Thursday, May 31, 2012

Get Ready...

This will blow your mind. 

This month's creation: 
Yes. You are looking at none other than...
my toes! 

A rice bag. 
Not just any rice bag. 
A hot rice bag. 
Mmm, smell the grainy strangeness that is hot dry rice in a bag.
And gape at my gorgeous microwave. 
I bet yours has lasagna boogers all over it. 
And no hot rice bag in it.

Take that, sistahs. 
I am practically Martha Stewart. 
I made a hot rice bag and cleaned the microwave.

April Creations

Yeah, I know! It's about time! 

So...just realize it takes some pretty sturdy confidence to post these pictures., because.

So I made this while we watched some Jem and the Holograms. 
The goal was basically for a robe that was more like a nightgown (so that I didn't feel like a giant marshmallow mascot--robes kind of do that on me). Like, just a Modesty Gown. 
I'm aware that it's the color and material my grandma uses on everything. Yes I know that. 
But! I like it. It serves its purpose. 

In case you wonder, the jewelry I'm wearing is "true vintage." 
The set belonged to my great grandma Tensy (earrings, necklace, ring). 

Here's another thing I "created" this month. More like devised...out of necessity.
That is my 10 1/2 month old baby tied up. 
Because her secret identity is Houdini.
Secret Agent Scarlett Houdini!
She's just so tiny and clever, even a 5-point harness won't keep her in.
This little lady is famous for climbing out of supposedly secure baby traps 
(the kind you want your baby trapped in)
and climbing into supposedly secure baby danger zones.

But this scarf, a soft silk that does not hurt her delicate skin, I must add, 
keeps her from pulling her legs up under herself.
That was her main escape route. Once she had her feet up, she could get out (and climb on the table or belay down the side of her high chair and continue her secret, mischievous missions). And she did it so darn fast, too--I believe her record time for it was 2 seconds. Possibly less. 
But I got smart!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm Getting Used to It!

I'm slowly getting better at running. It helps a lot that I got a 2-liter camelback (wannabe), a thing to hold my phone, and water shoes (cheapest thing close to running barefoot, recommended by someone who lives to run). Before this week, I looked a little silly for my morning running. A water bottle with a handle in one hand (I broke it at the gym), my phone in the other hand with the headphones cord whipping back and forth, and my dying rocker-bottom shoes with progressively squished soles.
And maybe I still look silly while I run. Sometimes I can't help but smile--whether because I thought of something funny or I just am enjoying myself. This morning Pandora played that one song, Died in Your Arms, for my 80s stations or something. And as I always do with that song, I changed up the words to "I just died in your arms tonight...must have been something you ate."
So I obviously have fun with myself out on the road before the sun rises.

Yesterday and Monday, my running had to be later in the day. That was insane-- a 4:00 run felt like a high-noon run the way the sun was breathing its hot breath all over the world, and yesterday it actually was high-noon. And I was pushing a stroller. Walking, but it was hard. Two kids in a stroller in that heat! I mean, they were very comfortable, but I got a nice little forehead sunburn. And I drank all my water by the time I still had 1.5 miles to go.

Am I ...dare I ask... boring? This is exciting to me. I feel proud of myself for doing this, for doing 3 miles, 4 miles, 6 miles, 7. When Mondays come around, I already look forward to my Saturday swimming mile (and my Thursday rest day), but I like the way this running is changing me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blessings of Service

This is exciting to me. Check out my goals:
  1. Monthly Creation
  2. More Baking/Cooking
  3. Learn Hairstyles
  4. Practice More/Find More Harp Students
  5. Monthly Anonymous Service
  6. Read More
  7. Marathon Training
Check, check, check, check, erm...checkish, check, check. :) 

My anonymous service hasn't been anonymous. But I can tell you I have a lot of desire to serve in my heart! :D There was one Sunday forever ago when I overheard a family discussing the difficulties of having the father-in-law move into their home, and I decided I would bring them dinner. And to make it "anonymous," I had an exciting plan for pretending that someone else had asked me to deliver the dinner so that they would remain anonymous--you get it? I deliver the dinner and pretend someone else made it. Isn't that silly? It sounded like fun to me, and I really wanted to do that for them. But the next day, Michael came down with pneumonia, and the day after that, we all followed suit. 
That's only one instance. There have been so many times (so many!) that I have decided on a service to do for someone, and then rather frustratingly, my plans have been thwarted. It's not just a matter of finding the time to make it happen-- I would honestly become unable to do whatever it was I had planned. Every time, I've prayed to Heavenly Father and just expressed my desire to serve. I would pray for the person or family I'd intended to help, and I hoped that someday I would be able to offer my service. 

Somehow this month, a month that is financially harder than any previous months, I have been blessed to be able to serve. Michael home teaches a family whose baby died on Sunday morning. Hearing that news broke my heart. I grieved for them, I cried during Sacrament Meeting and almost during primary. I ached to do something for them. 
I know that when a family member or friend dies, there are few things that comfort. But the things that do are things I can always offer-- testimony, the promise of eternal life and eternal families, and a reminder of the empathy and love of the Savior. So after church, feeling heavy in my heart with grief for the death of their tiny baby boy, only 7 months old, I walked prayerfully to their home. When I hugged Debbie, we cried together a little bit. She worried that sometimes she didn't seem to have any faith, and I assured her that I can see her faith. With little other comfort to offer, I bore my testimony that she will be with Christopher again. It wasn't as though she didn't know that, but understandably, hearing it from others and hearing it often helps to strengthen what faith is there. 
Life has a way of pressing heavily on us when we are struggling to cope with death. Suddenly all of the requirements that used to be nothing more than the daily grind feel impossible, because we wonder why it matters and has to keep going while our minds want to stop. Grief is all-encompassing. So, as "little" a service as it might have been, I brought dinner on Monday night. It was simple, and possibly not enough for their large family. But it helped at least a little bit. I also brought cinnamon bread, which could help with breakfast. On Tuesday, I came to pick up the dinner dish (with a request that she not worry about washing it) and brought two loaves of homemade sandwich bread that could help with lunch. Each time I visited with Debbie, we talked about the difficulties of accepting Christopher's absence. She keeps wanting to carry him in his carseat, forgetting out of habit that it's not in the car anymore. The children went to school crying, and with wide eyes they tell everyone they see that their baby died. But Debbie also smiles. She jokes a little. She is maintaining a gospel perspective. And for all other judgment anyone could pass on her, she is a faithful woman. 
Tonight I am bringing rolls for the funeral dinner (the reason I "practiced" on Tuesday). Our neighbor Lindsay will babysit the kids. Michael will play the prelude and other songs on the piano, and I will accompany Debbie's girls on the harp with "I Am a Child of God." 

It is so healing and lifting to serve. As much as grief is successful in grasping the heart with a tight grip, charity has a way of gently peeling those fingers away, swelling until the hearts of both the giver and receiver are soothed. Walking back from their house, I actually felt like my heart had grown. I feel so grateful to finally be able to serve others in addition to my family. It has brought such a blessing of love and compassion for me, and I know that Debbie's family feels our love. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Change! And rolls. Can't forget the rolls.

In a flash of brilliance this morning while I prayed, I realized I could listen to Conference during my running.
That was, unfortunately, not the best idea.
I walked pretty much the whole way. A nice, ponderous pace that matched my thoughtful listening.

I'm excited for a "rest" day tomorrow. I'm still going to the gym (we go every day after my run, and it feels surprisingly wonderful to do that), but the hour more of sleep will be welcome. I've been dropping off to sleep seconds after laying my head on my pillow and sleeping very deeply. When the alarm startles me out of the dark stillness, I'm instantly up...but also instantly thinking longingly of the warm bed I'm leaving.

Does anyone remember how a loooong time ago I wrote a semi-sarcastic post about how I don't understand how some women can manage to look the same every day? Same and good? I'm afraid I came off as more negative than laughable in my bafflement (hoho, laughable bafflement-- that's good). I really just meant that it amazed me that some women have the discipline to put themselves together every single day. No sleeping in, no pajama days, no bad hair days, no zitty days. I knew I wasn't seeing the full picture (that the women who seemed like that were still definitely human).
But it has started happening to me! The regular schedule, the well-kept routine...I shower every day. Yes, that's an announcement of change. And...I do my makeup just about every day.

It's not all from my marathon training (although that has solidified some of these changes). We have been going to the gym for a long time even though we only committed to going daily three weeks ago. Recently, Michael said to me with a hint of amused confusion "We've become a morning family!"

We've wanted to be this way for a long time. Like, maybe ever since Ender was born (before he was born, it wasn't really a challenge to go to bed on time and get up early). Anyway, this may all come off as dry and painfully blahhhhh to read. I'm just feeling grateful that we've made some lifestyle changes.

We take care of ourselves. We exercise, eat well (in moderation, that is-- less sugar, less gluttony). We don't generally stay up past midnight (it happens once in a while when our inner night owls fight hard enough).
We keep the kids on a regular routine with morning and bedtime stuff.
And me! I bake almost every day now, and somehow I make dinner happen every night. Sometimes it's leftovers, but who cares. There's a meal. And...this is an accomplishment I am thrilled to announce:

I made rolls.

No, I made PERFECT rolls.

I have been trying our entire married life! They were always disgusting. Like rocks. Stupid, chew-heavy, little, bland rocks. There was one time I managed to make them taste okay...and they were enormous. We had to use them as buns, which wasn't horrible, but not my intention. And they were still kind of dry and blah. So you see, I am proud. :) I am so excited. I brought rolls to my neighbors. I ate several myself. I'm going to eat one now. And I will probably make these rolls all the time.
Ahhh. I did it. I'm a new woman. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scaredy Qait

After leaping out of the shower this morning, I heard the front door "schlick" open and shut.
I froze-- I was the only one home! 
And I was fresh from the shower! 
Knowing it could be the neighbor's door I'd heard (with our windows open), I crept out of the bathroom into the laundry area to listen.
I heard the very, very soft "fff" of footsteps on the carpet.
In a sudden panic, I raced back into the bathroom and SLAMMED and locked the doors (there's a second adjoining door into our bedroom). With my heart thumping, I tightened my towel and geared up for confrontation. If anyone was in the house, the door slamming would have alerted them (but maybe they knew I was home anyway!). I flexed my arms, clenched my teeth and really actually made a "tough face." Good thing nobody knows what I looked like.
I took a deep breath, reached for the doorknob...imagined Someone might be ready outside the door to corner me and took another deep breath...and another...
and finally yanked both doors open (I sort of struggled with one of them, which threw off my Tough Groove a bit). I pulled an angry face and hunted around the house, making sure my throat was open and ready to yell and scream.

But oh, what's this? The front door is locked.

"Oh," I said with a sheepish smile. Yes...I suppose I knew that. Those "footsteps" I heard must have been the blood rushing in my ears. 

Does anyone else get a little jittery when they're home alone?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Um, More Running

It feels good to have internet again! Scarlett broke our last wireless adapter.

Last week's long run, 6 miles, was really exciting for me! Halfway through, the sun rose, and it made me grin...I couldn't help it. It was ridiculously bright, rising between two mountains and lighting up the buildings and streets and cars and my eyes. It was sort of hard to see with the sun in my eyes like that, but I loved it.

This morning's run, the little 3 miles, was nice. I walked a lot, and I don't think it was because I couldn't run...I just kept forgetting to! I'm tired, and once I start walking for a little break, my mind wanders. I get soaked up in thoughts and music and a steady walking pace, and then I realize after quite a while that I'm supposed to be running, and there's no reason not to be.

Anyway, don't worry that all my posts will be about my running...a lot of them will be since it's become part of daily life, but not ALL of them. While we didn't have internet, I just kept thinking of all these things I wanted to blog (and I even tried from my phone even though doing stuff like that from a little device drives me nuts)!

Phewf. The second week is happening! My mom was surprised when I announced that I'm doing a marathon, and she said (laughingly) "well don't talk to me about it too much or I might try to talk you out of it. I think people are crazy to do marathons!"
Yes, Mom, they probably are. I thought I was this morning when my alarm went off. I gripped my phone and made myself listen to the alarm for half a minute, propped up on one elbow, until I could finally pry my eyes open and get out of bed. And as I wandered through the house I could feel tendrils of the bed's warmth reaching for me: come back! You're crazy! Climb back into bed! You will fall asleep so quickly, it will be so niiiiiiice!
Well, that sounded really appealing. So I'm really excited--proud--that I got up. That's half the battle, right?
Wait, so is knowing you can do it.

Okay then, my marathon has 3 halves!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thanks to Mexico, Thanks to Michael

Last semester kind of did something to all of us. It didn't help that we got sick for a month (and then sick again...and again). I kept telling people--and myself--that things were great, the semester was fine. That must have been coming from the incessantly optimistic switch of my brain (the switch that I seem incapable of shutting off), because looking back, it was pretty nasty.
And up until recently, I had been slowly revolving into a very cranky mommy. My patience was tissue-thin, and my frustrations with the kids just seemed to build from day to day. I'd hit a happy point ("yay, Michael's home!"), but my cranky Hyde became extremely trigger happy. I mean, well that doesn't make sense, but basically, I could go from 0 to 60 in a second flat.

So. We went to Mexico for our 5th anniversary with Thomas and Megan (longtime friends).

Even though my mommy-woes weren't completely wiped out in one go, that was the beginning of some deep inner cleansing. I needed that. Oh, plus, Mexico was flawlessly beautiful, and we had the beach all to ourselves. Mmmm. Just thinking about it makes me breathe deeply, makes my body and mind relax. I love the ocean. Cold or warm, to play in or to walk in or to run by. The ocean is the most healing thing nature has out there (for me).

Since Mexico (don't worry I'll post some pictures eventually), things have been settling into place nicely.

My attitude, for one. I've been considerably calmer with Ender. With Scarlett too, my frustrations with her were not because she was cranky. Mostly she's just extremely mischievous and needs eyes on her constantly cause otherwise she'll fall into the LEGO bin (on purpose, she wants those LEGOS!), climb out of her high chair (in like 2 seconds. She's fast.), "prune" my plants, "fold" the laundry, "clean" the kitchen floor, "take out" the trash, close herself into rooms, etc. etc. etc. She needs to just learn to walk so she can be a little more safe with all the climbing and adventuring she does!

Ender became magically potty trained at Mom and Dad's while we were gone. (I think his case of diarrhea had a lot to do with clearing out his system after all the months he's avoided pooping) (look how casually I talk about poop, wow! :] I'm such a mom).

Scarlett is done nursing. Mixed feelings on this, but I'm mostly okay. I still miss nursing her, but I was drying out anyway, and she's got her own agenda. She won't have anything to do with even the taste of breastmilk. And she has gained two pounds. So I'm not fighting.

I began training for my marathon. Today's run was easier for the first half and harder for the second half; I loved it! That time in the morning, out in the air and all by myself with music and thoughts...ahhhh. What a way to begin the day. Yesterday I felt so cheerful all day, and I'm sure my run got my going that way. Today? Same thing!

And last but SO far from least: here's what I "got" for Mother's Day...Michael has worked it into his schedule to take the kids for several hours once a week. WOW! I have scheduled no-kids time! It's amazing! I can depend on it every week! My husband is The Best. I'm so glad he's not one of those clueless men who have no idea what women go through (emotionally or as moms or whatever--he's incredibly sympathetic).
There was more to Mother's Day than that...Michael helped the kids so I could sleep in two hours, he fed us, he got the kids dressed for Church (we all matched each other, it was cute!), and he helped the kids stay happy and get ready for bed. They were off my back. The day was also normal in some ways...I made cookies (but I like cookies), I washed dishes (but I like washing dishes), and sometimes the kids needed Mommy-hugs or whatever (and I like that, too). Scarlett got into the toilet, Ender had a meltdown about something, and several other kid-related things happened that just have to happen. Kids don't take vacation on being kids.
I think what I love most with Mother's Day is not so much being "permitted" not to do anything, but to have a peaceful day. My kids will still need me, my husband will still need my help with the kids, and the house will probably still take a beating. But that's really okay.

My stress levels are plummeting. It's a lovely feeling. I have time for myself in the morning with my running, I have time with Michael after that when we exercise at the gym, I have time with Ender while Scarlett naps, and then some time with both kids before Michael joins us in the evening. Then we're all together for dinner, bedtime happens at a very healthy hour, and I get to have time with Michael again before our own bedtime comes up. And then once a week, like today, I have some time without the kids where I can simply DO things! By myself!

Ready for a cheesy analogy? :D Where my stress had sky-rocketed earlier this year and apparently got stuck in orbit, it has finally re-entered the atmosphere and made a gentle landing. Yay! I feel so much more in control of my attitude.

There was a specific evening in Mexico that I will always remember. It's become something of a memory-mantra the way it readily soothes me. Michael and I had the beach all to ourselves, the waves were low and soft. The sand was silky, and the sky darkened very slowly. That evening was perhaps the most romantic I've had with Michael, in our own little world in the ocean. When stress begins to steepen, remembering that evening pulls it right back down.

It feels really good, too, to sit comfortably at home blogging and laughing while Michael texts me about his Adventures in Babysitting. He put Ender into the double stroller but forgot to put the wheel breaks on. Ender strolled down the parking lot quite a distance before Michael could stop him. Michael said to Ender "Whoa that was crazy! And sorta funny." Ender said to him "No it wasn't! I was freaking out!" (since when did he learn that phrase?), but later he said it was a funny adventure.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Three Miles

I did it-- I just completed my first day of training for my marathon.
Three miles.
It was hard, it was invigorating. I was weak, I was triumphant.
I enjoyed it.

The mountains cut a crisp, edgy line on the pale sky. The wind clipped at my cheeks (and beat my ears, which I didn't think about protecting). My music was loud enough to give me a little atmosphere of my own, but soft enough that I could still hear the faint rush of cars everywhere. It wasn't the most scenic route, but it was my route, so I loved it.
I walked quite a bit. So with my walking figured in, I "run" a 15-minute mile. Even my running pace is more like a long-legged jog. On the elliptical, it's more like a 12- and sometimes 10-minute mile, but of course the elliptical is nothing like solid ground. So my chest feels just a little tight (the air was pretty chilly this morning), and my ears feel sort, numb and cold and kind of stupid, you know? But the rest of me feels fantastic. My calves maybe feel it? I stretched partway through and after.
I definitely had to push myself. And be kind to myself. I quickly reversed any negative thoughts. And if sometimes I really felt like I wanted to walk, I let myself walk. I had to pick points ahead of me as mini finish lines. I made it to each one!
Did you know that from a height of about 5 feet the horizon is 2 1/2 miles away? If you can manage to get a straight shot of it, that is. That was interestingly encouraging for me when I was thinking about how far I was trying to go.

Well, I did it! I really did it! I BEGAN! And you know what that means? That means I'm going to finish it. As hard as it was to go three miles this morning, and as hard as it will be tomorrow morning, there's no question I can run a marathon. I could do it now (I honestly could), so when I finally reach that point and do it in about 5 months, I'll be so ready.