Friday, January 27, 2012

Like a Bridge Over Frozen Water

The bridge
This is the bridge that is over the canal that is near my house which isn't the house that Jack built.  An even better picture of it (well, one that I like better anyway) is my photo for today over at my Project 365.
Today was another bright, sunshiney day. A total Godsend to me, for I am solar powered and I desperately needed the recharge.

However, the recharge doesn't really work unless I actually go out in the sun, and lucky for me, it was even fairly warm today.  Like, so warm I didn't even really need a coat.  FYI, so warm I didn't even really need a coat is around 34 degrees Fahrenheit if the sun is out and the wind isn't blowing.  Let's just say I've acclimated.

So, as soon as Sophia hopped off the bus this afternoon I fed her a quick lunch and we were off to run errands.  We went to the bank to deposit some checks.  We went to the recycling center to drop off nearly two months of recycling (what a relief THAT was!).  We went and washed the car, which was so dirty you couldn't tell what color it was anymore.  We went to WalMart to get a few things--some of which ended up being Cadbury Eggs.  Cadbury Eggs!  Last time I checked, it was still January and Easter is months away, and WalMart is already stocking Cadbury Eggs.  Which means I am in huge trouble because I love those things.  Anyway, after WalMart (and after eating a couple of those darn eggs) we went and paid the water bill downtown and then we headed to little Sophia's violin lesson.
On the way to her lesson
See?  It was warm enough for her, too.  In fact, she was so warm she asked if she could take off her long-sleeved shirt, too.  I said maybe she should keep it on.  Also, I often find myself regretting the fact that I let her cut her curls off.  I miss them so much.  But that is neither here nor there...

After her lesson, we would normally run home to meet the girls as they get off the bus, but I decided we should quickly drive down to the canal and catch some pictures of the bridge.  I really do need to branch out on my daily photos and I was realizing today as I drove around how pretty the water is all frozen--especially in the sun.  It sparkles like diamonds in the sun.  When it's overcast, as it usually is, I think it just fades into the rest of the black & white scenery, but wow, when the sky is blue and the sun is shining, it's just gorgeous.

When we got there, Sophia wanted to take some pictures, too.  So I gave her my phone and she took her job of photographing the bridge very, very seriously.
IntentSophia the photographer
And look what a great job she did!  She even managed to capture the blue sky much better than I did. (P.S. I did not edit her photo one bit.)

Then I took a picture of her (poor little thing fell on her face last night and scraped it up),
Pretty Sophia
and she took a picture of me (I did not fall on my face, but she did catch me at a rather dorky-looking moment).
Sophia's Mommy
And then we went back home to meet the girls on the bus.

All recharged, and minds at ease.

And then, probably because I had the audacity to wash my car, it began to snow tonight.  I guess we are going to get several more inches this weekend.  Harumph. (At least I'm recharged.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Six Questions

So I have a category on this blog called because I can't be original today I'm posting a meme. I haven't actually posted a meme in years. When I was new to blogging (nearly SEVEN years ago!) memes and tags were so exciting. Now I mostly ignore them, or have no idea they're happening. But, today I was tagged by my oldest blogging buddy, Hilary. And, since I can't be original, I'm taking the challenge.

So, I'm sort of not playing by the rules, but I am answering the questions.  Here goes...

1.  How do you cope with the yucky season where you live?
Um, if yesterday's post is any indication, not very well.  I still haven't quite figured out how to embrace a winter that comes with 200+ inches of snow, very little light, and lots of cold.  But I want to.  In my brain I really really want to.

As a Utahan, I used to love to downhill ski, but I haven't been since before I got married because Joel doesn't enjoy it.  We both want to pick up Cross Country skiing, though.  It's just a matter of getting the equipment and getting started.  I will definitely keep you posted about this.  

Meanwhile, the sun came out today, and I'm feeling a little less black.

2.  Tell me something you like about me or my blog?  (I need a little self esteem boost lately)
Well, Hilary.  I love you, you know that.   I like your no-nonsense ways, you truly inspire me to stop making excuses about this, that, or the other and go do what needs to be done.  You're a great example of that in your life, and your blog reflects that.  

3.  Name a movie you can quote several lines from.
So my favorite movie is Oscar, starring Sylvester Stallone.  And no, it's nothing like Rambo or Rocky or any other typical Sly movie.  It's a slapstick comedy set during the Depression, and Stallone plays a Chicago gangster trying to go straight.  I've seen it more times than I can count and I just love it.  I should go watch it now because it never fails to make me smile.  And laugh.  A lot.

Oh, did you need some quotes?
Dinner will be soyved at nine-thirty.

Poole was right!  You are an ox AND a moron!

It's like disarming Germany.

I got it!  Your daughter's not your daughter, and the cash that used to be the jewels is now your underwear!

Oh we make-a you look-a like a banker....take offa your pants.

Though, you should just watch it.  It makes much more sense that way...

4.  Least thing you like about mothering.
Bed time.  I hate it with my entire being.  I think by the end of the day I am just done.  I should love it.  I should happily put my children to bed and sing them lullabies and read them stories, but ugh.  It never works out that way.  Something to work on.

5.  Favorite thing about being a wife 
Having my best friend with me most of the time and knowing that he loves me no matter how fat I've gotten or how non-functional I become in January.  We have a lot of fun together, and I can always count on Joel to make me laugh.  He had me in stitches just tonight when we went through the McDonald's drive-thru for some hot chocolate.  If you ever want to laugh, go through a drive-thru with him sometime.  Love him.

6.  If you could've majored in anything in college, without thought to what you'd do with it afterwards, what would it have been?
It is probably pretty boring of me to say it still would have been music, but it's the truth.  I'm not practical like Hilary is, or maybe I would be a nurse too.  Although, it's doubtful.  Perhaps the question is what would I have majored in if I did think about what I would do with it afterwards?  And, I have no idea.  It had to be music.

Though I did start a minor in English Lit, but I let that go when music got a little too demanding.  Then later I added a minor in linguistics, which I loved.  I would have also liked to minor in art or photography.  But that would have been way too many minors.

And there you have it.

Now, I am supposed to tag some other bloggers, which I don't usually bother with in these things.  But then I thought about the little blogging workshop I taught in Enrichment last week, and I think I know a few bloggers who might like to try  (but certainly don't feel obligated....I never do!).

So, Jane, Trisha, and Karen:  TAG, you're it!  (I'm especially interested in your answers to that first question...)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Black & Blue January

The world really is black and white in winter here.  As proof, this picture is in color.  The sky is usually white, the ground is white, and nearly everything else is black or grey.  My red car almost seems out of place, like a colorized element in a black & white photograph.
The spring is pastel, green and pink and a little bit of purple.  Hopeful colors. A hint of bolder color to come, even if there is still a little bit of snow on the ground. Because somewhere, underneath that snow, are flowers and grass just waiting to push up and begin to brighten the world.

The summer months are bright yellow.  And blue--but the good kind of blue.  It's the blue that you see as you lie on the grass in July and stare up at the sky to make sense of the clouds.  The beautiful blue of the lake where you seek respite from the heat of the sun.  The kind of blue that you wish would never end.

Autumn brings gold, and orange, and brown.  Warm and affectionate colors that make you want to cozy up with your family and friends and eat big dinners together--laughing, talking, remembering.  Making more memories. Dreaming that time could stand still.  Living.

December is red and green and gold and silver.  It is festive, despite the snow on the ground and the frostiness in the air.  It is twinkling lights and merry children singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Silent Night.  It is Christmas Cards and Christmas trees, Christmas dresses and Christmas gifts.  It is the Greatest Gift.  It is joy.

And then comes January.  January is blue at first.  But it isn't a summer blue.  This blue is icy and cold.  There is just enough color to get through the day, but the day is short and the dark comes more quickly than is welcome.  Soon, January turns completely black.  Time really does stand still, nothing gets done, and the thought of spring seems too much to hope for.  Gloomy, black January stretches out before you--eternal snow, eternal cold, eternal dark.

That black of January is upon me.  When it is still blue, I resolve that I will somehow power through it this time.  I have my light, I have lists of things to do, I have the will.  I can put one foot in front of the other and survive this month. I did well this year, but I hit a wall this last weekend.  A wall that not even an iron will could break through. I couldn't put one foot in front of the other anymore, and I spent the entirety of my Saturday sprawled out on a bean bag, wrapped in a blanket watching Downton Abbey.  All 9 available episodes.  I let the kitchen go to pots and pans, all dirty.  I didn't make my bed.  I ignored my email inbox.  I didn't care what kind of messes the girls made.  I didn't do much to plan Primary on Sunday.  I didn't practice.  I didn't care if the girls practiced.  I didn't move. And I'm still recovering.

Don't worry about me, though.  I am beginning to see past the black and blue, and not far off is the pink of February.  And that little bit of pink means focusing on the ones I love, which always brings me out of any funk.

Even the January one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brace Face, Metal Mouth, and Freakin' Adorable

Bria had an early release day today, so when she got home things were a little more laid-back than they usually are when she steps off of the bus. So I thought, HEY! Let's do a little photoshoot!

Bria was cool with it.

But, she kept smiling with her mouth closed.

"Bria!"  I said, "Smile normally--I want some pictures of your new braces."

She just rolled her eyes at me and told me she doesn't smile with her mouth open for pictures anymore thankyouverymuch.

"But, you look adorable with your braces on!"

"No, I don't!  I look weeeeeiiiird with them on!"

"Come on.  Just a couple pictures with normal smiles?"

"Okay.  But just a little one."

"Oh, you can do better than that...I can hardly see your teeth!"


"Bria....humor me, please!"

Now she's just laughing at me.

But the joke's on her, because laughter leads to the best smiles of all.

(And come on....she's totally adorable, is she not?)(And so grown up looking, too.)(Today I was just looking at some photos from the cruise last January and I can't believe how much she's changed over the course of one year...)

But she is still totally adorable.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In the Bleak Midwinter

I took Chloe & Sophia sledding the other day.  My friend has an awesome sled run right in her front yard, and the girls love it.  I'm so glad they love the snow, because they inspire me to try...

Like much of the rest of the country, we've had something of a strange winter.  On New Year's Eve, we only had about 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ground.  And while I realize that that seems a lot for all of you who had no snow on the ground, it was pretty much nothing around these parts.

This is my third winter here in the Winter Wonderland, and we've usually had so much snow that there is about 36 inches still on the ground by Christmas.  Yes.  That's 3 feet.  And that's normal.

One would suppose that someone like me would be happy for the lack of snow (easier to drive!)(no shoveling!)(it will melt faster!), but I surprised myself by actually wishing for more.  I think I've grown to kind of like the crazy amounts of snow we get.  And besides?  Whatever would we do without Winter Carnival to keep us entertained during the dreary days of winter?

Well, it would seem I got my wish, and quite a bit more snow fell this past week. The kids were thrilled, even if I was dubious.

I think I do need to get into cross-country skiing.  Not only would it give me some exercise, I think it will help me appreciate the snow and the cold.  (I don't appreciate the cold, by the way.)  And maybe it will even help me get my personality back from January-March. So, instead of the list of many other things we could buy, It looks like The Maestro and I are going to save up and outfit our family with cross-country gear. I'm finding myself rather excited about the prospect.  (Who AM I?)(My personality really IS gone!)(When in Rome, you know...)

Will it happen this winter?  Hopefully.  But, you know, we have all that orthodontia to worry about, too.

Speaking of which, I need to do a little photoshoot with Miss Bria and her new braces.  She's pretty adorable, I must say.  Stay tuned.

And speaking of photos.  If I haven't been keeping up with this blog very well, it's because I have no personality right now, but also because I have been quite diligent at posting Project 365 over at the photo blog.  Pretty sure you'll be able to figure out what's up at our house by checking out the photo-a-day.

And I think it will be quite evident that what is up at our house is a whole lot of snow...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Between Interruptions

I remember being close to delivering Bria, my first child.  I couldn't wait to not be pregnant anymore, as I'd had enough of that, but to actually have to take care of a real live baby?  That scared me enough to think that maybe being eternally pregnant might not be so bad.

Of course, she eventually came (two weeks early!) and though I loved her intensely on first sight, my world was turned a bit topsy turvy.  At first, it was the lack of sleep--I remember putting her down for a nap in the middle of the day when she was just a few days old and falling into my bed myself.  The ringing of the phone brought me out of my deep sleep and I thought I should answer, but when I tried to get out of bed my body was so exhausted that my legs couldn't even hold me up and I fell to a heap on my bedroom floor.  I quickly learned to sleep whenever I could, telephone and all other interruptions be darned.

Later, the lack of sleep grew into worries I had never even thought about before I became a mother.  My concerns over potty-training and preschool have now become puberty and peer-pressure concerns, but still, every day this motherhood thing throws me for a loop.  It's hard.  It's exhausting.  It really is like watching your heart walk around in someone else's body--or three someone else's bodies.

And yet I love it.  It is the most rewarding thing that I have ever done, and will ever do.

Between Interruptions edited by Cori Howard, is a collection of essays that "tell the truth about motherhood."   In the introduction, Cori writes about her own journey into motherhood, and I was so struck by what she said about it.  It is a universal truth among mothers that we are all trying to strike some balance between our children and all of the other stuff.  For me, the other stuff includes exercise and eating right (a full-time job all by itself), practicing (I have two huge gigs coming up in the next couple months--a lot of music learning to do), teaching (lots of students, lots of time), and things like blogging and keeping my house clean and getting out of debt and hundreds of other little things that I do to keep my soul alive and thriving.

Cori Howard had this to say about that balance:
Perhaps the one mark of distinction for today's mothers is our widespread sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are: with our "motherload" (the career, the kids, the house, the husband), with gender roles, with society's expectations.  It's hard to be satisfied when you are brought up to believe you will have a fabulous career, a fabulous family, a fabulous social life and a fabulous house, and when you suddenly find yourself with all those things, you realize it's not at all fabulous; that having all those things means losing yourself; that motherhood has much more inherent value and joy than we were ever taught to believe; that having a job and kids and an "equal" relationship or marriage is highly stressful, and not always possible.

And I think  that's just it.  Today's generation of women has been brought up to regard motherhood as somehow lesser, and not worthy of all of our time.  And yet, if I had my choice, I would drop all the other stuff out of my life and focus entirely on my children.  And that would be okay with me.  Already I do everything I can to make sure my children have many opportunities, even though that means working part time so they can have their music lessons or running on 5 hours of sleep so I can help them with homework and practice, as well as spend good quality time with them and still get the other stuff done.  There's a long list of sacrifices I make for them, and every mother has a comparable list.

This book takes a look at women from all walks of life and how they are working to discover the same balance we are all striving for.  It's wonderful.  You should read it.

I do not have one to give away from my blog, but there are five other blogs holding giveaways for this book (not all have been posted yet, but I have posted direct links to the ones that have and links to the main blog to those that haven't):

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via TLC book tours.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Asking for Good Behavior

One year ago yesterday, we ended our Caribbean cruise.  I thought I should maybe start posting the rest of the pictures.  This is the girls getting ready to go to the beach on Grand Cayman Island. 
But, this post has nothing to do with the beach or the cruise or anything like that.  It's a post about parenting those three adorable beach bums.  Because I said I'd follow through with Project Walking into a Hug, and even though I fell off of the wagon, I'm climbing back on.

This week's assignment is to Ask for Good Behavior.  When I first read the title of this chapter, I wondered why it was necessary.  I mean, what kind of parents don't ask for good behavior? Well, as it turns out, I'm the kind of parent that doesn't ask for good behavior.

All too often I am telling my girls NOT to do things, when I should be turning that around and telling them which things to do.  So instead of "Don't leave your backpack in the middle of the floor," I should say, "Please hang up your backpack."  Always focusing on the action that they should be doing rather than the one that they shouldn't.

I have been paying attention to this one for several weeks now, since I am behind on actually blogging on this topic.  I think it's pretty amazing how it helps me stay calmer and helps the girls to understand exactly what I want them to do.  In the example of the backpack, if I told them not to leave it on the floor, they'd just pick it up and put it on the couch.  Not what I wanted, but the backpack wasn't on the floor, so they were trying to do what I asked.  Just saying what I want them to do makes a big difference.  And it's a super easy habit to acquire, I've found.

But I'll still keep working on it.  The word "don't" hasn't been entirely eradicated from my parenting vernacular.

And now, just because I wish I were there again, instead of up here in the cold and the snow...a few more pictures of my girls at the beach on Grand Cayman.

Beach Bums
Beach Bums
Beach Bums

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Brain Dump

I gained a lot of weight over the holiday.  Too much.  So, it's back on the wagon I go.  So far, I've been very good, but it's only day 3.  HOWEVER, I'm sick of this up and down crap and I have nobody to blame but myself.  This year I'm going to lighten up the booty once and for all!


Except, apparently I am now going through some sort of detox because I've had a migraine for the past 3 days.  Today has been a bit better, but it came back with a vengeance after lunch.


Then I went to the dentist, worried what that would do for the headache, and had the world's fastest cleaning.  Seriously you guys, I think my dentist broke some sort of record.  My appointment was at 2:00.  I got there right on time, walked right in, sat in the chair, the dentist himself took the x-rays and did the cleanings, checked for cavities (none!) and I was on my merry way and in my front door by 2:17.  And the migraine was not exacerbated.


Bria is getting braces put on tomorrow. Poor thing is nervous as can be, and, quite frankly, so am I.  I never needed braces, and while Joel should have had them, he didn't.  We have no personal experience or sage advice to offer her.   Please tell me it will be okay.


Chloe will also begin her own orthodontia journey tomorrow, but she's starting with some retainers.  We are a little less nervous about this.  Sophia saw the dentist yesterday, and most certainly has orthodontist visits in her future as well.  How did none of my girls inherit my straight teeth and huge mouth?


Yes, we have been seeing the dentist a lot lately.  Thanks for noticing!


While I did get some projects done over Christmas break (like paint the playroom closet blue), I'm afraid that I mostly took it really easy.  And now I don't have any desire to go back to a normally scheduled life.  The girls started school yesterday and 6:30 a.m. came way too early.  Oh how I relish sleeping in during school breaks!  Now I will begin to pray for a snow day or two.


Speaking of which, we have plenty of snow, but it's really hardly any compared to what we normally get up here.  In some ways (driving) I definitely don't mind, but I do find myself wishing for more.  Perhaps I've gone crazy?  Anyhow, I guess I'll keep praying for that snow day.


I have been successful at Project 365 thus far.  I know it's only been 4 days (and all four pictures feature snow), but the last time I tried it I pooped out on the second day, so I am very proud.  You can see my pictures here.


And now I will go work on reading A Tale of Two Cities.  I'm finally 10% into it and it's gotten good and interesting.


Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Lightening Up

Lighten Up
2012 is here. I don't know if it's my age, or what, but I have to say it feels like the years are flying by, and 2011 was the fastest yet.

It was also the craziest yet.

And while we're on the subject of 2011, I never made a single New Year's Resolution. Not one word, not one goal, not one thought towards how I could take that year and use it to improve myself somehow.

I blame the (wonderful! amazing!) cruise we took. We left on New Year's Eve, came back on January 8 and hit the ground running. I guess I didn't have my usual time at the New Year to use for introspection and goal-setting.

I did do really well at exercising for the first time ever. But, I dropped that ball (and treadmill) sometime during the opera performances this summer. And I undid much of my hard work by doing nothing. By not having specific goals.

But today marks the beginning of 2012. And I am not going on a cruise. Instead, I am using the time for introspection and goal-setting, and I have decided on a word for the year. I find I have the most success with the one word concept (in the past I've used care, simplify, order, and routine) as it helps me to focus my life via that one word. The word often stretches to all of the areas of my life that need work, so it is a nice way to easily remember my goals for myself.

At first, I figured I would use our family theme for this school year (Go & Do) as my word. But that didn't feel right to me. I guess I keep coming to the fact that I don't have a lot of trouble going and doing, and in fact maybe I go and do more than I should. (Unless we're talking about the gym--but never you worry, because I think I have it addressed rather nicely in the words I did choose.) In fact, I go and do so much, that perhaps I create more worry and stress for myself than is healthy.

There has been much stuff in my life that causes unnecessary heaviness this past year: Overscheduling. Weight. Debt. Clutter. SAD. Obligations. Habits.

So my word for 2012 is Lighten Up. (Okay, so that's two words--I like to be an over-achiever!)

If nothing else, I can lighten up my mood and my attitude. But I also hope to lighten up my whole life. To lighten up the debt load. To lighten up my schedule. To lighten up the clutter in my house and in my mind. To lose weight and lighten up my body. Together, all will combine to help me enjoy my life more and to become light enough so that I can truly soar.

I have a couple other goals that fit in to the theme in my mind, but perhaps not so obviously.

1. I am going to finally do Project 365, which is actually Project 366 this year. I will be posting the daily pictures on my photography blog. While it seems to be just one more thing to do, I feel like it will help me Lighten Up because it will help me recognize the moments and blessings in my life that I often miss while I am too busy being stressed out. I hope it will help me cultivate an attitude of optimism and gratitude and also help me learn how to stop and smell the roses. Or, in other words, how to lighten up. Today's post is here.

2. I am going to read 52 books in 2012 (GoodReads has a cool can see my progress on the sidebar). I only did 35 in 2011, which shocked me. I haven't been reading as much for myself, which is another activity which relaxes me and helps me to keep priorities a little straighter. I always learn so much from the books I read and feel they help me to be a better human. And did I mention the relaxing thing? So, fewer reviews, more pleasure reading. Yeah. Lighten UP.

What are your goals for the New Year?