Monday, November 07, 2016

Change your perspective

I'm obviously not good at daily journaling - yet. I read the other day that instead of saying we are terrible at something or not good at something to add the word "yet" at the end. That denotes that we are a work in progress. That we haven't given up on ourselves, and that we believe we could improve and even become great at something difficult for us.

On Sunday, our Sunday School teacher asked if any of us were now great at something that we previously were terrible at. I raised my hand and said running. He asked what changed, and I gave him the short version, which is essentially that I just had to believe I was capable of being good at it, and then I worked like I could achieve it.

The long answer is this: When I first started I couldn't complete a mile without huffing and puffing. The first time I completed 3 miles I'm pretty sure I either passed out from heat exhaustion or threw up from it. Maybe both. I continued to run cross country during high school, despite not being particularly good at it. I first started because I wanted to do it with my sister Julie who was a senior when I was a freshman. There was no other activity I could have participated in with her, so I did it. I improved enough that I could finish 3 miles without passing out or throwing up, and even ran at the varsity state cross country meet (we were short on runners that year!) but I was never fantastic at it. I felt like 3 miles was the limit for my body type and build, and that I would never be considered fast.

I jogged off and on through college and after we moved to TX, never really challenging my limits on time or distance, but doing it because I knew I needed exercise. I did have one guy (I don't even remember who) in college mention he bet I could run 15 miles if I could do 3 because... once you start you just have to keep going. He really seemed sincere in thinking I could run more. So occasionally I'd throw in a 4-6 mile run here and there.

One time in TX I'd set out to do a 3 mile run and ended up not mapping my course properly and ended up doing more like 6 miles. I ended up as sick as a dog that night. Matt had to carry me to my room because I couldn't walk. I'm sure I was totally dehydrated as it was a hot run and I never carried water or electrolytes with me. Guess what I got for Christmas that year? A water belt. And I still take it with me on even short runs now because of how awful I felt that run. Running with water changed a lot of things for me. I felt so much more capable.

After I had Walter I experienced what I think was un-diagnosed postpartum depression, and when I prayed with real intent and sought to listen, running was one of about 10 things I decided I needed to do to get out of my funk. I found a friend to train with, and we followed a plan to prepare for a half marathon. I thought that would be it for me. It would be my one "bucket list" race. But it felt so exhilarating and I actually quite enjoyed racing. We kept about a 9 min/mile pace. Not amazing, but not bad. I was quite happy with it as we'd been running 11-13 min. miles with our double strollers during training!

When I was wanting to VBA2C with Edward, I had a very, very strong desire and motivation to do everything in my power to be strong physically and mentally to have the birth experience I wanted. I kept running until about 35 weeks then walked/jogged until the end. In effort to induce labor, the day before I had him I went jogging 1.5 miles with my dad and we kept about a 10-11 min. pace. At that point I remember thinking to myself, "If I can run a 10 min. mile at 40 weeks pregnant, I dang well better be able to run a sub 8 min. mile when I'm not!"

I believed it, and I worked like I believed it. As I didn't have much time to run, I focused on making all of my runs short and fast. 2 miles most days. I'd  basically practice at race pace every time I ran. And then I started adding a little distance. Eventually I could run repeatable sub 8 min. miles. My fastest half marathon was pace at 7 min. 40 sec / mile. For 13 miles! Not shabby. In TX I won first in my division in multiple races. Here in UT it is far more competitive, and I've been much busier and haven't run or raced as much.

Anyway, at the end of his lesson, he said pretty much any change, be it repentance or over coming trials or individual struggles is a lot like that. It takes the belief and a lot of work. It took me 15 years of running before I believed I could be great at it, and 20 years to get my eventual PR. Why should I get so discouraged when I feel like my parenting or spiritual progress is going slowly? I need to believe progress is possible and then work like it is. Will I fall? Probably. May I end up in the "hospital" (so to speak) like I did once after a particularly hot and challenging race where I wasn't properly hydrated or prepared? It's possible. But that doesn't mean I should give up or that I am incapable of progress.

Weak things can be made strong through Christ.

I am weak in many aspects of parenting. But if I believe I can be strong, if I believe I can improve, and I work to do it, I know I can be better.

Friday, September 30, 2016

I've come a long way

Today after I went visiting teaching, I took Edward, Vivian, and Marian to a park in Cedar Hills near our old rental house. I met the nicest mom there. She had two boys, 5 and 2. After hearing about how I have 5 kids 8 and under, she asked how I do it. I said, I don't know. She said she was having a hard time with just 2 kids.

I assured her that for me, 2 kids has been my hardest stage. I got to thinking just how far I've come in my mom-ing. I'm nowhere near perfect, but I remember how HARD it was as a mom of 2. And now I have 2 in school, 1 in preschool, and 2 at home with me, one who is an exclusively breast fed baby.  I am teaching more private students and have 3 group music classes for which I have to have a very tidy and clean home. I have come a long way. I am feeling proud of myself. Some things have changed. I no longer spend 1-2 hours prepping dinner. My laundry may or may not get folded, but hey, it's clean! I don't teach preschool out of my home, and I don't spend as much time doing preschool prep type things with my 2 year old. My baby doesn't get picked up every single time she cries. But there is a lot more music in our home! And we still go to the park and have fun together.

Motherhood is such a wild ride. I feel like I've learned a lot and have a lot yet to learn. Strapped in for the ride!

Here are a few of our most recent family pictures.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Paint paint everywhere

Today while I was getting ready to make dinner, I noted that I hadn't seen Vivian in awhile. Anyone who has ever had a two year old knows it is mighty suspicious to not see or hear them for awhile.  I asked the boys if she was up there and they said yes, but when. I asked where they couldn't tell me. Then Edward said, "I thinks she's in Dean's room." So we opened his closet and oh boy. Paint everywhere. I've told Dean not to bring art supplies to his room, but he put them in a #10 can in his closet. Vivian found them, tried to paint but spilled them, then tried to clean up.

When I saw this, I didn't even feel anger boiling inside. I just said, "ah darn it. Let's get you in the bath. Dean, this is why I didn't want you taking art supplies into your room." I put Vivian in a bath and Dean cleaned up the mess with a carpet spot cleaner. No yelling. No lecture. After Vivian was clean I said, " what were you doing? Were you trying to paint?" And she said, " yeah, it was too heavy. I tried to keen it up." "Thank you so much for trying to clean it up".  *light in her eyes* "That was a pretty big mess. Next time you have a mess like that you should come get me so I can help." "yeah."

Now, had I yelled or lectured it would have just taught her it was bad to try and clean up your mess and that she can't trust me to not freak out if she has a problem. She wouldn't want to come to me.  I hope I can continue in this path. It has been a great week. Now more than ever I feel like I can make true and lasting changes if I just keep focusing on the right things.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Well dang it.

I didn't even last a week of daily journaling on here. Ah well. I will keep trying.

Yesterday my praise project was initiated. It was amazing. Lots of high fives, praise, hugs, etc. Dean voluntarily helped with dishes both in the morning and in the evening. There were very few fights. The kids were happy and helpful. When I picked up Dean from school, he said it was the best day of school he's ever had.  He and Walter both got "clipped up" for good behavior in class. Dean's teacher even wrote me an email saying, "Hello Mrs. Brasfield, I wanted to let you know that Dean had a great day at school today! He was super polite and helpful to me and many others. I loved his smiles and positive attitude!"  It was awesome. At bed time he voluntarily washed his feet (they ALWAYS stink super bad when he takes off his shoes but often balks when we ask him to wash his feet. Poor guy inherited my sweaty feet and hands), and he was just really thoughtful all day. 

Today I tried doing much of the same. I will admit I was more tired and probably not quite as exuberant. The kids seemed more tired as well. I still tried to praise and much as possible. It was good, but not quite as epic. They fought a little more, but it was still a good day. I only lost my cool for a moment when I was getting in the car to pick up Walter and saw that Vivian had gotten into Edward's preschool box of snacks he was supposed to take tomorrow and opened up the box of granola bars and opened up a bar and was already eating it by the time I got out to the car with Marian. Haha. That girl! So independent. She had THE SADDEST face, though, when I told her she wasn't supposed to get into it and I was not happy with her. I felt bad and it reminded me that she is more important than a granola bar. 

I will continue to try and focus on praising more than I correct. I have a feeling it might be tested a little to see if my resolve is real. I will do my best to be my best. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

See the good

I'm pretty sure I've written before about the scripture 1 Peter 3:10 "love life and see good days". I first remember it making an impression on me when it was presented in a Saturday church workshop in McKinney. I don't know why it has stuck with me so strongly, but it has. I've been thinking more about the whole scripture in context.

"Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For whosoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it." 1 Peter 3:9-11

I've felt like I've somehow come to a point where I've become quite critical of my kids at times. I get exasperated, expect a lot from them, and sometimes forget that they are super new to this earth. I mean, heavens, my oldest is only 8! My goal this week is to eliminate any critical or negative speech and replace it with positive praise for the things that are being done right. Kids chewing with their mouth open driving us nuts? Praise the kid who is chewing with their mouth closed. Then if the offender happens to correct the behavior right away, praise them as well. Grumpy kid? Praise the kids around them. Or Praise them for something they've done recently, even if it isn't in that moment. I need to not buy into their drama, but turn from it and do good. Say good things. Seek peace.  There is so much more to living a happy life than looking for the good. We have to be the good. Praise the good. Seek the good. Refrain from the negative and not so good. Harder than it sounds, but I am certain that this will provide a pathway to greater peace in our home.

Sunday, September 11, 2016 what bwings us togevah today

This morning I was able to attend our Stake's adult meeting on marriage.  We unfortunately missed last night's portion of the conference (Forgot about it and they even provided dinner! What was I thinking?!), and I went by myself this morning as I hadn't gotten a baby sitter, but it was still nice nonetheless. Brent Top, is our Stake President and is the dean of the religious education at BYU and has some ins to great professors and speakers. It was great to attend, I just wish we would have done so together.

The class I enjoyed the most was from the continuing courtship class by Dr. Ogletree. Now, Matt and I are very terrible at this. We are great friends and make a great team in our separateness (divide and conquer is kind of our standard), but we are not very good about doing things together. Not that we don't like to, but it just seems like 5 kids and other life responsibilities kind of get in the way of courtship, ya know? we've never been much for PDA, and dating seems to require babysitters and planning, so it seems like we just end up watching movies at home on a good weekend, and doing separate activities in separate rooms the rest of the time.

I am determined to work on that.

Here are the notes I took of his class:

Marital Entropy. Marriage can erode and get rusty over time. Other things get in the way (work, church, kids, etc)
Apathy, taking each other for granted.

Have to find a way to freshen it up. Don't just become joint occupants in the home. We would do well to reevaluate, renew courtship, express affection, acknowledge kindness, increase consideration so marriage can become beautiful, sweet and growing, (Spencer w. Kimball, marriage and divorce, 1976)

Isaac and Rebecca
Gen 26
Isaac was sporting with (touching, laughing, caressing, jesting, playing) REBEKAH. They could tell they weren't brother and sister by how they were treating each other.

If you were accused of being married, is there any evidence to convict you? Kids should be able to see that you love each other, that you want to be together. We want the community and others to know we truly do love each other.

“We just don't have the time”
  • Couples who spend leisure time together tend to be happier together
  • High levels of couple time together, less likely to divorce
  • “If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.” f Burton Howard.
  • “Happiest marriage both husband and wife treat the relationship as a pearl beyond price.” Whitney Clayton April 2013
  • If you say your priority is family and marriage but you never spend time together, you are lying.

Those who have good and successful marriages work at it. It can be FUN.
When you have a successful marriage, you will become a better parent. If our marriage is in trouble, our family is in trouble.

Nothing but God himself should take priority over your spouse. Not work, recreation, hobbies,...what does it mean to cleave to her? It means to stay close, be loyal and faithful, etc.

Elder Holland said about priorities
  1. Spiritual and physical self
  2. Our spouse
  3. Child
  1. Church calling
  2. Professional life
  3. Civic responsibilities

If you want things to get better, you have to set your priorities straight.

If marriage is a prime relationship it deserves prime time.
  • If you want a healthy garden, you water it, pull weeds, give it sun, etc.
  • What can you do to water and nurture your marriage

You must express your love EVERY day
  • Romantic love is the dominating influence of life. Highest degree of exaltation is unattainable without this kind of love. Boyd k Packard

How do you express your love? Speak your spouse's love language
  • Mormon message by elder Scott
  • Had two people up speaking different language. They didn't understand each other and couldn't connect.

Babysitters are cheaper than divorces

Regular dating:
Keep your courtship alive
Regular weekly time alone together
Commit, plan, and schedule
If you are in a rut do something exciting or different.
  • Go for a walk, go to a park,
One night a week for a few hours remind yourself why you love each other.
Make it pleasant, fun, and something you can look forward to.


  1. go home and kiss so passionately in front of kids that it will gross them out.
  2. Come up with a departing or greeting ritual that will strengthen your bond together.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Positive affirmations

Unfortunately it is just after midnight, so I missed posting on yesterday's date, but I figured I'd go ahead and still get in he spirit of the law post.

I've always been a believer in positive affirmations. I don't say any daily, but whim struggling with something in life, I tend to fall back on them for strength to change. Today after lunch I finally got my 2 year old, Vivian, dressed. She started running around the kitchen saying, "I'm so pretty!" Over and over. Then Edward jumped in on the fun and ran around saying, "I'm so cool!" Then Vivian changed to, "I'm so sweet!" It reminded me of how important it is that we send good messages to ourselves. This morning Dean was getting really frustrated with a clay project he was trying to do. He ended up throwing his clay saying, "I give up!" I had him say, "My name is Dean Brasfield and I can do hard things."  He resisted saying it at first. I asked if he'd rather say, "my name is Dean Brasfield and I'm a quitter." He said he didn't want to say either. I told him he needs to choose to believe in himself in order to succeed. He ended up saying he can do hard things. I ended up throwing away the homemade clay and buying him some sculpy.  And he finished his project.

Here are some affirmations you are more than welcome to use for you or your children or classrooms. 😀 I made them for my Lets Play Music classroom. The "I am in charge of me" means that we choose our behavior. My brain tells my hands or body what to do, so I can make good choices and control myself.