Wednesday, November 24, 2010


How do I get my buttons and archive, etc. to MOVE OVER????

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Vitamin A Diet

I'm perpetually making efforts to control my weight. After putting about 40 extra pounds on my 5'3'' body four times, that's not the easiest thing in the world.  Especially now that I'm pushing 40, and I had my last baby after 35. There's something about 35.

35 is the magical age when 18% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage, when the chance of having a child with Down Syndrome rises from 1 in 952 (at age 30) to 1 in 378 - hence, the unnerving and mandatory genetic counseling. It's the age at which fertility begins to decline at a much more rapid pace. (In any given month, your chances of getting pregnant at age 30 are about 20%, but only 5% at age 40.) What am I getting at? I'm sure there must be a statistic about how much more difficult it is to lose the baby weight after that magical age of 35.

In any case, I've been fighting the last ten pounds for quite some time now (like ten years), but the way my life rolls I just can't do "diets" anymore.  I don't have the wherewithal to prepare separate special meals, to count every calorie, to cut out certain foods. And it doesn't help that the other grown up in the house has no interest in weight control or regular exercise.  Until recently.

For whatever reason (it might have to do with the relentless nagging from his wife about how we should use our big move as an opportunity to make other big changes as well) Brandon has finally jumped on the weight loss bandwagon. And wouldn't you know it, he's losing more and at a faster rate.  Isn't that just always the way! It's maddening!!  But I shant complain, because I finally have a weight loss companion and he's helping me to stay motivated. He's lost like 15 pounds now or something ridiculous like that, and do you want to know how we're doing it?

Deep fried pumpkin doughnuts with buttermilk glaze.  Seriously.

We take our Vitamin A consumption pretty seriously during the fall months. We've had our fair share of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, and yes, pumpkin doughnuts. I can't believe I haven't made pumpkin pancakes yet, and I'm always up for pumpkin or butternut squash soup. But I'm getting off track.

We're just eating less, moving more, and making sure we cheat on the weekends - both on our Friday night dates as well as on Sunday afternoons when I feel compelled to make baked goods. That's where the pumpkin doughnuts come in.

And that's more detail about the minutia of our lives than anyone wants to know.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parallel Realities

I hate to admit this about myself, but I'm kind of an Eeyore. In general, my expectations for just about everything are way too high, I always want to accomplish about 20X what is even reasonable, and I tend to see the glass as half empty.  Most people that know me wouldn't suspect this (I don't think - maybe I'm typically transparent) because I try to keep all my internal struggles just that: internal.  (But my poor husband knows me all too well!)

I've mellowed considerably over the years and found that along with lowering my expectations and getting real with my limitations, the best thing I can do is simply choose to be grateful and see the good. I have a new phrase that I like to focus on throughout the day: live with JOY.  I know it's a little Jack Handey, but it does the trick when I find myself slipping and focusing on the negative. I have such a great life - I drive myself crazy when I start thinking negatively.

So after a long weekend of sick children throwing up and having diarrhea, Brandon on call and also sick, and missing the "Eat Like A Pilgrim" event at Thanksgiving Point that I'd already purchased tickets for - I'd like to take a minute to focus on the "other" reality:

1) With all my time at home, I got my Power of Moms book judging stuff done and finished up some other preparations for a really exciting new opportunity that has also come up through The Power of Moms. I'll blog about it later, but it felt good to get that done early on Saturday morning.

2) Kate got tested for gifted classes next year. After some fatherly forcefulness (Brandon can totally reach Kate in ways that I can't), I rushed Kate to a nearby jr. high where they were doing a three hour test on Saturday afternoon for gifted classes next year. She had been solidly resisting me for weeks, but when I finally got Brandon on board, she caved.  The whole experience was kind of emotionally exhausting - the persuading, the explaining why it mattered, the map questing to find the school with just minutes to spare, getting lost anyway, just about killing us trying to get to the right place on time, getting to the school 15 minutes late wondering if they would let her take it since I hadn't registered her in advance. It dawned on me after I got her all settled in and was driving away that this was just one of many, many times when I would have to push my children to do things they may not be interested in because I can see the big picture when they can't. That's what I'm here for. It's only for English and History, and I really don't even know if it's worth it (I haven't looked into the gifted program at all), but I just want her to TRY! And to want to try. Anyway, it wasn't fun for any of us, but I was really glad she did it.

3) We had a great time going to see Harry Potter last night with Kate and some friends. We also had some yummy Japanese food after. (We found a great place - it's called "Koi" in American Fork in case you'd like to know!) Kate kept talking about how "weird" it was to be on a date with us. I suppose, but we weren't about to see the movie without her, especially since she's read all seven books, twice.  She had four adults in the palm of her hand after the movie, explaining all the little missed details to us.

4) The choir number I accompanied at church today was quite loverly. (Yes, loverly.)

5) I made lion house rolls this afternoon (and a HUGE mess), and they were pretty darn good:

5) I played card games with my kids this afternoon while Brandon slept.

6) The kitchen is relatively clean and the laundry is just about done. (Until morning.)

7) I didn't mind the SNOW that fell last night. Quite pretty actually, even if we aren't ready for winter.  Elizabeth says she doesn't like "flinter" (fall/winter) because it's still just supposed to be fall, and Kate wouldn't let me put on Christmas music until Thanksgiving is officially over. She said we can only listen to "winter" music. (She was adamant.) Our favorite "winter" music is The Book of Secrets by Loreena McKennitt, Seasons of Mist by various artists, and Celtic Christmas by Windam Hill. It was nice to be home as a family, listening to that music with the smell of homemade rolls in the air and the steel blue skies outside.

It's pretty hard to totally ignore the hard and annoying stuff in our lives (and believe me, I could have done an entire post of that after this weekend), but it really does amaze me how there is always this other parallel reality that exists if we just take the time to see it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

That Got Me Thinking

You have to read this amazing story. You just have to! We attended the annual "Young Women in Excellence" program at our church last night for the 12-18 year old girls where they all shared the goals they've been working on and received awards they've earned. (Just about the last thing Kate likes to do is speak in front of people, but I keep telling her it's good for her and she does a fine job!) The guest speaker shared this story and compared it to life. I've been thinking about it ever since - so much so that I googled it to share with the whole family at dinner tonight. I think what impresses me most about this story (besides the obvious) is how and why this man developed such an ability: because he had to. He didn't run track in high school with his parents and coaches cheering him on, he didn't compete in college, or train as an adult with a bunch of technical gear. He could run like that because when he was young his family was too poor to buy tractors or horses, so he had to herd their 2000 sheep over 2000 acres all by himself, days on end. I was thinking of him when I had a conversation today with someone about their 19-year-old son who only has one part-time job and doesn't want to help pay rent.

That got me thinking about the 6 part-time jobs I had the year after high school to earn money to go to college the following year. (Pizza Hut waitress, hostessing at a floating restaurant on the Mississippi, piano teacher, a couple sales jobs, and babysitting.)

And that got me thinking about the crazy challenge it was at the end of every semester of college to figure out how I would get from Utah to Illinois for Christmas or summer break since I didn't have a car. (The funniest story being the time I hitched a ride in someone's moving van. True story. I shared a couch with a hitchhiker in camos and a freshman band nerd who passed a lot of gas and tried to massage my back the whole time.)

And that got me thinking about the summer after my sophomore year when I worked 12 hours a day every day in the kitchen of a fish cannery in Kodiak, Alaska without ever having a day off to earn money for my mission in Japan.

And that got me thinking about that mission in Japan - living in a foreign country, learning to speak Japanese, approaching people that thought I was a religious freak, biking all over tarnation up and down mountains in a dress with a humiliating helmet on my head (it was a mission rule, but NO Japanese people wore helmets).

And that got me thinking about working 30 hours a week playing the piano for ballet classes on campus and ballet studios off campus until I got carpal tunnel syndrome, since when I wasn't the playing the piano I was typing up term papers for the18 credit hours I was carrying.

And that got me thinking of moving to Iowa after graduation, Brandon starting med school, and me giving birth to Kate three weeks later - forever altering our previously dreamy relationship as co-student newlyweds. There would be some periods during residency when Brandon worked up to 130 hours A WEEK (you read that right - he'd come home every OTHER day for a few hours to sleep) while I was at home struggling with post-partum depression. Ahh, good times!

And that got me thinking about motherhood and marathons, and how all those years and experiences leading up to that point prepared me for the mother of all marathons: motherhood. (Couldn't resist that.)

And that got me thinking about all the moms out there, running their years long marathons, and how much support they need so they don't physically, mentally or emotionally drop out and head for the nearest day spa.

And that got me thinking about how thankful I am for The Power of Moms and all the opportunities it is giving me to help other mothers while getting the support I need as well.

And that got me thinking about how much I still have to learn as a mother, all the ways I can improve, and how in the world to teach children to do hard things like Cliff Young did because he had to - if they don't have to?

I'm sure my parents would have loved to provide some of the things for me that other parents provided for their children (heaven knows I envied those other co-eds with their super cute clothes and money left over for skiing), and even though those things were hard in their own way (not herding 2000 sheep over 2000 acres on foot hard, but still), they really did make me who I am today.

How do you instill drive, desire and motivation in a child when there isn't a desperate need or clear knowledge that the buck stops with them and nobody will come bail them out?  Can you create these types of experiences for your children?  I'm sure Cliff Young's parents wanted nothing more than to be able to buy horses and tractors, and if they'd had the money they would have done it in a heart beat.  But then there would be no "young-shuffle", no inspiring story.

Do I do too much for my children? As they grow older, will they feel a sense of personal responsibility for their futures, for their dreams?

It's just got me thinking.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art Forms

Yesterday we had an hour and a half worth of piano lessons in the morning before a casual piano recital at the teacher's house in the afternoon. In between the two, we did some housework and went over to Brandon's office to help him "decorate". He wanted some input on how to arrange his diplomas and certificates on the wall, as well as some of his Japanese mono (things). After sitting in a box for the last twelve and a half years, Brandon finally brought out his beloved temari, or Japanese thread ball.  It's an art form in Japan, and symbolic of friendship and loyalty when given as a gift. This one was given to him the summer we lived there together (with baby Kate) when he was a medical exchange student. After two months in Nagoya, we went up north for a week to the areas we had lived and worked as missionaries, and stayed with some of our old friends, including the woman who gave him this:

After the recital, we headed down to Thanksgiving Point to see a movie, but we had some extra time so we finally followed the "glass blowing - the hottest show in town" signs, and went over to the art institute that is part of Thanksgiving Point. What a treat! Brandon mentioned that he knew the guy who did stained glass there as well, and sure enough he was in house and happily volunteered to give us a little tour. 

His name is Tom Holdman, and he has a lot of really cool stories. How he got into stained glass being one of them: as a child he loved art, and since he had (still has) a pretty significant stutter, he was drawn to art as a way of communicating. He was planning on becoming a children's book illustrator, but at the end of his time as a missionary in Texas he prayed about what he should do when he got home for a profession. He said he got a very clear and unexpected impression that he should do stained glass. He had never even heard of, let alone considered, becoming a stained glass artisan for a profession, but wanting to follow what he felt was most certainly the will of God for him in his life, he dove right in as soon as he got home. Since that time, he's done work for libraries, churches, restaurants, and most notably the LDS temples. Having been impressed by the stained glass in the Nauvoo Temple every time I went there, it was pretty cool to meet the man behind the art form. He had some pretty amazing stories, and the work that he does is nothing short of breathtaking.  Here are some pics from our time with him and the art institute. (And they have classes!  Kate was salivating.)

Here he is showing Elizabeth how to cut glass:
Glass pieces:
Awards for the company, "Xango":

This is for a new airport in St. George, Utah:
Everything is sketched out first. That's Christ on the road to Emmaus:
I couldn't believe how much symbolism went into each piece. He explained how in one of his large pieces of Christ getting baptized he used three plants in the borders, myrrh for his birth, gall for his death, and lillies for his resurrection.
I can't even remember all the symbolic meanings in this piece that was going to be part of the border of a much larger work: 
He told us about a time he was commissioned to do a piece that had Joseph Smith in it, and he was having a hard time getting his face right. He said he had been praying for help, and the next day a religion professor from the University of Utah showed up at his house with a copy of Joseph Smith's death mask:
His brother is the glass blower, and the art institute is covered in the stuff:
You can sit here and watch them blow glass:
I just love all the swirly color:

Even though stained glass is his specialty, he blows glass too.  Check out this Christmas tree:

I thought this was a pretty cool light fixture . . .
 . . . until I saw a picture of THIS light fixture he was commissioned to make for a restaurant in Salt Lake:
The entry/exit.  The kids didn't last as long as we could have - they were getting nuts:
Another fun day at Thanksgiving Point!

Timp Watch

I took this one while sitting at a stop light:
November sunset:

Friday, November 12, 2010

California Lasts - Part 2

Last day trip to the beach: 

Last get together with school friends: 

 Last get together with the other youth leaders at church and the girls:

Man, I miss all those faces!  Trying not to dwell on it . . .

Daily bits:
Brandon had an errand to run yesterday in Salt Lake City, so we decided to make an afternoon of it and took Rachael to the children's museum up there. It felt really strange, just the three of us - two adults for one cute child. I kept commenting to Brandon that I didn't know if I felt like new parents with one small child again, or what I imagine it feels like to be a grandparent! It was fun to do that though, especially since Rachael often gets shuffled around in the busyness of life with three older siblings. She had a BLAST pretending she was a mommy in the little play house. She would push the vacuum around and say, "I'm a mommy", make pretend food and say, "I'm a mommy", sit in the rocking chair with her legs crossed and say, "I'm a mommy", get up to comfort a crying doll and say, "I'm a mommy" - as if it was the most fun she'd ever had!  I'm glad I've done something to make motherhood look appealing enough to imitate.

Elizabeth has taken to carting her blankie to school. She only takes it out once the day is over, but for whatever reason, she just likes to have something personal with her at school everyday. Last week it was her little stuffed poodle, Lilly.  She said she took her so she could read to her.  I love six.

Will is on a behavior contract at school. This is a first at our house. He is a very fun-loving kid, and since moving here has become part of a new dynamic among his friends where he's the mover and shaker, the one to make people laugh, Mr. Cool Funny Guy. It comes pretty easily. (He makes me laugh all the time!) But transitioning from summer neighborhood-life to school-life didn't go so smoothly, so every day he brings home this little sheet of paper with his goal of not being disruptive in class written at the top, and the teacher makes hash marks for his good and positive behavior, and we have to sign it off. To be honest, I've been waiting for this. Every year of school up until now I would go into the parent/teacher conference and wait for them to say something. When they didn't, I would ask, "How's his behavior? He can be pretty goofy . . ." but there was never a problem. Until now. Since instituting this contract, the positive hash marks always outweigh the negatives. He gets great grades, we have a good relationship, he's not rebellious in nature - he is just very social, fun and funny, and he likes to get a reaction. All that energy directed toward being Mr. Cool Funny Guy doesn't always help him be successful at school. Just thought you'd like to know my kids aren't perfect.  (Well, they are to me.)

One of Kate's Personal Progress goals she is working on right now is for "Good Works".  She's helping me plan and make dinner for two weeks!  Last night, to the Jack Johnson station on Pandora radio, we made spaghetti tacos.  My kids already knew about them, but I heard about them from our good friend, Scott McLeod. (Co-creator of the viral youtube sensation, "Did You Know? Shift Happens", just in case you wanted one more link. Definitely worth clicking.) I think that makes him a Renaissance Man - kind of like my ukele playing surgeon of a husband. He can now play "Three Blind Mice".

And he made me peppermint tea before bed.
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