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.


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. 


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. 


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


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.


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 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.


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?!


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.


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!


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.


delicious november

We made it. We survived the relentless heat that continued on clear through October. Ugh Ugh Ugh.  And we barely survived hunting season. And birthdays are over until January. Exhale.

I love November. We have had a fire glowing from the fireplace almost every night, coats, mittens, pomegranates and thanks to my pruning and fertilizing,

my roses are gloriously happy.

Ty took me to the Balanchine Celebration performance at the Smith Center for my birthday. Nevada Ballet Theatre impressed and inspired. It was absolutely beautiful. Considering two of the ballets were choreographed in the 1930's and yet look effortllessly timeless, you can visually see and feel that man was a genius. A total scallywag, but a genius nonetheless. ;)

We finally, finally, finally! Took family pictures. I find this a good gauge of where my mental health barometer is, because I haven't wanted to, had the desire, motivation, or energy to take family pictures for THREE YEARS. The last time we took the pictures Rodney wasn't even one. Face palm. Our good friend and neighbor took them and I just love them. This is the only one I have seen so far, and I have no words. I can't believe this is my family.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, I love food and spending time with my family. I love reflecting on the past year and all of the many blessings I've witnessed. God is good.


The guinea pig I feel guilty about

As a child, I LOVE pets. As an adult, or more importantly a parent, I despise them. Not the dog of course, we've established that. But another mouth to feed? And another butt that poops? And another place of residence to clean? WEEKLY? Shoot me now.

This is Rhino, we thought it was a boy, and then we thought it was a girl for a year, and then a boy for another year, and finally, he is a boy.

But let me tell you something, if you wish every day for an animal to disappear, and then...it does. Well just get ready for a mt. everest amount of guilt. Karma is a nasty thing.

Rhino died, at the end of Ty's hunt so he was NOT home and I had to bury it. And the ground was rock solid and I didn't bury it enough because apparently our amazing dog or coyotes got to him and thank goodness I saw his hairy, mutilated corpse before the kids did. I wouldn't go pick pomegranates at our house anytime soon.

What's up with random pet updates? I don't know, but Rhino needed to be remembered in all his metrosexual glory.


the dog with a guilt complex

I called to give him back. I called a week after having a tiny, furry terrorizing puppy in our home to give him back. He was nipping at the kids all day long, he was hyper (I thought he was mellow when bringing him home). It was just too much work, and I did not have an ounce of extra energy or attention for anything else. My plate was full.

Luckily we didn't give him back. It's been 18 months and our dog has turned into a great dog. And I can't believe I'm saying this, I even like him now. He's definitely not perfect, **be forewarned, he still humps everyone, we are working on this**.  But besides the humping, and always flashing us his unit, ahem, he is essential to our house now. He watches over the kids, all.day.long. If they are outside, he is right there. He keeps constant property control, he knows who belongs at our house, and who is a stranger. He knows what time the girls come home from school and what time is too late to be in our driveway. This is priceless to me.   He also is really scary when he's mad at someone on our property late at night.  He waits at the bus stop with Phoebe, he goes on my runs with me, he even enjoys Ty's humongous hikes he goes on. He follows grandpa on his 4-wheeler and the girls on their bikes. He endures Rodney's constant poking,  prodding, wrestling and body slams.

Most importantly he has outgrown barking at strange objects at 2am. For his first year if something was misplaced on the yard and he stumbled upon it he would turn into an ambulance siren. Alert! Alert! Something is in the yard!

One night it was a toddler bike.

Another night it was a work ladder and bucket ty had placed next to his truck.

Once we come out in our pajamas, and show him that no, it is not a ravenous coyote out to kill him or a criminal coming to butcher us, he calms down.

I'm so glad this doesn't happen anymore.

He loves grandma and grandpa. I think he might even have a greater love for them, as they spoil him just like grandparents do their grandkids. ha! They give him the best food and attention. He basically splits his time between the households like someone with joint custody.

And...he's religious. I say this because he has the greatest guilt complex I have ever seen an animal possess. If he has done something even remotely wrong you will know it. He cowers to the ground, he covers his eyes, he will army crawl 100ft to me when he knows he is supposed to heel but is in trouble.  One time he was displaying all of his remorseful behaviors.  I could tell he felt awful and even more guilty because he knew I hadn't yet seen the crime scene. An hour or so later I walked out to the trash and saw the dirty deed, he had opened a trash bag and pulled out probably 5-6 containers.  But he had stopped there! I can only imagine the guilty thoughts going through his head as he played with the trash. "Mom is going to kill me. Mom is going to kill me." It's actually laughable when you think about it.

So if you are coming over to our house, we would love to see you! But look out for our humping and guilty complex ridden dog.


jealous much?

The new season of Daniel Tiger is on Netflix. This is a big deal in our house. I love that show, and find myself singing the songs all the time in the midst of a terrible tantrum or chaotic battle over dinner. "You've got to try new foods 'cuz they might taste gooooood!". And, "If you get so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath...and count to 4!" I'll admit I might have tried to use some of these on Ty. Bah!

A few things about this new season:

1. daniel tiger gets a new baby sister. cue lots of questions like "why don't I have a baby sister or brother?" And "I want a baby!". Stupid Daniel tiger.

2.The episode on jealousy. It's good, it really explains it simply to kids. Everyone gets jealous, and when you get jealous you usually get mad and even act mean around that person.  "If you feel jealous, talk about it!" Thanks Daniel Tiger's mom! 

The jealous monster is always around me. But the more we have been talking about it the more I'm recognizing it. I am jealous of mom's that look put together all the time. I'm jealous of mom's that make healthy lunches and dinners and homeschool their kids, that lead the PTO, that teach and raise a family of great kids, that snap back into their body after popping out 8 babies, that are patient and kind and organic, vegan, understanding all the time and do everything all the time for their husband, and friends, and neighbors and....c'mon.

That lady just doesn't exist. 

When I stop the comparison game, I'm fine. I'm happy for other moms, I'm happy for those newlyweds that still have a dream of well behaved children and clean baseboards. I'm happy for the families that get to go on awesome vacations! They should do fun things! So I'm definitely working on stopping the comparison game right away, and that's by keeping busy myself. I'm reading about a book a week, and doing little projects around the house I've been putting off. And guess what? When I'm busy I don't really think about other people as much! ha! 

I know I talk about social media a lot on here, but it puts the comparison game front and center, with perfectly poised pictures to boot!
 It really is. 

But on a funnier note, this cartoonist became a new parent and made the FUNNIEST cartoons about parenthood. Enjoy!


happy birthday, we are mid-30s now

Happy Birthday to my favorite man. He is as kind and generous as he is handsome and patient. I love that he chose to spend his life with me, and gave me awesome kids to boot. Ps- We have been together for 17 years, and are in the middle of our 30s now. Mind-blown.


5 benefits of living without a smart phone

I will admit, the first month  without my iPhone was tough, tough, tough. I second guessed my choice several times, I mourned, I was angry, I bargained, I was in denial. All of it.

After a month things started to get better and better, and they just haven't stopped. I knew I had a lot of addictive behaviors when it came to my phone, namely INSTAGRAM, pinterest and TEXTING. But I never realized that life was moving faster than I could keep up. Which kept me in a constant flustered state. Like a camera that can never focus until you slow down, that was my daily life.

I've had some time to reflect and I would say the top 5 bonuses of not having a smart phone are these:

1. BETTER MEMORY. my memory is getting better. appointments, phone numbers, dates. no joke, after several weeks the digital cobwebs are clearing and i feel more present every day. my brain clouded with social media in my pocket all the time and my face in my phone. now i feel the temperature of the room differently, the sunset, my children's faces, people's voices, my clothes, even reading is different.

2. SLEEP. I sleep  sounder. I wake up more alert. I am less cranky. What's not to love about that?

3. TIME. I have SO MUCH FLIPPING TIME ON MY HANDS. I'm not even joking. Laundry? Yes, I have time to fold and put away. Talk on the phone with a good friend? Yup, I have time for that and can fold the laundry at the same time. Manage emails, write on the blog? Yes and yes. I would say without my smart phone I have at least 1-2 extra hours a day. Yikes. I'm reading about a book a week holla! That makes my heart so happy.
some of my favorite reads lately, obviously in a self help phase.

4. FREEDOM. I am not a slave to technology. I can run errands, drive on vacation, watch a movie with my kids, take a walk, go on a dinner date without thinking about posting it, or thinking about what other people are doing. Is that a cute photo? I hardly ever think that anymore.  Selfies? No more my friends. Just doesn't work with a nikon lol. But guess what? More people died this year from SELFIES than from SHARK ATTACKS. When will we wake up? Sharks, that eat small dolphins for snacks are SAFER THAN SELFIES. What the hell is happening to our society?

5. Real Relationships, Real Conversations. I am a better mom without my iPhone. I am a more present companion to my husband. I would say 99% of the people reading this have a smart phone, but I have to be honest. Who I care about talking to and spending my time with has decreased dramatically. And in all full disclosure honesty, most of my friends' social media accounts I want to drown in diesel gasoline. They irritate me, I feel insecure, unhappy with what I have, unhappy with my daughter's hair, unhappy with my couch throw pillows, or lack thereof. But those same friends in real life? I LOVE talking to. I love hearing about their REAL lives and their kids and homes. I value every one on one conversation i have with them.   Now I am happy if I bump into someone, I'm happy to catch up with them (because I truly don't know what's going on with them). No judging someone because I know where they've been (or what or what they haven't been) doing.

* Today I actually  had my first non-smart phone downfall today, I couldn't download a coupon at a store I wasn't planning on going to. Boo-hoo. I think I'll live. And this music video my beautiful cousin posted on Facebook (yes, I still visit social media when I have time to) is stuck in my head. It is so scary what digital social media relationships are doing to us, and now to our children. Likes, follows, comments, all wrapped up into one strange and lonely virtual world. http://youtu.be/UKftOH54iNU


song lyrics and unripe nectarines

these were the fluffiest marshmallow clouds against a pure blue sky,
a pure maynard dixon painting

a few weeks ago i was rushing through walmart (ugh) and as i ran past the produce i saw an entire crate full of nectarines.  walmart produce has yet to impress me over the last decade, but during summer i can not, will not, pass up peaches or nectarines. the fruit of the gods i tell you what. none of them smelled or felt ripe at all, but our kitchen warms up quite nicely in the summer and is the perfect fruit ripener if you know what i mean. i brought home a bag bursting full of them. in the next few days most were gobbled up, one by one, leaving trails of yellowy orange sticky juice around the tables and chairs and countertops.

after the best ones were devoured, one of the little ones would bring me the same rock hard nectarine and ask if it was ripe. day after day the same answer, "nope, not yet". the funny thing is, it never ripened. after an entire week had passed, which was ample enough time on our fruit platter to turn a green peach into the juiciest one you have ever eaten, this nectarine still felt like a baseball. i let a few more days go past, and a small outer layer, almost 1/4 inch thick softened. but the insides? bedrock. 

i imagined this to be much like life. sometimes we jump the gun, we rush towards what we want and how we want it. instead of waiting and ripening our talents, knowledge, mind and heart, we let circumstances pluck us off weeks, months, years too early. we never use the god-like attribute of patience, i hardly know if any children even know what patience means now. we rush, run, collide, drop and push to what we want and when we want it. and when that happens, the fruit of our labor never quite ripens. it doesn't make that sweet heavenly aroma, it doesn't slightly give when you squeeze it, it isn't full of the most perfect potential. it doesn't burst with delicious fruity flesh juice as you devour it. it gets a little ripe, but the center of it, the real meat of it, is hard and stale and worthless and inedible.

on the other hand, for the majority of the time we don't wait long enough for a project or undertaking to fully ripen. we bail because it is just taking too long and seems like it will never work out. we quit because, heaven forbid, it is too hard. we want the easy route. we want to fit in, we don't want to stick out holding on and working on to something that is different, undesirable by the masses or doesn't even look like fruit at all.

 i might be the only person alive who understands this analogy, but it is truth for many things in my life over the years. i'm thinking a lot more about patience today and developing my spirit, mind, body and heart, and letting time ripen everything till it is right. even if i don't enjoy being patient.

in other random news, i sat in church yesterday and thought a lot about songs that i love now that i absolutely hated as a child. the slow songs in the musical that i would just skip right over. yawnfest, every single one of them. you know what the funny part is? I will tell you. now those are all of my favorite songs. so of course, i made a little mental note of a few so i could remember:

climb every mountain- sound of music 
sunrise, sunset- fiddler on the roof 

There's a place for us, 
Somewhere a place for us. 
Peace and quiet and open air 
Wait for us 

There's a time for us, 
Some day a time for us, 
Time together with time spare, 
Time to learn, time to care, 
Some day! 

We'll find a new way of living, 
We'll find a way of forgiving 
Somewhere . . . 

There's a place for us, 
A time and place for us. 
Hold my hand and we're halfway there. 
Hold my hand and I'll take you there 
Some day, 


leavitt camping trip 2015

 For a weekend in August we went with all of Ty's immediate family camping by Pony Springs Nevada. Last year it was cool and even a little rainy, this year it was...hot. Annie no likey hot and sweaty camping.

It was still a great trip for the kids. I didn't get any good photos of the camping spot or going to Cave lake (which was sweltering by the way) or their off road trip, but the highlight for our kids and what they can't stop talking about was riding on the steam engine train in Ely, Nevada (again...HOT). We meandered throughout the HOT museum and then rode the train for a little over an hour. The kids loved it, especially the open air car with benches. Ty's favorite part was the 2 bucks they saw, I think that was Grandpa Rod's favorite part too. Here are some photos I snapped along the way:

 One of the train worker's sons saw Ty and Rodney ogling the engine and invited them up inside! Ty said it was really cool to watch them stoke the furnace and work the machinery, oh and it was HOT. I don't think they will ever forget being able to do that.


 It is strange getting used to getting out the camera and waiting a few seconds for it to turn on, unlike my swift iPhone. But as I sat on the train ride and watched a mom absolutely gluuuued to her phone, I had no regrets. I'm not joking, she probably looked up and talked to her kids/husband three times the entire trip. Obviously I am much more attentive now without my phone around all the time. And I am trying to be positive, but it was such a sad, sad sight.

I thought Ely was fascinating. I had only visited before for high school soccer games, seeing the older parts of town and the train row houses was fun. We even spied a few brothels (go nevada!). The train passes by many old mines (Ely was a mining town) and one where it collapsed and around 100 chinese migrant workers were lost and never found. Apparently Stephen King was doing a cross country Nevada motorcycle trip and was fascinated so much that he filmed and based his book "Desperation" on. Interesting factoids like that totally excited me. Thanks mom.

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