Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Walking By Faith

Our day-to-day lives over the last several months have been relatively the same. Not a lot of excitement, other than the daily antics of toddler twins. ;)

However, our lives overall recently have been... interesting.

After another difficult school semester (last Fall) for Josh mental-health-wise, lots of prayer, counseling with our parents, and discussion with each other, we decided to pull Josh out of school indefinitely. It just hasn't been good for him and is not the direction we feel he needs to be headed. So after Christmas break, he withdrew from school and started focusing more on building his production company, Southampton Productions. He's been working on it ever since, doing podcasts, photo shoots, etc. He can tell you more about it than I can. ;)

I also decided at that time that I would focus on my goal of becoming a certified lactation consultant. I started reaching out to all the connections I could find, applying for jobs, and doing everything I could to make it happen. But it can be a complicated process, and I was met with dead end after dead end. After a lot of tears and frustration, I determined maybe now just isn't the time, even if it seems like it ought to be. I am hoping to be able to pursue it further in a few years.

After determining that, I decided I should go back into the work force anyway in the meantime, as it would mean a lot better of a financial position for us. I have been working part-time as a virtual assistant for a friend of mine who is a professional blogger, which is a great thing for me because it provides some income and allows me to work from home on my own schedule. But getting a job outside of the home would be that much better. Again, I applied for several jobs that I was rejected from. Finally, though, I got a job offer. Finally, after months of trying to find the employment that I needed, there it was. At least, I thought it was what I needed, and what our family needed.

When that job offer came, however, I got this overwhelmingly terrible feeling. At first, I wasn't sure if it was for feeling guilty that I would leave Josh at home with twin toddlers full-time while he was trying to build his production company, or that I would be away from my twins so much. Because, really, I don't do very well with big changes. But I had been looking forward to starting a new job for months. Shouldn't I feel a little excited about it, even if I was conflicted? But I just had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. So I was stressed about the situation and confused about what I was supposed to be doing.

The job would be starting in just a few days, so any decision we were going to make about it ideally should be made before then. We prayed, we talked about it, we pondered, I cried, I got Priesthood blessings, I cried about it some more, we talked about it some more, etc... you get the picture. It was a very intense couple of days, emotionally and spiritually. But by the end of it, I felt strongly that my place right now is at home. Rationally, it allows for me to be available to be there for Josh and take care of the twins when he's having a particularly bad day of depression or anxiety (we're focusing on getting his mental health under better control right now, which is a whole different story). It also allows Josh more time and freedom to work on building up his company. But more importantly, it felt right for me to be there. Right for me, and for our family.

The blessing is that we have relative freedom to make that decision right now. We have some flexibility because of assistance we receive financially. We don't normally broadcast it but we're not ashamed of it either. We absolutely want to be financially independent eventually, and I hope that the choices we make right now are setting us up for a more secure future. This means that for now our financial situation is tight, but I am so grateful that we do have the help and resources we need right now. It also may not be seen by many as the right decision, as it means that we will continue to receive assistance for now when we could be otherwise earning more ourselves in the workforce instead, but it is the right decision for us, regardless of how that decision appears to society.

With everything that has been going on lately, our future is very clouded and uncertain. I have no idea what the next year will bring, let alone the next five or ten years. I really wish it wasn't that way, because I would love to know a little more of what the future holds and feel like we have some security. But I believe with all my heart that if we are trying to do our best for ourselves and for our family, Heavenly Father will help us get there. It may be a rocky path, but I have faith that if we are trying to do the right thing the best way that we know how... things will work out. One way or another, things will work out.


Friday, February 24, 2017

The Twins' First Trip to the Aquarium

For Christmas we got passes to the Living Planet Aquarium in Draper. Then we all got sick after Christmas break, and then sick again, but we were finally able to go a couple of weeks ago! It was the twins' first time and they loved it!!

We tried to capture some moments with pictures...

Some bigger kids next to Lauren were kneeling down to look at a lizard in this exhibit, and Lauren copied them even though it made her not be able to see at all! So cute!

And we tried to capture other moments with videos:
(If the videos don't work for you, check them out here and here)

They loved looking at all the fish, the colors, and especially the other kids, haha! They would have been happy to just wander off and explore without us. And they were NOT happy to leave - guess we'll have to visit often while we have these passes! :)


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Happy Birthday

This post is a couple weeks late, but here it is anyway! October 29th was the twins' birthday! In lieu of posting all about how crazy it is that they are one, or how the first year has been (cause I could go on about that for a while!), I'm just going to post about their actual birthday celebrations. Mostly pictures. :)

First we went to Josh's grandparents' house and had cupcakes and ice cream!

 Then they got some fun presents. :)

 On the day before their birthday, we scheduled a church building and celebrated there. I pretty much just got footage of the cake smash, but that's really all that matters right? ;)

Our friend Rose made these cute monster cakes! <3

Awaiting their cakes.
The videos I got of them eating their cakes are broken up into several segments. They were both not sure how to deal with the cakes when we gave them to them. Josh had to help them both along. Jacob took that help and went with it. Lauren didn't appreciate it so much. ;)

We sang them Happy Birthday too, but I didn't start recording until halfway through the song, haha.

Happy birthday babies!!!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Summer Wrap-Up

Summer went by as quickly as ever. I don't mind, because it means fall is just around the corner and that's my favorite season!

My family had a small family reunion just over a week ago; just my parents, my siblings and their spouses, and kids. It was super fun! I always love seeing everyone! We went to Park City, which was my first time being there. We took some family pictures...

Love this family of mine!

...Then hit the Alpine Slides:

The ski lift to the top of the Slides was a beautiful ride, but also terrifying to someone like me who is afraid of heights.

And then there were the names of the slides like "Last Chance" and "Crooked Shaft", which perpetuated my nervousness.

But by the time the slide was done, most of us were eager for more. It was a blast.

It wasn't all fun and games though. The stomach flu had started going around just before the reunion. Most of the family didn't pick it up at the reunion, to my knowledge, but a few days in, it hit me pretty hard. The nice thing was that I got it while we were there, instead of after, so I was able to feel like death without having to worry about taking care of anyone since there was plenty of help around.

The twins got so loved on!

Unfortunately, Jacob caught the bug a few days later after we had gone home. The poor guy was totally miserable for a few days. He was crying and whining most of the time, and very clingy but not always content to just lay and cuddle because of his discomfort. Whenever he did calm down enough to cuddle and fall asleep in our arms though, it was pretty sweet.

Thankfully, even though Lauren has had a cold practically since we've been home, she's been a pretty happy girl. This made it a lot easier to take care of Jacob.

She's our crazy, silly, happy girl. :)
We're all on the upswing now (hopefully... the jury's out on Josh currently). And now today Josh started school at BYU again! He's got a couple years in front of him, and is really excited about his classes this semester. I'm so proud of him!

He's so adorable.
And that's a wrap for our summer! Here's to a great fall!


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Have Body Issues? You Are Not Alone.

I've had an interesting journey with my weight throughout my life so far, and I just felt like sharing my experiences. I'm sure many can relate in one way or another, and you should know - you are not alone.

Growing up, I was always skinny. In high school I would generally wear a size 4. In college, not much bigger. Weight was never a concern of mine, and I naively thought it never would be. I figured I just got lucky that way - that's just the way my body was, and I assumed that's the way my body always would be. As I got older, I noticed some weight gain over the years, but nothing to be overly worried about. I could continue my lifestyle of eating whatever I wanted and not exercising, and I was perfectly healthy and relatively thing.

Obviously the biggest change came when I got pregnant. As expected, I started gaining noticeable weight. Not concerning.

But then we lost Matthew. I was left with a fair share of baby weight, and no baby. I often turned to food as a comfort, and in my grief, I continued to put on the pounds. Not long after that, and having not lost any of the weight, I got pregnant again. This time, with twins. That definitely brought on the pounds!

Now the twins are here, and I'm going on 8 months post partum. And yet, unless I'm sucking in my tummy, I still sometimes looks like I'm pregnant.

I love that my body was able to bring children into the world. I know that not everybody gets to experience that, and I love my body for it. I really do. And I try to stay focused on that. But I would be lying if I said that I love my body all the time. Sometimes I hate my body. I look around me, and others - even so many who have children - seem to have perfect bodies. And then I look at mine, and it feels big and ugly. I'm in the "overweight" category on the BMI scale for the first time in my life. Sometimes I cry to Josh because I just want to feel beautiful, and sometimes, I just don't.

I don't mean to throw a pity party; I just want to be real. I know that many people have it even more difficult than I do. But my journey with weight has gotten more complicated than I expected all those years ago. Now I struggle with my body image. And it's harder than I ever thought.

But now, I'm learning to take charge of my body and my health. I'm learning to be disciplined enough to exercise. I'm learning to take control of my eating habits. I don't always have great days, but that doesn't negate the progress that I make. My motivator is, admittedly, to lose weight. And hopefully that will happen, to some degree or another. Right now, pounds and inches matter to me. And you know what? That's okay. It's okay to be motivated by something less important. Hopefully my mindset and my attitude will change over time, but at least it's a starting place. :)

I don't know if I'll lose much weight. I doubt I'll ever be as thin as I once was, and that thought makes me sad. But knowing that I'm trying and that I'm doing something for myself actually is a consolation. What happens from here will happen, and all I can do is my best. That best may be different than someone else's or yield different results, but one way to be genuine to myself is to learn to be comfortable in my own skin, in whatever form it takes as I treat it right.

If you feel like your body is your enemy, you are not alone. There are many things that can make us feel this way: weight, chronic health conditions, infertility, disabilities, etc etc. But as much as any of us may struggle, I do have a testimony that our bodies are incredible gifts. In my studies of the human body it's easy to see that. I know that regardless of what condition or form your body takes, it really is a thing of beauty. An actual work of art. What beauty would paintings hold if they all shared the same factory-made quality instead of the beautiful variances of technique and color of being individually created?

So whether I believe it or not in the moment, that's what I have to tell myself: I am beautiful.

And that's what you should tell yourself: YOU are BEAUTIFUL.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Finding My Path Part 2

If you have not already, please read part one of this blog post HERE

I had come down from the high of hosting this gaming event and the fact that I ended up working with some well-known individuals in the gaming community and it all starts to go to my head. I couldn't stop thinking of ways to promote things or make changes in the gaming and YouTube industry. I was getting caught up in the fact that I could make money doing live-streaming and YouTube. I spent everyday checking my Twitter feed, my video views, and was constantly seeking the attention of others.

I get frustrated when I work so hard at producing content and coming up with ideas I think are great and I have nothing to show for it. I ended up realizing that not only was I putting too much emphasis on fame and fortune, but I was pushing myself away from those I cared about and I felt miserable. I realized that I had tried to be something and I could keep trying to do it, but there was no sense in trying to force it to happen and my time would be better spent pursuing life-long dreams instead of fleeting hopes that arose from 100 people watching a YouTube video I put out.

I was watching an episode of Modern Family, funnily enough, when I received some counsel that I'm sure had been delivered my way in many forms, but I did not seem to receive until I watched this:

Sometimes you try to be good at something that just doesn't fit. You try so hard to be something that you ultimately cannot do. It may be that some day will be a better time where you can become the best at the activity or job. It may also be that you tried and now you know it just won't ever work for you.

Now I don't mean to sound super depressing, but isn't it a fact of life that everyone is so individually different from one another? To that I would say "rightfully so."

I learned very early on in film, that as much as I love learning about directing, editing, producing, etc., it is not feasible for me to be the best I can be if I try to do all of these things at once. I realized that Joe may be great at editing, so let him focus on that skill while I narrow down the skill I want to focus on. Some people are cut out for different things, which is honestly one of the greatest things about being human. Someone out there really enjoys being able to help counsel families in times of grief. I am not sure I could do that, so I am very glad that someone else not only wants to do that, but is very successful at it.

Getting back on point, the message I received that day was this:


You may be good at broadcasting media and putting together a great production, but video game streaming and YouTubing is not really your thing. You can enjoy this as a hobby every once and a while, but this isn't something you focus large amounts of time on when you could be furthering other aspects of your life."

I cannot tell you how hard it was to hear and come to terms with that thought. I wished that I could make money full-time by streaming videos and providing content on YouTube channels, but when it came down to it, I wasn't really progressing to my end goal: producing for film. However, this realization helped me to better focus on others and not become so consumed by my public status. It helped me redirect myself back onto the path of achieving my real passions and pursuits of film and ultimately helped me to be a better individual, husband, and father.

During this whole process, Ashley was super supportive, both of my passion to work on small projects like streaming and YouTube, and ultimately deciding not to do any of that anymore. I do not feel necessarily that our marriage was strained by this, however I can say that our marriage was definitely strengthened with the end decision and mindset that came from deciding to reorient myself.

These installments will probably continue from time to time, as I am still experiencing the journey on the way to my career in film. There is still more that I wish to talk about and I will create more entries as I feel like processing/evaluating my life events.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Having an Anniversary on Star Wars Day

Today has been an excellent day for many reasons, but one of them is simply that our anniversary is on arguably on of the nerdiest days of the year, Star Wars Day!

When we first decided to get married, we didn't intentionally pick May 4th as the day we would be sealed. It so happened that we wanted to get married very soon after the semester ended and whenever most of our family would be available to come. That day happened to be May 4th. Can I just say how glad I am that Star Wars Day is our anniversary?

It is super easy to remember and one of the things Ashley and I connected with very early on was our nerdy/geeky/fanatical pursuits. We were talking one day while we were just dating and found out that independently we both wanted to go to Harry Potter World in Universal Orlando for a dream honeymoon to whomever we married. Well, if that's not a sign I don't know what is.

Ashley has been a very patient, kind, and loving wife and mother. She is extremely loyal, which is my most valued quality about her. Besides that, I simply love how much fun we have.

I love the days when we just hang out or are silly during the whole football game. We are best friends, I know everyone says that, but have you met this girl? She's awesome!

Now we have had ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, and we have worked very hard to make our marriage what it is. Guess what? We're still working hard on it.

I love Ashley so much and I love hanging out with her. Tonight for our anniversary, we're going to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens and camp out in our living room. We're going to cook tin foil dinners and we bought a BUNCH of snacks, because truthfully, when you go camping you pack a lot of snacks.

I'm so thankful to Heavenly Father for my amazing family. Everyday that goes by, it just seems like things get progressively better.