Friday, October 9, 2015

walking away...

Some of you may know that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormon aka LDS). I was born and raised in this religion, and have been a practicing member my whole life (with my modest share of "rebellions" of course). A few weeks back a friend posted a link to an op-ed that Kate Kelly wrote. This line particularly stood out to me:

I encourage Mormon women to ask themselves a similar question: does my participation in Mormonism spark joy?

This question was derived from the KonMari method, developed by Marie Kondo and detailed in her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" (which, side note, I definitely recommend). Kondo instructs the reader to physically go through each item in your home and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it does not, then you recognize and express gratitude that it has fulfilled its purpose in your life, and it can then be discarded.

When I thought about Kate Kelly's article more and more, it really started to resonate with me. I haven't had joy in my religion in a long time. There have been rare moments in the somewhat-recent past, but when I view the LDS church as a whole, there has been no joy-sparking in a very long time. I no longer have faith in my religion, and I have serious problems with the LDS church's history. In following with Kate Kelly's advice, based on Kondo's method, my participation in Mormonism no longer sparks joy and should therefore be discarded.

At first this concept seemed a bit harsh to me (even though I now realize this is where I've been headed for quite some time). But then I really started thinking through the idea of applying this method to my religion. And it all clicked... I can recognize the enormous contribution in my life that my religion has provided, and acknowledge that it was instrumental in shaping the human being I am today.  I can be thankful that because of this religion I went to BYU, met the love of my life (cliche but true), and ultimately married him. I can appreciate that because of that fact alone, I have two beautiful children whom I love dearly. I can be grateful for all the wonderful friends I have made through this shared religion. I can acknowledge that a lot of blessings are in my life because of this religion. And now? I can accept that this religion played a major part in my life, and has fulfilled it's role of sparking joy. And since it no longer sparks joy, I can be grateful for it, and walk away. 

Like other things in life, if something isn't sparking joy for you, it is [more than] appropriate to reevaluate your situation. As one of my friends told me after discussing this, not everything in your life has to spark joy; some things are just hard or annoying or boring, but they are necessary (like chores or earning a paycheck, for example). But I no longer want to be disingenuous in my religion, or keep trudging along just because I feel like I have to. And if there is anything in your life that feels like that, I would hope that you would take the time to examine your feelings, and trust that they are valid.

I do not feel bitter towards the LDS church. I don't hold negative feelings toward it. I can look back on my time in "mormonism" with decently fond memories. And now I can forge my own path. Discern my own beliefs. Be a good person and teach my children to be good people. And ultimately, live a fun and fulfilling life with my amazing family. ♥

Thursday, January 1, 2015

hello, 2015!

I've been thinking about my resolutions for the year. I'm sure they will evolve a bit throughout the year, but here are some things I want to work on in 2015:

+ stop yelling, and use more positive parenting techniques with the chilluns
+ use nap time to do at least one thing that qualifies as "me time"
+ read at least 5 books (This used to be nothing for me, I'd read like a billion books a year. But ever since having kids I've been pretty terrible at reading. Oops.)
+ take action on improving recycling in my city (since I slacked in 2014)
+ go on more "dates" with my main man
+ enroll Henry in swimming lessons
+ wake up every morning and decide to have a good and positive attitude

On the resolution front, I like to make these yearly goals to have some direction and something to work for in my daily life. I feel like the past two years I have gained something from actively working on resolutions. But I also like this timely reminder from the Alison show:

I AM awesome, and I'm going to make sure I don't forget it ;) Happy New Year, lovers!

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 resolutions...secret and not so secret

So I had a few resolutions for this past year that I wrote up and taped up in my medicine cabinet so I would see them every day. I did...ok... on them for the most part. haha.

2014 Resolutions:

-remember and plan for birthdays
I am really proud to say that I did this one, and well. I'm normally terrible at birthdays and never remember anyone's, and always scramble at the last minute. At the beginning of the year I wrote everyone's birthdays down in my calendar, and would refer to it at least weekly. I'd scan ahead to see if there were any upcoming birthdays, and plan accordingly. This is something I want to keep up, because it's always nice to feel a little extra special on your birthday :)
-less screen time, especially when kids are awake
I did ok-ish on this one. I will say I used to be on my nail instagram account all the time, and have cut that way back because it was a huge time-sucker. I'm still working on this one, but overall I'd say I have improved.
-eat less sugar and more fruit/veggies
This was the hardest resolution for me, but the most important because my sugar consumption got way out of hand. I was eating an entire big bag of candy almost every single day. It really had developed into a binge-eating disorder of sorts.. From about May to Halloween I had little to no candy. I was incredibly impressed with myself. Halloween got me a little off track, and all these damn holidays have got me off the wagon. 
that one time when George was wading in sugar..
-take action on improving recycling in the city
Umm... I googled some stuff about this. Cedar City just seems incredibly disorganized about recycling, and clearly doesn't care much about it. I should have done a lot more in this area. This will carry over into the next year. At least I stayed strong about recycling all year, even though it is incredible annoying to do so here.
-take action on getting fluoride in the water
I talked to a dentist about this and he was like "Yeah, I don't know why they don't have it here" etc etc. But then I was doing some research and I'm conflicted on this issue. Some research shows that fluoride in liquid form can be harmful and cause birth defects?? But in the solid form it's totally fine? I don't know... I need to do more research. In the meantime though, I'm just having my kids take their fluoride prescriptions and sort of getting over it.

And now... the BIG REVEAL (ha!) of my secret resolution. As some of you may remember, for 2013 my secret resolution was to be fierce. This year I almost wanted to keep the same secret resolution because I feel like it actually did a lot for me, but I took on a new one. It was to be more outgoing and easygoing. Since having two kids my anxiety has definitely increased, and I'd have to constantly remind myself that I need to be more easygoing and just roll with the punches sometimes. I also didn't have a ton of friends and would be pretty shy about meeting new people, and decided I needed to get over that. Sometimes you just need to push yourself so you can become more like you want to be. Fake it til you make it, right??
Looking back, I think I was pretty successful. I've made new friends and been more outgoing in general. I have become much better at handling my anxiety, and can consequently do a lot more with my kids. While the mere thought of taking both of my kids to the store at the same time used to petrify me, I'm basically a pro now ;) Well...I can at least take both kids just about anywhere and be positive about the experience. 

I'll be brainstorming about my resolutions for this next year, and will probably get around to posting them eventually. I still can't believe it's almost 2015, this year truly has flown by!! If you have any resolutions decided yet for the new year, feel free to tell me so I can steal your ideas ;)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We hope you all enjoy the lovely holiday season, and hopefully you will be surrounded by loved ones! I sent out some Christmas cards but I'm far too lazy to do a newsletter or anything like that to include with them. So here's a mini one, via blog. You get what you get ;)

This was the year of trips!
+In May we went to Disneyland and had so much fun that I basically want to live there. For anyone who isn't sure about bringing babies, DO IT! George was about 9 months old when we went, and loved every minute of it.
+We made several trips throughout the year to Arizona and northern Utah to see family, and we're really trying to take advantage of our close distance while we're still living here :)
+In August Josh and I went to New York to see the US Open for his birthday, and had an amazing trip. I want to move to New York, so if anyone knows of some jobs--hook us up!! We seriously loved the city, and I wish we had even longer to explore it while we were there!
+In September we made a spur of the moment decision to fly to Ohio and visit our bffs Emily and Dave! Since they ditched us to go to dental school (ugh, boring!) we've managed to see each other every year! It's a tradition we hope to keep very much alive over the years :) It was so fun to spend time with them and see Columbus

This year George turned 1 in September, and Henry turned 3 in December. I can't even believe I have a 3 year old. These boys are just growing up like crazy!! Thankfully they both love each other very much, and are always trying to get into mischief together. Since I've pushed myself to be more extroverted and make new friends, they have lots of little friends that they love to play with. Henry goes to a Mommy & Me dance class once a week, which he actually loves (even if the whole time he's running around or asking me to hold him). I think I want to get him into swimming lessons this next year, since he is such a water baby. Henry is currently obsessed with play dough and riding his new bike, and George is obsessed with books and animals.

Josh is still working as a wildlife biologist for a transmission line construction project. The current project is wrapping up, but he's staying on to oversee reclamation and revegetation. We don't really know what will happen after that's done, but hopefully there will be a new project that he can go work for. And of course Josh has been watching tennis all year, and finally got to see his favorite players this summer at the US Open (Serena! Federer! Venus!). We've also [obviously] been rooting for Alabama this year--ROLL TIDE!

I am loving being a stay-at-home mom, even if there are crazy days that I want to pull my hair out ;) My big hobby of course is nail art, and I'm considering doing it out of my house as sort of a side job this next year. We'll see how it goes. I did whole 30 this summer, which was really hard but helped me to curb my insane candy binge-eating habits. Unfortunately it also probably caused the lovely kidney stone I had to deal with a couple months later (oy vey). Hmm...what else...I'm still rocking the purple hair and channeling my inner unicorn. ;)

Josh and I are more active on instagram so if you'd like to see what we're up to, here are our accounts:
Josh's instagram, Jess's instagram, Jess's nails on instagram (yes, that's a thing).

We hope that you've all had a fabulous year, and have a wonderful holiday!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

time for change

I have been really upset about current events of late. Particularly concerning all these cases including excessive police force, and racism. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Darrien Hunt, Trayvon Martin, and many many more. The case that really sent me over the edge was Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold after resisting arrest and consequently died. The entire thing was caught on tape and can be found on youtube. It is appalling. The medical examiner ruled it death by homicide, yet when it was presented to a grand jury the officer responsible was not even indicted. WHAT?! When I learned about all of this I was absolutely sickened. It kept eating away at me and finally I just could not take it anymore. The America I believe in doesn't let anyone, including/especially police officers, kill people for no warranted reason and get away with it. Black or white or purple, all human beings are just that: human beings.

Before the Eric Garner case I felt like I could contribute by fighting for body cameras for all police officers, and I felt like that would be a positive change. But now?? After Eric Garner was killed ON TAPE and nothing was done about it, I was left with a hopeless feeling. Hopeless about the case. Hopeless about justice. Hopeless about racism. Hopeless about law enforcement. And hopeless about the future of our country. And I just felt like I personally couldn't do anything to help this cause that I feel so strongly about.

I made a comment to Josh how I wished I lived somewhere like New York so I could at least participate in a peaceful protest. He said "You don't have to live in New York to protest. You can live anywhere. You just go and you just protest." Which got me thinking... Social media can reach almost everyone these days. So I decided to do an online protest. I'm inviting everyone else who would like to make a change or a difference to join me. I think that even small things can make little ripple effects, so why not take a stand?!


I hope that through different investigations, at least some of these cases will finally result in justice. And hopefully through all the peaceful protests and different news stories, etc, something positive can come out of this. It is obvious that something needs to be done about this problem, and it's time for things to change. We cannot continue to let this happen. As a friend reminded me, Bob Dylan said:  "How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn't see?" 

Monday, December 1, 2014

freshly picked moccasin review

Ever since my kids were born, I've been a fan of Freshly Picked. I remember I started following them on instagram, and would get excited when Susan would post a picture of someone famous with their kids wearing FP moccs. A female entrepreneur who built herself up starting with some scrap leather she bought at a yardsale? Yes, I can get behind a lady like that! Then when I saw she was appearing on one of our favorite shows, Shark Tank, I just knew this would be her tipping point. She signed a deal with Daymond, and watching from my living room I felt so happy for her. Is that creepy? Haha, whatever... Since then she has expanded her line to include carryalls, clothing, and even crib-sized moccasins (adorable!!).

cutest packaging ever!

My kids had a BLAST with the emoji stickers that came in the package. They were a huge hit. At one point Henry and George both teamed up against me and covered my back with emojis. I have to admire their teamwork ;)

Because I wanted a pair of moccs that would match almost anything George wears, I got a pair of Swimmin' With The Sharks in a size 4. They fit George perfectly and have a little bit of room to spare in the toe region. The elastic design at the opening makes it simple to put on his feet but also stay put, all while not cutting off the circulation to his fat little feet ;). 

The leather is both soft and durable, and George has even walked around comfortably in the desert of Arizona in them. No stickers or "pokies" even made a dent or scratch on the sole!

Overall I've been very pleased and impressed by this pair of moccs! I will say I've owned a suede pair of FP moccs as well and while they are still very durable, the material developed a scratchy look rather quickly, and the original pattern is hardly visible. If you are considering buying a suede pair, I'd just save them to be used as a dressier pair of shoes (if you want them to stay in their original condition).  These leather ones have been used for some serious playing, and I'm happy to report they still look pretty close to perfect! 

I know for a fact that you will all be seeing a lot more of George in these fabulous shoes. Also, almost everything in her shop today is 20% off for Cyber Monday! Go check it out! Also, keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram account, because I will be hosting a giveaway for one lucky person to win moccs of their choosing!! Happy shopping friends, and I hope to see you tomorrow on IG :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

why i pay my babysitters "so much"

First, let me provide some context. When I grew up in Maine, my going rate for babysitting was $10 an hour, for one kid. More kids? More money. Keep in mind, this was 10+ years ago. Here in Utah, I'm pretty sure the going rate is about $3 an hour... current day... 2014. Umm...WHAT?! Now that I have kids of my own and need babysitters, I pay $7/hr. I paid $7 when I just had one child, but I got a lot of flack about this from friends, neighbors, and even the babysitters themselves. So when I had a second child, I kept paying babysitters $7. And to be honest, every single time I feel like I'm short changing them. Even if they're just watching my tv for a couple hours while my kids sleep upstairs.

The question I've been asked multiple times is "Why do you pay babysitters so much?!" And usually my short answer is "my children's lives are in their hands". 

Here's the long answer: My children's lives are in their hands.

I mean, I'm not even paying minimum wage!! My babysitters could literally flip burgers or work in a call center and make more money. I value my children's lives as far more important than burger flipping or getting yelled at on the phone. So why is it so ludicrous to even consider paying the same or more than a minimum wage job??

I know people say things like If I'm going to pay more money, I expect them to clean up my house and do all the dishes and make my kids dinner from scratch, etc etc etc. Not to be defiant, but really all I expect from my babysitters is that everyone is safe while I'm gone. And it's just common courtesy for them to pick up any toys that had been taken out, although I expect my kids to help in that act as well. But they don't need to be magical elves! Don't do my dishes, don't take out my trash, and don't cook my kids a gourmet meal (they obviously wouldn't appreciate it, anyway).

Look after my children, keep them safe, and react to any emergencies accordingly. That is what I pay my babysitters for. And that's worth a lot to me.

Note: Dear friends, please don't be offended by this post. It's not meant to "come after" anyone. It's just me explaining why I do the things I do. Chalk it up to being a yankee, if you must ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nail art tutorial: Gradient nails

gradient nails
Gradient nails skittlette
First of all, sometimes people call these "ombre nails". But there is actually a distinction between gradient and ombre nails: ombre nails are when each nail is painted a different shade of the same color. Gradient nails are when the same nail is painted with different shades of any or the same color. Who knew, right?!

I made this tutorial for my nail instagram account, @jesspaintshernails, and figured I would post it here too!

gradient nail tutorial
Gradient nail art tutorial

 Materials needed:
-white nail polish
-2+ colored polishes for the gradient
-makeup sponge (I use the store brand)
-cuticle oil or scotch tape
-top coat

☆Paint your nail(s) white. Try to keep your cuticles clean (bc cleaning up white polish is the worst!), but it doesn't have to be perfect. Let it dry (I use the aid of a quick dry topcoat because who has time to wait for polish to dry?!).
☆Apply cuticle oil all around your nail to make cleanup easier. OR use scotch tape to tape off the skin around your nail. This step is important otherwise cleanup is super annoying and you'll never want to try this method again (speaking from experience here haha).
☆Apply polish on makeup sponge in the sequence you want. I usually use 3 colors for mine but you could use 2+.
☆Dab the sponge on your nail. Move it up and down and around a little while dabbing to blend the colors. This will create the gradient effect (vs just lines of colors). Depending on the colors you're using, you might have to repeat this step until you reach desired opacity.
☆Clean up around the nail using a brush and acetone. I use an e.l.f. concealer brush that costs $1 at Walmart/Target.
☆Optional: add designs or glitter on top 
☆Apply topcoat! I am a BIG fan of Glisten & Glow - HK Girl Top Coat. It's seriously amazing and dries freakishly fast with minimal to no polish shrinkage. 

What do you think? For first timers, was this helpful? If you give this a try I'd love to see the results, leave me a link in the comments, or tag me on instagram @jesspaintshernails!