Thursday, November 12, 2015

Top 5 Things To Be Offended By Today!

Error. Re-routing. 

 I hear those words a lot from the GPS on my phone. I am easily distracted you see. But luckily, my trusty phone re-routes my course so that I can finally get from point A to point B.

 After listening to the vitriol spewing forth on both sides regarding the controversial natures of such important topics as red cups, OCD sweatshirts, and witty road signs, I'd like to share
a teeny tiny observation. 


 If we're going to be outraged and angry, let's take aim at some things that are truly worthy of being outraged, angry, and offended by!

Please Insert Outrage Here:

Here is just a small sampling of thing's to be offended by today.    Tell everyone on social media how these things make you feel, AND what you're going to do about it.

1.  There are currently 108,000 children in the U.S. Foster care system who are ready and waiting to be adopted.  They range in age from under 1 to 21.  20% are teenagers. All need a home.  All deserve a family.

Go And Do! Learn more at Adopt U.S. Kids

2.  According to the Walk Free Foundation, there are approximately 35.8 million people enslaved worldwide.  60,100 are in the U.S. Nearly 1/3 of those enslaved throughout the world are children, some as young as 5.

 Go And Do!  Become A Modern Day Abolitionist-learn more at  Operation Underground Railroad and The Walk Free Foundation

3.  The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that during a single night in January 2014 there were 578,424 people experiencing homelessness in the United States.  49,933 were veterans.  

Go and Do!  United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

4.  In South Sudan MILLIONS of women and children trek up to 8 hours each day to collect water from marshes, ditches, or hand dug wells where the water is often contaminated with parasites and bacteria-bringing sickness and death.

Go and Do!  Water For South Sudan

5.  Unicef estimates there are 30 million refugee children on the run from violence and oppression.   Syria is the world's largest producer of refugees.  There are 4 million on the run from Syria.  2 million of those are children.

Go and Do! Unicef-Syrian Refugee Crisis

So there you go.  5 things to be truly offended and outraged by.  

Go and Do.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crazy Little Thing Called "Nice"

Ok, today I am embracing the crazy.  I am going to propose a radical new idea.  Oh yeah, you better believe it's going to be big.  Here it is-are you ready?  Let's be nice to each other. On Purpose.

Yup. You heard me.  Let's be nice to other people.  Like really nice.  Like on purpose nice.  And I'm not talking just to your family.  Oh no.  We are going to do this right.  Let's be nice to people we don't know well, maybe even strangers.  Even the people who "keep to themselves."  Especially them.  Because come to find out, according to modern psychology, us humans need each other.  Article on Psychology Today

Oh yes, you freedom lovin', gun-totin', independent American thinker who doesn't need anyone and can pull yourself up by your own bootstraps- even you.  We need positive social relationships.  We need connection with one another.  If nothing else, we need at least a few people we have contact with who can notice when our thoughts are going to crazytown- and gently guide us back to reality.

And then we can do the same thing for them someday-because at some points we will all go a little nuts.

Where is all this coming from you ask?  Well, you see, last week after yet another mass shooting in the U.S., a radio talk show host in my area asked his listeners what he thought was the root cause of the near constant irrational violence we see in the US.  It got me wondering if maybe there is a common denominator in the lives of those who commit these crimes, that individual members of our society could take control of and change.

And this is what I came up with.  (Close friends please let me know if I have gone to crazy town on this one.)

In a country where we value individuality and independence as our top priority, we pretend that we don't need each other.  I mean just check our Facebook pages and Pinterest boards.  Life is blissful and perfect! (insert smily emoticon here.)  But here's the truth (as I see it anyway.)  Life is hard.  No seriously, sometimes life completely sucks.  And the only reason life is worth living when times are sucky is that we can have positive human connections to those around us.  And ice cream.  But mostly human connection.

So what do we do for people who have to go through the sucky parts alone?  We should probably just let them be right?  Give 'em their space and privacy?  Um, no.  Remember crazy town?  I am most likely to visit that particular locale when I am upset, lonely, angry, or a combination.  Do you know why my train doesn't get that far?  Because the people I am positively connected to are sure to de-rail it.

So can I offer a suggestions? Something that every person in society can do that might help curb the violence? Can we all please agree NOT to give each other space in the name of respecting privacy?  Let's keep an eye on each other, and take an active interest in each others lives.  Especially the lives of those we may not know, or of people who just "keep to themselves", or who might live in different circumstances.

Because the only way we're going to get through the sucky-crazy-wonderfulness that is life,
is together.

Looking for easy everyday ways to "be nice on purpose?" check out my Everyday Service pinterest board!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Screentime for Kids...

Found this very interesting article.  Now you'll have to excuse me as I go tear my children away from the screen for some family fun!

Psychology Today Screentime Article

Simple Sunday Solution: LDS Sharing Time Primary Schedule

I created this little sticker chart for a little guy at my church.  The way it works is after each part of the routine (opening song; opening prayer, scripture, and talk; singing time; and sharing time) he can put a sticker on his chart.  We give this little chart to his parents after church, and they give him a little reward.  It is working wonders!  Not only does this little guy get a treat, but he is doing really well and doing what is expected and participating during this part of church.  Hope this can be helpful to you!  (Chart was created using graphics from found online at


Monday, July 6, 2015

Simplifying Sunday

Ok, I know it's Monday, but I've still got Sunday on my mind!

Sunday.  A reverent day, where children sit quietly through church soaking up all the wonderful spiritual material, then return home to find activities that will nourish and edify their little souls.  Or watch Sponge Bob.  Either way.

Okay just kidding (sorta.)  Sundays can sometime's be an adventure at our home.  Sometimes there may even be yelling while getting everyone ready for church.  (Hypothetical.  Don't judge.)  So, in an attempt to bring a little order back to Sunday, I am creating a few things to help simplify it.

First things first.  I decided to make a list of "goals" I have for Sunday's, what I really want to get out of them.  Because I do want Sunday's to be different.  I am grateful for a day of rest, I sometimes just need some ideas to help us be restful and not just bored!

I want my Sunday's to be:

1.  Meaningful
2.  Calming
3.  Restorative
4.  Unifying
5.  Spiritual
6.  I want my kids to actually like Sunday, and the chance to take a break from all the screens.  Call me crazy.

To that end, I created a list of 50 family friendly ideas--- great for a quiet, simple Sunday.  I'm also including a card that kids can fill out with activities they would like to do.

I'm going to have my kids choose some things off of the list to fill in their
card for that Sunday.

Either my husband or I will mark things off as they do them.  They can turn in the filled out papers after dinner for a treat.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Summer Sanity!

It's summer, it's summer!  I feel a little bit like Olaf from "Frozen" right now... you know the part where he sings about how awesome he thinks summer will be?  There's a line from the song that say's "Bees'll buzz, kids'll blow dandelion fuzz, and I'll be doing whatever snow does in summer."  Ok, just replace the "snow" with "mom" and that is how I am kind of feeling right now!  Kids are out of school tomorrow, and I have visions of us lovingly spending screen-free time together, doing a service project everyday, and throwing in a few educational activities to help prevent the summer slide, no one will be grouchy and there will never be any fighting because we will be so busy having fun!  Sigh.  Won't it be beautiful?

But I happen to know what happens to snow in the summer, and I'm pretty sure somewhere that Kristoff is whispering to Anna that he's just going to tell me the truth-summer as a mom can be hard!  Trying to stay up on the yard and house while keeping little one's entertained and engaged is a lot of work! We will definitely have a lot of fun, but I've done this summer thing a few times before, and here is a more accurate picture of what also might be coming....Mom!  I'm hungry!  Mom!  I want to watch another show!  ...MOM!  I'M BORED!

I've done this summer thing a few times before (my boys are 10, 7, and 4.)  So after years of trial and error, I've decided that the following plan will work best for my family (and my sanity!)  So feel free to borrow any of the ideas, and the printable's below.  Simply right click on the image and click "save image as" to save to your computer.  The "Summer Bucket List" is sized to be 8 x 10.  The daily schedule is sized as a 16 x 20( but can be printed as an 8 x 10.  I just printed mine at Costco.  (Clipart used were created by KPM Doodles on Etsy.)


The Plan!
1.  Print the above images.  I framed mine so that I could write on the glass with dry-erase markers.  
2.  Sit down with your family and fill out the bucket list of things we would like to do.  We had each boy pick one thing that was most important to them, so we could make sure at least that happened at some point. 
3.  I will fill out the daily schedule each night for the coming day.  Plans may change, but at least there is a plan!  On the left, I will write in the meals for that day.  Hopefully to stave off the constant groans of "I'm hungry!" and "there's nothing to eat!" In the middle section there will be a loose schedule.  I'm not adding times--when the kiddo's have had enough of one activity, we will move to the next.  In the third column I will have jobs for the day as well as our fun activity for the day.  

Quick Tip 
The hardest thing about summer for me has been trying to get all of the normal house and yard jobs done while the kids were all home.  My solution this year is that we will do a little bit of work each day, and we will do it TOGETHER.  Wish me luck!

My (Sample) Schedule:
Wake Up
Get Ready:  Dressed, breakfast, hair and teeth brushed, room tidied
Outside Time:  Play outside, go on a bike ride or walk to the park, etc. Spend 20 minutes working together on the yard while we're out there.  
Brain Chase-I heard about this program last year.  We tried it and loved it!  It is online learning combined with a global treasure hunt.  Highly recommend!  For my littlest guy this is when we will read stories, do puzzles, etc.
Lunch/Cleanup-I will probably have the boys spend a few minutes doing a 20 minute household chore right after lunch.
Quiet Time- Guess what?  Mom's and Dad's.  Need.  Breaks!  It's important all of the time to have breaks and rest periods throughout the day.  It is even more so in summer when there is so much going on!  The kids will each be able to choose a few toys or activities that they can play with quietly in their room for 1 hour. (Based on the age of your child, just make sure the environment is safe, and that they can call you if they need you.)  There is a great podcast called "Mommy's Quiet Time" over at Power of Moms with lots of great tips to help encourage quiet time with your own little one's.
Planned Activity-Some days this might be a bucket list item.  Other days it might just be something fun (and easy!!) we have found on Pinterest-to see my board go here
Dinner/Cleanup-My goal is to have everyone help with making and cleaning up dinner.  I'm going to try it. No guarantees. This time of day is usually a little tricky at our house-everyone is starting to get hungry, tired, and a little grouchy with each other. I'm hoping this will keep us all busy and I won't have to play referee while getting dinner on the table.
Play Inside or Outside- The best part of the day as far as I'm concerned is those golden hours just after dinner when everything is pretty much done for the day, the heat starts to wane, and the kids can play in the yard!
Bath or Shower
Story, Prayers, Bed!

I hope some of these things can be helpful to you.  It doesn't have to be involved, but it is nice having a plan!  What has worked for you over the summers?  Please share!

Tally Ho!


Friday, May 29, 2015

Dementors, Black Dogs, and a Book With No Words

Question:  What Do Dementors & Black Dogs Have In Common?
Answer: Both were attempts to describe in words the feeling of depression. (Dementors-JK Rowling; Black Dog-Winston Churchill.)

Hello All!

I created this blog over a year ago, wanting to share some of my experience in the hopes it could be of help for families and individuals with mental illness.  And here it has sat.  I shared it with a few friends and family members, but have just been too chicken to throw it out there to the world.  I mean, really, I'm a little nuts most of the time I really want to add to the evidence?!

So I've sat back and watched this past year as suicide after suicide has been reported not only in my state, but throughout the nation.  According to the CDC, Utah has the 5th highest suicide rate in the nation.  NOT OK.  And then yesterday it hit a little closer to home, when a sophomore at the local high school committed suicide on a trail in the mountains near my home.

Frankly, I am tired of feeling as though there is nothing I can do to help--because when I watch these stories I totally get it.  While other people are shocked and dismayed and wonder how someone could give up on life...I just get it, because I've been there and (barely) survived.

Ok.  Enough dramatics.  Let's talk for a minute.  Actually, the way we "talk" and communicate is exactly what I want to discuss in this post.  So here goes...

There are currently around 171,476 words in the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.  Approximately 3,000 of those words describe emotion.

And yet, there are no words that can accurately describe depression. No wonder it can be so hard to communicate! When someone asks how you are, they might be scared off if your reply is "well actually, I'm experiencing soul crushing blackness at the moment."  That is problem A.  "How do you respond to that?!"  is problem B.  I hope that in this post I can offer some insight for both individuals struggling   battling depression, and those who want to understand a little bit more about the disease and effective ways to help.

When I was first diagnosed with depression and OCD at the age of 15, I had no idea what had hit me.  One day I was fine, just the normal up's and down's of high school.  The next?  An unfathomable darkness and hopelessness that I did not understand, compounded with horrifying intrusive thoughts. Add to this my own judgement of myself--what is wrong with me? what sort of terrible person thinks these things? I am so weak! I can not do this.  I can't.  I stopped eating.  I didn't sleep. I didn't want to be around anyone.  I had horrible, debilitating panic attacks that left me breathless and sobbing in the girls bathroom. But you want to know the scariest part? After all that, I would walk out and go back to class. And if someone asked how I was, I always said "fine."  Few knew how bleak and terrifying the world had suddenly become for me.

Those who did know that something was "up" and I wasn't feeling great had different reactions.  Here are a few of the comments I received, and a) my reaction at the time, as well as b) my thoughts now and insights into what might have been more helpful.

1.  You look fine. I don't see anything different.
  • a) I think I physically looked down at myself when I got this comment.  I was in so much pain, how could that not be radiating out of me?  I wished people could see it, not because I wanted to be dramatic and "woe is me" but because then maybe it would seem more real, that I wasn't just making it up.
  • b) Depression, like other mental illnesses is an invisible disease.  Keyword here is disease.  Not weakness, or lack of fortitude, etc.  It often is hereditary.  (I sometimes say that my depression is my least favorite genetic gift!)  Regardless, it is easy to miss, even in someone you love and see often.  
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it's okay to ask for help.  Contrary to popular belief on social media, it is even ok to not be "fine" all the time!  At one point when I was struggling as a young mother, I asked for help from a family member.  She asked what she could help with, and I just cried that I did not know, that things were just not okay.  She just said "alright,  I got it."  And within a day was at my home doing the laundry, caring for the kids, and helping with meals. Lifting the burden of household chores is often automatic when someone we know has a visible illness.  It is less so, but just as imperative when someone has an invisible illness.   My depression did not last forever.  I did not need help for years.  But I absolutely did need help at that time. 
2. Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  You'll be fine.
  • a) I'm really, really trying!  I'm doing everything I can!  But nothing is working!
  • b)  Come closer.  I would like to now hit you with said boot straps.  
  • I cannot stress enough that depression is an illness.  We call it a mental illness, but research is showing that it could be more accurately described as a physical illness of the brain, and should be treated as such.   
3.  Don't you think your being a little dramatic?  It's probably just hormones.

  • a)  "Maybe.  I don't know.  Probably.  I guess I'm just being dramatic.  I'll try not to be."  My interpretation of this was that something was wrong with me, and that I was somehow making myself miserable through my own theatrics.  The takeaway?  This was MY fault-I was doing this to myself.
  • b)  You know what?  Hormones were definitely part of the equation.  But it wasn't simply roller coaster emotions.  This was way more.  This was it's own special brand of hell.
4.  You should....pray more, read the scriptures more, do some service
  • a)  "You're right!  That's it!  I totally should!" and I did all of those things.  But none of them helped me feel better.  Not one.  Which actually made me feel worse, because in my heart I thought they should.  And when they didn't I thought it was MY fault, that somehow I had sinned or displeased God.
  • b)  This one is tricky.  I live in a very religious environment.  I myself am a very active member of the LDS church.  I am eternally grateful for a loving Heavenly Father.  He has been my one lifeline many times, even when I thought for sure he had quit listening.  One thing that is taught at church (any church) is that feelings of despair can be a direct result of sin. Which it can be sometimes.  That's called having a conscience.  HOWEVER, depression is NOT a result of sin.  It is not the person's fault.  Therefore, the usual arsenal of tools that can be helpful when you are experiencing sadness are rarely effective on their own in providing relief for depression.  
  • Consider this:  you would not tell a person fighting cancer that they would feel better if they would just do more service, or pray more.  That said, I do not mean to imply in any way that if you are a religious person that you should not pray.  God loves you!  Even if you feel that He is not there, He is.
5.  I just don't see what you're so sad about.  You have a great family, food, a house, etc, etc.

  • a)  I know!  I should be happy.  I am so ungrateful.  What is wrong with me?
  • b)  Oh my.  This is probably one of the hardest.  Once again we have a situation where the typical arsenal of tools in our toolbox is just not going to work.  Having gratitude, looking on the bright side, being positive...all are very powerful tools for everyday living.  But they are in large part ineffective against the pain of depression, and can often only add feelings of shame and guilt to whatever is already happening.  

So if our usual tools are so woefully inadequate in helping with depression, what can we do?   Over the next few weeks I will go into detail on some of the tools and strategies I have developed over the years that have been useful in helping both myself and my family gain the upper hand.  Because guess what?  This can get better.  It does get better.  It will get better.

You can also look at the resources located at the top of this blog for more strategies.

Tally Ho!