Sunday, October 13, 2013


I don't know if it is a side effect from being raised in California, but I cannot go through any season without my heart aching from the transitory beauties of each one.

The ache is a funny thing: mostly a reaction to sheer beauty, but also a feeling of loss that this particular beauty will last only days, and that I can't quite revel in it enough. I can't quite soak it all in. I can't quite pay it justice by noticing it the way it should be noticed.

When I was in college, I did a lot of accompanying. I loved it, especially when I got to prepare recitals with soloists. The bread and butter of a college pianist, though, is playing for voice lessons. I learned a lot of repertoire this way (and also heard a lot of bad belting. If you haven't experienced someone learning how to belt, you should thank your lucky stars.) Some of these songs have stayed with me ever since. One in particular was George Butterworth's setting of Loveliest of Trees from A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

If I take from my seventy springs, I only have twenty-eight more, and frankly, that is just not enough. I don't like thinking that I will only see the blossoms of spring that many more times, or the golden light at dusk on yellow aspens, or the sparkle of marshmallow snow under bright sun.

I admit, it is a sweet melancholy, a recognition of the gifts that each day can bring me if I just notice. I am feeling a recent shift to accepting the passage of time, which allows me to feel more peaceful about the falling of the leaves, the move into winter. But I think I will try to take Housman's advice tomorrow and the day after and head into my hills to soak in the transitory beauty.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


So guess what? I didn't make writing one of my challenges four weeks ago. Oh. You already knew that, since I didn't write once in those four weeks? That's pretty funny, right?

I did miss writing, though. I replaced writing with practicing, as I had a performance on Friday. And guess what funny thing I figured out? I like writing AND I like practicing. And I like performing, too, especially if I don't have to memorize anything. It's a kind of liking that is laced with stomach churning nerves, deep breathing, and forced self-talk of a motivational sort, but a liking nonetheless. We musicians are a strange lot. I think we have a lot in common with base jumpers and lion tamers, except our fear doesn't haven't any actual physical danger to explain it, just the chance of public humiliation.

In these last four weeks, I also had some epiphanies and life changing moments. They were quite lovely and I will try to remember to share them soon.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Writing Instead of Cleaning

If you saw my kitchen right now, you would know that I should be cleaning instead of writing.

There's a lot of things I should be doing instead of writing. Cleaning the kitchen is the most obvious, but there is also the putting away of laundry, the digging out a little of the chaos of the storage room, or the garage, or my closet, the doing of the taxes (help. Seriously help), the planning of the group class tomorrow, the sending of the visiting teaching email report, the sending of the email to the PTA president saying "yes, I will meet with you and talk about helping with Reflections again even though I was the worst Reflections chair in history last year and never even gave the kids any awards or even gave back their essays."

All of those things would be more productive, and I definitely need to be more productive.

But I also definitely need the therapy I get from writing this little blog. Therapy? Yes. It works like therapy for me but is cheaper. I've done therapy, and I think it's helpful with the right person talking with you. It's helpful when someone knows which books to recommend and can say, "No, you're not a terrible person. You probably just have ADD," and you think "Oh! That makes a lot of sense! Yes! The fact that I can't finish a project to save my life might just be biologically hard wired into my brain!" But it's also helpful to go on a long hike with your friend, Tibi, because she says things that are just about as helpful, like "Maybe Ben would be happier if he had more sleep and this is how I go about helping Jake get more sleep," and you think "Yes! She's right! And also I would be happier if I had more sleep."

In this same way, writing is like a helpful conversation with someone a little wiser and more put together than the real me. It clarifies my thoughts and teaches me things I didn't realize I even knew. Sometimes I don't even recognize a truth until I'm typing about it and then, WHAMMO, I get it. I will admit, I might even be a little addicted to those WHAMMO moments. They're just that nice.

Here's the truth. I mostly have been writing because of my challenge. But coming back has made me realize that even though this mommy blog years ago morphed into a Kerri blog, and that used to make me feel a little guilty and a little self-absorbed, there's a reason that it happened. When I read truth from any source, I feel more able to cope with the insanity that I'm living. When someone opens up her heart and says "This is how it is for me," her writing becomes sacred to me. So if sharing truth is a sacred duty, and I kind of think it is, then dang, I guess this is where I'm going to do it. When I start my next challenge group again next week, one of my five goals will still be writing. So I guess that means you'll be seeing me again soon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Too Much Time (?!?!)

So I have a few hours to myself in the middle of the day now.

It is lovely. I'm not going to lie to you.

But it is also a frustration, because all during those hours, I am asking myself if I'm using my time wisely.

And when you ask yourself if you are using your time wisely, I can guarantee you will start to find fault with the way you are using your time. (Or is that just me?)

Those of you who have journeyed this way before, tell me: How do I manage this new schedule? I have to exercise during these hours because of my teaching hours. So there goes an hour, plus then I have to get ready, so there goes another half hour. And then I make breakfast and sometime in there I have to eat lunch too. And those are time suckers. And there's scripture study. And laundry. And doing the breakfast dishes (ok, and sometimes the dinner dishes, too.) And taking care of the dog. And then BLAMMO. My day is gone and the kids are home and I'm teaching piano again and then there's dinner and homework and my kids practice time and reading time and family scripture time and trying to figure out how to help this kid with this problem and my calling and AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

I thought I'd get so much done. It's kind of sad. Will I get better at this? Or (as I suspect) worse? What has worked for you? Or if you haven't been there and done that yet and are fighting your daily mothering battles ALL DAY LONG ALL DAY LONG ALL DAY LONG (because I have definitely been there and done that!, are you at all screaming at your computer, "JUST ENJOY YOURSELF, YOU DUMB WOMAN! WHAT I WOULDN'T GIVE FOR JUST ONE OF THOSE DAYS"? I know. I totally know. I absolutely know.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

You Know You Love My Library Fine Stories

I just got an email from the Salt Lake City Library, letting me know that if I don't pay my (extremely large) fine within a week or so, they'll send me to collections.

A year or so ago I might have just ignored this email, since I haven't used the City Library in four years.

That was before last year when I was (yes, it's true) sent to collections for a Davis County Library fine of $53. I bring the humiliation of sharing this upon myself as a Public Service Announcement:


(Also, believe the library when they say they might send your fine to collections. They're not just blowing sunshine, friends.)

So I called the Salt Lake City library and asked why the push to have me pay a four year old fine. C'mon people...I thought I was free and clear. Four years is an eternity in library fine land!

The lovely librarian was extremely kind, but puzzled. She couldn't understand why I hadn't been sent to collections already (!) but after a little begging, she waived part of my fine. Not all, as I had hoped for, but still, anything is helpful.

Libraries are dangerous places to people like me. And by people like me, I mean book-loving people with book-loving offspring who just can't get organized to save their lives.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Transformation, Part 1

I've been thinking a lot about change, obviously.

Some friends and I watched our wedding videos last night. I don't have a wedding video, so I brought my wedding album.

Some observations:

What was up with those puffy sleeves?
And David's tinted glasses?
Why does every bride now have hair and make up done professionally? How did it morph into that?
And also along these lines, has Pinterest changed our expectations of weddings forever? Does every bride now feel like they have to have a million perfect details (and spend a million dollars) to have a lovely wedding?
And then, of course, no bridesmaids' dresses EVER look good a few years down the road.
And who thought it should be legal to allow two babies to get married? I look like I just walked out of my sophomore year of high school.

I looked at the pictures of the two of us, twenty-two years ago, and decided that this growing up and growing older and changing is just fine. I have more sense of the rightness of the turning of the world, of the cycles that happen without intention, just because it is how it is to live within the constraints of time.

My sweet brother, Kurt, and his exceptional wife, Ashleigh, had a baby yesterday. My heart has been so full of love for them. It is no longer my time to bring sweet, innocent, beautiful babies into this world. I have new roles, new paths, new responsibilities. What a joy it is to watch others step into that place and have those same sometimes (often) overwhelming experiences. They are changed through them. They are deepened, pushed, stretched. Changed.

I want to spend more time thinking about the changes that can happen WITH intention. I've been studying transformation. I've been thinking about who I am now, who I was earlier, and who I would like to become. I've been thinking about transformation within our family, as well. As I come up with more coherent thoughts , I'll probably share some of them here.

Because I still have to write fifteen minutes a day, dontcha know?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

School, Day Four

Summer is, indeed, over.

How do I know? Because today at 8:30, when the littles ran outside to join their carpool, I looked at the clock and realized I had been awake for three hours.

I've been up before six every morning this week.

I'm feeling very sorry for myself. I try to talk myself out of this. I think, "Dairy farmers have to get up earlier than this every day of their lives." Or "Your mother had someone in early morning seminary almost every year for 22 years." Or "Having a new baby is way worse."

But sadly, as always, comparison with those sad cases does not take away the pain of going from late-night-cookie-baking-and-card-games with a reasonable 6-7:30 wake up time the next day to late-night-helping-the-unnamed-student-type-his-summer-homework-essays-the-night-before-they-are-due with an unreasonable 5:40 wake up time the next day. One of these things is not like the other.

So there. I have complained. And here is a little more: I don't like this new schedule super much. I also feel bad for my exhausted monkeys. I also feel really lame because I have been a hands-off parent for a kid who needs a hands-on parent as far as planning schedules, etc.. And also, there is a lot of PRESSURE to get it together, and I, frankly, don't have it together.


Schedules are good. Learning is good. Five hours alone every day has the potential of being very good. I've hiked twice and gone to the temple once. I've also folded four or more hours of laundry. But during the laundry folding? I watched a show that I wanted to watch. I haven't watched TV in the middle of the day since I don't know when. It felt positively decadent. I have time to exercise, to study my scriptures, to organize, to go to lunch with David. It's a wild and crazy thing, this new phase I'm in.

Crazy, I tell you.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Moving On

They all started school today: the 12th grader, the 8th grader, the 5th grader, and the 1st grader. It's beginning to be quite a joke, the way I now dread the return of school. I mean it. It freaks me out. I know I am lucky. I know it isn't like this for all of you. It wasn't always like this for ME. But with the way time is freaking flying by, the fact that my boy graduates in 9 months, and my little itty bitty guy is now a big ol' full time school boy, I just can't stand these milestones. They're symbolic of change that I'm not sure I'm ready to embrace.

But change, it is a-comin' and I know I need to climb aboard the change express and ride ride ride. Today, I left the school with my heart in my throat and thought that what I really needed was a good long lung-burning hike. So Maisie and I packed up and off we went to climb a mountain together. It was a good plan. I realized that there are blessings hanging around every challenge. So being a mom is looking a little different nowadays. It's true. It's different.


This is awesome. It really really is.

I think maybe I will make it. Especially if I figure out how to be more organized.

The chances of that? Slim to none. But hey, change is not just possible, it is inevitable, and sometimes change leads to better things. So there IS a chance.

There is always a chance,

I'm ready for a change, even if I had to be carried here kicking and screaming.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Just for posterity...

(This post was written almost three months ago. We now have made it through the worst of it with no major tragedy attached. This is good and reassures me that sometimes a string of bad luck is just a string of bad luck. I thought I would post it to reassure you, too, even though you are likely not worrying about this at the moment. Now you know, just in case you ever do wonder. You're welcome.)

My mom (whilst she was sitting in a condo in Ketchikan overlooking a harbor on a beautiful afternoon) said to me (whilst I was sitting on my unmade bed looking at my unputaway laundry looking at a refinery. Also lots of dust) that it would be good for posterity to write down a list of all the things that have gone wrong in my life in the last month or so. I said to her that the first time I wrote a list like that, Brent died two days later, so I feel a little jinxed. Also, a little fearful, because I honestly haven't had the same kind of string of bad luck since that summer.

But to heck with fear. Maybe this list-making business will help me put things into perspective. You will see my attempts to find silver linings attached.

5 1/2 weeks ago, the inner glass door of my LG washing machine shattered. Spontaneously. Overnight. While it was empty, with the door slightly ajar (to avoid that nasty mold-and-mildew smell these front loaders have, dontcha know?) (Silver lining: I figured out how to rock the laundromat. Also, my friends Emily and Stacey (and Holly, too!) opened their homes to me and my laundry in my hour of need. I also learned I like Emily's Arm and Hammer laundry detergent and it is pretty cheap.)

LG has taken their own sweet time trying to not deal with my washing machine with its explosive glass. Right now we are in "We want proof of purchase" "I have no proof of purchase" "Well, find proof of purchase" "What, the model and serial number I sent you pictures of are not enough?" limbo land. (Major silver liner: A nameless but beloved person gave us money to buy a new washer this week. I bought one for not too much more than the estimated repair cost of the WasherILoveToHate. It comes in a couple of hours.(!) (I'm like a kid on Christmas morning. Washing clothes in my own house now feels like an enormous luxury.) (Three week later update: LG finally decided they would fix my washing machine. AFTER we bought the new one. Still trying to figure out what to do with this whole situation.) (Three month later update: The washer is still not fixed. Still waiting on parts, maybe? Who knows...)

Our outside freezer is leaking. Which is still a sight less painful than the results of the night a couple of weeks ago that someone put ice cream back but didn't shut the door all the way. (SL: I got to clean out my freezer!)

Broken sprinkles broken pipes broken sprinklers broken pipes and then a couple of different power outages resulted in a reset sprinkler system which then resulted in a few days of hours and hours and hours per cycle (like 5 and 6 hr cycles PER STATION, ohmergosh.) Until we figured it out. I'm not sure, but we may outdo our previous water bill record of over $600. (SL: I'm going to go with figuring out that we were watering for hours and hours within days, not weeks.) 

The charger for my SLR has been missing for 6 weeks. (Silver liner: Smartphone cameras are better than they used to be. Well, Sophie's is, even if mine isn't.) (Three month later update: FOUND IT!)

Our built-in microwave broke. (Silver liner: We had an old one downstairs that now lives on our counter, and it heats things up, even if the latch falls off almost every time we use it!)

Someone knocked a container of Hershey's Syrup off of the top shelf of the fridge. It broke the light-turner-offer thing and makes the door-open-alarm go off all the time. (SL: I pulled a MacGyver and taped a button onto the latch thingie with blue painter's tape. So totally smart and handyman of me. And yes. It looks totally cheap and white trash.)

Our sweet 11 year old van started to stall a lot earlier this year. A. Lot. Our attempts at a cheap fix for said van did no good except for parting us with just under $200.  We just have gotten pretty good at revving it up on the restart(s) and getting her where she needs to go. (SL: It still gets us there.)

And then the air conditioning went out in the car on Friday. Totally out. Kaput. Nothing like no air conditioning in a 100+ heat wave in July. (SL: made me grateful for the air conditioning in my house? And then the week before our trip to Spokane, we finagled the $350 it took to fix it. So that's great.)

One of our cute little Adirondack chairs broke under the weight of a 13 year old yesterday. Sigh. (SL: Maybe they'll let us return it since it just randomly broke?) (Three month later update: YES! They did!)

Our tithing check put us in overdraft. Again. (SL: makes people laugh? And I had people who owed me money that I could beg to pay me so I could try to cover it? That's just embarrassing, though, so maybe it doesn't count.)

Josh's bike has been in and out of the bike repair shop since late spring. He's only been able to ride it two or three times. (SL: More time for video games! Just kidding. Just that his brakes ended up being covered by warranty. Total blessing.)

He was thrilled to get it back yesterday (not really yesterday...remember, this was three months ago), the day of his first mountain bike team practice, after he generously took his time to take neighbors, friends, and sibs to get free Slurpees. And then he drove home. Into the garage. With the bike on the top. It broke his bike (including snapping the fork clean off and also smashing those brand new brakes that he had just had installed to fix the problem that had been plaguing it) the roof rack, both bike racks, dented the van and dented and scratched the stucco on our house. (SL: Free Slurpees! Also, David was a rock star and handled it like a dream dad. Lots of love and support and positive thinking. Bike is not fixed yet. Sad.)

So here's the thing. I don't know why things go wrong in a series like that. I just know that we weathered this particular Mercury in retrograde (it ended July 22! Hooray! Although I'm not into astrology in any way, I will admit a particular prejudice against Mercury in retrograde) without quite losing hope. Well, maybe we lost hope a little. But we're still breathing. And the tragedies that might have happened (including some scary water moments in the Provo River at our family reunion) didn't happen. And I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. Sometimes things go horribly wrong. And sometimes they just go stupidly wrong. I don't mind the stupidly wrong things as much anymore. I'm not saying I love them. But I'll tolerate them, especially when I compare them to what could have been but wasn't.

Friday, August 23, 2013

School Schmool

I am not ready for:

Early mornings (and by early, I mean 5:40. Which is early. Really early.)
Forgetting to remember to sign the reading charts
Packing lunches
Early bedtimes that don't ever seem to happen
Stressed kids
Stressed me

I am also not ready for:

Benjamin going into first grade. All day. Away from me.
Josh going into twelfth grade. For reals.

Yesterday was full: check ups at the pediatrician and hours and hours of school shopping. Today we spent a few hours cleaning out the kids' cubbies to help prepare our return to the grind. The kids also all got back-to-school haircuts from our friend, Nicole. They all look darling. And old.

My cute friend wrote something on Instagram about how having a first grader makes her feel old.

Yup. Having a first grader did make me feel old as well as quite seasoned in the mom department. Having a senior is making me feel really really old, and also a little out of control. Because he was just in first grade with all of his buddies, I swear. And where does the time go? And can't I have a replay on some of it? And can't I bottle some of it, too?

Tomorrow and the next day will come, and then the next day, too. And on that day, don't mind me if I'm a little melancholy. It's the last first day of school with all of my children under one roof, the first first day of school that I am alone for five and a half hours. It's gonna be wacko.

I'm giving myself permission to feel whatever it is I am going to feel and do whatever it is I need to do for the first couple of days. But then...well, friends, then it is time to finish the taxes. From 2011. And 2012. Believe me, those 5 1/2 hours will go quickly. And then every day I'll get my babies back and I can love them and laugh with them and get super frustrated at them when they don't do the dishes without being asked.

I still really really really wish I could keep them here with me for another week (month) or two. (And mothers of children younger than mine, don't worry. I didn't feel like this when my own children were young. Back in those days, I felt guilty about how ready I was for them to be back in someone else's care for a few hours a day. I didn't imagine how much my feelings would change.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


That is not a whining or complaining "Why?," in case you wondered. It is more of a contemplative question.

My dear friend I mentioned a couple of posts ago has been through the wringer. In the last 7 months, she has lost two grandmothers, two cousins, and her father. And then yesterday, her uncle (the father of another friend of mine) was in a terrible car accident and is in critical condition with many truly horrible injuries.

And so I ask: Why?

I don't know.

I do know that sometimes our troubles come piled, heaping, overflowing. I know that after great tragedy, more tragedy often follows. It's a truth of life that I hadn't imagined until it happened to us. Once it did, I then confirmed this sad pattern as I spoke to others who had experienced the same compounding of heartache and hardship.

I also know this: even when things are blackest, there are angels around us. I have found great peace in watching my group of friends rally around those who struggle. We became friends through play and pleasure, but our friendship has become tangible and touchable as we grieve together, make meals, clean, watch children. What a blessing it is to have people to love us on this journey. What a gift it is to have someone love us.

When Brent died, this friend and I were just beginning to know each other. And the day I got home from his funeral, she came over, cleaned my kitchen, and listened to me talk. She listened to me talk for weeks after, for months after, for years after. She listened to me talk about family worries, about grief, about pain, about everything on my mind. Sometimes I wondered how I could ever repay her for her kindness, her willingness to be a strong-minded, wise, super fun friend, even in the face of a grief she didn't fully understand.

And now I know. There is no repaying. There is only love. There is a melding of hearts that makes questions of repayment ridiculous. When someone you love hurts, your own heart hurts, and you stretch to help. It is no debt. It is the most true gift there is.

This doesn't answer my "Why?" but it reassures me that the safety net I used to think was missing is in reality the people who love us, who care for us, who cushion us as we fall. We may not always be aware of who they are. Sometimes we can feel very alone. But they are there, on both sides of the veil, weeping with us, cheering for us.

And so it is that I lose $10

Oh, I was so determined to ace this challenge. Dang. I was able to take a week off for our vacation last week, since I am the one who came up with the challenge. I made the rules, so I included a lovely vacation clause. Each of us gets seven days off in a row at some point during the challenge.

My problem? My trip went for nine days. So I determined that the two driving days would be non-vacation, which worked out beautifully except for this one little thing: I totally spaced that writing is one of my challenge goals. Sigh. $10 poorer.

The trip, though, is worth all the challenge money I might have lost. We headed to the St. Joe river in Idaho where David's brother has a cabin. It is definitely one of my happy places. I will try to be good and post more pictures of us at some point, but the memories we make each year are mostly the same: playing in the water, kayaking on glass, watching birds fly while sitting on the dock, singing with family and friends, and watching kids play happily. There are also exhausted children (and parents) complaining, mosquitoes, wasps, and sunburns, but what joy comes without its own particular brand of pain, anyway? It's a wonderful place and we are always grateful to Paul and Cindee for welcoming us.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Wendell Berry on Grief

One of my dearest friends lost her beloved father two weeks ago. I don't even have words to write about it. Loss like can I even attempt to describe it? I can't, not well enough to pay tribute to my friend or to her father. 

Lucky for me there are writers who are better equipped. Today I was so grateful to read some beautiful passages on grief in Hannah Coulter, the novel I mentioned I am reading for our book club.

Grief is not a force and has no power to hold. You only bear it. Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.

As my friend and I have talked, one of our recurrent themes is that in the powerful moments of life, the moments that take us to our knees, everything distills to this: our relationships matter. Nothing else does. The way we relate to one another, the love we show each other: this is eternal. I think we are bound to one another with threads like those Berry recognizes here. We stitch ourselves together with all of our kind acts, with each of our kind words, with mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort. 

Berry later notes another element to loss: Grief transforms us, but eventually our grief itself transforms. Our souls need respite, eventually, and the natural progression is to allow this shift. (Side note: If this shift doesn't occur, it may be because grief has morphed into depression. And that is a whole different ball of wax, one that might need a little outside help to work through..)

At first, as the months went by, it was shameful to me when I would realize that without my consent, almost without my knowledge, something had made me happy. And then I learned to think, when those times would come, "Well, go ahead. If you're happy, then be happy." No big happiness came to me yet, but little happinesses did come, and they came from ordinary pleasures in ordinary things: the baby, sunlight, breezes, animals and birds, daily work, rest when I was tired, food, strands of fog in the hollows early in the morning, butterflies, flowers. The flowers didn't have to be dahlias and roses either but just the weeds blooming in the fields, the daisies and the yarrow. I began to trust the world again, not to give me what I wanted, for I saw that it could not be trusted to do that, but to give unforeseen goods and pleasures that I had not thought to want.

I am so grateful for gifted writers, for men and women who have rich experience to draw from, for observations they have made that help me better understand the human condition. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013


1. Wendell Berry.

Our ward book club is reading Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. I only knew Wendell Berry as a poet (I especially love this poem) and was excited to discover that this book is sweet and beautiful. How fun to know that there are so many more of his novels to read.

2. Greek yogurt.

Be honest. Didn't you think it was just terrible the first time you ate it? I mean, seriously. I tried it in Costco one day a couple of years ago and thought 'What the heck?' But finally that high protein content drew me in, and I have discovered that I can acquire a taste for many things. I now love it and eat it every day like this: yogurt, frozen berries, a little honey, and dry oats. Super super good. And really very healthy. So yay.

3. Memorizing scriptures.

It's a super good thing to do. It really really is.

4. Transformation.

I didn't ever think I'd be this person: someone who talks about Greek yogurt and the joys of memorizing scripture. But here I am. I'm 41, and I don't recognize myself when I look at myself through my daughter's eyes. To her, I'm an adult who should have it all together. To me, I'm this person still trying to figure it all out, even though I thought I would be perfect by now, if I ever even considered that one day I would actually be 41. I'm sure I assumed that surely I would be perpetually youthful. Alas, I am not. But since transformation is apparently not only possible, but inevitable, I might as well choose the end of my transformation. Lately I've been thinking the end Kerri will be dull, fat, and provincial, based on my ridiculous habits. I think, however, I will choose to be lively, active, compassioonate, involved and interested. I think I would like to transform into an older woman with those traits. I just don't think I can handle my hair graying, my waist thickening any more than it already has, or more wrinkles taking over. Oh well...better to transform gracefully than to fight it tooth and nail and nip and tuck.

5. Feelings aren't reality.

They're just feelings. And often feelings are based on something so far from reality as to be laughable. I continue to work on separating my feelings from my rational brain. This is not easy doe me, (and this is where I fell asleep, as you can see.)

6. Writing just before bed makes for a kinked neck when you fall asleep in the middle of a post...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Challenge, Day 2

It's really hard to believe, but here I am again.

Amazing what the threat of a $10 fine will do to help get me moving. Well, not moving, exactly, although I did get my bottom out of bed at 6:00ish am to get to this crazy class I like to go to up at the gym. And by like I mean don't like, but I feel good when I go. And by good I mean not good, but tired and weak and silly. But stronger. And yes, by stronger I mean not stronger, but wanting to be stronger and trusting that eventually I will be stronger, because an hour or two of weight training with a bunch of beautiful women wearing Lulu is sure to make me look like them eventually, right?

And yes, exercising is part of my challenge, so going to the gym at 6:30 also saved me from paying a $10 fine. Funny how this money thing works, huh?

I have a scripture for you that goes along with my gym thing this morning. Joshua 1:9 has become my personal mantra. I am using it to keep me sane and to regain my cheerful spirit. Here goes:

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

It's a good scripture for me. Pretty much I like that God is telling me that not being afraid and being strong and not being dismayed and being courageous is a commandment. And we know that if God gives us a commandment, he also gives us a way to fulfill the commandment. And therefore, I can trust that I can manage whatever is in front of me with good courage (well, I can do it with heavenly help, anyway.) Also, going to the gym and changing my 15 pound bar to an 18 pound bar? Totally a commandment. (Ha.)

Fifteen minutes are almost up again. Are you sad? I am, a little. I wanted to share how fun it was to car shop all day yesterday for cars we can't afford and how funny I think it is that I've decided to keep (at least for the time being) my 2002 Odyssey with 181,589 miles, no air conditioner, a broken rack, and bad injectors. But I think before we go to Spokane, I might have to get that air conditioning fixed. Or there will be mutiny in the Odyssey. And that wouldn't be pretty.

Time is up, folks! See ya tomorrow!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rambling. Because I Can.

Summer is the perfect time to ramble on a blog, don't you think? And rambling is the perfect way to break a four or five month blogging hiatus. Somehow, I have lost the ability to form well-planned paragraphs with the late nights, excess of sugar, and lack of schedule that has been our summer thus far.

What brings me back to Ye Olde Blogge, you ask?

Ah. I'm afraid the answer is a simple one: I'm cheap.

After many delicious treats, many lazy days, and many attempts to make myself even the slightest bit productive, I decided that my inner voice is not currently rousing enough to create action. A quick Facebook shout out for those similarly challenged ended up with more than a dozen of us working together to help us get moving on our goals.

One of mine? To write for 15 minutes 5 days a week.

If I don't?

I have to pay $10 into a communal fine jar.

Not a good enough reason to write a blog post? I agree. I should have something super wise or funny to say. At the very least, I could post an awesome picture.

But guess what?

My fifteen minutes are over! Hooray!

I know. You're disappointed. Don't worry, folks; I'm here all week! Actually, I'm here until I'm done with this challenge!

(If it's wisdom you're looking for, I'm not sure this is where you'll find it. Same with funny. Pictures? If you want those, Instagram is just a click away. Rambling, however? That will be here in abundance. Enjoy!)

(Also, what the heck am I going to do without Google Reader?)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chasing Eden

A few years ago, I attended a lot of weddings in a fairly short period of time. This same period of time happened to be one of major marital turmoil for a few couples I knew well. I found myself often sitting in the sealing room of the temple, witnessing these weddings and thinking, "Is this really something to celebrate? They have no idea what they're in for." I admit it, I was cynical and a bit world-weary. And also jaded. And also a little right. Dang. Marriage isn't for sissies.

I also have thought a variation on this theme while sitting in baby showers. Parenting. Also not for sissies.

Or while sitting in a baptismal service. Need I say it? Following Christ. Also most definitely not for sissies.

When I am in a low place (which of course is hardly ever! Because life is always rosy over here!) I wonder if our celebrations are a bit of a bait and switch. Before our big life changes, aren't we really thinking a little optimistically?

"Get married and you'll live with your best friend and never be lonely again! Plus you'll be perpetually youthful and attractive and you'll make lots of money and take fun vacations accompanied by fantastic pictures to put on Facebook!"

"Have children and your life will be full of excitement and frilly dresses and smiling cherubs! And they will all get straight A's and become Eagle Scouts and be kind to everyone they meet! So that's great!"

"Accept Christ, be baptized, go through the temple, and you will have an automatic 'Get out of Jail Free' card for all of life's challenges! You'll never worry, be anxious, wonder, or question again! Your fellow Christians will always treat you perfectly and you'll learn to bake perfect bread at Relief Society meetings!"

A few months ago, a friend was asking me how I really felt about having children. She and her husband weren't sure about whether or not they wanted to take the plunge, and I wanted to give her a truthful answer. I sat for a minute and thought, "Why would I encourage her to have kids? It's so hard. It's so so hard."

I've had the same conversation with someone before his wedding. And thought the same thing.

And when someone recently brought up how great it would be for someone we know to be baptized, I (you guessed it) thought the same thing.

And this is what brings me here, dear readers. These questions and my answers (or lack of good answers) made me really think about what I have been expecting from my life, and what false expectations our society is teaching us to expect.

Because this is what I've learned: Hard is the point.

That sounds really dark, right? The first time I had this thought, I was like, "OK. Sure. If hard is the point, I'll just stop progressing right here right now. I have had enough hard for this lifetime. And how am I supposed to encourage people to leap into hard? WHY should I encourage people to jump into hard?"

And then I studied some scriptures surrounding the creation, the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve. Good, faithful, intelligent Eve. Courageous, brave, bold Eve.

One of my favorite doctrines taught by the LDS church is that Eve knew what she was getting into. She was aware that by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, she would be transgressing one law of God in order to fulfill another, bigger, more important commandment: To be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth (Genesis 1:28.) She understood that if she stayed in Eden with Adam, they would live a safe, pretty, clean existence. There would be no transgression, no sin, no illness, no death. But there would also not be a fulness of knowledge, of experience, of growth.

All this time, I'm chasing Eden, thinking "It's only worthwhile if it's fun. Or pleasurable. Or easy." I want the joy without the pain. I want the fulfillment without the work. I want to be back where I'm safe and protected and innocent. And did I mention protected? And safe? And where everything works out all the time just like I think it should?

This is the important thing: Eden was a place of stasis. Eden was a place of perpetual childhood. Eden is not the world my Heavenly Father wants for me right now. And when I think of it that way, I guess I don't want it for myself. (At least, not most of the time.)

Adam and Eve left Eden to learn the lessons they needed to learn. They leapt. They fell. And while Christ offered himself as a sacrifice to pay for their sins (and ours), they still lived in this fallen world. They lived by the sweat of their brows. One of their sons killed another of their sons. They watched their family torn apart by the choices of their children and their children's children. And still Eve is GLAD and says, "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient (Moses 5:11)."

The prophet Lehi goes a little further and says that if Adam and Eve had not transgressed: "they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:23-25.)"

Get that? NO JOY without MISERY (and it can be inferred from that verse, no children = no misery. Ha.) And also, NO GOOD without SIN. Without the pull from one, the other is not possible. Yin and yang. Opposition in all things.

It's the POINT!

I'm not saying that someone who remains unmarried, or someone who has no children, or someone who isn't spiritual isn't facing the same dichotomy: to grow, we must have growing pains. To learn, we must change. To change, we have to get rid of some things or take on others. It's hardly a painless prospect. It's easier to play video games or watch TV than to practice an instrument. It's more fun to party than to go to bed on time to do well in your college classes the next day. It's simpler to remain unencumbered than to link our lives to others: family, friends, people we serve.

It's just that simple doesn't get us where we want to be.

I have a beautiful friend with four beautiful boys. She is wise and intelligent and creative and thoughtful. And she spends much of her days dealing with poop. Her blog is funny and heartbreaking and life-affirming, even when she's describing the stresses of dealing with developmental delays and struggles and, like I said, poop. She didn't know that this would be her life when she leapt into motherhood. And yet, there it is. And there she is. And to look back and wonder what life would be like without all of these issues would be nothing but crazy-making, because this is her life now. And she's growing because of it.

I talk about her issues because I can't really talk about mine. Trust me, though. They're there. They're real and big and hard and when I DO look back sometimes, I wonder. I wonder who I would have been without them. I wonder why this is my lot. And every time I do that I cheat myself from wondering this: How am I stronger because of them? Who can I understand better because of them? Who can I love more because of them?

I'm going to try to stop chasing Eden. I'm going to TRY to stop wishing away the hard things. I'm going to try to start living with gratitude in the moment, not looking back, not hoping hard things away in the future. Joy is always there, waiting for us to notice it.

And maybe that's the best point of all.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Snapshot 2-10-13: David's Racetrack and Crazy Maisie

Periodically our basement is converted into an RC racetrack. Not for my sons. For my husband. It makes him very happy, which makes me happy, too.

This is not a clear picture, but my dog is sleeping with her head completely flipped behind her back. I have no idea how this is possible, but it makes me laugh.

Snapshot 2-9-13: Dinner for Dad

David's mom has begun the sweet tradition of having a birthday dinner to remember David's dad. I love it. The dinner is a fantastic way to honor a man we all love and miss so much.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snapshot 2-8-13: Girls' Night and Inversion

What happens when you have a mini-nervous-breakdown and your husband doesn't quite know what to do with you?

If you're lucky, he might insist you have a girls' night with an awesome friend who meets you for Thai food (yummy), long talks about life, and who convinces the guy at Farr's to open the locked doors of the ice cream shop because you need sugar. Right away.

And what happens when you get home from your very-helpful-in-restoring-sanity girls' night and your children want a treat? Well, you might just break out the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies. And then eat some dough. And some cookies.

So while girls' night ends up being good for your sanity, it may not be good for your waistline.


But it's a good thing that your sanity is restored, because when you look outside your kitchen window and see Mordor, you might just curse Salt Lake winters and the inversion and curl up in a ball and cry. But you don't, because you've been shored up by much sugar and much talk of surviving hard things and remembering that winter won't last forever. Even if it seems like it will.

Snapshot 2-7-13: I Like to See My Benno's Homework

Seriously. Can you get over how awesome it is to have a kindergartner learning to write? I adore this little munchkin.

Snapshot 2-6-13: Ed Sheeran with Sophie(s)

For Christmas, Santa gave Sophie three tickets to the Ed Sheeran concert at Saltair: for a friend, a parent and herself.

I was the lucky parent. Sophie chose to bring her friend Sophie. It was a really fun concert, and I just couldn't quite get over that my girl is so danged old that I am taking her to a concert that I actually might have chosen to go to on my own.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Snapshot 2-5-13: Steinways and Puppy Time

This is where David was.

(I wasn't jealous, remember?) (Or so I told myself...)

And this is where I was:

I'll be honest...while I would have loved to have been in New York, playing a $150,000 piano, I kinda like being here, too.

And can you tell that Miss Maisie is loved? Adored? Mauled?

Snapshot 2-4-13: Early to Bed

David had the hard job of going to the Steinway factory and showroom in NYC with a few other symphony people to choose a new Steinway for the symphony.

I was not jealous at all.


I didn't try to figure out any way possible to go with him.


I didn't have all of my students start watching Note by Note, a fascinating documentary on the making of a Steinway piano for their lab times over the last few weeks, just to make myself even more jealous.


OK, so I was, and I did, and I did. But it was not in the stars. So he left and I told myself that I would take the opportunity to go to bed early so that 5:45 didn't feel quite so early the next morning.

And I didn't. And it did.

Snapshot 2-3-13: Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday sometimes crosses our radar. It's the only game that might actually get watched in the GreenHouse. And I use "watched" lightly. This year we had Ash and Holden over, and while we had the game on, of course, the real intention was to eat Super Bowl food and watch Super Bowl commercials.

Before the game started, I heard lots and lots of laughing from lots of cute people. They were watching clips of Superbowl commercials from previous years and laughing hysterically.

We ate ourselves sick (Ashleigh made amazing queso and wings. I don't remember what I made. Oh, yes, I do. Pretzel bites and cookies and salad and tomato soup) and kind of watched the game and mostly just had fun being together.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snapshot 2-2-13: Nana & Boppa and Duck Cupcakes

My mom and dad took a quick trip to Idaho to see my grandma and decided to spend Friday night with us on their way back to California. They made a trip to Costco and showed up with many pizzas, much salad, and pie and ice cream and fed most of the Utah Youngberg/Green clan. We finished with lots of games. I fell asleep at the kitchen table in the middle of a rousing (well, apparently, not so rousing) game of Settlers with my dad and Josh. It was a sad night, though, because my dad beat me at Big Boggle. That was a shame, indeed.

The other excitement was that Maisie got to meet my mom and dad. Dad is a dog whisperer. I don't think he's ever met a dog that doesn't adore him. Maisie was certainly no exception, and it made me happy to watch.

Earlier in the week, we had our SEP conferences at the elementary school. We usually let the kids choose a book from the bookfair after their conferences. Kate chose a cupcake decorating book and was determined to make something from the book over the weekend. After four hours of shopping, baking and decorating, we had some fairly flat but pretty cute duck cupcakes. They were so fun to make that the teenagers downstairs decided to come up and make some, too.

This is about half of the ten-ish teenagers who were playing games in the basement. They are honestly amazing kids. I am grateful grateful grateful that Josh has good friends in his life. (We also made pretzels, finishing about 10:40 pm. A couple of the kids didn't eat any. When I asked why, they said they had already started their fasts. "Those are some good kids," says the woman who ate many pretzels and duck cupcakes at 11 pm.) (Also, when one of Josh's friends saw the clock and saw it was 11, the house cleared in four minutes. Ten kids with 11 pm curfews who don't complain about it or try to push the curfew envelope? "Is this for real?" wonders the woman who did not have a teenager-hood quite like this one.)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Snapshot 2-1-13: Starting Over

In 2010, I took a picture a day to catalog our lives. It just so turns out that 2010 was a pretty crazy year. And by crazy I mean hard. And also sweet. And also beautiful. But did I mention it was hard?

Funny thing, though. The other day, Sophie was reading through my blog and spent most of her time looking at pictures. And as I looked at the photos with her, I realized that by capturing so many of that year's moments, I could see the bigger (ha ha) picture. I saw the messy mix of life. I also saw the hunger my kids have to place themselves in time, to see the growth and the change and moments that matter but that are so quickly eclipsed by the next day's moments and the next day's.

The time we spent looking at pictures and laughing and remembering cemented my desire to leave something behind from our time together in the GreenHouse. So here I am 9 days late in beginning: as usual, full of good intentions, but so often slow in implementing.

I hesitate to fill your Google readers with so many posts. I know that the pictures of our family life hold most of their value for my little family. To make it easier to weed these out, I will title all of my picture posts as "Snapshots."

And so, here is the first picture.

Starting over is hard for me. A body in motion stays in motion, but a body at rest doesn't want to do much but eat cookies and play Triple Town on the iPad.

Since we added Maisie the Goldendoodle to our family, my exercising self has turned into a couch-sitting self. It wasn't just Maisie, of course. It was 4 mornings of teaching piano around 6:30. And lots and lots and lots of ice and snow and slush. And (being honest here) a little bit of depression. Plus laundry. And a new calling. And being in charge of the high school Reflections contest. And cooking and dishes and four kids with four different school schedules. And then the holidays. And then the post-holidays. And that INVERSION...blah.

Dang. It's been rough.

Not exercising became symbolic of my inward turmoil.

I've started and stopped over and over. Done the same thing with eating right. And trying to go to bed on time. And I started to question why it's so darned hard, why, after 41 years of life on this planet, I haven't figured out how to live life well, intentionally, in an ordered manner. I've placed lots of F's on my inner report card. And that, dear friends, doesn't lead to a healthy head.

Which leads me to February 1. After weeks of nasty, terrible air, a morning dawned with gorgeous skies and roads with less ice. It was a little miraculous. And I had just picked up my first new pair of running shoes in over a year. And I decided that starting over isn't the problem. In fact, it's evidence of being willing to accept responsibility for imperfections, of wanting change, and of optimism. Optimism is a good thing. I want more of it in my life.

So I laced up, and I ran four miles.

I know, four miles doesn't sound like much. I used to knock that out in my sleep. But it's a lot to me now, and at the end I felt a little like celebrating. So I took a picture.

And while the inversion hasn't left us alone yet, I've found my way to the treadmills at the gym (reading dumb free Kindle books on the iPad helps miles go by faster, I've discovered), and I've been doing some DVDs in my basement for weight training, and I've been walking the dog. Small steps, people. It's all about the small steps.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

To Resolution or Not To Resolution

Typical. It's nearly 10 days into the new year and I just can't decide whether or not I should be setting goals.

For the record, I set a goodly number to paper. And then when I read them later, my breath caught in my chest and I thought "Look at all these things you still haven't gotten right, and let's face's not going to change in 2013."

That's never a good way to start a year.

So I set them aside, gained back the three pounds I'd already lost, and here I am.

A friend came over this morning to help me take down some of our Christmas decorations (because it is Jan. 9 and it is (was) all still up) (because that is how 2013 is going for me) and she asked how I was doing and I didn't lie. I told her that it's HARD and it seems to be getting HARDER and why can't I get a grip on the household organizing or the finances or my weight or my exercising or my calling or my PTA responsibility or my teaching or my family?

And she listened, and took more ornaments off the tree, and told me that I'm trying hard and that I'm good enough and that I should really crumble up that list of resolutions and just accept that it's a messy life and I'm living it in my messy way, and that that doesn't make me bad. It just makes me human. And normal.

It went a long way to relaxing my tight chest, that talk. So did pulling out the Christmas tree, throwing it on the snowy curb, and vacuuming up the needles.

And now I can think about resolutions in a way that doesn't feel like exposing my failures, my short-comings. So maybe now I want to actually try a couple of things. And this is what I think they are.

I think it's time to run again as part of my normal routine. I think it's time to take deep breaths, be on my trail, make my running friends suffer through my currently ridiculous pace while we solve the world's problems, and maybe even run a race or two.

And maybe I'd like to write more.

And maybe I'll even start practicing again. Maybe.

And maybe not. Because whether or not I do any of these things, I want to look at myself in the mirror and feel like it's still worth getting up in the morning for myself and those I love the most. Maybe that's my main resolution: to love and be loved, and know that that is more important than zipping up size 4 jeans.

So I'll pretend I didn't write the 40 item resolution list that included "No library fines" and "Do 2012 memory books for each kid and the family" and "Get to 125." Because that stuff is just plain crazy.