Aug 13, 2015

Why I Don't Blog Much Anymore

The other day I found myself reading an allegory written by a popular singing artist in my religious community, responding to why she is no longer selling her songs in stores. She used the idea of how a young mother loved building sandcastles. She is contacted by a company who wants her to build sandcastles for them. She then has to come up with a business plan, pitch it, negotiate salary, etc., etc. It is so much work. But she really does love sandcastles. Then she had an idea. She discovered that she could build sandcastles in her own backyard and spend more time with her children. Companies may not hire her to build sandcastles as much and she might not make as much money, but she was happy. She got the sandcastles and she got the time with her children.

It's a nearly perfect allegory for me. But not quite.

I loved blogging, expressing myself, being honest about how things are in the life of me, finding ways to amuse myself, all the while building an essay inside my head. It was great fun. But then the companies began approaching me, asking me to pitch this product or that product. The price of mentioning them was a free product from their company. I felt like I was selling out a piece of my soul. It's not like I was writing about products in my blog. I was writing about my personal life. I did a few pitches and made the conscious choice to not accept any more. It muddied my life. It muddied my blog. It muddied my memories.

Eventually, the truth dawned on me. I do love my sandcastles but I had too many. In my allegory, sandcastles are anything we enjoy or do but they are temporal. Eventually, the tide will come in and wash them away. I already had an established relationship with a company where I build sandcastles. Lots of them. Big ones. They paid me and I didn't mind. I went to college for 7 years in order to build these sandcastles. That one I'd keep. But I realized that when I was too busy building sandcastles, I wasn't busy building my own home. So I pulled back on the extra stuff, still kind of clutching strings of the smaller ones because, there was a time when I loved it so much and gained a great deal in return; computer skills, understanding html and how to adjust it, wonderful friends that I keep in contact even today, and great memories.

In retrospect, that was a good season for me to blog. I had four growing children and I was always learning new ways to juggle the demands of my life. I cataloged what we did as a family and what we did individually, threw in some humor, and I have a wonderful record of those years, complete with photos of my little kids growing up. I am profoundly grateful for those years of active blogging. They were a lot of fun and very vivid in my mind. And I found my voice which led to finding friends; some friends for life. And, yes, I've even met some of them. In the beginning, blogging was part of building my home even though it was a temporal hobby.

Now we're at the end.

It's not for a few months but my domain renewal is coming due and I won't be renewing this year. Of course, it's not the money - renting a domain costs next to nothing - It's simply a sandcastle that I started building for my family but it turned into worrying about offending someone with my honesty. My job (the one where I get paid and I went to graduate school to do) involves enough political correctness to nearly drive me to stand on the corner and just yell invectives to passing cars.

Maybe that really is the sandcastle company I should give up but I don't think so. Circumstances will change eventually. I expect either a transfer or a different administration (nobody can do anything about my soul sucking team, however). This is my act of faith. Because I know that this particular sandcastle contract pays for some things for my family including my multiple pilgrimages to Costco, trips to Disneyland, my children's college funds, etc.  Although the past three years have been ROUGH in my professional life, I really do believe that better days are ahead in that realm. It may not be this year but I can wait.

So in April, my blog will disappear. This is a calculated loss. The temptation to build sandcastles that will be washed away in the next high tide is just too strong of a pull for me. I will continue to write but will find a different, more personal platform. So download any essays you enjoyed, copy them, have them, quote from them and take credit for them as your own personal thoughts. It's been a symbiotic relationship. I've written for fun and you've read my essays and enjoyed them. And I've enjoyed that you enjoyed them. You validated me and my quirky self. But the time has come to pack up my buckets, shovels, water and carving tools, and go home.

It's been a fun ride.
























May 18, 2015

The Diet and Violence

Snippets of the letter I wrote to my missionary daughter and what's been going on in my life this week:

Today we had stake conference. I don't know if you knew that Ty D. is going to Dominican Republic. He got called upon to give his testimony today. We went to the stake center for the meeting and sat in the overflow but halfway through we moved to high council room because Jaxon declared that he has a bony butt and the hard chairs were too much to tolerate. Hard to argue with that kind of logic.

So you know S. S., Jaxon's best friend? I really looked at his mom the other day and realized she'd lost weight. I asked her about it and she told me that she completely changed her way of eating and exercising and she has more energy than she has ever had and she isn't suffering from allergies for the first time since she started having her own garden. I don't know if I told you this, but I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and demanded that he figure out why I'm so darn tired all the time. He ordered a blood draw and then I got a FitBit for Mother's Day. Apparently, I need more potassium in my body which I knew but I forgot. My prescription is about four years old so I'm taking it again but it probably isn't very potent. Also, the Fitbit tracks sleeps and an awareness of my sleep patterns was slammed into my face. Apparently, people who get, on average, 4 and half hours of sleep a night will, indeed, struggle with energy levels day after day. So I'm working on those two aspects along with walking more and tracking my diet. But Sh. Sm. had an actual plan and I wanted in.

In short order, Sh. educated me on the diet she is on. It involves copious amounts of water, protein, and veggies. It cuts out excess sodium, all sugar, and sucks out all light and love of food. Regardless, I was excited to try it out. Sh. lost weight, looks great but, above all, feels fantastic. I need that. I went to the store and stocked up on all this healthy crap. 

Today was the day to start. I began with a mixed berry smoothie with spinach and whey protein along with a cup of Kashi GoLean cereal and a half cup of almond milk. Really, it sounds reasonable, doesn't it? And it was. Drank a lot of water. Three hours later I got to eat 15 healthy little crackers dipping them in low fat cottage cheese. Three hours later, my lunch consisted of a low sodium deli turkey sandwich on this low calorie bread and I finally got a whole tablespoon of mayo. That's about the time things started to go downhill. Dad cooked sausage. So bad. It smelled so yummy. I had to lock myself in my bedroom with the door closed. I was getting a low grade headache that I associate with one of three things; hunger, thirst, or Diet Coke withdrawals. I had to rule out the first two because I was eating exactly as prescribed, I had already ingested nearly 50 oz. of water and it wasn't even 3:00 so I realized I needed to do something about my headache. I took some Ibuprophen and waited for it to abate. No such luck. I looked on the Diet Coke can to see how much sodium there really is in one serving and it isn't a lot. I really needed to get rid of this headache so I cheated on my diet with a Diet Coke. Okay, I actually chased that one Diet Coke with two more. 

I cooked a lovely Sunday meal of turkey breast, rolls, mashed potatoes, and gravy, set the table and sat with the family. I watched everybody eat the wonderful food. I had just eaten my afternoon snack - a tasteless high protein bar that was supposedly infused with chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter but it tasted more like a dry, heavy chunk of cardboard (because I clearly eat cardboard all the time so I know what it tastes like) dipped in a poor chocolate substitute. The theory here is that, if you eat a lot of protein, you will feel full longer. That was definitely true with breakfast. By the time my three hours had come and I was ready for dinner, I was looking at each member of our family, wondering which one I could eat. 

I ended up shaving a half hour off my three hours and cooked up my tilapia, flavoring it with a squirt of lime juice and dill weed on a bed of quinoa seeds. There was no butter. No fat. No sugar. No flavor. As I choked it all down, Dad walked past and tasted the quinoa which I had flavored with a little bit of curry which is no substitute for real food, by the way. My head hurts. I'm choking down dry, flavorless, expensive food. I'm still starving but feeling somewhat full and Dad says, "It's okay but it's not chocolate chip cookies." I now knew which family member I would eat.

I'm really trying and if I go to bed now I might actually only have cheated by drinking Diet Coke (with no calories) and eating an extra protein and energy bar which is what I'm doing right now. So, yeah. There's that.

The boys went over your grandparents' house tonight. I went to retrieve them and got beat up by Easton [a 4 year old truck]. Jene told me that today he walked up to her, gently caressed her head and said, "Don't worry, Mom. I will marry you. I won't let you down." She told this to me while he was rolling me into Jacob's feet then body slamming me over and over again. How can this rough and tumble boy be the same gentle soul who is going to grow up and marry his mother? Of course, Oedipus did that, too. Right after he killed his father. I better warn Chad. 

[Background for the following news: I had a friend who had a lot of struggles in her adult life and also made some poor choices. Her husband had a serious drug addiction and was trying to kick it through treatment programs. One day in June about 7 years ago, he left before she got up. She got up a little later and found his suicide note. The following August (two months later), she accidentally overdosed. She had a prescription drug addiction. They left 4 teenagers ages 13 - 19. Her parents stepped in and brought them into their home while various aunts and uncles filled in any gaps they could. Two of the four already had drug addictions. One has since cleaned up. The youngest of the four is a daughter, Jana.]

In other news, Jana S. summoned all of her extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins) to her grandparents house and didn't tell them the reason. She had a surprise. Her grandparents had just found out a couple of weeks before so they were in on the secret. They hung up a little banner that said "Called to Serve." Jana got her mission call and opened it in front of all the shocked family. I firmly believe that Jana would not have developed the depth of character and testimony had she not been brought into her grandparents' home. The circumstances were tragic but I think it saved Jana. The village stepped in and finished raising her. It's nice to see triumph and a well orchestrated plan that was probably in place a long time ago in the event that Scott and Jody didn't make better choices. It's nice to know the Gospel works in all circumstances, offering repentance and redemption at all stages of sin. And that special grace is extended to children. They still suffer but they are compensated in other areas. I think that's true of all people but especially children. 

So those are my gems for this week. Pray for your siblings and dad. I'm worried I might still eat them.

Apr 20, 2015

Prom #1 (Letter to Missionary)

I'm sitting at Dr. Watson's new office. It's kind of retro. Jacob should be getting his braces off next time. Cross your fingers. Samantha had prom #1 on Saturday. She looked beautiful.  Her date was really nice. Her next date is with a guy who seems to be a little in love with her. He keeps texting her all the time. I think she's getting annoyed. 

Since she had no big sister, her mother did her hair and make up. Reminded me of our dance days and all that hair and makeup back then. Although it felt more appropriate to put makeup on a 17 year old than a 5 year old. 




Dad threw his back out. He's been in great pain and to the chiropractor a few times. Naturally, I did a much better job rubbing out all the knots in his back. He slept really good last night. 

Jaxon caught a ladybug he is so excited about it. Then the excitement factor ramped up when it started laying eggs. He's been studying all about ladybugs the past few days. 

Conversations with Jaxon: I asked if he wanted me to read some of Michael Vey to him. He said, "No, because I have I have certain voices for the characters in my head and it would sound wrong if you read them."

"Hugs are best at night because they turn into cuddles."

Jacob got his Life at the Court of Honor last night. Pretty cool. 

How was your birthday and DC?

Finished with Orthotime. Time to go back to school. 

Gollum Bit My Fingah

So we left on Monday morning to go to St. George. We got to Darrin's house at about 3:30. I ordered pizza and we watched The Giver. Just so I don't repeat this, after The Giver on Monday night, it was Lord of the Rings. I swear that movie never ends. It goes on. And on. And on. And on. No, I did not watch it but it was on for the rest of the trip when we were at the house and it wasn't on repeat. It just goes on FOR.EV.ER. All over a stupid little ring? I mean, really. It had no diamonds in it. It may not even have been real gold. After many, many, MANY hours, Frodo stands over the fiery volcanic crap and holds the ring. Will he drop it in and destroy it? He really should because, as I already mentioned, it was probably cheap aluminum. Also, he was always warned to never put the ring on because then the dark horses or whatever would find him or something. I highly doubt it. I think it was discouraged because his finger would have turned green and then everybody would have known that the ring really wasn't such a big deal, after all. 

Anyway, back to the movie. Will he throw it in or won't he? Suddenly, that Gollum creature disapparates before him and bites off his finger. As Frodo screams in agony and woe, Gollum gathers his precious fake ring to his bosom, smiles that creepy smile and disappears into the fiery volcanic rock. Very intense. Then Jacob says, with a British accent, "Gollum bit my fingah and it really hurt." 

Tuesday was Dixie State University. Our tour guide was Brittany or some perky name like that who responded, "Awesome!" to almost everything. She was actually really cute but did not impress me with Dixie's strong academic standard. She told us why she "had came to Dixie." Yes, I did write came. She told us that most schools she applied to required a minimum score on the ACT of 21 so Dixie really appealed to her. Bless her heart. But she really did a good job with our tour. And she was perky.

We went to a little and very old candy store called Judd's which I'd never heard of but they had the most interesting and different flavors of bottled soda in the old fashioned type bottles. The kids liked that part the best, I think. And the candy, although we also ate lunch there. By the way, when it came time to take the Dixie tour, I invited Jacob to come, too. He got out with Sam and I and Jaxon yelled, "I'm coming, too!" Dad was forced to park the van and join the Dixie tour. Yay!

Wednesday we drove to Cedar City to see SUU. SUU is a smaller version of Utah State, I think. Our tour guide or ambassador's name was Trayvon. He was little black kid from California. Gave us a great tour and dropped us off for the housing tour at Eccles A. I texted Yolanda and got Makayla's number and texted her just as we walked into the foyer so she came downstairs. Then we went and ate at a place that Makayla suggested called something Pub. I forgot. Anyway, it was okay. We'd already eaten lunch before the tour so I wasn't that hungry. We returned to the house in St. George and tried to swim in their excuse for a pool. There is just nothing that compares to South Gate, you know? That night we watched "Intersteller." Not as good as that one by the same guy, "Inception." Made me have to think about Einstein's theories of relativity, gravity, and time. 

Thursday, we were pretty much done with St. George. Like I said, without it being South Gate, there was just not a lot to do. Outside hiking was out of the question because it was cold and, above all, windy. Hiking with red sand in our eyes? No. Not so much. So we cleaned the house to OCD perfection (Kym and Darrin are like that and we want to stay in their good graces) and came home. Of course, the cat told us ALL ABOUT IT. We weren't even gone that long.

Friday morning Samantha came to me and asked if she could go with Kacey to Mesquite. Right now. Can I drive her to Orem's Walmart? I was still in my pajamas but they were going with her parents and Kacey is the only child still at home so she needed a sister and Samantha needed a sister so I took her. On Friday afternoon, Jaxon was at Seth's while Jacob was out with his friends and Dad and I got bored. We were playing the part of empty nesters and didn't like it. I cleaned but tired quickly of that. I read but then got confused when nobody interrupted me. It was just weird.

On Saturday, we moved the chicken coop. The dog never uses her dog run and we're tired of chicken poop all over the cement so we moved it into the dog run. Once completed, we smelled plastic burning. Then we saw a plume of black smoke coming up from a neighbor's yard. Dad grabbed his phone and ran over to the Hales' house. Their fence was on fire. He grabbed the Collins' hose and hooked it up, Brock Hunsaker was in the backyard hosing that side of the fence and a crowd was gathering. Alex Criddle got his hands on a fire extinguisher and used it up before suffering smoke inhalation problems. The police arrived. The ambulance arrived and took Alex to the hospital. Finally, the fire department arrived and put it out. It was probably started on the Garside's property by some kids that haunt that area from Highland. The firefighters mentioned that if the neighbors hadn't stepped in so quickly, called for help, watered it down with hoses, the Hales' house would have caught on fire. As it is, the vegetation on that side of the garage is shot, a large portion of the fence is gone, and people are a lot more humble today. Turns out, Laura and Brayden were in the house the whole time. Laura was taking a shower and Brayden smelled something weird but the excitement was over before they came outside. 

Meanwhile, I ran over to assess the danger. I wasn't gone long but longer than I should have been. I decided I couldn't save the chickens from the poisonous smoke but I needed to get Sunday into the house. I came back home and called out to Jaxon. He was beside himself in hysterics. He didn't know what was going on and he was scared with all the smoke, the cars, and the sirens. He called Seth's house and they didn't answer. He called Jene and left a most pitiful message of terror and begged her to come and save him. She was Washington State at the time seeing Chad's sister. He then called Grandma and, through tears and some hysterics, said something about a fire, being scared and come and get him. She said she'd be right there and they hung up. I walked in just then so I calmed him down, hugged him a lot, and called Grandma to let her know we were safe. What a sweet, smart boy. 

Now we're all home and everybody is tucked into bed, including the chickens who have had to adjust to the new geography. That said, we will need to put a netting across the top. Two chickens were outside the dog run this morning. Snowball was completely beside herself as she paced back and forth inside the coop. The other two were happily finding worms and bugs while pooping on the cement. Sunday is asleep at my feet. Ginger is asleep on the stool. Jaxon is asleep on my bed. I am left to my own devices while there are cake balls, freshly dipped on parchment paper on the counter. 

Life is good!

Apr 4, 2015

Arming Ourselves

I'm in a quandary. Although that is nothing new. I'm in a position that I'm supposed to support a movement, and in some ways I do, but the method is what where I balk.

I live in an area that has a high suicide completion rate. Right now, a neighborhood high school has an epidemic of suicides. Not just attempts, but completed suicides. A week ago the epidemic reached the junior high, a feeder to this high school, a junior high where I work as a counselor. An 8th grade student died by suicide. 

There is a trend, a popular movement to establish a suicide prevention program in the schools. In theory, it is a good plan. In practice, not so much. I know, I know. I'm being politically incorrect. My colleagues implemented a suicide prevention program in our school. Some of my criticism may stem from our adversarial relationship and my perception of their love of glory rather than their love of kids. Plus they were very cruel to me with their mobbing and bullying, scapegoating and double standards but that is another story for another time. 

An analogy: Let's say I have a wound on my arm. It doesn't matter how it got there. It only matters that it hurts. A lot. In fact, it's infected and sometimes oozes puss. It is inflamed and I can't stop thinking about the pain in my arm. It's a constant throb. I turn to some trusted friends. They provide band aids but it barely covers it. I'm met with well intentioned advice; do something to keep your mind off it. Serve. Pray. Exercise. Eat gluten free. I see a doctor. He provides short term antibiotics which helps but I run out of antibiotics before the wound heals and it gets infected again. I want it to stop hurting desperately. Now I can't get into the hospital to get heavy duty treatment because there is a waiting list. It hurts so much. I'm tired of it always hurting so I decide to make it stop hurting. 

I cut off my arm. 

So now there is public outcry because I did something so permanent. I can never regrow my arm. It's gone. Was that the best choice? No. Was it a selfish choice? Probably not. But it hurt. So. Much. 

What is the real issue here? It is tempting to concentrate on my shocking choice that I cut off my entire arm. But that was the solution I came up with considering nothing else was really easing the pain. I would do anything to not hurt all the time. Let's be honest, too. My body is systemic. If I had an infection in my arm, it was raging through my whole being. I'm not cured. I have a whole different analogy on phantom pain, fascinating phenomena regarding the connections we still have to an amputated limb, and a family history story of my great, great, great grandfather. Then I might tie in ghosts and spirits. Maybe another day because I am taking a different tangential path. 

Back to my arm, let's assume a different scenario. I keep trying to heal my arm. At some point, with the best cocktail of medication for my body chemistry, the infection subsides. The flesh knits back together (assuming I did not sever it from the rest of my body). Perhaps I will have to take these medications for the rest of my life because my arm will always be susceptible to infection. My arm will always be weaker than the other arm and the pain will flare up periodically. It still hurts but I know it is bearable and it gets better at times. We realize that all people live with some sort of infirmity. Including the great teacher and author of much of the New Testament, Paul. He prayed to God to heal his physical infirmity over again. His request was denied. Why? Perhaps it kept him humble, teachable, and approachable. He learned empathy and love of his fellow men. But again I digress.

The issue is not the solution I chose for myself; severing my arm. It hurt. A lot. Maybe I wasn't getting the best help or maybe I got impatient. Or maybe I lacked the maturity and experience to understand the ramifications of my solution. 

So my analogy is not really about an arm that is sick. It is about a young person suffering from deep depression, angst over past decisions, questions about their own sexuality, battling drug abuse, bipolar disorder, or any number of painful infirmities. We are yelling, "Suicide is not an option!" Yet we are not arming (pun intended) our youth of the basic truisms of life. I've broken them down from easiest to hardest to swallow:
  • It will get better. By virtue of simply growing into oneself, stabilizing hormones, and leaving adolescence makes it better.
  • It will be a journey to find the right combination of prescriptions and behavior changes in order to heal. Keep trying. You learn a lot in the process and will actually someday be grateful for the wisdom the experiences provided you. 
  • You do not have to have an attitude of gratitude for the actual suffering.
  • Be patient and keep trying.
  • Happiness and sorrow are both fleeting. Soak up the happiness. Learn to cope with the opposite. 
  • Life is full of emotion. All emotions make up a full life. Accept all emotions as such. If the sadness becomes too much, be prepared to implement strategies that make up a mentally healthy you. But remember that if you are feeling, you are living. And tomorrow or next week you will feel differently. 
If we, as adults, in the schools, communities, parents, church leaders are modeling and actively teaching how to be mentally healthy, listening to one another regardless of age or whether or not we deem it as important, accept one another regardless of actions that may not be the same as our own standards, THEN I think we have a suicide prevention program that will make an impact. It won't be perfect because of a thing we call free agency, but the concentration will be on mental health, physical health, emotional health, and spiritual health instead of what not to do. We teach hard work, perseverance, resilience, faith, patience. It takes time and creativity. There is no quick fix or one single curriculum. It's a community arming the youth for the long haul. 

Because, in truth, that's what's life is all about.

Mar 29, 2015

Partial Letter to My Missionary Daughter

I'm actually having an emotionally exhausting day. An 8th grader completed suicide yesterday morning. He was a student at my junior high I went over to his house to offer condolences after church today and I implemented my super power. I say that but my super power is out of my control. I believe I am called to serve. I serve within my job. His sister answered the door, the mother, a complete stranger, came from another room and collapsed in my arms where we stood and sobbed together. Then I introduced myself but we were already best friends. 

They have a lot of support as I met some extended family, neighbors, ward members, coworkers, etc. I was introduced as being from "the school" so I decided I should be a good representative and be more detached, objective, and task oriented. Whatever. That worked for a few minutes. I took notes between sob sessions with my new best friend. 

I was not placed on the earth to check off boxes. I was placed on this earth to do exactly what I did today. But I came home exhausted, sad and grateful for my children. I wanted to hug and kiss all of them over and over again. Which did not go over so well with the teenagers. I had to back off. 

Now I will go put on pants and we will go to my parents house. By the way, I'm wearing my yoga pants which kind of count as pants.

I love you. Have a great Easter week!

Feb 24, 2015

Sister Taylor

What have I been up to the past four months? Obviously, not writing. Definitely living a life, painful and joyful.

In November we celebrated my birthday in Disneyland! Samantha made a montage:

 Just before Christmas, Alyssa was attacked just off her college campus, crossing the parking lot of her apartment complex. I was tangential for awhile but also deeply grateful. She had taken a self-defense class and recalled the defensive moves with clarity and some with intuition. It was miraculous. She escaped the attack with scrapes and bruises and sore muscles. She was jumpy for about a week and then she got her LDS mission call to Washington D.C. South.

Again, Samantha made a montage that includes her opening her call then the family pictures we took across the street from the Missionary Training Center. It's a rather touching tribute from sister to another. It makes me cry.

 To be honest, my eyes seem to be sweating a lot these days. Dropping her off at the MTC was one of the hardest things I've ever done. 18 months was suddenly not abstract. She spent two weeks in the MTC then went to the airport. She was able to call us briefly from the airport. Then she was in Burke, Virginia. We got a brief email telling us she had arrived and she had a companion. That's all we knew. On Sunday we got an email from someone we didn't know that sent us this picture:

Again. my eyes leaked. It was the plastic name tag that got me, I think. She's no longer my little girl. She belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When she gets into a pickle, she will call her mission president, not her mom and dad. Her days are dictated by a carefully planned schedule that includes a short time to get up, showered, dressed (and exercise), appointments, and proselyting. 

Maybe God knew I'd struggle relinquishing my stewardship so he made sure she was called to a mission where the boundaries include her dad's aunt and cousins. I just got an IM from Scott's cousin. She told me to pass on her phone number to Alyssa (now Sister Taylor). She'd love to see her, feed her, let her do her laundry, whatever. 

So my eyes leaked again. If I can't be there, it's nice to know family is nearby.

Oct 22, 2014

Normal Family Dinners

I am entertaining the idea that my family might not be normal, regardless of ABC's "The Middle." Alyssa has a boyfriend at BYU. She wanted to bring him home for Sunday dinner. We tried to prep the family but we already knew that having Alyssa home is such a novelty, there would be craziness.

On the way home from church Jacob asked, "So should I plan something specific or just go with it?" I told him to go with it. He has no idea how funny he is when spontaneous. So I made a nice dinner then went to my bedroom to rest for a few minutes. Samantha came in shortly after to tell me they had arrived. I stood up and walked to the hall. "Mom. Put on pants." It's my house, right? Fine. I put on pants.

At dinner, Jacob talked a mile a minute and interrogated the boyfriend who took it all in stride. He visibly relaxed when as he spent time with us. Or maybe because he was relieved I'd put on pants since he'd been warned. We were almost there when they were getting ready to return and Nakai limped over to the couch to sit down. In fact, he was in the active process of sitting when Jacob yelled, "You can't sit there! That's where Grandma died!" Oh. We were so close.

After the shock of the (untrue) outburst, he sat down and promptly took off his leg. Although the youngest in his family, he somehow intuited that the quickest way to little brothers' hearts would be to let them examine his prosthetic leg and and maul his amputated shin stump. It was a hit. The boys were enthralled. Good save.

Last night we went out for Samantha's birthday. I turned to Alyssa and asked if her boyfriend took off his leg and beat her with it, is he hitting her or kicking her? She was mildly amused but heard it before. Samantha asked, "Why did  Sally fall off the swing? Because she had no arms."

Pause.

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"

"Not Sally."

Nope. Not normal.

Aug 27, 2014

My Nice, Quiet Neighborhood

You know that essay that just rattles around in your brain and you just have to write it? Since I've made myself scarce by putting a little mute on myself due to my work situation and all the politics involved, I nearly forgot about my voice. But things have been changing. More later on the work situation. For now, I want to tell you about the exciting news of what's been going on in my nice, quiet suburban neighborhood. Last weekend, in our neighborhood, we had a popular night club making pretty brisk business then later, a mob and a riot.

Awesome!

It started like this. A large house in the neighborhood, the owners being somewhat aloof and apart from the common people like ourselves, brought in an event company. Shortly after they arrived, a security company showed up. They conferred in front of the house then went to sit in the truck for an hour or so. Then there were the EMT's and finally the Honey Buckets. That's a port-a-potty. The three DJ's arrived and turned the up the bass and the volume. 85 decibels, if you wanted to know.

Somewhere around 8:00, the parking situation started to get out of control. In fact, there were cars parked both legally and not so much legally on every street in the development, along the main thoroughfare, and in the development across the way. I noticed a few police cars patrolling the streets. At 10:00, the commotion really began. 

So what was really going on was a Project X Party. The party of all parties. Tweeted over and over and over again. In order to get into the party, you had to pay a $7 cover charge. However, if you tweeted it, you only had to pay $5. The police officers informed the homeowners, who arranged all of this for their 16 year old son, there is a noise ordinance and the party will be shut down at 10:00. They continued collecting their cover charge until 9:59. 

At 10:00, there were four city police cars and two from a neighboring city that were used to corral 1200 adrenaline infused teenagers out of the neighborhood. The music was still playing and the teenagers were grudgingly leaving the party and taking to the streets. Some returned to the bushes where they had hidden their paraphernalia. Some were sadly disappointed and enraged when their precious illegal substances were missing. 

Now we must talk about the always enjoyable hot topic of "racial profiling." Racial profiling is the use of an individual’s race or ethnicity by law enforcement personnel as a key factor in deciding whether to engage in enforcement. And that, my dear friends, is exactly what happened at the end of the street where approximately 200 teenagers gathered.

Just to clarify, there are many definition of "teenager." The most apt for most situations is my own: The developmental stage where the pre-frontal cortex portion of the brain has not caught up with the size of the person; generally occurring between the ages of 13 - 21. 

What does this mean? This means that people that are the size of adults, with the strength of adults, go around doing stupid stuff because they have no impulse control due to the lagging of development in their brains. 

Don't get me wrong, I love teenagers. I work with them. I have three of them myself. I even used to be one of them. They are wonderful, quirky creatures but they do have their challenges. The most glaring is the gap between their physical size and neurological development. 

So. The racial profiling began as the teenagers were gathering at the end of the street, on the lawn of my sweet neighbors with four small children and right across the street from my feisty friend, Kaye, who is a former city council member. She snapped this picture from her front window:

But Nancy, where are you? you might be asking. I'm straight west, behind the crowd about 200 feet. It's a train wreck. Really, who can resist a train wreck? But I digress... 

Racial profiling. It's what at least one of the intoxicated teens was using to incite the riot. I would direct you to the YouTube video that he brilliantly posted and aptly named, "Me Messing with the City Police," but I don't want you to endure the language. See, the police were attempting to handcuff a 250 lb. Tongan man with an under developed pre-frontal cortex. He was also intoxicated and was innocently walking down the street, punching stuff. Just a few examples of what he was punching include car windows which broke on impact and then people. He yelled he was being racially profiled then yelled, "Go ahead and shoot me! It's Ferguson all over!" 

Meanwhile, a small group of adults were being harassed by a few of the party goers as they streamed past us. Not all of them were smart asphalts. Some were actually very polite and apologized to us "neighbors." I caught sight of one young man and resisted the urge to call out to him, "Hey, Austin! How's it going? It's Mrs. Taylor! You know, your school counselor?" Yeah, best to keep a low profile.

A post script to the event is that they made $6000 and admitted 1200 paying patrons. That does not include those who jumped the fences from surrounding properties of unsuspecting homeowners who had no idea what was happening at this house until they asked one of the teenagers who answered, "Dude! It's gonna be the best. Party. Ever! Woooo!" Accompanied by both hands extended over their heads, knees bent, and fingers contorted into a sign we can only interpret as, "The best. Party. Ever."

Woooo.

Aug 7, 2014

Jul 30, 2014

An Explanation or Two

Jaxon picked up a cold either right before Bear Lake or shortly after we got there. My money is on the private pool where he took swimming lessons. A couple of days after getting home, Scott and I got it. The thing about my immune system is that it is really strong. I work at a school. I have been surrounded by kids for the past 24 years. I don't get sick much. When I do get sick, it's usually during holidays or summer when I can't reap the benefits of sick days.

So I had this cold for about a week and over the course of a day or two it dropped from my head to my chest. Scott remarked that I am prone to bronchitis and I said, "Yeah, that's right." That was Saturday. No doctor offices open. On Sunday I didn't bother getting up. I'd not slept for a few nights because I'd been coughing. Sunday night my cough took on a barking quality. Monday I willed myself to get the earliest possible doctor appointment and was promptly diagnosed with bronchitis. I'm on my third day of antibiotics and I'm now 88% certain I'm going to live. This is a huge improvement from Monday when I was at the inverse percent optimistic.

My last ful week of summer. I had big plans with my kids. Instead I ignored them and quietly planned my death in bed. I feel so guilty. No aquarium. No Antelope Island. No South Eastern Utah. No camping. No Trax. I am feeling so sad and guilty. Although we did hit the Museum of Natural Curiosities a couple of times this summer. Because we got in free due to Alyssa's job at Thanksgiving Point.

People have asked me why I stopped blogging so much. I obviously enjoy it. I really do. I blog about what I'm thinking and what I'm doing. This worked out well when my professional life was fairly well compartmentalized from my personal life. Not only that, but I had a fairly great professional life that enhanced my personal life. But then there was a change and I found myself falling down the rabbit hole, so to speak. A brand new reality presented itself but I was confident things would eventually sync. Then the truth sunk in. I wouldn't sync with my new work environment. More specifically, I wouldn't sync with my colleagues. I made valiant efforts but finally came to the realization that they are a broken group and I was not placed on this earth to fix them. It has been a miserable two years.

My old job gave me a 25 minute commute each way to decompress, listen to the news, pray, sing loud along to the radio, or just sit in silence. My new job is much, much closer and I can drop in at any time. Not only that, it was expected that I was "on call." When I started marking boundaries is when the trouble really started but did not end. Earlier this spring I went to a couple of job interviews. One was extremely promising and beneficial. The principal is an old friend and we have mutual feelings of admiration both professionally and personally. We are both so funny. But the real key to this interview was the unexpected. My friend told me what his part time counselor does with her time.

 I didn't get the job. The part time person decided to go full time. So I found myself on my knees one morning asking what He wanted me to do. Certainly, my current situation was not using my time and talents. I recognized new abilities I'd been given through my difficult times at work. Although not yet grateful for them, I see them as coming in handy. But what now? I'm ready for His answer because I dread my current job.

I ended my prayer and stood up. I will forever remember those moments I walked across my room. In less than a second, flashes of experiences and interactions played across my mind while simultaneously placing the pieces to make a whole picture. I knew what I needed to be doing. I wrote up a proposal and gave it to my administration. They approved it and took care of the logistics with my colleagues who are unhappy to lose their scapegoat. Three weeks ago my office was moved to a different geographical location in the school. I've spent a couple of days looking at the details of what I'm attempting and realizing how big it really is but how excited I am because I'll be doing what I love to do, what I'm good at, and away from the negativity.

It hasn't been an easy road. Even though inspired, there have been difficulties and will continue to be challenging. But I have hope.

Hope is a powerful thing.











Jul 18, 2014

Bear Lake 2014

Maybe I'll stop complaining about getting older and just enjoy what this body can still do. Because I'm going to be perfectly honest and tell you that this felt fantastic!

I chose to not get whiplash but my kids had a blast on the tube.

Okay. I'll admit to one run.

This might be my favorite photo of the whole trip. And there were some good ones. These are the littlest boy cousins with their grandma.
Every boy has a different expression/experience. They all love ice cream, though. Just to clarify, the one in the yellow shirt finished his ice cream first. That may explain the big smile.

Jul 11, 2014

The Age

My navel is very popular these days. 
All the fat cells of my body congregate.
My bra is working double duty.

The bathroom scale is groaning.
Calorie intake has dropped.
Why am I still gaining weight?

Vacation at Bear Lake tomorrow.
Family pictures on the beach.
Can I get up on one ski?
Why are my arms so fat?

Sisters want a 5k.
Bring a t-shirt to decorate.
My body pours sweat just thinking.
No. 
Just, no.

Comfort Gel Memory Foam Cooling Pillow
Portable air conditioning unit.
I'm dripping sweat walking down the hall.

The change.
It's started.
Oh, dread.

Jun 29, 2014

Another Faux Pas

I'm at my class reunion being held at the high school. Someone forgot to inform the school facilities manager and there is no air conditioning. I'm holding a plastic cup with lemonade and ice when I see an old friend and his sons in the hall. The older son is a former student of mine. I bypass my friend and greet his son and give him a hug. To my utter horror then surprise, I forget I am holding a drink. I wrap my arms around the boy's neck and dump the lemonade over his shoulder  back towards me. Horror that I dumped it on the young man. Surprise when most of it neatly poured itself into my bra. From one cup to another. Mortification when I realized my mistake and wondered what THAT would look like.

I called over my shoulder to the boy's father, "Wade! Go get some napkins!" Meanwhile, Tommy was trying to undo himself from my clinging hug.

Awkward.

Jun 25, 2014

Museum of Natural Curiosities

My name is Julie and I will be your cruise director this summer.

First up, I allow you choose the activity you want.

Hundreds of dollars later, I realize this is a mistake and try a free activity like Geocaching.

After realizing that some people hide their "cache" in old fashioned film canisters, hanging in pine trees that are impossible to climb into, we resort to different activities that cost a little but not hundreds of dollars.

The right mix of activities includes bringing cousins along because the weight of constant engagement and sometimes forced, "Isn't this fun?!" lifts significantly. Which is how we found ourselves in the Museum of Natural Curiosities.

Special thanks to Alyssa Taylor who works at Thanksgiving Point, giving her family free access to most of the attractions.

I discovered that this one is a runner. More than once (exactly twice) I panicked and started calling out to my 3 year old nephew. After a minute or two, he sauntered back over to me without a care in the world.
Also discovered with all the wonder-inducing marvels in the museum, 3 year olds love the corner with the pretend garden and stuffed, toy vegetables they feed into a cut out of a rabbit's mouth. The rabbit says, "That's yummy!"

I'd do it all over again in a New York minute.