A Portrait of A Weekend (Plus, Thoughts on Blogging)

Last week I was inspired to scrapbook a few pictures from 2012. I didn’t remember many of the details about the pics, but I came to my blog and found I’d written about the day here, and then I was happy because I had a bunch of details to work with for my journaling.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about my blog, and blogging in general, and how blogging and the scrapbook world sometimes intersect.

When I started blogging in 2006, it was partly because of scrapbooking. I was still trying to find a niche for myself in the industry, so I could bring in some extra income while I was a stay-at-home mom. Everyone in the scrappy world had a blog, and people read each other’s’ blogs, and commented on them, and referred back and forth to each other. We knew about each other’s kids and husbands and careers and, yes, scrapbook layouts. Blogging created a type of friendship.

The good ol’ days of blogging, which seem long-gone now.

Now, blogging is much more specific; it’s no longer really about the person, but about the subject. This is, I think, part of the reason my blog is fairly not-well-known-at-all-by-almost-anyone; I’m a Jack of all trades and so a master of none. If I were a famous person, perhaps people would want to read my thoughts on a huge variety of subjects, but as a non-famous person I don’t have a huge readership because I don’t fulfill a niche. Sometimes I get discouraged at my lack of readers (but oh how I appreciate every single person who might be reading this right now!), but if I look at it through a critical lens instead of an emotional one, I can objectively understand why I don’t have a ton of readers. (I like to think the “niche” I fill is “good writing about a bunch of different topics,” but that’s not really a niche, and how many people like me are there in the world? A person who quilts, scrapbooks, reads, hikes, runs, gardens, parents, and has strong opinions?)

Looking back now, over 10+ years of blogging, I value the opinions, thoughts, and ideas I have shared. But those little, nearly-private family details I have recorded here and there mean something entirely different to me. I know that monthly reviews about what we did in a given time mean almost nothing to a general reader because I’m just a random person. But to me, looking back—they are invaluable.

Even if it does make me feel a little bit silly posting them.

So, I think I’m going to start doing this again—just writing about our life. I guess I don’t have to post it on my blog, I could just keep the details in my computer journal. But there’s also something about posting to a blog that makes it feel like I have reached out to the world.

Today, I’m writing about having an awesome weekend.

One of the drawbacks about being a librarian is weekends: usually, you have to work some Saturdays. I work two Saturdays a month, so the Saturdays I don’t work are precious family time for me. This Saturday was one of my free ones, and we ended up having a nearly-perfect weekend.

On Saturday, I got up, started a load of laundry, and went for a run in the canyon. 20170318_101123 amy PRT 6x8
I am still recuperating from last fall’s sprained ankles, so perhaps I went for a “run.” I have worked up to longer stretches between walking breaks; on Saturday I tried to do walk for 2 minutes, run for 3. Except, I did one five-minute stretch. And then, when I was almost back down, I hit the hilly spot of the trail and I just never let myself walk on uphills, and then I was so close to the end that I just kept running, so I also did one seven-minute stretch. My ankle is still hurting, but my ballet barre class is making it stronger, so even though it hurts it feels more reliable. I’ll take pain over fear any day. It was a lovely spring morning to be in the mountains, birds everywhere seeming joyful at the sunshine, and little bits and buds of green starting to appear.

After my run, I picked up a corsage for Nathan and then took him to the train. He was going with a friend who lives in Ogden to her prom and decided Frontrunner was a better plan than his unreliable car. We had a nice, friendly chat on the way and I just remembered all over again how much I love him.

Then I came home and gardened. This is my favorite Saturday routine: Run, then weed. I don’t even care that I’m gardening in my workout clothes! This was my first time in the yard since last fall; it’s amazing how fast the weeds come on. I pruned the rosebushes, pulled weeds, cleaned out all the old leaves, and started making plans for some new plants here and there. Kaleb helped me for a while, until he left to go to the Rec to play basketball with his cousin and friends, and Kendell was outside washing the car and getting the lawn mower ready for the year, and it was sunny and warm but not too hot and just…perfect. When I was finished with the front yard, I discovered some daffodils blooming on the side of my house, so I lay right down in the shade next to them and spent some time admiring them close up, until Kendell came to find me and laughed a little bit at his crazy wife.


We cleaned up and ran some errands: visited my mom for a bit, stopped by to fix his sister’s computer, vacuumed the (just-washed) car. Then we went to Thai Village for dinner, which I have been craving for weeks. Hello, pumpkin coconut curry!

On Sunday, Kendell and I got up and went for a walk in the foothills. Our church this year starts at 11:00 and this is the third time we’ve gone on a pre-church walk. I know some people would think that this is an activity that breaks the “keep the Sabbath day holy” commandment, but I disagree. I find so much pleasure and peace in the mountains; on the trail I find God in every beautiful curve and cool shadow. We walked on a trail we’ve not been on in years; it curves around the south side of the foothills and then you come around the curve of the mountain to a stunning view of Timpanogos, especially beautiful with the lingering snow and that blue sky.


Then church, where I taught a lesson about the gathering of Israel. Then a nap, and some time kicking the soccer ball at the park with Kaleb, and dinner with all four of us actually at the dinner table at the same time. While I cleaned up, Kendell, Kaleb, and Nathan had thumb wars in the front room and they were all laughing at Nathan’s ridiculously long, strong thumbs. Harry Potter for a bit, and then The Walking Dead.

This was a good weekend. No arguments, no upset kids, no one sick or injured or otherwise in pain. Just good, calm family time. I needed it!

January 2017 in Review: Or, the Post In Which I Try to Disguise My Misery By Using Sarcasm Unsuccessfully

When I was pondering my 2017 resolutions, I thought that what I really want to do is make time slow down.

Apparently, I haven’t reached that goal because look, January is already over.

I can’t say that this has been an awesome January. Well, in one sense it has: here in Utah, we’ve had quite a bit of snow. Snowy winters are my favorite. There’ve been several days when I literally only left the house to shovel the snow, and those are the best kind of winter days.

But there has also been this experience that has been awful. One of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Partly I’m being vague about it because some of it is not my story, and because writing about it might make it worse, and because I am aching for the person making this choice. But part of it is my story, and if I could write about how painful this is without hurting the other person, I would. Except, maybe I wouldn’t because I’m feeling a huge amount of shame, in addition to the agony. I am ashamed that I assumed this person would love me.

And oh, does that sound angsty or what? Overdramatic much? That’s me.

I should just sum up: It’s been a difficult January.

To compensate, I have been furiously sewing. Kendell even asked me—“Why does it sound like you’re angry when you’re sewing?“ It’s just because of the walking foot on my machine.

It hasn’t been angry sewing (piecing and quilting, actually), but it has been a bit manic. A baby quilt in less than 24 hours is a little bit obsessive of me. (Remember how, in The Mists of Avalon, Morgaine makes the sheath for Arthur’s sword, and as she makes it she weaves not only magical protection into it, but also some of her soul, the part that loves Arthur? I kept thinking when I was making that baby quilt, I hope none of my sadness gets caught in the thread and the seams. I’m totally not losing it here.) But I finished quilting a monstrously heavy quilt, which has been waiting to be quilted since I wrote this blog post in, OMG, 2011, that I shall blog about soon, once I have the binding finished, which I can’t do until my Joann coupon is active because I need turquoise thread and who’s going to pay full price for turquoise thread? Not me.


Baby quilt, finished in less than a day. Mixed media quilt, quilted. And I also finally cut all the squares for my black and pink quilt. I’ve been buying fabric for this quilt for ages. Five years at least. Probably longer, considering it's been SIX YEARS since I started working on the mixed media one. After the snowy Saturday morning when everything exploded and I felt the darkest I have felt since 1989 (which was the first time I learned you should never assume anyone will love you), I needed to make something. So I gathered all of the fabrics from their spots, and I started cutting squares. I cut enough for 208 half-square triangles. I paired them all up, pinned and marked them, and I’ve pieced about half of them (which is, really, about one-quarter I guess).

Pink and black quilt has a good start.

I also made a few scrapbook layouts. I finished with Halloween and then I started on Christmas.

I worked a little bit more on setting up my scrapbooking space, but really, it’s stymied until I get more albums, and I am putting off getting more albums because, you know. Money.

But there was a little progress.

What I didn’t do: work out much. The first two weeks I was really good, but the last half of the month, not so much. I’d just rather continue getting chubby than spend time in the dismal rec center, pacing around while I wait for my turn on the one rowing machine there. Blog about my word for 2017. Talk to my mom enough. Avoid pity parties.

What I did do: eat too much sugar. (I swear to you: that little burst of happiness that comes when you bit into a dark-chocolate + caramel Ghirardelli square? That is the only piece of happiness I’ve had this month. Open, snap the corner, let the sweet burst of happiness spread over my body for 2.8 seconds. Repeat as necessary.) Swear too much. (There was one night—when the president announced he wanted to defund the NEA—that I sat in the parking lot with Kendell trying to string together a coherent sentence full of swearing that could express how vile that—is he even a person? Or a man? Let’s go with—individual is to me. I couldn’t swear hard enough. I did come up with a pretty vile metaphor, but I probably shouldn’t write it on my blog.) Argue with friends about politics, possibly making them ex-friends. (I didn’t mean to. I still like you as a person even if I think your stance on ____________ —women’s rights, education, cabinet members, immigration, public lands, and/or climate change, take your pick—is ridiculous/revolting/ridiculous/shallow/ridiculous/short-sighted/ridiculous. I should probably stop now.) Watch too much TV. (Despite the fact that for half the month, Dish Network was fighting with our NBC provider. Sometimes I stop and think about how strange watching TV is now and I almost can’t stand it. If it’s not on Dish, if it’s on Hulu or Amazon Prime or whatever, I’m lost. I have to get a kid or Kendell to turn it on. When do you use the Firestick? I have no idea. I just want to sit on the couch watching MTV and crying. Wait, it’s really not 1989, I can’t actually do that anymore because remember when MTV had music videos? That was awesome.)


I should be glad January is over. Except, I like January. Except, I am not feeling hopeful for a joyous February. Except, I want more snow. Except, I wanted time to slow down.

But, in approximately 18 minutes, it will be February whether I like it or not.

And whether I’m hopeful or not, February will also pass. Because if February comes, can March be far behind? (I don’t want March to come either. I don’t want to wander around under blue skies and on green grass, surrounded by flowers, pretending like I am OK. Nothing is OK, alright?)

I don’t want spring. I don’t want to have to brave the world in my chubby body without a heavy cardigan.

I’d just like it to stay January forever.

(This post inspired by a poem I stumbled upon tonight, “Snow” by Naomi Shihab Nye, which has the lines “How there can be a place/so cold any movement saves you.” Writing is my attempt to move in this cold place I find myself in.)

2016 in Review: A Bullet List of Questions and Answers

Yes, I know: we are 78% the way through January and it’s a bit late to be writing a year-in-review post. But, I still am writing it because, you know. I just want to. Tomorrow I am planning on writing another post that is probably late, too, but it’s OK. I’m late for this, I’m late for that, when I die I’ll be on time.

Actually, I mostly want to write it because last week, Kendell and I went out to dinner together and I all of a sudden was full of ideas for a question-based year-in-review post so I started taking notes in my purse notebook (what? You don’t have a purse notebook?) and he was like, “what are you writing?” and then I felt a little guilty for interrupting our conversation with my blog pre-writes, so hopefully this blog post will go viral (how could it not? It is sheer blogging genius) so I can stop feeling guilty.


2016 in Review:

  • What is one of your favorite pictures from the beginning of the year?
Jake Nathan skiing Sundance 4x6
Jake and Nathan went skiing at Sundance. I LOVE this pic!
  • What kind of technology did you use?

At the start of the year, I had the Samsung S6, but when Haley’s phone was stolen in Paris, she took over that phone and I got the S7. It’s gold, which I wasn’t sure I’d like…but I do! Still using my Canon 60D, but it needs to be serviced as it cannot get the white balance correct no matter what I do. And, I still use my ancient purple MP3 player for music when I’m running. Oh, and, I discovered the happiness that is a Bluetooth speaker. I might own two!

  • Did you go to any weddings?

Yes, my niece Hilary got married and we also went to a few for family friends.

  • Did you go to any funerals?

Not this year.

  • A favorite outfit or piece of clothing from 2016?

I actually bought myself some shorts this summer, which is notable because I HATE BUYING SHORTS. But they weren’t my favorite. I wore a lot of black, as usual, and my favorite new piece of clothing is the Tshirt I bought at the British Library in London, with a sketch from Johnny Rotten on the front. It makes me happy in 1 million ways.

  • A favorite movie from 2016?

I didn’t LOVE it when I saw it…but I have grown more and more fond of The Witch. And I really loved Arrival. We didn’t see a ton of movies last year though.

  • Did you read more or less in 2016?

It felt like I read less, but actually when I counted it up, it was about the same. It just was an underwhelming reading year. You can see my reading list right HERE.

  • Five songs that will, whenever you hear them, instantly make you remember 2016?
  1. “If God Will Send His Angels” by U2. I listened to this on repeat on election night.
  2. “Closer I Am to Fine” by The Indigo Girls. I listened to a lot of their songs last year; I have loved this song since it came out in 1989 and the fact that it still doesn’t feel tired to me is pretty cool I think.
  3. “Wish That You Were Here” by Florence + the Machine. This was on the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Nathan told me about it weeks before the movie even came out. “I never minded being on my own, then something broke in me and I wanted to go home.” Love.
  4. “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber. I know. I KNOW!!! How can a J.B. song be on my list? But Kaleb loved this song when we were on our trip in Ohio, so every time it came on the radio (and it came on the radio a LOT), we’d turn it up and sing along. One of my favorite memories is of driving on the narrow causeway road between Sandusky and Cedar Point in a rain storm, with the waves splashing and the sun a sort of bleary smear in the clouds, singing this song and laughing.
  5. “Lazarus” by David Bowie. Yes on those hidden scars. How long has it been since a Bowie song has been on heavy repeat on my speakers? A long time.
  • What did you watch on TV?

Way too much. The Walking Dead and that last, cliff-hanger episode is so wrapped up with Kendell’s cardiac arrest that I almost couldn’t watch the fall season. And then the fall season got here and it was so brutal. I might have reached my limit. I mean…I didn’t ENJOY watching it, it felt like it gave me PTSD, why am I doing this to myself? Because I love Michon? I don’t know. Also: Vikings, The Americans, Code Black (I am a sucker for medical shows, I confess), Call the Midwife. Sad that Penny Dreadful ended but solace in the fact that they wrapped it up well.

  • What political or social events influenced your life in 2016?

The election, of course. So many famous people’s deaths. The Dakota Access Pipeline (just say no!).

  • What did you do on Easter?

My sister took my mom on a trip, which meant we didn’t have our usual family party, which meant I was pissed off and annoyed but trying to hide it, and Kaleb was sad. Haley came home with some friends to eat dinner with us (we had manicotti because vegetarians) before going to the Color Festival; Jake, Nathan, and Kaleb had Easter baskets.

Kids on easter
We always take a line-up-like-turtles picture on Easter, tallest to shortest. Wonder when Kaleb will start moving up the line?
  • Restaurants you ate at often?

We’ve sort of developed a habit of going to Chili’s, especially in the late summer and fall. Now that Jake has moved out, sometimes it seems sort of pointless to cook for just four people. (Which is silly, I know, families all over the globe only have four members!) Also, Thai Village and Mi Ranchito.

  • Your most memorable meal?

Dinner in Paris with Haley after wandering through the Louvre.

At a cafe in paris
We just picked a cafe and hoped the food was good, at it was! I had a roasted chicken and then I ordered three desserts.
  • Any health problems?

Where do I start? Kendell had a cardiac arrest and a heart valve replacement (his third). We found out that Kaleb’s aortic bulge has gotten much worse. Nathan sprained his ankle playing basketball and got a concussion when he fell while rock climbing. I sprained my ankle twice. Jake and Haley were pretty healthy!

  • How did you celebrate your birthday?

I confess….I don’t remember. Hmmmmm. Haley came home for her birthday (the day after mine) so we celebrated hers with a family dinner (which sort of feels like celebrating mine, lol.) Probably we went out to dinner. Becky gave me a beautiful table runner she quilted. And I took this bathroom selfie:

Amy 44th bday selfie
Please note: I edited out my sports bra, which was hanging on the doorknob. You're welcome. Also, this is not the blue cardigan I lost.
  • What did you make last year?

70 scrapbook layouts. Jake’s graduation quilt. Three baby quilts for gifts.

  • What did you lose last year?

My basic belief that Americans will do the right thing. Oh, and my favorite blue cashmere sweater. (And by “lost” I mean “I forgot it was at the dry cleaners and when I went back five months later to get it, they had donated it.” SADNESS. It’s my own damn fault.)

  • What did you find last year?

The Christmas dishes I bought in January and forgot about until December, when I found them in the wardrobe where I store some of our decorations. My oldest copy of A Handmaid's Tale. A pile of photos at my mom's house that I hadn't seen in years. I photographed them so I have copies, but then bam! Cardiac arrest the next day, and looking at them gives me trauma now. Here, I'll be brave and pick one to share:

Family photo micheles wedding
Our family at my sister Michele's wedding. I was twelve, so this was 1984. I wanted to love that dress but it just made me feel flat-chested, lol.
  • What is your favorite picture from summer 2016?
Family picture summer
at Kendell and Kaleb's birthday dinner in June.
  • How did your fitness efforts go?

So rocky. I am the heaviest I’ve been in a long time. Two ankle sprains, two major health events for Kendell, general discouragement did not help anything. But, on a bright note, I did finally solve my lower-back pain issue (by a series of needling appointments with an awesome PT and by getting a stand-up table to scrapbook on) and my hamstrings are doing better. This is the first year in I don’t even know how long that I didn’t run in any races. Hopefully I can get my ankle strong again so I can run more. I did do my weekly hikes of Y mountain nearly every Wednesday this summer.

  • What is something new you did?

I went snowshoeing! I know, you’d think that, living in Utah, I’d be all over the snow sports. But I tend to love snow when I am looking at it from the warm side of a window, preferably with nowhere to go and holding something warm to drink. Anyway, Becky took my snowshoeing and it was awesome and now I own snow shoes! I just need someone to go with.

First time snowshoeing
Not only did I get my own snowshoes...I bought my own gaiters. Those are ugly!
  • What did you continue to do?

Be inspired by reading. Love making stuff. Overthink everything.

  • What did you do outside?

Mowed the lawn almost every Monday throughout the summer. Rake the autumn leaves. Weed and prune.

  • What did you do inside?

Turns out, when kid #2 moves out, you end up with an extra room. So, we moved Kaleb downstairs to Nathan’s old room, and shifted Nathan into Jake’s old room, and then I took over Kaleb’s old room for my…well, I don’t know what to call it. The room where I make stuff. It’s not quite finished yet as I lost my momentum before Kendell’s surgery, but I will finish it soon and maybe even post pictures!

  • What did you do too much of?

Drinking my calories (pumpkin spice frappuchino with chocolate chips, I’m looking at you). Looking in instead of out. Yelling at Kendell about politics. Falling.

  • What did you not do enough of?

Hiking. Kendell and I went on one hike this spring, and Becky and I did a fall hike, and yes, I did my weekly Y hikes, but there was definitely not enough hiking this year. I can’t tell you how badly I want Kendell to be healthy again. Not just for hiking, of course. But, for hiking.

  • What experience did you have that you would like to write about but haven’t yet?

I had an essay published in a book called Baring Witness, which is a collection of essays about being a married Mormon person. (Mine actually really has nothing to do with the Mormon part. Just marriage.) I haven’t written about it because I am just not sure if I even should have published it. It’s raw and intimate and maybe too dramatic. But, what I really should’ve written about was the night in September when I got to go read my essay, at a little bookstore in Provo. It was slightly terrifying but so…well, “fun” isn’t exactly the right word, but I enjoyed it immensely and would like to do that every day of my life.

  • What adventures did you have?

I have a partly-written essay about my wild night in Paris on my own, but I am going to try to submit it instead of posting it on my blog. But it was equal parts terrifying and life-affirming. Kendell and I had an adventure in the Uintas this fall before his surgery. Nathan and I had a pioneer adventure together.

Nathan amy lds pioneer trek
Nathan DID NOT want to go on the pioneer trek. But as I had been asked to go as the photographer...I made him go with me. It was HOT. He hated it. But I loved it and I'm grateful he would go with me.
  • What vacations did you go on? (I think an adventure is often different from a vacation, don’t you?)

Ohio and New York with Kaleb for his 11-year-old trip. Europe with Haley. New York City with Kendell. All awesome trips! I usually (NEVER) travel that much.

Me and Haley in Amsterdam. I would really like to revisit Amsterdam, but with more time.
  • What new thing(s) did you acquire?

We had to replace our furnace and air conditioner last January. That was exactly how I wanted to spend $5,000! BUT! My heating bill in December was FIFTY DOLLARS less in 2016 than it was in 2015, so that was awesome! I got a new pan set. I probably bought too many new running clothes (definitely, considering how much I actually ran last year). Bookshelves and that stand-up desk in my scrapbooking room.

  • What firsts did you have?

A lot of my firsts have to do with traveling: first non-Italian European vacation, first time in Ohio, first time to sleep in a hotel room by myself. I finally saw a Van Gogh, a Degas, a Vermeer, and many other paintings in person. My first essay was published.

  • Did you reconnect with anyone?

Yes! An old friend I hadn’t seen since high school showed up at the library one day just to say hi. I hadn’t seen him since I was 17. It was awesome to reconnect.

  • Did you do anything with old friends?

I got to have dinner with Elliot in January which was awesome. I saw Chris twice.I went to lunch and on a walk in the canyon with Brooke. 

  • Did you make any new friends?

I got together twice with some new scrapbooking friends.

  • What surprised you last year?

Waking up to find my husband dying. Oh, wait, “surprise” sort of suggests something good, right? OK. How much having Jacob move out influenced my laundry. I do way less laundry now. Noticeably less. I don’t remember feeling like that when Haley moved out. (Not that I don’t miss him, I do! I just didn’t expect the drop in loads.)

  • What did you dress up as for Halloween?

I went as a skeleton. Kaleb was the Hulk and Nathan was…well, “goth” because he dressed in all black, lol. 

It was warm enough for bare feet, at least for pictures.
  • Where did you eat on Thanksgiving?

My mom’s new house, our first big family party there. I made rolls, cranberry mousse, and dessert.

  • What was different this Christmas than any other year?

I had no believers left. Jake didn’t sleep at our house on Christmas eve. The Great Garbage Disposal Leak of 2016. Almost all of the presents were under the tree before Christmas Eve. I didn’t make any fudge.

Christmas 2016
We always take a family picture at my mom's on Christmas day. My friend pointed out that this is the year of hair: Haley's is dramatically black, the boys all have long hair, and Kendell has none. Mine's just normal!
  • What person did you talk to the most?

Aside from Kendell, Becky. Aside from Becky, my friend Julie.

  • What is your favorite picture from the last quarter of the year?
New york city
at Ellis Island. I'm smiling but deep down I'm just frustrated we couldn't get tickets to climb all the way to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
  • What things are you proud of from 2016?

Jake got a 4.0 his senior year and graduated from high school. That was an awesome day! Kendell finished his degree in July. Haley traipsed through Spain for a month. Nathan made several difficult decisions this fall in a thoughtful, grown-up way. Kaleb worked really hard to be personally vested in his grades (instead of relying on me to worry about it) and to get in shape.

Jake graduation

  • Did you have any major life changes?

Jake moved out. I can’t…I can’t. There is so much sadness there right now for me. I miss him and I’m not sure I didn’t fail him. I look at other mothers and they seem to have such strong relationships with their adult children and mine feel sort of…damaged and difficult. This has changed something in my core self. Is “noticeably sadder than last year” a major life change?

  • What was your greatest sorrow?

That my relationships weren’t strong enough and that my ankle continues to fail me. I need to run.

  • What was your happiest moment?

Definitely watching Kendell wake up from his coma. I don’t think I wrote about this either, but when they brought him out of sedation, the doctor had prepared me that there would likely be NO response. Within less than fifteen minutes, Kendell was awake. He gestured with his hand (he was still intubated) and I figured out that he wanted a pen, and after some squiggles he was able to write “I can’t breathe.” Oh my. Even now, remembering it? I almost can’t breathe. I was so scared. A close second was Jake’s graduation day. He worked hard to be there.

Fathers day
A rare photo of Kendell not scowling. This was the night of Nathan's prom.
  • What did the universe teach you in 2016?

People die. No really: people die. I knew this but I know it so much better now. This has made me both more terrified and also more brave. You have to be good at loving people, at saying it and expressing it, because you don’t know when your chance will be gone. Also, it is true: if you don’t have your health you have nothing.

  • Did you manage to get a good family picture? Will you share it?
Sorensens 2016
Our Christmas card photo. Not sure if it's "good," my camera was already misbehaving, but we're color coordinated and everyone is smiling!

(and I am putting a copy of the questions without my answers as a comment, on the off chance that you A—haven’t already reviewed your year and B—would like to use my questions. And if you do, please, leave me a link, or tag me in Facebook or on Instagram (amylsorensen), I promise I’ll come read yours!)

February in Review

Feb 2016

In 2014, I was really diligent, on my blog, about writing a monthly recap. Then in 2015 I started feeling like the only thing I should publish on my blog was Big, Important, Life-Changing Stuff. If I always had relatable content, I thought, I’d find more readers.

But my number of readers has stayed about the same, and I’m sad about all of the details I’ve forgotten about 2015, so I’m going to reintroduce monthly reviews, even if they’re really only interesting to me!

This February:

Nathan went on a school trip with his Honors Art class. They drove to L.A., went to Disneyland for a day, and then they visited museums. I’ve never gone as a chaperone on any of my kids’ school trips, mostly because I knew they wanted to go without any parents so they could have some freedom. But this trip…I wanted to go. I signed up to go. My name was the second on the list of “parents who want to be chaperones.” But, it turned out that somehow I wasn’t included in the chaperone planning meetings, who knows why, and then I realized that his art tour was the same weekend as my LTUE presentation, so I couldn’t have gone anyway. I still wish I had been able to go! Out of all of my kids, Nathan would’ve been OK with me going, but I’m pretty sure he was glad I actually couldn’t. He had a great time, learned about art and how it interacts with communities. He got to see Van Gogh’s “Irises” in person!

Kaleb had a field trip at the Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City. They have an entire floor of the museum dedicated to “Biz Town,” which is a miniature city. Kids come in fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades. They learn different aspects of business, from marketing to selling to organizing personnel, as well as how to spend the money they “earn” and how to keep a check register and write checks. (I imagine the 8th and 11th grade field trips are a little more intense!) I made this the field trip I volunteered to go on. I drove up to SLC with my sister-in-law, Cindy, and we had a great talk both ways. It was so fun to see Kaleb interacting with his class. He had a hard month: he decided to ask a girl to be his valentine (I don’t know exactly what happens when someone is your valentine in 5th grade, but having one is a big deal; they all also have crushes on each other, and he tells me all the details of who has a crush on whom), and she tore up the note he made and flushed it down the toilet. (Not just “no,” but “HELL NO.”) He was pretty heartbroken! (It was hard for me not to glare at her on the field trip, lol.)

One of my favorite days this month was when Jake, Kendell, and I went to one of Nathan’s basketball games. I’m usually at his games by myself, so it was fun to have company. After the game, we went to dinner together. We talked about his upcoming college plans, what he’s planning on studying, some of his financial options, plus funny stories and just, you know. Every day stuff. It is starting to feel like maybe things are getting easier between us and I am feeling hopeful that he will like me again one day! (That sounds pathetic, but really: for me, one of the hardest parts of being a mom to teenagers is the contempt and irritation they feel for you. Logically I understand it is a part of the adolescent experience and needs to happen for the kid to grow up. Emotionally, I would prefer to skip this part.)

Haley had a sweeping & exciting & surprising romance in January, but in February it all crashed. We had a good conversation (via text!) about marriage and relationships and her future and just life in general. I always feel like she wants to be left alone to figure stuff out, but maybe that comes from her thinking that I don’t want to be involved? I don’t know. I’m sad that her relationship didn’t work out, but was fairly happy that we talked about it. She also decided that she wants to do a semester abroad this summer, in Spain. I’m not sure yet if she got in, but I really hope she gets to do it. Also crossing my fingers that she gets the RA spot she applied for! (Which would mean she wouldn’t have to pay for her housing next school year.)

Kendell went in for another echo because he is still not feeling 100% and is actually backsliding in his exercising. We went in yesterday to get the results and from a heart standpoint, it all looks OK. Not sure what steps to take next, really. Giving it a little bit more time I guess.

I have been trying to write in my journal every night before I go to bed. A real life, physical journal, with paper and a pen, not typing. It helps me turn off my brain a little bit. It’s also helped me pay attention and notice little, good moments better. It’s ridiculous what makes me happy: a teenager willing to talk without me feeling like I’m prodding the conversation along; dinner turning out well (and someone thanking me for making it); feeling like I’m a little bit caught up with laundry; a blustery & snowy morning; flowers starting to bloom. I’ve been going to physical therapy this month, because my back pain finally got too much to bear (and we’ve met our out-of-pocket max, so why not?); it’s helping a little but not as quickly as I’d like. I’m tired of pain.

I also started building up my running miles again. I feel like I’m at a sort of transition with running. I need to figure out how to make it work within my life and the way my body seems to be changing. I love running but right now it is hard. So I’m not loving the running.

The library had its annual week-long shut down. This is when we do things inside the building that can’t be done with patrons around. Mostly I worked on projects I can’t give enough attention to on regular days. I was astounded at how much I actually got done without being interrupted. Plus: I wore leggings and a sweatshirt!  

It was our 24th anniversary this year. With all of life’s usual busyness…we didn’t really do much to celebrate: dinner out. That’s OK. I told Kendell that I don’t want any token anniversary gifts a long time ago. What I really want to do is travel somewhere, but our life doesn’t really allow that right now, so anything else just isn’t that important. But I did spend some time worrying that by not celebrating extravagantly, we are somehow being complacent about our marriage. I don’t know. Probably if I wasn’t in my dark place, I’d feel a little bit differently about this.

One of my least-favorite days this month was Kaleb’s blue & gold ball for cub scouts. I don’t really love scouts in general, and I’m pretty non-committed to getting him through the program. It’s good other people will be the leaders! He was excited about the dinner, though, until he went to set up and people gave him a bunch of flack because he wasn’t wearing his scout shirt (it’s too small and I REFUSE to buy him another one for the four months of cub scouts he has left, and plus, I don’t really care about this stupid shirt) and now he doesn’t want to go to scouts at all.  I might have shouted at the cub scout master. At least I managed not to swear, but honestly: is this cub scouts? or Hitler Youth? Add that to some troubles he’s been having with the kids on our street (when did ten-year-old boys start acting like 14-year-old mean girls?) and I’m more than a little bit frustrated with his options.

Our big expense this month was replacing our heater, which died at the very beginning of February. Another reason we didn’t go on a trip for our anniversary! I AM excited to have a more energy-efficient system, especially when summer rolls around. And, I’m happy that the new air conditioner is so much narrower. I’ll be able to weed the spot between the unit and the side of the house; my arms weren’t long enough to do that with the old one!

I finally got my hair colored this month. It was one of the weirdest experiences I've ever had at a salon and something I will blog about soon. 

All in all…I’m pretty glad that February is over. Or, more precisely, that spring is coming. This wasn't our worst year for air pollution, but we had a long ten days of inversion, and smog makes me cranky. I'm ready for sunshine and yard work and flowers and warmth.

How was your February?


2015 in Review: Descending Lists

10 Favorite days:

  • My reunion with E.
  • Taking Jake to see The Martian. He and I had both read and loved the book, so I wanted to see it with him. He, Kendell, my sister-in-law Cindy, and I went to see it together, after getting dinner at Pork Belly’s.
  • The day we made jam. The day before we left for southern Utah this summer, my friend Evelyn gave me two enormous bags of plums from her tree. I ran to Target for containers while I had Jake and Nathan pit the plums. When I got home, it looked like someone had been murdered in my kitchen—plum sprays everywhere! But they pitted them all, and I made jam. It is by far the best jam I’ve ever made. Those plums were exquisite.
  • This summer, Haley did pharmacy shifts at different Smith’s throughout Utah. One day she worked in Salt Lake, and we had to run up there too, so when she got off we met her and took her to dinner at the Spaghetti Factory at Trolley Square. We parked on the top of the parking garage and the city looked so pretty, all lit up, and that’s my favorite Spaghetti Factory because it’s the one we went to when I was a kid. So I remembered, and we talked, and it was just a good, fun night.
  • The restaurant Jake (and Nathan!) works for is called Pizza Pie Café. He’s become an expert pizza-dough tosser (last year for his birthday, his gift was a piece of fake pizza dough, to use for practicing!), and when the Summerfest parade needed entries, PPC got involved. Jake walked the parade route with his work friends, tossing dough. I loved seeing him! (I love parades in general. Cheesy, but true.)
  • Our day at Lagoon. That’s an amusement park in Utah. We haven’t been in four or five years, but Kendell’s work got us tickets, so we all went. (Haley met us there.) It was so much fun! Kaleb was finally tall enough to ride everything, and we got to ride the newest ride, Cannibal, three times, despite the long line. (We just managed to hit it at all the right times.)
  • The day this fall when Becky called me and said “do you want to run 8 miles with me this morning?” and I said “yes!” and then we met at the Jordan River Trail and ran 8 miles together.
  • The day this summer when Kaleb was bored, so I took him to a new park in Springville that has a pond, and we went swimming together and I taught him how to swim on his back.
  • Shopping at Nordstrom this December with my friend Chris. Every December they have a special night of shopping that you have to be invited to. The store is closed unless you have a ticket, and there is food and hot beverages and champagne. We didn’t cross many things off our shopping list but we had a ball together. We laughed, we joked, we tried on clothes, we resisted the champagne. I love our friendship!
  • The night this December when I came out late from work. It was snowing, and the light from the parking lights made the snow sparkle, and off in the distance I could see my van—cleared of snow! Nathan and Kendell had driven by to pick up pizza and noticed the snow. So on their way home, they stopped and cleared off my car. It was such a sweet feeling to discover it!

9 things that made me happy:

  • Nathan’s basketball success. He played on his junior high team and then made the sophomore team at his high school.
  • Jake’s hard work paying off in his ACT score. He took an ACT prep and then did extra studying in the summer. He pulled off a 30!
  • New tulips & daffodils. Last October I planted a bunch of new bulbs. It was so fun to see them come up this spring.
  • I hiked the Y nearly every Wednesday this summer. It’s the most crowded trail in Utah County, so I felt pretty safe doing it on my own, even though I always headed up into the canyon past the Y. There’s a cliff there that I would climb up on, to drink some water and maybe eat a snack and meditate a little bit.
  • I mowed the lawn almost every Monday. I think Jake mowed it once, Nathan twice, Kendell once, and I did it all the other times. I love mowing the lawn.
  • I found a new place to try that does myofascial massage. Throughout January, February, and March, my legs looked like someone had beat me up, but by the beginning of March my hamstring pain was almost gone.
  • One of the fourth-grade projects at Kaleb’s school is to build a castle for Medieval Days. Using four empty Pringles cans, an old shoe box, and lots of glue & grey paint, we made an awesome one! (Not quite so successful were his Utah History and Environmental Science dioramas. Sort of ran out of steam and creative energy for those.)
  • The next best thing to having a cat of our own: Aunt Cindy’s cat had five kittens. Kaleb tried to go to their house as much as possible, to hang out with kitties. It was pretty much the best thing ever.
  • We saw Haley a lot more this year. Especially this summer, when she was working at so many different pharmacies. She even spent a couple of nights at my sister’s house and it gave me a very specific happy feeling to know they were together.

8 songs/CDs that will always remind me of 2015:

  • How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + the Machine (training for my half marathon)
  • My Favourite Faded Fantasy by Damien Rice (driving to the U of U hospital after my mom’s spinal fusion surgery)
  • 25 by Adele (cooking on Thanksgiving eve & morning with Haley)
  • “Wonderful” by Adam Ant (our day at Lagoon)
  • “Hold Back the River” by James Bay (our hiking trip in Southern Utah)
  • “Renegades” by X Ambassadors (running in the summer mornings)
  • “Till it’s Gone” by YelaWolf (I sung this to myself whenever I needed courage with teenagers)
  • "First" by Cold War Kids (the day Becky & I went hiking)

7 Medical conditions:

  • Shingles (Nathan…when I called the pediatrician and said “I think my 15-year-old has shingles” they said “We don’t believe you” but my diagnosis was right, unusual as it is for a teenager)
  • Sliced-open finger (Amy…I should’ve had it stitched but it happened about twelve hours before we left for Disneyland and I didn’t have time, so I carried Bandaids in my backpack and changed it about 27 times a day)
  • Bruised meniscus (Nathan…we are hoping it really is just bruised and not torn, or that he can get through the basketball season before needing surgery. The doc drained about 60cc’s of swelling off it and that helped immensely, along with an awesome PT)
  • Capsulitis (Amy…2nd toe on the left. It’s still not better. I don’t want surgery. But I might not be able to avoid it. I’ll get my bunion fixed at the same time if I have to.)
  • No one had the stomach flu. That is a Sorensen Family Miracle.
  • Dermatological issues: Haley and Nathan started doing acne treatments, Jake had two moles removed, Haley had one mole removed, Nathan had four warts removed, Kaleb had one wart removed.
  • Open heart surgery: Kendell. (This is listed last because it was, obviously, the biggest, hardest medical thing we had. To do it once is one thing; to do it again, entirely another. He is a trooper.)

6 Interesting facts (one about each of us)

  • Kendell: made a ton of progress on his degree and will graduate in the spring.
  • Amy: I got a new responsibility at work; I get to buy all of the poetry and essay books.
  • Haley: Ended up taking the same Spanish class as her cousin Hilary. They are both minoring in el Espanol.
  • Jake: Went to Disneyland with his Parli team.
  • Nathan: Learned how to drive.
  • Kaleb: Fell in love with scary movies.

5 Favorite family photos (of some configuration or another)

IMG_9339 our family easter 2015 4x4

Easter 2015

IMG_9984 haley jake nathan kaleb 10th bday 4x6

The kids at Kaleb's 10th birthday dinner

IMG_0176 boys laughing 4x6

The boys on Father's Day

IMG_0683 kendell amy calf creek falls 4x6

Kendell and Amy at Calf Creek Falls (this is pure romance for us!)

_MG_1471 family 4x6

Our family on Thanksgiving, courtesy of the timer on my camera. I wanted this to be our Christmas card pic, but I'm out of focus and so is Nathan (although, the one I used is not much better).

4 New things we got:

  • A new set of pans. (I got rid of almost all of my non-stick, except for a little frying pan, because who can make eggs on a stainless steel pan? Not me!)
  • Couches for the basement. Our old couch was seriously old and ugly and broken, thanks to rambunctious teenagers & their boyfriends (who shall remain nameless).
  • Tile in our master bathroom shower. It’s pretty again, but even better is how easy it is to clean.
  • Paint, crown molding, and shutters in our bedroom. Honestly…I don’t love the shutters as now the room is dark all the time. But I love the paint, which is     a pale grey.

3 Places we went:

  • Disneyland (Amy & Kaleb in February)
  • Southern Utah (Jake to Lake Powell and Nathan to Zion in the summer)
  • Southern Utah (Kendell & Amy—Canyonlands, Arches, & Bryce Canyon National Parks)

2 Discoveries:

  • Thai Village (their curry is the best! Kendell and I always knew this, but Jake and Nathan have discovered it as well)
  • School lunch (Kaleb discovered he could eat lunch from the cafeteria; this is the first year he hasn’t eaten lunch from home, so mornings are a little bit smoother!)

1 Summary for the year:

  • Unexpected changes brought us both struggles and surprises; I think we understand each other a little bit better and feel stronger for surviving.

June is Already Over

I sort of feel like I didn't accomplish much in June. Jake and Nathan both had two trips: Nathan went rock climbing in Zion, Jake went to California for his HOSA competition, and they both went to Moab to go white-water rafting. So I couldn't ever really get us into a normal summer schedule...so I just sort of let June pass by. However, I did get a few things accomplished:

  • I survived the great shower remodel. Our master bathroom shower was leaking...so we replaced it. It is so pretty now! I will post before and after photos once we also get the cabinet, counter top, and mirror replaced.
  • I had a hamstring breakthrough. I decided that since NOT running isn't helping my hamstrings, I might as well run. One morning they were especially twingy, so I asked Kendell to rub them for me. When he started rubbing them, I started crying. Not just crying, but ugly crying. I have a theory that my hamstring pain is related somehow to my psyche and my levels of stress, and while I can't prove it, I will say this: Kendell kept rubbing and I kept bawling and twenty minutes later I let him stop, and my legs have felt so much better ever since. Not 100%, but manageable. I am paying attention to how they feel in relation to how *I* feel and what levels of stress I'm experiencing, and they definitely get twingy-er when my level is high. (PS, I know that "twingy" and "twingy-er" aren't words, but there isn't another word to describe how the pain feels. It twinges in electric twangs. Sort of like my legs are guitars. Anyway.)
  • I ran more this month than I have since September. I got in 48.91 miles. Lots of trail miles, including one day on the Jordan River Trail. I love this photo I stopped to take: 20150622_092137
  • I hiked the Y mountain trail every Wednesday. This is my cross training day, and I love it. I always go up the trail past the Y, as far as I dare by myself. (The trail up to the Y is super crowded but almost no one goes past it.) One day I turned around when a rattlesnake shook its rattle at me! Here are the flowers the first time I hiked. They changed every week: 20150603_090932
  • I survived: Kaleb's 10th birthday party (I am the worst mom ever when it comes to birthday parties!), Kaleb's heart check up (he is doing just as well as can be expected), Kaleb's soccer camp (well, all I had to survive was getting him there on time; it bugs me that they start soccer camp at 9:30. It's too hot!), and our 100+ heat wave.
  • Haley visited twice. 20150630_102850
  • I helped my mom start getting her house ready to sell. I hope she's really going to follow through this time!
  • I mowed the lawn three times (Kendell did it once), planted a bunch of new flowers, and tried really hard to stay on top of the weeding and deadheading.

I'm going to try to be more productive in July. My goals:

  • Spend some alone time with each of my kids each week.
  • Exercise in some way every day.
  • Finish Nathan's quilt.
  • Put my Italy album together.
  • Get back on the no-sugar horse.
  • Scrapbook a little bit.
  • Finish the essay I've been working on and submit it somewhere.
  • Keep up my Wednesday morning hikes.
  • Blog more. I have so many things I want to write about but I've felt so distracted.

How was your June? What's up with your July?

Goodbye November

Goodbye november 14


One Monday at the beginning of November, I spent the afternoon outside with Kaleb, raking leaves. We cleaned up the entire front yard in a lovely, warm light. Every. Single. Leaf.


The next morning, all of the warm light was gone…it was cold, and the leaves were falling. They fell gently and consistently, like a misty rain, except leaves. They must’ve fallen for hours, and then it started snowing. Not a lot—only enough to cover the leaves covering the entire front yard.


It was a lovely November. I did a lot of gardening: pruned the rosebushes, weeded for the last time, planted 200 new bulbs. I felt like I was having a sort of conversation with Future Amy, the person I’ll be in the spring, who will be relieved I put the garden to bed properly,  happy when the new daffodils and tulips start poking up in March and glad to greet my healthy rosebuds as they start to redden.

On the first day of November, Kaleb was at his cousin’s house and Jake and Nathan both had to work, so Kendell and I cleaned up the back yard together. All of the leaves on our catalpa tree had fallen in that night’s wind storm, so the yard was full of enormous leaves. It reminded me of how the yard feels after a good, heavy snow storm...totally transformed.

Nathan’s big thing for November (aside from turning fifteen!) was making the basketball team. He was soooo nervous about the try outs and sooooo excited and proud that he made it. To celebrate, I let him skip first period the next day, and we went to breakfast and then got a haircut. We celebrated his birthday on the Sunday before, with dinner and new basketball shoes. _MG_4890 nathan 15 bday 4x5
His actual birthday was not his favorite day, as his coach told him he wouldn’t be playing during the first game, but he stepped up and dealt with it, and was the best damn bench warmer you ever saw! J He did get to play in the second game, so things are looking up.

Jake’s November was so-so. We had to go to his parent-teacher conference together, as he’d let some things slide and then got in that cycle of being so stressed out by procrastination that more procrastination seemed like the only option. His teachers were all really good to work with him, and hopefully things are turning around. It’s always odd for me, being the parent in a parent-teacher conference. It makes me question some of the choices I made when I was teaching and hope that I was compassionate enough.

Last week, Jake went to the gym with Kendell and Kaleb. While he was there, he smashed his finger between two weights. It immediately bloomed into a fat, hard swelling, split right down the middle. He ended up having to get three stitches, which ups his total to forty. The funny thing was…that same morning, he’d gone into the dermatologist to have stitches taken out! Because, yes, it was a dermatologist-filled month for Jake. He has a whole bunch of skin issues right now (but zero acne!), one that required a biopsy and stitches and further watching.

So maybe it just wasn’t an awesome month for Jake. Poor kid. (I am counting down the weeks until his junior year is over. We’ll make it…right?) I am proud of him for continuing to work and to try to make things better, and just to hang on. Sometimes that is all you can do. Just hang on, and he’s doing it.

Haley came to visit twice this month. Once because her cousin Madi got married. Haley’s now the only girl cousin on my side of the family who isn’t married. (Mostly because after Madi, we didn’t have any more girls!) I’ve joked with her that she’s our old maid, a joke I can make because she’s only 19 and has zero interest in getting married. It was a sweet wedding. My sister asked me to take some of the photos, which I wasn’t thrilled to do as weddings are not my thing. I don’t trust my photography skills enough and only agreed to do it because I wasn’t the only photographer. I love this photo of the bride and all of the boys we could round up:

_MG_4788 men laughing 4x6

(The dads were trying to make duck faces and it made all the boys laugh.)

And this one is pretty good too:

_MG_4741 amy becky sue suzette 4x6

I made some chocolate fudge sauce for the ice cream table at the wedding. Way too much chocolate fudge. We had two of those big Ziplock bowls full of left overs. The boys and Kendell were happy to work on the “chocolate mud” as they started calling it, nearly all month.

I love it when Haley is home. Even though it is different than before, it still makes me feel a very specific sort of peace, having all of my birds in the nest for a night or two. In the morning before the wedding, she and I laid in my bed for a while, just talking about stuff. I feel so grateful I get to be her mom, and the place we have come to in our relationship is a good one. It gives me strength to help Jake because it has taught me that things really do change. High school doesn’t last forever and our relationship is so much better now. She is so much better (not that she was ever a problem)—happier and more confident and just finding her way. I am glad to watch her progress.

The fourth graders at Kaleb’s school participate in NaNoWriMo. When you do it as a student, your word-count goal is 1,000 words. Kaleb wrote a story about the weeping angels from Dr. Who. He kept adding and adding to the story and in the end wrote almost 3,000. The days when he was working on his story were some of his happiest this month, because of course writing is good for your soul. He has discovered online video games and wants to play them all the time, and I am not going down that road with him. We’ve had a few hard times when he was pretty mad at me. But I’m sticking to my guns on this one.

My four kids nov 2014

(I wanted a good photo of the kids together, for a Christmas project. This was not it, and as I won't see Haley again until just before Christmas, I'll have to figure something else out!)

I ran exactly zero miles this month. My hamstring is still bothering me, although it is starting to finally feel better I think. I was really, really good all month at avoiding sugar and eating fewer carbs…until I got sick. Then all I’ve wanted to do is drink hot chocolate and/or orange juice. This cold is proving to be as hard to get over as my last on in July. More than a week later, I am still coughing. Kendell and Jake have had it too, but somehow I just can’t seem to get over mine.

One of my favorite November days happened on the very last Saturday. Kendell has a small Christmas lights business, and his partner went out of town unexpectedly, so I went out to help him. We did an entire, enormous house together. Sometimes Kendell gets a little bit gruff and annoyed during projects, but he was great this day. He taught me what to do and how to help him, and we worked well together. It’s strange, sometimes, where you find your bits and pieces of happiness, but I found it there, standing on a stranger’s roof with my husband.


How was your November?

October in the Rear View Mirror

Goodbye october
I decided at the end of September that I’d shake up my running routine a little bit. I’d been doing 4-6 miles, three or four times a week, but still doing some running+walking. (My system: run for three songs, walk for two minutes, repeat.) I changed it to running 3.5 miles a day, every day, with no walking breaks. I figured shorter runs with more consistent running would help me build up the ankle strength I need to stop the running+walking thing forever.

happy to wear my favorite long-sleeve again!

The first two weeks of this went so well. I’m surprised to discover that the running+walking has actually increased my running speed, by a good 20-30 seconds per mile. That makes entirely zero sense, but whatever, I’m happy to increase my speed!

I started noticing, though, a slight twinge in my hamstring. Specifically, the semitendinosus. At first I just ignored it because, you know. That’s what runners do. It would hurt right at the start of my run, but as my muscles warmed up the pain would fade. Then it started to be sore the day after running. And it just slowly got worse and worse until, um, I can’t touch my toes. This is simply untenable for me. Not just the pain—which is a nervy, tight pain that’s different from regular soreness. I do not like the inflexibility at all.

I feel like a stranger in my body.

So I took an entire week off from running. I didn’t do much of anything, really. Every day it felt just a little bit better. Still tight, but not a constant pain. That Friday, though, I had a 1-mile fun run fundraiser for Kaleb’s school. I got dressed up and went to the race, thinking that surely seven days without running would be long enough.

And Kendell thought I'd never wear my red sparkly running shoes again!

Apparently not.

The very first running step I took, my hamstring said no. I ran the race—because that’s what runners do!—but it hurt the whole time (even though it felt so fantastic to be running again!) And I haven’t run anymore this month.

I don’t even know what to do. Even just sitting here at the computer, with my leg curled underneath me, my hamstring hurts. I can’t even pinpoint what did it, ultimately, because in October I also tried doing a 30-day burpee challenge, and Kendell and I started going on two-mile walks after dinner. (I think I was the burpees, honestly.)

So yeah: third October in a row I didn’t do much running. Which is awful because you only have so many Octobers in your lifetime, and October is the best running month. I’m sad and frustrated and stuck.

But other good things happened this month!

Haley finally got a job! Well, a job that she trained for. When she was a senior, she took a class after school to get certified as a pharmacy technician, and she finally got a job actually using that certification. She’ll make way more money and I think it will give her a confidence boost.

She came to visit early in the month, so she could get some car stuff done with her dad’s help. There was also some shopping and going to lunch and seeing friends.

I love this photo. I only wish I had moved the garbage can, closed the garage door, and used my big camera instead of my cell phone.

The first term ended, which means that Jake is one-quarter finished with his junior year! He decided to join the Parli team at school again. He also decided to apply for a manager spot at the pizza place where he works. He went on a date (to a corn maze). And he just seems…happier. I finally took him to my dermatologist because his eczema flared up with all of the school stress. He’d been using some other products from Kendell’s dermatologist which just weren’t working very well. The new creams and pills are working so much better! He did a project for French where he and a friend made bacon-covered asparagus (speaking the instructions in French in a video). I never would’ve paired those two items, but they were delicious!

Nathan’s life right now is filled with one thing: basketball. The tryouts for the ninth grade team are next week. He’s been going to before-school practices and after-school practices. When he’s not practicing basketball, he’s lifting weights. Or drawing. (I love that he has a variety of interests!) He read The Help for his English class and brought his biology grade back up to an A! (It was the “make a 3D cell” project that gave him just enough to push him over out of the A- range.) We had a lovely afternoon early in October when we went to the art store together and looked at pens. And bought a few. I loved that day!

Kaleb had his first parent-teacher conference. (It is called a “scholar-led conference” at our school…which is a term I think is sort of silly in its attempts to be progressive, but OK.) His teacher last year loved him so much. This fourth-grade teacher just sort-of likes him. This has been an adjustment for him; it’s probably good for him to not be adored by his teacher, but he’s also a little bit bewildered by it! (I don’t mean that in a my-son-is-perfect way. He’s annoying and obnoxious too. But he has a little friendly spark that people usually love.) At the book fair, we bought the new Jedi Academy book and he’s since read it three times. He joined the running club at school and was so excited to run in the fun run. He came in sixth place overall and first in his class.

We did a lot of yard work this month. Well, “we” meaning, mostly me, but there was some group participation too. Especially with the leaves, which started to fall near the end of the month. Once I can get everyone outside and working, they are all good helpers and we get the leaves picked up quickly.

Of course, there was also a lot of discussion about Halloween costumes, especially for Kaleb. We briefly toyed with the idea of being Zeus:


(In case you ever wondered...what would Kaleb look like as a very hair girl?)

But it was obviously way too big! In the end I went with the plan I made back in May, when I made him a Viking costume for his wax museum at school. (He was Lief Erickson.) I added some fur legwarmers and a new hat, and then I only felt a little bit guilty for not making something new:

IMG_4628 kaleb halloween 2014 4x6

On the first Sunday of October, we had a family dinner at my mom’s. My brother-in-law took this picture of me, Becky, and our niece Lyndsay which I think I will love forever and ever:

  _MG_4402 amy becky lyndsay 6x6

(Even though it’s fairly goofy!)

I made quite a few layouts, and I wrote seven blog posts at Write. Click. Scrapbook:

(I didn't realize until I put that list together how many posts I'd written. Our topic was using up your supplies and as that is one of my favorite topics...I got involved!)

And, one last good day: I had to run up to Nordstrom to do a return, and I decided to ask my friend Wendy to go along. It was just a quick run to Salt Lake, but then we also stopped at the Rack and then we went to lunch, and it was exactly, exactly what I needed. I’m grateful for good friends!

How was your October?

Goodbye September

I’ve had this post written since September 30, but I didn’t post it because I wanted a picture of Kaleb picking up the apples. The picture would be in that golden, glowy light of autumn afternoons. First, though, it was too cloudy, then I started too late, then I started too early, then I realized that the apple tree never gets that golden, glowy light in September because of the shadows of the houses across the street.

So I took some fairly-awful photos of Kaleb picking up apples at different times of the afternoon and then I gave up. There’s this image instead, to bid September farewell

  Goodbye september

I don’t want September to be over. It means that, here, the leaves in the mountains will fade and blow away. There’s plenty of fall left, of course—I just wish those trees could stay bright for longer.

Of course, nature refuses to listen to my “slow down” plea, so instead of freezing time, a September recap:

  • I cut my forehead open. With the back of a knife. I’m pretty sure I created a family story that will last as long as I do.
  • I finally got my hair colored. It’s been since last November, except for the little root touch-up I gave myself in April, and it was looking, like I was wont to say, a thousand different colors of ugly. I went with a dark auburn…and I don’t love it. I went to someone new, and I don’t think she did a fabulous job. The top is much brighter and more vibrant than the ends, which hardly have any color. I’m trying to let it be long for awhile, but I’m not sure it’s healthy enough…it’s sort of dry, no matter what products I use.
  • On a happier note, the scar from my knife-to-forehead incident is healing nicely. It is pretty thin…the glue blob was worth it!
  • Jake survived his first month as a high school junior. Ahhh, eleventh grade. It really can be such an awful year, and it is always pivotal. His was pretty dramatic, but some things have been worked out in positive ways and he is seeming so much happier. I am proud of him for dealing with stuff without melting down. Here’s to a way better October!
  • Nathan was out skateboarding with his friends early this month. His board skidded and he rammed his foot into the curb. It was swollen and bruised and pretty painful, which meant taking a few days off from basketball practice, which did not make him happy. He is working so hard on making the team, so not going was fairy traumatic for him. He is struggling with not despising his biology teacher, but is pretty happy otherwise.
  • Kaleb’s month was full of soccer. I am so glad I didn’t miss the sign ups this year! He’s had practices every Monday and games on Wednesdays and Saturdays. He scores, he plays hard, he loves it.
  • Haley came to visit once, and we drove up to Logan to visit her. She is loving her classes (even though they’re hard) and has discovered shopping on e-Bay. We Skype with her as often as we can!
  • After much debate last spring, I decided to not put Jake in Honor’s English this year. The teacher is a little bit too gung-ho about making it as hard as possible, and while Jake is a good writer and reader, he doesn’t love it. I felt like getting an A while having more time and energy to focus on the subjects he does love (science and math) would be better. This month I am seeing the results of that decision—and I am so glad I followed my gut. His English teacher is awesome. She is pushing him in just the right ways, and he is feeling successful there.
  • Nathan’s English teacher has also been good for him—she is making him read a lot, and he is doing it!
  • I went to listen to Susan Howe when she presented at the library and I saw Laini Taylor at the Salt Lake City Library. I love listening to writers speak!
  • I ran a 5k library fundraiser. It is called "Chase your Tale" (get it? Library?) and so I dressed up as Dorothy:
  • 20140927_092552
  • What we read: Jake is reading The Scarlett Letter in English. I bought a copy so I could re-read it with him, but I confess: I am having a rough time getting past Mr. Hawthorne’s long “The Customs House” introduction. Nathan finished Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson and Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill. He’s starting The Help today. Kaleb is reading Emily Rodda’s new series, The Golden Door. I read And We Stay by Jenni Hubbard, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Hahn (both were sort of ehhhhh), The Fever by Megan Abbott and certainly something else I am forgetting.
  • Our close friends the McAlisters had a death in the family, so they came back to Utah from North Carolina for the funeral. I don’t love funerals of course, nor the reason we saw them…but it was so nice to see them again! We used to get together all the time for dinner and chocolate cake when our kids were little. Now they’re all big and teenagy and moody and wonderful in entirely different ways. It’s too bad arranged marriages aren’t a thing anymore because I know just who I would pick for Jake…
  • I ran 47.55 miles. I was hoping to top it off at fifty, which is less than I ran last month but I had to take a week off due to not being able to sweat copiously from my forehead (to keep the glue on).
  • I made twelve layouts. Here is one of my favorites:

09 sept kaleb no1 in Provo Canyon

How was your September?

End of Summer Images

Back at the beginning of September, my friend Marnie wrote a WCS post about finding an image that captures what the end of summer looks like to you. (Go read it HERE!) I’ve been thinking and looking for my image ever since. I’m not sure I didn’t start too late! For me, summer doesn’t end when the kids start back to school, because they start so early here in Utah (August 19 this year) and because it takes awhile, quite often, for summer to wind down. I don’t know, is it like that everywhere? Look up at the mountains and it’s fall, but here in the valley the grass is still green and the days still hot.

For me, it really feels like fall has started once I am tempted to wear a long-sleeved running shirt!

The end-of-summer image is almost one I haven’t even taken, but probably you can imagine: a bowl of peaches in morning sunlight. This is because, on the day that Kaleb started first grade and I realized what it truly means to have all of your kids at school  all day(a certain sadness), I went running and then I made a peach smoothie with peaches from my niece’s in-law’s peach orchard. The most delicious, perfectly ripe peaches I’ve ever eaten. The peaches I buy every summer now, and every time I taste one I remember that smoothie and that feeling. That sadness/freedom mix that the end of summer brings.

It’s almost that image.

But the end-of-summer feeling is also so tied to being outside that it is an outdoor image. Not the mountains, where it already is fall, but my very own yard, where summer is lingering. Where, at the end of August and into the end of September (if we don’t get a cold snap), these flowers bloom:

Pink daisies
I fight them all summer because they try so hard to overtake one of my iris patches. They are very nearly flower bullies. But then they bloom and I remember why I put up with them, these flowers I don’t have a name for. They are the last bit of bright, cool color I’ll find in my yard until spring brings the crocus back. They are like all the bright light of summer turned into petals.

A metaphor for the end of summer.

Pink daisies 2

Today, when there are only a few true days of summer left, a look back at some of my favorite summer 2014 memories, the ones I either didn’t or couldn’t photograph:

Doing yoga on the beach with Haley. This was when we were in Cabo in June. The resort where we stayed had yoga every morning, but we only made it once. Right in front of the beach they have a patch of springy grass, and a pile of towels, and an energetic yoga instructor counting in English with her soft Spanish accent. Green grass, turquoise water, bright blue sky, waves crashing on the sand and that deep, relaxing stretch that only yoga brings. All with my favorite daughter! After, we stood and watched a school of manta rays flipping in the surf.

Hiking with Jake. It might be obvious (or not) that this hasn’t been the easiest teen/mom summer. There has been a lot of frustration and plenty of misunderstandings. In July I made him go hiking with me, partly because he was boasting about being faster than me! Faster maybe…but he’d apparently forgotten my endurance. So we started out on a steep trail with a friendly, competitive spirit. He coaxed me up the slippery spots. We talked and laughed. My endurance beat his speed. We took a wrong turn but navigated back so we weren’t lost for too long, and in the way that exercise has of wearing down all the negative feelings, for that morning we were our old, comfortable-with-each-other selves.

Shopping at Old Navy with Nathan. I tell you…I had a hard time getting motivated to go back-to-school clothes shopping this year. Kaleb wears a uniform and I had to buy him a whole new batch of shirts last spring when he hit a growth spurt, so he didn’t need anything much. Jake is always “ehhh” about shopping for clothes, so I usually just pick out some stuff I think he’ll like and he usually likes it. Nathan though—he’s particular. He likes to look nice and he has a specific “look” he is aiming for. He really, desperately needs some new jeans, but he is growing so fast that I asked him to please wait until it cooled off. I’ll take him to American Eagle in October. (He wears a 28/32 jean. Do you know how hard it is to find that size?) So we went to Old Navy to look for shirts. Just me and him. We talked, we laughed, we found some shirts he loved. He’s a good companion…easy to spend time with, even when haggling for more clothes. (And of course a belt!)

Running with Kaleb. This is probably silly. It’s a tiny moment. But I loved it. In August, Kaleb’s cub scout troop had a pack meeting at the park, with obstacle courses and outdoor games. One of the stations was just a simple race between two cones. I took off my shoes and I race him, barefoot in the grass. I ran as fast as I could (or, I guess, as fast as I could trust my ankle) and laughed while we ran. He was happy and I was happy and I’ll let you guess if he won fair and square or I let him win.

Sitting on the side of Tioga Road in Yosemite with Kendell. After we hiked Lembert Dome, we started driving for a bit, but pretty soon we both realized how thirsty we were. So we pulled over at a tiny little gravel patch and then pulled the bowl of watermelon out of the cooler in the back of the van. We sat in the van and ate the watermelon and it was the coolest, most refreshing thing ever. He was happy, I was happy, and we had cold melon. So sweet.

Doing water aerobics with my mom. Again at Cabo. Same resort, same soft-voiced instructor. When we finished working out, she had the whole group make a circle in the middle of the pool. We held each other’s wrists, and then every other person lifted up their feet and started floating, and the others started walking in a circle, so the floating people spun in a widening gyre. First my mom floated, and as I held her wrist I could feel how delicate it is, and the strain in her shoulders, the age in her bones, which should terrify me but it didn’t. It just felt like her, right now, in my hands. Then I floated and she held part of me up (a stranger was holding my other hand), helping me balance, and I just loved her so much right in that moment.

Swimming in Chileno Bay with Suzette. Can you stand one more Cabo story? Most of the beaches there aren’t safe for swimming, so one day we drove to Chileno Bay. Haley and I swam out to the roped-off edge of the bay and then back, and then Suzette and I hung out together in the water. She’d had a hard time getting past where the waves crashed, and had a scary moment when they tumbled her around. But with the help of her daughter Madi (who came racing into the water with a lifeguard kick, because she is an actual lifeguard) and a trio of kind Mexican men, she made it into the deep water. So we floated out there in the salty water, which was so cold, but the day was so hot it didn’t matter. We laughed at her near-drowning because it really wasn’t that she almost drowned. We laughed at our beautiful daughters and our mother sunning herself on the sand and our soft, wrinkled, middle-aged selves. It was perfect.

Driving with Becky. At this year’s Ragnar, I was sort of lame. I fell asleep in the van at the second major exchange (when it was starting to get dark), and then I was completely out of it. I’d wake up just the smallest bit when our team’s runners were coming in and out of the van, but I was mostly dead-cold asleep. (This felt lame because I did virtually zero cheering for my teammates, during the roughest legs. On the other hand, it didn’t even feel like a choice. I was just…asleep.) This meant, though, that after my night leg (which happened “late” enough that it was really a very-early morning leg, in the light!), I wasn’t so thoroughly exhausted. In Ragnars past, I’ve had that out-cold moment after my second run, so I’ve never been awake for the drive to the last major exchange. But this year, I was! Everyone else was asleep except for me and Becky (who was driving). We talked a little bit, and I admired the scenery, and I was at that point of tiredness when you’re full of energy and happiness, and the sun was up with that early-morning color of summer light, and I was just so happy to be there with my sweet, fantastic sister.

Running in Yosemite with just myself. We had two mornings in Yosemite, the one when we hiked and then the next day. I was so determined to get up early on the second morning and go running on the bike trails in Yosemite Valley. But I came down with an ugly cold (it hit me when we had three miles of hiking left) and that morning? There was no early waking up. I had an actual fever. So no running, either. But, I did have my running moment the day before. This happened in the Little Yosemite Valley, which is a mostly-flat section of the trail. I stopped to take some pictures of the river, and when I turned around, I couldn’t see Kendell, Jeff, or Lenna. I couldn’t see anyone, in fact. So I stood in the quiet, savoring the very-rare experience of a moment of solitude in Yosemite. Then I adjusted all my straps—and I ran. It was only for roughly four and a half minutes, and it was the awkward run you can only do when you’ve got a pack on your back and a big camera on your chest and you’re running in hiking boots. But, running nonetheless. In Yosemite, by myself. It was blissful.

What image sums up the end of summer for you? What were your favorite summer moments?