Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Going Out

I've been thinking about my little sister, Mackenzie. This is nothing new, as I think of her frequently. But on the 14th anniversary of her death (February 11th, 2016), I was actually in a pretty good place about her—especially considering how sad I've been on anniversaries past. Because of my recent strength, I was surprised that my thoughts have drifted back to Kenzie in my familiar, missing, nostalgic, wishing ways.

My thoughts became more intense this past weekend when Greg asked me to go visit his sweet mom's grave. It's been eight years since Anne passed away, but it feels much more recent. Anne and Mackenzie are both buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, so when we visit one, we visit the other.

It was a beautiful, clear, chilly day in the cemetery. The sun shone so brightly! As we stood at Anne's grave, the birds were very twitterpated, they made me laugh! I told Greg that his mom would have loved seeing those happy, feisty birds! :) We stood there for quite a while, holding hands, just looking and thinking...Anne was a marvelous woman!

When a huge wind came up, I hid behind Greg. As I buried my head in his back, I looked over and saw a family driving slowly in a station wagon. They were silently watching us, so I closed my eyes and hugged Greg. Yes, cemeteries are thoughtful, speechless places...probably one of the few spots on Earth I'm without a lot of words.

As we drove up to Kenzie's grave, I read several names. Even though I've been to the Salt Lake City Cemetery more times than I can count, I never tire of wondering who those souls were and what their legacy is. I wonder if they feel good about how they left this world? I wonder what they would tell everyone if they had one more day on Earth? One thing I don't wonder about is their happiness now. I have zero doubts in my mind that they're all smiling and at peace! :)

I spent time staring at Kenzie's headstone, remembering all the times I've visited. No, I don't remember the exact number, but I recall portions of every visit. It's strange to think her years are far past 18—she would be 32 years old now! Yet in my mind, she is still that young adult, a recent high school graduate, barely able to vote. I wonder who she would vote for in 2016? I wonder what she would think of our world's current state of total chaos?

The thought that keeps coming back to me is that Mackenzie doesn't belong to this world anymore. Of course, we'd take her back in a heartbeat(!), but life has moved on so drastically since she left, I think she'd be shocked at the state of our society. I mean, she's only four years shy of having been gone for as long as she was alive—which is mind boggling. My oldest son is only two+ years younger now than Mackenzie was when she died. I truly cannot believe how much time has passed! Yet for me, she is frozen in time. That said, I'm positive Kenz would totally be able to handle whatever this crazy world might throw at her. :)

So today, I want to share a poem Kenzie wrote when she was in elementary school. My dad shared it with me over a year ago and I've had his permission to publish it here, but I just kept hanging onto it privately. I'm glad it feels like the right time to share Mackenzie's words (below). I've kept the basic idea of her poem—font, border, colors—the same, I've just jazzed it up a bit! (I use PicMonkey for my typographic designs.)

When I first read her poem, I was instantly struck with how much I relate to it. Yes, it was a school assignment, but I think her young mind created something lovely! Mackenzie definitely had a wonderful way with words. Our other sister shared with me that their teacher had them create a poem based off a famous poet's poem—she had the same project two years earlier. Kenzie chose "The Pasture," by Robert Frost, and titled it, "Going Out."

Going Out
By Mackenzie Jessica Fullmer

I'm going out to sail the sea;
I'll only stop to clear the clouds away
And wait to feel the breeze, I may:
I shan't be gone long.–You come too.

I'm going out to fetch the little star
That is so delicate. It shines so bright.
It burns throughout the night.
I shan't be gone long.–You come too.

Ever since I read this poem for the very first time, I envision our darling Mackenzie out at sea. She loved the ocean every bit as much as I do—which is A LOT! And whenever I miss her, I think of her words, "I shan't be gone long..." One day, I will be where she is—with our beloved family members. Until that day (which I hope is FAR in the future), I will imagine Mackenzie in the sky, high above the seas, clearing the clouds away, fetching the delicate little stars and saving them for a fantastic light show when she greets us! :)

I'm so grateful for Mackenzie, her precious words, and her heavenly support—which I know she freely and continually gives to our family members and me!

I took this photo from the balcony of my aunt and uncle's beautiful condo in Florida. I will never forget our glorious vacation there! Yes, the Treasure Coast will be a part of my heart forever! :)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Exercise Prosperity: My Review of P90X

Hi! Today I'm super excited to finally be writing about one of my favorite things on Earth: P90X! I'll share my review of P90X and give you some (hopefully) helpful pointers for starting it yourself.

As I shared previously in my Exercise Prosperity post, I began my life-changing "consistent exercise" journey with P90X—which has three programs within its 12-video series to choose from: Classic, Doubles, and Lean. The exercise videos are the same for each program, but they're combined differently.

P90X also has an eating program, but I haven't followed it. I'm certain if I had followed their healthy diet exactly from day one, I would have seen better weight-loss results. When I started P90X, I simply wasn't concerned about the food I ate because I already eat healthily every day. I just really wanted to utilize a great exercise program, and I did exactly that! Yay! I might want to try their food recommendations later when I'm not quite so busy. :)

In terms of supplies for P90X, I use the following:
  • free weights
  • removable pull-up bar that Greg installed over our basement door
  • yoga mat
  • chair
  • wall
  • water bottle
  • towels—one large (for sweat), one small (for a pull-ups and towel hopping)
  • small child's board book as a target (they recommend a towel, but a small square is easier for me to avoid than a bulky towel)
When P90X was a brand new endeavor for me, I decided to exercise three days per week. At first, exercising that frequently was very difficult for me. During the first two weeks, I very nearly thought I might not be able to walk, raise my arms, or get up from sitting ever again! Ha ha. Slowly and thankfully(!), my body adjusted to my new exercise regimen and I was able to survive the P90X videos without feeling like I would collapse and/or break if I moved off the couch! It took about seven weeks before I felt I had made real progress. After that, I continued to improve—it was such an awesome feeling! Aah! I love P90X!

I followed the P90X Lean program, in its entirety, as listed in their training blocks One, Two and Three. For weeks one through three, the videos are in the same order. Week four mixes up the videos. Weeks five through seven have new videos and combinations, plus a couple of old videos mixed in. Week eight has another combination of new/old videos. Weeks nine through 13 are all completely mixed up! Those different combinations of exercises definitely keep your body guessing—which is the great catalyst for seeing positive changes!

Because I was exercising only three days per week, it took me a mighty long time to get through their video combinations. No, I most definitely did not do the P90X program in 90 days as it says you can! Also, I never completed their X Stretch video because I was already resting for four days of my week! I decided that I wanted each of my exercise days to be hardcore and worth my while!

Based on my three-days-per week workout schedule, it would have taken me 26 weeks (or six+ months) to finish the entire P90X program, but I think I took a little longer than that because I inserted my Jillian Michaels and New York City Ballet Workout videos every once in a while. I wish I would have kept track how long it actually took me to finish the program, but it's been too long and I don't remember!

After I finished my first round of P90X, I started the fun all over again! Eventually, and because I felt that the P90X videos had done such a great job helping me become strong(!), I decided I was ready to move onto the Insanity workout program! The reason I chose Insanity was because I had heard such positive reviews from my friends who had endured and finished the program. That said, I decided to research Insanity in the first place because Beach Body had put the Insanity infomercials at the end of the P90X videos, so I always watched them while I was stretching out...such a clever marketing trick! (I'll be writing about my Insanity adventure next!)

Side note: I'm pretty excited about the fact that I'm now exercising five days per week(!) with P90X and Insanity combined! Thus, I've improved my body's abilities even more! I'll be posting about the joint benefits of P90X and Insanity in the near future!

Here are just some of the things I love about P90X:
  • Variety. You'll rarely get bored with so many videos to choose from!
  • Strength and cardio. It really is such a great combination of strength and cardio exercises. Muscle confusion is what makes a huge difference in our bodies.
  • Motivation. Tony Horton is truly one of the most motivating trainers I've experienced. You can't help but want to do well with Tony yelling at you! Ha ha.
  • Humor. Tony is continuously cracking jokes! While he can totally be on the cheesy side at times, he truly makes exercising FUN! I would absolutely love to meet Mr. Horton one day! Like in a geeky I'm your #1 fan! way. Ha ha. I'll include my favorite Tony quotes a little later. :)
  • Stretching is vital to a good workout! Tony does a really great job making sure we are warmed up and stretched out before bringing it! That said, because I'm Gumby (that was my nickname in high school), I always end up stretching at the end of every video, except Yoga X.
  • Depth. Tony covers such a wide variety of exercises. Each video fulfills a different bodily need and is so good that I honestly cannot choose my favorite!
  • Happiness. Exercising to P90X honestly and truly makes me SO happy! I can't think of one time I didn't become happy simply by doing P90X!
Here are my thoughts about each P90X video:
  1.  CHEST & BACK: This push-ups and pull-ups workout is tough. I still can't do more than two regular pull-ups without having one toe lightly based on a chair, but I'm very close! (Two unassisted pull-ups was my record, which I haven't done in a while.) To clarify, I can do many pull-ups with my helpful chair toes, but without that little bit of help, I just cannot get myself up! I talked with a friend of mine who is a teacher of yoga and especially acro-yoga. (She's amazing!) She suggested that I might be too flexible for pull-ups. As I've thought about it further, I believe she's right. My body stretches a lot—probably too much to pull all that weight together and up. But it's probably just a theory that makes me feel better! Ha ha. I'll definitely keep working at pull-ups until the day I die! Truly, Chest & Back is so beneficial for making you strong all over! I remember the day when I was finally able to do Diamond Push-Ups and Dive-Bomber Push-Ups, I felt like the Queen of Fitness!
  2. PLYOMETRICS: It's a jumping/cardio video that's simply amazing. Every exercise is valuable! When I first began Plyo, I thought I would die-o! Ha ha. It just wiped me out! But now, I can totally do all the exercises straight through without pausing the video—I just huff and puff like the video demonstrators do! :)
  3. SHOULDERS & ARMS: This video feels a little easier to me than some of the others. Don't get me wrong, it's not super easy, by any means. It's just that the video really covers the shoulders and arms more than anything else, so the rest of your body isn't as tired. I remember the day (about two months ago) when I did more tricep Chair Dips than Dreya (the amazingly fit and strong blonde in the video)! I was ecstatic when I realized I was in the same fitness league as her! :) *My absolute favorite part of the video is at the end when they're doing the second round of Side Tri Rise. Dreya does one more rep than Tony and he gets so frustrated because he can't ever have anyone outdo him! After Dreya does 23 reps, Tony goes back and does 25. He then says, "Don't do it again! If anyone at home does 26, I'm comin' to your house!" Ha ha. Well, for months I've been doing 26 reps every time, and just the other day I did 28! Yeah, I have yet to see Tony at my front door, but I would gladly welcome a Side Tri Rise showdown! :)
  4. YOGA X: Oh, wow. I wish Tony would create an entire fleet of Yoga X videos! Ha ha. Seriously, Yoga X is transformative—I'm amazed at how it makes me feel brand new every time I do it! I like it all, but my favorite exercises are the continuous military-type push-ups and Yoga Belly 7. They're on the difficult side, but so effective! I remember the first time I actually did Torso Twist Hold and Deep Torso Twist Hold. I felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest! Ha ha. Okay, that's a bit extreme, but the first few times I tried those moves, my body just absolutely would not do them. Thus, when I actually did them well, I felt utterly triumphant!
  5. LEGS & BACK: This video will kick your butt and all its fat! Ha ha. Again, it's simply amazing. I know this video really helped me be strong enough to learn how to snowboard a few weeks ago. (YES! I'm a snowboarder now! I'll blog about that awesome experience another day!) I can't say enough good things about Legs & Back!
  6. KENPO X: is a fabulous karate-type cardio workout with lots of kicks and hits in it. I feel completely tough whenever I do Kenpo X! In fact, my oldest son said something like, "Mom, are you training to be an MMA fighter?!" HA! I told him no, but he was convinced I was going to be some awesome tough girl, ready to fight the bad guys at a moment's notice! I take that as a total compliment! :)
  7. X STRETCH: As I said before, I've never done this video! I know, shame on me. I just really want all of my exercising days to count, so I do the other/harder videos instead. Another reason I haven't done it is because I'm super stretchy, and I always really stretch out after every workout. Thus, I don't feel the need to do X Stretch. I'm guessing it's a great workout for people of average stretchiness! Ha ha.
  8. CORE SYNERGISTICS: There aren't enough praise words I can use to describe this video! Like Tony Horton says, it really just covers it all! I know this video helped me be able to do the previously mentioned yoga poses! Also, I completely freaked out (in a great way!) a few weeks ago when I was finally able to do Towel Hopping for one full minute—and I probably could have gone 20 seconds longer! Side note: I truly believe the Insanity workout program is what got me to the point of being able to towel hop for so long! Not to mention, I'm fully capable of doing Dreya Rolls the entire time—with either regular straight jumps, or straddle jumps at the top! Again, accomplishing that difficult exercise was a huge moment for me...I can do what Dreya does! Say what?!!
  9. CHEST, SHOULDERS, & TRICEPS: This is another fabulous weight-lifting/resistance training workout. It's taken me a long time to be able to do Plange Push-ups and Clap Push-ups—but I can finally do them! Granted, I do a smaller number than the participants in the video, but at least I'm doing them! I haven't been able to successfully do Plyo Push-ups yet, but I know I'll get there one day! :)
  10. BACK & BICEPS: This video feels a smidgen easier to me because it doesn't work your entire body like some of the other P90X videos. That said, it's still a great workout. Every body part needs to be worked, and this video totally does the job for our backs and biceps!
  11. CARDIO X: In my opinion, this workout is probably the easiest besides X Stretch. It's a little shorter and not as intense as the others. Cardio X is the perfect video on days when I'm tight on time, or if I'm feeling a little less than my optimal self. Please don't be disappointed with my review because Cardio X totally gets the job done and I feel amazing when I'm finished!
  12. AB RIPPER X: Ouch! is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Ab Ripper X! Ha ha. It is truly difficult and utterly amazing! Ab Ripper X has made my core so much stronger, I almost can't believe how far my abs have come! I remember the first time I was able to do Mason Twist with my legs straight and nearly vertical in the air, I was beside myself with happiness! Yes, the Queen of Fitness makes another appearance! Ha ha. And I literally shouted for joy a few weeks ago when I realized that my form for Oblique V-ups is actually better—and my legs move higher(!)—than the video's demonstrators! Yeah, I never thought in a million years that I would ever be to that level! *Ab Ripper X is added at the end of Chest & BackShoulders & ArmsLegs & Back; Chest; Shoulders & Triceps; and Back & Biceps. That way, when you do the previously-listed videos, your body gets an even better workout with the abdominal exercises included!
Now, let's talk about money. While P90X seems expensive, if you divide the average purchase price by 12 months, it basically becomes less pricey than a monthly gym membership with an annual facility fee! For example: P90X's cost of $140, divided by 12 months, equals $11.67 per month! And the longer you consistently do P90X, the higher your return on investment!

For example: I've been working out to P90X since the first week of July, 2014. Thus, if you take my special purchase price (it's not available anymore) of $135/20 = $6.75/month! Yet when I take into account what I've gained in terms of my healthy body, well, I've actually earned myself money because I'm not having to pay for healthcare costs!!! (Yes, that totally deserved three exclamation points!)

Do you see how amazing P90X can be for everyone?! Of course, all of the awesomeness that P90X has to offer completely depends on how dedicated each person is. If you're not willing to put in the time and sacrifice that's needed for consistent exercising, P90X becomes a very pricey addition to your home video collection! Ha ha. I don't know if this helps, or not, but (as I've said before) once I made the very serious decision to change my lifestyle, I've never looked back. I will never stop exercising—it's a part of my soul now that has been deeply ingrained and will never be removed...unless I'm physically incapable through a horrible disease or accident! :)

Bring It is the phrase that defines P90X the most and is at the start of every video, but I must share my other favorite Tony Horton P90X quotes! You might think some are lame, but they make me laugh or motivate me every time I hear them! And I can't even count how many times I've heard them, so it's saying a lot that I still enjoy them! Ha ha. I've enlarged the text size of my absolute favorite favorites, so hopefully you can see the difference?

Chest & Back:
"I know it's burning, it's supposed to! It's supposed to burn, and it's gonna burn more!"

"When the burn comes, breathe...breathe MORE. Don't hold your breath!"

"Keep pushin' play, keep pushin' play."

"Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and neither was your body. All you gotta do is your best, and forget the rest."

"Don't get hurt! It's about gettin' results, not about gettin' hurt!"

"Five more inside my brain. Can my body match my brain? I want my body to match my brain!"

"Too many people when they exercise stop way before they should, 'cause they got somethin' inside their mind that says, 'Ahh, that's too much pain...'"

"Get ready! 'Cause it's comin'! It's so good, it's a love/hate!"

"You're a board—board...but don't get bored!"

"Don't take big old breaks. Don't run off and get a pastrami sandwich, or somethin'. That'd be bad! Cheeseburger bad! Fries bad! Shakes bad! Coca-Cola—oops, I said it! Drink your water, people!"

"Merciless! Merciless man!"

"Get your mind right!"

"Just a second! he said...there's no just a second!"

"We've got 15 tiny little seconds!"

"I'm grabbin' my knees. I'm hittin' my own personal pause button...I'm back!"

"You can do anything for 30 seconds!"

"Suck it up! Bring it!"

"Nobody said this was easy!"

Shoulders & Arms:
"Get your mind right."

"If anybody does 26, I'm comin' to your house!"

"Wow. Say it with me, everybody, and what's wow upside down? Mom!"

"Like a pterodactyl backin' out of trouble! Caw!"

"Alright, let's love ourselves!"

"By the way, tip of the day: don't hold your breath. I want you to breathe throughout."

"Bring it! Bring it! Comon'! X me!"

"Use your worksheet—it's there for you!"

"Tip of the day: don't smash your face! Okay?! Let somebody else do that."

Yoga X:
"Adjust my shirt."

"Yummy, yummy, yummy. The hard work's over...sort of."

"Fight for that leg to come up. Chest up. Look up. Arms up. It's all about...up."

"How do you make a chair pose pretty?"

"How high can you go? Don't think about your feet on the floor, think about your hands in the sky. And then, stop thinking."

"Five, four, fight for more, three, two, and relax."

"Take in the fact that you just did that...that is sweet."

"Best downward dog of your life! They're comin' in to shoot the cover of Downward Dog Magazine!"

"Settle in."

"We got shake! That means somethin' good's goin' on!"

"Now if you can believe it, I'm not gonna say a word for an entire minute!"

Legs & Back:
"Happiness is this right here!"

"Burn burn burn burn!"

"No heels! I'll come to your house if your heels hit the deck! Okay?! Keep 'em up!"

"Let the mind go somewhere else."

"What is your goal? What is your goal? What is your goal?!" (He said this while looking at three different cameras.)

"I'm a fan of different."

"Do your best and forget the rest."

"Five times...five times...no weights." *This quote doesn't read as funny as it is in the video. It makes me laugh every time I hear it simply because of Tony's pronunciation and timing!

"Quality over quantity. Form's everything."

Kenpo X:
"I don't believe in age, I don't believe in aging...WHATEVER. I believe in moving and eatin' good."

"Kickin' some booty today! Woo hoo!"

"I'm a fan of variety."

"Here comes the party—are you ready?!"

"Bring it!"

"Boom to the moon!"


"Take care of your body, and it will take care of you. 'Cause time keeps tickin', you keep gettin' older...you can get better, or you can get all gooey, crotchety, old, pathetic, icky, gross. Not me! Not into it!"

"Get your freakin' knees up! Get your pants up!"

Core Synergistics:
"The good old jumping jack...been around forever...still works wonders."

"Like machines, I tell ya!"

"Let's do it again 'cause we've got a whole bunch of boxes...we gotta put 'em up here."

"Don't go yet! Wait for me! I wanna go!"

"Make an X...it's called P90X!"

"Hello! Core Synergistics! Talk about getting into shape!"

"Comon' crazy hoppin' people!"

"Alright, let's do some huggers...some huggin' and some lovin' of thyself."

"You are less vulnerable and you are more durable."

Chest, Shoulders & Triceps:
"Look at me, I'm lookin' at you!"

"Don't stop breathin'...you stop, you die."

"Nothin' to it!"

"Information is power, with power there is change, change is good."

"I'm just talkin' so you guys get a break! Aren't you happy?! Same for you at home!"

Back & Biceps:
"Good good good!"

"Comon' get on your horse! Woo! Wack it, wack it! Here we go!"

"This is X-Land, everybody! We're in the X!"

"It's not all jokes, folks, we're gonna get busy. Trust me."

Cardio X:
"Exhale in namaste first...pray that everything goes well!"

"Let's go kids!"

"Let's go man! Let's go punk! What'd'ya'got?!"

"We're havin' some fun now!"

"Keep your chest up and your eyes up, so you can see me...and all my kids, all my friends, all my pals, all my grads!"

"Let's go! Get low!"

Ab Ripper X:
"Ab Ripper X...I hate it, but I love it!"

"They're workin' hard, I know you are!"

Aren't those quotes so much fun?! I can perfectly "hear" Tony's hilarious voice when I read them! Ha ha. Yes, I'm a cheesy lady and I love endlessly happy quotes!

So. If you've decided you want to try P90X...congratulations! In case you're interested, here is the link to the P90X worksheets that go along with some of the videos (not every video needs a worksheet). I just found the worksheets online the other day, but I wish I would have known about the them sooner! Then I wouldn't have had piles of notes with my reps and weight listed on them! Ha ha. To clarify, I have the original worksheets that came with my P90X system, but I didn't want to use them in case I didn't like the program and wanted to sell it. Happily, I will never, ever(!) sell my P90X program! Still, it's helpful to have access to their worksheets so I can print them anytime I want.

There you have it! I hope you've enjoyed my review! I will be a fan of P90X until my dying day! I highly recommend P90X to anyone and everyone who is healthy enough(!)—but please don't start it without unquestionable knowledge of your body's good-health status. I don't want anyone having a heart attack based on my recommendation! You can always start small and gradually work your way up to P90X—there is no shame in being careful! Now, I must jet...for it's time for me to go workout! Yay yay!

P.S. I'm not receiving any sort of compensation or kick-back for reviewing P90X, I've simply done it for the greater good! :) Furthermore, the advertisement boxes on Enthusiastic Fantastic don't generate anything other than a few cents every month!

Monday, March 14, 2016

His Grace

Yesterday, I was given the wonderful opportunity of teaching the lesson, "What is Grace?" to "my" Mia Maid class. (I'm the first counselor in my ward's Young Women Presidency.) While I won't go into all of the lesson details, I want to share a smidgen of my experience. I found the following to be highly interesting:
  • The young woman in our Mia Maid class presidency who chose this lesson is named Grace.
  • Grace wanted to learn more about grace. :)
  • Grace specifically wanted me to teach the lesson.
  • There are four leaders who teach the Mia Maid class (we have many active members in our ward!), thus, we rotate through a monthly teaching schedule and never know where we'll fall on that schedule, due to others being out of town, etc.
  • As I prepared our class' lesson schedule, I was amazed that my turn to teach happened to fall on the "What is Grace?" lesson, :)
  • Yesterday just so happened to be the very last Sunday that Grace's family attended our ward because they are moving to a new home.
I didn't know that last bullet point was happening yesterday. I knew her family was moving, yes, but I thought it wouldn't be for at least another month. Thus, even before I went to church yesterday, I was simply excited that "our" Grace was able to have the lesson she wanted taught, by the teacher she wanted to teach it!

When I heard that Grace would be leaving our class, tears came to my eyes. This darling and mighty talented girl has contributed so much to the fun factor in our Young Women! The tears were also there because of the fact that Grace was able to have her very last lesson in our ward be taught about the topic she wanted to know more about: grace! Thus, I was so happy I prepared well for our lesson. I spent a lot of time researching, listening to the talks and creating my handout (below).

Late Saturday night, I felt inspired to print out g r a c e in very big, bold letters to put on our classroom's chalkboard. (Actually, it was very early Sunday morning, due to Daylight Savings, but to me, it was still Saturday night!) Before I created it, I thought, "I've never done a chalkboard printout like this before, why should I do it now? I already have the beautiful handout I spent so much time designing. Why should I do more? And I have my cute little easel to put my handout on, and my favorite picture of our Savior to display. Isn't that enough?" (I wish I could share my picture here, but due to copyright restrictions, I can only share the name: "Christ and the Rich Young Ruler," by Heinrich Hofmann.)

But the thought of g r a c e wouldn't leave my mind, so I knew the chalkboard sign was supposed to be a part of my lesson. I logged back onto my computer and began creating g r a c e. I made the font as big as would possibly fit one letter to a page and cut out the letters so they were almost circular. They were simple, but looked pretty cute—if I do say so myself! :) I packed everything up in my "Time Out For Women" tote and got ready for bed.

So it was really no surprise when we found out it was Grace's last Sunday. I thought to myself, "Ah ha! Now I get it!" I knew right then and there that Heavenly Father was giving Grace (and the rest of us) a little sign {g r a c e} that He is very aware of each and every one of us! I knew that He wanted Grace to feel just how loved she is by Him and our ward's Young Women organization. He wanted Grace to know that He knew of the importance of the lesson she wanted taught...by the teacher she wanted to teach it...on the very last day she would be able to attend the ward she was raised in!

This event was no small matter, and I made certain my Mia Maid class understood that as I was putting g r a c e on the chalkboard with magnets—Grace loved seeing her name up there! :) Of course, I made sure that all of my Mia Maids know they are equally loved and important! (But none of them will be going through as huge of a life change this week as Grace—leaving the only home she's known since birth.)

Here are the amazing talks I listened to this past week—I'm certain I'll listen to them again!

Each of those talks brought tears to my eyes as I thought about the eternal love our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ have for each and every one of us! It blows my mind! :)

While I wasn't able to delve into the above-listed talks in class as much as I wanted (due to time constraints), I felt happy that (I think!) my Mia Maids left our class with a better understanding of His Grace. I also found no coincidence in the fact that the closing song of our sacrament meeting was "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown"—it was meant to be! I shared these lyrics with my Mia Maids, for they went along perfectly with our lesson!
"No creature is so lowly,
No sinner so depraved,
But feels thy presence holy
And thru thy love is saved.
Tho craven friends betray thee,
They feel thy love's embrace;
The very foes who slay thee
Have access to thy grace."
Yes, we all have access to His Grace, and for that, I'm incredibly grateful! As much as I understand grace (sorry, I won't write more about it here because I need to go eat dinner with My Gregor!), I know my soul will only fully comprehend the magnitude of His Grace once I get to the other side. I expect that to be true for everyone. Until then, I'll be focused on this glorious scripture that is beloved across eternity!
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." – Philippians 4:13
I love it!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Resolution, 11 Years Later

For weeks, I've been writing this post on and off. Before that, I debated for months whether or not to write about a wonderful resolution I received to a very difficult-for-me trial. As you can see from my post's title, I decided to publish it! While this is a very personal post, I share it in the hopes that my struggle and happy resolution could help others. :)

It's no secret that I love and adore babies—oh, they are so heavenly, sweet and wonderful! I still claim that statement even when babies are crying or causing distress to others! Ha ha. I love all babies no matter what! :)

My love of babies and children were manifest at a very early age. My earliest memories of how much I love babies go all the way back to when I was a little over two years old. While I couldn't have my own real-life baby, I had a favorite baby doll that I lived with! I literally took her everywhere with me! As my years progressed, I continued to play with all sorts of dolls—including Barbies and porcelain dolls, but baby dolls were still my favorite.

When I was an older teenager, I couldn't wait to become an adult, get married and start a family with my one true love—it was my biggest goal in life! Please let me assure you that no one ever "brainwashed" me into that way of thinking. I clarify my position (again) simply because there are a lot of misconceptions about my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) in the ways it "promotes" motherhood. I say that because a few months ago, I listened to a podcast on that very subject: Motherhood in the Church. The podcast panelists weren't very positive about their views of how the Church presents motherhood to its members—which is why I won't be linking to the podcast from my blog! Ha ha. (I became so riled while listening to those ladies, I was barely able to finish the podcast!) So, yes, I have always loved babies; motherhood was my greatest wish and desire! :) No one put the idea in my head...no one pressured me to want to bear and raise children.
I came to this earth with unconditional love and a true desire to care for every baby—it is innate in my soul and will never go away! :)
Enter the day I knew by spiritual means that I was done having children: I was devastated. You see, I had always wanted to have (give birth to) at least four children. Greg had also always thought about being the father to four children. I love that we were (and are) so in sync with each other! I even planned out our pregnancy timing if Greg and I decided to have five or six babies! :)

The best part of the first spiritual experience I received—of knowing I was done having children—was when I shared my knowledge with Greg. As I was telling him about my spiritual experience that led me to know without reservation that our family was complete, Greg literally finished my sentence! For Greg, too, had had the exact same spiritual experience as me—and it happened a mere 45 minutes before mine! We were amazed at our discovery! The worst part of my spiritual experience was digesting that Greg also knew without any doubts that our family was complete...I just really didn't want to admit that we were done having children!

Our remarkable and identical spiritual experiences should have been enough for me, but I struggled desperately with our answer. Over the next (nearly) two years, I had a few additional significant spiritual experiences that showed me again that Greg's and my family was complete. Each and every time I prayed, fasted, read my scriptures, and went to the temple about my little family (to know if our family was for sure complete), I received the same answer from the Holy Ghost: your family is complete. Oh, our Heavenly Father was so patient with me! :) He continually and tenderly loved and cared for my sad mama soul.

To help me cope with the finality of my reality (That's a nifty phrase, isn't it?!), I had my mom write me a letter. I asked her to help me see the other good/important qualities, talents and abilities I possessed that weren't tied up in my children. You see, my identity was very attached to my desires and ability to birth and raise children well—refer to my second and fifth paragraphs, above. :)

I'm not being prideful when I say that I'm a good mother. I'm not perfect, but I really try so hard every day to be a good mama. :) As I've stated many times before, I view being a mother as my ultimate career! My nannying, babysitting and volunteering years trained me well. I learned through day-in and day-out experience at multiple homes and schools what works best in raising children.

I was definitely prepared to be a mother and was successful with the three children I already had—so I could not for the life of me understand why Heavenly Father's answer was, "You're done having children." (Unlike Shonda Rhimes, I'm really great at staying home and playing with my kids! Ha ha. For clarification, watch Shonda's TED Talk, "My Year of Saying Yes to Everything.") I wondered why my mothering gifts and abilities hadn't been chosen to rear more precious heavenly souls?

But back to the letter my mom wrote me... Now, I can clearly see my qualities, talents and abilities that aren't related to only raising my children, but at that time, my profound grief at not having more children was nearly more than I could handle. I thank my mom to this day for helping me through such a trying time. I needed her kind words so much! I even filed her letter away, in case I needed to read it again for strength. Thank you, Mama! :)

*Lest any of you worry about my husband and his support of me during that time, well, don't. For Greg was always very sweet, supportive and generously loving. He gave me an amazing priesthood blessing to help me deal with my heartbreak. Yet because Greg also knew 100%(!) that we were supposed to be done having children, it was easy for him to never worry about it again. He just loved me through it. I will forever praise My Gregor for his endlessly patient, kind and understanding support!

Eventually, I accepted our truth and moved on in my life.

When we moved into our beautiful home in Colorado, I sorted through all of our baby supplies/clothing/necessities. I made keepsake boxes for all three of my children and myself. We then had a huge garage sale of most of our baby items. It was nice that we made a good amount of money, but even more, it was greatly therapeutic for me to see that my precious babies' gear was going to good homes. I loved watching the darling babies who were going to benefit from my smart and frugal shopping! (I find the best clearance sales!)

I held onto all of my maternity clothes and some of our baby clothes because I just couldn't let go of all of it at right at that time—I kept those things in storage for two more years. When it was time for our family to move back to Utah (from CO), I finally gave away all of my maternity clothes and most of the remaining baby clothes. That was a humongous step for me!

As the years passed, I continually longed to have more babies. Don't misunderstand, I wasn't thinking about having another baby 24-7, but it was definitely at the back of my mind on a regular basis. I teared up every time someone close to me became pregnant. I was SO happy for them (Truly!), but I always secretly wished I could join in the pregnancy fun. It was especially difficult when ladies I knew weren't thrilled to be pregnant...those moments were little daggers to my mother heart! *Don't get me wrong, for I'm not judging them in the least. I wasn't in their situation; I didn't live their reality. It was just really difficult for me to hear that a pregnant mother wasn't fully interested in my fondest dream!

Enter October, 2015. One day, my body began acting strangely. I had symptoms I hadn't experienced in years. I couldn't figure out what was going on because my body felt like it was working on preparing a baby—which I knew was nothing remotely close to my realm of possibility.

I had quite a bit of time to wonder if the miraculous had occurred? As I sat there pondering our situation, I instantly realized how utterly difficult it would be for our family if I were to become pregnant at this time in our advancing timeline. I absolutely could not believe how I was feeling. I panicked while thinking, "What would we do? How would we pay for another baby? There's no way we could do it without going into significant financial debt, or having me be employed outside the home—which is never going to happen unless a tragedy befalls our family!"

My mind raced, thinking of our super high high-deductible insurance plan (at least we have insurance—I'm so thankful for that! It's just not the great insurance plans of 15 years ago...); the barest of bare minimums we had in savings; paying for Greg's two university student loans; our growing children attending college in a few short years—and possibly going on missions for our church; orthodontia; contacts/glasses; various dental/medical/prescription bills; clothing/shoes for fast-growing teenage bodies; car insurance for teen drivers; expensive gluten-free food (and more of it because of my darling children's quickly-growing bodies); 18-year-old cars with needed repairs...and on and on.

Budget freak-out aside, because I was spiritually shown/told on multiple occasions that our little family was complete, it was completely foreign to me to think of adding another baby—even though my fondest dream was suddenly staring me in the face! Ha ha.

In that moment, the strangest thing happened: I suddenly realized just how much I really and genuinely like my current station in life! I can't explain it exactly, but it was like my mind was in one of those movies where a protective fairy sprinkles magic sparkles to change a situation! Because my mind was full of those happy twinkles, my heart slowly changed from despair that we weren't having more children, to excitement and happiness for where I am right now. :)

I spent quality time thinking about all of the good, great, and awesome things in Greg's and my life of married with older children! (Ha ha.) I like the fact that we can leave our house anytime, and we don't have to worry about hiring a babysitter. (We don't leave our house very often without our children, it's just nice knowing we can go if necessary.) Greg and I have so much fun together and with our children! Our family is so tight! While our family members aren't perfect, our family relationship as a whole is amazing and wonderful—it's everything I could have hoped for!

I thought about the implications of Greg and I essentially starting over—especially considering the fact that our years are edging closer to the empty-nesters category than that of having young children. (That's a crazy thought to my eternally 25 brain!) In reviewing all that goes into pregnancy, the baby years, preschool age and beyond, I suddenly felt very tired! ;)

Eventually, I meandered back to the idea of me possibly having another baby. I decided right then and there that I would immediately welcome another baby into our family if that was Heavenly Father's will, but I just really didn't believe that was the case because of all the amazing spiritual answers I received years ago.

A few days later, my mind was put totally at ease. There was no doubt about it, I was most definitely not going to have another baby. It was in that relieving moment that I was finally able to say,
"I'm happy Greg and I are done having babies! I know our little family is complete and I'm 100% okay with that!"
To some, my realization might seem shallow, silly, or cruel (even more, others might not be able to fathom my feelings in the slightest!), but for this mother heart—that previously longed for 11 years to have more babies—my happiness was (and is!) such a welcomed relief! I'm utterly jubilant that I was finally able to be free of longing for a baby that would never be mine.
No one but my darling Gregor will ever fully understand how beautiful that miracle was and is for me.
My positive feelings during that experience were strong enough for me to know they are permanent—hooray for that! I love knowing I'll never be in that sad wishing for a baby place again! :)

I'll continue loving, caring for, and enjoying babies for the rest of my life, but it will be in the roles of awesome Aunt Adrie; volunteer-baby-holder; or... grandmother! Yes, it's difficult for me to even write the last word of that previous sentence because I can hardly believe it! Yet when I really think about my life, becoming a grandmother could technically be just a decade away! Seriously, whoa. Of course, it depends on what my children decide to do with their lives, but it's possible!

In the four+ months since my heart has changed (in regard to not having another baby), I've felt such blissful peace! It's been marvelous to have that gloomy weight (hiding in the corner) completely lifted from my soul. I believe Heavenly Father gifted me that experience so I could fully realize that my life is exactly the way it's supposed to be! For that, I'm overflowing with gratitude! :)

I'm very pleased that Greg and I followed (and continue to follow) the inspiration we received from the Holy Ghost. Even though my heart was secretly leaning on the sad side for many years about not having additional children, we heeded the Holy Ghost and did what Heavenly Father said was right for our family. We've received great comfort because of our faith-filled actions, which is worth a lot! Looking back over our lives and noting the blessings we've received because we listened feels better than wonderful! :)

To close, I'd like to share my thoughts for anyone struggling...
  • If you are in a sad place—wishing and hoping for something that just might not happen—be patient and please hang in there! :) I can't guarantee when it will happen, but there will come a day when you'll understand the reason(s) why that particular "no" answer or extended trial came to you. Faithful patience is needed for every struggle.
  • Give yourself time to adjust without an expiration date. Even though my spirit and rational brain fully understood the whys of my I'm done having babies trial, it took my heart 11 years to fully process that answer, accept it, and be happy with our outcome. Yes, the passage of time really helps so much!
  • Find other ways to be happy. Even though you might not have everything your heart desires, there are still so many ways to be joyful in this world! Seek out the finer things in life—i.e., kindness, learning, service—and steer clear of negativity.
  • Work on yourself! Be good! Analyze your personality and find ways to improve. Most importantly, don't beat yourself up about your shortcomings. Instead, simply change those things that need changing and be positive every day! You'll never regret becoming a better person! :)
  • Surround yourself with excellent people. If you don't currently have that option, seek to create and bring excellence to those around you! :)
  • Internalize that you are valuable, important, special and lovedregardless of the situation you find yourself in. Everyone has something to contribute to this world! Even if your contribution doesn't fit the mold, figure out what your mission is and go for it!
  • Never lose sight of what is most important. Returning home with honor to our Father in Heaven—so we can be with our families forever—should be at the forefront of our minds! Of course, that includes all the wonderful things we are taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ—He truly is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Him]! (John 14:6)
  • Remember that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are always on our side. There might be times when you feel unloved/unlovable, but nothing could be further from the truth. They are continually there for us—they're just a prayer away! Heavenly Father is the grand orchestrator of our lives, we can and must trust that He will do what's best for us! :)

Friday, March 4, 2016


Today, I must share the new-ish website I just joined: its name is Medium. (The actual link is https://medium.com/. You can find their app in Google Play and iTunes.) No, Medium didn't recruit me, and I'm not getting any sort of compensation for joining it. In fact, from what I've seen of Medium, there aren't any advertisements to be found on their website! Say what?! I simply stumbled upon it last year and visited occasionally over the past several months, but I wasn't really sure about joining Medium just yet. This morning, I finally decided to become a part of the Medium network because what they present makes sense to me. :)

While I'm still a total newbie at Medium, I'm cautiously excited about what I'll find there! Medium feels like a place I can stand behind. It doesn't seem like one of those write a snap thought/judgement/opinion social media sites like Twitter or Facebook—hooray for that! :) From what I've explored so far, Medium seems like a very thoughtful, genuine place on the internet—and I want to be there, too! Yay yay happy day!

I'm not trying to be rude to other social media websites (or the people who've worked so hard to create them), I'm just tired of people (the social media users) rambling off anything and everything just to get a "like" or a following, or for shock value. Happily, Medium seems more like a distinguished, peaceful library than a noisy flea market on a Saturday! Ha ha. Don't get me wrong because you all know I love shopping and finding awesome clearance deals! It's just that my soul deeply craves the in-depth personal stories/experiences/life lessons that are carefully written with positive purpose. I love it when people create goodness to share with the world, and I think Medium is a place where that's happening every day!

I won't have too much time to spend on Medium because my life is already filled to the brim(!), but I really like having a great place to go online when I have a little downtime and want to read what's inside someone else's brain. :)

Happy FriYAY to you all!

P.S. I couldn't help but create this typographic design in honor of my excitement for Medium's possibilities! :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Happily Marching On!

Wow, I have been MIA for a long time! I think this is the longest I've gone without writing a blog post ever! Yes, there has been a lot going on in my little world.

Remember the possible trial I wrote about several weeks ago? Well, it most definitely showed up—except, it wasn't the trial I was expecting. The trial I thought would manifest itself in one child actually reared its trying head in another one of my children!

It's interesting because I can see very clearly now that the Lord had been preparing me through one child, so I could be ready for the trial in my other child. I won't go into personal details here because the trial my child endured is very personal.

Suffice it to say, with this new trial, we've had to deal with physical issues that we've never dealt with before. Those physical issues translated into emotional issues, too. A minor—yet still very nerve-wracking—surgery was performed on my precious child. Thankfully, the outcome was better-than-expected! I could finally breathe! That said, our finances have been put through the ringer—which induced a whole new level of breathlessness in my soul! But due to the miracle of tithing blessings, and a very generous grandmother (Thank you, my sweetest Mama!), we are still hanging on! This quote (below) describes perfectly how I feel! And I can totally imagine Rod cheerfully shaking my shoulders and yelling to me,
"You are hanging on by a very thin thread and I dig that about you!" – Rod Tidwell, Jerry Maguire (From the edited, clean movie version! Ha ha.)
I created this using the Arizona Sun Devils' color codes! Remember the other Rod Tidwell quote? "I'm from Arizona, Jerry! I broke Arizona records! I went to Arizona State! I'm a Sun Devil, man!" Thus, I just had to go with that color scheme. Ha ha.

Oh, that quote makes me laugh every time I think about it! :) These moments in life are precisely why we need good entertainment in our world!

But back to the trial coming to my family in a different way than we expected, isn't that the way life always is? I've come to realize (yet again!) that no matter how much we prepare, there is literally no way we can ever be truly prepared for everything. It's impossible to predict what this life will throw at us! Thus, I believe the best way to prepare for every trial we face is to cultivate a truly deep, personal, meaningful and eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ. The fabulous scripture found in John 14:26 is perfectly applicable to my trial:
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
Yes, I've needed the Holy Ghost so much during the past two months! Of course, I need and rely on him every day, but it was never more apparent than during our trial.

As I reflect on the worrisome feelings I had as we faced this new medical challenge, and the money involved(!), I'm beyond grateful for my strong testimony of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and for the influence of the Holy Ghost!

I can't help but think back to the day I lovingly held my child in my bed, intensely and sincerely praying for relief. It amazes me to this day that in the very moment of my child's greatest moment of pain and fear, my powerful prayers were totally answered. My child was instantly comforted, a major problem was revealed and simultaneously resolved! There is no doubt in my mind that our Heavenly Father heard me! It was no small miracle to this concerned mother. And I will never forget the sun spilling through my window, warming us, as if to say, "Don't worry, it will be all right!"

*Side note: I'm not writing about my "powerful" prayers in a proud way. I'm simply illustrating that I literally felt a power come from within me as I fervently prayed for my suffering child. I felt as if a channel or tunnel was coming directly out of my soul, sending my prayers straight to Heavenly Father in our time of sincerest need. Plus, my husband was out of town on business, so there was no one in my house who could give my child a priesthood blessing. (No, my child didn't want me to call anyone to come help, and I respected that.) Shortly after that amazing experience is when I took my child to the doctor—for the second time during our trial (one of many appointments)—and the result of that prayer was manifest in my child's test results. {And of course, my husband gave our child a priesthood blessing before the minor surgery. When Greg is home, I totally utilize his marvelous priesthood power! :)}

Even in my moments of profound motherly worry, I received this inspiration from the Holy Ghost, "Don't worry, _____ will be okay." He didn't tell me everything would be beach resorts filled with lazy ease and fine luxury, but I knew we wouldn't be devastated by this trial—and that, my friends, is worth everything!

Thus, after the upheaval of the past two months (Our trial was barely beginning when I wrote my previous blog post and I never, ever expected it to go the direction it went!)—as well as just the normal, everyday busyness of life—I hope to begin blogging more regularly again. Yay! I have so many things to write about! I tell ya, I could write for hours a day and never get bored! Ha ha.

So, I will end with this: Today, March 1st, 2016, is the third anniversary of when my darling Gregor told me we were moving back to Utah (from Texas)! 03/01/13 will forever remain in my list of "Happiest Dates Ever!" Oh yes, I am happily marching on, and I hope you are, too! Seriously, every day we are granted on this earth is such a blessing! We have so much to live for and so many people to love! Now, let's get out there and make this world a better place! :)

P.S. I know that fasting also helped my beloved child during this trial—there is no doubt in my mind! :)