Thursday, January 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I've been trying to be more random in my hunt for Throwback-worthy pictures to post on here.  I can easily spend hours going through the thousands of pictures that we have.  

Today I randomly clicked on a set of pictures dated May 11 - June 13, 2010, and oddly, didn't recognize a single one.  I KNOW the contents of my iPhoto like I know my wardrobe, like I know the contents of my purse, like I know my jewelry.  I am intimately familiar with every single picture, or so I thought.  I have sorted them and scrolled through them countless times, so for a whole set of them to be completely unrecognizable was a pretty big mystery.  I recognized the place, but the events and activities definitely happened without me.  

And then I remembered....  

In May 2010, we were living in Mendon, but the Scout Master had already started his new job with Infinity, so arrangements were underway to sell our home and move to Dallas.  My dad and I had talked about selling his home in Livingston, TX and moving him somewhere closer to where we would be, but at that point, we still weren't sure where that was, and my dad was hesitant to get things in order to put his home on the market.  After years of accumulation and life in a place, it's difficult to think about the words "declutter" and "update."  

Late in the afternoon on Saturday, May 15th, while we were at the Children's Museum in SLC with cousins, I received several phone calls that my dad had had a massive stroke.  He had been in his kitchen, mopping the floor, and preparing food for some friends who were coming by later in the afternoon for lunch.  The friends found him and immediately called me.  The next day was Sunday.  Monday morning, I got on a plane to DFW.  I don't recall all the details of getting on that plane, being picked up at DFW and driven across town to Love Field by a sweet friend, and then retrieving the Scout Master's company car and driving it 4 hours to HOU.  I don't know who coordinated all of that or how I managed to walk through each of the steps necessary to get there, but I did eventually make it.  I was unfamiliar with the Jeep, unfamiliar with the drive from Dallas to HOU, it was pouring, and I was headed to a place that I didn't want to be.  The Scout Master was unavailable and I was exhausted and scared to death about what would be waiting for me when I finally arrived.  It was late when I got closer to HOU, and very dark.  I couldn't imagine driving to my dad's house and walking into it knowing that it would be completely empty, so I didn't.  I kept driving right past Livingston and straight to a hotel near the hospital.  I don't think I slept at all that night.  Three days after my dad had had the stroke, I walked into that hospital room.  He passed away ten days later.  

The rest of the month that I spent in Livingston was a blur.  The Scout Master drove out with the kids (except for Flowering Buttercup who wanted to finish the end of her 7th grade year with her friends in Mendon before we moved.)  And I spent every day until mid-June, throwing away and shredding piles of papers that had accumulated in the office as I hunted and hunted and hunted for the important ones (like wills, titles to vehicles, marriage certificates, adoption papers, etc.) I wrote an obituary, made cremation arrangements, talked to countless insurance companies, ordered death certificates, cancelled subscriptions, cancelled doctor's appointments, cancelled credit cards, and contacted a real estate agent.  In the two weeks that we were there, we sold my dad's van, cleaned out his entire house and donated nearly everything to the local ward and charities in the area.  I sent things to my siblings that I thought they might want.  I kept a few things that had sentimental meaning to me.  And I tried to remember how to breathe.  

And while I did all of that, I had no idea how my kids and my husband spent those days.  I recall their presence, and I know the Scout Master helped a ton with all of that hauling and throwing away and taking things apart and putting them back together.  But honestly, I barely remember them being there.  Until I found these pictures today...

I felt like a zombie walking through that whole experience.  I put myself in auto pilot and tried to just get through the tasks as quickly as possible.  I didn't love that house.  It wasn't a home I grew up in and it was a source of frustration and challenge for my parents, so I had no sentimental attachment to it at all.  I knew that once I left there, I would never be able to bring myself to go back, so I wanted to finish everything in that one trip.  It was probably an irrational and irresponsible way to handle the situation, but I did what I was capable of at the time.   

I don't have fond memories of that month.  It was a turning point in my life in so many ways.  But I'm so grateful that my wonderful, thoughtful, protective, adventurous husband gave my children an entirely different experience.  While I was caught up in the emotion of sifting through memories and trash, my children were exploring and fishing.

While I watched strangers come into the house and load all of my parents' belongings into a trailer and haul them away, my children were hunting for lizards and snakes.  

The Scout Master kept them happily oblivious to all the things that were going on around them.  Their memories are only of the adventure of the trip, and I'm so grateful for that.  I'm so grateful that my husband had the insight to know where he would be most helpful.  I'm so grateful that my children will only ever remember the treasures at my parents' house.  And I'm so grateful that the Scout Master took pictures of it all so that years later, I could stumble upon them and realize how incredibly blessed we are to have him in our lives.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Beginnings

Tonight, the YW held their New Beginnings program.  We do this annually to kick off the theme for the new year as well as to recognize the upcoming 12 year old girls who will be coming into to the youth program.  I LOVE this night.  
these are the five adorable girls turning 12 this year
A few months ago, the YW President asked me to help the girls learn a song to go with the 2013 theme Stand in Holy Places.  As always, Jenny Phillips has written and recorded an incredible CD to remind the girls of the theme throughout the year.  I had purchased the CD way back in September so that I could learn the music in advance just in case there might be an occasion to play or sing any of it.  And...poof! occasion presented itself.  (That happens a lot lately.)  The YW Pres asked Flowering Buttercup to sing the solo part in this song, which is 3/4 of it! and then to have the rest of the YW come in for the final chorus.  I have had this music playing in the van since the beginning of the school year, but no one who rides with me has really paid much attention.  And since being asked to sing, Flowering Buttercup really hasn't been available to practice it much.  Tuesday night was the first time our schedules collided and the piano and voice actually met.  So...I played the intro and crossed my fingers that she would be able to sight read through it, and that we would be compatible.  And guess you really have to guess??  It sounded absolutely beautiful.  Of course it did.  Fortunately my girls got their father's genes in the "musically confident" department.  I was totally in awe last night as I listened to her effortlessly sing that song.  The accompaniment is not the slightest bit helpful, so she really had to carry the thing by herself.  And I was so caught up in listening to her that I might have missed a few notes.  (Good thing we practiced it at least once before going live with it tonight, huh?)

The theme was "Wear the Right Shoe" and each of the YW Presidency spoke for a few minutes about standing in holy places, being who Heavenly Father wants you to be, the joys of young womanhood and the upcoming fun things these new 12 year olds have to look forward to.  

I am so grateful to have three daughters in this amazing program.  I'm so grateful to always get to be in their space (even if it is just behind the piano.) And I'm so grateful for a beautiful, spirit-filled evening that each of these girls will remember.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I found these cute notecards in the $1 section at Target today, and they inspired me.  

Do you know what I love to do more than almost anything?  I LOVE to write letters.  I love the way it feels to actually with a pen on a piece of pretty paper.  I love the way it looks to address an envelope with my name and the name of someone I love on it.  I love the way it can instantly connect people who haven't communicated in way too long.  And I love the anticipation of dropping a letter in the mailbox and knowing that in a couple of days someone will smile when they read it.  

I wrote a couple of love notes today.  

One was to a sweet woman who I instantly connected with a couple of years ago.  I've written about Pat before.  She is older than me, just by enough to make her wise and wonderful.  I saw her speak a few times in some church meetings and something crazy compelled me to go up and talk to her.  We've been friends ever since.  And it's been a really long time since we've had the opportunity to connect.  She crossed my mind today, and I missed her, so I decided to write a note and tell her that.  

The other was to someone I haven't talked to in months who I'm not sure wants to talk to me at all.  But she was one of those people who lingered in my head for way too long today, so I had to do something about it.  I sent an email to her, instead of a fluffy pink note.  Hopefully, that will turn out to be a good idea and not one that I regret.     

I miss people a lot sometimes.  I have a small handful of great friends here.  But every now and then someone that I knew years ago will come into my thoughts and I can't get them out.  I miss family.  I miss friends that I've made in all the places we no longer live.  And when I think about people that much, I always want them to know.  I wish more people wrote letters.  I wish they craved connection like I do.  I always think it's so crazy that technology gives us the ability to connect so quickly and often, but we still don't do it.  Maybe it's just me...
"In our day, it is easy to pretend to spend time with others.  With the click of a mouse, we can "connect" with thousands of "friends" without ever having to face a single one of them.  Technology can be a wonderful thing, and is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones.  However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the internet.  I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity, but how much time are we willing to spend on it?  If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it."  - Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Of Regrets and Resolutions, General Conference October 2012
You should connect with someone today.  Pick up the phone, send a lovey dovey text, or better yet...write a letter.  I'm pretty sure someone will love it.  :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tomato Soup (and a little homework)

Today, I thought I'd disguise myself as a food blogger.  (It's harder than it looks.  I kept forgetting to take pictures as I cooked.  There are a few steps I missed.)  

The weather was weird here today....grey and dreary, but super warm and almost balmy.  It was chilly in the house, but stuffy and humid outside.  The clouds looked like they really wanted to rain, but for some reason they held back.  

It's a little warm for soup, but it's been awhile since we've had this, and grey weather just makes me crave this stuff, so I decided tonight would be a great night for some tomato soup.  

(And since my camera lives on the counter these days, I thought I'd sneak in a few attempts at homework for my photography class, too.)  

This is my all time favorite soup recipe EVER.  I found it years ago in a magazine, and after making it one time, immediately copied it and put it into "the book" of favorites.  Sometime, I'll have to do a whole post on "the book."  There's some great stuff in there.

Here's the recipe if it's colder where you are and tomato soup sounds good to you, too...

Roasted Tomato Soup
4 C cherry tomatoes (3 pints)
3 T olive oil
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 T unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 C chicken broth
1/2 thyme
1 C whipping cream

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  On a baking sheet lined with parchment, combine the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper.  (I had cherry tomatoes, but there are people in my house who like to snack on those things, so I thought I just used regular tomatoes this time.)  
Roast until they are shriveled and brown, about 35-45 minutes.  Usually I just throw the onions and garlic on the pan and roast those, too, but I was going for an all tomato look for my homework.  

In a large pot, heat 2T butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and sauté until softened.  (Skip this if you roasted the onions and garlic with your tomatoes.)  Add the canned tomatoes in their juice, chicken broth, thyme and the roasted tomatoes.  I use a spatula to get the tomatoes out of the pan and into the pot, and then I just lift the whole piece of parchment and pour all that yummy, roasty, tomato liquid into the pot, too.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Using a food processor or blender, or if you're lucky enough to have one of these awesome things...
I have officially requested one of these for my birthday!
...puree until everything is smooth.  
Return to the pot and stir in the cream.  This is what it looked like after I pureed it, but before the cream went in.  Sorry I forgot to take pictures of the blending part, but it was kind of a mess.  (Luckily my birthday is just around the corner.)

Without  letting the soup boil, warm over medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until it's steamy.
Serve with some kind of delicious, hearty bread...or grilled cheese!!   Yum, huh?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Photography Class Day 2

My photography class today was so awesome!  I had kinda been dreading going back because I felt SO out of my league last week.  But I got up this morning and decided I was going to just walk in there with what I knew, contribute where I could, and hopefully walk out with more than I started with.  And guess what!  It totally worked.  

There's a cute little guy in this class who has elected himself my official helper.  He's an know those types who just know so much stuff, they can't help but impart their knowledge on the rest of the world?  Well, I decided not to be annoyed by him today and just let him teach me stuff.  We had to be in small groups for part of our class to work on... 

Aperture and Shutter Speed (impressive, huh?)

...and, of course, Hector immediately made a beeline for me and assigned me to his group.  I must still look like I felt last week.  

But, it turns out, Hector was pretty helpful.  After scolding me about not doing my homework very well last week and not reading the manual like I was supposed to, he showed me how to adjust the aperture on my camera.  

Our group had to take pictures in the classroom in a low light setting.  Since I didn't have a tripod, Hector suggested that I just set my camera on the table and shoot something at that level.  You have to have a tripod to shoot with a slow shutter speed because your hands are too shaky to hold the camera still for as long as the lens takes to get the picture.  

Here's the whole exercise play by play...

The funky, artsy, amazing teacher (her name is Vernetta) turned off the lights in the classroom and closed the blinds.  It wasn't completely dark, but it was definitely too dark to shoot anything on AUTO like I have only ever done in the past.

Here's my first shot with the shutter speed at 1/160 and the lens fully opened to 4.
...totally dark, huh?  But it gives you a good idea of what the classroom actually looked like.

Then...I slowed the shutter speed to 1/100 and it looked like this...
...better, but still too dark.

I experimented with about 10 other shutter speeds (I'll spare you the progression) until I found the perfect one which gave me the perfect shot...

it really is perfect...

are you ready?

don't ruin the anticipation by scrolling down too fast...

really, you're gonna be amazed...

you may want to just go ahead and sit down...

Are there heavenly voices singing right now for you, too?  Cuz I can hear them at my house.  

I showed my final shot to Hector who was only moderately impressed.  (whatever...)  But then when I showed it to Vernetta, she was thrilled.  Let me just write it down verbatim, so you can get the full effect...
Me:  How's this? V:  Girl, you rocked it!  Look at that!  It's perfect.  I love the composition.  Perfect light.  And LOOK AT THE BLUR!!  (then to the class...)  This girl has rocked this photo shoot.  Look at this Sonic cup!(then back to me...)  Girl, we're gonna just call you Sonic Girl in here from now on cuz this rocks!  You rocked this!  Good job!! 
(and then she fist bumped me...which, I think, in the fine arts photographers' world is the equivalent of an ultra coolness award!)
It's nice to have someone gush over your "rocking-ness" every now and then.  And I have to admit, it's a pretty dang good picture considering that the room was dark, I've only been using the MANUAL function on my camera hours, and it's a Sonic cup, for heaven's sake!  

I think I will call this shot Ode to a Sonic Cup and frame it and hang it somewhere in the house.  Who knew, a styrofoam cup full of ice could be so artistic and could LAUNCH me into photography awesomeness.  :)   

Friday, January 25, 2013

High Five for Friday

What we celebrated this week...
Spell Girl is FIRST CHAIR in Orchestra...again.  I don't think she realizes how perfectly compatible she and Gladys actually are (that's what we have lovingly named her bass.)  She plays so beautifully and has such a natural talent for this instrument.  I'm so proud of her for working hard to make this look so easy.  

What amazed me this week...
I am amazed by June's confidence and fearlessness.  This week as we were carpooling from the middle school, one of her sisters was lamenting some interaction with a boy during the day.  She wondered whether she should have waved or not waved, if she should have texted or not texted.  And from the backseat, without any hesitation, June said, "That's the problem with you and (the other sister,) you both make everything so complicated.  If you see someone you know, then wave.  If you have something to say, then text.  It's not that hard."  That's the way she lives her life.  And while there's a fine line between securely confident  and recklessly impulsive, I think she's got this whole middle school socializing thing down.  I love to watch the way she floats through life expecting doors to open and people to love her. It's truly amazing!

What was fun this week...

Orchestra/Choir/Band Ice Skating Party.  Spell Girl was at this one, too, but I couldn't catch her long enough to get a picture.  And that goofy guy on the left is June's choir director.  He fits in very well with all those middle schoolers.  :)

What I'm grateful for this week...
People who listen when I talk.  People who text me first.  People who love me.  People who think I'm amazing even when I have a crappy day.  

Song of the Week...
The Age of Miracles (by MCC) because isn't it amazing how many there are?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I found these funny pictures the other day and they made me smile.  We were living in the Scout Master's parents' basement and we had this amazing living area where the kids would play.  Mack was barely able to sit up without falling over.  We had to strategically place his legs at just the right angle so that they would balance his little tummy and keep him upright.  
Mack was always totally entertained by his sisters and something Flowering Buttercup was doing was make him giggle heartily.  I remember coming from around the corner to see what he was laughing at and giggling right along with him.  I tried so hard to capture that uninhibited baby laugh, but every time I would hold up the camera, he would stop laughing and just stare at me.  I
 And every time I missed a shot, Flowering Buttercup would start to laugh hysterically, which would start Mack all over again.  But I just kept missing it.  It was a pretty frustrating, but funny afternoon.  I wish I had written down what she was doing to make him laugh so hard.  

Seeing these pictures made me so grateful that I've been at home so much of their lives to capture the little fleeting, funny times like these.  I love that Mack adores his sisters.  I love that they can still make him laugh harder than anyone outside of our family.  And now, the great thing is that he makes them laugh, too. 

Boy, do those baby years go by fast...sniff...

Clean Eating

I skimmed through a magazine recently and read this:


I was outraged for a minute, and argued (in my head, not out loud) with that theory.  Really??  Are you sure??  Because I have secretly been hoping that I could do that.  Start a running program, and still eat donuts for breakfast.  Consume mass quantities of sugar cookies and then work them off at the gym.  Well, according to that magazine, those aren't very realistic expectations.  Darn it...

I spent a lot of 2012 moving less and eating more.  I reintroduced things into my life and into my diet that I thought I had successfully purged.  And on Monday, I decided it was time to get rid of them again.  My body is craving better food and my mind is craving clarity.

Well, that was four whole days ago.  FOUR DAYS without sugar.  FOUR DAYS without chocolate chips in my Greek yogurt and homemade granola in the mornings.  FOUR DAYS of no desserts after dinner.  FOUR DAYS of fruit instead of candy.  The good news is that I'm still alive.  But holy cow!  Who knew this would be so hard??

Sugar is totally a drug, you know?  I can say that with absolute certainty because after 4 days of not having it, I'm kinda thinking that a syringe full of sprinkles shot intravenously into my body doesn't sound like such a bad thing.  

Here's what I've realized:

  • Coming down off of any drug, even the ones cleverly disguised in pink frosting, has some serious withdrawal effects.  I was ridiculously grumpy the first day.  One of my daughters said, "Good grief, someone please give Mommy a cookie!  She's unbearable."  I stayed strong and did not give in.

  • My weakest time is between lunch and dinner...that mid-afternoon slump just after everyone has gotten home from school.  I forage through drawers and cabinets looking for some dropped sprinkle, some stray chocolate chip, some leftover Sonic peppermint, like a bear who's been hibernating all winter.   The other day I found two fortune cookies that I had managed to avoid after a visit to Panda Express earlier in the week, and I almost gave in.  Apparently I need to find something to replace this afternoon activity.  

and this slightly more serious one is definitely the best...
I'm pretty sure this falls under the realm of things you can pray for help with.  And why wouldn't it?  Heavenly Father made us.  He has an interest in seeing us happy and thriving and living to our potential.  And we can't do that if we're heavy laden with excessive weight in a sugar coma on the couch.  I ask all the time to have motivation and discipline to exercise.  I ask for a desire to eat better food.  But until today, I had never tried asking in a more direct way.  I know that I cannot feel or hear the Spirit as well when I'm not eating well.  And I have a desire to hear the Spirit.  There are other, more obvious, destructive behaviors that I would never engage in because I know they would impair my ability to hear and act on the Spirit.  So why can't I just add sugar to that list?  I know that Heavenly Father and I both want the same things.  I have a righteous desire to stop eating crappy food, not because I want to look like a supermodel, but because I want to live the life that He has planned for me.   And that desire gives me the right to ask for more than just motivation and willpower.  I actually asked today that I would be as repelled by sugar as I am by cigarettes and alcohol.  I know, there is supposed to be moderation in all things, but for me, I can't manage moderation on my own.  I can't just have one Oreo.  I can't just have a little bite of dessert.  I have a toxic relationship with this particular thing.  And because I know I can't do this by myself, I decided to LAUNCH something different and ask for a totally different way of thinking about sugar.  

"The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single greatest skill that can be acquired in this life."  Julie B. Beck, General Conference, April 2010

I want to weigh less.  I want to look better.  I want to wear skinny jeans.  But more than all of those other things, I want that skill to be able to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation.  I don't want to miss anymore opportunities or calls to serve because I can't hear them.  

So, for the rest of this month and the next, I will be LAUNCHING a sugar free life.  After 6 weeks, I'll pick some other vice to get rid food? meat? procrastination? gossip? movie popcorn

I'm so grateful for the desire to do something better, for blogs that inspire, for results that are tangible, and for the willingness of a loving Heavenly Father to provide guidance and assurance.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dallas Wind Symphony

It's not often that the Scout Master and I are able to go on a date in the middle of the week, especially one that is culturally enlightening and musical.  (Well, we did go see Les Mis last weekend, but that was different because there was popcorn involved.)  

A few months ago when we watched our dear friends' dog, they repaid us by giving us a set of their season tickets to the Dallas Symphony.  (We would have totally watched that dog for free.  She was SO easy.  And SO cute!)  We marked the date on both of our calendars and looked forward to doing something a little out of the ordinary for us.

We were surprised to find out that not only did we get to listen to the Dallas Wind Symphony, but we also got to hear the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra.  Both were amazing.  Both directors were lively and entertaining and took time to introduce each piece.  Their enthusiasm about each of the pieces and the performers made the whole concert so much more enjoyable.  My favorite was Intrada 1631.  I'm such a percussion junkie, I couldn't take my eyes off the xylophones and the timpani sections...until I realized that there was an organist, too.  When she turned around and bowed from her perch above the orchestra in her little organ loft, I secretly wished I were a better organist.  We had front row, center seats on the upper balcony so we could see everything perfectly without any distractions.   

And look at this gorgeous place...

So often, I think that I would rather just stay at home in my jammies and do what I'm comfortable doing.  But I find that whenever I allow myself to give in to opportunities for adventure, I am always happily surprised.  This was one of those happy surprises.  I'm so grateful to our thoughtful friends for sharing a little culture with us.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day Purging

It's no secret that I've been feeling restless this month.  I feel like there's something I'm supposed to be doing, but what I can't quite figure out is what exactly that something is.  Over the weekend, I had yet another conversation with yet another daughter about how dissatisfied she is with her friends and her relationships.  We talked around in circles for awhile, and then I said, "You know what?  If you're feeling restless and like something is stirring inside, but you can't quite find it because of all the noise and crap in your life, then get rid of the noise and crap."  I realize you can't exactly "get rid" of your friends, but you CAN unplug yourself from their constant electronic chatter.  And you CAN stop sending out random texts and initiating conversations just because you're bored.  And you CAN pull back  from them a little.

As always, whatever this particular daughter happens to be going through in her life always elicits a response from me that I actually need to apply to my own life.  I've needed to purge a few things in my life for awhile, too, I realized.  I needed to clear some clutter from my head, my phone, and my diet, as well as from my closets.  

I decided last night that this MLK Day should officially be a 

day for all of us.    

Here's what we've accomplished today...

  • I started this morning by DELETING a few of the contacts on my phone who are particularly unnerving for me.  (If you're reading this, you're probably not on that list.)  You know, the people who you only text out of desperation, but who never really respond the way you hope they will.  I have a few "friends" like that who consistently leave me feeling disappointed and sorry that I didn't choose something else to do.  If people consistently make you feel like that, it's time to make a few changes.

  • I UNSUBSCRIBED myself from all the spammy emails that I consistently get.  Every morning, my ritual is to delete 31 of the 35 daily emails from my inbox and then read the remaining 4 that I actually look forward to.  I don't know why I didn't do this sooner.  I probably thought it would just be easier to delete them individually, every single day, for the rest of my life, than to actually scroll to the bottom and click on UNSUBSCRIBE.  Clicking on UNSUBSCRIBE wasn't that hard.  And SO worth more temptation from 20% off sales at Old Navy, no more wasting 10 minutes every day deleting things I don't even want anyway, and no more inflated email numbers tricking me into thinking that I actually have 35 people who want to say something personal and sweet to me.  I love getting emails from actual people.  Spammy emails are a poor imitation.  

  • I went through my entire kitchen and PURGED anything that had HFCS, white flour, or white sugar in it.  Yep, I really did.  (OK the chocolate chips are still in the freezer, but I can resist those.)  I was SHOCKED at how many sneaky places that white sugar sneaks into our diet.  Obviously we need to eat fewer cookies and less ice cream, but I had no idea it was also in the yogurt, crackers, and spaghetti sauce, too!  Well, it's all gone now.  (I'll let you know if I survive the week.)

  • I helped two of my four kids CLEAN OUT their closets and dressers and get rid of a few things.  It's always shocking to me how quickly they grow out of their clothes.  Spell Girl grows a couple of inches every five minutes these days, it seems.  

It's a good feeling to clear a few unnecessary things out of our lives.  I'm so grateful for a day off of our regular schedules to find more space in our closets and declutter our house.  I'm even more excited about the clarity of mind, body and spirit that I hope to feel after a few weeks of eating better.  There's something I'm supposed to be doing, but I haven't been able to find it amid all the distractions.  I'm looking forward to whatever is around the corner.  


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Photography Class Day 1

Well, I did it!  
I got up on time.  
I got dressed.  
I remembered my camera.
I found the school (the GPS helped with that.)  
And I walked into the classroom.  

The instructor is a beautiful, 57-year-old, professional fine arts photographer, who dresses in funky, artsy clothes and has long dreadlocks that hung down from the bright orange scarf she had wrapped around her head.  She talks so fast and has more experience with cameras and photography than the whole class combined.  There are 18 of us in this class, and we're divided into Canon and Nikon users.  (I'm on the Nikon side.)  This morning we had to introduce ourselves and declare a photography subject we want to shoot.  (That's the official word, by the way.  I no longer "take pictures."  I now "shoot" stuff.)  Apparently if you just say that you want to shoot everything, you end up not taking very good mean, getting very good shots.  So, after being completely intimidated by all the people who declared themselves environmental photographers, sports photographers, photo journalists, and "in the moment" photographers (what in the heck is that anyway??) I realized that it is completely respectable to want to take pictures of my four babies so that I can remember all the things that seem to slip out of my memory so quickly.  I'm a mom who happens to love to blog and scrapbook, and that's totally enough.  And that's exactly what I said (well, not the "enough" part, but the rest.)  

I was a little lost today.  And A LOT intimidated by the rest of the class.   But...I LOVED being in a classroom again.  My head was totally spinning as I walked into that room and sat down.  I LOVE learning.  I LOVE taking notes.  I even LOVE having homework, which I definitely already have.  I don't love the feeling that everyone knows WAY more than I do, but that's probably because I haven't been in a classroom in about 20 years.  Maybe this little photography class will be the confidence-building catalyst I need to LAUNCH me into other classrooms.  I'm SO excited about the next 6 weeks and the amazing things I'll be able to do with my camera.  I'll post all of my homework so you can see it, too!  Wish me luck!

Friday, January 18, 2013

High Five for Friday

What I'm grateful for this week...
Garage Door repair guys SUPER HEROES who are on call 24 hours/day, who come to your house at dinner time, who can fix anything, and who stay for three hours and then offer to program the remote in the van for you, too.  

What surprised me this week...
Flowering Buttercup and I had a talk several weeks ago about the constant barrage of pictures and status updates that she gets all day and night on her phone, and the effect it has on her.  Her friends (and their friends) post things that she may or may not want to see or read about at the moment they post it, but because she has a constant feed on her iPhone, and because it's always in her hand, she has no choice but to be subject to EVERYTHING instantly.  Sometimes you don't want to know exactly what your friends are thinking.  Sometimes, when you've had a particularly crappy day, you don't want to see the latest cheerleader photo shoot of some girl's perfect hair and chiseled 6 pack.  Sometimes it's better to not find out when people's relationship status has changed.  I am not a fan of social media and the pressure it puts on everyone, especially teenage girls.  
This morning, Flowering Buttercup casually announced that she deleted her FB and Twitter apps from her phone.  Her accounts are still there, but the constant access is gone.  I have no idea what prompted this, but it's a good thing, and I am really proud of her for making a change that was hard.  

What made me smile this week...
I wish I could capture all of the goofy, hilarious, insightful, and amazing things my kids say in a week, but Flowering Buttercup is the only one who regularly sends them to me via TEXT.  (Maybe that's a good reason to get all the other kids phones, too???)
The Scout Master was trying to access my blog this week via his iPad from HOU.  For some reason he wasn't seeing any recent posts, so I asked Flowering Buttercup to look at my blog from her phone and see if she could see anything new.  She texted me back and said "I don't even know how to get to your blog."  Serious???  I do this everyday and write 50% of my posts about my kids, and she doesn't even know how to get to it??  ugh...

Well, at least she realizes that she might miss me someday.  :)

What I loved this week...
My neighbor, Jill, has a daughter who LOVES to ride horses.  In fact, they happen to own a horse who they board at a nearby stable, and Jill takes her daughter there several times a week to ride.  Every now and then, they also take their younger son and they invite Mack to come along.  Jill texted me this picture from the stables...
Don't let that little scowl on Mack's face fool you.  That's his permanent, 9-yr-old "I-really-hate-having-my-picture-taken" face.  He actually LOVES going to the barn, and he LOVED being on that horse.  (Her name is Six.)  I don't think Mack has ever been on a horse before.  I was instantly grateful for all the people who fill up the space in our days with great things and who give my kids opportunities to broaden their little horizons.  We have the BEST neighbors!

What I'm LAUNCHING this week...
Photography Class at Colin County Community College
The Scout Master took me on a trial run to the campus last night.  It's so scary and exciting that I wanted to hurry up and just get in that class already and I also wanted to throw up all at the same time.  Ridiculous, huh?  

I hope this has been a productive, amazing, happy week for all of you and that you have a wonderful weekend to look forward to.