I’m in the process of rebuilding. So if you’ve stopped by and you think things here look a little messy, don’t worry!
I’m currently importing my old blog from Blogger, so forgive the mess of categories and the lack of images in some posts older than this past June. And ignore the lack of cohesion in some of the design. It’s a slow process.
It will be organized and pretty again. I promise!
Drove from Clarksville, TN to San Diego, CA, arriving in October.
Packed up a moving truck & moved to Provo, Utah on October 31st.
Both my husband and I got jobs at Sundance in November.
We house/apartment-hunted for 2 months.
My husband’s car got hit and totaled on Christmas Eve
(while he was out of it helping a co-worker’s car get unstuck).
Insurance undervalued his car by 50%. Let the battle begin.
We moved into our apartment on January 1st.
Readmitted into the 1st year courses for Industrial Design at BYU.
Classes started January 6th.
Over half of the BBN Admin Team members needed to step down to take care of personal needs.
Double the work I need to do for that community.
My car’s transmission died on January 16th.
January 17th, I attended the Sundance Film Festival and interviewed some amazing people for Forward Walking.
My son and I got influenza on January 20th.
We each contracted a second virus by January 24th, complete with ear and sinus infections.
Today, February 3rd, I’m finally feeling up to working and going back to school after missing a week.
And here I am wondering where in the world January went. One of my goals for this year was to get my blog where I want it. So far, month one was a total flop. But for good reason! I’ll give myself a break, because honestly, I deserve it. After everything we’ve had happening over the past few months, I feel like I’m doing a pretty bangin’ job of living life!
Anyway, I just wanted to get this all out of my head somewhere. I should make a to-do list. But that might just stress me out more when I see the sheer amount of stuff I need to do. I’ll just do one thing at a time and remember…
Good luck, self!
If you don’t know me well, you probably don’t know how obsessed I am with Halloween costumes. I love Halloween strictly because of the opportunity to dress up as whatever you can dream of and create. I LOVE IT.
I’m really proud of our past costumes. They’ve even been floating around Pinterest, which makes me feel pretty cool. I had a friend tell me last week she saw pics of our costumes last year show up in a Google search she did. Nobody really knows who I am, so I’m not popular or famous, but my creations are! Suh-weeeet!
Alright… Without me blabbering on and on, let me introduce this year’s costume theme for our family.
Graham is obsessed with Ylvis’s What Does the Fox Say. And I can’t blame him. He’s one-and-a-half, he loves animals and music, and that song actually has a great beat (and is freaking hilarious and well done, even if it is completely ridiculous–let’s be honest). Graham asks to watch it when he wakes up in the morning and immediately after every nap every day. We usually watch it at least 5 times a day. I have the entire thing memorized (not by choice, mind you).
Here it is, if you’re living in the dark ages or have been rebelling against watching it.
When Graham wakes up in the morning, within five minutes of seeing us he’ll say, “Fah-fah? Ha-tee! Ha-tee!” After every nap, he says the same thing. And if he sees my phone, my computer, or my husband’s laptop, it’s always, “Fah-fah? Fah-fah?
We decided to play up this new found favorite song of Graham’s.
May I present….
I love how Graham pulled Bob’s tie loose.
And my favorite shot of Graham, and we look ridiculous. He got tired of wearing his fox ears…
Graham: “Eeeeaaahhh!!!!” (translation: “I don’t want this on my head!”)
Me: “Graham, just keep the fox ears on for 30 more seconds!”
“This is how you’re supposed to wear the fox ears, Graham!” (As Bob put them on backwards… Ha!)
Until next year, which I’m already debating about, Happy Halloween!!
Why won’t you let me catch up? Or catch my breath? Or catch a break? I know I bring on a lot of my own stress and busyness. But I’m doing all of that because I have to make some money just to live you and I’ve been given talents and traits I’m supposed to develop during you. But does it always have to be this hard?
Okay, I’ll give you some credit. I’ve found some amazing friends and I was given an incredible family while dealing with you, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of fun moments with you too. But this constant lack of enough time in a day is just not cutting it for me. Neither is the constant barrage of trial after trial, hardship after hardship. And every time I try to take on less work, I always turn out to be just as busy as I was when I wasn’t saying no to things! What’s up with that?
Anyway, we’re moving soon–driving from Tennessee to California, and then from California to Utah. It’s going to be absurd and full of face-palms, I’m sure, especially with our energetic toddler. I work from home, I’m going to school again next semester, I’m a mom and a wife, I have PTSD and I’ll need some therapy again soon, and we’re not sure why exactly we’ve had this run around the country just to wind up back where we started (ask God about that one–He knows why since he’s the one who told us to do it). But would you please throw us a bone? We’d love to find the right place to live. And my husband could really use a job when we get there. The sooner that stuff lines up for us, the more likely I’ll be able to succeed in all areas of life–school, work, home, and personal health.
I don’t want to regret you. I’d like to think about you with fondness, joy, and laughter, even after all the tears you’ve caused me thus far. I know that’s still possible. But we’ve got to work together. I’ll cooperate if you will too. I know, I know. I can’t have everything. But we could really use a break in the next month or two. I don’t see how more stress and less help will aid us in doing what it is God wants us to do. We’re exhausting our resources–asking friends and family to help in whatever ways they can, praying and trying to do what God wants us to do, and being the best parents and spouses and friends that we possibly can be at this point. So Life, it’s your turn to work things out.
Thanks in advance.
But yesterday happened to be Friday the 13th, and it was a pretty rotten day.
Note: I hope this doesn’t come off as complainy. I wrote all of this with sarcasm and humor, so please read it as such!
I’ve been looking forward to Bloggy Con for months now, making plans, remaking plans, changing plans, and preparing to attend the conference since February. So when all of my hard work and plans seemed useless in many ways due to a gazillion things completely out of my control, I got a little cranky about it.
Bob and Graham ended up coming with me to Bloggy Con. In some ways, I feel like it may have been better if I had just driven up here by myself, instead of dragging them up here with me. But this morning, I’m really glad they’re here with me. It’s nice to have support and love from my little family in this foreign place full of unfamiliar faces.
First off, it’s an 8 hour drive. We left about an hour late. And we had to stop for gas on the way out because we didn’t get to fill up with gas the night before. Bob also forgot to add more oil and do a couple of other tune-ups before this 8 hour drive, so he kept trying to stop and take care of that for the first hour or two.
I did manage to snap this picture on the way out.
Graham has pretty regular dirty diapers. And this morning he just wouldn’t poop. We stopped every hour or two just to check his diaper. And there was nothing in it during the entire drive. (This would come back to haunt me later–just you wait and see.)
About half way there, we crossed into the Eastern Time Zone. It never occurred to me that we would change time zones. Now we were another hour late.
Graham started complaining a lot, so we stopped to check his diaper again. We stopped off at a Chipotle and neither the men’s nor the women’s restrooms had changing tables. So we changed him in the car where the cold wind was blowing. My husband almost left Graham’s we diaper bundled up with a note expressing our gratitude for their lack of changing tables, but instead he went in and spoke to the manager, who we know couldn’t do anything about it anyway.
I thought driving in Southern California was stressful. I also thought I had encountered the worst drivers in the USA while living in Utah. Nope! FYI, the left lane on the interstate is meant for fast-moving traffic and passing other vehicles. Apparently nobody (or very few people) in the state of Ohio knows this. It made our 8-hour drive seem twice as long.
With a whiny 18-month-old, uncomfortable husband, and a cranky and stressed-out mom, we finally rolled up to Cedar Point 30 minutes after the kickoff party was to have started. We made our way over to the hotel where Bloggy Con is being held, stopped in front of the registration office, and I hopped out to quickly check in to our room while Bob and Graham waited in the car. I walked down a ridiculously long, although really nicely and Halloweeny decorated, hallway only to find an enormously long line of people and bloggers waiting to check into their rooms. I got in line, hoping it would move quickly. I then discovered that I’d left my phone in the car so I couldn’t call Bob to tell him. Then the lady in front of me turned to look at me and said, “I’m gonna go get my kids out of the car…” I responded, “I might do the same.”
I did. I got back to the car, hopped back into the driver’s seat, told Bob what was going on, and found a parking spot. By the time I got back in line to check-in, it was an even longer wait.
We made it up to our room and had about 30 minutes left of the kick-off party where dinner was to be served. We left our hotel room, naturally forgetting our jackets, and walked down the boardwalk anyway in the frigid wind. We made it to the courtyard where the event was being held, only to find about 10 people there, most of which were the dinner servers and the Bloggy Con staff. It was outside. The weather was sure not happy about us being there.
Bob ran back to our room to get our jackets. Graham had tons of energy. One of the dinner staff helped to serve my plate, and as grateful as I am for her help, I’m not sure what she was doing. When I finally sat down at a table to eat, I found my hot dog and bun tossed onto the plate amid a pool of baked beans, and my shredded chicken sandwich in the middle of it, the bun so saturated with beans that I could no longer hold it and eat it with my hands. Top that off with a toddler who won’t hold still, and I’m surprised that I didn’t get more food on my clothes.
Bob returned, took Graham and let me finish eating. Then I took Graham so Bob could eat. We returned to our hotel room, frozen and tired. Bob ran to get our cooler out of the car, since we couldn’t carry it up with the rest of our stuff earlier. I gave Graham a bath. As he was splashing in the water, I tried to multi-task and set up his travel crib. But before I could finish, I went to check on him and found my favorite little boy sitting in a tub of water and poop. What a way to top off my day.
I pulled him out, gave him a babywipe wipe down, got him dressed, pulled as much of his feces out of the tub as I could, and when Bob returned he called the front desk for someone to come clean it.
By the time I finally got into bed, I was just happy to lay down and rest. And then Bob gave me a back massage. I did something right by marrying that man. He’s patient, kind, and completely in love with me (and I am with him!). That massage gave me the chance to realize that the truly important things happened:
We traveled safely.
We got checked into both the hotel and the conference.
We ate dinner.
Graham had fun splashing in puddles outside during dinner.
And perhaps most importantly, we had family prayer tonight before going to bed.
Now I need to shower and get ready for a full day of networking and inspiration! I hope this conference is worth the hassle it’s been to get here. I’m hoping that it is.
When I was in college (at BYU), I changed my major about 9 times. It might have only been 8 times. Either way, it was getting ridiculous. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and when none of the majors I was choosing were working out, I went to the campus Career Counseling Center for help.
But they didn’t help. I was paired with this older gentleman who was obviously a bit old-fashioned and traditional. After telling him about my passions and what I loved to do that I hoped to turn into a degree and possibly a career, he directed me to the major: Home and Family Living.
What the [insert expletive here]??
It was like he wasn’t even listening to me, and because I was a girl he was just pawning me off into the major that would turn me into a great mom. It made me furious. That was exactly why I had been trying to find my own major. I was sick of being discriminated against because I was a girl. If a male had walked into that office and gave the same answers as I had, I wonder how different the outcome would have been.
I even tried Home and Family Living. I lasted 2 months. And I really tried to like it. But I just didn’t. I remember sitting in one of my classes for the major, waiting for it to begin, and the same obnoxious girls as usual walked in and sat in the front row. They wore tight animal print and neon colors every day. They flaunted their style, talked loudly because their conversations were so obviously awesome, and wore tons (and I mean tons) of makeup. Their hair was even huge and probably fake. On this particular day, one girl pulled out a Dr. Pepper from her backpack and ostentatiously opened and began to drink it for the entire class to see.
That was it. My inner voice asked, “What the heck am I doing here?” Not only did I not belong, but I was utterly miserable. I stood up and walked out of class. I was done. I did not want to graduate next to those bimbos (no offense if you like animal print or neon colors every day and wear lots of makeup). I didn’t want to be ashamed of my college degree when I finally got it, and I know that I wouldn’t have been entirely proud of it if I had continued on in that major.
I walked across the courtyard to the engineering building and went straight into the administration office. I looked over all of the information sheets about all of the majors the college of engineering had.
Then I saw it: industrial design.
I had been told about industrial design, but I didn’t know much about it. As I read and learned more about it, I was falling completely and madly in love with it. When I took the freshman classes for it the following semester, I wondered why I hadn’t found it sooner. I had already been in school for nearly 4 years, and it was a 4-year program. It was so frustrating to realize that it would take me 8 years to get a BFA. But I was so passionate about it that I wanted to make it happen more than anything else I had ever done in my entire life.
However, I was simultaneously beginning therapy for 15+ years of PTSD. I was pretty much doomed to fail at my new-found passion and obsession. I was pretty much doomed to fail at everything relating to life for the next ten months, minimum.
When I finally dropped out of college to deal with all of my personal issues, I was trying not to give up on my dreams, but I was really worried that I would never make it back to college or finish that incomplete that I took in one of my classes. When that incomplete deadline came and went an entire year later, I gave up. Therapy was hard, and as much as it helped me in the present, it seemed to destroy my future. One of my classmates found out that I wasn’t going to be able to keep going in the major and he told me, “Janae, if you’re not meant to do industrial design, then I don’t know who is.” I soon learned that a lot of my classmates agreed with him, as did a couple of my professors. That compliment crushed me even more. I’ve never forgotten it, because all along I knew it was true.
I started telling family and friends that in the future I was planning on taking independent study courses so that I could get my bachelor’s degree in general studies. And I was okay with that at the time. By getting it I would have a college degree of some sort, which is better than nothing at all, and then maybe I could go back to school later.
But who was I kidding? Deep down I was so ashamed of my failures that I fell into serious depression. Add an unexpected pregnancy to the mix and I felt like my industrial designer dream was over. I still regret dropping out after finding something I love more than my hobbies. But what else could I do? I couldn’t flunk my classes (because of how difficult therapy was) and then expect my application into sophomore year to be accepted. So instead I planned to just get a glorified associates degree and be a stay-at-home-mom for the next 20 years.
But last weekend I remembered that I’m not the kind of girl who settles for less than her ambitious goals and lifelong designer dreams.
On Sunday night Bob and I talked about what to do with our lives and how to get there. And with all of my self-discovery that I had been doing, my hopes and dreams all came spilling back out.
Now I’m in a place where I am far more balanced and I can deal with the depression, anxiety, and low self esteem that accompanies my PTSD. And I’m determined to go back to school. I’m going to do everything I have to in order to get back into that major and stay in it until I have that diploma in my hands. I’m going to work as hard and as long as necessary to get it. I’m going to become that industrial designer that I’ve dreamed of becoming. I’m going to have a career. There has to be a way. I’m going to find it. Period.
So look out, BYU. I’m coming back. And I’m fiercely determined not to let your bureaucracy or sexual discrimination squash my dreams again.
I’ve been doing a lot of deep soul searching lately. I’ve been recognizing some issues I’ve seen in myself and I’ve finally voiced my thoughts on them. And I’ve figured out exactly what the solution is.
I’ve been having problems with my self image. That was the root of everything. I found a gazillion things that bothered me, that I was struggling with, that have nearly consumed me in every way. I was nearing the end of my rope and losing my mind over trivial stuff, and feeling way more emotional, lost, and depressed than I had for a while. But over the last 48 hours, I’ve done a complete 180 and I feel better than I have in years.
So back to the root of it all: how I see myself.
So many things feed into what I was doing wrong with how I viewed myself and my life. Somehow, it got really backward and wrong. I never even noticed it happening because it was so gradual and slow. It affected my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health.
I had gotten it into my head that there was this life and lifestyle I was supposed to be living, that I should just fit into to be satisfied. I thought I needed to be a certain way to be happy and be accepted by others. It stems from a bunch of falsehoods I learned from the media and my church culture (which is an odd juxtaposition because of how strikingly opposite they are).
In the media, I see a constant barrage of idiotic celebrities who do stupid, eyebrow raising things to get attention. Just look at everything that went down at the VMAs yesterday, if you want to know what I mean. I lose all respect for celebrities who do crazy things just to stay in the spotlight. It makes me start loathing them. So the lesson I learned from the media is that I do not want to be like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes, Britney Spears, or Paris Hilton, to name a few. I don’t hate people, but man, I really do not like any of them. At all. I used to like some of them, and the fact that I saw them change, from someone who seemed to be in touch with their inner goodness into attention-crazed and sexualized partiers who use their bodies and extreme actions to get attention… It just makes me roll my eyes and throw up a little bit in my mouth. They’re not doing anything for the good of society, and that’s the message they’re sending others who see them as role models. Great. Just what America needs.
So rather than trusting the media show me what I should be like, they’ve successfully shown me exactly what not to be like. But in listening to and believing in that message, I haven’t really been listening to myself. I’ve gotten so focused on the media’s what-not-to-do and how-not-to-act message instead of just listening to myself. Even though I think the message I’ve gotten from tv and pop-culture is good (because it makes me want to be an upstanding citizen and not a spoiled brat looking for free handouts or fame), the problem is that I keep getting bombarded with that same message to the point that I’ve stopped listening to my inner voice. I haven’t even bothered to examine who I want to become because I’ve gotten so caught up in having opinions about the dumb actions of these famous people. I became so involved with analyzing them and their lives that I wasn’t even looking at my own life. I have no idea how it got to that point, but it did.
My Church Culture
I’m Mormon. And I chose to be a member of this church. I believe whole-heartedly in the doctrines and principles we teach. And before anyone tries to ‘save’ me or convince me that I’m wrong for what I believe, let me just say, “Oh please, honey. I’ve heard it all before.” I grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Tennessee. I served as a missionary for my church for 18 months in San Antonio, Texas. I’ve been all over the Bible Belt and had people feed me all kinds of anti-Mormon literature and ideas. I’ve lost friends for being Mormon (or friends’ parents not allow them to hang out with me because I’m Mormon). I’ve heard every good and bad opinion about Mormons there is, and through it all, I stand firm in my faith. I’ve had some very specific and personal experiences that were answers to prayers. I’ve seen miracles happen by the hands of worthy Priesthood holders from my church. And overall, the gospel principles taught within the church ring true to my heart and mind, and answer soul-searching questions no other church or religion has been able to answer for me. I’ve done my homework. I’ve studied every religion I could find (and it took a couple of years). In the end, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one that I’ve willingly chosen with all my heart to be a part of.
Now, just because the gospel is true does not mean the people are perfect. Often there’s a culture that comes with Mormons, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t fit in it. Aside from my emotional and mental issues, my personality is way more free-spirited and rebellious than your average Mormon. I don’t break commandments and I don’t bend the rules. Well, not the important rules–the ones that affect my salvation I keep thoroughly and happily. But when it comes to something like my appearance… Let’s just say when I was attending BYU (our church-based college), I got a lot of stares and raised eyebrows in my direction. For some reason, most Mormon girls don’t have short spiky hair or fauxhawks, they don’t wear studded leather belts, and they certainly don’t listen to Operation Ivy or Rancid. I’m pretty sure I scared away more guys than I attracted during my college years.
Here’s what I see as a stereotypical Mormon girl: They keep their hair long and naturally colored (and honestly, their long, natural hair is gorgeous!). They love Disney movies, the Disney princesses, and the Newsies, and The Princess Bride. They love to cook, especially casseroles and cookies. They wear a camisole under every shirt just in case the shirt is too low cut, too short, or a little sheer. They wear natural-looking makeup. They love Mindy Gledhill and Peter Breinholt. They use phrases and expletives like, “Oh my heck!” Their childhood goal is to be a stay-at-home mom. They’re friendly, happy, genuinely sweet, and often naive. And that is great for them. If that’s who those girls are, then I don’t think they should change! If they love themselves and are satisfied with the person they’ve become, they should not change a single thing about themselves.
While I do like The Princess Bride and I can make a mean casserole and I usually prefer minimal makeup, I’m not your stereotypical Mormon girl. I don’t exactly fit in with that Mormon girl culture. I got in fights in elementary school. I took up kickboxing. I love gaming (Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and Left 4 Dead are my favorites, if you’re wondering). I consider my style to be a combination of punk and bohemian (punkhemian? bohemiunk?). I’m ambitious and my childhood dream wasn’t to have kids or even get married. I was honestly terrified of both. I wanted to have a career. I wanted to do more with my skills and talents than sit at home raising children. I respect women who do that though (my mom did, and I know it was a lot of work) and I’m not disparaging that way of life. I’m just realizing it’s not exactly meant for me.
When I was no longer attending college but still living in Provo, Utah (by BYU campus), I dyed my hair fire engine red a couple of times. Other times I did bright fuchsia highlights. When I went to church on Sunday with my hair like that, I got countless double takes and stares just walking the two blocks to the chapel. Luckily, it was a great ward and not only did a lot of the members there think it was awesome, but the bishop even complimented me on it.
I just don’t fit the standard or stereotypical Mormon girl mold. I’m not meant for it, even though I am meant to be a member of the church. For a few years now, I’ve slowly been trying to bend myself to fit into that cookie-cutter Mormon girl mold. And I’ve been miserable the entire time! When did I start trying to do that? A more important question, why had I been trying to do that?
I think I just felt pressure to do so. And I got tired of trying to be confident in the face of judgmental Mormon girls (and boys). I found a man I actually wanted to marry (which is a miracle) and I have a son now. I felt like I was supposed to try and be that stay-at-home mom who cooks, cleans, drives the kids everywhere, does PTA at their schools, chaperones field trips, holds elaborate birthday parties, does every tradition for every holiday, and wears herself weary being a mom. And honestly, I know it’s hard work. It’s important work. But I’m not meant to do all of it. I love my family. I love to be Graham’s mom, to teach him, watch him grow, and play with him. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. But if I only did that, I would be lying to myself and I would be miserable. I need to work. I need to use my skills outside of the home. I need to show that aspect of me. And I’m not ashamed to admit it anymore.
I used to think it would make me a bad mom. It doesn’t.
I used to think I would be breaking some rule by working along with my husband. I’m not.
I used to think that because my mom stayed at home, I should do the same. I thought wrong.
I used to think others would judge me or think poorly of me. Well, then I say, “Let them!” It’s none of my business what others think of me. That’s their issue, whether good or bad, and they’re the ones who have to deal with it.
I will go on being confident in being the woman my Heavenly Father made me to be.
That means Bob and I will both work and both take care of our home, equally. We will both raise our children equally (well, once they’re each done breastfeeding it will be more equal, anyway). We will make our family life work and we will find joy and satisfaction in it. It might not be like yours, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be what we need.
More for Me
There’s more to this whole finding and being confident in myself thing than this single blog post. There are some pretty big plans and changes in the works for our family, involving where we live (and plan on living) and what we’re doing and pursuing career-wise.
Most importantly, I’m going to keep on being me. Ever since I made that choice, I’ve been free of guilt, shame, frustration, depression, and anxiety. I’m now filled with hope, peace, happiness, excitement, and anticipation. I’m thrilled to move in the right direction in my life. That means my blog and my online presence may change some. My style and clothing choices will show more of my personality. And I’m going to be true to my passions, dreams, and goals.
Ah, this is so liberating! Why wasn’t I being myself sooner? Where did I get so lost? Well, no more!
Even though my self esteem may waiver from time to time, I’m confident in this progress and in life’s upcoming changes. I’m not going to give away too much right now, so I apologize for the ambiguity when I say: the dreams that I put away two years ago are coming out again. And I can’t wait to start working toward them once more.
So I’ve really been slacking on posting lately. August is just such a crazy month of transitions, even if none of us are in school. I’ve had project after project that I’ve been finishing up to make more room for other priorities and goals, and of course, more projects. Every so often I find myself with too many irons in the fire and I have to start saying no to things because I frankly don’t even have time for myself. This is one of those months.
I have a gazillion posts that I have photos for that I want to write. I have tons of posts that were destroyed that I want to rewrite and repost (thank you Pinterest, ………
Each time I visit my parents, I love to help my mom decorate her house. She has a ton of decorations, but she’s afraid to do anything with them that might be too permanent, like hanging pictures (nails in the wall terrify her), painting any colors on the walls (the walls have been white since they built their house 10 years ago), or putting up curtains and other window treatments. She wants to decorate, but she’s a little indecisive and needs some direction to help her out. Lucky for her, that’s my expertise.
Aside from finally painting the kitchen and living room (which I’ll post about later), there’s this really prominent wall in the living room that is massive and ………
Remember those adorable hot air balloon thank you cards I posted on Monday? Yeah, the ones I made because one of the winners suggested them.
Well, that same winner also told me that she likes owls.
And I do too. So I just couldn’t resist making these sweet owl thank you cards.
Sure, all of you graphic designers out there are like, “Psssht! That’s just basic vector art. Lame-sauce!” To which I’m like, “Pffft! At least I made cute vector art!”
I love how they turned out, personally. I even made two sets–one of these summer colors, and another with of just green and gray owls.