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Friday, October 21, 2016

Grandparents - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

My maternal grandmother, Grandma Fluf (also known as Bette), died in 2002 when I was a senior in high school. Her funeral was scheduled the same day as my senior project presentation. My mom thought I'd be able to attend the open-casket service in Connecticut and then drive home to Maine and present the same night. But I sobbed through the song I was supposed to sing at the funeral because there was my grandmother's dead body behind me. I didn't present that night.

My paternal grandmother, Nana (also known as Fern), died in 2003 after my freshman year in college. I hadn't seen her since my parents split up, but the summer before she died, my brothers and I drove to St. George and back in one day to see her and say goodbye. It made me feel terrible for all the years we lost after my dad burned down our house.

My paternal grandfather, Bill, died about five years ago in 2011. I hadn't seen him since visiting my Nana that summer in St. George. My brothers, sister-in-law, and I went to see him in a care facility nearby to say goodbye. He was in and out of consciousness, but I like to think he recognized us. Our old family photos were tacked up on the walls in his room. He died in the week following our visit.

My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Dan (also known as Vito), died about a year and a half ago in 2014. He had been living at my mom's house for the last several years. I was able to see him each time I visited home, and I'm glad he got to visit with Lincoln twice the year he was born. I didn't get to say goodbye to Grandpa Vito before he died.

Grandma Fluf was a grumpy old lady. She called me Libby. I got lost in the woods at her house once and as punishment she made me sit on the side of the pool and watch my older brother swim. She smoked, but never in front of us. I only knew because I discovered cigarette butts in her blue station wagon's ash tray. I didn't even know that's what an ashtray was for. She had colorful, tiny glass bottles all around her house. She decorated with what seemed like hundreds of stuffed bears. She had a toy slot machine in her kitchen and I thought it was scandalous. She was a skilled artist and made beautiful ceramics.

Nana was full of energy and was rumored to have amazing hearing. Her house in Hurricane had the softest, thickest grass I've ever felt. She had an irrigation ditch near her house that I walked in with my cousins. She let me have giant mini wheats for breakfast with as much sugar on top as I wanted.

Grandpa Bill made a bed for my Kirsten doll and I used it for everything. It served as a shelf for my grocery store when propped up with books. It hauled toys around the house. It did occasionally sleep a doll. He made a stool for Seth that my kids use when we go over to his house. He made a beautiful coffee table out of a redwood slab and its roots that was lost in our house fire. He ate orange peels. He didn't talk much. I liked the way he laughed, though.

Grandpa Dan took us fishing. He and I shared birthday parties since his birthday is April 7 and mine is April 9. We had a cake with a fish frosted on it once. He was always singing, and I unknowingly sing aloud the same songs he taught me as a kid. My kids are learning them too. He always said "hard work ain't easy." He would sit down to a meal, look at the spread and ask, "I wonder what the poor people are eating tonight." Then he'd list what was on the table before us. He made buggies that we drove like madmen down his steep driveway. He had a huge woodpile behind his house and a shed that smelled like gasoline. His model trains spanned half the perimeter of his cellar, and he always had a pile of fake dog poop on his work bench. He and Fluf kept the good ice cream in the cellar freezer, and the photo albums were stored on a shelf over the top of the stairs. I liked to stop and look at the albums on my way down to get the ice cream.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Indulge - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

When Kevin and I were newlyweds, I'm not entirely sure how we survived financially. I had a small stipend while I worked in WSU Housing (like, $400 per month) and was making about $6.50/hour working part-time in the office. Kev's mom hired us both to work as ushers/valets at the Browning Center, and I started at $6/hour. I worked extra during the holidays so I could afford to buy Kev real cologne for Christmas. Most of my schooling was paid for, and we had a free apartment plus a small meal plan. But Kev was only working part-time occasionally so, looking back, it doesn't make much sense that we ever had any money.

I tried saving money where I could, and that involved using our campus meal plan to the fullest extent. Instead of buying real cheese from the grocery store to use in our sandwiches, I bought string cheese on campus and we sliced those up. It was serious, folks.

But one day I reached a point where I was like ENOUGH ALREADY! I wanted something fancy to enjoy while watching a movie. I wanted something satisfying and made with real cheese. I bought a $6 bag of frozen, friend mozzarella sticks. I think there were only 24 or less per bag. I baked just a few at a time and savored every ooey gooey bite. Kev and I looked forward to buying them every couple of months.

Now that we actually make money and can afford to buy real food (including fruits and vegetables!) I laugh about how difficult it was back then. I'm amazed we lived off so little and had a relatively good time. I'm glad our kids can be spoiled every now and then and that we don't have to count every single solitary penny. Yes, there are times we would appreciate a little more income, but for now I'm happy with where we are. And not just because I could afford to buy those mozzarella sticks more regularly if I wasn't LACTOSE INTOLERANT NOW OH THE IRONY.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Back to School

You can find another new post from me up on 'Or so she says...' this week! It's a little insight on how going back to school has helped me become a better mom. Check it out!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Outside - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

In the first house I remember, there were train tracks through the backyard. I wasn't allowed to go near them.

Another house in the same town, there was a cement wall. I sat on it once and went to the bathroom over the edge. To this day, Seth still can't believe I did it. Down the hill on the side of the house was my brother's friend's trailer. I remember trying to follow him over there but not being welcomed to play with them. I was probably a huge brat.

A new town, with lots of trees surrounding our house. I rode my bike up and down the driveway. The wind made the streamers on my handlebars fly. My brothers wouldn't let me play with them in the woods. I threw Jeshua's toys at rocks to break them. I was definitely a huge brat.

Across the country, another new house. There was a puddle in the curve of the sidewalk. I played in it after the sprinklers turned off or the rain ceased. My grandmother came to visit and couldn't stand it since it was basically a glorified mud puddle. But I loved it. The water was warm from the cement and sun. Eventually my dad dug a drain through the grass to the curb so the water wouldn't build up there anymore.

Our backyard had a rickety playhouse. The bottom was an old dog house. The middle and top floors were difficult to climb up to without a ladder. It had been exposed to the elements for years and wasn't even enclosed. Next door, my neighbor had a playhouse that looked exactly like her real house. It had walls and windows and carpet and a real roof. I liked playing in hers better.

In the front yard, near the puddle-that-once-was, a collection of overgrown trees and shrubs provided a fairy-like house. A huge pine tree created a tent with its boughs. I hid in either place when I pretended to run away.

Same city, different house, we played night games with the neighbor kids. The cul-de-sac was full of our yells and music and laughter. And although I was probably too big for it, I still used the swing set in the side yard that came with the house. I liked the monkey bars.

Across the country again, in another new house. Outside was thick and wet. I'd forgotten what humidity was like. I didn't take advantage of being near the ocean. I didn't go to the beach much, mostly just when I worked at summer camps. My time outside was mostly spent walking to and from school or work. I graduated high school and left home, moving across the country again.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Retreat - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

When I was a kid, my retreat was in a tree, writing in my journal. It was riding my bike through the neighborhood, feeling free. It was hiding in my room reading a book under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep. It was creating dance routines in my room while listening to my favorite music, namely Billy Joel, Boys II Men and Mariah Carey.

As I got older, I continued to find solace in my room. I poured my heart out in writing and listened to more modern music (Boxcar Racer, Dashboard Confessional) with lyrics that sounded like the thoughts in my own head. I wrote "poetry." I hid in the darkroom at school and pretended I was a decent photographer.

In college, my journal and my emo music continued to offer a retreat from the stress of the world around me. I reverted to heading outside and finding peace on my own by the pond/woods near my apartment. Sometimes I would just sit on the lawn in the courtyard and write until I was too tired to stay awake any longer. One semester, I wrote every single Shakespeare paper while listening to Ben Kweller for good luck.

After I got married, I didn't write as much for my own personal benefit. I didn't document much. But the music never left me. I married a former radio deejay so it wasn't like I had a choice, anyway. As I certified for Yoga and started creating playlists for the classes I taught, music became even more important. I listened intently to lyrics and analyzed the flow of a song. I pictured moving through asanas and matching them to the songs I picked out. It was like choreography.

I still love music, but with children comes a lot of extra noise, so I usually choose silence when I can. I choose to write again, too.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

A day we lived

It's the perfect time of year. Cool in the mornings and warm in the afternoons. When I'm home alone with Linc, he boycotts his afternoon nap and so we find ourselves on the front porch, waiting for Aspen to come home from school.

He brings a snack and a bucket of toys outside while we watch the street for his sister's arrival. He talks nonstop, asking me what I'm doing. "Still gardening, Linc" is my reply. I put a snail on the step next to him and he asks me about it for at least five minutes. "Is it alive? Does it see me? Can he walk? Will he get me? Can I touch it? It's a snaaaaaiiill?!"
I busy myself with the deadheading and the answering of his questions. I shed layers of clothes as the sun continues to shine on our front yard and I continue to work. Linc continues to crunch his carrots and once the snail slithers out of sight, it's forgotten.

Aspen comes walking down the sidewalk, singing as usual. Linc runs to her with his arms wide. "NO MORE HUGGING I'VE HAD ENOUGH HUGGING TODAY!" she yells to him. I suggest a high-five instead. Linc accepts this compromise and clumsily slaps his sister's hand.

They commence playing and fighting together while I finish cleaning out the flower beds. I pause to take Linc inside for a timeout to remind him it's not okay to steal his sister's toys all the time. When we go back outside, he makes better choices and Aspen forgives him again for being a little brother.

As they lose interest in the toys they've brought outside, Aspen asks me to play the music from The Nutcracker so they can dance and run around. While it plays, she practises what she's been learning in her new ballet class. Linc bends low, sticks out his bum, and waves his arms from side-to-side yelling "WIGGLE MY BOOTY!" I laugh at the moves he pairs with the music.

They run around the yard for a long time. They hardly fight. I'm nearly drunk on the beauty of the light shining on my babies as the afternoon wanes. When Linc asks for a Popsicle, I give in and let him have one. He eats it next to me in the kitchen while I make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for dinner. Kevin miraculously pulls into the driveway just as I'm placing warm sandwiches onto plates. Maddie escapes under the railing to the stairs and rushes past Aspen, who is still dancing to The Nutcracker.

We actually eat dinner together and there's no yelling or fighting or pushing or poking. The rest of the night is spent with Linc and Kev cuddling on the couch to watch shows together while Aspen paints at the table. After a couple of hours they willingly get ready for bed and sit with Kev in Linc's room to read books, watch videos and give in to sleep. I get to reflect on the day while listening to them chat through the baby monitor.

Happy days like this are hard to come by. Two young kids make for countless challenges and demands. Work, school, and church obligations keep me busy and constantly thinking about the next task ahead. But on this day, I just soaked it in. I let the sun keep us outside. I let our bellies remind us when we needed to eat, rather than the clock. I didn't rush bedtime, or hint to the kids that I needed them to hustle off to bed so I could work.

Today we just lived.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Suffering - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

Tensions were high. The situation was slowly slipping out of my control. Knowing what still lay ahead of me was daunting. But I soldiered on. Pulling up my proverbial bootstraps, I dug in with both hands. I lifted a screaming Lincoln out of the bathtub.

"All done, buddy!" He protested as I wrapped him in a towel. Aspen continued to play in the remaining bath water.

"DON'T PUT THAT IN YOUR MOUTH! I can almost guarantee Linky peed in that water."

I slathered Linc with lotion while Kev stepped in and helped Aspen wash off. As he did so, Linc took his comb from me and started trying to run it through my braided hair.

"Wait a sec, and I'll make it easier for you." I released my braid and let Linc continue to pull the comb through my hair. Before Kev had to leave, he got Aspen dried and ran a brush through her hair. I continued to sit on the floor and enjoy my scalp massage.

"When Aspen was this age," I said, referring to Linc, "she used to put alllll her clips in my hair. She could spend so much time doing it." Kev smiled at the memory and Aspen pulled open her hair drawer.

"Let me do it!" she begged.

I sighed, knowing what I was in for.

"Okay, just don't poke me in the eye."

She and Linc stood on either side of me, still in their birthday suits, and got to work on my hair while Kev left for his church responsibility. I showed Linc how to use the butterfly clips and he put a line of them down a chunk of hair. Aspen put one elastic after another into my hair and proclaimed she was giving me one of my favorite styles. Linc attempted to rearrange everything his sister did.

My "stylists" spent about 20 minutes on my new 'do. I had a couple of pig tails, a bun, and dozens of clips. They were proud. I kept it in while they brushed their teeth, got in pajamas, and listened to bedtime stories on my lap. I kept it in while I sat in the dim light of Linc's room, waiting for them to settle in for the night. When Linc was asleep, I said goodnight to Aspen in her little nest on the floor and left the room.

Kev returned home and found me wincing in the bathroom, gingerly unwinding hair from multi-colored elastics. I knew it'd be painful letting them do my hair, but that's okay. They worked together relatively well and went to bed feeling accomplished. It was worth the suffering.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Early Reading Life - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

I have always loved to read. A few years ago Kevin and I found a full set of Sesame Street books at a thrift store, and it wasn't until I cracked them open that I felt a connection to them. I don't have memories of sitting and reading them, but the pictures zapped me with a feeling of my childhood. A good one. Those are hard to come by!

I remember reading The Monster at the End of This Book, but after that my recollection of my personal library jumps to books by R.L. Stine. I devoured all the Goosebumps titles I could get and made my way through the Fear Street series as well. I also loved the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, as well as the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. The Babysitters Club made me long for close girlfriends and the responsibilities the girls in the series had. The Giver scared me and I shied away from science fiction books for the most part. I read The Big Friendly Giant, Sarah Plain and Tall, and Number the Stars. Where the Red Fern Grows and The Diary of a Young Girl broke my heart. I developed a love for historical fiction and reread my dog-eared copies of The Fifth of March, A Break with Charity and In My Father's House (all by Ann Rinaldi) countless times.

Reading was such a good way to pass the time when I was grounded. It was a way to have friends after yet another move to a new city. It was a way to escape reality and see how other people lived. In junior high I got enough tardies that I had an unsatisfactory citizenship grade I needed to work off. I chose to shelve books at the public library. Best. Punishment. Ever.

In high school my enthusiasm for reading waned, and I actually neglected to read some of the required texts for my classes. But I did love The Great Gatsby, The Yellow Wallpaper, Our Town, and Death of a Salesman. In one class we were even assigned Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. But I never read assigned classics like A Tale of Two Cities or Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird (I just read Mockingbird in the last year!). I was so miserable and busy with early-morning Seminary, then school and cheering practice that I don't recall reading for fun in high school.

I'm grateful my love of reading has stayed with me. It gives me an outlet when I'm stressed or overwhelmed with other tasks. It's a way for me to wind down at night, and a great way to take in history. I love being a part of someone else's life for a brief time, and delighting in the stories of others.

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Friday, October 07, 2016

Friendship - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

I often feel like a terrible friend. I forget to check in with other people and see how I can help make their lives better. I go too long without offering random acts of kindness, or inviting someone else's kid to my house for a play date. I unload my problems on others and neglect to keep my mouth shut long enough to be the listening ear. I have a bad habit of being passive-aggressive and I've been working on that.

Living so far away from my parents, I rely a lot on the friends who graciously forgive my faults and stick around. I'd be lost without the friends who offer to help me with my kids for whatever reason. I don't have the same luxury that some of them have to live near retired parents who can step in to babysit. I appreciate the truly genuine people I've encountered in my life, even if it was brief.

Having moved a lot while growing up, I had to make new friends often. It wasn't easy for me. Before I realized I was depressed, and could find medication to help me adjust my brain, I would often feel so resentful and judgmental of the new people I met. I couldn't process things rationally because of the despair that I felt separated me from them. Why did their lives look so much easier and happier than mine? What was I doing so wrong? Why couldn't I make things work like them? Well, turns out I couldn't because my brain worked differently and part of my misery wasn't actually self-inflicted.

As I've matured and tried harder to be less selfish, I hope I've improved as a friend. I wish it was easier to be friends with all the people I've left in different cities, but distance proves to be a real hurdle for me. I wish it wasn't so. That's something I'll continue to work on as my kids get older (maybe if they EVER slept in the car...) so I can nurture friendships I value.

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Thursday, October 06, 2016

Linc's First Zoo Day

I went ahead and decided to share a Zoo pass with another family, and I'm so glad I did! Lindsey hooked me up and it's an upgrade from the one I shared years ago with Amanda. Now that I have two kids it makes sense to have more bells and whistles on the pass (it allows me to bring more people in with me) and I still get to share the cost so it's worth it.

Linky and I went on the sly Tuesday morning while Aspen was at school. She recently told her Uncle Seth that I do all sorts of fun things with just Linc and leave her out. I think she referred to school as "prison" or something. In reality, I spend every morning playing cars and Spiderman with Linc, or working at the daycare with him (where he literally beats up other kids and spends lots of time screaming in the pack 'n play in timeout), or leaving him home with Kevin while I'm at school myself. I told Aspen I'm basically counting down the minutes every day until NAP TIME so I can do homework or shower without an audience. But I blew my own cover when we went to the zoo without her *insert laughing-til-you-cry emoji here*.

But, really, I'll take her too. And remind her that before Linc was born, she and I did millions and billions of fun things together that I definitely haven't done with Linc.

The look on Linky's face is so worth any wrath dished out by Aspen. He was mesmerized by the train, the carousel and the animals. He hasn't been to the zoo since he grew up into a real toddler person, so it was awesome to see his reaction to everything.

He really loved the elephants and the rhinos. We were able to see the elephants getting a little inspection from their handlers and eating their food. Linc thought it was funny that elephants can lift food off the ground with their noses.

Nap time for this monkey. Since Linc didn't want to ride in a stroller, he got to run around the whole zoo for two hours. His nap time was pretty awesome later in the afternoon (hashtag MOMWIN).

The last time I went to the zoo, I think it was when Linc was a tiny newborn. Aspen rode the peacock seat on the carousel while I sat and nursed Linc on a bench. For this visit, Linc was weary of the machine, but I suggested the bench. Next time he might be brave enough to ride an animal, but we'll see. I got motion-sick on it so maybe he and Aspen will sit on the bench together while I stand on the sidelines and try not to barf.

Seriously, his look of wonder throughout the morning was so awesome. We spent a lot of time the little critters' habitat (which was nice since it was cold outside) and he kept asking to look for more animals. He was so interested in everything he didn't even pester me for snacks, which he's SUPER good at. We ended our visit with some lunch in the sunshine, and then Linc was determined to follow big kid field trip groups all the way up the hill out of the zoo. I was impressed that he ran nearly the entire way up and out.

I haven't even told Aspen yet that I have a zoo pass, and hopefully word won't get out until a day when I can take her, too. It's not like she hasn't been eleventy billion times, but now we have a pass that includes the train and carousel so I'm sure she'll be excited.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

A Sibling - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

I honestly didn't know if I would give Aspen a sibling. Post-partum was so debilitating and overwhelming for me emotionally. I suffered from anxiety without knowing what to call it. My depression deepened and I chose going to bed over eating, showering, answering the door, or pretty much anything else. It was years before I felt like I could actually parent with joy.

And then we moved to West Jordan for Kevin's work and I was so isolated and miserable. I spent those nine months solo-parenting and felt exhausted and stretched too thin. We had to drive at least 30 minutes each way for any play dates, and it was hard for me after being so used to our lifestyle in Ogden. I couldn't imagine having another baby when I had a husband who was so overworked. I don't know how he maintained the schedule he had, and I'm glad that chapter is over.

When we moved to South Salt Lake, I began to seriously consider having another baby. But I was still terrified. Aspen was three and I felt like the age gap would be manageable. She'd be more independent and possibly going to pre-school by the time a sibling was born. Our new community was welcoming and approachable. I felt like I'd have a village to help me.

But still, I wondered if I could really do it. I mean, obviously it was possible, but would it negatively affect my relationships with Aspen and Kevin? Would I finally have a complete breakdown and need to be hospitalized? I honestly thought it could happen if my depression and despair were any worse than the first time around.

And although I was SO EXCITED when Kevin and I decided to have another baby, and I was SO EXCITED when I found out I was pregnant, it honestly felt like a huge mistake after Lincoln came home with us. A few weeks in, I felt rested and confident in the adjustment to having two children. But then all hell broke lose. Linc was inconsolable unless was holding him. Kevin started regularly working night shifts for a week at a time, leaving me with a screaming infant day and night, and a toddler who was sorely neglected. I couldn't do it.

I told myself all the hardship would be worth it in a couple of years when Linc was a real person who could interact with Aspen. I tried to hold on to that hope. But it wasn't enough. My meds weren't enough. The lack of sleep, and the mental fatigue from feeling like a huge failure nearly broke me. I thought it would be better if I died because I was so bad at figuring out how to help Linc stop crying and sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time.

Thankfully, now that Lincoln actually sleeps and lets other people care for him, I can see that it was the right choice to give Aspen a sibling. But, during the 18 months I didn't sleep, I wanted to give up. I wanted to stop existing.

Occasionally I get pangs of longing, and mention to Kevin that I wish we could have another baby. But it's not worth it for me. The quality of our lives suffers so much when I turn into a crazy person. I don't want to jeopardize my own health again.

Spending time with Julia and her newborn helped me process some of the feelings I have about a new baby. I know for sure I don't need to bring another one into my family, but I can help those who do. I can try to seek out opportunities to help other families adjust to a new sibling and get a baby fix for myself. And then I can go home and sleep for 9 hours straight and listen to the sounds of my two kids getting breakfast for themselves the next morning. I am fulfilled with the two children Kevin and I chose to have. I love that my relationship with him withstood the trials of the last two years, and that we're now able to focus more on ourselves. Our kids will have better lives if they see their parents loving one another.

Giving Aspen a sibling was so worth it, and I'm so grateful and relieved.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Decorations - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

We were spending our first Christmas in our new home after our house burned down. We'd spent the summer living with different friends and had settled into our own house as the school year started. My mom was supporting four kids and herself on one income. Which, come to think of it, isn't much different than how she lived when she was actually married to my birth dad.

Money was always tight. And as an adult, I now feel badly that I once told my mom I couldn't handle her talking to me about us being poor. I was 12 or so, and I just didn't want to hear it. It was hard enough feeling so different than the other kids who lived more comfortably; I didn't need it confirmed that I was living a life they wouldn't understand. But she needed someone to talk with, and I could have handled it better.

In what I didn't realize then was an effort to save my mom money, time and trouble, she told me and my siblings that we'd be putting up a big paper tree for Christmas that year. She taped huge sections of green tree-shaped paper on the wall, and we were to decorate it with statements of gratitude. It's actually something they would go CAH-RAZZZZY on Pinterest these days, right?! Well, I was devastated. It was not how we'd spent Christmas in the past (my dad was a chronic shoplifter and probably stole a tree in addition to all the presents we received) and it was heartbreaking.

I mentioned to some friends how lame it was that we wouldn't have a Christmas tree. It shouldn't have mattered, but when life turns upside down, it can be hard to adjust. Letting go of the tradition of having a tree wasn't easy.

One afternoon the doorbell rang and there stood Melissa with her dad. With them on my porch was an artificial tree for our family. The magnitude of that gesture wasn't fully appreciated by me at the time (although I was grateful), but now it brings tears to my eyes. And not just because they were generous and brought my family a tree; I'm conflicted regarding how it affected my mom, too. Was she embarrassed or upset that we (her children) couldn't be grateful for all that we did have? Why couldn't I keep my mouth shut and just be happy my family would be together for the holidays, in our own home? It's a complicated memory for me.

I hold on to the fact that the tree was given in the true spirit of the Christmas holiday. It was meant to uplift my family and show that others cared for us. It gave someone an opportunity to be charitable and it continues to teach me to this day.

I hope my children can appreciate the things I do for them, and that it will be enough. I hope they won't get caught up so much in material things, and that they'll understand traditions can continue on even when circumstances change.

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Monday, October 03, 2016

Waking up - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:

I loathe waking up. Ever since having children and losing all control over what time I go to sleep and wake up, I hate mornings. I hate them with a passion that burns as bright as the sun that rises and mocks me.

Although the kids sleep pretty well now, I still feel PTSD in regard to how little I slept until Lincoln was about 18 months old. Getting up early, or having to wake him up to go somewhere, is physically painful to me. It goes against everything I worked for those months Linc wouldn't sleep unless being held. "Never wake a sleeping baby" is still very much my motto.

Unfortunately, in order to get Aspen to school on time, I do have to wake Linc almost every morning. When I do so, I tell Linc softly that it's time to take Aspen to school. He often responds with, "AGAIN?!" I feel you, man.

Aspen gets up around 7 or so, and Kevin usually makes sure she gets some breakfast and vitamins before he leaves for work. I stay in bed and pretend I can go back to sleep after the many, many visits Aspen makes to my bedside.

"Mom, I ate breakfast."

"Okay, please get dressed in clothes for warm weather."

"Mom, I got dressed."

"Okay, please brush your hair."

"Mom, I can't brush my hair IT'S SO TANGLED I'M GOING TO DIE."

"Okay, please put on shoes and I'll brush your hair in a few minutes."

"Mom, I put on shoes."

"Okayyyy I'll get up."

"Mom, I had a dream about..."


And then, even though we still have 20 minutes before we have to leave, we run around like crazy people screaming at each other because it takes the kids at least six hours to walk down the stairs to the car in the garage. And then another fourteen hours to get into the car and get buckled and fight about who will push the garage door buttons.

So we're rushing and yelling and I swear to myself I'm going to make the kids start down the stairs at 7:30 the next morning just so we can be in the car by 8:15 and I wistfully fantasize about the day Aspen can walk to school with her friends and I can avoid this mess until it's time to start all over with Lincoln.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Drive bys - writing prompt

I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:


Every time I drive into Ogden, it feels like coming home. It's my college city, the one in which I lived on my own for the first time. The city where I met lost a high school best friend, and met my future husband. It's where I adopted my first dog, bought my first house, had my first grown-up job. It's where I really fell in love with yoga, and became a mother. Leaving was so sudden, due to Kevin accepting a job offer and needing to relocate. I had just said to a friend a couple of weeks prior that I didn't see any reason we'd ever move away from Ogden.

I often dream I live there, and that I'm still at Weber State. I spent 7 years with that University and those experiences stick with me to this day. I know I'm seeing things through rose-colored glasses all these years later, but the decade I spent in Ogden was a happy one overall. I learned a lot about myself and my depression in that time, and what I need to do to manage it best.

When I have the chance to return to Ogden, I feel a tug to stay a while. To think of ways we can move north again and not give up some of the opportunities we have in Salt Lake. I imagine being able to take Lincoln to the Treehouse Museum each week like I did when Aspen was his age. I imagine walking the same parkway with him that I walked with Aspen, and being closer to Pineview and Taylor Grove. I imagine Kevin and I spending time with the circle of friends we left behind up there, and him having an opportunity to do something other than just work all the time.

Ogden gets a bad rep, and I know people are always saying when there's a murder in the news it's either in West Valley or Ogden. And yes, it's kind of true, but that doesn't mean the whole city is a mess. The development in downtown is amazing, and it surprises me and Kevin every time we go. The access to recreational opportunities is mind-boggling, ranging from hiking to skiing to paddle boarding and boating.

I can't help wondering if Kev and I will end up there again.

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