Jake is the music director for a summer music camp production of Les Miserables. I went to see it tonight. It was my first time to see the show. I really enjoyed it, and tonight's Jean Valjean was AMAZING! His name is Alex Miller. He just graduated from a local high school and will be off to study musical theatre at the University of Michigan in the fall. He was my favorite part.

I loved seeing what songs belonged to what character. Oh, Eponine. Sweet Eponine. What a tender role to play.

Pre-children: I never missed anything Jake played for, with the exception of a few instrumental recitals, and obviously parties and weddings he was hired for.

Children: It is a rare occasion that I get to see him in action. I feel lucky every time I'm able to go. He does SO MUCH, and I love the little bit I get to see and share with him.

A secret: I still get giddy when I watch him on stage (or hear him in the pit).

After the show, Jake gave me the second half of the backstage tour. Old theatres are fascinating to me. The same part of my brain that loves old houses is probably responsible for this affinity. It didn't disappoint. I want to explore every nook and cranny, even the creepy parts. ;) He walked out of the house to the glow of the ghost light. Next on my list: Making it to the top of the Gold Star Building.

PS: "The Queen" parachuting into the stadium. I love the Brits. And the Olympics. My telly will be getting some major use during the next couple of weeks. What's your favorite summer sport? I can't decide. Track, gymnastics, volleyball...I think in that order, but they barely edge one another out in rank. [Winter is easy: ski jumping.]

Women are Heroes

I'm lying on my couch in the dark staring at the moon. It's warm and glowing and perfectly framed in my window.

I've been reading and listening to stories of women that are hard to hear. I feel helpless when I hear stories like these. I used to avoid them, often becoming physically ill or finding myself in a reclusive stupor for hours after. I've let my guard down in the last few years. If anything at all, I could hear a woman tell her story and in a way share some part of her experience because I knew it happened. They're always difficult. Being the mother of daughters has not only heightened my sense of worry and grief at the way women and girls are treated, but also my resolve to help make it better.

Listening, letting myself hear individual voices, rather than simply knowing horrible things happen has been my first step. And it has been a hard one. But because of whatever it was that allowed me to be born where I was and grow up where I did with the rights that I have as a woman, I have a responsibility to help in whatever way I can. And there are ways. I spent some time at Half the Sky's site. It's an expansive resource.

After a little digging, I came across a project called Women are Heroes. The artist's use of surprise is one the best I've ever seen. He finds the "life" inside through unconventional portraits of women who have had heartbreaking experiences. Here is the trailer. And just incase you're sensitive to nudity, there are a few seconds at the beginning of a woman calmly working through labor.


Urban Sprawl is depressing.

This might be something like cabin fever. It's been extra hot the last week or so. I'm not usually a weather weenie. It's the end of July, of course it's hot. My most rational side knows this. We've been staying inside more, which is fine. I'm kind of a homebody. Here's the real deal-ee-o:

Jake needed a few "back to school clothes," and he had the afternoon off, so we went. We started out on the Plaza, but the shops we wanted to go to are closed on Monday (I hardly remember what day of the week it is). We headed to Penn Square. We left with one thing, ate lunch at Elephant Bar because one of his students from last semester tipped him with a gift card, and then headed to Kohl's. Why did we head to Kohl's? We have two unused gift cards, and thought we might find some staples.

Our epic journey up NW Expressway began. We drove by the endless chain restaurants and stores, miles and miles of them. And then we spent almost an hour and a half in Kohl's, and do you know what we left with? A rug. A RUG! It's cute, but I don't think I would have paid attention to it if it wasn't on sale. I let the red tag mess with my mind. The red tag and the stand alone big box of a store in the middle of a parking lot, in what seemed like should be the middle of nowhere.

We then made our way back down the said Expressway. It was soul crushing and left me in a funk. I think I started breathing normally again when I rounded the curve onto Classen - the one I always pretend I'm a race car driver when I go around. Flower Garden Park and Fringe Gallery (I can't believe I still haven't been), Memorial Park's Fountain, Lee's Sandwiches. I could live contently in a 1x5 mile swath of the city (with the exception of needing a better grocery store). I could ride my bike or walk everywhere.

These points somehow lead to the point I'm trying to make:
It's hot.
I've been driving more.
I've been riding my bike/walking less.
I miss public transportation.
NW Expressway is long.
I made brownies tonight and cut my piece right out of the middle.

This might be the real point: I need dense urbanization in my life, or none at all. The sprawling middle ground I find myself in is difficult sometimes. I think I might avoid driving for a day or two. And I feel like when I do spend money, most of it should be spent in the lovely brave establishments in my little 1x5 urban oasis.

PS: If I happened to be business savvy, I would figure out a way to buy out the Homeland store at the edge of my 'hood and open a super awesome produce market. Because I like local produce markets. And I like people. Rather than running it, I'd like to wear an apron and stock the fruits and veggies. And talk to the people I like. And tell them they should try kumquats. And host seasonal cooking classes.


We live across the street from a non-profit organization that does really amazing things. I've been following them for a year on facebook, waiting for the perfect opportunity to volunteer. My girls are almost always with me, so I needed something they could help with. Yesterday, I saw a call for volunteers on their page. They needed people to come help sort school supplies for 430 children. Four-year-olds are probably the best sorters around. Here's a blurb:
Through the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program (a program offered through Sunbeam’s Caregiver Fundamentals Program), grandparents will receive backpacks filled with school supplies for their grandchildren to start the upcoming school year. Oklahoma ranks TOP 5 in the nation for the number of grandparents raising grandchildren!
It was such a joy to see Cora helping. She did whatever she was asked, and when she ran out of things to do, she wasn't hesitant to go ask someone for a new task. She was sad when we had to leave. I volunteered at the Regional Food Bank's Letter Carrier's Food Drive a few months ago, and I met a really cool couple. They volunteer at so many things, and they raised their children [all grown] to do the same. They now bring their grandchildren with them to events. An example of their service: She was in-charge of organizing all of the water stops for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (finding volunteers to run the stops, ordering all of the materials, making sure there were enough hoses to reach from the hydrants to the tables, so many little details!). It was fun to talk with them.
(Photo taken from Sunbeam Family Services)

I've really missed community involvement, but I totally understand that at this point in my life (mother of small children), I have priorities that take precedence. I was happy and humbled to help in some way, and to do it with my children. There were mountains of school supplies! Way better than the school supply aisles at the stores! I think it would be fun to do something in conjunction with this event, like have a group of people write little "love notes" to slip in the backpacks wishing the kids a happy first day of school and wonderful year. As a former teacher, today was special to me. I had so many students who didn't have the things they needed for school. Knowing that 430 students will be able to walk into their classrooms with a feeling of preparedness makes my heart sing.

Old Tunes, Memories, and [very randomly] Hair.

I was perusing Spotify while making dinner tonight, and I had this sudden desire to listen to all of these bands/songs I barely remembered I knew. One such impulse led me to Jimmy Eat World. I saw the list, and was trying to remember the name of a song that had good timing in my teenager life.

One of my best friends died in a car accident at the beginning of my junior year. We'd spent much of the summer together. I'd just mutually unofficially [it was so complicated] broken up with a boy I'd been dating for WAY too long in teenage years (a year and a half). The relationship had been quite toxic to both of us, and splitting was the best thing in the world, but it left me very alone as we'd spent just about every waking minute with one another for the last year. Yes, I was a teenage girl and had pretty much hung out with one person for the first year and a half of high school. So, I'm pretty all alone, and my friend had just graduated, was pregnant, and her boyfriend was in Ohio with his dad for the summer. We needed one another. We applied for jobs together, hung out, listened to and talked with one another.

I never gave her the details of the split, just that we were "on a break." I didn't know how to explain it, and she never asked. She was just the only one who knew we weren't this weird little idealized couple (when we had no business being on anyone's ideal list). So while everyone I knew would come up to me and report to me that they saw my former with so-and-so here and there, I would just smile, and say, "Oh, they're just friends." Awkward.

August 19th rolls around. A friend called to tell me about a horrible accident she'd seen while out for lunch after church. I felt heartbroken for the woman involved and prayed that she'd be okay. The next morning at school, I heard the news. Tabby was dead. Her baby was in the NICU. I fell a part. For weeks I felt like I was existing somewhere between awake and asleep. I couldn't sleep at night. And in normal waking hours, I was fielding questions about my relationship (or lack thereof), missing someone to talk to about anything, and grieving for my friend. Enter Jimmy Eat World and Hear You Me:
There's no one in town I know
You gave [me] somewhere to go
I never said thank you for that
I thought I might get one more chance 
May Angels lead you in
Hear you me my friends
On sleepless roads the sleepless go
May Angels lead you in...
I used to repeat "May Angels lead you in" when I was trying to fall asleep. When I was listening to it today, I harmonized a bunch of different ways, and it's no wonder with as many times as it went through my head. As time passed and the shock wore off, and I knew that her baby was going to be okay, I got better. I had a lot of friends already (even though I'd spent most of my time with one person, I was still nice and social), but I learned I could confide in them. And it was so liberating to not be attached to anyone so I could spend my time with anyone whenever I wanted to. My friends from high school will always remain a sort of collective gem to me. I moved away from them so long ago, but I love most of them as if no time has passed between us. A facebook perk. My friend would be 30 at the end of September. I can hardly believe it.

On a completely unrelated note, so unrelated, I can't believe I'm including it with this post: I have a hair appointment tomorrow. I was convinced I would cut it, but I'm having second thoughts. I've always wanted long hair, but I've never had it. It grows so slow that I lose patience. I know that I almost always regret cutting my hair. Tonight, I read that hair grows an average of 6 inches per year. According to some old color grow out and a cloth measuring tape, mine has grown about 4 inches in the last year and a half (plus a month or so). Lame-o.

 I will go with shorter styles in hand since I have this whole weird color issue, but I'm going to discuss grow out options. I will not let the pace of hair growth defeat my dream. In all reality, I hardly ever "do" my hair. I have visions of long braids and a hope that maybe one day all of my hair will decide to be the same texture instead of wavy with the very top layer deciding it would like to rebel and remain stick straight. Why can't the super straight part be under the wavy part? The perplexities of life, for sure.

Today, I...

Laundry detergent a little different than my last two batches
Jalapeño Cilantro hummus
Salsa using a pepper that I grew AND roasted
A pail liner for our diaper pail
A new recipe for dinner - It's a keeper.

Grocery shopping with my whole family, including Jake. I decided grocery shopping with him is like shopping when I'm hungry. Usually I plow through my list with no time for extras. He decided carrying the list was his job.
For a run this morning. I practiced a little yoga in the middle. I found a tree at one of my favorite parks, cleared my mind, and tried a headstand. My body went wibble-wobble-shake when I came away from the tree. I planted my pinkies in the mud, got all of my energy working together and stayed there, on my head until I was satisfied I was only moveable on my terms. When I was done, I got up and ran like I haven't in a long time.

am grateful for:
the amount of tangible things I was able to accomplish. (But maybe not so much for all the food I ate as a result of the hummus and salsa - I'm currently fighting the urge to go get my bag of chips and see how much more of them and salsa I can stuff inside my gut.)
the way my husband kissed me before he left for work this evening.


Today started out with a family bike ride. Yesterday Cora really wanted to try riding without her training wheels. We rode around our neighborhood for a while and came back to our block to take those training wheels off. She was pretty scared, but she has tried it. When we were done, Magnolia wasn't quite ready to go home, so I took her out for a ride while Jake and Cora went in search of the perfect weed eater.

Part of our trip took us down the strip of Broadway known as Automobile Alley. Our final destination was Bricktown so she could play in the Dancing Waters fountain. We've been there three or four times in the last two weeks. It's just as fun every time. Then we made our way down to the canal because she remembers that ducks live there. The ducks did not disappoint. We got to ride up to street level in an elevator with Josephine, a bike and an elevator - it was my first time. Then we went to the library for a drink and got home  at the same time as the rest of our family. The garage door was open. Perk!

Cora and I spent the afternoon making a car out of a box that some friends dropped off full of bubble wrap last night. We have enough bubble wrap for a week's worth of popping. When Cora suggested we make a car out of the box, I was thrilled. I've decided it would be fun to have a random sized/shaped box dropped off every day to see what we can come up with.
(Yes, it's a convertible.)

I've been lazy with my weekly menu and shopping this summer. My schedule feels so weird because of the shift in Jake's time at home and when he goes to work. I stretched our cupboards as far as they could go for dinner last night and lunch today, so we ended up eating out for dinner. I've been feeling increasingly more guilty when we eat at restaurants, even though it is something I really enjoy.

I LOVE good food. I make a lot of it, and that's the thing: I also enjoy a break every now and again. Being vegan, there are few thoughtless meals. Sometimes my brain and body are just tired. Anyway, we made a "Get out of debt plan" a few weeks ago, and I'm even more excited about that than a night off from head chef in my kitchen. There are also a few material things I've got my eye a dryer that doesn't burn our clothes. And a new bike. You know, one with gears to make pulling my children around a little easier. I went to Schlegel the other day and tested some out. There was a clear winner. I love Josephine, but I can't ride as much as I'd like to. Don't even think this means I'm somehow confessing I'm weak, that my quads aren't up for the task...hmm. Well. I refuse to be the reason why my family eats out in the next few months. I will keep a well stocked kitchen and bring my "A" game because my eyes are on the prize[s].

Tonight, after I put the girls to bed, I mapped out a sixteen-week half-marathon training schedule. I've made my mind up that it's time (in the shower, of course - that's where my best thinking takes place). I've got a date in Tulsa on November 18th. Depending on how this goes, I might just have bigger plans in April in OKC.


Toward the end of church, when I was in class with my little three and four-year-olds, one was trying to escape because she thought her grandpa was there, so I went and stood in-front of the door while we sang a few songs before parents [and grandparents] really arrived. While doing so, one of my other class members ran up to give me a hug. Sweet, right? I happened to be standing right in front of the door handle, and when he jumped toward me, it pushed me into the handle. It went in that tender little place between the back on my pelvis and the bottom of my rib cage, and it is so sore! It hurt when it happened, but now I just want to sit in an ice bath...or a really hot one, whatever would make it feel better, or not feel worse, and just be still. 

I think it's so funny that for as fierce as [I think] I am, Scoot tried to eat my fingers yesterday, and a four-year-old pretty much laid me out today. In my defense, he's all there. And he was running fast, and he jumped toward me. I mean, that's intense. I will have to work on my reaction time, though he did have the element of surprise on his side. I might add full body pads to the list that also contains face mask as part of my essentials for church.

Color, keys, and the kindness of strangers

When I was in high school art class, I loved getting to paint, and not just because I like to paint, I liked to paint my hands. I discovered it on accident when I got a big blob of green on my left hand. I smudged it around a little, and thought it might be neat if we came in rainbow colors. The paint began to crack after a while, and my very own hand looked like alligator skin. Oklahoma has red dirt. There's a stream that runs through Edgemere Park, and the bottom of it has what look like large red rocks, but they're huge pieces of hard, exposed clay. One can chip off little pieces and color oneself red...if one would like to, and you already know that I would, and I have.

This love of seeing my skin in other colors mixed with discovering Holi made it exciting when I found out about The Color Run. I ended up having a conflict with the date, but I was even more excited to find out the Color Me Rad event was coming to Oklahoma City, and I had the day wide open. As far as runs go, it may be my least favorite run ever, and many more people were walking than running anyway. Now that I've laid that out there (Did I mention it was held at State Fair Park and part of the course went past two HUGE dumpsters full of manure? It was and it did.), the event itself was really REALLY fun.
 Before Color Me Rad

After the race, I made my way back to Scoot. I was getting my stuff out of the seat (the seat pops up and there's a compartment underneath to hold things like helmets), I put the key down, pulled everything out, and the seat falls down and latches. My keys are locked inside. The key wasn't even in the seat, it was on the edge, but when the seat came down it covered it. I laughed a little nervous laugh, imagined what Jake would say, took a few pictures because what else could I do, and then I went across my row of parking spots to ask some folks if they had a bobby pin to see if I could pick the lock. No bobby pins, but I remembered I had safety pins in my bib. I took one out and started trying to pick the lock. It was a no-go, and the pin wouldn't come out. Jake was doing a run-through of Les Miserables, so I was super stuck. Just as I started looking through my phone for someone to call, the guy of the group I'd asked came and offered to put Scoot in the back of his truck and take me home. I accepted. He gathered up a few more people, they got Scoot in, and he took me home.

We unloaded it in the garage. No small task because we couldn't roll it - the front wheel was locked to the left. My fingers got smashed between the front wheel and the frame as we were carrying it. The wheel was locked, but it could move just enough. Bryce came to my rescue yet again, and forced the wheel away. One finger is still a little sore and swollen, but it's cool. I thanked them and planned to ride Josephine (my bike) to OCU to get Jake's keys so I could go home, clean up, and then go pick our girls up. They ended up offering to drive me to OCU as well. Those new friends were saintly, and they made what could have been a real bummer of a situation not so bad at all. Thank you, kind strangers from Moore. 

When I finally made it home, I snapped a few more pics, threw my clothes in the washer and hopped in the shower. The color wasn't coming off! After about 30 minutes of scrubbing, it did. It was fun to watch all the colors make their way down the drain. I can't wait for next year. I hope to get a little group together to go. It will increase the experience ten-fold. And I may get to luck out of being responsible for keys.


The Wild Rose

I'd like to fall into the Pacific Ocean and float there with my face toward the sun for a few hours.

In college, we had to write a poem summing up our spirituality. Talk about an impossible task. I heard a song by Caroline Herring several months ago called The Wild Rose. I don't know that it fully encompasses my spirituality, but my learnings and growings in the last two years or so, definitely.

When you are hidden from me
When I cannot feel the beating of my heart
Walk me where wild things grow
Where grace and light surround me 
There I'll see my wild, wild rose
Ablaze in all her glory
Choosing what before I chose
The blessings of God's bounty
Light wraps you as you stand
Oh sacred stem in mortal flame
Great roots of night they grow
the things that hide come out again 
Come to me my wild, wild rose
Ablaze in all your glory
Choosing what before I chose
The blessings of God's bounty
"Choosing what before I chose: the blessings of God's bounty." That's about right.

And if you were wondering, here is what I came up with in college (I was a senior) as far as my spirituality goes. Coincidentally, it also talks about floating in the Pacific Ocean. Maybe floating in the ocean is the key to unlocking the mysteries of my spirit. If so, it's unfortunate that I'm landlocked.

I sat listening to Burgundy Shoes
And thought the simple melody
Before the words come
Might be the right theme for my life 
I opened a letter from my father
A picture of my great-grandfather fell out
He had the largest cockfighting circuit in the nation
I cry at the thought of anything dying
I'm afraid of spiders
but I save them 
My waist was 23 inches in high school
Now it's 24, down from 26
It can be 23 if I pull the tape tight
But somehow that's cheating
I don't run 5 miles a day anymore 
I have everything
and something is always missing
I am fulfilled and never content
I am interested and bored out of my mind 
I am floating on my back in the Pacific Ocean
Thinking of nothing
Except for sharks pulling me under
I'm suspended 
I wake up 
There's no ocean
or mountains
Long flat streets with no sidewalks
Bradford Pear trees blooming
Accents I don't understand 
And I love it
But it's still not mine

Dear Hair

I think it's time we part. I'm still getting over a horrible DYI coloring disaster from the first few weeks after I had Magnolia. I am not a hair colorer, neither by profession or habit. I was desperate for a change, and everything but the inch of roots that had become darker during pregnancy looked great - the inch or so of my hair, however, was bright brassy orange-y. I was feeling extra tubby AND I had banana hair. I've had it professionally colored a few times in attempts to mask it (and the bright banana yellow all of my hair eventually turned), but somehow I keep ending up with bright blonde hair after several months.

I miss my perfectly lovely "dirty" blonde hair. I coax it out at the roots all the time. But my hair grows

s. l. o. w. e. r.
s.    l.    o.    w.

I saw this picture two days ago. I'm feeling it. It will give the faux blonde part of my hair a purpose. I can just keep lopping it off until my "real" hair is back in its entirety, and then I [almost] promise that my hair will never see artificial color again.
(Click on the picture to link to the amazing color journal of Johnny Ramirez)

Stream of Consciousness

For the last several months, we've been reading scriptures along with our bedtime story. Since we've read the picture version of the New and Old Testaments a few times over, this week, we graduated to reading from my very picture-less set. Picture-less except for the maps and some photos of important places in the middle. Two nights ago, Cora chose to "read the maps" and their descriptions. As I've been reading through the pages of my scriptures with my girls, I'm reminded of one particular page with note at the top and a passage that's highlighted.

When I was younger, in middle and high school, there was always some variant of the same question: "Who would you most like to be in the scriptures?" There are a lot of people who do amazing things, and being Mormon, we have that extra "blasphemous" book, so we have even more options of people doing amazing things in attempts to please and come closer to God. I think I was in high school when I realized who I most wanted to be. It's in Luke 22:43:
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
Christ was suffering in Gethsemane, asking God to remove this cup, but still acknowledging his desire for God's will to be done. That's where the angel comes in. I've never forgotten this scriptural hero of mine, and I can say that he/she is still at the top of my list. The angel's appearance is so brief and simple, but at such an important time, and to perform such an important task: provide comfort.

While thinking of this angel tonight, I'm also thinking of a poem from one of my favorite poetry collections: The Awful Rowing Toward God by Anne Sexton. It's called The Wall and can be found in its entirety here (page 473 of 650). I'm thinking of the last stanza:
For all you who are going,
and there are many who are climbing in their pain,
many who will be painted out with black ink
suddenly and before it is time,
for those many I say,
awkwardly, clumsily,
take off your life like trousers,
your shoes, your underwear,
then take off your flesh,
unpick the lock of your bones.
In other words
take off the wall
that separates you from God. 

Sexton believed this life and her very body were standing in the way of being with God. I believe my body and life are a way of growing closer to God. So I often think, "What are my walls?" What are the things that separate me from God? How, in this context, can they ever seem worth it? What stands in the way of me seeing a need and providing comfort? What walls do I put up to avoid being comforted - to avoid God being present in my every day and trusting he will guide my path? From Sexton's Not So. Not So.:
Look to your heart
that flutters in and out like a moth.
God is not indifferent to your need.
You have a thousand prayers
but God has one.

Cloth Diapers

Before I had Magnolia, I was certain I was going to use cloth [reusable] diapers. I'd contemplated it with Cora, but went ahead with disposables. After realizing how easy it is to ditch disposables, I wondered why I was so hesitant in the beginning. I did tons of research on what brand, what type of diaper, etc. It was overwhelming. Who knew there could be so many options? I settled on a brand called GroBaby that used organic liners [the part that holds the stuff babies get rid of] that snapped in and out of the covers [the part that makes sure what the baby gets rid of stays contained], so if the liner was wet, but the cover wasn't, I could reuse the cover. Less laundry!

I ordered them when GroBaby was rebranding to GroVia, so all of the diapers with the "GroBaby" brand were on sale, plus I bought them on Earth Day which made for even greater savings. It was one of the luckiest compound sales ever. It was almost better than Christmas when they came in the mail. I tried them on Cora, who was still in diapers at the time. When Magnolia came, we waited until she reached the minimum weight requirement, then we used them and loved them.

Fast forward to us moving into Dot, and figuring out that our sewer line had basically collapsed in one spot. Before we realized what was going on, we knew one thing: hot water made the sewer gas fumes rise. It was smelly. We took short showers. Cloth diapers must be washed in hot water. Between laundry inconveniences and negligence on my part, most of my cloth diapers were ruined. I didn't want to start a completely new stash of diapers, so we switched to disposables full time. It's been that way for several months.

Magnolia has had a rash on and off on the lower part of her back, and with this last batch of disposables, it hasn't gone away. I went into Green Bambino last week for their sidewalk sale, picked up a swim diaper, and knew what I must do to fix the rash. I talked to the store owner and let her know I didn't want to completely reinvest because Magnolia will probably be potty trained in the next six months. She recommended the Econobum system. It's different from what I'm used to in that it uses pre-fold liners (you know, the things most people use as burp cloths). I read all of the reviews, and they are surprisingly great. I haven't read a bad one yet. And surprisingly because this is the budget system. I went in again today and picked up the trial pack and have been prepping them to try out on Magnolia tomorrow.

So far, I really like how simple the system is. There aren't a million different colors of covers. The fabrics are soft and simple. All of these things mean a huge savings. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they perform. After our little trial tomorrow, I'm going to go back in on Wednesday with my Local card for 10% off what I can fit in one of the Green Bambino bags.

And lastly, it rained today. I'm so glad about that because I thought it might miss us for a while. It wasn't much, but it was perfect. Warm and not too heavy. If I would have had someone to sit with the girls, I would have gone for a long lovely run.


I've been thinking about two quotes tonight. They're some I've loved and thought about many times since I first came across them in what amounts to a long time ago in my life.

The first is by Henry Van Dyke and the second by Joseph Joubert:
Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. 
A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.
I usually say them a little different when they go through my mind. The word "deserve" always feels funny to me. I don't let that word - that feeling - change the spirit of the quote for me. Maybe there isn't a perfect word to really say what I wish could take the place of "deserve" almost all the time.

Whenever I move, there's a little sheet of paper to fill out at church in Relief Society. One of the questions is always, "What are your talents?" I never know what to put. My standard answer is usually "I'm a jack of many trades and master of none."

Perhaps the greatest talents are those that no one can watch or listen to you do. They come as a result of your presence in the world. Tenderness. Kindness. Perceptiveness. Gentleness. They are felt. And it creates an undercurrent of love in all you do. Maybe these qualities inspire talents, but I know that standing alone, they are enough.

I've been trying to realign my priorities, and one of those is not wrapping my self-worth up whether or not I feel loved or accepted by certain people. That probably comes out in a different way than I mean. I've never been one who needs gobs of recognition for reassurance, but I suppose in all of my stay-at-home-ness, I've developed this need to feel like I'm important to someone outside of the someones in my home. I would feel more validated. When I step back for a minute and adjust my priorities, I realize there's no one in the world I could be more important to than my children. I am, after all, the center of their universe, and I won't always be. I once read a blog that talked about how every day makes up what will be your children's childhood. Childhoods should be magical. I don't want my girls' memories to be full of images of me starring at a screen [because it somehow connected me with the outside world] instead of remembering what I looked like when I was doing something with them, forming new traditions, making adventures out of ordinary days.

Having said that, I want to take a moment to address and permanently remember a message I received via facebook. Someone took the time to write me a very sweet note and was afraid it might come off as "creepy." It was anything but, and it made my day - and not because I was looking for recognition or validation (I had to check myself), but because of how much I appreciated the act of kindness. Because I want to be more like her in sharing qualities I love about people with them. While seeking recognition and validation shouldn't be the driving force behind our actions, receiving them so unexpectedly, so genuinely, strengthens the cloth of humanity. Kind acts are always around us, but they usually don't get the limelight. I will be working to cultivate the talent that is kindness, and I hope part of that will be sharing the love I have for those around me just because they're who they are.
Never hesitate to share a kind thought.

Old Dresses

I found an old prom dress in my closet the other day. It's hidden in the abyss of the corner next to my graduation gown and cords. As a teacher, I wore my gown to graduation, however, since I am not currently a teacher, I'm not sure I need to hold onto them anymore. Naturally, I was curious about the prom dress. I put it on, and somehow, after much work on Jake's part, it zipped. And I understood what wearing a corset must feel like. It's actually taken in about 2 inches through the bodice. I think it's time to let it out.

I love this dress. Kelly was a year ahead of Crystal and me in school. She didn't need the dress anymore, so she gave it to both of us. Crystal wore it to prom sophomore year and I wore it junior year. We switched and exchanged a few more times with other friends, but somehow I ended up with it. It's so soft and sweet and easy. I took about a million pictures this afternoon. It was fun. It felt like when I was pregnant with Cora and took all of my maternity shots. I would get home from work, and the lighting would be perfect in our apartment. I'd set the timer on my camera and run back forth to set and shoot until just the right shot emerged. Here's my all time favorite one:

This afternoon, we went to the Museum of Art [OKCMOA]. If it's between 1-4 in the afternoon on the first full weekend of the month, and we are in town, my little family is almost always at the museum for Drop-in Art. Today we painted. I love when we "just" get to do something like paint or draw or use pastels. Here is our work. Can you guess who painted what? Clue: Cora did created three pieces.

Today I was reminded how much I love the clickety-clack that happens when wrapper-less crayons hit one another. Magnolia has been into peeling the wrappers off. It must be something like a sensorial dream for tiny fingers to pick and peel away the paper. When I was little, I loved breaking crayons in half because of that perfect snap. I also decided that if I could be any color of crayon, I would be blue green. The wrapper is so unassuming. It might be mistaken for something as low profile as cadet blue, but it's anything but. Click here for some amazing crayon love. [Yes, it's the Mr. Rogers "How Crayons are Made" video.] 

And because I don't put on a prom dress any old day of the week, I'll leave you with a few more of the pictures. I might just dig out my wedding dress to see if I can still get that baby on. If it happens, pictures will ensue.

PS: On this very day, nine years ago, I stepped foot on Oklahoma soil for the first time. 

My Closet

Today, a friend asked if I'd done a full photo tour of Dot yet. I have not. I keep waiting for things to be "done," but that will never happen because I think homes should keep a certain amount of fluidity, just like life. 

I've been thinking a lot about my quest for simple living lately. During tornado season this year, I kept feeling like it would be somewhat of a relief if a storm came and just sucked everything out of Dot [but left our neighborhood and home intact]. Weird and completely irrational, I know, but things accumulate so quickly. Lately, cords and wires have had me in a tizzy. I read this post, written right after we moved in. I'm still feeling it. I need a good purge. There are some things in our home that serve no purpose, but I can't cut ties with my sentimental attachment to them - like my great-grandmother's desk. I thought I would start today's tour with my closet. Totally unconventional in terms of an interesting tour - it doesn't have mirrors or revolving purse racks or a plush tufted ottoman in the middle, but it's a place in our home that is ground zero for living with less. It's a must. 

I am a 27-year-old lover of fashion. Perhaps instead of all that the word fashion conjures up, I should use the term "good threads." I am not trendy. I love classic, timeless pieces. So if I am trendy, it's me clinging to a trend that has some classic vibe to it. For all of this love I have for apparel, I have a greater loathing for stuff, and the latter wins out. I have a pretty compact wardrobe. Without further ado, I present my closet [and Jake's, too]:

The door is at one end, and it runs very narrowly behind the wall our bed is on. We're still waiting to come across the perfect something for that wall.

Doesn't it look majestic in its scope?

That's my stuff on top, and Jake's stuff on the bottom. From the bottom up: Jake's shoe shelf, my shoe shelf, my jeans and shorts and accessories (including my rather large collection of old handkerchiefs - I allow myself some indulgences), Jake's pants and sweaters/hoodies. We have one shelf above that where we keep our linens, picture boxes, a breast pump, some hiking accessories, and probably a few other things. I know I have too many skirts. I could probably get rid of at least three without missing them. Our closet would be fuller if it wasn't summer, but we keep all of our coats and cold weather items in a space bag in the attic.

My dresses got the least accessible spot in the house. When we knew Dot was going to be ours, the first thing I did was get a measurement of the closets so we could order organizers. It was so nice to have them in place before we moved in. There was no easy way to make our closet space less awkward, so the longer pieces went to the back so we could have more accessible shelves. There's about 2.5 feet of bar for "tall stuff" to hang on.

Since you've now seen my entire closet, I thought I'd show you some of my oldest pieces. I don't buy clothes too often, but when I do, they're usually with me for quite some time. Exhibit A. I got this dress my junior year in high school. It's the dress I wore to my high school graduation. I still love it. It still loves me.

I got this skirt to wear to church the first time I came to Oklahoma. I mean, one always needs a new outfit when meeting one's future in-laws, right? It's not ironed in this picture, but it's got some amazing pleats. I wore it with a black and white striped square-neck sweater and some Gianni Bini heels with ankle straps (which I also still have - the shoes, not the sweater).

 My great-grandmother's kilt. The day before her funeral, some of her children were going through a trunk and found two kilts. There were two of us there who could fit into them, so they said we could have them. I wore it to her funeral, and I love that I have it. It's a staple in fall and winter.

I got these wool pants on major clearance at Gap right after Jake and I got married. They still look new (albeit wrinkly - please don't judge). I can't imagine getting rid of them any time soon.

My oldest pair of shoes. I got them my senior year on the choir trip in Colorado where I met Jake. I got these babies the day before I met him. They're pretty lucky.

A few weeks after I got home from the trip, I wrote something on the inside curve of the sole during English. I'm happy to say it's still there.

Let it be known that in the small amount of time I spent in the closet taking these pictures, I found a few items to get rid of. Namely a pair of shoes, a dress, and two pairs of jeans. I may have some more jeans. They're my, "Hi, I just had a baby" jeans that I bought after Cora - and then after Magnolia because let's face it: I spent a few months after I had Magnolia tipping the scales at what I did the day I had Cora. That's right. I was me with no baby about to burst out of my belly (or stuck in my pelvis) weighing the same as I did just hours before one did. When you're 5'3 1/4", every pound counts, and 20 extra was a whole lot of heavy (which was really 30 extra to my pre-pre-pregnancy weight, but I don't ever expect to see that number again). Goodbye you jeans, I'm no longer holding onto you "just in-case." Purging feels so good. I'm going to see what else I can get rid of tomorrow.

And just for fun: Here is a picture of me the night I graduated from high school wearing the very dress you just saw above.
(Aunt Brenda helping me with flowers. My mom on the right, Grammy is in the red shirt, and Don's head is sticking up over mine.)

Fourth Festivities

It somehow slipped my mind that Fourth of July parades occur everywhere. I got up this morning, took my time getting around, checked my email and Facebook, and that's when I saw everybody's uploaded pictures waiting for parades to start. I'm going to be all over that next year.

To make up for it, I took the girls to a carnival in Bethany. Advertised was free parking and bounce houses and you could buy tickets for the carnival rides. I show up to park, and someone greets me with a handful of money and lets me know they're asking for donations for the school, so free parking is really "donate to our community to park here." We got to the bounce houses, no one is there, and so Cora starts to climb the steps to the slide. Someone approaches me and says, "It's three dollars for three slides." I hand it over. We move onto another one, $3/child." Six dollars exchange hands. One minute later, two big boys come in and my girls get scared. They both came out. If I ran a bounce house, I would offer a refund. And I would probably have to live in my bounce house because I would be poor.

My cheapness meter is way boiling over, and Cora wants to go the the carnival rides. The carousel it is, but I have to buy a ticket to go on with Magnolia because she isn't tall enough. NO! I. just. can't. do. it. (on principle and because I only had enough cash for two riders). So we're standing on the outside as Cora gets her horse, and Magnolia is pointing at all of the animals, and I'm thinking about all of the damage I'm doing because her sister gets to ride and she doesn't. And then the man running the carousel, who was also the one who told me I needed a ticket to stand next to Magnolia says, "Do you want to ride?" I asked if it would be okay. He said, "Yes." Goo picked the horse next to Cora's. The spirit of the Fourth was alive and well in Bethany, OK today.

We left, and I tabulated that this free event cost me about $1.62/minute. But on the way home, we went passed Lake Overholser, which I have never done, and I enjoyed it. I liked the variety of houses along the lakefront. It was kind of kitschy. It reminded me of the drive into Nauvoo, IL when approaching it from the south. For a moment, I thought, I could live in Bethany, and then as I made my way back home on 23rd street, I knew that I could not. Is that what all what-used-to-be-really-cool-suburbs end up looking like? I'll keep my stretch of 23rd street, thank you.

We got home and had the ceremonial burger, then looked around like, "What do we do to pass the time before fireworks." We'd already planned to watch fireworks with some friends who are in prime firework watching territory, but we looked at the clock and planned a little more. We got to their house about an hour and a half before we were going to so we could wander around Bricktown and get Cora that slush she wanted so much last night. Our friends were able to join us. We went to the "splash pad," it has a real name (it's a fountain with a plaque and everything), but I can't think of it. Then we got in with the crowds around Sonic. I always regret getting a slush. They're so sweet. I got a strawberry limeade instead of cherry, and it was just like a strawberry slush. I would like a junior size, please.

We watched the fireworks, Cora was scared, except for the ones that were purple or didn't go very high. Magnolia was stunned by them again, but stunned makes her extra cuddly. There was a small grass fire that was quickly put out. We could see fireworks shows going off all over the metro area. The moon came up so round and low and glowing yellow. In trying to come up with a way to summarize the evening with its colorful explosions, sugar rushes, important displays of nature, and perfect company, I can only come up with two phrases:

Like a child at home. And it was good.


This was one of the best thirty minute chunks of time I've dedicated to a random task in a while. After three youtube videos (the first two were duds), I learned how to tie a bow tie. It isn't perfect, but I feel proud. 

I went to Red, White, and BOOM! tonight. My favorite musical moment is always when they do the songs of the armed forces, and the men and women stand up when their song is played. We were sitting next to someone in the air force, and I know he dates back to at least the Korean War. There were moments when I thought being there was a mistake, but I had my eye on the prize - I knew what was coming at the end. My girls were tired, but they held up quite well. Cora really wanted a slushy, and she thought the music was too loud, but she fell asleep around 9:40 (fireworks started at 10). Magnolia was all over keeping herself entertained. I'm so glad I had a little bottle of antibacterial gel in my bag. It was a great distraction to get us through to the fireworks. And oh, heavens, the fireworks were fantastic. Magnolia just sat in my lap, completely mesmerized. I loved it. Her on my lap content, Cora asleep in the stroller next to me. I'm not going to forget this evening. Not ever. 

And just think, it's only the third of July. Fireworks all over again tomorrow. YIPPEE!

*Note to self: Take the double stroller next year. It maneuvers like a dream, and when your four-year-old falls asleep and you have to carry two chairs and a two-year-old, you need the easiest of easy. But we managed, and it really wasn't so bad. This mom is on cloud nine. 

The truth is...

I feel like this post will be confessional. Consider yourself warned.

I haven't worn deodorant in quite a while. Like weeks, but not quite months, but maybe. Right before I ran out of my last stick (Tom's [of Maine] Fresh Apricot), I found a recipe to make my own, and I've been kind of into the whole "make my own" thing, so I got all of the ingredients - but I never made it. And I refused to buy more deodorant because I had all of the stuff to make some. After a few days, I was like, hmm, I'm not smelly anyway. I took some precautionary measures and used Jake's (I'm confessing this to him right now) if I knew I was going to be around a lot of people. A few days ago, I'd been out and about and it was hot, and toward the end of the day, I did a sniff sniff, and was a little disappointed, but really, it was one day out of 45-ish. I feel like I have those same odds when wearing deodorant. My armpits aren't really very sweaty....anymore. Are you ready for a story?

It was seventh grade, I was in Home Ec sitting next to my friend Tressa (her name is fun to type) in the sewing room where we were learning to sew some pajama bottoms. I turned around to talk to a girl behind me, and for one reason or another, I raised my arm, and her and her friend started laughing. I didn't know why. It turns out I had a sweat spot on my shirt under my arm. Big deal, right? YES! Huge deal. I was a girl with sweaty armpits, and that was the first day I learned it was just not socially acceptable. I developed a special way of raising my hand in class. I only bought light colored or black shirts, never gray. 
While they were almost always sweaty, they were never smelly. Smelly seems like it would be way over half the battle. Anyway, I lived like this all through junior high and high school. Girls with sweaty armpits have a sort of club. We all know who we are. Senior year, one of my friends and fellow club mates told me about Certain Dri. It changed her world, but I was hesitant to waste money on something that wouldn't work for me. It wasn't until after graduation. I was going to Oklahoma for the first time to see Jake after we met. I was going to meet his family, blah blah blah. I had to get serious. I walked into Walgreen's with a ten dollar bill and out with Certain Dri and some change. About a week later, there was no sweat. I think I used it for a month or two, just in case, but nothing. It was a miracle. I wish I would have known about it in seventh grade. Really, sweaty armpits AND acne. The acne lasted through eighth grade and is another story entirely.  
Will I start wearing deodorant again? Probably. While I don't mind moving my arms and not smelling anything, I really like smelling something that smells good, like fresh apricot or crisp nectarine and white ginger (a Dove scent - but I'm trying to steer clear of aluminum).

I had a majorly major migraine yesterday evening. I've been a little sick. I think it's another sinus infection, which would make it my fourth in the last six months. I didn't get sick for a year, and then BAM! If I get the slightest bit of excess mucus (this started out as a minor cold), everything goes crazy. I keep hearing my pediatrician's voice in my head. She was this teeny little woman from China with the biggest smile ever. One day, when my mom took me to see her for what ended up being a sinus infection, she said (in a very cute accent), "You have small nasal passages that interfere with drainage, and they may require surgery some day."

We'd put the girls to bed, and my migraine is a ragin', and my face is aching, and I'd already taken the max dose of medicine for both things. I was desperate. It was still light out, and the sidewalk leading up to Dot was calling my name. I grabbed some bug spray and went out and laid down on the warm walkway, and it was wonderful. Everything still hurt, but I didn't care about it so much. There were hundreds of birds flying over my head. That made me a little anxious, but it was so great to watch them float off to wherever it was they were going. They would come in waves. Most flew around the same height, but some were up so high, they were just a little black speck. I'd close my eyes for a while and get lost in thought, then open them and see the travelers above me. I wondered how many had flown over when I wasn't looking. I stayed out until stars began showing up in the sky. The moon was so bright. Just as the first star appeared, the light across the street turned on, and I decided that one evening, when the weather is nice, I'd like a freak power outage so that light wouldn't come on and interrupt my star gazing. I'm looking forward to more warm sidewalk sessions.  

I can't wait for Red, White, and BOOM! It's a free concert that the OKC Philharmonic puts on to celebrate Independence Day. It was really fun last year, even though it took us over an hour to get out of our parking spot. The concert was in the parking lot of the Coca Cola Center in Bricktown. We were so brilliant and parked a few blocks away on 1st near the Wedge. People usually only park on one side of the street, and there were hardly any cars when we got there, but when we were walking back, there were cars everywhere, and when we got to 1st, they were on both sides of the street. It had become a one-way, and we were facing the opposite way of the traffic leaving. Oh, and it was raining - which makes it even more dramatic. It's at State Fair Park this year, so hopefully the parking issues won't be a big deal. One bummer, I'll be going at it alone with my girls. The concert is on the third (TOMORROW!), so Jake will be at work. Oh well, my excitement cannot be squelched. I LOVE fireworks. The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. I have a lot of family in Eagar, AZ, and they have one of the best Fourth of July celebrations, complete with a fun parade that I frequently attended when I was younger. I always have such fond memories of childhood and being with my family on this holiday.

[not so] buried treasure

I was reading through some of my posts just after we moved to Chicago [September 2009]. It was such an exciting time. I couldn't believe how quickly our apartment came together [and here and here], nor how quickly we got out and felt comfortable with our new city.

I was in awe at the joy and optimism of the time. It was so exciting, and the girl writing had no idea what was coming her way in terms of a reality check in so [SOOOOO!] many ways. I miss that joy. I think it's finally safe to say that we regret leaving Chicago, but for whatever reason we ultimately felt compelled to, we are on a different path. I don't know if anyone who met me post-Chicago could understand the ridiculous optimist I was.  There was no fair and unfair in my world, only new ways to make lemonade. I think I am finding ways to be joyful again. It has taken me almost two years to figure that out, and admittedly, it's a choice I struggle with more often than I'd like - and perhaps a bigger struggle because it used to be something I didn't have to think twice about [and not because I was always happy, but I always had this inner-well of something that kept me moving].

All of this leads to the post I read that made me stop and think the most. It's about Getting Older. And I just want to say: "Dear 24-year-old me, thank you for knowing exactly what your 27-year-old self would need to read someday. Truly. I am grateful for whatever inspiration that would cause me to not only write down those feelings, but to be compelled to call on them again."

Isn't is funny how easily we can forget the things we already know?


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