green vine.

But now
As you breathe,
Through flesh
That was mine
(Gently in the
Small circle
Of my arms),
I see
The wisdom
of investment.

The easy gift
Is easy to forget
But what is bought
With coin of pain-
Is dearly kept.

Carol Lynn Pearson

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mission: A Healthy New Year!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it is this: Have a healthy New Year!

There are many ways to accomplish your mission. Diet, exercise, sleep, stress, simplifying, giving, and organizing -- all can add up to a happier, healthier you! A lot of us have been plagued with health issues, and we know something has to change! Climb on board, and we can do it together now.

Choose a goal, and comment to let me know what you want to work on. I'll share my goals with you, too. I'll post my progress and let you know how I'm doing, and we can support each other.

I'm starting with exercise and eating healthy. Lynda shared a fantastic website with me for tracking calories -- Calorie Counter. I'm using this tool to keep a food diary. Also, I've done a menu for this week. I'm eating Baked Pesto Chicken, Herb Roasted Winter Veggies over orzo pasta, Skinny Tortilla Soup, Baked Salmon with Tomatoes and Spinach, and Aloo Gobi. That leaves two days for leftovers or eating out. All the recipes can be found on my recipe blog, The Flagging Chef. And how's that for amazing linking all in one paragraph!

For exercising, I am increasing my yoga incrementally, and I have begun belly dancing! You all know what that means, don't you? Once I can put together a routine, I will have the kids video tape me belly dancing, and I will post it here! I strongly recommend keeping bamboo skewers on hand in case you feel the need to poke your eyes out after.

To help with my chronic fatigue, I will also continue my pacing (which, by the way, is fantastic for simplifying your life even if you don't have chronic fatigue!), improve my sleep habits, and work on stress reduction, too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Funny Business

OK, you know how I said in the last post that our business appears to have turned a corner? Well, then it went up, up, up very high, and whoosh -- straight down again, and then zig zagged left and right and then up, up, up again, and we were held suspended in air, looking down from a great height, holding our breaths, and then zoom! rocketing toward the ground and certain death, and then just at the last minute, another whoosh and we just missed rock bottom and started up again...

I'm not sure if I'm going to laugh, scream, or vomit.

But, really, owning your own business is so fun!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Top 10 Signs It's Going to Be a Good 2009

10. After my detox, I am now once again under my top pregnancy weight.

9. During Christmas vacation, the kids were giggly and happy and played well together and did not devolve into this:

8. Our new business appears to have turned a corner.

7. I, unlike 3 of my sister/sisters-in law, did not have a baby (more power to you, sistas!).

6. Johnette the angel has volunteered to wake Kyara up for seminary every morning for me, so I can recuperate better.

5. Romers is back into water polo to take the edge off his hyperness.

4. All right, let's be honest -- all the kids are back at school, which leaves me with some happy quiet mornings.

3. I spent the end of the year with Rom in San Diego in a glorious torpor where my every whim and fancy was indulged to perfection.

2. I went to the best New Year's Eve party EVER! (Check out Danya's blog -- it has some fantastic videos, especially Shandee's karaoke and Tara's "Eye of the Tiger.")

1. Hey -- I survived 2008, didn't I?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas Wrap Up

Here's the final post about Christmas! I would have written earlier, but Romney had stolen my camera and I couldn't get to the pictures.

We had a wonderful evening at Mom and Dad's house Christmas Eve. It was very casual -- we ate a lot and talked a lot. We didn't stay forever, so we were able to make it a relatively early night to bed!

You can tell when I'm finally completely wiped out, because I stop taking pictures! I missed most of the kids opening presents, but I got the big one -- Wii and Guitar Hero. I didn't get any pictures at all at John and Terri's house, but we all enjoyed a wonderful dinner and another casual time talking and playing with cousins and catching up.

Click to play Christmas Wrap Up
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