All posts by Chrissy

Welcome to my blog! Started in 2014 as a place for friends and family to keep in touch across the many miles. It has quickly grown into an online community of moms, bloggers, friends and families around the world. Link up with more of us on Facebook and Instagram as well. You have found your way here so you must be interested in the mommy lifestyle. The community here is for moms (really anyone who is a parent) with real talk, recipes, product reviews and giveaways and more, all with some light humor thrown in. This is the place for all of that and MORE! Life is beyond one specific topic, so is the blog. No matter where you are in your life journey there is something here for you. Life is full of mystery and challenges, we all need some help, a sounding board, new ideas, and a community. It takes a village right? Part of the village here is the Mommy Lifestyle series, the 3rd Wednesday of each month. *Coming soon In the Kitchen with Chrissy, start getting excited for it now! You need a place to feel normal, find happiness, and realize there are many others going through, and have been through the same experiences as you. You will find this around here, I'm here to help you find it. Oh, and hey there, I'm Chrissy (formally Christina Salisbury) and I am obsessed with being online and journaling. Writing out my experiences helps my process. I started jotting ideas and thoughts down along with photos starting in 2006 as a place to keep a record of my life. Cliff's Notes version: marriage at a young age, giving birth to a kid, becoming a divorcee before the two year stint, the succeeding years found me a divorced/single mom working full time and attending school, receiving my degree in business management. Flash forward to a new life. Marriage, moving across the country and quitting my long term customer service job opens new doors and experiences. Add in three moves, two kids and a house purchase along with adopting a dog and three cats and you are here. Now with 2 girls, 1 boy, three cats, one dog, a home and husband all to care for I am a stay-at-home mom. There is never a dull moment around here and I keep those times and my blog transparent. Outside my family I am a Yellow status presenter with Younique. I also enjoy spending time volunteering. I am a volunteer with a family support group for the Army National Guard and church programs. Before you click out, I want to invite you to subscribe to follow my blog for notifications. The community extends beyond the blog as well so join me on Facebook and Instagram as well for more content!

I’ll Show You My… Hometown

“Home is where your heart is.” If this is true my home is all over the country! When we first decided to write about our hometown this month I knew what I’d be writing about, the place I grew up and spent most of my childhood and teenage years, even part of my young adult life. Then I thought on this quote and all the other places I’ve lived, including where I currently live. How am I to write about my “hometown” when I have more than one? I thought maybe a quick internet search would help me decide. NOPE! Even Google says a hometown is “the town where one was born or grew up, or the town of one’s present fixed residence.”  Not helpful Google!

I narrowed it down to two (ok three) places I’d call my hometown. Let’s start at the beginning… where I began. Mission Viejo, California. I was born and raised in Southern California. Beaches, palm trees, delicious food, 6 lanes of freeway traffic, less than an hour from Disneyland. Yep this is my hometown and where some of my family still live. I love and miss them dearly. Let me show you…

Backyard in Mission Viejo
Nothing beats a gorgeous sunset over the ocean.
Going shooting with my Papa
Angels baseball games!
Watching my baby grow up here
Many hours spent at Disneyland
One of many delicious meal options.
Did I mention the beach?

Summer days and nights spent at the beach, I graduated high school and college living here. Would I ever move back? Probably not, the cost of living is ridiculously high now, ok it always has been. But part of me will always be a SoCal girl. Occasionally we visit and I am able to step foot on the glorious sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean and grab a double-double.

Part of my youth was also spent living in Utah. The place has grown and changed much since I’ve lived there. As I’ve said before, home is where the heart is and I have much family in Utah still. While I lived in American Fork, UT, most of the Utah Valley and parts of Salt Lake Valley are my “home”.

Mountains are unbeatable
My Utah family

 

So many siblings, in laws, nieces and nephews living in Utah. Going back to visit is easy, leaving is harder every time.My current hometown is Milford, PA. I went from city life to rural life. I’ve never seen so many trees before living here. Just like each of my previous hometowns, there is beauty and excitement to be found here as well. We’ve lived in our home for 5 years now and I’m still finding the places for my heart.

PA roads and skies
Family friendly hiking trails along rivers and waterfalls
Sharing outdoor living space with deer
Milford, my hometown
Colorful sunsets over the lake
White winter views
Kids enjoying the outdoors

All in all I consider myself lucky to be able to have more than one hometown. Milford is my home and I’m learning more each day about myself, my family and this area. I look forward to finding where my next hometown will be, many years from now. Where is your hometown?

Share your hometown and link up with us here.

 

I died…

Last week my life changed forever, I died.

Ok I didn’t completely and literally die, but after this last weekend I will never be the same. It all started a little over a year ago I began my healthy life crusade. Working out was a regular part of my schedule, I even found a tribe of women working out and supporting each other. We hiked and I shared part of my journey here.  I was preparing and planning for my very first Spartan race; hiking and weight lifting to prepare myself physically, especially hiking around with Baby K on my back. I could handle a little 3-5 mile obstacle course, no big deal! Ugh if I only knew then what I know now… I could not imagine what a life changing event I was in store for.

The original plan was to go with a group from Tribe, but this summer has thrown all of our schedules off and no one else was able to attend. AJ had previously volunteered with me at a race so we both had a free race coupon to use. His original plan was for a Beast or Super Spartan. Knowing I would be alone, I registered for my very first Spartan.

I knew going into the race there would be obstacles I was not ready to overcome, the rope climb is my ultimate nemesis. Even knowing this and knowing the 30 burpee penalty per failed obstacle, I was going to finish! My goal was to come in under 5 hours.  I know, 5 hours for 4 miles? Yes, 4 miles of up a ski resort mountain and back trails, cleared specifically for the race. Oh yes and 20 obstacles and doing 30 burpees per failed obstacle, this was going to take some time.

Race Map

To my surprise (and complete gratitude after the fact) AJ registered Friday night to race with me. He wasn’t doing it for him but for me! In reality, going into it I was not certain how nice I would be able to be. This might make or break our marriage. We would come out of this more in love or I’d be so raging angry and cranky I would say not nice things to him causing a rift in our relationship. 

Pre-race face

Morning of the race we were running late but arrived with time to spare. 8:30 am we climbed over the Spartan starting wall to begin our very first Spartan Sprint. Up the mountain we started, over 5 foot hurdles, yes while still going up the slope of the mountain, further up we went still. The first mile was the longest drudge to the peak. It was not a straight up climb nor was it a well worn path. There were some more walls to climb over but these I did on my own since they were on level ground. Although I did smack my ribs pretty hard on either these walls or the hurdles when I broke the mouth piece off of the camelpak I was wearing ugh! Bruised ribs SUCK! Over another wall, under another and through a third, yep through it, there were holes.

Miles 2 and 3 blurred together for me.  Hiking up and down hilly, rock covered, sprain your ankle terrain, intermixed with obstacles designed to push you to your physical, emotional and mental limits, you bet I lost track of what mile and obstacle we were at. Obstacles such as crawling under a cargo net in swamp mud fit for any wallowing pig. Then make it thru the crawl and slush thru a few more mucks of water to a dunk wall. Down into a pit of water, scramble up, back down into another and up again until the third time you’re down in deeper water facing a wall you now have to go under, the dunk wall. After the mud it was actually refreshing.

Back up the mountain we went to the slip wall. You’d think having a knotted rope to climb up a slippery wall (remember all the mud and water we just went thru?) would make it easy. Sure I did. I got right on up there, grabbed the rope and scrambled up the wall. I was about to pull myself up to the top when someone next to me lost his footing and slipped. I lost my concentration and footing as well. Then I felt the ribs, again. I was going to fall, until someone behind me stopped me. Someone was below me helping me to stay up, AJ up top reached his hand out to help me over the top and I made it! Dang slippery wall. There were more variations of walls and other obscene obstacles. Some were a cake walk for me, others… not so much. There was a sandbag carry, just like it sounds. Grab a heavy bag filled with sand, lug it up and around the mountain a bit and drop it back off. The Hercules hoist, using a rope and pulley system hoist a heavy bag up to the top of the rigging and back down again. Don’t let the bag free fall to the ground… not cool, or part of the challenge. The plate drag. This was cleverly designed on the side of the mountain with little holes dug into the path. All in all those were the easy ones for me, and the ones I enjoyed. Oh yes and lets not forget the bucket brigade. Fill up a 10 gallon bucket to the designated fill line (probably about 2/3 for the women) with small pebbles and carry it in front of you up and down the mountain. The biggest burpee maker of them all was the spear throw. You get one chance to throw a spear at a hay bale Spartan target. The spear has to stick. ONE. CHANCE.  Yep I came close but you know the saying… horse shoes and hand granades…

I learned very early in the race, this is not a place for “every man for himself” mentality. This is a place for first timers and experienced Spartans to come together, uplifting, supporting, cheering and helping each other all along the way. I cried so many times and for different reasons, heck sitting here thinking about it I still get a little teary. There were people who had finished their own race come back over and help AJ finish my burpees for the rope climb! I was so beat down I didn’t have the capacity to do more than 5 burpees without feeling like I was going to pass out. They knocked em out like it was nothing. Strangers boosted me up and pushed me over obstacles. Some held out a hand to help me up. Others gave me a conversational distraction from my fear of heights atop the A-frame cargo net. Another kind soul named Katie stopped and helped encourage me thru the barbed wire. Most people were rolling thru, we were crawling; that rolling crap for that long makes me dizzy.

My EVERYTHING was challenged and I came out on top! I still can’t believe it myself. I have officially conquered the mountain and finished a Spartan Sprint!

Let’s recap the obstacles:

starting wall: CLEARED with assistance
hurdles: CLEARED with assistance
walls: CLEARED
OUT: CLEARED
Mud Crawl: CLEARED
Rolling mud/Dunk wall: CLEARED
Slippery Wall: CLEARED with help
Barbed wire: CLEARED
Spear Throw: failed
Rope Climb: failed
Sand Bag: CLEARED
Plate Drag: CLEARED
Herc Hoist: CLEARED
Olympus: CLEARED with help
7 foot wall: failed
Inverted Wall: CLEARED with help
A-frame: CLEARED
Twister: failed
Bucket Brigade: CLEARED
Multi Rig: failed


Fire Jump: CLEARED

I died. I have been reborn over the fire and now…
I AM A SPARTAN! AROO!!

I’m not quite ready for a beast or super but there are other venues this summer for Spartan Sprints…. maybe! I said never again when I finished this one and I’m already looking at the schedule for this year! Oh man I’m in trouble!

Part of me will never be the same and I am glad for that. If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you right? I have been changed. The Spartan community is a unique creature in itself as well. I ended up finding out the names of most the Spartans who helped me on the mountain. Part of me will never forget them. They and that mountain were part of an experience I do not wish to soon forget. 

What is something you’ve done and conquered? Did it scare you? Would you do a Spartan?

Check 3 and 4 off of my 40 by 40 list!

Momisms

Growing up I was always telling myself I would NEVER say the things my mom would say to my kids. Some of these are things I never thought I would need to say to my kids.  Over the last decade and a half I have heard my mother’s voice coming from my own mouth!

You’re not the mom
Worry about yourself
Get that out of your mouth
Shut the door
Did you wash your hands?
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Shut the door
Flush the toilet
Money doesn’t grow on trees
Eat your vegetables
As long as you live here, you’ll live by my rules
Shut the door (Did I mention this one?)
Are your legs broken? Go get it yourself!
Don’t make me come in there!

These are a few of my ever repeating statements to my kids. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall over here!  What are some things you find yourself saying and looking around the house to see your mother?

I’ll Show You My Fellow Blogger!

This month we wanted to mix it up a bit and introduce you to some other bloggers out there.  There are a lot of blogs out there in the far reaches of the internet. How do you find someone you can relate with? How do you know if a blog is a good one to follow? How do you choose to start a blog, let alone what you write about? Hopefully our fellow bloggers will be able to give you a guide in the right direction. At the least you’ll find a new blog to follow and expand your own blogger friend universe. Without further ado let me introduce you to my fellow blogger, Ashley Meir from The Rad Mommy (head on over and give her a like or follow on these other social media platforms:

Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest


Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?

My name is Ashley Meier and I am a blogger at The Rad Mommy as well as a wedding and portrait photographer. My blog is essentially a mommy blog that focused on empowering and inspiring entrepreneur and working moms.

Describe how did you first get into blogging.
I really like to write and was looking for a creative outlet. I love business and I love being a parent, so why not combine the two :0).

Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in blogging?
I have experience with website design and maintenance, and also do a lot of blogging with my photography stuff so I think that helped. Also, just knowing how to find a following on social media has been huge, although I am still growing and finding my exact niche.

How would you describe your blogging style?
I am a conversational and informative blogger. I want my readers to get something out of what I am writing and delivering. I am also exploring podcasts and videos to help with that.

What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog?
I think Facebook Groups are huge, and then just connecting with like-minded people who do what you do, and want what you have to offer.

What do you think is the best service a blogger can provide to his readers?
I think it depends. Whether that’s light reading, education, products or services; it really depends on what the blog is trying to achieve. There is a need for it all.

What would be your ideal working environment? On the beach in Costa Rica 🙂 . I just love working on a computer with a big monitor and a cup of coffee or glass of wine close by.

How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?
Scheduling posts and not biting off more than I can chew. I am still getting in my rhythm but those two things have helped tremendously. Also just staying focused!

What do you think is the best strategy that worked well for you to get more traffic to your blog?
Writing about viral topics has yielded the biggest results for me thus far. And then having other people become my cheerleaders and share my content.

How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
I want to truly define my niche, whether that will be working on getting high amounts of traffic or developing resources like webinars and courses for readers.

What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
Not sure yet 🙂 . I think blogging can just get tedious and discouraging because it doesn’t happen overnight. But, I do see the reward in sticking with it, like anything in life.

Tell me about your proudest achievement.
When I had a post go viral! It was SO fun to see my numbers go up while looking at my “live” analytics.

Who has impacted you most in blogging and how?
Everyone and everything. Being a parent and being a business owner.

What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?
I am a mom to two little girls and I run a super successful wedding and portrait business. I am on to my next dream of creating the life I want by working my way into the blogging worlds.

How do you think I rate your blog as an interviewer?
I think you will like it and hopefully find some good resources from it.

What do you do in your spare time?
I drink wine, travel, ride my bike to breweries, exercise and hang out with friends – all while mommin’ of course.

Where would you like to be in blogging five years from now?
I would like to have bloggers blog for me, so I can sip cocktails on the beach and focus my efforts on the content, instead of the marketing aspect.

What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far?
Just seeing how slow growth is, and working really hard on content that doesn’t always get high traffic.

Can you name some of your favorite bloggers and explain why they are your favorites?
My favorite right now is Melyssa Griffin. That girl is on her game and I learn something from her every time I read her stuff. There is no fluff there.

What inspired you to start your blog?
I wanted an outlet and wanted to start designing even more freedom into my life.

How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
I am still pretty new to the blogging life, but I think just focusing on consistency and then letting myself rest if I am not feeling it. Having expectations but not ones that make me feel like I am chained to it.

Can you tell me about few sources from where you get products for review on your site?
Just things I use. This is not really my blogging focus but might be at some point.

What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
The tedious work of formatting posts, designing graphics, scheduling social media posts, etc.

In the future where do you hope your blog will take you?
I really hope it can turn into my full-time job so I can officially step away from photography. I love photography, but long term I see more of myself in the inspiration realm of things.

Have you met anyone interesting/famous on your blogging journey?
Not yet :0). But I did run into David Spade one time at the Cheesecake Factory (but that was like 12 years ago, lol).

Do you have any specific goals for the rest of this year?
Create some content, define my niche and start making more money on the blogging side of things.

What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging?
I have a lot more to do!

Did you have any professional help or did you created the blog yourself?
I created everything myself. I am into this DIY thing.

How active are you on a weekly basis? How often do you communicate with your followers?
I have about two posts a week, and am constantly posting on social media several times a day usually. Most of it is scheduled though.

How much time do you spend blogging?
Yikes! Not sure yet. Probably about 10 hours a week right now.

What do you think is the best social media strategy for getting more visitors to a blog?
I think it depends on where you want to focus your time. Long term I am thinking Pinterest might be the way to go though, because Facebook and Instagram are limiting the audience reach.

Would you encourage other people to make their blog?
Absolutely! It is a great outlet. But know a direction you want to head before investing too much time, and don’t expect to be an overnight success.

Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
It is both my profession and my hobby. I am building a business here 🙂 .

A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money online. Do you have some tips for those people who are interested in making money from the blog?
It is NOT easy, but it is doable. I think you just have to be focused on what you want to do, and head there. You will constantly be evolving though, so don’t expect to have all the answers right away.

 

Thanks so much Ashley for letting me interview you. It is a pleasure getting to know you behind the scenes of your blog.
I have learned a few things from this interview and hope all of you have as well. Do you have a fellow blogger you’d like to introduce us to? Link up with us below!

 

Monthly link up every third Wednesday!

I’ll Show You… What Makes Me Happy

Hey guys! Wow can you believe it’s the middle of April already? Last month we were talking about spring cleaning while there was still some frost on the ground. Before you know it summer will be upon us! Our topic for this month is what makes ME happy. I’ll admit I wasn’t too keen on this topic. I had no clue what I’d write about that I haven’t already in our November posts. The truth of the matter for me is I suffer from depression. Not the having a bad day I need a good cry depression. The debilitating, psychiatrist prescribes meds kind of severe depression. It isn’t something I talk about, I simply cope and try to manage myself. Finding and talking about what makes me happy did not sound like a good idea, I must have been having a downward day.

As I write this post  I am reveling in all of the warm weather we have been having.  I hope you’ve been enjoying your spring thus far. The sunshine and warm weather always seem to perk me up. I find myself with more energy and enjoying life a bit more during spring time than the other seasons.

The warm weather and sunshine seem to shine a light on life a bit better. I find myself smiling more and in a better mood, for the most part.  So what makes ME happy? Not my kids, not my blessings, but what do I enjoy for myself?.


I absolutely miss my sunny SoCal beaches but the forest where I live is filled with wonder. There are trails, rivers, mountains (ok hills for the Rocky Mountain natives), forests and majestic waterfalls all around. Hiking to a spot like this, while sweaty and sometimes exhausting, fills my happy cup every time.  I look forward to more spring hikes before the tourists show up and crowd our lovely nature.

It took spending half the morning alone, outside of our house to realize I really am happy with him. It isn’t because he’s my husband and I am suppose to love him and always be happy (we are SO not always happy together). We were simply running some errands and spending time together, enjoying the beautiful weather and little town we live in.  Being silly with AJ totally falls on my personal happy list.

I found this image here and how appropriate and true it is! In my car, at home, in my head… I LOVE music. Dancing, singing (not always the written lyrics), and creating music make me happy. I have always been involved in music since I was about 10 years old. I can play a handful of instruments and have been in a few choirs. I am by no means a professional but I don’t have to be in order for music to be on my happy list!

This right here says it all! It must tie into my love of music because Zumba is a blast! I’m sure part of it is also the amazing support of my gym Tribe but man it’s great! I may walk out sore and sweaty but I will have a smile on my face (or Jen might give us extra burpees next class).

I know this isn’t about my family, but part of my happiness is my family. When I am down and feel alone, forgotten and wonder what is the point. I try to remember what I have learned and become as a daughter of God. Our family has been sealed together for time and all eternity. The peace I find inside this knowledge and inside the temple helps lift my mood every time.

These are a few of my happy moments and places. For mental health it is vital to not only be grateful but to mark those things which make us happy. Find time to do something you enjoy, something which makes YOU happy.  What are some things you do for yourself to find happiness in your day?

~Christina

 

Next month we are doing a blogger interview. Would you like to be interviewed and featured in my blog? Would you like to interview a fellow blogger (doesn’t have to be me) and join us? I have questions all ready for you too! Let me know!

Real Talk, New Baby

 One of the biggest things I had to learn whilst being a new parent was that it was ok when my child was crying. Yes, I needed to check on them and tend to their needs but it didn’t have to happen that second. The world wasn’t going to end if I finished my meal or drink.

I would however get into trouble if I didn’t take care of myself and instead rushed to my child’s aid. You are not a bad parent by taking time for yourself. In fact, it is imperative. You cannot look after your child to the best of your capabilities if you do not take the time to eat, drink and rest.

As long as you know that they are not in trouble, you do not have to stop what you’re doing to ease their crying. Yes make sure they are fed, changed and comfortable but if tears come in spite of this, do not feel that you have to give up your meal to nurse your bub – they can wait until you’re done!

Christine – http://www.wealthinthebible.com/

FIRST YEAR
Remember how I said everyone has an opinion? This doesn’t stop… ever. You’ve spent nine months carrying this beautiful child around in your body, went thru your own personal hell to get it out and now that baby is here you need a whole new set of advice and tips from other parents.

Breastfeed vs formula: there is a hot debate and many good moms have fallen in the battle. Do what is best for you and your baby and stick with it.

If you do choose and can breastfeed my advice is don’t quit too early. This is not an easy feat. Finding the right position for baby and you and getting the latch is a difficult task. Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally. All those sweet photos of loving moms nursing their happily sitting still babies can be a bit overwhelming and disheartening to a new mom.

Even after nursing two kids I did not remember the toe-curling pain involved with nursing a new born. The pain wasn’t from the onset of the first few latches or even the incorrect latches. The worst pain comes when the milk starts to fully come in and baby is nursing. I can compare it only to a sensation of microscopic needles sliding thru my ducts. Thankfully it does not last the duration of nursing, only the first few weeks of milk coming in.

When baby does get the hang of it he’ll get so comfy he’ll be zen, and start practicing baby yoga while nursing. Just let it happen, it’s a funny experience.

You do what you think and feel is best for you and baby. Mother’s intuition is a real thing. Trust it.

 

LESLIE
Emotionally, I was a wreck after they were born. I was worried they were going to die and that my babies would be taken from me. I couldn’t even text or talk to anyone without crying my eyes out for the first few days! I know my body was going through major changes, it definitely got to my head.
Pumping…I could write forever about pumping. My advice is to get a good pump if you plan to breastfeed. You never know, breastfeeding might not work out and if getting Mama’s milk is important — invest in a good pump! I pumped exclusively for 11 months and it was the single hardest part of the entire journey. If you are on fence about providing them breast milk — just do formula. It will be much less stressful — but it is more expensive, so be aware of cost. My point is, don’t stress about feeding the baby — formula, breast milk…whatever you go with, just be confident in your choice. The baby will grow just fine!
Sleeping is an essential part of your child’s growth. We avoided co-sleeping and put our babies in two separate cribs. They never slept in our bed and preferred to be in their own room. Get them into this habit early; you’ll be grateful for it later. If you still want cuddle time, do it for the first or last bit of naps. Avoid interrupting sleep cycles. They need sleep to grow, to build their immune systems and to be mentally happy! We also didn’t try to be quiet during sleep time. That gets them in the habit of sleeping through noise. You can’t shut your house down for naps! I have a friend that couldn’t even wear jeans in her house because the friction noise of her walking would wake up the kids — no bueno.
I am a fan of daycare or some kind of group learning (library time, outings with friends, etc.). My kids are super smart (and no, I’m not just biased) and they are very social — it’s because they spend time with others and have a lot of structured learning time each day. Have them go for a few days or hours a week, it doesn’t have to be a full time thing.
When they fall, have them get right back up (preferably on their own). For example, if your kid falls down the slide — have them go down that same slide immediately after — it helps them overcome their fears. Just don’t coddle… 🙂
I attempted to make my own baby food (all organic) and it was a short lived activity. I ended up just buying organic baby food and then pureed some things on-demand. Avocados were a great first food. Rice cereal is basically a waste, but we did it just to get them used to texture.
Make sensory toys! Crumpled up paper, bottles with water and glitter…stuff like that is a fun craft and is great for their learning time!
My last piece of advice is two fold:
1. Get out every day! It doesn’t have to be a grandiose activity, even just an outing to the store is good for them and YOU!
2. Lower your expectations and then lower them again!

RENEE

Being happy during the first year took actual effort. I thought just having a baby would be overwhelmingly satisfactual and fulfilling. In reality I had lost all concept of time management and felt I had no purpose other than to nurse this infant and shower away my strange new Mom smell. I had to come up with a personal mantra to chant during these low times and eventually I found happiness in my day-to-day routine and found an outlet through exercise.

Aunt Sue, Bees and Miracles

For several years I had strong spiritual promptings to keep bees. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I attributed the impressions to our principles of self-reliance and emergency preparedness. I didn’t act on those promptings until early in 2010 as I was talking with my sister Sue (known to many as Aunt Sue from her close association with our 6 children). I don’t recall how the conversation turned to beekeeping, but I learned that she was having the same spiritual promptings. And so we took the plunge together and bought 2 hives, bee suits and equipment and 2 packages of bees. We drove to upstate New York to pick up our bees and equipment and began our journey to honey heaven.

On July 5, 2011 I got a call from my sister telling me she was just diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. I cried. A lot. I knew nothing about leukemia or its treatment, but as we spoke I began to receive some very strong promptings from the Spirit. Sue would be OK. All would be well. I would be a bone marrow donor for her. Was that even a treatment for leukemia?! I didn’t know, but the promptings that day were powerful and undeniable.

We later found out that without a transplant she might only have six months to live. They started chemo treatments immediately. My wife Ruth cut Sue’s hair in preparation for her losing it all. And so, I did learn that a bone marrow transplant was indeed a treatment for leukemia and I was soon tested to see if I was a close enough match. The doctor told us they test for certain “markers”. There had to be a match of at least six of those markers for them to even consider me as a donor. Off went my blood to the lab. About a week later I received a call from Sue. The results were back, I was a ten out of ten match, very very rare. I cried. A lot. And the Spirit confirmed what it had already told me.

The week before the scheduled transplant I drove to Hershey Medical Center two and a half hours each way every day for a week to get shots that would increase my white blood cells. The shots worked so well I could feel my spine throbbing in the night causing me to moan and groan in pain. After two nights of pain I asked if there was anything they could do for the pain. “Oh sure, no problem!” (WHY did I wait 2 days?!)

The day of the transplant arrived and I was hooked up to “la machine” for 6 hours.


They needed something like a million cells and after 6 hours they took a count (however they count those kind of things). 1, 2, 3, 4…3 million it is!

Now the transplant… kind of anticlimactic. But then the intense final chemo treatment and I’ve never felt so helpless watching my sister hallucinate and suffer in pain. But all went as well as could be. While many others passed away even after their transplants my sister hung in there.

Sue has not been without complications and difficulties, but remains cancer free for over 3 years now. But what does this have to do with bees?

Sue’s primary occupation prior to the leukemia was a full time massage therapist. Giving massage 6 days a week had taken a toll on her and while battling cancer she wouldn’t be able to handle that much physical effort any more. Through her association with other bee keepers and people in the community she found there was a market for raw local honey. And so for the past several years Aunt Sue has transitioned from massage therapist to The Bee Lady and has for the most part been able to provide for herself because of…bees.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty they say. Indeed in this case it is. Because of spiritual promptings years before the cancer came, and because we acted on those promptings Heavenly Father has provided for Aunt Sue in a miraculous way.

Al who know my sister know the incredibly beautiful person she is. Heavenly Father has given Sue great blessings, and Aunt Sue blesses all she comes in contact with.

I don’t know why Heavenly Father offers miracles to some while others suffer on intensely, but I testify that our Heavenly Father knows us and loves us. If we pay attention we will see His hand in all that we do. If we act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost he will bless us abundantly.
-Bob Woolley

 

I’ll Show You My… Spring Cleaning

You guys I’m so excited about this month’s collab post! Spring cleaning is something that happens about every season around my house! If you’ve been to my house in the winter it may look completely different in the spring. This year is no different.

Truth be told I hadn’t anticipated moving the furniture, I thought I was happy with my current arrangement. Everything changed when I brought out the carpet cleaner! We’ve been living without a carpet cleaner for longer than I care to admit. I finally found one at a decent price with great reviews. I moved all of the furniture out of my dirtiest living space, the front room, and went to work. 

These are photos of my carpet before cleaning but after moving the furniture out. Gross, I know. I won’t show you the gobs of hair and pet fur this beast grabbed out of the carpet. It isn’t brand new but dang this is a great looking room again!

It was while I was cleaning the carpet I decided I wanted a change. I wanted the furniture back in the living room with the piano and gas fireplace. The big picture window is nice for looking out but the room felt too separate from the rest of our living space. So AJ and Dawn helped me move the pool table into the front room. Voila!

Of course the pool table was fully cleaned off and I am loving the new arrangement. We rehung the tv on the wall in the living room and it feels more like home.

Admittedly this was my biggest spring cleaning project to date. It was nice and warm here for a little while but Mother Nature decided to knock us back after springing our clocks forward. So I’ve put a lot of my major spring cleaning on hold for now.

I have been cleaning out closets of games, toys, shoes and clothes no one uses anymore. Those items are being collected in the garage to be donated locally. Purging the house of items we no longer use has been on my to do list for awhile and what better time than spring cleaning to clear it all out?

I will be cleaning the carpets in each of the other rooms when the temperature rises again, no sense in having wet carpets with below freezing temps outside.

Some of my other spring cleaning chores will be done this month and others will need to wait for warmer weather. Here are some of my regular “spring cleaning” tasks:

  • Scrub inside of washing machine
  • Move washer and dryer to clean floors underneath
  • Hose down screens
  • Clean window wells
  • Pressure wash outside house
  • Turn over mattresses
  • Clean window sills, under glass
  • Clean curtains
  • Check sink traps
  • Clear outside AC unit
  • Wash windows in and out
  • Play outside with the kids

My lists are always adapting to our busy lives. I don’t have a list I use each year simply a task list of items as I notice they need to be addresssed.

What are some of your spring cleaning tasks? Have you started spring cleaning yet? Link up with us and share your spring cleaning ideas and tips. Also see below for our schedule for upcoming collab posts.

Friday Finds

Hey guys! It’s been a crazy few weeks. Our has was hit with the flu bug going around. Every. Single. One. Ugh.

Needless to say I needed a grocery shopping trip after it was all said and done. Ya know how ‘they’ say don’t go shopping on an empty stomach? Yep don’t do it. I managed fairly well as I’ve been working out again but man I definitely came home with more than anticipated. Fortunately one of those unexpected purchases was healthy and delicious. 


Hello quinoa salad! Thank you Costco for making me a delicious lunch. It made me feel a little less guilty about buying a bag of 


And even better I still haven’t opened this bag! Woohoo!

What are some yummy treats or healthy snacks you’ve found on an empty stomach?

Friday Find

This week’s find comes from in the woods where the deer roam, ticks may bite and waterfalls flow into the rivers. Trees branches above provide shade on the forest floor for any and all roaming the many trails winding around the land. It is on one such trail I found something incredible today. 


This beautiful waterfall was a stop along the way to finding what was deep inside. Over the last year I have been on a journey to find a stronger healthier me. Today I found part of her with the help and support of my local Tribe. I packed baby K on my back in his Tula and headed off into the woods. An hour and forty minutes later we had traversed many inclines, crossed creeks, and traveled 4 miles. The journey was smooth goon at times, others it was arduous. 

The trail was a trial of my endurance and in the end I came out the other end of the trail a new person. I have a new bench mark of what I can accomplish. My perseverance was tested and I passed. Although no one could do it for me, I could not have done it without some of my Tribe. These ladies did not carry me or baby K but the did use their words of support to lift me up. 


Today I found my inner trail hiker, my inner beast, my inner strength.