Sunday, December 11, 2016

12.11.2016 -- Milestones

There it is!  I now have a seventy year-old mother!

See how I can turn everything around and make it all about me? Its a gift I have.

Yesterday, Gabe was baptized, and my mom celebrated her seventieth birthday. It was a little touch and go there for a while. (Life is "exciting" when you don't mind leaving things until the last minute!) But, after several hours of really great sleep, I find myself awake just wanting to record how grateful I feel for my family and for my friends. And for family that are my friends.

This is an incredibly busy time of year. It is hard to carve out time to get together at all, so I wasn't surprised that our gathering yesterday didn't include many of our loved ones. In fact, I think that was part of not making a grand affair of it all - I didn't want to serve up one more obligation to complicate people's lives. Fortunately, Gabe is okay with that approach and so is my sweet mother. It makes it a little easier to graciously decline if an invitation is proffered at the last minute. The downside, of course, and it's kind of a big one, is that people who genuinely would have liked to have come weren't able to because they just didn't know, or didn't have enough time to arrange it.

Anyway, even though it was a relatively small group of family and friends, it had me thinking of all the people I love and am grateful for. Chances are that if you are taking the time to read this, YOU are one of the people I am thinking of and am so grateful for. (REALLY.)

Brian and I have been so blessed with family and friends who are like family over the years. I almost want to start listing people. But that would take so long and I would end up leaving someone out just because I am a flawed human being.

As a rule, I try to avoid putting this kind of stuff out into the world. It's overly sweet and has too few specifics to make it interesting, but I'm just going to do it tonight. I'm just a little overwhelmed by the good memories and all the good feels.

To all of our loved ones that miraculously came to our gathering yesterday, thank you. We love you.
To all you you glorious people who weren't there and who (maybe) weren't even invited: thank you. We love you. I really feel like "I see you." I am truly grateful for the love you have shown me and my family.

In closing, I would like to thank my brother, Mike, for getting some adorable clothes for Lena. I didn't think they would "work" because they seemed like the wrong size and season, but she wore them yesterday to the festivities and were just right! Thank you, brother! Once again, I have (happily) been proven wrong by the universe.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

12.08.2016 -- Like a Thief in the Night

You're missing out. I had the BEST idea for a blog post last night, in the middle of the night. Now, of course, I can't remember anything about it--except that it was really good.

Also: I got our five year-old to snap out of his crying jag this morning by telling him he could watch THIS on my phone when he got into the car.

You're welcome!

Monday, December 5, 2016

06.27.2015 -- Situation Normal

I have been married for a long time. So has my husband, cooincidentally.


Also, he's tall, so I married up.

Want to know how I feel about being married? Do you really?

I often have better appreciation for my spouse when he's not here. Because of him, I have three children whom I love with every molecule of my being. Because of him, we have a beautiful home to live in and because of his influence, we have much less junk around. Because of him, I drive a really great car that fits my needs perfectly.

Sometimes when he's home, his higher standards make me nervous and I start to question my competence.

This is not the way all marriages work.

But in marriage, you are tied to a person, who is, by definition, human--prone to error.

Before I continue, can I just say that, as a thirty something year old woman, I find myself quoting my parents waaaay more than I ever thought I would as a teenager?

My dad told me that "Marriage is the graduate school of life." Having never attended more than a single course's worth of graduate school, I can't say I understand this aphorism as well as my dad does, but it still speaks to me.

For the most part, married people choose their own fate, or.... their own adventure. Graduate students, I imagine, rarely end up in grad school without putting a good amount of effort into the endeavor.

And it's not a small thing!


Okay. Here's what I really think. I realize that people fall in love and that they want to be married to the person they love, but marriage is less about the love that sends chemicals around tweaking your brain, and more about the deep love that happens by choice. Marriage is where the tweaking, natural drug of love, becomes the kind of love you have for your parents. In other words, I don't think a person can expect to get a contact high off the person they marry for 80 years, but what grows instead is better.

You fall in love and you can't stop thinking about him? You feel like you will die if you don't get to see him (and kiss him) every day? Good!

But this is better: You can't stop thinking about him because he is part of you. Your home is his home. You know his imperfections intimately. He knows yours. You are not together because you forget to eat, just being around him; you are together because you choose to be. Because he holds your heart. Because you want to be there with him when he's an old man. Because just touching him lowers your blood pressure and makes you relax when you didn't realize you were tense.

12.18.15 -- Decisions, Decisions

Christmas time is here again! Over the last few days, I have been working on Christmas cards and the summary of the past year. This year, my first inclination was to group all of the months together, just because I can't believe it's the end of another year.

I like designing the card. I like how, with a few years under my belt, I have cards to look back on... I'm building a body of work. I like writing a super-brief summary about the past year. I can't do it without going through the pictures I took in the last 12 months, and there are a LOT of great memories. It helps my perspective. Things go so fast!

So... do I reprint the cards I've already done after discovering more typos and adding odds and ends? No. Sorry folks. I'm just going to send them as they are.    (As they are will I send them.)

How many cards do I send out. The Lorax tells me not to send any... just to post it on Facebook, or send them by email. On the other hand, I get to see the faces of people I love taped to my pantry door (on the Christmas cards that were sent to us), and I want to reciprocate.

Decisions, Decisions.

Here's the rundown for 2015:

January: Brian celebrates his birthday by going snowmobiling, Charlie celebrates turning 4 by running around, up and over giant inflatable bouncy toys. Both parties involve lots of friends. Happiness! Skiing for all of us! Preparing to move.*

February: We discover the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake and fall in love. Lucy is passionate about All-Star Cheerleading. Gabe is doing his best not to zone out in the Chinese part of his kindergarten. Charlie enjoys 4 sets of HotWheels tracks from his birthday. Occasional skiing! Preparing to move.*

March: More cheer practice, more violin practice, more gymnastics practice, more Chinese, not much good skiing. (But some!) Skateboarding, diorama building, preparing to move.*

April: A fun trip to Idaho, ice bowling, gym, violin, Chinese, homework, playdates. Face paint. Some skiing. Deciding not to move.*

May, June, July, August: School, gym, playdates, cheer. Preschool and Kindergarten graduation. Violin practice, cheer practice, gymnastics. Gabe starts level 4 gymnastics (competitive). Swimming. Late nights. Silver Lake time! Frog and newt hunting. Kennebunkport time! Family! Lucy         celebrates her 10th birthday by having her cheer team over for a cook out after practice. Gabe celebrates his 6.7 birthday by going boating. All parties   involve lots of friends. Happiness!*

September: School! Lucy in 5th grade, Gabe in 1st, Charlie still in PreK. Gym time. Chinese. Cheer. Violin. Playdates. Fun. Val goes on her first backpacking trip in a few years! Happiness.*

October: Lucy channels her inner monkey for Halloween. Gabe condescends to be a mummy, but only for about 10 minutes. Charlie is stoked to be a red Power Ranger (Troy).*

November: Gabe quietly celebrates his real 7th birthday. Charlie learns how to do his round-off. Contentment. Family. Friends. Happiness.*

December: December 14th, we finally get snow! Gabe competes in his first gymnastics meet! Lucy finally gets her round-off back tuck! Happiness.*

*Some grumbling. Some whining. Some fighting over lame stuff. Impressive temper tantrums, too.

03.06.16 -- Long Strange Trip

Sometimes, a person just wants to put her words out there for all the world to read. That's what I'm assuming. I don't remember ever really feeling that way.

But today I have the itch to write.

I'm scared.

There's that meme going around that says something like, "Trying to figure out who to vote for is like trying to decide what STD is just right for me." It hits home. Here's my problem. I have a hard time believing someone who I would want to vote for would put him or herself in that position.

And then there's F@cb@@k. What an exercise in futility. It is filled with people trying to change other people's minds about so many things... It's hard to imagine a person openminded enough to actually change their mind about a candidate or a position. I guess there might be some who are undecided who might be swayed.

And I am scared about who might be elected. Does it matter who I dread most? Probably not. Who is going to read this and change their vote?

But I'm sort of obsessed with it.

Politics is something that I feel obligated to give a certain amount of consciousness to, and then I get sucked in. Before I know it, embarrassing amounts of my life have been sucked away and I have nothing to show for it. I do not try to change people's minds.

So, I pray. I pray that somehow, the American people will not screw it up, and that we will somehow avoid being suckers or idiots or idealists.

I'm sure that's laughable to lots of people, but I believe in prayer.

11.27.2016 -- A New One. Perfection.

A little more than three weeks ago, we became a family of 6. It's pretty strange, to be honest. I never really thought that I would be a person to have 4 children, let alone have them a little later in life. This, I guess, is how "other people's lives" suddenly become understandable.

There have been a lot of things in my life that have been completely unexpected. Not that having four children happened overnight or happened without my consent. But I never made plans for it as a kid. Its funny to me to think how much time I spent daydreaming as a kid - about what my life would be like as an adult. I used to go on long walks alone at night, and I spent the whole time thinking that out there, somewhere, probably, was a boy that one day would be my husband. What a waste of time! There is no way to know what our future holds!

As (one of my aunts) wisely pointed out once, "for people who plan, frustration comes when their plans don't work out. For people who don't plan, frustration comes when they're working their way through." I shouldn't even attribute that to her. When she said it, it was understandable, eloquent, and made perfect sense. I mangled it. (But sometimes, I choose to settle for what I can do - and that falls SO short of perfection!)

On that note: Thanksgiving has come and gone! Some people seem to be able to produce a perfect dinner party! Perfect food, perfect decor, perfect table settings, perfect clothes and hair... Everything. I'm appreciative of that level of execution, but I find that I lack the patience to produce flawless things. I'm not interested in that degree of quality control. 

We were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister-in-law's house. It was really nice. She is pretty close to perfection herself. Meanwhile, at our house, while some people have Christmas fully up and going, our kids are still reading Halloween books and singing Halloween songs! (We have some Christmas songs in the mix, too.)


A few days before Charlie was born, I came to the realization that if we were going to have 3 kids in our family, I had to come to terms with the fact that much in our lives would be imperfect (understate things much?). Sometimes I forget this important bit of wisdom (usually after I have spent maybe a little too much energy cleaning the house). With 4 children, it's a little different. Mostly because the three oldest are capable of so much. The house is a lot more manageable now, so the focus is more on behavior. Now, I try to remember that perfection is a little much to ask from any of us. 

12.05.2016 -- Personal Maternal, Coming of Age

In a few days, Gabe will be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We have a new baby at home and for that reason, I am still in what I call hermit-mode. I haven't invited many people. A friend of mine thinks maybe it's due to post-partum depression. It could be that that is true.

When it comes to discussing religion, I tend to become introspective and quiet. Maybe this quietness about Gabe's baptism is an outgrowth of that tendency of mine.

I am a faithful member of the LDS church. I'm a latter-day saint. This means I am a Mormon. I know it, I live it and I love it. I am acutely aware that the world is full of people who don't share my beliefs. Maybe Gabe won't when he is older. I don't want to make decisions for him; he needs to make his own. But I will do my best to teach him everything I can, and to guide him toward a life of happiness and fulfillment.

A few days ago, Charlie asked me to make pancakes for breakfast. I agreed and went to The Joy of Cooking for a recipe. Charlie asked if he could find it. (The Joy of Cooking is an enormous book, and Charlie isn't quite a reader yet.) I agreed and let Charlie apply himself to the task, fully expecting to help him find it in a few minutes after he expressed his frustration. Of course, since I'm taking the time to type this out, you suspect that he found the recipe. Well, he did! In a book of more than 1,100 pages,  five-year-old Charlie was confident he would find a recipe I've never used before--and he did! It's a reminder to me that children often have more "going on" than we credit them.