4.03.2017

dirty dishes and tight hip flexors

There a few things that symbolize for me how well I am faring both emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  Strange, these items might seem, but true nonetheless. A new concept I have started to grasp is gravity problems and anchor problems. Gravity problems will never go away, they are just there. Anchor problems are things you won't let go of, that keep you down. A house full of small children is a house that will always be messy. That is a gravity problem. Not filthy, but messy. But cleanliness and organization is a solvable problem, staying on top of the cleanliness and orderliness of the house keeps my spirit calm, my kids calm, my husband calm, and the house peaceful.  It's never perfect, and it's almost always messy, but underneath that it is clean and organized. And that has made a big difference.


My kitchen sink

 If it is clean and empty I am happy.

Clean laundry

I'm peaceful when they are no more than 2 loads that need to be washed. I can't do the allthelaundryinoneday bit, I get overwhelmed and quit. 2 loads a day, rain or shine, helps keep me sane.

Matching Socks


If everyone has matching socks in their drawers my blood pressure is lower. It also signals I'm on top of the laundry. (this excludes the older children in charge of their laundry, they can worry about their own socks)

Hip Flexors


if these are tight it means I am uptight and stressed and not stretching. recently I have been uptight a lot.

My photo storage


this keeps me up at night. our iMac is ancient and has zero storage. We also have approximately 5billion photos that need to be printed and put on discs. We haven't done this. I still feel guilty. It feels like a gravity problem, although I know it isn't. I can start working on getting the photos archived and printed, and also just bite the bullet and buy a computer that isn't 10 years old. 

oh, and it's raining today. so how is that for a random post?

3.21.2017

Reading Good Books

I made a reading goal this year. Reading has been on my back burner for a long time, and I can't believe how happy it makes me and yet I wasn't making time for it. Alas, the problems of most adults. But my goal in life is to do more things that I enjoy, and to do this I have to set little goals to get there. When I read I am happier, I am more reflective, I am more peaceful, I don't feel like 45 minutes of my life was sucked away through the evil Netflix monster. I also believe that everything we experience mentally and spiritually will go with us after this very short mortal life, and that makes me even more passionate about self improvement and experiencing all that life has to offer, and what history can teach us, through other people's experiences and lives. I can't believe how many places I can travel and how many people I meet through books, from my cozy little couch.

The lofty goal of 20 books this year is what I'm aiming for. That may be normal for some, few for some, I won't admit what a big jump it is compared to the last several years. Eek.

My first few books in 2017:

The Burnout Cure. Please read this if you are a tired ( feeling burnt out) Christian mother, or if you are a Christian mother who isn't too tired and overwhelemed...yet.

Alexander Hamilton. Amazing. Wonderful. A beast of a book but worth it. If you are a friend or neighbor you know I've been reading this since January because I'm a total nerd without an edit button and can't help sharing everything I was learning during his story. Also, I had to look up words about every other page (sometimes 3 times on a page). Chernow's vocabulary is...vast.

1. It doesn't matter where you came from (stop using that as an excuse)

2. It also doesn't matter if you had a crappy childhood (his mother was a prostitute, died when he was 13, creditors came and took everything (which wasn't much) He caught his first break because of his own hard work and dedication. Which brings me to #3...

3. Hard work and education can get you far (Read, read, read, read, read)

4. Marrying the right person is kind of important

5. Be open to new methods and ideas, with open, even medicine (both Hamilton and his wife survived the Yellow Fever because of this)

6. Follow your passions

7. Stick to your guns: your beliefs, your values (and maybe even literally, your gun)

8. Friendships impact who you are, choose very wisely

9. Grief changes you

10. Family is everything


The next book I read was the perfect one for after Hamilton:

A Man Called Ove. Please read, I laughed. I cried. I loved all of the characters, especially Ove.

Designing Your Life This was an interesting read about learning how designers think during invention and applying that to your life path. Written by two professors who both changed their professions in their mid 40's/50's and now teach this class at Stanford.  I can't recommend it enough for anyone feeling stuck in their profession/life, trying to decide which way to go for their profession/life and especially parents of High School seniors and seniors themselves. Way interesting to find out how effective life plans are found and prototyped (what lights you up, what energizes you, what drains you etc), also how most people will live 2-3 lives as far as professions and personal life.

Next up...
How Reading Changed My Life


and
Forget Me Not (By my friend Ellie Terry! Her first novel!!!)


I'm on the hunt for more books this year. Let me know any suggestions.




3.09.2017

the best vacuum for a house full of dirt and pets

I have been on the hunt for a good vacuum, since ours recently died. When we first moved into the house I splurged on a Dyson. It was amazing. Its form and function flawless, and it SUCKED big time. I loved it. I washed the filters and thought they were dry (they weren't) so moisture got into the vacuum and over time, think 5 years, it lost suction. *Sidenote, if you have a Dyson and when you turn it on or off it sounds like an airplane taking off of a runway, you have moisture in the engine. You're welcome. Oh, and we also had a carpet beetle infestation and I used the dyson to clean it all up. This took, like, 6 months and I couldn't even look at the Dyson without dry heaving. I haven't written about the infestation yet, because, well...still dry heaving. Urp.

So of course I went to Target and bought the cheapest vacuum there was, a Shark Navigator. There was no way I was going to spend money on a nice vacuum on the off chance my house was still, cough cough, infested.  At first the Navigator worked awesome as far as suckage power, but it's design and form. UGH! It fell over every time I used the wand attachment. I don't curse but I think I cursed more than 100 times over 18 months with that dumb vacuum. When it first broke I was like YES! A new vacuum, but my stupid handy husband fixed it! My excuse was gone. Then it broke again!!!! Again, handy awesome husband fixed it. And then the 3rd time it broke (not even joking) I finally threw in the towel. I had had an amazing vacuum for 5 years and then this flimsy one couldn't even handle my abuse for 18 months. Weak sauce.

I then began the hunt. I literally (ok probably exaggerating here) read 1 million vacuum reviews for a house with hair. We have my long hair, the girls' hair, our narcissistic cat's hair and our horny dog's hair. Oh, and 2 acres of grass and dirt. So yeah, we need a good vacuum.

These are the THREE Vacuums I tried, I know. I'm crazy.
Electrolux Canister

Dyson Complete

Bank Vault Canister


I decided on trying a new brand, since the Dyson scratched our wood floors and the Navigator was the bane my existence. I went with an Electrolux Canister, I love our Electrolux washer and dryer so wanted to try it out. It was really great for our tile and hardwood floors! Super easy to use and pretty to look at. I was happy! It SUCKED! It was great! And then 5 days later the vacuum carpet head attachment was squeaking. Like that plastic, squeak, squeeeeeeeak, squeak, squeak. And I had it. I shipped it back the next day. No way am I paying $$$ for a vacuum to have it squeak at me after 5 days.

As I like the canister type of vacuum I then went with a SALE! on costco for The Bank Vault canister vacuum. I know, really pricey, I'm not sane remember? But this was bagged, and we have family with allergies so I felt it was worth the purchasing price. And oh baby, I really like it! Sturdy, form, function, suckage power were all hitting 5 stars for me!

But then....I was at a costco warehouse and the Dyson Animal Complete was on sale, like, big time, and I couldn't' resist. So I bought it to try it out. At this point I have two vacuums in my house. Can I also add that I hardly, ever ever ever return things? Like, I'm just stuck with it forever no matter what. But not this time, nope. I was determined to find the right vacuum, and the Dyson was so much less (and came with so many attachments I had to google what they do) so I went for it.

**another sidenote, I need to use the word "so", like, so much less**

I decided to find the ultimate vacuum test. I moved our bed to vacuum completely under it. It has been a year since I did a deep clean under there. I took the Bank Vault canister and slowly ran over the area where the bed was FOUR TIMES. Then I took the Dyson (which sucks, holy cow batman, it's strong) and quickly ran the same area over, but only TWICE. You guys, the canister was full of dust and dirt. FULL. It was disgusting. So my lovely Bank Vault was returned. I just could not live with a vacuum that I can't fully trust like that. I felt betrayed, all those promises and it could't pull through for me.

So here I am, with the Dyson. Admittedly, it isn't as awesome on hard wood or tile, but it has a FAN and high shelf attachment. Seriously, I can dust my fans like zippittydooda! easy!  And i can't tell you how much dirt, hair and dust it picks up. Every day. It's gross. I will also admit, I can tell I sneeze a lot using the Dyson, I think bagged vacuums are better for allergies, but I still sleep better at night knowing I'm getting the upper hand at the constant dirt  and hair battle.

The End.

3.01.2017

the coach master

We now have a middle schooler in the house this year. And because our county school district is full of a bunch of not so smart individuals who run the transit system plans (seriously, screw drivers have more purpose on this earth), her bus is supposed to pick her up first, then drive 30 minutes to get the farthest kids out of town, and then drive back past our house for school.  So of course, I drive her. It's actually nice, we get a few minutes alone and confirm the day's plan. Who is picking up whom, where are we going etc. Every day is a different gamut.

And every day, as I turn down the road to get me home I drive past one of our many trailer parks. I would consider this one a little more nice. It's tidy and small and there is a sense  of order to it. And the second trailer in along the road is the Coachmaster. I would say, circa 1970's. Why do I notice the coach master? Because it's gold trim is still shiny. After all these years, someone has taken a lot of pains to keep this beauty looking quite fine. There is also a sense of ord to the items around it. The chairs, the porch, etc. And as I pass the coach master I wonder, who lives there?



Are they snowbirds like everyone else? Or as we like to call them at church "Winter Sisters".  I always guess it's a single man in his 60's/70's. Is he from Idaho, Montana or Utah? I would say he isn't local because unfortunately the majority of local trailers are not kept up that nice and neat. It's a lot easier to keep something looking new if you only use it 3 months out of a year.

What does he cook in his trailer? Where does he like to visit? What are his favorite tv shows? Does he read? Have children? Visit family?  Does he have an ex-wife, or is he a widow? Does he have 4 ex-wives? A pension? Step-children, adopted children? Retired mine worker? Lawyer? These are the things that rotate around in my brain as I drive home.  And then I pass the other mom. I see her every morning, and I reflect on my parenting.

Lately I have been working on my parenting with my therapist. It has taken me two years to finally get to talking about this. I tell my therapist, I don't really know how to be a mom to a teenager. My parents were both 40 years older than me (most of the time double the age as the other parents) and not around very much. By the time I was entering the teenage years my mom was a school teacher at an at-risk inner city elementary school and getting her Masters degree at UNR. My dad always had two jobs, a dental practice here and there. During this time he was the head dentist at the prison. I don't remember seeing very much of either of them around this time, or remember them parenting. I really had a more free-for-all reign of my life (again, as far as I can remember). I could hang out with whomever, pretty much whenever. Luckily this is when I started dancing and that kept me more busy and out of trouble.

When I was a brand new parent I was 100% positive I knew exactly what I was doing in life, and as a mother (even though I didn't). Slowly over the years as disappointment, lack of sleep and reality filled the years I had a aggressively  malignant  fear that  someone, somehow would find out the truth,  that I have no idea what I'm doing as a PARENT. I think I can guess that this is a universal fear for most adults, but what I didn't know was that the first people to call you out on your parental failings would be your own children.

Most of my parenting to my oldest children has come from guilt and shame. This is when they are acting out and/or arguing with me, it used to be when they refused to wear the cute outfit, or have an accident in their cute undies, or dare to be fussy at church. When this happens I'm 99% positive I have created a monster and this is ALL my FAULT so I must FIX IT right away to show them how awful they are being and to not be awful but be amazing and fantastic instead. It is simple no?

This usually doesn't go well. UGH.

I constantly hover around them like flies at a summer picnic and everyone gets stressed out and starts lashing out.  Of course, this is with the older kids. With the younger kids I feel like I have these rose colored glasses on  and am enjoying every tooth falling out and every milestone and every cheesy art project brought home like it's a Davinci. Then I feel even more guilt and shame because I was completely out of it and in a dark, dark hole when the older kids were going through the same milestones so take said previous shame and add in MORE guilt and MORE shame because I just plain suck at motherhood.

But not now. Nope. Now my new mantra is NO SHAME.  No shame or guilt about my parenting. Take it completely out of the picture, its' not there. It is what it is and there is no going back. I'm doing the best I can. I was doing the best that I could (even though at times it was really, really atrocious) I always will make mistakes, but NO GUILT.

This is what I think when the small middle schooler climbs out the other mom's car. The door opens and the smoke billows out in waves. Every morning, smoking smoking smoking. And i think "NO SHAME". I'm doing the best I can, that mom is doing the best she can in her circumstances. Yes, I want to pull over and shake her silly with all of the information on second hand smoke and just use one ounce of self control to NOT smoke in the house or in the car but I can't.

I just watch. And think. And am sad for her kid. And sad for other kids. And sad for moms swimming in the guilt. They are doing the best that they can, even if it stinks.

Maybe there is a mom who lives in the Coachmaster, and maybe they had a few kids, and maybe she parented out of guilt and shame and so the years were filled with contention and darkness and they don't have a relationship with Sally or Bob and their grandkids in Milwaukee. I'll probably never know. But I do know that the gold trim is kept nice, and that's saying something. I don't know what, but definitely something. At least it's nice to drive by when it glimmers.




2.20.2017

seen and heard

We battled a small sickness the week before Valentine's day. So of course I was proud that boxes were still made and Valentine's addressed and brought to school. I felt pretty on top of it considering. I sent the food for the class party (I now sign up for about 99% less of school activities to help out) and happily picked up the kids at the end of the day. I was now the one that was sick, so even more props for getting them there right?

Elementary School:
As my kindergartner walks up to me he states ever so matter of factly, "Yeah, I didn't have enough Valentines? And I didn't bring a bag. But it's ok, someone gave me an extra one!" and he pulls out a sparkly girl panda bag.

I try not to hyperventilate, "You didn't have a bag? You were supposed to bring a bag or box?" breathe, breathe breathe. (Thinking, I've finally reached "that mom" status that forgets everything! and he had a horrible holiday because of ME!)  I ask again, "Rodney? What happened? Were you ok?"  

He looks up at me and says, "Mom, it all worked out just fine!" and smiles as he shows me all of his loot. "Do you know what my favorite candy is ever?!" he asked.

"FUN DIPS!!!!!!" he screams and then skips to the car.


Middle School:

Our middle schooler had a class where they were required to write two Valentines, and only two. You had  to sign your name on the Valentine and all Valentines were going to be stapled onto the wall.

I asked Ty, "What kind of sick social experiment is this?!" These poor kids, you have to only pick two friends, and you have to sign your name. Resulting in the popular girl is going to get, like 10 Valentines, and then there are kids who are going to receive NONE, and everyone can read every single one?  

I have a great idea! Let's take time away from learning our subject (where our County has the lowest high school matriculation rate and college graduates in the country) and take time investigate the total awkwardness of prepubescent hormones, our small town's intimate social stratum and add public popularity competition to it and post it on the wall!

This is when I think home school moms might be onto something. But then, if it doesn't kill you it only makes you stronger right? Ick.



2.11.2017

hello, is it you?

Most of the time I plan to write on here, I start typing it all out yet can't push post. There is a mount everest of things over the last three years that have kept me from writing. From sharing. I'm a little older now and cautious about how much I write about the details about our lives. Some of my things are too personal. Some I'm not ready to share, although I know I need to. I know there are other moms out there wondering, is it just me? And feeling lost and desolate and alone and angry. And so, I'm going to pull up my britches and write. This is my first attempt. The older the children get the more private I feel, because it is their lives, and not my right anymore to share their intimate details and journey through childhood, and now adolescence.

 So maybe the tone of my writing will be a little different, (maybe I'll edit? ha! lolzzzzz!) not so much a journal of our day to day, but a deeper journal of my motherhood, my frank journal as an adult. Funny tidbits, honest reflections (even if it is things in my small town and people will know what I'm referring too) and the struggles of an everyday Christian woman balancing a house full of children, a dedicated marriage, a part-time job, a very busy part-time volunteer job at church and a plethora of other commitments.

All important facets of my life, and all if not balanced, can make you go crazy. I know this, because I went crazy and I'm slowly getting better. Or maybe I'm not, either or, I'm willing to talk about my adventures in wonderland. Who I am, who I was, who I think I am, who I think I was, and how my world has changed inside and around me.

I write for the one. The one woman, the one mom, the one struggling parent. When I am brave, and dare greatly to write my truths, my struggles, there is always the one. The one email, or someone who stops me at the store, or corners me at church, or even just sighs a compete relief at her phone screen when she realizes she isn't alone, she isn't crazy (or she is and is brave enough to reach out for help), and that post helps her to not give up. To take the rose colored glasses off of her problems and issues that are just NOT working anymore, even if it's messy and it's going to get worse before it gets better. Because honey, it always gets worse before it gets better, and then it just rinses and repeats.

I also am not as naive, I know that there even what I write today will be outdated in my life in 5, 10, 25 years. But that is not a reason anymore for me to not to share. This is my reality now, these are my truths now, and that is still important.

 I've found (meaning, I've worked my tail off to find) some ways to smile and stay freaking CHEERFUL during those derails, sidetracks, pauses and reroutes now. Life is too amazing and too short to stick your head in the sand and pout when it isn't going your way or look the way you want. I'm willing to write about it for that one. All that glitters is not gold sister, sometimes it's a pile of horse poo but no one is willing to talk about the stink (or the clean up or the difficult lessons learned). I will try do do this, without exposing myself and my family to too much exposure. Because that's a steaming hot pile of crap too.


Also, the blog name changed to www.prettycheerful.com, just because I'm not feeling as witty as I did in my 20's, and I only try to look pretty on the Sabbath. Haha! The one day I blow dry my hair and add an extra layer of mascara. Also, I'm able to be cheerful with the help of over the counter neurotransmitters, because turns out my brain stopped making a lot of them, a LONG time ago. You can ask my psychiatrist and therapist about this if you don't believe me.


So if you are here dear reader, or if this is my great grandchild that has been following along every topsy turvy, incoherent post over the last 8 years, until next time...because I am here, and it's me. It very truly is.
San Diego Padres game 2016, baseball is a happy place for us
                         

1.17.2017

seen and heard

I think it's been so long since I've posted there were cobwebs on my blog page. Almost every other morning I have this jolt of inspiration and need to write it down on here. And then my day gets swept up in a tidal wave of errands, appointments, chores, and kid stuff. These kids need to go to lots of stuff, eat lots of stuff and use a lot of stuff and then leave a lot of stuff to be picked up. Still trying to figure out how to have less stuff, which after Christmas is not the smartest move. Like dieting the day after Thanksgiving, lots of questions and self loathing.

BUT...I can not let the funny things these kids say go amiss. I know I will forget. 

Phoebe, very distraught the morning after losing her second tooth:
"The tooth fairy didn't come last night!
Abby walks in in her pjs and matter of factly states, "Oh, she always takes a few days for my teeth, don't worry."

Out of 4 schools Phoebe took second place overall at the speed meet

All day school has proven quite the task for little miss Phoebe's goals. She is TIRED and cranky most days. She is trying to run at least a mile every day during recess, besides playing with her friends and bouncing of the walls 24/7 to boot.  She's also proving to be a true 7 year old with statements like, "YOU HATE ME DON"T YOU?!" and "I"M JUST THE WORST EVER!".  Ah, seven year olds, like a good cheese they get more tolerable with age. (I have never tolerated 7 year olds very well, they are like ICK age the entire year). There, I said it.  Phoebe is still my favorite Phoebe though, of all time. 

Rodney, oh where do I start with his quotes? This boy freaking LOVES school. Loooooves it and it still crushes my soul. Ty dropped the kids of a little late the other day and had to walk him through the hallways to his classroom. That night while I'm making dinner he said, "Did you know Rodney knows almost everyone at that school? Almost every single kid and teacher said, 'HI RODNEY!' and he knows all of them too.  Let's just say, he is very friendly and funny according to his teacher. 
Rodney's teacher sent this to me. Swoon.

It's true though, when I drop him off there are these little tiny adults that yell at me "HI RODNEY"S MOOOOOM!!!!!". I'm famous I guess. 

Some of his best quotes lately:

He loves to get to school early so he can be "KING of the playground!"  I don't even know what that means because he basically just frolics around with lots of jumping and talking to himself. 

After we sent Santa Christmas letters: "Mom, do you think Santa can read without spaces?"  Teachers will laugh at that one. I assured him, that yes, Santa can read all languages and even letters that don't have spaces between the words. hehe.

Rodney loves to whistle. All.Day.Long. When he eats (I know right?), draws, plays, everything. His Grandpa Leavitt asked him the other day, "Rodney, how did you get so good at whistling?" 
Rodney blurts out, "I practice when I go to the bathroom!"

"I love sitting on your lap mom!"..."It's SO soft and squishy!"  hmmm, not my favorite quote but funny nonetheless. 

Every Sunday morning, "Is it Sunday today?"  "Yes it is, all day!" I respond. "Oh, I think I'm sick. I don't feel good. My tummy hurts."  Or the best, "I HATE SUNDAYS! THEY ARE THE WORST! WHY DO WE HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH?!!!"

We took Uncle Taylor and Aunt Megan to see Star Wars for his birthday and Phoebe, Lucy and Rodney all fell asleep. But Rodney fell asleep, and didn't wake up until the next morning. In his bed (and it was a Sunday). I've never seen that boy so mad in my life.  He stormed into my bedroom, "WHY did you let me fall asleep at the movie? We are going back to the movie TODAY and do NOT let me fall asleep!!!!"  I'm pretty sure he was stomping with every single syllable.  

We still haven't gone back, he has survived thus far. He really likes Star Wars by the way.

Abby has turned 10 and is as delightful as ever but with small spurts of hormonal upset sprinkled here and there. She took birthday treats to her classroom and of course made sure to bring dairy free treat for her friend that is lactose intolerant. Whose kid is this??? Not mine, that's for sure. The night of her birthday party she gently asked, "Do you think anyone will remember my party?" Oh Abby, everyone will remember! She truly is a delight in our home.
Abby's party!
Happy at Disneyland 

Lucy is in full middle school mode. Shoes are VERY important, and clothes, and hair and ohmygoshmomican'tbelieveyoujustsaidthat/worethat/drovethatway. It's amazing! I love having a personified version of the voice in my head that points out my every false move and failing!  I assure her that yes, I am the worst mom every because I won't let her have a smart phone/tablet/ipod touch and someday she can raise a family and be the BEST mom ever!!!!!  
Ty bribed Lucy to shoot the AR15

She picked up the flute as her middle school instrument and I must say, it sounds so beautiful. I love hearing her practice. It's totally worth the 10 minute fighting match to get her to play it. She also gets pointe shoes this week! Ack! I can't believe it!!! 

I have been seeing a therapist for almost two years now ( I still haven't written about my mental breakdown wonderful life change two years ago) and the other night made some huge progress with Ty. We arrived home late, on a school night, from a family get together and I was losing my shiz...completely with the kids. This is par for course for this kind of scenario.  I plopped down on the couch next to Ty and asked, "How much of this is the kids being totally awful and how much is this me being crazy and irrational?"  I basically just won the Olympic gold medal for recognizing my epic emotional dysregulation episodes that happen. You're welcome.
Early Thanksgiving morning hike

 Here's to better mental health for 2017!!! What are your goals? 




11.01.2016

Never say always

Our oldest daughter has a fall birthday that lies after the cut off date for kindergarten. This was a blessing because I didn't have to decide "when" to send her to kindergarten. Now on to the next kid.

January birthday. No decision about school whatsoever.

Done.

On to the next daughter, with a birthday 6 days before the cut off date. Didn't even blink an eye about keeping her home another year, 1. because I have always agreed with my school teacher mother who drilled into my brain that it's better to be older in school and 2. she was still the size of a small preschooler.  Also, in July we drove past the letter M on our mesa for the high school and she blurted out from her toddler car seat, "look mom! the number T!"  Annnnnd that's why you're staying home pumpkin.

Now to the son. The only son. The son that all the pressure is on to be masculine, perfect, athletic, smart, handsome and well...perfect.  He literally popped out of me imperfect because he screamed like a girl for 20 minutes and dared to have a summer birthday.

SUMMER BIRTHDAY spelled death to me as an elementary schooler. Those were the kids that had to celebrate their birthday like, the last day or school, or even worse, a pathetic half birthday party in the winter and that really didn't even count. You never, ever, ever, saw those kids on their birthday. And even if they had a party, no one could ever go because, well, summer. I on the other hand had a perfect fall birthday. Lovely weather, lots of leftover candy from Halloween, and I was usually the oldest one in the class. Along with Alex So, he and I always shared our birthday. Every dang year, dang it. Anyway, I enjoyed being both the oldest and the smallest. It was fun, and way better than a lame summer birthday.

As a parent I love summer birthdays! But last February I'm signing Rodney into preschool so I could go nap and there is a little note with a checkbox. Please let me know if your child will be attending kindergarten next year: YES. or NO.  And there was his name. WHAT? He can't go to school. He's only 4. He has a blankie, he naps, he's my baby. And that's when I started freaking out.

Usually, when I have an extremely important decision to make in my life (and even stupid ones) I don't ponder in prayer or meditate first. No, first I call or corner every single friend, sister, mom, teacher I can find. If you know me you know I'm not exaggerating. I want to know what everyone did, thinks, thought, would do different, what their sister's cousin in-law did that worked/didn't work. I want to know it all.  The debate about school went on for 6 months.

After a few knowledgeable and well meaning friends, family and teachers told me he was ready and he really should go, I registered him online and in true Scarlet O'hara fashion, decided not to worry about it until August. I somehow knew my mother would come home from Guatemala and agree, yup, for sure, not even close to ready.

And then she came home and looked me in the eyes and said the worst three words of my life.

He is ready.

That's fine and all, but I wasn't/am not ready for my baby to be in school. ALL DAY school by the way, no thanks to Governor Sandoval and the Nevada legislature. I just spat on my computer screen.

But then the sweetest blessing came, he never had a registration letter arrive which was of course a huge heavenly sign that he wasn't supposed to go and so I kept him registered in preschool and was happy as could be and then...we got his letter a WEEK before school started. He had a teacher and a classroom. What the? Double the ugh ugh. So I decided to (was literally dragged into it) to visit his classroom even though of course he wasn't going and his teacher is so cute and his name was on the wall and what the crap am I going to do with this kid? Send? Keep? Can I get some meds for this? 

In the end...we decided on Saturday night at 8:30pm that he was supposed to go. And I cried for an hour, and I cried in Target while I bought his lunchbox that night at 10pm. This all from a non-crier. And then I dropped him off on his first day, and I hadn't shed a tear and I was really proud and walking back to my car and then my good friend Audrey looked at me and then looked at my hands that were EMPTY and she motioned her hands out to my  EMPTY hands and said, "OH, annie."  That is when I completely lost my shiz and bawled my eyes out for 20 minutes (while calling all of my very close friends/family and snot-cry explain how sad I was).

Then I recovered and had a secret denial plan. The school was going to call me. The school would call and say "We are sorry but your son can't stay in kindergarten, he needs his mommy." And I would drive so fast I'd get 3 speeding tickets and then pick him up and go to the park and a playdate and grocery shopping and take a nap together and not worry about losing my baby, MY BABIES for forever to school for another 12 months and the world would be good and no medication would be needed.


They never called.

9.25.2016

feeling old

Over the last year a few new things have happened that have pointed towards signs of...maturing (getting OLD). Most of them are easy to dismiss. Not liking most new music genres, not knowing who the Kardashians are, constantly yelling at the dancing tv shows that have all of the new dance forms that you think are ruining the art form, hitting the halfway mark to 40, things like that.

Then stranger things showed up. Like, permanent neck wrinkles, stinky sock morning breath, and now you not only have crows feet but you can physically feel your wrinkles with your fingers. Just like Dolly Parton said, "Time marches on, and pretty soon you realize it's marching across your face"

Or buying a slice of pizza at the fair for your kid and the 16 year old worker asks, "Do you remember me? You taught me ballet when I was 5!".  Um...no I don't remember you because  I swear that 12 years ago I was 12.

The year 2006 always feels like just a few years ago....not TEN years ago. Kids that I babysat are now MARRIED and parents of MULTIPLE children.  My funny/witty movie references literally fall on deaf ears because no one has seen or even heard of my childhood favorites. To add insult to injury, my favorite "oldies" station that played all the classics now plays hits from early 80's. EW!  What is happening to my life?

But the tipping point happened this morning, driving through Las Vegas from the airport. A small honda civic hatchback passed me with a "Classic Rod" license plate marker. Meaning, it's old enough to be considered a "classic".

At this rate tomorrow I'll be getting the senior citizen early bird special.

9.21.2016

a little less sensitive please, but a little more too

A few months after we moved into our home I walked outside to see Ty on a ladder drilling some lights above our bedroom window. "Motion sensor security lights" he informed me. He then installed three more around the property. We live on 2acres, so I felt like it was a good idea. Until the first night.

I sleep closest to the window, and now you know where this story is probably going. About 3 minutes with my eyes closed trying to sleep (this means Ty has been fast asleep for 90 seconds already), the light flicks on and I open my eyes. Burglar? Coyote?! I rush to the window and look outside to find, of course, nothing. I went to lie back down, and two minutes later the light is back on. Again, nothing.  And so on, and so on for the entire night.  I sleepily complained to Ty  the next morning that those stupid motion lights suck. The sleepless nights continued for a few weeks until our marriage was reaching a high stress breaking point. I was not getting any sleep.

During dinner one night, he mentioned, "Oh hey, I checked the motion lights and their sensors were  set on High, so I switched them to a lower sensitivity".  Basically, the lights were going off when the wind rustled the palm tree fronds too much or a moth flew by. I wish I was joking. My life was interrupted nightly by silly, small and harmless things.

Last weekend I sat and watched my sister in law open her baby shower presents. Oh! The cuteness. The little outfits, the matching bows, the adorable shoes! The shoes! The doodads, blankets and the watchmathingies that are all the rage, that every parent must have. And man, I sat there remembering that with our first baby did I have to have all of those things. I don't think I'm alone in this either. With your first child your sensitivity dial is set to HIGH, at ALL TIMES. Silly, small, harmless things keep you up at night! Everything must be perfect!! I sat there wondering where it comes from, and I realized, most of it has to do with ourselves. How are people seeing me through my child, by my outfit, my body, my car, my house, my new wallpaper?

Twelve years ago I probably spent hours picking out Lucy's first doctor's appointment outfit and making sure she looked as adorable as could be. Imagine my disappointment when as a first time mom I found out that your baby's doctor appointments are with them straight up naked in a diaper for the first year. How could the doctor see what a good parent I was without seeing the pink corduroy overalls with tiny embroidered edelweiss on them?  Writing this sounds silly, as I'm sure reading it, but ask any first time mom and she will have had an experience like this. Whether I liked it or not, I was highly sensitive and it was all silly, harmless, small things that were meant about ME.

Fast forward six years later to when we had our fourth child. I'm pretty sure my sensitivity sensor was on the lowest setting there is. I honestly could care less what other people were thinking about my parenting skills or how cute my kids looked most of the time. I have the pictures to prove it. Disregard this statement if family pictures, school pictures or a wedding are scheduled for the day.  But all in all the only things I gauged and monitored were things like, is the baby happy? Is he hungry? Does he have a clean onesie on? Not too dirty of a onesie? Sleeping enough? Sleeping too much? Is he reaching milestones? Does he smell like mold? You know. Important stuff.  The rest of my energy was spent on trying not to ignore the other kids too much and meet their needs at the same time. A juggling act that is still on constant demand at this house.

Then, there were the dark times. This is when I didn't have any sensitivity. I'd like to call these the numb years where I didn't wear pants (I wore clothes, just leggings and stretchy skirts and dresses, not actual pants with a button or zipper). My motion sensor was broken and already getting recycled in Taiwan by this point, leaving a gaping hole where it was supposed to be. Getting through the day was all I could do. I hated everything, everyone, myself. I was angry. Sad. Numb. But mostly numb and angry. I talked a lot about other people, it was one of the few things that made me feel better, picking on other people. I yelled at my kids. A lot. I punished myself with crappy food and not exercising.  I desperately tried new things or magical fixitalls in search of an answer, only to never find anything that could pull me out of the darkness for longer than a few weeks. This went on for longer than I'd like to admit. Years. I don't write about this very much on here, the courage has yet to show up at my door for something like that. Maybe because some days my grandchildren will read this? Hopefully not. But maybe someday I should write it exactly because they will read it some day? Thoughts for another time.

Now in my life I'm searching for the middle way as far as what I am spending my time paying attention to. I'm trying to hard to be a good person. I care about other people, I try to show that I care. I love my kids even though I'm sure I'm failing them, I still love them everyday and show it.  I take care of myself, a little more. My lifelong goal is to shoot for right in-between the sensitivity of :

HIGH 'overly and hyper critical of myself and others'
and
OFF 'straight up angry and numb'.

Somewhere right around caring enough about myself and others to wear real pants, but not caring so much that I'm screaming at my kids to put on the cute matching outfit or I'm calling the police.

I guess they call this balance?

I imagine in my future, and can see in my past, that the first time I do anything (like have a middle schooler, high schooler, college student etc), or venture into a new area of work or church service, my sensitivity monitor ratchets up a few notches. Slowly I'd like to say that I'm getting less and less prone to it getting put on HIGH, but it happens. I watch around me the mature and wise neighbors, family and friends that have been to many a rodeo. They are literally calm, collected, and peaceful about most things. LOW.

And Hallmark cards have it right. Because, if we really look at the grand perspective of it all, most things work out. All kids grow up. Hard things get easier. Good times happen. Grief becomes a manageable companion. And like it or not, happiness can be found in everything, if you look for it.

No matter how hard it is, every day ends, even the awful ones. Every morning the sun rises to a day with no mistakes in it. And just when you get comfortable there will always be milestones met, missed, and changes. My small life has been full of slow, painful beginnings,  sad, quick endings, and endlessly hard, boring and wonderful middles. I tend to really enjoy middles.

8.22.2016

parenting progress


                        
Things I frequently say these summer days...

"THIS is why we can't have nice things!"

"Because I said so" shudder

"You're going to have to learn how to manage your time wisely"

"Stop reading over my shoulder!"

"Chew with your mouth closed!"

"Maybe you should call grandma and see if you can visit!" Bwahahaha

"I'm sorry you feel that way"

"I don't even want to know what this is on the wall"

"I hate to break it to you but there isn't a waitress coming over to clear your spot"

"No you can't have ice cream at 8am" seriously, I've said this a dozen times.

"Go ask your dad"

"Go look again"

"You cleaned the entire bathroom that fast?"

"You only have to brush and floss the teeth you want to keep"

"If you just put your shoes away like I ask you won't lose them" 

"You bit who?!"

"NO TV FOR A WEEK!" This is when we are at defcon 1. 

"That's it, I'm failing as a mother!"

And last but not least: The day that I can leave the house without having to turn off any lights or tell *yell* at someone to shut the door behind them is the day that I can say I've done something right with my kids.


How is your summer going?


7.12.2016

new york in words II



"New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all  enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute..."
 "Although New York often imparts a feeling of great forlornness or forsakenness, it seldom seems dead or unresourceful; and you always feel that by either shifting your location ten blocks or by reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvenation. Many people who have no real independence of spirit depend on the city's tremendous variety and sources of excitement for spiritual sustenance and maintenance of morale. In the country there are a few chances of sudden rejuvenation- a shift weather, perhaps, or something arriving in the mail. But in New York the chances are endless." EB White  This Is New York.

The small town that I live in is one microcosm of how colonial life used to be. When someone sneezes 4 miles away, you hear about it. When the weather drops 5 degrees, there is a public celebration. Everyone is connected by location, religion, work or family, and most are related. All of these things are an amazing rarity! And also can be extremely frustrating when you are having a bad day. ha.  When there is a big football game, everyone knows and everyone goes, and if you don't go you feel guilty because you were literally  the only one that didn't see it. But the amazing part about not being insulated from events and neighbors is that we are all there for each other when the need arises. Neighbors mourn with neighbors and the entire community supports those with loss or battling a disease.

 The connection is at equal times breathtaking and admirable and then sometimes baffling. People become so enmeshed in people's choices about how they are decorating their house, or how often they wash/don't wash their car, clothes their kids wear to school and what kind of pet(s) they have or where they vacation. Facebook can take this kind of community and add steroids to the non-limit of privacy. Bedsides those downfalls, I love that my cashiers every day are my neighbors, and relatives and friends, and that everyday I can be surrounded by friends and family. That is a gift.

When we first moved to the Valley in 1997, everyone waved at you as they passed by in the car. I know I exaggerate, but literally everyone waved. It was the strangest thing, and it wasn't a happy "Hey! I know you and this is such a neat coincidence wave!" It is an acknowledgement wave, I think I'll call it the "Howdy Neighbor" wave. For as your car passes by, you simply lift up the fingers and thumb of your steering hand while keeping your palm on the wheel and extend them as a solidified wave, sometimes you add a nod to the head for extra recognition, and then keep driving.  The true locals still do this now, but only when seeing a friend, neighbor, cousin. Now, no one else waves, they are all city folk that have ebbed into the valley seeking solace. They drive by in silence like every other poor soul that never experienced the delight of everyone acknowledging your presence. That you are both in the same miraculous place, living at the same time, experiencing the same heat, the same drought, the same jubilation. That is gone. Sometimes Ty and I talk about bringing it back, that maybe if we start waving at everyone it will catch on again. But that dies quickly as we are always late getting somewhere and in the rush of the century.

In New York, you don't talk to your neighbors, you don't chat with the cashier, you don't even take your earbuds out and admire the amazing places you are in and the people who have walked before you or the fact that Alexander Hamilton is buried across the street and George Washington worshipped every Sunday in the church in front of your daily hot dog and coke cart at lunch break. Or the fact that the Joyce Theatre is 400 feet from your bed.

By the way, I loved talking with all of the cashiers and customer service people in the stores. They were the happiest and most friendly people I have ever met...and not one of them lived in Manhattan. I would say 50% lived in Brooklyn, and 50% in New Jersey. It was pretty neat to learn where they were from, how long they had worked/lived in the city/boroughs and what they do for entertainment. It was an even greater pleasure to learn that on a weekend they just go out to eat and watch netflix like the majority of us.
Chelsea

The next morning I was awake by 5am! I thought for sure I would stay on Nevada time and sleep in, no such luck. My beautiful cousin Steph ( who we had picked up at Chelsea Piers at midnight that day!) was awake too so we snuck out for a walk.
9th Avenue at 6am
 Imagine our surprise as we walk half a block and find an amazing french patisserie. Holy Carb Heaven! We might have eaten danishes every, ahem, morning. NO REGRETS.
We walked past the Seminary building, which is huge and beautiful. We chatted about wanting to see the Highline the night before, and then we look up and ha! it's right there. Like, literally right there.
Can you see the apartment with the area 51 Nevada license plate?
We walked the upper half of it and enjoyed the art and immaculate apartments that keep their windows open so everyone can see their furnishings, art, and location, I guess when you've paid that much for your house you want everyone to know it.  It was pretty comical.
The majority of the people we encountered on the Highline were runners, walkers, monks and tourists. It made me wonder if everyone can tell tourists apart or not, or are there obvious tourists and non-obvious ones? One sign is the eye contact, I'll get to that later.  Maybe every other runner was just visiting? Who knows? But we even saw two nuns out for a leisurely jog/walk for exercise, or sightseeing? It was hard to tell. 

I learned a few things that morning 1. it's not just on the subway that people avoid eye contact. even happy runners and walkers don't look at you. NO ONE in New York gives eye contact, unless they are crazy, that happened a few times. and 2. Monks don't hand you free shiny contact cards. If you take this supposedly free card they will silently follow you and then sneak up and ask for a donation of money from you and then you awkwardly hand it back because you only have your apartment key on you. Steph was laughing the entire time because she told me not to take the card hahahaha.

On the subway is a little easier to tell tourists vs. locals, but even then you couldn't be 100% positive. We had two natives give us the WRONG directions, thank goodness for transit apps. My all time-favorite species of human I had never encountered in their natural habitat (besides the hippie mat meditator/chanter at Madison Square subway stop) was the New England Preppie. My eyes have never beheld chinos that starched or topsiders so squeaky clean with shiny brass ended tassels. Trotting down the subway stairs one evening I heard two girls chatting holding all of their shopping bags and one jabbered off, "Well! Last weekend at Martha's Vineyard, she said..."  Ha! I can't believe that these are real people. 


New York is a conglomerate of everything from the uber wealthy, to every class in-between and the destitute/homeless. But there still is an insulation from it, I believe. Sure, once you get to touristy places there is a sad story (heartbreaking) on every corner. But the homeless people in our town, you know them. They are our old classmates. We know their entire story, we know who they were before their brains were ruined by decades of drug use and living on the street. We can still see in their face the kind, generous, loving people they were before their very existence has been mercilesssly dehydrated out of them. And some are so far gone, even if they can stay clean they'll never be the same again in this life. That is heartbreaking, that is close to home. In NY it's just another beggar, another vagrant. Here it is our friend.

 There the construction worker driving the backhoe, the local fireman, utility worker up on the electrical pole is just a face,  a body, here it is our groomsmen or cousin or our teammate or our spouse. You know every detail about what it takes to get power, water, phone, internet to your home, it isn't just there, and you also know every detail about when things go wrong. When there is a flood, you know the minutiae of how long, how much it took to get things working again in proper order. In a city it is just a thing. It happens. Life goes on. Here it is our very life.

People say "If you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere," and I think I have to disagree. With money, and luck, anyone can make it in New York. But there are a precious few who can withstand rural desert living. You could take 100 sane and healthy people and only 20% of them could handle 5 years without a full service gym, barnes and noble or costco or target. It is 100% up to you to make your life alive and resourceful, you can't rely on your surroundings to just offer it up to you around the corner like a city.  Even if you choose to stay in for the weekend, you could at any minute, go to a last minute show, or eat out at an ethnic restaurant with friends around the block. Here it takes planning, calculation, and the aligning of the planets to meet friends for something. We all have too many kids for that!

And did I mention food? I think my next post will be about NY food. Oh....the FOOD! 
ps: there is always construction, everywhere in NY, it made me miss Ty a lot.

7.06.2016

new york in words


One of my favorite essays from E.B. White is about taking cameras with us everywhere when we travel, and as he watched technology advance people started to live their experiences through a lens, instead of..living it. That has stuck with me ( I really need to find the title and reference it) for over 11 years now.

People have been asking me, "How was the big apple?!", "Was New York as amazing as you thought?", or my favorite..."Do you want to live there now?". Somehow that one always cracks me up.

I think the greatest blessing of my trip was that it was at the worst timing...ever for going, so I really didn't have time to stress about the details of staying in New York. After the recital we had only ten days of school left. For you parents of multiple children attending school you know what kind of craziness the last week of school ensues. Teacher gifts, dress up days, scrambling to find food for school lunches without actually buying more lunch food. Fifth grade graduation (which I thought was a terrible idea and ended up being pleasant) was Wednesday afternoon, then we swam to celebrate summer for about 2 hours and went home. We left for my flight at 3:45am the next day! So, um, things were more than crazy the week before. Packing, planning, packing for kids, planning food for everyone at home, arranging play dates etc. 

We ended up getting to the airport just in time because somehow Las Vegas' security is always the longest of any airport I've been too ( and yes that always keeps me a little worried). I basically speed walked to my terminal, and walked straight into line, boarded and was in the air in 30 minutes. Even though the flight was full with a very hungover Oregon Ducks team of no one less than 6'4" it went super fast without kids! Who knew?! And with a tail wind we landed 20 minutes early.

This is where it gets tricky, my girlfriend Renee was flying in from Calgary bout 2 hours after me, then our flights changed and it was 2.5 hours, but she was late and I was early so it would be about 3 hours of waiting in a tiny little exit terminal at JFK. I was nervous about taking the subway by myself into Manhattan with all of my luggage. But I decided to put on my big girl pants and do it. I MEMORIZED that stupid MTA map on how to get there and boarded the air train to the subway. If you are wondering why I just didn't take a taxi it's because 1. it's only $5 on the subway and $65+ for a taxi to get to Manhattan and 2. As much as I love driving into the city for the view and experience, I get extremely carsick in traffic and barf. There's your answer. 

While waiting for the subway a nice elderly man with salt and pepper hair and a polo shirt asked me for directions, I answered (remember I had it memorized!) and then asked him where he was from. "Manhattan" he cooly replied with a chuckle. Ha! I will add that I ended up giving directions to 3 people from manhattan over the next week. That made me feel much better about getting lost a few times. 

Of course, the only time there was a sketchy, creepy, borderline gang member/serial killer, was on my first train.  Of course. I quickly looked around and took note of subway etiquette from other passengers. It's pretty easy to select the natives vs. tourists, sometimes. The swedish family with their crisp white socks and birkenstocks, the chinese businessmen with their locked aluminum suitcases and pocket protectors vs the new mom from Jersey with her juicy pants and bedazzled jacket holding onto the stroller with her daughter half falling out while she listened and bounced to iTunes on her earbuds. I just held on to my luggage, which with every stop and start would lug one way or the other and I"ll just add right now that yes my arms were sore the next day from stopping sliding suitcases for an hour. I kept watching the stops for my transfer (you guys I made a transfer!) and when I stepped off the next train was right there across the platform. Somehow I knew it couldn't have been that easy so I let it leave, only to realize, yes that was my next train and now had to wait 7 minutes. NO biggie as I memorized, again, the subway map. After my transfer I only had 2 stops of squeezing suitcases again and I was there, at my stop. I pulled my suitcases up the 2 flights of gum riddled and wet? why were places on the stairs wet? stairs and exited onto 23rd street and 8th avenue. 

The sun was in my eyes and there were swarms of people moving everywhere. Much like an ant hill out our back door after Rodney pours water onto it. Scramble, dash, chaos, everywhere. The first words I thought were "We're not in Kansas anymore Toto". The honking of the taxis, cars and ambulance screaming by made it a classic country mouse in the city moment. I literally took a deep breathe, squeezed my luggage handles and squinted at the street sign to see where I was. 

 I got lost a lot in the city.  I don't know if you know this but on the island of Manhattan there are NO MOUNTAINS to tell me where East or West were, and also, the skyscrapers and buildings all look the same to me. I imagine it's the same as someone from the city thinking all Nevada mountains look the same, not knowing they all have names and look completely different to a native. I realized once I tried to get to my apartment rental that the address wasn't correct, and the owner gives you the exact address once you are checking in as a security measure. Nice. Besides looking like a lost tourist, there was no harm done except for two blocks of extra walking. I should add now that I was staying in Chelsea, and in the historical district to boot. I did not know this prior to my stay but soon knew from the row houses and amazing architecture. This was my little apartment on the 4th floor of the white building. I know right? Perfect.

A 4th floor walk up is not 4 flights of stairs by the way, it's 6. The stairwell was so narrow I had to carry one suitcase at a time, then walk back down the flight and get the next and so on and so forth. I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time I opened the apartment door. I forgot about the humidity, it had been 8 years since being there.

Up until I opened the door I still was 70% sure I had booked a terrible apartment that would look nothing like it's picture, smell like fish or something else and have cockroaches. I was wrong. It was the most beautiful and quaint little place I could imagine.
The view from the apartment. My neighbor had the cutest rooftop garden, and he also wore ladies underwear. On another rooftop people practiced judo every night and one of the high rises had parties on weekends. 
One of my favorite movies is Rear Window, so,you can imagine my delight with this view. Last stay in NY our view was an alleyway with dumpsters and rats. No joke.

After realizing I hadn't 1. been mugged on the subway and 2. get lost and not find my way I quickly unpacked and headed to the grocery store to stock up before Renee arrived. 

The grocery store was just a tiny little mom and pop one and no one was in there except a little old lady buying pineapple. I thought that was strange. I later found out that it is because no one shops at the local grocery stores unless they are desperate. Only Trader Joe's or Whole Foods will do, I guess only small town people don't mind buying non-organic fruit and pasteurized meat and eggs still. 

After unloading the groceries I went and met Renee on the street and the real adventure began! I should admit this was when I was still carrying mace with me everywhere and carefree about my teacher training. This would only last 12 hours. Then I didn't carry any mace while I traveled butwas scared to death of my training.

new york in words


One of my favorite essays from E.B. White is about taking cameras with us everywhere when we travel, and as he watched technology advance people started to live their experiences through a lens, instead of..living it. That has stuck with me ( I really need to find the title and reference it) for over 11 years now.

People have been asking me, "How was the big apple?!", "Was New York as amazing as you thought?", or my favorite..."Do you want to live there now?". Somehow that one always cracks me up.

I think the greatest blessing of my trip was that it was at the worst timing...ever for going, so I really didn't have time to stress about the details of staying in New York. After the recital we had only ten days of school left. For you parents of multiple children attending school you know what kind of craziness the last week of school ensues. Teacher gifts, dress up days, scrambling to find food for school lunches without actually buying more lunch food. Fifth grade graduation (which I thought was a terrible idea and ended up being pleasant) was Wednesday afternoon, then we swam to celebrate summer for about 2 hours and went home. We left for my flight at 3:45am the next day! So, um, things were more than crazy the week before. Packing, planning, packing for kids, planning food for everyone at home, arranging play dates etc. 

We ended up getting to the airport just in time because somehow Las Vegas' security is always the longest of any airport I've been too ( and yes that always keeps me a little worried). I basically speed walked to my terminal, and walked straight into line, boarded and was in the air in 30 minutes. Even though the flight was full with a very hungover Oregon Ducks team of no one less than 6'4" it went super fast without kids! Who knew?! And with a tail wind we landed 20 minutes early.

This is where it gets tricky, my girlfriend Renee was flying in from Calgary, Canada bout 2 hours after me, then our flights changed and it was 2.5 hours, but she was late and I was early so it would be about 3 hours of waiting in a tiny little exit terminal at JFK. I was nervous about taking the subway by myself into Manhattan with all of my luggage. But I decided to put on my big girl pants and do it. I MEMORIZED that stupid MTA map on how to get there and boarded the air train to the subway. If you are wondering why I just didn't take a taxi it's because 1. it's only $5 on the subway and $65+ for a taxi to get to Manhattan and 2. As much as I love driving into the city for the view and experience, I get extremely carsick in traffic and barf. There's your answer. 

While waiting for the subway a nice elderly man with salt and pepper hair and a polo shirt asked me for directions, I answered (remember I had it memorized!) and then asked him where he was from. "Manhattan" he cooly replied with a chuckle. Ha! I will add that I ended up giving directions to 3 people from manhattan over the next week. That made me feel much better about getting lost a few times. 

Of course, the only time there was a sketchy, creepy, borderline gang member/serial killer, was on my first train.  Of course. I quickly looked around and took note of subway etiquette from other passengers. It's pretty easy to select the natives vs. tourists, sometimes. The swedish family with their crisp white socks and birkenstocks, the chinese businessmen with their locked aluminum suitcases and pocket protectors vs the new mom from Jersey with her juicy pants and bedazzled jacket holding onto the stroller with her daughter half falling out while she listened and bounced to iTunes on her earbuds. I just held on to my luggage, which with every stop and start would lug one way or the other and I"ll just add right now that yes my arms were sore the next day from stopping sliding suitcases for an hour. I kept watching the stops for my transfer (you guys I made a transfer!) and when I stepped off the next train was right there across the platform. Somehow I knew it couldn't have been that easy so I let it leave, only to realize, yes that was my next train and now had to wait 7 minutes. NO biggie as I memorized, again, the subway map. After my transfer I only had 2 stops of squeezing suitcases again and I was there, at my stop. I pulled my suitcases up the 2 flights of gum riddled and wet? why were places on the stairs wet? stairs and exited onto 23rd street and 8th avenue. 

The sun was in my eyes and there were swarms of people moving everywhere. Much like an ant hill out our back door after Rodney pours water onto it. Scramble, dash, chaos, everywhere. The first words I thought were "We're not in Kansas anymore Toto". The honking of the taxis, cars and ambulance screaming by made it a classic country mouse in the city moment. I literally took a deep breathe, squeezed my luggage handles and squinted at the street sign to see where I was. 

 I got lost a lot in the city.  I don't know if you know this but on the island of Manhattan there are NO MOUNTAINS to tell me where East or West were, and also, the skyscrapers and buildings all look the same to me. I imagine it's the same as someone from the city thinking all Nevada mountains look the same, not knowing they all have names and look completely different to a native. I realized once I tried to get to my apartment rental that the address wasn't correct, and the owner gives you the exact address once you are checking in as a security measure. Nice. Besides looking like a lost tourist, there was no harm done except for two blocks of extra walking. I should add now that I was staying in Chelsea, and in the historical district to boot. I did not know this prior to my stay but soon knew from the row houses and amazing architecture. This was my little apartment on the 4th floor of the white building. I know right? Perfect.

A 4th floor walk up is not 4 flights of stairs by the way, it's 6. The stairwell was so narrow I had to carry one suitcase at a time, then walk back down the flight and get the next and so on and so forth. I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time I opened the apartment door. I forgot about the humidity, it had been 8 years since being there.

Up until I opened the door I still was 70% sure I had booked a terrible apartment that would look nothing like it's picture, smell like fish or something else and have cockroaches. I was wrong. It was the most beautiful and quaint little place I could imagine.
The view from the apartment. My neighbor had the cutest rooftop garden, and he also wore ladies underwear. On another rooftop people practiced judo every night and one of the high rises had parties on weekends. 
One of my favorite movies is Rear Window, so,you can imagine my delight with this view. Last stay in NY our view was an alleyway with dumpsters and rats. No joke.

After realizing I hadn't 1. been mugged on the subway and 2. get lost and not find my way I quickly unpacked and headed to the grocery store to stock up before Renee arrived. 

The grocery store was just a tiny little mom and pop one and no one was in there except a little old lady buying pineapple. I thought that was strange. I later found out that it is because no one shops at the local grocery stores unless they are desperate. Only Trader Joe's or Whole Foods will do, I guess only small town people don't mind buying non-organic fruit and pasteurized meat and eggs still. 

After unloading the groceries I went and met Renee on the street and the real adventure began! I should admit this was when I was still carrying mace with me everywhere and carefree about my teacher training. This would only last 12 hours. Then I didn't carry any mace while I traveled butwas scared to death of my training.

6.01.2016

this is me, daring greatly

Phew, can you hear that? It's me breathing. I feel like I can get to writing a bit more on here now as our spring recital is OVER. Oh, it was breathtaking, lovely, beautiful, and the girls were wonderful and precise and SMILED! I am incredibly proud of my students!

But I'm still happy/sad it's over.

There are a lot of things that kept me from teaching. The main reason I didn't teach for 7 years is that I was very busy having babies, and raising babies and spent about 7 years in a row of having to be home with twice a day napping babies. But many of the reasons I kept from teaching were doubt and fear and shame.

I'm not good enough, I can't choreograph, I'm too mean, I'm not patient with parents, it will make me a crappy(er) parent, I'm not organized, I'm not thin enough, I'm not good enough I'm not good enough I'm not good enough. I will try and I will fail and everyone will know that I'm a big fat fake fake faker.

But I knew I had to teach again, I had to at least try. I have to give a lot of credit to prayer, meditation, counseling and Brene Brown. Her book "Daring Greatly" really helped me open my eyes to start living a whole hearted and purpose driven life. My Heavenly Father has also subtly and not so subtly been prompting me to teach for YEARS. So I finally decided to do it.  "Give it one year" Ty and I decided, and if it isn't right it isn't to be. What is there to lose? Sure, a little dignity, but I've been throwing pieces of my dignity out the window since my first ob appointment. There's really not much left to care about.

And this, this quote, this is what has spurred me in the hard times and stressful moments and doubting days:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt April, 1910

And so I put myself back into ballet, and I haven't looked back since. I am happy teaching, and my daughters love it. And teaching for me isn't about the reward or recognition, I am grateful and love that I can share the art of ballet. If there is one girl in each class that dancing is her passion and I can give them a small outlet to grow, than it is worth the effort. I'm lucky that most of those girls there are my daughters. That is very fortunate.

So back to the recital, oh, 9 months of work for 1hr show. You really try not to think about all that can go wrong, because a lot can go wrong and always a few things do.

Dress rehearsal went well, the girls did great, and it actually went quite fast. Most dress rehearsals are loooonnnggg. We did pictures the same day, NEVER again. Pictures shall be a week or so after costumes arrive so they are DONE and DONE.

I show up 2hrs early to performance night and something is wrong. REALLY wrong. There are props in the entire stage right wings. Filled! And the floor, where are the marks? Where are the marks?!!!!!  Just then I got two texts at the same time, "Oh, I just heard the theatre teacher decided to paint the stage today. I hope it's ok and dry".   I couldn't believe it, here I had been handling the stress and business extremely well over the last month (thanks to my therapist) and THEY PAINTED THE STAGE THE MORNING OF THE PERFORMANCE. I'm sorry I screamed that but holy crap. Luckily, it was dry! But sticky. I had my girls (bless them!) put on their ballet shoes and run back and forth all over the stage forever to get it unstickyified. Not a word but the only way to describe. So after having a saint of a parent help move the props I was doing my own girls' stage makeup 50 minutes till show. Which is just unheard of, not what should be happening at that point in the evening!  Sufficed to say, I was a little high strung the entire night. read: A LOT HIGH STRUNG.  But guess what, we only started 7 minutes late! Parents showed up and helped exactly where needed, the glue gun brought backstage was used 4 TIMES and finally worked, but the bow finally fell off after finale. Perfect!  Despite all of the setbacks and craziness, the show was flawless. The audience had no idea what was going on behind stage, which is the entire point of performing art. For the audience to have an hour of no worries and enjoy beautiful art. And we did it.

It.was.awesome.

I love my little studio and the girls' in it,  my little dancers made my heart burst. They were polished and poised and just lovely. They did so incredibly well, I don't think I could be more proud. It was an incredible first year show, and I would like to add it was only 53minutes long! Amazing!!! We combined with another studio here in the valley and that was the best decision. It was a great balance and easier to share the load of preparing for a show like that. Plus Amber is really nice and kind and thoughtful and organized. Which makes up for my bossy and irritated personality. ha! She is a delight.

So in the end I strived to do great deeds, I bravely put my imperfect self into the arena; I lived this year with great enthusiasm and great devotion. I spent myself in a worthy cause, and the end I felt triumph and when I failed I failed greatly. I know defeat, and I know victory. I know God has a plan for everyone, that life is so deliciously wonderful. Oh as much as it is devastatingly hard and trying  at times it can also be as amazing as you make it. 

5.18.2016

for a glorious may

Something amazing has been happening this spring, we are actually getting a real spring! Sure there are a few days of hell blazing hotness, but we also have been blessed with multiple days of cool breezes, cloud coverage and dare I say, light sprinkling?

This year is a definite difference between regular springs. Usually we go from WINTER to a short week of Spring in March and then it is HOT by the county fair. And that was your spring. But the annual May day dances at the school, which happens to be one of my favorite traditions, you could wear a light jacket. I don't want to scream this so just remember, it was cool and breezy at the May Day dances! On May 6th!  It was my favorite year so far.

Lucy chose me to braid the May pole with her as it is her last year at the elementary school. Don't even get me started on the fact that we will have middle school aged hormones children at our home now. Anyway, we told her she could pick which parent to do the traditional may pole with and she chose me! Which I thought was surprising until she told me "Dad said you have never braided a may pole before so you should do it!". That man is going down and soon.

Kidding aside I did enjoy the tradition with her and watching her do the tinkling dance? My spell check won't let me spell it right.

Phoebe was a kindergartener in all their parachute holding and twirling glory. I cry at that dance every year.

Abby nailed her 80's dance too.

Rodney didn't throw a tantrum.

It was a complete success, mostly because it was JACKET WEATHER.


The rest of the year has been flying by faster than a speeding bullet. These next two weeks we have, in no particular order the following events to be at:


  • spelling bee
  • 5th grade talent show
  • our ballet dress rehearsal
  • our performance
  • piano recital
  • 5th grade graduation
  • kindergarten performance
  • cousin birthday party
  • stake conference
  • family pictures
  • last day of SCHOOL
  • I leave for my ABT teacher training in NYC
So you know, not a lot and nothing stressful at all. It's actually all fun things, just very jam packed. But again, all wonderful things. Usually I would turn into a stress monster with this many events at once, but I am grateful we can do all of these things. We are very lucky. 
Related Posts with Thumbnails