day 166: note to self

Note to Self:

Slow down and feel things.  Feel your sons' worries about school projects.  Feel sad for the mothers who lost their missionary sons this weekend in Romania.  Feel like you can help someone today.  Feel the Spirit working in your life.

Slow down and realize things.  Realize it isn't all about you.  Realize you can never be perfect.  Realize that you do some things well.  Realize God loves you.


day 165: soup as salve

The morning after my friend called to tell me about her mother's accident, I woke up and said to my husband that I was going to make a double batch of dinner and take some over.

What should I make?  Hmmmm.

Make that Portuguese soup, he said.  Mainly because I would like some, he thought.

The nice thing about soup is that it slides down and fills in the cracks.  There is no heavy feeling, like after prime rib or a giant burger.  It is easier than that.  Soup feels good going down and then subtly you are full.  I like that.

And when someone brings soup that was made with sweet potatoes and kale and concern, you can taste each ingredient.  I hope they did.  I love my friends.

day 164: pouty face

Even I couldn't predict my overreaction when on his last turn he snuck up from behind and made a move that cost me the game.  At the last minute.  I teased him about his underhanded tactics and I wouldn't let him run to the market to buy me ice cream. 

Been a long week.  Burn out.  Now I must go and apologize for my bad sportsmanship.  I love that guy.

day 163: the abode

My friend Wendy posted some photos recently of her home in rural, rugged, beautiful Alberta, Canada.  It was fun to see where she lives and HOW she lives.  So I thought it would be fun to post a few photos of the inside of my own home here in suburban Springville, UT.  But don't think I am taking you downstairs to the man/boy section of the house.  I only really go down there to do laundry and tuck kids in.  

This is our living room, which is the first room you see when you come in the front door.  We are more into a modern look, but weren't able to really do what we wanted until The Great Flood of 2008, when we got some insurance money and pitched in some of our own.  We like this room a lot.

Just a shot of the comfy IKEA leather chair the kids always fight over.  The orange ottoman and the big graphic curtain panels are fun.  The curtains are on rollers.  I LOVE them!

 These are the things we keep on top of the cabinet above the TV.  The giraffe and the small statues at the end of the shelf are souvenirs from Africa.  I like colored glass too.

This is the wall/corner between the living room, dining room, and kitchen.  The embroidery on the left was purchased in England, and the photos on the right are fun shots of the last time we had a great extended family gathering on the North Carolina shore.  I like some color on the walls too.  The living room is a gold color, the hall a light yellow, and the dining room green.

A strategic shot of our bedroom, because if you saw the other side of the bed you would wonder why the fire marshall hasn't shut us down yet.  Hey, the husband can't limit the number of books he snuggles up to.  I hand-painted the om symbol and marriage symbol on the wall.  We like a flare of India here and there.

Here is the dining room.  We bought this table and benches around 15 years ago.  We have restained it and loved it over the years.  It is pine, so with the wood being so soft there are numerous marks all over the top, numbers and names scratched in from kids doing homework, playing games, etc.  How could I ever get rid of it?  We may replace the benches at some point, but the table is staying.  And staying.

We have repainted these cupboards and tiled the counters and backsplash.  We have some repair work to do sometimes, but we like the funky effect.  And this gas stove is sooooo awesome. 

Because of an addition put on the house years ago, the kitchen sits right in the middle of the house.  So, to the right, over the sink, you look into a back little room and the stairs that lead downstairs.  I like my pot rack too.

One of the best kitchen decisions we made was to buy this stainless steel monolith.  It is a stand alone fridge with no space for a freezer (we have a big top-loader freezer in the laundry room downstairs).  It is huge inside and can hold all the food that a houseload of guys need.

Plants and candles add a little mood.

This is the room behind the kitchen.  It is where the door from the driveway leads in and where the kids drop off their stuff after school.  It steps down to some bookshelves and then the sliding doors that lead out to the hot tub.

Books are our friends.

Off the deck is the hot tub and our grand cottonwood tree that we love.  At noon in Summer, this tree shades the entire backyard.

We live in a 68-year old house that needs tlc, but we love our neighborhood and our home. 

day 162: look what i get to do

Friday is our 100 Days of School party with our kiddos.  Check this out:

we are making cool crowns with 100 things glued or stamped on them

we are coloring a book with ten pages of ten things

we are stringing necklaces with 100 beads

we are jumping in a big inflatable.  in the classroom

we are eating yummy treats

we are having a dance that will include sweet dance moves and a disco ball

I know.  You SO wish you were me.

day 161: deep fried me

No artificial crunchy tan from a bunch of long light bulbs (although a couple of years ago Geo and I went to a salon weekly during the Winter and lu-huved it)

No consumption of things that are bad for me (although I "earned' a handful of mini candy bars at a district in-service meeting today)

No thugs coming after me (although I still need to pay a bill or three)

But I still feel like I have been swimming in a fry daddy, because my mind is overloaded and boiling.  Teaching the kiddos beginning sounds.  Balancing a hollow check book.  Worrying about my man-cubs.  Tending to my sweet guy.  Learning lots of useful teacher-stuff in my classes.  Missing my sister. 

I need to pull myself out and stretch out on a paper towel.   I am happy, but over-cooked.

Musical Monday: Trouble

There are some songs that are such a great mix of soul and folk, and these are the kind that stick in you.  I have been singing this one to myself for two weeks, so I thought it was time to record it.

I couldn't, in good conscience, change the woman to man or the she to he.  No way. So just know I have, actually, been saved by a woman here and there in my life, even though it might have been in a different way than LaMontagne meant when he recorded this.


Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

day 159: treading

The advance of regret can be so gradual that it is impossible to say "yesterday I was happy, today I am not."

This is a quote from E.M. Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread, which I am reading for my book club next week.

I can honestly say I have no obvious regrets in my life.  Sure, a few things I might have done differently on a daily level, like been nicer to a disobedient boy.  Avoided a bit of road rage.  Or not eaten the second brownie.

But my life has been good.  I recognize my many blessings.  Yesterday I was happy, today I am too. 

day 158: and back again

Today we received a letter from Kenya in the mail, for our son who has recently returned home from a mission there.  Looking at the stamp and the address brought back all of the feelings of distance and unknown circumstances, being that we had never been to that part of the world before.

Isn't it strange that when we consider traveling on this big planet of ours, that half-way around the world is the farthest point?  After we reach that half-way mark anything farther just gets us closer together to our starting point.

Life.  Sometimes those half-way points are far away.  Once we make a decision and start to change course we start on our way back.  Our decisions aren't always an exact thing, but making an effort, some choice, gets us going around that circle and back again.

day 157: sugar, substitute

Sitting down to a yummy dinner tonight all I could think of was eating something sweet.  So I did what any honest, self-respecting mom would do.  I blamed my son and ran to the store to buy him donuts.  I checked them to make sure they were safe.  They were.

day 156: mighty and loud

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 That panicky feeling when I call home at 6 pm to check in with boys 3 and 4 and #3 says he hasn't seen his brother all afternoon.  He isn't at the first house we try.  Not at the second.  Finally found at the third, he is summoned home and then later asked to sit down and listen to, what I call, a "mini-lecture" about being home by 5.  Doing homework and cello and even some whooping of the bad guys on our nice TV.

I tell myself, Only seven more months until I am home at 3:30 everyday.  But the guilt of this 12-month program and its evil evening classes sinks in and I have to give myself a mini-lecture.  This is temporary.  Family is always first.  Give yourself a break.

The wind is whipping through the windows in my house that are still of the 68-year old variety.  They rattle and whistle and seem to yell at me as I sit in my bed avoiding homework and budgets and anything that should feel necessary.  I spent the evening with my husband and two oldest sons worshiping the wind-maker.  The One who created this world that throws us sometimes.  The One that knows our own storms that blow inside our heads and hearts.  The One that listens as I do my own churning and knocking things over.  And I find myself glad that most times it takes roughness to notice smoothness.  And a good storm can clean the air.

day 155: parted down the middle with lots of layers

A high school friend posted this picture of me on facebook this week.  It is me with my friend Danny at my junior prom in 1981.  We had fun cruising in his 1970something Honda Civic hatchback.  He bought me some bling (see the gold chain around my neck) and we danced to some great music.  And yes, I let him kiss me at the end of the evening.  It seemed like the nice thing to do. 

Geo just said if he knew gold chains could buy my affection he would have bought me more bling over the years.  But he doesn't need to buy me stuff.  I'm already rich. 

day 154: i vant to be alone

Sometimes I like to be by myself, which sounds strange coming out of my mouth (or fingertips in this case), because I am also quite a social person.  Today, for example, when my husband said he was going to stay home and get on the treadmill, read, etc., I felt a little claustrophobic.  I am nuts for the guy, but it had been a long weekend with me home for most of it.  So even though I don't usually go to my classroom until 11:30, I went in at 9 and got some homework done, along with some organizing and reading.  It was nice.

Worked with the kiddos from noon to 2:40, left for a study group on BYU campus from 3-4, attended my class on Behavior and Social Skills from 4-6:45, and then rushed to a church meeting from 7-9.

Yeah, one of those 12-hr days.  Today I would like to be more social.  I want to see my kids and hug them and check in on homework.  I want to get dinner started for the family before I go to class tonight.

But I am betting that sometime soon I might crave a little bit of alone time again.

Musical Monday: Into The Mystic

My good friend has been asking me to do this one for awhile, and since she is moving in a matter of weeks I thought I would dedicate this one to her.

Into The Mystic

Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

day 152: video games, webcams, and a nap

Bishop Geo is taking a nap and #2,#3, and #4 are in the next room doing their best to whisper while they play a video game that requires them to save a princess from the enemy castle and carry her back to theirs.  There is cake and hats and weapons involved.  Don't ask.
Doing the dishes would be much too loud a chore right now, with my favorite guy snoring in the room down the hall, so I sit here in front of the computer and snap photos in b & w and sepia.  It hides the gray in my hair and the lines in my face.

#1 son dropped in today to pick up a few things.  I sat him and his roomie down to feed them pot roast and mashed potatoes with gravy.  It was so satisfying that it almost felt like I was eating it as I saw them clean their plates.  That was a nice surprise. 

day 151: atravez uma janela (through a window)

My Vo (grandmother) once told me the story of her parents' courtship.

He visited with her through a window for a full year, getting more and more acquainted with her before being allowed into the house by her father.

This would have been around 1905 on an island called Sao Miguel in the Azores, off the coast of Portugal.  This marriage was earned.  This relationship was worked for.

I like that I came from that.

day 150: vegetable curry and minnesota

There is absolutely no connection between the two things for me, although I am sure there are some yummy Indian restaurants in Minnesota.  I went to Bombay House last night with good friends, where we ate plain and garlic naan, mango and strawberry lassis, chicken coconut kurma, mushroom mattar, bollywood chicken, shrimp tikka masala, lamb saag, and vegetable curry (hot).  My heart, my stomach, and my sinuses were very grateful as I sat and ate and talked with friends.  Thanks to Ganesh and Shiva we were not tossed out on our ears for our rowdy behavior and incessant laughter.  It was great fun.  And after getting the text from my jealous husband saying, "LEFTOVERS OR DIVORCE", I made sure to bring home some for him, the savage beast.

A little time snuggled up on the couch with Geo, after he ate, of course, as we watched reruns of King of Queens and laughed until we hurt.  Then I started to drift off and have dreams of Minnesota (which I have only driven through on I-90, btw).  I saw big flat fields of waving, tall grasses.  I saw lakes and big puffy clouds.  And then, all of a sudden, I was visiting my blog friend Heather of the EO, as she walked me around her new house she just moved into.  We laughed as she showed me her yard and introduced me to her kids.  It was so real.  She is sweet and cute in the cyber world, but you should see her in real life (so should I, I guess)!

Then I woke this morning, with visions of rice piled high with hot veggie curry, and visions of rural Minnesota.  What a great mix, dontcha know. 

day 149: watched

Two observations today.  I feel good about them and feel like things are going well in my classroom.  I love the kids, my coworkers, and what we do.  Special education is the biz to be in.

day 148: morning sickness

No, not that kind.  But it does seem like I wake up everyday with some anxiety and even nausea.  I am either preoccupied with work (getting observed twice today), finances, my children, my schoolwork, or something that feels out of my control.

I haven't needed an alarm in weeks and weeks because I find myself tossing and turning somewhere between 4 and 6 a.m. on a regular basis, no matter what time I go to bed.  I am starting to get a little ticked off about it.  Wait, that might cause more problems.  grrrrrrr

I am pretty sure it is typical of people my age to have these same issues they are worried about.  Our kids are becoming adults and starting to get independent, which means we hope and pray they have remembered things we taught them.  Financially the needs of everyone are bigger.  A trip to the dollar store, which used to work like magic for my ninos, doesn't cut it anymore.  And now I am working and going to school, which has been a blessing really, but has added stress to the family.  The other day my husband said he missed me sometimes.  "We get home at the same time most nights," I reminded him.  "But", he said, "your thoughts are split across more things now."  True.

I need to ride things out.  Read my scriptures more.  Count my blessings more.  Sleep more.

I am happy, just   s t r e t c h e d.

day 147: fiction as a salve

I, like many others, do not make specific New Year's resolutions. Stephen Covey is going to hate me for this, but I am not huge into setting goals. I take the philosophy that I will go about my days just doing the best I can to serve my family, serve my God, and improve myself. This is my mantra, and anything else good that I may accomplish is a big tasty bonus.

That being said, in the middle of all of the mayhem in my life, I have decided that reading for fun is something I have missed over the past semester. On paper it would be difficult to justify, but in my head it is as clear as day.

So I retire tonight with Elizabeth Gaskell, and I make no apologies to my professors.

Musical Monday: True Colors

I keep a list on my iPhone of possible musical projects, and this one has risen to the top.  I think it is a good one for the new year.  Enjoy!

True Colors

Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

day 145: the blue claw

I went and got a glittery manicure because a little bling makes me smile.  Especially in January.  When you are a girl in my house you get certain privileges that are yours and yours alone.  Such as:  

nobody eats dinner until I am seated and my plate is ready
I get some "private" time when all the guys are playing video games
a girls' night out every now and then
my own wardrobe that never is shared with anyone else
a husband who encourages me to go out and get a manicure, go to a matinee, or do what I want to relax

I know these things are not only offered to women who have no daughters at home, but I tell myself that they are sometimes.  You know, on my way to the mall.  

day 144: brothuhs

This picture was taken 3 1/2 years ago, but when I was flipping through photos today I looked at it and got a little misty.  These are my two youngest boys on the day #4 was baptized.  I have seen these two go from friends to enemies to best friends to acquaintances, and back again.  They make me happy.  #3 is as tall as me now, with typical 13 yr-old concerns, and when I look at this photo I can't believe how fast time flies.  #4 will be in jr high next year.  He is a bit shy and is very hard on himself.  The boys are turning into young men.  I guess I signed up for that, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.  sigh

day 143: minimalism

I heard a quote yesterday that I have been thinking and thinking about.

"Less space.  Fewer things.  More life."

This was spoken by a Danish man that was explaining his sparsley decorated home he shared with his wife and three children.  It was a lovely place with straight lines and clean surfaces and lots of windows overlooking Copenhagen.  And when I finished watching this show I immediately wanted to take a blow torch to my master bedroom, which for some reason is the only room in my house that ends up feeling like a repository of clothes, bags, laundry, and books.

When so many people are "moving up" and building bigger homes with great rooms the size of warehouses I really am satisfied with the size of my home.  Satisfied enough to not want to move, even though I wouldn't mind tweaking things here and there.  And the "fewer things" issue, not even a real issue for me.  I seriously dislike knickknacks of any kind.  Clutter makes me jittery.  I throw things out too quickly sometimes, as a matter of fact.  Just ask my husband.  We have nothing in our attic and do not have a garage.  Now the issue of "more life"... who couldn't use a little improvement on this one?  It is a general statement, but so appealing.  Yup, this is one I can be working on.

day 142: methinks, therfoor me am

I love having smart friends that make me reconsider opinions and positions I have taken on certain subjects.  I like talking about religion, politics, movies, books, and different places and cultures.  This is not to say I always have something meaningful to contribute, but I like being part of the discussion, even as a listener.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19 (revealed scripture to Joseph Smith, and part of the canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) says:

Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.  And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Sometimes I enjoy some of my own meditation time with a good book or film, but often I find myself feeling much more intellectually lifted after having spent time with people I respect that enjoy some good back-and-forth sharing.

This post is a shout out to all of my family and friends that help me to expand my mind and heart.  I think you know who you are.  You are smart like that.

day 141: dick and jane generation

I have memories of sitting at a big brown table down the hall from Mrs. Parks' kindergarten room reading with a few other kids and the classroom aide. I can see in my mind's eye Dick's little shorts and Jane's flipped up hairdo. They got into all kinds of mischief, like . . . running. And playing with Spot. And running some more. These books are so iconic for the 60s kindergartener, like myself, and I am proud to say they were instrumental in helping me learn to read.

Now I read things that are slightly more complicated, but I still look for the same stuff. I want to be inspired. I want to learn something. I want to connect, like I did with Jane as I sat at that table in my cute plaid jumper and flipped up hair.

day 140: live to tell

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Tonight, the light turned green, and before inching out into the intersection I took a second to put my cell phone down on the passenger seat.  It was in that split second before I stepped on the gas that something told me to step on the brakes instead.  Just then a white car came speeding down the road from my left, clearly running the red light, a blur that was, at the most, ten to twelve feet in front of me.

I honked the horn and then slowly coasted through the intersection, with, no kidding here, visions of my husband and kids getting a phone call that I had been killed on the way home.  I could hardly breathe for the rest of the ten-minute drive home, and found that my mouth was dry and my eyes were burning as I pulled into the driveway.  I was really shaken up.

I am still a bit shaky now as I retell the experience.  Going to hug everyone extra tight this morning.

day 139: chatty

My kiddos were so so chatty today.  One boy yelled every answer to every question I asked.  Most of them talked right over top of me as I was up front attempting to lead the class, you know, as the teacher.  We adults, on the other hand, were daydreaming of warm beds and pjs and daytime TV. 

But it wasn't really until I saw their little faces that I realized how much I had missed them over the break.  The little cuties.  They make me happy.  And I am glad to chat about that.

day 138: for these are the things Jesus taught

As I sat in class today I already felt like a full glass of water, knowing it wouldn't take much for the tears to come. And my tears are of the big, splashy variety. The kind that wet the whole front of my dress on this kind of Sunday.

We recently welcomed my 21 yr-old home after a two- year absence in Africa, and yesterday he already was gone, moving to his own place and ready to go back to school. Many good talks over the past three weeks about life, expectations, testimony, sacrifice, and future plans. Reconnecting. Healthy pride on my part, feeling so good about my son who has become a man. We waited with such great excitement for his return, and after three weeks he is already gone again, which I know is the way it should be.

And in today's class my good friend came prepared and full of the spirit, ready to teach us about being like Jesus.

I'm trying to love, as He did, in all that I do and say...

A great lesson during this time of self-examination and recommitment. Perfect. Inspiring.

And the tears did come. No real shock there. Between the arrival and anticipated departure of my sons, the return to classes and teaching, and the sweet reminder today to "stop and listen to the still small voice" my spirit is full.

The glass has been bumped. Would it be okay with you if I just let the puddle stand?

day 137: sawdust donuts

Sometimes we prepare ourselves for something, really thoroughly, only to be disappointed in how it turns out.  If not disappointed, then at least caught off-guard.

On our way home from St. George today, Geo and I stopped in Beaver in order to change drivers and to each get a chocolate cake donut.  Yup, a craving that we were both having simultaneously.  And who can fight against cravings when the yummy chocolate stars align?  So we happily topped off the gas tank and then ran in to the store to pick out our own donuts.  Hopping back into the car we found the quickest way to get onto the freeway ramp, and then we each picked up our treats before G took a big bite and then groaned in disgust.  "Man, this is so stale."  We were both disappointed, and after giving the staleness a few bites to change its ways, gave up and guzzled the milk to wash the sawdust down our throats.

How do I find the balance between feeling let down and rolling with things?  I don't want to buy too much into the philosophy of lowering my expectations.  This can be a good practice in small ways, but to walk around feeling great about everything, only because I expected nothing to begin with, doesn't seem right.   Ideals can be good.  Right?  Right?

day 136: I can

Rather than a huge retrospective on 2009, let me just say that one thing I learned about myself is that I can do hard things.

I can survive cerebral stretching. I can endure emotional exhaustion. I can hike to a new height.

I can.

day 135: change = rest

Thanks to generous friends, Geo and I are spending a couple of days all alone in a beautiful condo in St.George, Utah.

All day I could feel and see the lightness in my husband's step as we changed scenery for these 2 days.

The view out the back windows is amazing (photo tomorrow), and like so many outdoor experiences in this gorgeous state, it makes me feel humble and in awe.

I am lying here in the absolute stillness listening to G's breathing and feeling warm and thankful. Again.