Freckles in April: March 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

My Story

I've had quite a few people tell me they'd like to read more about my faith transition and how we're handling life as a mixed-faith family. I know not everyone is interested though and my feelings won't be hurt one bit if you choose to skip these posts!

When you leave the church people tend to make assumptions about you and what you did or did not do to get to that point. I've told my story to anyone who has asked but decided to put it here too as background to any future posts I write about my faith transition.

I've always felt that I was blessed with the gift of faith. I believed easily and without question. Faith didn't require too much work or energy out of me- it was pretty self sustaining.

Shortly after Baby 2 was born that easy faith just sort of...stopped. In hindsight I wonder if it had something to do with post-partum hormones or something along those lines but at the time I thought perhaps it was a test from God. Maybe He wanted me to actually have to DO something for that faith that had always come so easily. I accepted that challenge, rolled up my sleeves and went to work.

I have piles of journals from that time. Scripture journals, gratitude journals, daily journals in which I wrote down the small ways in which I saw the hand of God in my life. With my daily scripture study I added in other books meant to boost my knowledge and faith- church history, memoirs of the prophets, Mormon theology. I attended the temple, planned weekly family home evening lessons, and spent hours and hours on my knees in prayer. I dove in with my whole heart and mind, fully expecting to feel that faith and surety flicker slowly back to life.

But it didn't. After 6 months my insides still felt sort of quiet and empty and I was really struggling to believe what I was hearing at church. I was starting to wonder if I was broken.

Then I got called to be the first counselor in the Young Women's presidency. That time fully opened my eyes to the deep-seated gender inequality within the church but I also discovered something else- teaching brought the fire back. I LOVED teaching! While preparing lessons and then standing in front of those girls, that feeling of faith and spirit came rushing back. Maybe I wasn't broken after all! I was still really struggling but at least I could feel something akin to faith and testimony and it gave me a lot of hope.

About a year into my time in the YW presidency came the first Wear Pants to Church Day. I didn't have any nice pants to wear so I made myself a little pants pin and stuck it to my shirt. It sparked a conversation amongst my YW that was, depending on who you ask, great, horrific, or not a big deal. A couple parents got very upset that I talked to their daughters about gender inequality within the church and I got in trouble (I don't blame those parents, by the way. I walked away from that conversation thinking, "Yeah, that didn't go well.").

A couple weeks later I posted on my personal FB page that I supported the BSA dropping the ban on gay scouts. Parents got upset again. I had a discussion with the bishop and he said he was thinking about releasing me from my calling.

While I waited for the bishop to make his decision I prayed. I told God that being in Young Women's and teaching those girls was my anchor and that if I was released I wasn't sure I would be able to hang on.

The next day the bishop called and released me.

I lasted in the church for another year after that. I wormed my way into a calling in the nursery where I taught the music. Singing silly songs with 2- and 3-year-olds made church bearable. Meanwhile, I really started researching. I couldn't stop! I found out about unsavory aspects of church history. I read about the corporate structure of the church and discovered that my tithing funds were probably not used in the way I thought they were. I read posts by women who felt like second class citizens in the church and I ended up crying quietly in bed while Aaron slept because I had seen and I knew I couldn't un-see.

In July of 2013 my worries and concerns had taken over my brain and I was sinking. I knew I had to start talking to Aaron about it all or I might explode. I got lucky- he brought it up himself. He had a super brief weird moment with the church that year and started the conversation. I didn't flood him with everything but at least the lines of communication were open. He quickly made his peace and went back to his normal relationship with the church while I continued to struggle but at least we were able to talk openly.

That year my physical and mental health tanked. Aaron said later that he thinks I literally worried myself sick over it all. There's a saying in the church that, when something doesn't sit right, you're supposed to "put it on a shelf" in the back of your mind and not worry about it. Except I had piled too much on that shelf and it was starting to creak ominously.

Finally, in December 2013 I went to see Frozen with Aaron and my boys. I know everyone is heartily sick of "Let It Go" but the first time I heard that song that day in the theater I burst into tears. I was exhausted. I didn't want to hide my hurt and doubts anymore. I didn't want to force my brain to do any more mental gymnastics. I wanted to let it go, dammit!

In the car on the way home a very tiny voice in my brain started speaking.

 "What if it's not true?"

The thought was too terrifying to acknowledge but over the next few days it kept returning. One sunny morning after Christmas I sat quietly on my couch and thought, "Ok...maybe it isn't. Maybe it's not true."

My brain unclenched. My whole body flooded with relief. The lights in my head flickered back on and that night I slept well for the first time in months.

People learn in different ways. There are kinesthetic learners and auditory learners and visual learners and all kinds of combinations of the three. I think the various religions and philosophies of the world are God's way of teaching eternal truths to His children according to their own specific learning styles. Mormonism doesn't suit my learning style. For me, it isn't true. It brings light and hope and peace to many, but I am no longer one of them.

I am, however, completely surrounded by Mormons who fall all over the faith spectrum and I do my imperfect best to love and support them in their belief and love of God and most of them are trying to do the same for me. It's a learning process and we are learning together.


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Friday, March 20, 2015

International Day of Happiness

The Twitterverse has just informed me that today is the International Day of Happiness. You can be sad the rest of the days but NOT TODAY PEOPLE!

So here are 5 things that make me happy:

1. Google.

I'm the sort of person who needs to know things and I need to know them RIGHT NOW. The ability to Google any time and anywhere is one of my life's greatest pleasures.

2. Babies.

Caboose with Grandma

I am a baby person. I get babies. Babies like me. Babies don't sass and they are generally on board with snuggling. Bring me ALL the babies!!

3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt


I've been singing the theme song nonstop for 2 weeks now.

4. This.


5. Memes

My brother-in-law said "totes magotes" once and now I send him memes like this from time to time and I probably think it's WAY funnier than he does.

I have seen the words "boughten" and "pressidure" (procedure), and "firstable" (first of all) used on FB in the past week. I'm not a huge jerk so I didn't actually post this meme but its existence makes me happy.

Bonus 6. Cookie Butter.

I've been dipping chocolate chips in it because fitting back into my clothing is overrated.

What makes you happy??

(and if you want to share your fav memes I won't be mad)

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Stretchy Pants Forever

When Stinky was a baby we had some friends over for dinner and the wife said, "Whoa you look amazing!" I had been back to my pre-pregnancy weight for AGES at that point and I was like, "Well...he was was born five months ago." Like, hello, who WOULDN'T be all skinny again at 5 months post partum?

I want to punch that Kayla in the face.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Links I Love

I LOVE vocabulary words (Aaron and I introduce a few new vocabulary words to our kids each week over dinner and now our kids love vocab too. It's awesome). This post from Buzzfeed about the most beautiful words in the English language gave me all the warm fuzzies. Plus a good list of new words to introduce to my kids!

A couple months ago Aaron and I had a conversation about whether or not we believe in a literal Adam and Even. I don't, but I honestly don't think it had ever occurred to Aaron to wonder. It led to a conversation about how I need evidence and Aaron needs faith and how that goes to the very root of our religious differences. I saw this article, How Critical Thinkers Lose Their Faith in God and thought, "Bingo!" I like how the article doesn't really make any value judgments; they're both valid ways of thinking.

*Language warning like whoa* I debated even sharing this due to the excessive number of f-bombs. But for those who don't particularly mind language, I thought this post on The Subtle Art of Not Giving a **** was fantastic. It's about giving our time and energy to the things that really matter and ignoring the things that don't and he has some great (expletive-filled) points.

If you happen to have a few spare million bucks laying around (like...40ish) the house that inspired Pride and Prejudice is for sale. I desperately want someone to buy this and turn it into some kind of B&B so I can come visit.

You guys. Janssen pushed out a 10+ pound baby with no epidural. As someone who rolls up to the hospital dilated to a one and whining about the pain, I am sort of boggled by that.

I've watched this little girl playing on an ice puddle like 18 times. I snort laughed my nursing baby awake about 17 of those times.

Happy weekend!


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Monday, March 9, 2015

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Scones

This recipe was born out of a need for something delicious on Sunday morning and my crazy desire to dirty up as few dishes as possible in the process. I hate when a recipe requires me to use all my measuring spoons. This one doesn't! It very satisfyingly only uses one measuring cup and one measuring spoon (and a mixing bowl, spoon, pastry blender and cookie sheet. But still).

I told my boys to each grab a scone while I handled a baby poop situation and that top picture is what was left 10 minutes later.

I am afraid for their teenager years.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Scones

3 cups AP flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup sugar (use any combo of white and brown that makes you happy)
2 T baking powder 
1 T cinnamon
1/2 T salt (eyeball it using the 1 tablespoon)
12 T cold butter cut into small cubes
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips
A few tablespoons milk, as needed

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Drop in butter cubes and cut in using 2 knives or a pastry blender until it looks like coarse meal. Stir in pumpkin and chocolate chips. Add a tablespoon or two of milk as needed so that the dough holds together but isn't crazy sticky.

Dump the whole bowl onto the parchment lined cookie sheet and use your hands to mash together the bits that are still a little floury. But don't overwork the dough! It's ok if it's not perfectly mixed.

Split the dough in two and gently pat into rounds. Use a knife to cut into wedges or squares and gently wiggle the knife to get a little space between the sections. Don't worry if it looks kind of "rustic." That's totally a thing now.

Sprinkle the tops with some flaky salt.

Bake until lightly browned on top (I think it was about 12 minutes but I honestly wasn't paying attention. There was a poo-splosion situation from the baby and I was sort of distracted).

Freeze any leftovers! I stick one or two in Stinky's lunchbox in the morning and by lunch time they're thawed and ready to eat. He LOVES it.

Like scones? You may also want to try this delicious recipe for cream scones!

See more of our family favorite recipes on Pinterest.


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

DIY Upholstered Headboard

I accidentally deleted a bunch of my process pics for this one. I think you can still get the general idea.

In 9+ years of marriage Aaron and I have never had a headboard. I've bought fabric to make us one TWICE over the years but apparently never felt equal to the task and I ended up using the fabric for other things.

I feel a little silly now because it was actually really easy. And I don't mean that in a, "Easy for ME because I DIY stuff all the time" sort of way. It's legitimately a fairly easy project if you have basic tools.

Picking fabric was probably the hardest part for me. I wanted something kind of luxe to contrast with the brick but Aaron vetoed the grass green velvet I originally wanted (Pity. It was $5/yd). I brought home a bunch of samples with cool patterns but they all read too busy against the brick until I finally found some navy blue suede from a local upholstery shop ($10/yd. Totally doable!). I bought 3 yards for our king-sized headboard.

I used cheap plywood (it was $16) as the backing and had the guy at Home Depot cut the 8'x4' sheet to size for me.

King sized mattresses are 78 inches across. I read somewhere that your headboard should extend 3 inches on either side of the mattress but now that I've got an 84 inch long headboard I'm pretty sure that wasn't the best advice. We have a LOT of overhang on each side. I think 80 inches probably would have been sufficient. As far as height, 36 inches was perfect for us. About 10 inches sit below the level of the mattress and 24 inches are visible above. So I had them cut the wood to 84" x 36" but if I were to do it again I would probably do 80-81"x36".

I googled "headboard shapes" and found this handy image-

I decided on the Alexander shape- slightly more interesting than a plain rectangle but not crazy difficult to execute. Once I got my plywood home I measured 8 inches in from each of the top corners and chopped them off. Voila! Alexander shaped headboard.

Cutest baldest helper

Upholstery foam can easily be the most expensive part of a DIY headboard. It's absurdly pricey! A headboard doesn't really get the kind of wear and tear that cushions do though, and you could just as easily use a cheap foam mattress topper from Wal Mart instead. That was my plan until I remembered the 3 inch memory foam mattress pad languishing in our guest room. Free! I'll take it.

I set my plywood on the foam pad to use as a template and then used a serrated bread knife to cut the foam to size.

Unfortunately, memory foam is HEAVY. Originally I wasn't planning on doing much tufting but once I hefted that memory foam I realized I would have to do quite a bit to keep the foam in place and prevent it from sagging.

In what was maybe the 3rd time I've used math since leaving school, I figured out that 6 is a common denominator of 84 and 36 and I marked the board every 6 inches going each direction so I had a grid.

I didn't bother drilling or tufting that bottom row since it would be hidden.

I used the grid to figure out where to drill my holes (the blue dots in the diagram). I used a large bit (5/16) to drill the holes. You want to make sure they're fairly sizeable because otherwise you'll hate yourself during the tufting step.

Then I laid my fabric face down on the floor, added a layer of batting, the foam, and then the board. I busted out my staple gun and got to work.

I pulled the fabric fairly tight as I went. At each corner I just messed with it until it looked nice and neat from the front side then stapled it into place on the back.

This was round one. I ended up pulling out all these staples and doing it again the next day but didn't get a picture of the neater round 2.

Once it was all stapled into place I got to work making buttons. They sell kits with instructions for this at JoAnn's and similar places or on Amazon. I needed two kits to get the 28 buttons I needed. I also bought this white fabric pencil, which ended up coming in handy for the button making.

To tuft you need some linen or cotton cording (you'll find it near the jewelry making stuff. It cost $2.49 at JoAnn's and I needed two of them) and an upholstery needle. I used the biggest one in the pack since I was working with 3 inch thick foam.

I never misplaced it!

Thread your cord through the eye of the needle then push it from the back of the board through one of your pre-drilled holes. Thread a button on the front side and then push your needle back through. Trying to find the hole again blindly through thick foam is the reason why a bigger hole makes life easier. After you've got your needle through, take the two ends of cord and tie a knot.

Once all my buttons were sewn on I very carefully laid the whole thing on its face, pulled each string to sink the button into the foam and stapled the knot into place.

We screwed a couple 2x4s onto the back and stuck the whole thing at the head of the bed. In order to keep it in place (it knocked slightly when Aaron rolled over at night and drove him crazy) I stuck a couple 3M command strips on the back of each 2x4 and then stuck them to the wall. Quick, cheap, and zero wall damage!

I had been doing some online window shopping looking for a new comforter (preferably white with some kind of texture) when Aaron said, "Um, don't we HAVE a comforter?" I dug through our linen closet and sure enough, we DO have a comforter (white! with texture! Apparently my tastes haven't changed much). I had packed it away a few summers ago and forgotten about it. A quick run through the washing machine and we had our comforter. The mattress and sheets are the same ones we've had for ages but somehow our bed feels brand new!

Now to figure out what to do with the REST of the room!

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Monday, March 2, 2015

A Winter Meal Plan

Chicken Tikka Pizza from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

I've been thinking for AGES that I need to have seasonal pre-planned meal ideas complete with shopping lists all typed out so I can just grab one on my way out the door rather than spending an hour or two each week poring over my cookbooks and Pinterest boards.

Lately I've really been trying to streamline and simplify my life (I'm so very tired, people. I need my energy for showering) so I finally sat down and got started on several weeks worth of meal plans. Because I'm all about making your life easier too I'm going to periodically share my meal plans and shopping lists here on ye olde neglected blog.

You can find my first week available right here. It's nothing fancy but having it ready made my life SO easy last week! I only planned out 4 meals because I like being able to add in something new I've found (or just do a spaghetti night and make my life easy). We almost always have a leftover night each week and we tend to go out or eat with friends one night so having 4 meals planned out is just about perfect for us.

I print out the shopping list, cross out the stuff I've already got, add anything else I need (like milk and cereal) and that's it! So. much. faster.



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