Happy Cara

First picture I've ever noticed of myself where I can tell I'm aging.  Look at those crows feet!

In 2008 when I was still a 20-year-old single college student, I lived in south-central Mexico for a semester with a host family while I taught English to elementary aged children.  It was an amazing experience and one that completely changed me.  One of the other teachers was a sweet girl named Katie from Oregon and she lovingly gave me the Spanglish nickname "Happy Cara" for "Happy Face" since I was always cheerful and smiling.

A dear friend of mine, who has read my blog for years, sent me a message this week and said that the one thing she has missed from my posts was seeing my happy face.  In surprise I realized that she was right!  I fell of the face off the earth for almost a year from Fall 2015 to Fall 2016 and most of my posts from the past 8 months have been trying to record our experience with the twins.  In an effort to remedy that, here is a brief snapshot of my Happy Cara and the current state of my body, mind and heart.  

As always, this blog is essentially my journal, so this probably will only be interesting for me and my kiddos some day.

Going Blonde! March 2017

Physical Well Being

In March, the adorable Shanette Bergener gave me a makeover!  Several years ago, Burke saw pictures of my blonde hair when I was a young girl and made a comment about how he would love to see me go blonde.  I have always thought of myself as a blonde because my hair didn't start to darken until I was in middle school and even then it was such a gradual process that my first drivers license actually lists me as "dark blonde".  I filed Burke's request away in my mind and finally worked up the courage to ask Shanette to transform me!  As I've only ever dyed my hair twice before, it was a big deal for me and I was so happy with the result as it felt a bit like "coming home" to my natural look.  Burke loves it too, so win-win!

And as long as we're talking about physical attributes, I'll mention how hard I've been working to get back to my pre-preggo weight.  With the girls, I gained 37 pounds exactly with each of their pregnancies and was back to pre-pregnancy weight within 5 months.  However, this time around, the weight has been loads harder to burn off!  I don't know if it's because I'm getting older (I turn 30 in December folks and I'm already a bit in shock about it!), if it's because this was my third pregnancy or if the emotional turmoil from the past year took a greater toll than I realized.  Probably all of the above.  This time around I gained 42 pounds which for a 4'11 little person is a LOT of extra pounds to be heaving around.  I am now 8 months out from delivery and I still have about 8 lbs that are tenaciously hanging out.  

In January I decided to go off sugar until Easter (as in, no candy or sweets, but not eliminating sugars from regular recipes like pancakes, etc) and Burke was a champ to support me in my goal.  It helped a ton with not only weight loss, but with my mood and energy levels too.  I've been struggling to keep up my motivation since Easter hit, but am trying hard to keep my sugar consumption low until I hit my weight goal.  Meanwhile, I've been doing exercise videos, running on the treadmill and outside 3 to 4 times a week, but I wasn't being super consistent and decided I needed a firm goal to work towards in order to kick it into gear.  After talking to Burke, we decided it was time to run another half marathon and signed up to run one this coming August!  It's been 5 years since we ran the Snow Canyon Half together and I am so excited to do another race!  Our 12 week training schedule begins on Monday and although I'm nervous about finding the time and energy to train, I'm also excited to make it a priority again.

Our little family - April 2017

Mental/Emotional Well Being
Two weeks ago Alan started sleeping through the night!  Praise the heavens!  That little bald angel has been the best baby in the universe when it comes to temperament, but unfortunately he has been a terrible sleeper.  I literally (Burke loathes when people use that word incorrectly!) had not slept for more than 3 hours at a time from July to January when Alan finally started sleeping 4 hour stretches, which felt glorious!  February he started making it 5 hours at a time and then BAM! 10 hour stretches for little man starting in May.  Guys, if you have never been sleep deprived, then I am very happy for you.  But if you have, then you can have compassion on how very life altering a little sleep can make!  Honestly, I woke up the second morning after a full night of sleep and I was like, "Oh there you are Peter!" (Please tell me you caught the "Hook" reference)  Seriously, it was like I was seeing myself again for the first time in oh...over a year since the twin's pregnancy zapped everything from me!

And then...I fell into a dishwasher.  Ha!

Yes, you read that right.  A dishwasher.  At 7:45 in the morning while dancing backwards in the kitchen to make my daughters think I was the coolest thing since N'SYNC while making pancakes.  Both racks were pulled out and I was coordinated enough to hit them both as well as the door on the way down.  Boing! Boing! Boing! Crash!  Darcie, who had been dancing with me, started bawling, "I so sawy Mommy!  I so sawy!" as Daphne gasped in horror and cried out, "Mom! Are you okay?!"  It took me a few minutes, but thankfully I could see the humor in it fairly quickly and only had a few bruises on my hiney as payment for my sweet dance moves.  Lesson to be learned: always shimmy forward, not backward blindly!

But seriously, besides my bad dance moves, I am doing so good mentally.  The transition to 3 kids was a total kick in the pants for the first few months.  I felt like I adjusted really well to motherhood with 1 and then 2 kids, but #3 was extremely humbling for me.  In part because the gap between Darcie and Alan is just shy of 2 years, so I felt like my baby #2 was still a baby when #3 came and also in part because we were still going through our housing dilemma and of course the grieving process for Aiden.  Once the new year hit, things began to improve and ever since about February I have been feeling more on top of things.  The past month or so have been wonderful and I feel like I finally have this three kid thing better under control and am genuinely loving it (*knock on wood*).  It also helps that it is finally consistently warm outside and I can get outdoors with the kiddos almost every day.  Being in the sunshine does such good things for all of us.

With Aiden's name meaning "Little Fire" sunsets have become especially meaningful to us any time it looks like there is a "fire in the sky".  This particular night Burke snapped a picture with his phone and we were both amazed when we looked at the image on his phone and it looked like the silhouette of a person in gold against the orange clouds!  To us it felt like a love note from Aiden. 

Spiritual Well Being

Back in August they released me from the 3 callings I was juggling in church so we could focus on the twins.  I told Burke back in December to tell the ward council I was ready for a new assignment, but I guess I have offended too many people at church or something because they still haven't given me a new one!  It's been so weird not to have an official calling beyond visiting teaching, but with Burke being in his third year as Elder's Quorum President, I feel like he more than covers the church service of this family! :)  

Spiritually, I am doing well.  Sometimes it is hard for me to hear people at church talk about miracles.  It always stings my heart when I think about how fervently we fasted and prayed for a miracle that Aiden would make it whole and healthy and how earnestly we believed we would receive that miracle.  I always have to run the same loop in my head that goes something like this:  Why didn't we get our miracle?  Wait, I already know the answer to this.  Aiden held out to 32 weeks.  That was a miracle.  Alan made it to 34 weeks.  That was a miracle.  Aiden is whole and healthy on the other side.  Alan is whole and healthy here.  Both miracles.  We saw miracles, just not the one we thought we would.

I'm sure some day the sting will soften and I am always happy to hear of the hand of God evident in other's lives.  Even though things didn't turn out the way we thought it would, I still firmly believe that God continues to be a God of miracles.

Currently, in my personal scripture study, I am following President Nelson's call to read all of the scriptures listed in the index under Jesus Christ.  It has been so neat to take a new copy of the Book of Mormon and Bible and highlight all of the references to Christ as I read verse after verse testifying of him, his ministry and his doctrine.  Burke and I are studying the Doctrine and Covenants together and we are studying the Book of Mormon as a family.  I love reading a little something out of each of the standard works nearly every day.

Our morning farewell committee waving Burke off to work.  Our latest tradition is singing our original, "We love our Dad!" song while he pulls out of the driveway.  The kids are obsessed with their papa.

Social Well Being

We could not be happier with where we ended up in terms of our house, neighborhood and ward.  We are blessed to be surrounded by the best of the best!  On Cinco de Mayo I had plans of creating a fun fiesta atmosphere for our family when Burke got home from work, but instead we went out to eat to Brody's with our amazing friends The Quintanillas.  We are SO lucky to have them around the corner.  They are so good to us and we have kids matched up perfectly - Sophie and Daphne, Darcie and Hayzlee and Alan and Baby Maximo who will be born in June!  We can hardly wait!  All the other families in our neighborhood are amazing as well and it is neat to feel part of a great community.

We've also spent a ton of time with the Adams family lately between baptisms, Jazz games, birthday parties, Sunday dinners and seeing Brian Regan at Tuacahn together.  I also love it when I get to spend time with Marinda and Cassie or when my sister-in-laws stop by to hang out.  So nice to have family a short trip away!

But in reality, 90% of my time and world revolves around my little family.  Here are a few recent pics of our little family from the past day or two.

Sleepy Burke with a wide awake Alan

Darcie busted for drawing with marker on her skin.  Ugh.

 Me and my buddy.

Alan loves to listen to music.  The girls pick a few primary songs each morning to sing and dance around to while I play for part of their music time.

Barnacle babies.  They would NOT let go of Burke tonight at bedtime.  Like I said, he's a pretty popular dude around here.

The girls playing on the wiggle cars this morning.

Daphne's family portrait.  Notice how Alan is bawling (which is especially funny because he almost never cries) and Burke is wearing a dress (which he almost never does..!  Haha!