9.25.2016

feeling old

Over the last year a few new things have happened that have pointed towards signs of...maturing (getting OLD). Most of them are easy to dismiss. Not liking most new music genres, not knowing who the Kardashians are, constantly yelling at the dancing tv shows that have all of the new dance forms that you think are ruining the art form, hitting the halfway mark to 40, things like that.

Then stranger things showed up. Like, permanent neck wrinkles, stinky sock morning breath, and now you not only have crows feet but you can physically feel your wrinkles with your fingers. Just like Dolly Parton said, "Time marches on, and pretty soon you realize it's marching across your face"

Or buying a slice of pizza at the fair for your kid and the 16 year old worker asks, "Do you remember me? You taught me ballet when I was 5!".  Um...no I don't remember you because  I swear that 12 years ago I was 12.

The year 2006 always feels like just a few years ago....not TEN years ago. Kids that I babysat are now MARRIED and parents of MULTIPLE children.  My funny/witty movie references literally fall on deaf ears because no one has seen or even heard of my childhood favorites. To add insult to injury, my favorite "oldies" station that played all the classics now plays hits from early 80's. EW!  What is happening to my life?

But the tipping point happened this morning, driving through Las Vegas from the airport. A small honda civic hatchback passed me with a "Classic Rod" license plate marker. Meaning, it's old enough to be considered a "classic".


At this rate tomorrow I'll be getting the senior citizen early bird special.

9.21.2016

a little less sensitive please, but a little more too

A few months after we moved into our home I walked outside to see Ty on a ladder drilling some lights above our bedroom window. "Motion sensor security lights" he informed me. He then installed three more around the property. We live on 2acres, so I felt like it was a good idea. Until the first night.

I sleep closest to the window, and now you know where this story is probably going. About 3 minutes with my eyes closed trying to sleep (this means Ty has been fast asleep for 90 seconds already), the light flicks on and I open my eyes. Burglar? Coyote?! I rush to the window and look outside to find, of course, nothing. I went to lie back down, and two minutes later the light is back on. Again, nothing.  And so on, and so on for the entire night.  I sleepily complained to Ty  the next morning that those stupid motion lights suck. The sleepless nights continued for a few weeks until our marriage was reaching a high stress breaking point. I was not getting any sleep.

During dinner one night, he mentioned, "Oh hey, I checked the motion lights and their sensors were  set on High, so I switched them to a lower sensitivity".  Basically, the lights were going off when the wind rustled the palm tree fronds too much or a moth flew by. I wish I was joking. My life was interrupted nightly by silly, small and harmless things.

Last weekend I sat and watched my sister in law open her baby shower presents. Oh! The cuteness. The little outfits, the matching bows, the adorable shoes! The shoes! The doodads, blankets and the watchmathingies that are all the rage, that every parent must have. And man, I sat there remembering that with our first baby did I have to have all of those things. I don't think I'm alone in this either. With your first child your sensitivity dial is set to HIGH, at ALL TIMES. Silly, small, harmless things keep you up at night! Everything must be perfect!! I sat there wondering where it comes from, and I realized, most of it has to do with ourselves. How are people seeing me through my child, by my outfit, my body, my car, my house, my new wallpaper?

Twelve years ago I probably spent hours picking out Lucy's first doctor's appointment outfit and making sure she looked as adorable as could be. Imagine my disappointment when as a first time mom I found out that your baby's doctor appointments are with them straight up naked in a diaper for the first year. How could the doctor see what a good parent I was without seeing the pink corduroy overalls with tiny embroidered edelweiss on them?  Writing this sounds silly, as I'm sure reading it, but ask any first time mom and she will have had an experience like this. Whether I liked it or not, I was highly sensitive and it was all silly, harmless, small things that were meant about ME.

Fast forward six years later to when we had our fourth child. I'm pretty sure my sensitivity sensor was on the lowest setting there is. I honestly could care less what other people were thinking about my parenting skills or how cute my kids looked most of the time. I have the pictures to prove it. Disregard this statement if family pictures, school pictures or a wedding are scheduled for the day.  But all in all the only things I gauged and monitored were things like, is the baby happy? Is he hungry? Does he have a clean onesie on? Not too dirty of a onesie? Sleeping enough? Sleeping too much? Is he reaching milestones? Does he smell like mold? You know. Important stuff.  The rest of my energy was spent on trying not to ignore the other kids too much and meet their needs at the same time. A juggling act that is still on constant demand at this house.

Then, there were the dark times. This is when I didn't have any sensitivity. I'd like to call these the numb years where I didn't wear pants (I wore clothes, just leggings and stretchy skirts and dresses, not actual pants with a button or zipper). My motion sensor was broken and already getting recycled in Taiwan by this point, leaving a gaping hole where it was supposed to be. Getting through the day was all I could do. I hated everything, everyone, myself. I was angry. Sad. Numb. But mostly numb and angry. I talked a lot about other people, it was one of the few things that made me feel better, picking on other people. I yelled at my kids. A lot. I punished myself with crappy food and not exercising.  I desperately tried new things or magical fixitalls in search of an answer, only to never find anything that could pull me out of the darkness for longer than a few weeks. This went on for longer than I'd like to admit. Years. I don't write about this very much on here, the courage has yet to show up at my door for something like that. Maybe because some days my grandchildren will read this? Hopefully not. But maybe someday I should write it exactly because they will read it some day? Thoughts for another time.

Now in my life I'm searching for the middle way as far as what I am spending my time paying attention to. I'm trying to hard to be a good person. I care about other people, I try to show that I care. I love my kids even though I'm sure I'm failing them, I still love them everyday and show it.  I take care of myself, a little more. My lifelong goal is to shoot for right in-between the sensitivity of :

HIGH 'overly and hyper critical of myself and others'
and
OFF 'straight up angry and numb'.

Somewhere right around caring enough about myself and others to wear real pants, but not caring so much that I'm screaming at my kids to put on the cute matching outfit or I'm calling the police.

I guess they call this balance?

I imagine in my future, and can see in my past, that the first time I do anything (like have a middle schooler, high schooler, college student etc), or venture into a new area of work or church service, my sensitivity monitor ratchets up a few notches. Slowly I'd like to say that I'm getting less and less prone to it getting put on HIGH, but it happens. I watch around me the mature and wise neighbors, family and friends that have been to many a rodeo. They are literally calm, collected, and peaceful about most things. LOW.

And Hallmark cards have it right. Because, if we really look at the grand perspective of it all, most things work out. All kids grow up. Hard things get easier. Good times happen. Grief becomes a manageable companion. And like it or not, happiness can be found in everything, if you look for it.

No matter how hard it is, every day ends, even the awful ones. Every morning the sun rises to a day with no mistakes in it. And just when you get comfortable there will always be milestones met, missed, and changes. My small life has been full of slow, painful beginnings,  sad, quick endings, and endlessly hard, boring and wonderful middles. I tend to really enjoy middles.

8.22.2016

parenting progress


                        
Things I frequently say these summer days...

"THIS is why we can't have nice things!"

"Because I said so" shudder

"You're going to have to learn how to manage your time wisely"

"Stop reading over my shoulder!"

"Chew with your mouth closed!"

"Maybe you should call grandma and see if you can visit!" Bwahahaha

"I'm sorry you feel that way"

"I don't even want to know what this is on the wall"

"I hate to break it to you but there isn't a waitress coming over to clear your spot"

"No you can't have ice cream at 8am" seriously, I've said this a dozen times.

"Go ask your dad"

"Go look again"

"You cleaned the entire bathroom that fast?"

"You only have to brush and floss the teeth you want to keep"

"If you just put your shoes away like I ask you won't lose them" 

"You bit who?!"

"NO TV FOR A WEEK!" This is when we are at defcon 1. 

"That's it, I'm failing as a mother!"

And last but not least: The day that I can leave the house without having to turn off any lights or tell *yell* at someone to shut the door behind them is the day that I can say I've done something right with my kids.


How is your summer going?


7.12.2016

new york in words II



"New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all  enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute..."
 "Although New York often imparts a feeling of great forlornness or forsakenness, it seldom seems dead or unresourceful; and you always feel that by either shifting your location ten blocks or by reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvenation. Many people who have no real independence of spirit depend on the city's tremendous variety and sources of excitement for spiritual sustenance and maintenance of morale. In the country there are a few chances of sudden rejuvenation- a shift weather, perhaps, or something arriving in the mail. But in New York the chances are endless." EB White  This Is New York.


The small town that I live in is one microcosm of how colonial life used to be. When someone sneezes 4 miles away, you hear about it. When the weather drops 5 degrees, there is a public celebration. Everyone is connected by location, religion, work or family, and most are related. All of these things are an amazing rarity! And also can be extremely frustrating when you are having a bad day. ha.  When there is a big football game, everyone knows and everyone goes, and if you don't go you feel guilty because you were literally  the only one that didn't see it. But the amazing part about not being insulated from events and neighbors is that we are all there for each other when the need arises. Neighbors mourn with neighbors and the entire community supports those with loss or battling a disease.

 The connection is at equal times breathtaking and admirable and then sometimes baffling. People become so enmeshed in people's choices about how they are decorating their house, or how often they wash/don't wash their car, clothes their kids wear to school and what kind of pet(s) they have or where they vacation. Facebook can take this kind of community and add steroids to the non-limit of privacy. Bedsides those downfalls, I love that my cashiers every day are my neighbors, and relatives and friends, and that everyday I can be surrounded by friends and family. That is a gift.

When we first moved to the Valley in 1997, everyone waved at you as they passed by in the car. I know I exaggerate, but literally everyone waved. It was the strangest thing, and it wasn't a happy "Hey! I know you and this is such a neat coincidence wave!" It is an acknowledgement wave, I think I'll call it the "Howdy Neighbor" wave. For as your car passes by, you simply lift up the fingers and thumb of your steering hand while keeping your palm on the wheel and extend them as a solidified wave, sometimes you add a nod to the head for extra recognition, and then keep driving.  The true locals still do this now, but only when seeing a friend, neighbor, cousin. Now, no one else waves, they are all city folk that have ebbed into the valley seeking solace. They drive by in silence like every other poor soul that never experienced the delight of everyone acknowledging your presence. That you are both in the same miraculous place, living at the same time, experiencing the same heat, the same drought, the same jubilation. That is gone. Sometimes Ty and I talk about bringing it back, that maybe if we start waving at everyone it will catch on again. But that dies quickly as we are always late getting somewhere and in the rush of the century.

In New York, you don't talk to your neighbors, you don't chat with the cashier, you don't even take your earbuds out and admire the amazing places you are in and the people who have walked before you or the fact that Alexander Hamilton is buried across the street and George Washington worshipped every Sunday in the church in front of your daily hot dog and coke cart at lunch break. Or the fact that the Joyce Theatre is 400 feet from your bed.

By the way, I loved talking with all of the cashiers and customer service people in the stores. They were the happiest and most friendly people I have ever met...and not one of them lived in Manhattan. I would say 50% lived in Brooklyn, and 50% in New Jersey. It was pretty neat to learn where they were from, how long they had worked/lived in the city/boroughs and what they do for entertainment. It was an even greater pleasure to learn that on a weekend they just go out to eat and watch netflix like the majority of us.
Chelsea

The next morning I was awake by 5am! I thought for sure I would stay on Nevada time and sleep in, no such luck. My beautiful cousin Steph ( who we had picked up at Chelsea Piers at midnight that day!) was awake too so we snuck out for a walk.
9th Avenue at 6am
 Imagine our surprise as we walk half a block and find an amazing french patisserie. Holy Carb Heaven! We might have eaten danishes every, ahem, morning. NO REGRETS.
We walked past the Seminary building, which is huge and beautiful. We chatted about wanting to see the Highline the night before, and then we look up and ha! it's right there. Like, literally right there.
Can you see the apartment with the area 51 Nevada license plate?
We walked the upper half of it and enjoyed the art and immaculate apartments that keep their windows open so everyone can see their furnishings, art, and location, I guess when you've paid that much for your house you want everyone to know it.  It was pretty comical.
The majority of the people we encountered on the Highline were runners, walkers, monks and tourists. It made me wonder if everyone can tell tourists apart or not, or are there obvious tourists and non-obvious ones? One sign is the eye contact, I'll get to that later.  Maybe every other runner was just visiting? Who knows? But we even saw two nuns out for a leisurely jog/walk for exercise, or sightseeing? It was hard to tell. 

I learned a few things that morning 1. it's not just on the subway that people avoid eye contact. even happy runners and walkers don't look at you. NO ONE in New York gives eye contact, unless they are crazy, that happened a few times. and 2. Monks don't hand you free shiny contact cards. If you take this supposedly free card they will silently follow you and then sneak up and ask for a donation of money from you and then you awkwardly hand it back because you only have your apartment key on you. Steph was laughing the entire time because she told me not to take the card hahahaha.

On the subway is a little easier to tell tourists vs. locals, but even then you couldn't be 100% positive. We had two natives give us the WRONG directions, thank goodness for transit apps. My all time-favorite species of human I had never encountered in their natural habitat (besides the hippie mat meditator/chanter at Madison Square subway stop) was the New England Preppie. My eyes have never beheld chinos that starched or topsiders so squeaky clean with shiny brass ended tassels. Trotting down the subway stairs one evening I heard two girls chatting holding all of their shopping bags and one jabbered off, "Well! Last weekend at Martha's Vineyard, she said..."  Ha! I can't believe that these are real people. 


New York is a conglomerate of everything from the uber wealthy, to every class in-between and the destitute/homeless. But there still is an insulation from it, I believe. Sure, once you get to touristy places there is a sad story (heartbreaking) on every corner. But the homeless people in our town, you know them. They are our old classmates. We know their entire story, we know who they were before their brains were ruined by decades of drug use and living on the street. We can still see in their face the kind, generous, loving people they were before their very existence has been mercilesssly dehydrated out of them. And some are so far gone, even if they can stay clean they'll never be the same again in this life. That is heartbreaking, that is close to home. In NY it's just another beggar, another vagrant. Here it is our friend.

 There the construction worker driving the backhoe, the local fireman, utility worker up on the electrical pole is just a face,  a body, here it is our groomsmen or cousin or our teammate or our spouse. You know every detail about what it takes to get power, water, phone, internet to your home, it isn't just there, and you also know every detail about when things go wrong. When there is a flood, you know the minutiae of how long, how much it took to get things working again in proper order. In a city it is just a thing. It happens. Life goes on. Here it is our very life.

People say "If you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere," and I think I have to disagree. With money, and luck, anyone can make it in New York. But there are a precious few who can withstand rural desert living. You could take 100 sane and healthy people and only 20% of them could handle 5 years without a full service gym, barnes and noble or costco or target. It is 100% up to you to make your life alive and resourceful, you can't rely on your surroundings to just offer it up to you around the corner like a city.  Even if you choose to stay in for the weekend, you could at any minute, go to a last minute show, or eat out at an ethnic restaurant with friends around the block. Here it takes planning, calculation, and the aligning of the planets to meet friends for something. We all have too many kids for that!

And did I mention food? I think my next post will be about NY food. Oh....the FOOD! 
ps: there is always construction, everywhere in NY, it made me miss Ty a lot.

7.06.2016

new york in words


One of my favorite essays from E.B. White is about taking cameras with us everywhere when we travel, and as he watched technology advance people started to live their experiences through a lens, instead of..living it. That has stuck with me ( I really need to find the title and reference it) for over 11 years now.

People have been asking me, "How was the big apple?!", "Was New York as amazing as you thought?", or my favorite..."Do you want to live there now?". Somehow that one always cracks me up.

I think the greatest blessing of my trip was that it was at the worst timing...ever for going, so I really didn't have time to stress about the details of staying in New York. After the recital we had only ten days of school left. For you parents of multiple children attending school you know what kind of craziness the last week of school ensues. Teacher gifts, dress up days, scrambling to find food for school lunches without actually buying more lunch food. Fifth grade graduation (which I thought was a terrible idea and ended up being pleasant) was Wednesday afternoon, then we swam to celebrate summer for about 2 hours and went home. We left for my flight at 3:45am the next day! So, um, things were more than crazy the week before. Packing, planning, packing for kids, planning food for everyone at home, arranging play dates etc. 

We ended up getting to the airport just in time because somehow Las Vegas' security is always the longest of any airport I've been too ( and yes that always keeps me a little worried). I basically speed walked to my terminal, and walked straight into line, boarded and was in the air in 30 minutes. Even though the flight was full with a very hungover Oregon Ducks team of no one less than 6'4" it went super fast without kids! Who knew?! And with a tail wind we landed 20 minutes early.

This is where it gets tricky, my girlfriend Renee was flying in from Calgary bout 2 hours after me, then our flights changed and it was 2.5 hours, but she was late and I was early so it would be about 3 hours of waiting in a tiny little exit terminal at JFK. I was nervous about taking the subway by myself into Manhattan with all of my luggage. But I decided to put on my big girl pants and do it. I MEMORIZED that stupid MTA map on how to get there and boarded the air train to the subway. If you are wondering why I just didn't take a taxi it's because 1. it's only $5 on the subway and $65+ for a taxi to get to Manhattan and 2. As much as I love driving into the city for the view and experience, I get extremely carsick in traffic and barf. There's your answer. 

While waiting for the subway a nice elderly man with salt and pepper hair and a polo shirt asked me for directions, I answered (remember I had it memorized!) and then asked him where he was from. "Manhattan" he cooly replied with a chuckle. Ha! I will add that I ended up giving directions to 3 people from manhattan over the next week. That made me feel much better about getting lost a few times. 

Of course, the only time there was a sketchy, creepy, borderline gang member/serial killer, was on my first train.  Of course. I quickly looked around and took note of subway etiquette from other passengers. It's pretty easy to select the natives vs. tourists, sometimes. The swedish family with their crisp white socks and birkenstocks, the chinese businessmen with their locked aluminum suitcases and pocket protectors vs the new mom from Jersey with her juicy pants and bedazzled jacket holding onto the stroller with her daughter half falling out while she listened and bounced to iTunes on her earbuds. I just held on to my luggage, which with every stop and start would lug one way or the other and I"ll just add right now that yes my arms were sore the next day from stopping sliding suitcases for an hour. I kept watching the stops for my transfer (you guys I made a transfer!) and when I stepped off the next train was right there across the platform. Somehow I knew it couldn't have been that easy so I let it leave, only to realize, yes that was my next train and now had to wait 7 minutes. NO biggie as I memorized, again, the subway map. After my transfer I only had 2 stops of squeezing suitcases again and I was there, at my stop. I pulled my suitcases up the 2 flights of gum riddled and wet? why were places on the stairs wet? stairs and exited onto 23rd street and 8th avenue. 

The sun was in my eyes and there were swarms of people moving everywhere. Much like an ant hill out our back door after Rodney pours water onto it. Scramble, dash, chaos, everywhere. The first words I thought were "We're not in Kansas anymore Toto". The honking of the taxis, cars and ambulance screaming by made it a classic country mouse in the city moment. I literally took a deep breathe, squeezed my luggage handles and squinted at the street sign to see where I was. 

 I got lost a lot in the city.  I don't know if you know this but on the island of Manhattan there are NO MOUNTAINS to tell me where East or West were, and also, the skyscrapers and buildings all look the same to me. I imagine it's the same as someone from the city thinking all Nevada mountains look the same, not knowing they all have names and look completely different to a native. I realized once I tried to get to my apartment rental that the address wasn't correct, and the owner gives you the exact address once you are checking in as a security measure. Nice. Besides looking like a lost tourist, there was no harm done except for two blocks of extra walking. I should add now that I was staying in Chelsea, and in the historical district to boot. I did not know this prior to my stay but soon knew from the row houses and amazing architecture. This was my little apartment on the 4th floor of the white building. I know right? Perfect.

A 4th floor walk up is not 4 flights of stairs by the way, it's 6. The stairwell was so narrow I had to carry one suitcase at a time, then walk back down the flight and get the next and so on and so forth. I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time I opened the apartment door. I forgot about the humidity, it had been 8 years since being there.

Up until I opened the door I still was 70% sure I had booked a terrible apartment that would look nothing like it's picture, smell like fish or something else and have cockroaches. I was wrong. It was the most beautiful and quaint little place I could imagine.
The view from the apartment. My neighbor had the cutest rooftop garden, and he also wore ladies underwear. On another rooftop people practiced judo every night and one of the high rises had parties on weekends. 
One of my favorite movies is Rear Window, so,you can imagine my delight with this view. Last stay in NY our view was an alleyway with dumpsters and rats. No joke.

After realizing I hadn't 1. been mugged on the subway and 2. get lost and not find my way I quickly unpacked and headed to the grocery store to stock up before Renee arrived. 

The grocery store was just a tiny little mom and pop one and no one was in there except a little old lady buying pineapple. I thought that was strange. I later found out that it is because no one shops at the local grocery stores unless they are desperate. Only Trader Joe's or Whole Foods will do, I guess only small town people don't mind buying non-organic fruit and pasteurized meat and eggs still. 

After unloading the groceries I went and met Renee on the street and the real adventure began! I should admit this was when I was still carrying mace with me everywhere and carefree about my teacher training. This would only last 12 hours. Then I didn't carry any mace while I traveled butwas scared to death of my training.

new york in words


One of my favorite essays from E.B. White is about taking cameras with us everywhere when we travel, and as he watched technology advance people started to live their experiences through a lens, instead of..living it. That has stuck with me ( I really need to find the title and reference it) for over 11 years now.

People have been asking me, "How was the big apple?!", "Was New York as amazing as you thought?", or my favorite..."Do you want to live there now?". Somehow that one always cracks me up.

I think the greatest blessing of my trip was that it was at the worst timing...ever for going, so I really didn't have time to stress about the details of staying in New York. After the recital we had only ten days of school left. For you parents of multiple children attending school you know what kind of craziness the last week of school ensues. Teacher gifts, dress up days, scrambling to find food for school lunches without actually buying more lunch food. Fifth grade graduation (which I thought was a terrible idea and ended up being pleasant) was Wednesday afternoon, then we swam to celebrate summer for about 2 hours and went home. We left for my flight at 3:45am the next day! So, um, things were more than crazy the week before. Packing, planning, packing for kids, planning food for everyone at home, arranging play dates etc. 

We ended up getting to the airport just in time because somehow Las Vegas' security is always the longest of any airport I've been too ( and yes that always keeps me a little worried). I basically speed walked to my terminal, and walked straight into line, boarded and was in the air in 30 minutes. Even though the flight was full with a very hungover Oregon Ducks team of no one less than 6'4" it went super fast without kids! Who knew?! And with a tail wind we landed 20 minutes early.

This is where it gets tricky, my girlfriend Renee was flying in from Calgary, Canada bout 2 hours after me, then our flights changed and it was 2.5 hours, but she was late and I was early so it would be about 3 hours of waiting in a tiny little exit terminal at JFK. I was nervous about taking the subway by myself into Manhattan with all of my luggage. But I decided to put on my big girl pants and do it. I MEMORIZED that stupid MTA map on how to get there and boarded the air train to the subway. If you are wondering why I just didn't take a taxi it's because 1. it's only $5 on the subway and $65+ for a taxi to get to Manhattan and 2. As much as I love driving into the city for the view and experience, I get extremely carsick in traffic and barf. There's your answer. 

While waiting for the subway a nice elderly man with salt and pepper hair and a polo shirt asked me for directions, I answered (remember I had it memorized!) and then asked him where he was from. "Manhattan" he cooly replied with a chuckle. Ha! I will add that I ended up giving directions to 3 people from manhattan over the next week. That made me feel much better about getting lost a few times. 

Of course, the only time there was a sketchy, creepy, borderline gang member/serial killer, was on my first train.  Of course. I quickly looked around and took note of subway etiquette from other passengers. It's pretty easy to select the natives vs. tourists, sometimes. The swedish family with their crisp white socks and birkenstocks, the chinese businessmen with their locked aluminum suitcases and pocket protectors vs the new mom from Jersey with her juicy pants and bedazzled jacket holding onto the stroller with her daughter half falling out while she listened and bounced to iTunes on her earbuds. I just held on to my luggage, which with every stop and start would lug one way or the other and I"ll just add right now that yes my arms were sore the next day from stopping sliding suitcases for an hour. I kept watching the stops for my transfer (you guys I made a transfer!) and when I stepped off the next train was right there across the platform. Somehow I knew it couldn't have been that easy so I let it leave, only to realize, yes that was my next train and now had to wait 7 minutes. NO biggie as I memorized, again, the subway map. After my transfer I only had 2 stops of squeezing suitcases again and I was there, at my stop. I pulled my suitcases up the 2 flights of gum riddled and wet? why were places on the stairs wet? stairs and exited onto 23rd street and 8th avenue. 

The sun was in my eyes and there were swarms of people moving everywhere. Much like an ant hill out our back door after Rodney pours water onto it. Scramble, dash, chaos, everywhere. The first words I thought were "We're not in Kansas anymore Toto". The honking of the taxis, cars and ambulance screaming by made it a classic country mouse in the city moment. I literally took a deep breathe, squeezed my luggage handles and squinted at the street sign to see where I was. 

 I got lost a lot in the city.  I don't know if you know this but on the island of Manhattan there are NO MOUNTAINS to tell me where East or West were, and also, the skyscrapers and buildings all look the same to me. I imagine it's the same as someone from the city thinking all Nevada mountains look the same, not knowing they all have names and look completely different to a native. I realized once I tried to get to my apartment rental that the address wasn't correct, and the owner gives you the exact address once you are checking in as a security measure. Nice. Besides looking like a lost tourist, there was no harm done except for two blocks of extra walking. I should add now that I was staying in Chelsea, and in the historical district to boot. I did not know this prior to my stay but soon knew from the row houses and amazing architecture. This was my little apartment on the 4th floor of the white building. I know right? Perfect.

A 4th floor walk up is not 4 flights of stairs by the way, it's 6. The stairwell was so narrow I had to carry one suitcase at a time, then walk back down the flight and get the next and so on and so forth. I was a hot, sweaty mess by the time I opened the apartment door. I forgot about the humidity, it had been 8 years since being there.

Up until I opened the door I still was 70% sure I had booked a terrible apartment that would look nothing like it's picture, smell like fish or something else and have cockroaches. I was wrong. It was the most beautiful and quaint little place I could imagine.
The view from the apartment. My neighbor had the cutest rooftop garden, and he also wore ladies underwear. On another rooftop people practiced judo every night and one of the high rises had parties on weekends. 
One of my favorite movies is Rear Window, so,you can imagine my delight with this view. Last stay in NY our view was an alleyway with dumpsters and rats. No joke.

After realizing I hadn't 1. been mugged on the subway and 2. get lost and not find my way I quickly unpacked and headed to the grocery store to stock up before Renee arrived. 

The grocery store was just a tiny little mom and pop one and no one was in there except a little old lady buying pineapple. I thought that was strange. I later found out that it is because no one shops at the local grocery stores unless they are desperate. Only Trader Joe's or Whole Foods will do, I guess only small town people don't mind buying non-organic fruit and pasteurized meat and eggs still. 

After unloading the groceries I went and met Renee on the street and the real adventure began! I should admit this was when I was still carrying mace with me everywhere and carefree about my teacher training. This would only last 12 hours. Then I didn't carry any mace while I traveled butwas scared to death of my training.

6.01.2016

this is me, daring greatly

Phew, can you hear that? It's me breathing. I feel like I can get to writing a bit more on here now as our spring recital is OVER. Oh, it was breathtaking, lovely, beautiful, and the girls were wonderful and precise and SMILED! I am incredibly proud of my students!

But I'm still happy/sad it's over.

There are a lot of things that kept me from teaching. The main reason I didn't teach for 7 years is that I was very busy having babies, and raising babies and spent about 7 years in a row of having to be home with twice a day napping babies. But many of the reasons I kept from teaching were doubt and fear and shame.

I'm not good enough, I can't choreograph, I'm too mean, I'm not patient with parents, it will make me a crappy(er) parent, I'm not organized, I'm not thin enough, I'm not good enough I'm not good enough I'm not good enough. I will try and I will fail and everyone will know that I'm a big fat fake fake faker.

But I knew I had to teach again, I had to at least try. I have to give a lot of credit to prayer, meditation, counseling and Brene Brown. Her book "Daring Greatly" really helped me open my eyes to start living a whole hearted and purpose driven life. My Heavenly Father has also subtly and not so subtly been prompting me to teach for YEARS. So I finally decided to do it.  "Give it one year" Ty and I decided, and if it isn't right it isn't to be. What is there to lose? Sure, a little dignity, but I've been throwing pieces of my dignity out the window since my first ob appointment. There's really not much left to care about.

And this, this quote, this is what has spurred me in the hard times and stressful moments and doubting days:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt April, 1910

And so I put myself back into ballet, and I haven't looked back since. I am happy teaching, and my daughters love it. And teaching for me isn't about the reward or recognition, I am grateful and love that I can share the art of ballet. If there is one girl in each class that dancing is her passion and I can give them a small outlet to grow, than it is worth the effort. I'm lucky that most of those girls there are my daughters. That is very fortunate.

So back to the recital, oh, 9 months of work for 1hr show. You really try not to think about all that can go wrong, because a lot can go wrong and always a few things do.

Dress rehearsal went well, the girls did great, and it actually went quite fast. Most dress rehearsals are loooonnnggg. We did pictures the same day, NEVER again. Pictures shall be a week or so after costumes arrive so they are DONE and DONE.

I show up 2hrs early to performance night and something is wrong. REALLY wrong. There are props in the entire stage right wings. Filled! And the floor, where are the marks? Where are the marks?!!!!!  Just then I got two texts at the same time, "Oh, I just heard the theatre teacher decided to paint the stage today. I hope it's ok and dry".   I couldn't believe it, here I had been handling the stress and business extremely well over the last month (thanks to my therapist) and THEY PAINTED THE STAGE THE MORNING OF THE PERFORMANCE. I'm sorry I screamed that but holy crap. Luckily, it was dry! But sticky. I had my girls (bless them!) put on their ballet shoes and run back and forth all over the stage forever to get it unstickyified. Not a word but the only way to describe. So after having a saint of a parent help move the props I was doing my own girls' stage makeup 50 minutes till show. Which is just unheard of, not what should be happening at that point in the evening!  Sufficed to say, I was a little high strung the entire night. read: A LOT HIGH STRUNG.  But guess what, we only started 7 minutes late! Parents showed up and helped exactly where needed, the glue gun brought backstage was used 4 TIMES and finally worked, but the bow finally fell off after finale. Perfect!  Despite all of the setbacks and craziness, the show was flawless. The audience had no idea what was going on behind stage, which is the entire point of performing art. For the audience to have an hour of no worries and enjoy beautiful art. And we did it.

It.was.awesome.

I love my little studio and the girls' in it,  my little dancers made my heart burst. They were polished and poised and just lovely. They did so incredibly well, I don't think I could be more proud. It was an incredible first year show, and I would like to add it was only 53minutes long! Amazing!!! We combined with another studio here in the valley and that was the best decision. It was a great balance and easier to share the load of preparing for a show like that. Plus Amber is really nice and kind and thoughtful and organized. Which makes up for my bossy and irritated personality. ha! She is a delight.

So in the end I strived to do great deeds, I bravely put my imperfect self into the arena; I lived this year with great enthusiasm and great devotion. I spent myself in a worthy cause, and the end I felt triumph and when I failed I failed greatly. I know defeat, and I know victory. I know God has a plan for everyone, that life is so deliciously wonderful. Oh as much as it is devastatingly hard and trying  at times it can also be as amazing as you make it. 

5.18.2016

for a glorious may

Something amazing has been happening this spring, we are actually getting a real spring! Sure there are a few days of hell blazing hotness, but we also have been blessed with multiple days of cool breezes, cloud coverage and dare I say, light sprinkling?

This year is a definite difference between regular springs. Usually we go from WINTER to a short week of Spring in March and then it is HOT by the county fair. And that was your spring. But the annual May day dances at the school, which happens to be one of my favorite traditions, you could wear a light jacket. I don't want to scream this so just remember, it was cool and breezy at the May Day dances! On May 6th!  It was my favorite year so far.

Lucy chose me to braid the May pole with her as it is her last year at the elementary school. Don't even get me started on the fact that we will have middle school aged hormones children at our home now. Anyway, we told her she could pick which parent to do the traditional may pole with and she chose me! Which I thought was surprising until she told me "Dad said you have never braided a may pole before so you should do it!". That man is going down and soon.

Kidding aside I did enjoy the tradition with her and watching her do the tinkling dance? My spell check won't let me spell it right.

Phoebe was a kindergartener in all their parachute holding and twirling glory. I cry at that dance every year.

Abby nailed her 80's dance too.

Rodney didn't throw a tantrum.

It was a complete success, mostly because it was JACKET WEATHER.


The rest of the year has been flying by faster than a speeding bullet. These next two weeks we have, in no particular order the following events to be at:


  • spelling bee
  • 5th grade talent show
  • our ballet dress rehearsal
  • our performance
  • piano recital
  • 5th grade graduation
  • kindergarten performance
  • cousin birthday party
  • stake conference
  • family pictures
  • last day of SCHOOL
  • I leave for my ABT teacher training in NYC
So you know, not a lot and nothing stressful at all. It's actually all fun things, just very jam packed. But again, all wonderful things. Usually I would turn into a stress monster with this many events at once, but I am grateful we can do all of these things. We are very lucky. 

4.30.2016

i'm crazy and I know it

Writing on here has been on my mind a lot lately, and I keep trying to pin down the why to why I choose not to write.

Is it because it's not as popular as the other social media platforms?  Nope, I'm pretty sure that's not it, since I don't write for other people.

Is it because I've been busier than usual? Well yes, that's partially an answer.


Is it because I don't know what to write? I would say that is the closest answer to what's been going on.

I made a video log of why I haven't been blogging, but I just couldn't post it. So in a short, short, short summary I will say this.

I don't really trust myself writing anymore. I won't lie, I really do love reading all the old posts about our kids and family, but at the same time cringe at most things. But the question is, do most people look back and question a lot of their motives and decisions they've had in the past? I'm assuming the answer is yes.

Most days lately Tyson and I have been feeling old. No, not old old, just older. We aren't the family with young kids anymore. Most of my mia-maids and some of my first beehives (girls ages 12-15yrs) are married with children! They are the ones with the babies!!! What?

We fed the missionaries at Christmas and found out that they were both BORN the year Ty and I started dating. That was a real mind puzzler.

So in the midst of softball games, ballet practice, piano, music, activity days, preschool, boy scouts, and church callings, we are living this crazy, beautiful, wonderful life.

The kids, I don't want to jinx it. But they are awesome. I pray everyday thanking my Heavenly Father for the privilege to raise them. *That doesn't mean they do not drive me crahazay almost every other day.* Rodney's new favorite thing is to spit on people, face palm. And Phoebe has turned into a scratcher, something she may or may not have inherited from her dear old mom. Sorry Sarah!

Ty and I are in a good place. I've realized that life and marriage are exactly alike, there are good times, hard times, regular times and heartbreaking times. Right now I will take the good times that we are having  and enjoying. Our 13th anniversary was a few weeks ago and I almost forgot. Ty is the one that woke me up and reminded me! What? We had a regular monday, the kids were especially cranky and needy that day, but we escaped alone to a nice quiet dinner together. Simple things like that really make me happy.

I'm crazy. But at least I know I'm crazy now. I think the scariest part of being a crazy mom is not realizing you are one. I know it, and embrace it fullheartedly. I take every day at a time, and some days I take it 10 minutes at a time. I am grateful for all that I have, and I also realized yesterday I don't have ONE picture up in the house with our entire family before Rodney was born, and he's almost five. gulp.

But I'm getting better every month I feel, and making progress. Reading my scriptures, praying and now meditating every morning have become the staple of my life. I just can't stay focused and peaceful without it. But I meditate lying down in corpse pose, because, well, it's really comfortable! I recommend the app *simply being and *zen mixer. They are both two of my favorite meditation apps.

I'm also attending 12 Step Recovery Addiction meetings with a good friend and love it. I came home one day and Ty asked, "So...do you have fun there?". Um...nope. It's not "fun", but it is essential to me to living a Christlike life, and accessing his mercy on a daily, hourly basis. I really recommend it for everyone, whether you have a serious illegal addiction, or something as simple as gossiping. It can help anyone. 

Ballet only has one month left! It was a great year and I really enjoy working with my girls and my students. I'm super nervous about our recital and praying it goes well, but other than that it's been a delight. I have a ballet teacher training in New York at American Ballet Theatre. That's kind of a big deal to me and has taken up a large chunk of my preparing/mental energy. In one moment I can't believe I got in and get to go, and the next minute I'm swept over with feelings of guilt and selfishness. So you know, welcome to my life.

I will close with these two pictures, which are just two years apart and were the beginning of the end of me having my shizzle even close to being together.

May 2011- pregnant with R
 May 2013- I can't, even. Look, even the picture is crooked hahahaha

3.14.2016

Provo trip

We ran away for 24 hrs to see the new Provo temple a few weekends ago.  Obviously a quick trip, not as cold as I planned for but even better than we expected.


We use hotwire or priceline for almost all of our hotel stays and flights. We found a great deal on a nice hotel with free breakfast. Let me tell you, when we travel as a family of 6 we hit up those FREE BREAKFAST deals faster than senior citizens hit up the early bird special. We might even *ahem* encourage our kids to stuff their faces so we can see a lot of things before eating again. *cough *cough.

The tour was much too quick for my taste, but the interior was to die for. All Victorian, late 1800's decor and architecture, in milieu with the Provo Tabernacle's design.  The provo tabernacle was our Stake Conference center for 3 years, during college I attended choral concerts there and in 2010 Ty graduated from BYU there! So, he basically graduated from a temple, I'm going to go with that. ha


cheesy fake background but excellent lighting, High Five!
the stained glass throughout the temple was my favorite part, aside from the hydrangeas. Hydrangeas, WHITE hydrangeas!!! Sorry, I'm yelling a lot today. 
Car trip craziness
We of course stopped by BYU campus for our semi-annual bribing session. We let the kids pick out any book and candy from the candy counter. The candy counter is the highlight of the trip...always.

We were lucky enough to catch my beautiful niece Ellie on campus between classes! It was a fortunate coincidence, we also saw Pamela Mecham and then cousin Mady! I need to get those pictures on here too.

All in all it was a fun quick trip, the kids were great. We got to meet our new Niece Aurora! Ah, she is the first baby to make me go...ohhhhh snap I miss this. We saw Russ and Jill and the kids (minus Mason) and that was a super happy surprise!!! Ty got to eat at Cracker Barrel (ech) which made his entire month. We also picked up a copy of this, which we have only had on VHS. Yes, we still have a VHS player. Be jealous. We still love Provo, and next time hope to see more friends and family.

2.10.2016

this and that

The majority of my writing has been going to my little side gig at What to Expect. I write for their "Word of Mom" blog and have had quite a few assignments since the beginning of December. You can read some of my posts:

Here
Here This one was my favorite, we have really gotten a hold of our finances using this method. Hallelujah!!!!!
and Here

I've also been a little (read A TON) wrapped up in volunteering for my church. We name them "callings" and you serve wherever you have been called. I now serve in the primary, which is children ages 18 months to 11 years old and it basically consumed my life for the last 8 weeks. You can ask my hair stylist, I have the grey hairs and loss of hair (apparently this is called "Stress release"?) chunks to prove it.

But things have been getting better, I'm proactively working on handling stress and compartmentalizing my brain. It is actually quite difficult to teach a woman how to do this to her brain, to turn it off and on. A female brain just runs on high speed and that's it, but I feel like I am getting better at wearing my hats. Mom hat, wife hat, ballet teacher hat, friend hat, primary hat, being a nice person hat. That last one slips off a lot but baby steps right?

The kids, oh my beautiful kids. They are growing up right before our eyes. Have you seen the movie Inside Out? Oi Vey, unless you are ready to bawl your eyes out and FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS don't watch it. It even got Ty right to his heart. Our little girls are turning into young women and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Which has me thinking a lot lately of why we value "Little" kids more than adolescents/adults. My mom in me just adores the littleness of everything. I didn't appreciate it when the first two girls were changing and chasing getting older. I was in the trenches of raising babies and sadly a lot of their milestones were just on the sideburner for me. But now, oh every time phoebe reaches a milestone I just die a little inside. She is reading! And she lost her first tooth!

She is pronouncing things the right way now and that kills ty. She has been calling hamburgers "hang burgers" since she was 2 and last week she pronounced it right. I looked across the table and could see his eyes droop. She is growing up too! There is no way to escape it!

*Side note** I can now see why so many people KEEP having babies, somehow that stops this constant ebb of change and uncertainty that is growing up. More on that later, but I can see why it would help.

Rodney is growing up too, I know right? The other week I watched as he bit his tongue and every so slowly and with the sternest of concentration buttoned up his church shirt. I DIED. Why does he have to turn into a little boy? Why is it so hard? Also, why does he cry and turn into a puddle when it is time to put on his shoes? Those moments make me a little less sad he is growing up. For the love of pete put your stupid shoes ON.

This post has been the best thing I have ever read about your children growing up and leaving. I wish I had written it myself.
"...I wasn't wrong about their leaving. My husband kept telling me I was. That it wasn't the end of the world when first one child, then another , and then the last packed their bags and left for college.But it was the end of something. ``Can you pick me up, Mom?" ``What's for dinner?" ``What do you think?"I was the sun and they were the planets. And there was life on those planets, whirling, non stop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.And I got to beam down on them. To watch. To glow.And then they were gone, one after the other.``They'll be back," my husband said. And he was right. They came back. But he was wrong, too, because they came back for intervals -- not for always, not planets anymore, making their predictable orbits, but unpredictable, like shooting stars.Always is what you miss. Always knowing where they are. At school. At play practice. At a ballgame. At a friend's. Always looking at the clock mid day and anticipating the door opening, the sigh, the smile, the laugh, the shrug. ``How was school?" answered for years in too much detail. ``And then he said . . . and then I said to him. . . ." Then hardly answered at all.Always, knowing his friends.Her favorite show.What he had for breakfast.What she wore to school.What he thinks.How she feels.My friend Beth's twin girls left for Roger Williams yesterday. They are her fourth and fifth children. She's been down this road three times before. You'd think it would get easier.``I don't know what I'm going to do without them," she has said every day for months.And I have said nothing, because, really, what is there to say?A chapter ends. Another chapter begins. One door closes and another door opens. The best thing a parent can give their child is wings. I read all these things when my children left home and thought then what I think now: What do these words mean?Eighteen years isn't a chapter in anyone's life. It's a whole book, and that book is ending and what comes next is connected to, but different from, everything that has gone before.Before was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager. Before was feeding and changing and teaching and comforting and guiding and disciplining, everything hands -on. Now?Now the kids are young adults and on their own and the parents are on the periphery, and it's not just a chapter change. It's a sea change.As for a door closing? Would that you could close a door and forget for even a minute your children and your love for them and your fear for them, too. And would that they occupied just a single room in your head. But they're in every room in your head and in your heart.As for the wings analogy? It's sweet. But children are not birds. Parents don't let them go and build another nest and have all new offspring next year.Saying goodbye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem. Because that's what going to college is. It's goodbye.It's not a death. And it's not a tragedy.But it's not nothing, either.To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts.To let go of a child, a body changes, too. It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.The drive home alone without them is the worst. And the first few days. But then it gets better. The kids call, come home, bring their friends, fill the house with their energy again.Life does go on.``Can you give me a ride to the mall?" ``Mom, make him stop!" I don't miss this part of parenting, playing chauffeur and referee. But I miss them, still, all these years later, the children they were, at the dinner table, beside me on the couch, talking on the phone, sleeping in their rooms, safe, home, mine...."- Beverly Beckham

So as things are getting better some things are more hard. Life is life. My soccer coach and teacher/part of our Leavitt family passed away this week. I have shed many tears over this. What  great man. Why do the wonderful people die young? Their youngest girl is Lucy's age and somehow that hits me even harder. Sometimes life is so unbelievably unfair that I can't stand it.


Hug you family today, and call your friends. Life as an amazing ride and you never know what will be tomorrow.


2.05.2016

so many posts in the making, but first! Challenge!

I have so many thing to write about life around here. How the kids are growing faster than my heart can handle, how we have been plagued with sickness for two weeks but things could be worse so I'm not complaining, but a quick announcement!  I am hosting another 24 day Weight Loss Challenge!!

Starting FEBRUARY 15th!!

If you are stuck and looking for a jumpstart to weight loss, better  health, overall well-being and an improved lifestyle change then this is for you!

Join  our challenge and besides having access to the online FREE virtual coach that guides you on your smart phone:


You also get from me one on one email support, meal prep plan, exercise plan!

This is going to be a great group. Order by February 9th! You can order your challenge here:


Or if you are local email me as I am putting in my order soon. 

The 24 day Challenge has helped transform my life and get me back to a healthy lifestyle and goal driven life. What can it do for you?!

12.12.2015

december this year


things have been going well, and not so well here at the Leavitt house this December. after having a great Thanksgiving, i deep cleaned some rooms to get ready for Christmas decorations. I forgot last year that I gave away all of the Christmas decorations I didn't "love" and gifted them to the senior center. Can I tell you how wonderful it was to decorate and put everything away in one day? It was so easy! And only the things I truly, truly love are here in the house.

Thank goodness I left a diagram for the little lighted house display on our mantle, I had a true griswold meltdown trying to make it all work last year. We had a lot of mishaps putting up the tree too, it seems like everything has been really good, and really difficult all at once.

Good things: Phoebe is READING! The beginning of the year was hard for everyone here in the house because someone was always mad that she couldn't read or write. She was crying one day, and when asked the reason, she answered, "There is a girl in my class that can write any word she wants. I want to write every word there is too!" She is a hard worker and it pays off, my favorite beginning reading moment in the family was lucy, at age 5 driving home from Las Vegas, "Mom, what is an ADULT BOOKSTORE?". ha! I almost ran off the road. I told her, "OH, you wouldn't like that, it's full of really boring books with no pictures."  Oh the joys of living near sin city.

More good:
The kids and I have been thinking of new ways to help people out this time of year, and we are excited. I feel like I am pretty on top of everything gift wise, but then I always do a mad dash a few days before because I second guess myself. Really hoping to avoid that this year.

Rodney loves his preschool. He loves his teacher, he loves his friends there, he knows the Pledge of Allegiance by heart! And I love that it takes approximately 2 minutes to get there. hehe.

Abyy is reading like a crazy woman, and that makes my heart happy. Lucy is reading Jane Eyre, which I thought might be a little too old/hard to read for her but she enjoys it. I know she will love it a lot more once hormones are pumping through her veins. bwahahaha.

Ty has had lots of work, and that is both good and bad. It's hard to see him crazy busy, but it definitely helps out this time of year.

The ugly:
In true annie fashion, I gave some horrendous gifts to friends. I thought they were so wonderful/funny, and then when I handed them out I had this awful gut feeling that it wasn't the right thing. Ugh. Gift giving is not my forte, but I'm working on it. I hope your home is filled with peace and love right now. Every night we have a fire, I curl up under a blanket and feel like I can make it another day. When I go to workout in the morning my beautiful tree greets me.

12.01.2015

merry and bright


Whenever I start to stress over gift giving, and amidoingenough?, amidoingtoomuch? whyischristmassocommercialized? brain spiral, I like to think about the stories my parents tell me of their Christmas' of the past. These are from my memory, so forgive if there are erroneous additions or exclusions of information. But they are beautiful and simple and full of what it is really about. 

One year my dad had a job at a local toy store. He was the oldest of a family with 6 kids. And the younger girls were much younger than he. He saved up all of his money during the holiday season, and when everything went on sale Christmas eve, he and his sister Aunt Claudia bought presents for all of the little kids and wrapped them from Santa Claus. He said he will never forget his parents' tears of amazement and gratitude that beautiful Christmas morning.

My grandpa Gold stayed up all night one year on Christmas eve to build a fireplace! so they could have a fire for Christmas. What a surprise that morning! One year he surprised Grandma with a brand new car, another a washing machine (she had never had one before). 

My grandma Gold would hand sew/darn dolls for each daughter when they were a certain age, and then every year make new dresses for them. My mother remembers her telling her she would stay up all night every night for weeks leading up to Christmas to get done, and would often have blistered and bloodied hands.

My grandma Curtis (Granny) would make the most delicious fudge and sugar cookies of ALL TIME. This is not an exaggeration. She was a master baker and candy maker. I still remember her teaching me how to level off every measuring cup with a knife and to never lick your fingers. Sorry granny, that latter one never stuck. hehe   My dad has mastered her fudge recipe and makes the best fudge I have ever had...hands down. No offense, you really haven't had good fudge yet unless you've had Jim Curtis'! 

My mom worked at inner city schools when I was growing up. Every year she would choose a family for us to "Christmas". I remember many years of leaving a turkey, and everything else for a full dinner on a doorstep, along with coats, toys and books. Many of these kids in her classes had a high percentage rate of joining a gang by age 16, dropping out of school by 14 and almost every one raised in a single parent home. One year I was helping at my mom's classroom for parent teacher conferences and saw a little girl wearing one of our coats. I will never forget that.

One Christmas my brother Russ saved up his money from work and he and my brother Bill bought my sister and I matching outfits from...GAP. The real GAP. Not hand me down, not Ross or Marshall's, but a real mall store. It was my first name brand, and complete outfit (even a matching tartan plaid headband!) of my life. I believe I wore it well into summer, even when stirrup leggings probably weren't appropriate attire for the weather. OH, that was one of the best Christmas' of my memories. 

Around age 12, my church group of young men and women went and sang carols and visited an elderly home. I can never forget the smell, the smell! and also the utter loneliness of those sweet, sweet people. So many stories, and smiles and happiness. I never could understand why watching us sing and talk would bring so much joy, but I imagine at that age, you realize how special it is to have youth and energy and zeal.

What are your treasured Christmas memories? It's probably time to write them down!


11.27.2015

passing the torch

Thanksgiving growing up was mainly about two things in my mind, ROLLS and PIES. Up until high school I didn't realize that people buy rolls and buy pies to eat. Doesn't everyone make them? I started making pies my sophomore year of college. I remember the very first time I attempted granny's pie crust recipe, I labored and labored mixing it, (cutting it with knives), only to realize I didn't have a rolling pin. And living in an all male condo complex meant, no one really had a pie pin around me, this is before my cousin Joe moved in next door and informed me on all things cuisine, I always think of him every time I add dill to my tuna sandwiches. I digress, I ended up using a can of beans to roll the crust! Of course it was heavy, but I was still proud of my ingenuity. 

And now, I love baking pies with my own kids. I love teaching them what I have learned from my mother, and my granny and so on and so forth. I love talking crusts and recipes with my cousins and sisters. 

This year I attempted, for the first time, to quadruple Aunt Lynne's roll recipe. My mom quadruples it every Thanksgiving, but I've only doubled it. I planned and prepared and might have read the recipe four times the night before just to be even more ready. Ty was on back-up plan to buy Hawaiian rolls at the store and pass them off as mine in case of a worst case scenario. 

No need because the Leavitt household had complete success! I'm not ashamed to say they were the best darn rolls this side of Overton. Rodney loved helping to shape them into circles. The girls loved "testing" them out of the oven "just to make sure" they were ok.

So here you go mom, you've done good. 

I'm working on hiding my gums when I smile, but I think it just makes me look mad and/or constipated. So I guess full on gummy pictures are here to stay.
And speaking of passing on torches, little miss Phoebe has learned how to start, drive, park and turn off the little four-wheeler. I might have a mini heart attack watching her ride it around, but Ty is pretty proud of her. She's a quick learner and has the muscle memory like something else. I snapped this yesterday morning in-between rolls rising. ;)

thoughts on gratitude


Yesterday Rodney popped out of bed way too early, again, (it's time to get him a clock just like we did the girls). He immediately told me, "it's Thanksgiving!" and "Can we eat the pies now?". 

After he had some oatmeal and settled in with transformers I snuck out for a run. I've had the tradition of a Thanksgiving run for a long time, I think the first time was the Thanksgiving after we first married. So going on 12 years now, barring pregnancies or sick kids. It's one of my favorite traditions. And no, it' not so I can overstuff my face during the day, which I actually don't do half as much anymore, it really sets my mood for the rest of the holiday.

Auggie the dog of course was overjoyed with the prospect of a run, so we took off just as the sun was rising above the Mesa. It was a perfect morning. Quiet, beautiful, and lots of time to think while my legs slowly moved my body along and Auggie darted up and down every hill we encountered, always pausing at the top to make sure I can see how amazing he is. Men. haha.

As I ran down the hill to the house, I realized it's been a very long year, but a very good one too. I was overwhelmed with the problems we have faced this year, but not because they were difficult, but because of all the blessings that have come with them. My cup overfloweth.





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