January 31, 2015

2014 Reads

As I started this post I was a little discouraged about how few books I read this year. And then I remembered, I had twin infants. I rocked this year! At least I read a book! Each one a small success in the craziest year I have ever had.

With that said, I must also issue this disclaimer that I have absolutely no memory anymore and can't hardly remember these books now. So these reviews are going to be a little bit weak. Ah well...

The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
I read this book with high hopes because of its rave reviews and popularity (pre-movie). I have to say I was disappointed. Of course, I can't remember all the details why. (I warned you that was going to happen.) I think the writing was weak, the story potential was wasted, and at times it was just a bit odd. So. Meh. Could have passed.

My Year with Eleanor
by Eleanor Hancock
I loved this book! But it was most likely because I could relate to her perfectly. You know... the perfectionist, goal-obsessed, seeking happiness specifically by overcoming her fears type. Sound familiar? haha. It was a fun read. Encouraging. Light hearted. Real. It just might be my favorite memoir. If I remember correctly...

Bloody Jack
by LA Meyer
Fun, quick read. Delightful premise of a young girl learning to be a sailor. Didn't love a few parts with a fellow sailor's molesting advances. For that I would have a hard time recommending it to a younger crowd. 

The Forgotten Garden
by Kate Morton
A very engaging story, which is exactly what I needed at the time. It pulls you in and you just can't stop until you know everything! I absolutely loved the interwoven storyline throughout three generations. You get to experience several different continents and time periods. Lots of enjoyable aspects, some weak ones. Overall, I enjoyed it.

The Weird Sisters
by Eleanor Brown
I honestly can't remember a whole lot about this except for that I generally liked it. Based on modern day sisters who grew up in a small town with a Shakespeare professor as a father. All about family and its intricate and complex relationships.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford
This was one of my favorite books in a long time. It was well written, well paced, intriguing story, lovable characters, and just plain enjoyable. 

How Green Was My Valley
by Richard Llewellyn
Exceptional writing. Read it. The end.

Dumbing Us Down
by John Taylor Gatto
Recommended to me as I start my homeschooling journey (meaning I'm thinking about it and toying with the idea down the road). It's a series of lectures. A little bit hard to get through, but brilliant.

by Brandon Sanderson
Several friends (incl. my husband) have tried to get me to enter the sci/fy world for years. I finally gave in, and I'm glad I did. This was a very enjoyable read and easy on a sci/fy beginner. It was engaging, which is what I needed. 

My Story
by Elizabeth Smart
Not sure what to say about this one. I liked it and I didn't. You will just have to go experience it for yourself. I did appreciate her hopeful message. 

The Thief Series (#1-4)
by Megan Whalen Turner
I can easily claim these as one of my favorite series! Quick read. Absolutely delightful story, unique approach. I can't hardly wait for the last two. Go to the library. Now. (PS... if you do read them, treat the first as a prologue. I liked the rest much better.)

The Queen's Gambit
by Beth Brower
Written by my amazing SIL. You really need to pray this gets published soon because you are going to want to read it.

  The Queens Gambit

These were all life savers. Welcome to parenthood.

November 30, 2014

A Fear and A Surprise

The Fear

Remember how I conquered those two fears last post? Well, I think I am ready to divulge the second fear. Although, that may be conquering a fear in and of itself. (Lots of fear facing lately... you can call me Warrior Mama!)

So... about that.

I went to therapy. Yes, it's true. Is it totally ridiculous that therapy is a fear of mine? It is, isn't it. Oh well. It's true. I have issues. (Don't we all.) I have big Postpartum Depression issues. But it was time to confront them. I may or may not have had full fledged panic attacks following those first few sessions. But hey! Here we are, fear conquered. Well, almost.

To anyone reading this post (and really, anyone) PPD is a hard and horrible experience. It has stripped me of the last year of my life and some of what should have been my most tender memories. And I am angry about it. (Anger. Another PPD manifestation.)

A few months ago I was doing some light reading on... well... major emotional disorders. You know, just self diagnosing. (Come now, don't judge, we all do it.) Did you know that PTSD and PPD sound eerily similar in print. I read all the major symptoms and just knew I had PTSD, but from what? Having a baby (or two)? Having a loving and supportive family? Becoming a mother like I always wanted? Soldiers come home from devastating experiences. I just woke up one morning and didn't recognize who I was anymore. I didn't even recognize my own body. (Granted, it had changed... a lot.) My thought processes and emotional reactions seemed foreign.

Now, why am I putting this out to the world? I'm not even sure, except that I know that PPD has robbed more than just me. And I know it is an intensely isolating experience. So maybe, if just one person out in that big cyber-world reads this and realizes they aren't alone and that there is help it will be worth all of the discomfort admitting this to unseen faces. (I'm a rather private person, ironically.)

The Surprise

I accomplished another goal. A little bit unintentionally. Surprise!

#15: Love some someone that I really don't like.

Want to know who it is? Me. I realized after one of those catastrophic therapy sessions that I really didn't like me. A serious bummer. But I also realized, that I was taking steps to learn to like myself and (dramatic pause) it was working!

You know those moments where you feel like you just had a giant sized brick drop on your head, which in turn causes your perspective to change, which altogether gives you a grand "Ah-ha" moment. (my apologies for the run-on sentence) It was one of those.

I didn't like myself, but that is ok. I'm going to learn to love myself, anyway. And I sorta, kinda like the fact that my own goals caught me unaware.

More on this later. It is a lot to think about, after all.

September 2, 2014

Rolling out... or maybe swimming is more like it

We've got these 28 Things rolling out now!

Today was an epic day for that...

-Learned to swim 
(well, started the process)
-Conquered a fear! 

Okay, okay. Technically, I conquered a fear by learning to swim.

But I vote it counts for both.

Actually, I conquered two fears. But I'm not quite ready to divulge the details of that one yet. Post to come... (hopefully).

August 31, 2014

Date Night

I had high hopes of getting out the longboards several times this summer, but alas, sometimes leaving the house is a high hope.

BUT we did bust them out for date night last week! 

There is just nothing like the afternoon settling into evening, the air cooling from the hot day, the ground still damp from the summer storm, the leaves rustling, and the trail empty leaving my longboard and I. (And of course, my dashing husband.)

(And look at that Mountain! It was gorgeous!)

Another check on my 28 Things! I'm glad I included this one. It's something I've found lots of joy in over the years.

June 11, 2014


Guess what! I went to my first oil painting class last night. Thats right! I did it. I signed myself up for a class to learn to paint. That would be 2 of my 28 Things

I loved it! (To be honest, I was quite nervous. But don't worry! I conquered that cube still life!) For growing up with the last name of Painter I probably should dabble in the art of it at least a few times in my life.

AND we started a garden. Well... mini garden of sorts. We used some of my mother's old flower pots and experimented with some container gardening. We have some tomatoes, zuchini and kale well on their way. The lettuce, basil, cilantro, and swish chard are still taking some encouragement. We were a little late on the planting but we decided that if anything we will have learned something for next year. So that would be another of my 28 Things in process. Wahoo.

Just thought I ought to update.

May 19, 2014

Write a Letter

 An art was lost when letter writing was replaced with its digital alter ego(s). Every once in a while the romantic in me wishes it would resurrect. (But seriously, who doesn't love snail mail?!) Growing up, we were taught the importance of thank you notes. I will be the first to admit that I should be better. There is one thank you note in particular that has been nagging me. Every time the twins' "story"  is told a frequent response is always "Did you tell your sealer?" No, I hadn't yet. But I should.

So I finally did...

About a week later we received this in the mail...

What a sweet man! I'm so glad we finally wrote him. We definitely plan on keeping in touch in the future.

If you happen to be reading this I challenge you to reach out to someone that has been on your mind. There is probably a reason you have been thinking about them. Go on, just do it. :)

Another of my 28 Things accomplished. 

May 4, 2014

5K Complete

First of my 28 Things COMPLETE!

Well I definitely realized I am still quite broken from a hard pregnancy and that I am very out of shape BUT to look on the bright side of things... we PRed! Of course, this was my first race so I only have one time under my belt. But that doesn't have to matter. haha. We even did better than anticipated. 

The sunshine, natural endorphins, crazy fun runners, family honking every time they passed us, kneaders breakfast, and general pleasant atmosphere made this a great` experience.

Lets do it again!

Shout out to Brittany for running it with me on her big 14th Birthday! 

April 25, 2014

6 Months! & New Family Blog

These girls are 6 months old!

I can't believe it myself. How different our lives are from this time last year. And while it has been crazy, we wouldn't change a thing. (Okay... we might have asked for a bit more sleep.)

I think this might be my favorite stage. I know, I'm a first time mom and I've said that about every stage so far and I'll probably continue to do so. Ha. But I really do love this stage: their little personalities are blossoming, they love to play, they are becoming much more aware of their surroundings, we are all getting a bit more sleep, and they aren't quite mobile yet.

   Livvy                                                    Cate

For anyone who wants to keep up with our little family I have been posting on our private family blog. 


 If you would like an invite please leave your email in the comments below.

April 20, 2014


Depression is a lonely road consumed by darkness and often paralyzed with fear. Like others, I have struggled on my own "long, lonely" road of depression and anxiety. 

And yet, this truth has always rested sweetly on my soul...

"One of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to."

I do not have the words to express my gratitude, but I do have the feelings of my heart that rejoice to know this is true. I know that one day the precious lessons we have learned through our trials will culminate in a perfect understanding. No matter how hard this journey gets I know that I am not alone... ...and that the struggle will be worth it.

Please read the whole talk here.

April 11, 2014


Race registration compelete.

Bra bought.
(I decided good bras are practically life changing.)

Jogging stroller purchased.

I'm committed. 


April 1, 2014

5K and Crosswords

I used to run. I used to love exercising...
...then my body broke and my boobs got huge (pardon me).

Now I'm lucky to walk a 20min mile on the treadmill. Oi.

I'm thinking the Provo City 5K on May 3rd. It has to be soon enough that I will stick to my commitment but far enough away that I can actually, maybe, possibly get my running shoes out (and find a better bra... pardon again).

It can't be to bad, right? It's all downhill. 

On a different note...
I've been working on this for the last month:

I have 19 incomplete puzzles. 0 complete ones.

Are you allowed to use google? I don't think you should be, but I'm desperate.

March 24, 2014

Let's Celebrate!

I realize that I am addicted to goal-setting and list making (ie the whole premise for this blog) but it makes be happy so I'm doing it again. :D

28 Ways to Celebrate my 28th Year

I just celebrated my 27th Birthday. Crazy. I feel younger and more inexperienced than I did when I was 17. (Side note: Isn't that the glorious thing about being a teenager though. You think you know everything. It just goes downhill from there.)

One of the biggest downfalls of depression is that all the things you used to love no longer hold any interest for you. It is definitely counter-productive to the recovery process since then you won't do those things that make you happy. And then, yet another major problem is being to scared to try anything anyway. So to honor this new year I'm going to make a conscious effort to do some of those things that make me happy along with a couple of things I've been meaning to try/do. (Some of these coincide with my 100 Things list.)

Here's my list: 

Make a new friend
Visit a new place Boston & Maine
Throw a party I tried. The Babies' First Birthday. Unfortunately I came down with the flu but I'm counting because we had all the food and decor and it was going to be darling!)
Finish a crossword puzzle 
(seriously! I have yet to do this in my life.)
Go on a hike Ensign Peak (silly, but I'm counting it!)
Bake bread
Grow a plant Our first attempt at a Garden
Design a...
(not sure what that is going to be yet)
Buy a bike
Sew something
Try a new restaurant  Tony Caputos
Ride a horse
Take a class Oil Painting
Go to the library check, check, check
Run a 5K Provo City 5K
Send a letter To Brother Hyde
Take the GRE
Call-a-friend challenge
Grain challenge
Vegetable challenge
(All three challenges will be explained later)
Take a family name to the temple
(Find one first...)
Learn to swim
Write in my journal Finally! I'm doing it!
Do a photo shoot Blackham Wedding
Paint a picture Lake Sunset, Field Sunrise, Tetons
Go snowboarding
Go longboarding
Conquer a fear

Ready? Go!

March 23, 2014

Hello Again...

I know, I know... I have been MIA from this blog. Well... and from life. But its time to find it again... and me.

Warning- there is personal, mushy, gushy stuff ahead.

But we are all friends here, right?

Here we go...

I feel like I am a whole new person than the one I was before October 4, 2013. (Besides the obvious mom brain, sleep-deprived zombie...) I have a lot more anxiety and depression in my life. Basically, I'm an emotional basket case. Now, this isn't new. I've been a basket case for a long time. But the basket happens to be bigger. And heavier. And uglier.

I have struggled with clinical depression and anxiety for several years now. (If I'm being honest... my whole life.) But with postpartum hormones I feel I have been thrown to the wolves.

Here's the deal though... my first post back isn't going to be dwelling on this dark truth.

It's really about finding and creating happiness again.

Because, really... life is to good to waste time being miserable.

So I'm putting this blog back into my employ. It helped me before and I believe it can help me again. While I'm at it I'm laying out this disclaimer... I'm a private person and tend to feel anxious putting my thoughts out there (esp. a public forum like this). But I also believe we are in this life to help each other. So if this blog is in anyway helpful, inspiring, or encouraging to others then I'm going to continue to use it.  But I'll probably get personal. And I'll probably fret about using the right grammar (oh the ironies). And it will probably be harder than it should be to post something. BUT... I'm going to do it. And I'm not going to worry about it. Ok? Ok.

January 1, 2014

2013 Reads

2013 Reads
*twitter style*

"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” -The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by M.S. and A.B.
*An unlikely friendship blossoms between letters of a writer and the community-family of Guernsey.*
I Loooooooooooooooooove this book. I can't recommend it enough. (THANK YOU ALI!) This goes on the list of books I could re-read over and over. And quite frankly that list isn't to large. Beautiful story. Beautiful characters. You'll love it. Anyone up for a trip to Guernsey? 

Heaven is Here
by Stephanie Nielsen
*Airplane crash victim's experience healing body and soul.*
I admittedly didn't love the first part of this book. While I admire Stephanie Nielson a lot, the beginning of this book is a little slow and bit redundant. However, it improves as you go and by the end you love her, her story, and her thoughts about life. This book is a good reminder of what is really important in life.

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
*WWII young German girl. Steals books. Befriends a Jew. Learns to read. Learns of life.* 
I picked this book up from my husband's bookshelf on a whim. I hadn't ever heard of it and even though I know you aren't suppose to judge a book by its cover... I did. (It's kinda a creepy cover.) But once I started it I couldn't put it down. The writing in this book is phenomenal! Come on! With Death as the narrator how can that not be the most intriguing book you've ever read. Make sure you know someone that has already read this because when you finish it you will be dying to talk to someone about it. (Thank you AGAIN Ali for already having read it! I just HAD to talk to someone.)

84 Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff
*Real letters shared between a New Yorker and an old used books salesman.*
This is the seemingly real life version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You will fall in love with the witty, sarcastic writer and the sweet and sincere booksman... and their love of books. (Thanks again Ali!)

Visions of Glory 
by John Pontius
I honestly won't tell you much about this book except that you must really discover it yourself. John Pontius has transcribed a series of visions given to a friend (pseudonym "Spencer") about the premortal life and Second Coming. Interesting thoughts and ideas. Read it with the Spirit. It really gets you thinking.

by Orson Scott Card
*Modern adaption of the Snow White story*
Honestly, loved the idea. And at times I really did love reading this book. There were clever and complex story details that made this an excellent read at times... BUT... I admit... I am not the biggest Orson Scott Card fan. Gasp. It's true. And I'm not exactly sure why. I simply have seen a trend in the books of his that I read that I'm not always 100% satisfied and sometimes a little annoyed at his crudeness. Anyhow, I still finished this in a day and enjoyed it for the most part.

Peace Like a River
by Leif Enger
*An asthmatic boy with an unusual family searches for his fugitive brother*
Some books you read for the story. Some books you read for the writing. This book was hands down some of the most beautiful writing I've read. I wasn't nearly as interested in the story as I was in the beautiful unfolding of it.

Hunger Games #2 and #3
by Suzanne Collins
Ugh. I caved. I never read the first one. I had been determined not to see the movie but since I did anyway and was desperate for something to read and these happened to be lying around the house and I couldn't find anything better... I caved. (Hows that for run on sentence.) I am one of the few people that seemed to really hate the Hunger Games. I don't like the idea. I kept my eyes closed for most of the first movie. Somehow I ended up reading the 2nd one and actually liked it. So I continued on with the third one and hated it. So here it is... I am a Hunger Games hater. Done. (PS...still liked the second movie.) I also think her writing is really annoying.

I've Got your Number
by Sophie Kinsella
*A girl loses her engagement ring and her phone, steals/borrows a phone and finds her man *
Laughs. Laughs. Laughs. How have I not heard of this author before? I loved this book. I was skeptical at first but it quickly proved itself. Quick read. Fun story. A great way to keep your mind off of being pregnant.(Thanks ALI!)

The Grand Sophy
by Georgette Heyer
*Vivacious young matchmaker breaks Regency norms and eventually makes a match for herself.*
Again, Laughs. Laughs. Laughs. Regency style. Another great book to keep your mind off being pregnant (seeing a trend here?). I really did enjoy this book. Another quick but excellent read. (Thanks Ali! Can you tell that Ali saved my reading list this year?) 

Enders Game (audio)
by Orson Scott Card
*Young child is tasked with saving the world.*
I went a little backwards on this one. I saw the movie before I read (well...listened) to the book. I'm not much of a sci-fy person but I happened to really like the movie. I actually REALLY liked the movie. The kind of "Like" where you are still thinking about it two days later. So needless to say I had high expectations for the book. And honestly, I was a little disappointed that I wasn't raving about it like everyone else I know. What this tells me is that I got almost everything I needed from the movie about the story and the details were little help. Of course, I did admit previously that I'm not the biggest Orson Scott Card fan. To be fair, I did enjoy the additional story of Ender's brother and sister. And I love the complex moral dilemna.

Leadership and Self-Deception
by The Arbinger Institute
*Are you in the box? A story of perceptions, ways of thinking, and getting out of "the box."*
I just made a goal to read this every year. Or at least every few years. It is an excellent read. Everyone needs to read this. It is a great application of the principles of sympathy, empathy, communication, how to change perspective, and strengthen relationships. 

December 24, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas

I know I have been horrible at posting. Of course, I have the best excuse in the book. You have two newborns and see how often you post. I digress...

This Holiday has been a unique experience. On one hand, I feel like I haven't had an opportunity to even get into the Christmas spirit. Immense fatigue, unpredictable hormones, and a healing body has inevitably put a few bumps and bruises into my holiday. But on the other hand, I feel that I have never had such a perfect understanding of the true Christmas Spirit.

Becoming a parent has changed my perspective on... well... just about everything. Besides not being able to leave the house without obsessing about my babies well-being to being overly cautious about... well... just about everything. Besides the diapers, spit up, baths, laundry, etc. My world-view has changed. It's rather hard to explain. Unfortunately, I seem to feel the evil and injustice in the world more acutely. However, I also seem to comprehend the power of love, innocence, service, and parenthood (amongst other powerful concepts) more vividly.

I think I might now better understand the love of our Father in Heaven to send his Son to Earth. I can't image giving up my child, but I can't image our lives if Heavenly Father hadn't given up His. Likewise, I can't comprehend the deep pain and suffering Christ experienced when He faced the greatest evils of this world. But I can better comprehend the love that He has for us.

A love I never really understood until now.

To think of this baby, so innocent and pure... like my babies. To think of this little one, so seemingly unprotected. Yet, this tiny baby that was born in a stable and laid in a manger had been tasked with the greatest of callings.

I wish my language, writing and grammar could correctly communicate that thoughts and feelings of my heart.

But just know that now as Christmas approaches I am starting to understand the power and beauty of the birth of Christ just a little bit more.

My favorite holiday carol...

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Baby, the son of Mary.
So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Baby, the son of Mary.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The baby, the Son of Mary.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Baby, the son of Mary.