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Words of Acknowledgement for 2017 Moms

Sunday, May 14, 2017
Being a mom today is tough. I saw the following in a Facebook post the other day that sums it up well enough:

“How To Be A Mom in 2017: Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are being met while being careful not to overstimulate, understimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-story, multilingual home preferably on a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development. Also don’t forget the coconut oil.

How To Be A Mom in Literally Every Other Generation Before Ours: Feed them sometimes.

(This is why we are crazy.)”

I watch my mom and dad do real work with my younger siblings, and occasionally myself, everyday. The truth is with all the world has to offer - knowledge, access, communication - it comes with a price and as adults we have to not only navigate it all for ourselves but also for the next generation. It’s TOUGH. Even in my one month of motherhood I’m feeling anxious and a little lost and lonely. And while I know it’s not a singular experience, I also know that we moms (and dads) rarely get a chance to hear what we need/want to in order to feel confident enough to keep going.

I based this list first off of my own experience within the last month. One month isn't a lot of time but I need some clarity every now and then. Secondly, I've reflected on the experiences of moms I know who are dealing with real worries and struggles at home. These women tend to blame themselves, which is less than fair. Moms (and dads) deserve to have their efforts acknowledged because this is a job with limited water cooler breaks. And let’s be honest, our clients can be very demanding.

Words of Acknowledgement for 2017 Moms

“You were an individual before you had children and you are an individual now.”

Throughout my pregnancy I often confided in Spencer the dread of being overshadowed by Bunny’s existence. There weren’t many people outside my house that I talked to on a regular basis. Suddenly I was the talk of town, or at least my baby and pregnancy were. Forget that I had interests or anything else to offer before that. This REALLY bothered me. It's so personal… Also I’m afraid of the rest of me fading into only one contribution. While I’m learning to love being a mom, I also want to keep my original self in tact.

Sarah Kolman, writing for Seventh Generation, explains it well, saying, “This paradox often leaves me struggling with how to integrate my pervasive identity as mother with my greater Self-identity… If not, I’m only mom.” Kolman goes on to emphasize finding balance, meaning seek out what makes you You. We love our children, but we have to take care of ourselves.

So instead of leaving a mom stranded on Planet Mommy, tell her she has always existed and she experienced life for herself once before. Then offer to watch her kids so she can go eat some ice cream, specifically a flavor she actually likes, in peace.

“I’m proud of you.”

As I mentioned, I’ve had the unique experience of watching 21st century moms in action while being a conscious adult myself. There is a truckload of emotion that comes with mothering these days. Added to the ever-increasing number of influences outside the home moms hold less ground and question whether they are getting through. Almost just as difficult is being a witness to the whole thing. We all have our fingers crossed that the next generation becomes everything they can possibly be.

Whenever I see my mom “guiding” my siblings I tell her I’m proud of her and I am grateful for her. She stands her ground against attitude- and angst-ridden teens on the daily, which is no easy task. At the very least what I have to say has to be nicer to hear than back talk. Keep that in mind next time you witness a particularly intense “teaching moment.”

“Sometimes that’s just how it is.”

Followed by a slight encouraging chuckle and maybe a hug.

Just after her two week appointment Bunny started having nightly fits. She would scream and cry and I was super self-conscious of how it was affecting everyone else in the house. One night after a bunch of nights where no one was actually sleeping, my dad was helping walk her around to help soothe her before bed and I blurted out that I was sorry.

“Why?” he shrugged. “Doesn’t bother me. This is what babies do. You’ll figure it out. She’ll figure it out. This is just how it is.” That was honestly one of the best things anyone could have said to me. In that exchange my dad had told me two very important things: First, babies cry and it’s not my fault. Second, there isn’t always an immediate answer, or any answer at all. Raising each individual child is different.

The moral of the story is next time a mom apologizes, remind her that life happens. Offer to help in whatever way you can, give her the advice she asks for, and then talk to her about something grown up. Who knows when her last adult conversation was...

“It’s okay to cry.”

In the shower. In public. During an emotional commercial on tv. Over your breakfast. While you’re “hiding” on the front porch. In the bathroom during lunch. Yup. Cry. Crying means we are trying.

If you see a mom crying, don’t let that woman believe for one second she is weak. Tell her she is strong for caring and working so. dang. hard. Help her find her truth: That she is doing something worthwhile, that she is not alone, that she will survive, and she will be rewarded. Then tell her the lamest joke you can think of and laugh together.

And now a shout out to my mom because she is totally reading this.

Mama, you are amazing at doing all the things and keeping it together. You inspire me to be the rock for Bunny that you have been for me. I am grateful for your ability to know your children, your perspective, your love of God, your attention, your advice, and your sense of humor. You've given me and my family a home, a safe place to grow. You're my best friend and my hero. I am me because of the life you and Papa have created. 

If you have a special lady who needs to hear from you, go now! Tell her what she deserves to hear whether it's from this list or something else more worthy. Just make sure what you say comes from the heart.

Happy Mother's Day :)

General Conference Activities for Teens & Tweens

Sunday, March 26, 2017
My husband and I have been temporarily released from Primary (sad face) because we'll be meeting our baby girl VERY soon. But General Conference is this weekend and I couldn't stop my brain from working out some ideas inspired by the tweens and teens in my life. So I put together this quick post that you hopefully find in time...

There are tons of activities out there for little ones during Conference. From bingo to coloring pages the resources are seemingly endless. What about the older ones?

Often General Conference weekend is a rare instance when we can get them to be there, either because of family obligation, to do Seminary make up work, to participate in the acceptable napping, or for the bingo candy. Times are tough for the youth these days. Many of them may find the gospel boring or inapplicable or just plain hard. At least, that's definitely an attitude I've witnessed from a few young(er) people I know. Our youth deserve some Conference activities all their own that will make your GC family experience more meaningful with their involvement while giving them a chance to develop a habit of listening for themselves.

General Conference Activities for Teens & Tweens

The General Conference Awards

Select from the best of the best this Conference just like an annual award show! Start by choosing your categories. Then nominate contenders after each session of Conference. When it's all over on Sunday vote on your family's favorites.

Here's some category ideas to get you started:

Best Overall
Most Inspiring
Most Applicable Theme
Best Quote or One-Liner
Most Memorable Story
Best Performance of a Hymn

A Question for the Whole Family

Get everyone involved in finding the answer to a family question or decision with advice straight from the podium. Come to Conference with a question the whole family will be listening for answers to. You could keep track in a group text, a online document, or just chat between sessions.

Some question examples might include:
Should we do hobbies/sports/performances on Sunday?
What is the role of each member of the family?
How can we do more service within our community?
How can I build my testimony and be more comfortable as a member of the church?

Create A Work of Art

Let your teens be inspired by a talk, quote, story, etc. to create. There are many possibilities here and the art is really up to the creator.

Some ideas to get you started:
Make up a tshirt (then print it!)
Put together a collage using LDS Church publications
Create a sculpture, painting, or drawing
Design a graphic or social media post to share

Write A Letter

Don't let General Conference end when the speakers sit down. Encourage your teens to respond to what they hear this weekend by writing a letter in response to a speaker, to encourage an investigator, or to teach a nonmember. Then actually deliver them!

Send letters to the speakers at Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City or submit them to the New Era. You could give letters for investigators to the missionaries for them to share. The missionaries will love that. Or, if your kids really have guts, encourage them pass the letter on to a friend who might need to read it.

GC Fire Drill

Okay admittedly this one is a little random. When watching at home we all have a special spot during Conference, which can often lead to a nap. Guilty... Get moving by having everyone randomly switch it up. Make it really interesting by picking a code word to listen for from the speakers such as "Faith," "Truth," or "Testimony." Add a little game of pass the snacks and then settle in again. Fun, right?

Would your older kids enjoy any of these activities? What twists or other ideas do you have? Please comment! There's a whole other round of General Conference in six months!!

Blogs to Fall In Love With

Sunday, February 12, 2017
One of the first things potential bloggers are encouraged to do is seek other sites that have the same theme or topic. If anything this lets us see how our ideas fit into the current blogosphere. We can come to better understand what our voice will be and what we have to offer that makes us different. Above all, we can decide if our idea makes sense (read: if there is any audience for what we want to write about). If we don’t find a potential audience or other bloggers “like us” we may get discouraged.

Or we can accept that our idea is just different and instead get to know some new faces while we continue to gather our thoughts. This was the case for me as I started preparing this launch of Everything the Light Touches. I didn’t quite know what to search for while validating my newest blog concept. That should have been a red flag right there... But no. 

The interesting thing was that even though I didn’t find an exact match for what I was hoping to build, eventually some new blogs from kindred spirits popped up. That was enough for me.

I feel my niche leans toward a hybrid of mommy-lifestyle blogging. There is nothing wrong with that, but until six months ago I wasn’t a mom to a human child so finding writers with a similar background that aren’t all only blogging about kiddos and mom life was refreshing. Today I’m sharing those bloggers and blogs with you in hopes that you’ll discover a new voice that speaks to you. Or maybe just to give you ideas for your next project. Either way, win-win.

Blogs To Fall In Love With

Smart Pretty & Awkward by Molly Beck

Smart Pretty & Awkward is probably the closest I could find to what I was looking for during my research. This is because the posts are extremely concise with only 3 links and one-line explanations of everyday advice and fun finds to help readers become Smarter, Prettier, and (Less) Awkward. Molly’s blog validated my decision to write a list post every time. Equally comforting is that Molly breaks two of the biggest blogging rules: She only posts when she feels like it and her post titles are inspirational quotes. No apparent schedule and no bother with SEO! How cool is that?? Personally being so carefree about a posting schedule is a no-go but I’m all for ditching the SEO. One less thing for me to keep track of. The best part about Molly’s site is that I actually find useful links worth reading, too many to list here so you'll have to check it out for yourself.

Little Book, Big Story by Théa Rosenburg

Little Book, Big Story is the most beautiful website I’ve ever seen. Everything from the colors and photography to the voice and theme of Little Book, Big Story embraced my soul. I sat through reading book reviews and learning all about Théa’s family until my eyes hurt. And with a post like “10 Chapter Books to Read Aloud With Your Daughter” there was no better place for me. What I love most about Théa’s blog is how she easily integrates her life, her beliefs, and her love of reading. She gives great book reviews and recommendations for those who are into reading fiction for fiction’s sake or for those who are looking to develop their world perspective. The only downside here is she sure will make it hard for me to actually accomplish my reading list.

Love Taza | Rockstar Diaries is the perfect mommy blog if you ask me. The attention to standard topics is there in posts on home décor, family vacations and milestones, recipes, and, of course, motherhood. Where Naomi takes a turn is in the actual portrayal of these events. Sure, the photography is fantastic (thanks to her hunky, camera-handy husband, Josh) and the places she gets to travel to are amazing. But this girl and her family are fun and so goofy. She’s definitely okay with making fun of herself a little in the process of living. I admit that not every single one of her posts is for me but I keep coming back. You have to give Naomi a lot of credit for that.

Al Carraway by Al Carraway

Al Carraway is a woman I can relate to on so many levels. Her story resonates with me and I admire how she can be so relaxed and unobstructed about telling that story. Like me, Al is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons. She puts her feelings and experiences out there. And her take on life is REAL TALK. Sometimes I get lost in personal reflection from just reading one of her post titles. Al Carraway’s blog might be all about her religious experiences, but that is what she lives everyday. Just like the premise of ETLT, why not write about it?

Now that I'm finished telling you about these blogs, I’m ready to get snuggled into bed and catch up with these ladies. If you have suggestions for blogs I should check out PLEASE let me know in the comments. I just cleaned out my Bloglovin’ feed. I need to fill in some gaps.