Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Last night we returned from a quick family trip to San Diego.  Oh it was magical and stress-free.  And casual.  For someone like me who moves at a breakneck pace (except when running) it was glorious to have ideas rather than an agenda.  

The whole trip reminded me of some of the financial perks that we get through E's job that don't come in cold-hard-cash.  No IRS reportable illegal offenses or anything - but things we did not realize at the onset.  Company brand shirts which makes his paying for his wardrobe cheap. Trips around the continent that stimulate his mind and serve to remind me of the wonderful presence in our life.  Company dinners which give us a reasons to dress and eat well.  Seven days of paid "holiday" time which started last week.

The most relevant example, given the post, are the hotel points that he accumulated this year with all his travel. We walked into this gorgeous Marriott hotel and as I opened the door I realized that when my boys think of hotels this is what they know. We stayed as a family, when I was growing up, in Motel 6. Nothing wrong with Motel 6 - in fact we (my family of origin) considered it such a treat to stay in a motel that it didn't matter what it was. Plus we lived on a shoestring budget and for us, having the adventure, was more important than where we stayed in order to have it. My parents provided us with a ton of adventure for minor cost.

I'm not saying this to appear a braggart. It's just that, given our (granted, self-created) situation it is easy for me to find disappointment in things. Both E and I thought we would be at a different place at this time in our lives. Mostly I feel so secure in where I am and so aware of how I got here, how far we've come, the lessons we've learned and are learning, and what I am doing differently. But there are moments when that all fades away and the disappointment is evident.

So it's wonderful to pack up our bags, on our own shoestring budget, and set off for adventure.

What a perk.

I'll be..

Random bit of Shelly here.  

On someone's blog today I found myself typing the following sentence:

"I'll be excited to try your Photoshop tips on some of my snaps."

I do this all the time.  I delegate an emotion to be had at some later time.  

I'm either in the emotion or not, right?   I'm either excited at the moments or not.  

"I'll be waiting" makes sense.  It says that at some point, hopefully determined in the next sentence, I will be doing something concrete.  But that at some point I'll be excited....hum.

Strange habit.  

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Small bites

Last month my cute cousin Ann approached me about doing a triathlon.  Actually, I overheard her talking about it with her in-laws and butted in.   

They are planning to do the Castaic Lake Annual Triathlon.  It's a sprint-triathlon.  Which until a week ago meant nothing to me.  Now it means 3 miles of running, 1/4 mile of swimming, and 10 miles of biking.

And I found myself suddenly compelled to join in.  Maybe it was the Ya-Ya-Sisterhood-ish moment they were all having.  Maybe it's the fact that I spent several hours in a gym and running outdoors suddenly sounded freeing.  Maybe it was all the sugar from the cookies I'd eaten that day.

And this is what I decided...

To do a 5k!  Honestly, I'm not sure I can see myself doing a triathlon.  But I'm working on it.  Because I'd like to say at 31 (which is how old I'll be by the date of the event) that I did it.  And not wait until I'm 50, or never, to do it.  

I start training tomorrow.  My friend Autumn and I are doing some of the training together. And Eric will join me in some of it as well.   But most of the training will go on in my head.  So I could use your support.  

You can track my progress here - but also by talking with me.  It will be a great motivator.  

Anyone else in?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thank you.

This morning I feel very aware of things in my life that are not as they should be.  I'd like to shift my perspective.  One of the best ways I know to do that is to take a moment and be grateful.  Here are a few (random) things I am grateful for this morning:

*  Footsie pajamas and space heaters for keeping my children warm
*  Care packages - particularly those with gluten-free flours for me to dabble with
*  twenty-plus years with a friend who continually surprises me 
*  a laundry room where I can get all my laundry done at once
*  a little boy who smothers me with hugs and kisses and calls me Mama
*  a little boy who stares deeply into my eyes and fills my soul with hope
*  enough food and clothes and money in a time where each is precious
*  a husband who is 100% invested in us, in me, and in the kids.  
*  my planner and it's pull out pages and large writing spaces
*  Instant Breakfast
*  the chance to search for my inner peace without persecution
*  reminder emails from the library
*  a sister who would take a five-hour train ride just to have time with me
*  and so much more...

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Winter's Solace

I've never been a fan of death.  Who is really?  Maybe a funeral director.  Maybe.

Last year when my Grandpa died it was the first time I'd lost anyone with a place in my heart. Even now, in my lowest moments, I can sob uncontrollably over the loss I feel.  Sometimes I even pre-grieve.  This strange mix of anxiety and grief which erupts when I spend too much time watching the news or reading about death (particularly children).

It is safe to say that I hate death.  Or at least I did.

The same could be true of winter.  I've never really understood winter.  I blame winter for my cold feet and my unshaven legs.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with the cold and the gray that I cannot see past either to what might be beautiful in winter.

It is safe to say that I hate winter.  Or at least I did.

That is, until Sunday.  

Let me digress for a moment to say that it is going to become fairly obvious, to those who do not know already, that I am not talking about the church of my birth.  Many of you already know that I was born into the LDS (Mormon) faith. Some of you already know that I have not been participating as a member of the LDS church for some time.  A couple of you understand where my journey started and how I got where I am.  For a while I was not attending any religious service.  I found, however, that I missed my organized spiritual time and wasn't finding time for it without help.  After some investigating I have rested at the Unitarian Universalist community.  Here I can explore my spirituality and religion without feeling obligated to agree to anything.  This change is something I want to talk about - and am happy to talk about - but not in this post.  Feel free to ask me about it via phone or email.  I will take the time to share that story with the blog world at some point...soon.

Back to Sunday.  Our local UU church invited it's Pagan members to perform the service and celebrate the Winter's Solstice.

If you know anything about my Mom you know that she's an earth-loving, women's rights pursuing, Jesus-loving Mormon.  (That's my simplistic description of her - not hers) We grew up in a home where spirit was celebrated both on Sunday but also in every natural experience we had. We welcomed the Christmas season with stories from the Bible and then celebrated the New Year by meditating on the year past and lightening a candle signifying our hopes for the next. We did Earth Mother card readings at camping and sang chants when we released found animals back into nature.  So stepping into the Pagan world isn't that hard to do.

The CUUPS group performed a play/vignette/ritual to celebrate the Winter's Solstice.  We have, in our family, long celebrated the Summer's Solstice.  Summer has always been easy to celebrate.  It's the season of my birth, the season of my sunflower.  It's warm and comforting.  

On Sunday I found myself being challenged to better understand the season of Winter and the life season of death.  To bring myself to understand the entire cycle.  To realize that the Summer I love so much, the celebration of birth that I love so much, is all predicated on the previous season ending.  

There were so many things I loved about the service:  

* Having a moment to reflect on what my ancestors of long ago lived like and celebrated.  No one knows how to celebrate the return of the sun like the Swedish.  They seem to understand and appreciate what the Winter is about.

* Watching each person, as a season, physically turn to the next to welcome it in and pass on the light.

* Being asked 'Did you think it would last forever' as each season bid farewell.

* And I loved what each Season said about itself.  I've put it here, but you can read the entire ritual text HERE:  

EAST GUARDIAN: I am the East, the place of dawn, ruled by the element of Air. I am
The breath of Life, gifter of thought, speech and song. I watch over all the winged ones. I am the season of Spring, the season of birth and new creation.

Can you remember the Spring? Life surged forth in buds and sprouts. The trees
dress their branches in new leaves as the sap rises to rouse them from sleep.
The birds returned from the realms of the South to raise their children. New life comes forth and multiplies. The Earth leans towards the Sun as she greens and blossoms. Each day the young Sun rises in the East and each day grows stronger. Each day the time of light lasts longer. Did you think it would last forever? The Wheel Turns!

SOUTH GUARDIAN: I am the South, the place of midday, ruled by the element of Fire.
I am the passion and laughter of life. Guardian of all that walks and crawls on
the Earth. I hold the gift of fertile Earth from which your crops come forth. I am
the blessing of children, the keeper of truth and innocence. I am the season of

Can you remember the Summer? The fruit was set upon the Vines and the
branches of the trees. The herds fatten on the thick grass of the upper pastures.
Young animals scamper and play under the watchful eyes of the older animals.
The young birds learn to fly. Your own children take shade under the glorious
leaf canopy of the trees. The Earth leans nearest the sun, radiant in her beauty.
The Sun, strong and hot, is at the peak of his power. And the light exceeds the
darkness. Did you think it would last forever? The Wheel turns!

WEST GUARDIAN: I am the West, place of dusk, ruled by the Element of Water. I am
the keeper of life-giving water, from the oceans depths to the waters of the
womb that rocked you before your birth. I am the sweet rain satisfying the thirsty
Earth and keeper of all that swims and lives in water. I am the place of all that
lies below the surface, of intuition and dreams. And I am the season of Fall and
the time of Harvest. Can you remember the Fall?

Do you remember the backbreaking labor of harvesting the grains and fruits and
vegetables. The vines and trees were heavy with their bounty. Now the young
animals take their places beside the elders and begin the great migrations to
the Realms of the South and the pastures of the lowland.

The trees transform from deep green into glorious gold, orange and red, - their
true colors shine forth before they drop their finery, leaf by leaf to the ground.
Your own children must be dressed against the morning and evening chill and
you labor to make ready for the coming darkness. The Earth stands apart from
the Sun who grows cooler and the light begins to die. Did you think it would last
forever? The Wheel turns!

NORTH GUARDIAN: I am the North, the place of midnight, ruled by the element
of Earth. I am the place of the ancestors and ancient wisdom, of all that has
walked the wheel through millennia and knows the way. I rule the time of
Winter. Now the time of Darkness is upon us- a time of cold and scarcity when
the northern-most Earth leans farthest from the Sun. Now the Sun gives brief light
and little warmth. The life that was lies shattered and still - retreated like refugees
in the migration of herds, the flight of the flocks. The trees stand stripped and
naked, their once glorious leaves and fruits lie rotting at their feet. Now their
branches are imprisoned in ice, bent and broken by storms. In the time of
suffering and hardship you learn what is essential. In the time, of cold and dark,
death seems to triumph. Did you think it would last forever? The Wheel turns!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It Rings True

My phone seems to be my arch nemesis right now.

It rings.  And when it does the voice that fills the other line is full of information.  No questions, no conversation.  "Let me tell you about me", it says.  

Or it doesn't ring.  The calls I hope for never appear.  The news unshared.  Conversations die before having a chance to live.

I'm not sure which one I like the least...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Let's get things started...

I needed a quick and simple way to get things started on my blog again.  As we've been exploring our new community I've been less and less inclined to get on here.  And I miss it.

So let's start simple:  a top-ten list.

Top Ten In-Home Items that Bring My Life Joy

1.   my label maker
2.  my bathtub
3.  the paper shredder
4.  my bread maker (has completely changed my feelings on gluten-free bread)
5.  my Adobe Classroom-in-a-Book books (thanks Ali!)
6.  my Pampered Chef hand-held food chopper
7.  the oil burning tealight thing
8.  tweezers
9.  my Instant Breakfast cup (I have a cup that is dedicated to my morning IB)
10.  my body pillow

What are some of yours?  

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I think I have moved past tired.

Past exhaustion.

And now, I'm fatigued.  Body slowing, mind-aching, soul-grating fatigue.

This is the eighth night in a row of me waking up between 3:00am and 5:00am.  The last few days it's been getting earlier.  



Even 2:45 yesterday.  

Last night I forced myself to stay up until 10:30.  I sound like an old lady.

I'm not sure what's waking me up.  Part of me wants to set an alarm and see if maybe the sprinklers turn on or off, or a train is sounding in the distance (like the one right now).

I know what keeps me up though.  Once my mind gets powered it's a fantastically moving machine jumping from one thought to the next, pulling up worry after worry, and reminding me of to-do lists that still need boxes checked.


Part of me is always glad to be up before the rest of the fam (or in this case, the rest of the world).  I love seeing the sky lighten.  I love getting my shower in, my breakfast eaten, and maybe even a book read before anyone else requires something of me.

But then my mind starts the thinking.  If I don't keep it actively engaged in a good cause it turns on itself.  

And that makes me tired.

And then....the kids get up.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Overhead in Chicago

I'm on a trip to Chicago. E is here for work and since I had a free plane ticket I figured I'd take advantage of a free trip. And you all know I love Chicago.

There have been serious things on my mind - but in a full and complete effort to block them out I'm choosing to blog about things I've heard in Chicago and NOT the other things.

I'm writing things down in my journal while out walking and will transfer them here. Here are some juicy nuggets thus far:


(at dinner at Pizzeria Uno)
Grandma: "You stink. What are they feeding you at that daycare?"
Little boy: "Food."
Grandma: "What kind of food? Dog food? They giving you Alpo? You smell like dog food."

The best part of Wednesday night dinner, besides being with just E, was sitting next to a table with three women (I'd say mid-fifties). They had quite the verbal agenda and I had a hard time carrying on a conversation with E instead of eavesdropping.

Episode One:
Woman #1: My Mom died, two weeks later my husband filed for divorce, and the next week was Christmas.
Woman #2: That's horrible. During the Christmas season?
Woman #1: Yes. I treated myself to lots of pedicures. Figured it was worth it.

Episode Two:
Woman #3: Have your read anything of Sandra Lee's?
Woman #1: From the song?
Woman #3: No. She's a cook. She does semi-homemade food.
(She then goes on for a good twenty minutes about Sandra Lee's history which not only sounds like a mix between a sales-pitch for Sandra Lee and a religious testimony AND it works this woman up to tears. Tears. At some point they change the subject but woman #3 is determined to share everything she wants about Sandra Lee)
Woman #3: But back to Sandra Lee. She's a semi-homemade food maker. You get that right?
Woman #2: Yes, you told us. She makes homemade food but with shortcuts.
Woman #1: I think we all agreed that she's got a good concept.
Woman #3: You should see some of her recipes! I mean, she has you just take a cake mix and then you can do all these things with it. It's all semi-homemade.

Walking around downtown.

Man on cell: No, I did not say you could use my bathtub. You just don't use other people's bathtubs.

Man & Woman on corner. He's looking at a map and she's trying to explain her directions.
Man: You don't know your way around this town like I do.
Woman: Well I did live here for ten years.

more to come...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Her stock value.

I hate to say it - but Sarah Palin's stock value just went up in my book. Still not going to vote for her. But I have to give her MAJOR moxie credit. Especially for the Weekly World Update. Oh my lanta.

PS - Um, besides the scenes with Marky-Mark, Sarah Palin, Adele, Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, the rest of SNL was yuck. Maybe it's a pale by comparison thing - nope - they just sucked.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I'm not sure why I've always wanted to be a bird. But I have. Every time someone asks whether I'd rather be a fish or a bird (I think it's a question in the Book of Questions) it's an easy answer. Being able to soar above everything. Flying free. Using the wind to buoy me up and learning how to control it to drive me higher.  Birds are used in many instances to 

So when I found a package at my door two days ago with a gift from my friend Kat, it seemed fitting to find a nest carefully wrapped up in the packaging.

It wasn't a surprise to find the nest. I knew she had been working on it and that, in the end, I would be the grateful recipient of it.  However I was surprised at how overwhelmed I was to actually hold it in my hands and then place it on, above my heart.

See, the draw for me to the life of the bird comes from the notion that it would bring freedom and peace. In the midst of this place I'm in right now (both emotionally and physically) there are moments where I long to walk outside, spread my wings, and take off.

The nest reminded me, so sweetly with it's two small eggs, that my choices to stay at home with the boys, provide them with my own version of refuge, and make an attempt to raise them, are valid. As we've investigated new directions for our family, and I've tried taking out my wings again, the nest has been a welcome reminder of the real one that exists and the decisions that brought it to be.  The freedom that I've had this whole time.  

Thank you Kat.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

His heart is a feather.

Notes from the wall near the spa. Grandpa's hand.

Most mornings at my grandparents house you'd find my Grandpa, Bob, enjoying the early morning in his spa. Built as an add-on to the house the spa room reminds me a lot of the house I lived in when I was a kid, if only because it has dark paneling. The lid to the spa itself is the covered in brown vinyl. It smells musty, and after the spa has been running it smells a little like a sauna. The spa came with the house and while I doubt it was a buying point for my Grandpa, it sure turned into a treat for him. Which made it a treat for all of us.

Some mornings, when I'd rise early enough, I'd find myself sitting in the kitchen eating Honeycomb, which was always on supply at their house, and listening to the soft sounds of my Grandpa singing from his spa. Now, you had to be careful. Grandpa sometimes treated himself to his spa time al fresco. Since the kitchen was adjacent to the spa room he'd come wandering in the room, still humming, with his towel around his waist. "You're lucky Shellgirl. I remembered my towel this morning." His skin was always so white and pruny. His gray-white hair would be swirled in different directions and it always made me wonder if he might have ben swimming out there, instead of soaking.

Then he'd walk through the house, finishing his song. He'd usually tease my Grandma by grabbing hold of her, twirl her around a little, and sing her a line. Always the same song. In the spa. In the hall. With her. Eddy Arnold's Cattle Call. Silly and simple song.

And my Grandpa thought himself a silly, simple man. At least in the years I knew him best. The truth is, as usual, much more complex. A devoutely religious man my Grandpa had a quick wit, an active mind, and a sharp tongue. He once chastised me publicly during a discussion about parades and then marched out of the room in a successful move to end the conversation. I still have a mix of emotions when I think back on that moment. It stung like a slap.

Yet I couldn't have asked for a better man to have in my life. Every child should be able to get love from whoever is willing to give it and my grandparents shared it with us in large doses. Mediated of course by smaller doses of life lessons and discipline. Some people are lucky enough to have two sets of grandparents who love and treasure them - at least in some version. My Dad's parents never played a large part in our life. Mostly because my Dad's Mom died when I was young. And because my Dad was never close to his Dad. It made us even more fortunate that my grandparents were willing to love us and share their life. Add to that the close proximity in which we lived for the first 14 years of my life, until they move out of state.

I realize that my relationship with my grandparents is not the same one that everyone has with their own grandparents. And that even within my own family there is disconnect and discontent. I cannot control that though, even though I've tried for years. Grandpa knew about it and it weighed heavily on his heart. In his own way he tried to love everyone. I know it wasn't easy for everyone to see past his expression of religion, or his stout opinions. Trust me, I know. Still, you knew what to expect.

You knew to expect the cattle call in the morning. You knew to expect that he'd offer you strange conglomerations of juice. You knew he'd offer a sharp retort to something you said but then always squeeze you extra tight when you left.

And you knew, at least I did, that when he left it would be life changing.

Happy Birthday Grandpa. I know you are happy wherever you are. Just wish you were here still.

Random thoughts...

I just finished that lengthy post, and as posts do I started off with a different idea to write about than what I actually decided to do.

That being said I wanted to through a couple of things out there that are on my mind:

I cannot quite decide how I feel about the people who failed to heed hurricane evacuation warnings and are now begging for help. Part of me is pissed at them. Part of me feels sorry. I keep reminding myself that I live in an earthquake prone area where, when one happens, we received state and federal aid. Yet if I had specific warning I'd be outta here. Yet, haven't we had warning? Hum....this is a tricky one.

Watching all the Lehman Brother's employees file out of their jobs makes me sad. Reminds me of the Enron movie. Again I'm torn. Am I saddened by this or am I unsympathetic given that the failings of Lehman are being blamed partially for participating in the huge housing bubble that I've disliked since day one?

Jillian Barbari. Really? I'll borrow some observations made by Matt at WTHIM when I say she seems solipsistic.

Comparing the Metrolink train crash to America's 9/11? Please stop. Please.

Fwd. Accountability

So this morning I made a huge mistake. I turned on the news.

I rarely watch tv. Even more rare is the time I take to watch the news. And this morning I remembered why.

The first fifteen to thirty minutes are filled with despair laden stories that both break your heart and keep your finger from pressing the channel change button. I've already been teary this morning about Lehman Bros. (not their actual 11 filing but the filing out of all their employees), the cute old man on GMA who talked about his unpaid oil bill, the final number of deaths in Chatsworth, and the damage in Texas.

I hate the news. Not the actual happenings, both good and bad, but rather the machine. And this includes all of us. See, every time I turn on the tv to watch the news I'm telling them that I need them to bring me the messages of the world in the way they deliver them.

One of the other ways we fuel the news machine was discussed in two fascinating stories by NPR's On The Media this weekend. Called Stick Up and Pass it On the pieces focused, using the current election campaigns, on two of the most effective ways that news gets spread, often times with a heavy twist away from fact. Having seen and read more forwards than I've ever wanted to I am still never surprised when I open one. I have intelligent friends and family, and yet I receive emails that are sometimes just absurb, and other times dangerously factless and illogical.

Now I do not want to sound hypocritical. I've forwarded things. Usually heartwarming stories about what kindergartners say in their classrooms, but sometimes a political message. Every time I've sent something I've read it carefully, and added my own comment at the start. And I check my facts. But as the story Pass it On mentions, even with several options to check facts (i.e., Snopes) people still fail to do this and send on potentially damaging information (political or not). I am unsure why people pass on stories at all before checking facts. As far as they can. I mean, there are so many stories out there that I wouldn't want my name attached to, even in an email.

It's so easy for us to get mad at the news for their sometimes skewed stories - but why aren't we held more responsible for the news we've spread?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I have a feeling that this period of time will be one, several years from now, that I look back on and smile at.  Smile because the boys were at such a wonderful age.  That I could take them on the bus, hide under the kitchen table, or teach them the words to ABBA's Mamma Mia and every experience they eat up.  Then they look at me with their bright eyes and smile.  I won't always get that smile.

But mostly I think I'll look back at this time and smile because I'll remember thinking that I'd never get past this point in my life.   This point I'm at right now.  Where decisions need to be made, plans laid, and actions taken.  Yet with each one I feel as though I'm at a stalemate.  For me, it's a crummy place to be.  I like beginning and end.  I like problem and solution.  I like checkbox and check mark.  

One of the hardest things is organizing my mind.  I am usually an incredibly organized person but right now I feel like the right-side of my brain is in protest with the left.  And my mouth is in mutiny with the rest of my body.  

With all of that floating around it was brilliant to read Liz's comments about organization over at backwards attraction.  Now not only do I value her because of her life-saving kill.the.gluten recipes but also as a kindred spirit in this world of mental disorganization.  Her words illustrated, all too keenly, the place I feel.   I do exactly what she refers to - a list of 500+ things I could do, some that I should do, but few that I will do.  Then I end the day wondering where my time went, what success I found, and how to gear myself up for another day of openendedness.  

So here's my list for today.  Don't scoff at it.   Hopefully I'll end the day with a clear vision of what I've done and it will all help to move me from a sense of stale to the place where I can look back and smile.  Thanks for the inspiration Liz.

To Do List:
- thank you notes for Walker's birthday/UT trip
- 2-3 blog posts on AinB
- drop off overdue "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" movie to library
- one hour of job search stuff (preferably during nap time)
- dinner
- put pictures on CD for Neighborhood Church class
- swim with the boys (and hopefully Eric too!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Simple is the new pink!

Since I rarely log onto my actual blog and rather view all things from the omnipotent Google Reader or Blogger Dashboard I hadn't realized that my blog is loading SO slowly.

Turns out cute isn't always functional.  And I've always been a function over form kinda gal.

When I have the time, and the desire to use that time for this purpose, I will find another fun form that also is functional!  In the meantime - sorry for the slow.

Buyers Beware

In the past few days I've spent more time at stores, grocery and other, than I usually do in an entire month.  I've been searching out some items for a class I'm teaching and have been enjoying the hunt.  Yesterday I felt absolutely dismayed at the state of our human existence after one excursion and I found myself compelled to bestow my opinions on everyone (you, the reader).  Part of me would like to print out this note and stand outside of stores handing it out.

Dear Sirs and/or Madams,

Thank you for choosing to shop at ________.   I am about to shop here as well and hope we both have a good experience.  

I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to some basic shopping etiquette in order to make your time, but mostly my own, more pleasant. 

Let's talk first about shopping carts.  How fortunate we are to live in a country where carts are provided for us, at no charge, in order to make purchasing easy.  It would seem that if a store is polite* enough to provide carts for you, that you should return the courtesy by placing the cart back in one of the designated areas.   This is not difficult as there are usually multiple options for cart return.  If you find this is a problem for you, then park your lazy butt next to the cart return stall so that you can both pick up and return a cart with little effort. Oh, I know it's a fun challenge to your creativity to see how many wheels you can pop up onto the curb to see if the cart will stay or go - but couldn't that same time be spent walking the five to ten feet to the return?  And shame on those of you who fail to even attempt creativity and resort to the assumption that because a cart has four wheels it must be a car and somehow deserving of it's own parking space.  With the exception of a physical disability** there is no excuse for leaving your cart anywhere other than the cart return. If you do have a physical disability - or even if you don't -  ask for help when checking out.  They provide it for free - no tipping necessary!  

Once you've procured your shopping cart, and have a game plan for properly disposing of it when you're done, please take a moment to get off our your cell phone before entering the store.  I know those fancy new bluetooth devices allow us to walk around like robots - always connected to someone, somewhere, somehow.   Still, being on your phone distracts you while you are attempting to shop (and please, don't try to tell me this doesn't happen to you) causing one or both of the following:
(1) greater likelihood*** of purchasing unnecessary items because of lack of focus 
(2) stopping mid-aisle to finish a conversation while appearing to be intently staring at the 
products causing cart traffic jams or others to wait for you to notice them so that they can grab the item your cart is, no doubt, stopped in front of.
(3) a slow, unaware pace as you walk around the store****, leaning into your cart with one hand pushing and the other hand, elbow on the cart, supporting your cell.  If you had eyes in the back of your head you'd see people glaring at you as they try to navigate around you.

Now I realize that we are all-important beings and I myself have wandered around the store, cell in hand, bluetooth in ear, doing my best at multi-tasking.  It doesn't work - for any of us. Not to mention the fact that grocery stores (and stores in general) were once places where you bumped into your neighbors, or chatted with the produce person about the latest arrival of white peaches - none of which you can while phoning.  

If you feel as though this is too strict for you, then at least adopt the following rule:  Do not talk on your phone while attempting to check out at the register!  If you surveyed cashiers I am sure that number two complaint (if not number one, which I am almost positive would be people who haggle over sale prices) would be trying to ring someone up who is on a phone call. Directions have to be given and re-given, questions asked and re-asked (Do you want paper or plastic?  Excuse me, paper or plastic?).  Not to mention the total lack of acknowledgement that often occurs when the cashier is not greeted, thanked or even given eye contact.  

Shopping should at the least be a successful experience, but hopefully fun as well.   In doing the above I believe that your experience, my own, and the other shoppers will be greatly improved. 


*I realize that the stores reasons for providing a shopping cart may have more to do with increasing the amount of goods purchased rather than pure politeness.  But still courtesy is involved.   
**And yes, being prego counts as a temporary physical disability in my book.
***such a fun word to type but it always looks wrong...
****much like the way you drive your car when you talk on the phone.  And yes, there were a lot of footnotes.  This will be my last one I promise!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


One of my favorite splurges of time is to read Feminist Mormon Housewives.  Regardless of how I feel about a topic I always leave with something to chew on for the rest of the day.  Today I made my first comment, which I realized after hitting the send button, looked more like a blog post than a comment.  I can be a bit wordy (sorry FMH readers).

Well, I'm turning lemons into lemonade!  Since I haven't been in much of a blogging mood, preferring to stick to blogger stalkdom, I'm cutting my comment into a blog post!  Genius! Ok, maybe not genius.  

I did expound on one point below which is indicated by color.   And here is the post I am responding to - which in a nutshell talks about what freedoms we allow our children, in the midst of parental paranoia and parenting peer pressure, in order to help them grow into the adults we hope they will be.  

Perfect timing for this post. Yesterday my boys and I went for an adventure. We walked passed our in-perfect-working-order car, up the hill and three blocks to the local bus stop. We were just going to the library, a mere 3 or 4 mile jaunt, but taking the bus made the difference between errand and adventure for all three of us. (Not to mention killing some time with is high on my priority list)

On the way home we sat at the bus stop for what I realized was longer than I was comfortable with. The library is smack downtown of my uber-Republican, SUV driving, little town - and the bus stop is right in front. As I watched cars drive by with people who glanced out at us I started wondering what they were thinking. The voice of my insecurity (which sounds a lot like me when I was 14) started popping up. Then I looked at my kids. They sat proudly, eyes wide open watching for the #284, grasping onto their $.50 bus money, all while chattering away about what they might see on the bus ride home. It pushed all my own socially driven voices away.  In fact, I found myself hoping that these early experiences will somehow shape their attitudes later in life regarding the same subjects.  

Not to mention that we walked away from the 'adventure' today having only spent $2 ($1 each way for my fare), used public resources, AND learned some math, literacy and social studies.  The boys (on our 3 mile walk later last night) saw bus signs where they recognized the #284, realizing the bus route could take us from the city where we listen to music in a park ALL the way to our own library.  They learned that four quarters equal a dollar which equals the fare.  They learned to listen for the station name to be called out so they knew when to get off.  It still amazes me what we got in just those twenty minutes total on the bus.  

My driving factor  as a parent is that want my kids to be able to strong, independent, capable people (especially in their teens and beyond). I want them to know their own personal boundaries, recognize their own discomfort in situations and respond, to know their own voices, and trust themselves. This means I have to keep my own anxious, unreasonable voice quiet so they can hear themselves. I practice this now by letting them climb on the playground equipment without following them around like some underpaid bodyguard. Even though I want to be the bodyguard. It’s taken me some time, and still does on a daily basis, to realize that the chance of the things happening in real life that I play out in my head are relatively slim. Still I too need to trust myself, differentiate between anxiety and real concern and act accordingly.

Pollyjk (a fellow commenter on the site) made a good point - that there are differences in parenting based on situation, location and circumstance. It’s always hard to look across the grass and wonder if what you are doing is right or wrong in comparison. What I got most from mfranti is that as parents we seem to have lost sight of our own instincts as parents. We cater to the demands of our kids, the voices of society (tv/video in particular), and the all too familiar adult peer pressures. Where our parents, or even generations back, might have been considered too lack with parenting (slumber parties galore) we’ve 180′d to an overprotective place. This place doesn’t serve us or our kids any justice since it teaches us to be driven by fear.

For the time being I’m grateful that my kids are 4 and 3. The issues we face now will set the groundwork for later emotions, esteem, etc - but overall rank minimal on the fear scale. Soon enough the larger issues will be here - and I hope that we’ve both laid enough groundwork and that I’ve learned to trust myself and them by that time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


A 5.8 earthquake just hit - with it's epicenter too close to our home. Fortunately we were on the freeway and I only thought sometime was wrong with my tires. When I got off the freeway and saw everyone outside of their houses and buildings I knew it was something other than my tires.

Oh. I was hoping to leave CA with no earthquake experiences. I'm not a fan.

Still, another earthquake today happened today - it was actually much smaller and less damaging on a world scale. It happened in our family. Eric's work has decided, given the economy, not to promote the people it had scheduled to promote...including Eric. They will do the promotions at the end of the year. Which is still wonderful - but not what we were told and expecting. Eric's already been doing his new job - and will still do it since people now know to call him.

Oh. I thought this roller coaster ride was over. I'm not a fan.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


The boys and I are headed to Vegas to have a sinful time!  Ok, no boozing, gambling or any of the other myriad of sins you can gleefully encounter in Vegas - we're just going to have a sinfully good time meeting baby Addie.  

In related news - my posts have been slow and rather blah lately.  Hopefully after the upcoming wedding I'll have more time, increased energy, and writing skills.  

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Today, during our wonderful walk of the city, I realized something. A double-standard it seems.

A man in front of us was holding his female companion's arm.

I was holding Eric's arm.

For some reason as I stared at the man's hand holding on to the back of her arm I found myself offended that he would hold onto her that way.

It took me a couple of blocks to get over his gesture and then several more blocks to realize that I had been holding Eric's arm in almost the exact same position.

Why did it seem to me that the same hand grip I had for balance and connection was somehow his way of expressing of control?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Family Blog

We've changed a bit on our family blog - namely the blog host - and because of that several people who had our blog in their reader lost their feed.  Even though the name did not change, the RSS Feed did, so reenter our blog name to make sure it's feeding.

So if you read our family blog, make sure you update your blog so that you can catch-up on our family!  I have MUCH posting to catch up on but that won't occur until after San Fran!

And if you are reading my blog for the first time - you should be warned that it's like me. Sometimes a little random, sometimes a little long-winded, sometimes funny, and sometimes brutally honest.  Considered yourself welcomed - and warned :)


They are lying.

The real San Francisco treat has nothing to do with Rice-A-Roni!  It's having my breakfast while sitting at the computer over looking Chinatown and the Financial District from my window.

I rose at 7:00am (which was a feat in itself given the night of "business bar hopping" that occurred last night) and watched as the city greeted it's day.  For a while the streets were flooded with men and women in business wear trudging from the subway, buses, and near-by sweet condos to work. 

From here I can see a park in Chinatown where a group of about 15 women did some sort of playground exercising before starting their Tai Chi.  A man in his office across the way from him has waved several times - maybe he's worried I am going to jump.  Not likely.  The fact that I am sitting, perched on the desk which is shoved up against the window, staring out at the city from 24 floors up is amazing.  

What a way to start my 30th year.  I have done so many things in just one night of being here that I haven't done in my whole previous 29.  Not all of them are sinful either!  Like getting up this morning and walking down to the Chinese market to get milk for my breakfast.  Then having a ten minute conversation with the adorable old man behind the counter who wanted to explain why their fresh oranges and mangoes were so much better than the banana I was looking for.  

Eric is here for a conference - which holds absolutely no appeal.  Still I am going to whip out my former marketing skills and head down there later to keep him company.  Let's see how many pumps I can sell!!   He is done tomorrow afternoon and we'll have a great time wandering the city together.

What a treat to be here.  

Saturday, July 05, 2008


That is the closest spelling to the sound I am making with my mouth.

See, I ran my mile in 9.27 today.  With little change in my energy out-take.  According to the experts that exist in the WWW a good mile is 6-8 minutes.  A great one being 5 minutes.  I think I can get to the good level.  

So pyschaw to that other post.  

(And no TJ, there will be no Jonas Brothers.  If only you were close enough so I could slap you.)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thank you Miley Cyrus!

Or is it Hannah Montana?  It's rare that someone admits so readily to having two personalities and I've never quite sure which one to address.

You might think my 'Thank you' is really going to be another pissy tirade about the naive Miley taking risque pictures when she should appreciate her role as a teen role model.

Actually the biggest issue I have with this picture is that she looks like a vampire at best and the Joker at worst.  

That's besides the point.  I do owe Miley/Hannah a thank you.   Last week I hit a personal milestone.  Many of you know that I've been making a pilgrimage to the local gym every day for the last eight months in an effort to make peace with myself.   While I've gone every day (minus a few when the kids were sick) I haven't seen the results I expected.   So it's been really hard to continue with my quest.

And then last week I tried something new.  Running.  I have never been a runner.  Between my asthma and the 'I can't do it' thoughts that run through my head I have just stayed away from it. I think the last time I ran a mile was in junior high.

So, knowing that I tend to move with the music, I thought 'What if I put on a song that I always rock out to, set it to repeat, and see how long I can make it.'   And that's where Miley comes in.  I love (yes, even at almost 30 years old) the song Rockstar.  It's the only song I know of hers and I happened to hear it at the gym one day and had to download it.

The song is 2.54 minutes.  I listened to it five times and before I knew it I had run a full mile - under 11 minutes!

And yesterday I tried it again!  This time I ran the mile in 10.03 minutes!

It has changed my perspective.  Maybe I haven't lost the weight I wanted to (yet).  Maybe I am not the size I wanted to be (yet).  Still, I have done something that I never thought I could do.   It's now got me inspired to try and drop that time over the next few months.

Thanks Miley.  Now I'm a Rockstar!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Did you feel it?  

I sure did.  No, you probably didn't.  It was internal.  

A quake that is still sending small aftershocks through my body.

It's happened before.  Four years ago was the biggest.  That one nudged my whole self.  It did not take me off my foundation, though some believe it has.  It just caused a crack. 

Crack.  There it is again.  Crack.  

A rift that some do not take the time to understand.  A crevice some refuse to bridge.  And in these post-internal-quake moments I find myself shaking in my core at what might come next.  The places these cracks might take me, my family.  

Please give me strength to see past these cracks myself, to build my own bridges, to keep people close beyond differences - and more friends like this.  

Monday, June 23, 2008


21 has always been my favorite number.  So it shouldn't be a surprise that when I opened my dashboard to change my countdown calendar the result was 21.   21 days that is.

21 days to the change from 20-something to 30-something.
21 days and then I have to chose a different age bracket on surveys.
21 days and I'll be the age I first remember my parents being.
21 days and I have to put 30 into the treadmill at the gym when it intrusively asks for my age.
21 days and nothing will change, and yet everything will.
21 days and I'll be 30.

I've known for 29 years that I'd turn 30.  Or at least hoped I'd turn 30.  Back in the day 30 was old age.   (I'm not really sure what 'day' that was - but it makes me feel better to type it.)  This past year the realization of turning 30 has sunk in more and more.  Days to my birthday pass by, friends turn 30, clerks at the store comment when asking to see my id....

I'm not afraid to turn 30.  I'm not afraid to leave my 20's.  Surprisingly.  I tend to be more of a status-quo person so the fact that I am looking, anxiously, towards a change is new.  And that's the point.  Turning 30 opens up a new decade of life to live.  The loves lost, bad decisions, hard lessons, long nights of soul searching, and general uncomfortableness in my own body that were a part of my 20's have concluded. 

Sure I'll soul search in my 30's, I'll need to get used to my 30 year-old body (Susan brilliantly posted on this), I'll lose love, and make bad decisions.  This time I get to do it with 29 years of knowledge.  With that knowledge comes a sense of empowerment.  It is as if July 14th will come and in waking up I'll shed the layers I built in my 20's in order to rebuild in my 30's.

I'm starting off by making my 30th year as experience-full as possible.  In totally me form I've composed letterhead (including a logo! yes, I crack myself up) which I'm using to write letters to all my family and friends.  I'm asking that instead of gifts they help me create an extraordinary year.  Build a memory with me, share an experience, broaden our relationship, etc.  

I recognize the reality that July 14th will roll around with little change.  The boys will wake up and beg me to make them breakfast.  E will head to work - and then on a business trip later that week.  TJ will still be across the country. My letterbox full of 20 year-old memories will still sit on my shelf.  I'll still cry at commercials and get nervous that when I dance in my house someone might be watching.  I'll get disappointed at myself and laugh at myself a little too much.  Those things might not change this decade either.

Still, in 21 days I will take a deep breath and plunge into this next adventure in life.  30.  And I hope for 10 years of good perspective, meditation, and interaction.  I have a feeling my 40's will be here before I know it.  

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Consider yourself served...

It would seem there is a little bit of confusion in the world still about the difference between service and selfishness. Or maybe it's just the world that I am surrounded by.

I had an interesting conversation today with a friend. One of the things we talked about was how often people, we were talking specifics but it's true in general, label something as service when the real motivation behind it is selfish.

That was wordy. What I mean is: Person A does something with the intent of getting something and yet labels it as service.

I found myself reviewing the claims of service our friend has made over our relationship - and then I stopped myself. Because of course I've done the same thing.

The more I got thinking about this the more I hated to realize how often ulterior motives play into behavior. Maybe it's because I wanted to justify my selfish service, but I hit upon something. The hybrid of service and selfishness.

Self-serving. Now if only I'd come up with that first.

Like a hybrid car self-serving combines the best of both selfish acts and service. You've done a little bit of good but you haven't relieved the problem of dependence on ego lubrication.

For example I became an aunt for the first time yesterday (see, that's a self-serving statement). I would love to hop in the car under the premise of going to see Adeline Joy. The truth is that the reasons for going would both be to celebrate her birth, be with the new parents AND celebrate my new auntiehood, bask in the warmth of holding a new baby, and sneak in visits to all my friends.

The dirty little secret for me about self-serving isn't that I do it, or that it exists. It's that people decorate it up and try to pass it off as service. At least when someone is being really selfish they usually don't dress it up. In fact most selfish people are quite honest. Too much sometimes. But at least you know what you're getting.

Self-serving acts of "service" drive me crazy. It's the person who does nice things for people and then tells all her friends about it. Or who reminds you of a "favor" granted in order to ask for reciprocation. I have no problem doing nice things for people who do nice things for me (or even people who don't). I trust that when I need help people will reach out because of how they feel for me, not because they think they have to.

Maybe self-serving is too restrictive of a title - but it seems fair to me. Just don't gift wrap it as something else. Last I checked, none of the appointed saints actually lobbied for their own sainthood.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Personal Parenting Proclamation

I, the mother of my childrens' bodies and the wife of my husband's soul, solemnly proclaim that our marriage and my parenthood of you is divine. It's divinity is honored daily in the actions I take, the words I speak, and the lessons we learn together.

I declare that my role as a mother does not diminish my role as a wife or as an individual. Instead my role as a mother does requires that I re-evaluate priorities in order to care best for my family as well as take care of myself. As an individual I chose to become a wife and chose again to become a parent. With those choices I accepted the responsibility of you, my children, and of partnering with you, my spouse.

I believe it is the combined solemn responsibility of us as parents to nurture and teach our children as well as to provide for their basic (and sometimes complex) physical needs. I believe that each marriage, each partnership, must come to an agreement on how the roles and responsibilities of parenting and partnering play out on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Mothers and Fathers - parents in any form - will be held accountable for their children. Society is built and destroyed by the children we raise. Parenting practices will live on in our children who will at one point decide what to do with them. Our rearing of them effects the way they treat the earth, the relationships they have with other people, and their fundamental beliefs of themselves. It is an incredibly challenging and sacred opportunity that we have engaged in.

I challenge myself to find ways each day to celebrate my role as a parent, my role as a wife, and my individual person. It is my shared obligation to care and provide for the souls of my children. It is my responsibility to care and provide for my own soul and needs, to ask for help when I need it, to seek and use resources, and to allow the time for these.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Last night was filled with random dream after dream after dream. And a little boy who decided that our bed was somehow better for sleeping than his. Unfortunately if my bed is good for his sleeping than it means it is bad for my own. The dreams weren't helping either. I've always been a vivid dreamer. One who can wake up to write down my dream or fall back asleep and will myself back into a dream Then, of course, there are the dreams that haunt me and I find myself crying when I wake up and unable to shake the emotion from the dream.

I am more inclined to believe that most of the dreams last night had more to do with my late night bowl of Cocoa Pebbles rather than deep-seeded issues. Still, one issue was prevalent in each dream last night.

The overall feeling of being in a tug-of-war game. On several issues. For example one of the longest dreams I had last night involved my extended family (on one side) having a huge family reunion. Now we usually don't have family reunions so this was strange in and of itself. Given that family members from both sides of the family read this, I am going to leave most of the details out to avoid identification.

We were all in a large hotel suite that, as can only happen in dreamland, had separate areas large enough for each family. My aunts and uncles arrived in chapter-like phases. My family, meaning my parents and my siblings, were the first to be there. Shortly after one of my aunts arrived, with one of her kids. What followed was as strange procession that I can only liken to an emotional reception line. As each person, or couple, arrived my mind, and often my behavior, mirrored the emotion I felt. I grew tense and self-conscious when one couple arrived, followed by giddiness and silly affection when another person arrived.

Usually I am a social butterfly, but like in real life, I found this situation to be emotionally taxing. Somehow our little hotel happened to be right at my favorite beach. Gotta love dreams for that stuff! Not only was it a surreal location but everyone was arriving before sunrise. Soon I found myself leaving the hotel, paddling out into the ocean in a kayak, and watching the sunrise.

It actually reminded me a lot of junior high days when part of the (or at least my) social skills were learned by flitting between groups of people in order to not only find and make friends, but figure out how I fit in.

In the light of day I realize that this dream, mixed with sugary cereal GI effects, stems from the fact that I've been sending out 'Save the Date' cards for my sister's upcoming wedding. In a sense, each person (family or not) that I have sent a card to I have had some response to. Positive, negative, apathetic. Then combining all of those people into one central location and feeling an overall sense of fatigue...and the party is still months away.

In truth, there is one invited guest who I have a keen fear of being around. Not that I am scared of this person but rather I am scared of how I will act in front of the person. Kind of like what was enacted in my dream. In fact my sister has actually asked my advice about this guest. And here is where this tug o' war begins. See, the mostly positive relationship that my sister has with this person supercedes the negative relationship that I have had. It is her wedding. So when I give advice I get tugged between being opportunistic and being neutral.

Not to mention the fact that my sister is having an incredibly small wedding - which is hard to do when you have a large family (I have 44 cousins not to mention spouses). So while I find myself trying to not to oust people she has already chosen I also have to be careful not to argue reasons for why someone should be there. Still, those are my reasons, not hers.

And this is just one tug-of-war that I find myself engaging in. There is also:
work v. school
work v. family
to the gym v. not to the gym
kid v. kid
being like my parents v. being like ourselves

We all engage in tug-of-wars. With our kids, with our parents, with friends, with foes, with people we don't even know. It's an active process. An active control process.

So how do we get out of the the tug-of-wars? First of all, for me I need to remember not to engage in tug-of-wars that I am not completely vested in. Then, if I remember back to the few times I actually played the live game, I remember that giving up some control (i.e letting the rope slide a little) ends up putting the control back in my hands.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The calm after the storm...

Most of the time the phrase is 'the calm before the storm'. Alerting each of us to the awkward silences, pauses, and tranquility that comes before something stormy or out-of-control.

I am finding that, while sometimes the red night sky does offer peace, the most calm comes after the storm.

Have any of you noticed that? For me I am see that after I make a decision, no matter how hard the decision is or how much I struggle to get to it, my soul feels profoundly calm. Right now I am in the midst, well my whole family is in the midst, of trying to make changes. Changes to put our family on the right course.

And we've just been through a storm. We're not actually through will be back. Still, I find myself eerily at peace. Anchored. Calm.

Monday, February 25, 2008

This blog...

Please make sure, if you check this blog regularly, you bookmark it or add it to your blog reader. I am going to 'unlink' it from my profile page and would hate to lose any of my three faithful readers :)


Friday, February 22, 2008

Vote for Paul!

Caught by a surprise fall storm.
Copyright, Paul Ekstrand

As many of you know my Dad is a photographer - he'd say that he's an amateur photographer but some of his work is more than mere 'dabbling'.

He recently entered a contest through Outdoor Photographer. The contest is in the People Choice voting come on people, let's vote!

Click here to see his picture (which is also above). Below it is a link to vote for his picture. Look around at the others too!

(If the above link doesn't work, go to:, scroll to the bottom of the page where you''ll see 'Winter Photo Contest', follow that link. His photo is on page 216 of the Winter Photo Contest Gallery.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Highlights and tags....

I've started a new routine of getting up every morning at 5:30 or 6:00 - just so that I can get my blogging and blog reading out the way. I love it because the house is quiet and I can spend as much time as I want commenting, reading, and surfing. Some days I don't even log-on...and just sit and read, or hit the treadmill. I am remembering how much I love mornings!

Still, I find myself on days like today spending more time on other blogs than writing on my own! And there is so much to catch-up on. So I am going to have to do the Reader's Digest version since it's 6:30 and the boys have been up for a while. Here are some highlights from my last week:

* Spending Valentine's Day in a therapy session with Eric. (Yes, we do therapy. Yes, I am proud of it. I think everyone needs a therapist and every couple could use a therapist. Even if just for a little while. Enough promoting...) I told the therapist, when we made the session, that is was the best gift that we could give each other. Still I was apprehensive about doing a session and then trying to have a Valentine's celebration. It was a really good session - hard, but good. And in true E&S form we sat in the car for 45 minutes talking about it, and then went to dinner and had a wonderful time!

* Having both boys count down the days until we went to the Chinese New Year parade and then watching them be utterly gleeful to be back in Chinatown! (Check our family blog for cute pictures!!)

* My Grandma flying into town. Being able to talk with her about my Grandpa - still a tender subject for both of us.

* Pretending to be a school teacher so I could attend a Nancy Fetzer workshop on child literacy development and learning! Cannot wait to try some things with the boys...

* Getting to talk to my best friend for more than 15 minutes straight, my cousin Sarah for 15 minutes last night, and a handful of others who I needed to reconnect with.

* Hosting our annual Chinese New Year party on Saturday night. Being so thrilled with both the buzz of energy from being around the people (I'm such an extrovert) and watching everyone have a good time. The food was delicious honey. (I am a little sad because, purely out of mommybrainess, I failed to invite some people that I would have loved to have come....)

* Will and Walker trying to use chopsticks. Walker thinking the red bean cake was a birthday cake and not being too thrilled when it wasn't.

* Celebrating Eric's bonus! Congrats again babe!

* Realizing that the boys make fantastic helpers when it comes to chores. I see washing walls as a boring task, they see it as fun! It made this week's house cleaning a whole new adventure for me and reminded me of the joy children seen in the world.

* Making my very first fortune cookies - and gluten-free!

* Paying off a car loan. That's right. I own, for the first time in my life, my own car! Ok, Eric and I both own it. Still, writing out that last check for $300 and knowing that (for better or worse) the car is now ours is pretty exciting.

* Making my very first friend at church. Potty training talks always lead to friendship :)

And now, since it is officially time for me to wake up my sleepy heads, I'll end with a tag. My good friend Melissa tagged me to do this last week. I had typed it up but failed to post here goes:

A: The rules of the game are posted at the beginning. B: Each player answers the questions about themselves. C: At the end of the post, the player then tags 3 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

I was a mature (smile) 19 year-old. I was utterly in lust with a certain young man and am not sure I thought about much beyond that. Had just started working for Kaplan (almost to the day). I was living with my friend Shelly and my cousin Leslie. Loved life!


1. Sign Walker up for a dance class. (check!)
2. Go grocery shopping. (no check...)
3. Send in taxes and car registration renewal. (check!)
4. Update family blog. (check!)
5. Spend time with Grandma and get Patti's blog set-up. (check, check!)


1. Blogging (both writing and reading)
2. Reading (ah...I LOVE reading)
3. Playtime. Whether it's Trivial Pursuit with Eric or giving airplane rides to the boys.
4. Laughing. I take laughter any way it comes...even at my own expense.
5. Friends.


1. Pay off debt.
2. Move internationally.
3. Start a non-profit.
4. Hire a personal trainer.
5. Make lots of donations (including an iPod for Eric)


1. I don't take compliments very well.
2. Pulling on my eyebrows.
3. I love to channel surf and not just during commercial breaks :)


1. G-town, California
2. Avenues, Salt Lake City, Utah
3. Huckelhoven, Germany
4. U of U, Salt Lake City
5. Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah


1. Waitress at Pinnacle Peak (yeehaw!)
2. Client Services for an employment agency
3. Area Director for Kaplan Test Prep
4. front desk at a dry cleaning business
5. Client Services for People Helping People


1. For most of my adolescent years I wanted to grow up and be a lawyer.
2. Quitting work and staying home with the kids has been one of the hardest (and best) things I've ever done. Both for myself and my family.
3. I cut my really long hair once after breaking up with a boy. He had loved my long hair.
4. My best friend and I planned my 'surprise' 16th birthday party. My mom still hasn't forgiven both of us for that.
5. I secretly wish I had been a heartbreaker. I dated several guys but did not break any hearts...and kind of wish I had!

3 PEOPLE I TAG seems the people I tag never do it which leads to great disappointment and depression on my end**...sooo....

ANYONE can do this tag. Just let me know you did it so I can check it out.

**sarcasm in case you missed it**

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sweet things...

For my boys:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The other side of the fence...

One of my favorite blogs to read is Scott W's. He's one of those people on the blogosphere that I'd like to meet in real life. His blog provides daily refreshment to my reality driven mind. He blogs, in very short bursts, of things he is grateful for, hence the name 'Attitude of Gratitude'.

It is easy for me to be focused so much on what did not happen, what I failed to do, and what is left to do. Reading through his simple treasures always reminds me of what I was given during the day that I easily forget. But this isn't even the best part of his blog. The best part is that he always has incredible quotes. This one has been on my mind all week:

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
but remember that what you now have was once among
the things you only hoped for.

I have found myself driving by homes with 'for sale' and 'for rent' signs quite a bit lately. And with that house lusting I have been yearning to be in a different place than we are. Moving back home with my own family to live with my parents has been much harder than I anticipated.

Not in the physical sense. My parents are incredibly busy, very respectful of space, supportive of our parentings ways, and always up for a good chat or a game. Very few people could live with their parents for any length of time (even just for a holiday) and enjoy the experience.

For me the hard part comes in regards to my pride. And also in regards to where I thought I'd be at this part of my life. Every time someone asks if I am STILL living at home I feel a flake of self-esteem shedding away. Even if they do not mean it with emphasis on the 'still'. Each time I reflect on where we are and what we are doing it seems I am quick to blame someone other than myself. Then I remember that, while the specifics are maybe not what I hoped for, the desire for this change was mine:

I wanted out of Utah. Desperately.

I needed E to engage in a career that was healthy for him and for our bank account.

We wanted to explore a new chapter in our life.

We agreed that I should be home with the kids and that Eric should be working towards an international adventure.

When I start picking apart the pieces of what I had hoped for, it all makes sense that it led us here. That flip in thinking, of starting with what had been desired and wished, and then looking at how it blossomed, is so helpful. Instead of feeling trapped by my circumstances I realize how fortunate I am to have all of those desires come true.

It always reasserts that the power is in my hands and has always been.

I am at home with the boys. If I wanted to I could get a full-time job we could move out. It would be quick and easy. But what was my choice?

We really want to have our international living adventure. The company he now works for has room for growth that direction, more than we have experienced with any of his companies before. The company is also actively preparing him for that direction too. Sweet!

He also loves his job and is incredibly good at it. With only nine months of employment he's been promoted, given a raise, and a delicious bonus.

Wish...check! Wish...check! Wish....check!

At work we used to talk (borrowing from Steven Covey) about working on what is in our 'sphere of influence'. I'm such a visual person that this phrase is solid for me. I used to imagine, when a problem came walking my way, what part of it I could work through and what part I couldn't. It helped me manage student emotions and expectations, distraught teachers, advisers and parents with unrealistic expectations. It just never translated, I never translated it, to my personal life.

I know a lot of people who are discontent in their life. Some own up to the choices they made (or are making) that contribute to that. Others seems determined to not only place the blame on others but to make their continued unhappiness known to anyone who will listen.

I wonder why as humans, because I know I am not the only one, it is easy to focus on the things outside of our control. To wish for what we don't complain about the things we admire the other side of the lose hope.

I'm stealing from Scott again (but they are soooo good!):

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just
show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
You wait and watch and work: You don't give up.
~Anne Lamott~

Friday, February 01, 2008

Martha Stewart & Gluten-Free?

Many of you know I have a secret obsession with Martha Stewart. Or with anything and anyone organized for that matter.

Our friends over at Celiac Chicks and Gluten-Free Goddess both blogged about a project competition that Martha is having in choosing a new venture. And we can vote for what it is!

She had her staff submit proposals and out of the 40 she chose 7. One of the seven Big Ideas is a new Martha Stewart publication that focuses on food allergies and will include recipes! The project creator, Alexis, is a staff member for Martha Stewart and has Celiac Disease.

There are a few food allergy magazines out there - and even some gluten-free ones. I love our subscription to Gluten-Free Living. Having a Martha Stewart empire magazine would be an added bonus! Getting her kitchen team behind recipe creating would mean delicious recipes! Added to that would be the readable, clear format that all of her magazines are styled in. It would just be delicious!

So I'm hoping that those of you who read this will got and vote. You don't have to vote for Alexis' project...but I won't be your friend anymore if you don't! Just teasing. Read through each proposal and vote!

Go here to read the proposals and vote.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Music Memory Monday #7

Brevity is the order of my day.

Instead of my Music Memory, I'd like to know what memories you have with this song:

Does anyone else think that the cowboy looks a little like Leonardo DiCaprio?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Are there pieces of each of us that are miscellaneous? I'm not talking about dead skin flakes that have no purpose any longer. Pieces of information that when you are explaining yourself you use the et cetera clause? Like on Seinfeld where instead of finishing you just say 'Yada, yada, yada.'

Initially when I read the prompt for this week's Sunday Scribblings I thought it fit perfectly with a topic I am anxious to talk about - emotional baggage. Miscellaneous emotional baggage. It is still a topic that I am anxious to talk about about, but not at 1:00am in the morning after several days of minimal sleep. Emotional baggage, even just the discussion of it, feels so much larger and heavier when sleep and energy levels are low.

My next notion was to provide you with a list of miscellaneous facts about me. Things like:
  • I cannot mix milk from two different cartons. If there is a little of milk left in one carton and I need more, I'll use only milk from a new carton and wait to use the other later.
  • My feet and hands are almost always freezing. This is made worse by the fact that I like to wear flip-flops, regardless of the season.
  • I once plucked two key pieces of hair from my right eyebrow by mistake. This mistake then cause the brow to look like two, giving me a total of three eyebrows. It was a painful month.
  • With the exception of the first day on jobs, taxes and kindergarten I have never gone by my real first name.
Each of these is a miscellaneous fact. To know one doesn't give you a whole lot of insight as to who I am. You might see a girl walking through the snow in winter with flip-flops on and wonder if it's me.

Yet at the same time if you start adding all the miscellaneous facts up you get the sum total of me. So how do you differentiate, in your person, the singular you from the miscellaneous? Or can you?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Please make it stop!

Today I was folding laundry. The boys were in the other room playing and I thought 'I'll just turn on the TV and see what's on'. Bad idea. The time was 12:35pm. Not a good time for TV. I rarely watch TV let alone daytime TV so this was a walk on the wild side for me. I was severely punished.

Do you know how incredibly dull the programming is? Compounded by the bland commercials! Ok - 'I Love Lucy' is an exception.

Here is what I learned/saw in my 17-minute swim through daytime TV:

* A judge that has a 'passion for real people'. Um...yeah...who exactly are those
real people and how are all the rest different?*

* There is a guy on a commercial for trade school that urges people to call so that they aren't stuck in the same place in the next four years. Funny because I swear that guy has been doing these commercials for four years. *

* Soap operas and their actors are horrible.
Some actors are cute, but horrible nonetheless. *

* If you are ever invited on Jerry Springer or Maury Povich it is never for a good thing. *

* Wilford Brimley cares more about diabetes than anyone else.
He just exudes care and concern. *

* The actors in the "dramatizations" for personal injury attorneys are worse
that the above mentioned soap opera actors. *

* Most of the time he is NOT the child's father. *

So - that was 17 minutes of my life I will never get back. Doing the laundry in silence is better than exposing myself to that.

Lesson learned.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Music Memory Monday #7

There is so much to write about! I love all the comments from my last post about Independence - plus I had a new experience this weekend that I need to evaluate and then share. Yet I am at home potty training (Walker, not me) and feeling the need for something fun and not as serious. Plus it's Monday and time for Music Memory Monday!

So on Saturday I got to spend three hours sorting, cleaning, and organizing the boys' room. It was heaven by itself (given my affinity for organizing AND the fact I got a label maker from the boys for Christmas!!). My joy was added to by the fact that I donated two bags of clothes and a bag of toys. For me there is a direct relationship between stuff and junk in my real world and stuff and junk in my soul. Dropping those bags off to the Goodwill was almost like a good therapy session.

On top of the absolute fun I had with the activity itself I was ecstatic to plug in my iPod to my portable player and crank up whatever I wanted to listen to. I spent the first 1 1/2 hours listening to an episode of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and the end of an episode of This American Life. While these are not music and therefore don't qualify for my Music Memory I have to put a plug in for both of them. I know I'm an NPR addict but these are real treasures. Wait, Wait is a game show with a pop-quiz style format featuring stories from the news. They have a panel as well as guest players. This American Life is indescribable. Well ok, they way they describe themselves is: "There's a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It's mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There's lots more to the show, but, like we said, it's sort of hard to describe." I can only say you have to listen to it. They suggest going to their favorites and downloading one or two for a listen. From their chosen favorites I highly suggest 'Act V', '24 Hours at the Golden Apple', and 'My Experimental Phase'. We use these as our road trip listens rather than books on tape now. There has only been one that I don't like - and I've easily listened to one hundred of them.

Ok - ok. I am rambling. But the above is useful information so I'll consider myself thanked by you.

The real listening treat on Saturday came when I decided to veer away from the spoken word and crank on some music. My iPod is in need of music face-lift so I spent some time just tooling from playlist to playlist. When I finally landed on one I listened to the playlist three times. But before I share it with you I need to take you back in time.

In 2002 I had the chance for work to travel to Idaho on a marketing expedition. We were growing our business there and I needed to network. Eric took some time off and travelled with me. We were spending two nights in Boise - one night full of interviews, hiring and training new teachers. The other night, on a fluke, I bought tickets at Boise State University for the Broadway tour of Rent. I had never heard of this musical, nor had Eric, but we were up for an adventure.

It was a life-changing, mind-blowing experience. We walked out with Eric claiming that he had found a new all-time favorite musical. Seriously - Rent beats Les Miz, Phantom, Wicked - all of them for Eric. (technically Rent is a Rock Opera) Honestly I was still in a little bit of shock. That night remains such a vivid memory for me. Trying to digest the emotion of the music, the political musings, and the societal messages. Hard to believe we had this experience in good ole' Boise.

Rent is often known (to those who haven't seen it) as the musical where everyone is gay and has AIDS. In fact there was a Team America: World Police had a whole scene devoted to it. Most people don't know that Rent is actually based off of Puccini's 'La Boheme'.

Rent isn't for the faint of heart. Yes there are gay people. Yes there is a drag queen. Yes they use the 'F' word a lot -especially in the musical. If you can have an open mind, it will blow your mind. You'll think differently about love, AIDS, gay, straight - all of it.

Here's a brief description of the characters. For more information on the plot line, characters, and more go here.

Mark - a filmmaker and the 'narrator' of the story. Dated Maureen. He is roommates and best friends with Roger. (Originally played by Anthony Rapp who reprises the role in the movie)

Roger - a musician. He got AIDS from his former fiancee who killed herself after getting the news. Since then he's depressed, unable to write, and just waiting to die (even though he's healthy and young).
(Originally played by Adam Pascal who reprises the role in the movie)

Mimi - a young 'exotic' dancer with HIV. Has her eyes set on Roger. She has a drug problem which provides a problem for she and Roger. (Played by Rosario Dawson in the movie)

Maureen - Mark's ex girlfriend who is now with Joanne...or at least for most of the musical. Maureen is a performance artist with a flair for drama. (Originally played by Idina Menzel -yes, the original Elphaba - who reprises the role in the movie)

Joanne - Maureen's girlfriend and a newcomer to the group. She's a lawyer and her lines in 'Take Me or Leave Me' are classics! (Played by in the movie Tracis Thoms)

Collins - Falls in love with Angel who saves him from a fight. Collins is a philosophy professor and anarchist. Collins also has AIDS. (Originally played by Jesse L. Martin who reprises the role in the movie)

Angel - the muse of the musical Angel is a talented percussionist who usually plays on the street. She is a cross-dresser who has AIDS. (Originally played by Wilson Jermaine Heredia who reprises the role in the movie)

Benny - a former member of the group who married well and has new ideas of how to make the world a better place. In the opening scene of Rent the characters are singing about not paying rent after receiving an eviction notice from Benny. Benny and Mimi dated once. (Originally played by Taye Diggs who reprises the role in the movie)

Hollywood finally made a movie - which is fantastic. It features many of the original Broadway cast members (see above). Still the live version is so much grittier. Here are some scenes from the movie. It was PG-13 but I've put warnings with each clip.

Seasons of Love:
This is the most well-known song from Rent. This scene is from the movie opening.

The Tango Maureen:
Mark, who used to date Maureen, shows up to help her set up for a performance only to find her new lover, Joanna, instead. They find out their bond through Maureen is a little too similar. Great song for anyone who has felt absolutely crazy in love. (the 'f' word is abundant in this one so watch when the kids aren't around)

Out Tonight (the first part of the video):
Raunchy and dark - and totally addicting! Mimi, a stripper, is trying to catch eye. As she leaves the club she works at she sings about wanting to go out. He's a recovering addict who lost his fiancee to drugs and isn't sure he wants to go back the down that path. (she is a stripper so her dancing leaves little for the imagination though her clothes stay on)

I'll Cover You:
Angel and Collins (yes he's the Jesse Martin from Law & Order!) decide to be a couple. This is a scene between a man (Collins) and a drag queen (Angel) so if that subject material isn't for you then skip this one. The song is a great tribute to love.

La Vie Boheme:
A former member of the group has married well and is now forcing them to pay rent for the building he originally let them stay in. He seems himself as a force for positive change - everyone in the group sees him as a traitor and a 'suit'. When he tells them that Bohemia is dead they sing in honor of La Vie Boheme. mentions a lot of controversial subjects and includes some suggestive dancing)

Take Me or Leave Me:
This scene occurs shortly after Joanna and Maureen have a commitment ceremony (yes, they are lesbians). In case it's not obvious - they break up at the end of the scene. Part of the musical is their journey away from and back to each other.

Ok I better stop. I could keep posting and by the time I'm done my blog would have all of the video.

Going to this musical really helped me face my own prejudices about AIDS, LGBT issues, and drug use. Eric was the original Rent-head in our family but it did not take me long to fall in love with it. At the end of writing this I am realizing that this post was serious - so much for wanting just something 'fun'. I still got to watch most of the movie though in picking out the clips! Now that's fun.

Give Rent a chance if you haven't already.