Ponder This

"There is no such thing as a "black sheep". The black sheep is always the most sensitive person in the family who takes on all the energy and dynamics of the rest of the family." 
- Oprah Winfrey show, February 21, 2011

Think of all the so-called black sheep you know. How does this perspective illuminate truths for you? Empty nesters what does it make you feel about the family you've raised? Parents, how does this change the way you see your children and the state of your family now? Does this make you reconsider your notions about your siblings? Mothers and fathers? Friends? Do you think this is valid or a bunch of malarkey?


The LDS Culture

Davis, the Boston Terrier at 8 weeks.

Allen {very interested}: Lexi, I hear you're taking Davis to show and tell at school!

Lexi {moderately exited}: Yeah.

Allen {encouragingly}: So, what are you going to tell your class about him?

Lexi {like a teenage boy}: I dunno.

Allen {more encouragement and slight falsetto to show enthusiasm}: Well, how old is he?

Lexi {like a teenage boy}: I dunno.

Allen {relieved to have something interesting to teach}: Well, he's 8.

Lexi {like a teenage girl at a Justin Beiber concert}: That means he's gonna get baptized!


Oh Sh*t!!!

As I came around the corner to check status in the playroom, I found this:

Dudes. She's 10 months old. We are so screwed.


California Academy of Sciences: Part 2

The rain forest is 4 stories high. The animals at each level represent what you'd really find in the rain forest. So, the animals that live in the water are featured in the aquarium. The swam dwellers? One flight up from the aquarium but beneath the rest of the academy. Once you enter the ground and higher evels, the non-poisonous or non-lethal or non-just plain gross animals are loose. Here is a McCaw parrot.
This is a blue whale fossil.
I couldn't get all of it in one frame. The thing spanned one half of the facility!
The entire exhibit is so humid. By the time we left, we were dripping with sweat and my hair was a poof.
This pendulum has been on display for a long time. When they built the academy, they relocated the pendulum inside. The actual pedulum does not rotate with the earth. It swings in a straigt line. However, the needle knocks down the pins as they move with the earth's rotation. The pins are set out in 15 minute increments.
The Living Roof. There are local varieties of wild plans and gardens up here. The windows are skylights and vents for the academy.
We went across the street to the park. The mounted police were out in full force.
One sight you are guaranteed to see in the city is at least one person doing Tai Chi. As soon as we exited the academy, we saw this guy. It was awesome.
The main fountain.
Lexi in the amphitheater.

Emily thoroughly enjoyed herself. Even totally drenched and with bare feet.
So, when was it dedicated?
The weather was phenomenal. We were just a few blocks from the beach. The girls have never been to the ocean. We hightailed it out of Golden Gate Park to try and beat the fog.
But, we were too late.
We had dinner with Grandpa Bob on the way home. The girls had the best time. I would highly recommend a visit if you're looking for a great day trip in the Bay Area.


California Academy of Sciences: Part 1

Lexi had a school holiday so we decided to see some sights. Allen was out of town so Grandpa Bob made the trip with us. After doing some research, we chose to visit the academy of sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. This is a fairly new attraction in the city. Within one building is an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and four story rain forest.

We started off in the Philippines with sting rays.
And sharks.
As we walked around the sharks, we passed by the coral reef.
Then we saw the famous Albino alligator. He has red eyes. You know, like the white rats? Super gross.
Heading to the aquarium.
The aquarium is on the lowest floor. As you work your way up, you go through the animals that live at leach "level" on the planet.
Sea Star exhibit. Lexi was all for touching them. Addie wouldn't even entertain the thought!
Making our way up to the swamplands level.
Before we went into the rain forest, we had a little lunch. Just a word to the wise: bring lunch. The eatery there is super busy and chaotic. Good food, but what a zoo!
They have lots of tables outside. After the girls ate, they ran and ran and ran. There were tons of kids playing and blowing bubbles.
Lexi with the freaky alligator.
Emily was fantastic. I figured she deserved a break from the confines of the stroller so we stopped at the tidal pool exhibit for a rest. The rails were perfect for her to hold on to and jump around. The water is actually in motion, like the bay so she was mesmerized by the waves.
I spy...
Jellyfish. Oooh. Aaaah.


Look Ma!

I'm not a crafty person. I rarely come up with original ideas for anything that requires creativity. I'm so bad I need to wear a helmet when I do crafts. Find a solution for a horse whose ribs are sticky? Absolutely. Make a cute card for Valentines? Yeah. As if.

While I was looking at the pre-made selection at our local Tar-je store, I was completely underwhelmed. They were just plain crap. There was not a single gender-neutral-even-sort-of-tolerable Valentine to be had. It was either frilly princess with glitter stickers or flame throwing ninjas with tattoos. Um, I have a 4 year old who goes to school with other 4 year olds and there are boys and girls. Plus, each box comes with about 20 million cards and I needed 16.

After muttering my way out of the store, I resolved to make my own stinkin' Valentines. I quickly rememred an idea from the Preschoolers Busy Book. Take a new dish sponge, cut it into a shape, pour a liberal amount of your color of choice Tempura paint on a paper plate, press said spongy shape into paint, press sponge onto surface of your choice and WA! LA! insta-stamp.

I figure, if a Preschooler can do it, I can do it. I cut a sponge into two different sized hearts, bought some plain greeting cards and cut them in half and stamped my night away. To make them super awesome, I glued little boxes of nerds on there. Then, Lexi signed all 16. All. by. herself.

Watch our Martha Stewart.


Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. - John 16:33

The following is an excellent article that addresses Post-Acute Withdrawal.  Whatever your drug of choice may be, this article gives us all hope. After reading this, it's much easier to recognize what is happening. When you want to charge the credit card after months of staying in the budget, when you want to throw out the fruit and eat the donuts till you pass out, or when you see the pretty girl on the computer screen begging you to click the mouse when you know that's not really what you want at all, it's likely you're going through another PAW moment.

Addiction is real. The physical hold it has on the body is real. To ignore or deny that is like disarming the soldier. He will still have to fight the fight, but will be greatly handicapped. However, armed with education and support, it is possible to beat the beast. I hope this article is as helpful to you as it's been to me.

Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS)

There are two stages of withdrawal. The first stage is the acute stage, which usually lasts at most a few weeks. During this stage, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. But every drug is different, and every person is different.

 The second stage of withdrawal is called the Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). During this stage you'll have fewer physical symptoms, but more emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Post-acute withdrawal occurs because your brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As your brain improves the levels of your brain chemicals fluctuate as they approach the new equilibrium causing post-acute withdrawal symptoms. 
Most people experience some post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Whereas in the acute stage of withdrawal every person is different, in post-acute withdrawal most people have the same symptoms.

The Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal

The most common post-acute withdrawal symptoms are:
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Variable energy
  • Low enthusiasm
  • Variable concentration
  • Disturbed sleep
Post-acute withdrawal feels like a rollercoaster of symptoms. In the beginning, your symptoms will change minute to minute and hour to hour. Later as you recover further they will disappear for a few weeks or months only to return again. As you continue to recover the good stretches will get longer and longer. But the bad periods of post-acute withdrawal can be just as intense and last just as long.

Each post-acute withdrawal episode usually last for a few days. Once you've been in recovery for a while, you will find that each post-acute withdrawal episode usually lasts for a few days. There is no obvious trigger for most episodes. You will wake up one day feeling irritable and have low energy. If you hang on for just a few days, it will lift just as quickly as it started. After a while you'll develop confidence that you can get through post-acute withdrawal, because you'll know that each episode is time limited. 

Post-acute withdrawal usually lasts for 2 years. This is one of the most important things you need to remember. If you're up for the challenge you can get though this. But if you think that post-acute withdrawal will only last for a few months, then you'll get caught off guard, and when you're disappointed you're more likely to relapse. (Reference: www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)

How to Survive Post-Acute Withdrawal

Be patient. Two years can feel like a long time if you're in a rush to get through it. You can't hurry recovery. But you can get through it one day at a time. 

If you try to rush your recovery, or resent post-acute withdrawal, or try to bulldoze your way through, you'll become exhausted. And when you're exhausted you'll think of using to escape.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your brain is recovering. They are the result of your brain chemistry gradually going back to normal. Therefore don't resent them. But remember, even after one year, you are still only half way there.

Go with the flow. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable. But the more you resent them the worse they'll seem. You'll have lots of good days over the next two years. Enjoy them. You'll also have lots of bad days. On those days, don't try to do too much. Take care of yourself, focus on your recovery, and you'll get through this.

Practice self-care. Give yourself lots of little breaks over the next two years. Tell yourself "what I am doing is enough." Be good to yourself. That is what most addicts can't do, and that's what you must learn in recovery. Recovery is the opposite of addiction. 

Sometimes you'll have little energy or enthusiasm for anything. Understand this and don't over book your life. Give yourself permission to focus on your recovery.

Post-acute withdrawal can be a trigger for relapse. You'll go for weeks without any withdrawal symptoms, and then one day you'll wake up and your withdrawal will hit you like a ton of bricks. You'll have slept badly. You'll be in a bad mood. Your energy will be low. And if you're not prepared for it, if you think that post-acute withdrawal only lasts for a few months, or if you think that you'll be different and it won't be as bad for you, then you'll get caught off guard. But if you know what to expect you can do this.

Being able to relax will help you through post-acute withdrawal. When you're tense you tend to dwell on your symptoms and make them worse. When you're relaxed it's easier to not get caught up in them. You aren't as triggered by your symptoms which means you're less likely to relapse. 

Remember, every relapse, no matter how small undoes the gains your brain has made during recovery. Without abstinence everything will fall apart. With abstinence everything is possible. (Reference: www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)


Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town. - George Carlin

The brain is now functioning at a normal level. However, the user is conditioned by the drug use to expect the "high". The body is still craving the chemicals. So, even though the person is healthier and happy about making good choices, he or she may feel down. Or underwhelmed by life. Or consistently grumpy.

A very good example of this is seen in gastric bypass patients. The ability to get high from food is no longer available. They cannot get the physical response from eating that they used to. Thus, many individuals who have had this surgery develop addictions to other behaviors. The body is so conditioned to the high that the person replaces addiction to food with addiction of another sort to stave off coming down. It is so uncomfortable in their own skin without the high they must replace it with another behavior. To say addiction of any kind does not have a lasting physical hold on a person is a gross mistake.

In order for a person to truly overcome an addiction, the body has to reach a new equilibrium. The true normal. This process takes years. Two years, actually. During that time, even when the user refrains from use and life is undoubtedly better, he or she can't really embrace that feeling. It's a blanket of emotion that cannot be sourced. Meaning, if someone asked him or her to explain where the sadness or anxiety or lack of enthusiasm comes from, he or she really couldn't put a finger on it. He didn't just get dumped. Or lost a job. Or have a fight. No particular event or string of events can be identified as the trigger. It just is. And it can't be overcome. No matter how many times the blessings are counted, the laughs are had, the prayers are said or the friends called, the feeling is pervasive.

The good news is that this is an encouraging phenomenon. It means the pathways in the brain are healing. The body is being restored. While uncomfortable, it is finite. There is an end. The user is not a bad person. Or an unhappy person. Or a mean person. The person is feeling the repercussions of a destructive habit. For those who engage in the process, while repentance may have been completed, the consequences of the behavior remain.


Happy Valentine's Day

It is not I who become addicted, it is my body. - Jean Cocteau

Addiction of any type actually changes the pathways in a person's brain. It changes who the user IS. For example, in studies, it has been found that those addicted to pornography have similar brain patterns to soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Their brain process has been altered because of the addiction.

The body has a physical response when the substance or behavior is used. The brain releases feel good chemicals, in addition to the drug that has it's own chemicals, that change us. The brain and body then become dependent on those feelings. There is physical and psychological discomfort, and even pain, when the substance isn't received by the body. The user is so uncomfortable, they partake again of the drug.

It's a circular pattern that is easy for the observer to see: Drug taken, body high, drug leaves, body pain and hurt, drug needed to sustain the unnatural feelings, drug taken. Again and again. Over and over. It's a downward spiral that is oh-so difficult to break away from. Most people dealing with addiction will not be able to over come it on their own.

When a person abstains from the drug of choice, withdrawal occurs. There are actually two types of withdrawal. Acute withdrawal is the first phase. This is where sweats, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, headaches, extreme mood swings, etc. are seen. This is the super ugly part where the physical hold the drug has on the body can actually be seen. This is usually a fairly short phase that the addict is most afraid to experience. It is painful and miserable and awful.

The second phase is Post-Acute Withdrawal. This is the phase where the rubber meets the road. The attempt at sustained abstinence from the drug of choice. The measured use of food, the Internet, exercise, spending, gambling or whatever it may be. And while the physical symptoms of withdrawal are greatly diminished at this point, they still exist.


No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions. Patrick J. Kennedy

This is a serious post. About serious stuff. In fact, this is the first in a short series of posts on one particular subject that is relevant in the life of almost every single person you will meet. I'm going to venture that, while most of us won't stand up and share it at the pulpit, we're dealing with this issue. Or someone we love. Or someone we know or talk to or see every week. It's pervasive. In fact, it's part of our culture; woven in to almost every part of the normal person's day.

This beast is called ADDICTION.

There are all types of addicts. There are the "textbook" strung out druggies: Potheads. Alcoholics. Prescription medication abusers. Meth heads.The people who are no longer in control of the drug. The drug controls them. They are a shadow of their normal selves.

And then there are those of us who are addicted to common things: Food. Drama in your life. Pornography (I know. Isn't it sad that this falls under "common" in these days?) Shopping. Making lifestyle change. Gambling. Religion. The Internet. Video Games. Exercise. The list is endless.

You know how it feels to need the fix. To eat the whole bag of chocolate. Or press the checkout button for your purchase. Or to take the pain med so you can make lunch without wanting to die. Or get that daily soda to quell the impending headache. Or give in to the blinking light on the computer that promises unparalleled ecstasy. Or to run and run and purge all of the nasties inside. You know exactly what I'm describing.

Let's face it. We don't need to snort coke to survive. But, we need to eat. We need to have interactions with others. We need to use our computers. Some of us need daily medication to function without pain. And with that comes struggle to keep the balance between healthy and addicted. You can't escape those things; you will encounter them daily in your life.

For many, the addiction is easily ignored as it isn't considered taboo by mainstream society. A person who drinks six Diet Coke's a day isn't considered a freak. However, the fact is: the person who needs those six drinks a day to function is still addicted. Allowing a substance to have such power over our person is not healthy, even if it's considered acceptable.

It's important for each of us to ask ourselves:

What am I addicted to?


Every Person Needs This

Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: Slow the Pace:
"I am talking to you. YOU. The one who thinks she needs to do it all--yes all of it--each and every day. This post is for you... Oh, sorry, I..."

(Click on the link to read the whole article. It's worth it. Trust me.)

(I'm serious. Have I ever led you astray?)

(Go already!)


Book Recommendations

Aren't we always searching for a good book to read? My SIL thought having a "What I'm Reading" roll on the sidebar of the blog would be a nice addition. I agree. I'll try to add that feature in the next little while.

In the mean time, I'm going to make a lengthy list of the books I've read that I feel comfortable telling you all about. I'll make notations if they include any language above PG-13 or situations that may be too adult for some. I'm too lazy to look up the author's names so you'll just have to google those...

General Fiction

The Help
The Alchemist
The Giver
House Rules - language
Poisonwood Bible
The Red Tent
Plain Truth
My Sister's Keeper - language
19th Wife - language
The Body (short story. The movie Stand By Me was based on this novella.)
Shawshank Redemption
DaVinci Code - language
Angels and Demons - language
Jurassic Park
Harvesting the Heart - language
The Lost Symbol - language
Flowers for Algernon (short story)
The Pilot's Wife - language
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Outsiders
Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood
The Lottery (short story)

Fantasy/Science Fiction

The Dresden Files - language and some mild sex scenes
Harper Connelly series - language and some mild sex scenes


The Hiding Place
The Glass Castle

Teenage Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy
*These books are written for a very specific audience. They are "safe" books - usually free from language and sex and other situations that aren't very uplifting. Most of these have fun plot lines and are easy to read. They will not cause you to have a life altering experience while you are reading them. But, they are worth the time to enjoy.

Fablehaven series
Gregor the Underlander series
Percy Jackson series
Hunger Games series
Artemis Fowl series
Black Beauty
Harry Potter series
The Witches
James and the Giant Peach
Harriet the Spy
Charlotte's Web
The Chronicles of Narnia
Where the Red Fern Grows

Religion Based Fiction

*Please remember these book are not gospel. They are written as fiction; both entertaining and moving, but are not substitutes for the scriptures.

Work and the Glory series
Fire of the Covenant
Fishers of Men series

Self Help

The 5 Love Languages
The Peacegiver
No Doubt About It
The Divine Center
If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard
No One Can Take Your Place
How To Love a Porcupine


Babywise II
Happiest Baby on the Block
Positive Parenting
5 Love Languages of Children

Books for Kids

The Night You Were Born
The Hungry Catipillar
The Monster at the End of This Book
Miss Nelson is Missing
If You See A Kitten
Gossie series
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
Duck and Goose series
Green Eggs and Ham

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list of good literature that is out there. These are the books that are top of mind when I think of my literary history. I'll try to keep adding as I discover the note worthy titles I come across. I love suggestions, too!

Strong Like Bull

About Me

My photo
What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.