For the beauty of the Earth, Mom, geez.

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In anticipation of what was sure to occur on this Sabbath day, I took the following preemptive action.

Me (to Jade):  I think we should sit down and make a list of what would be appropriate Sunday activities.  Like drawing or writing letters or learning about our ancestors.

Jade:  What about going outside to play with Mallory?

Me (skeptical):  Explain to me how that is an appropriate Sunday activity.

Jade (In her best beauty-pageant-contestant voice):  Well, it would give me an opportunity to see the beauty that is all around us in this world.

Well played, Jade.

Easy Street, where the rich folks play.

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The first house Aaron and I lived in on our own as a married couple was actually on a street with this name.  I remember noting the irony of the situation as this was also where we brought our first child home and coincidentally where I began my quite long stint as a stay-at-home mom.  It seemed unlikely that the location of our home would live up to its name any time soon.

I pass Easy Street on a regular basis now, and when I do I think about just how easy life seemed in 2007 looking back from 2014.  In fact, I think about how easy life seemed in 2011 when I had 3 kids instead of 4, and 2 of them couldn’t walk or talk.  But definitely in the moment it did not feel that way.

The truth is, things have never felt easy to me at any time along the timeline of my life.  At some point, there have always been goodbyes, mean babysitters, unfair politics, moves, change, breakups, illness, loneliness, crushed expectations, sleepless nights, difficulty—

The opposite of ease.

But it really is all about perspective.  Of course now the idea of moving to a new house as a 10 year old who has absolutely no part in the moving process seems like a piece of cake.  No signing closing papers or writing a giant check or packing up decades worth of memories.  Just get in the car.

Of course now the thought of deciding between this boy or that boy seems like such a joke, when obviously I wasn’t going to end up with either one.  Plus one of them is fat and also bald now.

Of course now that goodbye moment with my dad at the airport (while still always a tearjerker) is not the end of my entire life.  A year passes a lot quicker now than it did when I was 7.  Or 12.  Or 18.

Of course that 15 hours I spent at the audition for So You Think You Can Dance that got me nowhere would not have gotten me anywhere even if I HAD made it to the final cut.  Where are the winners now?

Of course that night when I stayed up all night wanting to scream and cry and throw stuff while trying to get a crying infant to go back to sleep ultimately didn’t effect my future sleep habits.  She sleeps for 11 hours a night now.

But think about all the memories I have now because of those trying times.  And all the LOVE!  Sure, I could have decided not to have 4 children.  I’m pretty sure no one ever told me it was going to be easy and somehow people are still having kids.  No 75 year old woman ever says, “I wish I didn’t have all these *%!# kids”, but  a LOT of people have told me, “Raising young kids is going to be one of the hardest times of your life, but when its over you will have a big, loving family!”

And somehow I think that, even without the kids, difficulty would have found a way into my life in some other form.

That’s a wrap!

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Jade has now finished her first musical.  Last weekend they had a 3-show run and the music director has already approached me about whether Jade will be joining him for her elementary school play in the spring.  More to come on that when we get the details.  But be assured that she’ll be first in line to get back on that stage.

Visit my dropbox album for more pictures!

Bullying? Stop It!

At the beginning of this school year, my first as a mother of a child in school, I experienced for the first time the unthinkable task of comforting a child who has felt rejected.

Jade came home from school that day feeling more confused than sad.  When I asked her if she was making new friends in her class (which you may recall I realized quickly was absolutely the wrong question) she shared a playground story with me.

The girls (you remember which ones) were playing nicely when Jade approached them and asked if she could play too.  They exchanged looks, one whispered to the others, and then they all ran away from her laughing.

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Jade??  She is gorgeous!  She’s funny, talented, and SO kind.  Not that it should matter what she is or isn’t at their age.  So why were these FIVE-YEAR-OLDS treating her like she had the plague?

I’m volunteering in Jade’s class once a week where I work with a small group on reading skills.  Jade is 1 of 6 kids in her group, and the only girl.  She has found her place among the boys, probably because she has 3 younger brothers.  She’s part of their clubs, their inside jokes, and they often fight to sit next to her.  It’s a different story among the boys.

There’s a Club (gang maybe?) that one of them has invented, and although its a “boys only” club, he’s invited Jade to be a part of it.  And even more surprisingly, he has named his testosterone-driven group “The Mimi’s”.

A Mimi looks (or at least did a few weeks ago) like a ball on a stick with a triangle at the bottom.  It has its own store where it sells goods to only certain other Mimi’s.  Its exclusivity at its finest.

One day while I was in their class, one of the boys in their reading group (who is NOT a Mimi) drew a picture.  He showed it to the gang leader and said, “Look, its a Mimi!”.  I will vouch for this young boy:  I have seen many Mimi’s drawn over the course of the year, and he was spot on.  However, the leader said, “That is not a Mimi.  This is a Mimi”.  He proceeded to draw an entirely different creature altogether, showed it to the other boy, rolled his eyes, and turned away.

Who taught them to act this way?  Did they see it on television?  Or are they genuinely just looking out for their own well-being, which at this age only means having fun even if its at the expense of someone else?  It always has at least a little to do with acceptance.

Regardless of the reason, this is unacceptable.  And if they act this way as kindergartners how can things possibly get better from here?  The answer is: they can’t.  Which is why bullying is more prominent than ever, especially with the added ease and convenience of cyber-bullying.

After watching the video that I’m sharing below I was thinking about experiences that I’ve had where I witnessed bullying taking place.  When I think about my involvement with bullying in public school, 3 specific kids come to mind.  I was never the originator, but I also never said anything to prevent it.  Observing and not speaking up made me just as guilty as the culprits.

A note about Facebook:  I don’t have any regrets about no longer using it, but I will admit that for me FB was a good way to try to mend relationships (or lack of) that had weighed heavily on me.  I have been in contact with one of the bully-victims in particular, and it amazes me how differently I see her now that I don’t have the anxiety of what people will think of me if I talk to her.  She’s so thoughtful, always congratulating me on life-changing events and thanking me when I do the same for her.  She’s a beautiful person inside and out, and I feel so grateful that she made it through that stage of her life and moved on to find happiness and love.  Not every target of bullying is so lucky.

Today being Sunday, I’m feeling a lot of guilt for skipping church, so I’m also thinking a lot about what Christ had to go through for me.  Clearly the word “bullied” is an understatement in this case.   But I can’t imagine that very many of those who contributed ultimately to the murder of their Savior did so willingly.  Many of them must have felt very threatened, physically or even socially, about what would happen to them if they didn’t support the crucifixion of who will forever be considered, by most, to be the most important man in the history of time.  Either that or they had been brainwashed into thinking that this man wasn’t worthy of the respect and kindness that everyone else deserved.  Its hard to believe that people could be so cruel, and not a single person today would believe themselves capable of such cruelty.

So then why is it okay to treat people so thoughtlessly now on a seemingly lesser scale?

I wish I could say that starting today I will be the one who institutes the biggest change the world has ever seen; one that will spread so quickly that I will never have to worry that my kids will be the subject of these senseless acts.  Unfortunately, I believe the world is only becoming more accepting of evil, so even if every parent on earth taught their children to be kind to others it still won’t protect them completely from how others could possibly treat them.

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The single most important thing we can do as parents to combat the effects of bullying is to show our children love at home.  Maybe that’s why we have a large family; so, if they’re as lucky as Aaron and I have been with our own siblings, my kids will always have a built in support system.

***Spoiler alert:

This video does end happily!

STOP BULLYING!

Happy Vegas snapshots

I’m feeling rather uninspiring when it comes to writing after a long and wonderful visit with my mother, both in Las Vegas and my own home.  So to sum it up, I desperately needed this trip for so many reasons, but I’m happy to be back to…normal?  A more systematic routine anyway.  Here are some of the highlights.

Eating breakfast at the world famous Hash House (featured on Man vs. Food).

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Seeing Cirque du Soleil’s Love.  This was my favorite Cirque show so far.  I’ve also seen Mystere and Viva Elvis.  This one struck a major chord with the dancer in me.

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Jean Phillipe at the Bellagio.  The best desserts ever!  You can tell how in love I was.

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New York New York’s roller coaster.  I rode twice.  By myself.  Don’t feel sorry for me; as you can see I didn’t care.

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My mom’s friend John Salvatore was in Jersey Boys, so not only did we get REALLY good seats for a great price, but we got to go back stage afterwards.  I think the usher that reprimanded me for having a camera out wasn’t on such a power trip after he saw this.

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75 degrees {sigh}.  Enough said.

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Wow.  All I can say is…wow!  This is an incredible exhibit if you ever get a chance to see it.  It is especially exciting if you can recite lines to the movie while you’re walking through replications of parts of the ship like the steerage hallway or the grand staircase.  Maybe I’m the only one who does that.

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We walked.  A LOT.  We did zero gambling but we did walk through every. single. casino on the strip in order to get to where we needed to go.

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Bellagio fountain of course.

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And finally…

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I have no words for this experience.  Well, I do because I always have words.  But nothing that would do it justice.  It was a feeling similar to what I felt when I first fell in love with my husband but couldn’t tell him yet.  Its just this warm feeling that hovers there and there is nothing you can do about it but just laugh or cry or take a deep breath.

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We were actually supposed to be at the Pentatonix concert that night, but after seeing the Titanic exhibit we felt compelled to stop by the House of Blues to ask them where our “seats” were.  The man at the ticket counter looked apologetic as he explained that we probably should have called the box office and asked them about our tickets before we paid for them.  Apparently we were going to have a terrible experience (we had tickets for standing room only on the 3rd balcony).

The next day we decided to take a VERY long walk back to the north end of the strip (we were staying at the south end) just so I could get a refund on a shirt that I was overcharged for.  Right next to Fashion show mall was a half price ticket counter.  Seeing it sparked a conversation about how great it would have been to see the Celine Dion concert.  But my mom had looked at tickets prior to our visit and they were $250, so it wasn’t even a thought.

I suggested that maybe we just stop by the half price counter just to check, to which she responded “Its the biggest show in Vegas, there’s no way they sell tickets for half price”.  But I convinced her, as I’ve been known to do.

That night we sat in the 11th row orchestra seats at the Colosseum ($250 seats) for $98!  Ohhh, what a night.

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And then we returned home.  It was a surprisingly balmy 35 degrees as we exited the airport, which quickly turned into a blizzard that gave us 8 inches of snow.  But I had a half dozen excited, smiling faces to come home to.  We had a nice weekend with my grandma and aunt, watching Frozen (fittingly) and taking Jade to basketball and play practice.

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If you were one of the ones who was with me the last week — missed you Daryn 😦 —  you know that even when all the stars align to your advantage there is still room for stress.  Sorry for that.  But those are the moments that “get you from one happy snap shot to the next“, right?  So grateful for an incredible family to share these memories with, and for an extremely patient and supportive husband for staying home with 4 little kids!

You may be a control freak if…

…You possess/relate to at least 6 of the following qualities or statements (or 4, or 8, as long as its an even number):

-You haven’t put much thought into potty training your three year old(s), not because he’s not ready, but because changing a diaper is so much more efficient than scrubbing the carpet or changing the sheets.

-You’re ready to pull your child out of public school because “she” (YOU) didn’t win the box tops competition that she (…you…) spent the last year immaculately cutting box tops for.

-You regularly offer to let people take over for things, but when they volunteer you don’t sleep for days at the thought of it not being in your hands.  I mean, you didn’t really think anyone would step up!

-Your fitness instructor watches YOU for cues in her own class.

-It’s more important to have the dishwasher loaded correctly (cups/bowls on top, plates on bottom, large plates towards the back, silverware with the handle pointing down) than to leave them where someone else put them and just start the dishwasher.

-Printed throw pillows go BEHIND the solid pillows, as to keep the “solid.print.solid” pattern going on the solid brown leather couch.

-You believe very strongly that you could fix the marital problems of any one of your friends or family members if they would just let you have a talk with their spouse.

-Your parents have been telling you that you should be a lawyer since you could walk because of your stellar “negotiating” skills.

-You volunteer to pay for things (trips, dinner, movies, classes, etc.) for people who make more money than you do if they show even the slightest hesitation towards saying yes.

-Your “to do” lists include more things that are done than things that aren’t so that you can cross them off.

-There is an uneasiness that hovers in the air if you don’t have the final word of a disagreement.

-You prefer the BEST, you’d embrace the WORST, just as long as you’re not somewhere in the middle.

-You can’t relax at night if there are dishes in the sink.

-Papers on the kitchen counter are acceptable, as long as they are stacked and in no more than 2 piles (one keep pile and one garbage pile) and are perpendicular to the edge of the counter.  Who am I kidding, just one pile is acceptable because you won’t leave the room until the garbage pile is in the garbage.

-The thought that this list is not as comprehensive as you’d like it to be is making you go cross-eyed.

-You have an average of 12 revisions for each blog post, most of which consist of only a new title.

Why DJ Lance would make a good president

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Meet DJ Lance, star of the Nickelodeon show Yo Gabba Gabba and my sons’ favorite Television host.

Since I’m quite confident this is something you have not previously considered, I thought it would be of some value to bring to your attention a short list of reasons why I believe he would make a great—or at least better—American president.

•He encourages strong family values, which are severely lacking into today’s world.

•He promotes healthy living habits, which is apparent from his track suit.  These include such things as balanced diet, getting enough rest, adequate exercise, good oral hygiene, as well as emotional health and happiness.

•He’s an advocate for equal rights and accepting each others’ differences.

•He hopes to contribute to the advancement of a green world.

•He embraces creativity and adventure, while supporting a proper formal education.

•He has impressive public speaking skills; he speaks very clearly and never stammers or fumbles his words.

•He works along side Gabba creator, Christian Jacobs, who is Mormon, which means he has a strong understanding and support of religious differences.

•While my knowledge of his stance on foreign policy is very limited, I imagine it would include such words as “peace”, “compromise”, and “sharing”.

•And if the way a president LOOKS is important to you, I think its pretty clear that he would fit right in.

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Write in Lance Robertson for Election 2016.  DJ Lance for President!

The way it should have ended

I have this terrible habit of expecting the worst out of a situation.  No matter what “they” say about happiness being a choice, I think pessimism is an incurable, chronic disease.

Specifically what I’m referring to at the moment is the way I envision a day alone with my children will be.

When I agreed to let Aaron take Jade and go away for the weekend to visit his brother and meet his brother’s new baby, I had a vision of a trio of gremlin-type, disobedient little hellions attacking me,  resulting in tears, me curled up in fetal position in the corner, a sleepless night and possibly a bald spot on my head from pulling my own hair out.  As determined as I am to be supportive of my husband’s hopes and dreams, the thought of being alone with my children always terrifies me.

So tonight when he called me to say he wouldn’t be leaving until early evening for his 4 hour drive home, I automatically went into panic mode.  This meant I’d have to entertain, feed, clean up, and put down (figuratively speaking) all 3 babies by myself for the 2nd day in a row.  I responded harshly in hopes that he’d get the picture and pack up the car.

What transpired immediately after hanging up the phone was the following:

Everest and Calder had just woken up from their nap.  Lochlan was still asleep.  The twins came downstairs together asking to play with trains, which I got out and placed on the table.  My 3-year-olds sat opposite each other at the kitchen table putting together their own strings of train track – one occasionally passing a piece to the other, saying, “Here you go.” – and sometimes quietly humming to themselves.  Eventually Lochlan woke up, I brought him downstairs and sat him in his highchair, and he contently watched his brothers play.

When dinner time came around, I said, “Boys, why don’t we go upstairs and watch a show for a little while so mommy can make dinner.”  They excitedly jumped up from their trains, shouting, “The hungry caterpillar show!” in unison.  I followed behind them holding the baby, turned on their favorite show of the day, and quietly slipped back downstairs without any objection from them.

I made dinner seamlessly, put it on the table, and called them down.  All 3 ate every bite that I put in front of them; even Lochlan who, lately, has been my pickiest eater.  Somehow they ate without spilling on the floor, the table, or themselves (it was taco soup so this was not only surprising but miraculous).

Yes, all this ACTUALLY happened.  Long story short, it is now 7:45, I have 3 children in their beds asleep (or at least in their beds and quiet).

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I’m not sure why I was so worked up today anyway, because this was what happened yesterday on DAY ONE of what I expected to be an Armageddon-type disaster:

-Everest and Calder played together throughout the day, occasionally including Lochlan and watching very little television.  I think I even played with them a little, and maybe even laughed a few times.

-We ate dinner quietly and cleanly (pasta without sauce) and retired upstairs where I turned on Despicable Me for the thousandth time this week.  Everest quoted most of it, complete with hand gestures and voice inflections.

-I gave all 3 boys a bath (I don’t know how clean they are because Lochlan stood up and peed in the water as soon as I set him down).

-The kids were all in bed by 7.  I came downstairs and worked on my online Transcription class.  I took a quiz at the end of the lesson and got 100%.

-After a thoroughly productive day, I took a shower, dried my hair, and then painted my toenails a beautiful shade of sparkly Valentine red as I watched Breaking Bad, season 1, episodes 1-3 (I’m a first timer who felt left out because my husband, mom, and sister are all obsessed with this show).

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I’m honestly and truly jealous of how my own weekend went.

So in conclusion, I want to apologize to Aaron for over-dramatizing a situation that was so clearly NOT the end of the world and surprisingly so enjoyable that I’m actually hoping he’ll go away more often.  Okay, that’s not true.  But seriously, I CAN handle it.  I’m actually a very efficient and pleasant mom, and person in general, when I’m on my own.

Not to mention, watching the life of Walter White sure puts things in perspective.

Why Do You Blog?

I have a question; one that is not meant to be rhetorical.  If you’re reading this please respond and answer honestly.

Why do you write?

I ask myself every time I start a new blog post.  I asked myself this every time I wrote in my journal for years.  I’ve concluded that there are various reasons, depending on the subject.  Here are a handful of them:

For Posterity’s Sake

An example of this would be when I’ve had a new baby and I document the birth story.  Let’s be real: Very few people care that my water broke at precisely 9:57 pm or that my contractions were only a minute apart on my hour long drive to the hospital, partially on a bumpy dirt road.  A scattering of people care that baby A and baby B were 5.3 lbs and 4.3 lbs respectively.  Precisely 2 people care that Goldberg Variations was playing on a CD player when Aaron proposed to me.

But these are facts that are very important for me to remember.  Mostly so that I can prove I’m right if, in the future, Aaron and I get into a discussion about who was our latest teether.  But also so I can be reminded of the incredible joy that I felt during these moments.  Or, with other less happy times, that I can remember that “this too shall pass”.

To educate or inform

I’m a very passionate person (a nice way of admitting that sometimes I overreact).  When I have an opinion, it is a strong opinion and I feel the need to share it.  It would be nice if others shared that point of view.  I’d like to think that when I’m writing about a particular informative topic, I’m introducing a new and innovative perspective people have never thought of before.  And hopefully they will adopt it as their own.

To accommodate the masses

Especially since starting this new blog where I have a startling number of strangers liking, following, or commenting on what I write, I find myself editing things in an effort to offend the least amount of people.  The best blog is the one that the most people can relate to, right?  So if I wrote as much religious stuff as I often think about, I may cut my audience in half.  And who wants that?  If I did, I would be writing in my journal again.

For my own sanity

This was more true when I was writing privately in my journal just before bedtime.  I write so honestly at these times; it feels great to get things off my chest.  I’ve always been happy to have a place I could go to say things I could never say to an actual person; things I could only say in my most private prayers.

As much as I wish this could be my “sanity blog”, as was originally the goal, I can’t put my insecurities aside enough to not over think almost every sentence.

To Impress Family and Friends

Ohhh there are so many examples of this.  This is because almost every post I write, which initially began with one of the aforementioned purposes in mind, eventually turns into a way to get people I know to see me in a certain light.  Whether its a happier me, a more clever me, a more courageous or beautiful me, the Me I put on paper (or screen) always needs to reflect the me I want to be.

Regardless of the reason, I do enjoy blogging.  I often think I’d enjoy it more if I had 2 thousand followers instead of 60.  But then I think Wow, there are 60 people who like reading my writing! 

But I am sincerely curious, why do most people blog?

I suppose an Encore was inevitable

I put a lot of thought into the decision I made when I wrote this post and decided not to hold on to a dream that only had the potential for disappointment.  But I guess some things are just in the stars; you can’t change your fate.  Or maybe its just in my genes.  You can’t change genetics either.

In the two months since proclaiming to no longer be a dancer, I have received more requests to use my dancing skills than I have in the last year while being proactive about teaching.  It’s as if the Universe is begging me to reconsider.

When I think about all of my most life-changing and memorable experiences—with the exception of my husband and children—they all involve dance.  And it’s not even entirely true that my family isn’t included because Aaron proposed to me on the stage that I did all of my college performing on (I’ll save that story for another time), and Jade is in love with ballet, gymnastics, and now musical theater.

I can’t escape my destiny: almost all of the traveling I’ve done, many of my most challenging times, the reason that I’m as healthy as I am despite my MS diagnosis, and the reason I spent 5 years at the school that I did and, ultimately, met Aaron all revolve around dance.  My best friends are dancers.

I have the World’s best friends.

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I know the reason we are so close is because of our shared passion for dance.  It has created a bond that is so strong that most people couldn’t possibly relate.  A bond so strong that for the rest of my life it will be difficult for me to make new friends because I will always compare them to these friends (Thanks for that, girls :P).

12 years of pictures.  How can I possibly choose which ones to share?

There are all the times we toured together…

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All the times we laughed together…

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And cried together…

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And DANCED together…

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You get the picture.  That’s a lot of memories.

I’m sorry to be so fickle, but I need to retract, or at least amend, a statement that I made before.

I do not need a new me.  I love the Me that has been shaped since I met all these amazing people whom I love so much!  We will always be friends.  And even if I’m not dancing right now, or teaching, I am a dancer.  I will always be a dancer.  And I look forward to the day in Heaven when we all (you know who you are) reunite for a big encore performance!  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  12:30 sharp.

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