Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December Pics

December has been busy busy busy! Two Swedish pancake breakfasts at our house, Lucia Day, school programs, Kate's recital, family parties, cookies, gingerbread houses, and of course, Christmas itself...

Here is the photographic evidence of a mostly happy and certainly full month.

Next stop: New Year's Eve...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ben's Photo Shoot

Today we attempted to take pictures of the kids in their Christmas get-ups.

All I need to say is "Two Year Old" and you can guess how our photo shoot went.

But if you'd like to see for yourselves, here's the photographic evidence. In exact order.

Ben, in living color:

(The two items he's enthralled with in the pictures are a Playmobil sword that he likes to sleep with and one of the Swedish stars from the tree. Just in case you wondered.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not Really So Hard

So, yes, parenting is hard. There are days that I fail miserably and complain and think, "Why me? Why is this so frustrating? Why do I feel like such a failure?"

And then I read this article about Stephanie Nielson and I am inspired again: to try again, to pick myself up again, to work a little harder, to be a little better. Because despite struggles she couldn't even imagine, despite the unimaginable pain she would have to endure, she decided to stick around and parent the children she loved. She decided that life and mothering were worth it.

I can surely enjoy MY cushy journey just a bit more.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

If I'd Known

If I'd known parenting would be this hard, I'm pretty sure I'd still have jumped on the boat.

Pretty sure.

Yeah, I'm sure.

I think.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Shoreline Trail

When I am among the trees,
Especially the willows and the honey locust,
Equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
They give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
In which I have goodness, and discernment,
And never hurry through the world
But walk slowly, and often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
And call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
Into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
With light, and to shine."

Mary Oliver

I just found this poem. Well, I guess it found me. "To go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine." Why is it so so hard "to go easy?" Why are so many many of my days filled with small and large struggles? How do I find the grace to go easy?

Moving here was hard for me. IS hard for me. My birthday was a couple of weeks after the move and it was a bad day. Just plain bad. I was a basket case for oh, so many reasons. And in the middle of my wallowing, this thought came to me: "Get thee up to the mountain." I had been wanting to find the North Salt Lake portion of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail since the move and had even driven around looking for the trailhead, but had had no luck. And somehow, on my birthday, I knew I was supposed to find that trail. But I couldn't get space in my day to get there. I couldn't find space in my head to get there.

But the next day, there it was again: "Get thee up to the mountain." The day was, if possible, even worse. My head was spinning with frustration and a little bit of rage. Two of my kids were still sick at home for the second week straight. And I was going to have my nephews and nieces to stay the night, and my brother Chad was coming to hang out, and I didn't know how to get out of my bad state. So I decided that I'd listen to the prompting and do my best to force enjoyment of the gorgeous fall day we had. Also, two two-year-olds do better outdoors than cooped up indoors. So I looked online for directions to the trail and off we went.

And when we had walked less than a quarter mile on the trail, all of the crap rolling around in my head just disappeared. No lie. It just left. And I found myself laughing and looking forward to life for the first time since the move. I started seeing years ahead of my family with the trail for company, with walks and hikes and snowshoeing and photography and memories. It was like hope had been restored, and I knew that I'd been given grace. Pure grace.

The little boys threw rocks and played with mud. Chad, Kate, and Josh walked on into the yellowing grass. And then President Uchtdorf walked by and commented on what a beautiful day it was. (Josh was excited to discover when we returned to the trailhead that President Uchtdorf drives an Audi.) And we were all happy.

I returned the next morning for a long run. I decided to trail run the hills, and they were STEEP. But as I hit the last crest, the MOMENT I hit the last crest, the sun rose over the peak and shone directly on me. It was another moment of pure grace, and the spirit told me that God is mindful of me, that he loves me and wants me to be happy, and that I will be happy on the trail.

And I have been. It saves me, and near daily. It has become a holy place for me. While I'm there, I'm reminded that “It’s simple,...and (I) too have come Into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine."

If only I could carry that knowledge with me during the rest of my day. I'm working on it...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another Public Service Announcement

I know you like feeling good about yourselves, and I consider it my public duty to help you in this quest. I guarantee you didn't do anything as stupid as I did today:

I backed into my garage door for not the first, and not the second, but the THIRD time (in two months) today.

David wasn't too thrilled with me (but handled it gracefully). I wasn't too thrilled with myself.

There. Don't you feel great?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ten More Things That Make Me Terribly Happy

1. When Ben wakes up in the morning, throws his arms around me and says, "I LOVE you, Mom."
2. Listening to Kate read out loud with INFLECTION.
3. Dancing with Sophie. Or, really, watching Sophie dance.
4. Laughing with Josh. And watching him drink eggnog. That kid seriously has a problem with eggnog.
5. SYTYCD. I know. It's a little embarrassing. Also, Sue Sylvester.
6. Dawn rising over the mountains during an early morning run, especially a run I didn't especially want to get up for. The dawn makes it worth it. Usually. OK, always.
7. David's happiness.
8. Christmas traditions.
9. The chukars that have been living in our neighborhood. I didn't know what they were. Then I thought they were wild turkeys. Then my hunter neighbor told me they were chukars and that they are delicious under glass. I told him I preferred them in my backyard, and he laughed and promised not to shoot any of the neighborhood chukars. I'm very glad. (They might also be rock partridges, but chukar is a funnier word.)
10. My huge extended family. Both sides. Hooray for big loud generally happy families.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Things I May Have Done in the Last Week or So

Celebrated Sophie's Book Two completion with a recital. The Bertolas, Youngbergs, Ash, and her dear teacher Kathy Langr joined us. I was so proud of her. Polishing for a recital is hard hard work.

Made quite possibly the worst dinner I have ever cooked (a terrible soup. Terrible. So so terrible.) We had to leave it out on the deck once we realized its terribleness. And no, there was no recipe that you need to avoid. I was trying to create my own little special recipe. David hates it when I do that. Now I know why.

Cooked two turkeys. One was cooked from its pristine frozen state. Did you know you could do that? Now you do. Here's the recipe. Remarkably, it wasn't too bad, either. The other turkey was brined a la Alton Brown. Oh oh my. Seriously. It was divine. And I substituted half the ingredients and only brined it for half the time...maybe it was only half as good as it might have been.

Had Thanksgiving here. I love my double ovens. I also love my family. Kurt, Ash, and Holden, Mike, Debi, Lyndsey and Marissa, Rachelle, Bill, Alysha, Mom and Sondra...great group. Great food. I love Thanksgiving. I love it! We were supposed to go to Spokane, but Mom's health made a last minute change necessary. We missed Paul and Cindee bunches, but I was glad to not have to make the drive with Crazy-Ben-Who-Hates-Traveling-in-the-Car.

Hit Black Friday sales with David. Meh. (That's Chad's word, but I had to steal it for shopping on Black Friday.)

Decided going out to dinner with the children is not a treat. We may not feed them outside of the house again until they have all graduated from high school. Or maybe college.

Kept Thanksgiving dishes unwashed on the counter until Saturday night. I know! Don't you feel better about yourself?

Lost two more toenails. Two more are threatening. I tell them they'd better not secede from the union because I need to keep more than half of my toenails. It's the principle of the thing.

Consoled Kate after David failed to pull out her first tooth. She was dreadfully, terribly sad. After appropriate snuggle time, I sent her downstairs to brush her teeth...et voila! The tooth fell out!!!! Screams of happiness. All was well. Sophie left a four page note under Kate's pillow scolding the tooth fairy for not giving Sophie her request months ago (she asked for one of the tooth fairy's dresses and a bag full of the tooth fairy's money. The tooth fairy said she'd see what she could do. That was the last we'd heard from the tooth fairy. Scoundrel.) The next morning there was money under both girls' pillows. Way to go, tooth fairy. You have redeemed yourself. Slightly.

Hit 900 miles...only 100 to go before January the first! (Well, only 95.6 after this morning's run.)

And the most amazing thing of all...

Finished and passed out all of my neighbor gifts. Last night. Amazing. I did cookies and an advent candle with scriptures to read each day from now until Dec. 24. Can't believe it. Most years I make neighbor gifts, pass out some of them, and forget the rest until they've gone bad. I will say, the cookies weren't great, and the scripture list was less than spectacularly formatted. I might be just a tad embarrassed about my non-elegant presentation. However, Malisa told me to look at the bright side. I've set the bar low and that will make other people feel good about themselves and THEIR lovely neighbor gifts. Score. I'm all about serving others in that kind of way.

And here are some more pictures of the day. I'm missed a few (a lot of) days. I just sometimes forget. No surprise there...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Just Plain Crazy

I'm pretty burned out on the running thing. Getting this thousand mile thing finished just may kill me. And once I hit that 1000th mile, I may never want to run again.

So why did I just sign up Team Youngberg for the Southern California Ragnar? And why am I so excited about it?

Yes. Just plain crazy.

But honestly...running from Santa Barbara to Dana Point with my siblings and their spouses? It's going to be awesome. Or at least it will be memorable. Hopefully, it will be both.