Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer Lovin'

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I mean no offense to my husband.

But at the start of this summer I felt like I was staring down the barrel of a hot, lonely, slinking slow three months with three children, a newborn and a husband who was going to be gone most of the time. And I did not want to carry on.

So I rallied my family for help. I hired Hillary our afternoon nanny. I served food only on things made of paper or (sorry) plastic. Costco catered most all of our meals. I made room in my schedule to take care of myself physically and emotionally. Compassionate friends were called in to guide me through a spiritual transition. We made the most of the Saturdays when Christopher was in town. We didn't miss a date night. Anson and Ever went to BYU Summer Preschool with Miss Dorie and Mr. Brad and loved every single second of it. Erin and I had daily dates at the computer where we'd share an hour of me writing on one monitor and her watching Bob the Train on the other. And the baby slept a lot and grew cheeks to rival the watermelons we ate during sticky afternoons on the back porch.

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It's been a glorious summer. I've been incredibly taken care of. I am in awe of how peaceful the past few months have been. I beat the postpartum blues and kept running. And I did it without my spouse. I even took all four children swimming by myself yesterday. Who am I anymore?

And so, I don't mean to say this summer was great because my husband was gone for most of it, but learning to cope on my own has done wonders for my confidence.

(But August has never been known to pull punches in our family, and every so often I feel the heavy air of an August tragedy. It's just the way things sort of hang still this month waiting for the sun to drain the last drops of summer. I am a skeptic of August. I breathe better when it's over.)

We only have two weeks left before school starts and things change. So we're attempting daily adventures to put that last punctuation on our summer. Today we went to the BYU MOA to see the Cut! Costume and the Cinema exhibit. Then we explored for a few hours making quilt tiles at the Iran and Pakistan fabric display and climbing over the Micheal Whiting 8-bit modern sculptures in the gardens.We even got a sneak peek at the Kim Schoenstadt Provo mural in process. And Iris had a in-stroller nap, which is also good for her cheek growth.

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And now it's time to go make spaghetti and meatballs.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Robin Williams Cure

I just sat down to write for the day and saw on Twitter that Robin Williams died this morning.

Last Saturday (two days ago) all four of my children were suffering from one of those End of Summer colds and I declared it a movie marathon day--mainly so I could wipe their noses all in one location. I knew the only way a movie marathon day would work was if Christopher and I participated, so we all set up little spots in the den and watched a succession of Robin Williams movies on Netflix.

It was a really enjoyable day, actually. And I have decided to declare movie marathon day more often. We all shrieked and laughed together. We paused and asked questions. We spent hours together in one room and nobody fought and we all snuggled and it was delightful. In the end, we watched four movies and had one meal and everyone felt better that evening.

But during that time, I sat amazed at Robin Williams. Amazed that his work as an actor was so generous. He allowed himself to act wild and utterly mad for millions of people's entertainment. I imagined him doing take after take to shoot these scenes and I wondered how tiring and taxing that work would be. And his funny had layers. He was funny and manic, but sweet and empathetic.

I can see how this work could drain someone completely.

Two things I appreciate about Robin Williams: his work as the therapist Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting and this quote I think about all the time in my life--a brilliant idea that makes today's news all the more sad:

You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.

RIP Robin Williams.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Literally Watching the Grass Grow

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I'm seeing an Intuitive Eating dietitian because I've never understood the art of moderation. A diet to me isn't just restricting carbs. No, a diet to me is not eating at all. If I feel passionately about something, I feel all the way passionate. The middle road is a very foreign country to me. I don't speak that language. I don't understand the customs.

At our first appointment I was straight up honest with her, "I am an extremest," I said, "I feel the most comfortable firmly set on one side or the other." This ranges from politics to daily antics. When I schedule out my day it's rigorous pattern of appointments. If I plan out my weekly meals, no part of the plate isn't plotted. If I clean, it's down to the minerals that make up the spaces I scrub. If it's parenting I'm restricting sugar and screen-time. If I am blogging I am aiming for daily posts, or it's no blogging at all.

But my dietitian is holding my hand, pulling me into the waves of moderation and asking me to bobble around in it. This experiment has moments of relief and moments of great anxiety. Moderation has an uneasy fit in my life. Exercise for example, is something I fight to NOT do every day. I fight to NOT to do it every day because ultimately I will run out of steam and slide to the other side of the spectrum where I will not do it at all. I pat myself on the back for three or four days a week.

I fight every single day to not turn to dieting, vegetarianism, veganism, breatharianism, to control my life. I fight every day to sit in that spot where food isn't a battle, it's just a means of energy and sometimes enjoyment. I fight to sit in that moderate place and not run away. And when I feel my legs start to spin in their restless ways, I have to pin myself down and just sit in the spot I am in.

And yesterday, as I battled with myself, I decided to drive up the mountain behind my house. I watched the tall grass sway back and forth for fifteen minutes. I noticed the furry edges of each blade ripple in the breeze. I noted how yellow the grass turns in early August. I saw a grasshopper hurdle over a bundle of dry weeds. I stopped thinking about what I was aching for in my life, and just noticed life.

I realized, moderation is the art of being present. It's about noticing what I feel: the emptiness in my stomach, the anger I hold, or if I really even care about an issue at all. It's not about being passionateless, it's about being aware of your real existence, and rejecting some fantasy you've created to compete with life. Practicing moderation is learning to feel imperfection, powerlessness and vulnerability and accepting it without regret.

I have so much more to say about this...but I'm fine stopping here for now.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Greetings from Provo, Utah!

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I am in a love affair with my neighborhood these days. I am constantly amazed at the people I get to associate with every day as we raise our children, tend to our lawns and work out our existence together. We have Cory the contractor, Chauncey the famous Mormon philosopher, Jessica the Political Science professor, Erin the contemporary dancer, Jamin the Urban Lit professor, Lili the book maker,  Simy the baker, Susan the mother, Taysom the quarterback, Zina the head nurse, Mindy the singer songwriter, the list goes on...

Jeff the curator of contemporary art at the BYU MOA has introduced me to the artist Kim Schoenstadt. Her creations use architecture, math, 3d images, sculpture, cubes, history and lots of interesting colors. They really interest me.
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Sightline Series: La Jolla, Ca., 2012, Photo with collage mounted on bristol board, 19 x 24 inches.

And the great news is that she is here at the BYU MOA to create a landscape of Provo! AND, she's looking for volunteers to help her paint it. There are still some shifts left (see below). If you don't live here, or you can't help at this time, you can follow her blog about it here. You"ll also note that this mural will include some beloved Provo landmarks present and past--like the Ream's turtle shell store and the Startup Candy factory in south central Provo.
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I've said it before, I'll say it again: it's a good time to live in Provo. The only problem is trying not to be the boring/talentless/uninteresting one on your street...good luck to us all!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hip Hop Week: Grand Finale

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I read a comment recently where someone asked, Aren't mommy blogs places you go to read about what someone is planning to do for the weekend and then for a week read about that weekend?

I keep laughing about that.

So, about my weekend...

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Me with my nieces Lindsay and Emily. We're holding hands. Cute.

Thank you for your wardrobe help (and kind words!) on Friday! It was thoroughly entertaining to read your feedback. After much contemplation and conversation with my real life stylists (Jacqueline, Camille and Lucy) it was decided that although outfit 3 was a clear winner on this blog, the gray shirt might reveal my perspiration on stage and thus be a disastrous piece of clothing to entrust my reputation for the night.

We went for the black widow top, and because I love boots just about as much as I love a good thunderstorm, I wore the boots. For me. You know.

(I wish I would've worn the black skirt too, I'll be honest. Because I look at these photos and think, Who is that person in those paaaaants? But the moment has passed...)

Here's what I learned: talking about, thinking about, and reading about my appearance left me a vapid mess by Saturday night. I really believe what those smart friends of mine Dr.s Lexi & Lindsay Kite of Beauty Redefined preach: women are more than their appearance, and a steady study of one's reflection doesn't create a happy, healthy life.


But the concert! It was stellar. I can't stop thinking about some of the best moments. Thanks to those who came and danced and waved their arms and screamed for more. Thanks to those who performed and danced and waved their arms and gave more.

Mimi Knowles made the crowd swoon as usual.
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House of Lewis brought a funky, high-energy, vibrant set with costume changes, crowd surfing and plenty of  twerking.
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Can't Stop Won't Stop brought their best beats--some of them still ringing in my ears.
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And the audience was full of love.  photo 20140801_4959_zpsa8c789e9.jpg photo 20140801_5108_zps811c6f55.jpg

This was community at its best. I was really proud to be on that stage.
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Me with DJ SkratchMo when I popped on stage to dance during the House of Lewis set.

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Throwing out tons of spoils to the crowd.

One more thing, last week in my efforts to invite everyone I have ever known to get into the hip hop spirit I crossed the line into the waters of culture appropriation. I am very sorry. I am grateful to those of you who gave me the benefit of the doubt by assuming I didn't mean to make anyone uncomfortable or belittled. I have deep respect for this culture, and I am learning how to express that appropriately. So, a very huge and sincere thanks for your patience with me now and forever.

I love the Rooftop Concert Series. Can't wait to do it again in September.
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All great photos by Justin Hackworth. All the others, my cell phone.