The Fam

The Fam

About Me

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Tucker and I are kickin' it here in Wyoming! We love it here and, despite the trials and hardships we experience, we choose to learn the lessons and be happy. Tucker owns his own lawn maintenace company. I love being a wife and stay at home Mom. I also love to create by way of cooking and writing. I love to cook and eat WHOLE foods - grains, fruits, veggies and meat sparingly. I enjoy reading, pedicures, Epsom salt baths, and date night - of course! We have been married 13 years and have 6 precious children!


11 Ways I've Made Healthy Eating a Habit

  1. Don’t be Ashamed! This way of life is definitely not popular in today’s world. But, eating this way is what makes me happy, overall, and feel the best … bottom line. It’s my thing. The social aspect of this journey has always been the most difficult, for me. I (usually) do not let others’ comments make me feel ashamed of what I’ve learned and overcome. Just because my way hasn’t worked for others, doesn’t take away from what works for me and who I’ve chosen to be. The more I worry about what others may think/say/do, the less time I have to learn for and improve myself.
  2. Focus on progress, not perfection! The hardest days are the ones where I focus on the worst part of a meal or snack, or emphasize a really bad day of the week. Just stop. Sure – I ate some Cheetos last week – but I can count on one hand the number of times I have eaten white sugar in the last year! I have come a very long way, and I will never return to my worst days; my food consumption is definitely not perfect, but it is definitely much better.
  3. Celebrate the little victories! Last night I watched my two oldest daughters pack their lunches for school. They included whole grains, fruits and vegetables, all on their own. Recently, I ate and truly enjoyed all the healthy foods from a buffet filled with LOTS of foods. I hardly felt tempted and felt very satisfied after the meal. I treasure up these moments, for they encourage me to press on.
  4. Choose faith over fear! It’s true, my 6-year-old often tells me dinner isn’t his favorite (“Gross, Mom! I’m not eating that!”) and I often sigh, a little in defeat. It’s true, I sometimes hold a pity-party and count all the ways life is hard or unfair. There will always be moments of doubt and there will always be times when I wonder if it’s all worth it. But the most rewarding aspects of life always require sacrifice. Elder Holland has said, “You can have what you want, or you can have something better.” The “better” I hope for includes: a clear mind, disease prevention/control, optimal weight/muscle gain, temperance, pleasing God, choice and accountability, treasures of knowledge and self-esteem.
  5. Rely on a Higher Power! This has been a spiritual, as well as physical, journey for me. Prayer, fasting and Priesthood blessings have been essential for change and progress. I have to continually come to the Lord in my weakness. He continually and lovingly cheers me on. Many times I have been relieved of temptation. Many times I have fallen, but have found strength beyond my own to continue. I confess my Heavenly Father’s hand in all things through sincere and grateful prayer. The sacrifice of His son makes change and growth possible. I could never do this on my own!
  6. Get it Out and Get to Work! This lifestyle isn’t always easy (although, it is becoming easier every day). I realized I was making it harder by continuing to buy and indulge in foods that created uncontrollable cravings and made trying to change unbearable. With some focus, restraint and planning, it is possible to make healthy eating a habit – a lifestyle. I have to make time and put forth effort toward those things that are most important: my relationship with God and my husband and family members. It is no different with healthy eating. It is a journey that requires real sweat and tears with continual trial and error. Throw out the junk food. Talk with others who are of a like-mindset. Study and pray (every day, every day, every day). Go to bed early and rise early. Exercise and stretch regularly to elevate your mood, increase energy and de-stress. Plan meals for the week ahead. Shop with a list with control and purpose. Try new recipes and adapt the ones you already have. Keep a record of the ones that work and refer to them often. Quit whining and just do it! (I have to tell myself that all the time.)
  7. Keep Food Choices in Perspective! Fortunately, I view my relationship with food as an avenue to more fully serve God and my family. I feel more patient and loving when I am bridling my passions and limiting foods that exacerbate my brain chemistry. This is very motivating on a day-to-day basis. However, sometimes I have to check myself and make sure I am not using food as my Savior. In the end, my food choices do not determine my worth, nor will they be the means to my eternal salvation. Eating perfectly does not equal a perfect life. There is only One who carries me through this mortal existence, and only He will make all things right some day! Food is not my religion and should never get in the way of relationships. It is easy to recognize when it does. Besides those obviously contraindicated in the scriptures, food choices are not intended to be a means to judge ourselves or others. Period.
  8. Consider the Source! There are SO MANY voices (whether you want to hear them or not) when it comes to healthy eating. Although I still consider, and have been greatly blessed by the research and insights of others, I have learned to strictly compare and heed the counsel found in the scriptures and words of our latter-day prophets. We were created by and in the image of God, and I believe He knows the best way to take care of our bodies. In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn that whole grains (wheat, oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice, beans, corn, lentils, etc.) are to be the staff of life! Fruits, vegetables and herbs and all things that grow from the earth are ordained for our use. Meat is to be used sparingly and with thanksgiving in our hearts.
  9. Keep Recipe Choices Visible! I have lists of go-to snacks, recipes and (healthy) treats hanging on the fridge and handy on the counter. I always want to eat healthy – but sometimes I just can’t think of “what.” Having a list of tried and true recipes I can easily and continually refer to has been key. Doubling and/or making recipes in “bulk” is also very convenient.
  10. Date Night! This is so huge for me. Time away from the house, the kids, the dog, the chores, the neighbors, the bills, the homemade meals, the grocery shopping and just the general “routine” combined with alone-time with my love is everything. It keeps me going as I look forward to it all week! I also regularly enjoy pedicures, Epsom salt baths, lifting weights, creating (through writing and cooking) and reading. Unfortunately, I had used some foods to entertain and comfort myself. So, as my eating habits improved, I had to find and make time for other things to find fulfillment.
  11. Never Give Up! I often have to remind myself I am not a failure if I don’t quit trying. When I get discouraged and find myself slipping into old habits, I fast for strength and/or ask for a Priesthood blessing. For a long time I worried I was chasing an unachievable dream and questioned whether the person I wanted to become was even possible. Through a blessing I was specifically told my long term goals were attainable; not only attainable – but that my efforts were pleasing to my family and my Heavenly Father. That gave me so much hope and was just what I needed to preserver. Don’t give up … YOU CAN DO IT!


Some Thoughts Following Miscarriage #3:

10 weeks pregnant, I had just begun to show! With my Mom, Tucker and Cutter (1 yr old) at the Museum of El Senor of Sipan in Lambayeque, Peru.
Today I scrubbed blood from the toilet and bath tub. It was a stinging reminder of what could have been. But it was a beautiful reminder of what can be. Through Jesus Christ’s blood, we are made alive. It’s not just that someday in the eternities we will rise again, but today we can rise again. Because Jesus Christ already suffered for my every sin, pain and sorrow, I can have peace and happiness today. Because Jesus Christ died and was resurrected on the third day, my babies will all live again. Jesus Christ is always the answer. He gives perfect hope when we have perfect faith. And when our faith stumbles, He is there to lift us … to expand our limited understanding, and to hush our every fear.
As I was being wheeled from the ER to the ultrasound room, I couldn’t help but sob and feel so stupid. Here we were again. I felt a burden to my husband and children and all the doctors and nurses. They were having to sacrifice their comforts and time because I had somehow failed. The tiny life growing inside was no more, and all this fuss for naught. My selfish thoughts were quickly interrupted by these divine words: “There is absolutely no effort, pain, sorrow, or sacrifice that is not worth suffering to bring a life into the world.” This beautiful truth calmed my heart and in turn, provided a resolute mind. Did I not feel the worth of the soul growing inside of me? Did I not feel the despair of a life not lived? If it didn’t matter, and this was all for nothing … then why the overwhelming sentiments regarding this life and death? There is purpose in God’s plan. ALL of His children are not only numbered, but known and loved. We are so precious and dear to our Heavenly Father and Mother, and with this infinite love comes the grand burden of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Their plan of happiness for us is perfect, and the only way to Them is through our Elder brother, even Jesus Christ.
There was a moment in the dark and somber ultrasound room where I was in pain and feeling deep sorrow. I looked back and started to motion to grab Tucker’s hand, but realized he had fallen asleep. We had returned home from an international flight at 2 AM (after 20+ hours of traveling) just seven hours before, and my sweet companion was exhausted and sick with a fever. I immediately felt so cold and alone. Just as I was about to burst into tears, I envisioned the Savior standing right beside me and taking my outstretched hand. Right then, I felt I was never alone and know that He is always near when we need Him the most. He is not only my Savior, but ultimate teacher and friend. I love Him. Always.

Pres. Uchtdorf has taught, “In stories, as in life, adversity teaches us things we cannot learn otherwise. Adversity helps develop strength of character.” Over the hours and days I have quietly pleaded in prayer to be taught what I needed to learn. The Spirit has softened my heart and many truths I already knew have been confirmed on a deeper level. In a few days I will undergo surgery to purge my body of what remains. But what will always remain, is an undeniable hope in my heart. A hope for happier days ahead, and a knowledge that my Savior lives and will never let me fall.




I have been thinking a lot about motherhood, lately, and especially about what a blessing it is to me. It is so hard and challenging most of the time ... but there are moments of joy and increased understanding, tender mercies, that keep me going and encourage me to keep on trying. I have been enjoying that my children are getting a little older. Sure, they are still young, but when I had 4 kids under 7, it was mostly about survival - how do we get from A to B with all of our clothes and with the least amount of melt-downs possible. Now, Tucker and I try to plan things for our family that we hope may be actually be fun ... still, with as few melt-downs as possible. Wink!

On Monday night, for Family Home Evening, we decided to take some Christmas goodies to friends and neighbors and drive around to see all the lights. The whole ride in the car, the kids just fought. A lot. By the time we got home, I was feeling pretty discouraged. More than often, we try to follow the counsel and example of our parents and leaders, but, things don't go as we plan. I blame myself and feel sad when my children don't get along and wonder why they are all so strong-willed. Every. Single. One. Always. has an opinion. They must get that from their Dad. (not winking!) My Mom once told me it is a struggle to raise "leaders." I often think of their future and something whispers these Spirits that come into our families have a fight ahead. They come with wills of light and strength to continue traditions of righteousness in a world that ever grows in darkness. My job as a mother is to love them and to teach them ... not to battle, force or control them. I tried not to show my true frustration driving in the car - but I don't think I hid it well. In fact, I know I didn't. When we returned home, I less than happily served them their home made (whole wheat, wink) cinnamon rolls.

That night I prayed for my children, that they would have a personal relationship with Christ, and that they would have a love of the scriptures, that they may love one another ... that we would ALL love one another. I also often pray to know their individual needs and to have the desire and courage to meet those needs. Sometimes, I know what my child needs, but I am too tired or selfish to act. Just like last night, family scripture study and prayer was finished, and it was time for bed. Tucker took some of the kids downstairs, while I manned the kids upstairs. After getting "my" kids to bed, I curled up on a comfy chair by the Christmas tree to continue reading my book. I think most parents know the joy of a (finally!) quiet house with kids peacefully tucked in their beds, clean (sometimes), and with full tummies. About 5 minutes in, Kashli came up the stairs because she wanted me to braid her hair so it would be crimpy in the morning. "NO, Kashli. It's time for bed," I scowled. Then about 2 seconds later, I knew it was important to her, and apologized, "Okay. I'm sorry. Come sit down, I'll do it." We, again, said our goodnights and I, again, curled up on my chair and began reading. About 5 mins in, Carly came up the stairs because she wanted me to braid her hair so it would be crimpy in the morning. Doubly annoyed, I cried out "NO, Carly. I'm tired ... I want to read my book ... it's time for bed ... why can't you guys just go to bed!" Then about 2 seconds later, I saw my selfishness, and apologized, "Okay, Carly. Sorry. I'll do your hair." I felt guilty for the way I responded and blamed myself for their fighting and unkind ways in the car on Monday night. But, the thought came to me that it was more important that I had said I was sorry and corrected my behavior by doing the right thing than it was if I had done it all right in the first place. Over and over these scenarios play out, and over and over the Savior's grace is sufficient to forgive and to teach me. I don't worry so much about always doing the perfect thing, because I know that the Lord is in control, that HE is their Savior, not me.

So, and the reason for this longer-than-expected post, this morning I found one of those tender mercies I talked about in the beginning. I found a note on Kashli's bed, from Carly: "Let's try harder ... I love you..." were some of the phrases. It warmed my heart and prodded me to keep on trying. I want to remember this note that made me smile ... because, I'll be honest, some days it feels there are more reasons to cry. These children are really only on loan to me, and My Father's perfect love is enough. Tucker and I have resolved to hold on to the promises found in reading the scriptures, praying, holding Family Home Evening (even when it feels more like Family H#%$ Evening - okay exaggeration ... kind of) and going to church each Sunday. The Lord forgives me every day, and I owe him my whole heart and will!


4 Reasons I Eat Meat Sparingly

1. It is pleasing to Heavenly Father!

 Doctrine and Covenants 89:12-15 states: (emphasis added)
"12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
 13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
 14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
 15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger."
It is up to us as individuals to decide what "sparingly" means.

“The Word of Wisdom was ‘given for a principle with promise.’ That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor."
-Boyd K. Packer, "The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises," General Conference April 1996
Also, Doctrine and Covenants 49:18-19 says:
"18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same,
is not ordained of God;
 19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance."
I don't believe God is pleased with the way we as Americans eat meat, in gluttony and waste. One of our latter-day prophets, President Ezra Taft Benson said, "to a significant degree, we are an overfed and undernourished nation who are digging and early grave with our teeth." But, I also don't believe he is pleased with those who forbid others to eat meat and turn their noses at the mere thought of hunting or using animals for food and for raiment. God has clearly stated that animals have been ordained for these, and other purposes. No one's eternal salvation is at stake in regards to their meat intake. So, for those reasons, I don't identify myself as a "vegetarian" or "Vegan." Essentially, I believe I can come a long way in minimalizing the amount of meat I eat, without becoming a zealous animal right's activist, or believe that I am somehow "better" than others who choose to eat meat regularly.  
2. Daniel, one of the Lord's wisest servants in The Holy Bible, refused the King's meat and wine.
Daniel 1:8-20: (emphasis added)
"8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
 10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
 11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
 12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
 13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
 14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
 15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
 16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
 17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
 18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
 19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm."
I believe the Lord required much of Daniel, and that Daniel, too, understood his purpose and part he was to play in Heavenly Father's plan. Therefore, seeing his own weaknesses, Daniel made covenants with God, and refused the King's diet of meat and wine, and ate "pulse" (grains and seeds) and drank water. For this, Daniel was blessed "in all matter of wisdom and understanding" and was "found ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in his realm." Daniel chose to strictly heed the counsel found in the Word of Wisdom, and was blessed to be one of the Lord's greatest servants in building the kingdom of God on the Earth!
I love the Lord's law of two witnesses in the scriptures (Matthew 18:16 and 2 Nephi 29:8). We have the Word of Wisdom in The Book of Mormon, and the account of Daniel in The Holy Bible.
3. Our latter-day prophets have encouraged us to more fully live The Word of Wisdom.
"I thank the Lord for a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I wish we lived it more fully."
 -President Gordon B. Hinckley

"These binding chains of addiction can have many forms, like pornography, alcohol, sex, drugs, tobacco, gambling, food, work, the Internet, or virtual reality. Satan, our common enemy, has many favorite tools he uses to rob us of our divine potential to accomplish our mission in the Lord's kingdom." (emphasis added)
-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?" General Conference April 2014

"How I wish that each of us could have a strong testimony of the Word of Wisdom and that we could share with others the results of its sacred promises so that our future generations can be healthy and intelligent, and so our families and nations can be strengthened. In this way, we can become worthy of the final promise of the Lord as contained in this section of the Doctrine and Covenants: 'And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.' When we humbly recognize and fully accept the counsel of the Lord, nothing will be able to hold back man’s intelligence." (emphasis added)
-Eduardo Ayala, "The Word of Wisdom," General Conference October 1990

"It was shown in the history of plant science that plants contain all the necessary food substances: proteins, fats, starches and the carbohydrates, minerals...water [and] vitamins.
The Great builder of the earth provided well for the physical needs of His children! Countless varieties of edible plants, vegetables, cereals, fruits and nuts are yielded by Mother Nature for man's daily food. If one uses meat it must be used sparingly and in winter or famine only....
They who wish to be well and gain the promised reward stated in the Word of Wisdom must obey all of the law, not just part of it as suits their whim or their appetite, or their notion of its meaning."
-John A. Widstoe, The Word of Wisdom, a Modern Interpretation, 1950
4. Science continues to prove a whole foods plant-based diet is the number one defense against the top 4 killers of Americans: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke.



Power Bites
The kids really enjoy 1 or 2 of these packed in their lunches or as an afterschool snack. Coralynn calls them brussel sprouts. I don't know where she got that ... "Can I have a bwussel sprwout, Mommy?'
1 1/2 c regular rolled oats
1 c peanut butter (I use Adam's 100% natural), unsweetened
1/2 c raw honey
1/2 c chia seeds
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c almond meal or whole grain flour
1/2 c chopped pecans
dash of sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pure vanilla
Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix until it all comes together. Shape into balls and place into air-tight container and store in fridge. Makes about 20.
You can be really creative with these. I adapted this recipe from several others floating around the web. Try substituting raisins or your favorite dried fruit, unsweetened coconut flakes, different nuts and/or spices, etc. Just leave the honey and peanut butter ratios, otherwise they will be too dry and crumbly to form balls; measure carefully.
Also, last night Carly and I made some meatless enchiladas. We have a rotating wheel where the kids each take a turn doing dishes, setting the table, clearing the table or helping Mom prepare dinner. Unfortunately, we tried a new sauce to smother the enchiladas and it was way too spicy! Several kids ended up crying and eventually they settled for "chocolate" oatmeal (we just add 1 heaping tsp of raw cocoa powder to each Quaker microwave packet) for dinner. Oh well. What matters is that we keep trying! I am going to perfect the recipe, though, because they were actually really good ... minus the spicy sauce. So I guess it wasn't a total fail. Recipe to come soon. 


Chocolate "Cheesecake"
These pictures really do not give this recipe justice! I am not a photographer and take all my pics with my iPhone. But just trust me, this recipe never disappoints. Even my sugar-holic friends and family enjoy this. We just had it as our Family Home Evening treat on Monday night.
1 c almond and/or pecan meal (just pulse whole nuts in blender until flour or meal like)
6 medjool dates, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla
Pulse together in high-powered blender until it begins to come or stick together. Press into 9" pie pan.
2 cups cashew pieces, soaked 15 mins
1/2 c water
1/2 c 100% pure maple sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c (scant) raw cocoa powder
1/4 c organic cold-pressed coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla
Drain cashew pieces and place in blender with water, syrup and salt. Blend until creamy and smooth. Add powder, oil and vanilla and blend until thoroughly incorporated, scraping sides of blender with spatula as needed. Pour into 9" crust. Garnish with roasted nuts. Cover and set in freezer a few hours. Remove from freezer and slice. Store covered in freezer.
This recipe is a wonderful treat that got me through kicking my sugar habit. Some argue that maple sugar is still sugar. While I would agree to some extent, 100% pure maple syrup is collected straight from the tree and requires little processing before being bottled. It also is lower on the glycemic index, thus it does not affect blood sugar and insulin response in the same way overly refined white sugar does. Unlike white sugar, pure maple syrup also retains many minerals, such as calcium, iron, manganese and zinc. Therefore, I still use maple syrup, as well as raw honey for the same reasons, as sweeteners in my cooking and baking, in moderation. I don't find that it causes the same intense food cravings I experience when eating white flour and sugar products.
You may, however, wish to refrain from even honey and maple syrup during the first 2 weeks of cutting out sugar. Just be prayerful through your journey and learn from your choices.
 During the first several weeks of cutting out sugar I would have severe cravings for a treat, and this recipe was perfect! I simply slice it into individual servings while it is still semi soft-set and keep it covered and stored in the freezer, ready for when a craving may come.
Much to my surprise and delight, however, the longer I have been off sugar, I experience fewer cravings, and they are not the same in intensity. Sugar becomes less and less appealing. Usually some fresh fruit will suffice! Hang in there, it really does get easier.
Another recipe for a sweet treat ... My sister, Jodi, gave me this recipe.
Chocolate Peppermint Smoothie
1 1/2 c almond milk, unsweetened
1 banana
2 Tbs raw cocoa powder
2 Tbs cocao powder
2 dates, chopped and soaked 15 mins
1/4 c walnuts, chopped and soaked 15 mins
Handful of spinach (you won't taste it)
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 drop pure peppermint oil
ice, optional
Blend all in high powered blender. Add ice to taste/temp preferences. Enjoy!
Note: Raw cocoa powder is less refined than regular cocoa powder and retains much of its fiber. It has a slightly less intense cocoa flavor, therefore if you are using regular cocoa in recipes, you may need to reduce the amount. Raw cocoa powder can be found in health food stores. I get it at Natural Grocers.



When I was only 8 years old, my maternal grandmother died of heart disease. She was 51. My grandpa died of cancer in his 70’s, and my other grandpa has had three heart attacks, a triple bypass surgery, and now wears a pacemaker. We do not have good “genes.” Subsequently, I exercised and fad dieted throughout my childhood and teenage years.

My interest in health continued into college where I studied fitness and wellness. A week after I graduated from BYU, my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world. She was perfect, except for one thing: she was a colicky baby. She would scream and cry and her little body would writhe in pain, night after night. By the early morning hours I was usually crying with her. After trying anything and everything to try to ease her discomfort, the only thing I could do was pray to God for help. I was nursing my baby and had several women tell me certain foods could cause colic. Around that time my Grandma Johnnie Belle gave all of her children and grandchildren a book entitled The China Study for Christmas. Out of respect for my grandmother and a feeling of desperation, I read the book. It was very overwhelming, but I felt impressed to at least cut out milk at that time. It was an attainable goal, and I began to see subtle changes right away; the irritable temperament of my fussy baby began to diminish, and, much to my surprise and delight, the little bumps that covered my upper arms began to disappear. I was beginning to learn what Hippocrates had said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Although five more children would bring joy and continue to bless my marriage, I unfortunately suffered bouts of anxiety and depression in varying degrees. I have always been able to maintain a consistent exercise regimen, but my weight fluctuated as I struggled to know “what” and “how” to eat. I also suffered recurring yeast infections. I felt I had more love and patience to give and felt sorry and guilty all the time. I pleaded for help in knowing how I might more fully serve my Heavenly Father and his children. One day I read Alma 38:12: “See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.” I was guided to understand that my relationship with food and the food choices I was making were limiting my potential by affecting my mood and energy levels. But, book after book, conversation after conversation, scripture after scripture, article after article, it was very clear that when it comes to food choices and getting healthy, it can be very confusing and contradicting.

At my lowest point, I suffered a miscarriage, and compounded with an incident of molestation as a child and the near death of my then 9-month-old baby less than a year before that, I literally went crazy—physically and mentally. I was put on anti-depressants and my doctor even considered putting me on high blood pressure meds at the age of 30! After more heartfelt prayer and fasting, with food sensitivities in mind, I was prompted to revisit The Word of Wisdom. I had always believed the answers were there, but I would become frustrated as I tried to interpret the counsel and make it align with all of the other information I had absorbed. What did eating meat "sparingly" really mean? Another thing that troubled me was all of the things it didn’t say. What about dairy? What about sugar? What about oil? I finally came to realize I only needed to align all other information with the Word Wisdom. The foods I should be eating, besides the obvious contraindications, were listed, and anything else is unnecessary and/or even harmful.

The bottom line was, food was affecting my mind and body, and if I didn’t make some life changes, I was not going to be the instrument in the Lord’s hands I yearned to be. Although I had cut out sugar for short periods of time, many times before, to cure yeast overgrowth and for other overall health improvements, I now felt impressed to really cut it out, as in permanently! It was overwhelming and scary to think about. In the past when going off of sugar I had suffered migraines, vomiting, extreme mood swings and even emotional breakdowns. However, I found comfort in verse 3 of section 89 that The Word of Wisdom was “… adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints.” I knew God had heard my prayers and accepted my fast. I had faith that, coupled with my righteous desires, the enabling power of Christ’s atonement would help me attain my goals. I decided to use LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program manual, and although it was still a challenge, it has been very instrumental in my being able to really kick my sugar habit. I have not had sugar for over 100 days!

I feel I was being prepared to receive more understanding and accept the challenge to make more changes, and ultimately receive more blessings! About a month after I had quit sugar and lost some weight, I came across an article in Meridian magazine by Jane Birch. I was delighted to see some more in-depth insight into the Word of Wisdom! I had been searching and hoping for this for many years. After reading her story and learning from her understanding of the Word of Wisdom, I knew that I needed to greatly reduce the amount of meat I was eating! Although this seemed a challenge as well, I felt much more in control of my food choices, having been off sugar for over a month.
I have committed to strictly heed the counsel given in The Word of Wisdom and have never felt better in my life! I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and make whole grains the bulk of what I eat. I eat meat sparingly, and with thanksgiving in my heart. I feel more positive and have more energy. I have lost over 30 lbs. It has been a truly humbling experience for me to bridle my passions with food, and as a result I have felt a greater capacity to love. I was worried about how my family would feel about new recipes and change. For Family Home Evening I showed them Jane Birch’s 12-minute film, “Discovering the Word of Wisdom,” and we studied the story of Daniel in the Bible and talked about his superior health and wisdom. It has been a blessing to experience the faith of my children! They love to join me in the kitchen making whole grain bread and chopping fresh fruits and vegetables. My vision is to see my grandchildren grow up eating in a way that is pleasing to the Lord! I know that the Word of Wisdom was written for us in the latter days, and will never go back to eating the SAD (standard American diet).


Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Coconut Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce

Fries: Peel and slice sweet potatoes and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 425 until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Then broil on 525 2 minutes until browned.
Sauce: Stir together 3 Tbs coconut milk, 1 Tbs mustard and 1/2 Tbs 100% pure maple syrup until smooth. 
BBQ Cauliflower Bites over Wild Rice

Cauliflower Bites: Whisk together 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 c plant-based milk, 1 tsp onion powder and 1/2 tsp garlic salt. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dredge cauliflower bites in batter and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 25 mins. Remove and coat in favorite or home made BBQ sauce. Bake for 10 mins more. Server over whole grain brown or wild rice.


Not as the World Giveth

   Several nights ago, after a long and hard day with kids and life, I kept having the thought of ordering pizza come into my mind. It sounded so good and just what I needed to relieve and escape the stress of the day. But, earlier in the morning I had spiritually created the day, through prayer, and had pleaded for help in being obedient to the Word of Wisdom. As I battled to do the best thing, a familiar scripture crept into my mind.

      "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." -Jesus Christ, John 14:27

   I was taught a powerful lesson that night. The world would offer me pizza and ice cream. The world would offer me spending money beyond my means, alcohol and drugs to ease my anxiety or even the misuse of my own body. The world offers us anything to ease our burdens and pain just to get on to the next minute of life.

   But what the Savior offers is real, and it is lasting!

    He has asked us to cast our burdens on Him, and has promised that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is the "literal" bread of life.
   "He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6:35

   Heavenly father knew I would not be pleased with the choice to stuff myself with pizza. He knew that temporary peace wouldn't last! Sure, I could have ordered pizza and had some momentary happiness. And then about a half hour later I would have still been lamenting my day, along with feeling bloated, tired and guilty. This spiral downward would have, indeed, led me to thoughts of self-doubt and negativity. Satan loves to discourage us and threaten our confidence before the Lord! He wants us to turn away from Christ. I believe he will even use food to do so. Pres. Uchtdorf said in an April 2014 conference talk, "These binding chains of addiction can have many forms, like pornography, alcohol, sex, drugs, tobacco, gambling, food, work, the Internet, or virtual realty. Satan, our common enemy, has many favorite tools he uses to rob us of our divine potential to accomplish our mission in the Lord's kingdom." (emphasis added)

   He will use ANY necessary means. That is why we have to be aware of our personal weaknesses, and work to make them our strengths.

    "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble, and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (emphasis added) Ether 12:27, The Book of Mormon

   As I have come to the Lord for all my needs, the Lord has shown me, time and time again, that I have weakness when it comes to fully living the Word of Wisdom. I have also been "blessed" to see the special blessings I am denying myself when I choose to be prideful and say I know what I really want, and what is best! He created our bodies and has given us instructions on how to properly use and care for them. I have faith that as I continue to pray and fast and tap into the power and strength made available through the atonement, that my weaknesses can be made to be my strengths! I am already seeing it happen. Just as with any principle of the Gospel or commandment, as I have tried to live it, even imperfectly and without completely understanding it, I am led to conclude that although God's thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways ... His way is always better!

   At least that night, I was able to pray to my Heavenly Father and "unload" my frustrations and problems on Him. Through the suffering of Jesus Christ, He was able to deliver me from temptation. My faith was increased in the ultimate and all-encompassing peace and grace our Savior freely gives.


I am weak.

   One thing that gives me hope in my personal journey to find "truth" when it comes to food, is this scripture given in The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants 89:3...

"Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints." (emphasis added)
   It is true, I have made a lot of changes over the years that have led me to where I am now. However, I am definitely weak when it comes to making food choices, and I still have a ways to go when it comes to strictly heeding the counsel found in the Word of Wisdom. I think it is vital for me to acknowledge that the only reason I have been able to make the major changes in my diet that I have, thus far, has been because of the enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I have had to do the work in drawing closer to Him through personal prayer, scripture study and fasting, but He has succored me and filled me with a greater desire to change and the needed strength and power to do so.
   A couple of months after Cutter, my sixth child, was born, I was lamenting over the fact that I would remain overweight for at least another year. For whatever reason, when I am breast-feeding a baby, I feel starving ALL the time. I can never get enough to eat. And I crave sugar, which is another trigger for me. The more sugar I eat, the more food I crave, and so goes the cycle. I usually very easily drop about 10 pounds after I wean a baby, and was dreading the wait. I kept having strangers ask me if I was pregnant and was very discouraged. Not only that, I was feeling so tired and moody. I had actually started to give in to all the hype that I am beautiful just the way I am and had recently decided to give in and just accept what was. I mean, don't get me wrong, our worth is NOT defined by how we look. But, the more I have tried to adopt a whole foods plant-based diet, I have discovered how pleasing it is to my Heavenly Father, and how much more of an instrument I am able to be in His hands. I feel a greater capacity to love - especially my husband and children, and the physical transformation has proved beneficial as well. My knees and back don't hurt all the time, and I have a lot more energy. Also, along with a blessing of healing, I am not suffering from depression and anxiety any more! (more on that later ...)
   Long story short, I was feeling defeated and confused about food and how it affected my body. In my search to find truth over the last 12 years, I have read A LOT of books. I always knew that truth was found in the scriptures, and was directed to search the Word of Wisdom several times by the Spirit. But I always had a hard time "interpreting" it, based on all the other research and opinions of others. After a special fast, I again, was led to the Word of Wisdom, and felt impressed to cut sugar out of my diet. Ughh. I had done this before for short periods at a time, and it is awful. It is literally like coming off of a drug. I have migraines, vomiting, MAJOR irritability, emotional breakdowns, etc. Anyway, this time I used the LDS Family Services 12-Step Addiction Recovery Program manual. I am still using it and it has really helped me to kick my sugar/food habits. So far, I have lost 20 lbs and have been sugar-free for 104 days! The "plan" is to never go back to eating sugar, because for me, it always gets me off track.

    Now that I have more control and don't suffer major food cravings, I feel ready to adopt even more changes to align myself with the Word of Wisdom. Right now I am working on greatly reducing the amount of meat I eat, and want to eventually eat it "only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."

   After school snack I made for the kids - fresh pears and peaches, sliced, with raspberries, cherry tomatoes and whole wheat and whole corn bread ... yum! I omitted the white sugar and sage, and used (sugar-free) applesauce instead of pumpkin, just because that's what I had on hand. And no, I do not have a home made snack ready for the kids every single day!


10 Things I Wish My Friends and Family Understood About My "Healthy" Eating

1. I am not judging your food choices. If anything, I am sympathetic. I know. I've been there. I just made the choice to change because I HAD to.  I am very sensitive to food, period. I found myself, tired, moody, overweight, struggling with bouts of high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and other health issues. Enough was enough for me.

2. Neither am I even paying attention to what you are and are not eating. It takes focus and supportive inner self-talk to eat the way I do, so I hardly have time to worry about what everyone else is eating. In fact, this is one of the reasons I have finally been able to really change. I am only worried about myself when it comes to nutrition. Another focus has been pleasing God. 

3. But if you are interested in changing, or want to hear about my journey, I would be happy to talk with you. (Don't worry ... I'm not selling anything!) I graduated in Fitness and Wellness at BYU in 2004, and have continued to build on that foundation.

4. It has taken me YEARS to get to this point. Making life changes is a journey. One of the very first things I did was cut out milk. I had a colicky first-born baby, and that really got me started 11 years ago.

5. I do just naturally love fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I know people say that your taste buds "change" over time, and I have definitely found that whole foods do come alive when the junk is kept to a minimum. But don't feel sorry me. I obsessed and felt out of control and angry over food for years; I feel happy and fulfilled eating this way.

6. The bulk, or staff, of what I eat is whole foods/grains: quinoa, brown rice, lentils, beans, oats, barley etc. I also focus on consuming as many herbs, vegetables and fruits from the Earth that I can! I eat meat sparingly and with thanksgiving in my heart. I never consume alcohol, coffee or tea, or smoke or use any recreational drugs. Everything else is kept to a minimum and for special occasions. I don't eat this way perfectly, but it's my prayerful goal each day.

7. There is a time and season for all things; especially when considering life changes. Again, this has taken years of tears, prayer, studying, and trial and error.

8. I do exercise 3-5 times per week- weightlifting included.

9. For me, one of the hardest parts of eating this way, is the social aspect (thus, this post!). I get all types of comments, suggestions, opinions, and eye-rolling. They range from loving support to down right rude. It can be hard, because, as humans, we tend to compare and take things personally. It's amazing how much I have learned about NON-food issues, through food issues. Ha. But, in the end, the benefits I experience outweigh the "hard" and negative aspects.

10. It's funny, for years I struggled with knowing "how" and "what" I should eat and literally blamed ALL of my life's problems on that I wasn't eating right/perfect. Even though I feel like I am doing the best I can with the secular and divine learning I have received ... still, my life isn't perfect eating this way. I'm not here to tell you that. But, I will say that things are definitely better - SO much better. I also have faith that there are benefits and blessings I do and will continue to experience that are yet unknown.


No Words

    I suffered a miscarriage on Christmas Day, and finally had to have surgery (a dilation and curettage) this week.  Somehow reliving and writing about the last year, with it's constant highs and lows, and crucial life lessons is helping me to deal with my big mess of emotions now ...
    Once the doctors determined Coralynn was stable, and we had passed the dangerous 6-12 hour mark, we were finally able to leave the ER and be transported to a private hospital room.  They pushed me in a wheel chair, and I just sat there sobbing as I held my baby girl tight. She was wrapped in a blanket, still sleepy and naked underneath with only a diaper; she was attached to wires and machines that beeped as a stinging reminder of what had transpired. How did we get here? What had just happened? What now? Just as we were about to enter the room, I stood up and quickly handed the baby to Tucker and asked the nurse where a bathroom was. I needed a minute. Alone.
    I shut the bathroom door behind me and immediately fell to my knees, with tears streaming and burning and sobs bursting uncontrollably. I knew everyone could hear me, but I didn't care! The weight of this burden was heavy and hard; it was terrifying, humiliating, raw and still so unknown. I felt like my heart might explode and I needed this release. I began pouring out my soul to my God. The first words I said were, "My Dear Heavenly Father ... I am so so sorry!" Among many thoughts, I felt that I had failed in my stewardship over one of His precious children. I told him sorry for countless other indiscretions. I knew He was listening, and I tried to explain myself, how I hated myself. I asked for forgiveness, I asked for strength. I asked for answers and words beyond my own. I thanked Him for saving my daughter's life, even while sacrificing His own Son. I knew it was only my Savior that would be able to wipe my tears, bind my wounds and fill me with the peace and love I needed! I knew it was God's gift to me that would make this healing possible. There were many other things said and felt on that cold bathroom floor that I will never forget.
   But one of the experiences that remains so vivid from that hospital stay, was when Bishop Harmon came to pay us a visit. I remember someone telling me that the Bishop, the ecclesiastical leader of our church congregation, was coming to see us, and how I felt a wave of anxiety and hope in the same instant. I felt that I might shrink in this opportunity to be so vulnerable; somehow I felt both lonely and "exposed." I just knew he would be able to look deep into my soul and see the horrible nothing that I really was. I was beginning to let this mistake define me and it was bringing out every other insecurity I owned. But, I already knew this man to be a good man, a friend.  We had served on the Ward Council together and I knew that he had been called of God to minister to his ward members, and I longed to hear his voice of reason, to get answers and be strengthened by his words.
   He walked in slowly, looking down more than at us, and quietly sat in a chair.  I suppose he was also searching for those right words. Tucker and I were sitting directly across on a couch. I was clutching the baby, now in a gown, wrapped in a blanket. The room grew very quiet, almost solemn, except for occasional interruptions from the monitors. I finally sheepishly looked up, and as our eyes met, I could see that he had been crying. He asked how Coralynn was doing, and finally how we were doing. I just kept crying, and so did he. We mostly sat in silence, with only the sound of faint sobs and sniffles. The words I was expecting and needing to hear, never came. But that day I learned  a powerful lesson of God's love for me. I learned that sometimes there are no words or answers. Sometimes we just have to be still, to be patient, and that today, He was just going to sit by my side and cry. He was sad for me, and for Coralynn and what she had been through that day. I felt, in that moment, that He knew perfectly the groaning's of my heart, and that he loved me. I felt His love so strong and true, and that was all I needed at that time; I learned of God's love and forgiveness through the silence and gentle heart of my Bishop, that day.


An Unexpected Miracle

     If you have eyes to see, there are miracles happening all the time. It was truly a miracle my baby survived drowning with no lasting effects. The nurses said it, the doctors said it, family members said it, everyone was saying it. Coralynn is our miracle girl. She is a strong soul. She has literally been fighting for her life since in the womb, and has the personality to prove it! When I was pregnant with her I was diagnosed with a bi-lobed placenta, vasa previa and polyhydraminos ... the bi-lobed placenta was the most concerning because her malformed umbilical cord was not inserted into the placenta correctly and, to make matters worse, was attached to the smaller, weaker lobe of the placenta. They were unable to verify that she was getting enough oxygen and needed nutrients. But day after day, ultrasound after ultrasound, she continued to defy expectations by growing normally, and was eventually born (a week early under carefully monitored induction) at a healthy weight of 7 lbs. Needless to say, we had felt strongly, from the very beginning, that she was a fighter, and knew we needed her in our family.
    But here we stood, once again, watching our baby girl fight for her life. As I dialed 9-1-1 that frantic and horrifying Sunday morning, I could hear Tucker's dejected manifestations in the living room, "She's dead! I think she's dead! Oh, Coralynn!" While I felt my heart sinking, I couldn't help but think of the irony of the situation. It was unthinkable, to me, that after all she had been through in her short life, the baby I had prayed in faith every day of her unborn life, to grow and live, and had since thanked God every day for her precious life, this little being that had brought a needed smile to my face every day, and who I felt, at times, had been sent just to bring our family joy, would give up; not now, and not like this! However, I wasn't finding it unthinkable that I would give up and that this might be the end of me. I found it shameless and appalling that I was even thinking about myself with all she was suffering ... GUILT was definitely a word of the day. And every day after that. The irony has continued, as I have found this whole experience to absolutely be about me. But, for the most part, in the beginning, I was able to suppress the battle over my mind's attention, and replace it with thoughts and prayers for her well-being. I didn't have so much time to think about the dark and lonely hours, days and months that would eventually try to consume me.
    Once we arrived in the ER they had to stabilize her shallow and sparse breathing, heart rate, oxygen levels (around 80%) and temperature (she was hypothermic). After several hours, one of the doctor's came in and explained his concern (besides the looming question of how much brain damage she would probably suffer ...we were panicked!) for the amount of fluid (confirmed through x-ray) that still remained in her lungs. Her pale body was still functioning in a depressed state, and she remained very lethargic. They were worried the mucus-filled water wouldn't dissipate from her tiny tired lungs. Thus, there was a threat of "dry drowning" that would necessitate her being life-flighted to the Denver Pediatric's Hospital. More panic. On top of that, we wouldn't even know for at least 6-12 hours how her body would respond. Then and there, my sweet and brave husband and his beloved older brother, Cary, administered another Priesthood blessing and commanded her little body to be strong, to function properly and to fully heal. I never want to forget the power I felt and the peace this blessing brought. I was so grateful in that moment to have a husband that honored his covenants, and was worthy to call down the powers of heaven, from our Heavenly Father, to bless our little Coralynn. I was so grateful for my brother-in-law who has always stood by my husband's side, and supported us. I was grateful for my loyal sister-in-laws who quietly wept by my side, and offered kind words of hope and love. Although it felt the walls were collapsing around us, I knew we weren't alone; we had the love of family and God's power as a shield. I know that because it was God's will, the Priesthood blessing given that day, by two faithful men that held authority, literally saved her life. Soon after her blessing, she began to violently cough up water and mucus. The episodes would come suddenly, in spurts, and were scary to witness, but the nurses kept reassuring us that this was a good sign and things began to look up from that point.
     One of the things that keep eating at me that day, and for many weeks to come, was the fact that I didn't get a bad feeling as I left the bathroom that morning, let alone any moment thereafter. Where was my common sense of reasoning? Where was God's voice of warning, through the Holy Ghost? Where was my motherly instinct; where was that loyal love and compassion, from a mother, that transcends her life and needs, and seeks only the welfare and protection of her child!? These questions taunted me to question myself and my faith. Just days before, I had had a "feeling" to go check on the baby! I ran to find Krew (my 2 1/2 year old son at the time) "holding" Coralynn with his arm tightly around her neck (she was choking), standing at the top of the stairs proudly telling me, "I take Coralynn downstairs, Mommy!" I had been able to avoid that crisis with sound mind and divine assistance, so what was the deal this time? I knew there had to be an answer, and I was determined to find it. Finally, after lots of prayer and fasting, I had a strong feeling that everything that happened that day, happened just the way it was supposed to happen. That was the bottom line, for me. An epiphany, if you will. The scriptures teach that we learn "line upon line, precept upon precept," just as the Savior was taught from "grace to grace." I knew that with this tiny insight, there were many things my Heavenly Father needed me to learn, and I was finally humble enough to plead with him to teach me. I wanted to know it all, even if it meant changing my belief systems, doing hard things, repenting, suffering, and swallowing my pride. I wanted to give up all my sins to know Him! I knew how much I needed His love. I knew I needed my Savior to take me by the hand, and help me pass through this trial. Oh, how my heart swells for the love of my Heavenly Father, who sacrificed his Only begotten Son. I now can say, that I am truly grateful for the horrible mistake I made almost a year ago ... and that is an unexpected miracle!


I drowned my 9 month old baby girl.

   I have been wanting to write this post for some time now. I have been needing to write this post for some time now. I have been inspired by other blogs I have read of people overcoming great obstacles and choosing to learn and live happy Christ-centered lives. But I have also dreaded writing this post, because my story is different. My story begins with a choice that I made almost a year ago; an ugly admission of complete responsibility for my actions. But you know what I finally decided? It doesn't matter. Whether we are victims in our suffering, or our pain comes because of our own fault, our own humanness or selfish desires, what matters is that we acknowledge that we are indeed in need of a Savior and that He is always standing at the door waiting for us to knock. His arms are always outstretched to love us, to forgive us, to mourn with us, to save us and to comfort us, and eventually, when the drama, the crying, the hardened and undeserving angry outbursts rest for a moment, to teach us and fill us with pieces of peace and understanding we crave. And all of these blessings of the Atonement, given by our Father in Heaven, through His Son, come perfectly. When we find ourselves broken, humble, reaching, pleading and giving up, He is there to succor our very needs. To succor literally means "to run to."
   It was a typical Sunday morning. I had gotten up alone in the early morning hours to get myself showered and ready before the chaos would begin. Church was at 9 AM with choir practice at 8:15 AM, and I was on a mission to get our entire family of 7 (yes, including my husband) to church on time with full tummies, perfectly styled hair, matching clothes and that look of "Yeah! We have it all together," as we walked in as a family. I still had a nursing baby that often kept me up at night (if it wasn't her, it was my anxious and depressed post-partum thoughts) and on top of that, I had just been asked the day before to substitute for the Music Leader in Primary and still had a few loose ends to tie up for singing time before we left. I heard the baby crying from her crib and was somewhat dumb-founded by this, because she always slept in in the mornings and on Sundays we usually just woke her up 10 mins before we had to jump in the van with breakfast packed neatly in the church bag. If only I had sensed the warning that this Sunday would be different. Undeterred in my mission, yet unknowingly being thrown off by this chance occurrence, I ran to get Coralynn who I discovered to be covered in a diaper mess. I quickly stripped her down, very aware of the minutes ticking down to go time, and placed her in the tub in my bathroom where I would continue to fix my hair and makeup. I started the water running and frantically looked at the clock. "Shoot! I've got to get the girls up so they can eat and I can do their hair before I have to leave for choir! I'll just run downstairs, really fast, flip on their lights and calmly shout (ha!) that they need to hurry and come upstairs and eat. Then I'll run back up here to turn the water off and continue getting ready."
   Without a moments hesitation or ill feeling of my careless plan, I quickly turned my back on my sweet baby girl and ran out the door. And that is the ugly, cold, hard, un-motherly, horrible mistake I have ever made. I left my 9 month old baby in a bath tub with running water. It still makes me cry today. As soon as I left the bathroom, was as soon as all consciousness of thought that she was even in the tub completely left me; I never thought another minute about her. It wasn't until I was standing in the kitchen hurriedly cooking oatmeal for the kids that I heard the loud, inhuman groaning's coming from my husband in the hall. At first I thought it was the sirens the city sounds to warn of a tornado. Then I realized it was coming from inside our house and it was Tucker. His helpless yells still haunt me. As soon as he emerged from the hall I remembered that I had not returned to turn the water off, and the most heart wrenching panic and fear overcame me. He was holding Coralynn's lifeless, purple, cold, naked body up in the air screaming for me to call 9-1-1. She was like a doll, limp with no sign of life. It was terrifying, but I immediately ran to my phone yelling out for Tucker to lay her on her side and do CPR.
   After trying to explain what had just transpired, I stayed on the phone with the 9-1-1 operator until the paramedics showed up. The whole time we were screaming and crying and yelling and wondering what was taking the ambulance so long? She was just laying lifeless on the carpet looking like death. I told Tucker to give her a blessing, which he did, and after administering more CPR we finally got her to take a few really shallow, labored breaths. She coughed up some water and mucus, but it was clear we were going to be lucky if this ended well, or even with her alive. While all of this was going on all our children, ages 8, 6, 4 and 2 were watching. We were all traumatized. The paramedics scooped her up and put her into the back of the ambulance. I threw on shoes (no socks) and made the ride with my baby to the hospital. The paramedics were explaining to me how sick she was and I heard them radio "code blue" with a whir of the siren and I felt the kick of the ambulance as it sped up its pace. The gravity of my choice was beginning to set in and, coupled with the threat of her life, was absolutely overbearing. I was a wreck. I was crying and saying "I can't do this," over and over. At the same time I was telling Coralynn that she COULD do it and to keep fighting! And I kept saying I was sorry. Over and over. "I'm so sorry. You can do this! I'm sorry! I can't do this! I AM SO SO SORRY!"  There was a flood of conflicting and intense emotions; it is hard to put them into words. But, among them all, there was this quiet little place in the back of my mind that was peaceful and strong and sure that, no matter what, everything was going to be OK. I wasn't given the knowledge whether she would live or die, or be brain damaged. I wasn't given the knowledge that my children wouldn't have nightmares for months to come, or that my marriage would survive this true breach of trust. I wasn't given to know that I wouldn't cry and hurt and ache and question everything I knew about myself. I wasn't given knowledge that Tucker or the kids would forgive me for this. I wasn't given knowledge that I would ever forgive myself for this or not hate myself. I wasn't even given to know that everything could be fixed or that my heart would heal. All I felt was peace that no matter what would come of this awful ordeal, that it would be OK. I knew and already had a testimony that Jesus Christ, my Savior, had already overcome the world, and this devastating circumstance would not crush my soul. But it sure felt like it could.


Some things I have learned ...

- Cheap diapers (Sam's Club Members Mark brand) are AMAZING. I can't believe I am on my 4th baby, and have NEVER bought the store brand diapers; I just had always heard that they leaked or left rashes. On Monday I decided to try them out, they were $5 cheaper than my regular choice, and *sigh,* I am in love ... And mad! Do you know that if I had bought the Sam's Club diapers starting with baby #1, I would have saved about $2160! Dang.

-Family scripture study is UNDERrated. At the beginning of the school year Kashli was singled out as reading at the lowest level in her class. She is now one of the best! If you can read the difficult language/words of the scriptures, what CAN'T you read, right? We have noticed a significant decrease (NOT absence, mind you!) of contention in our home; the girls seem to get along better and those nights when I go to bed in tears because I feel that I have crossed the line in yelling or disciplinig or # of little bodies I am in charge of, or whatever it is from that day, have also become a rare occasion. It has taken a while to see the benefits and blessings ... but I assure you, they are there! Sometimes it takes Kashli 15 mins to read her 2 verses, we have to say the line 7 times before Cali can repeat it (somewhat!) correctly, and we have to tell Carly 36 times to sit down or come back. But hey, it is really really worth it.

-Things don't have to be perfect. Life goes on, and I don't die if it's not how I wanted-planned-expected-hoped or even directed. Perfect. What does that even mean? Because no one is perfect, perfect is relative. What's perfect to me, isn't perfect to you. But whatever the case, I have always had this drive to be "perfect." I used to see it as a good thing, I have always been grateful for the innate desire to want to do what's right or best (for me) in every situation. But latey... it has just been exhausting. And not worth my time and anxiety. Recently, I have HATED this character trait. Meaning, because I AM NOT and NEVER WILL BE perfect, every night as I hit the pillow all I think about is what I didn't do, or what I should've or could've done. In my head I go over and over conversations, interactions, prayers, presentations, blah blah blah, was it "perfect?" NO. It wasn't. And it never is! Ha. Even though I logically have always understood things will not always be perfect, it's like I still hold myself to that standard. And on top of being exhausting and urealistic, apparently I come across "self-righteous" and like I have no problems or hardships in my life. I recently went visiting teaching to a sister who sat flabbergasted as I told a story of some not so perfect happenings in my life. She literally said to me, "Well I just always see you and your beautiful family coming into church and you all look perfect and happy ... and well, I guess I just never realized that you have problems just like the rest of us!" What? Really? Stunned. Not so flattered. What do you say to that. Story aside--I'm done. I've given myself permission to fail (AGAIN and again! but this(ese) time(s), with forgiveness and minus the anxiety). Things don't have to be perfect. Life goes on ... but I can still be happy in my imperfect life.

-I can do chores, too! I am a cleaner and an organizer. Since baby Krew (who is going to be 1! in 4 weeks, by the way) I have had a hard time adjusting. Period. But, a clean and organized home = happy life for the Brown family. So I made myself a chore chart (influenced by the ones I made for the girls) that I am really proud of. Not only does it help me keep on top of things, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Lately I've just done nothing (because it was too overwhelming, and where do I start?) until I HAD to, and by then it took me 3 times as long because it had really piled up. I just do 1 thing a day-dust and vacuum the basement. Or, clean the master bathroom. Laundry days are Monday and Thursday. Vacuum out the van, sweep and mop the kitchen floor, clean out refigerator, etc. are only done once a month on Saturday. Realistically, some of these things could be done daily, but that is just not realistic for me and my situation. For the stage I am in, if I wanted my house spotless every second of the day (which, honestly, I do!) I would have to spend hours and hours ... hours I would miss in the everyday happenings of my family. So I do something (or 2!) EVERY day, and if we have unexpected (or expected) company, at least I have been keeping up on it, and it's not THAT bad. In fact, it's GREAT.

-Girl's weekend is a MUST. My 2 sisters and I met my Mom in California for a much needed timeout. It was just for 2 nights. We stayed in a beach town, and just shopped, relaxed, ate, slept, and most importantly enjoyed one another's company. Our sweet husbands held up camp at home with all the monkeys. It was a perfect little break. Not too long, but long enough for us to miss our husbands and children, and definitely long enough for THEM to miss US! (wink, wink) It was just so fun, and I came back to my family feeling refreshed and recharged. This was the first time we have done this, but we have all agreed it is a tradition that is here to stay!

-My husband is to me, as your chocolate is to you. :)

-To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. The season I am in is learning, playing, gaining weight, losing weight, coping, band-aids, meals, driving, bills, forgiveness, comforting, meetings, selflessness, nursing, laundry, teaching, hair, hoping, dreaming, correcting, self-awareness, balancing, imperfectness, barbies, self-control, working, naked, patience, patience, patience, bad dreams, loving, crying, trying and smiling. It's OK to think of how it will be, or how it used to be ... but this is where it is NOW, and I often remind myself that one day this will be yesterday so I am going to make today count!