2009-2019: A Summary of a Decade

I love how, on social media, so many people are using the end of the decade to look at how their lives have changed in ten years. Comparing changes over time is a thing I am fascinated by and I like the way a designated span of time—here, the construct of a decade, but really, it can be anything—helps you see experiences in a different light.

December 2009 family photo

But every time I thought about doing it for myself I felt a little bit frustrated. Here is the list I was making in my head about what has happened in the past ten years:

  • The litany of Kendell’s surgeries. At the end of 2009 he was starting to feel recuperated from his first heart surgery; after that he had two more heart surgeries, cardiac arrest, gall bladder removed, deviated septum repaired, a knee replacement.
  • All of our parents passed away.
  • Kendell graduated from college.
  • Haley, Jake, and Nathan all graduated from high school. Kaleb finished elementary school and started junior high.
  • Haley graduated from college.
  • Kaleb was diagnosed with his heart issue, a bicuspic aortic valve with an aortic bulge.
  • Each of my Bigs had their first significant romantic relationships.
  • I went to countless events for my kids. Soccer, basketball, and volleyball games. Choir concerts, orchestra concerts. Track meets.
  • Also countless: how much we used our health insurance. Kids’ broken bones, trips to the doctor or ER for stitches, and different illnesses. Nathan had shingles, Jake was treated for depression and anxiety, and all of us were in a long-term relationship with our dermatologist.
  • Jake, Haley, and Nathan all started wearing glasses. They also survived braces.
  • We had some family vacations: Disneyland more than once, Yellowstone, California beaches, Hawaii, Florida.

As I thought about my list, what hit me was how I was framing myself: in the context of everyone else. The big things feel like the ways I have helped and been involved with the people I love, and I do love them. Helping them and taking care of them and cheering them on is a huge part of my identity and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. But I was frustrated—and, frankly, startled—by how my first instinct was to think more of the experiences in other people’s lives than the experiences that I had. This train of thought at first took me to a sort of dark place. Sometimes it feels like, when you’re deep into your midlife years, the only exciting things left in your life are things that happen to other people. Things you are proud of them for accomplishing, or joyful for them being blessed in that way, but it is all other people’s experiences.

That left me feeling fairly…well, probably there is a German or Swedish word for “the feeling you have when you realize all of your big life experiences are past and all you have to look forward to is aging” but I don’t know what it is.

But then I took a deep breath and tried to think: wait. I also had experiences over the past decade that were MY experiences. That happened to me. Maybe they are smaller experiences, but they are still valuable. And even though there is this voice in my head saying it’s selfish of me to want to highlight my experiences over my family members’ (because isn’t that what a woman and a mother is supposed to do? Define herself in the context of the people she loves and not think about who she is outside of those relationships?), I’m still going to list them. It’s still valuable to celebrate the experiences the Universe brought ME over the past decade:

  • I got to visit Europe twice. Italy and then a whirlwind tour of England+Belgium+The Netherlands+Paris. It’s barely enough Europe but here’s a whole new decade that I hope includes much more travel.
  • I got to see so much art. I stood in front of Van Gogh’s paintings and wept because beauty can still come from darkness. I stood in front of Michelangelo's Slaves and felt understood by the world. I fell in love with obscure paintings for entirely personal reasons. I have always loved art but in this decade I got to experience it rather than only seeing it in books.
  • I went to New York City twice. For this person who is thoroughly From The West, New York was thrilling and exciting and enlightening and terrifying and like a whole different place.
  • I went running on beaches on both the Pacific and the Atlantic. I ran in Niagara Falls, Amsterdam, and Paris. I did a half marathon in New York and one in Denver. So long as I can run and travel I will always pack my running shoes.
  • I traveled to Mexico (Cabo San Lucas), Washington, Hawaii, California, Colorado, South and North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I am far from a world traveler but I got to see a lot this decade. San Francisco, Seattle, and Charleston are cities I got to walk around in and, as funny as it sounds, I can now say I can get around in a city if it has decent public transportation.
  • I hiked Half Dome in Yosemite. This was a significant turning point for my hiking confidence.
  • I got to be reunited with Elliot, the baby I placed for adoption in 1990.
  • I ran two full marathons and 8-10 half marathons, and many, many miles. I actually started running at the turn of a decade, in 2000, so this year marks my 20th year of running. I’m not always as consistent as I should be, but I am always in love with running.
  • I hiked. I hiked a lot. I fell in love with hiking and I found I have always loved the mountains but actually moving upon them has fulfilled me in so many ways. I’d hiked a little bit by the end of 2009, but 2010-2020 was a decade of hiking.
  • I healed from several running injuries. The two worst were my ankle sprain at the 2012 Ragnar and my torn femoral condyle which led to a cascade of knee issues. I also worked through a nagging hamstring strain (which was tied not to nothing physical but to the emotional struggles I was having at the time; once some situations with my kids got better, the hamstring pain stopped) and years of sacroiliac back pain. I also broke my finger, which wasn’t a running injury.
  • Both of my parents died. Yes, that happened to them, but it also happened to me. I’m an orphan and I’m also now the oldest generation. A co-matriarch with my two sisters.
  • I had a very few pieces of my writing published. (This is the thing I want to change the most over the next decade.)
  • I became a brand ambassador for Skirt Sports.
  • I taught the teenage Sunday School classes at church; I also taught Relief Society (the women’s organization) and doctrine classes. I’m grateful for those opportunities I had to teach.
  • My relationship with my church (I am a Mormon, if now far, far on the fringe) has changed utterly in the past decade. This has been painful; a time of mourning. But it has also freed my soul from some very unnecessary fetters of guilt. I am now trying to understand what my spirituality looks like. I think this will be a process I experience my whole life.
  • I fell in love with national parks. I got to visit Yellowstone, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Congaree, and all of the Utah parks. I hope 2020-2030 will include many more fridge magnets.
  • I have learned—am continuing to learn—what it means to be the mom of adult children. It is far different than I imagined, in both difficult and amazing ways. I am excited to see what their upcoming decade brings them, too.
  • I worked at the library. I became a librarian, in fact. This is the longest job I’ve held in my life. It is sometimes frustrating (working with the public can be exhausting) and my small salary makes me feel a great deal of guilt and anxiety, but I love my job. It has brought me some of my closest adult friends and given me some amazing opportunities to interact with and learn from people. And of course brought me to so many books. I never imagined myself as a librarian but it really is perfect.
  • I read books. I guess I could go back and count how many, but I'm not going to. I didn't write about every book I read, I didn't love every one. But so many of them have helped me in different ways.
  • I made a lot of things. I wrote hundreds of blog posts and made even more scrapbook layouts. I cooked meals and baked cookies and pies and cakes. I made quilts for my kids and my house and for other people’s babies. I wrote poems and journal entries and essays. I planted and nurtured my flowers. I hope I also made my relationships stronger and nurtured the people I love.

Making this list makes me wonder, of course: what will the next decade bring? In ten years, what will my list look like? I have many hopes. Maybe I should write that list down, too. The things I hope 2020-2030 will bring me. But I’ve also learned that life is always throwing unexpected things at you, and so there will be many things that happen in the next decade I can’t even imagine now. Right now, I am trying to reach back in time to that Amy at the end of 2009 and tell her…tell her what? That things will be harder than she knows but there will also be so many good things, maybe. And I am also trying to reach forward to the Amy I will be in December of 2029 to hear what she can tell me.

But I bet it’s the same advice. Things will be hard. Things will be wonderful. And all I can do is savor and experience and act and create and love.

Family photo 2019
Family photo 2019

Goodbye July!

I can’t believe July is already over. We are still in the heat of deep summer here, and honestly, July isn’t my favorite month. It’s hot and almost no flowers are blooming and even the grass just seems drained.

But if July ends, then it’s August. And if it’s August, can autumn be far behind?

Time, though, moves too swiftly, so I’m trying to savor summer before it ends. I’ve tried since Kaleb got out of school, in fact, to just enjoy the days, even though they’re hot. One thing that’s helped is that this year I’ve mostly abandoned trying to wear shorts. I just never feel comfortable in them. I’ve worn a lot of dresses and a LOT of running skirts and yeah, my elephant knees are exposed but I’m just so much more comfortable this summer. I didn’t post on Instagram every day for 31 Days of Skirt, but I did actually wear Skirt Sports every day!

Heat aside, July was a pretty good month. And before I turn my calendar over to August, I wanted to write a recap.

Solstice to Equinox Streak:
I exercised every day this month, except for the Saturday I was sick. I didn’t do cardio every day; on some days I lifted weights or did resistance training for a half hour. I had a little exercise epiphany: there is almost always time. One day I went for a walk at 1:00 in the afternoon, when it was blazing hot, but I wanted to get it in. So I went to the shadiest part of a path by the river and I got it in. Several nights I did my resistance/weights at 9:00 p.m. But committing to the streak has helped so much, not just with my consistency but with my mindset about exercise. I can really do it every day. And while I have yet to see any weight come off (it actually is continuing to bulge around my belly…I have an appointment with my doctor next month because I’m so frustrated by this!), I feel like I am stronger.

I added cartwheels to my workout strategies. I know: that sounds totally weird, and is a cartwheel really a workout? Surprisingly, yes. More of a plyometric thing, but a simple cartwheel asks a lot of your upper body, your core, and your flexibility. Plus it’s just so fun! I visited for a little while one night with my niece and her daughter, who was trying to do ariels in the grass. My body totally remembers how to do them, how it’s not really about the speed you put into it but learning how to swing your arms correctly. I gave her some pointers, and she said “but you can’t do ariels Aunt Amy!” and I said “not anymore, but I can still do a pretty good cartwheel,” and she said “NO WAY! Show me! I think you’re too old!” and so when I was done holding her new baby brother I did a cartwheel for her. Never too old!


I also achieved a milestone this month that I haven’t done in two years: I had a 100-mile month. 103.7, to be exact. (To compare, I ran 90.5 in June and 75-ish in May.) And, I know: that’s not a lot to many people. Lots of runners have 100 mile weeks! But for me, it is a little reward to see my count for the month go over 100. Even last summer when I was in marathon training I never had a 100-mile month (whooping cough!). It feels like I accomplished something. Not all of those miles were running, but that’s just fine, because I also hiked a lot!

I ran a total of 50 miles (it’s actually 49.98 but I think I can round up). I had my longest run since my marathon, 6.5 miles around where I live. I had the fastest mile I’ve had in a long time, 8:48. (Again…I know that’s not fast in comparison to many runners. But it’s fast for me.) And, guess what?


Trail running

Well, maybe “took up” is too intense. I started trail running. I didn’t buy any trail running shoes so I don’t feel like I can call myself a “trail runner” yet. I was cautious and I went on very safe trails. But I just decided one day: I want to run trails too. (A longer blog post is coming on this topic.) I did two trail runs and I’m really itching to do more.

Big Springs with friends twice
My friend Wendy and I got out three times for hikes in the foothills.
Kendell and I together: Great Western Trail, Scout Falls and part of the TImponooke Trail (until the snow got too risky), Buffalo Peak, Rock Canyon, and Silver Glance Lake. We are up to 28 hikes together this year. I’m hoping we can make it to 50 but we’ll see.

I am more in love with hiking than ever. The best thing this year is the wildflowers. They’ve been amazing from all the snow we’ve had! I just wish that I were a better photographer and could capture images that communicate how beautiful they are. But instead of carrying my big camera to photograph the flowers, I have tried to focus on being present and fully admiring the meadows.

20190719_200502 wildflowers buffalo peak 4x6

I had a couple of conversations with my kids this month that helped me get rid of some unnecessary guilt I’ve been carrying for a long, long time. Well, maybe the guilt wasn’t exactly “unnecessary,” but these two conversations just helped me to see my choices in a different light. My heart feels so much lighter.

I took Kaleb to swim in a little local pond this month, with some of his friends. He loved it. I had taken him there five years ago, when he was only 9, and I had to pull up my pictures of that day. It was amazing to see how much he has changed. (Sometimes I just have to stop thinking about how utterly strange it is that Kaleb, who was the baby I waited the longest for, is becoming a person. Even though he’s been a person (by which I mean, not a baby) for a long time, it still just sometimes hits me hard. I waited and prayed for him for so long, and then, BAM, all of a sudden he’s grown up. I had a lovely time relaxing on the grass by the pond, reading, but I got so fried on my legs. Three weeks later, they are still so tender and itchy.

Kendell and I had a fun date night when we had to drive north to pick Kaleb up from Lagoon, an amusement park about 90 minutes away from us. We brought Kaleb and his friend some pizza for dinner, and then he and I went out to eat, went shopping, and then saw The Lion King. We haven’t done enough dating in the past little while. We hike together a lot but it was nice to get out and do something a little bit different.

I got to meet my two newest great nephews. I just love babies and am so happy they are here safely. I love that both sides of our family continue to grow.

While I managed to buy a lot of new supplies, I didn’t ever get around to making any scrapbook layouts this month. I haven’t, in fact, made a scrapbook layout since February or March. I’m not really sure I can explain why, but this is the longest I’ve gone without scrapbooking since I picked up the hobby in 1996. I scrapbooked as a mom with young kids, as a mom with young kids working on her degree, as a mom with young kids doing student teaching and then being a teacher. I scrapped around Kendell’s many surgeries. I scrapbooked while I stayed up late waiting for teenagers to come home from dances and jobs and dates. It’s been a central part of my identity for as long as I’ve been an adult. Kendell working from home has something to do with it, as does the process of cleaning out my mom’s house. (By scrapbooking am I just creating a huge burden for my kids to deal with when I’M dead?) Some of it is that I feel like all the pictures of my mom’s that I need to scan are hanging over me, a project that is zapping all of my creative energy. Some of it I don’t understand. I still want to make scrapbook layouts. I still shop for supplies. I just…haven’t done it.

But! I have quilted a ton. I’ve got all my scraps managed and organized. I am almost done with the quilt I’m making for Jake and then I can start the one I’m making for Kaleb. I am actually, finally sewing together all the billion half-square pink and black triangles I’ve made over the past 7 or 8 years. (I’m trying to decide…is 90x90 too big for a quilt that won’t be used on a bed? I just have so many squares I love. And I live with tall people. But on the other hand: How much will a 90x90 quilt weigh once I back it (with minky!) and add batting? Will it even be useful or just a big pain in the butt?

July has not been a great reading month for me. I’m stuck in a book with characters I like and am interested in…but the story is moving so slowly I keep putting it down for other things. But I don’t want to not finish it because I want to know what happens to them all! Maybe I need another sick day just to get through it. I am also re-reading the novel Contact, which I read about 18 times as a teenager. I was a little bit nervous about the re-read because what if my adult tastes found it lame or inane or narrow minded? But what I am discovering is just how much of my beliefs about the universe/religion/is-there-anything-after-this-life was shaped by this book. Which is really strange, but also fairly liberating.

Finally, writing. I’m continuing to work on the poem I started. There is a deadline and a place to submit so that is pushing me. I still haven’t written the perfect transition I need, but I DID dream I wrote it, and then in the dream repeated it over and over so I wouldn’t forget it when I woke up. But I don’t remember it. I want to write more—I have an essay about pie crust that’s partly formed, too.

Tomorrow I am going to write my goals for August, but right now I am going to go sit out on my back porch. I’m going to listen to the crickets and admire the scent of the summer air, which is especially delicious tonight because it rained today. I’m going to breath in this deep-summer night and try to store it up as a hedge against winter darkness.

How was your July?

Working My Way Out of Sadness

I was full of sadness this morning.

I had planned on going with Kendell to his INR check and then running home, but my knee was unhappy, so I didn’t. I waited outside for him, though, and the air smelled so fresh and felt so cool it made me distrust it. Like it might be the last good thing I could remember before something bad happened.

We went home and I listened to a little bit of the news, and then I read again about Emmett Till to refresh my memory of what happened to him, and while I tried to read it out loud to Kendell I started crying. Why are humans so awful to each other? Why are cruelty, meanness, judgment, racism, violence our first responses? Why is the world so ugly when it doesn’t have to be?

Next I cleaned the kitchen and I texted with Nathan and I started crying all over again. Not only because I miss him—I miss him, and I thought while I stirred up some protein pancakes about how he is so good to me, how he is sort of my Person, in the sense that he tries to understand me and is gentle and kind to me and takes me for who I am, but how that isn’t fair to him because his Person should be his one-day spouse—not only do I miss him, but because of how his absence is a symbol for how everything changes, how I am at the cusp of not having any kids living at home, and how I want that to be a good time in my life, how it can be good, but also how I miss it when everyone was still at home.

While I ate I read some poetry and this line made me feel a little less alone, from a poem by Oliver de la Paz about small towns: “as though//the little things we tell ourselves about our pasts stay there,/rising slightly and just out of reach.” I had almost skipped reading this poem when I turned the page because it is long, but I read it and it both devoured and fed me. Fed because yes, I too will never be done being haunted by the little town I shook loose from and I thought it was just me but of course it isn’t. Devoured because the poem is so good, and I want to write good poems but I’m not sure I really have the capability or skill or talent or ear.

But I took my drink out to the porch and tried working on a poem I have been working on for weeks now, a poem about finding my own voice, and I got stuck at the same place I always get stuck in this poem, which is the transition between the persona in the poem listening to others and then deciding to listen for her own voice instead. In my real life, this transition was marked by so many things, too many to cram into one poem—the Kavanaugh hearings and the way the Mormon men upheld him, my growing understanding that the bridge between my mother and me was starting to burn, her illness and the way my inability to help her the way she thought I should was a match, a thing to see with briefly but then a thing that started the fire. It wasn’t one thing, it was a process, it was a slurry of things, a flood, and I had always been living in a flood I just hadn’t noticed how hard I was trying to stay on top of the water. All the things that had kept me floating before were punctured. And in the poem I want a line that captures that transition. I have the beginning and the end, but not the transition.

So I sat on my back porch with my orange notebook and my “feminist” mug and I tried to figure it out. The air was still deliciously fraught and then, very gently: it started raining. A delicate rain, consistent enough I had to move back under the overhang so my notebook didn’t get wet. I smelled the air and worked on my poem and sipped my drink.

I didn’t figure out the transition yet.

I didn’t write a good poem.

I couldn’t hug Nathan, or run downstairs to see Haley working on homework somewhere. I still don’t know how to help Jake or what path Kaleb will find.

My house is still too empty and at the same time I want it to be completely empty. I crave solitude but I am lonely.

But as the rain fell my heart lifted. A little, a little. The smallest bit of hope crept up as the rain tickled my toes. Maybe I won’t always be lonely. Of course Jake will figure out his life. How can a world that smells like that—petrichor and water and petunias and the green scent of the catalpa leaves giving off a little bit of their summer heat into the cooling air—only be filled with ugliness, despair, and violence? It’s not. There is good here, too. Even in my little corner.

I smelled the air and then I turned back to my notebook.

Maybe there is a good poem in me, too.

April in Review

Next to October, April is my favorite month. Not just because it’s my birthday month, and my daughter’s, and my best friend’s (also one of my grandmother’s and two of my great nieces’), but because it is beautiful. I love spring flowers so much. Especially hyacinths! We’ve had a cold, slow, Spring hyacinths
rainy spring here in Utah this year, so everything has bloomed later than usual (which is fine by me because there’s less chance of flowers being withered by late snows), the grass and trees are bright green, and even the foothills are verdant (I love my mountains but they’re in a desert; temperate, yes, but often and usually brown and dry). The valley is full of color in April, flowering plum and almond trees in shades of pink, yellow forsythia, sometimes even a few early lilacs. Daffodils in every shade dot yards and even the dandelions seem beautiful, it’s just so lovely to see color again after the grey, dun shades of winter.

I’m always sad when April comes to an end.

So here’s a list to help me remember this beautiful April before May starts in with its certain lilacs and vibrant iris.

  • My sisters and I finished emptying my mom’s house. We spackled and painted and got it up for sale. While I am glad this is finished, I am also really sad this is finished. There are no more treasures left to find and I don’t get to see them every week.
  • Kaleb spent a Saturday afternoon straightening up my mom’s yard. It looked so much better when he was finished.
  • After a rough start, Kaleb started enjoying his soccer games again. The start was rough Kaleb soccerbecause he has really fallen in love with basketball, and the rhythms of a soccer game are definitely different. Once he remembered he loves it, though, he loved playing again.
  • Haley went to Mexico to celebrate her birthday. I loved seeing her pictures come up on Instagram and now I really want to take a trip to Cozumel, too!
  • Whenever my schedule and the weather let me, I went outside to work in my yard. Last year I let it get ahead of me, but not this year. (I think I will always be grateful now for springs without whooping cough!) I’ve weeded and planted a few new things. All of the rain has made it more difficult, though, so I still have some seeds to plant.
  • Nathan settled in to his training at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. He struggled with shin splints and with knowing how to negotiate getting medical care. This military experience is new to us. He didn’t want to seem like a wimp. But eventually he had to take some time off of running (which really is the only way to conquer shin splints) to let them heal. I hope his fellow soldiers didn’t give him too much grief. To help, I sent him a bunch of different things: another tube of Deep Blue, some compression socks, two new pairs of running shoes, new combat boots. He has just started running again and I am hoping the time off will have helped.

  • Spring hiking desolation pointKendell and I hiked four trails: Desolation, Johnson’s Bowl (new to both of us!), Battlecreek Overlook, and Grove Creek. I loved the winter hiking but it is pretty nice to not need so many layers anymore, and to see colors in the mountains again. Our last two hikes even had a few wildflowers! 75 miles of hiking, 7000+ feet of combined elevation gain.
  • Spring runningI ran just over 40 miles in April. As my March total of hiking and running was just under 40, I’m happy with that. I ran longer than I have since my marathon in July; when I told Kendell that he pointed out that running 5.5 miles isn’t as impressive as running a marathon and then I had to remind him that I’ve been fighting an injury, duh! I am grateful every time I go out for a run that I’m still running.
  • We tried a couple of new restaurants. Bam Bam’s BBQ is a place my sister recommended for their nachos. We didn’t love them and will continue looking for a good place for take-out nachos. (Our favorite place, El Azteca, closed over a year ago and we’re still sad about it!) We also tried Bajio’s, again for nachos, which were better but still not fantastic. We went to Rubios on National Burrito Day. My burrito was delicious but they were out of almost everything (even though we got there at barely 5 pm) so I was disappointed not to have the steak burrito I first wanted. (While we were there they also ran out of chips, guacamole, and sour cream; seems like someone forgot to check inventory!)
  • Some meals I made: chicken alfredo, chicken with cream sauce (I made this with ricotta and romano, so the flavor was different from alfredo), cream of broccoli soup, chili with savory corn cakes. Also, of course, tacos, which are Kendell’s favorite. And red bean burritos, which I usually only make when Haley’s home. I am trying to cook more, not always successfully, as sometimes it’s just me and Kendell eating dinner and it seems like a waste of time to cook just for us. One thing that’s helped me a bit is trying to prep a few things on Sunday. A recent favorite is to dice a whole package of chicken breasts (the big package from Costco) into bite-sized pieces, toss it in olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic, red pepper flakes, and basil, and then bake it. I like this so much better than cutting the chicken after it’s cooked, because then all the edges are a little bit crispy. I make a meal with some of the pieces, save some for another meal, and then freeze the rest.
  • Kendell and I finished up watching The Walking Dead and started watching Game of Thrones. My favorite thing about this season so far: the song in the second episode, and talking about each episode with Jake. He watches them with friends and we’re sometimes watching a day or two later, but he’s careful to not give any spoilers.
  • I did pretty well with my goals: I ate more veggies (not every day, but way more), I only had two days when I didn’t reach my water goal, and I think I rocked it on my blog-every-day goal—I only missed three days.
  • Things I bought: A new Hydroflask (the watermelon color!), new regular shoes for Kaleb, new basketball shoes for Kaleb, new soccer shoes for Kaleb. New bras, yay! A few Skirts. A red dress that I’m not sure I’m going to keep. Sprinkler parts for the sprinkling system. A new blade for my rotary cutter. A bunch of storage containers.
  • I used my DSLR. I haven't done that since November! I took it to Kaleb's Alpine Days track meet. He won fourth in the high jump and I got some great pics. I think I'm going to add "use DSLR" to my goal list! Kaleb alpine days
  • I read two books: Ammonite by Nicola Griffith and The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.
  • I only read two books because I spent all of my free time doing stuff with fabric. I shopped, I bought, I cut, I pieced. I made it more complicated than it needed to be but I think I just needed the process of a more intricate quilt (two, actually). I think it was my way of dealing with my mom’s death. She didn’t teach me everything I know about quilting, but she taught me to love fabric and to give pretty gifts. I can’t say I gained any resolution or much peace…but some. A bit. (I will share more of these two quilts once I finish them and give them to the moms of the babies they are for.)
  • Actually, that’s not true: I worked on three quilts. And I shopped for four. I started a new quilt for Jake, as the one I made him oh…four years ago, I think, or maybe five, was totally worn out. I’m doing it in shades of blue and grey, all flannel except for a little bit of minky. And I’m still picking up pieces for Kaleb’s quilt, which he needs because he’s now sleeping in a queen-sized bed. I’m excited to see both of these quilts come together!
  • Kendell had a heart check-up in April, and everything is looking good. This will of course never not be scary for me, AND to make it more difficult I also talked to his surgeon about Kaleb’s heart issues. I managed to not start sobbing, but only just. Every single one of you reading this right now, stop and give thanks for your healthy heart to whatever deity or spirit you believe in. Hearts are scary and the fear is pervasive.

Now on to May!

Life Right Now


Here I am, just past three weeks into my 100-day project of blogging every day. I’ve missed a few days, but not many. As I’ve continued to write my posts, I have begun asking myself: Why am I doing this? Not in an existential “why” sense. But, what do I hope to gain? What can I learn from this process?

One thing I wanted to do was re-establish a writing habit. In a sense I have done that, as I’ve blogged nearly every day. But it hasn’t been at the same time or with any predictability. I’ve written some of my blog posts while watching TV at night with Kendell, which really is just fulfilling my self-imposed requirement rather than dedicating myself more fully to writing. I started out doing this project with the hopes that I would find my writing personality, my writing identity, again. I’m not sure I’ve done that. I think I need to find ways to explore other topics and look at things in different lights. Not because I’m trying to capture more readers or followers, but because of that search for my writerly self.

But this post is not going to be one of those kinds of posts.

Today while I was gardening, I was listening to a podcast about scrapbooking. (The Scrap Gals podcast.) In this episode they were talking about telling our stories (as opposed to feeling like everything you make has to be about someone else, an idea I am thoroughly a fan of), and one of the ways to do that was to make a layout about who you are right now. I used to do this with some regularity, mainly about my kids but sometimes about myself. Often enough that has an abbreviation in my scrapbooking spreadsheet (YES! I do have a spreadsheet about scrapbooking; two, in fact): LRN (for Life Right Now). Sometimes I did this on my blog, sometimes in my journal, sometimes on scrapbook layouts. I really do love looking back on those past ways of being and thinking, and while yes: it isn’t really fantastic writing, I do think there is also merit in it, simply because my own story matters, too. So here it is, the long-awaited and very popular post about my life right now.

My biggest complaint about my body right is my unreliable knees. (Ten years ago, when I was in my 30s, I’m not sure I had any complaints about my body, except the usual my-boobs-are-small-my-thighs-are-big vexes.) They aren’t really painful, per se, except for occasional stabby pains and right at the start of a run or a hike. More, it’s just that they don’t work like they’re supposed to. They just don’t bend normally, and the right one (the one that suffered from a crackled femoral condyle) won’t straighten all the way. But still: I am running and hiking. I am trying to find exercises to strengthen my quads that don’t require lunges or squats (harder to find than you might imagine). And I’m just going to keep on keeping on for as long as I can.

I am pondering going back to physical therapy though. Maybe once a week e-stim and stem would be good for me.

While my identity is not only tied to my kids, no life-right-now list would be complete without them. Haley is living in Colorado with her boyfriend, Austin. She is working at a pharmacy at a hospital. She recently figured out that she applied to med schools too late last year and so will have to reapply this spring. So, one more year of working, saving money, and (I hope) resting and building up her energy for med school. Jake is living at home and sorting out his life. So much of his story right now is just that, his story, not mine to tell. But he is doing so much better than he was a year ago. I have every faith in him that he will figure it out. Nathan is at his AIT in Arizona. It is so nice to be able to communicate with him so much faster now; when he was at Basic we could only send letters. Now, in the evenings he can call or text. He is struggling with shin splints and has discovered the magical inefficiencies of military health care. Kaleb is enjoying his soccer season finally. He wasn’t thrilled when it started again, as he has a new love: basketball. He loves basketball. He even watches basketball games on TV. His track season ended yesterday with the regional meet, called Alpine Days. He got 4th in the state on high jump, matching his PR of 5’2”.

Stuff I really like right now: half square triangles, dark chocolate toffees from Trader Joe’s, hazelnut-flavored beverages, my new big pink mug, being outside doing almost anything but especially working in my garden, the last Game of Thrones season, talking about the last Game of Thrones season with Jake.

Things I am grappling with: My faith. (Right now I don’t have any callings and am not going to church very often. Am I happier this way? I’m not sure yet.) Whether or not we should move. (I know exactly what I want my new, imaginary house to look like. In my head it is designed to accommodate the next 25 years of my life, which I’m hoping will eventually include sons and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, family parties, as well as Kendell’s OCD issues. But…I love this house, too. I love my memories here. I love my trees and my yard and my view of Timp. But I want to live somewhere I feel like I fit in. But that’s a lot of effort and expense considering the very large possibility that maybe I don’t fit in anywhere. But that vision in my head of my beautiful new house!) How to fulfill my goals. What will happen if I really do need knee surgery. Selling my mom’s house. Coming to terms with the reality of my relationship with one of my sisters. (Despite what alcoholics and addicts think, their actions, words, and decisions don’t only influence them.) How to help my adult kids in their adult lives. Whether or not I should let Kaleb play ninth grade basketball. (He is really good at basketball but his pediatric cardiologist doesn’t want him to play and that’s all I can write about it for now because I am filling up with terror and despair.)

What I am wearing right now: (I don’t mean literally right now as I write this, but if you’re curious: a black running shirt and the long sleeve from the half marathon I ran in Brooklyn; Kendell just walked by and said “you stink!” which is true as I just finished running and haven’t showered yet.) My knees feel so much better if I wear compression. So lately I wear a loose dress (almost all of them are like this one by Karen Kane) with black running tights or capris. Do I look weird in these outfits? I don’t know. I think I’m old enough that I don’t care. I also wear my workout clothes when I work in the yard. Or do housework. Sometimes I make myself put on actual jeans or pants, but honestly I just want some compression.

The story of my shoes: I have to wear orthotics because of my bunions and capsulitis. So I’m still wearing my Dr. Martens a lot. I know, summer is coming. (I dread the coming of summer because I look so awful in shorts.) But my feet are happier in shoes with tons of support. BUT I’ve got my Chacos out of the summer-shoe storage and my feet are also happy in those. Don’t tell anyone, but because of an awesome deal at the Rack, I currently own five pair of Brooks running shoes. And, because Kendell is slightly obsessed, I have three pair of Keen hiking boots. But one has purple laces so how could I resist?

Hormone status: I’m forty-freaking-seven. I am starting to have…I don’t think they are actual hot flashes. They are hot sleeping. My circadian rhythms are a freaking Katie Perry song. Also, losing weight: that’s a myth, right? From here on out it’s just gain, gain, gain, no matter what I do???

Stuff I do: work (poetry & essay collections, book group everything, reference desk hours), laundry (it is so weird how easy it is to do laundry for just three people—Jake does his own. Sometimes the easiness gets me behind, though, because I’ve started thinking, ehhhh, there’s almost nothing in the baskets, I’ll wait until tomorrow and then I wait too long.), running, hiking, gardening (OH how I love spring gardening!), cooking (but only sometimes, see note about 3 people’s laundry; it’s the same with food and, actually, I need to be better about cooking). Every morning I drive Kaleb to school, which is kind of a pain because it means I have to haul my butt out of bed, now that he’s at a different junior high and can’t walk. But once I’m awake I actually really love it because it gives us some one-on-one time to talk or tell stories or fight over the radio station. I’ve been sewing a lot and honestly, I think it is my way of coping with my mom’s death. A little bit of scrapbooking, but not much.

One last thing: I got a new curling iron from my friends the McAlisters and it is the best thing ever. Smooth curls, not too tight or loose. Swoon!

Winter 2018-2019: Recap, Part One, or My Belated Thoughts on Christmas

Yesterday it snowed here in Utah. I’m guessing this will probably be our last snow in the valley (although, sometimes we get surprise snow storms as late as May, so who knows), and already it felt like a spring snow, not a winter one. I walked outside to feel the cold air. The still-naked trees bent a little with the weight, and with every breath or step I took, a little flurry would fall down. I felt like my trees were throwing snowballs at them. (I know I might sound nutty but I don’t care: I love my trees. They know I love them and they each have a different spirit.)

Spring is coming.

I’m itching for warmer days, when I can come home from a morning run, make a protein shake, and then work in my yard. Weeding and pruning and planting some new flowers, greeting the perennials as they take turns blooming. I’m looking forward to bright yellow daffodils and that bright, happy fragrance of hyacinth flowers.

But before spring happens, I want to look back and record this winter. It was an important one in my life history and I don’t want to forget the details. Because of all that’s happened in the past three months, I haven’t had much blogging time. But I’m going to make time over the next few days to write about the last three months of winter.

First off, Christmas. This Christmas was so different from any Christmas we’ve had before. Partly this is because I was having a dark spell with my depression. Partly it was because of how my family is changing. Haley stayed in Colorado because of work and travel expenses, and her greatest need was help paying for her med school applications. I made a Christmas quilt for her (because she wasn’t putting up a tree and I thought it would be nice to have something Christmasy in their apartment…but that backfired because I didn’t get it done fast enough), and sent some other things, but her gift was money. Nathan was leaving for basic training the week after Christmas, so he didn’t need anything. So mostly I shopped for Jake and Kaleb. It took almost no time at all to wrap gifts this year, and Christmas morning was so low-key, as no one woke up until 11:00.

In early December, on the night we put up the tree, I got in an argument with Kendell. (Glad this happened after the tree was up and we had a fun time with the five of us together decorating it.) He had been teasing me about how there were too many ornaments to fit on the tree. And I didn’t even mention the other box of ornaments I hadn’t even brought out. This lit a spark in me (because really…almost no argument in a marriage is ever only REALLY about the argument’s topic) because of what the ornaments represented. Not just the Santas and stockings and bears and angels and snowflakes themselves, but tradition, and time, and a last little bit of myself as a young mother. So once we got to a spot where there was really no point in talking anymore, I went for a drive in the mountains. I stood outside and looked at the stars and the cliffs against the midnight-dark sky and I cried and then I processed. Why was that little bit of teasing so intensely painful? What did it mean?

When Haley was a baby, I bought an ornament at a craft fair, a little ceramic tennis shoe with her name painted on it, and thus I started the tradition of giving my kids an ornament every Christmas. I did this because my Christmas tree was so bare. I had made some quilted balls when we were first married, and I had some bells and a few other little things, but my tree had almost nothing on it. I bought that little shoe thinking of our future Christmases together, and how each year we’d add more, and then my tree wouldn’t be naked. It would be full of memories. But I also started it so that when my kids grew up and had their own trees, they could start with memories from their childhood Christmases and then go from there. My intention was always to give them their ornaments when they were ready for them.

A few years ago, I realized something: as each kid became an adult and took their ornaments, my tree would be bare again. So, I started watching for ornaments for myself as well. Mostly angels. And as more years passed, and each year at least four (but usually five or six) more ornaments were added, the tree did start getting crowded.

So here we are, twenty-something years later, and my kids are adults but they’re not ready for their ornaments yet. (Which is 100% totally fine, no guilt-trip intended.) And the tradition I started so long ago stopped making sense. Kaleb really didn’t care. Nathan didn’t care. Jake didn’t care. It just wasn’t a big deal to them.

So in December 2018, I bought exactly zero new ornaments.

And the modifying of traditions didn’t stop there. I also gave up on Christmas Eve pajamas. And sibling gifts on Christmas Eve. I didn’t decorate the banister in my kitchen and I got out only about half of my decorations. And while there was sadness in this transitional Christmas, there was also a sense of…relief, maybe. Christmas and all it entails has been one of my favorite parts of being a mom. I did as much as I could to make it magical for my kids and I loved doing it. But it is also stressful. Because let’s face it: I am not a magical person. Santa has bajillions of elves and magic to help him. I just have me. And I think for the last couple of Christmases, I was continuing to make the magic because I felt I needed to, not necessarily because my kids needed it. They still need (and Kaleb, as the youngest, still deserves) a happy Christmas morning. But it is OK to be in this place, when things are changing. It is OK to adjust traditions and take some away and add some new ones. And I am grateful I was able to process enough to see my way through.

Thoughts on Missing Nathan

This kid…right now he is my inspiration. I suspect he will be for many years.

I miss him. I miss him so much.

20190102_051820 amy nathan leave day 4x6

I miss him teasing me about how much cheese is in the fridge. Yesterday I counted: 10. Swiss, mozerella, asiago, two kinds of parmesan, Romano, sharp cheddar, white cheddar, Muenster, jack. Ten different kinds of cheese and no Nathan to tease me about it.

I miss speaking Spanish with him. His grammar is better than mine and I remember different words than he does, so most of the time we talk in circles, using synonyms and almost-words and a few gestures until we start laughing and explain our thinking in English.

I miss seeing him sitting at the kitchen counter, drawing something. I miss having someone who’s excited when I tell him about buying three new colors of Copics. In fact, the fact that none of my Copics are missing right now, they’re all in their places instead of a few in the kitchen drawer and a few in his bedroom and the aqua one in his backpack: that makes me miss him, too.

I miss gathering up his laundry. (Yes, I know: he’s 19. Why was I still doing his laundry? Not because he asked me to. He could do it on his own. But it felt like one of the last services I could do for him, so I didn’t mind.)

I miss the obscene amounts of groceries I’d have to buy to keep him fed.

I miss him talking to me, and laughing with me, and knowing exactly when I needed a hug. Even if I was acting like I didn’t need a hug.

I miss him.

But he’s sending letters. And ever since I was in fourth grade and had a pen pal from Sweden, I’ve loved getting mail. Every time I check the mailbox I am hopeful there will be another letter in his handwriting, and about every week, or every ten days, there is one. Once three letters came at the same time.

I can tell…he is changing. He is learning and meeting new people and having experiences.

But he’s also still Nafe, still funny and caring.

Nathan boot camp 01 4x6

In his letters I’ve learned that he is always cold and always freezing. Yes, he’s in the south. But it’s still chilly there, and it’s a humid coldness. He’s not used to that, and plus, he’s like me, he gets cold easily anyway. He misses the smell of the clothes I washed for him, he misses me doing his laundry.

And that is how he is inspiring me. When I’m out hiking or running and I’m cold, I think “but Nathan’s probably colder, and he has to be cold all day, so I will keep going.” I finish my run, I hike longer than I had intended, I take a little bit of his courage and use it in the small ways of my life.

When I’m feeling lazy and thinking “maybe I’ll just get a pizza for dinner,” I think about Nathan being hungry all the time, and missing my cooking, and it inspires me to cook for Kendell, Kaleb, and Jake.

And…this is probably silly. But I have two of his sweatshirts. They’re way too big for me but so comfy. So I don’t have any laundry, really, to do for Nathan. But I still wear his sweatshirts, and wash them, and remember that he is grateful for that little service I did for him. Wearing his big maroon sweatshirt helps me miss him just a little bit less. It makes me feel less discouraged about the kind of mother I was. It inspires me to be better, to watch for other little ways I can help Kaleb and Jake and Haley. It reminds me that family relationships are built with time and effort and that while I have never been a perfect mom, I have tried, and then I start crying a little bit, there in my laundry room, because I love him and I love all of my kids so much and I’m just so grateful I got to be their mom.

I’m in my laundry room crying and he’s out in the world. He’s learning and changing and making other relationships. My influence on his life will continue to be less.

But, this kid. I have a feeling that he will inspire me, not just now, but for the rest of my life.

Weekend Summary

A weekend summary:

On Friday night, I came home from work, had an argument with Kendell about a medical bill (I have no patience or kindness or ability to put up with other people’s issues right now), left home in a huff and spent an hour wandering around Target. (The fact that I only spent $30 is a miracle I think.) Then Jake and I went to pick up food. We had the best conversation while we waited in line at the barbeque place. Nothing really earth-shattering or important, but somehow he helped me feel a little bit better. I’m so grateful he is back home and we are involved in his life again. I’m not complete without him.

This was Nathan’s first drill weekend after joining the National Guard. I got up early to make him protein pancakes both mornings. I can’t express what it felt like when he came home on Saturday night, wearing his uniform. I am proud of him. I am terrified that this experience will damage him in ways I can’t imagine (and ways that I can), that he will be out in the world doing dangerous stuff. But despite that fear, I am also excited for him. I think it will also change him in positive ways.

But I worried about him all weekend. He came home both days exhausted and sore.

I just want to throw this out into the universe: I hope he stays whole and himself. I hope he doesn’t lose his kindness and gentleness. I hope he does acts of service that help people. I hope he makes friends who support him for the rest of his life. I hope this experience makes him an even better person.

Saturday morning was awful for me. I know I sound whiny and miserable and lame, but damn. My depression right now is crippling. I am functioning in the sense of getting up and going to work. But otherwise I am just down here in the dark. Kendell said something that upset me (I don’t even remember now what it was) so we went back and forth for an hour, discussing some things, fighting about other things. He is trying. He doesn’t really know how to help me, but I am glad he is trying. I’m trying too, or at least, sort of. I went back on meds, I started talking to a therapist.

But I also know me. I’ve wrestled with depression since I was 16. It has been better and worse in the past three decades, but never really gone away. I have created coping mechanisms. (Sometimes I wonder…what would my life be like if I didn’t have to fill it with coping mechanisms? What if I could just live and be present and enjoy my experiences?) Right now, I don’t have access to any of those coping mechanisms. But what is affecting me most profoundly is not being able to run. I don’t think I will improve until I can run again.

(And if I can never run again? I don’t even know.)

But, there’s depression but there’s also life, and we needed groceries and we had to go to a funeral. So I took a shower and pretended I was OK and I did what I needed to.

I meant to do some yardwork on Saturday afternoon, but my knees were bothering me so instead, Kendell, Kaleb and I worked on cleaning out the storage room. I finally, after more than 13 years, was able to get rid of all of my books that I’d had in my classroom when I was a teacher. I’d kept boxes of them, with the fear that one day I would have to go back to teaching. But they were taking up so much space, and maybe it was my depression driving me (I’ve also been getting rid of a lot of my clothes, and scrapbook supplies, and running clothes), but I decided: enough. If I DO teach again, I will deal with it then. This felt like shedding some of the weight I have been carrying, which is crazy. I haven’t been in a classroom since Kaleb was born. And despite the fact that I loved many aspects of teaching, the idea of having to go back to teaching is a literal FEAR. It gives me nightmares, and not only because it was difficult, but because teaching was wrapped up in so many other things. My perspective on myself and my place in the world changed drastically during those years, and there were some soul-crushing experiences that happened. So letting go of all of my classroom books was perhaps a thing my psyche needed. Unnecessary weight.

On Sunday, I desperately wanted to go hiking.  But my knees have been bothering me, so I decided not to. Kendell and Jake went, though (I was both miserable about not going and happy they could have some time to themselves), and Kaleb slept in late (Nathan was at his drill). So I just stayed in bed. I had a hot beverage and read my book (I’m reading Fledgling by Octavia Butler) and I didn’t do the laundry or clean the kitchen.

It was my Sunday to teach. My lesson came from Isaiah 50-53, and I focus on learning how to be empathetic from Jesus. I have such complicated feelings about my church and my faith right now. I’m not sure that the Kavanaugh confirmation, and every single Mormon senator supporting him, isn’t the turning point for me. I don’t know how to be in a congregation that is full of men who care more for power and wealth than for doing the right thing. Of course, none of those senators were at my class. I don’t know if I managed to convey this, but what I hope I communicated was this: almost all of the religious stuff we care about is just stuff that doesn’t matter. What matters is loving each other, and mourning for each other, and trying to take care of each other. If Jesus existed, that is what he wants from us, I am convinced. Everything else is dross.

After church, one of the best parts of the weekend: we had dinner with our friends. They live in South Carolina but they were here for Saturday’s funeral. We had some great conversations, our kids reconnected, and we laughed. I laughed. I am not laughing much these days so just that buoyed me. But one conversation in particular, which has too much back story for me to even start to explain it, left me…wow, it left me feeling peaceful, and like I had a little of my light back. It made me feel like I was heard even when I didn’t know anyone was listening. I need that, too.

How was your weekend?

A Letter to My Future Self

One of my Skirt Sports ambassador friends, Sandy Stiner, wrote a post on her blog recently that moved me this morning. I was thinking about it while I showered and dressed and got ready for work. Partly because yesterday I was discussing with another Facebook group about the shame you feel in your 40s as your body starts to change, and how hard it is to see the beauty of sagging tricep skin and soft belly rolls and deepening wrinkles. I love the thought patterns and knowledge of my 40s, I wrote, but I miss the way my body was in my 20s, how I could eat whatever and never gain weight, how cuts and burns barely scarred, how my joints never hurt, my belly was flat, my teeth were white.

What would I tell that self I used to be, twenty years ago, when Haley was three and Jake was a baby, when I still had so many unknown difficulties in front of me, but also two more babies, a stint at teaching, and a job I never imagined?

Start running sooner. Stop drinking soda. Don't dread the upcoming adolescent years so much; they will be even more painful than you can imagine anyway, but also full of redemptive, joyful moments and besides, worrying about them won't stop them from coming.

Hold your babies, I might say, savor them, savor them. Inhale their scent and send it forward through time to me. But I already know that I savored as much as I could.

And I already know that the knowledge and thought patterns I have I could only attain by going through what those years, and the years of my 30s, brought me.

The only way to learn is by going where you have to go.

Instead, I found myself thinking forward, imagining myself in twenty more years. Who will I be when I am 66? If that version of me could send back a message in time, what would she tell me to savor about right now?? What will she know of losses and of blessings? How will she use this afternoon of our life? How will the world have changed, or our family, or our body?

I cannot change the choices I made in my 20s and 30s. But some of the work I am doing now is for that Amy in the future, who I will become sooner than I can imagine. Here is my letter to her:

I think often, right now, about our grandma Elsie, my dad's mother. We didn't know her very well, whether because she truly loved us less or because of the clashing of two women's strong personality (or some combination of both) I might never know. But I know this: she walked. Almost every day, she went for a walk, until only five or six months before her death. At 66 I think you will still be healthy and strong, not thinking about death, but still thinking about it because that door is closer. I hope you are still running, but if not, I hope you are still walking. And hiking! I am doing everything I can, right now, so that you are healthy in your time. I'm trying to keep our knees strong, and our heart, our spine flexible and our internal organs healthy. I still eat too much sugar but I will continue to work on that.

I would like to think the next two decades will be full of joy, but I also can't help but be myself and wonder: what sorrows have you suffered? Are you a widow, or an orphan? Is everyone I love right now still with you? From my perspective now, I am doubtful that there have been no losses. I only wonder who is gone, and how we bear it. But I also hope there have been additions, marriages and friendships and grandchildren. I hope you are the kind of grandma I imagine being right now, one who has drawn strong ties and whose grandchildren know an unconditional love like Grandma Florence gave us. I hope you have moved past this current painful time, when all seems full of doubt and unsteadiness.

And speaking of unsteadiness: I hope your world is better than ours. I hope we have found ways to heal the earth instead of continuing to ruin it; I hope the stress lines in our social structures have been smoothed and shored up. I know you are wiser than I am now, and I hope our world is, too. I hope there is still clean air and clean water, trees and mountains and wild, untouched landscapes.

I hope when I reach your time, I have fulfilled some of my goals. That long trip to Ireland. Some writing success. Stronger relationships with the kids and with Kendell. Hiking the Alps. Some way you have impacted society in a meaningful, lasting way. I know that is on me, to accomplish and not to leave until your time.

And maybe that is what I hear from you, sending your message back through time. That time is short. That two decades will pass before I know it. That I need to stop putting everything off, to seize right now and do what I haven’t done yet. I hear you.

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

What falls away is always. And is near.

Are we still reading? Do we still love poems? Are we strong and happy and successful? Less lonely, more content?

I hope so. It is what I am working for.

Love 46-year-old Amy

My Favorite Picture: Weekly Summary

I’ve been thinking for a while that I want to start documenting more of my everyday details here on my blog. I used to do this quite a bit but I’ve slowed down as the popularity of blogging has also slowed. But I love having the details down, so I’m setting myself a goal. And let’s be honest, I’m perfectly aware of how bad I am at following through with a goal like this. But I’m going to try to do the following:

Every Sunday, post my favorite picture from the week before and write down some details about the week.

Here’s my pick for the week of September 3-9, 2017, from Labor Day:

Sept 3 - sept 9 my favorite pic

Haley spent Sunday night at our house, after dropping her friend Dani off at the airport. We had breakfast for dinner that night (pancakes with blueberries, hash browns, and bacon). I was hoping Jake would come, but he was recuperating from a cold.

Nathan and Kaleb also had a cold this week; Kendell caught it on Thursday and I caught it on Friday.

On Labor Day, we got up in the morning and did one of my favorite things. Kendell drops me off somewhere in Provo (I decide where before, it’s not random!). He drives to his work gym and works out there, and I run there to meet him. For my Labor Day route I ran through the cemetery and stopped at my dad’s grave. There might’ve been some crying. I’ve been feeling like I’m starting to spiral down again, and so I stood by his grave and had a little conversation with him, asking him to send me…something, I don’t know. Something to help. Anyway. After running, we did some grocery shopping, I prepped for dinner while Kendell showered, and then we went out to do some yardwork. Kendell mowed, I pruned a whole bunch of dead stuff out. All of that time, Haley, Jake, and Nathan were at the mall together! For dinner we had burgers (Haley had a salmon patty), pizza pasta salad, and watermelon. I meant to make some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies but it didn’t happen.

This week we discovered that our favorite little Mexican place to get take-out nachos from, El Azteca, closed down. Sadness!

On Tuesday, Jake and Elena came for dinner. We had roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and watermelon. The meal kind of made me laugh—I should’ve cooked some veggies but I wanted to eat the melon before it went bad. Kind of didn’t go together but everyone seemed OK. We ate that meal out on the patio, too. It’s lovely to have the weather start to cool off.

Kaleb had a soccer game on Wednesday and Saturday. He scored his team’s only point on Wednesday. They lost on Saturday and he didn’t score any points.

Stuff we watched on TV or discussed: the approach of hurricane Irma; all of the wildfires in the west (Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Utah all have fires), the earthquake in Mexico, the situation with North Korea.

I didn’t exercise much past Monday because the air is so smoky. Zero hiking!

On Friday Jake had an ortho appointment and I went with him. After he came over and hung out at our house before he had to be at work. I made him breakfast and then we talked about physics. (like…what was here before the universe? and…how can you conceptualize the fourth dimension?) He even went to Target with me. It was so nice to spend time with him.

For my lunch break on Saturday, Kendell picked me up and we went to Costco, where Nathan was waiting so he could fill up his car. We wandered around Costco together and got some pizza. Just a regular activity but it made me pretty happy.

I finished The Last Neanderthal and started reading The End of The World Running Club.

Sore throats, coughing, and bad air aside, this week held some great moments!