Reaching Out, Even When It's Difficult

Last week, I had a very touching experience happen to me that I don't want to forget.  It was a Saturday morning and I was walking to my mom's house so we could attend a funeral together for a dear friend.

As I walked past "The Boilers" as used to be called and a place I spent many hours playing as a kid, I saw an old homeless man walking out of the woody terrain. This place is just near my home and I remember going through the long, dark tunnel to get to the boilers as a kid. It is now closed off to the public.

I wondered if the tunnel is where his shelter has been all along.  I see this poor man walking past my house to go to the woods practically everyday, and many people I know see him walking along telegraph.

He wears a long sleeve shirt and jeans and carries a backpack. He walks extremely slow and frail and each time I have seen him walk past my house in over 100 degree tempatures, I have felt this yearning to do something.

As I walked past him this particular day on my way to my mom's, I said a simple "hello" in which he responded back. I kept walking and so did he. I wondered what to do next. I knew I was going to be late for the funeral, but I just felt prompted to do something more.  I began to soften.  I saw him as the Savior did.  My heart began to burn in a way it hadn't in a long time.

I looked in my purse and offered him a granola bar I planned to eat later.  He took the granola and offered me gratitude and thanked me over and over and said I made his day.

I asked him if he knew our bishop and gave him a lot of information about him. He was interested and began to tell me a story.  It was then my mom drove down the street and I offered him 5.00. He said he would not take the money. I pleaded for him to take it, but he said he doesn't like to take people's money and only would take food or drink.

I have never had a homeless person reject money. I saw how humble this man really was.  He was dirty and needed a bath and new clothes. He looked so dehydrated and skinny.  Although I was dressed up for said funeral, I suddenly wanted to forget myself and offer him a hug for comfort.

As we drove away, my heart felt full but sad.  I have felt curious about his story for sometime and each day I wonder where he is or where I can find him in those woods.  I want to offer him a hot meal or some compassion.

I wondered if this man feels unloved on a daily basis.  I wondered if things I take for granted such as a granola bar, really mattered to him.  He taught me that I can do more. It is so easy to look at people at the superficial level and assume they are just fine, but how do we really know if they are fine until we dig a littler deeper past the surface.

I have learned that fear of rejection is just pride in ourselves. If we are constantly thinking our own feelings rather then someone else's, it can lead to us becoming self absorbed.  Thinking of others before ourselves is what Christ taught. How many times did he heal the sick but only get a small token of gratitude back from a small amount of people. This did not stop him, he continued to be humble.

In this fast paced society, it's easy to focus on our to do list, getting from point A to point B, and worrying about our own little bubble of comfort.  Taking time to slow down, analyze our surroundings and really seek out revelations and promptings is what matters. Not the wordly stuff, the Real stuff. The stuff that matters.

Wherever this man is tonight, I am thinking of him. I am loving him and I am willing to do more for him. I hope that we can all do that when we feel that prompting.  We don't need to necessarily offer money each time, but food or even a soft touch or time with someone, can make the world of difference to someone else, and may just make our own day a little brighter.


First Day

Sunny started pre-school today. My mama heart melted a little as I got her to school. Her backpack was packed, her tummy was full and she was ready to make new friends.

"Sunny, I said to her, Did you know school is for learning new things."

I know she is not thrilled to learn.  She is excited to be around kids and make new friends. Isn't that what makes school fun at 3, the social part.

I love this new preschool she goes to. It is very spacious, and it incorporates physical activities into her 3 hour schedule. She does gymnastics,  yoga, karate, and so much more.

Sunny absolutely loved her first day!!
    She doesn't look amused,  but she had a blast.

She did not cry when I left, nor does she ever. She confidently said goodbye and shoode me on my way.

I had planned to take loads of pictures but of course that never happens.

Her teacher gave me this poem she wrote. It is so touching. Double click on photo to enlarge.

When we got home later that day, she couldn't wait to make her "house." Baby sister's cradle has become her favorite hang out.


10 New Fall Goals

Okay, it's not fall yet, but the air, it's feeling a little crisp lately. I can feel it. I am excited.

I like to set goals. I don't reach many of them. But, I still like to set them. Yesterday, I wrote a post about my newborn fears and how affirmations and prayer can strengthen me.  Here are 10 more goals I am striving to work on now.

1. Read or listen to scriptures at least 10 minutes a day.
I am doing very well with this. I actually listen to my scriptures on audio and usually lay there, paint my nails, or fold laundry.  Best thing ever.

2. Attend temple. This one is hard. I can't get anyone to babysit. Seriously frustrating when we both yearn for the temple so bad. Rodney and I haven't been on a temple or date in years I think.

3. Stop cursing. Yes, I admitted to something nobody would expect from me. Damn, hell, ass and shit are so ladylike Amy!!

4. E xcersise 3-4 times a week.
I am doing great at this one, I just can't stop after I get huge or post partum. No excuses.

5. Cut down on sugar. Seriously, this is so hard. Sometimes it feels impossible.

6. Finish all my crochet projects. I have a problem with starting then stopping.

7. Put my device away. No internet except on weekends, except to blog. If I do use internet, only 10 minutes allowed a day.
This goal I do well on.

8. Have dinner ready at same time each week night. By being consistant, I can make it to gym at set time, sunny gets her playtime and Rodney gets study time.

9.  Get visiting teaching done at first of month, not last day. I LOVE visiting people. I love looking at how people decorate their homes. I love when my VT's come to see me.

10. Read 3 or more books a month. So far, I have two left to go.

So, there are my 10 goals. I have much more, but I think starting with 10 for now is best.


Pray For Faith Not Fear, Strength Can Replace Weakness.

Today at church I saw a beautiful newborn baby girl that was just born a week ago.  I sat in the lounge talking with her mother as she sat and nursed her baby. I haven't been around a newborn for a long time. They are cute, cuddly and smell so good.

She let out a loud cry as she had her diaper changed. Her mother reminded me about how much newborns have to be changed and how much they eat and sometimes, depending on the baby, how much they cry. I held her for a brief moment as she cried.  Part of me just wanted to hand her back to her mom. As sweet as she was, I just felt overwhelmed of what is to come.

I begin to feel a sense of fear. When I got home, I told Rodney that being around a newborn today brought some feelings back. I began to doubt my abilities. I shared with him how my days with Sunny as a newborn, although a huge blur at times, suddenly came back to me. I remembered all of it.  The non-stop months and months of crying from Sunny's colic, and my extreme depressive state from lack of sleep, lack of "me" time and overall nursing fatigue left me defeated.

I know some babies are much easier then others. I have babysat some of the most mild mellow babies anyone has ever seen, having me dream of having 10 of them.

 Crying and loud noises make me very uncomfortable and the thought of going through it again with this baby has made me feel less at ease about the "unknown." There are days I can barely handle Sunny. Let's face it.  In a previous post, I mentioned how over-stimulated my mind is due to new advances in her non-stop speaking skills, in addition to her never sleeping, waking up, and being extremely hard to discipline at times. The kid is just a handful sometimes, but she is my whole life. I love her to the moon and back.

I know there is a time and season for everything.  Someday, the kids will be in school and my heart will hurt for them, wanting them with me. Every time I complain about dumb little things, I want to slap myself and remind myself to stop sweating the small stuff. JUST BE THANKFUL and strive to improve the next day. Everyday is fresh, a new start.

Affirmations to myself can help. I can do this. I have learned not to judge others. Everyone is fighting their own battle and there are pieces of other's life we have no idea even exist. If more people opened up about their struggles,fears, trials,  a larger support system offering healing and self-awareness could take place amongst so many people out there.

Rodney offered a peice of advice that soothed my inner soul today and really lessened some of my fears of that unknown. He said to pray. Just pray. The Lord can help me through any trial and he can help me become stronger then I realize.


33 Weeks

I haven't taken any maternity pictures of myself with this baby. Shame on me. Everytime I think about doing it, it never happens. I just can't seem to get myself organized, made up or even put makeup on. But next week, I am determined to get some done and then I will share.

Here I am with Sunny at the exact time I am with this baby now.  It seems like yesterday. Pregnancy with Sunny was a breeze. I felt so good. I can't say this time around I feel the same way, but hey, nothing is expected to be the same. Sunny was a very fussy baby. Maybe this one will be mellow. She is having a huge dance party inside me right now, keeping me up. I do love it, especially those hiccups.

I was definately smaller. They say you are bigger each subsequential pregnancy and that is true.

I am so hungry all the time too. I crave nothing but bread all the time. Ohhhhh, a slice of crusty artisan bread or a sour dough bread bowl filled with my favorite soup. I just dream of the savory.

As far as how I feel comfortable wise. Well, she has dropped it seems and is always right on my bladder, making me pee about every 10 minutes. The pressure is not the best feeling. I know with Sunny I had the exact same thing going on, but experienced it about 37 weeks instead. She had dropped so low I couldn't even be checked for dilation without being sedated in the hospital. It was that bad. This time around, I have a feeling I might just tick off those nurses once and again who insist they need to check me and I am fighting them. It's my body for crying out loud. Do as I say!

Here is a little update on Sunny.  She is still fully potty-trained. talking very fast, and stopped taking naps. After two consecutive naps in one week last month, I got a little excited and felt she had changed. But, no naps. I just got to accept it.  She starts pre-school this week and will be gone 6 hours a week. I am so nervous, anxious, and excited about it.

I hope we're off to a great school year!


Slow Cooker Beans & Rice With Sausage

Several months ago, Rodney and I became dept free. Afterwards, we came up with a plan and made a budget for our family that we could hang on the wall and see at all times.  Since we are big on investments for our future, we knew a lot of money would be going towards that, plus our fixer upper house.  With me being a stay at home mom, we knew additional sacrifices would need to come into play with our food budget.  Budgeting is not the easiest practice for me, but with said list we came up with, it has been a huge reminder that our food budget needs to stay within a certain amount each month. We decided between 70-80 dollars a week sounded good and so far, it has worked well.  I actually thought that was going to be impossible, but with careful menu planning, it has been easier then I thought.

When planning out weekly menus and avoiding eating out as much as possible, I found that our biggest and cheapest staples are potatoes, rice, beans, flour, and tortillas.  We tend to buy in bulk to save money and find that by doing so, our food budget stays right on point.

Rodney served his mission in Florida and was exposed to a lot of Cuban food. Cuban food which is similiar to Brazillian food, is centered around a lot of rice and beans.  I have no problem with rice as I ate a lot of it when I lived in Hawaii for a year.  We prefer jasmine white rice over brown rice anyday and find it's one of the most versatille foods to work with.

 I have so many recipes I want to share, but I will start with this one.

Served alongside steamed brocolli or a crisp salad, this meal is one of our favorites. Not only delicious in every aspect, but toddlers seem to like beans.  If you have a very picky toddler as I do, try introducing beans to them.

Slow Cooker Beans & Rice W/Sausage

  • 1 cup diced yellow or white onion
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 (15-ounces each) cans kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse or freshly cracked black pepper (see note above)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds kielbasa or chicken sausage, sliced 
  • Hot, cooked brown rice, white rice or quinoa for serving

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the kielbasa/sausage in a medium slow cooker and give it a good stir. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. Add the sausage and cook until warmed through (anywhere from 20 minutes to another hour).
  2. Add additional salt to taste before serving. Serve over hot, cooked rice (white or brown) or quinoa.
recipe source Melskitchencafe.com


Live & Learn & How I Cope With A Challenge

One thing I have not been ready for is Sunny's rapidly growing vocabulary. Literally, overnight, she was talking using almost every vocabulary word known to man.  It must of taken off after she turned 3 because before that, I felt I had a lot more sanity then I do now.

What is so difficult about her talking all the time now is my brain just can't keep up with all her questions, all her statements, and how much she describes, notices and analyzes.

I am going to be completely honest, my brain feels fried with the over-stimulation it's getting.

Not that I am NOT grateful that she can communicate and express herself so well, because I am. I know there are kids out there who struggle everyday trying to express themselves, but can't.  As a special education teacher, I know. I have worked with kids like that.
                 Her newest saying is "duh"

However, I LOVE a happy medium in all things. I prefer quiet over noise any day!  Nonstop talking gives me a headache. I am usually the one who needs to place myself in time out when I am overwhelmed by too much stimuli.

Sunny notices everything about her surroundings. She is extremely intelligent.  She has a large vocabulary I didn't think was possible for a 3 year old, her memory is phenomenal. She is her dad's daughter in every shape and form.  I knew there would be a chance she would inherit his genius, but I had no idea that after she turned 3, it would spiral out of control.  I'm not ready, I'm just not!
                                                           Life as a toddler must be hard.

 Before Sunny was 3, she didn't have the best vocabulary, she didn't talk in full sentences all the time, and she didn't suprise me everyday with a newfound intelligence.  Things are different now.  I just can't keep up. Here are examples:

1.  Sunny notices anything different and will question you about anything that is out of routine.  For example, she will question why I am turning left instead of right when I need to go to Natural Grocers.  If I tell her I am taking a different route, she will question why and want to know every detail of why I am out of routine.

2.  If she is watching a show, she will ask how many episodes are in a season.  I will tell her I don't know and she will plead with me to find out before her show starts.

3.  She remembers every single person's name, and extra fine details about them.

4. She will question why I am doing something all the time. Why am I cleaning that, Why did I choose to make this for dinner and not that, what I plan to do after the sun goes down at night.  Why I don't ever look in the telescope when there is a full moon or mars lurking out from the clouds.  Why Mommy, why, why, why.......

And then there is trying to reason with her. I swear she turned into a tween overnight.  Trying to explain to her she can't do something often ends with, "Just leave me alone, or "Get out of my room" or I wan't daddy, not you!"

Her strong personality is a lot to take in. Someday's I honestly feel trapped. I had no idea it would be like this.

These are just a few examples of what I am just not ready for.  I need to be prepared to come up with an answer at all times. I need to have an explanation for everything. I need to be able to see the world as she does.

I am not a fast learner. I am not the brightest person, and sometimes it takes me a long time to figure things out or just comprehend anything very quickly.  It's my biggest frustration. My brain doesn't function like someone else's might.
 I was intimidated for years by Rodney's intelligence, his ever expanding vocabulary, and his knowledge of everything in this world. Stuff I had no clue about.  Now I am embracing myself to be able to raise Rodney's "mini me " and I am trying to figure out how to prepare my mind to handle it.

 To nobody's surprise, Sunny and Rodney both talk a lot. Not that it's bad, but as I said before, my brain is wired in a way that I need that happy medium of soft, quiet, serene vs. loud and talkative.

What is my coping mechanism?  Well, I am still working on it. Sometimes it's just leaving the house alone. Going to the gym or yoga.  Other times, it is locking myself in the bedroom, listening to my scriptures or reading a great book. I love to curl up and read a great book.

In the winter time, I will take a hot bath. But not in this heat.

I find these things help my brain calm down, my mind relax, and frustrations exiting my body.

Now to change the topic,  I wanted to also to put a reminder to myself of what never to buy again.

1. sidewalk chalk.  This stuff has ruined more furniture, clothes, doors, paint job, rugs, etc, then I can describe.  The stuff does not come out, no matter how hard I scrub.  I babysat this little boy once and he played with the chalk and then came inside and rubbed his body all over my white rug.  To this day, it has hues of pink in there. I have tried everything to remove it.

2. Lego's. When is too much to much. Sunny has so many legos. I have stepped and injured myself on far too many to count.  They are a hassle to clean up and they get lost.

3. Playdough.  It dries up. It's a waste of money when your kids don't clean up after themselves and mom can't even remember to put detergent in the wash on top of remembering to clean up playdough.

4. Toys with small parts. Again, waste of money, they get lost.

5. inflatable swimming pools. They get holes in them everytime. Waste of money.

As much as spending money depresses me, thinking about wasting money is even harder to cope with.  With kids, I am learning that mother's are in a constant live & learn phase.  With every mistake we make, there is always time to reflect on that mistake and make changes., Writing things down, or keeping a blog such as this, are always great ways to remind ourselves of improvements we can make.


Mango Salsa (see January archive on right for recipe)