Your Mic Is On

October 1, 2014

Dear Children,

Sometimes I'm a pretty good mom.  I'm in the moment, focused, intentional, present.  And then there are the other times...

Lately I've been feeling overwhelmed with all my responsibilities and that my sweet family is last on my list.  I feel like all you ever hear me say is,

Hurry and eat, we gotta go.

Brush your teeth.

Hurry up, we're late!

 Put your clothes away.

 Did you do your jobs?

Is your homework finished?

Dinner's Ready! Dinner's ready!  I said dinner's READY!!

Did you practice the piano?

Do you have any papers you need me to sign?

Clean out your locker!

Get ready for bed.

It's time to get up.

I've been feeling the need to re-connect and get back to mothering.   It started with the "Fall Feast" we had the other night.  It wasn't much, but to my children it meant a lot.  I've been doing better at being more intentional with Family Home Evening and I recently decided that on Friday's I'll take the time to have a lunch date with each child at school.

That's great, right?!  I had taken the time to put my children into my busy schedule and that was enough.  Guilty mom feelings averted. Phew!

I received a wake up call telling me it's NOT enough.  My children need to know I'm there for them, not just when it's convenient or when it suites my schedule.

I'm taking an online class and I have to log in at home.  I sit in my room with the door shut and listen to my instructor drone on and on while my kids destroy my house.  When I want to participate, I click a little microphone button on my computer and the class can hear me.  I had class the other day and before it started I gave my children strict instructions that they were to be quiet, finish their jobs and do their homework until I was done.

I shut my bedroom door and it wasn't long before I heard them being wild and obviously disregarding all my instructions.  I sat in class for an hour, fuming at all the craziness I heard on the other side of the door.  I glanced at the clock and saw it was almost time for Jonas and Sonora to go to piano lessons and Clara to go to tutoring.  My class wasn't over yet, but I couldn't handle it any longer.

I opened my bedroom door and started yelling (at the top of my lungs), "What in the world are you guys doing?!  You didn't do anything I asked!  Jonas!  Did you unload the dishwasher?  No?  I didn't think so!  Atticus!  Why are these markers out?!  Instead of cleaning up your mess you decided to make an even bigger one?!  Sonora!  Have you even started your homework?!!  Clara!  Put the scissors away right now and get your shoes on!"

Seconds later I looked at Clara and she was still sitting at the table cutting her paper, ignoring me.  "Clara!", I screamed.   "Stop being such a BRAT and get up and do what I said!!"

And then I heard my name being called from my bedroom.  What the?  I walked in and saw that my microphone button was pushed and across my whole computer screen my instructor wrote,

I was absolutely mortified.  Everyone had heard my angry rant.  I was too embarrassed and ashamed to know what to do so I turned off my computer and pretended like nothing happened.  I haven't been able to get it out of my head.  At first I was just embarrassed that people would think I was a bad mom.  I kept telling myself, everyone has bad days though, right?

The more I thought about it, the more angry I got with myself.  Not because I had been "caught" yelling at my kids, but because I was more worried about what other people would think and not about the tender feelings of my precious children.

I'm re-focusing again my loves.  I'm going to ask myself, "Meshan, is your mic on?  Are you hearing how you're talking to your kids?  Are you listening to the message you're sending them?"

I'm not going to measure my mothering on how great I look on paper or in public, but how I look in my children's eyes.  

Tomorrow is a new day.  I have to keep reminding myself.

All my love,

1st Annual Mushroom Extravaganza

Dear Love and Children,
     When Trey Daug and I were hiking back to the car after our six day adventure we saw lots of people hunting for mushrooms.  When we inquired about it they said it was mushroom season (that would explain the 2,562 mushrooms) and that they were specifically searching for Porcini mushrooms.  Oh my yum!  Porcini's are a gourmet mushroom with a nutty flavor and because they're extremely difficult to grow, fresh ones are very expensive.  

We had to wait a full week after our hike to venture out because life is just too darn busy, but one fateful Sunday we came home from church, changed into our mushroom harvesting gear, and drove to the mountains. 

Because we had seen so many people collecting the previous week and we saw lots of people that Sunday with overflowing bags of Porcini, we were worried the mountain would be wiped clean.  We only had to look for a short time before I found the first mushrooms!  We were pumped.

What a fun scavenger hunt, searching for those tasty treats.  The kids were in heaven and so were Trey and I.  We stopped to have a little snack we had packed and discussed what we should make with our harvest.  So many possibilities!  

Jonas found the biggest one of the day and he thought he was a rockstar, which pretty much, he was.

Before we went on our little adventure Trey had done some research into mushrooms so we would be sure to get the edible variety.  He sent me a link to an article about an author who was out harvesting mushrooms, which he had done hundreds of times before, accidentally took home some poisonous ones that he then cooked and fed to his family.  They had to go to the Emergency Room and horrible lifelong consequences resulted. 

Needless to say, I was a bit worried about our amateur mushroom hunting so once we got our harvest home we triple checked all of them and threw out any questionable ones.  The resulting bounty:

That night Trey made delicious Chicken Marsala with Porcini Mushrooms.

The following night he made Porcini Mushroom Ravioli completely from scratch.

He then topped it with fresh garden tomatoes and basil.  The most delicious meal ever!!!!!  He made so much that we ate it two nights in a row, froze the rest, and then had the Miller family over for a feast and we still had leftovers. 

He gets a little zealous with his cooking sometimes. 
One time he made homemade chicken noodle soup from scratch and we ate it every night for an entire week!  Haha, I love that man.

We still had quite a bit of mushrooms so I dried five trays full in the dehydrator.  The bounty that keeps on giving. We all enjoyed the mushroom process so much that we plan on making it a tradition. 
See you next year my loves, Me 

2013 Backpacking Adventure (Day 6)

August 9, 2013
Day 6: Hallelujah!

Dear Love,
   After yesterday's eventful afternoon I was hesitant to get back on the trail, but I was also anxious because I knew we weren't far from HOME!  When we were trying to make our way yesterday,  you found the trail and we were ecstatic, only to loose it a short time later.  Oh, the devastation!  I think the photo below explains why this craziness happened and then ended quickly:

Today's backpacking was a repeat of the day before only amplified; fire damage, no trail, exhaustion. There were a lot more fallen trees in our way and we had to try and maneuver our way over, under, and around them.  

I again had to stay close to keep from losing you in the aspens.  It seemed like every time I got a little behind, I would see signs of bears (tracks and fresh feces) that made me speed up real quick.  I got so tired of following you without a trail because GPS is only so accurate.  We were zigging and zagging all over the place trying to stay on route.  We would go up a mountain, assess our progress, course correct and then come back down a bit.  Up a bit, down a bit... across a river, back across again.  I was so sick of the GPS I wanted to scream!  Like I've said on previous days, there's not much to do when walking for miles and miles day after day so my mind wanders.

I started thinking about how the GPS was like the Liahona (aka: a compass of sorts) guiding Lehi and his family in the wilderness.  His sons, Laman and Lemuel were probably so sick of following the Liahona.  I can just picture them murmuring, "Oh come on!  Why do we have to go that way, this way looks much easier!  Are you kidding me?  We have to go straight up that mountain?!  Let's just stay in the valley where it's easy." 

Yeah, I might have done some murmuring in my head.  The truth is, I was so grateful for you and your knowledge and that all I had to do was follow and I knew you would eventually lead me home.  After all, you had a Global Positioning System (aka: a compass of sorts).  And now I bring you yet another analogy for our children to read and ponder someday from David A. Bednar:

As we each press forward along the pathway of life, we receive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi was directed through the Liahona. “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5).  The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed.
The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide and will bless us with direction, instruction, and spiritual protection during our mortal journey. We invite the Holy Ghost into our lives through meaningful personal and family prayer, feasting upon the words of Christ, diligent and exacting obedience, faithfulness and honoring of covenants, and through virtue, humility, and service. And we steadfastly should avoid things that are immodest, coarse, crude, sinful, or evil that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.  

When we got home from backpacking I happened to be reading in Alma 37:44 and it says-
"For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land."  Yes, it was easy for them to follow the compass, yet they failed to do so!  Time after time they had to learn the hard way and repent for their mistakes. That sounds exactly like my life; continually learning and adjusting my course! I wouldn't say life is "easy", but we do have all the tools we need to make life "easier".

When we were trying to get back on course today we found a trail marker that was scarred from fire, standing there with no trail in site.  It looked like a cross and it reminded me that even when I don't know which direction to go and I feel lost, I can always look towards Christ and He will guide my path.

Towards the end of the day we found the trail again (Hallelujah!) and followed it back to the car.  I pointed out an aspen root to you and you started sharing your knowledge with me about aspens; how they grow, why there are so many after a fire, about the largest colony of aspens, etc.  I was amazed, both at your knowledge and by the strength of my favorite tree.   According to Wikipedia, the most reliable online source in the world (ha, ha):

All aspens typically grow in large clonal colonies, derived from a single seedling, and spread by means of root suckers (ramets).  Aspens have an extensive root system and ramets have been recorded growing up to 40 meters from the parent tree.  Each individual tree can live for 40–150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony is long-lived. In some cases, this is for thousands of years, sending up new trunks as the older trunks die off above ground. For this reason, it is considered to be an indicator of ancient woodlands. One such colony in Utah is estimated to be 80,000 years old, making it possibly the oldest living colony of aspens. 

They are able to survive forest fires, because the roots are below the heat of the fire, with new sprouts growing after the fire burns out.  Aspens do no thrive in the shade, and it is difficult for seedlings to grow in an already mature forest.  Fire indirectly benefits aspen trees, since it allows the saplings to flourish in open sunlight in the burned landscape.

Fascinating, right?  Another analogy came to mind as I walked.  Are you surprised?  It's like the more time I was in the mountains, away from the world, the more I felt in tune with God.  Each day I seemed to think a little less about the daily droll of life and more about the eternal perspective.  I feel as though my soul has been edified.  

After you told me about the amazing aspen tree and their powerful root system I began to think about  how the fire actually helped them.  In the scriptures fire is often a symbol for cleansing, purifying, or sanctifying.  Fire can also serve as a symbol of God's presence.  As the fire raged across the mountain side, it burnt all the trees whose roots weren't strong enough to withstand the heat.  Yes, the fire was devastating and yes, it left a scar on the landscape.  The aspens even appeared to be dead, and yet this fire is what helped them come back more powerful than before.  As long as they were still holding tightly to the parent tree they were able to survive.  No longer did they have to fight for the sunlight because those who stood in their way were gone.  The shadows around them had disappeared and they could now reach their full height and potential.  

James E. Faust said, "In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul.  In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd...
Into every life there come the painful, despairing days of adversity and buffeting. There seems to be a full measure of anguish, sorrow, and often heartbreak for everyone, including those who earnestly seek to do right and be faithful...
In our extremities, it is possible to become born again, born anew, renewed in heart and spirit. We no longer ride with the flow of the crowd, but instead we enjoy the promise of Isaiah to be renewed in our strength and “mount up with wings as eagles” (Isa. 40:31)...
A rebirth out of spiritual adversity causes us to become new creatures. From the book of Mosiah we learn that all mankind must be born again—born of God, changed, redeemed, and uplifted—to become the sons and daughters of God (See Mosiah 27:24–27)...
President Marion G. Romney, speaking for the Lord, has said of this marvelous power: “The effect upon each person’s life is likewise similar. No person whose soul is illuminated by the burning Spirit of God can in this world of sin and dense darkness remain passive. He is driven by an irresistible urge to fit himself to be an active agent of God in righteousness.” (In Conference Report, 4 Oct. 1941, p. 89.)"
Wow, this post turned out to be more theological than I anticipated.  I wanted to be sure and capture my thoughts and feelings as I journeyed along this 2013 6 day backpacking adventure though and I've done just that.  
Love always and forever,  Me

2013 Backpacking Adventure (Day5)

August 7, 2013
  Day 5:  Don't Forget

Dear love,
     Yesterday we found a patch of wild strawberries as we were walking so we stopped to harvest some and then packed them safely away to save for breakfast.  Well, this morning we got to enjoy our oatmeal topped with the plump delights.  Oh, so delicious... especially after yesterday's egg gruel!

You did laundry at a nearby stream before we headed out for the day.  I had to take a picture to document the monumental occasion!  The laundry soap was lavender scented and you smelled delightful afterwards, much improved.

Since day 1 we've seen a ton of mushrooms!  The first time I saw them I was like, "Look at those cute mushrooms!  Oh, there's more.  10, no 15 mushrooms.  Oh, my goodness!"  I then decided to count how many I could find because a)I had never seen such cute little things and, b)there's not much else to do while walking mile after mile for days.  It wasn't long before I had counted more than 500 mushrooms.  There was no going back though, I had to see this thing through to the last day.  I'm now on my 2, 562nd mushroom.  I thought you might like to know.  I've counted at least 7 different varieties.  Just thought you might want to know that as well.  
Public Service Announcement: the cute red ones are poisonous.

One word to sum up our mid-day break: bliss.  The weather, food, company, scenery and activities were perfect.  I'll never forget, this magic moment.  It will truly, "last forever till the end of time."  I want to wrap it up and put it in a jar so that on days when I'm feeling discouraged or overwhelmed I can take it down off the shelf,  open the lid, and breathe in the perfection.

Not long after our perfect morning ended, the trail started to get sketchy.  We were entering fire country.  With no trail to guide us we had to rely on the map and GPS.

You pointed out this view to me as we were walking.  I love the stark contrast of the burnt trees against the blue sky and the green hope springing up from the ground:

Every direction we looked, we saw the devastation of wild fires.  We soon came to a part of the forest where older fires had been and the new growth was much taller and wild.  I had to stay close to you because I could barely see through the dense aspens.  We had a little tune we would whistle when we lost each other.  Every time it happened I panicked, even though we were only separated for a short time.  

Mile after mile we tried to make our way.    Because we were walking through so many trees, weeds, bushes and shrubs we were constantly getting scratched.  At one point I looked at my arms and legs and noticed they were really red and splotchy.  Well, since my allergic outbreak a few years ago that landed me in the ER, I've since learned what I'm allergic to: weeds.  Are you kidding me?  Weeds?!  Weeds are everywhere and apparently I'm highly allergic.  You told me to quickly go to the stream and wash my arms and legs and then you medicated me heavily.  I had to then put on pants to protect my legs.  It was terribly hot because there was no shade to offer relief. The map was no longer a reliable source of direction because the fires had re-directed rivers and terrain.  We had stop to rest a lot more than usual to assess blisters, refuel, rehydrate, remedicate me, and to consult the GPS.      
It was exhausting both mentally and physically.  

It wasn't until we reached the top of the mountain that we were finally able to find a spot to stop and camp for the night.  Prior to that, there were too many overturned dead trees and new aspens in the way.  Our campsite was surrounded by blackened trees and it was ugly and sparse right where we were, but as I looked out across the valley towards the light of the setting sun I could see the progress we had made and I was grateful.  It made me really appreciate the days when we had a trail to follow and the way was relatively easy.  

Love, Me

Note to self:  Don't forget.  When life is ugly and dark, remember there is light in the distance, you just have to turn your face towards it.

The Hope of God's Light by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
Yes, from time to time our lives may seem to be touched by, or even wrapped in, darkness. Sometimes the night that surrounds us will appear oppressive, disheartening, and frightening.
My heart grieves for the many sorrows some of you face, for the painful loneliness and wearisome fears you may be experiencing.
To all who feel they walk in darkness, I invite you to rely on this certain promise spoken by the Savior of mankind: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
I testify that with Christ, darkness cannot succeed. Darkness will not gain victory over the light of Christ.
I bear witness that darkness cannot stand before the brilliant light of the Son of the living God!
I invite each of you to open your heart to Him. Seek Him through study and prayer. Come to His Church, learn of Him and of His gospel, participate actively, help each other, and joyfully serve our God.
Brothers and sisters, even after the darkest night, the Savior of the world will lead you to a gradual, sweet, and bright dawn that will assuredly rise within you.
As you walk toward the hope of God’s light, you will discover the compassion, love, and goodness of a loving Heavenly Father, “in [whom there] is no darkness at all.”

2013 Backpacking Adventure (Day 4)

August 6, 2013
Day 4:  Lake time!  (7 miles)

Dear Love,
     We started off our day on the shore of Lake Katherine with a breakfast of dehydrated eggs.  Mmm, yum... right?!  No.  The answer is no, not yum at all.  Nasty is what it was.  You tried your best to doctor them up and they did taste a little better after doing so, but they were still disgusting.  

While we were eating breakfast we spotted our mysterious friends across the lake from the night before and they were laughing and having a great time.  I imagined them mocking me, saying things like, "Ha!  We slept great!  You're such a baby for having nightmares of us killing you!"  I'm so weird, I know.  

We choked down as much egg gruel as we could then we were on the trail again.

  I was exhausted after a horrible nights sleep and felt like my legs were lead, but I sucked it up and  sang this song along the way to keep me going strong:

I will follow you

Follow you wherever you may go

There isn't an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep 
Keep me away, away from my love

I must follow you

Ever since you touched my hand I know

That near you I always must be
And nothing can keep you from me
You are my destiny

I love you, I love you, I love you

And where you go I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow

You'll always be my true love, my true love, my true love
From now untill forever, forever, forever

 Oh, by the way, thanks for my new boots!  They fit great; better than my old ones ever did!  

When we got to our halfway spot at Stewart Lake we decided to soak it up as long as we could before trudging on.    We took off our shoes, soaked our tired feet, went fishing, ate lunch, and I even snuck in a little nap basking in the sun.  You kept making fun of me because whenever we stopped on the trail I would always seek out a sunny spot, like a lizard.

FYI, I had a love affair with the sun while we were camping.  I just thought you should know.  When I woke up every morning and came out of the tent I always went searching for the sun because I loved how it warmed my bones from the crisp mountain air.  As I would stand there with my face turned towards it, I always said a silent prayer of gratitude for being able to spend almost an entire week with you, surrounded by such amazing and inspiring beauty.  I feel so ALIVE in the mountains... so happy, peaceful and content!  

We started fishing almost the second we took our packs off.  It was so fun!  Within the first twenty minutes you had already caught 5 fish.  They were mountain trout so they weren't that big, but we planned to keep a few and string them up for dinner.

  After thinking about it for awhile we decided against it since we weren't spending the night at Stewart Lake. We would have been walking bear bait if we had fish dangling from our packs!  I even tried my hand at fishing and caught 3, woo-hoo!

I was a little reluctant and sad to leave our perfect lunch spot, but we had to be on our way.  It helped ease the pain that we saw wildflowers on the trail nearly everywhere we looked! 

We passed one more unnamed lake (more like a pond) before making it to our final destination of the day- Horsethief Meadow.  We had to bushwhack for a bit to make it there, but it just added to the adventure.

We set up camp as quickly as we could because it was starting to rain.  We huddled in our tent for awhile and decided the rain wasn't letting up anytime soon so we just cooked dinner from inside the tent.  It was so cozy and fun.  

     After eating we laid back and listened to the rain hitting our tent and watched the rain drops gather on it.  We told stories of growing up that neither of us had heard before about each other.  We started with significant life happenings in Kindergarten and went all the way up to High School.  I could feel myself falling more deeply in love with you after such a perfect day.

Love, Me