tasting with my eyes

Colors mean something, and I am not just talking about the way red symbolizes anger or blue calm. I can taste them. Really.
Colors in a room.
Colors on a plate.
Colors in clothing.

I would get nauseous during my first pregnancy when there were two clashing shades of green side by side. I have never heard of anyone else that had this happen before. I had to really be careful with sunglasses I wore. Too much of a tint one way or another could send me running to the bathroom.

My bedroom walls are curry. My master bathroom is pomegranate. Butter in the hallways. Deep eggplant on my bed. Metal squares of patina surrounding my dining room mirror.

The balance of vibrancy and clean angles with minimal distraction. Again, in a room. On a plate. In clothing. This is the yummy challenge.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

My zoozle

I took this picture of myself in a dressing room today with the intention of sending it to my husband with the caption, "I like having my zoozle back."

Cjane recently posted about her zoozle, and I have been thinking about the tangible and intangible nature of it. My zoozle was rediscovered after my 27-lb weight loss churned with my age and experience. But it is more than a straight shot of confidence. I am a bit more powerful. I am a bit more daring. I am truer. I am stronger. I am me. I like how this zoozle is playing out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

mr. burton, take down that wall

There has been an 11-year tradition in this house where my sons build a wall at the bottom of the basement steps on Christmas eve. They use someone's mattress, and whatever else might be necessary to secure it, and they build it up nice and strong and tall.

Then, on Christmas morning, it Is not uncommon to find one of them sleeping right there, behind the wall. This morning I peeked over the banister to see #4 anxiously awaiting the arrival of Perry and Mindy, coming for the day. He was fidgety and impatient, and even a little crabby. After all, he knew there was a shiny new iPod touch waiting for him somewhere under the tree, and he was ready to do some unwrapping.

Sometimes I build walls. I build them to protect myself or to protect other people FROM me. I regularly check myself to make sure that I am being genuine and open. I mostly do a good job, but every so often I realize that I am accidentally hiding behind a wall.

That strong sense of self-preservation is so instinctive. At 46 I am still learning how to navigate it. After all, there is often a nice shiny surprise waiting.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


This has been my week:

Church business
Gift wrapping
Dinner with old friends
Online shopping
A nosebleed
Christmas program with my special kiddos
Falling asleep on the couch
Happy emails from Mexico
Eating shrimp
Chapped lips
Absence from google reader
iPad envy

Busy, busy times, but I love the hustle and bustle. Seriously. And tomorrow I will be part of a flash mob, which I am pretty giddy about. Life is good, and will be even better once I read your blogs.


The coming.

And so we celebrate His coming every time we move that little magnetic gingerbread man around the circular calendar. But not just His initial coming in the form of a little cherub lying in a manger.

His coming regularly, into us. Our minds.
Our hearts.

digital me

Tonight I attended a student showcase for the digital civilization class my husband teaches in the honors department at BYU.  I was inspired and moved and so glad that I blog.  Even though this class was about studying historical parallels from the Renaissance to the present, through a digital lens, I found myself, over and over again, glad for my own experiences with blogging.  Sometimes education can be defined loosely, and in these past almost-three years I have earned a real degree in life, in friendship, in self-discovery, in empathy. 

The students presented digital projects in small groups, talking about everything from medical support groups, to online missionary work, to the power of blogging in the realm of learning and research.  I enjoy all areas of digital networking, from blogging here, to facebook to twitter.

**And as a side note, I just have to interject that I was utterly and completely attracted to my husband tonight, both as I watched him up front leading a passionate discussion about using media in the classroom, and later, as I had students approach me and call themselves "Burtonites".  Now, I don't share this for any other reason but to testify of how great it is so see him in his element, having an effect on minds, and getting these students completely charged up about ways they can contribute to communal learning.

Another thing I discovered this week, as I was indirectly involved in Geo's prep for this big evening, was www.justin.tv. Incredibly, you can broadcast live video straight to the web, using your smart phone.  I already have the app on my iPhone, and I am ready to give a broadcast a try soon.  My channel has been set up as www.justin.tv/kazzy11.  When I will be putting something up I will give notice here and see if I can get some live audience.  Things are archived, like at youtube, but with the possibility to see things live it opens a lot of cool doors for faraway family and friends.  A one-way facetime that will allow people to be part of what is going on here.  I am psyched about it.

It is a wonderful thing to be hooked in to a university and the buzz that goes on.  I left the event this evening glad to be alive in such exciting times, where I can make connections and express my self freely.  Thanks in advance for being part of my experience here.

visions of sugarplums

they stand up and say this poem with a twinkle in their eyes.  
and i say, "louder guys!"
I remind them that moms and dads will be listening.
we hang glittery ornaments from the ceiling.
we will have cookies and punch and handfuls of art projects to take home.
i will sing with them and smile at them.
and no promises on the tear ducts.
then it will be christmas.
and i will remember that not all of my gifts are under the tree.

"avoid the dog"

Once I got home from work yesterday afternoon and found that my husband had been so consumed in working on his digital civilization class that he had forgotten to put the chicken in the crock pot 4 hours earlier, we decided to run out with the kids for cousin Christmas shopping and then to dinner at the Mongolian BBQ joint down the road a couple of miles.  You get a big bowl and pile it up with thin slices of meats and loads of veggies and ginger, and then the guy who works there slaps it around on a big flat hot surface until it is cooked through and ready for consumption.  Oh, it tastes good.  But I digress.

 So, it turns out I am a dragon on the Chinese Zodiac calendar.  I found this out by listening to my #4 regretting the fact that I got to be a dragon while he was stuck with being a weak little tiger.  I learned a lot of things about myself reading that red and white paper place mat.  I am eccentric and complex.  I have a passionate nature and abundant health.  And in the romance department it looks like I should have married a monkey or rat late in life.  And then the final warning to avoid the dog. 

I wonder if the monkey or rat would have remembered to put the chicken in the crock pot.


 That this babe, this miracle, would come in the most humble of circumstances,
Unnoticed by all but the donkey, the cow, the sheep.

His mother, a young girl chosen for her innocence.  Her willingness.
To be found this worthy.  To be the vessel of the Lord.

I read.  I listen.  I ponder your words, and I am awestruck.
I am in the stable, in the rafters, looking on the entrance of the king.

(my personal translation of the classical text O magnum mysterium)

hurry up and slow down

My poor little special kiddos.

The other day we were scheduled to have an earthquake drill at school, but because it was Monday, and Monday was Pilgrims day, after all, I got all caught up in doing watercolor paintings of turkeys, playing with button spinners, and doing bean bag games, instead of warning and prepping my kids for the shaky, quaky event.

So instead of an organized line of children who calmly crawled under the tables, I had 7 children who heard the rumblings over the PA and then ran toward the tables, confused but hurrying.
This is a pretend earthquake.  Please get under the tables, but remember we are just practicing for an earthquake.  It's okay, G.  Everything is okay.  See how I am smiling while I talk to you.  No need to shake.  We are just pretending.

Other kids needed some encouragement to even notice something was going on that was out of the ordinary.
Do you hear that rumbling, K?  We need to hurry and quickly get under this table!  This one right here, K!  Fast now.  But we are only practicing, G., so don't worry.  But please hurry, you three!  

I am even confusing myself.

between JFK and MLK Jr.

My mother was 4 months pregnant with me when JKF was shot and killed in November 1963. I am a mid-60s baby.  There was a revolt that was starting as a secret effort in the minds of people who wanted to say something different than what was said in the 50s.  A new stand.  A new definition of roles and possibilities.

And then when I was 4-years old MLK Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968.  His movement was also trying to say things differently.  I have a dream.  We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.(read this incredible speech here)

I am not really sure how, but I want to believe that though I was too young to have been changed consciously by these events, I was changed in some deep way.  Maybe it indirectly influenced me because I had teachers who were already adults during these history-changing events.  My parents were New Englanders who brought their three babies down to the south for more grass and trees and openness.  Unfortunately, there was also more racism and close-mindedness that went along with the beautiful surroundings I grew up in.  I felt it personally when I dared to dance with a black friend at a middle school dance and was shunned for days by my neighbor friends.

I also was born smack in the middle of the Vietnam war, which was from 1961-1970.  I have memories of my parents watching the news, but jumping up to turn the TV off when we wandered innocently into the room.  There was never a feeling of doom in my house.  Never.  But now I look back and see that times were turbulent and muscles were being flexed all over this country and beyond.

We each have a connection to the current events of our time.  I can now say that my own children were 13 down to 3-years old when 911 happened.  We did some talking, some crying, some evasive actions to avoid it.  But it will be something they relate to their own generation.

We are not necessarily defined by these events, but to think we are immune to their influence is naive.  I am a 60s baby, and in some small way in my soul, I carry some of that with me.

and down comes the gavel

It has been a tough thing to plan and manage my time.  I feel like I am smart enough to take care of these details, but they multiply exponentially in an amazing way.  I am finishing my licensing program this year, which includes 5 classroom observations and 7 serious, big-time, portfolio assignments.  Then I have 13 students that need testing and IEPs and meetings with parents.  My church responsibilities are heavy, but enjoyable, and I am still learning to do things right there.  And though they shouldn't be listed last, the family needs my attention, and guilt is prevalent in that arena. 

We do a good job with family nights on Monday, and reading scriptures during dinner.  That is going well.  I make sure the kids are at the table at 4:30 pm for study time, then music practice.  So the details are in place.  But I feel a little absent in my own life sometimes.  I know things will get better come April, when my schooling is finally over, but I don't want to get caught up in the "in only 6 months ..." game.  Again, absence.

So tonight I am trying to forgive myself and get present.  Because I remember when I was an at-home mom, with no school and no job, I still had feelings of inadequacies and guilt.  It is my way. 

musical monday: the house that built me

After a long day, including 3 hours of my own church, and then 4 hours in other meetings, I came home, put on my plaid flannel night shirt and stood in front of the mic.  It felt good and right.

This is for Charlene.

The House That Built Me

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.

and I get paid for this

Sometimes people go to work and spend hours sitting in front of a computer.  I get to sit in front of this.

I am not kidding.  How lucky am I?

the percussionist and the luchador

Let me begin by thanking everyone for the support and empathy offered last week when I wrote about my motherly concerns.  #3 returned from his trip with the marching band tonight, feeling better.  Even though while he was gone the doctor called to tell us the strep culture did come back positive (after the swab in the office was negative).  After a good night's sleep in his own bed I am hoping he will be back to his voice-cracking, smarty-pants self in the morning.

And a letter from the missionary reassured us that although he was contemplative in his letter last week, that he was fine.  He is figuring things out as far as his own purpose is concerned.  He would like to have more contact and success with people he is teaching, but maybe it is his time to grow right now.  Maybe he will be the "one soul brought unto Him".  He is faithful and bold.  He has always been the one in the family to jump up and share his testimony of the gospel.  He knows what matters.  And even though I know these things about him, I still have that motherly concern.  It is involuntary, as many of you will agree.  But this picture helped to make me feel better.

disneyland, on drugs, and mexican melancholy

Tuesday night I put my 14-year old on a fancy, shiny tour bus with his marching band. They drove all night in order to reach sunny SoCal by 9 am Wednesday, where they were going to participate in a recording session before romping around and causing mayhem.

There were months of planning and saving and spending that went into this event, and a sore throat was not about to stop boy #3 from this adventure. The swab for strep came back negative a few hours before the bus, but, man, were we torn about this trip. We did get some antibiotics, in case, but still.

Then last night we got a call from a chaperone parent. The cough is starting. The mom worrying is in full force, and I am finding myself preoccupied by it.

News from #2 in Mexico also has me concerned. Just some frustration and even a bit of heavy self-evaluation on his part. Some young men could use a little more of this, but this son of mine slips into it a little too easily, and I fear he feels a bit inadequate. He knows this about himself, but I would like to sit beside him and hug him and offer some in-your-face comfort. And what is it that always makes me want to make food for my guys when they seem sad?

So today I will pray and make a nice meal, vicariously taking care of my absent kids.

pigskin therapy

I make pancakes or eggs and then encourage some chores to happily get done. But after this family time, Saturdays are for me. Selfish ol' football-lovin' me.

I curl up on the couch under a brown heavy blanket and check out my options. Often I record one while I watch another. The brilliance of the DVR.

When I video skyped with my husband today (he is in Atlanta), I told him about a few stresses from the week. He leaned forward into his webcam and said, Why don't you just relax and watch some football?

I love him.


Sometimes a Girls' Night Out is just what the doctor ordered.  As my husband is busy getting his presentation ready for an academic conference this weekend, I am packing his suitcase (yes, I am kinda old school that way) and making plans that have to do with dinner out with girlfriends, maybe a movie, maybe some window shopping.  Sure, I will miss him, but I try and be efficient with my regenerating.  So while he is away I will power up with some girl time. 

I am a people person.  I like meeting new people.  I like hearing peoples' stories.  I like laughing with people, crying with people, working with people.  It is not only a fun way to spend time, but has become essential to my mental and emotional well-being.  I know that about myself.  When I start to get a little jittery about my life it is usually because I have slipped into some kind of isolation mode, with school work or paper work. 

Anybody with me on this?

stuck to my shoes

The leaves crunch and stick to the bottoms of our shoes.  They carpet the whole front yard in October, but we refuse to clean them up because they make us feel like we have little golden flakes welcoming us home everyday.  Then the cottonwood goes crazy in November and dumps a foot of leaves in our little backyard.  Those need massive raking because they are heavy and bigger and keep the grass from growing in the Spring. 

In my life there are things I can let stand.  They might be things others wouldn't be able to live with, but in the overall view of things, they are not harmful.  Unfinished laundry, cluttered closets. They can feel familiar and even comforting.  But some big things need constant raking.  Things with deadlines.  School work, paper work, bills. 

The reassessing of daily life can be exhausting.  We plug away at things that need our attention only to go to bed and do it all again the next day.  It's all good.  Sometimes we rake, but often we let the golden flakes stick to our shoes.

reflections on the weekend

With my youngest 2 boys on a scout camp out Friday night, Geo and I had a day and a half together, just the 2 of us.  I got up early to get the kids out the door by 7 am (school holiday), and then went running for half an hour.  I saw my breath as I jogged around my little neighbor a couple of times, and realized Fall was really here now, with it's crisp morning air and crunching leaves under my feet.  Back home to get some paperwork sorted through for school, and then some errands.

I had spent the past couple of days putting together a box for my missionary son in Mexico, and I wanted to be sure and get it sent out Friday.  3-5 day delivery.  Pretty good.  So as Geo made his way out the door to BYU for a lunch meeting,  I loaded up the box and paid 33 bucks to send a pair of pants, a sweater, some Starbursts, and chocolate chip cookies to Monterrey, Mexico for my red-headed son, whom I miss incredibly.

Back home- I cleaned out the car and got it ready to drive down to the credit union for a refi.  Unknown to us, there was a cash gift for anyone refinancing a car or home, so we not only walked away with a much better deal on our monthly car payments, but we also walked away with a couple hundred dollars.  A night out on the town seemed in order, no?

To the mall where I bought a winter coat and some jeans (skinny ones... heehee), and Geo got himself a cool new watch with a fat black leather band.  Some sushi for dinner.  And we never even felt the pinch, using our windfall money.  Bonus.  It was fun to stroll around and shop for real, without having to call home to check on the kids.

At home we curled up in sleeping bags in the living room and watched "The Philadelphia Story", because I was having a total Hepburn, Grant, Stewart craving.  So much fun to watch the banter between all three characters.  They were such pros at that kind of acting.  We laughed a lot.

Saturday morning I went to visit my bleachers at the high school across the street (yes, I consider them mine now), and then Geo played football with the young husbands and dads in the ward.  It was fun to see him hold his own with those youngsters.  He had a good time, and we both felt revitalized and good after some great exercise.  It is so cool to experience the connection between body and spirit.  I love that about exercising.

The boys arrived back home around 5 pm, just before G and I were heading out to have dinner with  high school friend of G's that he hadn't seen in 27 years.  Wow, we are old.  But it was a great night, and a wonderful way to end a good day and a half.  We needed some time together, just the 2 of us.  And now it is back to the grindstone until we can find another secret weekend.

love, witnessed

The four of us went to visit our first-born tonight for his 22nd birthday.  I baked dark chocolate brownies and packed up a gift bag with shower gel, a heavy-duty flashlight, and a small pre-paid VISA card.  How do you buy an appropriate gift for the grown up baby boy who taught you about sacrifice and unconditional love?  That's a tough one. 

Heart-warming stuff to see my sweet new daughter-in-law tending to my son.  The stairwell was decorated with candies, streamers, and "I love you".  And inside we found them eating a nice dinner she had prepared.  Love in action.  This is the kind of stuff that convinces a mom that everything is right in her all-of-a-sudden-everyone-is-grown-up family. 

incremental fog

Today was a day of self-pity and fogginess.  The fogginess, of course, brought on by crying.  10-minute increments about every couple of hours this afternoon.  Why I was crying is stuff for another day.

Then 2 things happened.  I attended a Young Women event where the girls spoke of their divine nature.  We are instruments in the hands of God, they said.  And surely they are.  And second, I read the account of a friend who fell today and hurt herself.  Really hurt herself. 

And so I am now thinking to myself, Why am I whining?  My life is good.  I can't have everything I want all of the time.  I can live with that.

I will smile tomorrow and climb out, and play my own instrument.

needful luxury

When I came home for lunch today I was reading, and I read a quote from Dorothy Parker that said something like, You take care of the luxuries, because the necessities will take care of themselves.  I have found myself thinking a little bit about that philosophy the rest of the day, as my technician/friend and I  had to shoo G back into the bathroom when his pants were half down, and as my husband and I spent time rattling off ideas to save money each month.  Will my necessities take care of themselves?  Really?

I have known some people who spend so much time worrying about and negotiating over saving a dollar here and there, or not wanting to go out to see the world, because they need to save for the new roof.  Of course we need that roof over our heads, but will there really ever be a time when every single thing is lined up and in order and then you can go on that trip?  I am thinking no. 

I believe Ms. Parker spoke a bit of truth in her statement.  Usually the necessities are taken care of, if for no other reason than instinct.  We eat because we need to.  We pay for the house because we need one.  We put gas in the car because we have to get places.  For me a luxury here or there can seem like a necessity, and that is when the line can get blurry.  I admit that about myself.  I like a new piece of clothing, or a road trip.  Even when they might not seem needful to someone else, they do to me. 

So thank you Ms. Parker.  Today I am choosing to agree with you.


Today is my husband's birthday, and I wanted to do a kind of modern little love ditty for him.  He is exceptional in many ways, but mostly in how he gets me, and in how he not only puts up with my weaknesses, but he embraces them. 

The Only Exception

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.

this here tree

So, what has my 40-foot tall, 70-year old cottonwood tree seen over the years it has lived here in my back yard?

google cc image

I assume it has seen returning WWII soldiers, who lived in this neighborhood when it was shiny and new.  It has looked over fences and roofs to see children playing in their backyards and riding their bikes.  It has shaded people who have sat in the yard to have a nice cool drink at the end of a day.  It has seen the whole stretch of this surrounding landscape change, even in the 17 years we have lived in this area.  It has been hit by baseball bats, plastic swords and sticks- not because of anger, but because there have been boys that have grown up here.  Little pirates and knights and warriors of all sorts who have used this tree for practice before fighting the bad guys.  And it has taken it all.

It stands as a reminder of life and change.  It keeps our little secrets and never tells a soul.

denim knees and painted toes

New jeans, smaller size. And as I sit here listening to my spiritual leaders I play around with the focus on my iPhone camera. I focus on the new denim wrapped around a smaller half of my body. Then I focus on my newly painted toes.

Same position. Same set up. Different focus. I can learn a lot from a camera.

facially speaking

Behind this hair there is an eyebrow that likes to hide. It gets raised during the day when my little autistic friend gets excited about getting his daily sticker. It gets furrowed when I think of bills to be paid or paperwork that needs to get done.

This eye cries pretty regularly. Today, when I found myself alone for ten minutes, it dripped a bit. I had a mini pity party for myself. It squints when I laugh. Like when my boys show me funny YouTube videos or wrestle in the living room until they can't breathe.

These freckles got their start when I would lie on my back under the humid VA sky. I wore a knit, striped swimming suit and only shiny, slippery oil on my olive skin.

This face has given and received lots of kisses from my husband, my parents, my siblings, my children, and my friends. A random student, here or there, has snuck up beside me and planted one too.

It is a face that is beginning to show wear and use. It is my face. I live in there.

beyond textbooks

We, as a family, attended some short plays tonight. Because my husband had directed one of them, we stayed after for the talkback session, where the writers and directors sit up on stage and answer audience questions. It was during a quiet moment when the producer asked the audience if anyone had been inspired during the production. Some people gave some decent answers about how one play or another had made them think about the Creation, or about relationships.

And then a handsome young man, who happened to be sitting right near my #3, gave a beautiful speech, in broken English, about coming to hear these "beautiful stories" as a way of learning this language. "Much better than words and numbers in a textbook," he said. They spoke to his soul and helped him to feel more a part of his life here. "Thank you. Thank you.".

And then I cried a little.

where I attempt to sing classic R&B

OK, so I am not really a good candidate for R&B, unless you consider my absolute love for the passion and rhythm of the genre.  I have been nuts for this one for years.  Enjoy.

A Change Is Gonna Come

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.

losing and winning

Tonight I enjoyed a little female comraderie around a nice big dining room table loaded with games and cards.  I managed to avoid the M&Ms as I lost two out of three games, and that was a pretty nice accomplishment.  Gotta keep the streak going on the whole "no chocolate and no eating after seven o'clock thing." 

Now, as I was sitting there playing Rage, I got this nice warm feeling about my neighborhood and the friends I have made here.  We are working on our 17th year here in our little shire, and it is nice to be settled and to develop long-term relationships with people that I respect and enjoy keeping company with.  What a cool blessing.

the process

She cried and raised her voice as she shouted across the oval conference table; first yelling at last year's teacher, then at me, the potential new teacher her child would have if she approved the move.  Her defensiveness totally understandable as she struggles in her singleness as a mother and provider.  I got it.  I felt her pain in a real way. 

Disappointed parents are common when you work in special ed.  Some choose to stay that way, and others embrace the opportunity of early intervention in a loving classroom like ours.

Our classroom is a magical place, Mrs. X.  Really.  Not because of me, but because of our teacher to student ratio and because of our pacing.  Kids succeed in there.  I have seen miracles.  

And I meant every word I said as she stared me down while a couple of educators in the room sniffled a bit, wiping tears.  We don't make more money if he goes here or there.  We are only in on this to find the best spot for the child.  Trust us.  Trust our best intentions.  Trust that we will provide every chance for success.  But don't count on us to do it all. We will all vow to work together to help this child.  This is a team effort.

Then the call.  He is coming...

wedding recap in pictures

I missed my blog over these past 5 days or so, but it was a wonderful weekend as we got our boy #1 hitched to his beautiful bride.  Great fun, great visits, great food, great spirit.  I loved every second of it.

The photos following the ceremony are still being processed, but there were some terrific ones taken of the bride and groom before the big day, and also at the reception the night before the wedding (can I just add here how wonderful it was to have the big shindig the day before???).

So, for your viewing pleasure, here are the visual representations of the happiness we enjoyed over the last few days...

Our missionary was moved around as the evening progressed.  The cardboard cut out was life-sized, so it was even funnier!
Perry's band members each did an acoustic tribute to the happy couple.  It was really personal and nice.
In order left to right: My sister Jen, #4, Perry, Mindy, back of my niece's head, me, #3, and Geo.  Tearing up the dance floor.  :)
The photographer.  My BFF, Luann Hawker.  She is a magician behind the camera.


It is what brings us together today.

Please excuse my absence from reading and writing for a few days. Family in town from back east and a son to marry off.

Ain't love grand?


When I was a kid I remember learning that the reason we sometimes call Autumn Fall is because leaves fall from the trees.

Today, when I took a solo drive up into Hobble Creek Canyon, I wondered if we call it Fall because the earth (at least our little slice of it) passes through a period of death. A kind of fall like that experienced in the Garden. Where there needed to be a time of rest and reassessment, before the resurrection could be the glorious thing it was.

I sleep in my spirituality. I fall.

lovely? me?

Petra at From Donuts to Crumpets gave me this most lovely award today. 

 Thanks, Petra.  I am glad I make you think.  That is a nice compliment.

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the way I get fresh perspectives on things that might seem like common experiences.  I have chosen the following blogs to receive this award too:

Jessica at Singing Devil and Susan at Mermaid Gallery.  Jessica gives me a youthful view of the world, and Susan is a delightful person who turns everything she touches to a work of art. 

Here are the steps to follow if you wish to accept the award:
  1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  2. Pay it forward to (up to) 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
  3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.
Ain't it nice to be read?

love/hate reality

You know that whole "love/hate relationship" thing?  Yeah, it's real.  At least to me.

Today from about 5pm until 8pm I kept thinking to myself, I should go make a visit, but *she drives me nuts.  I give and I give and then I go home and feel a bit shaken up, even though I am actually glad I went.   But why can't I stop thinking about going over there?  What is my problem?  I am such a sucker for punishment.

*The high school bleachers (which I have mentioned before) and I have this weird, thing, going on.  It's complicated.

grace as a cleaner

Everyday is a new life, with a chance to start over.  Of course, these new days are easier when we have cleaned up the previous one.  Return and report and make things right. 

Grace is what we need to fill in the cracks.  It makes everything smoother, and the potholes easier to navigate. It reminds us that we have been purchased by a very kind and compassionate buyer.

And how do we determine what something, or someone, is worth?  Whatever someone will pay- pretty simple, really.  And we are worth a lot.

This is why

This is why I didn't blog this morning.

This is why I am so happy when I see my handsome son with a big smile on his face.

This is why families are forever.

This is why my family from back east is coming this week.

This is why I still am in love with my husband after 23 years.

This is why my sweet DIL was smiling today. Yes, I already call her that.

cleaner glass

Sometimes you look through your old dusty windows and get used to the view.  You stop noticing that there is a little tear in the screen, and that there just might be spiderwebs in the metal tracks.  You forget that with a little cleaning you could get a better view and a clearer picture.  You live with it.

For 18 months I have been looking through a dirty window that has been laying right up against my mirror.  Not enough exercise. Too many meals on the road between work and school.  Not enough introspection.  Not enough honesty.  With myself.  I have been living to get things done.  To get through my classes.  To meet the basic needs of my family.  To meet deadlines.  Slowly the dirt and dust started to cloud my vision, and I forgot to look at (and for) myself.  I was bad to myself.  Even harmful.

Yesterday we had a window installer out to measure our house for new windows, and while we were standing in my bedroom talking about which windows we wanted to put in, I was completely distracted for a minute, thinking about this parallel. 

New windows.  New vision.  New recommittment to myself and my health.  I am feeling good, having spent these past 6 weeks installing a much better window to look at myself through.

team work

It was 6th grade and my team shirt was orange.  I think we were the Tigers.  I played shortstop and second base, and I was just good enough and competitive enough to realize that I might thrive on team sports.  I loved the idea of everyone cheering each other on and working for a win.  It was so incredibly invigorating.

I am still a team kind of girl.  I like to collaborate in my teaching.  I like working with other people in my church responsibilities.  I like being in a family and pitching in together.  And although I have liked my private time exercising lately, to me there is nothing like a meeting of the minds for a common cause. 

parallel with the weather

I don't know if I make the mood or situation fit the weather, or if the weather just knows me really well, and wants to send a sign that says, "I am with ya, sistah!"  The wind we had last night and this morning fits me. 

Winds of change.  Whirlwinds.  Time rushing by.  Frantic business.  Whatever it is, it is in the air all around me, rushing past my window when I am trying to fall asleep.  It is making my ears numb when I am taking the bleachers two steps at a time in the dark morning.  It is whistling and gusting and bringing things into my yard (life) that I don't have time to clean up right now.

And we might get a good storm today, which I generally love.  Yeah, I am pretty sure mother nature and I knew each other in a past life.

techno sis

Tonight my sister and I were texting back and forth about her upcoming visit for my son's wedding next week. She is one of my besties because she takes the time to know me and to ask about me and my life. She also makes me laugh more than anyone else I know. Totally true. When she calls me I laugh so hard my abs hurt by the time I hang up. Quotes from her preschoolers, run-ins with sales clerks, etc. She just makes my life better.

Tonight we took pictures of some of our clothes and texted them to each other. What we might wear to the wedding. It was so fun. I love that we could do that. And I love that I did it with her.

colored memories

my green rolling hills that turn burnt orange.

my gold and red five-point stars flickering from branches, and eventually falling to the ground.

my soft wet wind blowing through trees.

my melancholy.

my virginia september.

high octane

You talk louder and louder so that nobody notices the cracking of your voice, even though you are always a good sport about it, and you chuckle along with the rest of us.

You can't seem to get up in the morning on your own, even when you strategically place your alarm across the room so that you have to crawl out of bed.

You made me laugh so hard at dinner the other night that milk came shooting right out of my nose.  Remember, when you jumped up and did a little Beyonce right there beside my chair?

You are very patient with everyone in our family, except yourself.  I am scared to admit you may have inherited that from me.

You love banging on drums (hard), which is something you picked up from your oldest brother.

You are my third-born son, and I love you to pieces.

calming my inner beast

We moved when I was 12, and after the awkward "new girl" thing wore off in 6th grade, I joined the middle school choir. I knew I liked music and enjoyed singing, but I had no idea that it would become something that I loved, and even felt like I needed to survive. Now, 35 years later, it still holds true. I haven't done any recording in a month or so, and I miss it. I want to get back to it. I want to close the door to the den/studio and belt it out. I want to collaborate with friends. I want to try new things that I haven't sung yet. I want to push myself.

On a non-teaching day today, my husband, on his own accord, set up a data base of the 67 songs I have recorded and posted here on my blog. So many have poor sound quality (I had a bit of a learning curve as I was learning to record and mix the music), and so many are just poor quality in general (sometimes I just didn't perform the best I could).

After getting the data base set up, he used www.soundcloud.com to set up a place for me to store my files and then organize sets that I will now post as tracks in my sidebar (look to your right under my photo). I have tried other systems, but this seems easy. For my friends who subscribe to my www.box.net updates when I post recordings, I will probably still use that also since I am comfortable with that app on my iPhone.

These are the ones he (and I) decided on putting into the top 12 list. I hear flaws, of course, but I remember each recording experience and have great memories. Also, when I put new recordings up in my Musical Monday posts, there will be an mp3 player right there in my post, so that you will not have to leave and come back. I hope this is easier for everyone involved.

Thanks so much for listening and sending in requests. It has been so much fun to have a place to express myself this way. I would ask you, What are you doing to demonstrate your own talents on your blog?

a new world order

I get the kids home at 4:30 p.m., allowing them a couple of hours after school to play and relax before we dig in. But once 4:30 strikes it is all about the books and the papers and the algebra. It has taken a couple of weeks to really get this in place, but the boys are getting the hang of things, and once it is flowing well, all of us feel less stressed out in the mornings, because we know it has been taken care of the afternoon before.

Cello and piano lessons are stuck in between homework and dinner, because we are swapping everything so that the mornings are less crazy. It seems to be working. A constant process, keeping the kids balanced. But we have a mantra this year, that we repeat regularly: Family first, church second, school third, friends last.

their own path

Between being a girl (I think you know what I mean), and being a teacher, and being a mom, I totally passed out with my laptop by my side in bed last night.  I woke up at 3:30 when I reached for my husband and felt metal instead.  But I was in the process of posting this:

They asked for my help in choosing the right photo, and this one was so cool.  All of the symbolism.  Walking in step, hand-in-hand, on a path.  You get it.

My boy is all grown up, and so excited to marry his sweet bride who loves him so.  It is a good day.

sound waves to chicago

My BYU bff and I must have texted back and forth for over an hour steady tonight.  She just dropped her oldest baby here at the Y and I feel like a godmother who needs to make sure all is well.  After a few minutes of checking in, we ended up "talking" about the music I have recorded and posted right here on my blog.  She was texting with one hand and flying around my Musical Monday posts with the other. 

Once her husband joined her we started to brainstorm about how to do a long-distance duet together.  Adam has been learning to play the guitar, and he likes to sing.  So we hashed it out, and then rehashed it out, and decided to do something soon by swapping our own recorded mp3s until I get it all mixed and sounding good.

Some people like to think technology was invented for things like keeping up on current world events.  Me?  I like this music stuff.  *fist pumping and roof raising*

i like my car just the way it is, thankyouverymuch

I drove my son to cello lessons today, exhausted from waking up at 5 a.m. to get #3 off to marching band before I went to exercise.  By the time we arrived at his teacher's house I was a bit woozy and shooed him in for his lesson so I could lean my seat back and take a little stretch.  4 p.m. is a tough time to drive when you are sleepy, just so you know.

After what felt like just a few minutes I awoke to pre-pubescent boys screaming right outside my car window, "No shooting near the car!"  As I pushed the button and slowly raised my seat I started to feel my car moving.  When I looked outside I saw a boy in a paintball mask sitting on the hood.  Needless to say, he was very sheepish when he saw me waving to him through the windshield.

Paint avoided.

regaining control

Tomorrow makes one month since I have had no refined sugar or dessert of any kind.  It also marks one month that I have exercised 6 days a week.  I am finally getting control over myself again.

When I was in school these past months, it was hard to be disciplined because I was white-knuckling it most of the time.  I grabbed food on the road and was so exhausted I couldn't even think of exercising.  But  I hope those days are behind me.

I am about 13 lbs down and counting.  It feels so good to say no to things I crave.  It feels like I am acting and not being acted upon.  It is empowering, and I like it.  A lot.  I now have two pair of pants that I can put on and off without unzipping or unbuttoning.  WooHoo!

So tomorrow I will wake up at 6:15 again and walk/run around the track.  I will run up and down the bleachers until I feel like I am going to die.  I will eat healthy food.  I will fit into my clothes even better than I did last week.

One thing to learn about me:  I have incredible self-discipline, once I make a plan.  If I do say so myself.

rear view

Driving home on the freeway the other night I was thinking about what it means to be a mom. I had spent the evening helping my son out, and as I left my mind wandered. I thought about shushing him as a chatty toddler, and then missing his talking once he turned 15 or so. I thought about feeling overwhelmed when he (and his brothers) were always around, and then missing him when he was in Africa for 2 years.

It is interesting the way the tide changes.

Being a mom means loving my kids unconditionally but still having expectations. It means keeping them close in my heart even when I am supposed to let them be away from me. It is so hard to navigate sometimes.

Today I told my husband that I wish I had hundreds of specific memories about my babies. Mostly I have a few clear pictures, but lots of blurry impressions. It isn't always the details that sustain us, but the feelings the details leave behind.

primed for life

The door would bang into the dining room table every time we swung it open.  I would drag my briefcase in behind me, squeeze into the bedroom with its mauve carpeting, and change down after a long day of teaching and driving home from South Jordan. Once I got back into the kitchen to make dinner, the fridge would start with its singing.  Oh, how it loved to sing to us.  So, we would get the old meat tenderizer out, open the fridge door, and bang on the inside back of the beast until the singing ended.  Above, in the freezer, sat pieces of our wedding cake, leftover from our reception just a couple of months earlier. 

It was our first place and it was ours.

This week we helped our son and his fiance prime and paint their apartment they will be moving into next month.  As a couple.  As a married couple.  And I will be a mother-in-law.  And I will be happy. 

adding up

If I could relive one day in my life, it might be the day I had my first baby.  I looked at his little body and thought I was the luckiest woman in the world.

Or it might be the day I met my future husband. I had been so sad after a recently botched engagement, and he made me happy within the first hour of spending time together.

It could even be the first time our family stepped off the train in London after flying all night and landing at Heathrow.  The boys were all so good on the plane, and we were giving them a real adventure.  We were so proud of ourselves.

I did have a really good day in Knoxville, Tennessee once too. 

A life is a lot of little days that add up to something meaningful.  Not always happy.  Not always sad.  But meaningful.

teaming up

As a teacher, one of my favorite words has become "collaboration".  We combine ideas to do what is best for each child in our care.  It is crucial.  It has also made me think about people that helped to shape me during my youth.  Some of those people are/were:

Robert Mello
Helena Mello
Mary Pereira
Mrs. Rice
Jim Council
Bruce Knudsen
Benny Knudsen
Willa Knudsen
Karen Green
Karen Mattes
Sheila Reese
Jennifer Lovell
Robert J. Mello
David Mello
Tony Mello
Jennifer Atkinson
Sara Fiotto

Now my kids are at the point where the collaboration that has happened in their lives is noticeable, even by them.  On the way to cello on Monday, #4 said, Mom, Megan is more like my friend that also happens to be my teacher.  So true, son.  And this is the way we should feel about everyone who pitches in on our lives.