"I don't even want to know what this is on the wall"
"I don't even want to know what this is on the wall"
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 12:19 PM
"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 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.
|9th Avenue at 6am|
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?|
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.
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!
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 10:50 AM
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.
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
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 7:06 AM
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.
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 6:45 AM
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.
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
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 1:28 PM
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!!!!!
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!
*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.
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 12:20 PM
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 9:50 AM
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.
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.
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.
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 9:04 AM
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 1:00 AM
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 2:33 PM
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 6:30 AM
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,
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.
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 1:24 PM
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 1:57 PM
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.
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 2:39 PM
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:
That lady just doesn't exist.
thoughts by Annie Leavitt at 9:32 AM