Monday, November 19, 2012

Halloween 2012

{So. My lack of posting is indicative of my state of mind of late. But I found I had the time and the inclination to post today, so I'm going with it.}

Carving pumpkins. Eva hates the guts. Who can blame her?
Lucas doing his Joker makeup. He was dead set on being the Joker from the Dark Knight, even though we feared it might be in poor taste (given what happened in Colorado earlier this year). It's hard to tell in these pictures, but his hair was green.
Why so serious?
Eva announced that she has outgrown princesses and prissy girl stuff. Well. She wanted to be something creepy.
I didn't have to buy or make anything for her costume. Works for me! (By the way, the little drops of "blood" were her idea.)
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Lucas's jack-o-lantern.
Eva's jack-o-lantern.
Riley came over to go trick or treating with her, to the delight of both. Marc took them while I stayed home to man the door. Usually one of us will go out for awhile and then we switch, but this time they were fine with just an hour or so! I got off easy this year.
Landon came over to trick or treat with Lucas. They were gone for almost three hours!
They scored quite a haul.
Poor Max didn't get to do anything fun on Halloween, as he was finishing up a crazy huge assignment for his AP English class. A paper with 70 required sources! He finished. Whew!

Friday, November 02, 2012

books 2012: #36-41

Light on SnowLight on Snow by Anita Shreve

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can count on Anita Shreve for a quick read that isn't too heavy, but still satisfies.

State of WonderState of Wonder by Ann Patchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never knew I could be so interested in the Amazon! Such lush descriptions, I almost could feel what it was like to be there. (And I'm never ever going there, so it's definitely the closest I will get.)

This book is so intelligent and well-written, and has such interesting characters, it confirms my love of Ann Patchett. This might be my favorite of her novels, though it's been a long time since I read Bel Canto, so I guess the jury's still out.

The Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting read about a couple who live on a remote island where a small boat washes up with a baby inside. Definitely shows her our choices can affect others and determine the course of our lives.

I Am Half Sick Of Shadows (Flavia De Luce, #4)I Am Half Sick Of Shadows by Alan Bradley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick, fun read. Follows the formula of the others in the series, but I like Flavia enough to keep reading.

The Transit of VenusThe Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up because I read that it was Anita Shreve's favorite novel, the one to which she compares all others. With an intriguing description like that, I had to read it.

It was slow going for the first third or so. Hazzard's writing is dense and verbose, and doesn't lend itself to fast reading. Eventually, I became interested enough in the characters and their lives that I couldn't leave them alone.

When I got to the end, I wasn't sure what had happened, so I turned back to the beginning and read the first few pages, where I knew there was some foreshadowing. I'm still not exactly sure what happened! But at least I have a vague idea.

Bottom line: beautiful language, interesting characters, but there aren't many redeeming qualities to be found and it is not a quick, easy read by any means.

3.5 stars.

Half EmptyHalf Empty by David Rakoff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

I think I was expecting a bit more, but it turns out that I heard almost all the best parts on the episode of This American Life that was dedicated to Rakoff after his death from cancer. Half Empty has some truly hilarious parts, and some insightful and witty parts, and a few parts that seemed like long, rambling digressions to me.

Still, it was worth the read, and Rakoff's death is truly lamentable. He was a great talent.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a work in progress

I went to the Mount Timpanogos temple recently. It is covered in scaffolding, as it needs repairs. The gentleman at the desk told me it will take quite awhile.

As I left and snapped this picture, I couldn't help but think that I, too, am a work in progress.

For quite awhile now, I have been feeling somewhat adrift.

I was so looking forward to Eva starting first grade last year. I had so many things I wanted to do, but had never had time for. I painted my kitchen cabinets, and that kept me occupied for a good long time. I volunteered a lot at the schools. I did some little projects here and there, I painted the piano.

Summer was very busy, with several trips and lots of good family time. At the end of the summer, we had a yard sale. Marc and I went through the entire garage, culling. It felt great to get rid of so much stuff.

A little later, I cleaned up the garage, sweeping and organizing a bit more. I was on fire. I was doing yardwork, going to the gym, being mindful of my eating.

But the kids were back in school. And here's one thing I know for sure: having children and having my children around is the best thing that ever happened to me. Not just because I really love them, but also because they help to keep my depression at bay. Their needs keep me busy, give me purpose and motivation to get out of bed (and stay out).

I was never the kind of mom who cried when her kids went off to kindergarten. I rejoiced. I knew it was good for them and good for me. I have always treasured my brief snatches of solitude.

But here's the thing: I am remembering, once again, that big transitions are difficult for me, even ones that are exciting. For instance, Max is getting ready to apply to college. I am facing the very real fact that he will be leaving home soon and our family will never be the same again. I know it will be wonderful for him. It's exciting. But I like my family the way it is. I like having everyone under one roof.

It's weird. I've never felt like a mom who lives vicariously through her children. I've taken pains to maintain and develop my own interests. I certainly never thought I would be in this position. Given an influx of time to myself, I pictured myself losing weight, getting fit, devoting more time to studying the scriptures, keeping my home clean and organized. And while I've done some of that, it would seem that  my personal pursuits are not motivation enough.

Depression has been threatening to overcome me, and it's been progressively getting worse. If I have a meeting or an appointment, I will be there, but otherwise, I've been hard pressed to do anything other than sleep or read. I hate feeling like this.

I went to a new doctor this week, and we're changing my meds. She recommended that I start seeing a therapist, a life coach to help me redefine who I am at this point in my life and figure out what steps to take next. I didn't see this coming.

I am definitely a work in progress.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Foothill Fall Festival

Friday was the annual Foothill Fall Festival (at Eva's elementary school). It is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year!

Marc was out of town shooting a wedding, Max was in Salt Lake at a youth symphony rehearsal (not that he's interested anymore), and Lucas had been invited to the Haunted Forest with three girls! (I did see lots of people from his grade at the Fall Festival.)

Eva's friend Riley came with us, since her mom has a new baby and didn't want to brave the crazy crowds.

Max had the car, so we walked to the school. They decided that this rock in someone's yard was the perfect place to pose for a photo!

Incidentally, the theme this year was Going For the Gold, so Eva decided to dress in her most athletic attire, with a starry headband for good measure.
They had girls from a local hair school on hand to do hairstyles or spray color.  Eva hates getting her hair styled, but she was all about the purple stripes.

At the face painting booth, she requested an American flag. What could be more Olympian?
She finally had her first pony ride! She wanted to do it two years ago when she was in kindergarten, but chickened out at the last second. Last year was rainy, so they had to cancel the pony rides. She had already determined that, at the next opportunity, she would do it no matter what. This girl loves horses.
She noted that even though we had to wait in a long line and it cost 4 tickets, the pony ride was definitely worth it. (Riley rode a horse, and that wait was about 4 times as long!)
Another favorite attraction is always going on golf cart rides with the teachers. I think this is the school librarian.

Other events I did not get photos of (because my arms were laden with two-liter soda bottles that they had won in the soda walk): dunking booth, cotton candy, mini golf, soda walk, cake walk, making and shooting paper rockets, silent auction. I'm sure there were lots of others that I'm forgetting.

For treats, the girls both had a soda and Riley chose cotton candy, while Eva had strawberry gelato, so they were both sufficiently sugared up.
Cute photo.
Crazy photo.
Victory photo.
We didn't leave until well after dark. After walking to the school twice that day and being on my feet for 3 hours at the festival, I was exhausted. We started trudging home (and me lugging those blasted soda bottles), and then I heard Max call out to me. He had returned from Salt Lake and come straight over to drive us home. I don't know that I've ever been so happy to see someone in all my life.

Friday, September 21, 2012

12 on the 12th | September

This isn't so much a 12 on the 12th as 12 photos taken recently. That's just how it's been.

1. Playing Telestrations with Marc's family. Much hilarity ensued.
2. Our shower head has had a leak for some time now. Marc asked a friendly neighbor if he had any plumbing experience, and he ended up spending most of the day helping Marc to replace the fixtures (our plumbing was old and they couldn't find replacement parts!).
3. Two of our light bulbs in the bathroom were burnt out and very difficult to replace, so I had gradually gotten used to it being very dim. Marc was able to replace one of them, and I finally unscrewed the fixture and replaced the other. Now it is almost unbearably bright! It's weird what you get used to.
4. Marc gave Max and Lucas a tutorial on using his weight bench. Lucas has made it part of his routine.
5. Last Saturday, I went to a costuming workshop for Lucas's current school musical, Beauty & the Beast. This bejeweled, beribboned mask with sequins and feathers is the boy's version!
6. The whole school cafeteria was filled with women working on costume projects, and extension cords dangerously crisscrossed the room.
7. The lovely boutonniere I made for Lucas to wear with his tux in, I assume, the finale.
8. Once again, my studio has become simply a repository for bags and boxes that have nowhere else to go. I had to excavate my desk so that I could access my sewing machine to work on — you guessed it, costuming.
9. This is not the first picture I've taken of Max doing homework at the computer in an origami-like post, but it never fails to amaze me.
10. Eva had a powerful hankering to make cupcakes on Sunday. (Lucas was lobbying for chocolate/peanut butter, which led Eva to divulge that she is not such a fan of peanut butter, which led us to question her true identity as an Olivier.) We settled on chocolate chip cookie dough, and Marc declared them to be the best cupcakes he had ever eaten. They were pretty fabulous. (I eliminated the cookie dough filling and mini cookie garnishes to save time.)
11. Jill invited us to Landon's big night football game on Tuesday. It was so much fun! I hadn't been to a football game in years, and I always enjoy an outing with Lucas. Also, Jill brought movie theater popcorn and m&ms in bags specially decorated by Whitney.
12. Although I know he was distressed by their defeat, we hoped that he still appreciated all of his fans being there. I love that Landon and Lucas are such good friends.

Another costume workshop is on deck for tomorrow!

Friday, September 14, 2012

books 2012: #28-35

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had never read this classic before Eva and I read it together! Incredibly imaginative. Who knew rats (and mice) could be so endearing?

The Used WorldThe Used World by Haven Kimmel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of Haven Kimmel, and I'm a fan of books set in small towns with quirky characters whose live intersect. I'm a fan of ordinary people who turn out to be heroes to each other.

The Girl Who Fell from the SkyThe Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A moving coming-of-age story of a biracial girl who is left without parents and struggling to find her place in the world.

The Story SistersThe Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like all Alice Hoffman books, this one has good writing, intriguing, well-developed characters, and a dash of magical realism. It's been awhile since I read her, but this book is more haunting than I remember. Tragedy and heartbreak, with just enough redemption to keep you from wanting to throw yourself over a bridge :).

I particularly liked the two grandmothers who would not give up on their granddaughters and meddled, in the best of ways, until their lives took a turn for the better.

A favorite passage:

"Maybe some love was guaranteed. Maybe it fit inside you and around you like skin and bones. This is what she remembered and always would: the sisters who sat with her in the garden, the grandmother who stitched her a dress the color of the sky, the man who spied her in the grass and loved her beyond all measure, the mother who set up a tent in the garden to tell her a story when she was a child, neither good nor bad, selfish nor strong, only a girl who wanted to hear a familiar voice as the dark fell down, and the moths rose, and the night was sure to come."

3.5 stars.

GoldGold by Chris Cleave

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story of three world-class athletes (cyclists) and their quest for the Olympics was fascinating. Seeing what it really takes to achieve that kind of elite status in a sport is interesting and rather mind-blowing, but it also leaves you wondering if it is worth the sacrifice. I liked Tom, the coach, and Sophie, the little girl with leukemia. Her coping mechanisms of placing herself in the midst of Star Wars are quite endearing.

The language never lets you forget this is written by a Brit.

Good book club discussion.

This Is Where I Leave YouThis Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise sounded promising (dysfunctional Jewish family gathering for a shiva for their non-practicing father). While some of the writing was clever, a lot of the plot was too predictable and slapstick, like a dumb comedy that I would hate. Plus, there was such a preponderance of profanity, I couldn't really recommend it to anyone.

Cat's CradleCat's Cradle by Chieko N. Okazaki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book slowly, over a period of a few months, picking it up and reading a chapter here and there. (Each chapter is a separate address.) It changed how I think about a lot of things. I found myself thinking about things I had read in it over the weeks and months.

Here are the two main takeaways for me:

1. Celebrate our diversity.
2. Don't judge each other.

I am determined to do a better job at both of these things after reading this book.

Still AliceStill Alice by Lisa Genova

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is heartbreaking. While I'm sure Alzheimer's disease is always terrible, the early-onset version seems particularly terrible. To be shut down in your early 50's, while you're still in the midst of your career and you think you have many many good years ahead, and to be so awfully aware of the degeneration of not only your memories but all of your faculties, really, well it's almost unbearable just to even read about.

This is not one I am likely to forget (no pun intended), even with my notoriously bad memory. I found this book to be educational, moving, and beautiful.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sunday thoughts

Marc spoke in Sacrament Meeting today, and gave an excellent talk about faith.

Here was my favorite part: he said that recently I inherited a beautiful painting of the Savior that used to hang in my grandmother's home. Denise brought it to me when she drove out from Denver, and I had propped it against a wall, awaiting its eventual home (unknown to me at the time).

One day when I was out, Marc decided to rearrange the mantel to make room for the painting. He found himself wondering if it was going to work with the rest of our decor, etc. But he left it for awhile to get a read on it, and now it just seems so right, and he can't even remember what else used to be there.

How often do we do that in our lives? What do we have to rearrange to make room for the Savior? Because it is always worth it, always, and whatever we give up will just fade away and we won't even miss it.

I was so moved by this, especially because it was all tied up with my grandmother in my mind. Then we sang Lead, Kindly Light as the closing hymn, a great favorite of mine:

1. Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

2. I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

3. So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Text: John Henry Newman, 1801–1890
Music: John B. Dykes, 1823–1876

Whew. I really am not much of a crier anymore, but I could hardly sing the hymn and it was a little bit difficult to go to Primary afterwards and carry on as if everything was normal! In the best possible way.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

double rainbow all the way

Sometimes, when you've had a week of sick kids, a week of antibiotics and endless little medicine cups, when you've had interrupted sleep and not enough of it, when you haven't had the energy to work out, and you've eaten a little too much junk, when you haven't been productive and you've been in a bit of a fog and maybe a little under the weather yourself...

sometimes you look outside and you get a totally unexpected, breathtaking view that feels like a gift.

And everything feels a little brighter.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Sunday thoughts

Today in testimony meeting, one woman said, "It is a daily struggle to live in this world." That just kind of summed up how I've been feeling lately, and I was moved to hear someone else articulate it.

I know that when I'm feeling this way, I need to evaluate my daily life and activities and see what has been neglected. I know what I need to do, to some extent. And I need to exercise patience regarding the things that I still don't know about.

I came across this poem recently that speaks to me. I found it in Cat's Cradle by Chieko Okazaki and she said, "Patience is a worthy and fruitful approach to a great many problems. I love a poem by Carol Lynn Pearson called "Creation Continued," because she talks about many of the little wildernesses that we face as women and what we can do about it."

I will continue
To create the universe today
Right where God left off.

Little pockets of chaos
Somehow survived the ordering
And I feel moved
To move upon them
As in the beginning
The Spirit of God moved
Upon the face of the waters.

I will move upon my backyard today
And the weeds will be subdued
And the flowers can grow
And it will be good.

I will move long-distance
Upon a broken heart
And leave a little balm
And it will be good.

I will move upon the hunger of my children
With salad and spaghetti
Which is Emily's favorite
And it will be good
And even they will say so.
And I will move too
Upon their minds,
Leaving a little poem
Or an important thought
And that will be even better
Though they won't say so.

I will move upon
Birth defects and AIDS
With five and ten dollar checks
To help the scientists
Who are battling the big chaos
And I will move upon world hunger
With a twenty-four dollar check
For little Marilza in Brazil
And it will be good.

I will move upon
The kitchen floor
And the dirty laundry
And a blank piece of paper
And at the end of the day
Have a little creation to show.

And the evening and the morning
Are my eighteen thousand
and ninety-sixth day
And tomorrow will start another one.
And here is chaos and there is chaos
And who knows if creation
Will finally be done?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I don't have a ton going on right now, and I'm glad.

The yard sale is over.
I'm finished with doing 4 sharing times in a row in Primary.
The kids are back in school.
I'm still cleaning out the garage. It's amazing how much stuff there still is in there.
I have a new piano student, fortunately one who can have lessons during the day.
I ate lunch with Jill yesterday! It felt like forever since we'd talked.
I went to the temple today.
I need to write the Sacrament Meeting program.
I've been going to the gym regularly.
I'm trying to figure out how to minister to the women I visit teach.
Our front and side yards could use a little work. Our backyard is a cross between a desert and a jungle. I'm slowly chipping away at it.

But I have this little oasis in a pot on the front porch that makes me happy every time I see it.

And now, instead of starting dinner, I'm going to go read.
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