Friday, April 19, 2019

This new first

Landon has been telling me for probably about 6 months "I'm taller than you, Mom!" We'd pull out a book or (when it started getting really close) Jordan's level, but as long as I stretched just a bit to the tallest posture I could, I was still taller.  We hadn't measured though for a month or so and sure enough, despite my best posture, he's taller than me now!

We made silly faces in the mirror -- as Landon said something like "I'm not sure if I should smile or not -- I'm not sure how I feel about this!"

A year or so ago, I was in line at the store behind a mom and her three or four teenage children -- surrounding her just like my kids do me - jostling each other, teasing, laughing. It was all very familiar, and I could see myself there so clearly - except all her children were looking down to her! Instead of being the one in the center looking out over the tops of their heads, she was in the center, looking up as she talked with any one of them. It was such a sweet and sad, just kind of strange moment knowing that would be my own perspective in a few (well, more than a few) more years.

But we're on our way with this tall kiddo!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Haiku Day!

Yesterday morning, my sister sent a text to celebrate National Haiku Day (did you know that was a thing ;) -- "Here's the challenge: share a Haiku that describers or expresses your day or week, or feelings or whatever you want :)"

And it turned out to be such a fun way to connect with my siblings throughout the day -- sharing little bits of our day in 3 lines (5-7-5), and getting to hear little bits about all of their days too!

Here are a few of our silly haikus from the day  --

I love to listen
While I do my morning jobs
To the boys playing

I think that a walk
will be just the perfect thing
to brighten the day

Dino-nugget lunch,
On my way to help at school
In the boys' classes

J and kids at home
Dinner to go with Owen
from scouts to soccer

(From Landon)

I have a question
Mom won't approve my haikus
What do I do now?

(Ha -- he'd gotten in trouble about something, so he had written a few haikus about the meanness of his mother...and although I didn't share those, I realized it might actually be a pretty good practice -turning all those frustrated, mad feelings into just the 17 syllables of a haiku... maybe next time instead of 'go to your room' I can try 'go write a haiku'! (not really) (but maybe?)

(also from Landon, who has been excited to be listening to some new music lately :)

Bon Jovi is good
But is incomparable
to Journey or Queen

Ellie also had a long series of haikus all about a plot against her brother that she kept passing me on slips of paper, trying to look a little mischievous each time but having a hard time not smiling when I laughed at each's one of the last -

I was right, she laughed
But I laughed a little too
'Cause it was funny.

Really it was just such a fun way to connect throughout the day, and I'm excited to try again next year!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Water Aerobics (+ more YMCA fun)

Some time in college, I visited my Grandma Tripp in California and she mentioned a water aerobics class she had been attending. As she described it and how much she liked it, I realized it sounded like something I could do, and something that might help me feel a little less afraid of being in the water. (It seems strange to me now because I feel totally comfortable in a pool, but I remember clearly my motivation to try out a class was to overcome that fear, and I can just vaguely remember my first few days in the class and how close I stayed to the edge of the pool!)

I joined an evening class at BYU and quickly learned to love my evenings there with our fun teacher and with familiar classmates that became friends over my years of attending. 

I was a runner, and I learned that water aerobics was a perfect cross training choice because while it was a good workout, it was also super easy on my joints and always left me feeling stronger and ready for a run the next day (unlike kickboxing that I had tried previously! :) 

During my first pregnancies while we still lived in Provo, I loved the class even more (because the last month of my pregnancy with Ellie fell over the school's semester break, I joined a new class at the Orem rec center. And I can remember walking in to class, making small talk and another classmate asking when I was due, to which I answered something like "tomorrow!")  It was just great to move and relax and exercise and also just feel not quite so heavy for that hour in the pool!

Since we have moved to Logan, I still haven't found a great class to join. I know there is one at SkyView, but the drive has always felt too long. There's a class at the gym, but the membership seems high and the times have never fit too well with our schedules. For a few months last summer, wanting to find some exercise I could do without feeling worse from my arthritis, I did join the class and I did enjoy it (and even though I was half any other class member's age, I still enjoyed making friends.)   

We planned our trip to New York with one day of overlap between our time together and Jordan's working time, so I'd have one day on my own to do whatever I wanted. I got ready slowly, visited the MoMA and the MoMA design store, had lunch at Whole Foods, and went to a water aerobics class. 

The two pools I saw at the Westside YMCA were breathtaking. They were old and worn, but they were beautiful! The walls and floor surrounding each of the pools were covered with detailed tile, the windows painted with color, the arched entryways grand... I wanted to take pictures or a video of each corner of the pool because it was just so neat, but I was also in a swimsuit (+ a borrowed swim cap to follow the rules!) and not wanting to draw too much attention to myself from all the rest of the class members just coming in for their Tuesday morning class.

And just like always the class was fun and familiar - cross country skiing in the deep end while balancing on a pool noodle, running in place and circling arms in the shallow end... My favorite difference though were the quiet voices popping up from a couple of class members contentedly singing along with the background jazz music, and this comment -  "This music is so good, I can't help it!"

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

just a silly lego pic

Sometimes (often) when I'm not sure what to write about, I'll just skim through the pictures on my phone till I find one that I'd like to remember the moment of better or that seems fun to share. Today I found this most-serious Lego music group picture that Landon must have taken :)  I love knowing how carefully each guy/accessory/hair-do was probably chosen to create this funny little band.

On a trip to New York several years ago we discovered the lego stores 'build-your-own-mini-figure' and this has become the go-to souvenir.  Jordan and I had fun this time standing around the little carousel on our own, sorting through silly and serious faces, hats, shirts, pants and accessories to pick out guys to bring back for each of the kids when we returned.

Owen also got a lego set for his birthday (mostly a new thing for him though he's watched Landon and Ellie loving legos for quite a while). This weekend he was looking at all the other cool sets online, and he came home from school yesterday and jumped right in to washing windows and folding towels to earn some extra lego money :)

Monday, April 15, 2019

back to regular life

Kathie and Winslow left this morning, and the kids waved from the front window till they drove out of sight. It was sure wonderful for them to come and watch our kiddos for us while we went to New York! I loved knowing that no matter how things were going while we were away, they would just love these kids.  They would delight in their sweet and funny moments, and they'd work through any tough moments with patience and love.

{Thank you Kathie and Winslow!!}

And now, we're back to a regular Monday. Two children happily off to school, one not-so-happily off to school, one home sick with a sore throat, and one (almost) napping. Laundry to wash, groceries to buy, a suitcase still waiting for me to finish unpacking...

There's a strange thing about these visits to New York, more than other trips we take  -- for a week or so each year or so it feels like we kind of  try on this other life - fast moving, crashingly noisy, full and contrasting, tight and close and packed in, expensive and immediate...and in almost every way so different from the dailyness of our lives here in Logan.

Kathie was reading to Ellie for a few minutes yesterday "From the Mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" and I caught this line about the main character's plans to run away to New York City -- "Claudia loved the city because it was elegant; it was important and busy." I love that too!

And also, I love our own real dailyness (even if it does take a little time to settle back in). Where we make our own beds, sweep the floors, get the kids to school and read together on the couch. Where Jordan steps out the door to head in to work in the morning, and steps back in for some breathing room every once in a while when he's thinking through a tough problem or just wants to say hello. Where we look out the windows and see not the breathtaking sea of buildings, people, so many lives so close together... but the beautifully calm and sure mountains, trees, and newly green fields.

We're counting down the days to summer break around here  -- 33 1/2 school days left ;) and jumping in to soccer season (first game today!), still packing up the winter gear (the boots did have to come out from the attic again last week with some new snow)  while also getting all our bikes and scooters tuned up and ready for springtime adventures. We have junk drawers (baskets) to sort through, summer plans to brainstorm, meals to plan, library books to renew, trees to prune, grass to re-seed... here we go!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Tai-Chi and other thoughts

On our way to the YMCA
When we visited Canada a year or so ago, we stayed in a basement apartment airbnb on a quiet corner, next to a neighborhood park. On a few mornings, while I watched the kids run and climb and play at the playground, I also watched a couple off to the side on the basketball courts practicing Tai chi. There was something so beautiful and connected, calm and peaceful, and also strong and firm about it that I just loved. I wanted to just sit and watch, but instead I kept an eye on the kids and stole as many glances as I felt wouldn't be too obvious.

When we were exploring 'things to do' in New York, I started just an outward search on google maps beginning at our hotel. A few blocks away (a short bike ride away, we found) was the westside YMCA. And they had a Tai chi class!

Jordan was a great sport and came along with me. We rode bikes through the morning, up through the side streets,  the air crisp and the fog lifting though still covering the tops of the taller buildings - it all just felt kind of magical.

We weren't experts! The teacher set aside a portion of time at the end of class for his assistant to help out 'the beginners' (us). But he was kind and we followed along the best we could.

Though obviously outsiders, I was struck by the sense of community I still felt. I knew if we ever found ourselves living on the west side of Manhattan, this was a safe, comfortable place where I could spend an hour each week and make friends (though maybe somewhat older friends). As class finished, they talked about movies they'd seen that week, the loss of a beloved pet, the new Tai chi form they were excited to start learning soon. It was so clearly a place to belong.

Also, I've had in my mind over this last school year a feeling of expectation or anticipation or preparation... not a nagging thought but more just a space in my mind of 'what's next?' Our children are growing. The hours of my days which have revolved so fully around Landon, Ellie, Owen, Porter, and Isaac for the last 12 years will in just a few years shift and expand, with my own 'quiet time' becoming more than just the sweet spot of well-coordinated nap times. Along with those thoughts, I've had a phrase in my mind the past little while that I heard on a podcast or read on a blog... ' do more of those things that make you feel like yourself.'  There are many moments in mothering when I do feel that - sitting close reading a favorite story, baking cookies with helpers up on the counter, practicing letter sounds or counting by 10's, tucking in at night or giving one final kiss to a sleeping forehead before I go to bed. Fewer, these days,  are moments on my own. Standing in that class, watching my reflection in the dance room mirrors surrounding the wood floor where I snake-stepped forward across the room and back again, following along and focusing on keeping my balance with one foot full and the other empty and ready to move, imperfectly circling my arms along with the instructor, messily, but as best as I could... I was surprised to find in all of it that I felt like myself.  

I worried about this trip to New York. Even up to just days before we left, I felt at times like I might ruin our trip with homesickness for our children. It turned out, I was okay. I loved talking to them, and wished I could even a little more. I treasured the minutes found in a quiet construction-zone corner on 5th avenue to sit with my back to an orange barrel and hear about Owen's birthday gifts, Ellie's school day, noises from the front room of the other boys playing and wrestling. They were all safe and happy and enjoying the time with Grammie and Grandpa while we were away. And also, I loved spending the days with Jordan, and even spending one day on my own while he worked (I can do anything I want to do!) It was a great experience and brought even more real-ness to these thoughts I'm sorting through of the years to come when our days, my days will not revolve entirely around these dear little ones.

Writing now about this short class, this trip away, I can see how it helped me feel just a little more okay about theses changing seasons to come. I was okay. I missed my kiddos, but also I was happy! I will miss these ages and stages and moments (like Isaac's attachment today for his new too-big shoes, Porter's tiger growls and off-the-bed somersaults...), and also - I'll still find new places to belong, new moments that make me feel like me, new happy adventures ahead.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

home again, home again!

Magnolias at Union Square Park

I had a wonderful welcome home last night with Winslow and all the kids picking me up,  signs on the door welcoming me home,  tulips in the front yard, and a delicious hot dinner from Kathie ready for us at the table! 

And Jordan and I had a really wonderful time in New York! The kids and I talked to Jordan for a few minutes as he walked back to his hotel from work yesterday (he has a couple more days till he'll head home) and I just loved so much the sights and sounds surrounding him as he walked through the city. 

I sure love our home here in Logan - our friends, our neighbors, our mountains... and I also love this great big city that we got to see this time just waking up to Springtime. 

"As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world." (Pearl S. Buck)

And it was so fun to spend this time with Jordan and have these adventures with him!

I have great plans to write more about our adventures, but here's a short (maybe not so short!) and sweet list for now: 

* Listening to General Conference from Central Park on Saturday and Sunday - with some biking, walking, wandering, watching, and resting. 
* A New York pizza school class (we're expert pizza chefs now :)
* Bike rides all around the city, traveling from place to place (I thought driving a mini-van in the city was adventurous years ago, but this was a new level of exploring!)
* Delicious choices from fun bakeries (here, here, here...) and other great food too (like this favorite!)
* Hotel breakfasts looking out the windows at the hotel we stayed in 14 years ago on our first trip to New York (not planned, but such a fun coincidence!)
* Little hints of Spring all around - especially bright yellow daffodils and beautiful magnolia trees
* A 2 Cellos concert at Radio City Music Hall (this was wild!)
* Biking the Brooklyn Bridge (harder than I thought though!)
* A Tai-chi class at the nearby Westside YMCA (with Jordan even!) that I loved so much
* A sight-seeing tour with a fun mix of new and familiar
* The 9/11 memorial and museum
* Our hotel room view of the city and the Hudson River below
* Finding rest for our (my) tired feet at a movie theater watching a 1970's Aretha Franklin gospel performance
* The 4th floor of the MoMA (with my favorite artists from my college humanities class :)
* A water aerobics class at the YMCA
* Bowling and pizza in Brooklyn with Jordan's team from work
* Listening to Michelle Obama's book while I traveled home

"I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world's greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance." (Nora Ephron)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Welcome Spring...and real life too.

Yesterday I wrote about our welcome to Spring Break -- with swings and tree climbing and happy playing...

And we did have all those happy moments.

And also we had just one of those hard days with morning to night arguing, fighting, complaining...
with lots of "MOMMMMM! _______ is ________!"  and some "Please ___________" followed by different versions of "Why do you hate me!?"

Last night and this morning as I prayed for help and for what I could do better, my only thought was to speak softly. (Except, in my mind it was more like an emphatically repeated "SPEAK SOFTLY!" Ha :)

And we've had a much better day. Much, much, much (so far! fingers crossed!) better.

Jordan stepped inside for a few minutes and I told him about my efforts to speak softly and how much better things were going ,(I thought all the kids were downstairs) and Landon called in from the other room "Yeah! You are doing great with that today!"

Isn't it great that we can always try again?

Monday, April 1, 2019

Welcome to Spring Break

image here (we don't quite have those blossoms yet, but aren't they pretty?)
Our week of Spring Break started today with April Fool's pranks  -- a mustache for Landon in his sleep, followed by breakfast cereal cupboard doors removed, oatmeal hidden by Porter, a surprise of Cheetos (you'd never get these for us!) that turned out to be carrots, shampoo in my shower (with a thoughtful warning!)  and other silliness.

Also morning jobs, piles of blankets for play, a trip to Whittier Park,  tree climbing and swing-swinging, and a hike later this afternoon when Isaac wakes up.

Happy Spring Break!