December 16, 2013

Mawwiage, It's What Brings Us Together

A few years ago my friend Amber started corresponding with Peter online.
Last year, she went to Nigeria and met him in real life.
She stayed with his family.
Got to know them.
Loves them.

Peter's been working on getting his documents in order to get a visa to come to the U.S.
But Amber didn't say a word when he arrived.
She just brought him over for Thanksgiving dinner a few days later.

Just over a week ago, in church, Peter was sitting alone and Amber's friend nudges her to tell her she should go talk to him. He's from Nigeria and since she's been there, they'd have something in common to talk about. And how random is it that a Nigerian would come to such a tiny town in the middle of nowhere? Ha ha.

Thursday, I got a text from Amber saying that she's getting married on Monday night. What?! 

We wish them all the love in the world and many happy years together. 


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December 3, 2013

Art Docent Gone Rouge

I became an art docent when Graeden was in first grade. Now I work with all of the boys' classes. The program involves teaching art principles and most lessons show works by the masters. Some of the projects are pretty cool. Others aren't that great so the other docents and I change them up a bit to keep us interested. What I like most about it is not the art per se, but the opportunity to interact with my boys' classmates on a fun level and learn their names...and to give them hugs and kisses in front of all their friends. Ha ha.

This year in Graeden's class, I've yet to do an official project. But we had lots of fun today. I brought in needles and thread with bright felt to make these cute owl, tree, and bird ornaments. If you look close, you can find a purple Pac Man and teddy bear, too. I may have spent a few hours last night making the patterns and samples of the project. And several hours at the school today helping the kids and then cutting out the tree to display them on.

Kira was fairly popular, too. When she announced that she had to go potty and I was in the middle of hot gluing the ribbon on an ornament and Graeden wouldn't take her a few of the girls in his class took her. Of course, by the time I got there she was telling them how she wouldn't pee in that stall. Or the next one. Ha ha. I pulled her pants down quickly and put her on a third toilet. What we don't have time for is cleaning up a mess on the floor.

A group of 5th grade girls took Kira out to the playground for recess. She loved it. After coming back to class, I'm not sure the kids got any of their work done. She was stealing everyone's "phone" (calculator) and pretending to make calls. Silent reading time was full of giggles and toddler outbursts. She had Graeden's teacher wrapped around her finger and giving her snacks every hour.

I got so wrapped up in helping finish up the project that I forgot I needed to pick up Jocelyn from her school 20 minutes away. So, luckily I remembered on the way home. But I was still super late picking her up. Yikes! I sent Graeden in to get her so the office workers wouldn't connect my face to Jocelyn's. Not that it really matters. They see me every morning I get her there late.

Sorry for the lack of camera phone does that sometimes. Maybe kids playing on it have turned off the stabilization mode.
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November 16, 2013

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert

Tymon and I see a lot of shows that we wouldn't ordinarily see since we volunteer usher at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. We get a list halfway through the month for all the shows that come the following month and we sign up for the show(s) we want to work. I love musicals and when I looked up a blurb on Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, I imagined something totally different than what we saw.  And I mean as nearly polar opposite as you can get. As in, for some reason now unclear, I was thinking the story was about a black lady named Priscilla who lived in the desert. Yeah. No.

So it was really about three drag queens and their road trip across Australia to work comeback tour at a seemingly random casino. Early on, we find out that the leading man is actually married and has a son he hasn't seen in 6 years but his companions don't know it. His wife, owner of the casino, asks him to come perform and to meet his son who is now 8 and asking about him. He recruits some friends to go with him but they don't realize the real reason behind the tour.

The music was energizing, performed by a live orchestra, and they sang several dance favorites...including my fallback karaoke song, I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. So many of these songs have a greater depth of meaning when taken out of their original heterosexual context and moved into one with LGBT meanings. The costuming was bright and well done. This clip gives you some of the more outrageous ones in an I Will Survive ensemble.

It's sad to think about the loneliness that people within the LGBT community feel. Not only are some rejected by their families and sometimes entire communities, but even among their friends some find it difficult to come out about their complicated relationships. The main character in this production got the emphatic question, "You're married?! To a woman?" It's really hard to fathom the pressure that comes from not feeling comfortable with being yourself.

What really affected me, in a way that I have never come across before, was how off balance I feel when I don't know the sex of a person. Seriously. This is beyond the hilarity of SNL's Pat sketches. It's an innate need to know piece of information.

During intermission, Tymon was looking at the program (which I tend to only hand out and rarely read) and I had him search for names. I wanted to know if the entire cast was male. It's not. There are 6 women out of maybe 20 members. That number seems to be just about opposite with most musicals with a female dance ensemble. The photo below I believe is all-male.

A few of the patrons were dressed up, too. As a group of them formed near us, we found ourselves trying to determine whether they were male or female. The one with the shortest skirt had to be in drag. Girls just don't ever wear dresses that short. "They do if you've ever worked a rave," said the House Manager. Oh.

There is a scene where a bunch of guys are beating up one of the drag queens. The night before last, one of the gay patrons ended up leaving the theatre as his mind brought him back to the terrible time on Capitol Hill when that was him on the receiving end of such abuse. That's really sad to me. No one should be persecuted because they live a life different than you. I think it's easy to paint people who are different as bad. But what many of us don't realize is that our lifestyles are just as different for others.

On a few occasions, Tymon and I have left the Paramount when we accidentally end up in a show that we didn't anticipate the language or subject matter of. Each time, we're grateful we didn't pay for our tickets and thus feel extra motivation to stay and get our money's worth. Even if we did pay for a ticket, sometimes we don't stay, like the time we left an REM concert after the lead singer dropped 3 f* bombs within the first minute. Strong language assaults my soul. I don't like to hear it casually tossed around. Or in the case of REM, they were insulting an audience who came to hear them perform. That's just plain disrespectful.

There are a few instances of strong language in the musical. The first one was maybe in the middle or toward the end of the first act. The others came in the second act with the gay bashing scene and the obscenity written on their bus. I'm still trying to figure out why those instances didn't assault me like the same language has done at other times in my life. Tymon agreed. It was weird. I wouldn't say I'm desensitized at all. I think it was more contextual than some filthy swearing tirades in other media. But the absence of me wanting to leave last night when these f* bombs were dropped surprised me all the same.

I will also admit that some of the humor was totally lost on me. The audience really laughed hard a few times where I was just scratching my head. So, yeah. The show was probably a bit more wholesome for me not understanding everything.

November 12, 2013

Longing For What Once Was

My cousin Kaleo died yesterday. 
Too early. 
Just like his dad.
1987ish. Kaleo is in back with the hat. I'm in glasses in the middle.
 Uncle Dayle was my favorite 
when I was growing up. 
He bribed us with black licorice
To gain that status.
We love licorice.
Mostly because it reminds us of him.

Uncle Dayle is buried not far from my Evan.
We say "hi" to him every once and a while 
when we're at the cemetery.

When Uncle Dayle died,
I had just turned 14. 
He was just 45,
Hit head-on by a vehicle sliding into his lane
On a snowy mountain pass.
It was my first experience 
With a family member's death.

Death and his good friend Grief
Taught me a lesson that winter.
That penetrated my soul.

The Bible describes hell 
With weeping and wailing
And gnashing of teeth.
It sounds awful 
But I imagine that it's probably embellished a little.

In school, I read about the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
And I questioned if people really went to a wall to cry.
That's what wailing is, right? 
Not so much.

Wailing has a unique appearance,
Individually tailored
To all who make his acquaintance.

To me,
He looks like my mother
Standing in the dining room
Answering the phone. 

The air turns thick,
We're watching,
Wondering what just happened.

She reaches for a chair,
Misses it
And crumples to the floor.

Wailing fills the room 
Like a Fire Engine
Crammed inside.
Siren blaring.
Bouncing off walls.
Picking up speed
As it goes 'round
And 'round 
And 'round.

I'm dizzy.
Where's the switch?
Or plug?
There's no way to turn it off.

A shock wave passed through us
The Fire Engine disappeared.
We're left drained.
No energy left to move.
No tears left to cry. 

Wringing our shirt sleeves
We find evidence
That our eyes and noses 
Have emptied
Kaleo's death is different for me 
I didn't know him like I knew his father.
When my aunt and uncle divorced,
She stayed in Hawaii 
With the children and her family.
He came back to the mainland to be near his.

Uncle Dayle and Aunt Jackie in the center. My parents to the right.

My memories of my Hawaiian cousins 
Start around the time of my uncle's death.
Sometimes I wonder 
About how life would be with more cousins.
Not new ones.
The cousins I've always had.
What if we weren't separated by time
And distance?

As I hear of Hanale sobbing
In the hospital
At Kaleo's bedside
Willing his brother to wake
From the coma
That held him 
My mind goes to other times
I've walked the same path.

Cutting deals,
For what once was,
For what life should be,
For what could be.
What isn't.

Young Kaleo and sister Lei

I want to renew our family bonds.
I miss my cousins.

November 10, 2013

Gerbil Murder

Elliott discovered Gimpy dead this morning.
Her throat was slit (chewed) and her ankles busted up.

I'm sad about it. I liked Gimpy a lot. Not enough to take her out of the cage and play with her, but I really liked her survivor spirit. Maybe you remember when her Mother nibbled on her soon after she was born. And she was missing a limb and only had one finger. Yet she still got on the wheel and exercised. Still loved to eat broccoli and carrots - all one handed. She carried on fantastically despite fairly severe disabilities.

I assume Spyra killed Gimpy. All evidence seems to point in that direction. I thought gerbils were social creatures. Well, Spyra, if you're going to eat your daughter and most loyal friend then you get no one else.

Here's me being a pessemist. Maybe there's another, more loving story. Perhaps, Gimpy slipped on the wheel, got her feet caught/broken and then Spyra helped her get out. Then saw that Gimpy was mortally wounded and humanely put her out of her misery. In the past, Spyra has eaten her dead pups. She hasn't eaten Gimpy however, so maybe she's sad and in mourning instead of plotting the death of some other innocent that may cross her path.

Rest in peace sweet one. We'll miss you.
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November 2, 2013

Little Trim

Kira is so cute with a little piggy (pony tail).
Unfortunately, usually it's a fight to get one in.
And if she's really moody, she'll tear it out.
Which means her hair has some thin patches.
I gave her a little trim tonight.
She doesn't look like such a scamp.
Although, I'm sure she still is.

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October 31, 2013

Candy Sorts

Does anyone else sort their Halloween candy? Maybe we're weird that way?  Our children really like to do it, too. We just sort and sort and sort and then eat as much of our favorite stuff as possible...and we put the other stuff back in our candy bowl to give to someone else knocking at our door.

My little baby Graeden turned ten on Monday. Now that it's Thursday, he's declared he's too old to go trick or treating. What?! Too old?! No way. We challenged him about this and then he started saying that it was boring. What?! Boring?! Going to houses all around the neighborhood and getting a surprise in your candy sack? No way. Not boring. Pretty exciting, actually.

I hope he changes his mind next year. He stayed home and passed out candy while we went all over the neighborhood. Then Kira and I stayed home eating as much candy as we could while Tymon took the others to an adjoining neighborhood. When they got back Tymon noticed Kira on the table with a couple of lollipops in her hand. "Why does Kira have two open lollipops?" he asked. She doesn't, I replied. She's got one in her mouth, too.

After scripture reading and prayers, I insisted that the kids brush their teeth really well. I checked each kid's handiwork, which involves me scraping a few of their teeth with my fingernail. If I find any scum then they go back and brush again. Tonight's rule was that if I sent them back then they couldn't have any candy tomorrow. And if I sent them back again then they wouldn't have any candy for a week. I don't know if that is too harsh or not but I thought it'd be motivating. Wouldn't you know it Jocelyn was the only one to pass on the first now we have some upset boys. Yikes! They'll be okay, though. We'll have plenty for quite some time.
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October 27, 2013

Take Two: Haunted Basement

Last night, we had a house full of kids lined up to go through Tymon's second annual haunted basement. The kids love it and went through again and again and again. Tymon loves making it, which is good, because if left to me, it wouldn't get done. We added some new things this year and have a few more effects saved for next year...only because I found them at the store on sale for half off a few hours before the party started. No problem. It's never too late to get started on next year's preparation. Ha ha ha.

Graeden acted as the Grim Reaper to lead through small groups of people. Elliott and my cousin's daughters played a few other roles to really get the spectators' blood pumping.

I remembered the non-success of my mice hors-d'oeuvres last year and this year just did a meatloaf mummy. It was so much simpler and still looked good. The bacon shrunk more than I expected but it still turned out pretty fantastic and our friends loved it. I made a tasty caramelized onion and sweet potato soup that was also a big hit. There were several guests in costume. Tymon and I were Peeta and Katniss. I didn't carry around my bow, though. That was an awkward accessory.

Guest List Included:
  • Maklemore
  • Katniss Everdeen
  • Peeta Mellark
  • Popeye
  • Nurse
  • Whoopie Cushion 
  • Trophy Wife
  • Three Witches
  • Two Monkeys
  • Two Cats
  • Two Grim Reapers
  • Two Zombies
  • Lorax
  • Zebra
  • Lego man
  • Mime
  • Mermaid
  • Ninja
  • Baseball player
  • Mad Scientist
  • Bumble Bee
  • Ben Ten
  • And several of the Johns' friends and neighbors

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October 12, 2013

Self Discovery III: Rebellion

I'm not sure why I'm just now making all sorts of discoveries about myself. Maybe because now I'm looking. Have any of you seen The Shunning? It's on Netflix instant play if you want a good drama to watch.

The story involves an Amish girl named Katie who decides not to marry a guy and  ends up running off at the alter. The entire community, including her family shunned her. Turns out that Katie is adopted and her birth mother came to town after 18 years to find her. She was dying. Katie's adoptive mother breaks the shunning and talks to her as does the village midwife. When Katie says to the midwife that she wants to go and find her birth mother so she can find out who she really is, the midwife stops her and the conversation goes something like this:

Midwife: Who you really are? That's a peculiar thing to say.

Katie: What do you mean?

Midwife: Well, I know how you are. You're that little girl who loved picking flowers of every color, squabbling with your ornery brother, listening to your mama's stories, and always at her father's feet, taking late night buggy rides with Daniel Fisher. All of that child, that's who you are. If you need to go see [your birthmother], then go. Or if you just need to discover the world, then go....but don't go out there thinking you're going to find something that you ain't already found right here. The miracle ain't the life you missed Katie, it's the life you got.

This conversation struck me. Hard. And set me on a path of awareness about my own self discovery.

Today's self discovery and internal conflict: I'm rebellious. Through and through.

Even things that don't outwardly seem rebellious, really are. For example, most people who are really in to health and nutrition do it because they feel better. My diet has always been fairly decent. What I do with kale/pineapple or sweet potato strawberry smoothies is definitely for better health, but not because my body feels so great after drinking them. It doesn't. They take me from maybe a 75% optimal health level up to an 80%. I'm sure more regular exercise would boost me up to an 85% and fermented foods might boost me up to a 90%. I've yet to discover the next step, but that doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is that I enjoy good health on a regular basis. I rarely get sick I'm sure because of it.

So, what's the rebellion part? I firmly believe our governments are in bed with the food industry, big agriculture, big oil, big business, chemical companies, pharmaceutical companies, and health care industry for power and to get financial gain off the backs of the people. They allow big Ag to poison us with pesticides, fake food-like substances and chemically tainted meat. Then we get sick and seek medical care. Modern medicine doesn't tell us to eat better food but rather doctors are trained to mask the real problems by pushing pills for our latest symptoms. Then we need more pills to combat the side effects of the previous pills.

My move to more and more natural and traditional foods is my way of rebellion against the corruption that surrounds me. I will not participate in their game. I'm opting out. Sometimes, I think we should have good health insurance. I'm not exactly sure why I want that coverage won't cover the alternative medicinal approaches I'd no doubt end up choosing.

So this rebellious spirit of mine has come to garner more and more light in my self awareness over the past several months. Mostly with anyone who inadvertently exerts even the least bit of control over me. Or judges me. Or asks me to do something I don't want to do.

Case in point...I crossed the parking lot to pick up Jocelyn from school. There is a crosswalk in the middle of the lot but I was at the end and it didn't even occur to me to go totally out of my way to use it. So I crossed. A couple of teachers were at the sidewalk where Jocelyn was waiting. Jocelyn took my hand, we turned and were stepping off the sidewalk when one of the ladies said something about using the crosswalk.

I stopped and looked at her but my brain was having a hard time understanding that she was talking to me. A grown woman. Holding my daughter's hand. Checking both ways for traffic.

Before I knew it, I'd politely said to the lady, "I don't want to, but thank you." And I crossed the lot. From the audible surprise at my response, I gather I said the wrong thing.

I posted about it on my Facebook page and haven't seen such a long line of responses from you, my friends, about anything I've posted in a long time. Many of you are rebels at heart. Some of you viewed using the crosswalk as a safety issue. Others wanted me to set a good example.

But this is the example I want my children to see. We need to make sure our actions are safe (crossing the path of cars after we've stopped, looked and listened and found no danger) and trust that the decision we made for ourselves is correct. And second, most people are happy to tell other people what to do. There's a lot of unsolicited advice that floats around in the atmosphere. We don't need to do everything others tell us to do. We can politely refuse to do something that isn't going to work for us.

What was she going to do anyway? Tell the principal? Call the police? I'd love to see the dispatcher on that call. Ha ha. None of this occurred to me in the moment though. I was rebelling just to rebel. 

October 7, 2013

Self Discovery II: Challenges

Perhaps, just maybe, I know myself better than I think. I was so excited to hear about the Tough Mudder challenge last year. The course is 10-12 miles long with 24 obstacles. We started training with TM workouts in our basement  before the kids woke up. I hadn't purposefully exercised since I was pregnant with Kira and needed some endurance in a bad way.

After about a month, the TM date changed from May 2014 to October 2014. A year away?! Yikes! So when the rains started coming and the winter darkness set it, I wanted to put off training. There would be plenty of time to train next spring when the days would be longer and weather better. 

And then we watched TM videos on YouTube. Whoa. After watching some of the more grueling ones, nerves set in and I didn't want to even participate anymore. The TM is too hard for me.

We were offered the chance for a refund, which usually doesn't happen but did this time because of the date change. There was a refund deadline given...and about 3 days too late, I got online to get one. Doh! 

Not wanting to waste the entrance fee, I decided to go through with the original plan....and I was also fully aware that I didn't have to do every obstacle. You're allowed to walk around any that you don't feel comfortable with (or the water ones if you don't swim). So at a minimum, I'd only have to do the running part of the course. That's manageable. 

On TM day, I found that I wanted to do the challenges. It was no longer fear of the unknown setting in, but rather I was looking at a challenge I thought I could do.

Tough Mudder Lessons:

1. I'm most happy in the midst of obstacles and challenges. During the TM, I wore my smile - not on purpose, but because I was having a great time. All those pre-TM nerves were for nothing. Goodbye doubt. You did nothing for me.
Walk the plank - 15 foot drop into a muddy watering hole.
2. The camaraderie amongst Mudders inspired an improved performance. Not just encouragement between teammates, but among everyone. We were in this together. The course was laid out so that paths crossed and we saw many participants with different start times running in opposite directions of each other. As we passed, hands were held out to give high-fives. We cheered each other on. If anyone needed a hand on an obstacle, there was always one readily available. We weren't strangers but rather Mudders helping Mudders.

3. Effective leadership can come from behind. Some of the trails in the course were narrow. As in, it'd be awkward to pass a slow person in front of you if you wanted to go faster. At one point about 8 miles in, we were tired and walking and heard this booming voice behind a line of 20+ people call out, "Let's take it to a jog!" My teammate and I were saying something like, nah, I'm tired. I'm walking. And who was that voice back there anyway? Then a few people up, someone started jogging and it was a chain reaction. When the girl in front of me started jogging, so did I. And the Mudder in back of me, too. It was amazing that one voice could have such power and influence over random strangers fellow Mudders...even when our initial reaction was more of a "meh, I'll do what I want" attitude. Of course, we thought it was possible that the man behind the seemingly pleasant voice might eat us it was definitely better to pick up the pace. 

4. Most challenges were mental. So if you can get over the dirtiness/temperature/shock of it all, then the actual activity wasn't hard or even physically challenging. If you can't swing from one ring to the next, it's okay. It's just done over a pool of water so you get wet if you drop. Not a problem if you can swim, which is what I did.

My hardest challenge came from combining my physical grit with my mental fear of being cold. I'd been mostly dry for over an hour and it was late afternoon and a little bit chilly when we got to the monkey bars over water. I'd tried monkey bars at the playground. I used to do them at recess all the time. Skipping rungs and everything. Uh, yeah, not anymore. I fell. I knew I'd fall into the water and then I'd be wet and cold and the sun was going I'd be cold for a while.

I watched Tymon go across. His method was long. One hand to one bar. Then the other meets it. Then one hand to the next one. It seemed simple enough. I tried it on the first couple of rungs. It worked. I kept going. I thought I'd fall, but didn't want to. I was going to complete this. I do not want to get wet. I'm not getting wet. No water for me. My faced scrunched in determination. I was past the halfway point. My palms wished they had some callouses to ease the pain. It'd be terrible to drop three rungs from the end. And there's nothing like kick your physical abilities in motion. And after 3 days the muscles I used to cross those monkey bars were no longer sore. But the mental boost remains. I can do hard things.

5. Failing hurts. The first time I tried to get up the greased quarter pipe, I couldn't jump high enough to reach the helping hands and slid down. Each seam in the pipe hurt and scraped my legs as I slid down. I honestly didn't think this challenge was going to be so hard.

See me here? This was my second attempt. Once again, I couldn't get to those hands. I'm falling backward and ended up hitting my head. I was a little embarrassed with so many eyes on me. And my head really hurt.

This next collage is my third try. Sometimes, we just have to keep trying even when we fail and even when failing hurts. I made it up thanks to some fantastic guys on the top pulling me up...and the determination to keep trying despite failure.

Sometimes, we fail because we don't get the right help. Tymon was one of those guys helping on top for a couple of our team members. The first one was one of my friends, a girl - not so heavy. The second was a guy. He was bigger and couldn't just be pulled up. He said to Tymon to grab his hand in a different way. That way he could use his strength to help leverage and pull himself up and not be totally dependent on the guys helping from above. It worked for him. Another one of our team members I watched at least 4 times try to make it up. He got a hold of the hands at least 3 times...but each time the help from the top wasn't enough to pull him up. How frustrating! 

Our entire team finished the Tough Mudder challenge and most of us completed every obstacle. I didn't go in thinking I would do everything, but I did. And am happy with my finish. There were three on our team that skipped one or two of the challenges, but they tried them...especially that quarter pipe. Failing hurts. And sometimes, the pain is severe.

From Tymon:

1. The Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. Same with life. Our team finished together in 6 hours. The average time is 3-4 hours. But everyone made it.
2. You forget yourself when serving others. Without the help of Tymon and others some of us would probably still be in a mud pit somewhere.
3. Sometimes you don't realize how beat up you got until you clean up later. He broke his toe going down the mud cliff. We both had some skinned knees and random bruises here and there.
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October 1, 2013

Bunny Bunny Bunny Bliss

There's a competition in my house to see who can say, "bunny bunny bunny" first on the first day of the month. My parents taught it to me. My father's parents taught it to him.

Tymon went to bed last night at 11:56 PM. I stayed up 4 minutes longer before going in to brush my teeth so that I would be the first one past midnight to say it. I'm not sure if we really need this imaginary luck or not, but we certainly vie for it. Jovana, 9 hours ahead of us in Europe, will either get us early, when it's the first day of the month for her, or she will get us at 9 AM her time when it's midnight our time. She gets my dad, too. It's ridiculous, really and our children are starting to get in on the action. The power of example. And the cool factor. You're definitely cool if you get it first.

So I get home this afternoon and start unloading groceries out of the car as the kids get home from school and Graeden starts telling me that he got bunny bunny bunny first this morning and he stayed up past midnight just so he could get it. I say, really? And he goes on and on. I explain how it doesn't count if you don't wake any one up and then he looks out the window and says he sees a bunny. For real. There's a bunny outside our house.

His declaration sounded like it may have been real...but his latest trick at the dinner table is saying, "look over there!" and then either stealing food off someone's plate or giving someone something he doesn't want to eat.

So, a little reluctantly, I looked outside. There was a bunny alright. But he didn't look wild. He didn't act wild. We caught him and asked around and found out that another family in the cul-de-sac bought two female bunnies recently. Now they have six. And next week, I'm sure they'll have twelve. Ha ha ha. All the same, we had fun for a bit trying to catch this one.

Jett finally got him trapped in one of our stools. He's yours if you want him. Let me know if you're local and looking for a pet. There are several that need new homes.

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September 30, 2013

Self Discovery I: Writing

I made an important self discovery the other day. I need to write. It's not a want or desire. It's necessary for my emotional health.

I think I was under the impression that I wrote for future generations. For my family to remember the things that we did. Or the thoughts I was thinking. Maybe for me to remember the place where I once was...emotional, physical, intellectual parts of me. 

It's not true though. When I write I discover what's most important to me. It balances out my thought process and keeps me centered, heart and mind. When I don't write, I'm not happy.

I've been considering personal happiness over the past couple of months. Am I happy? With my family? With my career path? With my company? With my religion? With me? And after these questions, I dig in further...assuming that what I'm doing doesn't satisfy...and ask more. Who else is happy? What are they doing? Should I be doing something different?

To be sure, I have what most people think will make them happy. I have a large family. We read scriptures and pray together every evening. I live in a large home in a beautiful neighborhood...everyone waves to each other when we cross paths. My brothers and I own a thriving business. I serve in my church and get to be with my sons as their cub scout den leader. I read both as an escape and also to allow the deep thoughts of others grow into a part of me. I learn new things about health and nutrition and try them out on my family. We don't suffer from any chronic disease. I volunteer as an art docent in my children's classrooms at school. And yet the question remains, creating a bit of unrest, does my life make me happy?

I'm feeling a pull. Something deep down within me. A longing to make the lives of others better. I could go somewhere, do something, make a positive impact in the world. The pull seems to say, go to another place. At a future time. Be amazing. You are more than your current situation.

My life if full of first world problems.

Meme credit: ? - It's all over Google.
Part of me likes that these are my issues. The worst thing about cooking yesterday was Jocelyn trying to make a smoothie and spilling water on the the wet sock part of the meme above really was my problem. Another larger part of me knows there are much more important things to worry about. 

What is hard for me to see, in the middle of the parenting forest, is that I am making a difference. Right here. Right now. In the lives of those who matter most to me. My family. If I can't find happiness in the here and now, I won't find it anywhere else.

And I definitely won't recognize it when it comes unless I'm writing about it.

September 29, 2013

Jocelyn's 5th Birthday

We took the family to Chuck E Cheese's yesterday to celebrate Jocelyn's birthday. She chose that over a party with friends. Yes! Parties are not my forte. Imagine if they were, I'd be planning one just about every month.

We convinced Jett not to do a party in August, but to wait until September when school was back in session. Then his friends could come. Then our weekends filled up and Jocelyn's birthday loomed. Then we asked him if he just wanted to invite a couple of friends to the movies after school on Friday and to dinner. He did. Yes! Another easy party.

Now, let's see if we can get Graeden to something similar as his birthday is less than a month away now.

I planned on making a cake this afternoon, but then Graeden wanted to make Jocelyn cookies. So I convinced him to do chocolate chip cookie bars, call it a cake, and then I took a nap. They were pretty sweet. Literally. The recipe called for a pound of brown sugar. What?! That's a lot of sugar. It turns out that a pound is just two cups. They would have been great with just one.

I'm grateful Graeden likes cooking and baking. And that he knows how to turn on the oven. And set the timer. I think his real motivation for baking may be that he can use white flour (if I'm not looking) instead of whole grain flour. Ha ha ha.
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September 25, 2013

Homemade Sauerkraut: Non-Dairy Pro-Biotics

I've thought about making my own Sauerkraut for a while now. But was never super motivated because it's so cheap to buy already made. Not that I've ever bought it. But I like it on my Costco hot dogs. You know, the ones I only buy once a year because it takes me that long to forget how I terrible the experience was. I'm pretty sure re-live my hot dog experience every time I burp for about seven hours after eating one. But that's not the sauerkraut's fault. So I don't hold it against him.

 A month ago, while at the Pike Place Market, Jocelyn found a ginormous cabbage and she had to have it. Seeing that it was only $3, I agreed. And then had to tote it around. But seriously, when a kid begs for a vegetable, I think I should encourage that and that old homemade sauerkraut seed started to grow.

We came home with it and a few days later I looked up YouTube videos on making sauerkraut. What surprised me was that the nutritional value of cabbage is not only enhanced by fermentation but that your body can access the vitamins easier. And your gut health increases with the pro-biotics and enzymes. And here I had no idea I could get those anywhere besides yogurt. 

 I liked this video for its simplicity and not needing a $150 fermentation crock. We just shredded the cabbage with a mandolin slicer into a food grade bucket and every couple inches or so we sprinkled some Himalayan Sea Salt on it. Then we added a few cups of water and put a plate on it. The water came about an inch above the plate. We weighted the plate down with a jar of water.

Mold will grow on it, but the cabbage is safe without air under the plate. No bad microbes can get to it there. The cool thing about this mold is that it's all connected. Not like a spore here an there. I just dipped a clean fork in and lifted it off. It all came off in one or two chunks. I ended up taking off mold maybe once a week. The sauerkraut has been in the bucket on my counter for a month. Let me warn's a little stinky. But when I tasted it this morning, I got excited. It was good and sour. If you want a milder flavor then you can let it sit for 2 or 3 weeks instead of 4.

This morning I put it into pretty jars. Mostly for the pictures...but also because now that it's going in the fridge, I wanted smaller containers.

Jocelyn had a bite to eat for breakfast this morning. "Yum, Mom!" She thought it was apple sauce. What the heck?! Ha ha. I ate some for lunch on a piece of bread. That was pretty good. Tonight we're having some for dinner. I've got my pork roast in the crock pot and am thinking about doing some sauerkraut mashed potatoes to go with it. I guess I better get on that. It's just after 6 pm now.
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September 23, 2013

Angel Day 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Me: Kids, it's a special day tomorrow. Does anyone know what it is?
Kids: Jocelyn's birthday?
Me: No, that's next Sunday.
Kids: (they guess everyone else's and their dog's birthdays)
Me: No, it's Angel Day
Elliott: You mean the day Evan died?
Me: No, it's the day Evan became an angel.
Elliott: Oh, you mean Dead Day.

Monday, September 23, 2013
Angel Day

It's been five years since that morning when I woke up to the words, "Bridget, I just found Evan under the bean bag and I had to check his pulse." Time dulls the ache. But the longing never stops.

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