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."


"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.


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."


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.
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.


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.

Jun 24, 2014

Isn't it great to be 48?!

The man teaches Sunday School, makes presentations to multitudes of people for work, was recently recognized for his hard work and given a major award (cue Christmas Story music) but he absolutely loathes to be the center of attention. Therefore, I took it upon myself to spread the word as I walked in late to church on Sunday and whispered in passing to every member of the congregation, "It's Scott's birthday today. Pass it on." One dear, stupid man actually asked me what I was going to give him for his birthday.  I was already talking to my friend, Kaye, and bit my tongue answering only vaguely, "Oh, you know. Golf balls." Then I followed Kaye home before I spontaneously imploded to make my smarty pants remark. Thanks, Kaye. And you're right, of course. The shimmy makes the answer that much sweeter.
 This is what happens when you realize you don't have any birthday candles. Let us take a moment and celebrate (not mock) that Garage Sales do not only have trash. Case in point.

 I don't know who started it.

 But I know who ended it.

Two of the three in the back row are standing on their tippie toes.

Happy birthday, Old Man. 
Only two years away from your colonoscopy.

Apr 30, 2014

It Could Have Been Avoided if She Had Her Dance Shoes

To further strengthen my stance on carrying your leather soled dance shoes in your purse, I have included a video clip from a security camera taken at a nearby junior high. A girl walked into the office and put her foot up on the desk while commenting how flexible she is. Grace, the office aide, decided to show how flexible she is, too. She stepped out and did a high kick.

What happened next wouldn't have happened had she had on her dance shoes.

I'm just sayin'.

Apr 24, 2014

I took the girls shopping on Saturday to buy Easter dresses. I never go to the mall so it was a transition for me to be among the mall set. My Saturdays are typically spent at Costco, the grocery store, or Home Depot.

We found some dresses for the girls and I tried on a couple that looked almost good on me. I'm adjusting to my middle age acceptance but as I stood evaluating myself in the mirror, I realized that I needed a bra. A good bra. So we dragged the girls with me to Victoria's Secret. Right before entering the store, Alyssa mumbled, "This store makes me so uncomfortable."

The moment I walked in, my purse strap snagged on a rack and I pulled the rack partly over before catching it. Fortunately, there was a Victoria's Secret Associate to greet us and she grabbed it, too. "Oh! Look at that! We have the store booby-trapped!" I snickered. I turned to my daughters who were already taking retreating steps. "She said 'booby.'" My older daughter rolled her eyes at my maturity level while my younger daughter just looked uncomfortable. I excused them to go wander the mall.

The associate asked what she could do to help me. I was still tickled by her first comment and announced that I needed a "Booby-Trap." Fortunately, she was also a rather odd duck and giggled with me. Apparently, that's what middle age women do to cope with the gravitational pull on our bodies. I bought an expensive bra and have enjoyed the way every single shirt I own now fits better. Who knew that the ladies are not supposed to be down at our belly buttons?

It was a relatively successful shopping trip with stops at Dillards, JCPenney, all kinds of boutique-y stores, Victoria's Secret, and the Food Court (the girls while I was at Victoria's Secret). At the end of the day I made my way to the grocery store where I made an impulse purchase. I bought a purse. A smaller, leather purse that I did not buy at a) the second hand store, 2) Tijuana or 3) Canal Street in New York City. It's been YEARS since I've bought a leather purse at a store. It was on clearance and I was quite pleased it. I've been carrying around my monster purse from Canal Street for 6 months. I purposely buy smaller purses as my tendency is to fill the space and never clean it out. Thus, it was time to clean it out and go small again.

Yesterday I received a couple of comments on my purse. Our secretary complimented me on my purse and I told her I just bought it on Saturday. She asked where I got it and what kind is it. I froze up. She was expecting a name brand from a nice a store. I couldn't admit I bought it at Smith's (Kroger) on the clearance rack but I couldn't lie, either. So I told a tiny fib. It was more of a fib of omission. I told her my daughters and I were all over the mall on Saturday then dropped some of the store names, quickly seguing to how I bought a new bra.

Later I was sitting at the doctor's office with my older daughter and she complimented my small purse. I happily announced that I'd cleaned out my purse and only had the absolute necessities in my little purse. She asked if I had dental floss. I did not. She told me "too bad," while looking at my teeth. So I named all the things I carried in my purse at that moment; my wallet, phone, my glasses, keys, Tylenol, and my dance shoes. "Your dance shoes? Have you started dancing again?"



"You never know when you're going to need your dance shoes." So I've added dental floss, a little more makeup and Tums. I didn't take out my dance shoes. You never know when you're going to need your dance shoes.


Apr 23, 2014

What I Forgot to Tell My Son

My sister-in-law gave birth to her second son two weeks ago. My 14 year old son and 16 year old daughter drove to the hospital to see him. Leila had just sent him back to the nursery and I'm so bossy I told her to get him back so I can bother him. She did. He was brought in with his eyes wide open and alert.

I immediately fell in love with him.
Not to boast or anything (I'm totally boasting), I had two babies that came out looking like a cookie cutter version of this one. Minus the Republic of Georgia pigmentation. That Taylor DNA is very strong.

Leila was slightly high on Percocet and was absolutely hilarious. She informed us that little Niko had been sleeping all day because he'd been circumcised. Jacob looked up from holding him and asked, "What is 'circumcised'?" I suddenly felt like a failure of a mother. Leila laughingly informed him that it means that he'd had his Brit Malah. Jacob looked even more confused so I clarified it for him by calling him "Yaakov" and asking him if knew he used to have more skin on his. . . He somehow intuited I was going to say something offensive and placed his hands firmly on his ears while singing loudly, "La! La! La! La!"

None of us are Jewish but Leila is from the country of Georgia where she was a practicing member of a Christian Orthodox congregation. They stand for three hours or more for their services which is why she boasts about her freakishly strong legs. For the record, Leila has only recently started shopping in the junior department in stores. She graduated from the children's department. I kid not. 

Leila and I reminisced on Niko's brother's baptism which I had no forewarning of the ritual. I watched, fascinated, while Father Justin chanted, lit incense, had the godparents spit over the banister to ward off evil, and reminded Leila how Luka cried and cried throughout the ceremony. Right until he fell asleep in his godmother's arms. Which was just about the time he was undressed, the baptistry was uncovered, and Luka was baptised by immersion. I was not expecting him to be immersed three times. Luka was not expecting it, either. He was just about the cutest, angriest 6 week old I'd ever seen. I really, really, really hope we are invited again to the baptism. There is nothing cuter than a naked, indignant baby with fuzzy hair.

On the way out to the car and on the elevator, I explained to Jacob what circumcision involves. He turned green at the gills and was every bit as indignant as his cousin had been in the church. I wished I had a a camera to record his expression and the way he stomped out of the elevator exclaiming, "I thought I was BORN this way!"

Nice outburst. I wonder what the people in the lobby thought as I gave an apologetic grin and wave and ran out the door.

Another glaring example of how I have ruined my son's childhood.

Mar 23, 2014

It's Sunday! What are you wearing?

We're redoing our kitchen and I was busy sorting through papers while standing at the kitchen table when a knock came at the door. Scott was going home teaching so I already knew it was his partner, both men still in their Sunday best. I talked to our neighbor, found a photo of his daughter, handed it to him, and he and Scott walked out the door. I finished that pile and began making rolls. Halfway through adding flour it suddenly occurred to me to check to make sure I was wearing pants. For split second, I panicked before I affirmed that I was, indeed wearing pants.

 It's Sunday. It's not like I'm going anywhere or anything. I can take off my pants.

 This is a particularly relevant thought process after my incident this morning. Scott had already taken the kids to church and I figured I should put on clothes to go to church. I knew I bought a blouse and a belt yesterday and it was still in the car in the garage. In my underwear, I found that the garage door was open. It was a judgment based on probability and statistics. 85% of my neighborhood go to church at the same time. It was a couple of minutes after the hour meaning that possibly 10% were running late. My street is laden with punctual people. There was a >1% chance anybody would drive past my house and see my underwear clad body dashing out to the car in the garage.

 Then there is Murphy's Law. A pedestrian walking down the street, trailing a toddler. I still may have gotten away with it if I hadn't let out an expletive.

 Hence, today I am wearing pants