Wednesday, September 30, 2015

School Days

This year's school pictures are brought to you by the perfect afternoon shade on my front porch.  I will not be purchasing the school's version for 2015, for obvious reasons.  

Eden is in 7th grade.  She has weathered the treacherous storm of moving to a new school/neighborhood/community with grace.  And believe you me, it was a storm.  She is on the swim team this year (whether she likes it or not).  After several years of summer rec teams back in Colfax, she qualified for a year round team here.  

I realized I wanted my girls to be swimmers when I saw the body confidence of all shapes and sizes of swimming girls through the years on our little Colfax team.  It took me until I was over 35 years old to stop hugging my tummy and trying to cover my thighs at swimming pools.  Geez Louse.    

Eden loves to bake, she loves her friends and she loves to play with her sisters (even if she won't admit it).  I feel like I'm learning a little bit of what it means to be a Mom to a teenager.  This does not mean I am good at it.  

Oakley is still in school.  
I am hoping I can say this for the next seven years and have a successfully graduated, literate, non-addicted-to-meth young adult to present to the world.  Am I aiming too high?  

He too made the swim team, but his refusal to participate (probably due to lack of body fat and perpetual coldness) caused me to withdraw him... because $$$$.  He did volunteer this fact one day, "Mom, I think I want to run,"  So I gathered up all my Mom powers and got him signed up late onto a community center cross country team.  He is participating nicely and eats a big meal on the days he runs.  
I had a piece of insight the other day when I was watching him run... "let him tell you what he needs."  And I had to whisper a gentle amen.  My exile from Sunbeams has reminded me that our soul knows what we need, even if others think they know best.  

Perhaps I can trust his little big soul to give me some insight from time to time.  

Ivy's second year in the Portuguese program is coming along.  
I wish I could say she is fluent, or that she can read well, but some things take longer for certain children, and I don't fret for her like I do for my son. 
She is happy, well behaved, and so sparkly.  
She and Georgia are two peas in a pod.  I try not to let them dress the same, so people can tell them apart.  After we put them to bed there is generally a period of time that involves giggles, playing, bed switching and general silliness.  We call it bedtime recess.  

She is also on the swim team, and will be skiing up a storm this winter.    I am not sure that African hair was designed to be in the pool every day, but her little African body sure was.  She also enjoys gymnastics and reading with Mom on the couch.  She doesn't know this is more enjoyable for her Mom than for her.  

Georgia is taking first grade by storm.  She's doing well in Portuguese and I worry that she is bored in her English class.  I wish they would teach to the higher level kids too... I am not sure how to address this at school since my others require so much help at the other end of the spectrum.  I think she will do well with Portuguese.  To be honest, I still wish she were in a Spanish program, however, I would have to drive her to one of those, and she can walk herself to school with her sister for Portuguese.  So, there you have it.  

Georgia is our last little swimmer, and I hope I can get her to stick with it.  She is also very flippy and bendy, and it was probably her strong insistence that led me to sign her and Ivy up for gymnastics in the first place.    I am not sure where she got her strong personality from.  Weird. 

I can't believe my baby is in grade 1.  When Eden was this age I saw her as so grown up, such a 'big girl".  But this little one is still a baby in my eyes.    And this, perhaps, is the most cliche thing I have ever written on this blog. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

On a Roll...

We are soaking up the last bits of summer with all of our might.  I have to admit, I am a little tired of 100 degree weather at the end of September, I could use a good cold snap, some chili and home made bread (hopefully this happens on a Monday because its my only day off work.  Otherwise, It will just be mac n cheese and call it good.)

I want to soak up every little bit of joy that these kids of mine and keep it in my heart forever.  And yes.  I am claiming my nieces as my own, I feel like there are enough of their pee pee panties around my house that I have the right to do this.

Oh, how I love living close to my sister. 

And where? do you ask.... Where is Oakley?

He was there, and then he disappeared.  When it was time to go, Kenneth went on the routine Its-Time-To-Go-Now-I-Have-To-Find-My-Son-I-Hope-He-Is-Not-Abducted search and eventually he emerged from the forest, where Oakley had joined a Mexican family for a bit.

"How did you even know what they were saying?" I asked.

"Mom!  Some of the little ones were translators."

Of course.  

Jesus Wants Me For A SunBeam

We grew mammoth sunflowers in the garden this year, among other things.  They have been harvested now, and I left their seed laiden heads on the back deck to dry.  Now there are various birds, including a mountain blue bird and quail who throw caution to the wind and venture up to partake of the goodness nature provided.  It makes my heart happy.

I am broken- hearted about being released from my calling as a Sunbeam teacher.  Those little people taught me about vulnerability, kindness, forgiveness, goodness, friendship, the joy of learning and the importance of always singing at the top of your lungs.   I tried to stay on as their teacher, but the Men in Suits wouldn't listen.  Apparently they know me better than I know myself, and they know that God wants me to sit in front of a computer arranging the  Visiting Teacher schedules for 300 women who I don't know instead.    It feels a little bit like I am being forced to face the fact that I want to be done with the whole thing so badly.

But I just can't.

It was easier to hide from that with the Sunbeams, since what I know and love about the Savior is in every nook and cranny of a Sunbeam room.

The Relief Society President said she loves my testimony and that the ladies in RS could really benefit from my point of view.  To which I wish I could say... I have BEEN in Relief Society.  And guess what happens when I say what is in my heart.... People sigh and roll their eyes, they unfriend me on Facebook and become super sappy sweet when they happen to run into me in public.  The Sisters of Relief, generally, do not want to hear what I have to say.  There are a few exceptions, this is true, and often a life life for me.  But for the most part...

So today, on my first day back in Relief Society, I did not say one thing.  The lesson was about the evil and wicked world we live in and how if we all just push forward through the stress and chaos and horrible life ahead of us that one day, some day in the distant future, we will earn a great reward.

And I remember when I used to believe this too... that I just had to white knuckle my way on the iron rod until the end when I maybe, just maybe MIGHT get the big Celestial trophy, if I have worked hard enough and fought long enough.  Maybe.

But how exhausting this is.

I wanted so badly to say that I am saved by grace here and now.  I am perfected.  The grace of God is evident in every piece of life around me.  The grace of God perfects the life around me, just as it is.  And the very best thing that has ever happened to me is to stop being disappointed because things are not how I thought they were SUPPOSED to be, and embracing the beauty of how they are.

Even in the hard bits of life.  Even when I know that praying for what I think I wanted isn't going to work.... but that this moment here and now... this is heaven.  The hard moments, maybe especially.  They are beautiful too, and me being present in the midst of it, this is a gift.  The hard things in life can be just as much a grace as the good ones.

Right Oakley?

I wanted to say that the great reward is being present, mindful and just okay in this very moment I have been given, and that turning to the Savior makes this possible for me every day.  I did not say any of that.  I just sat there, holding onto the list of  300 sisters I don't know.

I suppose I could get to  know them.  And probably learn to love them.

But it will not be easy like it was with the Sunbeams... and honestly, I am just scared.

Because they eye rolls, the sighs, the super sappy fakeness.... it really just means one thing.

You don't belong here.

And I don't know where else to go.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The National Potties

Washington DC National Mall sports a variety of rest room facilities.

It is, of course, impossible to see them all in one trip, but my children showed dedication in trying to attain this goal.

The potty at the Jefferson Memorial is located conveniently in the basement.  After a lovely paddle boat ride with the family, the need to pee can be overwhelming.  Just a quick jaunt around the pond, past the iconic Jefferson and his wise words immortalized in marble, and then down the stairs.  The floor of the bathroom down there is a checkered black and white that could leave you dizzy if you were intent on staring at it and spinning in circles.  Right across from the bathroom is the gift shop, along with a nice chronological history of Jefferson's contributions.  Great job, Jefferson Monument, on a top notch rest room experience.


("Mommy, if he was such a great guy why did he keep Black people as slaves?)

There are no potties on the buses.  There is internet connection, and a place to re charge your smart phone/camera during your trip around the mall, but NO bathroom.  In addition, do not ask to use the bathroom on the exclusive White House Tour.  It is not permitted, neither is flash photography or water or snacks.  Just in case you have signed up for the 7:30 am tour of the White House and you find yourself in need of a bathroom STAT, there is a swanky hotel a few steps away that will let you use their fancy bathrooms in a fix.

My favorite place on the DC mall is the National Gallery of Art.  Actually, my favorite place in any given city is likely their art museum.  Anyway.  After a very long trek from the other end of the world (the Lincoln Memorial), which included a $3 coke per person so as to ensure adequate energy to continue the activity, I was very excited to show my girls some pieces from the artists I have taught them about.  It is really nice of the art gallery to place replications of famous works in the corridor to the bathroom here.  This way, when you miss seeing the actual paintings because of multiple bathroom trips and time constraints, you can appreciate that you COULD have seen them the seven different times you march to the bathroom for various bladders the size of a bean.  I have no one else to blame but myself.  It was the Cokes.

We did get to see some actual originals, though, and I beamed when they could remember some of the artists.


The best place to use the bathroom by far is the bathroom located just beside the Washington Memorial.  After throwing  a major fit on the top level of the tower (causing your Mother to experience a new degree of panic, frustration and helplessness.... note to self, never take multiple children up there again without a husband), its a good idea to insist on going to the bathroom.  Then, right as you get into the stall, be sure to pee and poop yourself.  Right there. While standing beside the potty.  Inside which you COULD have deposited the pee and poop trickling down your leg.   The fact that there was a line up of 20 odd females trying to use the bathroom is no bother, just monopolize the stall with the remaining of your fit for the next 20 minutes.  If, by chance, you are an employee of the National Parks responsible for cleaning the bathroom, I apologize for the especially stinky garbage.  I just threw the panties away and she had to go commando for the rest of the day.  Because what else does one do?  Being that the child in question was 8 years old, it is understanding that I would find myself unprepared emotionally, and practically, for such a scenario.  But being a parent is never that predictable, is it?

The potty in the American History Museum is hidden in the basement, which my lead you to believe that you are missing more amazing exhibits, but guess what!  JULIA CHILD, that's what.  Her actual home kitchen is right down there for your oogling pleasure, along with a lovely little video of her preparing a suckling pig.

I am proud to say that I can report nothing of the rest rooms in the Metro.  Because AS IF I WOULD EVER ALLOW MY CHILDREN TO ENTER THE REST ROOM DOWN IN THE BOWELS OF THE EARTH THAT EVERY HOMELESS PERSON IN DC CAN POOP IN.  Nope.  Sorry kids you are holding it for a LONG train ride, and stop whining because you will thank me when you are 25 and do not have hepatitis.

There are, however, plenty of really great potties at the National Zoo.  An by the way, cheap souvenir t shirts do not breathe very well, so think twice before wearing them on an all day trip into the sun.  the misters at the zoo were very helpful.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

.....tap tap....this thing on?

There were a few moments yesterday, and possibly the day before, when I felt a great clarity.  An appreciation for each of my children came to me, a gratitude for who they are, on their own, and a deep love for the moment I am in with them right now.

This will not last, I know.  For Friday was the last day of school, and summer vacation kicks my ass every single year.  And with the increased HOT AS HELL factor of the Wasatch front, well, who's to say what could happen with my delicate temperament.

The prayer I have in my heart is that I can remember the impressions from yesterday.  That I can be at peace with who each of my children is.  That I can be at peace with where I am in my journey.  In this moment.  And let the rest go.

Kenneth took me on a surprise hike last week, to the infamous G spot of Utah.  (I wonder if I am the only person who calls it that.  But honestly, if I am the only one, then what is wrong with people?  Its hilarious.  The mythical G spot can be found smack dab in the middle of Utah County.  Who knew).   The night was beautiful, and the escape into nature is something I always need.  Kenneth and I had been on a downhill slope for almost three weeks, and it was only getting worse.  He told me "I started to think that if I can't give you what you need you're going to go looking for it somewhere else" . So he surprised me with a date up in the mountains, away from the business and crowds that I still can't get used to.  It was silly and romantic and just the perfect thing to re connect.

Our 16th anniversary the next weekend was consumed by Father Son Campout, a race for Eden (I'd like to bear my testimony that I know the Girls on the Run program is true) , soccer games, preparing for my last work trip, trying to get ready for the remodel demolition  (!!!!), and coordinating schedules for the first week of summer.  Our 16th anniversary was consumed by basic life together, life with four kids, life with projects and plans.  And how funny that he would think I would go elsewhere for my needs.... when half the time I'm not even sure what I need, except to perhaps including wine in my nightly routine.  Ha.  But being consumed with LIFE while having Kenneth at my side is exactly where I want to be.   And also a lot more hikes together.  

Around the end of March I think the deep depression I felt since moving to Utah started to break.  I finally confided in Kenneth how bad things were for me, and the thoughts that circled again and again in my brain were overwhelming me.   It scared him enough that he immediately went downstairs and dismantled all guns in our safe.  This does not sound at all funny, it is scary and why didn't I go for help?  I'll tell you why.  Number One:  Trusting doctors is hard for me, and mental health issues are so complicated, I did not have anyone I could trust and I could not bare to start from the beginning again with some random dude.  Number Two:   Because the drugs they give for things like that take away my opportunity to enjoy sex, and if there is one joy in my life that I do not want to give up, it's knowing that part of me. Sexuality is a powerful force, and I have been without it before and felt dead.

So I guess I just yoga'd my way out of it (which means maybe I was not really that sick in the first place?).  I had to choose yoga since I can't run STILL (akilles tendon has done me in).  Imagine.  Such a major life change and NO RUNNING.  Perhaps this is why the depression lingered for so long.    

I think that Sundance Ski Resort saved my family.  It helped us through this transition into Utah.  The peaks of the mountains became familiar beacons of refuge, and riding up the lift with my children gave me quality time with them that some of the older ones avoid these days.  I think the move has been the hardest on my Eden, who tried so very hard to fit in.  Such a painful age.  And the girls she most wanted to be friends with ended up being the meanest there were.  You know, the kind who are generally nice and all smiles around you, but who exclude you and know they are better than you, the passive aggressive MEAN GIRLS of box office fame.  Anyway.  It has been a painful year for my oldest child, and my heart has ached for her, knowing I can't fix things .  But riding up that ski lift and just being together now and then, I am hoping it helped.  My favorite time to go up was on Sunday afternoons, and Mormon rules be dammed, I swear those were the most peaceful, happy, bonding days we had together as a family.  God's power is in the trees, in the mountains, in the fresh fallen snow, the crisp blue sky, and in the joy of my Littles who went from crying and wailing at the sight of the mountain to speeding down all pell nell, screaming with excitement by the end of the season.  God's power was present in the hours my otherwise lost Oakley spent exploring the mountain side, breaking new ski trails through the trees and working his body to near exhaustion.  This is where God's power is, and this is why I will continue to ski with my family on Sunday for the rest of eternity (or at least for as long as we live 30 minutes from a lovely mountain spot called Sundance).

Oh, and the other thing... my nieces.  Little Dixie and Lucy who come to our Mountain Home (We might actually name our lovely little Lindon property, which is super cliche..... Mountain Home, Quail Run.  Which sounds better?) and play Wild Girls amid the weeds and overgrown bushes of our back yard.  My Littles have developed sister-cousin bonds with these girls and I love them a million times over.  Eve, my little sister who I learn from constantly, has been gracious, kind and understanding in these months of transition.  Taking me to classes with her, letting me hitch hike on her friendships and hang out on her front lawn or couch whenever I felt the need.  She and Sean have shared parenting with us, trusted us with their girlees, and helped with kid pick-ups and transfers so that I could continue to work.  Being near family, being near my a wonderful gift... I still can't believe it's actually my gift to open!

These moments of my life are all precious to me.  I feel enveloped by love and kindness, and I feel greater peace than I have in many years.  It's amazing to me that the more I learn to trust myself, the less my life looks like what I thought it was SUPPOSED to be, but the more happiness I feel at what its turning out to be.  

I want this summer to be less anxiety and more embracing.  I want to remember what I felt yesterday doing the day to day busy LIFE things that can not be avoided.  I want to be kind.  I want gentleness to come first.  I want to love my new home, for it is part of the moment I am in. And this moment is really all I have.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Wheels of my Brain go Round and Round

We'll hello 3 am. We meet again. In fact, you're and I have become more intimately acquainted than I had ever imagined.  Since the September decision accept a job transfer for Kenneth which require us to relocate our family, 3 am has been privy to more thoughts, feelings and memories than I share with my sister friends in any given three-month period. 

Today 3 am reminded me that I still haven't paid the piano teacher, followed by a true to life re- enactment of the hours following the birth of my youngest child.... When I fainted in the bathroom and, after a good snooze, ate every last bite of the celebratory steak dinner courtesy of the hospital cafeteria, even though it was stone cold by the time I got to it.  And because that was not nearly enough to sustain me at the time I immediately devoured  a Costco sized gift bag of deluxe holiday M&Ms.  Thanks, 3 am.  I almost forgot about those M&Ms. 

I've been plagued by the expanse of worry only a mother knows when 3 am reminds me of the major changes my children are facing.  In particular, the depth of my uncertainty about my sweet son, with bursts of hope that I will be led to resources and ideas that will make his life more manageable. 

Thoughts of home renovation for our new-to-us 1970s brick rancher by the mountains swirl through my head at 3am.  Thanks to my handy Houzz app  I've dreamed up dozens of kitchens I love, how will I ever decide!?   Well, at 3 am there is plenty of time to think about it.  The possibilities are endless. 

3 am took me back to my first experience with  Motherhood, when my chubby brown eyed baby Eden learned to walk in that farm house out in the country that was a big mistake to buy, and then It whisked me over to the family snuggle on the first morning we were together after Ivy came home from Ethiopia. 

I don't know why, but the other day 3 am was insistent that I take our kids down to Rossures to say goodbye to our favorite grocery bagger. Which, crap.  I didn't do. I wonder if he is working this weekend because we pull out on Monday morning and we will miss him. 

3 am makes me mentally comb through the contents of our house house (which are now packed into big brown boxes waiting to be shipped) wondering where in the world those last few library books could have gone.  I would hate to leave with bad library karma, so at 3 am I make a mental note to go down there and settle up. 

The gratitude I feel for the Colfax chapter of my life embraces me at 3 am like the cozy blankets I am wrapped in. It brings me to tears which may be mistaken for tears of grief, but are actually the tears of true love. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

August. Revisited.

Iconic America

Iconic Team Workman

August has come and gone, but my mind continues to drift back to the magic that was the last month of Summer 2014. #teamworkmansummerextravaganza2014

three out of four team workman participants agree that Bear Country was fun.
 one of four team workman participants pouted. 

In hind sight, of course, the road trip squabbles have faded from memory and, thankfully, our little green house was quick to forgive the abuse suffered at the hands of four energetic growing children at home all day.

We took a road trip and spent time with friends-that-feel-like-family in South Dakota.  The Litchfields have been part of my life for 25 years now.  We explored caves, saw the historic Mount Rushmore and were generally reminded that it feels good to be loved, embraced, and needed.  Bonus cousins for the kids never hurt anyone.

Add caption

We were fortunate enough to turn right around from our journey into the middle of America and head out to the edge of the world, the grand and glorious Oregon Coast.

This time was a solo journey for Team Workman.  Just the six of us.

The ocean soothes my heart, it brings out the best in my kids, and my calm steady husband gets a bit animated at the prospect of catching crab.  Our week at the ocean was the best one yet... perhaps because this time we rented a house rather than camped?  I have to admit that the availability of a washer and drier to take care of salt-water-sandy clothing was luxurious.

I convinced that kids that if they gave me thirty minutes of their time for some family pictures that I would leave them alone for the rest of the trip.  They did, in fact, give me the thirty minutes, and it happened to be on the clearest, bluest morning I've ever experienced on the Oregon Coast.

Sadly, I could not keep my end of the bargain and I continued to snap shots of them for the remainder of the trip.  The difference this time was that I used my Dad's old 35 mm Nikorr circa 1973 to capture the magic.  The challenge to shoot with film, to focus manually and to think about specific shots and exposures was great.  Sadly, the film remains undeveloped at the bottom of my purse.  Photographer fail.  When I finally send it out to be processed, I will share.  I think I can learn a lot about patience and well thought out, deliberate intentions from 'old skool' film photography.  Perhaps a way to curb my sporadic,  impulsive ways.

I started work a full two weeks before my own kids school started... this was a bit of a challenge, I'm not going to lie.  I work in a school district that is a 90 minute drive from our home in Colfax.  And though I love the job and the population that requires me to pull out all of my Bilingual Speech Language Pathology skillz... the distance from home is a pain, and with all the irresponsible drivers who insist on passing at 110 mph on a 2-lane highway chalk full of travelling farm machinery and semi trucks... well... I'm just a little terrified of being smished to smitharines and leaving Mr. Workman alone to raise the Littles sans their Mother.


Team Workman started school at the end of August with all the pomp and circumstance that this entails.  All four of them are in elementary school now.  Time is slipping through my fingers.  I am thankful that by 39 I have learned to love each moment.  My life is a good one.

I love these children to an impossible depth.  When I sit and let myself feel the full magnitude of this feeling, I have to catch my breath.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Pu-Pu Platter of Summer

Eden only likes the waffles if I ONLY ADD WATER.

"What do you mean, only water? What else would I put in waffles?"

"I don't know. Just all that STUFF."

"I don't know what you're talking about. These are just normal waffles."


Between you and me.... I have been known to add the following things to the waffles:

Apple sauce.
Apple chunks.
Pumpkin, puréed.
Squash, puréed.
Carrots, puréed.
Bananas, smashed.

Also for the record, the waffles in the photo had apple sauce added to the mix. And she loved them.

Note to self: children may be getting too big to trick into eating healthy.

Ahh, summer days. Big breakfasts after swim practice, tired children because of many swim meets, not to mention for fun swimming in the afternoons and evenings.... And our swim meets are held at places like this, where the John Deere Dealership is just a stone's throw from the community pool. Go Ivy go!!

I've even been able to escape for lane swimming (alone!!) and have been teaching myself the flip turn. I can't do it without plugging my nose though.

Our journeys through wheat fields to attend meets in neighboring communities are sometimes long, but there is always the perfect contrast of blue and gold to marvel at along the way. Sure, it would be a lot nicer if there were a Target nestled in between the lentils and the wheat, but you know

I've been doing all of my running alone lately. Summer running season is at it's finest, and the only thing that could make it better is the return of my running parter. Oh Sarah, you are dearly missed.

Running alone gives me plenty of time to scope the landscape for abandoned lavender plants and then return to the site, clippers in hand, to more-than-help-myself to a big bundle. Perfect for little gifts, also to put around the house so the kids can knock the bouquets over and get lavender pods all over the carpet.

Below you will see a photo of my sons bicycle. It is 7:20 am and he is at the home of his teacher, who lives in our neighborhood. She has offered to give him some help with reading a few days a week. He loves it so much he actually does his homework with me with (almost) no opposition.

Things like this make me never want to leave our little Colfax. It's nice to feel safe, and to know there are people who like my kids and help them just because they can.

Kids home all day means a lot more patience required from me regarding messes. If they are going to be home and not wasting away in front of the tv then I must tolerate some craziness.

For Team Workman, creativity seems to flourish with a certain degree of chaos.

I use my yoga breathing to manage, also a deliberate sort of "live in this moment" appreciation for this stage of life. I've been working a lot on understanding my brain and how/why it works the way it does. It's helping me give up some rigidity for things that make no sense, like having a clean house at all hours.

We are all just learning.

It helps, of course, that they are a bit older and can mange clean up and house things in a way that is actually helpful. The Littles are now big enough to do chores. In fact, they can empty the dish washer with almost no help, and they only sometimes break the plates all over the floor.

In addition, Eden mopped the floor the other day, solo, and Oakley can clean the bathroom as long as he doesn't get distracted by the window, the curtain, the door knob, the broom, the Lego piece, the hair brush....

Life is good.

Another summer treat was a weekend with Auntie Nu Nu. It was a classic Colfax event... Summer sunsets, free field trips, ice cream, hiking, and a lot of visiting.

I treasure the time I get to spend with my family

In closing, please remember that summer storms resulting in power outages can be treacherous. Especially when boiling eggs.

You will leave the house, sans electricity, in search of a fast food dinner and come home to the power restored and the eggs on the stove will have exploded all over kingdom come. It will stink horribly, and you will thank your lucky stars that the house didn't blow up in one gigantic egg fart.

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