Goal Setting, Heres to Living my Life!, Motherhood, My Mission

A Conversation with My Future Self

I really love podcasts, don’t you? There is one that I have been listening to for a while that I really enjoy. It is called “Better Than Happy” by a woman named Jody Moore. She is a certified life coach and mom of four children.  We are about the same age and share similar interests and beliefs. I think we could be friends.

I was listening to Episode 131 of her podcast this week entitled “Your Future Self.” If you are interested then you can listen here.  It is really an interesting concept that you ask your future self questions and you can get a lot of insight. She likes to ask her 92-year-old self questions because she thinks 93 is a good age to die. I laughed when I heard this, but there is a lot of wisdom in it.

A few year ago, I had the opportunity to interview my great-aunt Norma Gutke Ellis with my sister Deniane Kartchner. Aunt Norma was the only one of her generation left. She was the youngest sister of my grandfather whom I don’t remember because he died when I was under a year old.  I loved visiting with her. She was in her nineties and so spunky so fully of life an love. It was a sad day when we lost her. She was simply amazing.  I loved hearing her laugh and the bantering between her and her husband of over sixty years. She was full of wisdom and love. She struggled with her health, but she always had a smile on her face.

I think I would like to learn wisdom from my future self. I will go to the age 90 because that seems like a nice even number. My grandmothers both lived into their eighties and so there is a good chance that I could live to ninety.

The year will be 2069 when I turn ninety. Now that is a crazy thought! When I picture my ninety year old self, I see a combination of my Grandma Gladys (left center) and my Grandma Fern (right center with me as a baby). I will also look similar to my mother on the far right and my sister. I love these women and I will be proud to look like them. I will have white/gray hair. I will be wrinkly in the face, but I will still have the same green eyes that I have at forty. I will have sunspots on my arms and legs, but I hope I will be strong able to walk, to garden, and to take loving care of my children, grand children and great-grandchildren. I will probably have a double chin and shakes when I laugh, but who cares? I will be beautiful like these women are beautiful.

One of the ways to “talk” to your future self that Jody Moore suggests is doing the “Start, Stop, and Continue” activity. She suggest asking your future self:

What should I start doing?

What should I stop doing

What should I continue doing?

So I picture myself at ninety and I picture my wonderful grandmothers and here I go.

Dear Ninety Year Old Karen,

What should I start doing?

Dear Forty Year old Karen,

How lovely it is to talk to you! I am so glad that you are taking the time to picture your life ahead fifty years from now. The world has changed but there are so many things in this world that matter that have not changed. The sun still comes up every day in the east. There are still wonderful seasons to enjoy. The rain still falls and drips its heavenly sound on the roof and ground. The daffodils still poke their heads up every spring and adorn their beautiful bright yellow petals. The lilacs still bloom and send their sweet fragrance forth. They are still my favorite.  Technologies have come and gone, but there are three things that are always consistent my dear; 1) Jesus Christ, 2) the importance of family, 3) and loving and serving others. 

So you ask me what should you start doing as a forty-year old? I think it will be best if we break them down into four categories: physically, spiritually, and mentally/emotionally and occupationally.

Physically: start eating more fruits and vegetables and doing more strength building exercises like yoga and lifting weights. Your grandmother Gladys had diabetes and was no longer able to move from her chair in her eighties. Please take care of yourself. Eat well and take good care of your body. 

Spiritually: pray. Please pray every day. I know it is hard for your right now but if you pray every day and build that relationship with your Heavenly Father then you will have the strength that you need when every hard situation comes along and there will be many. You are setting the spiritual example for your children, but also for your grand children and great-grandchildren. They will be here some day. As I look at my wall I see photos of all their smiling faces and I love each of them as Grandma Fern loved each of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Think of the legacy that Grandma Fern left and her consistent testimony despite her many troubles and weaknesses, strive to be like her. Think of your mother and her relationship with the Lord. Be strong and be believing. Think of how Mormon and Moroni were strong despite the fact that they were alone in their faith. You can do it. I know you can because I am you. 

Mentally/emotionally.  Please have confidence in who you are. Please know how much your are loved and needed on this earth.  Please know you are a daughter of God and you are worthy of love always. Please be confident in the abilities and talents that Heavenly Father gave you and allow yourself to shine. 

Occupationally: Start writing! Write every day. You are a good writer. Write your personal history and write your stories in  your head.

Dear Ninety Year Old Karen,

What should I stop doing?

Dear Forty Year Old Karen, 

I will answer in the same categories. 

Mentally/emotionally: Stop listening to the critical voices (especially those inside your head) that drag you down and keep you from reaching your potential. You are a dreamer! Dream, float, fly and create. It is what you are supposed to do. As I sit here in my little apartment, there are at least ten books that have your name as the author. What you have to say is important. Your words are important. Your children and grandchildren need your voice and to read the stories of your ancestors in an enjoyable way that only you can write. Please do it. 

Physically: Stop comparing yourself to others. You are going to get old and your beauty is going to fade on the outside. It really is the inside that counts. Your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will think you are beautiful because you are who you are. I have a double chin, but no one cares. They love me for me! They love spending time with me because I have invested myself in their lives and shared so much love and friendship.  You can take care of yourself and you know how to do that. Please be your own kind of beautiful. 

Spiritually: Stop trying to save yourself. You will never be able to make it back to Heavenly Father on your merits alone. Allow Jesus Christ to be your partner in the yoke of this life. Allow him to take away your sins, your cares, your burdens, your struggles. Let him into your life. Develop your relationship with him. Give your heart and will over to him and let him run your life. It will take you places you will never imagine but it will be a fantastic ride! Hold on and enjoy the ride! 

Dear Ninety Year Old Karen,

What should I continue doing?

Dear Forty Year Old Karen,

Continue to do activities like this. I am always here and available to you. Remember when times get hard and you want to give up that I have made it this far. I made it through. I am ninety years old and I have lived a satisfying and happy and amazing life.  You will get through your hard times and there will always be sunshine ahead. REmember that today is a good day to have a good day. You are the one who chooses each day to be happy, to be confident and to be healthy. You can do it. I know because I am you and I have had a happy life. You can do it! You will! Keep going! 

I love you always– not matter what

Ninety-year Old Karen

 

 

 

Heres to Living my Life!, Motherhood, Writing Your Own Story

Midlife Crisis Leads Me Back to Classics

element-of-confusion-tee

For the last fourteen years I have been a stay-at-home mom. There has always been someone here with me to look after, but in August, my youngest went to school full time. At first I loved the new freedom that came with my days. I went hiking on trails I had never explored, I went places the kids would never want to go with me, and I spent some time doing charity work. However, as the weeks went on, I started down a spiral that lead me to what I could only describe as a midlife crisis (I am not even forty yet)! I started to feel lonely. Things I liked to do didn’t make me happy anymore.

As snow fell on the mountains and the ground became more muddy, I didn’t want to hike anymore. I thought maybe now it was time to look to the future. “What am I going to do now that my kids are in school?” I thought I really needed to find a job. Doesn’t everyone who has kids in school all day have a job? I looked at part time jobs and applied for a few, but when the call came for an interview, I realized that it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.

Then I I thought maybe I needed to go back to school to get some additional training. The problem is I don’t really know what training I want and I don’t want to waste time and money. I thought about it for weeks and thought I really didn’t know who I was anymore.

I reached out a community on Facebook and many helpful people suggested I read a book written for teenagers to help them discover their mission in life. It is funny, but it is really helping me. I am on a new path in my life and it is nice to get back to my roots. One of the suggestions in this book is for teenagers to read classics, then to talk about them with someone, then to write about them. There is a list of 100 classic books to read.

I decided that I didn’t really need to go back to school to get an education. I had only ready about ten books on the list. The first book on the list in the suggestions for twelve-year old girls was Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.”  You can read my review and experience reading it again here.

I had read the book when I was twelve and loved it. I remember watching the PBS movie as a child with my mother and grandmother. We would watch eight hours to see the kiss between her and Gilbert Blythe at the end, but it was always worth it. Here is the list of novels I will be reading over the next year. Feel free to read along and discuss them with me. How many have you read?

Level One:

  1. ‘Little Women -Louisa May Alcott
  2. Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
  3. The Wizard of Oz- L. Frank Baum
  4. Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe-C. S. Lewis
  5. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes– Edith Hamilton
  6. Little House in the Big Woods– Laura Ingalls Wilder
  7. The Phantom Tool Booth –Norton Juster
  8. Ender’s Game- Orson Scott Card

Level Two:

  1. Pollyanna-Eleanor H. Porter
  2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream–William Shakespeare
  3. All’s Well that End’s Well- William Shakespeare
  4. The Tempest- William Shakespeare
  5. Prince Caspian– C. S. Lewis
  6. Aesop’s Fables
  7. Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain
  8. Flatland- Edwin Abbott
  9. Saint Joan- Mark Twain
  10. Huckleberry Finn-Mark Twain
  11. Little House on the Prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder
  12. Best Loved Poems of the American People– Hazel Felleman and Frank Allen
  13. Sonnets, William Shakespeare
  14. The Jungle Book- Rudyard Kipling
  15. The Real Thomas Jefferson- Andrew M. Allison
  16. Asimov on Numbers- Issac Asimov
  17. Love Languages- Gary Chapman
  18. The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny -by William Strauss and Neil Howe
  19. The Walking Drum, Louis L’Amour
  20. Say, Go, Be, Do- Tiffany Rhoades Earl
  21. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People- Steven R. Covey
  22. The One Minute Manager-Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D and Spencer Johnson, M.D.
  23. The Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
  24. A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
  25. Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick

There is also a level three, level four, and level five by I think for now thirty seven books on a list is a good start! Happy Reading!

Life with Boys, Motherhood

Back to School is Bittersweet

No, I’m not! I know many parents count down the days until their children are back in school, but I have to say, I am not one of them. I really hate when summer comes to an end.  I love summer. I love the freedom each new day brings whether we will stay at home or go on an adventure. I enjoy my boys and I love when they are home. I know they need school to learn and grow but sometimes I wish I could make time stand still. I have incredible boys and I am going to miss them when they start back to school tomorrow.

Tomorrow is also the end of an era. Sniff. My youngest is going to be in school full time.  It is bittersweet. I am happy for him because he will grow so much this year, but I am feeling a bit melancholy. I no longer will have any little person at home with me. There have been many times over the last fourteen years that I have been home with my children that I have wanted to tear my hair out and run away from the craziness, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I remember feeling overwhelmed with the task of holding my oldest in his car seat as we left the hospital. I thought,”they are really letting me take this baby home? Don’t they know I know nothing?” It was difficult. I had taken classes and looked after children before, but never infants on only on a few hours of sleep. I remember once my son was crying. He had been fed, changed, burped, and snuggled and I couldn’t figure out what he needed. I remember thinking at that point “And I wanted this?” but the truth is I did. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to look after children.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I haven’t always listened, I’ve yelled, I had my own embarrassing temper tantrums, and I teased my boys when I shouldn’t have. I haven’t been as patient or kind as I could have been (or as my husband who is the Saint of Patience) and there are many times I should have kept my big, fat mouth shut,  but being a mother has been the most rewarding job of my life. I have no “work experience” but I have grown so much as a person as I have watched my little ones grow. They have taught me so much. My oldest has grown into one of my best friends. My other two keep me on my toes. They are smart, articulate, and are always making me laugh.  I am grateful for the hard days and the great days. I am also grateful for the mediocre days.

My Heavenly Father knew I needed these boys to become a better person and I am so grateful he sent them to me.  We may have closed the door on having little children now, but I know my husband and I are excited to enter the new door of having older children and the joy that will come from it. I’ve got four years (just four years!) with my oldest, and I am determined to try to be the kind of mom that my boys need.

 

Family, Life with Boys, Motherhood, Writing Your Baby's Story

Week Three: Writing Your Baby’s Story

We’ve been busy the last few weeks with family in town and celebrating birthdays. I had fun adding more information to each of my “baby’s” stories. They certainly aren’t babies anymore! Our youngest just turned six years old. If you are starting when your baby is only a few weeks old, congratulations! My details are getting foggier the older I get. Here are the questions to add to your child’s story this week.

  1. Who drove the mother and the baby home?When did the mother and baby arrive home
  2. Where did the mother and baby live? Who did they live with?
  3. Describe the baby’s home and room.
  4. Did the baby sleep in their own room or share a room with the mother or someone else?
  5. What were the siblings’ and/or other family members’ reactions the baby’s arrival home?
  6. What visitors did the baby and mother have in the first few days home?
  7. Did anyone come or help the mother and the new baby? Who? How long did that person stay? What other help did the family receive?
  8. Did the mother and/or baby receive any special gifts?
  9. Describe the feelings the mother and father had during the first few days home.  Did they have any special impressions or thoughts?

A few of the highlights from my answers to these questions comes from that the last one. Describe the feelings the mother and father had during the first few days home. When we had our first beautiful baby boy, I was twenty-four.  We were students in college and working hard to make ends meet.  I remember when we first brought our baby home to our little apartment, I was so excited, but also very nervous. We had a lot of support. My mother came every day to help us out a little and my mother in law came for a few days as well. Our church family helped us with dinners and always checked on me.

It was hard the first time I was left alone with our son. I had taken care of children, even little babies, but not for hours at a time. I was trying to nurse him because all my birthing classes had stressed that “breast is best.” However, our sweet little guy would not latch on in a comfortable way and it hurt terribly every time I tried to feed him. I was frustrated and exhausted. However, I would not, could not supplement with formula. I was certain in my foggy postpartum mind that if I fed him from a bottle, he would die and I would forever hold the title of “worst mother in the world.”

I remember praying,”Please Heavenly Father, please help me, please bless him to be able to eat.” Well, I tried to do everything the lactation specialist had shown me and it wasn’t working. The baby was hungry and tired. My delivery was rough and I was still recovering. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I cried and cried, the baby cried. It was so overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do anymore when exactly at the moment by my sweet husband walked in the door. He had come home from work earlier than I expected. He looked at me and the baby and he took the sweet infant in his arms and snuggled him and sent me to bed. I remember saying the baby was upset because he was hungry, but I couldn’t get him to eat. My level-headed husband said, “We still have samples of formula from the hospital, right?”

He said, ‘formula’ but I am sure I heard  ‘arsenic.’  I glared at him. “We are not feeding our baby formula!”

He looked at me kindly and put his arm on my shoulder. “Karen, scientists created infant formula for this reason: so that their dads could help feed their babies. Our baby won’t die if he drinks formula. I promise you. He is going to be fine.”

I tried to protest, but I was so exhausted and somehow he got me to go lay down. I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke an hour or two later and came out to my husband watching television in the living room. Our baby’s belly was full and he was happily dosing in the crook of his father’s arms.

I realize then my prayer was answered. It wasn’t in the way I thought it would be, but it was an answer. My husband coming home when he did was a tender mercy.  I never thought I would go to feeding our baby formula, but after seeing how my husband could help me. Later I realized how much easier it was for me and the baby and we never went back.

If you are wondering if feeding our baby formula hurt him,  well he is in the eighth grade, 6’1″, sings, plays piano, and has great grades.

michael

 

 

Family, Family History, History, Life with Boys, Motherhood

Bringing Family History to Life

I think it is important when you have kids to do things that can bring your family history to life for them. It can all be so confusing with the names and dates. I remember growing up my mother would start a story and I would not know who she was referring to. I could not see the connections like she could and our conversations went like this.

“Who are you talking about again?”

“Phebe, you know, your grandfather’s sister. She is Matthew and Libby’s grandmother.”

There were too many names and I never heard the story only trying to figure out the names.

I have learned when I teach a story to my boys about one of their ancestors I have to keep it simple. I show a photo if I have one and then tell the story in a minute or two.

If my teenager wants to know more when I have finished then I can give him the name of the ancestor where he can go on to Familysearch.org to look more about his ancestor for himself.

One of the ways I have tried to bring family history to life for my children is to visit places where there is a story in connection with our ancestors. My favorite place to take them is to the Bluff Fort Historic Site and Visitors Center in Bluff, Utah. I have great grandparents who were a part of the San Juan Mission who carved a road out of the Utah desert to Bluff. They were the only pioneer expedition to travel east!

Bluff Fort is a lot of fun because they have interactive displays in each of the replica cabins built around the fort. There are artifacts you can see and learn more about. There is a movie made specifically about the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition and you can climb into a covered wagon. We got to see our ancestors’ names on the memorial they have in the middle of the fort, the Stevens Family. If you are interested in going to the Bluff Fort yourself it is open all year round and is completely free.  Their website is http://www.hirf.org.

Family, Life with Boys, Motherhood, Uncategorized

Trapper Keepers and American Girl Dolls

Back in the early nineties, my family moved from our log home to run a bed and breakfast across town.  I am the youngest of six children. I have an older sister, then four brothers. We moved while my third brother was on a two-year proselytizing mission for our church in Bolivia. The only two children left at home were myself and my brother who was two years older.

When we unpacked our belongings into our new rooms, my brother found a Beauty and the Beast Trapper Keeper in a box of his. It was not his and so he put it on my bed thinking it was mine. I saw it and knew it was not mine so I put it on his bed. This went on for days until finally I got upset and said,”Quick putting this thing in my room. It isn’t mine.”

“Well, it certainly isn’t mine!” he said.

We figured out it must have belonged to our brother who was on a mission. My brother put in a box in his closet and I thought it was the end of it until the next day when I got home from high school. My brother sat in the living room, not watching television, reading, or doing anything. He never just sat. I knew he was up to something. He nodded at me when I came in. Then he smiled. It was an eerie, mischievous sort of smile. “Aren’t you going to take your stuff up to your room?” he asked.

“No!” I yelled and ran to my room. “Where is it?” I searched my room for the offending Trapper Keeper. I looked in my pillowcases, in my dresser drawers, in my closet. He followed me and casually leaned against my door watching my erratic behavior. He had an amused look on his face.

“Where did you put it?” I asked ready to tear my hair out.

He laughed and looked at the ceiling.I looked and he had taped the Trapper Keeper to the ceiling above my bed.

“I wanted you to have a good dreams,” he said.

I immediately stood on my bed and tore the offending item from my ceiling.

The next day, I put it in the cupboard under his television where he kept his video games so his friends would see it as they got the games out.

The next day, he taped it to my shower.

The Trapper Keeper would never disappear. The game went on for the rest of the year until my brother graduated and moved away. I put in my closet and laughed when I saw it.

It felt weird to be the only kid at home with my parents that fall. When the spring came around my brother decided to go out and serve a mission for our church as well and was sent to England. The following Christmas, I got the Trapper Keeper out, wrote him a bunch of letters, filled it with candy and mailed it to him. It was the best!

Our family talked to him on Christmas and he had not received my package yet. Then a few weeks later, I got a letter saying he had received my package, but he wasn’t very happy about it. I believe he threw it away in a bin in Manchester, England. trapper-keeper

It is a funny thing to remember. Then similarly, a few years after my husband and I had our first son, we were expecting another baby and we bought some curtains from Pottery Barn Kids.  My husband got on a mailing list somehow and they sent him an American Girl doll catalog. We laughed about it and I would call him at work to tell him it had come in the mail so it would have something to look forward to when he returned home.

As our boys have grown, we still get the American Girl Catalog. My husband started putting it in our oldest’s sons room and then I would help him come up with a place to hide it in my husband’s things. Then our two younger boys have got involved and they hide in each other’s bedrooms. We moved three years ago and made sure that we changed our address so they would continue to come, however, we put the catalog in our oldest’s sons’ name.  We wanted him to feel special. With so much technology these days, who doesn’t like getting special items in the mail?

We continue to get them to this day and find funny places to hide them.  The best hiding spot was when I put it in a part of my son’s backpack he doesn’t use very often and he carried it back and forth to junior high for a week. Good times! It is the little, silly things we do that our kids remember. Just as I always think of my brother whe I see Beauty and the Beast, I know in the future, I will never see an American Girl catalog without thinking of the funny times we had with our boys when they were young.

american-girl

 

 

Life with Boys, Motherhood

Carpooling

My boys go to two different charter schools in our valley. I carpool with two other families to the schools. The two other amazing moms take turns taking the kids to school and I rotate with one of them on picking up the kids. We take another teenage boy and two sisters, one is twelve and the other is ten. Throwing the girls in has been really fun this year.

We have had some fun and interesting conversations. It is funny that the kids can remember things from a year or so ago. One time we saw a black fluffy dog and a white fluffy dog running down the middle of the road.

I pretended I was the voices for the dogs. “Run, Kiki! We are finally free!” said the white one.

“Yes, Fifi, we are! Run! Run like the wind!”

Then I sang the words to “Born Free.”

Then their owner came chasing after them. It was pretty funny to see him try to catch up.

One the same street, someone posted a weird cardboard stand-up by the telephone pole with the words “Slow down” next to it. The cardboard stand up was of a cartoon woman wearing a white robe. My son named it Veronica and we called it his girlfriend.

I am sad to report she isn’t there anymore. The other teenagers started  a conspiracy saying my son might be responsible for her disappearance. No comment.

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Finally, the kids have come up with this game whenever we see a certain color of car, they do something different to each other. It can get violent. Luckily, they leave me as the drive alone!

  • Orange car-hit your neighbor
  • Green car-tickle your  neighbor
  • Purple car- hug neighbor (contributed by the ten year old girl of course)
  • Yellow bus- hit your neighbor
  • Hot pink car=death for everyone

I am glad we haven’t seen any hot pink cars!

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