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?)