Week in the Life Day 3: A Day of Rain

This morning I ran outside because I heard the garbage truck coming and I wasn’t sure if the can was out. It wasn’t, so I rolled it to the curb and then just stood there, on the sidewalk under my maple tree, my toes just barely touching the bright-green grass. The skies were grey and it was storming on the mountain, so there was the faint smell of rain, and the stronger scent of damp earth, wood smoke, and a vague floral. The wind sighed a bit. The air was just so delicious, better than any perfume I have ever smelled, heavy with coming rain but also with brightness and hope, and in my flower beds the violet violets bloomed under the green leaves of poppies and I just: I wanted to stay there forever.

Instead I went inside and got ready, because Jake and I had some stuff to do. He recently lost his wallet, and finally decided he won’t be finding it any time soon, so he and I went out to take care of it. We went to the bank and the DMV, with a quick stop for a haircut along the way. I loved this morning, for reasons it would take too many words to explain. But I needed it, just to spend time with him but also to feel like he is going to be OK. To maybe let go of a little bit of fear and worry. (Plus it made me happy how I could see his face again after his haircut.)

Then I was off to work (a little bit late; I had curly hair because that's the fastest way to do it).

One thing I love at work is when it rains and I am sitting at the reference desk. In front of me are high, tall windows that the rain taps against; to the top left are the windows to the courtyard, where the trees—white flowering pears—move in the wind. And to the right, more tall windows where I can just see, around the reference shelves, Cascade. Grey and green and white; wind and rain. I am lucky to work at such a library.

After work, I rushed home so I could grab a jacket and then make it to Kaleb’s soccer game. I was a little bit late, and when I got there I discovered that the other team had to forfeit because they didn’t have enough players show up. So the coaches decided to just play a soccer game, 30-minute halfs, and some of our kids played on the other team, and when that wasn’t enough two of the refs also jumped in, but they couldn’t play well because it had rained and the grass was wet and they weren’t wearing cleats. Kaleb played defense, which he never does, so other kids could get practice at playing forward. And it was all funny and fun, and he kept laughing and everyone was breaking rules. It was maybe the funnest game they ever got credit for winning!

Witl 2019 kaleb soccer

I took my DSLR because I am trying to use it more, and Kendell took this pic of me taking pics, which, like a nerd, I love:

Witl 2019 amy taking pics 6x6

Once the game was over, I wandered around my yard for a little bit. These last tulips looked so beautiful in the long, early-evening light!

Witl 2019 beautiful tulips 6x8
I took a few pictures and just stayed outside because I was, honestly, avoiding my daily biggest stress: what to make for dinner. I love cooking but I don’t love how it’s become this futile exercise in trying to please everyone. Kaleb, who would be happy if we ate cheeseburgers every day, was making himself sandwiches when I came in, in order to avoid leftovers. I tussled with Kendell for awhile, a little spark of arguing that grew bigger over the evening (while we were watching TV I kept making him pause Trevor Noah so I could point out another thing I am frustrated with right now), and all he wanted was tacos. He’d eat tacos every night for the rest of his life if I would make them for him, and meanwhile if I never have another *&%(#@&% taco I would be just fine. As I had cooked a bunch of hamburger on Sunday night, I made him tacos and myself some red sauce and spaghetti. (Why can’t he just like spaghetti like a normal person???)

Yeah, it was a shouty kind of night.

But then it started raining again. And not just a gentle rain, but a thunderstorm. So I went outside for some more rain listening. There was thunder and lightning in the south and the wind was blowing. Exactly what I needed to try to make myself feel better.

Just before I gave in and just went to bed, Nathan called me. He just called to thank me for sending him a package of stuff he needed, but we ended up talking for 45 minutes, about his shin splints, military thinking, what he is loving about his experience, what he is struggling with. Even while he is struggling he just has a way of cheering me up. I miss him!

Jake came home (he’d been out with friends) and he talked to Nathan for a bit, too. Then he and I talked about the storm (he loves the rain, too), his dentist appointment in the morning, some Game of Thrones theories.

So I went to bed a little bit upset, but hoping maybe a good night’s sleep would help me feel better. Tomorrow will tell. I do love this photo that Kendell talked Kaleb into taking with me though. So there's that.

Witl 2019 amy kaleb soccer game 4x8

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.

Week in Review: September 1-8

​On my Instagram feed, I am participating in a project with Stacy Julian called 30 Days, 10 Years Later. This is a sort of a reboot of a class she taught back in 2008, which had photo, writing, and scrapbooking prompts for every day of September. I didn't do the original class (in 2008 I was also teaching scrapbooking classes, and taking the other instructors' classes felt wrong to me somehow; like their ideas might influence my ideas and it might start to seem like I was using their ideas instead of creating my own). You can see more about the project HERE  (and it's never too late to join in! I started on September 3!)


I'm playing along for several reasons. One is that I realized just how heavy my IG feed has become with running and hiking photos. You KNOW I love running and hiking...but they are not the only activities I love. I want my feed to be eclectic, like my life is eclectic. And, besides: with my knee injury, I can't run or hike, so I needed a way to feel motivated to photograph other things in my life.


Second, and more important than my Instagram feed: I LOVE autumn. It is my favorite season; I look forward to it as soon as it ends. But as my kids have gotten older, I find myself documenting fewer and fewer experiences. Actually doing fewer things. So mostly I committed to this project as a way to really immerse myself in fall this year. (Strangely enough, in the year I can neither hike nor run, which are my favorite fall activities.)


To go along with this project, I am resurrecting an old blog project, which I called "weeklies." I tried to post a favorite picture and a summary of each week, and I managed about...ten-ish entries. Which is pretty good for me, but still. (Oddly enough, the last time I worked on weeklies it was also fall!) So here it is, the blog post I know all three of you readers have been waiting for: my summary of the first eight days of September 2018. (All of the other weeks will be regular week-sized entries.)


Saturday, September 1: I slept in! My mom was back in the hospital (she was having some internal bleeding and they didn't know the source), so Kaleb and I stopped by to visit her for awhile. Then we went to buy a snail to keep his beta fish happy. We ended up also buying a better tank than the little goldfish bowl he was using (which Haley got, with a goldfish, as an invite to a dance during her senior year). We looked at the kittens while we were at the pet store and it made me fairly sad. I'm trying to be fair and to compromise, since Kendell hates cats but we had one for 15 years. This is the longest I've ever gone in my life without having a cat. I am a cat person. Not having one tugs at me and makes me feel lonely. But, he's not budging. If I'm honest this makes me pretty mad at him, but then...he was often mad when we had our cat Emily, so. Marriage is hard. Being a grown-up is hard. (Being married to a no-cats person is SO HARD.)


Kendell fixed the lawnmower while Kaleb and I were together, and then he and I went to run some errands. Costco and Target and gas in the car and other Saturday-ish stuff. We stopped by Al's, which is a sporting-goods store we have here. He got a couple of t-shirts and I got nothing because my knee is injured and I'll probably never run or hike again and why even bother living? (I was pretty fun to run errands with!)


Costa Vida for dinner. They never charge me for extra cheese but tonight they charged me for extra cheese. Which made me mad because if I wanted to be charged extra for stuff, I'd go to Cafe Rio. (Still grumpy. I would be so much happier if I had a cat.)


Sunday, September 2. Kendell and Nathan went hiking this morning.  Let's examine that sentence: Kendell and Nathan went hiking. WITHOUT ME. I am NOT HAPPY about not being able to hike. At all. But, I'm glad they went out into the woods together. They even sent me pictures!

Nathan hiking


I had to teach this Sunday. I am a gospel doctrine teacher, so every third Sunday I teach a lesson. This year we are studying the Old Testament. This calling has been complicated for me, probably because my relationship with the LDS church is complicated right now. So much frustrates me, and almost every time I teach a lesson I find myself even more frustrated. This week's lesson, though, was the story of Jonah and the whale. And this wasn't complicated. This was God speaking to me: love everyone. God loves everyone so to be like them I need to also try to love everyone. To let go of my frustrations and my annoyances and to remember God loves this person too. Jonah is just so...human. He gets afraid and annoyed and angry. He doesn't understand. He flees. He argues with God. Me too, Jonah. I needed the gentle reminder I found while preparing this lesson.


For dinner we had sweet pork burritos. One day I'll figure out how Cafe Rio gets their sweet pork so sweet. Mine is sweet-ish, but  only in the sauce. Still, this is a surprisingly easy meal, since once the pork is cooking in the crockpot, all you really have to do is make some cilantro-ranch dressing and some lime rice and voila: dinner's ready.


My mom was set to be discharged from the hospital, so I took her back home. (She is currently living in an assisted living place. I'm hoping she falls in love with it and stays there, where she is safe and has people to interact with.) We talked with the hospitalist before she left about her heart; we've been worried about it, as she has some A-fib, but it is strong. (I'm actually really glad she got to have this discussion at the hospital. I was planning on taking her to get her echo next week, and then to get the results later...at the same doctor that Kendell goes to. I was glad to talk "heart" in different circumstances.


Monday, September 3, 2018. Labor Day. Mostly we did nothing. Nathan and Jake had to work, Kaleb hung out with his friend. I did some laundry and pulled some weeds—but gardening is not in my wheelhouse right now: too much knee bending. Kendell mowed the lawn and I went inside, discouraged. I took a nap. Kendell and I decided to go to Costco but discovered it was closed (the Internets lied!). For dinner, Kendell, Jake, Nathan, and I went to Red Lobster, which is an autumn tradition. They all get the all-you-can-eat shrimp. I'm civilized so I get a steak. 


Tuesday, September 4, 2018. I woke up upset all over again about something that had happened the day before. So after I helped Kaleb get off to school, I went back to bed, full of that I-have-failed-at-everything-and-my-life-is-worthless feeling. I texted with Becky for a bit. I went back to sleep until I had to get ready for work. (I'm realizing, while I write this, that maybe I am in a bit of a downward spiral right now.) I hobbled around the library; I can't go down stairs normally, so I have been taking the elevator, which is just about my least-favorite thing ever. Then I picked Kaleb up from soccer practice and went home.


When we pulled up to the house, we discovered that Kendell had procured our neighbor's saws-all and was pruning the dead limbs from the apple tree. So Kaleb and I helped. I picked up fallen apples in an awkward way (remember...I can't bend my knees much!) and Kaleb got to run the saw. I have a deep affection for my apple tree; it's the only remaining tree from the orchard that was here before all of the neighborhood houses were built. It was a gathering place and a place to play for neighborhood kids for a long time, but now that Kaleb is a teenager, no one climbs it very often. It's messy and requires weekly clean ups (we don't ever actually EAT the apples, because I don't like chemical sprays but there are so many worms, and besides, I like to leave them for the birds) but honestly: cleaning up the apple tree mess makes me happy. Maybe that was my first real happy moment all month so far.

Pruning the tree


Wednesday, September 5, 2018. I drove to Salt Lake by myself. Kendell kept insisting he would go, but he had work and really: I wanted to drive by myself. I never have any solitude lately and it's kind of driving me nuts. So, I drove by myself. There was traffic and I was almost late to my appointment, but I was listening to my audio book (The Power by Naomi Alderman) and I just listened and drove and it was lovely.


I went to Salt Lake for an MRI on my knee. I was really anxious about this experience, as I have claustrophobia. But the doctor I go to has a new machine that's not a tube, so basically I just had to hold still for an hour. (There might've been some napping involved.) After, I drove up the canyon. Listened to more of my audio book, until it expired, and then I just drove with my window rolled down, looking at the early-fall trees and hearing the wind. It was lovely and peaceful and just what I needed.


Thursday, September 6, 2018.​ I told Kendell this morning: I don't care. No guilt trips. No talking to me. The boys were going to work and Kaleb was at school and I just wanted to be left alone to scrapbook. He sort-of managed it but it's been so long since I scrapbooked that I hated what I made, and just the fact that anyone was still in the house just...gah. (I have a blog post written about the problem of having your spouse work from home when you are a solitude junky introvert but I can't decide if it's just too bitchy of me to publish.) I was in tears by the afternoon.


When Kaleb came home, he wanted to go to the store to get a cactus. So I abandoned my scrapbook space and went to Home Depot. He picked out two cacti, and I found a plant I loved, so I also bought a new plant pot. Then we came home and potted his cacti and my new plant. I also got all of the houseplants outside, added more soil, and sprayed the dust off their leaves. This was another happy, good moment for me.


Friday, September 7, 2018. I got the results of my MRI today. Mixed: I have damage to the cartilage at the end of my femur, but it's not new. I have some degeneration of the cartilage under my knee cap, but it shouldn't be causing my pain and stiffness. So, I'm going to try some PT for the next month, and I'm not supposed to go up or down stairs. (That's a problem because my laundry room is in the basement, and the boys would do the laundry if I told them to but I don't really WANT them to.) Also I am definitely not supposed to run. Or to hike. Or, you know, apparently have a will to live. But my meniscus isn't torn and if I am lucky the PT will strengthen everything so that I don't have to have surgery. 


Saturday, September 8, 2018. I woke up early and went to physical therapy at 6:30. I feel like I should get extra credit somewhere for that. Kaleb had a soccer game, which Jake, Kendell and I went to; their team lost 4-1 but Kaleb had two near-misses on scoring. PLUS! I was sitting on the sidelines when BAM! I got hit by a rogue soccer ball. It was kicked by a little kid, seven or eight, who apparently has a MONSTER kick because that hurt. I might've said the f word. After, we celebrated Saturday by doing errands and cleaning the bathrooms. Then we got super fancy and bought a new toilet seat for the hall bathroom. Woot! I also pruned the rosebushes and sprayed spider webs off the back of the house, and moped around wishing I could go for a run. Then we ate at Buffalo Wild Wings, which was just OK.


Other Stuff: The Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings; a bunch of trump stupidity; I decided to abandon the book I was actually reading, Three Things about Elsie, and check out the one I was listening to;  I had a deep conversation with Becky about the way the Easter Island statues are symbolic in my life right now (or maybe metaphoric); I got out some of my autumn decorations and I discovered the cute plates I'd bought last year on clearance at Target in December, which was a little happy bonus, like a gift to myself from last year; I made brownies. We had sweet pork burrito leftovers way too many times until I insisted on freezing what was left.

2017 in Review: 12-1

This post has taken me FOR.EV.ER to put together. Which is why I'm posting it so late! But I love looking back on such things so I'm putting it out here anyway.

12 Favorite pictures from 2017:

1: The start of running selfies

2017 fave running pics

Because I was a Skirt Sports ambassador this year, I took a lot of running selfies. This is one of my first ones and also still one of my favorites (even though you can't tell what I'm wearing!).

2: Easter afternoon

2017  fave jake and amy

Jake went through some real struggles this year. This photo, taken on Easter, represents so much to me, but mostly the feeling I had when I saw him that afternoon: that he would be OK.

3: Palm tree reflections

2017 fave puuohonua

At Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park in Hawaii. (See 11 memories for more details!)

4: Soccer

2017 fave kaleb soccer

Maybe my favorite soccer photo I've ever taken!

5: Does this photo make my hair look grey?

2017 fave couple

Kendell grew a beard for awhile this spring. I made him take a selfie with me before he shaved and it's one of my favorite pictures of us.

6: Cute boys

2017 fave fathers day

All the boys on Father's Day.

7: Before she drove home

2017 fave haley and amy

A scruffy snapshot before Haley left to go back to school one weekend after she'd been here to visit.

8: Central Park

2017 fave kendell amy nyc central park

A passerby offered to take this for us. I wish I'd moved the Lindt Store bag out of the frame! We didn't see this part of Central Park when we went there last year.

9: Playing catch

2017 fave kaleb

Before school on spring mornings, sometimes Kaleb and I would hang out and play catch while we waited for his carpool. Lots of good conversations while tossing the ball.

10: Bryce Canyon hike

2017 fave hiking

Another photo taken by a passerby! Kendell and me in Bryce Canyon.

11: The lovely Green Sands Beach

2017 fave green sands beach

(Before things got terrifying!) I hiked up to this ledge overlooking the beach while the kids & Kendell started swimming. It was so colorful there, even if the "green" sand isn't really super green. 

12: Family pic

2017 fave family

From Thanksgiving day. Usually I get everyone to wear something that sort-of matches. This time I didn't have the energy. I still think it's a great pic!

11 Favorite memories (in no particular order):

  1. Snorkeling with dolphins. We took all of the kids to Hawaii this year, and I wanted to do something adventurous while we were there. So I signed us up for a snorkeling excursion. Part of it was at Captain Cook, but before we got to that harbor we snorkeled with dolphins. It was…well, words like “amazing” and “magical” can’t begin to describe it. The blue, blue water and the dolphins swimming past, so close some of us actually touched them…at one point I looked around and realized all of my family was right in front of me, swimming with their hands drifting down towards the dolphins and I was filled with so much love for each of them.
  2. Walking on the Provo River Trail in February after a big snow storm. It was a turning point for me in my depression. I had the trail entirely to myself and it was so cold and peaceful and snowy, with birds landing on trees every now & then, making snow drift down as if it were still falling. Like walking in a snow globe!
  3. Helping Haley finish the clean out of her dorm last April. She was the RA and so responsible to get it really clean. We went up and helped her pack up her room and then get out ALL of the stuff the students had left behind (there was a TON of stuff). We all laughed a lot and it was, despite the boxing and carrying, a really fun experience.
  4. Eating lunch with my nieces. One day in late winter I was thinking about cousins and aunts and nieces & nephews…extended family. I wish I had a relationship with my cousins but aside from Facebook likes, I really don’t. I also wish I were closer to my nieces and nephews and to their kids. So I organized a lunch with everyone. We met up at Café Rio and just ate together. The coolest thing was that my niece who lives in Arizona surprised us and also came, and I got to meet her new baby. My vision of doing that once a month or so didn’t come to pass (yet!), but I’m glad I got it put together.
  5. Running my half marathon. In August when Kendell and I were tossing around the idea of going back to New York in the fall, he suggested I find a race to run while we were there. After many switching of the dates we’d actually be going, I picked the Brooklyn Fall Half. It wasn’t my best half marathon time, as I didn’t have enough weeks to train, but even though I was tired it was such a fun experience. It’s the first race I’ve run outside of Utah, the first one that was made up of laps (four circles around Prospect Park in Brooklyn), the first race I road the subway to the start, and the first race I actually placed in (second in my age group…I still get a little giggle about that!).
  6. Wrapping presents this Christmas. I did almost all of my Christmas shopping fairly early, right around black Friday, so I got everything wrapped about December 18th or so. While I wrapped I got caught up on Call the Midwife. Nathan got home from school when I was almost done, so he came in and helped me finish up.
  7. Playing “What’s in Your Purse?” with Becky & Suzette. My mom went in to the hospital on December 9 with intense stomach pain. She had diverticulitis and ended up having two surgeries (she’s still in the hospital; it’s been a difficult time!). During the second surgery, which happened on extreme short notice and started at about 11:30 p.m., Becky asked me if I had any nail clippers in my purse. I was feeling punchy and tired so I went through the entire contents of my purse. (I need to clean it out!) (I did have clippers.) Suzette and Becky also shared what was in their bags (Becky, oddly enough, had a paper cutter!). Even though we were scared, tired, and worried, it was so lovely to laugh together.
  8. Hiking in Bryce Canyon. Kendell and I decided to take a detour on our trip to California and spend a day hiking in Bryce Canyon (we also camped overnight). After much discussion, we decided to hike the Fairyland trail, which we’ve hiked once before, but this time we did it clockwise. Just as we got on the trail, the clouds bunched together and it started raining. It wasn’t pouring…just a gentle rain, and it was magical. Bryce is one of my favorite places to go, but Bryce in the rain, with the dramatic clouds and the thunder echoing off the canyon walls? It was just incredible. We never got entirely soaked, just damp, so we were never really cold, just a little bit chilly. It was one of my favorite hikes ever.
  9. Sorry, another Hawaii moment. I wanted to walk around Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, or Place of Refuge. This is a national historic park that is a sacred place in Hawaiian history. The kids didn’t really want to go (and Haley had already seen it), so Kendell took them snorkeling on the other side of the bay and I wandered around the park. It was almost closing time so there was almost no one else there—I only saw two other people. I followed the path and stopped at every marker and listened to the information, then looked at the items at each place. At first I was kind of annoyed that no one wanted to come with me, but very quickly I realized that being by myself meant I could really savor it.
  10. Reading my first published essay. I have an essay in the anthology Baring Witness: 36 Women Talk Candidly about Love, Sex, and Marriage. In February I went to a reading, along with several other contributors. We ate dinner together first (slightly terrifying to just show up for a meal with people I didn’t know) and then walked in the rain to the book store where the reading was held. I was slightly nervous…but only for a second. When I started reading, I quickly got to a spot in my essay where it feels like I’m saying something funny but it turns into something dark, and I managed to vocalize it just right so that the audience went around the curve with me, right into the tension of the essay. It felt like…a performance, somehow, in the best sense of the word.
  11. Finding Kaleb. OK, I guess one more Hawaii memory. We hiked to the Green Sand beach, and due to miscommunication we lost Kaleb on the way back. I ran all of the 3+ miles back to the car, desperately hoping to find him, but I got to the car and he wasn’t there. So then I started pacing back and forth along the paved part of the trail that goes from the parking lot to the beach, absolutely terrified and not sure what to do. When I saw my family in the distance and counted—five of them!—I burst into tears. I was so relieved he was OK. (This is actually both my worst memory of 2017 and one of my favorites. Horrible because that was a terrifying half hour of not knowing if he was safe or not. But the feeling when I saw him!)

10 Hikes we hiked in 2017 (I set myself the goal of blogging about every hike I did this year. I blogged about none of them…but I took lots of photos just in case. Maybe I should make a goal to blog about them all before spring gets here!?):

  1. Kilauea Iki Trail in Volcano National Park with all the kids. 2017 hike hawaii
  2. Red Lake Trail in Nebo Canyon with Kendell.
  3. Squaw Peak Trail with Kendell.
  4. Stewart Falls with my friend Wendy. 2017 hike stewart falls
  5. Rock Canyon to the campground with Kendell.
  6. Primrose Cirque overlook with Kendell. 2017 hike primrose circ overlook
  7. Fairyland Trail in Bryce with Kendell. 2017 hike bryce(Every time we go hiking, I try to take a good selfie with Kendell. This one is finally a good one!)
  8. Red Rock trail in Los Padres National Forest with Kendell.
  9. Potato Harbor and Scorpion Canyon loop trails on Santa Cruz island (please note that Kendell and I did the Scorpion Canyon loop the opposite way than is recommended, which means we went UP the steepest part, instead of down. I love steep trails and wow: there was a lot to love!) 2017 hikes santa cruz island
  10. Battle Creek Canyon overlook with Kendell (I learned after that this point is also called Brush Mountain. It snowed—very lightly, but still snow—while we hiked, but it hasn’t snowed there since). 2017 hikes brush mountain

9 Holiday highlights:

  1. Anniversary: our 25th. We ate dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. I wanted to plan a trip somewhere—maybe Florida? just a weekend in San Diego?—but we ended up not being able to get away in February. Which is fine because we “celebrated” all year. Trip to Hawaii? Totally a 25th anniversary trip! California this summer? We should eat somewhere nice for our 25th anniversary! etc.
  2. Valentine’s Day: we made sugar cookies and had homemade pizza for dinner.
  3. President’s Day: It’s become a tradition to eat at a local Chinese restaurant. It was just me, Kendell, and Kaleb this year, which was a little bit lonely for Kaleb, but still delicious.
  4. Easter: The first one with only Kaleb and Nathan at home in the morning (which was sad but instead of focusing on sadness I just enjoyed the difference of it). Also our first one at my mom’s new house. I look forward to our Easter dinner all winter…it’s when it feels like spring is really, really here. I wasn’t sure if it would be disappointing at the new house, but I loved it.
  5. Memorial Day: Kendell and I went to the cemetery and put flowers on my dad’s grave. I’m so glad he’s close so I can visit!
  6. Fourth of July: this was our last family party at my sister Suzette’s pool, as she sold her house this year. We swam, we barbequed, we made sure no one drowned. I’ll be sad next summer to not have her pool for our parties. Later, Kaleb and I went outside and did fireworks with our neighbors.
  7. Halloween: Kaleb did not love Halloween this year. He wanted to do something seventh-grade-ish and grown up, but all the plans fell through. So, he helped me pass out candy for a while, and then went downstairs to watch TV and be annoyed. Nathan went to a party with his girlfriend Bailey. I finished reading It.
  8. Thanksgiving: held at our house, and I made the meal by myself. This is my second try at doing this and it went much better this time (ie: we ate by 4:30, not at 7:30 like the first time!) Pies were perfect, everyone got along, Haley liked her tofurkey. The turkey was a little bit dry and the potatoes, which I cooked in the crock pot, were a little bit gummy. But it was a great meal!
  9. Christmas: All of the kids slept at home on Christmas Eve. I could say something about the fabulousness of the gifts and the fantastic-ness of the meals or whatever…but that is what meant the most to me. Everyone slept at home.

8 Songs that will always remind me of 2017:

  1. “Something Just Like This” by the Chainsmokers & Coldplay, definitely one of my favorite songs to run to.
  2. “Allison Road” by The Gin Blossoms. When we drove to & from Seattle, I heard this song at almost every gas station we stopped at. Which was strange…what are the odds, especially considering we stopped at stations in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington? I was super frustrated by the time we got home because each time I only heard part of it, and I didn’t have it on my phone. (I don’t know why I didn’t think to just, you know. Buy it and download it from my phone, except I always buy music on my computer.)
  3. “Cloudbusting” by Kate Bush. This song brought me a sense of peace during my Narnia winter. “I just know that something good is going to happen, I don’t know when” was a refrain I sang to myself when things were especially dark.
  4. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. Because Kendell and I listened to it on repeat three times in a row driving through the California desert.
  5. “Let the Music Play” by Shannon. Someone mentioned this song on Facebook and I thought, hmmmmm, that would be fun to run to, so I bought it and yep: Great running song.
  6. “Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother & The Holding Company + Janis Joplin. When Kendell and I were in New York, this song came on one night when we were drinking peppermint hot chocolate at the Starbucks on Roosevelt Island. Sometimes a song is part of your psyche except you don’t really pay attention to it because you’ve heard it a million times. But then you do listen. It will now always take me back to NYC, which was far colder than we planned for, and that long first day when we just had to stay awake a little bit longer. (Surviving the red eye is not for wimps, let me tell you!)
  7. “Something to Say” by the Connells. We have a newish radio station here that plays nothing but alternative 80s music. I’ve been reunited with tons of songs I forgot I loved. This one has stuck with me especially. “Once you believed you had something to say and it’s so deceiving…”
  8. “Sober Up” by AJR. I listened to this song three times in a row when I was running my half marathon. It’s one of those songs that I don’t relate to the lyrics very much but it’s super fun to run to. That violin bridge!

7 Favorite runs:

  1. Running with Becky this fall on a path by her house. The sunflowers were blooming; it was cold and windy but lovely.
  2. Running on the coastal trail in Ventura. Beach running is the best, and this was especially nice because there is a paved path.
  3. The day I found a new trail, which winds through what used to be a golf course. The hills were awesome and it was a perfect day.
  4. My last long run before my half marathon. I did it on the Murdock Canal Trail through Pleasant Grove and American Fork. I had the path almost to myself and it was one of those runs that felt effortless, like running in a dream.
  5. Running with my scrapbook friends when I went to the Scrap Gals retreat in April.
  6. The 10k I ran on the 4th of July with my sister Becky and my niece Kayci. It was so fun to run a race with people I know!
  7. My half marathon. I ran the Brooklyn Half, which was four laps around Prospect Park, when we were in New York. I wasn’t fully trained for it (my longest run before it was only 8 miles) and I am still doing a run/walk combo. But I finished! I decided that I want to find a race to run every time I travel somewhere. It made the trip so much more fun and meaningful to me. After the race we wandered through Prospect Park, which is gorgeous.

6 Family accomplishments:

  1. Kendell had NO SURGERIES. That is a miracle!
  2. I didn’t fall all year. I did pull my popliteus muscles (both of them!) during my mad dash across the Hawaiian coast, but I didn’t sprain my ankle in 2017!
  3. Haley really found her groove this year. She impressed professors, got papers published, got great grades. 2017 was her last full year of undergrad!
  4. Jake went through some really tough things in the winter. He is still trying to figure stuff out but I am proud of him for not giving up. He’ll find his way!
  5. Nathan discovered a new sport. He made the basketball team during his freshman and sophomore year, but he just was not loving it. He didn’t feel like he fit into the team and the coach had nothing but disdain for him (the last straw was when he sprained his ankle during a practice and the coach didn’t even come over to check on him, so his teammates had to help him up and over to the bleachers). Instead of getting gloomy or frustrated, he switched sports, to volleyball. And he loves it! When I went to his first volleyball game it was like watching an entirely different kid. He plays volleyball with happiness, unlikely the anxiety that swirled around him during basketball games.
  6. Kaleb took control of his body. He’s been going through that pre-pubescent weight gain and it was making him miserable. So all fall, he’s been working on exercise and eating healthier foods. And he is losing weight. I’m proud of him, not exactly for losing weight, but for working so hard to gain control (if that makes sense).

5 Things we bought in 2017:

  1. A new car (and we sold our minivan, which was a sad day for me!)
  2. A dishwasher (which I HATE; whomever designed it has apparently not ever actually put dishes into a dishwasher)
  3. Boots. These were all for me…my 14-year-old Dr. Martens had to be replaced, and I might’ve “replaced” them with 4 pair (but if you know me you know I wear the heck out of my boots, so it’s not like they’ll just sit on a shelf)
  4. A new roof. My favorite way to spend a whole bunch of money!
  5. New cell phones. When Kendell switched jobs he had to get a new phone…and as they were buy one, get one free, I got a new one too!

4 Favorite Albums from 2017:

  1. Re-Covered by Dan Wilson. The song “Closing Time” by Semisonic was written by Dan Wilson (who was the lead singer), but he wrote a ton of other popular songs, too, that were first sung by other bands or singers. On this album, he sings songs he wrote for other artists. I LOVE this album; I knew all the songs, even though they’re from all sorts of musical genres, and hearing them remade gave me a deeper appreciation for them.
  2. Gone Now by the Bleachers. My favorite song on the album is “Don’t Take the Money” (I love the line “’till I saw your face and hands covered in sun and then I think I understand”) but the whole thing is pretty damn good!
  3. Colors by Beck. I haven’t liked a Beck album for a long time, but I like this one!
  4. Signs of Light by The Head and the Heart. This feels like a very 80s-inspired album to me. It just makes me happy.

3 Vacations we took:

  1. Hawaii in May. This was a long-promised reward for Jake’s 4.0 during his senior year. All six of us went. We haven’t done a family trip with everyone since we went to Yellowstone in 2011. (We’ve done other trips…just not with everyone.) I was a little bit nervous about how it might turn out, but it was fantastic. We snorkeled, we swam, we saw the volcano. Everyone got along. It was fantastic. My only complaint is that we didn’t stay long enough. We stayed on the Big Island, and if I were to do it again, I’d plan a few days sleeping in Hilo instead of spending all the time in Kona. There was so much we saw but still so much we didn’t get to see.
  2. California in July. I wanted to take a vacation with me, Kendell, Nathan, and Kaleb. So I planned a trip to California…and then Nathan didn’t want to come because he had a volleyball tournament, and Kaleb didn’t want to come if Nathan wasn’t going. So I shifted the plans around a bit and turned it into a hiking vacation for me and Kendell. We visited Bryce Canyon on the way, and then drove to Ventura the next day, where we hiked in the Los Padres mountains and on Santa Cruz island. I missed having the kids along, but it would’ve been a different trip if they came (much less hiking!). It was lovely to have some time alone.
  3. New York City in November. This was our second autumn trip to NYC. We just didn’t feel like we saw everything we wanted to when we went last year. It was a fantastic trip, aside from the cold; we went to Staten Island, saw two Broadway plays (The School of Rock and The Lion King), wandered around Brooklyn (including into the Brooklyn library), walked around Queens looking at murals, wandered around the Bronx. The highlight was touring the Basilica of St. Patrick’s cathedral, but the best part was getting to spend time with our friends the McAlisters.

2 Medical Things: (This was SUCH a light year for us!):

  1. Nathan’s hernia surgery
  2. WARTS. Kaleb had one that would NOT go away, after every treatment the dermo tried. We finally made him switch shoes (he is the kind of kid who likes to just have one pair of shoes and then just wear them out) and as of January 8, he is finally wart free. Jake’s hands are covered with warts and he’s being doing a bi-weekly wart treatment since June. It’s taking forever, but can I confess: the wart appointments are a great reason to see him!

1 big change:

Kendell got a new job! He’d been at his previous job since 1991. 1991! He’s still adjusting to the newness. But it’s been great for him.

And that's probably a wrap on my 2017-recap posts!



A Week of Endings and Beginnings

Last week was one of changes, of endings and new beginnings. Before I write those down though, here’s my favorite picture from the week:

20171019_ at burgers supreme 6x6

I took it while we were eating dinner at Burgers Supreme together. It could only be better if Nathan were also there, but alas, he was at work that night. Haley came down for a quick visit, which was great. She is so busy during this, her last year of college, and I think it helps her to feel happier when she’s busy like that. She and Jake both went to the eye doctor and then I helped them pick out glasses (so far, no one has horrible eyesight like I do, but all three of the Bigs now need glasses for driving, watching movies, and reading the board in class). French fries and burgers (fish sandwich for Haley & Kendell though) and laughing. We haven’t managed to get Jake available at the same time Haley was home for a while, and the last time they saw each other was in May when we went to Hawaii. So this picture makes my heart hurt, but in a good way. That achy, sweet thing I feel so often now, of time’s transition and of how much I love the people they are becoming.



The changes that I wrote about a few weeks ago (“wrote” in a vague, I-can’t-write-about-this-yet way) is that Kendell got a new job. This is HUGE for him, as he’s worked for this company (in its several iterations) since 1991. But he was at last ready for some changes. So, this was his last week working at Microfocus. He’s starting his new job, at a company called Proof Point, on Monday. He’s worried about and discussed and talked through this decision all week (even though the decision was already made). It’s hard leaving the company and product he’s worked on for most of his adult life. But the opportunity to go to a new company, make a fresh start, and have other chances at positions will be great for his career, I think. And his psyche. Is it cheesy to say I’m proud of him? Maybe. But I am…proud of him for taking a step in a new direction.

Because his new company doesn’t offer a cell phone, he had to get a new one. And since the S8 was on a bogo, I also got a new one. So: new phones. (But not new phone numbers. Would you believe I’ve had the same cell phone number since 1993, when we got our first cell phone? And yes. It was one of those grey phones the size of a brick!)

And then, the new vehicle we’ve been saving for finally arrived. We sold our minivan this summer, as we didn’t need so much space anymore. (I might’ve shed some tears when we told our Sienna—which the kids had nicknamed the “fat puma,” FP for short—not so much because I loved it sooooo much, but because selling it was a marker of the ending of a time in my life.) We bought a new Highlander and it’s perfect for us. I told Kendell that I can’t wait to toss my snowshoes in the back and head up the canyon in it this winter!

Kaleb had his last soccer game of the season on Monday. His team won, but he didn’t score any goals, so he had some mixed feelings. I heard the coach of the other team (and some parents) shout “block #1!” more than once, so he was heavily guarded! Then on Tuesday morning I took him in to the dermatologist. He’s had this big wart growing on his toe knuckle; it’s been removed three times already but keeps coming back. This time the doctor tried a chemo drug, injected right into the wart. Hopefully that will take care of it. (He wanted it off as soon as it started growing back, but I didn’t want him to have to miss soccer practice and games because of hurting feet.) He is starting to make a group of friends at his new school, and they like to get out and do things. So this week he went to a birthday party, to a trampoline park, and to a movie, all with friends. (It still feels strange that he is growing up!)

Nathan is deep inside his senior year at this point. Studying all the time for his ACT retake, which is this Saturday. For his AP art class, he had to choose a concentration, a subject to focus on for the whole year for his art homework. He chose to paint women from Greek mythology. Last week he was busy painting Europa riding the bull (who was Zeus in disguise). I’ve so enjoyed telling him the stories I know, revisiting the myths and remembering things I’d forgotten. But I still have the last line of “Leda and the Swan” kicking around in my memory: “Did she put on his knowledge with his power/Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?” so I looked it up and read the whole thing to him. Which lead to us talking about rape, consent, choice, and his responsibility in all of that. (I’m glad he’s open to talking about almost anything. We have some great conversations.)

Last week was the end of the term, so both Nathan and Kaleb worked quite a bit on the last-minute flurry to bring their grades up. (Sigh. I have mixed feelings about this. It’s good they’re making sure to get it done, but why wait until the end of the term?)

I got some good running in. My favorite run was on Saturday morning. It was windy when I left, but a warm wind, and there were leaves blowing everywhere. It was still sunny (although, the clouds were coming) and bright, and all of those leaves—different colors, different types—were just so pretty. About half-way through my run, then wind stopped, and I started crossing streets in strange places just so I didn’t miss any leaf piles on sidewalks. Running through leaf piles = a blissful sort of heaven! Then, about ten minutes later, the wind started up again, cold this time, and the clouds filled the sky. I got home just before the storm arrived. It was lovely! (Except for the two new blisters I came home with.)

I finished a book, Poetry Will Save Your Life, and then resumed my mammoth reading project (the 1000+ pages of It are an undertaking). I made a couple of layouts and bought a few more pieces of fabric for my soccer quilt. And I made pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies.

It was a pretty good week.

October Week 2, a Day Late

Yesterday got away from me so I’m posting this a day late. (Church, where I taught a lesson on how to be more Christlike in our efforts to take care of the poor and needy, and then a little wander with Kendell, and then a nap, and then dinner which I loved—roast beef, scalloped potatoes, acorn squash, and biscuits—not just for the food but because the kids came and helped me cook and really: I need to do that more often, even if it makes the kitchen feel crowded.) But last week was a pretty good week, so I’m not going to skip. (And I just want to keep the momentum going!)

Last Sunday, after church, Kendell and I went for a hike. We kept debating whether or not we should go, because while it was sunny and almost-warm when we got up, by 10:00 it was cold, windy, and grey. But I knew the leaves would start losing their color soon, so we bundled up and went. It was chilly, but not too bad once we were moving (except for my hands…should’ve worn my running gloves), and the bonus of hiking on a cold day is we had the trail almost entirely to ourselves. Plus the trees were on fire with color. Autumn hiking is the best!

Battle creek overlook hike bush mountain

(Kendell was teasing me about my hiking "outfit." I probably do match too much, lol!)

I’m trying to be hopeful that my recent mood upswing is a thing I can trust. I got out and went running twice last week, but I’ve got to ramp it up this week as I finally signed up for a half marathon. I’m going to run the Brooklyn Half in November, when we go to New York. I’m fairly excited to run a race in a different state, as I’ve never actually done that before. I also really, really love running in the fall, and I’m enjoying so much, this year, not having the anxiety of a heart surgery looming over us like we did for the past two autumns.

In his English class, Nathan read Oedipus the King, and last week he was working on an essay about it. We had some pretty good conversations about fate, choice, why bad things happen, and if they are unavoidable. I so love it when school influences relationships in positive ways. He played in his first volleyball tournament on Saturday, which we missed because I didn’t find out about it until that morning and I hadn’t planned for it. (Since I work two Saturdays a month, the Saturdays I don’t work are usually full of a long list of to-do items.) But he loved playing again, his team won 5 out of their 8 games, and he loves his coach. I’m so glad he switched from basketball to volleyball. I don’t know if this is just a Utah County thing, but the emotional environment of his basketball team was utterly toxic. Volleyball seems so much more laid back and supportive of everyone. He’s much happier with this sport.

Kaleb had his first parent-teacher conference for junior high. I couldn’t go because it was on the night I worked, but Kendell took him to it. I’ve worried about Kaleb in junior high being successful at academics (not because of ability but because I wasn’t sure he’d take it seriously) but he is doing great. He had two grades he needed to bring up before the end of the term this week, and has been doing that on his own without me prompting him. In his English class they’re reading the novel Wonder, which I loved. He’s read it before but is enjoying revisiting the story.

I finished the book I was reading for my book group and then I picked It back up. I need to just power through and finish it, because I have so many other books waiting. I also finally got all of the Halloween pics printed from the past 22 Halloweens, so I can put them in a simple little scrapbook. Photos coming soon! This summer I decided to try making some monthly family layouts—one double-page spread with photos from the month and list-style journaling. I realized that there are so many pictures that never get printed, and this is a good way to remedy that. I made the July, August, and September layouts last week and they came together quickly (I'm keeping them super simple). Not sure how long I'll do this—once Nathan moves out and it's just Kaleb at home, will I have enough family pics to keep it up?—but I am enjoying it, even if I only do it for a year.

I had a little meltdown this week (despite my improving mood!) based entirely on trump’s tinkering with the world. I am troubled by his careless actions, executive orders that hack away at things without giving any solutions, but what really pushed me over the edge was Rob Bishop working on dismantling the Antiquities Act. I wonder how much money he is getting from oil companies? Also the approval for the mine bid in Alaska. When trump was elected one thing I felt consistently was a sort of furious terror at what he will cause to happen to our environment. People’s lives will be negatively impacted by his decisions in terms of health insurance and taxes and policies. My life will be. (With two people in our family with heart conditions—which, I have to add even though it is wrong I feel compelled to add this—came about not because of their choices but because of genetics—you can bet that I am terrified about what will happen with our healthcare.) But the damage done to the physical world cannot be undone. It doesn’t just affect now, but the future. And it sends me to dark, sad places. Anyway, I posted about this sadness on Facebook, and although there were a few comments that made me grind my teeth a bit, there were some really kind, supportive comments too. I probably spend too much time on my social media (I always say “it’s like having friends,” in Luna’s voice in my head) and it’s not always positive, but sometimes it’s magical, the support it can bring.

And that, friends, is the wrap up of another week of October, my favorite month. Hoping this week continues on with the better mood!

First Week in October: Perhaps a New Beginning, and Musings on Family

September was a hard month for me. I got a cold right at the beginning of the month and it zapped every ounce of my energy. And then I lost all of my running motivation. Most mornings, instead of running I just went back to bed after the kids went to school. I tried…but I just had nothing.

For whatever reason, sometime on Wednesday of last week, the fog cleared. I started feeling like I had energy again, and excitement to get outside and run. So on Thursday, I finally hit the trail again, and it felt amazing. I really hope this upswing is a permanent change, because I don’t like myself when I’m feeling so blue and sluggish.

Last week was also a week of sewing. One of my nieces is having a baby, so I needed to make a gift. Three different trips to different fabric stores and I had three different projects to work on. I finished two of them, and got the third one entirely cut out. And I was re-motivated to dig out my pink-and-black half-square triangle project from last winter. Maybe it was the playing with fabric that helped me feel better???

Nathan has entered the super-busy life of a senior. ACT prep, big art projects, volleyball practice, work, homework, time with his girlfriend, and napping when he can fit it in. For his AP art class, they have to do a year-long concentration where they focus on one topic. He’s chosen women in Greek mythology (he is in love with the Myths & Legends podcast), so last week he was drawing Arachne and Athena. His first piece turned out fantastic! Plus…it was kind of, I don’t know. “Cool” isn’t exactly the right word. But it is something to have a hurricane Nate kicking around!

I got to see Jake this week. He’s getting an intense treatment for warts on his hands…so we meet up at the dermatologist every two weeks or so. I’m not glad he got such a bad infection, but I am glad for a reason to see him. He seemed happy and relaxed this week, which made me feel happy and relaxed too. No Haley sightings, but holy cow. When I woke up to the news of the Las Vegas shooting, my first reaction was “thank God she doesn’t like country music.” She’s gone to many concerts in Vegas…maybe it is selfish of me when so many mothers DID lose their children in that awful shooting (Oh how my heart hearts for those moms who lost their kids). But I’m so glad she’s safe and wasn’t there.

This week I really realized just how TWELVE Kaleb is. He’s moody…obnoxious one second, sad the next. He loves seventh grade and then he hates it. I’m pretty sure there’s stuff going on he’s not telling me about. I’m trying to be present and welcoming to any kind of discussion he’s willing to have. But man. Junior high is so hard on kids. WHY does it have to be so hard? And why does their brain insist on making it harder for them by keeping secrets? I keep telling him to remember that his parents aren’t the enemy…we’re on his side. (Meanwhile though, my brain—and my heart—everything in me is freaking out because when did this happen? He was my baby for so long. And now he’s not.)

Kendell had something big happen this week. Enormous, actually. But I can’t quite talk about it yet. So...until I can, I will say that the big thing is not the fact that we planned another trip to New York this week. Heading there in November. 

On Saturday I went to the baby shower I made the quilt for. I only had a little while to be there, because I went on my lunch hour, but it just made me happy. Ever since I found that bread bag of photos, I’ve been thinking about family connections. There is one photo in the bag, a family pic from the Christmas I was a baby, and my dad looks exactly like Jake. Well, “exactly,” if Jake had a rounder face and a black handlebar 1970s mustache, but still. His eyes and mouth are the same. And it just made me think, about my dad and my grandparents and my cousins and my aunts and uncles and my kids and my nieces and nephews and greats. And my future grandkids. None of us is identical, we all have different traits and interests and body shapes and lives. But we also have connections and similarities, places where our lives overlap. I wish my extended family was closer, especially my cousins, but I don’t know how to make that happen. But I can strengthen my relationships with the people who care about me and who I care about.

So that’s why this is my favorite picture from last week:

All the girls

Even though I wish there were others in it. Sometimes I feel like a great big lonely stretch is headed my way, when I will need to learn to embrace doing things by myself. It feels like such a strong prompting that I can’t ignore it. But this day felt like the opposite of that. Or an addendum: you might feel alone at times, but sometimes other people will surround you. I love all of these women—my mom, two of my sisters, and my nieces. They are amazing in different ways and add so much to my life, and I am proud of each of them. And blessed to have relationships with them.

The Last Week of September: Not my Favorite Week, But I've Survived.

Last week could be categorized by lots of stuff I didn’t do. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t go outside much. I didn’t mow the lawn even. I didn’t cook much. I didn’t sit outside and enjoy the fall weather. I took almost no photographs.

Mostly I just fought a headache.

My theory is that my headache has to do with my left eyebrow, which I am totally self-conscious about because it’s uneven. So I’m always unconsciously pulling up my forehead. And eventually it catches up to me and I get a left-temple headache.


I was feeling better on Thursday, which was good because my mom and sister needed some help. My sister is moving in with my mom, but before that can happen, my mom needs to empty her basement of all the boxes she brought when she moved. There is a lot of stuff to go through. And I really wanted to be helpful. But then I got sidetracked when I found this bread bag.

This bread bag full of photos.


Seriously. Photos I’ve never seen before, of my parents and my grandparents. My cousin with my grandparents when she was a newborn. Becky when she was a newborn. Family photos and birthday photos and baby photos. Not all of me (actually…not very many with me), but that’s OK.

I think my sister was like “Hey! There’s boxes over here!” but I could not, could not, resist going through and looking at every single photo.

I’ve since sorted them into different groups, and am trying to decide where to get them scanned. I am not sure it will make much sense to many people, but these unseen photos mean so much to me.

Headache and photos aside, I did accomplish a few things. I made two scrapbook layouts. I helped Nathan with his ACT prep. I did read a little bit, too (I am rereading It.)

On Sunday, when I had a little headache reprieve, I wanted to just get outside. So Nathan and I took a drive. We went on the Alpine loop, which is a road up and over the mountains in the Wasatch. It had stormed all weekend, and snow had fallen in the mountains. It was an amazingly beautiful drive. Low in the canyon the trees were already brilliant but the storm was still going, so the clouds and mist were curving around the crags of the mountain. As we got higher, snow started gathering, on the green tree leaves and the orange ones, and in delicate wisps on the pine trees. We got out and walked here and there. We drove slowly around the curves, we admired the rows of aspen trees against the snow. Sometimes we talked and sometimes we didn’t, and it was exactly what I needed. (Even though it didn’t keep the headache away!)

Kaleb had just one soccer game this week, on Thursday. It was a gorgeous afternoon (so much nicer than the previous week’s very cold and windy game) and they almost pulled off a win—3-2! But Kaleb did get to score on a penalty kick so it wasn’t a total bust.

Nathan got some awesome news this week, he got invited to be on a really great volleyball team. It’ll add some stress to his life but he’s super excited and I’m pretty proud of him landing a spot on a team based just on his reputation.

But last week wasn’t really my favorite. I’m hoping this week will be better. It is, after all, October. I need to get over my fear of being cold and get outside more. I hope this week will be better.

Third Week of Weekly Reviews. Including a Recipe!

(I know. I'm as surprised as you are that I've actually stuck with this goal of mine! Not only that but I've been taking more pictures just to make sure I have a few to pick from each week.)

Last week was a little bit crazy. Big mood swings and I had some awful headaches. On Friday I melted down completely. But we got tons of rain, and that meltdown triggered something in me, reminding me that I don’t have to be a victim to my mood. I know what I need to do and this week I just need to do it: run more, consume less sugar. Even if it rains!

My favorite picture from last week:

  September week 3

We took this selfie last Sunday. I love it because Kaleb is smiling! (He’s at that age where he hates having his picture taken and so he’s really, really hard to photograph.) That dress I’m wearing is the oldest piece of clothing I own; I bought it in 2003 when I was teaching, and I still love it.

Last Sunday was my week to teach in church. This is always difficult for me. I wrestle with church history and some of the doctrine, but I usually find a way to make a decent lesson. Last week I talked about the handcart pioneer disaster, which is near to my heart as I had ancestors who survived it. Mostly, though, I talked about how we can help to rescue the people we love. It is harder now, more subtle. More about loving and accepting and just…seeing what is needed rather than assuming that all of the answers fit everyone. I’m working on that. And I know in the end only Christ can save anyone. Even me. (Especially me.)

I did a little bit better with cooking this week. On Sunday I made sweet & hot meatballs (recipe at the end of this post) and on Friday we had grilled burgers and brown rice. OK…not much better. But a little bit. Places we ate out:  Pizza Pie Café, Costa Vida, and Mi Ranchito. I guess we did have leftovers one night, and sandwiches another night, so it could’ve been worse. Pizza Pie Café is a buffet-style restaurant, with pizza, salad, and pasta. (It’s where Jake, Nathan, and Haley have all worked.) When we were eating there on Monday, I asked Kaleb what his favorite pizza there is. (Mine is the chicken ranch, which is weird because I don’t really like ranch, except when it’s topped with grilled chicken and plenty of salty mozzarella I guess.) He thought for a second and then said “garlic knots are my favorite pizza.” Which made me giggle a bit!

I went to ballet barre class on Monday, and I ran only once. The cold weather snuck in and drained all of my running mojo. This week, I’m going to dig into some of my warmer running clothes and see if that helps me feel motivated. I have so loved running in the heat this summer that I’m sort of dreading running in the cold.

Nathan and Jake both had appointments with the dermatologist, but not on the same day. That’s three dermo appointments in six days. That means I saw the dermatologist more than I saw my own mother last week. We chatted about his awesome experience seeing the eclipse last month and I tried not to feel bitter that I didn’t go and see it too. (Maybe I should’ve just hitched a ride with my dermatologist? Seeing as how we’re besties now???)

It’s always good to spend time with Jake, even if it is bonding over wart-removal techniques.

On Monday, I mowed the lawn while Kendell went to the gym, and then when he got home I asked him to help me get an enormous weed out that was growing between our fence and the neighbor’s. Turns out there was an enormous hornet’s nest back there and he got stung twice. Not so fun.

Kendell and I went to see It. And then a couple of days later I bought a copy of the book. It’s been calling to me for a couple of months now, and seeing the movie finally made me give in and get the book. I read it when it first came out—when I was 14—and I don’t have the clearest memories of it, except I remember that I enjoyed it, plus a few snippets of images (Bill riding his bike with Bev on the handlebars is the clearest). I’m about 50 pages in and I’m discovering that I can’t re-read this in the same way I read it the first time, which is true of any book but especially true of Stephen King. I find myself reading to understand how he does it, rather than just for the adventure and terror. We’ll see if that keeps up or if I can sink down into the story.

Kaleb had two soccer games this week. The Thursday game was in Highland and the storm was coming in. It was so cold and windy. I managed to survive because I happened to have two cardigans with me, lol, but Kendell was in shorts and flip flops and he was freezing! Kaleb scored at each game; they won their Thursday game and tied their Saturday game, with Kaleb getting a goal about two minutes before the game was over to tie it up (which I didn’t get to see because I was at work). He is enjoying soccer so much more this year. It helps that his coach is pretty even tempered and balances out who plays which position, so Kaleb isn’t always stuck being the goalie. (In fact, he keeps it a secret from his team, that he’s really good at being goalie, because he hates playing that position!)

On Friday Nathan asked me to make him lunch (he comes home for lunch quite often) and I was so grumpy and sad that I said “nah, I don’t want to fix lunch” and so we went to lunch instead. (Oooops, add that to my list of places I ate this week!) We went to Panda Express, had a nice chat, and I left feeling a little bit happier.

Kendell and I watched the series episode of one of our favorite TV shows, The Strain. We also watched a lot of news together, and ranted about politics. Every day when we wake up, he’ll turn on the TV to check the news, a habit he picked up during the election last fall (I would rather have no TV on in the morning) and I always say “what fresh new way has trump ruined our world overnight?” It’s hard to believe we are living through such strange times, earthquakes and hurricanes and an enormous baby as the president of the United States.

Anyway. Here’s to a week with fewer headaches and more running, fewer restaurants and more cooking! And here’s that recipe:

Sweet & Hot Meatballs

2 cups pineapple juice or 1 20 oz can pineapple chunks
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 8 oz can tomato paste
2 cups V8
¾ cup brown sugar
1-2 T chili powder
2 tsp liquid smoke
red pepper flakes to taste
prepared meatballs

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together, adjusting spices to your heat preference. Add meatballs (I just use the ones they sell at Costco…making my own meatballs sounds nightmarish) and heat through. Serve over coconut rice (which is rice with some portion of the water replaced with coconut milk).

I haven’t made these in forever and I forgot how much everyone likes them. Nathan came home from a date with Bailey on Sunday night and had a second helping before he went to bed! Yay for dinners that no one complains about.

A Picture I Didn't Take: Weekly Summary September 10-16

My favorite picture this week is one I didn’t take. But let me describe it for you: It’s got me, Kaleb, and Kendell, plus Jake, Nathan, and their girlfriends (Elena and Bailey). We’re at Red Lobster and half of them are blissed out on all-you-can-eat shrimp while Bailey, Kaleb and I are pretty happy with our steaks.

I didn’t take this picture because A—the lighting inside the restaurant was bad and B—sometimes taking a picture turns an experience into An Event, especially for my kids who hate having pictures taken. And I didn’t want it to feel like An Event, even though, really, it sort of was. Going to Red Lobster for all-you-can-eat shrimp is a tradition. Kendell and I started doing this in 2002, with our friend James; we took Kaleb along a couple of times when he was a baby. It’s since evolved…we’ve gone with other people, and it was the thing we had planned for Kendell’s mom’s birthday, the day after she passed away. But sitting there with my big kids, missing Haley, and with the extra girlfriends…it just really made me think about how our life is changing and how it will continue to change.

It was a good night.

I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures this week because I was sick for most of it. I had a cold that wasn’t really too bad on the actual cold symptoms but totally knocked me out as far as energy goes. And the fever and joint paint were pretty miserable. Wednesday was the only day this week I didn’t take a two-hour nap. But I’m finally feeling better.

Kaleb had a soccer game on Saturday. He scored two goals, and his team won 3-1. He is so much happier with this year’s team and coach, who has been able to see Kaleb’s strengths (even if he’s not the fastest runner, he has a powerful kick and a good aim, plus an instinctual understanding of how to move on the field). Playing forward this year and contributing goals has re-energized his affection for soccer. Plus, it was a beautiful day to watch a soccer game, sunny but not hot and with a tiny breeze.

Kendell had an appointment with the dermatologist, who is helping him with the keloid scarring from his incision, and I finally got Nathan to the podiatrist to pic up his orthotics.

On Friday, Kaleb went with a friend to the carnival at one of our high schools, and then to the football game. I'm not really sure how I feel about this—him doing adolescent stuff! I mean, it's great. I'm glad he's developing friendships and doing fun things. But sometimes I'd like him to just be three again. I'm trying to remind myself to just live in the now and be OK with what is. And it is exciting to see him growing up.

I meant to go hiking on Saturday morning but we got a lovely downpour of a rainstorm, so I ran instead. (Thought the trails would be super muddy.) My only other run this week was with Becky on Thursday. We went on a trail by her house because in September it’s lined with sunflowers. So pretty! It was so nice to talk while we ran.

Amy becky running 09 14 2017

Nathan is knee-deep in prepping to take the ACT. I’ve been helping him with the English sections and Jake came over on Tuesday to help with the math part. Plus he’s working quite a bit on his self-portrait for his AP art class. He is not loving being back in school. Senior year…classes are easier than junior year but man is it hard to put forth the effort. He’s loving his art class though! And his Spanish class, and he really loves his English teacher. (Awesome because last year’s English teacher was…not awesome.)

Haley got some great news this week about an opportunity at work. She is so busy that we don’t hear from her a lot, so it’s so nice when she has time to chat. Love that she is thriving in her last year of college!

While I was sick, I spent a lot of time working on organizing my photo folders because I was long overdue on doing a back up. This lead to quite a few reminiscences over adorable pictures, which lead to looking through scrapbook layouts, which lead to a list of stories I still need to scrapbook. I know the non-scrappy people in my life don't really understand this part of me. But even though it might seem silly or childish or whatever, I love it. I love making layouts and I love looking back on our memories.

Becky and I met for a super-quick lunch on Friday. I only had an hour so she went to the restaurant first and ordered. I was excited to share one of my favorite restaurants with her, Thai Village. Even if we only had less than 30 minutes to spend there together.

Which makes me realize that we ate out way too often this week: Red Lobster, Pizza Hut, Costa Vida, and Wallaby’s. I really need to start cooking more often but I’m having the hardest time finding any motivation for it.

Maybe that can be my goal for this week: actually cook!

How was your week?

And…what was the last meal you cooked that your family actually liked?