September 17, 2017

College essays for BYU application. I am very excited.

A. (You are encouraged to reference relevant and unique personal experiences to help illustrate the ideas in your essay.)
Recall a time in your life when you took a risk and experienced a setback or failure in pursuit of a challenging goal that you ultimately achieved. Describe what resources you used, what you learned about yourself from that experience, and how it has prepared you for the challenges you most likely will face in college. (2000 char maximum)

I found out I was expecting my 2nd child and planned to deliver unmedicated, in a birthing center, just like my 1st. This also meant going into labor on my own, when my body and baby were ready. Fast forward 42 weeks: I was still pregnant, but was content to wait it out. I passed 2 non-stress tests with flying colors, felt great and was educated on the many risks associated with intervening with labor. However, the last few days I developed high blood pressure. I was told I would transfer to the hospital, be given some heavy medication, then given pitocin to induce labor. I had received a blessing that I "would have the birth I envisioned." But there I was, about to go to the hospital! I was scared. People go to the hospital when they are sick, or something's wrong. I'd heard horror stories about the pain that accompanies inductions, not to mention, the potential complications. Feelings of doubt, failure and helplessness crept in. It was so out of my control. But I remembered who is in control: God, my father, who knows and loves me. I prayed and felt peace. After all that, I checked in at the hospital, and before anything else happened, my water broke on its own, and I pushed out a healthy baby girl in 20 minutes. It was not the place I envisioned, but was the birth I envisioned. It was a miracle to me. Through this experience I learned that there isn't just one right way to do things. I learned tolerance. I learned that when there is a problem, it's okay to make a change. The most important resource I used was Hypnobirthing. It is an empowering method of teaching oneself to go into instant relaxation, to manage fear, stress and discomfort. I believe it is what helped me stay calm enough to have the healthy, fast birth I did. In college there will be situations to get through and people to work with that aren't what I would choose. But I know I can educate myself, trust myself, have courage to act, and that everything will work out in the end if I do my best.

B. Step 1: Given the choice, which CES school would you most like to attend, and why? Please be specific (2000 char maximum)
My first choice is BYU Provo. The price is good. My partner and husband, Collin, and I have a home and 3 kids on one income. We will have to sacrifice for me to go to school. I know it will be worth it.
I want to study linguistics and there is a great program at BYU. I have a passion for language, different cultures, grammar, editing and mathematics and the parts these play in the world.
I am interested in the religion classes. I know they will be a challenge, and I am excited to gain a more in-depth knowledge of the scriptures and gospel.
I want to be an example of hard work and loving learning for my children. Just this application process has brought me joy and I am excited for the potential opportunity to increase my knowledge. I took education for granted in my younger years, unfortunately. But I cannot change the past. I can go forward from here, with a strong desire to learn and better myself and my family. I plan to take advantage of every opportunity given to me at BYU. I want to have the skills necessary to be able to provide for myself and contribute to my family's income if need be. I feel strongly that it is the right place for me.

C. Passion is a catalyst for learning. Describe something you have learned about which you are passionate. How will you use this passion to make the most of a BYU experience? (2000 char maximum)

I learned of my 1st pregnancy and immediately I began to educate myself. Having and caring for a baby was beyond my comprehension and I wanted to prepare. As I did, I gained confidence and courage. I got to the point where I was not afraid to give birth. Finally, one calm evening, my baby slipped out from my body and was put into my arms. I noticed nothing else as I stared into my son's eyes. Then my doctor came and latched him onto my breast. I held my breath; I was breastfeeding!!! After all that anticipation, no big deal! But then came that first night of trying and failing time after time to latch him. He cried so hard; I cried too, so scared that I couldn't do it. The next morning my doctor told me I could do it; she'd seen me. I just had to give myself a lot of emotional room. After I went home, I kept calling her with questions and if should we bring him to the hospital. Being a parent is scary! She told us, "I can't tell you what to do. You are his parents. You have to make the decisions." I knew she was right. We had to figure it out. For me this meant more research. I found evidence-based websites; I attended La Leche League meetings, breastfeeding cafe, and new moms groups. I became very passionate about breastfeeding. This was becoming a big topic and I wanted to normalize it as well as support and encourage other mamas. I gained more experience: tandem nursing, weaning, full-term nursing. I've had 3 different children with unique challenges and successes. This passion I have for my children and how my partner and I raise them is similar to the passion I feel about going to school again. It feels like a necessity. It feels exciting and like I'm made for this moment. I am taking it one step at a time. I will gain confidence and wisdom as I go. I had to fight hard and go out of my comfort zone to learn to breastfeed and I will use this same motivation in my school work and experience at BYU. For me it is one in the same because my family is my motivation.

D. Tell us anything else you want us to know about yourself that you haven't had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in the application. Include any special or cultural circumstances, experiences, talents, skills, etc. that you think would have a positive impact on the admission committee. (2000 char maximum)

In 2009, before we had kids, Collin and I had the opportunity to go to Mali in West Africa to do an assessment for a non-profit organization. It was part of a larger analysis of how different organizations qualify the work they do.
We stayed in a larger village, Ouelessebougou, 2 hours from the capitol, Bamako, and would travel in small teams to small villages. There we spent 2-3 days interviewing the chief, the midwife, the teachers, visiting the school, creating maps, asking about water, food, births. We would have a causserie avec les femmes, a talk with the women. No men from the village were allowed, and they would speak (more) freely and teach us a skill. We shelled peanuts with them, brought water up from wells, saw women breastfeeding openly. There were youth groups. We witnessed grandmothers teaching their grandchildren about plants and the earth. We were able to get to know people on a personal level and break through cultural stereotypes on both ends. I witnessed a people, with very little in terms of material possessions, who have dirt roads and floors and mud houses with toilets that are a hole in the wall that runs out onto the street. I saw people wearing different clothes with different faces and different language. But it was a people who work hard every day to eat at night and create a happy life for their families just as I do. I saw children in primitive classrooms by day, and playing futball together at night. I saw women carrying the world on their backs, balancing life in the water containers on their heads; I saw children carrying their younger siblings and helping with dinner. This world of theirs looked differently from my world, but it didn't feel differently. The core of it matched my desires and dreams: to have a future family who lives and serves and strengthens one another. That time in Africa forever changed me and my perspective of the world and other people. It helped me understand and love more deeply and to always be grateful.

E. Please share your reasons for seeking admission as a Transfer student - specifically, we invite you to address your intended major and your career/life ambitions. (2000 char maximum)

I began attending college as an 18 year old, fresh from high school and home, and I had no idea what I wanted to do. At NAU I did okay in classes that interested me but floundered in many others. I was not motivated. I did, however, learn a lot about myself and my beliefs as I was away from home for the first time. After several years, marriage, and growing up a lot, I decided I needed to get myself together and earn my associates. I did so after a couple of semesters of straights As. I figured out that hard work meant that I could accomplish things. At that point I was satisfied with my education and decided to focus on starting a family. We now have 3 children. I have loved and embraced every aspect of motherhood. I have found that in teaching my children, I also love to learn. Recently I felt like something was missing in my life. I was inspired to do some soul searching. I desired to be passionate and excited about something besides parenting. Gordon B Hinckley's words on education and learning inspired me. I continued searching and this led to my overwhelming desire to return to school to study linguistics, English, editing and mathematics.
Words and self expression are so important to me. Writing has been a form of therapy for me for the past 15 years. I love to edit papers for friends and family members. There are so many possibilities: newspaper, content for companies, freelance editing and writing online, and literature. I am also interested in getting a minor in TESOL. It is a goal of mine to live abroad with my family some day and that would be highly beneficial. As my children are still young, I will start off slowly with my education, and as they enter school now and in the next few years I will add to my load as I see necessary. I know it will be a challenge to balance school and family. I'll have to prioritize and sacrifice. I can do it.

August 11, 2017

Lots of thoughts last night. Things I want. Things I want for myself. I think it's good to want things. But my gut tells me otherwise. And then later the spirit reminds me of what God has done for me. The Eternal potential he has prepared for me. And what really matters. Perspectives shift. More and more and more of the spirit. There is Joy in the Journey. Not always happiness, but true joy is available to find. I can take what I'm learning and take what I want and need for myself, and suddenly things become more clear and I realize I can have both.

July 29, 2017

52 Stories week 7

What have been the most important and valued friendships in your life?

My parents and brothers have always been important to me. I have always found myself wanting to please them. I've not always been certain of their approval and trust of me. My family doesn't like to talk about how they are truly feeling. It seems there is a lot of hurt and shame from the past. I have always known I'm loved and cared for, but am I liked? Unconditionally?

When I was little, my cousins were everything. But as I grew up, friends became very important to me. Friends whom I could trust became my family. I'm a social person. I'm pretty open about my feelings and who I am. I have a lot of friends and love people. I try to be considerate and kind. I have insecurities when it comes to wanting others to like me and approve of me. 
To this day there are only a few people in my life who know everything about me. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for friends in my life. 

Best friends:

Morgan Cummard Skeen
Jayna Brugman Hedges
Kim Valenzuela Woodbury
Anne Costa
Emily Larsen Dyer
Samantha Crowther

These women have been unconditionally supportive, loving and understanding when no one else was. 

My relationship with my parents has grown in the last 8 years. My mom is my best friend and my dad and I are seeing more eye to eye and meeting each other with more understanding and courtesy than ever before. I view my mother in law, Ludona, as someone I can talk to about most things. She has a different perspective, and also is forgiving and understanding of me. I know she truly cares. 

I am developing my relationship with my sister in law, Amelia, whom I ADORE with all my heart, and want to repair damaged relationships with my other two sisters in law, Ashley Smith and Kendra Mattox. 

July 2017

Well, it's BEEN A WHILE. But I'm just going to go from here.

3 kids is a lot sometimes. It's the happiest and saddest and most rewarded and challenged I've ever felt. It is hands full and heart full, trying to care for my 3 babes, get through each day, and treasure every moment with them as they are so little.

Frederick starts Kindergarten in a month. He will go to Granite Elementary here in Sandy, Utah. After talking to lots of people in the area, and meeting at the school for a K orientation, we feel that this is the absolute right thing for Fred and for us. Nothing will be perfect, but it seems like the right fit. as always, Collin and I will be involved and helpful as much as we can.
Fred is my bud. He is my right hand man. He is a leader in our family and among his friends and neighbors. He is discovering who is is, little by little.

Harriet is growing and changing a lot too. She is more agreeable and able to talk things out. We still have our days of misunderstanding and frustration, but mostly due to my trying to control her. She is a beautiful butterfly. She and fred both have wonderful imaginations. They play well together and also fight together. They learn so much from each other and love each other very much.

Ella is still my baby, but is also developing her likes and dislikes and her personality. She is a stubborn little thing, and nothign gets past her these days. She is smart and cunning just like her siblings. She has a special and unique bond with each one. She has started fighting back when they pester her, which has resulted in biting, hitting, and scratching. She sticks up for herself. She is on the verge of speaking. She understands much and she does her best to communicate her needs and thoughts.

I'm evolving as a mother and person. I'm looking deep within myself to the person I am currently and the things I need and want to be fulfilled. I am asking myself many questions and finding the answers to them, little by little. I have learned much and have a lot to learn. I love getting out and exploring new places, as always, but I find myself not wanting to be quite as busy as before. I find myself wanting to cherish and play with my children. I'm realizing that where I felt discipline, sternness and justice was necessary, along with (and sometimes in place of) that needs to be understanding, trust, loyalty and unity for my children, husband and family. I'm not exactly sure what it all looks like, but I'm excited for some new chapters in our lives.

July 28, 2017

52 stories week 6

Do you know the story of how your grandparents met and fell in love? 

No, is the answer, so I asked my parents. 

My dad said, about his mom and dad Fred Money and Constance Frehner:

Dad was a very popular Brigadier at BYU (The big campus social club of the 50s). Mom was the Las Vegas Homecoming Queen.   They met at a BYU Dance, Dad thought mom was beautiful.

My mom's parents, Robert Nesbit and Cecil Abbott
“The First Time I saw Cecil”
I was in Church at Philadelphia Branch and I saw Cecil for the first time. She caught my attention immediately. She had on a white dress. I had just come down from Atlantic City where I was stationed at Pamona Naval Air Base. We had a church group meeting in Pleasantville, New Jersey,  I was 21 at this time and enjoyed going to all the activities.
                We started talking at the activities and one night we ended up washing and drying dishes.  I mentioned to Cecil that I wanted to go to the Pageant in Palmyra, New York. She asked her Father to go and off we went. I remember we drove upstate with her Mom and Dad and Eloise. Eloise was a friend that had heard we were going and wanted to go.  I sat in the middle of Cecil and Eloise in the back. We had a good time. We stayed together the whole trip, we went to the pageant, toured the grounds, walked through the Sacred Grove together. It was the beginning.
                From that time on we were always together. Our youth group was very active and we were always having some sort of activity.  Cecil and I served refreshments for all the firesides.

Cecil's side of the story...
...they started talking about Palmyra. He needed a ride. I asked my dad if we could take Bob. I figured he would get there and go off with the missionaries. My dad said yes, and we all went up. Bob spent the whole time with us. He got a room where we were. We took Eloise Thomas with us so she could go. We had a wonderful time teasing Bob all the way up and back, he sat between us. I guess that is where I began to fall in love with Bob. When I met Bob, after a week or so, after I had gotten to know him, I had a strong feeling of here is the man I’m going to marry. It wasn’t like “Oh I’m in love,” because you don’t fall in love like that but it was just that when I was a kid I read Added Upon and had this feeling that when you met the one who is going to be your husband you would know him, so this was it, I felt like I knew him. He used to laugh at me and say ...there wasn’t just one person that was the right one for you, there could be any number of people that could be just the right person for you. I was sure there was just one, and he was it so that was just fine.

Our first formal date came about due to a misunderstanding. Many of the adults were talking and Cecil said to me, “They’re all going to the Ice Capades and I thought she was trying to tell me that she was being left behind and wanted me to take her. So I told her I would take her. I bought the tickets and we went together that night. We watched half of the show and than left. We were more interested in each other than watching the ice show. We went to Cecil’s home and decided when I would receive the Priesthood; we would go to temple to be married.  Now remember we had spent quite a bit of time together.    (Approx. Sept-Oct 1948)
Mom’s version: ...we were always together, doing things together, but we never went on a bonified date. Dad must have thought I was hinting, but I didn’t really. All we really wanted to do was be together. I’m sure he would have kissed me that night, because we talked about getting married. It was nice, because before when I was going out with your dad, every night before we would leave each other we would have a prayer together or when we were finished we would have a prayer together. That gives you a nice, sweet feeling about things, you’re not going to do anything you shouldn’t. That was what kind of relationship we had.

One night we were at the church having such a good time with June and Al, who were real good friends of ours, and so funny. When it came time for us to go home we went outside to catch the trolley to go home.  Daddy said to me, “Would you like a dime to go on the trolley” and he didn’t go with me. I thought, "what’s going on?" I couldn’t believe it! Well I found out he had one dime to his name that night. And that dime was the only thing standing between him and getting back to Atlantic City. He didn’t have two dimes to take me on the trolley so he couldn’t take me home. Why didn’t he just say to me, "Hey, I don’t have the money to take you home," and I’d have supplied my own dime. I had to anyhow and then we could have gone together at least. I just felt so bad that he couldn’t take me home and all he had was a thin dime. He probably had to hitch hike home that night.

March 9, 2017

SPRING TIME Waldorf blessings

In our Winter garden, seeds lie warm below,
flowers are waiting, waiting, waiting
for the Spring to show

Where are the froggies when the north winds blow?
We cannot see them in the ice and snow.
Deep, deep down in the mud they lie,
froggies sleeping with tight-closed eyes.
When the warm spring sun comes out,
froggies wake and jump about.
Oh, how happy they will be,
a springtime world they will see.

Where are the turtles when the north winds blow?
We cannot see them in the ice and snow.
Deep, deep down in the mud they lie,
turtles sleeping with tight-closed eyes.
When the warm spring sun comes out,
turtles wake and crawl about.
Oh, how happy they will be,
a springtime world they will see.

Where are the bears when the north winds blow?
We cannot see them in the ice and snow.
Deep, deep down in a cave they lie,
baby bears sleeping with tight-closed eyes.
When the warm spring sun comes out,
bear cubs wake and run about.
Oh, how happy they will be,
a springtime world they will see.

Where are the squirrels when the north winds blow?
We cannot see them in the ice and snow.
Cracking nuts in a hollow tree,
squirrels are cozy as cozy can be.
When the warm spring sun comes out,
squirrels wake and jump about.
Oh, how happy they will be,
a springtime world they will see.

King Winter be gone,
then soon cometh the spring!
The ice is a breaking,
the flowers awakening,
and green groweth each thing!
King Winter be gone,
then your rule put away,
the birds one and all,
now with jubilant call,
now bring tidings of May!

Winter goodbye, winter goodbye.
You may no longer stay.
Springtime is on its way.
Winter goodbye, winter goodbye.

A little seed for me to sow.
A little earth to make it grow.
A little hole, a little pat,
a little wish, and that is that.
A little sun, a little shower,
a little while, and then a flower.

I can't see the wind, but the wind can see me.
It follows me dancing across Lanternlea.
It blows round my ankles, it puffs through my hair,
it tangles me up 'till I do not know where,
or whither or thither or why I'm this way.
The way of the wind on a merry March day.

Splish, splash, splish, splash
here's how we walk in the rain.
Splish, splash, splish, splash
here¹s how we walk in the rain.
And splash -we run through the puddles.
And splosh - we skip in the rain.
And splish - we turn round the corner
until we come home again!

This is a house for a robin
(make a nest with hands)
This is a hive for a bee
(two fists together to make a hive)
This is a hole for a bunny
(thumbs and pointers on both hands to make hole)
And this is a house for me!
(Arms and hands form roof overhead)

Little brown seeds so small and round,
Are sleeping quietly under ground.
Down come the raindrops
sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.
Out comes the rainbow,
twinkle, twinkle, twinkle.
Little brown seeds way down below,
Up through the earth they grow, grow, grow.
Little green leaves come one by one.
They hold up their heads and look at the sun.

Let us go back home,
and wash our hands and face,
brush our hair,
change into a clean shirt, and pants.
Tie your shoes and we are off to go to the fair!

Good Morning, Mistress and Master!
I wish you a happy day!
Please to smell my garland,
'cause it's the first of May.

A branch of May I have brought you,
and at your door I stand;
it is but a sprout, but it's well budded out,
the work of Nature's hand.

February 11, 2017

recent spiritual revelations and impressions. things I'm learning and trying.

I am supposed to be in this ward; supposed to learn from these women. They are going through things that I will be going through in the next 13+ years. They are sending their chidlren into tthe world at school, on missions. Their children are preparing for educations adn adventures and marriage. I am blessed to have all of these mentors and examples.

We need to have more fun in our home with our kids. I know everyone will say, "Nikki and Collin are so fun!!! And we do have a lot of fun...but life has gotten stressful with another baby (also wonderful, of course). But stress is added to everyone, and less time and more things to do, fewer hands to do them with. We become short. When kids don't cooperate, we make threats, which they never respond well to. We are learning and coming out of certain things and starting new things. The period of adjustment is big for us all. The holidays were quite emotional and stressful on us this year and we are also learning and adjusting from that. Learning to let go and forgive and grow. Not judge. Understand and accept. Teach forgiveness. So all of this is going on and our kids start getting stressed out and acting out and I realize that they seem quite unhappy at the moment. They are having a hard time even wanting to go to school, or with even the smallest amount of cooperation. I prayed. "How can I help them figure this out? How can it get better? Please inspire me."
And then I start cleaning and thinking. And it all comes to me.
We need to have more fun. We get out on adventures, do "fun" things, keep busy. But day to day, at home, I rush myself and them too much. I demand the word, "hurry!!" too much. Collin and I put too much pressure on ourselves, take ourselves so seriously, get offended more easily. This transfers to when our kids want to play, us either saying no, there's not time, or just playing a little and getting tired out. Not laughing about things enough. Not taking the time to let them do it their ways. And when we do an activity, taking too much control. We barely have the brain space to think. And being a parent takes a lot. So we are learning and adjusting and this is part of it.
So we discussed this and Collin agreed and we agreed to try so hard to just have fun.
Say yes.
Have more energy and a happier attitude.
Let our stamina outlast theirs in any game or activity instead of ending it, leaving them to beg for us to keep going.
But how??
According to the Happiness Project, you make it till you make it.
If you need more energy, pretend you have more energy until you have it!
If you need to be happier and let things slide off your back and bounce back and have an upbeat, optimistic attitude, just pretend you can do all those things, and I honestly believe that they will happen.

Goals. I've been listening to The Alison Show podcast. SO inspiring.

Two pieces of advice have stuck out to me.

PRIORITIZE. She insists that if you don't prioritize your life, then someone else will prioritize it for you. MIND BLOWN. So in everything I do, when I start getting overwhelmed or start multitasking to the point that I'm just running around and not realy finishing anything....
prioritize. "What are the most important 3 things right now?"

(this morning)
1. Finish this post. I need to clear my head, write this down, type with my fingers, and feel like I understand myself.
2. Make the kids breakfast.
3. Set up Monopoly JR so we can all play during breakfast and throughout the day.

(in my life this weekend)
1. write down a few things I want to do in Stockholm in a book.
2. help Collin with bringing in the shelf.
3. finish VT report.


52 stories week 5

What will be the greatest achievement of your life?

Raising my children with Collin. It's what I'm on this earth for. I think this is different for everyone, and there isn't one right answer. My kids have big dreams already and I want to dedicate my life to guiding them and helping them reach their goals. 

After they leave the house to live their lives, as I continue to emotionally support them, I would love to be involved in the birthing world: educating, supporting, assisting, encouraging other women as they become mothers.

I would also love to live long enough to celebrate 60+ years of marriage with Collin Smith. I want to travel and serve with him all my life.