Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Life Lists

During our long hours in the car last May on our family trip to the Redwoods, David, Josh & I started our Life Lists: lists of things we wanted to accomplish in our lifetimes. (I think the girls were glued to the DVD screen and wouldn't participate. Little stinkers.) I just found them and thought I'd post them. We'll be adding to the lists over time, but it was fun to see what we were dreaming about last year.


1. Become a pro soccer player
2. Go river rafting
3. Go to Asia
4. Got to Madagascar
5. Restore an old car with Dad
6. Go to England
7. Build a treehouse
8. Be a rock star or have a band with friends
9. Go on an overnight ATV trip


1. Visit redwoods (Check. Such a pragmatist.)
2. Learn to sail
3. Climb the highest peak in Utah
4. Go river rafting
5. Fly in a helicopter (Check.)
6. Race on Miller Speedway
7. Drive down Highway 1 with the kids
8. Visit Alaska
9. Visit Japan
10. Enter a bike race
11. Restore an old car
12. Go to England
13. Write a children's book
14. Build a treehouse
15. Own a BMW or Triumph motorcycle
16. Go on an overnight ATV trip

and me:

1. Learn to sail
2. Write a book
3. Run a marathon
4. Do a triathlon
5. Have 100 songs memorized
6. Run 1000 miles in a year
7. Go on a humanitarian aid trip (build a school or something)
8. Take a good photography class
9. Go to China
10. Go to Africa
11. Spend a week at a beach house with the family
12. Go on a cruise with family and friends
13. Spend Christmas at a cabin

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Just Can't Stay Away

I'm back. Yes, I'm needing hardcore practice time, but I don't spend THAT much time on the blog, and I miss spewing my thoughts into cyberspace. It must be the narcissist in me.

Updates since my last post:

Josh is STILL SICK. He is on his twelfth day of fever. TWELVE DAYS. I have gone far beyond good sick mom. I am now Great Sick Mom. I am Marathon Sick Mom. But I'm also so aware of my blessings. We went back to the doctor on Saturday, since he took a turn for the worse, and all I could think after the chest x-rays, throat swab, ear check, and blood work came back normal was how grateful I am that I'm not dealing with a terrible, chronic illness with this sweet boy. I have friends whose children have had cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and I admire them with all my heart. Seeing Josh limp and weak on the couch has wrenched my heart. When I imagine him hooked up to machines in a hospital, it tears it in half. Missing 8 days of school at the end of term...not good. Knowing he'll return to good health soon enough...all good.

Ben. He's trouble. Have I already said "We're talking about trouble, my friends, with a capital T and that rhymes with B and that stands for Ben?" Yes? Well, his terrible twos have come early. Last week I made a beautiful pot of beef barley soup with gorgeous shredded beef. We ate it for dinner, but I made plenty for leftovers. The next day, I heard the dog making some suspicious noises in the kitchen. I went upstairs and screamed. Ben had opened the fridge, taken out the container of soup, opened the lid, and put it on the floor for the dog to eat. Thank you, Ben. The leftovers were gone, and I had to deal with my dog's stomach problems later that day. Nice. He has started pinching, hitting, climbing, and demanding his own way. Where did my angel Benno go?

Ben. He's also very cute and very charming. When he asks for something and I give it to him, he says, "Thank you much." He gives hugs and kisses liberally and loves to read books.

I had my sister-in-law Ashleigh's shower here on Saturday (although I didn't throw it. Her sister and friend did, and did a way better job than I would have.) She's a great and wonderful person and will be a darling mom. I can not wait to meet their little man.

I've ordered my recital outfit...hope it fits! Can't wait! Have to find shoes! And figure out my hair!

My runs are getting faster and faster! I can hardly believe it. Running with my faster buddies and doing speedwork is paying off. I did 3.1 on Friday in UNDER NINE MINUTE MILES. This is big, my friends, big. I know many many people are much much faster, and I shouldn't be so excited, but I am, darn it. Yee Haw! Even my long runs and hilly runs are faster than I ever thought I'd be. Visualization is a powerful tool.

I'm using lots of exclamation points! Wow!

And that part about running was really braggy, but I'm leaving it in anyway, because I'm just THAT excited about it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'll See Ya When I See Ya

My fingers need the piano, not the keyboard, so I'm going on an internet fast for a little while. I'll be available by email or on the phone or by knocking on my door (I'm Thinking about My Doorbell...When You Gonna Ring It?).

I'm sure there will be some withdrawals on my part. Post some great posts so I have lots to read when I come back, OK?

And wish me luck on this final push to the recital. (For those who asked, it's April 7, 6:00-7:00 at Steinway Hall, Daynes Music, 6935 South State.)

And like I said when I first told y'all about the recital, I promise I will not be offended if you aren't there (unless you're David, in which case you'll be sleeping on the couch for a year if you're not there.) Please don't make special efforts. It's a hard time of night, right in the middle of rush hour, and its dinnertime, and remember, I haven't done one of these in many many years. So I'm not promising it will be phenomenal. But it WILL be fun, and I'm excited, and I've worked hard, and I want to share these gorgeous pieces. So if you ARE there, ignore my many mistakes and share the love. I keep telling myself it's about communication, not perfection, right? So come enjoy my butterfly mobile, flaws and all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Things I Can't Live Without (for Now)

1. Super glue
It keeps my fingers from bleeding all over the keys.

2. Aveeno lotion
It helps me need less super glue. It's the only lotion I've found that I'll actually use more than once in a day. I hate greasy lotions, I hate smelly lotions, and I hate lotions that don't work.

3. My piano

4. My friends
I love having people who know everything (OK, ALMOST everything) about me who love me anyway, who understand that sometimes I'm a flake, sometimes I'm super busy, sometimes I need to talk RIGHT NOW, and most of the time I'll manage to be there for them, too, but will forgive me if I blow it. You guys are lifesavers. Seriously.

5. Bedtime for the munchkins
It's about the only time I'm getting really solid, long practicing done. I'm doing my technique and some run-through stuff during the day, but the solid stuff is happening late into the night. I'm not sure that's the best thing for my memory, considering that I'm slightly more brain dead at night, but I'll take what I can get!

6. David's support
David is being so incredibly cool about the time this recital preparation is taking. He is not only understanding about my evening practice hours, but he says nice things about listening to me practice, too. I could NOT be doing this without his willingness, and I'm incredibly grateful.

The things that I AM living without (for now) include:

1. A spotless house (it's actually not terrible, but it's certainly not the super-organized home I envisioned when I quit teaching).

2. Reading
Honestly, I have never read so little in my entire life. I think I've only read six or seven books this entire year. It's crazy. Piano and running have taken over my spare time, I'm afraid. I also decided I only want to read books that I REALLY like this year. I don't have time to waste on stupid books.

3. Photography
It's just not happening right now. I don't know if I've taken a picture since we got back from California.

The things that I will need to catch up on as soon as the recital is over:

1. Taxes (Aargh!)

2. Organizing (Double aargh!)

3. Giving back to all those people who've helped ME.

4. About a million things that have fallen through the cracks. I hope you'll forgive me, if one of those things that has fallen through the cracks has impacted you. I recognize that I've been living a bit in my own little world, but April 7 is right around the corner...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sick Kids

I'm not very nice to my sick kids.

I'm not MEAN to them, but I'm not the sympathetic nurse type. I TRY to be. I get soda for them and let them watch TV and take their temperatures, and read out loud to them, and give them medicine. But inwardly, I'm thinking, "Man. This is kind of a pain."

That's not very nice, is it?

Actually, it's kind of an inverse relationship. When they're REALLY sick, with super high fevers, achey bodies, and they're all-around really very miserable, I'm actually quite kind. The sicker they are, the nicer I am, and I'm not faking it. I really hate to see my kids in pain. But when it's the fifth day of the flu, and they're now just kind of under the weather, and the TV's been on for hours every day, and I'm thinking that I'm kind of done with the whole thing, well, I stop with all the niceties and start suggesting it might be time to practice, or do homework, or go back to school, or stop complaining, or just go to bed if they can't think of anything to do but watch TV.

And when I'm not really sure that they're sick at all? When they just MIGHT be crying wolf? Like when one child in particular complains Every Single Day about yet another different ailment?

I'm kind of a bear. A really snappy, unsympathetic bear who tells kids to suck it up and go to school already.

I guess I need to practice my nursing skills. And I get to! Lucky me! Josh is on his fourth day of the flu, and I'm a little worried that Kate is coming down with it, if her sniffles and sore throat and general grumpiness is any indication.

I have been pretty good this time around. Josh has been REALLY sick. His fever is high, his eyes look sunken (yes, I'm throwing liquids at him left and right) and he's worn out and weak, and I just wish I could help him feel all better. Poor guy. So with all this real suffering, I've been feeling very kind and loving. The inverse relationship, remember? We've started reading Lord of the Rings together and he's digging that. I've made him hot chocolate, smoothies, brought him root beer floats, taken him to the doctor, gone to the library for new books for him... That's all pretty good. But I'm kind of running out of ideas.

So what do all of you kind and sympathetic moms do when your kids are sick? What makes your kids feel loved and protected? Maybe I just need something new in my bag of tricks...

Friday, March 20, 2009


It was a rather perfect Disneyland day.

You must know, I am not the hugest Disneyland fan. I have many childhood memories of long lines, sore feet, and being grumpy at my parents. Growing up near Anaheim kind of robbed me of that Disneyland magic. We'd hit the park anytime relatives were in town, and if I remember right, once I even stayed in the parking lot in my grandparents' motorhome reading to avoid the TORTURE that was a day in Disneyland. That's just the kind of nice kid I was.

Fast forward a few (OK, a lot) of years, and I must admit, this was a treat of a day. The kids earned the privilege by finishing the Book of Mormon (David's idea. I have mixed feelings. Don't judge me.) and let me tell you, they worked hard to finish. We knew that Matt's wedding was coming up and we read and read and read to get close, then we read and read and read on the trip down, then we read and read and read on the Sunday after the wedding, and we DID it. Congrats, kids. We had some really nice discussions, too, I'll admit.

The kids talked Chad into coming with us, and that made the day even more magical. Three adults and four kids is a nice proportion for a day in the Magic Kingdom, and Chad is fantastic with my kids. Thank you, brother. You're amazing.

Short lines, overcast but warmish weather, happy kids, happy grown-ups, darling Ben on Dumbo and the carousel, Kate swinging on Chad's arm...

Maybe it isn't REALLY the Happiest Place on Earth, but I'll vote for our day there as pretty darned lovely.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Hey, I got an essay published. Well, kind of published. OK, not really published, but it's on a website for Mormon women. Therefore, you can assume it's about spirituality, and you've been duly warned. If you'd like to click over, you are welcome.

Anyway, this makes almost three posts in a row on a spiritual bent (if you ignore the Poptarts. I am ignoring Poptarts. I only eat them when I run a really long time). I apologize to those of you who prefer programming as usual and promise I will get back to normal now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On Perfectionism

Every second Wednesday morning, you will find me in Kate's kindergarten class. It's Mommy Helper day, and while I am tired by the end of it (bless you, all you teachers. You amaze me), I am also surprised at the insights into humanity I receive while watching children learn. It's not as in your face as being in the junior high lunchroom, of course, but MAN, there is a lot of variety in our souls, isn't there?

Today, my job was to help make a butterfly mobile. Each child was to trace a small, a medium, and a large butterfly onto construction paper, cut out the butterflies, and decorate them in a symmetrical way. Simple enough? For most of the kids, six months into kindergarten, yes. But there was one incident that still has me thinking.

A. is a beautiful boy with lashes that I might kill for. I've never noticed anything unusual about him until today. But when it was time to trace his butterfly, he came unglued, over and over again.

"I can't DO this."

"Will you do this FOR me?"


He would trace over the same section of wing, and anytime his finger moved the diecut he was tracing, he tried to put it right back into place and then retrace that same section.

I said, "Hey, A., it's okay if the tracing isn't perfect. It's really fine if you just try your best."

He said, "NO. It has to be PERFECT. It's not GOOD ENOUGH"

We had the same conversation six or seven times. He kept asking if I would do it for him, and I kept saying, "Let's just ignore the problems and try again," and he would tell me that he wanted it just right. It couldn't be messy.

By the end of the third butterfly, A. was in tears, and I wanted to throw my arms around him, put him on my lap, and hug him tight. I wondered what impulse was making him feel that perfection was the only option. I wanted to heal him of it and watch him do as sloppy a job as most of the other kindergarten boys had done. I wanted him to enjoy just the effort of trying and to forget about being perfect. After all, the end result was not the important thing...it was the process that was important.

As I struggled to communicate to A. that "good enough" can really BE good enough, I felt a strong impulse come over me, an understanding that my Heavenly Father feels the same way about me. How often have I struggled with a feeling of inferiority because of my lack of perfection? How often have I cried and struggled and yelled that I wasn't GOOD ENOUGH? I'm sure Heavenly Father has wanted to throw His arms around me, hold me tight and let me know that he just wants me to give it a good effort, and if necessary, grace will make up for the rest.

Sweet A. He finally finished his butterflies, and they were pretty darned good. I can guarantee that they were certainly good enough.

True Confessions

I really like Poptarts.


Monday, March 16, 2009

On Temples

So I read this post about Mormon temples, and although I believe most of my readers are LDS, I know there are a few that are not. I hope this isn't too churchy. I tend to keep my spiritual stuff on my Small Plates blog, because I hate to drench people in my spiritual life who don't share my same views. However, I thought this post was just about how I feel about the temple, and with the whole hubbub about the Big Love controversy, I thought, well, what the heck? (And I must say, the first paragraph is a little strong for me. I don't have QUITE the same reaction as the post's author, but the rest is really spot on for me.)

So, here it is. You certainly don't have to click on it if you don't want to... (Did that make you want to? Good reverse psychology, huh?) No, really, you don't have to. It won't bother me a bit if you don't.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

On Music

So I wrote a post yesterday about our crazy month and all of the music stuff we're involved in. Something about it didn't ring true, and I pulled the post after a couple of hours. I'm still not sure why. March IS crazy, we ARE very involved with music, and everything I wrote was dead on.

BUT, I think that the post missed the point that is most important to me. All of the varied activities my kids are involved in are for one thing and one thing only (or at least, that's my goal): to help them live a more fulfilled and happy life now and/or in the future. We sacrifice a little comfort and peace right now because in order to be happy adults, they must learn how to do some basic things: work, love, sacrifice, enjoy, and serve.

So all of the various musical activities the kids are involved in are not the end-all, be-all. They play music because I believe it teaches them important short-term lessons, but even more importantly, they're learning for the long term. Are they going to be professional musicians? Likely not. Are they going to be musicians? I hope so. But even if we eventually decide to pull them from private lessons at some point, there are important life lessons that they'll have learned from them.

They'll have learned that progress takes incremental steps over long periods of time.
They'll have learned that making mistakes is part of the learning process
They'll have learned that mistakes can actually teach us what we need to do differently, to take different approaches to old problems.
They'll have learned to take criticism.
They'll have learned to communicate emotions in healthy ways (other than the screaming at the piano bench. That's not so healthy.)
They'll have learned that three people can play the same piece three different ways, with each way being acceptable. Having alternate points of view in life is healthy and interesting.
They'll have learned to pick themselves up after a disaster.
They'll have learned that sacrificing what they want right now (to watch TV) for what they want later (to play their recital pieces well and communicate something to the audience) is worth it.

Each of my children has different abilities and passions musically. One is very gifted rhythmically, one has an incredible sense of pitch. One struggles at dealing with basic corrections. One will play sections over and over again without prodding. One plays for more than an hour a day without being asked, one practices because it's an expectation and because there is no media time before practicing is finished, and one practices only after much struggle Every Single Time. But I think that music has something to teach each of them.

Music can help teach my children those basic life lessons I want them to have: to work, to enjoy, to sacrifice, to love, and to serve. I know that I've learned these things from my musical journey. For us, it's worth the stresses and the struggles. And it's not all stresses and struggles. There are joys along the path, too. Just like life.

Look at me, with another analogy...pretty impressive, isn't it?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Running Secrets

Isn't that the funniest title of any post I've ever written? I mean, honestly! The nerve! Like I have any secrets? And like I should be giving any advice on running?


I have some friends who have recently put on the running shoes, and since it hasn't been all that long since I started my running (ahem...my father would say "Are you really running? Or is it more like jogging?") passion, I thought I might share some of what I've learned on the trail. Or on the pavement. Or around the park. Or wherever.

1. Get your running shoes from a running store. I love Salt Lake Running Company. They helped me find the right shoes and insoles to avoid the shin splints that plagued me every other time I'd tried running in earnest. And they have never laughed at me. I love that in a store.

2. Choose a race and train for it. It's too easy to get bogged down in how bad the first couple of months feels. Honestly, hitting my first 2 miles straight both exhilarated me and made me want to puke. Having a race to train for helped me look past the pain and misery and torment and have a goal.

3. Find friends and convince them that you'd be a good running partner because of your sparkling wit and the fact that you make good chocolate cookies. Or whatever your talents might be. Then let the pressure of friends waiting on the corner for you help get your rear out of bed at whatever dark and crazy hour you decide you'll run together. You'll discover the joy of running therapy. There's nothing better than working out all of life's problems on a 10 miler with good friends

4. Keep track of your time running and your mileage. It makes you feel so virtuous. And awesome. I love adding my months' totals on the calendar. It doesn't sound exciting, does it? But it is...

5. Running clothes? Yes. Do it. Don't feel silly in running shorts. Even if you get a comment like I did from a passing car: "You really should get a tan." All my comebacks came to me when I reached the next street. Like, "You really should get some manners." Or "Because I really care about impressing you?" Oh, yeah, but back to running shorts. They're good. But maybe I'll look for some longer ones this year, because, you know, I really should get a tan.

6. Look at Runner's World. It's fun. It makes you feel like part of a brotherhood or sisterhood, even if you're slow.

7. Oh, and about being slow. Slow is relative. Slow for you is what you did last month. Fast for you is what you do next month. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. That's part of the joy of it for me. I judge so much of my life based on how close I am to perfection. I'll never win a race. But I'm in it to be better than I was last year, to push myself farther than I thought I could go. And that is freeing in a way I've never experienced. Don't get me started on the life metaphors...I have so many life/running metaphors that I scare myself a little.

8. Wear sunscreen. And if you're a mom, get a good stroller. And learn to tolerate Gatorade before downing it on your first half marathon. And get a Garmin. And have fun. And don't ignore the twingey pains that show up. And figure out how to stretch. And be super proud of yourself for being more in shape than you've ever been in your life. It's all good. Oh, except for the Gatorade experience. That's not good. Not At All. But knowing not to do it? You'll be grateful. Really. That advice alone is worth your time reading this post.

So there. My running secrets. I have more, but I am laughing again at the idea of passing out running advice.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kate's Treat

So Kate had a recital Friday night, and per tradition, got to choose a treat to celebrate. I suggested stopping at the grocery store for ice cream to share with the family, since the other kids all stayed home. She thought that was great, as long as she could choose cookie dough ice cream.

Once we picked up the ice cream, she asked if she could get one of "those green things that are dark green on the outside and light green on the inside." You know, a cucumber. Did you get it? It took me a while, too. She had had one at school that week when they talked about the Food Guide Pyramid and sampled foods from the food groups, and she loved it. (And yes, I have indeed served cucumbers at dinner. They're not foreign to our table, but apparently they have been off her radar until now.)

So we bought our ice cream and her cucumber and went home. I dished up ice cream to four happy kids, and they dug in.

After eating a few bites, Kate says, "Mom, where's my cucumber?"

I said, "Do you want it NOW?"

She said, "Yes! For my treat!"

So I peeled part of the cucumber, and she proceeded to down it. Half a cucumber. With her cookie dough ice cream.

That Kate...she's one in a million.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just Some Candids

My funny family...

Blue Steel:

The Hulk:

More Blue Steel (I didn't get the memo, apparently):

And still more Blue Steel (but with a romantic air):

Mom being a little coy:

and finally, Steven dancing the Parasol Dance:

Life with my family is rarely boring.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Matt & Ananda's Wedding

We traveled to California this last weekend for my brother Matt's wedding to Ananda. We've been looking forward to this day ever since they announced their engagement (well, actually even before they announced their engagement). Matt is a wonderful, funny, extremely talented guy and Ananda is an intelligent, funny, beautiful, kind woman. We are thrilled beyond words for the two of them, and can't wait to have memory upon memory with them.

My parents hosted a rehearsal dinner on Friday night. It was nice to spend a couple of relaxed hours with Matt and Ananda before the happy craziness of the wedding day, and to get to know Ananda's family a little better.

Friday morning we drove to Los Angeles to the LDS Temple for the sealing ceremony. David and I were married in the LA Temple 17 1/2 years ago (I KNOW. No way is that possible, right?) and it's been a few years since we'd been back. So many sweet and profound memories flooded back to me as we entered the grounds and the temple. I'm so grateful for the gift of eternal marriage, for what it teaches about the sacredness of the bond between husband and wife.


The ceremony was lovely, the weather was perfect, the children were well-behaved. And Matt & Ananda...well, they glowed.

After pictures on the grounds, we headed back to my parents' home to help set up for the reception. The night was a fantastic party, full of love, happiness, good food, dancing, and a chance to celebrate love. And man, it was pretty.

It was a perfect day. Well, as close as it gets in this life, anyway.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Birthday to David

It's David's birthday, so today's post is All About Him...

This birthday is the 20th year I've sung "Happy Birthday" to him. WHAT? That's just plain crazy.

He is an amazing skier. A.Ma.Zing.

He adores children and they respond so quickly to him.

He loves gadgets of all sizes. I do not understand this fascination, but it makes him happy, so whatever.

He's so great at helping out wherever we are. He looks for what needs to be done and does it. Yesterday he vacuumed most of my parents' house before we left.

He makes up funny songs that make all of us laugh.

He is a devoted son.

He understands people and loves them. He reads situations well, and is able to sift through a lot of garbage to figure out how to make things better.

He is wise.

He is funny. Except when his jokes are of the 13-year-old variety. And even then, he thinks he's very funny. And so does Josh.

He loves cars.

He has a cool job.

He loves me fully and completely. Our marriage has gotten stronger and stronger over the years, through both difficult and beautiful times.

I love you, David. Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Choose your own adventure...

Which day would you rather have?

Disneyland in the 60's, overcast, no line over 25 minutes, with happy happy children, a fantastic brother, and your cute husband...no one complaining, Ben singing along to It's a Small World, kids hanging on their uncle, hitting every ride anyone wants to hit?


Driving home from California for 11 plus hours?

Yeah, me too.

(And I'm not even a Disneyland fan.)