Friday, February 20, 2015

Learning to Love the Desert

Parts of this post have been sitting for a couple of months waiting for me to finish it, and then decide if I was brave enough to share.

About a year and a half ago (shortly after James was born) I started struggling with postpartum depression.  When it first came on I was super stressed about my Mom being in the hospital that I didn't even realize I was dealing with that.  It took about a year after Mom got out of the hospital for me to finally admit to myself that I had depression.  I tried so hard to fool everyone into thinking I was happy and nothing was wrong that I fooled myself.  Once I did realize what was up I was able to shake the depression in just a couple of months.

But even though I haven't been dealing with depression since then, I have been dealing with general negativity.  Which I also tried to hide... except from Zach.  Poor guy had to put up with grumpy me off and on for several months before I realized just how grumpy and negative I was.

One of the things I have been having the most difficult time with is, the fact I live in the hot, dry, ugly desert.  During one of my more grumpy, negative moments I started a blog post all about how much I dislike the living in the Arizona desert.  And, surprisingly, when I went to write down my complaints all I could really come up with was four things I don't like.
  • I hate how mind numbingly (or should I say meltingly) hot it gets in the summer.
  • I hate how there is a 0.0000001% chance of snow in the winter, unless you want to drive 1.5 hours up the mountain.
  • I long for lots and lots of green with little watering because of the amount of rain.
  • Everything has thorns or fangs
Recently I have come to the realization that if I can't learn to be happy here then I won't really be happy anywhere.  Even if it were cooler, greener, and snowed in the winter.

I need to learn to love the desert.  I need to change my attitude, and quit looking for the bad.

So instead of a whole post dedicated to how much I don't like living here, I thought I would write about why I love living here.
  • I love the smell of the rain in the desert.
  • Nothing beats our sunsets.
  • Except for our Sunrises.  (Or so Zach says, it has been far too long since I've been awake enough to pay attention at dawn.)
  • There is beauty all around, you just have to look a little closer.
  • Having a desert themed/friendly yard (less plants, more rocks) makes yard work so much easier.
  • It makes our trips up the mountain/to somewhere cooler and greener that much more special
  • Amazing mountain views
  • Most of our family lives near here.
  • Did I mention the smell of the rain?  (Thank you creosote bush!)
  • The heat is a dry heat, which to me is better than being hot and muggy, with no chance of your sweat cooling you down.
  • Squash and zucchini grow really well here, which make for really good dishes (well for the first harvest or two... after that this particular bullet could be moved to the list of dislikes...)
  • Not all the poky, prickly, thorny plants are ugly.  There are some fantastic cactus formations.  And many have beautiful flowers.
  • If you haven't seen a desert night sky you need to come visit me.  You have no idea what you are missing out on.
  • The heat of summer makes autumn that much more welcome.
  • The desert comes to life during the spring.
  • Without the desert you wouldn't havWile ECoyote and The Road Runner

Just writing the list of why I do love the desert has already started to help me see the beauty here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Saga of Rocky the Goldfish

A couple nights before Christmas Wyler's nursery leaders brought him a gold fish, with a note "We fish you a merry Christmas!" We went and got a gallon tank, and a two other goldfish as tank mates.  Wyler and James were pretty thrilled to find the fish when they woke up.  The smallest fish, the one from the nursery leaders, was promptly named Pebble (a feeder fish), and the other two (both fantails) were named Rocky and Boulder.

By the end of the first week poor Pebble went the way of the toilet.

A week and a half, or two, later Boulder started to develop black gills.  Within about two days of his gills turning black he too was flushed.

I did some research as to why Boulder's gills turned black, and I discovered it was due to ammonia poisoning.  I had a way too small tank for just one fish, let alone three.  And all tanks need to cycle to become an ideal environment for fish.  Cycling is where the ammonia breaks down into nitrites, then that eventually turns to nitrates.  The nitrates help turn the waste/ammonia into nitrates so the water doesn't turn toxic.  And the cycling process can take up to 6-8 weeks to happen.  Many people use fish to speed the process up, as their waste fills the tank water with ammonia.  Unfortunately the process is bound to kill the fish, so people usually use cheaper, hardier fish to do the job.
I got a little testing kit to help me make sure the water didn't turn too toxic for Rocky, but toxic enough that it would cycle.

Finally, about 8 weeks later (aka last week), the tank was almost all the way cycled.  Rocky had survived the long, difficult, toxic process.  Rocky survived the process that killed his tank mates.  We decided we named him well, Rocky the Fighter.

Night before last I came into the kitchen to see the fish tank had been overturned, and there was no sign of Rocky.  I quickly ushered the culprit (who I previously constantly had to keep pulling his hands out of the tank) out of the kitchen, grabbed a couple bath towels to throw on the main water mess, then started to hunt down Rocky.

It took a minute or two, and I had no idea how long it had been since he was dumped out of his tank.  I found him under the stand we keep his tank on.  Yep, he was going to be flushed.  Just laying there, not even flopping.

But wait... his gills are moving...  He's alive!!

I picked him up as quickly and gently as I could, ran across the kitchen and got him in a cup of water until I could get his tank set up again.

He survived being out of water for 2.5+ minutes, being stuck in a cup of cold water, barely big enough to turn around in, then put in a bigger bowl of cold water, then being moved back to his tank of slightly warmer water.  I was afraid the shock of all that would do him in for sure.

I don't think I've ever seen him as active as he has been since the accident.  It took a near death experience for him to realize how awesome life is I guess.

Now lets hope he survives the next 8 weeks of his tank re-cycling...

Then after we have moved and settled into our next house we will get the proper size tank for him.  So hopefully he will survive that tank being cycled...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Monthly Mission: February Edition

February came and I realized that I hadn't put any thought into what my Monthly Mission should be until today.

I have been feeling pretty negative for quite awhile.  I have been having trouble seeing the positive things around me.  And it has been having a negative effect on my family.  Zach has been so good about trying to help me to be positive, and have a happy outlook in life.  But up until now I have been too stubborn to realize I needed/wanted to change.

After some thought and prayer, and perusing Pinterest I have become drawn to these quotes:





If you haven't guessed already my Monthly Mission is to develop an Attitude of Gratitude.

I am going to start a gratitude journal.
I am going to be sure to express gratitude to/for someone/something every day.
For this whole month I am going to avoid posting anything negative on social media.

What do you do to cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Iron Crafting + Pinstrosity Challenge = Crumb Topped Apple PIe

For my birthday Theron and Darla gave me a beautiful stoneware pie dish.  Of course I instantly started itching to make pies.  However I had to decide what kind of pie did I want.  A savory pie like chicken pot pie, or spaghetti pie?  Or what about sweet: chocolate or apple or such?  I flipped through cookbooks, I looked to Pinterest.  Too many yummy things to choose from!

Then I learned the themes for Pinstrosity's and Iron Crafter's first challenges of the year:

Pinstrosity's January Challenge is "A is for..... anything!"  It could be an item that starts with the letter A, or a color, or the material it is made from, or how ever you want to take that.  We are instructed to "Browse through your Pinterest boards, and then your sister's Pinterest boards, and then your high school BFF's Pinterest boards, and then your cat's previous owner's Pinterest boards, and then even the Official Pinstrosity Challenge Pinterest Board (we'll be adding ideas to it all the time) and find pins that fit the theme that inspire you. They can be food, decor, costumes, aprons, painting color schemes, etc. This month's theme leaves things wide open!"  Then we are to do the pin(s) we liked and send in the results, good or bad.

The first Iron Crafter challenge of the year is based on the traditional gifts for a 4 year anniversary (as this is the 4th year they have done the Iron Crafter challenges).  The traditional gifts are fruit or flowers, and the modern gift is appliances.

So something that starts with A, and has to do with fruit, flowers, or appliances.

That settled it.  Apple Pie was on the menu!  I pulled out my new Taste of Home cook book and flipped to the crumb topped apple pie recipe I wanted to try.  Then figured if I am sending it in to Pinstrosity I needed to find the pin... luckily it wasn't too hard to find on the Taste of Home website.

Doesn't that look simply scrumptious?

Here is mine:

We have been trying to cut processed foods out of our diet, so we don't have shortening.  And I haven't bought me any lard to use.  My butter pie crusts haven't turned out as well yet.  So I decided to try coconut oil (in its solid state), since it works well in my biscuit recipe.  Not going to try that again... The coconut oil didn't combine as nicely into the flour, and the crust was super tough.  My butter crusts turn out better.

Everything else I did just as the recipe says.  (Well I kinda patted the crumb topping after I sprinkled it on, so it didn't look as crumb like).

And it was super delicious!!  A major Pin Win in my opinion!

(Iron Crafters, does baking count as crafting?)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Monthly Missions

Instead of having New Year's resolutions, or a 101 things to do list, or a yearly theme/word I am going to take it one month at a time.

I am going to have a theme/virtue/word/habit of the the month that I focus on.  I am not going to plan all 12 months out now.  I am going to take it one month at a time.  During the last week of the month I am planning on evaluating where I am at in life, and seeing what I need to focus on the most, and that will be my next Monthly Mission.

For the month of January I am focusing on Patience.  I actually started this half way through December, but it is one I am still needed much improvement on.  Mostly in the parenting department.
All to often I find myself snapping and yelling at the boys.  I hate it.  I hate being mad/frustrated at them so often.

I was afraid to work on patience.  It seems that when I strive to improve a habit/virtue/etc. God gives me more opportunities to work on my issue.  Even though I feel like if I am given any more opportunities I'll snap and need to be put in a nut house.  I didn't want to have more opportunities to be patient.  I didn't want more opportunities to fail and yell at the boys.  I didn't feel like it was fair to them.

But my level of impatience wasn't fair to them either.  After several nudges and promptings from Heavenly Father, I realized I could take a really long time to learn patience the way I was going.  Or I could go through a relatively short refiner's fire and be better for it.  I could have the patience I need sooner.  After much thought and prayer I decided to go for it.

I have been reading quotes and scriptures on patience.  I've been finding articles about how to be a more patient Mommy and reading through them.

What are you working on this year/month/week?