Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wasatch Back

Liz and I are putting together a team for this June's Wasatch Back. I know some of you are runners who are dying to come party with us. Who is in? Come on, you know you want to. (Oh, but girls only. We're going to have a girl party.)

Here's some info.

I need to register us speedy quick. I'm getting a list together on Facebook, so you can let me know in your comments here, or comment on FB, or email me, or call me. And if you have a fantastic idea for a team name, throw it out there.

If you don't jump on this, you're missing the opportunity of a lifetime. I mean it. Honestly. What could be more fun than hanging with Liz and me for 180 miles?

(Subliminal message...join us join us join us...)

Friday, January 30, 2009

More Baby Celia

Hey, Bri, we're all waiting for you to start a blog...

But until then, here are some more pictures Bri just sent. Beautiful beautiful baby and her sweet's so hard to be 700 miles away.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Little Kate

I'm having fun with my sweet Kate. I can't stand that she'll be gone from me all day in the fall. She's such good company, and still willing to have her picture taken: a nice combination.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pictures of Baby Celia

Here she is! I think she's darling. She matches her cute parents, don't you think?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Junior High Lunchroom, or Social Darwinism at its Finest

I don't really need to write this post. All I have to write is "Junior High Lunchroom" and you can see where I'm going, can't you?

I had the "privilege" of being lunchroom monitor at the junior high today for two lunch periods.


Some observations (some positive, others not so much):

Josh has a great group of friends. His table was chatty, happy, and full. Whew.

Josh is not in elementary school anymore. He not only did not come over and give me a hug, he barely acknowledged me. Sigh. I guess that's how it should be, but it's proves he's growing up.

I am glad that Josh's school has a nice amount of diversity. I loved seeing girls in hijab, hearing Spanish, and watching some kids who are African refugees.

I am sad that there was so little mixing of culture. Well, I should say, there was a decent amount of culture mixing, but it seemed to be almost entirely minority cultures mixing. There were many many tables of 100% white kids. Kind of defeats the purpose of diversity.

Some kids are mean. Some kids like to break rules. Is it group mentality? Is it what we fall to without a really loud conscience?

I have some kickin' mom chops. I was there to monitor, not to observe, and I was all over those kids. I shut down a baby carrot food fight, gave the evil eye to some loudies, smiled at the kids who looked like they needed a little encouragement (and is anything sadder than a kid sitting all alone at lunch? About broke my heart every time I saw it), and stopped a chase. Don't mess with me. I am Lunch Mom.

Someone threw up in the hall. Isn't that just the cherry on top?

Two stories to close my lunchroom saga:

First story: I noticed three boys I've known since kindergarten. They're a little quieter, a little more intellectual (OK, they're a little more nerdy. There. I said it). They sat at a table and ate together, which made me glad. Like I said, nothing sadder than eating alone. And then before I could get a handle on what was going on, this group of obviously way-into-themselves boys joined them at the table. And as I moved closer, I saw what was going on...the three boys were getting kicked off of the table. They quietly got up, shoulders slouched, and I got all in the mean boys' faces. I told them off. It didn't do any good. The three kids left and tried to find another table. One of them just took off and went to eat in the hall. It still makes me sick. I wish I could tell their parents how disappointing their boys' behavior was. (I'd want to know so I could kick some sense into my son.)

Second story: First lunch was a little quieter. There were a few tables empty. One table held only one dark-haired boy who was eating quietly. As I watched him, I decided he must be on the spectrum, but pretty high-functioning. I watched him on and off, and noticed a really tall kid approaching, a handsome blond boy who looked like an eighth grader. He came up to the first boy, smiled and said something, and before I knew it, he sat down and they proceeded to have a long conversation. The blond boy spent more than 5 or 6 minutes sitting with the dark-haired boy, gently teasing him and being about the sweetest thing I've ever seen. It was obvious it wasn't the first time they had hung out. I was so moved by this small but important show of friendship. I wish I could tell their parents how amazing their boys' behavior was.

I get to go back next month. Can't wait.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fantasy vs. Reality. And Some Gratitude

How my day was supposed to go:

1. Wake up early and go for a 7-8 miler
2. Go home and say goodbye to David as he leaves for skiing with Jeff
3. Put on loud and happy music and be Super-Positive-Mom who encourages her kids to get their work done with Happiness and No Complaining!
4. Practice for a couple of hours
5. Go shopping for a new oven and find one for a screaming deal (suffice it to say, my oven element exploded due to the awesomeness of my chocolate chip cookies. My oven is about 50 years old. It also lacks two burners. As much as I do not WANT to buy a new oven, I'm afraid I need one.)
6. Organize another corner of the house and make another trip to DI
7. Watch my family play happily and remark how much we all love to be together

How my day went:

1. Stay up half the night with a baby with the stomach flu
2. Cut my run in half when I realize sweet baby has passed on the stomach flu
3. Put on loud and happy music and be Super-Screaming-Mom who encourages her kids to get their work done with Fear and Trembling!
4. Gather myself, apologize to sweet children, and give up on getting ALL the work done
5. Be surprised that David and Jeff come home after 1 1/2 hours because when they got to the resort, it was raining.
6. Shake my head in amazement as one by one, each of us (except Kate) gives in to the stomach flu
7. Sit down to be a good mom and do a puzzle with Kate when I realize the strange sound I've been ignoring is rushing water from an overflowing toilet upstairs pouring into the laundry room. All over the three loads of wash I'd just finished. And everywhere else
8. Work on a talk for sacrament meeting I was asked to give Thursday night
8. Go hide in bed

But I wouldn't be Super-Optimistic-Mom if I couldn't find some silver linings. So here they are (weak as they may be)...

1. I'm grateful that Ben pooped all over ME twice rather than anyone or anywhere else (ha ha)
2. I'm grateful that all of our towels were clean, dry, and in their place so that I could mop up all the water from the overflowing toilet
3. I'm grateful that David was able to give Ben a blessing in the middle of the night and that Ben responded by sleeping for a few hours. (I'm so grateful for the priesthood.)
4. I'm grateful that David earned the Amazing Dad award by taking Sophie on a Daddy-Daughter Date, then taking Josh to Home Depot twice to make something for Josh's science project, even with the stomach flu
5. I'm grateful that the talk I have to give in sacrament meeting tomorrow is on commitment to the gospel and to the home as a wife and mother...Because after a day like today, I am reminded that the good, the bad, and the ugly are all part of this journey. And I guess I'm committed...for better or worse.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Seriously. I'm Done with the Inversion.

So, I never have thought that my mood changes with the weather. I'm a pretty even-tempered person, as almost everyone will attest. But OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO DONE WITH THIS STUPID INVERSION. (How's that for throwing a fit?)

I love Utah. Don't get me wrong. But when an inversion sets in, I am so ready to move.

I think I could handle the gray, but the worst part for me is that I can't run outside. Apparently, running outdoors is like smoking a pack of cigarettes. Kind of negates the purpose of the run, I think. But day after day of looking at the yuck, then boring runs on the treadmill at the gym, then more looking at the yuck has done me in.

So this morning I drove with Ben to Park City, pulled the Bob out of the trunk, and RAN IN THE FRESH, CLEAN AIR. On a snowpacked trail. Next to a running stream.


So much better.

Welcome to the World, Baby Celia

Bri had her baby this morning. I'm so thrilled for her and for Mike. The road ahead, well, it will be full of joy and pain, angst and laughter, sleepless nights and naps snuggled up with a little tiny body. It's a good road, but not an easy road. (Just like life...)

I'll post a pic when I get one sent to me (hint hint.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day

I'm so grateful for democracy, so proud of our nation.

Just One of Those Days

Argh. I hate days like this. The kids are mostly great, the house is mostly organized, life is mostly lovely, and I want to throw things around and yell a lot. It all makes so much sense.

No wonder some men (never David, of course) complain that women are a tad hard to understand. I don't even get it myself. Thank goodness for good friends who can say, "Make grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner and don't expect your kids to get everything done. That way you won't yell as much." Brilliant, I say. Sheer brilliance.

So I'm off to make tomato soup and grilled cheese. And not yell so much. Wish us all luck.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting

David and I went to a family funeral in Provo today. Sophie and Ben are both fighting off colds/bronchitis, so I could hardly send them to a friend's house or ask someone to come over to catch some of their love, but I had to go to accompany Dave's sister. We've been leaving Josh with the littler munchkins more and more often, and usually everything goes smoothly. He offered to watch them, so we thought we'd risk it.

After the funeral I checked my phone. There were five voicemails.

#1 Sophie in a sobbing voice..."Mom, please please please come home RIGHT NOW. Why did you leave us with Josh?" crying...

#2 Sophie in a sad, subdued, weepy voice..."Mom...he's being so mean to me. He's so mean. Please come home."

#3 Sophie in a desperate voice..."Why can't you come home right now? Please please please come home."

#4 Sophie, again sobbing..."Mommy, where are you?" Mad, angry voice breaks in. Josh: "Sophie, hang up that phone RIGHT NOW. HANG IT UP NOW. HANG UP. HANG UP." Sophie: "No...I don't have to." Angry words back and forth, yelling and sobbing.

David and I, alternately cracking up and wondering if anyone is left alive, finally got to the last voicemail:

#5 Sophie, chipper and upbeat..."Mom, we've made up. Everything's OK! Love ya."

Hot and cold. Little angels.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Coming Down from the Mountain

My guess is this happens to you, too. You have some phenomenal experience. You're one with something bigger than yourself (music, the spirit, a conversation with someone dear, whatever). You feel expanded, enlightened, enraptured, maybe.

And then a kid pinches her sister. Or the dog throws up.

And rather than taking a leisurely walk down the mountain, preparing yourself to enter the real world again, you've just leapt off a high cliff face and landed in a patch of thorns.

No matter what, it's always hard to leave the mountain (like Moses, leaving the burning bush and finding his people getting all nasty around a golden calf.) But it's even harder to be shoved into the bumps and bruises of everyday life without any warning. I overreact. I snap a little. Then I catch my breath and try to relax.

As much as I'm enjoying myself at the piano day after day, I will admit that I'm getting chucked off the mountain way too often. Someone needs a diaper change. The phone rings. The kids are screaming at each other. Maybe THIS is why it's been so hard to get back in the groove...not that I didn't have the interest, but that it takes much effort to leave the mountain and then run right back up.

But it's worth it. It's so so worth it. I'm feeling alive, feeling my old self returning, finding my voice again.

So I trudge back up the mountain. Again and again. As many times as it takes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And Stinkiness...

Life has stinkiness to sell, too. It comes at the price of two guinea pigs. Yuck. Anyone want them? They're going up on KSL or Craigslist in two weeks.

(I gave my kids two weeks to prove that they would
1. Take care of the guinea pigs without being prodded, cajoled, begged, or screamed at.
2. Actually show that they have some affection for said guinea pigs.)

Any guesses on whether or not they're meeting these criteria?

I used to love the first guinea pig (Butch), in a very shallow sense of the word love. But cleaning his cage week after week slowly zapped away the warm fuzzies. Now I just say hi to him when I dump his food in the bowl. He deserves better than that.

So what do you say? Want them?

Good selling job, huh?

Life Has Loveliness to Sell

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up,
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstacy
Give all you have been, or could be.

-Sara Teasdale

I love this poem, with its gentle reminder that loveliness is found in large and simple things. I have found that loveliness in Ben's pats on my back, in finding the right low leaping left hand octaves, in hearing the Spirit and listening. It is in my dog resting her head on my knee when I'm feeling especially low, in David's sweet text messages, in my childrens' faces in candlelight. It is in reconnecting with those I hold dear, in running at dawn, in finding my pillow at the end of an everlong day.

Life has loveliness to sell. Find it. Recognize it. Buy it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

We Set a Date

I know, I know, this is moving pretty fast. But we've known each other a long time. It's a bit of a whirlwind romance, but I'm hoping the friendship will carry us through.

So, the piano and I hope you'll join us on April 7 at 6:00 at Dayne's Music for my first solo recital in 13 years. Oh my. Actually, I'm not sure that I hope you'll join us. It makes me nervous to think about living bodies listening to me perform memorized music. BUT, since playing for people is the point of a solo recital, I guess I'll really have to extend the invitation.

This is not a summons. I will not be offended if you don't come. I will probably be relieved. Even if just David and three or four of my closest (read, will not judge me harshly) friends are there, I'll be happy. So if you have prior plans or need to wash your hair, if you're feeling like reading a book or don't want to drive, that is SO FINE.

Wow. I really did it. I scheduled it. Nothing like fear to motivate good, hard work.

The program? Oh. Yeah. I have to play something, don't I? I'll be working on that this weekend and will let you know, but I know it will be a relaxed, intimate program with music that doesn't give me hives.

Exciting and terrifying, all at the same time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My On-Again Love Affair

Oh, don't be so scandalized. I'm talking about the piano, and let me tell you, the feelings are BACK.

My relationship with the piano began when I was five. The story goes: A piano professor in our ward in Long Beach, CA looked at my hands and said that I had piano hands. She introduced my parents to Leaine Gibson, a friend of hers who taught at CSULB, and the rest was history. (I find the first part of this story fishy. I have seen many hands that look more like piano hands than mine. My fingers are not exactly long, slender or Rachmaninoff-y.)

So began the weekly trips to the university, into the music building, past the practicing orchestra, up the stairs to the piano floor, where Mrs. Gibson introduced me to the world of music.

Twelve years later, the relationship got serious when I walked into another music building at another university. The piano and I spent up to six or seven hours a day together. These were heady days, filled with agony and ecstasy. I wouldn't have believed, if you had told me then, that the passion would cool, that sleepless nights with babies, long afternoons with struggling students, and the fight to put dinner on the table yet one more time would take away some of the romance. Sad to say, it did.

The piano and I remained good friends, of course. The kind of relationship we shared wasn't one that could just be put aside. I played quite a bit, practiced even, but mostly for other people. For the choir I accompanied. For a little performance here and there. For my children to dance (oh, honestly, that sounds so cheesy. It does happen, though). We even had a second honeymoon in Seattle once when my choir traveled to a festival. The choir sang and I found a practice room and played for hours a day. It felt familiar, rich, and good.

But mostly we just sat in the same house together, without much communication. The half-hearted attempts to break through the wall of normal life were just not strong enough.

And then, somehow, the knowledge that babydom is done, that teaching is put away, that I have some say in what I do each day, all these things have fanned the flame. And the fire feels GOOD, baby, GOOD.

Everyday, my piano and I have a date. For now, we're making small talk. We're playing some Chopin and Bach, some Brahms, a little Mompou. We're getting to know each other again. We both know, however, that a relationship takes real work, and this honeymoon phase can't last too long. So today I worked on fingering in the Goldberg variations. I'm pulling back some technique. The memorizing starts next week.

So if I'm not around quite as much on the computer, don't blame me. It's hard to ignore passion when it's right in front of you. Or in your living room.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Crystal Cove

Can you stand even MORE pictures?

And can you believe we did so much over Christmas break? No wonder we're all exhausted...

One of our traditions is to go to Crystal Cove with the family. I think this was the very first time we've gone without Eric and Christina, and we all missed them so much. It was a bonus, though, to have Kurt and Ashleigh and Mike join us for the first time.

My kids love poking sea anemones, I love playing with the coastal light (gorgeous, although I didn't get any spectacular pictures), and we all love being on the beach.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Aspen Grove

Mom and Dad gave us a fantastic trip to Aspen Grove for New Year's. Bri & Mike couldn't be there because of the impending birth of baby ?, and Ananda and Steven couldn't come either. We missed them all a lot. Hate to say it, guys, but you missed a party.

Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, eating, games, staying up way too late (this seems to be a theme for me lately. Argh.): fun fun fun. I loved being with my family so much this break.

Thanks, Mom and Dad (and also to Mom for watching the littles so I could ski with David and Josh. That was fantastic.)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I Heart The Office

The Christmas Office episode was wrong (and hysterical) on so many levels (Meredith's intervention...Phyllis ratting out Dwight and Angela after thoroughly enjoying her party-planning blackmail. Sweet.), but I seriously loved Princess Unicorn.


(Oh my goodness, did I seriously just post about a TV show?)

(Yup. I did.)

Christmas Memories

I can't believe Christmas 2008 has ended. My house can't either. It's still covered in Christmas decorations and downstairs the presents have yet to all find homes. But the calendar tells me it's over, so I'd better accept it and prepare myself for some cleaning extravaganzas.

Before that, however, here is some evidence that this holiday season was well-spent.

First, the Heber Christmas parties. We spent the Saturday before Christmas with David's extended family at his mom's house for our annual caroling party: cold Heber nights, warm soup, and lots of fun conversations. I especially love watching the cousins together, both older and younger. I love the mix of ages in David's family, and how much love is shown to us by everyone. The next night was our annual Sinterclaus party with Paul, Cindee, Rachelle, Bill, & Mom. We eat a simple dinner, then move to the highlight of the night. Poems. Everyone is assigned a person and writes a poem describing all his or her wonderful attributes. At the end, we add a little something that person could work on this year to be even more amazing. Funny funny funny and also often sweet. Paul and David's poems generally become way over-the-top songs. The kids started joining in a couple of years ago, and their poems are sweet.

Christmas in California was NOT warm, as I had hoped, but we still managed to have a fantastic time.

Christmas Eve was filled with memories. The extended family party was held at my Nana's house, just as when I was growing up. She is a gracious and kind hostess. The food was delicious, and the BEST PART OF ALL...I made it to the grown-up table. Yes, I did. I never thought it would happen. I've been at the kids' table my whole life, but because we were missing Aunt Jan and Uncle Jeff, the powers that be decided that David and I were ready for that big step.

The Nativity was sweet. Kate was an angel, Sophie was Mary, Josh a shepherd, and Cole was Joseph. The older cousins were wisemen. There were no animals, until later that night when Cole was surprised with a puppy. Oh my. Our gifts fell short after that.

Christmas morning we met on my parents' bed as always (it's always funny) for prayer before heading downstairs to open presents. Sophie didn't get a lime green sewing machine, but she seemed happy enough with the white one that showed up. Waffles with ice cream and strawberries were next, then laying around the whole day. We watched a few episodes of Planet Earth, played some games, and napped a little. Some of us never changed out of our pajamas, but I won't tell which ones. We had carne asada and chile relleno casserole for dinner. All in all, it was a truly successful Christmas day.