Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Act II

my kitchen a few months ago...still mid-renovation but man I love those countertops...and I really have to figure out how to get all that stuff in the corner off the countertops because it drives me crazy to look at it in this photo

I've been thinking a lot in the past year or two about what my life will look like once Matthew starts kindergarten (and Abigail starts her senior year of high school). Still quite awhile away, but Matthew will start a little playgroup preschool next fall and then probably do 2 years of preschool after that (since he has a late September birthday he won't start kindergarten until he's six) and it's on the horizon, my friends.

I don't know that I've ever been very specific here about my educational background, but my undergraduate degree is in English with a minor in business management, and my master's is in English literature. My original plan was to go to law school, but there was very clear heavenly direction that law school was not the best route for our family and that English was (cue a lot of crying and throwing things and praying and eventual very grumpy resignation). And my M.A. has been an absolute godsend--literally!!--over our marriage, since the fifteen years I've taught freshman composition, advanced writing, technical writing, and business writing have allowed us to stay free from student loans and take care of our family's needs. But it is not necessarily a job that I find joy and rejuvenation and excitement in; if there's something I need to do for work it's always something I'm dreading rather than something I can't wait to start.

My personality is such that I need to stay busy, and hence all of the thinking about what I'll do when Matthew is in school full time. Probably a lot of house stuff and managing family life and volunteering in kids' schools and running (so so so much running!!!) but I also loooove spending money and I will have kids in college and so it would be nice if one of the things I'm spending time on was a job that brought me a lot of personal satisfaction and fulfillment, while still allowing me the energy and flexibility that I need as a mother and wife.

What I keep coming back to is that I really really love creating beautiful spaces. As a kid and teenager I would constantly rearrange my furniture and belongings (I vividly remember creating little vignettes with my jewelry every time I took it off--like I had all these old jewelry boxes and scrap pieces of satin and I would carefully swirl necklaces over them and endlessly reposition the chains until they looked just right) and drawing up house plans and reading Architectural Digest. I love reading design blogs and window-shopping and one of the very best experiences of my entire adult life was when we moved last year and suddenly I had a whole house that needed to be furnished and the money to do it. IT WAS AMAZING and I just was so happy all the time hunting for the perfect pillow to bring out the exact shade of blue in the rug, or the perfect pot to complement a particular plant, etc. So this has me thinking about the process to become an interior designer, or a stylist, or whatever...I don't even know all of the options there. I love designing and creating beautiful spaces and that's just something that brings me great joy.

Other things I'm kicking around: more things to do with running (like being a running columnist? Again, how does one get into that because most venues I've looked at don't solicit submissions?) or doing a cooking school thing. I used to really want to be a financial planner (I LOVED my business minor so so so much) but that's not quite as appealing to me these days.

Anyway. Things about which I am thinking.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Nathan date

Today was Matthew's first dental appoint--hurray! He did a great job (I think he was mesmerized by the light) and I was really impressed by how diligently the office has designed their setup to accommodate younger patients (he had his own little tiny room with special new toys and books, etc.) Of course, as soon as we went out to the regular patient rooms for Nathan and he saw the 
cool up and down chair that Nathan got to ride in, we realized he probably would have been fine out there. ;-)

Going to the dentist with Nathan is always something I dread for two reasons 1) in the past he has gotten super upset (to the point of screaming and flailing where we had to just give up and go) and 2) it's always pretty depressing to hear what the 2.5 years of basically nonstop vomiting did to his enamel (the vomiting/oral reflux/oral fears are also what make him terrified of the dentist). Happily this time was MUCH better on #1 (no tears!!!!) and we have some good ideas to try out for #2 to try to halt any further issues (like switching to a baking soda paste to combat some of the acidity, etc.).

And then after the dentist we went to the library to check out some books for Nathan and then we went to lunch since it's his week for a lunch date, and here is Nathan's little interview for this month, verbatim:

Good at: running in the sunshine with short sleeves but not coats because I’ll get sweaty with coat on my arms
Improve: playing soccer
Try: getting the soccer ball in the goal
Worry: Jack isn’t here today at school
Hate: making up and writing down math stories at school and working really hard. I’m glad we skipped that time today! Also do I have to go to school I don't want to go, probably I should just go home with you and we can play all day. (Me: dude I gotta take a nap if I'm going to make it through my presidency meeting tonight)
Excited to: play tag
What do you want to be: an Air Force person that keeps the country safe and flies planes

Miss most about being younger: playing with my toys that I used to have like when I was four and younger and we were moving I had my struction toy in the van and suddenly we stopped and the wind flew it away. Also I miss my bubble blower (me: you have a really nice bubble gun; him: yeah but I like those little plastic blower bottles). 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Be the change you want to see

Yesterday the bishop of our church congregation said something that I really loved--he was talking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her fight for gender equality (and I got a little choked up seeing him get choked up!) and then he told the young women (girls in our church congregation who are between age 11-18): "My message to you, young women, is to work hard and prepare yourself for future roles, and you will change the world."

So grateful to have a congregation led by a leader where that is the message he most deeply wants to share with our young women at the beginning of a new year. I know there are many people who are concerned about the role of women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you may be more familiar with it as being called the Mormon church) but man, all my life I have been surrounded by men and leaders and fathers and brothers and husbands who are doing everything in their power to help girls, young women, and adult women to be the very best version of themselves they can possibly be. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019


weekend happenings, beginning after school gets out Friday...

Welcome boys home and read 3 chapters of Little House on the Prairie to Luke & Nate

Wake Matty up from his nap, welcome girls home, start piano & violin practicing for Jules

Take Juliet to friend's house

Come home, make dinner (Korean beef + broccoli + brown rice), remind everyone else to practice piano and do homework

Feed everyone dinner

Say hello to Neil in passing on the way out the door to pick up Juliet

Solve some middle-school truth or dare quandaries with Jules on the way home, convince her to eat dinner, change into Sunday dress while frantically prepping everyone for bed, head out the door with Neil to go to the temple 

Head home from temple, grimace to see all the kids' lights are still on (it's 10 pm guys!!), talk everyone into bed, fall asleep in like 2 seconds after kids are asleep

Wake up Saturday morning at 8 am (why does it not feel like sleeping in??!) and drive Abigail to audition with new piano teacher, kill some time between auditions with a sausage biscuit at McDonald's (the last time we got them was last July in Denver and I must confess I have a soft spot for those greasy little disks) then another audition with another teacher.

Come home, say hi to Nathan's friends who are hanging out here, do some organizing and Saturday cleanup with kids...the morning goes so fast! laundry and vacuuming and bathroom-cleaning all happen in here somewhere

Feed everyone lunch, take forever getting into running clothes because I am really tired from running 4 days in a row and my hip hurts--foam roll my hip and pop a couple of Ibuprofen

head out for 9 miles with Neil (9:46/mile; not too bad for 23 degrees). Thankfully my hip doesn't bug me after the first mile or so and I actually really enjoy it--we run part of the race course for our March race. My legs are bright purple when we get back so I take a five-minute almost unbearably hot shower, make some hot chocolate, and jump in the car to take Luke to his basketball game

pretty sure they lost the game but I was busy keeping Matthew from jumping off the bleachers so I don't really know. also I was ordering pizza on my phone because I'm so tired and I really don't feel like cooking.

Papa John's and root beer for dinner. Everyone loves me!

then I lie on the couch for awhile (I am soooooo tired) and read this fun book that Abigail and I are really into right now. eventually I wander downstairs where the kids have finally begged so much that Neil is playing Zelda so they can watch. I make some disapproving noises about this being a crummy way to spend family time and then sort of fall asleep and then wake up grumpy and make everyone go to bed. then Neil and I watch gloriously terrible shark movies for awhile and then go to bed.

wake up earlier than I want to, hit my snooze, wake up later than I should have and braid my hair in my friend's car on the way to ward council

have a half hour to chill in the chapel between the end of ward council and the beginning of sacrament meeting so I write an email to my family

my kids arrive at church and they look like little homeless children, so I braid the girls' hair and try to sort of somehow smooth the boys' hair but it doesn't work (in all fairness to Neil he was super daddy and made crepes for breakfast and ran out of time to think about things like hairstyles).

leave sacrament meeting early to go set the Primary room up and then do some serious Sunbeam-wrangling, then have the younger kids help me set up Primary chairs for the next ward while Abigail is set apart in her new calling

come home and make dinner (and a portable dinner to go for the missionaries--chicken cherry pasta salad with spinach and pecans) while Neil makes lunch.

clean up the kitchen from the craziness of the morning before church

Neil helps the missionaries work on their bikes while I take a twenty-minute nap

head back to church to New Beginnings for the Young Women while Neil feeds the boys dinner at home. It is a success because 3/4 boys ate it happily--a triumph!

come home and eat dinner in five minutes while getting kids ready to go

head to friends' house for dessert--sundae bar, such a fun idea! Neil stays for an hour and then leaves to go to a scout committee meeting, I stay for another 45 minutes before packing up kiddos and heading home

put everyone to bed--Nathan needs 2 songs ("On a Golden Springtime" and "Tender Shepherd") and a story about my childhood and a backscratch. Matthew needs a toasted bagel, a sippy of milk, and two songs (Billy Joel's "Lullabye" and "Tender Shepherd").

Neil gets home and we clean out the fridge together

I sit down to write this post

when I finish...I will go wash my face, get ready for bed, and then figure out what we're eating next week so I can put in a grocery order for tomorrow.

on the docket this week: two more auditions for Abigail, piano lessons for everyone, dentist for Nathan and Matthew, optometrist for Nathan and Abigail, dermatologist for me, basketball games & practices for Luke and Juliet, scouts for Isaac & Neil, YW for Abigail and Juliet, getting Neil's car towed from his office to the mechanic, programming club for Luke, French club for Juliet, coding & engineering clubs for Isaac, 30-35 miles of running for me, friend birthday parties to go to for Nathan, Abigail, and Juliet, plus 3 classes' worth of midterms to grade this weekend. should be busy, yo.

top pic: Luke's team after their game Saturday

Friday, February 08, 2019

Five days in NYC

Last weekend I flew to NYC to see my sister Ruth, who is finishing her second week of radiation today. I haven't seen her since chemo, and it was so so so good to see her feeling so much better and totally rocking her very chic short hair (I probably told her ten times in the first hour how beautiful she was because I was just SO HAPPY to see her looking like herself again, smiling and laughing and talking. So so good to see her). 

Elise also flew out and it was amazing to be there with both of them--we missed our other two sisters and our mom who couldn't be there, so hopefully another girls' weekend is in the offing soon!
We had an amazing mix of laughing so much my face hurt and then having some really good deep discussions that I'm still pondering. And it was so good to be able to chat a bit with Ruth's radiation oncologist and hear how things are progressing.

When I last visited Ruth, we went to chemo and then stuck to her apartment the rest of the time I was there. I slipped out a couple times for runs, but this time Ruth was feeling well enough to manage and extraordinarily packed weekend that left me exhausted-I can't even imagine how she did it! (We did really try to protect her sleep and I had a couple times where I ninja-rolled out of bed so she could keep napping or sleep in.)

Some highlights: we saw Hamilton! On Broadway!!! Ruth and Jordan were SO generous and treated us to tickets and man, it was absolutely everything everyone says it is. So so so so so good (and my favorite little story from the night is that Elise didn't know we were going and started crying when we got in line and realized what was happening). We also saw Puffs the Play the next night and it was really funny and super fun if you are a Harry Potter fan--just lots of little inside jokes and cleverness. And to complete the most amazing weekend ever, we stayed at the Lotte Palace in the Towers, which holy cow, I have no words. I have never before stayed in a hotel room that had a chandelier in both the bathroom and the foyer--and we had a very fun time discovering all the products in the bathroom!! Somehow I sweet-talked our way into a great upgrade and we just had a fabulous fabulous fabulous time and I slept SO well!!! And since it was crazy cold in the middle of the polar vortex, I opted to run on the treadmill instead of venturing outside, and just checked out every detail of the roof of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Wish my treadmill view was always so scenic!!

Since it was New York, we also had absolutely amazing food for every meal--Crazyshakes at Black Tap, chocolate walnut cookies at Levain, afternoon tea at Bosie's, the most perfect burger and blue cheese fondue at The Smith, heavenly heavenly Los Tacos, the divine panna cotta at Little Collins, a killer cheesecake at Magnolia, a deliciously long and leisurely brunch at the Loeb Boathouse (followed by the obligatory traipse through the Ramble in Central Park)...I know I'm forgetting things but trust me, we had a great time! :-)
At one point we were walking along the Hudson in the twilight looking at the sunset gleaming off the icy river and I just looked at these two sisters of mine for whom I feel so much love and told them how grateful I was for the time we were able to spend together--they truly are some of my dearest friends. It gives me great hope that someday my children will stop fighting and completely adore each other. ;-)

Thursday, February 07, 2019


We woke up today to a fog delay--hip hip hurray!! I was thrilled about this since I'd slept terribly with a million nightmares (the fun kind where you go back to college and fail your classes and then your husband is like cool cool you're a loser I'm done with this marriage) and I was SO happy to get another couple of hours of sleep!! Of course basically everyone got up before me but hey, that's what instant oatmeal is for, amiright??

Juliet told me yesterday and then reminded me thrice this morning that it was her half-birthday today, so I ran into the grocery store and got these super-dyed cupcakes. Isaac gave me a hug and told me it's the thought that counts so...?? But Jules felt really loved and was so happy and surprised (really?) and then we sang "hap bir tu yuh" because that's only HALF the words to the song and so yep, we celebrated. 

other things from today:

it was Luke's week for a lunch date so here, enjoy this picture of me with absolutely minimal makeup and rain-styled hair. But look how cute and cuddly he is!! He chose to go to his favorite Indian restaurant and was completely entranced by the cricket game they were playing on the TV in the corner so it was super hard to pry answers out of him for my little interview questions I like to shoot at the kids during these lunches ("what's something you want to try this month?" "climbing on the roof. Dad never lets me.")

Matthew pretty much plastered himself with tikka masala and mango custard, comme d'habitude.

for some reason I thought today would be a good day to go through my closet. Big surprise: mostly I got rid of everything with color and kept things that are black, white, and black/white striped. I am a creature of habit.

Today was REALLY REALLY HARD after school and I was so happy to see this lil' package on my doorstep. I ran out of my favorite pink grapefruit spray on Monday and I tell you what, it's been driving me nuts.

A great story for posterity: today Matthew snuck up into the cupboards while I was grabbing his clothes for the day and then I heard a startled yelp and then a "MOM HELP MA MOUF HOT!!! DRINKIES!" and guess what that little sneaky boy had tried to guzzle?

And last but not least, my little violinist is really making progress and sounding so good these days. I love hearing the beautiful music my kids have learned to create. (less fun: right now I'm trying to find a new piano teacher for Abigail bc her current teacher, who we dearly love, told us it's time for Abigail to move on to someone more advanced. We have lots of auditions scheduled in the next couple weeks and Abigail is just thrilled for those. Not. At. All. But piano is mandatory until 14 in our house, and she's decided she wants to keep going now that she's reached the age where she can choose, so keep going we shall!

and with that, it's time to go pick up Luke from basketball practice and then come home and wrangle people into bed. Almost the weekend!!!! My big plans include a bunch of playdates, basketball games, 3 auditions, a temple date night with Neil, a long run Saturday, lots and lots of church stuff get the picture. Keeping busy!

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

It’s February again!

Well here we are in February...I have a lot of pictures from last weekend in NYC that my phone doesn’t want to upload, so I’m just going to kick off my (late) five for Feb posts with the most recent pics of all my kids that are on my phone. All of these are from tonight except Nathan’s, which is from Monday when we were waiting forever for Clicklist. 
Fun fact about Nathan these days: he changes into these increasingly ragged thermals every single day the minute he gets home from school. It’s kind of like when he wore the Paw Patrol costume every day but a lot easier to wash...
Abigail and Juliet headed to the temple tonight with friends from our ward 

 Luke and I chilling at the optometrist after school (whoa baby that kid’s eyesight got worse this year!!)

Isaac at the optometrist...we are big fans of hot chocolate this time of year and take full advantage of basically everyone keeping a Keurig and Swiss Miss pods in their waiting rooms. 

Isaac and I had a very long conversation today about coding. He loves coding club and I love him

And Matthew is the epitome of sixth kid, do what I want when I want. 🙄I snapped this pic to send to Neil, who’s in Pittsburgh this week and I’m sure sorely missing the orange juice negotiations with Matthew...

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