Thursday, April 30, 2009

:::dallas comings and goings:::

i flew out of dc last thursday morning and was so excited that i could barely contain my joy. after an easy flight, i finally touched down in dallas and quickly found my bag. happily, sarah was already there waiting for me with scott and molly in the car fast asleep. on the drive to her house i couldn't stop poking the kids and playing with there feet. it was hard to believe that i was finally there in texas seeing them for the first time in over a year.

it was nice to finally see my sister's house after all of this time. the dining room was one of my favorite spaces in her home. even though none of us particularly like mission style furniture, we all love this dining room table, and especially the oversized chairs. go figure.

one of the first things we did was to stop by sonic so i could get a route 44 cherry limeade. we went there multiple times during my stay. one of my new favorite drinks is the lemon cream slush. it almost tasted like a tart 50/50 bar.

when we picked sophia up from school i stayed in the car then jumped out when she got close. i was so happy that she remembered who i was without any prompting!

that evening we went to sophie's school to see the kindergarten play. not only did she have the best costume, but she was the only child who you could hear clearly. the experience kids gain using microphones to give primary talks certainly pays off!

the next day was field day for her whole school. i got to eat lunch with her in the cafeteria, and i knew i had to document her beloved pink milk.

that morning scott and i had made posters to cheer sophie on. can you believe that we were the only people there cheering for anyone? when i was in school field days were a major deal. i guess times have changed...

later that evening we went to the wiggles play center, which is basically like chucky cheese. the kids were exhausted but they pushed through it, as all children do when they really want to play.

that night my mom flew into town since she just couldn't help but be part of the good times. graciously, i allowed her to crash my vacation.

guess what? she has hair now! it's soft and fluffy like duck down and we all love it. eventually she will be able to get it colored, and then after a while her normal hair will return. we're so excited for her!

by saturday morning i was suffering from a major cold, though my dad thinks i contracted pig flu. i'll go along with that as long as it garners me some sympathy. i had body aches, a burning throat, and was seriously congested. the nice thing about being sick at someone's house is that there are people there to take care of you. sarah went out and bought me some juice and kept me on a steady supply of mucinex, advil, chloraseptic, and this amazing prescription gargle with codine in it. hot darn. it completely numbed my aching throat.

that day we did a lot of shopping at hobby lobby while the kids were at a primary activity, then ate lunch at an organic market called sprouts. more on my wonderful shopping experiences in another post.

one of my 'to-do' items for this trip was to see the dallas temple while i was there. i love to see the temples when i visit a new city, and the children had never been before. i took a very sweet video that makes my heart melt of sophia singing 'I am a Child of God' outside the gates.

sarah commented on how peaceful it always is around a temple, regardless of where it is located, and wondered if we only felt that because we knew how important they were, or whether everyone could feel that peace. i think anyone with their heart in the right place can feel a portion of the Spirit when they are near the temple.

we then went into downtown dallas and had lunch at a place called twisted root were don had been with some friends from work.

the food was excellent, particularly these fried pickles. they tasted like fried zucchini but with a little kick.

funny thing, they were featured on diners, drive-ins and dives a couple days later, and we were able to watch it on the food network before i left.

while were were dowtown we also drove past the flagship neiman marcus. who knew it was in dallas?

after eating we made our way over to the kennedy assasination spot to see the book depository and the grassy knoll. coming from monument city usa, i was a very disappointed with the area. you would think that there would be something marking the spot were a beloved us president was assasinated. there was a monument a few blocks away, but it was in abismal state. maybe dallas just has no love for democrats, assasinated president or not.

from there we went to fort worth to see the stockyards and the twice daily longhorn parade. while we were waiting grandma paid for sophie and scott to ride the ponies. they were in hog heaven.

can you believe that don spent the entire day sitting in between two carseats so that my mom and i could have more room? what a nice guy.

on monday we did a lot more shopping, then dropped my mom off at the airport that night. i cried my eyes out in the car. it always hurts when your mom leaves.

tuesday i went to scott's preschool to drop off a snack and read to his class. i've wanted to make that dirt dessert since i saw it at a relief society meeting when i was still in primary. i thought preschoolers would appreciate it.

scott is just so darn cute. it was western day and he looked ridiculously adorable in his cowboy hat.

later in the day i helped sarah prepare for some classes she and don were teaching for a parent meeting at his school that night. she taught a class about cooking with kids, and don taught about gardening with kids.

when we picked sophia up from school that day, it was finally time to buy her the fish i had promised. after narrowing her choices down to something that could fit in a tiny tank, we still spent a good amount of time going over and over all the options. about 10 minutes into the deliberation process, i saw a display of beta fish complete with tanks, food, and water conditioner. i then made an executive decision that a beta was the easiest thing to buy, and since we were only getting one fish i figured it was a natural choice.

we then spent another good chunk of time going over all the color choices until she finally settled on a pretty blue and purple variety.

do you have any idea how cute it is to hear a six year old tell a fish how much she loves it and that she promises to take good care of him forever and ever? priceless.

wednesday morning i was slated to leave on an 11:30 am flight, but before that we took the kids to the dentist so that sophie could get two teeth pulled and scott could have a cavity filled.

these were the first teeth sophie has lost, and she was over the moon about it.

after we left the dentist, scott got a hold of a full sippy cup and chugged most of it down in under a minute. this massive intake of fluid combined with the pain medication he had to drink in the dentist's office, and the fact that he hadn't eaten that morning, led to a throw-up accident in the car. i felt so bad for the poor kid, but luckily he was so out of it he just sat there, said, 'mommy, i'm gonna throw-up,' did his business, then dropped off to sleep.

at one point he woke up again and started drinking what was left in his cup. as we were barrelling down the freeway sarah and i both turned around and started yelling, 'drop the sippy cup! DROP IT RIGHT NOW!!!' he kept wailing back, 'i can't help it! i so thirsty!' then he threw-up again and dropped off back to sleep. poor, poor kid.

we finally made it to the airport and i started weeping profusely. i was not eager to go back to my life as it is in dc, and i couldn't bare knowing that it would be a long, long time before i saw any of the children again.

since returning home, i've felt disoriented and very disinterested in being here. after acknowledging the fact that there were no external influences making my life in dc miserable, i realized that it was a matter of attitude and faith. slowly, slowly i'm coming around. but, man, i miss the suburbs, i miss family and children, i miss easy access to the things i need, i miss overtly friendly people, i miss peace and quiet, i miss big blue skies, nature, and flowers on the sides of the rode, i miss livestock in people's yards, i miss moms who stay home with their children, i miss sunsets, i miss little voices and tiny hands...i could go on and on, but i'll stop there. i'm thankful that i was able to spend time with my family and live in suburbia again, if only for a short time. this vacation gave me hope for the time when my work here is done and i can go back to a more pleasing living situation.

more about each child, and the fun details of my shopping excursions tomorrow!

:::back now:::

back now, and feeling very out of sorts and more than a little sad and melancholy. i'm sifting through the 800 pictures i took to find my favorites for a trip recap. in the mean time, you can read a post about motherhood that i wrote by request over on my sister's blog.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

:::in real life:::

a post has been requested about molly.

what can i say? she's still cute.

and apparently very naughty.

and she cries a lot...

like, a lot...

for no good reason...

i'm flying out to texas today. i promised my sister i would teach her how to properly parent her children when i get there.

i promised the kids that the next time i saw them i'd buy them a fish...and some toys...and new clothes...

see you when i get back.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

:::annus horribilis:::

{today is the one year anniversary of my mother's cancer diagnosis. i wrote this post to commemorate this day, and the journey we have taken as a family.}

queen elizabeth II called the year that brought scandals, failed relationships, and a fire that burned down much of windsor castle her annus horribilis -- a miserable year.

my annus horribilis can't be confined to 365 days on a calendar. in a sense, it began in the waning days of 2007 with my newborn niece molly.

it seemed that she was having trouble breathing, and was constantly going to the doctor, then being checked into hospitals. we didn't understand what was going on at first, but then reality gathered with swift momentum and suddenly a mere illness was speeding towards tragedy. the only thing, the most important thing, we could do was pray. so we prayed against the reality that was crushing down on such a little, tiny person, and hoped with real hope that our faith would beat the inevitable.

and it did. and we all breathed easier.

then my mother came home one day and found my father passed out on the floor in critical condition. after a hospital stay and careful medical attention, he survived this trauma that was brought on by a near fatal misdiagnosis of his medication.

he healed, we moved on.

and then april 22 came, the day my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. it's a date that i only know because my dad remembers it, and he reminded me of it in one of our many phone conversation during the chemo months. as my mom was laying curled up in a ball of tension and pain on the couch, my tough-as-nails-vietnam-vet-marine-corps dad broke down and cried because of the experience he'd had guiding his wife through the torture of chemo treatments and the searing pain and aggravating complications left behind by her surgery. "what a year," he choked out through tears. annus horribilis.

i have often thought of my parents during this time, not as individuals, but as a bound unit plodding along and struggling together from the startling diagnosis, the loss of hair, the wig issues, those dark days during the summer when this was all still very new and scary, the sadness, the fear, the moments of doubt, the feelings of deep discouragement, and the fatigue. the sleepless nights, financial concerns, unending pain, and the long road ahead. a problem that couldn't be solved. something they couldn't run away from. they were there, my sisters and i were all someplace else. we all felt stuck.

but as more time passed, the pain ebbed and the relief flowed. light started peeking in through cracks -- a small beam here (a shrinking tumor), another there (a less aggressive chemo cocktail), and another there (a move to radiation) -- and gathered into warming pools of light. more light came with more time, and finally our downtrodden souls were dazzled by brilliant illumination. these days i can call home and no one is crying anymore. we are well.

all of my life i have prayed that no tragedy would strike my family until i was married and had someone of my very own to lean on. when the pains of 2008 really started rolling in i recalled this long held hope and turned to the Lord. despite my deeply felt and well intentioned prayer of previous years, the only feeling i could muster at that point in my life was a shoulder shrug and a request for greater strength. what i initially wanted wasn't going to be the way things turned out, and i was ok with that. my new prayer was answered, and i am strong.

and we are strong.

annus mirabilis.

:::i just want a fancy camera strap:::

a long time ago my sister asked my in a comment if i had changed my blog banner. the answer is no, it's the same old banner as before, and i probably won't change it for a long, long time because it was such a pain to put it together. such a tedious, tedious process of much trial and error. heavy on the error.

more recently emily asked what kind of camera i use. i've had this bad boy --

a canon a530 powershot -- for a few years now.

here's the deal.

if you haven't been able to tell already, i'm not blessed with a fancy camera or any kind of editing software (beyond the wonderful and free picassa*). i made my blog banner in paint. yes, paint. the program we all loved to doodle in as kids, but now find little use for as adults. at least, that's what i used to think. i use paint frequently now, mostly at work, and mainly to copy and paste screen captures from videos, or from websites that don't allow you to right click and save images. at home i just use picassa since it now automatically saves screen captures for you if you keep the program open on your desktop.

paint is also useful if you need to turn something into a jpeg. just copy the image or text and paste it into paint, then when you 'save as', pick 'jpeg' as the document type. that's how i eventually uploaded my blog banner since, at the time, you couldn't control the collage settings in picassa (and you still don't have much control). piece by piece i copied and resized photos into a paint document until i had something i liked.

that's the way i blog these days. piece by piece trying to find innovative ways around those blasted road blocks in front of me.

not having the right tools to produce the creations you dream up is agony. there are days here and there when i feel completely frustrated by the limited capabilities of my point-and-shoot camera and my freebie editing software. at so many points in the documentation process i feel at least partially defeated because the end product nearly always falls short of what i had in mind.

i would love to have an slr and edit my photos in a nice editing program, but making those purchases would be a ridiculous thing for me to do at this time. before i can commit to those items, a new computer is desperately needed -- one without a cracked screen, a broken cd/dvd reader, and that allows you to download or run almost anything from the internet. i also have to spend money on the things that are necessary for regular life, and the small projects that i make so that i can decorate my room and add to the growing sense of home i feel when i walk through my door everday. so many things that come before a nice camera and computer programs.

i think i could be a better photographer if i had a better camera, and maybe i could make those photos look better if i had and could learn to use some editing software. but, for now, i'm happy with what i have. as time goes by i learn more and more about my camera, and i think my photos are improving because of it. not to sound cheesy, but i'm proud of the progress i've made in spite of my equipment limitations.

and hey, what i've got is already paid for.

*and i just downloaded gimp (a free editing program that is purported to have many of photoshop capabilities), but haven't used it yet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

:::a storm a comin':::

last night i made a quick jaunt to eastern market to pick up my calling cards at kinkos. i saw this:

them clouds are green, sister.

since i'm down with frontier life, i knew...

it was time to seek shelter....

but because i'm a documentation loving blogger, i was torn between a primal urge to save my life, and a blogger's need stop and take photos...

when the thunder started rolling, life won out.

yet, ever seeking solutions, i decided to take videos instead. i present them to you below.

the heavens opened shortly thereafter. the only protection i had was my other recent purchase -- annette's mother's day gift.

sorry moms.

:::things i want you to know:::

1. my sister and her family are going to the real-life ingalls homestead in south dakota this summer on their way to visit my grandma in hot springs. je-al-ous. rebekah loves her some frontier stories. for a portion of my early years -- when i wasn't living in full envy of nancy drew -- i wanted nothing more in life than to dig out a sod house on the banks of plum creek. remember when they took snow and poured maple syrup on it? laura ingalls, bless her. funny thing, though, i can't stand the little house on the prairie tv show. i'm a sipher, i tell you what.

they've started reading all the little house on the prairie books together in anticipation of their trip, and now i'm tempted to run over to barnes and noble on my lunch break grab my own copies. i think spring time is the perfect season to reread laura ingalls, or to discover her for the first time. my sister elizabeth hates stories about the american west. now that girl is a sipher.

spring is also a great time to go back to l.l. montgomery. again, love the books, can't stand the film adaptations, save the wonderful performances of the excellent colleen dewhurst and richard farnsworth. movie anne? kinda want to slap her -- hard.

prince edward island...that's someplace else i need to visit. the ingalls homestead, prince edward island, and middle earth (new zealand for you).

2. silk-tie-dyed easter eggs. who knew?

3. calling cards. spotted them on how about orange. get the template here. i had some printed at kinkos and will pick them up tonight. i'll let you know how they turn out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

:::in the pot, one week old:::

{i started this post a week ago, and guess what? i've lost my blogging mojo again. oh well, here we go...}

1. one of my friend's attorneys came back from a business trip to new york and brought back bagels. she gave me one, and it was like a chewy piece of heaven.

2. one of my other friends at work has been teaching me that hand slapping game. as you can see, i'm not very good at it. he won't play with me anymore because he said it looks like he's been beating on me. ha!

3. last week, my friday started well enough with warm weather and a non-rushed morning. i even had ample time to sit down on my bed and sew on a button. my blinds were up, the window was open, and my sheers were dancing in the breeze. it was quite picturesque, so domestic, and i wished i didn't have to go in to work.

remember this, my children -- all good things must come to an end.

4. work was not awesome that day. happily, i did see these mega-tall tulips on my lunch-time-lightening-strike trip to the trader joe's in foggy bottom. the heads were almost as big as dessert plates.

5. we had a service auction in relief society more than a few weeks ago. i offered three months of good mails (fun notes, packages, drop-offs, etc.), and once i explained the concept the bids came pouring in. at the end, our new relief society president won.

i won a vip tour of the capitol. no, that's not how you spell my name. i rarely correct people in instances when it doesn't really matter.

the end.