Jan 30, 2013

Hook right, jab left

I love exercise.
I love how it feels to
and grunt
and work hard.
The burning breathlessness
that comes at the end of a run
is my very favorite part.

I haven't engaged in group exercise since college
or maybe at the gym of my pre-Tyler years.
It's been a long time.
I'm insecure,
mostly because I'm a klutz
and don't pick up on rhythmic moves quickly.

Last night I joined my Beehives at
Farrell's Extreme Bodyshaping
for a kick-boxing class.
I had a headache and a stomachache and was
so, so, so tired.
But I stepped up with my girls and went to the mat.
We did some jab-cross-jab moves
in the air,
and I liked that.
But then the instructors
busted out the bags.
I put on a pair of gloves
and punched that bag with all I had.
It felt

Once I found a rhythm,
I felt catharsis
with every punch.
and pain
and disappointment
and so many emotions
flowed through my arm and into that bag.

I punched and kicked
the stupid lab
and my medical appointments
and the prescriptions I hate
and my draining bank account
and my ridiculous mental status
and my messy house
and my nasty bathrooms
and Family Home Chaos
and the dinner hour
and my mistakes and shortcomings
and the bridges I've burned
because I'm a mess.
I grunted and I yelled and I kicked and I punched.
No one got hurt
and I healed.

By the end of the hour
my head was clear
and my heart wasn't quite so heavy.
I could breathe again.

The moral of the story:
Get a punching bag.
Oh, wait.
I have one!
I also have pink boxing gloves,
and they are calling my name.
The treadmill has a rival.
Watch out.

Love thy neighbor

Garry woke up at 6:15 this morning to shovel our snowy driveway.  Later he shared with me this sweet story.  It needs to be part of our family record.  The following is in Garry's words.

I had a great pay-it-forward experience this morning.  I went out early to shovel the driveway since it snowed overnight.  I got an early start and was feeling good so I just kept going. I did the sidewalk all around the neighborhood and then started on the neighbors' driveways.  Just as I was finishing the second neighbor's house, the dad from the next house in line stepped outside and started on his own driveway.  To put it mildly, our relationship has been strained.  Our kids just can't seem to get along and the parents have basically told their kids to stay away from our family.  I considered asking if I could help him with his driveway, but was afraid that would just give him the chance to refuse.  So I just walked  right up and started shoveling alongside him without saying anything.

At first he didn't acknowledge my presence or assistance, which was just fine.  We quietly shoveled side by side until his driveway was done. I wished him a good morning and started walking to the next house. Surprisingly, he said, "I think I'll join you for a bit."  

And so we continued around the cul-de-sac, one house at a time.  I kept expecting him to bow out and go back to what he had planned for the day.  Instead, he kept right by my side the whole time.  It was only eight degrees outside, but we were both sweating and working hard.  We probably said fewer than 10 words to each other during the 45 minutes we shoveled side by side, but it was good work and I felt like I was doing something positive to both serve my neighbors and repair the ailing relationship between our families.

When all was said and done, we'd finished six houses together.  I thanked him for joining me, since I honestly hadn't expected help from anyone.  He responded, "No, thank you!  Your good deed was contagious."  

I know our kids won't suddenly become best friends, or even begin to get along.  But I hope that at least we can be friendly toward one another and I also hope they know we harbor no bad feelings about them. Additionally, it was great to provide a service to my neighbors and to be joined in that endeavor by someone who probably wouldn't have ever considered doing it on his own.

Jan 29, 2013

Hey, Mom! Remember when....

...Gavin wore his white button-down shirt inside-out to church?

...Dad bought milk that had the expiration month spelled "Febuary"? were summoned to the elementary school to make sure that graphite from a pencil wasn't lodged in Zach's hind quarters?

...Kate put her hand in the toilet while Gavin was going pee?

...our Christmas lights hung on the house until January 25? couldn't find a box of your favorite pens because you hid them in that special place where children wouldn't find them? and then found them next to the Swedish Fish in your closet?

...Gavin said Kate looked dead because she had fallen asleep and had sticky red juice all over her face and clothes?

...Kate went to nursery three weeks early because you and Dad both had church responsibilities during the third hour? loved Kate attending nursery so much you almost cried in the hallway? went to the grocery store at the end of a long, hard day and cried a little as you went by the refrigerated cookie dough, which you didn't buy because you were making healthy choices, but then cried again when you got home and didn't have any?

...gasoline was $2.62 a gallon? promised Tyler that there would be brownies left when he got home, and then Gavin and Lexi ate them all? and then you made more?

...the lab didn't run the right tests on your blood, so your appointment with Dr. Expensive was pointless, and you had to fast again and go back to the lab, and then you had to wait an HOUR for three minutes with the phlebotomist, and then you were late to pick up Zach and Lexi was late to school?

...Lexi threw a rip-roaring, roof-shaking, ear-piercing tantrum because Gavin smiled at her?

...Gavin told his Primary teacher that, although most children belong to families that love each other, his older brother Zach didn't love anyone but his friends?

Yeah, I remember that, too, and one day you can laugh about it.  One day.

Jan 24, 2013

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The day started out well enough.

Tyler and Zach both received first-semester awards at school.  Tyler received the Awesome Astronaut Award for "always striving to go to the next step while being a fantastic citizen."  Zach received a Best Effort award for "totally changing his attitude toward writing and really improving."  I actually cried when Zach accepted the award.  I'm so proud of my boys for working so hard at school.

To honor their accomplishments, Garry suggested going out for ice cream, but since I had a Relief Society meeting tonight, we opted for dinner out instead.  The kids chose Golden Corral because they could get whatever they want at the buffet (including dessert!).  They love that place.  

Sadly, the kids did nothing but bicker and bully each other all afternoon.  The TV became a great source of contention, so I demanded that they turn it off.  That led to more strife and then a literal brawl on the floor.  When actual punching was involved (with more than one individual), I called off our dinner plans. There was no way I was taking those hoodlums out in public.  They'd probably kill each other in the car.

Of course my announcement led to many tears and much pleading for mercy.  I was unmoved.  Sometimes I'm a real pushover and offer second chances, but not tonight.  I was firm in my resolution that there be consequences for terrible behavior.  Oh, the drama!  After five minutes or so, I started recording the weeping and wailing.  My primary motivation was that at some future date, I want to look back and confirm that yes, life really was this hard.  Sometimes I wonder if we are raising wild animals. (Warning: This video is two minutes long and not very pleasant.  Twenty seconds is probably long enough for a good idea of the drama.)

I made peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.  The kids were furious.  Zach boycotted dinner altogether.  After some time in his room, he sent Gavin upstairs with this note.

Then he ran into the backyard and stayed outside until he was too cold.  He never did eat dinner.

On his way home from work, Garry picked up a salad from Applebees for me and a hot sandwich for himself.  We ate together at the table as children griped and moaned.  It's amazing to me that two of these children were given high honors for their behavior at school.  I guess their "best efforts" and "good citizenship" mean different things at home.

My oldest friend

I am lucky enough to visit teach a true gem.  Her name is Barbara, and she is 85.  In addition to our official monthly visits, I call Barbara and pop over to see her occasionally. Barbara is spunky, witty, wise, and in all ways delightful.  She struggles to hear and to move around, but that doesn't stop us from having great conversation.  Today we had a date to play Phase 10 at her kitchen table.  It came down to the last hand, but Barbara won the game.  Even so, she wasn't thrilled about posing for a picture.

It's tough for me to get away from my house and responsibilities long enough to enjoy afternoons like this, but if I had my way, I'd spend most afternoons with Barbara, playing cards, sucking on lollipops, and laughing until our sides hurt.  She's the best.


I had the brilliant idea of trying to capture a few photos of Little Miss while she was strapped in her car seat and relatively still.  Even though my camera isn't great, she's smiling!  

Kate has not been happy lately.  She's had a flu virus, plus she's making eye teeth.  So Kate has been crying a lot and needing far more attention and cuddle time than usual. I'm glad that she seems to be returning to her happy, content personality.

Here's a video of Kate's babbling.  I love her little voice. 

The end.

Jan 21, 2013

A fond farewell

Once upon a time there was a high school sophomore named Heidi.  She was busy with cross-country and choir and seminary and homework and friends.  She had four younger siblings...and then she had five.  That new baby wrapped every family member around her little finger.  Heidi loved her so.

Baby Holly went to Heidi's choir concerts and track meets and cross country races.  Heidi mused that when Holly was singing and running in high school, Heidi would be (gasp) 30 years old.  Heidi took her along when she drove around town, but after people started thinking that Holly was Heidi's baby she quit doing that.  When Holly was two years old, Heidi moved out and went to college.  Heidi got married when Holly was four.  Holly was almost eight when Heidi's first baby was born.  By then Heidi lived five states away and rarely saw her littlest sister.

Eventually Holly was 15.  She was running and singing in high school, and Heidi was 30. She still lived far away and didn't get to see Holly doing any of those things.  Thanks to blogging and social media, the sisters kept in touch.  Then Holly graduated from Mesa High, Heidi's alma mater, and Heidi felt really old.

When she was almost 19, Holly decided to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She was called to labor in the England Birmingham mission and would report to the Missionary Training Center on February 13.  The time came for Holly's "farewell" talk, a traditional speech in church given before a missionary departs. Heidi couldn't miss it, even though she still lived far away.  She flew to Arizona to say good-bye to her little sister.

In eighteen months, when Holly returns, Heidi will journey again to the big AZ to welcome her littlest sister home.  She looks forward to celebrating Holly's wedding, the arrival of her children, and the wonderful state of living happily after.

Jan 18, 2013

Sun break

When we lived in Beaverton, Oregon, we learned to love--or at least live with--frequent rain.  We did everything in the rain without really thinking about getting wet.  We did, however, look forward to "sun breaks," when the rain would cease and the clouds would part and the sun would shine for a little while.  We became accustomed to dropping everything in order to play in the sunshine and enjoy the rainbows.

In Colorado Springs, winter cold and snow are very much like Beaverton rain.  They are just a part of life, and even though frigid temperatures aren't necessarily pleasant, we live our lives in spite of the discomfort. Colorado weather isn't very consistent, though, so there are some January days that feel more like spring, and we revel in them. Friday was one of those days.

I had an extra child for a couple of hours, and after picking him up, I took the four Littles in my care to the park.  With warm (50 degree) sun on our backs and beautiful blue sky overhead, we reveled in the chance to be outdoors.

The fresh air in my lungs was glorious, and I think the kids enjoyed it, too.  Kate was thrilled to climb and slide and explore the playground.  Gavin and Lexi romped and played and ran.  They might also have been glad to display their spectacular outfits in public.  I know I was thrilled for their chance to do so.

Friday's weather was just beautiful.  Pretty soon, temperatures will plummet and we'll have to use our gloves and coats and scarves and boots again.  After all, spring is several months away.  Until then, we'll enjoy our sun break to the fullest.

Jan 17, 2013


Dear Mr. Heimlich,

I used your maneuver on my youngest today, which dislodged the foreign object and made her barf on the floor.  So thank you for telling the world how to do that.  You should get royalties.

Sincerely (way),

This mama

P.S.  I think I have never been so happy about cleaning barf off the floor.

Dear Wheat Thins,

Nowhere on your box does it say: "Not suitable for children under three."  I'd appreciate you not becoming a foreign object lodged in my child's throat again.

The Heimlich performer

Dear Dyson,

I've had it with you.  You're clogged and nasty all the time.  I empty you, you bagless wonder you, and ten minutes later you don't have any suction at all. I used you to vacuum the van today and I think sending a goat in there would have been more effective. I mean really, you are pathetic.

And all of that makes me sad, because I really love to vacuum.  It's like mowing the lawn indoors.  Right now I just don't see the point (and that has nothing to do with my hoodlums darling children).

You don't deserve a "sincerely,"


Dear hoodlums darling children,

I don't know which of you (or which combination of you) is responsible for the dumped-out game/puzzle extravaganza downstairs.  Something like 11 puzzles were mixed with five-ish games, and one of them was of the individual United States (do you know what an oxymoron is?), and all of the pieces were pokey and there for not suited for walking on in order to avoid the inevitable.

Well, today while Lexi was at preschool, I put away most of the mess.  Do the math, darling children, and realize that I spent both of my SACRED HOURS organizing your chaos.  And while I organized and cleaned and taped and bagged all of your things, I thought about how amazingly wonderful life would be if electronic devices were banned and you played board games and worked puzzles like children from Little House on the Prairie.  *Sigh*

Ain't gonna happen.

The Realist

Dear Craigslist,

You've been good to us lately.  We've sold a bunch of junk and found two cheap dressers.  I've listed a bunch of our crap  treasures to sell, but if it doesn't, we're having a yard sale when it gets warm.  I promise I'll use you to advertise.

Thanks much,

Kindergarten Fundraiser

Dear future neighbors,

There is a nice house for sale on the other end of my cul-de-sac.  Since you will obviously live there soon, can I make a request?  Can you be a nice family with nice children for my charming offspring to play with?  And, more importantly, could the female head of your household perhaps be a good friend for ME?  It would be so lovely to have neighbors who don't hate us, and also to live near female heads of households who don't work [away from home] all day.  I realize this might not be a reasonable request because, well, I'm me and we're us.

I'll bring you cookies.


Your future neighbor

Dear Timberview,

I want my son to attend you in the fall.  And I want him to love it.  But you've got competition, mister, and I need you to get in the game.  Mountain Ridge only has one thing on you, and that's the friends from elementary school that will feed into that middle school.  You can totally win, because Zach has some great friends who attend (and will attend) you.  I just need you to try a little harder.

If it makes you feel better, Tyler is SUPER excited to come in a year and a half (WHAT?!?!).

Zach's mom

Dear kidneys,

It's amazing how much I take you for granted until you don't function properly.  Good grief.  What are you making in there, anyway?  A geode?  I'm pretty sure the pains a couple weeks ago were related to your mischief, and yesterday's antics weren't really fun. However, I need you to know this: I will be traveling this weekend for my sister's missionary farewell, and if you choose one of those days to shove that geode you-know-where, I am going to be VERY upset.  And not just because Mesa is out of my insurance network.

At your mercy,

Your body

Dear head,

We need to have a chat, and because my mental health professional says I have to start a difficult conversation with compliments, I will say that I appreciate you for holding my brain in place and for growing hair.

Now for the difficult part.  I feel a burning desire for that brain you're holding to function properly.  Can you help me with that?  I need it to respond to the pharmacological cornucopia in my cupboard without causing a host of undesirable things to happen to me. And head: I need you to keep growing hair.  Hold onto what you've got, too.  All this shedding business is freaking me out.  And please stop acting like you're being pressed with a vice.  I don't even wear headbands, for heaven's sake.  That look was so 2005.

At your mercy,

Your heart

Dear Les Miserables,

I decided to be SPONTANEOUS (I need a gold star) and set a date with Garry to see your highly hyped wonders.  I must say you were more entertaining than I expected, but much more tragic than I remembered.  Good grief!  Why do people want to see you again and again?  Is Kleenex one of your sponsors?  I have to say, the one good thing about being dead inside is that I didn't cry at all.  But maybe that's because I'm stubborn and didn't want to cry.  I only had napkins at my disposal, and that just hurts my nose.

The best part, of course, was indulging on popcorn (don't tell my psychiatrist), holding Garry's hand, and coming home to house that was cleaner than we left it.  If it takes a sad movie like you to get that stuff, then maybe I'll see you again after all.  Like maybe tomorrow night.


The lucky girl who sat behind the wheelchair spot so she could rest her feet on the railing

pass it on!

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