Life

Currently: March

How is your month of March going? We kicked it off with a trip to a sunnier climate to visit my husband’s parents. Poor Adelina asks me to go to the park almost daily, but our town’s parks are under two+ feet of snow so it’s impossible. I was so happy to indulge her!

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And Jonas got to take naps in fresh air and even enjoy a little sun. It’s probably an odd sensation to a boy born in snow!

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Here’s what I’m up to lately.

Social Media Fast: I mentioned I’m doing a social media fast for Lent — it’s going pretty well so far! I deleted Facebook & Twitter from my phone and I log out of Instagram so it’s an extra step instead of mindlessly clicking in. I’ve ultimately decided to stick to generally checking social media when the kids are asleep or I have a little downtime otherwise, not a cold hard break. It’s been awesome reorganizing my priorities, I’ve spent very little time with it all and it feels good. I’m trying to prioritize active use (creating/writing or communication) vs passive use (mindless scrolling, checking updates just because there’s a notification). Definitely not perfect — that first day was hard — but it’s getting better.

Reading: The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America for book club. It’s interesting so far — Mormons are one of the groups Shua and Rubenfeld highlight — but feels a little bit like pop science to be honest. EDIT: I finally got past the intro chapters which seemed to be making a lot of relatively cherry-picked claims, and into the meat of the theory. It’s turned out to be quite fascinating actually. For one, I’m learning a lot about certain cultures I wasn’t terribly familiar with (Iranian-Americans, for example) and I think as it goes on the authors really build quite a case for their claim that superiority, insecurity, and impulse control contribute to the rise and success of certain cultural groups within the U.S. Really interesting book.

Watching: I finally got to see Arrival, and it did not disappoint. As soon as I saw the trailer I could tell it was my kind of science fiction: more thought experiment than space excursion, less tech more talk. I won’t give away anything quite yet (although it got me thinking so much I want to write a whole post about it… the spiritual parallels are incredible!) but it has stuck with me, in a good way. It is a beautiful film visually, and it was so life-affirming. The childhood and motherhood scenes were so achingly beautiful, they reminded of just how much good is in my own life.

Wearing: this hoodie, every day… oh boy do I love that thing! Cute enough to look put together but comfy and cozy too. And there are so many more patterns and colors, I may need a few more… ha!

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Listening: Fréro Delavega, a french duo from near my hometown. (the video I linked to was shot in Bordeaux, kind of cool) They’re pretty fun and feel like summer, which I could use right now… Also, I introduced Adelina to Elvis Presley the other day and she’s feeling the rhythm 😉

Playing: trains. Andrew’s mom sent his childhood train set home with us and Adelina is obsessed!

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Cooking: anything that goes in a skillet — I’m hooked! This Quick and Easy Skillet Tamale Pie With Brown Butter Cornbread Crust was amazing (although I didn’t find it especially quick), as well as this super-flavorful Skillet Chicken with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce!

Working: I recently joined the team at Their Story is Our Story – Giving Voice to Refugees to help coordinate translation, and it’s been a little crazy trying to catch up with the sheer amount of volunteers and open loops. It’s finally getting a little under control, and I’m glad to be able to lend a hand to this cause. The NPO’s goal is to “give individual refugees voice through social media, art, exhibits, and publications, thus empowering them to share their experiences, their feelings, and their hopes on a worldwide platform.” It’s so important for people to hear, see, and read real stories about how real people are affected by this humanitarian crisis.

Also, knee-deep in a pile of laundry, unpacking from our trip, and washing human waste and paint out of kids’ clothing… ha!

Holidays · Life

Why I need a Social Media Break Again

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a little social media break. This is a post from last year when I did a “social media fast” for Lent. It was a long 40 days, but it was really good for me, helping to refocus on the things that matter most. Even if you’re not religious, this is something we could all benefit from!
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Definitely been guilty of that lately…
One thing I noticed last year was I started getting in touch with friends personally, and it was more meaningful communication. I would think about a friend and text her or just call her up and see how she was doing. I FaceTimed my family more often.
At the time, I wrote, “It has given me back those little in-between spaces because instead of checking my phone when I have five minutes, I think ‘what have I been needing to do?’ and can write in my journal, read the Ensign, read a book, get some scripture study done or write a friend or make that shopping list or… you get the idea. More focus on the things I actually want and need out of life instead of mindlessly entertaining myself. More moments just soaking in our sweet girl. And more time to hear the quiet whispering of the Spirit that we can so easily tune out.”
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I’m not going to do a full break this year because I have several projects I’m working on that are important to me (such as my blog — I’ll still be posting — and my #cherish365 photography project), but I think I’m going to a Ramadan-style fast: only after sundown. Or perhaps only when the kids are asleep (the mom version of sundown ;). I’ve deleted the Facebook and Twitter apps on my phone and logged out of Instagram. One thing that I was discussing with my husband last night was how I wanted to spend more time creating media, not consuming it. Those are things that build me up instead of draining me: writing, photography, projects I volunteer for. That’s my goal this time around — no mindless scrolling.
And with that: I’m unplugging for a bit now. Wish me luck!
Have you ever done a Lenten fast, or a social media break? How did you do it? What did you gain from it?
Life

How We Survive Frigid Winters with Kids

So we live in Wyoming, which means brutal, long, cold winters. We’ve had one especially crazy snowstorm, and lots more snow since, so it piles up… and it goes on, and on, and on. Basically, once snow hits, you’ll likely not see the pavement or ground again until spring. Here are a few things that help us make it through!

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Snow Tires. We can’t just hibernate the entire winter, we need to get out of the house — for provisions, to relieve the cabin fever… sometimes, we really do need to leave the house and it’s still snowing, and there’s snow everywhere. I didn’t think snow tires would make a big difference, but after slipping and sliding while trying to make it back up a slight hill to get home, we realized we needed to do something. Our car doesn’t have 4WD, just front-wheel, and we really thought we might need a new vehicle to make it through these crazy winters, but we figured it was a better financial decision to at least try spending several hundred dollars on new tires rather than having to buy a whole new car. Let me tell you: snow tires make ALL the difference. (these are the ones we got if you’re looking) I can cruise around this town through snow drifts and fresh snow nowadays, whereas before I’d be inching around holding on for dear life. I’m not kidding when I say snow days caused a lot of stress and anxiety for me… Now? I got this!

(It bears repeating: remember safe driving practices for the weather too: take your time, keep a longer distance between you and other cars, pump the brakes if you start to slide, triple-check before turning into traffic because if you cut someone off it is pretty hard to avoid the consequences… and be very, very grateful for the guys who drive your town’s plow trucks!)

Also: get tall snow boots — snow just falls into shorter boots. That’s seriously the worst. And around here gloves are seriously necessary if you’re going to do anything outside, like scrape off your car. You might be thinking “oh I’ll be fine, it’ll just take five minutes!” Your hands will be in a lot of pain when its 12 degrees outside. Just trust me on this one.

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Embrace the jammies. The truth is, with so much snow outside we spend a lot of days indoors. And we have totally embraced spending the day in pajamas! Fleece zip-up footie pajamas are our favorite: comfy, soft and warm. Plus they’re surprisingly stain-resistant! Funny story: Adelina doesn’t own a ton of winter clothes for her size because she wears them so rarely… ha.

(I will add a caveat: I think this only applies to kids. It really helps me get moving and get energized for the day when I shower and get ready earlier; staying in pajamas half the day (or all day…) can be a recipe for depression real fast.)

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Winterize. Did you know that was a word? I didn’t until I moved to frozen tundra land! Ha ha. It means preparing your home for the deep freeze. Things like blowing out your sprinkler line and covering exterior plumbing, checking for drafts, changing your furnace filter, etc. (Stuff like this) When we get a really cold night where it’s dropping into negative temps, we’ve even turned all your facets to a drip so the your pipes wouldn’t risk freezing. Seriously, it can get that bad, and there’s nothing worse than things breaking down with little kids at home and several feet of snow piled up outside.

Moisturize. My knuckles can start to crack and bleed if I don’t frequently slather my hands up in the winter (hence the importance of those gloves, again!) Same goes for the kids, especially if they take daily baths — that’ll dry them out real quick. When Adelina was born I was giving her daily baths for a while because it helped calm her down and get her ready for bed, but her skin was seriously suffering. I finally realized I needed to cut back some because she would dry up so bad. Since Jonas has been in casts for so long, he only gets weekly baths at casting, and the difference is night and day. Besides, babies always smell delightful no matter what! (Seriously though, we need to stop having winter babies. Cold and flu season… blah.)

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Hygge it up! Blankets, copious amounts of hot chocolate, cuddling and reading books. And candles and twinkle lights. Also, watching Frozen on repeat, apparently. (This girl is obsessed these days…)

And try to enjoy the winter wonderland as much as you can, because otherwise you’ll get pretty grumpy… not that I know what that’s like! Snow sports like skiing are tricky with kids, but we can find other ways to have fun outdoors. We made snow cones a while ago and Adelina thought it was the coolest thing ever (and then requested it a million times the next few days).

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This was just strawberry syrup, but you could get all sorts of creative.

Do you have any winter survival tips? I’m not going to lie, I’m about ready for spring now… sigh.

Life

Snowmageddon 2017

I know, the term is overrated… but it’s been seriously crazy around here!

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For a little perspective, this is before the four-day blizzard began.

That day was so cold that ice crystals were floating in the air, and glittering as the sunlight hit them. It was really quite beautiful, but it makes for some scary roads too…

Then it was whiteout conditions for the larger part of four days; you can’t even see the horizon!

Several feet of snow over the entire town, the city declaring no unnecessary travel… apparently it’s the storm of the century. And then we were left with this. Digging out the car today easily took me an hour. Hey, I got my cardio in at least!

It’s hard to see with the white on white on white, but the windrows left by the plows in the middle of the road are about 10 ft wide and 4 ft tall — taller in some spots. No way can you cross those!

The crews are still working around the clock to continue clearing roads. Luckily, we live on a school bus route, so Adelina got to witness the excitement!

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Phew! It was definitely nice to leave the house today for a change! I am also extremely grateful we never lost power throughout it all. And I’m very grateful we ended up pushing through to make Jonas’ appointment in SLC last week, because it might have been iffy then, but there’s no way we could have gone this week. Glad it’s all over!