Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I Love This

I was cleaning up my kitchen after dinner and listening to Bonnie Raitt.
(I have forgotten how much I love her Luck of the Draw album! Love!)

But anyway, had you been hanging out with me in my kitchen tonight, this is what's currently on my fridge:
a picture of my sisters and I,
a magnet quoting Winston Churchill: "If you're going through hell, keep going,"
a photo of my Grandpa Joe, 
insulin dosing charts and phone numbers for Primary Children's, 
a question from a friend, years ago, during a text conversation, that stopped me in my tracks, 
another quotation from a Christmas devotional encouraging a life lived with more love for others, 
a photo of my boys when they were not yet a year old, 
and a Fred Rogers quote that has become a favorite.

Four years ago (maybe?), I read a book called I'm Proud of You, an account of the author's friendship with the late Fred Rogers (remember Mr. Roger's Neighborhood?). 

I loved it.
And this particular quote was something that resonated deeply with me.

In fact, it has gone into my words-to-live-by category.
But, I'm gonna tell you one of my secrets.
And actually, I'd be willing to bet it's something that you -- whoever you are -- can relate to, too.

And it's this: 
I can be pretty hard on myself.

Sound familiar?

It's only recently that I've started to apply those words to 
my relationship with myself.
I think I've always thought of them as a meter for interacting with others, for several reasons:

We're all learning, and none of us are doing it perfectly.
We've all lived different experiences.
Most people are carrying some hurt in their heart, and not everybody exposes that.
Some things may not make sense, we may not know, or we may not understand.
And I generally think that behaviors are indicative of things we're processing.
In other words: if we really walked a mile in someone else's shoes, we'd get it and we'd understand.

Bottom line?

We're all on this life continuum, figuring things out.

This is why understanding, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness make sense to me.
For all of these reasons.
(And, side note: If I need to look for imperfection in an individual, all I need to do is look in the mirror.)

So yeah, be kind.
For sure.
(And apologize when you're not, right?)

But, here's the thing I'm learning, and it's a total game changer: 

Being kind also means 
being kind to yourself.
And sometimes that's the hardest of all.

Sometimes being kind means sticking up for yourself.
Sometimes being kind to yourself means setting boundaries.
It means not letting others walk all over you or dictate your emotions.
Sometimes it means saying no.
Forgiving yourself.
Not expecting too much, and giving yourself a hug when you fall down.
Sometimes it means recognizing that something is so much bigger than you...and that's okay.
Just submit to it.
It doesn't mean you're a failure, or that you should be able to handle it better.
I think it's also about taking ownership for where we fall short without beating ourselves up.
It's choosing to shed shame.

It's choosing to live your life in a raw, real way, with honesty and vulnerability and beautiful imperfection.

Yup. That's pretty much it.

Be kind to everyone else.
But also?

Be kind to yourself.

It is SO WORTH the 20 minutes.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday

This Holy Week has been a time of reflecting with my tribe. 

Each day as we've read accounts of what happened on those same days anciently, we've filled our "Easter baskets" with tokens of remembrance: a leaf for Palm Sunday (which Claire holds and waves back and forth saying, "Hosanna! Hosanna!"); 
a temple picture that reminds us of Jesus teaching us to prize what is sacred; the piece of red cloth to remind us that He taught about the second coming during that last week---testifying that this wasn't the end, that His work spanned all time, and that He would eventually come again clothed in red; a coin because Judas agreed to betray Christ for 30 pieces of silver; a sacrament cup to remember the atonement and that it is personal; a nail to remind us of that first Good Friday and the crucifixion; 
a little Book of Mormon to remind us that, when in the spirit world, Christ organized missionary efforts so that everyone could share joy; and finally, a blossom for the resurrection, symbolizing that life returns, that death holds no eternal finality---and that ALL sorrow and ALL of the ways we feel broken are bound up and healed in Him. 
(Easter baskets!)

I know Jesus lives. 
No words can adequately articulate the feelings of my heart today, but I am so very grateful.  
(the boys in their Easter ties from their baskets -- and I LOVE! Isaiah's long hair)

(the girls and I sporting matching sandals -- Mia has wanted some ever since I got mine a couple of years ago, so the girls got them in their baskets)
Christ's light, His example, and His love make all the difference, every day, for me. 
(Egg dyeing)

(Homemade carrot cake with vanilla bean ice cream)

I am grateful for the peace that only He can give. 
(the flowering cherry in my front yard is killing it right now)

He is my greatest gift. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Someday I won't have a boy in my house who, 
when I round the corner after coming downstairs, 
comes running out of my room with a mischievous smile.
And because of how he's acting, I think he's up to something -- he must have been in to something or doing something he wasn't supposed to.
So I ask him what he's up to and then call after him when he doesn't answer and runs upstairs.

And then I go into my room and see a huge tulip's head by my pillow, left there with a note.
And it says: 
Love you.

Someday, and someday all-too-soon, these days of legos and tween humor, ripsticking, chewing wads of bubble gum, and long conversations about life will be something in the past.

Someday he won't be here, under my same roof.

And so I smile today that he is, 
and that he's sweet and tender and funny. 
And I smile because he writes me notes I'll keep.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Friday Funny

Wanna hear my funny Claire story of the week?
The one that made me crack right up, look away without words, and feel such joy for her?
Monday night.
All of us had watched a couple of episodes in this series we're watching while we ate dinner, and I was finishing a little cleanup at the sink in the aftermath.

It was about 10:15 or so. 

Claire had been in the bathroom doing her business and came upstairs for me to inspect her bum. 

(This is what she does every time she poops. She does her stuff, wipes her bum, and then has me check it. It's our system.)

So, I look down at her, she bends over, and I see she is going to need a bit of assistance from me.

I'm standing there, washing a bowl, and I offhandedly reply:

"Hang on, Claire. You've got a bit..."

...and I trailed off into silence as I swished suds around.

At which point she perked up, looked back at me, and in her sparky little voice piped up, 

"A bit of a situation goin' on?"

Yup, yup, yup. 

You could say that, sweet cheeks.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

On Name Calling and Expletives

On Saturday night, the kids got home and we read a lot from 
To Kill A Mockingbird
(We were in the heat of the trial and it was getting intense.)
When I stopped reading, we were all clustered at the bottom of the stairs talking.
And I don't know what I was doing, but at one point, Isaiah said,
"Mom, are you hearing this? Did you hear what Claire just said?!"

I looked at him quizzically. No, I hadn't heard.

"She just called Benji a butthole."

From my cute, sweet, hilarious 4-year-old.

A few minutes later, she was laying back in my arms on my lap as we were all still sitting there and I looked down and said quietly,

"Claire, don't say butthole."

And she said, 


It's a term she's no doubt heard from her brothers---so I told them, again, that I don't want them using that word.
(I've always hated that word.)
I told them it was gross and beneath them.

But since we're talking about telling kids not to say stuff, let's talk about that one time last week when I was telling my boys not to swear. I was standing there in the kitchen, and as the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized what a joke it was because I've become quite fond of saying hell. Awesome.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dance Sesh

Saturday night.
I got home. 
Kids got home.

And I had an itch to dance.
Benj turned the deck lights on.
French doors opened.
We turned the tunes up loud...and danced.
For a long time.
Isaiah let loose like I've never seen him and it was totally, absolutely, completely, 100% delightful.
We reeled each other in, came up with goofy moves across the floor.
He was cracking me up.
We sang along.
We danced together, and alone.

Isaiah took this blurry pic of Mia and I, singing along to Walk the Moon's song, right in mid-phrase:

It was so, so good.
All the feels.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Every Girl Can Dream

Every girl can have a dream, right?

And whether or not that dream will ever be a reality is another thing. Mine may never come true, but I still think about it and it takes me to a happy, peaceful place.
I suppose mine started, unbeknownst to me, as a little girl when I spent lots of time working the dirt. My father taught me how to plant beans and tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. We planted flowers together, and no spring was complete without going to the greenhouse. 

Something happened there that I'm not sure I fully appreciated at the time, but I developed a love for good food and the satisfaction of getting your feet and hands dirty---breathing in fresh air and really smelling it. 
There's just something about it.  

I also developed a love of work. 
I LOVE to work. 

But then. 

I read a book, a memoir, maybe five? years ago, and I fell in love with the concept of land and farming in a way I never had before. And I'm 100% positive it's a bit romanticized (owning it!), but it resonated so deeply with me: land, work, simplicity, and the beauty inherent in that connectedness. 

I absolutely love art and culture and literature and music and learning; I was raised to appreciate those things, but I also think I have a personal bent toward them. I'm frequently in my head, spinning ideas around, and I love books and being enlightened by chewing on other people's thoughts. I knew I had a love affair with words and writing and expression by the time I was in high school. 

I expect that will never change. 

But, at the heart, I think I'm a bit of a country girl. I've never been trendy or much of a shopper. Consumerism and materialism don't satisfy me. I don't need a lot of THINGS to make me happy. Besides...the shoe kinda fits. I mean, I DID choose to homeschool (though that may be coming to a close), and I AM passionate about natural childbirth. I love canning and making food from scratch and lighting fires and I have fond memories of chopping firewood in the woods with my dad and sisters.

When I go to my dream place, I imagine having a piece of land. Maybe a wrap-around porch to watch the sun set. Maybe a horse or two. I imagine country runs and morning quiet. A farm dog, maybe, and chickens. I imagine my family there; my children and grandchildren, and I think about cooking big meals for all of these people that I love and coming together. I imagine a warm home where the porch light calls you in and there's peace there. 

But. Let's just rein in that thought for a sec, peeps. 

That isn't my reality today. 

My current equivalent will make you laugh but I'll share it anyway.

I've never been hunting in my life, but for quite a while now, I've wanted to go. I've wanted to experience that with a man I love, and I've wanted to be more connected to that process because I take it for granted every day. But one day I'd love to go on the hunt and participate in a harvest and do it; like really DO IT. And I want my children in on it, too. I want to get my hands dirty with it. And then know what it is to package it up and store it away and feel gratitude for that animal sustaining me and my family. Just today, on an 8-mile run, I found myself thinking about my shocking indifference, because I don't ever really think about the fact that some animal's life was ended to sustain mine. I mean, sure, I think about it; but how often do I stop and feel gratitude and respect for that animal, for its life?


A few weeks ago I was thinking about this again: doing the work of getting meat and storing it away. Dinner was done and I still had a mountain to do that night, miles to go before sleep. I put the boys on kitchen cleanup and headed outside to the deck to tackle 40 pounds of chicken under the lights. 
Butcher knife. (Check.)
Cutting board. (Check.)
Get my game on. (Check.)

And as I sat there handling COLD fresh chicken that had never been frozen, cutting off the extra bits and getting the jelly off of it, Mia held the bags open for me and we enjoyed listening to the Weepies.
And I felt righteously industrious. 

(I hope you're laughing now, but it's totes true.)

I LOVE the satisfaction of getting it done and filling my freezer with meat. And, ridiculous though it may sound, invoking my pioneer spirit of taking care of my family and working together on our "piece of land."

Okay, I know. 

(Hardy-har-har and guffaw. Go ahead. Keep laughing.)

It's just my simple two-bum kitchen, my four people and me, my little house, and my yard. And we live in a very non-country neighborhood, although we do have wide streets that I love. 


My grandparents farmed. 
They worked the land and had respect for it. 
(My dad (left) with his brother Rick and Laddie)

My dad roamed the hills of western Montana on horseback. 
He combed that land with his dog, Laddie. He drove a tractor at 3, and by the time he was 6, he was helping his grandfather with haying and lots of other chores when he spent weeks on their ranch in the summer. 
(Dad in his duds as a little guy)

It all resonates with me, and it has for a long time. 

I find myself yearning for that life without throwing away some of today's modern conveniences. (I love the computer and camera and notepad that is my iPhone, for example, and I heart the crazy access to information that is Google and the internet and modern technology. I certainly appreciate plumbing and electricity and refrigeration and a furnace. Love me a hot shower and some perfume. Yup. Sure do. Super grateful.)

But really. 

Maybe it's why I feel happy when my feet are in the mud, and maybe it's also why I am always running toward quiet: I love country roads and fields, places where my mind can wander and roam, places where I feel free and open and at peace. 

I can find myself there. 
In those quiet places, my life becomes organized again: I can hear my own thoughts, identify what's truly important in my heart, and I come home ready to live my life again. 

Because it's a beautiful life. 

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