Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blessed with moisture

We had the hottest, driest and most awesomest summer this year.  And, when it was still dry and 84 degrees in late September I remember telling myself that we got our share.  That we can't complain.  Summer had come and gave us a massive piece of it's scorching hot pie this year, so when the rains finally arrived it would feel right.  It would be time.  Our crust of earth was due.

And now they're here.

Soaking rain, gusting winds, power outages and fallen trees have smacked us all upside the head, and just like any good Oregonian would do, we turn indoors and bunker down knowing the rains have just begun.

With the warm shelters to protect us, we all go into a bit of hibernation.  Soups are simmered, movies get watched, and needlepoint projects show their faces again.  We hunker down and stay busy with indoor to-do lists.  It's only been a few weeks since the weather turned and I've already cooked stew (twice), made several bundt cakes, painted my entire downstairs and caught up on all of my favorite tv shows.

It's nice to have every reason to ignore the unrelenting duties of yardwork right now.  The leaves will need tending to, but all the late summer watering and lawn care has faded into the past.  Our lawn had been a dry patch of parched earth not four short weeks ago.  Now look at it.

I remember when I moved to Idaho for college and attended church services for the first time.  Over the pulpit some sweet Idahoan had prayed for moisture much to my shock.  It was the first time I had ever heard someone pray for rain/snow.  In Oregon we pray for sun.

My mom told me that when she lived in Southern California she used to go to the garden store and buy moss.  Can you imagine?  Moss is my mortal enemy half the year.

I know that if you live in the desert or a more barren climate the idea of rain is sweet and beautiful.  I understand.  We always want what we don't have and we always take for granted what we do receive.  So for you who want rain, I hope and pray you get it.  For us who get it by the bucket full, I hope and pray we can survive it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Let moderation be your guide

About three years ago I was asked to give a talk during our sacrament meeting, and the topic was "living a balanced life".  Sounds like a simple and straightforward enough topic, but I struggled exceedingly with it.  I racked my brain, read a variety of sources and pleaded with God above to help me feel inspired by this topic and to know what to share that would be uplifting and helpful to the dear members of my ward who had to endure 12-15 minutes of my rambling.  Finally, I confessed to Wes that I had no idea what to say and I knew this was the one talk in church that would be my worst ever.  And, he was like, why?  And, I was all, well, being balance is who I am.  I seriously do not live any other way, so how in the world to I explain something that is so part of me that I can barely distinguish it from my own personal identity.

I believe in moderation like Wes believes in Excel spreadsheets.  And now, I will bear my testimony of it.

I had a high school teacher named Lou Evans and she loved to hang up inspirational quotes all over her classroom walls.  The one I remember the clearest was this: Moderation in all things.  So simple.  And, so boring.  No one likes to talk about being moderate!  Once I bring up the topic, everyone around me squints their eyes, purses their lips and closes up their ears.  It is the most droll, uninteresting topic of all.  But, in my opinion, it is one of the most important.  You will find more peace, joy and happiness in figuring out how to be moderate in all things than almost any thing else.

Think about one facet of life, and think about how moderation can make it better.  I can think of thousands of examples, but it's not necessary for me to cover all of them, just a few (example of moderation!)

1.  Sleeping.  I believe in getting plenty of sleep.  I think a lot of societies problems would be helped if we were all well-rested each day.  But, the media, friends, television, family members, etc...would have you think being extreme in your sleep habits is better.  How many ads to you see for those blasted "energy drinks" that can help you when you need to get things done, instead of sleep?  How about all the bragging you hear from folks who like to talk about how they got so much done on so little sleep?  How about the people who claim to only "need" 4 hours of sleep a night?  I see and hear this stuff all the time, but the truth of the matter is that our bodies are not superhuman and, our bodies need rest in order to function well and heal itself.  And, the other side of the sleep extreme it the group of folks who "sleep too much".  This my feel good physically, but it's not good for you psychologically, mentally, socially or spiritually.

2.  Children's extra-curricular activities.  I love and desire for all kids to have the opportunity to explore different physical, mental or social arenas during their childhoods.  It can benefit them in a myriad of ways.  I love that my kids have learned so much about life through sports, music lessons, art classes and church groups.  It is so much of what our childhoods are made of, right?  But, like anything else in life, the pendulum of extra-circulars can swing too far to one side or the other and then the "benefits" of these experiences begin to decrease as the "costs" of the activity reach new levels.  And, who pays that cost?  The child and their family.  I don't want to rehash my dislike of the way competitive team sports are handled nowadays, as I'm sure you remember my rantings about it.  But, think about it.  Being moderate in such activities benefits not only your child, but it also benefits your family.

3.  Exercise.  You don't need to complete an Iron man Triathlon every six months in order to be physically fit.  You also should not not exercise either.  My dad's cardiologist constantly tells him this:  All you need to do it 30 minutes of brisk walking and 10-15 minutes of resistance training every day and you are good to go.  That's it!  So, simple.  So moderate.  But, so, so many folks can seem to do this very basic thing and their bodies pay the price.  Our bodies were made to move (i.e. walk) a certain amount each day.  We need to take care of our bodies by doing a small amount of maintenance each day, so they, in return, will keep working for us for as long as possible.

4. Work
5. Friendships
6.  Politics
7.  Eating
8.  Cleanliness

And, sooooooo many more.  Moderation comes into play in all aspects of our daily lives.

My kids are so sick of hearing me talk about moderation.  If you ask any one of them what it the one topic their mom harps on, above all else, the will sing in unison (with grimaces on their faces)- MODERATION!

I think that so many of our personal life struggles can diminish, or sometimes even vanish, if we can figure out how to be more moderate.

I'm completely convince that many people are addicted to being extreme.  And, I'll admit, extremism may be more exciting, sexy and worthy of a post on facebook, but lets get real folks!  Extreme behavior always comes with a cost.  A cost to your mind, body or soul.  Maybe it's time to stop paying that expense and start disciplining your spirit to a more moderate way of life.  The payoff is huge!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

good hair

When Emma was born she was bald as a cupie doll.  Literally, no hair.  And honestly, I expected as much.  Most blond-headed, blue eyed kiddos have little-to-no hair at birth.  Cate had been similar, except for a decent patch of growth on the lower head/upper neck area that she rubbed off with time.

So, when Alice was born, and I saw that sweet baby head covered with curly blond hair I knew we were in for a bit of a change.  And, by golly, I was right.

As a toddler, her hair was delightful.  I could put it in adorable piggy tails that would curl so sweetly and frame her face just right.  But, as the school years approached and her hair grew longer and thicker, we began to encounter more difficulties with such a lush mop of curls.

Combing it out (with the widest tooth comb available) became a battle of wills and always involved tears.  At times I just gave up on combing it and within weeks she would have a couple of dread locks forming on the underside that would have to be cut out if left too long to fester.

Predictably, she became fully invested in her hair as elementary school years began to wane and middle school approached.  And gradually, she figured out how to tame those locks by herself.

This hair is almost magical.  She can pull it up into a bun and it will hold without hair ties or bobby pins.  It is the definition of "wash and dry" hair.  It never sees the likes of product, a blow dryer, or colorant.  It has volume that will not stop.  It can be braided, twisted, pinned or any other style and it will always hold.

And even though it's fabulous, it has it's downsides too.  It's heavy, hot and takes all night to dry.  Additionally, she (and I) have a crazy fear of lice because of its enormousness.

But in truth, it is totally worth it.  It is so part of her and her attitude.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What I'm watching on t.v. these days...

Yesterday I almost wrote a massive post about people who complain.  Which is ironic seeing as I am a huge complainer, and I would have simply been complaining about complainers.  I need to stop having a beef with everyone.  Jeez.  So, today I thought I'd write about something less Debbie Downer like t.v.!

Lately, I've been watching more television than normal.  It's fun.  I'm mean, I barely watched anything over the summer, and now that fall is in full-swing my t.v. viewing habits have ramped up and I'm really enjoying it.  I know y'all might be pooh-poohing my positive attitude for t.v., but sometimes I just want to veg and do nothing and watching an episode of Wicked Tuna is just what the doctor ordered.

So, lets begin.

Wicked Tuna and Wicked Tuna- north vs. south.  I'm watching them both.  Love them both.  I can't explain why I like to watch east coast fisherman catch gigantic blue fin tuna, but I do.  Yes, they curse like sailors.  Yes, these are a motley group of guys.  And yes, I have absolutely no desire to ever sail the high seas in a tuna boat, but still, there is something mesmerizing about this show.  The only other person I know who has watched this show, besides me, is Spencer, so I'm fairly certain you haven't.  That being said, I love, love, love the Hard Merchandise and I completely loathe  Yep, I hate Captain Dave, although I will admit he is a great fisherman.  Also, I have a soft spot for The Pinwheel, even those most other folks despise that boat.

So, please, oh please someone tell me that I'm not the only one who likes Wicked Tuna?  It's so interesting and fun.  You should give it a go.

Parks and Recreation.  Now, this is of course an oldie but goodie.  And, I've been watching this show for years.  But, I just finished re-watching season 6 on Netflix and although I hate to admit it, I cried during the unity concert when they played 5000 Candles in the Wind.  This show.  This show.  I almost have no words for how much I adore this show.  Whenever I meet someone, I often try to figure out what character they are on Parks and Rec.  You know what I mean?  For example, my daughter Emma is totally April.  And, it's good.  We love April.  And Cate, well she is so completely Leslie it is creeps us out.  And Spencer is Andy, which BTW is one of the best characters EVER.  Anyways, you guys get the picture.

Now, if you are not a Parks and Rec regular and are thinking of giving this show a whirl let me suggest one thing to you.  Start with season 3.  Season 3 is the real hook of the show.  I tell folks to watch season three and then backtrack and watch season's 1 and 2.  Take my word on this one.  Season three is so good.  If you decide to watch it give me a call and I'll come over and watch it with you.

And, if you're interested, my favorite episodes ever go in this particular order:

1. Li'l Sebastian- season 3
2.Two Parties- season 5
3. Flu Season- season 3
4. Leslie and Ben- season 5
5. Unity Concert- season 6

Last Tango in Halifax.  Wes and I are somewhat obsessed with British television.  We find ourselves watching more BBC shows than any other thing.  Wes loves Dr. Who, Midsomer Murders and Sherlock above all else.  I fancy a boatload of Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs, and The Paradise myself.  But, a while ago I stumbled on the show Last Tango in Halifax and it was superb.  Really, quite fetching and brilliant in so many ways.  Now, it does have some adult oriented themes (lesbian relationship, divorce, affairs and such), but overall I just ate the whole thing up.  I don't want to tell you too much about the story line, because I hate to give anything away, so all I can say is I love the characters, the scenery, the way they chew each other out (British smack talk always sounds so civilized), and the family bonds that hold them all together.  It's on Netflix right now, so hurry and watch it before it goes away.

Additionally, I'm well into the current season of Survivor and The Amazing Race.  Such good seasons for both of these shows.  All I can say is adios John Rocker.  You are a jerk.  And, I love the Soul Surfers on Amazing Race.  Totally pulling for them!

How about you?  What are you watching?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Revere Pewter

 I always get wildly inspired to do an indoor project once the school year begins and I have a bit of quiet time in the house again.  But, since Wes and I are still in the process of remodeling our kitchen (concrete countertops, new back splash, painting cabinets white, etc...) I needed to do something that was easy, cheap and could be done by me alone.  So, I chose to paint my entire family room, nook, hallway and kitchen last week.

Ten years ago I had painted the majority of my house in my then favorite color, Peanut, by Devine Paint.  And, it had been great.  I mean really, I kept if for ten years, which for me is an eternity when it comes to paint.  But, time had worn on with dirt, food and grime gradually accumulating on my walls, so a fresh coat of paint seemed like the right thing to spruce up our downstairs.

I went with Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter, which is super popular right now and fabulously neutral.

I wanted something in the "grey palette" since my kitchen is transforming into a more farmhouse rustic look.  This grey is to die for.  It looks most wonderful with white mill work, so be warned.  If your trim is cream, grey or dark wood shades, I'm not sure if Revere Pewter would be best.  The grey in this paint just coordinates so perfectly with true white.  I love it.

I bought mine at Home Depot and just asked them to color match.  I've used Benjamin Moore's actual paint before and I'm not a big fan of it (sort of thin and not good coverage).  I only like to do one coat, and the can of Behr paint I got did the trick.

Also, isn't it cool how paint these days is practically odorless?  I barely smelled this stuff.

Anyways, if your looking for an inexpensive, doable, and impactful project for your home this fall consider a new interior paint color.  Paint is cheap and the payoffs are huge!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I attended Waluga Jr. High in 1985 and 1986.  It's no longer called Waluga, it's now called Lakeridge Jr. High and has expanded to include the neighboring elementary school as part of it's campus (going from a 7th and 8th grade school to a 6th, 7th and 8th grade school).  

Alice had a volleyball game last Saturday at Waluga, so I took some pictures of the old school while we waited for her game to start.

Our family drives by this school every Sunday as we head to Grannie and Papa's house for dinner.  I love point it out and tell my kids silly stories from my days there.  The kids act rather indifferent toward my tales, but I'm always cringing beneath the surface just remembering bits and pieces of those years.

On the bottom right here was my language arts class room.  I had Ms. Haug and she had blond hair with ringlet curled sideburns (similar to Jewish peyot).  I loved her, because she loved us and she was sweet, even though we occasionally committed the most heinous crime of all- chewing gum.

I walked into the locker room and it smelled like everything I could ever remember from those years.  My olfactory bulb began stirring up all sorts of emotions and memories that had lay dormant for decades.

In this library I once attended a lunch time presentation on how to apply makeup.  All I recall is that it was deemed important to sweep your blush on with upward strokes as to not pull down on your face and encourage gravity to start wrinkling you up.

This particular ball field was not only where I played many city league softball games, but it was also the place where I let my competitive streak get out of hand one spring, during eigth grade.  You see, Mrs. Brannan had assigned me to be one of the softball "coaches" during our softball unit.  And, since I was bound and determined that my team would win every game and win the playoff, I took my duties very seriously.  I drew up a batting order.  I assigned positions.  I became the batting coach, the pitching coach and the fielding coach.  I had everything written up on a lined piece of notebook paper that I kept folded up in my back pocket.  I think the unit was supposed to be just for fun and a time to learn about softball, so I'm sure my teacher though I was out of my gourd for being so over-the-top about it all, but, heck!  I was there to win!

The long hallway.  Everything that happened in that school centered around this hallway.

Lakeridge Jr. High, you will always be Waluga to me.

**I just looked the school up and found out Ms. Haug still teaches there!**

Monday, October 6, 2014

high school: a metaphor {part 2}

Whoa.  Life took over at the end of last week and I had to leave you all hanging with only posting the first part of this story and not getting to the good stuff until now.  So, sorry.  Unfortunately, I got all swirled up with my need to completely repaint my entire downstairs, help a friend whom I adore, and battle crazy mean menstrual cramps all at once, so time just got away from me.

Okay, back to the story.  I'm thinking that maybe my metaphor is totally lame (although I did run it by one of my bestest friends who was in high school with me, and she "got it") but, maybe it's not.  I don't know.  And, the thing is this: everyone has different experiences based on where they went to high school, who they went to high school with, and what their emotional maturity was at the time.  As for me, I went to high school in a  upper-crust socioeconomic (for Oregon) area,  I had some good friends (although I did change friend groups about halfway through) but there were plenty of turkeys at my school too.  And, my emotional maturity was seriously wanting.  So, that's the back story.  And, here goes...

High school (for me) was like this:  Everyone in your grade is put into a huge gymnasium and, the doors are locked.  You are expected to survive all four years inside this gym.  And, as you mill about, finding friends and making relationships, you soon notice that there is a gigantic see-through inflatable ball that is bouncing on top of the crowd of kids in your grade.  And, as you look closer, you see that there is a group of people inside this clear ball, and this group is described by most everyone as the most popular kids in your class.  There is no special formula for deciding who these kids are, but I'm pretty sure a lot of it has to do with their ability to climb the ladder.  And, as you watch them you see that it looks like they are having the most fun time ever.  It seems that they are the most beautiful, talented, sophisticated and at ease people in the room.  A lot of people wonder how to get into that ball because it seems so desirable, so those people inch forward and try to get as close to the ball as they can.  Unfortunately, as they get right under the ball and take part in holding it up, they soon realize that on the outside of that ball are tiny little spikes, that if touched, will poke you and hurt you.  But, the desire to get inside the ball is so strong that it often causes people to sacrifice their own personal comfort and safety and they willingly stand under that ball and hold it up, even though it hurts them- and leaves scars.  Now, the people in the ball think they are part of the class or grade because the ball is clear and they see everyone, but there is a division, for they are inside the ball, and everyone else is not.  A lot of kids instinctively hate the ball and spend all of there time avoiding it by grouping together to protect themselves from it, and sometimes even making sheilds and barriers to block it from them.  The school itself likes the ball- in ways, because it has yearly pageants to celebrate those in the ball and have those in the ball think that they are so special and so representative of the school itself (Homecoming Queen, Prom King, etc...).  There is a bit of permeation with the ball and those who are wanting to get inside of it, but that's rare.  Every so often a person will be allowed into the ball (this keeps the ball holder-uppers dreams alive) and every so often someone is thrown out of the ball.  But, mostly is stays the same.

Once the four years of high school is over and graduation arrives the doors to the gymnasium are suddenly opened and everyone funnels out of the gym as fast as possible.  And, the ball, well, it falls to the ground since no one is holding it up anymore.  And, it pops.  And, the people inside the ball are all of a sudden just like everyone else.  But, they huddle close together, because each other is all they've really known.  And, they do walk out of the gymnasium doors on to the new chapter in their lives, but they stay close because being in that ball, at least for some of them, was the best part (the peak) of their lives and they need to stick together so they can reminisce about how wonderful they and it had been.

The end.

The reason I've been thinking so much about this is that while Cate was in high school she just couldn't really wrap her brain around the fact that one day the doors would open and she would run out of that gym and there would literally be the whole wide world opened up to her.  During that time in high school it is so terribly hard to see beyond those four walls and understand that the moment you get out you have the grand opportunity to start anew.  You get a fresh clean slate for the first time, in a long time.

Now, I feel sorta bad about my analogy because it's not supposed to be personal or attacking on any other people I know or have known.  It is only personal to me and the way I saw that time in my life.  Everybody has their own experiences and everyone has their own interpretations.  This just happens to be mine.