Monday, May 3, 2021

Volcano Adventures

Since posting this almost seven years ago, where I described my first visit as an adult to Mt. St. Helens, my nerdy fascination with volcanoes remains as strong as ever. 


During a recent visit to Sunset Crater in Northern Arizona, I pondered the many volcanoes I've visited since that post. 


This was our second visit to Sunset Crater and the surrounding extinct volcanoes that make up the San Francisco Peaks. 


(Look how little they were! The kids, not the mountains.)

We also froze at Crater Lake, Oregon, in the middle of June.
     

Mr. Brown Eyes and I hiked through a rain forest to the top of Mt. Liamuiga in St. Kitts during our ten-year anniversary cruise. 

That was definitely at my insistence. And it was amazing.

                             

And last summer we explored the super volcano that is Yellowstone National Park. We camped in the nearby Tetons (in July) and got snowed on, but it was so worth it.

                              
                              
                              
                              

All right, so this doesn't even scratch the surface of the 1,500 potentially active volcanoes in the world, but it makes me happy. I love that every trip has been an adventure. 

But I definitely have a lot more volcanoes to see. 

                              

Here's to more adventuring,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Bad Days

 I love this picture. 


And not just because it's of my chubby, smiley youngest child. 

I love the day this picture reminds me of. 

It was a terrible day. Mr. Brown Eyes was at work and I was cranky with the kids, getting after them over every little thing, getting so mad at my little Brown-Eyed Girl, Kora, for wetting her pants over and over again. That evening we had been invited to watch my niece play volleyball at a nearby school, and of course the kids made us late and I was crankier than ever. 

After the game the kids talked me into letting them play on the playground, but then Kora wet her pants again and I was DONE. I stormed into the bathroom with her, part of me raging that this was it, I was going to cut their playground fun short and blame it on Kora. "It's the only way she'll learn," I told myself. 

But, thankfully, another, quieter voice whispered, "Let her play. You guys need this."

This picture reminds me how grateful I am that I listened to that quieter, kinder voice. 

We played at the playground for another hour, the kids running and laughing, the baby crawling everywhere and discovering sand for the first time. My bitter, cranky heart softened and I remembered how joyful I am to be the mother of these sweet children. 

This picture reminds me that every bad (week, month, year) day comes to an end, and then we appreciate the joy and peace of our good days so much more. 

I am trying to listen to that kinder, quieter voice, also known as the Holy Ghost, more often. 

It makes for way more good days. 

Love,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Mama Hen

 One year ago, we bought six little chicks for the kids. 

We lost one to a mean dog. 

Another one grew up to be a big, mean rooster who delighted in attacking me and the kids, so we had to get rid of him. 

The remaining four have been very prolific (with a little help from our incubator), and as of a week ago, they had increased their numbers to eleven. 

Then this happened. 

One of our hens, lovingly named Fatso, hatched her first chicks without the aid of the incubator and officially became a mama. 

She started with one chick, then three, then six. There are now officially eight, though I can't seem to get a picture of all of them at one time.


She is such a devoted mama. I could stand there all day, watching her tuck her little babies under her wings, clucking lovingly at each one. 

Her mothering instincts amaze me. Her dedication to doing nothing but sitting on those eggs for three weeks, the way she's given up her days of roaming free through the yard to be cooped up with eight hyperactive, adorably obnoxious chicks. All to be a mama. 

As she settles into her nest, little cheeping balls of fluff scrambling all over her, pushing under her, jumping onto her back, I can almost hear her thinking, "What did I get myself into?"

It was the same thought I had when I brought my first child into the world.

Thank goodness there weren't eight of him! 

Hang in there, mama. It's so worth it. 


Cluck, cluck,

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Book Review: Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Children to Go and Do



Welcome to Day Two of the Blog Tour for Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Youth to Go and Do by Sharla Goettl. Today also happens to be the release day for the paperback and eBook, so happy Release Day!

I feel like we should have cupcakes. 

Instead, you can celebrate by earning free stuff like eBooks and online courses! You can enter the contest through the Rafflecopter in my sidebar, and go to www.SharlaGoettl.com for a free gift. I love free stuff. 

When my youngest daughter was just two years old, I lost her at Fry's. One second she and her siblings were right there next to me, looking at tables of books, and then I looked up and she was gone. 

Panic flooded my heart. 

We searched all around, up and down the aisles, backtracking the way we had come. Just when I thought my heart would burst with all the fear and worry building inside, a woman walked toward me, holding my daughter's tiny hand. I gathered my daughter in my arms, spouting my thanks to her rescuer, who pinned me with a haughty, judgmental look and told me she had gone all the way outside. 

As heart-rending as it is for me to think of ever losing my children, this is not my greatest fear. My greatest fear is losing my children spiritually. I fear failing as a mother, failing to teach my children to turn to their Savior for guidance and strength and help. I fear them slipping beyond my reach, choosing to cut me out of their lives, no longer speaking to me. I fear failing my children. 

I have found many resources to guide me in my motherhood, first and foremost being my Savior and His Spirit, the scriptures and the words of living prophets. But I was also fortunate to be able to read Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Youth to Go and Do. Even though I don't yet have teenage children, the counsel in this book can apply to parents with children of any age. 

Sharla's insights on teaching our children by first fortifying our own strength are empowering without being overwhelming. The whole book is designed to help parents set goals and receive their own direction for teaching their children, complete with blank pages to take notes. But she emphasizes that the revelation we need for our children does not have to be huge. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the book was her describing her experiences with small, simple guidance from the Spirit. I have experienced this same guidance with my children, sometimes receiving promptings as simple as giving my children a hug. But every followed prompting, no matter how small, empowers us and enables us to follow just a little bit easier the next time. 

Sharla points out, "It is very difficult to feel empowered through the Holy Ghost when we are constantly reminding ourselves we are not good enough. If you need reassurance on whether your efforts are acceptable for today, ask in prayer and write down the response you receive."

The Lord wants to help us in our parenting. We are good enough, mistakes and all. The Lord knows that we are imperfect, and He still entrusted us with His precious children.

Quoting some of my favorite words from President Gordon B. Hinckley, Sharla reminds us, "Please don't nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept of your effort."

Spiritual Resilience is a wonderful resource for any parent who desires a little more direction in helping their children become resilient, to be able to weather the storms of life and keep their faith in Jesus Christ. That is certainly what I want for my children. And Spiritual Resilience reminded me that, with heavenly help and abiding love, I don't have to fear losing my children. 

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour! Here's the schedule in case you need it. 


And here's a cupcake. 



Love, 

The Brown-Eyed Girl


Monday, April 5, 2021

Dog-Person

I have never been a dog person.

Growing up, we always had cats. They basked in the sunshine outside our front door and curled around our ankles when we walked outside. In the spring, there was always at least one litter of brand new kittens to name and snuggle and love.

We had a few dogs growing up, one that died on my birthday and another that followed me to school and then escaped our yard again never to return. My brother's dog was a mean Keeshond who chased all my friends away.

So, you see, I've never had much luck with dogs.

When Mr. Brown Eyes first talked about getting a dog, we got a horse instead. Then talk turned to getting a puppy, which sounded like way too much work when we had our own human babies to take care of. But now and then the topic continued to come up. 

I conceded that I wanted a dog that would 1) live outdoors 2) scare unwanted strangers away and 3) go running with me. Mr. Brown Eyes wanted a dog to kill gophers. The kids just wanted a dog.

Ohana does not live outside, she usually plays with the gophers instead of killing them, and she occasionally rolls in roadkill. Otherwise, she is perfect. 

She puts up with all the kids' shenanigans. And trust me, there are a lot of them. 

Such as, 

Ohana the Reindeer:


And Gangster Ohana:

And let's not forget when the youngest Brown Eyed Girl went through her phase of never being able to go to the bathroom by herself. Lucky Ohana got to sit in the bathroom with her every time. 

Ohana is also a practically tireless running companion and she loves to come camping with us. 


She dreams of catching a deer. Or at least a squirrel. 

Oh, and she thinks all the babies are her puppies. 


The only one who doesn't love Ohana is the cat.

One afternoon Ohana rode in the car with us to pick the kids up from school. On the way home, she was enjoying sitting on top of my son's backpack, sticking her head out the window. My son decided he wanted his backpack, and as he tried to pull it out from under her, I suddenly heard a cry from the back of the car.

"Mom! Ohana jumped out the window!"

In my disbelief I glanced in the rearview mirror and there she was, standing bewildered in the middle of the road. 

I muttered a few choice words as I pulled the car onto a side street and leapt out onto the sidewalk, running full-tilt. As I ran I panicked, worrying that Ohana had been hit by a car or had run off and that we might never see her again. 

I can still remember the relief that flooded through me the moment I spotted her through the bushes, surrounded by some good Samaritans trying to find who she belonged to. And I knew the moment she saw me because her whole body shook with joy. She bolted down the sidewalk and hurled herself into my waiting arms. 

"Oh," the good Samaritans said. "She's obviously your dog."

It was then that I kind of understood the whole dog-person thing. It's kind of amazing to find an animal that can love so much. 

Even after you just accidently abandoned her in the middle of the road. 

Ohana is part of our family. She proved it last summer when, all on her own, she joined our family pictures. 


No wonder the cat doesn't like her. 

I'm still not sure I can say I'm a dog-person, but I'm definitely an our dog-person.

Still can't handle that dog breath, though,
The Brown-Eyed Girl














Monday, March 29, 2021

How to Finish What You Start

I have no idea.

The end.

No, seriously, I just found this post in my drafts and it consisted entirely of those six words. I laughed, ruefully. 

I am of the personality that leaving something unfinished--be it a novel, our remodel-in-progress dining room, or a bag of M&Ms--makes me cringe and gives me fits of anxiety. I often ensure that things are finished just for that reason. 

This neglected blog? Sky-rocketing, cringing anxiety. 

My dad used to tell me, to my utter annoyance, "If it's something you want to do, you'll make time for it."

I hate this because it's true. I've discovered that if I make up excuses not to do something, it's because, deep down, I don't want to do it. Maybe it's hard or overwhelming, or I don't know where to start.  

When I had my first cranky, needy, wonderful child, writing just fell by the wayside. There wasn't time for it. But somehow, now, with four cranky, needy, wonderful children, I'm writing more than ever. I find the time, whether it's late at night when everyone's asleep, or a handful of minutes during the day when the kids are entertained by something else. I want to write, so I make time for it. 

Maybe the trick to finishing what you start is loving what you started. Otherwise, what's the point?

I love this blog I started over TEN years ago, and even though I've taken a hiatus, I'm going to finish (or continue, whatever) what I started. 

Sticking with it,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, January 6, 2020

One Sure Thing

Hello little blog. I am so sorry for neglecting you. 

Has it really been two years since I’ve posted? TWO YEARS?

At first I stopped posting so I could have time to write. And then I stopped posting because I was pregnant with baby #4. And then I stopped posting because my computer crashed. And then I just stopped posting.

But the one sure thing about our years apart is that everything changes. 

I lost my mom unexpectedly to cancer about nine months ago. I say unexpectedly because when she was diagnosed we were told she had six to nine months without treatment, two years with. 

But it turned out she only had six weeks. 
I miss my mom with an ache I don’t think will ever go away. On good days I can remember her with smiles and joy, looking forward to the day I see her again. On bad days the reminders are sharp and painful. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through this, it’s that a Mother’s love is UNBREAKABLE. She may be gone from this earth but my mother’s love is all around me. She is more than a memory; she is a living presence. She loves her children too much to ever truly leave us. And that truth has filled me with comfort and peace every single day. 

As we start a new year, I know that one sure thing in life is that everything changes. Awesome changes, sad changes, challenging changes. No matter how we resist, change comes.

I have lived in fear of change before. Sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me again. But then I remember that the OTHER sure thing in life is our Savior, Jesus Christ. He who “changest not” can sustain us through any change. 
As we sang at my mom’s funeral, “when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”