Newsletter 2017

My family has been in the same house all year, we have all been at the same jobs, but we changed so much! I went on a girls trip for the first time mostly with women I didn’t know previously. We went to Palm Springs in February. My friendships have grown so much. I turned 30 this year and feel so grownup. I’ve written my senator oodles. I’ve attended killer parties and concerts. I’ve read some of my favorite books. I ran almost everyday throughout the summer, all around Springville, and got up to four and a half miles. Also, my managers at Larson Davis decided that I knew what I was doing and now I make instructional videos for Youtube, which means I’ve learned Adobe Premier. It’s been pretty exciting.

An events company hired Adam to do a big pumpkin event series in Salt Lake during October, Pumpkin Nights. All the events he wanted to do, and whatever he wanted to carve in however many giant pumpkins he wanted. He put them in contact with a grower he knew. He learned the pumpkin grower grew two acres of giant pumpkins, so we visited the dairy farm in September and saw the fields– as far as the eye could see. We took home two giants that day, including a new kitten. There were dozens of cats and this little runt kept following us around. We named her Sprout. She is now a chubby cotton ball that bites your fingers when you pet her and has decided she will be in an indoor cat.

We went camping at Pineview in August– the girls woke us up god awfully early, so I took Nina to the water and we paddle boarded until the boats came out. We watched the sun rise. It was just her and I, the still water, and the rising sun. I want to remember that forever.

Last year, when I was pretty sure they were going to offer me my job, I realized that we were going to be able to go to Disney World. I was driving at the time and just started screaming– my kids were so worried. But I was laughing when it turned to crying, and then I told them what I realized. So January 2017, we went to Disney World. We took the red eye to Orlando and stayed at a nice house with a pool. We did Disney from the moment they opened the gates to when the last firework went off at night. We also went to a gator park, which turned out to be my favorite part.

Adam and I turned the RV parking area on our property to a garden. We grew three giant pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, and three rows 7 feet tall of Hopi pink corn. Our cat Gerty lived in the corn like a tiger in a jungle– every time I went out to weed she would twist around my legs telling me stories and asking me all her kitty questions.

One summer night, while we were laying in our grass staring at our house, a little bored, Adam told me how much he wanted to rip the ugly, old vinyl siding off of our house. I told him to just do it. So, he did. Underneath was two stories of adobe colored, beautiful brick. He renovated our bedroom, too. Only took six weeks. He exposed the interior brick wall, and it looks stunning.

Mae started kindergarten at Walden Liberal Arts School in Provo. Deciding to send her to a Montessori charter school was not easy. Adam and I both went to standard public school. But it has been amazing. It’s a well run, kind school that develops little fun-loving, respectable, and stalwart children.

Nina has decided that potty words are the absolute most fun things to say 24/7. She’s cute so we let her. She sleeps most nights with an ice pack, and spent all summer in our kiddie pool. She collects random objects for her “project”, and I’m still not sure what this project is. She’s a honey bee.

I have so many plans for 2018. I want to swim more, run more, make more, read more, and be more. I want to do what I love every day and do it with all the people I love the most.

Happy New Year.

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PS, CA

I know this perfectly awesome person, and she invited me to a girls trip to Palm Springs a few months back. When I saw the Facebook notification, I knew that I was going to be there. I told Adam I was going– without first telling him about it. I even had a dream that I was there with big curly hair, so I changed my hair appointment from a color to a perm.

We left last Thursday morning. S drove her swanky BMW and I sat back and enjoyed her 8 hours of banging playlists. We left the cold, snow, ice, wind, and smog of Northern Utah and before lunch were in Cedar for burgers, without sweaters, looking at a palm tree in the mother flipping sunshine.

When we met up at the motel in Palm Springs we met the organizer, C, and her four friends I didn’t know. I cannot tell you how much love I grew for these women. Everyone was agreeable. We all loved the same kick ass music. We all took time to Snapchat and Instagram everything we did. We all found ourselves wanting to do the same things.

It was great to find joy with new friends and to find myself in another state living it up.

 

Books Mr. President Trump Should Read

I recently read an Entertainment Weekly article that said Trump doesn’t read books. So, Trump doesn’t read. He has all the common sense and big words he wants for a lifetime. I got to admit how utterly terrifying and tragic news like this is.

If I had to pick one thing I could ask of Trump, anything, including laying off women’s reproductive health or not building a wall, and he would have to do this one thing– I would decide to make him read. If I could do that, this would be the short list of books I want the president of the United States to have have sitting on a nearby table, to tide him over until the next election:

  1. George Orwell’s 1984
    This one should be obvious for the man that hired the woman who uses the updated version of “doublespeak” to describe the administration’s lies: alternative facts. Additionally, he needs to know that the things he wants to do have already been thought up as things to do if you want to dominate people. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
  2. Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Ubervilles
    Hardy taught me that when religion fails you, at least you can still find a good man one day, but he will probably abandon you because of the same reason religion did. I would hope that he might see the follies in limiting women’s choices, and how it only leads to pain and death. “Did it never strike your mind that what every woman says, some women may feel?”
  3. Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven
    Here we have a story about a young man with the power to change the universe, and his psychiatrist learns how to wield that power for his own selfish gains. How fitting for a man who we don’t want to see have a learning curve in leading our nation. “You have to help another person. But it’s not right to play God with masses of people. To be God you have to know what you’re doing. And to do any good at all, just believing you’re right and your motives are good isn’t enough.”
  4. Thi Diem Thúy Lê’s The Gangster We’re All Looking For
    I hear that the next order of business, for President Trump, after ending women’s healthcare in foreign countries and allowing a pipeline of oil to destroy our land, is to forbid Muslim refugees from entering our country. In the 70’s we had an influx of Vietnamese refugees in the US, and this book is a pseudo-autobiography of a young Vietnamese girl during that time. It is not a glorification or a fantasy. It was honest and insightful. If you are in a position to make policy about refugees, reading this book should be a requirement. “In Vietnamese, the word for water and the word for a nation, a country and a homeland are one and the same: nu’o’c.”
  5. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden
    If you understand one man trying to live alone in a cabin for a year, you understand a lot about people. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

Big Time Goals + Florida

I love new year’s resolutions, but any chance I get to plan and make a list, I will take it.

Goals for 2017

  • Whole30 diet for January (so I stop gaining weight)
  • Stand up for myself, even if it means I am a bitch
  • Buy more furniture
  • Travel to Florida, Palm Springs, and Chicago
  • Go camping more than once
  • Redo the siding on the house– it’s a brick house, free the brick
  • Get to know my neighbors more
  • Golf
  • When my girls ask if I can sleep next to them, say yes
  • Replace the carpet in the sad carpet places in my house
  • Fence the backyard
  • Spend more time with female friends
  • Become a really good technical writer
  • Write a book
  • Publish something
  • Plant a walnut tree
  • Read 30 books
  • Grow my hair out long
  • Cook more fish
  • Get a raise
  • Finish that damned quilt
  • Go for more walks

We went to Florida already, and I am on day five of my Whole30 (and I am so sad inside for turning down that free donut this morning). I’ve read two books, and it’s only the 17th.

It’s going to be a great year.

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Christmas Photos

A Christmas, of Christmas past, was one of the best. We opened presents, ate breakfast, and played in the freshly fallen snow, we were euphoric. That is, until we realized we had ten minutes to get to my inlaws. We left in a whirlwind hurry, leaving all our new presents and good cheer to spend the rest of the day driving around the Wasatch front, losing a much needed binky, and generally feeling rushed. No more, I thought.

This Christmas I said no to everyone, and stayed home.

We were in pajamas. We played with toys, markers, play doh…

The girls and I shoveled the walk and played in the snow.

I made a wonderful meal.

Things were just the best.

Except Adam was very sick and spent most of the day either in bed or puzzling. And that’s ok. I am so glad we didn’t make plans. The snow fell so hard we were snowed in anyway. The car would have needed some intense unburying and the roads were awful.

My favorite part was giving the girls new bedding while they slept, and neither of them particularly noticed when they woke up. Kids.

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Bachelor

I graduated high school in the spring of 2006. By the next month I was attending my first semester at Brigham Young University – Idaho. I was an English major. So many plans and goals and none of them could calm me down, and I couldn’t make sense of a single one. If my first semester was a dream, my second was a nightmare. I used my money my stepdad was sending me to buy a train ticket to New York, and got out as soon as I could.

I didn’t go back to school until I was married, August 2008. We both enrolled at Weber and took History together. I got C’s on the exams, he would get A’s. I took Chemistry and sat in the way back on my computer in a sea of over one hundred students. I took a fiction class with a teacher who {wrongfully} accused the only black student of being homophobic. Things just didn’t sit right. I changed my major to Nutrition, because I liked food. The next semester, after the most unbelievably physically boring nutrition class, I changed my major to Computer Science. I kept hearing computer science majors get $50,000/yr jobs when they graduate, and that sounded pretty good to me.

It wasn’t a good fit. I failed all my computer science courses the next semester. There were many factors that led to that collapse, but I don’t know what to go into them.

A friend told me to retake them, and one at a time. She was so encouraging and I respected her so much. For the next few semesters I did just that, and got an A the first time, and the next three semesters, I at least didn’t fail.

I took a full credit load, then I got pregnant, and I didn’t do well. I went to the academic counselor and determined an acting class would get me my Associates. So I took Acting.

Two years later, I felt like I still had failed. I remember walking that stage in my purple robe and feeling I was going to have a panic attack I was so upset with myself. I wasn’t proud. I decided I needed to go back, and this time, do something I was already good at, already interested in, and somewhere I belonged. The English department.

The next five semesters were a joy. A’s and B’s in classes that one by one changed me into a better person. Each new book I read or essay I wrote, discussion I listened to or participated in, moved me. It was like nothing at all. All the hard work was work worth doing. I excelled, and I loved it.

I am proud of this degree. Proud of my sacrifices and my growth. Mostly, I am proud for finally knowing myself. I can’t believe it took me ten years, but by God, I finished.

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Princesses

My girls have been a raccoon, alligator, butterfly, scarecrow, and a truck driver, and then last year they were two sides of The Princess in Black. I love Halloween, and I made all their costumes by hand. Each costume represented an entire year of planning, creativity, and effort. Until this year.

I now work full time. I pickup my girls from daycare and don’t make it home until close to six some days. I still try to make a full dinner, which is an hour of cooking, and they must get to bed before 8 pm, otherwise they turn into pumpkins. This schedule isn’t ideal. The other day, I got home, determined to get dinner on the table faster, and Nina just kept calling out to me from the yard, “Mom! Come play with me! Come play with my caramel!” (fun fact: she calls comets caramels, and made one in school that she can throw around the yard.) Despite it not being in the budget, I said screw you dinner, went out and played with my daughter and made a quick phone call to Dominoes while we threw the caramel to each other. We snuggled on the couch and watched Curious George’s Halloween special and at 7 pm, the pizza man showed up with what would be the reason for my stomach ache all the next day (bad food is not nice to me).

In all this light, you can understand why I thought that I would let this industrialized world help with Halloween. I pulled up Amazon on my iPad, and the girls scrolled around for about an hour until they picked out their costumes. Disney Princesses. Elsa and Arial to be exact. It feels a little bit like a defeat. We went to their school Halloween carnival, and every one of M’s friends was Elsa. Four little Elsas running around. Oh well. She loves it. It’s ok to have a few Disney princess years and order pizza for dinner. Those are extremely small sacrifices to have all I have now. I’ll gladly pay.12345678

A Balmy Day

I have taught the girls that those days where the clouds threaten to rain you out, where the heat seems too warm, like it won’t last, and the air in the very space around you seems to holding its breath, are balmy days. They love to find them out and tell me, “Today is balmy, right Mommy?”

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While Nina napped, I went out back, got out my book I started reading earlier, and sat out to the table I made this Spring semester in Furniture Design. I only got 18 out of 20 points for the table. Mae joined me with her paints. She has been making monsters lately. Really great monsters. “The green is blood. The purple is skin.” “What’s the red?” I asked. “That’s blood. The green is streaming blood.”

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Here is an old one. They usually look like this.
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While we sat, three blue jays and two robins seemed to be fluttering around over some drama in the pines above us. When it seemed to calm, one of the jays would sneak in, and steal a peanut from the feeder next to Mae. Sometimes in the morning I will find the feeder tipped over. They are very hot blooded creatures.

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I’m reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I didn’t know what it was about before I bought it. I’m kind of glad I didn’t. Toni Morrison has a quote printed on the cover that simply reads “This is required reading.” I should have known then how important it is. It’s a letter to Coates’s son about his body and his relationship to the world. It’s similar to Emerson’s Self Reliance or Thoreau’s Walden. I’m reading it and want everyone to read it as well. Coincidentally, as I write this Nina Simone is singing Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair. The other day on KRCL there was a news segment on Tamir Rice, I didn’t listen, Adam did, and he came home upset. Said he cried. A drive by shooting of a twelve year old boy at a playground is heinous. Leaving his body on the ground for his sister to watch it bleed out, is the stuff of nightmares. I can’t believe this is the world I live in. I watched Persepolis the other night, and cried again about the conflict and horror of this universe. Unlike Coates though, this universe where people are shot dead in the street, his reality, is another universe away from mine. I live in the world where I sit with my children in my backyard and read books and have discussions on the different bird body types and what they like to eat.

Sometimes I don’t know what to do to help the disenfranchised. How can I help the poor? How can I make things right? How can I make it so no matter the color of your skin, you can play at a playground, stand on a street corner, or walk at night and not be shot down? I believe in the beauty of immigration. I believe that it should be easier and simpler to be an American citizen. I support those that support that cause, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. I believe that the school system needs to empower the youth, not stifle them. I believe in better child care. I believe in the free economy that benefits the everyman not the few on top. I believe in women standing next to men as equals, without fear of violence.

“I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night…”
― Sylvia Plath

All these thoughts are with me often lately. Sometimes I lay awake at night and think about Bernie Sanders, like a teenage girl with a crush. When I see his name in the media or hear someone mention him, I hold my breath like he’s my special person and no one knows. I watch his speeches and cry. I see photos of him and love bubbles in my heart. And it also makes me sad. How can I love a politician? And how can this underdog ever beat out the powerhouse that is Clinton and the entire world that campaign against him? Once or twice, I can get calm enough to imagine a scenario where we give him power, and he does some good. He helps the poor, women, illegal immigrants, Muslim refugees, and anyone else who find themselves on the wrong side of the powerful few. It’s not going to happen. I feel defeated already.

I don’t know who you support, but I hope it isn’t someone who likes to hurt others to make you feel good. Or just so someone is hurt and it isn’t you.

 

We are back inside and it is raining violently on my little home. It’s hail now, and I can’t hear Jeff Buckley through my speakers anymore. My girls are looking through the window, and Nina coos, “Ooo, it’s beautiful!” Mae notices that it’s bouncing off the garage roof, “Look mom, it’s hopping just like us and kangaroos.”

 

The Hand that Makes the Play Dough

Nina has realized I can make play dough, pretty much anytime I feel like it. This is no small issue. As she now asks a thousand times a day. So, I made a calendar and called Tuesday “Arts and Crafts Day”, saying that is the day I make play dough. This kind of works. But now I find myself saying a lot, “It’s not Tuesday. Wait for Tuesday.”

I use this recipe:

2 c flour (+more for kneading)
1/2 c salt
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 c cream of tartar (can buy in bulk at Winco)
1-1/2 c boiling water (straight from screaming kettle)

Then I add some essential oil, just so it doesn’t smell like flour, which is not a pleasing smell. Then I add food coloring as I knead it. She goes nuts. Sometimes I will double it and put the excess in the fridge. But it usually only lasts a week. This is because Nina is 2 years old and will break tiny pieces of it and put it all over the floor that will dry by the time I clean it up. I will keep putting the large chunks in its bag, but she will keep taking it out. It is a mess. But one day there will not be a mess, and that won’t be any better.

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