Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fun Family Moments

This morning as my darling daughter and I were eating breakfast together, she joyfully raised both of her arms and exclaimed, "I love our house! I mean, our home!" She and I shared a happy moment of looking around our house and hugely smiling at each other. :)

After renting and living in a house that was not ours for two-and-a-half years (in Texas), you cannot imagine the happiness we feel at just being in OUR HOME. I thought our excitement for our house would have worn off by now, but the opposite seems to have happened. Our love and appreciation for our home has actually intensified over the past six months! Hey, I'm not complaining, it's just surprising. The happy feelings that come from knowing we can decorate our home's walls just as we like, and not being afraid when something breaks in our home—because it's our choice when and how we choose to fix it—are simply wonderful! Being home is bliss!

Every day, I make an effort to go into each room of our home and just appreciate everything the room has to offer. There is truly a joyful and peaceful feeling in every room of our lovely little 70s home. I am grateful every day for our spot on Earth!

After my darling daughter and I were finished reveling in our happiness for living in our home, I began dancing in my chair. My daughter shook her head and said, "Mom, why are you dancing? There's no music!"

I explained, "Oh yes there is, there's music in my head!" She rolled her eyes and laughed. I continued, "In my head, there is always music so I'm always dancing! It's like there's a movie in my head anytime I want to go there!" :) She just lovingly looked at me like I was c-r-a-z-y.

At that moment, Greg walked in singing a song. I said, "Well, there's music in my head until Greg provides other music for me to dance to!" and I danced in my chair again.

Greg said, "Yeah, there's always something going on in Mom's Adrie World!"

Laughing, my daughter said, "Welcome to Adrie World!"

I replied, "And you can come visit any time you want!" Ha ha.

I'm grateful my fabulous family gets me and loves me in spite of myself. Those four wonderful people are my happy place!

As I told my youngest son this morning, "Giving birth to you and your brother and sister [And being home to raise them!] are the best things I've ever done—besides marrying your dad. There will never be anything that tops those experiences in my life!"

It's true. Being a wife and mother is the best experience in this world! I cherish every moment I've been given with my little family.

And now I must go put a few shelving units together. Yes, we're still unpacking our basement. I did a great job of unpacking for a long time, but then we became so busy with other things that I took too long of a break. but thanks to this lovely Christmas holiday, I've decided to get myself back into gear and finish as much as I can before school begins again.

Yay for fun family moments! :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Family's Favorite Greek Chicken Soup

Last night I received a cute email from my friend in Texas. (I miss her!) She requested my recipe for Greek Chicken Soup, so I decided to post it here for her and anyone else who would like to try it out. :)

I was introduced to this most delicious soup at an authentic Greek restaurant in the lovely city of Farmington Hills, Michigan, when I was a nanny for a full-blooded Greek family. They are such great people and I'm so grateful for the time I spent with them. Thanks to their introduction, I fell absolutely head-over-heels in love with Greek Chicken Soup!

Thus, I was giddy when I found a Greek Chicken Soup recipe in a cookbook Greg and I received as a wedding gift! :) After making it for a few years, I was ecstatic to discover that my husband and our children truly love the soup as much as I do! Yay! It is, without a doubt, my little family's favorite soup on the planet. :) Over the years, I have tailored that recipe to be what I use today. So, I guess the recipe I've listed here is technically MY recipe! ;)

This is the basic Greek Chicken Soup recipe - not doubled or tripled. When I make it for my family, I usually triple it. If we're having guests over for dinner, I definitely quadruple it. I've been making this soup for 16 years and we never tire of it—and I don't even put MSG in it! Ha ha :) No, seriously, I know a lot of foods out there are "addictive" to our tongues because of the MSG in them. I cook completely MSG-additive-free. If you'd like to read more about the possible health issues caused by MSG, click on the Mayo Clinic's link: Monosodium Glutamate.

Most importantly, please don't worry if your soup doesn't work out exactly right the first time you make seriously took me a couple of years to "perfect" this yumminess! :) Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to:

Greek Chicken Soup
(Gluten Free)
  • Serves 4
  • Give yourself a good hour to complete this masterpiece...Because no one wants to spend a bad hour making soup, now do we?! Ha ha ;)


  • 1 large can (46-49.5 ounces) chicken broth (I use Swanson's 100% Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth.) *You can use small cans instead. Just figure out the ounces with a calculator. You'll want to stay around 46-50 ounces.
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I use frozen chicken breast portions, or frozen chicken tenders. I previously used the Tyson brand, but now that two of my kids have to eat completely gluten-free and avoid cross-contact, I can't use their chicken anymore. If Tyson were willing to make their chicken gluten-free—or at least clearly state that it is gluten-free, I would be happy to start buying from them again!) *You can add more chicken if you desire.
  • 1 cup rice (We like Calrose Rice the best!)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1/4 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (i.e., 1/4 cup) lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Up to 1/8 teaspoon pepper—season to taste

Note: After the eggs have been added to the soup, don't heat on high or the eggs will curdle.

  • Start cooking rice. (We use a rice cooker.)
  • Place chicken broth and chicken in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. (If you are using frozen chicken, it will take a little longer to get broth to the boiling point.)
  • Once broth is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and poach chicken until barely cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. *Do not over-cook it, or the chicken will be rubbery. But don't under-cook it either. The chicken should be white inside. It's usually ready when the chicken floats to the surface of the broth.
  • Remove chicken and shred it with forks. Set aside. *If you want a lower-fat version, slide a mesh strainer through the broth and dump the fat in the garbage.
  • While the chicken is cooking, do the following: in a medium-sized bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water. Whisk in eggs, lemon juice and oregano until very smooth.
  • Add cooked rice into hot broth.
  • With a ladle, remove about 1 cup of hot broth from pot. (Try to keep the rice out of it, but it's not a big deal if some rice gets in there.) Gradually (i.e., a small stream) whisk hot broth into egg-lemon-oregano-cornstarch mixture.
  • Return egg mixture to pot, while whisking/stirring constantly. *Don't stop whisking/stirring (even for a second!), or the eggs will curdle.
  • Heat soup gently (around medium+ heat), stirring constantly, until soup is thickened and creamy. (I usually cook it a solid 10-12 minutes. If it's semi-runny, you need to keep cooking it.) Season with pepper to taste. (I don't usually add additional salt, as it's salty enough from the chicken broth.)
  • Return shredded chicken to broth mixture once the eggs have cooked thoroughly. Stir completely and remove from heat.

Enjoy! :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Create Goodness

The other day, I listened to a great radio program on the Mormon Channel about computer security. While most of the information was old news to me, I still enjoyed all of it. (It made doing the dishes a much happier task!) I was particularly interested to hear about the college/university classes and programs that teach students how to combat/thwart all of the dishonest people and their destructive online programs.

The thought that stuck with me throughout the radio program was the fact that all of the problems on the internet—viruses, trojans, malware, spyware, hacking, etc.—all had to be created by someone. I sat there, wondering, "Why would someone choose to spend their precious Earth time trying to ruin someone else's online experience??" One obvious reason (I think) is because they want to gain access to other people's personal information. In other words, those destructive folks want the quick and easy way to someone else's money. It was a sad and frustrating thought to me.

I thought to myself, "If those online fraudsters would spend half as much time creating something interesting, beautiful, good, or useful, we could have some really amazing things in our world! What if, once in a while, they offered to share their talented selves with others doing meaningful service? What if they used their talents and were paid for creating goodness? Instead, they choose to spend their talents in mean, dishonest ways. What an annoying and time-consuming loss to our society!"

Then I recalled the video I came across shortly after I began writing this blog. The video is titled, "Create". I've included it here because it inspired me to keep going with my blog—even though my desire to keep going is not really the issue at hand. I would blog every day if I had time! Scratch that...actually, I have time, we all have time! I just choose to spend most of my time taking care of my family, friends, and fellow church members—who are also my friends. :)

As I've said before, one of the main reasons I started this blog was due to my desire to create something good online. But I've also realized—over my many years of being active on the internet—that even though there are so many great things to read and watch, I've spent too many of my allotted internet hours consuming what other people have created. I've thought many times, "Wow, I can't believe what time it is!" But after all that time I'd spent online, I hadn't created anything of value! All I'd done is consume what others had created.

Please don't misunderstand me: I'm so grateful to those people who have spent their time and used their marvelous minds sharing with the world what they feel is important! I love researching new discoveries, and I will absolutely share them on this blog when it feels right! :) Yet I've wondered, "What have I contributed to this world? What am I sharing with others?" I think that thought ought to apply to everyone. Think about it. What have you created and shared with others lately? :)

And I don't think we need to feel like our creative and inspirational efforts must apply to the entire world. Hardly anyone will achieve the inspirational status of Nelson Mandela. (I'm sad he's gone "home", but, as we all know, we will all go home to Heaven eventually. What a marvelous example he was to all of us!) I don't think we should have our ultimate goal be massive recognition, either. I think our "create and inspire" goal should mainly apply to our own families and friends—basically the people in our little circles of life. Hey, if someone is able to positively affect millions, well that's awesome! Good for them! :) Yet, I don't expect thousands of readers to start following my little blog. I'm just putting into words what I feel, experience, or think about. If anyone happens to like what they read, then great! :) If not, I shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well, maybe my family will read it one day..." Then again, maybe not! Ha ha. :)

In the end, my words will live on for my little family, hopefully for generations to come. Yes, I think positively influencing our families and future generations—in one form or another—should be one of our very top priorities. We should create goodness for our loved ones in every area of their lives! :) I truly wish every talented hacker would think about their talents and really analyze what they could positively contribute to this world. I know I have lofty ideals, but they are mine and I'm happy to live with makes my world a pretty great place. :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Remember that one time I was in a movie?!

On Saturday, November 23rd, 2013, I was privileged to be an extra in an independent LDS short film! Sadly, I can't name names of the movie or the people associated with it because of the volunteer contract I signed. Boo. :( Rest assured, as soon as the movie comes out I'll be updating this blog post. :) It's all very interesting to me how this movie opportunity came about. Care to read on? Here we go! :)

*Side note: this post is extremely long. It was such a wonderful opportunity and I've never experienced anything like it before, so I'm writing about all of it! Also, I'm totally going out on a limb sharing my personal photos, so please don't do anything with them, i.e., look but don't touch. Thank you. :)

Way back in October, 2010, my good friend asked me to be in a photo shoot for a training video for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When I finished the photo shoot, the director said I should apply on the LDS casting website. I was pretty shocked by his statement. I thought, "What? Why would they want to use me for anything else?" His words absolutely made my week because they showed that he liked what I did for them! Yay! I happily thought about signing up until we ended up moving to Texas two months later. Yeah, there was no point for me to sign up then!

Fast forward two-and-a-half years. By the time we were mostly settled in our new/old house, I began feeling the Holy Ghost whisper to me that I needed to sign up on The Church's casting website. I wondered if it was really Him, because I thought maybe I was just being silly, or vain, or self-centered, or presumptuous, or whatever. Yet those thoughts, "You need to sign up for The Church's casting website." kept coming to me. I prayed about what I was thinking, and determined that yes, it was the Holy Ghost whispering to me, and yes, I needed to sign up.

Thus began my internet search. It didn't take very long to find the Church's casting website, but I still took a while longer pondering my actions. I wondered why I should sign up. I wondered how my signing up would benefit my family and me? I wondered if this was something I was really supposed to do?

I prayed, received my answers (again), and signed up! After reading through their requirements I wondered how I was going to get head shots? I finally decided to just take my own because I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. Either it would work out, or I would totally flop. I thought it would be better if I just kept my decision to myself, until there was reason to celebrate. :) I was nervous and totally laughed while taking my own head shots, as I thought they must seem so amateurish. Yet I was brave and submitted everything they requested. I felt really good when I finished, which was a confirmation to me that I had made the right decision. :)

I began receiving emails about casting needs shortly after I signed up. Everything sounded interesting, but I didn't fit into the description of most of their projects. There was one project that I could have applied for, but it conflicted with our ward's Mutual night so there was no point in applying. Also, most of their projects are for the broader/global audience—i.e., they wanted more diverse/ethnic looks. It seemed that my look was the farthest thing from their requirements! After receiving so many "I don't fit their criteria" emails, I wondered why I had even signed up? I decided to just let it be and go about my life until something became available that applied to me.

Enter Thursday, November 21st, 2:41 p.m.. I received an email about a short independent LDS film that was looking for extras, and would be filming in Ogden on Saturday. It wasn't officially sponsored by the Church, but they had taken an interest in it. As I read the description of what the movie people were looking for, I thought, "Hey! I actually really fit their requirements this time!" I was pretty excited, so I prayed about it. I felt good, and that I should apply, so I called Greg to see what he thought. I pointed out that it was only filming that upcoming Saturday, so we didn't need to worry about interrupting our family's schedule. He said I should definitely apply for it. So I did!

I measured myself, found a head shot and full-body photo that I thought would suffice (even though they weren't professional), and submitted the rest of my information. By 4:13 p.m. I received their confirmation email. I was pleased with how timely I responded. :)

I truly didn't think I would hear anything other than a, "Thank you for your submission." email. Thus, I was completely stunned to receive an email at 2:20 a.m. Friday morning, the 22nd (but I didn't read it until about 8:20 a.m.), stating that the casting office would like to book me (me!) for their project. It made me so happy to know that they made their decision a mere 10 hours and seven minutes after I applied. I know I'm so silly, but it meant a lot. :)

I couldn't wait as I ran downstairs to tell Greg my happy news. I screamed excitedly, "I made it!!! They chose me to be in their movie!!! Of course, I'm only an extra, but still...I'm going to be in a movie!" Cutest husband that he is, Greg said, "I'm not surprised at all. I knew they would choose you." Oh yes, he got major brownie points for his sweet words. :)

I could hardly focus on getting the kids ready for school, but I somehow did it all. ;) I came home from dropping off the kids at school, got ready for the day and then went shopping for the things the casting office listed in their email. I also had to find someone to help me get my hair curled for Saturday morning—the casting call was bright and early at 7:00 a.m.! I called a young lady in my ward who cuts my hair and left her a message. I also called my mom and sister-in-law, in case my hairstylist couldn't help me. I was so relieved and grateful my hairstylist could help because my mom and sister-in-law were both busy.

Here's what I look like in sponge curlers and a cap:

I'm so excited!

After my hair was finished, I packed my bag with everything they requested. I brought extras of everything because not only was I an extra, but I didn't want to be unprepared and look like a slacker!

I took four pairs of shoes because I wasn't sure which ones they would like. They ended up choosing the black and grey pair on the right. I also took many slips and nylons because I had no idea what my costume would look like or what I would need. I ended up not reading "Blackmore" on set, but I've started it now! It's really good so far! :) (I didn't take the blue shower cap. I simply forgot to take it out of the picture!)

I got ready for bed super early so I could get my beauty sleep. Beauty sleep is a real thing, you know. Sleep is very important! Just as I was ready to get under the covers, I realized I hadn't tweezed my eyebrows and other hair on my face. Drat! Thankfully, I had enough time to do both and felt so much better when I finished. After all, nobody wants to be hairy on their first movie day! I was in bed by 10:05 p.m. and probably asleep within five minutes. Sleeping in sponge curlers isn't the most comfortable feeling, but I think it was easier than it could have been because I had the fashionable pink satin cap on my head. At least that's what I tell myself. ;)

I suddenly awoke at 4:07 on Saturday morning. I couldn't figure out why I was up before my alarm was supposed to go off at 5:00 a.m. Yet after laying in bed for nearly 30 minutes, I decided to get up and get ready. I used my new, blue, terry-cloth-lined shower cap in the shower. It did a great job of keeping my curlers dry. I was very happy that I applied my foundation correctly with a wedge sponge. You might laugh at that statement, but I was nervous to do it because I never wear foundation. I didn't want to look like a pasty clown! I was a tad worried my curlers wouldn't have dried, so I blow-dried them for a few minutes.

Here's me with only foundation/cover-up on:

Rise and shine!

Packed up and ready to go!

I gave Greg a kiss, ate a quick breakfast, got the rest of my stuff ready and hopped in the car. I was happy it was so dark outside because then no one could laugh at my sponge curlers. The drive was uneventful and I arrived safe and early! I think I was the third car there, which felt good to me. :)

When I began meeting people inside The Old Post Office in Ogden (click here to see beautiful pictures of T.O.P.O.), I was totally curious as to how the day would go. I tried my best to be helpful, remember people's names and follow instructions.

It was interesting to me that there were both established actors and total newbies like me. I don't know what the other cast and crew thought of me, but I'm sure it was pretty clear that I hadn't done a movie before—even though I had no shame in sharing that information. I hoped they wouldn't hold my inexperience against me. :)

We were directed into a suite of vacant office space as a staging area and chose a spot to put our belongings. Then it was time for me to go to the wardrobe department. I excitedly waited in line, wondering what they could possibly choose for me from such a small rack of clothes! What I didn't realize until I was given my costume, is that the measurements I had provided online were enough for them to choose a dress for me! I know, another blonde moment. When I was handed the dress, there was a cute tag pinned to the sleeve with my name, age, height and measurements. I took a picture of the tag up close, but I'll keep that one just for me. ;) The 1940s navy-blue dress was lovely, albeit static-y. It kept twisting around me throughout the entire day of filming, but as long as I was conscious of what it was doing, I was able to fix it before the next shoot. I was pleased when the head wardrobe lady (I don't know what her title is!) chose my pair of shoes that are easier to walk in! :)

I took this photo of "my" dress at the end of the day—in a different closet from where it started the day.

They had us paint our nails a bright color. I chose red. It was fun to have an excuse to paint my nails. :) I usually never paint my nails because it always chips after two days! I also took this photo because I liked the darling cuffs on the dress I wore. :)
P.S. My daughter said my hand looks like an old lady's hand. Gee, thanks a lot. ;)

There was a fair amount of downtime between getting our costumes ready and finishing our hair and make-up. The nice hair and make-up ladies had fun 1940s songs playing in the background, so it felt pretty authentic. As I waited for my turn, I imagined my lovely Grandma Ardis and Grandma Dawna in the prime of their lives. I wondered if what I was experiencing was anything like what they experienced in their lives. It was quite a fun moment for me that I'll never forget. I also greatly enjoyed talking with the other extras and cast members. It was fun hearing a smidgen of their life stories and getting to know them better.

*By the by, I know I have pictures of people on my blog that I'm not identifying. I feel okay doing it because they, like me, have chosen to be in a movie. We were all filmed and many photos were taken throughout the day. I'm guessing that photos of me will end up in other places online, and I'm okay with that—because, again, I agreed to be a part of a film that will be released to the public. :)

Now, I'd like to introduce you to 1940s Adrie!

See how the dress twists?

I straightened the dress in this one.

I think they did a great job of making me movie ready! I also appreciate the nice lady who took this picture for me with my phone. :)

We began the day by practicing our walks until the rest of the extras and cast were finished with make-up. We then gathered together as a group to listen to the writer/producer share her happy thoughts. Then we had an opening prayer to officially start our day. I truly love being around fellow Mormons! It's quite a treat after living in Texas where our numbers are smaller than they are in Utah. :)

It was very interesting to hear the writer/producer tell her story of how this lovely little short film came to be. Although she didn't share every detail, it was evident that this movie is very near and dear to her heart. And even though the extras were all there as volunteers, her sincere gratitude and happiness was enough payment for me. I truly felt so grateful to be there! :)

I was fascinated to learn about the movie (I didn't know anything about it until that very moment) and what it meant to her. It's all about listening to the Holy Ghost (i.e., The Spirit). My experience of actually even being chosen to be an extra in her movie was absolutely not lost on me! I totally get how wonderful it is that because I listened to the Holy Ghost (whispering to me to sign up for the LDS casting website), I was able to be part of a movie that is specifically focused on listening to The Spirit. Wow. Right?! :)

My heart swells when I really think of my actions. For if I had not listened, I would have totally missed out on a grand and wonderful experience that I'll always remember. :) Even if you only see the back of me walking down the hallway on the silver screen for a split second, it doesn't matter. It's simply wonderful that I was able to be a part of something spiritually uplifting...something that will live on forever! Or as long as YouTube is around! Ha ha.

So...back to filming. The other extra ladies and I walked and walked all day long. Okay, it was more like: walk down the hallway; walk over to the window; walk into the other hallway; walk around the corner; or stand and chat with each other. Then we would sit for a while, wait for our "action" cue, and start all over again. It was really fun hearing the clickity-clacking of our high heels. I felt so refined and 1940s proper! It was fun learning how movie scenes are set up, watching how the filming equipment is used/handled, and how the extras know when to start their parts. I probably asked too many questions (because it was all new to me, and very interesting), but hopefully I got the hang of it before I drove them all crazy. ;)

Below are a few pictures of my extra friends. I am frustrated with myself that I didn't take more pictures! Oh well, we live and learn. :)

This photo was sent to me by the lovely lady in the middle. Thank you!

This photo was sent to me by the lovely lady on the right. Thank you, too!

The writer/producer graciously had a room of delightful food set up for us to munch on. Lunch from Jimmy Johns was so good. I don't think I've ever loved a mayonnaise-slathered sandwich as much as I did then! That's code for: I don't usually eat mayo. It was definitely super yum!

There were several times throughout the day when I just wanted to start dancing down The Old Post Office's hallways! I did a little pas de bourrée here and a few tap-dancing moves there, but I restrained myself from fully taking off down the hall. I didn't want to be fired from a volunteer position! Ha ha. No really, I kept half-expecting all of those hatted 1940s men to majestically walk over to us demure women, hold out their hands and whisk us away into a Gene Kelly dance number! Oh, wouldn't that have been so marvelous?! Yes, my imagination is quite adept. :)

Here are some shots of the set:

I know you can't see this hallway very well. I just thought it was cool how the light is diffused by the panel.

I love this elevator! It reminds me of the scene in "Mixed Nuts" when Mrs. Mutchnik (Madelyn Kahn) is stuck in the elevator. See the video below for the funniness:

They brought in this light, poster and many other props for authenticity. I thought it was fabulous!

Right after the above shot, I decided to take a picture of myself in that bright, happy hallway! Contrary to how it appears, it was a bit chilly in the building. Thus, the sunlight shining through the windows was a warm benefit. :)

I thought this one was too serious...

...So I took another one! ;)

This was my favorite part of the building—I just love the wood and marble. It's so classic and architecturally interesting!

This was my last photo of the filming. I was a little tired at this point, but still having fun! :)

I ended up being chosen to stick around a little longer than some of the other extras because they had already had the experience of being in a movie before, and I think they were ready to go home. I was happy to stay or go—it didn't matter to me, but it was fun staying and seeing more of the movie-making process.

Around 5:30 p.m., the casting lady told us we were done for the day so we could go home. I changed back into my comfy-cozies, handed back my costume/earrings and began cleaning up my camp chairs. Then I said goodbye to as many of the cast and crew as were still there. They were all so nice to me—that was the overall feeling I had from everyone. Seriously, all day long, every member of the cast and crew I interacted with were just completely kind, positive and friendly. (Please don't misinterpret my words, it's not like I expected people to be rude or mean, it's just that I've never done a movie before, and I didn't know what to expect.) I had such a wonderful day because of their kindnesses! :)

As I walked outside to my car, I noted that just like when I arrived that morning, there was no sun. It was like a weird time warp! It was a surprisingly long day, even though it didn't feel that long. I finally realized how tired I really was while driving home. When I pulled my car into our driveway, I was shocked to see that had been gone for 11 hours and 45 minutes—and that didn't even include my morning preparation time!

The instant I walked in our back door, Greg came bounding up the stairs and excitedly said, "How was it?! I can't wait! Tell me all about it!!!" He cutely attacked me with hugs and kisses, then we went straight into our living room and talked on the couch for the next hour. He was hanging on my every word and cuddling me the whole time. As much as I felt special on set (I truly did!), Greg made me feel like I was the most important person on the entire planet! Oh, how my man melts my heart! :)

Here's what I looked like shortly after I walked in the door.

Can you say tired?! :)

My daughter loved my curls. :) I couldn't wait to wash all of the hairspray out of them! I think I took a shower for at least 20 felt so wonderful! :)

After this extra experience, I must state that I have so much more respect for the entire movie industry. (I was going to write out all of their titles, but that would have taken forever!) To see how much time was spent and the efforts that were made to make just a short film...well, it boggles my mind! I fully enjoyed my day, but I was very tired at the end. I can't imagine spending 12+ hours every day for months on end to make a full-length movie. All I can say is, "WOW. It's no wonder they get paid the big bucks!" I'm truly grateful for my movie-making experience, I loved all of it!

Lastly, I'm super happy my children and husband were able to see me go through this process of applying for, being chosen, and volunteering in a movie. I wanted them to see that as much as I love being a wife and a stay-at-home mom, I have additional and valuable talents that people actually want me to share with them! ;) Thankfully, my darling little family has always appreciated me, but there was a very different level of appreciation after my movie-making experience! And might I add that Greg was quite enamored with his actress-wife! Ha ha. It was completely awesome! :)

All of that said, my favorite job—hands down—is taking care of my family. There is nothing on this earth that compares to the joy of being with the family that Greg and I have lovingly created together! :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

When We're Not at Our Best

I have been pondering this post's title for a long time. The above title won't leave me alone, so today is the day I will write it into existence! ;)

When we're happy and we know it we, what? Clap our hands! Just kidding. ;) But in all seriousness, when life is going well for us, we let people know it. Our happy actions include things like: smiling, sleeping well, speaking kind words, being efficient, cheerfully supporting and encouraging those around us, serving others, laughing, being generous in every sense of the word, having a happy attitude, being absolutely there for others, etc.

Yet when life isn't going well for us, we let others know our feelings too—whether we intend to do so, or not. Our sad actions might include things like: saying something we later regret, tiredness, lack of concentration, frustration, inattention, snappy responses (And I don't mean in a good way, like a snappy dresser! Ha ha.), moping about, laziness, criticism of others, stinginess, focusing on our own problems, fear of the future, etc.

I've lived both of those previously described realities. Yes, I've had so many wonderfully happy times in my life (Yay for all of them!), but most recently—when I lived in Texas—I was not at my best. Oh, no, I was not. Sidenote: I dearly wish that Texas could have experienced my best self!

For those of you who don't know our family's story, here's a smidgen of it: We've moved multiple times due to my husband's employment changes. We've happily made our choices so Greg could be the main financial provider for our family, and I could be the stay-at-home-mom I've always wanted to be. Our family has always been able to make it through our moving transitions very well. After the first six to 12 months in a new place, things have always ended up on the bright side. :)

Yet when we moved to Texas, things did not go remotely the way we had planned. Our house in Utah didn't sell, so we couldn't settle down in Texas. (We ended up renting out our house.) There are many reasons our house didn't sell, and today I am so thankful that it didn't sell (because now we are back living in our same house!), but when we were in Texas, my reality was not complete thankfulness. Plus, our house issues created financial issues. Don't get me wrong, we consciously made our choices about the house and we owned them, but it was hard. All of that said, we had many many moments of thankfulness in Texas! We were so completely blessed, I can't even begin to describe all of our blessings. But the daily underlying current in my soul—we can't sell our house, so we can't settle down—felt closer to total anguish and severe frustration.

To help illustrate my feelings, please imagine the movie, "Groundhog Day." Do you have it pictured in your mind? Good. :) Now, imagine how Phil repeatedly wakes up to the same music, in the same bed, with the same dreary view, every day—for who knows how long! Well, that was my Texas reality. Okay, I wasn't technically repeating the same day over and over like Phil, but nearly every day I awoke, I thought, "What am I still doing here??!!!!"—with no more certainty of where we were headed than the day before. Yes, not knowing where my sweet and wonderful little family was going to live for two+ years moved my soul into crazytown! I felt trapped and wondered if I would ever escape! ;) *By the by, if we wouldn't have already moved so many times (10) previously, I think I would have dealt with it much better than I did.

Again, please don't get me wrong. During those two years, I genuinely tried to be happy, helpful, courteous, kind, understanding, thoughtful, cheerful, etc. But not being able to fully live our lives the way I desired for our family was unbelievably hard. Not knowing when or where our family would finally be able to settle down was torturous. Can you tell I like to plan?! Well, I do. Yet I can make-do with any situation or circumstance. I just need a little heads-up in terms of time-frame and place. I'm very flexible, compatible, and adaptable! :)

Anyway...having me live in that frustrated state (of being, not Texas) must have been quite tedious for those souls around me. Thankfully, even though I was a mighty frustrated lady, I had many family members and friends who buoyed me up. They didn't judge me—or at least if they did, they didn't show it to me. They didn't make me feel bad. They gave me hope. They lent a listening ear. They showed patience. They tried their best to see where I was coming from—even if they didn't understand what I was experiencing. I will be forever grateful to those generous souls. They know who they are. :)

Now that I feel all better (because we are finally settled!), life is so much easier. I am happy every single day!!! Even when I have little hiccups here and there, those mini challenges are the tiniest of trials compared to where my soul was just eight months ago—before our family knew where our path was heading.

Thus, with my recent two-year experience of not being at my best (Even though I sincerely tried my best!), my plea to the inhabitants of our world is this:
  • Please try your best to be understanding of others—even and especially when they're not at their best.
  • Be generous with your kind thoughts, sincere prayers, good words and helpful actions.
  • Don't judge others too harshly or quickly. *Even though we know we must judge some situations for our own safety/protection and for those we love.
  • Be forgiving and let others move-on when they have made amends.
  • Have true charity in your heart for others—including toward those souls you might not necessarily like.
  • Keep your criticisms at a minimum, and only reveal them if they are truly needed and helpful.
  • Don't gossip. Yet if you want to share happy thoughts or uplifting stories about others, go for it! :)
  • Never forget that every soul has value and is of great worth. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Better yet, treat others the way you would want your precious, sweet, perfect little baby to be treated. :) You see, everybody is somebody's baby...we're all children of God.
This is my phrase and typographic design! :)
Lastly, there is a beautiful scene from the movie, "Ephraim's Rescue" that really hit home to me. (Spoiler alert!) Ephraim Hanks has just healed the gangrened feet of young Thomas Dobson by giving him a priesthood blessing. After a tender moment with Thomas and his mother, Alice, Ephraim asks,
"Thomas, the spirits in the camp are low. Do you feel the strength to now lift, as you have been lifted?"
Thomas thinks about it for a minute and then shares his happy dancing talent with the members of his camp. It's evident that Thomas and the rest of the pioneers are joyfully uplifted because of his cold-feet efforts. (Thomas traveled without shoes for much of his pioneer journey! Ouch!)

I can absolutely relate to Thomas Dobson's situation. No, I wasn't exhausted and close to death with gangrened feet, but my soul was very heavy, ragged and worn out because of my family's seemingly endless uncertainty. Now that my soul is light and free again, I dearly want to lift others as I have been lifted! I am also reminded of the scripture in Luke 10:37 when, speaking of the good Samaritan's merciful efforts, Jesus says, "Go, and do thou likewise." I 100% agree! :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Facebook Experiment

*By the by, after you read "My Facebook Experiment," you might want to read my latest update, "Farewell, Facebook!" Some might not believe my actions, but in March, 2015, I deactivated my Facebook account again—this time, however, I won't be going back.

On February 7th, 2013, I deactivated my Facebook account. I had no intentions of returning, except to download my status updates at a much later date—as part of my personal history. I had very legitimate reasons for deactivation. Some of those reasons were: privacy concerns; time constraints (I spent too much time on it); great annoyance with Facebook's constant advertisements and suggestions (I'll "like" what I want! I don't need someone telling me what to "like," thank you very much!); feeling bummed when my "friends" didn't include me in their lives like my heart wished, etc.

I was very happy with my decision. I stayed completely away from Facebook for exactly eight months and three weeks.

Why did I rejoin Facebook? There were several reasons, so let me share a few.

Over the many months I was off Facebook, I realized that society has changed. I truly believe that the creation of social media and social networking websites has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with each other. I naively thought that because I had all of my friends' and family members' email addresses and phone numbers, we would absolutely stay in touch. That was not my experience.

Yes, my immediate family and close friends stayed in contact with me, but that was about it. Even when I texted people or left messages for them on their voicemails or answering machines, people weren't great about getting back to me—unless it was for a specific reason. If I simply wanted to chat while I did the dishes and laundry, those phone calls were rarely returned. Sometimes there were late replies, but more often than not I never received a response. I guess I could take that as a sign that people simply didn't want to talk with me—I fully admit that could be the only reason! But I also interpreted it to mean that people are either (a) too busy, or (b) they just don't care for the in-person personal connections as much as I do. (I classify over-the-phone communication as in-person, since you can actually hear their intonations and get much more out of the conversation than you would via technology.)

For those of you who don't know me well, let me say that I truly love connecting with people! :) I love conversing and having discussions with others. I'm definitely an extrovert. To say that I'm energized by other people would be an understatement. Actually, I begin to feel withdrawn and on the sad side if I don't have human interaction for a couple of days. Call my need for personal connections a weakness or a strength, I don't care, I just know that's how I am. :)

I tried connecting with my friends and extended family members through blogging, but after several months of not many posts posted from everyone else, I realized that blogging was not where it's at anymore. Even though I adore blogging—because I feel it allows people to express themselves in a more in-depth manner than a Facebook or Twitter post—it appeared that not many members of my personal social circle agreed with me.

I was invited to join Twitter several times, but I never signed up because I've never been interested in it. Again, I like the in-depth connecting. 140 characters just doesn't work for my personality.

Obviously, I joined Google+ and that has been interesting. I like their program, but not many members of my personal social circle connect through Google+. I think that scenario is slowly changing, so I'll be interested to see what happens with G+.

I even sent multiple update emails to people I care about, but only received a few replies. Let me be clear: I didn't expect a reply. I was just truly stunned that I didn't hear back from more people—simply because I would absolutely reply to my friends/family if they sent an email like that to me. Sometimes the very people I sent those emails to would say to me, "I had no idea!" I realized right then and there that very few people were reading my emails—despite the time and effort I spent in not only composing those emails, but in deciding who should receive them.

After calmly examining my strengths, weaknesses, foibles and blunders, I decided not to take the disconnectedness personally. I knew I was loved by my true friends and family. I knew I wasn't that horrible of a person to be snubbed and slighted on purpose. I began thinking that maybe people just weren't connecting in the same way I thought they would—and should—before social media/networking came along.

Another reason I rejoined Facebook is because people would frequently say to me, "Oh, you didn't know (insert major life event)? I posted it on Facebook!"

I'd reply, "I'm not on Facebook anymore, remember?"

"Oh, that's right. Well, you should get back on Facebook! I miss seeing you there!"

I can't count the number of times that type of scenario happened to me!

I ultimately decided to rejoin Facebook after I heard at a family dinner that Greg's nephew was engaged and had been for several weeks! I heard the familiar phrase, "Well, he posted it on Facebook. Oh wait, you're not on Facebook." Yes, friends, that's when I fully internalized that if I really wanted to stay in-the-loop with our extended family members and friends, I would either have to accept the fact that I would live a socially quieter life—which is torturous to me(!), or get my hiney back on Facebook post haste! ;)

Thus, October 29th, 2013, I clicked on facebook dot com! (as my funny brother would say). My heart was racing! I was excited and curious to see how things had changed. I wondered if people would think I was a fool for my final post on February 7th that boldly declared I was leaving Facebook Land. I then realized that most people probably never read my bold declaration the first time! Ha ha. It was very interesting to note the people who unfriended me—I was surprised by some, but not others. I decided not to worry about the "whys," and just be happy with those who still considered me their friend.

I'm happy I decided to be more brave this time around in requesting friends, for I have already made some good connections that I would have missed out on if I hadn't requested their friendships. :) Yes, there are many good reasons for connecting on Facebook! It's just that this time around, I will absolutely remember to not spend too much time on fb, or it will become detrimental to my life. Indeed, I am much better at using my Facebook minutes wisely. I won't regress. :)

I've also decided to be more cautious with what I post on Facebook. During my last Facebook experience, I allowed my personal feelings to cloud my judgment. There were several times I posted status updates, or made comments, or sent messages that weren't indicative of my best self. But I'm not the only one. I've seen many status updates, and posts/messages between Facebook friends, that were very unkind and unnecessary. When I read those posts, I would think, "I can't believe they wrote that! They would never say that to the other person's face!" The same thought applies to me as well. Yet I'm determined not to worry about what my Facebook friends post. Previously, I had allowed some of my family and friends' status updates or comments to rile me, but I don't do that anymore. Yay! :)

To help me remember what I've learned and what I hope to accomplish on Facebook—which is staying connected to my family members and friends, I created this phrase and topographic design: "If you can't say it to their face, don't post it." I think my words are applicable to any social media/networking site, not just Facebook! :)

I'm truly happy to be back on Facebook! Connecting with my family and friends again is very satisfying to my sociable soul. It's nice knowing that even if I don't log-on to Facebook for a few days, I can instantly get back on and see what my loved ones are doing, thinking or venting about! ;)

Oh yeah, and in order to remind myself to be my best self on Facebook, I watch Studio C's clever Facebook friends video often. :)

P.S. I think I used to be like five of those annoying people! At least I never went on Twitter! Ha ha.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Love Every Breath

I am fiercely passionate about loving life. I have been this way for many years. When I was very young, I loved life so very much! As my birthdays passed, however, I became more aware of people around me and in the media.

With this growing awareness, my once-strong sense-of-self began to diminish a bit. I became overly concerned with my body's flaws and my personal incompleteness. My perceptions of other people's "perfect" bodies and lives increased. I felt like, "If I can look like ______, then my life will be awesome!" or, "If I can do ______, then I will be as good as ______." I didn't know I was thinking incorrectly.

When I was about 15-and-a-half years old, I developed an eating disorder. It wasn't technically what someone would call a bad eating disorder, but it was disordered eating, nonetheless.

There were many factors that contributed to my problem, but it initially began because I was gaining weight—because I was growing into a woman. It was a perfectly natural progression, but all I could see was the weight gain and that my body wasn't like it used to be. I didn't think about the hormones that change a girl's body into a woman's body—which naturally cause weight gain. All I knew was that I was gaining weight, and I didn't like my thighs—I thought they were too large. I was jealous of all the other girls who had slender, wiry thighs. I thought mine should be more like theirs.

Even though I should have been thinking,
"My muscular thighs are awesome! My strong thighs show evidence of my many years of dedicated and focused training in gymnastics! Those marvelous thighs helped me win first place in our entire school district's gymnastics championships on bars, beam and floor!" 
But I didn't think those happy thoughts. All I saw was the negative.

At first, my eating disorder (restricting calories and occasional purging) was just a random occurrence. It might have only happened once a month, or so—I only chose to do it when I overate. Eventually, I used the eating disorder not only to help with my worries about weight gain, but I also used it as a coping mechanism—except I didn't realize I was doing that. I only figured out that part later on. Yes, I used the eating disorder to cope with pressures at home, school and my social life. Still, it wasn't very often in comparison to other eating-disordered people that I've heard or read about. Thank goodness for that!

When I was 16, I auditioned and was chosen to be a member of my high school's drill team for the upcoming year—I would be a junior. It was a very big deal for me, I was so excited! I felt so good about myself. We danced every day, all summer long and into the school year. I was in heaven! :)

I don't remember exactly when this next event happened, but I know it was in autumn. Our drill team instructor had all of our body fat tested. She said something like it was just so we could see where we "were" physically speaking, and to help us make healthy eating choices. Looking back on it now, I see that it is a perfectly innocent idea. But at the eating-disordered state my mind was in, all I could see was that my body's fat percentage needed to be lowered, and I was determined to do exactly that.

Enter a serious eating disorder.

(Did I mention that I am extremely strong-willed? There is no stopping me when I put my mind to something. Thus, I want to make it completely clear that my drill team instructor is not to be held accountable for my drastic actions in any way. She had only our very best interests at heart. I'm the one who took my body-fat test results to the extreme. I'm the one to blame for my eating-disordered actions.)

For about five days after the body-fat test, I ate hardly anything at all. What I did eat, I threw up. I slept very little (four to five hours per night), danced about three to five hours every day, and was still attending high school full-time. It was the perfect recipe for a life-altering disaster. My disaster hit me like a brick wall.

*As I tell my story, please forgive any details I might have messed up, as it happened a long time ago. I also reserve the right to change this post at any time, to add or subtract details that come to me. :)

One morning (the fifth day I had been going on practically no food and very little sleep), I remember waking up and feeling very "off." All I wanted to do was stay home and sleep. Yet, the Holy Ghost (i.e., the Holy Spirit) told me very directly and strongly that I needed to go to drill team practice and that I should not stay home. Plus, I didn't want to miss practice because then I wouldn't have been able to perform in our high school football team's half-time show. So, I got myself up and went to practice. When I arrived, I couldn't shake how horrible I felt. I asked my drill instructor if I could sleep during practice. She said yes, so I laid down by the gym bleachers (I think) and went to sleep.

The next thing I remember was trying to wake up. I felt sooo hazy, foggy and s l o w. My brain wasn't able to make sense of anything. I remember a man (an EMT) talking to me, but his words were all a bunch of nonsense! He asked me questions that I couldn't form an answer to. (At least, I don't remember responding to them!) I felt like I weighed 1,000 pounds and could hardly move my body! I remember they put an oxygen mask on me and then locked the stretcher/gurney into place. As I was rolled out of the school's double doors, I saw many of my drill teammates crying. I felt like I was going to fall off of the gurney when they rolled me down the school's stairs, but then I realized that I was strapped-in. I was mighty happy I wouldn't take a sprawl all over the sidewalk!

I don't remember the ride to the hospital in the ambulance at all. The next thing I remember was being in a hospital room and seeing my mom's friend there. (I think I remember this simply because it was out of the ordinary.) I know we chatted for a minute, but I'm certain I didn't make any sense. I know my mom and dad were there, but my memories of them are very spotty. I was suddenly wearing a hospital gown, but I have no idea how I got in it—which was a terrifying thought to me for years! After birthing my three babies, that fear is completely gone. :)

I remember being put into a long white tube (an MRI machine), and being told to hold very still, which wasn't a problem for me because I was SO TIRED. I couldn't keep my eyes open! Then I remember being taken in a wheelchair out to my mom's station wagon and climbing into the back for the ride home. (I know, it was so illegal to ride without a seat belt! Ha ha.) After I got home, I remember having several visitors from my drill team and ward, but that's about the only memory I have for approximately one week after the incident.

The diagnosis I received was that I had had a seizure. From what I remember hearing back-in-the-day, apparently that morning, I started making strange movements—a seizure—in my sleep. Miraculously, my drill team instructor had just finished a CPR course and knew what to do for me. I remember hearing that I was blue from not breathing, and my mouth was foaming/bleeding a little.

I know many people have seizures all the time, live to tell about them, get on medication to control them, and live their lives very happily. But for me, my one-and-only seizure was a life-altering experience. It was a heavy wall of bricks crumbling down on me. I was terrified to know that I had actually stopped breathing. I have no doubts that if I had stayed home that morning, I possibly could have died. The other possibility is that my family might have discovered me in time, but I could have had brain damage from a lack of oxygen. The possibilities were frighteningly real.

My mind went over and over this experience many times. I couldn't believe that I had caused myself to be put in danger—over a few silly pounds and some measly fat cells! I couldn't believe that I had used a life sustaining habit—eating—to cope with my problems. It was truly the dumbest thing I had ever done. It remains the most foolish choice I've ever made.

After I realized what happened to me, I instantly and wholeheartedly decided that I would never withhold food from my body, or throw up, ever again—at least, not if I had any control over whatever life situation I found myself in. I also decided I would give my body the sleep it needed.

I loved my life so much! I did not want to cause harm to my body. I did not want to leave this earth prematurely. I had a lot of living to do! I wanted to grow up! I wanted to get married! I wanted to have babies—lots and lots of babies! And being the young innocent girl that I was, I simply didn't realize the damage that could be done from not eating properly and not getting enough sleep. I truly believe the seizure happened because of my lack of food and sleep—especially because I've (thankfully) never had another seizure.

I prayed intently to our Heavenly Father (God) and sincerely asked him to please help me get over my eating disordered ways. I knew the eating disorder could be completely taken away through the atonement of Jesus Christ. After my prayer, I truly felt so strong inside. I received the answer to my prayer that I needed to ask for a priesthood blessing, so I did. I received the blessing from one of our counselors in our ward's bishopric. I don't remember the words in the blessing, but I definitely remember it gave me the spiritual sustenance I was craving.

My lovely spiritual experiences continued as I prayed daily and read the scriptures. I knew—absolutely—that I was a beloved daughter of God. I knew I had great worth. I knew I had a definite and divine mission to fulfill on this earth. I was not to be tethered to an eating disorder. I also knew that I would be strong even when times got tough. I knew I had a long life ahead of me—one that included marriage and children. I'm grateful those feelings have come true! :) My spiritual experiences have only continued to blossom throughout my life, and for that I'm unbelievably grateful.

The other happy news is I literally never participated those eating disordered behaviors ever again. Yes, folks, the seizure kicking me in the head was all it took for me to wake up and fully appreciate my life.

Even though my teenage experience was frightening and possibly life-threatening, I'm truly grateful for what I learned. I'm so thankful I've never taken my life for granted since then. I'm still imperfect, but I'm so grateful for every day I have on this earth! I love every breath I'm given!

As the years have passed, I've had other medical conditions pop up, several ultrasounds given, and endless needle pricks and blood vials taken. I've endured many what if? moments of breath-holding nervousness while awaiting test results. Yes, I've totally had my fair share of medical scares. Each and every time I dodge a medical-disaster "bullet," I'm overwhelmed with feelings of extreme love and gratitude for every cell in my body! I truly love this body so very much! And I'm doing my very best to take good care of it. :)

I've also experienced tragically losing my youngest sister due to complications of her own severe eating disorder. If you'd like to know more of her story, please read the Church News' article, "Mackenzie's dance: A young woman's battle with eating disorders." Seeing what Mackenzie went through was heartbreaking. Enduring the loss of my darling baby sister brings me to tears nearly every day. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have her back in my life! I think of her daily and resolve to live my life even better for her—but you must know, she's not the only reason. Of course, I live my life better for myself and my awesome little family as well. I absolutely try to live my life better every day as a way to say "Thank you!" to our Heavenly Father, and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I've also lost many other beloved extended family members. I've witnessed my amazing husband sadly lose his wonderful mother to colon cancer. Those life-altering moments continually reiterate to me that each one of us needs to love every breath we are given on Earth. We must truly love every cell in our bodies and take good care of them—for they are the ultimate gift from our Heavenly Father!

We may experience moments of frustration, sadness, ridiculousness, worry, etc., but we must enjoy what we have been given in our lives! No one is perfect. No body is perfect. No mental state is perfect. No emotion is kept perfectly in-check at all times. No financial experience is ideal. Yet, even with all of the imperfect, lacking and less-than problems we might encounter, there is a sweetness to living that needs to be recognized and appreciated. We can be happy! (Even if only for minutes a day.) We need to be grateful for every breath we're given and daily thank our Heavenly Father for every single one!

We cannot take one moment of our lives for granted! :)