Wednesday, April 27, 2011

craving a bit of solitude and rejuvination

I've always longed for solitude. It's something that's an ongoing craving and need. Some of my most vivid childhood memories seem to be in situations where I am alone. My earliest memory was when we lived in Salt Lake (I was a wee thing then) sitting by myself either on the porch or near some sort of fence licking an orange Popsicle. I liked having my secret hidey-hole places that I could steal away and escape to. Memories like climbing the crabapple tree in the backyard when we lived in Heber, sitting in the crook of the tree and watching the other kids play. That special weed and tree enclosed hiding place, secluded in between the back fence and the field beyond. I still remember how happy I was to find that perfect nook and claim it as my very own space where I could go to.

I remember how important it was for me to go over to the neighbor's house and shoot baskets hour after hour by myself after school. Then, a few years later on the night of my high school graduation, all the seniors gathered at a country club/ recreation facility to party and celebrate. I found myself in the darkness, sitting on the floor of an out of the way room, realizing I was so alone and forgotten, knowing that the point of it all was to be with friends. Not a happy memory, but I guess being alone was easier and safer for me than mingling with the other kids. My mind is filled with these types of memories; some sad, some pleasant, but all part of my reality.

I've taken those personality tests. (I'm an ISFJ.) It shows that I'm half introvert and half extrovert. I can be a very outgoing, social person if I want to be. I do relate well and interact with lots of people. I enjoy and relish family gatherings, parties and dinners out with friends, blogging and Facebook, and engaging in meaningful conversation with many, many people. But lately, maybe as I'm growing older and maybe with my having gone through a few challenges these last few years, I see myself becoming even more introverted and introspective. I find myself craving solitude so much more. Maybe that comes with being a mother to a large, teenage- majority household. Maybe I seclude myself in search of peace and quiet.

I love to go up to my room, close the door, and sit in my little reading nook. I love that stillness, especially when I have those few stolen moments in the early morning, or the two and a half hours when Isaac is at school. To be with alone with myself and my thoughts. Maybe this is why I'm suited for running. (Perhaps the running has actually made me more this way.) You have to be comfortable being with yourself to run mile after mile. Maybe that's why reading is such an important element to my happiness. Maybe that's why pondering, analyzing, and then writing about my world (inner and outer) here is so important to me.

It's good to know who you are. I'm okay with me.

Lately, I've been fantasizing about going away somewhere by myself. I think moms, especially, need to do that once in a while. It rejuvenates a person. Most years I've attended a Women's Conference sponsored by the nearby university and the Relief Society (women's organization) of my church. It's a two day event with inspirational classes, humanitarian projects (Assembly lines of newborn, school, and hygiene kits sent to people in need all around the world. Lots of other projects to work on, too.), displays, booths, and ideas for strengthening homes and communities, and uplifting and fun evening entertainment. Most years I just go for one day and come home in time to make dinner. This year I talked to Keith about this need for solitude and rejuvenation and we both felt like it would be nice for me to really get away for the whole two days. I'll be staying in a local hotel all by myself, treat myself to eating out (and not cooking dinners for a change!), reading and writing a bit, and maybe even taking in a movie solo style. (!!!)

I'm really excited. I need this time to "get out of the rain", to water and nourish my soul, just like Brian Kershisnik's powerful image (shown above) depicts.

I'll surface back here Saturday refreshed and renewed.

See you then.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Morning Thoughts

I don't remember having such a wet spring. The rain just doesn't want to quit. Now, as I write, it's snowing. The sun stays hidden much of the time behind gray skies and it's still chilly enough for winter coats. Our community is on stand- by for flooding. Sandbags are waiting to be filled.

I thought I'd sneak in a run yesterday after picking up Jane from an after school class and taking her to her tutoring job. The skies looked very forboding, but I knew it would be now or never. Fifteen minutes into the run, the rain started. It wasn't pouring, but it wasn't a drizzle, either. I found it invigorating, thrilling, and kind of fun all at the same time. By the end of the hour, the sun was shining and everything was beautiful and fresh.

Gardening? Forget it. It's been hard to find an empty time for Keith to go out and till. The weather and water logged soil really hasn't made it possible. I don't think I've ever been this late. In spite of all this dismal weather, I'm just loving the "popping outs" that comes with this wonderful springtime. Tulips are starting to bloom. The fruit tree's frothy sprays of blossoms (I'm in love with the pinks.), the brilliant blue of the tiny grape hyacinths...

On another note: There's been some hobbling going on here at home these last few days. Keith hurt his back on Friday (just bending over) and he's been dealing with quite a lot of pain since then. Hard to get into seated and then move to standing position. He has degenerative disk disease. It's been a big challenge for him all of our married life. He's already been through two back surgeries. We're praying that this latest problem doesn't lead to another. He knows this will inevitably be part of his future, though.

When we gave Lucy her haircut on Sunday, her back leg must have gotten hurt in some way, probably from her being held down and in the same position for so long. The poor girl can hardly walk. Keith accidentally cut her front leg, totally traumatizing them both. She's been laying low. The cut is healing, and we're concerned about her not walking.

I've been feeling pretty melancholy-ish this past week. Not major depressed, more introspectivly quiet, emotional, and funk-like. Saturday's and yesterday's run did me good, I think. Trying to see beauty and promise and hope in these not so sunny days. Seeing my life through the lens of gratitude... well, that's been so very helpful.

Guess what?

I look out the window just now and see that the clouds have broken and the sun is out. Maybe for just a little while, but still, it's a joyful thing just the same. A lot like life, don't you think?

Monday, April 25, 2011


Beautifully colored eggs to hunt.
Filled baskets to delight.
Chocolate and more chocolate.
Biscuits and egg gravy (we call it "Goldenrod") for breakfast. It's tradition.
Salmon colored tulips on the table.
Tears flowing, heart full during Sacrament meeting. Feeling such profound gratitude for the Savior's infinite gift and sacrifice.
Bathroom impromptu haircut and bath for the stinky, shaggy Lucy dog.
Kitchen and clean up the house duties.
Deviled eggs in Grandma's dish.
Mama's butterflake rolls and darling cupcakes.
Plinio's leg of lamb.
We meet and welcome Paula's new boyfriend Dexter.
Happy Easter indeed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Culmination of Twelve Years: Jane's Solo Senior Recital

Jane had her last violin lesson this week. Big lump in my throat as I watched her get out of the car and walk up to Diane's porch. When you have a teacher you meet with every week for twelve years straight, it's incredibly hard to see it finally come to an end. As Jane and I were driving home a couple of weeks ago, she said that Diane is the only person, the only woman, outside of family that she feels such closeness to. That she truly loves. Diane has been more, much more, than a violin teacher. She's been a mother, a mentor, and a friend. She never intimidated, used force or criticism in her teaching. Never did I see her show even a hint of frustration, impatience, or irritation. It was all about loving and inspiring. There couldn't have been a better teacher for our daughter. For that, we are so grateful.

For the last year, she's been working towards this night. Her very own recital. She's come such a long way from that 5 year old kindergartner playing that never ending squeaky Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Now here she is, almost 18, ready to graduate from high school and getting set to spread her wings and fly.

Tonight was a culmination celebration. She played solo, almost all her pieces memorized, for an hour. A little miracle when she didn't even pick up her violin all summer. (Because of her accident.)

Surrounded with supportive schoolmates, teachers, neighbors, friends, and family. Tears, smiles, applause, hugs, kisses, flowers, treats, talk...

An evening full of love. An evening to cherish. Hearts full.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom


morning sickness,













































~I love you.

xo Emily

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Week at Our House Part 2

I like to prepare festive foods during the week of Easter. I love baking and I love sharing and I love it when I can bring others joy. I like to make holidays special; making these festivals times of anticipation and expectation. I find it all very satisfying. But sometimes, with all my good intentions and desires, I need to buck up, if you know what I mean. Some years I have it in me to do all this stuff and some years I don't. I think with planning, simplifying, and prioritizing, it can be done. We can pick and choose to do those things that are best; the things that will truly bring ourselves and others joy, making happy memories all the while. This should be the goal. Asking ourselves these questions:

1. Is what I'm doing filling me with peace, love, and joy or is this project adding too much stress, frustration, or resentment?


2. Am I striving for happy memories with my children or is my main focus perfection?


3. Is there meaningful purpose in this tradition of ours?


4. Is there a way we can reach out to others in our holiday observations and celebration?


For the last three or four years, I've loved making these Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. I truly enjoy the baking part and I like the symbolism and teaching moment this provides for my children. This has been a meaningful tradition. I like to set the table nicely for a special "tea time" late in the afternoon. Sometimes Keith comes home early from work. We sit down and enjoy these by candlelight, sipping some cocoa or peppermint tea from our mugs. We talk about Christ's crucifixion and death. I display a iron railroad stake on a piece of white linen cloth. We read from scripture and might read a children's book that talks about death and hope and resurrection. This is a special, spiritual time for our family.


Also in the days leading up to Easter Sunday, I enjoy preparing festive treats like these. In the past, I've enjoyed putting special baskets together to deliver to friends, family, and others who might need a little remembering. It is something that makes me happy. It's a chance to reach out to others and not just think of ourselves during this holiday time. The children and I like to work together, making the treats side by side in the kitchen, wrapping the goodies in cellophane bags with colorful ribbon bows, putting the baskets together, and doing the delivering. This year, the treats may or may not be healthified a bit. I'm not sure to what extent this will happen. We'll see!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Week at Our House Part 1

I thought it would be nice to share some of our Easter and springtime traditions with you today. This post was pulled from my Blue House Blessings archives and I thought it would be something worth repeating as we begin planning our Easter celebrations. We are Christians, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (sometimes referred to as Mormons or LDS) and some of our resources are more specified to our church membership. It's my hope that there might be something I'm sharing that can be added to your own family's tradition, whichever religious leaning you come from. I, myself, love learning and gleaning from so many of you. I love and appreciate all of it!
Happy Easter Week you to all! We've been busy around here, making preparations, making memories, and making this a special time of remembering the life and mission of Jesus. From now until Sunday, I will be sharing with you some of the traditions and fun going on in the Blue House. In the last few years, I've tried to make Easter more meaningful than just having the kids get an Easter basket from the Easter Bunny. I believe this is the one holiday that should mean the most to Christians. I've found that it does take effort and planning to make it all happen. I hope that my children will associate the word "Easter" with Christ in their minds, and not just chocolate rabbits and jellybeans. I found this wonderful resource last year at Deseret Book, and I was so grateful for the ideas and ways I could make all of this come together.

Springtime brings new birth. The resting earth awakens from it's slumber. Just look out the window. Flowers and trees are blooming, baby animals being born, and the dead grass comes back to life. All nature seems to be testifying of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Savior.

A fun project that gets us into the planting mood even before we can head out to the garden is planting a "living Easter basket". Here, I lined a basket with plastic wrap and filled it with moistened potting soil. Then the children sprinkled on some wheat that we have in a bucket in the kitchen.

Scattering the wheat berries

Isaac does a good job patting the seeds in.

Now we need a little water. We'll spray our little garden every day.

Look what's popped up in one week's time. Isn't it beautiful?

The Easter nature table

Our Easter Banner

This afternoon, the children and I had a fun time making animal sculptures out of bread dough.

Aren't these hedgehogs cute?

"Here comes Peter Cottontail..."

Thursday is a special day during Easter week. It was the day of the Last Supper. We remembered the Savior today by having a "Jerusalem dinner". I pulled out the tablecloth from India, all the pottery in the cupboards, and candlelight for some ambiance. This was our menu:

Grape juice

Broiled white fish with lemon and olive oil

Lentil stew

Flatbread Tomato, cucumber, and red onion salad





Almonds and Dates for dessert

After dinner, we had a special lesson about the Last Supper and the Savior's experience in the Garden. We started by singing "Jesus of Nazareth". Then we looked at some pictures in the Gospel Art Kit and read some scriptures. I also found this book last year and it brought a nice spirit to our discussion. We finished by singing "We'll Sing All Hail to Jesus' Name" and posted the pictures on our kitchen door to look at throughout the week.

We started this time line display of the last week of Christ's life on Palm Sunday. We each traced our hands for palm fronds and talked about what the word "Hosanna" means and how we as individuals worship and show honor to the Savior. A very nice visual to have in our home during the Easter season.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jane's California Adventure, Our "Stay-cation", And Weekending, Too!

Jane had a ball in California. Her school's orchestra and choir were invited to perform at Disneyland. They left last Friday and got back late, late Wednesday night. The weather was beautiful. She hung out with a nice group of girls, including the Brand family. Mom and Dad Brand were chaperons (she's Isaac's Montessori teacher,too.) who tagged along with their two sons and two daughters who are Jane's good friends and also attend the school. They are a great family and I'm glad that they were so kind to include Jane in everything that they did. Before they hit Disneyland, they were able to go to the Holocaust Museum there in Los Angeles. I'm so happy that Jane was able to do that. They walked along the beach at sunset. (This picture isn't in order.)
A visit to the LA downtown Farmer's Market. Jane said, "You would have loved that, Mom." Lots of unique produce, interesting people to see, the cutest baby goat to pet, and raw milk that Mrs. Brand bought for everyone to taste.

Downtown Hollywood wasn't much to write home about, she said.

The remainder of the time was spent at Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure Park. Wow, three whole days to explore and go on ride, after ride, after ride. They even got to go behind the scenes a bit for their performance times. Lots of hidden underground tunnels. Also a recording session and music play time with one of the Disney movie composers.

What a neat experience.

Chip and Dale were the only guys Jane had a chance to get with up close and personal.

The girlfriends, a little nervous before going on the "Towah of Tewuh" (Tower of Terror: this pronunciation is an inside family joke.)

She knew we (especially Isaac) would get a kick out of the green army men guys from Toy Story.

We had our own little getaway "Stay-cation" on Thursday and Friday. Since Jane was invited to participate in the university (where she'll be attending this fall) Language Fair on Friday, we thought it would be nice to stay in a semi-local hotel overnight, just spending some time together as a family, relaxing and seeing what we could do for fun at the University.

We played a game of Clue, went to eat dinner at the dorms where Gary lived when he was a student there, watched a show on the History channel (we don't have cable- that was a treat) about a Bigfoot investigation, and let the kids swim in the hotel pool.

The next morning at the fair, Jane performed her classical Chinese violin peace: The Butterfly Lovers Concerto. She received the gold medal/1st prize in the talent portion of the competition. It was fun to see all the other cultural displays and performances. Also neat for Jane to find out more about her major and university programs/ study abroad opportunities.

A walking trek across campus and then lunch at the Creamery. Always a hit. (Although the look on Sam's face doesn't do the overall joy justice.) Golf cart tour of the campus with Gary's cute and super friendly roommate who works for the Hosting Center. Fun to check out the dorm where Jane will be residing come September. (Sob...)

Got home, took naps, and then hit a local theater production of Hairspray, thanks to our generously kind friend, Carine.


~a 7-8 mile run this morning for me. Again, it was flow and ease. So surprised even with a monster hill. (Yeah. I'm getting back into my groove, friends.)

~prom dress shopping. Glad Jane is easy to please and immediately found what she wanted. Whew. Pictures to come forthwith after Prom in two weeks.

~lunch and library stop.

~cookies just coming out of the oven.

~Little Rascals movies going on downstairs with the kiddies.

~need to get outside to get the garden ready to plant. Need some motivation. Help, too.

~heading up to see Keith's family tomorrow after church. His sister Kara and kids are here visiting from California.

Hope you liked hearing about our spring break. Hope you are enjoying your weekend, too, wherever you are!

Tell me about it...