Monday, April 13, 2015

Tammy's wedding

I've been friends with Tammy since high school. She's an incredible person and I'm grateful that she's so good at maintaining relationships because our friendship has been a blessing to me all of my life. That's why when she asked me to sing at her wedding, I said yes. A 25 year friendship is about the only thing that could've done it.

Here are the issues:

  • I'm not a "cool sing folksy rock songs at a wedding" kind of singer. I'm a "sweet, kind of classical songs at church" kind of singer
  • I wouldn't get to practice with my guitar accompanist before the wedding AND there was going  to be a microphone ������
  • I have some stage fright issues that I constsntly work on but never go away
Here's why I said yes:
  • As a 40 year old, it's not like Tammy had a big need for wedding presents. I figured this could be my gift to her
  • I tell my kids to do hard things/get out of their comfort zone all of the time. I knew I should do it to show them that your whole life you'll need to stretch and do things that make you nervous. 
  • Emma agreed to sing with me and she's so great at harmony and I knew we'd have a good mom/daughter weekend together. 

The song is What I Wouldn't Do by A Fine Frenzy and it is the cutest song. We practiced and got digital recordings via email from the guitarist (who was so fabulous) and got some advice and microphone time from our resident live music expert (George!). I felt like I'd put the time in but still didn't love how it sounded. I was literally sick the entire week leading up the wedding. (Which is too bad because I didn't enjoy my weekend till I got it over with).

Emma and Levi and I flew to the Bay Area, stayed with my dad and Genie (always relaxing and fun). The wedding was in the Santa Cruz mountains and a stunning location. I loved getting to see high school friends and, of course, Adrianne. We did quite a bit of set up and then had a few minutes to practice with the sound system. We started and as soon as Emma came in with her harmony and it sounded awesome and people milling about gasped (because it really sounded good!!), I finally relaxed. I knew it would be okay. And it was. Lots of compliments and appreciative faces.

I love Tammy's husband and family and was so happy to get to be a part of their wedding. It was a joy to see her parents and brother and extended family, all of whom were a big part of my high school activities. I was happy to have some alone time with Emma and enjoy her on an adult level. It was actually odd to be 40 with lots of people that I was 14-20 with... This weird dynamic where you can't quite figure out how old you actually are. 

Genie and dad were so nice to watch Levi the whole day and we loved eating and playing mini golf and bocci ball and chatting with them.

It was a good weekend. Yay for getting out of our comfort zones and the feeling of accomplishment and confidence that comes with it!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Quick quote

  Gabe: You know how in my Math class, I've tricked them into thinking my name is Ryan? I have a kid in my science class where they call me Gabe and he's also in my math class. He thinks we're twins!"  

NOTHING funnier than a teenage boy! (Insert eye roll here...)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cross Country 2014

We were excited to have Gabe start cross country last fall.  He was really good at track and always said "I wish it were a longer race because I can just tell that's what I'm better at."  He'd practiced all summer, 3-5 days a week, with the team doing summer training and could tell he was fast.

He was right!  We were amazed at what he did during his season.


  • When he beat the friend/teammate who he'd never been able to touch during the middle school track season.  We LOVE this kid, but I think it was an important mental hurdle for Gabe and the boy was never able to beat Gabe again--though they are always close and are great for each other, as the only freshmen on the varsity team.
  • Gabe's first race on the varsity team.  The coach pretty much takes the guys with the top 7 times into the varsity race and Gabe was pretty excited when he realized it would be him.  The team is mostly seniors with a few juniors and I know he felt worried about hanging out with them on long bus rides and at overnight invitationals.  They are a great group of boys and are really kind to Gabe and he's learned a lot by working out with them.
  • His 3rd race on varsity when he finished 3rd on his team, and pretty high overall.  He'd mostly been coming in 7th or 8th and we were dying when he came into view and was racing in the front of the pack.
  • Realizing how very mentally tough he is.  He's a talented runner, physically, but he's really really good mentally.  Doesn't get rattled, doesn't psych himself out and is really willing to endure the excruciating end of the race in order to finish strong.  It's so cool to see.
  • Hearing from his uncle (who'd done some research on that Gabe was the 30th fastest freshman in the COUNTRY.  Yeah, he's good.
  • Watching him win the Freshman race at the GSL finals.
  • Coach made a decision at the end of the season to let an older kid race in the Regional meet, instead of Gabe.  Gabe went as an alternate and raced in the alternate's race.  We knew that the coach would take the top 7 times/boys to State and Gabe needed to PR by 15 seconds to have the 7th fastest time.  It was such an exciting race and he ended up PRing by 30 seconds and actually having the 6th fastest time and earning a spot on the State team.  (See...mentally tough.) 
  • State was a good learning experience.  He had set some lofty goals and the team had a chance to be on the podium but due to a false start and a second start that really disadvantaged a key runner on our squad, everyone was off their game.  Gabe and the team were dissappointed with their finish (5th in literally the fastest state in the country) but we were proud of him.
  • How Gabe is everything you'd want a talented kid like this to be: humble, quiet, super hardworking, respectful of coach and teammates.  Well, I'd like him to be better about texting me when he's away at meets, but other than that, we couldn't be more happy for him.  (And it's pretty fun for the parent, too!)
Some pictures:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Halloween 2014

Of note:

We came up with Gabe's matching Gru costume 10 minutes before the ward party and it was the only time he put a costume on. He spent Halloween with the cross country team in a hotel room prepping for regionals.

Emma didn't trick or treat for the first time (last year she took some of the little kids after we were done and even felt dumb doing that...I let my kids choose when they're too old.  I figure they're socially savvy enough to do that.)

I realize she's a complete knock-out,.

Ryan and I were so so so so so glad that we have a little baby who will love halloween and trick or treating for year because we could just totally feel that the older ones were growing up and the Halloween dynamic was changing.

Jane and Seth didn't even trick or treat with us.  Boo.

Faith was crazily slow and distracted and not into it at all.  It was so weird that we took video of it.

I continued the Halloween dinner but was smart enough to do it earlier in the week.  SO MUCH LESS STRESS:


First Day of School 2014

So I've had this at the top of my To Blog List.  And in the last few weeks as I've thought about attempting to sit down and blog (it really is SO HARD people!) about the first day of school last fall and Halloween, I wondered what is the point of blogging that.  Isn't it mostly about pictures of the day...and I do all that in Instagram, thank you very much.

So I thought that the reason I need to blog is to record detail and feeling...which is hard 6 months later.  But I'm going to try:

The First Day of School is hard for me because

  • it's such a's this real tangible evidence that the kids are growing.  Things obviously change in their lives and my life based on what happens on that First Day
  • Summer is so so so so glorious in Spokane and winter is so NOT that it's hard for me to be excited that it's coming to an end (whether or not it means a cleaner, quieter house and less hourly parenting for me)
  • Fall is so out of control busy with back to school meetings, back to school prep and sports/activities that I am never excited for that schedule to start up again
  • I don't like to change.  I like my schedules and plans and when I have to readjust them, I feel stressed and bugged and overwhelmed.
This year was a biggie.  Faith went to kindergarten (half day, thank heavens!!), Jane went to middle school (6th) and Gabe went to high school.  I was melancholy all day.  I was worried that Levi would be hard without the entertainment committee. (He's not...he hangs out with Faith in the morning and then naps till they get home).  It's been a good school year, but the busiest of my life.  And there's been so much learning and growth for all of us.  

Faith:  has loved kindergarten, Mrs. Martins is her teacher.  She's in the class where they combine with kids with disabilities and they have 4-5 adults (teachers and aides) in the class of 24 at all times.  She's way ahead of grade level (she's a November birthday) and it's easy and fun.  I've decided it's too hard to try to help in the class and she's commented on that but I've dealt with the guilt.  

Seth:  has a good but hard teacher.  Mrs. Swenson has notoriously high standards but I know that's good.  He had the worst report card of any of my elementary kids but it happened right when I'd felt prompted (and had the time) to focus on his very obvious Inattentive ADD issues.  We've had him in neurofeedback therapy and we think it's helping him focus at school,  I was worried about friends because this is the year where I noticed Gabe feeling bad socially due to his lack of ball interest and skills (this of course has all changed for Gabe!) and Seth has ZERO interest in sports and loves to play with girls.  I was worried he would be teased.  It doesn't seem to have happened.  He has all girl friends and doesn't seem to care.  


Jane:  had a hard start to the year.  She was assigned the Advanced classes and attended orientation with that schedule.  Without going into great detail, we got a call the day before school that there had been a mistake and she would be in regular classes.  (Trust me...I had lots of "discussions" with the administration about this and there truly was no way around it.)  She was devastated...embarrassed and nervous.  SUPER luckily, she got put in her best friend's class and honestly her teachers have been better than the advanced teachers (Emma and Gabe had them).  She was given the option about 2 months into the school year to switch back to advanced and chose to stay in her regular classes.  She's had straight As (first of our kids to ever do it) all year, and has taken advantage of about every activity open to a 6th grader.

Gabe:  has loved high school.  It has everything to do with cross country; the fact he practiced with the team all year and had a "group" the minute he stepped into the school.  It helps of course that he's so so good (more to come on that).  It's given him confidence and direction.  Cross country has made his incredibly hard academic schedule really challenging.  His grades aren't where he was hoping they'd be and he's learning a lot about time management, priorities, communicating with his teachers, and procrastination.  It's been a big year.


Emma:  Emma has taken hard classes and continued to be a great friend.  Her grades were not fabulous 1st semester and some parental friend/grade guidelines were put in place.  I was happy to see that her goal (on a YW thing I happened upon) is to get straight As.  The school musical Funny Girl has made that challenging with 20-30 hours of play practice over the last few weeks. She has loved it.

Included here:  the first day of school after school snack:

and my I'm So Glad I Had This Caboose buddy:

As I type all of this, I realized how much we (all of us) are constantly learning and growing.  What a blessing.  It's a good life. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why I can't just ignore the guilt and move on from my blog

I should take a picture of my to-do list (except that would require a screenshot, and an email of the screenshot, downloading the picture from the email to my photo library, and then getting it onto this page and THAT, my friends, is one of the myriad of reasons that avoid this blog like the plague).  Annnnyway, if I did take a picture it would have the 10-12 things/events I want to do today and then underneath it, you'd see my Get To These Someday Please list.  That list is full of  blog posts I want to write (Halloween, 1st day of school, cross country, quick quotes about Jane and whale sex, hiking, update on each kid, Levi accomplishments, etc, etc, etc).  And I just look at them and think how very much I want them recorded so I remember them in 20 years but I just can't get to them in my day.

  • I have a one year old that climbs all over my laptop while I type
  • Instagram
  • 42 million doctor appts a month (it's mostly the orthodontist that kills me here)
  • I'd rather read a book
  • writing requires thinking and some peace and quiet
  • GETTING THE PICTURES OFF OF THE PHONE (why is this so hard???)
  • Emma did something screwy to my google account that makes it a 30 minute process trying to get onto blogger
  • People KEEP EATING which requires lists, recipes, prep, clean up...
  • TV, Facebook, YouTubes of all the oscar speeches and performances, reading anti-Mormon comment threads (why?  why?  why do I go down that ridiculous rabbit hole?)
  • I'm so so so behind
BUT, here's my story for today and the reason I am here.  A few months ago, I was having a embarrassingly bad mom moment as I tried to convince Emma to work on her Personal Progress.  (It's honestly so bad that I CANNOT put it on the Internet, but ask me in person and I will tell you because I have no shame.) Anyway, I ended up talking to one of her YW leaders about it afterwards, and she laughed and commiserated on motherhood hardships.

And then the next day she showed up at my door and said she felt inspired to tell me something.  She said "Why don't you do YOUR Personal Progress with her? She'll have to listen to you talk about it, she can even sign you off and maybe she'll want to do it after she watches you." As she spoke the words, I felt the Holy Ghost shoot through me.  I knew that it was what Heavenly Father wanted me to do.  The list of excuses went through my mind (so uncomfortably similar to the excuses Emma had the day before) but I knew if I ignored the prompting, I'd be disobeying Heavenly Father and that always makes me less happy in the long run.  Plus, He's always so helpful when I'm trying to be obedient.

So I started.  And without going into tons of unnecessary detail, it's been such a blessing in my life.  I've loved the small, medium and larger goals.  I love that they are mostly just me trying to be more patient or less gossipy or less critical, while I read scriptures and talks that support those aims.  And I easily had one of the best Christmases of my life, which I credit almost completely to the fact that I memorized The Living Christ during the month of December.  Yay for Personal Progress, good YW leaders and friends and the whisperings of the Spirit.

For my Individual Worth big goal (I can't remember the official name), it said to record family history.  Blog=my family's history and so I'm going to go through every single one of those blog post ideas on my to-do list and get them written here and then I will pass off my Individual Worth and rid myself of some blog guilt all at the same time.

Except this post didn't even address one of those topics on my list.  Dang it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

What I Love About My Wife

I worry that what I love about my wife gets lost in the hub-bub of daily life so I wanted to document what makes Jessica invaluable to me.

1- Intelligence

I love living with a woman who has a million thoughts about what goes on in her relationships, within our home, in the community we live in and in the world at large.  She has valuable insights that I want to hear.  When I have ideas that I think are important I look for her to get her input.  Her perspective is often different than mine and I love her for sharing it with me as mine isn't complete without it.  She has at least 3 books that she is working on at any given time.  She is our family's dictionary and resident grammarian.  When she is responsible for something, you can be sure that she is (or has) studied it thoroughly.  My time is best spent engaging her in conversation. I love it.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Quick Quote

Jane, upon checking her iTouch after leaving it with parents for the night: 
 "17 texts?? People, I'm just one girl!"

(Jane has an iTouch that she bought herself with babysitting money, allowance and cashed-in birthday gift cards.  She has an app that allows her to text when she's connected to wifi.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Turning 40 and Beauty Redefined

In the extra half hour a week that I find for blogging, I've been noticing I've been not wanting to do the next entry on my Things To Blog About List.  Because a)narcissistic b)personal.  So I'm just starting and seeing how in depth we go here.

First of all, I turned 40 on July 15.  Does anyone want to actually turn 40? Probably not, but I wasn't hugely hung up on the number...but actual aging is another matter and we will get to that in a minute.

My birthday was just okay.  I told Ryan that for the big 4-0 birthday, I wanted a trip with him and so we've planned a birthday trip early next year after Levi is old enough to leave for a few days.  I picked South Carolina because I've been a lot of places but I've never been to the South, so I'm really excited about that.  On my birthday, Ryan organized a hike and a brunch with girlfriends and that 3 hours was the best part of my day.  I'm blessed with good, wise, fun friends and I loved the relaxation of walking, talking and eating with them.

I made myself two big old desserts for my birthday because I love to bake and I couldn't decide between the Fudgy Toffee Chocolate Chip Bars and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte.  Could you?

So the day came and went, but really I've been dealing with aging for a few years now.  Things I like about aging:
1.  Wisdom.  Duh.
2.  Experience--I LOVE seeing how life and kids and relationships and problems mostly turn out okay if you just do your best.
3.  Understanding what makes me happy and what doesn't. Which obviously goes right along with 1 and 2.
4.  Understanding the Gospel and the nature of God and the power of obedience and the atonement better and better.  It's just gets more amazing and sweet and fulfilling the more you understand it, don't you think?
5.  My gratitude for the blessings in my life just seems to deepen with each passing year.

Things I don't like about aging:
1. Its effects on my body--its ability and (I know I shouldn't care but I do) its appearance.
2. How society views it!  I hate that there's the feeling that you are less vital or something the older you get.  Lame.

So, I'm sharing really briefly something that has helped me as I've dealt with negative feelings about wrinkles, weight gain, gray hair, etc. etc.

Through social media, I came across a website called Beauty Redefined.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that it has been HUGE for me.  I literally see things differently based on the things I've learned by reading their blog posts, following their instagram feed and reading some of their recommended literature.  This is the jist of what they do (taken from their site)

Beauty Redefined is all about rethinking our ideas of “beautiful” and“healthy” that we’ve likely learned from for-profit media that thrives off female insecurity. Girls and women who feel OK about their bodies — meaning they aren’t “disgusted” with them like more than half of women today* — take better care of themselves.
“While we cannot directly affect the images [in media], we can drain them of their power. We can turn away from them and look directly at one another. We can lift ourselves and other women out of the myth.” - Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

I've been able to see that the value I place in my looks has been ingrained by media and society and is totally erroneous and drains me of valuable energy.  I've been able to look at ads and commercials and comments and conversations and see when they are reinforcing the idea that women's greatest power is in their appearance.  While I've always known in my brain that those things aren't important, as age strips me of firm skin and a fast metabolism, I've really noticed that my negativity about my appearance and aging has everything to do with not really believing it in my heart.  Regularly visiting this site has helped me to see things as they really are, and has helped me to redirect that negativity in an effort to emphasize the value that lies in my talents, my mind, my relationships--all things that will deepen and grow over time.

Anyway.  That's what I have to say.  Here's to 40 more years of becoming wiser and kinder and more experienced...the stuff that really matters.