Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer Fun on the Cheap

I have decided that this summer will be the summer without camp. I'm straining my brain right now to remember if Soph took part in a camp every summer in Logan and I think she did not. Last year was definitely the camp to remember, Harry Potter Camp, and if we were in Logan right now she would definitely be doing that one again. She also did an excellent camp in Texas, Creepy Crawlies, in which the instructor brought dead animal parts for the scavenger hunt (not to perpetuate any Texas stereotypes, but roadkill seems to be huge out there...).

We were going to sign Soph up for a camp at the local nature center, but when she seemed less than enthusiastic about it, possibly due to the 8:30 a.m. start time, I decided to skip it. I'll take Soph to the nature center and peruse some web sites for cool crafts we can do. We'll invite friends over for unstructured fun. We'll hit the lakes when it's super hot. We'll try to save some money by not signing up for camp.

What's everyone else doing with their kids this summer? Do both parents work? Is one home, but still looking for something to keep the kids occupied? I'm all for summer camp and Soph has always loved it, but this year we're going to skip it and just go with the unstructured flow.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Favorite Things

Walking around, and outside, my house this morning, I stumbled upon a few of my favorite things:

1) I just received these flowers for my birthday yesterday. I absolutely love flowers! I am horrible at maintaining them, so I will appreciate these while they last. The best thing about them was the enthusiasm in which they were given.

2) Sophie's daisy boots! She wanted a different pair of boots, but they didn't have them in her size so she settled for these. I love them! Daisies are my favorite flower and to me, rain boots just signify a good time splashing in puddles, wading in water, getting messy!

3) This is a batik Sophie did in an art class with my good friend, Brooke (also responsible for favorite thing #4). Sophie loves snakes and many of her pictures have snakes in them. This piece won Honorable Mention in an art show in Utah as well.

4) Brooke (see #3), made this doll and it's just lovely. Handmade things are the best!

What are some of your favorite things in your home?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Birthday Observations of the Pithy Variety (but not by me...)

Please take a moment (as a birthday gift to me!) to read this bit from the play, "Our Town," by Thornton Wilder, in which Emily has died, but is allowed to return to revisit one day from her life and she chooses her 12th birthday:

Emily: Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I'm dead. You're a grandmother, Mama! Wally's dead, too. His appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it - don't you remember? But, just for a moment now we're all together. Mama, just for a moment we're happy. Let's really look at one another!...I can't. I can't go on.It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back -- up the hill -- to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover's Corners....Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking....and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths....and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every,every minute?

Stage Manager: No. (pause) The saints and poets, maybe they do some.

Emily: I'm ready to go back.

For my birthday I wish to live more like the saints and poets and less like the frenzied folk.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Running to Stand Still

I asked my little sister, Valerie, to write a piece for my blog and what she wrote is wonderful. It is about running, but also about so much more - namely, putting ourselves at the top of that priority list we all maintain. Many of us would never think of not fulfilling a commitment to someone else, but we find it all too easy to not fulfill the obligations we have with our own best interests...

“And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was lyin’ still.
Said I gotta do something
About where we’re goin’.

Step on a fast train
Step out of the driving rain, maybe
Run from the darkness in the night.
Singing ah, ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day….

She’s running to stand still…”

I have an addiction, obsession, whatever you want to call it, love for running. I have not been running long, not years, not months; 3 weeks and 2 days to be exact. Can you become addicted to something so quickly and is it the running I am addicted to or something else?

My running journey started one year ago, when I left the YMCA. I left because my 3rd child, who was 18 months old at the time, hated the babysitting there and I was paying too much for my twice monthly visits. I left with the hope that I would exercise at home, take walks around the block with my children and dogs, turn on an exercise DVD, or clean a little more, that’s exercise, right? I need exercise, it’s good for me, gets that heart pumping, keeps that blood sugar in range (important for an insulin dependent diabetic), possibly extend my quality and quantity of life. I kept telling myself these things, yet the right exercise was nowhere to be found. I will admit, I am a bit picky.

Finally, I found it. I read a post from Heather regarding the running program she had used when she started running. It seemed rather simple: walk for 6 minutes, jog for 1, repeat 3 times, do 3 sessions in 1 week and follow plans for the next 7 weeks, gradually increasing running time. I really didn’t look past week 2; did I think I wouldn’t last that long or did I refuse to see that eventually you would be running more than walking? I had a new goal, I was going to run and work toward a 5K. Only problem was, it was mid January, too late for a New Year’s resolution and too darn cold for me to drag myself out of the warm covers.

Good news. A friend of mine found a gym that I could join with her for three months and pay sixty dollars. I did the math, twenty dollars a month, if I go five times a month, that’s four dollars a workout or better yet, ten times at two dollars, I could do that. By the time the membership was up it would be May, perfect weather to start running. I signed on the dotted line on a Saturday, by Monday the place was closed due to not paying rent. I took this as a sign, possibly, some higher being really did not want me to exercise (I know, that thought seems really silly, but the excuses I will come up with). I stored my brand new shoes in the closet.

Time passed, I decided to not listen to the higher being and begin working out at home. I received Zumba for the Wii at Christmas time. It was time to give it a try. I shook my hips, got in the groove and worked up a sweat. I figured I could wake up early and do this, or, Zumba while my two year old napped. It all went sour when my six year old decided it was fun to wake up early and watch mom do Zumba. I really did not want an audience and there was no reasoning with my son. He would sit at the top of the steps and repeatedly ask, “Are you done, how much longer?” “Can I try the Zumba belt?” Ugh, this workout was exhausting and not in a good way. I had to think of a new plan. What is this, plan C,D,E? I don’t know, I lost track.

I decided to go ahead and begin the running program on Sunday, March 13th, the start of Daylight Savings Time. I must inform you; I am not a morning person and love my sleep. You guessed it, I slept right through that alarm. Fine, I decided to push back the date to March 20th. Give my body time to acclimate to DST and, spring starts in the evening, how appropriate to spend time outside. That day came and went and still no motivational talks were enough. April first, no fooling, it’s a Friday, but who said I had to start on a Sunday. Unfortunately, I slept in and missed my run time, again.

This was getting serious. Why wasn’t I doing this? The benefits are bountiful - better health, more energy to play with the kids, etc., but I kept thinking - instead of running, I could be folding laundry, picking up around the house, writing sweet notes for my kids to find in their lunches. When did this happen, that I dropped so low on the ladder, there was no time for myself? I know I should make time, I told my neighbors and friends that they should make time for themselves and it would have a positive effect in many areas of their lives, yet I could not do it for myself. I came up with excuses, I need more time, more money, the kids need me, my husband needs me, you name it, I used it. That was it, no more excuses, I need this. My kids, my husband, my dogs may not need this, but I do. I need to do this for myself and for no one else.

April 30th, I reread the program, walk 6, jog one, repeat three times. I dust off the sneakers, charge the iPod and attach the earplugs. I am ready for tomorrow, Sunday, May 1st, run day. I am awake for the eleven o’clock news that evening (which is unusual, I am usually far into dreamland by that time) where I see a story on two people in their seventies, who have been running for at least thirty years. The one has even survived cancer and continues to run. After that, I know I have no acceptable excuses. I will wake up early the next morning and make that day one of my 8 week program.

To keep myself motivated, I decide to email my progress to a friend. It doesn’t have to be a long, detailed email; it can be short and sweet, just letting her know I did it today. The responses from my friend keep me going, they are positive replies, the kind a paid, personal trainer might give you. But this is better, it is love and encouragement from someone who knows me.

Each day I walk/run, I feel better, not just physically but emotionally. Thirty minutes, four times a week I am with me and only me. I have uninterrupted thoughts, I listen to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, the quick beats of my heart and the feel of my abdominal muscles keeping me upright. I imagine I am a horse running gracefully, no race and thankfully, no jockey on my back. I love it, I love myself and yes, this selfishness is making me a better person all around. Every day I run, I run away from home, for a little bit, but I always return feeling refreshed and better about myself. I have taken the time to meet my needs. These runs give me time to remind myself of all the good things I have. I don’t think about the negative or all that I have to do or should be doing. I am so focused on the good, it’s what keeps me going and makes it so addicting. I am proud of my body and feel fortunate to have this complex, functioning machine, I do not want to take it for granted.

Today, driving my daughter to school, she says, “Mom, tomorrow, wake me up at six, I want to run with you.” I practically have a heart attack. That time, is my time, I refuse to share it, is it really too much to ask for thirty minutes all to myself? Realizing, her school is one mile away and there is no time for a lengthy explanation, I calmly reply, “Oh no, you never wake a sleeping child. Sleep is very important at your age. It helps your body and your brain to grow. We can run together in the evening.” She buys it for now and I keep the me time written in ink on my calendar.

Addicted to running? I don’t know, I think I may be addicted to the me time. I love being with my thoughts and knowing I am taking care of myself in more ways than one, it’s multitasking, something we are all trying to succeed at. Another bonus, I love nature and I get to enjoy it at its best, early in the morning, when my small town is peaceful, yet bustling with wildlife. So, if you try to reach me through text, email or phone between 6 and 7am, I’m busy, I have a date with me.

“Walk out, into the sunburst street
Sing your heart out, sing my heart out
I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
And I can breathe…”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Is It Still a Faux Pas if You Really Don't Know Better?

A few evenings ago Steve and I were enjoying our daughter's lovely orchestra concert. Before the performance, it was announced that all audience members should silence their phones and pagers. Steve and I both left our phones at home, so we were good. (We also left the camera at home, so no chance of committing the flash photography faux pas either...but we committed the parental faux pas of not taking any photos of our child's last 5th grade strings performance. You can't win.)

We had been sitting near the aisle, but a family of 4 came in late, so we scooted in, with me sighing about being so inconvenienced! (How self-centered am I?) About midway through the concert, just before a piece was to be performed, one of the family member's phones went off, loudly. Faux pas number 1. This person then went ahead and answered their phone. Faux pas number 2. This person then had a conversation. Faux pas number 3. I didn't move, like a deer in the headlights, I was stunned, and then torn. Since I was sitting rather close to this person, I could tell, from a few factors, that this person was not being a jerk, not being rude on purpose, not trying to let the world know that their time and conversation was more important than anyone else's time and efforts. This person was sweetly ignorant of our 21st century rules of etiquette. They did not take a phone call during our children's performance out of an elitist, entitled arrogance that surpasses an awareness of others. This person just did not know better.

Now, most people in our world today do know better. If you know better, please do not carry on a loud and personal conversation next to me on a city bus. Don't drive your car while talking, nearly swerving into my car because you cannot multitask. Don't glance at your phone every ten minutes while we are having dinner (glancing once might be ok, especially if you have small children and you're worried the babysitter is calling...). Do realize that sometimes, just sometimes, a person commits a faux pas out of ignorance, not out of rudeness and there is really no need for your comments and remarks, which are like the loud sshhhhhes of children in a classroom - louder than the chatty offenders. I am guilty of both offenses - the cell phone faux pas and the remarks, but that night, I learned my lesson. Don't assume.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Proud of the Presbyterians

I was raised Presbyterian and today I feel proud of the Presbyterian Church for voting to remove a ban that kept people who are gay from being ordained. As taken from the NPR piece: The measure approved Tuesday eliminates language in the church constitution requiring that clergy live "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." The new provision instead requires ministers to "submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life."

I am not a Christian anymore, but I really like the language of that last statement. To me it means getting rid of our man-made prejudices and ideas of what people should be doing. Just the idea of submitting joyfully, it makes me smile.

I feel too much of religion is about judging one another, I know it is not suppose to be, but it is what I see too often by people who claim to be religious. There is no way that an all-loving god would want that. I see this as one step toward eliminating judgments we make of one another based on our interpretations of the Bible - and as I've said before, I do not think one should take certain portions of the Bible literally, but then feel justified in interpreting other portions.

Way to go, Presbytery!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Sophie gave me the very best Mother's Day gift in the world the other day when she told me, "I love myself!" She often tells me she loves me, which makes my heart soar, but hearing that she loves herself...that makes me feel really, really good.

My own mother taught me about loving others, giving of oneself to make the world a bit brighter for another. I was about 9 years old when I went to a nursing home with her to play the piano for the residents. I got up, played a few notes, realized I didn't know the rest of the song, and promptly went back to my seat. I was so humiliated, but people came up to me and told me how beautifully I'd played. Ah, service didn't have to be perfect, it just had to be done!

Loving others and loving oneself, not always easy tasks in which to achieve success, but I will try. Thank you to the woman who mothered me and the child who made me a mother.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Tim died last year, on May 10, he was 44 years old. Tim was beautiful in body and spirit, he was kind, he was intelligent and he had a laugh that filled your soul. When you entered a room with Tim, people noticed and yet, his attention was on you (ok, except that one time at the Gardener's Market when his attention was really on that guy that he ditched me for...).

I first saw Tim (whose birth certificate reads, "Timmy") when I was 18, fresh to Logan, UT, about to embark on my college adventure. He was a cashier at the local grocery store and I always picked his line. He was gorgeous and happy and made ringing up your groceries seem like his favorite thing to do in the whole world - he did this for everyone. Like many, I had a bit of a crush on Tim - I don't think you could know Tim and not have a bit of a crush on him.

Tim became part of my life in a way that many friends do, weaving in and out during its days and years. He was always there and knowing he was somewhere in this world just made my life a bit easier. I didn't always know exactly what he was up to, but when we reconnected, as it is with good friends, it was like no time had passed.

Just before Tim died, we got together one last time. My daughter was very into the local folklore of a place called The Nunnery. Tim had been a caretaker of The Nunnery for a few years and he agreed to meet with Soph and tell her his stories. We met at Einstein Brothers, over coffee and chocolate milk, and he did for Sophie what he did for so many, he made her feel like she was the most important person in the world at that very moment.

I don't know what Tim died of, I don't know how his last hours were spent and really, I guess those things don't matter. I'll always hear that laugh - it just pulled from you your own laughter and made you feel really glad to be in that moment. At his funeral were people from all walks of life and it reinforced for me that Tim didn't see people in categories, he saw people...saw them, something so many of us fail to do, even with those standing right in front of us. Ah Tim, you were somethin'.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mi Familia

On Sunday Soph and I had a puzzle-off. We timed each other to see who could put the U.S. puzzle together faster. Soph is quite good at getting those states in their places and it's fun to point out the states she's been to - 22 total, with hopes of many more. She commented on wanting to go to Alaska, where her Aunt Jen lives, and I hope that she will someday have that opportunity.

We are living somewhere in the middle of our families, which can be really cool, but there are times I wish we had family nearby. I moved away from my family when I was 18, 3 days after graduating from high school, and I haven't lived near them since. There are times I fantasize about being close enough to get together with my siblings on a whim, or having Sunday dinners together, but it's not my reality. In Logan we lived close enough to Steve's parents to visit on long weekends and we spent every holiday with them, so not having that now is hard. We're adapting to our new situation.

I'd love to hear from both sides: living near family and living away. I can see the pros and cons to both, but as an adult, I've only had the experience of living away. Did you move closer to family once you had children? Did you have a family member move closer to you because they needed help?

Family provides that unconditional love no matter where they are and I am fortunate to have loving family members residing under the same roof, as well as spread across the country. We can't always be together when we want to be, but we know, without a doubt, that if we did need them, they'd show up and sometimes, it's so good to be needed.

Monday, May 2, 2011

And I Ran

Ok, maybe a 5K in a few weeks isn't totally absurd. I ran 2.34 miles today and felt like I could've kept going, but since I'm trying to get back into a routine of running, not just 1 great run, I made myself stop. I love this site: for motivating me, too.

One thing I love about running is that while I am running I think about little else but the actual run. For the time I'm pounding the pavement, my worries cease. I have a goal, I have to push myself, I can only focus on the next step. Running is my escape from my problems, but I like to think it is a healthy escape and it allows me to view my problems more reasonably when I do return to them.

I see from the poll that a few people have not run a 5K, but would like to. Yay! I'd love to start a support group, to motivate one another and perhaps develop a little 5K of our own to celebrate. I love the idea of readers from other places going out on the same day to run a 5K. 8 weeks from now would put us at the July 4th mark and what a great way to celebrate. If you think you want to do the running program from the last post, or whatever program you choose, and attempt a 5K, let me know!

*Today's photo is from a little jaunt we took yesterday. It is the one and only LDS Church in Jackson and at 4:00 in the afternoon there was not a car in the parking lot. Steve commented on this, because in Utah the churches are busy all day and into the evening on Sundays. Such variety in this country in which we live.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

5K Fever

Yesterday our family did the Family Service and Children's Aid 5K. We competed in the family division, hoping to place, but instead we each placed in our age division for the walk, which was very cool. What I really loved was the fire lit under Soph as we neared the finish line, Steve and I couldn't keep up and she was the first Albee-Scott to cross!

There is another 5K coming up at the middle school, the day after my birthday. I am thinking of entering the running portion, but I feel nervous. I ran a 5K before we left Utah and loved it, but it was just for fun, no medals, no awards. Oh what the heck, I need to push myself a bit again and it goes to a good cause.

The running program I followed last year that absolutely worked (I followed it religiously!):

Guess I better lace up and head out there!