Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Authentic Me: Active

my second ragnar relay: This one, with girlfriends, in Texas

since my marriage, I think I've run through literally dozens of pairs of running shoes. Used for more than just running, once these are on my feet I feel obligated to make my body sweat

Last summer's attempt at an Olympic length triathlon. I wonder if I'll ever be active enough to do one of these really well. I'd like this to be my hobby-but my authentic mothering just can't give in to the time commitment it requires for my naturally sedentary body to become fast enough to really race.

being active with other women has become a deeply satisfying past time. Erin and I have run two ragnars together. You don't see here Linda, Macy, Annette, Michele, Shelly and other amazing women who have given me miles of conversation and years and years of friendship!

AUTHENTIC: adjectiveAuthentic: 1. Not false or copied; genuine; real
2. Having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence:

I have sedentary genes. My parents do not exercise. Their parents did not exercise, nor their parents before them. It is not natural for me to want to climb mountains, run through valleys or sweat in any amount.

But I am most myself when I am active in my life. I usually have to be working toward goals in order to stay motivated, and someday I hope it is genuinely authentic for me to NEED to be active, not not want to go without exercise, though that day has not yet come.

I'd rather stay in bed, but I don't most of the time.

Some of the most important experiences I've had in becoming who I am involved being active (and even a little bit athletic).

In Jr. High I made the 8th grade basketball team. This involved early morning practices and after school work outs. We played the 7th graders. We won. I, for the first time in my life, was successful at being part of a team. That success led me to 9th grade volleyball. I stunk, really. I was short and slow, but I was cheerful and willing and was chosen to be team captain. It was the first time anyone selected me to be a leader. And it was the second time I contributed to a winning team.

As a senior I tried to become regularly active, I picked up running. I joined the spring track team, mostly to have someone to work out with. I was slow, I was weak. But they let me run with them, and I was a good cheerleader. I never ran in a meet-but I was given the 'spirit award' week after week because I had heart.

And now, years later, I have some what of a track record for being an active person. I wish I could say it was natural. I am still slow. I am still weak. I am somewhat of a whimp in total reality.

But, I am active. It is part of who I am. And I am my best self when it is a regular, daily part of the life that is mine.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthday Season Part IV

my favorite find for the party were the paper cupcake holders in pink and green petal. They dressed up our plain white cups just perfectly

fairy wings, tutus and wands were waiting for each special guest

pink, green and GLiTTER were the order of the day

The Happy Birthday banner stayed draped over the threshold for several days after our celebration

cousin Ruby paints her fairy flower pot

little fairies search the garden for treasures to welcome SPRING!

Lucy enjoys friends and fun at her 5th birthday celebration

Our latest installment of Birthday Season! This time, Lucy is lovely as a garden fairy! Lucy turned 5 the day after Madi, though her party was a week before. As this was our 'last little girl' and as she is the girl-i-est girl we have in the bunch, we threw her a frilly, pink, fairy party. Garden fairy to be exact.

The decor included flowers, frills, and lots of glitter. Green gauzy fabric over a bright white table cloth, dozens of fresh flowers and potted bright flowers outside on the porch. Pink, orange and bright green paper flowers hung from the kitchen ceiling. glitter went everywhere; on the table, in the girls' hair and on their cheeks, and all through out the drizzly garden (fairy dust, to start the flowers growing!).

Each party guest was greeted with wings, a wand and a fairy garden skirt. We played 'pass the parcel' simplified for little ones, and had a garden scavenger hunt where treasures for fairies were found all over outside. Flower pots were painted, and zinnias planted, to invite those garden fairies to anticipate the coming of spring.

The chocolate cake was decorated by Lucy; with malted milk balls that took the shape of the number '5'.

Brynley and John were extra helpful before and during the party, as well as two sisters who came and enjoyed with us the fun of a little girls' party.

This was a fun party to plan and think about, because I don't know how many more years of fairy loving are left in the youth of my little girl. I really tried to enjoy the planning of the party in every way, and made it the center of the weekend so that decorating the house and having things just the way I wanted them didn't cause the family too much stress. Everyone cooperated with me and let me enjoy this time for Lucy. It really was her party, but I got to enjoy it almost as much as she!

And now birthday season takes a breather and allows us to enjoy the Easter season. Our next big day is the 2nd of May, when our oldest turns 16. I don't know if his celebrations will include a party, but whatever they are we will work hard to make it a special day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life in the Fast lane...

Lucy has learnrned well how to nap in the car. As uncomfortable as it looks, she can sleep in this position for literally hours while I drive kids from one end of the valley to another some afternoons

my pen and pencil stash in the family car; from this stockpile the kids have utensils for doing homework in the car as we drive from swim to rugby and back to the Spruces again.

Life has sped up at the Spruces. This week, along with birthdays, we have seen the beginning of Rugby season and the start of the soccer season as well. My afternoons are now most often spent-big chunks of them anyway-in the car. I've lost completely, on some nights, my time in the kitchen with our kids. Homework time is often spent in the car, with me having younger kids holler their spelling words or reading books at me while I navigate from the front seat.

It has caused me to ponder if all the running around is worth it.

John and I have wanted so much for our kids to be able to have 'experiences' which will help them become whole and happy human beings. Not just hollow souls-but we've wanted for them to have chances to try things, to see what they are on the inside, and to see what they can do with determination and hard work. We are determined that they become whole through service as well, and so some of our hours spent outside of home are filled with service-and we want to pattern for our kids that part of being a productive human being is being part of something bigger than ourselves, so we require the kids to support each other, and to support us while we serve in our church and community.

But there are trade-offs. Homework done in the car instead of by the hearth. dinners made more out of a box at times and less out of the garden. It means mom isn't home; which means that things at home don't run as smoothly. More fighting between kids who stay while I go. Less tidy and more mess. Its a hard trade-off for me.

Last night John asked me what my expectations were concerning time and home. We chatted while we feel asleep, the exhaustion of the race we are running causing us both fatigue. We know its a trade off to have the kids go and do. We aren't sure the answers we have right now are the best ones. The easiest and least expensive solution is to call off all the lessons and teams. To quit in the name of "time at home". It is an option we are pondering, but we don't think its the exact right answer. We aren't sure there is one.

I think with time and thought and prayer we'll find peace in the chaos, or find peace in calling it all off. For now our choice is to try to stay connected as a family through morning and evening prayer, weekly time together on Monday nights, and supporting each other by cheering and clapping as each one performs elsewhere. We are trying to stay connected as a couple with love notes, dates (shorter and farther between than they used to be) and trying to cheer each other on too-there are few things in this world I can't do if I know John is on the sideline, telling me I can do them.

So we'll see how this busy season helps us grow and helps us learn. When early summer comes and its time to kick back, when all the teams and recitals have finished their busy seasons, we'll evaluate how things went and decide how we want them to go in the future.

For now we will just learn to smile through rush hour carpools and late night practices. And try to be cheerful as we help our children grow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Birthday Season Part III

Madi blows out 11 candles, we can't believe she's growing up so fast!

Gourmet s'mores was a total winner. While the kids LOVED the caramel centered chocolate and the cookies and cream chocolate, no one wanted to put their 'mallow' on a cinnamon graham or an oatmeal cookie. Old fashioned graham crackers were the hit.

purple and yellow soda, I loved passing by this stuff at the grocery store and feeling like I had struck gold...you can tell I get carried away with birthdays, which is one reason a 'friend party' is only produced every other year-

'rainbow tag' remains all over friend Alyssa's smiling face. This game was a riot and we will play it again and again, party or not

The girls loved being by the fire, even with drizzling rain and cold temperatures to detour them. They loved poking at the coals and feeding the fire with new wood. Being outside is so good for KIDS, we need to have them out more often!

Madi's birthday is next in the line up: though her party was a week after Lucy's due to swim meet conflicts...Madi chose a 'happy camping' theme and though the weather didn't really cooperate we had a great time with a huge bunch of 11 year old girls running through the house (and neighborhood!).

I would really like to become a better photographer so I can more 'artfully' capture the fun, but at least it is documented and you'll get the jist of all we had going on over here.

yellow, maroony-purple and silver were the colors...we used stars and balloons and big yellow checkered fabric to set a camping feel around the house. Candles in Mason jars and glittery stars were the 'glitz' that made the night feel like a party. Dinner was served; hot dogs cooked outside and other easy camping fare-and plates were fashioned of disposable pie tins (I loved that!)-fun sodas in the colors of the party were served to every guest.

After dinner we enjoyed a couple of summer camp games: rainbow tag and pass the parcel. Both were super fun, the outdoor tag especially! Even with rain drizzling girls were running and screaming from yard to yard in search of the colored face paint - one for each color of the rainbow. A 'wild card' player was to tag the girls, requiring them to wipe from their faces one of the found colors. We will play this game again and again, it was a huge hit...

For dessert, John got some great fires going in the driveway and the girls enjoyed gourmet s'mores with exotic ingredients. Each girl had embellished her own marshmallow stick (with duct tape and ribbons) and created her own sweet treat. The girls loved playing around the fire and everyone went home smelling like a trip to the canyon.

Of course, we still enjoyed birthday cake and ice cream, though most of that was left with us and tummies were full of sugar already!

A movie was supposed to be shown outside, but weather did not cooperate, so girls spread sleeping bags out on the floor of the basement and enjoyed the show.

When girls were ready to leave they went home with their own flashlight, some 'camp' treats and their marshmallow stick. It was a fun (late!) evening and I had a blast working with Madi to plan the big event.

For Madi's actual birthday we enjoyed green pancakes, made by dad (he was headed out of town that day, so it was a very special treat to enjoy breakfast with him). Our tradition is to open birthday gifts the morning of the big day, and Madi's gift was an address...somewhere she needed to go to find out what her present was. I picked her up at lunchtime and asked her if she wanted lunch first, or her gift first. GIFT was the response, so we drove to the address where Madi discovered that a newly monogrammed 'swim parka' was waiting for her (this is 'essential' swim team gear, a fleece lined water resistant long coat like jacket with a hood and zipper. Swimmers wear this in and out of team practicein the middle of winter with nothing but their suits and flip flops on besides. They are a huge investment and we wanted to be sure Madi had really chosen to invest herself in swimming before we paid the price; she's invested, so we invested). After our little treasure hunt we enjoyed burgers at Hires and a little flip flop shopping at the Mall. Once Madi was completely decked out with birthday swimming gear we returned her to school and called it a day-a birthday to be exact. And a Happy Birthday it was for Madi (and for mom, who gets the great privilege of enjoying these special fun times with her birthday kids).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Murphey's Law

At the end of 2010 John mentioned, a few times, that 2011 would be a 'light travel year'. I was hesitant, the nature of John's profession is that he needs to be elsewhere sometimes. I am very accepting and supportive of this. I understand, and I'm even used to it, mostly. So I didn't really believe him.

Then January came and went, basically no travel.
February came, and I started to believe this year would indeed be spent with John home at night instead of in a hotel room preparing for the next day's meetings.

So, I said 'yes' to some things; big birthday parties, PTA projects, Extra Church assignments.

Then John emailed me that he would be gone. A Lot. In March.

Sigh. March is when all the 'yes'-es would come to bear fruit in the way of places to be and things to be done.

I am doing it o.k. (but the dishes are piled high and the laundry too). It isn't that I can't get it done. I'm not complaining. It is just nice to do things that take me away from home when the other one of the parents who live here is home instead of me.

So here's to Murphey's law; what can go wrong, will. And here's to the truth that even though I can be a one man show, I'd rather be one of a twosome. I just like my husband-ALOT.

Here's to a weekend with John at home, hope yours is a great one too!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the Apple falls not far from the Tree...

Madi is unhappy with her soft sculpture homework assignment

Last night was scouts, dance, swim, rugby and Youth night at church. It was also the Jr. High play, which Brynley thought she would attend instead of church. Quick negotiations brought us to a compromise; she would attend to her church duty, and I would zoom her to the play as soon as her duty was done. This meant driving, driving, entertaining, feeding, driving and driving some more. At one point-to drive Bryn to school, I left the kids eating hot bowls of soup (unblessed) at the kitchen counter. This is the same counter that was strewn with homework material and the morning's dishes (still) not to mention all the birthday party and household supplies that had been purchased throughout the day (Wednesday is errand day, which is why the dishes weren't yet done!).


I got back from driving bryn to the play to find Madi in tears. This happens lots latey; Madi in tears. It is time for her beautiful tall swimmer's body to 'blossom' which means we have crying on a regular basis from the spunky darling. The tears were over an assignment wherein she was required to create a 'tree' with the three branches of government represented. leaves had been created outlining each branch's duties. Brilliant assignment. Madi wanted to execute brilliantly as well.

Madi, like her mother, likes to do things well, and creatively, and center-stage-ly. She had come up with the idea for a 3-d tree (most kids had raided mom's scrapbook paper and had a nice flat tree with leaves). Madi had scoured the house for toilet paper and paper towel tubes and was giving it all she had to make a palm tree appear. Her creation was amazing in her mind-and again like her mother-was not working out in real life as well.

so, the tears.

I looked at the clock. I looked at the dishes. I looked at Madi. I asked her to make a scrapbook paper flat tree.

more tears.

No dishes done. No early bedtime for me or for Madi. Instead there were staplers and double sided tape. With tears still streaming, a mish moshed tree appeared; leaves in their places. Madi was sent to bed.

Then it was me who shed a few tears. Off to bed with no dishes done, floors a mess and counters still strewn with homework. My expectations not met, the clean kitchen, in my mind so beautifully straightened, remained a work in progress. It wasn't how I'd seen it in my mind's eye just an hour or two before.

Like mother, Like daughter

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Like a Lion...

at the start of my rudimentary shoveling job.

A very near miss, but it did miss John's red wheels!

hemmed in by the fallen branches, I had to pull forward, then back out to the other side of the driveway so I could free the car of the snowstorm.

When I went to bed last night it was snowing, hard. I even had dreams of school closed for the day (I would have welcomed it, surprisingly). I had dropped my car (4 wheel drive, high riding, gas guzzling blessed Expedition) at the body shop yesterday under blue skies and sunny weather. By dinner I was fish-tailing in John's fancy drive.

During the night it continued to snow.

This morning, at 5, when I got up to work out, I realized most of my strength training would involve a shovel and tons of white powder. I put on some hot chocolate. I did a little exercise. I pestered Mason from sleep so he could be showering for school while I was clearing the driveway so the car could get out.

Some branches had come down during the night. they had fallen, miraculously, all around the car but not on top of it. Tender mercies to be sure. I shoveled and shoveled, and yelled in the house for the kids to get out of bed for school. They made their way in the snow. I cleared the driveway just enough to move the car from under the tree. We got Lucy to ballet.

on our way home, we drove up our old street, to deliver a neighbor's daughter from dance class. After a lovely chat and a keep and our neighbor's amazing home renovation, Lucy was invited to stay. I climbed into John's car, backed out of the driveway, and immediately I was stuck.

I could not believe it. But kind of, I could. I'm no great winter driver, and John's car needs some skill behind the wheel to make it through Utah powder.

An old neighbor saw my predicament and came quickly to my aid. He spent 10 minutes with me, and even recruited another neighbor so we could break the car free of the ice and slush and send it with gravity's aid down the hill. I was so grateful my neighbor had seen me, and had felt the need to help. Tender mercies again imparted.

I've spent the day home, doing laundry and making bread, and enjoying the beauty of bright sun on the snow. This is when my kitchen is most glorious-the sunny day after a snowfall. All that reflection gives me the light I so crave at the Spruces. The sun itself on a day in my house is another tender mercy from Heaven.

The snowstorm came in like a Lion, and was grizzly for me to be sure. But now that it melts under the warm rays of sun it seems to be leaving like a lamb.

Such is the month of March.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Birthday Season Part II

marshmallows and chocolate were delivered with the invite...

Lucy's invitation and her candy magic wands...

Birthdays are big at our house. But not every birthday brings a party. We do parties on odd numbered birthday years; and this is one of those years.

Since Lucy and Madi's big days are only one day apart, this month we will be hostessing two very different parties for two darling-ly different girls.

Lucy is turning 5. She is the last, and my last 'little girl'. She wants a fairy garden party. I want to revel in the 'little-girlness' of my last, so it will be enchanting. Invitations were purchased through the TomKat Studio; it all went well accept they didn't put the correct date on the invitation (I had had to change it, they said they would but didn't). Other than that glitch, I'm really happy with the product. You download, print and go. They ask for all the info. and then do it up right. We delivered each invite with a 'magic wand' filled with treats and tied with fairy-like ribbon. Pics of the party will come after party day this weekend.

Madi caught on to a fun and spunky idea; a 'Happy Camping' theme. Once again, we used TomKat, but not for the full invite. Instead we ordered 'cupcake toppers' which we will use in many different ways, for invites, for favor bags, and for a s'mores bar at the party. Ideas are brewing, and many girls are coming-so give me any thoughts on 'camping games' and favor ideas (I'm thinking dollar store flashlights and whistles, and of course a personalized marshmallow stick for roasting around the fire!). We will serve camping food in pie-tins for dinner, play camp-like games and hopefully (weather permitting!) watch a movie outside. IDEAS PLEASE! I could use them and fast...

its our own kind of 'March Madness', fun for me to plan and fun for the girls to enjoy!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Eagle Has Landed


Last Week we celebrated Mason. He received his Eagle Scout award at a Court of Honor. John was in charge. He did a great job (accept for the part where he insinuated that I complain when he goes camping-I don't complain. He just wanted to be funny, and it didn't work out for him...)

Mason has made us proud to have accomplished this task. It was hard knocks to get it done, but its done.

And He did it, mostly himself.

I cried, I felt proud. I felt old. I felt hopeful that this is one of many accomplishments ahead that will grow Mason into a good man.

Congratulations Mason. The Eagle has landed, and now you sit in the Eagle's nest.