Thursday, October 4, 2018

2015: part deux

New/Old Town

Moving to the place where Sean and I met and fell in love has been fun. 

We were gone long enough that there are new aspects to explore but familiar enough that it feels like home. It's also kind of fun to explain to the kids, "This is where I lived in college and we used to walk here" or "This is where Daddy lived when we were dating" while pointing to familiar places that would go overlooked in the day to day living but have a deep personal history for me. 

Today (2018) I have lived here for 12 years. Chopped up a bit here and there. But that is longer than I have lived in ANY one town. So I guess it IS home. My formative years were spent in the San Joaquin Valley in California and I have deep nostalgia for my hometown. My heart will forever be on the Central California Coast. But Utah is my HOME. And it is where my kids are growing up. Making the decision to move here from Blanding was a sudden shift but it was the Next Right Thing for us. 

June 2015 was epic. We moved and two weeks later my sister got married!! 

I'd like to point out that I am dwarfed by my LITTLE brother and LITTLE sister here...(Auntie Varine, who was the shortest in the family, reminded me good things come in small packages.)

So much fun! (This is from their honeymoon in Thailand I think??)

I love to hear about their adventures. We love Jon. (He passed the test initially when I asked his favorite Disney movie and he said "Emperor's New Groove".) Welcome to this crazy thing we call family! 

That weekend was the annual SummerFest in Logan. We loved taking the kids when they were tiny (we lived in Logan 2009-2011). 

One of the new (but old) things we did was hiking. We found a trail called Hidden Haven. It's a great little hike. 

Just the right length. Hike in. Eat sammiches. Hike back out. Hightail it when you feel raindrops and know you're in an area prone to flash floods. Make it down the mountain literally in front of the water.  Phew! 

Kids started back to school at new schools. Landon in 1st grade in a dual immersion Spanish program, Ian in 3rd at a STEM school and Charlie preK (round one). 
Charlie also had hernia surgery before he started school. He was a champ about the whole thing. I think I was the most nervous about all of it. He still talks about the magical hospital socks that are amazing...

I also found this large canvas at a thrift shop and I repainted it. 

You can't tell from the photo but it's about 3 feet by 4 feet. Huge. I love the way it turned out. The five Aspen trees represent our family (and no the trees are not "assigned" specifically to people). Two big ones on the outside and 3 little ones in the middle. Aspens often grow in "clones" from the same root system and are often the first replacement vegetation for fire scars. Our family is our own Aspen "clone" and have been known to grow in places where great devastation has occurred. I painted this, in part, to symbolize our strength as a family even after leaving the church we had been raised in. The biggest thing we gained is TIME. Time with one another that otherwise was spent on various other things connected to service in the church. Ironic considering all the time spent preaching about families at church. But true that we gained more time together when we stopped attending the various meetings. Leaving was hard. It left burn scars in my heart. And from those burn scars grew the most wonderful forest of Aspens. I'm proud that I could capture a little bit of that on canvas. 

We also hiked the Canal Trail in Pine Valley. There was a large fire there recently and we haven't been back so I don't know if the Canal Trail was damaged. But I do know the earth will renew. In 2015 it was stunning. 

"Wobble Cars" got new paint jobs: 

Random blocks transformed into seasonal decor:
 Old rotton chairs got a welcoming makeover:
 Kid started soccer:
 Halloween costumes were made:
Birthday Cakes extraordinaire: 

I participated in an eye-opening, perspective-changing project that needs it's own post to explain. 

November of 2015 also was a hard time because the church that I had been raised in and still had much hope for released a policy of exclusion that said children of gay parents were no longer allowed to be baptized or participate in the priesthood unless and until they were 18 and disavowed their parents' lifestyle. I have always been sensitive to LGBT issues and this one hurt. Baby blessings were not even allowed anymore under this new policy. To me, this doesn't add up. LOVE is bigger than sexuality. LOVE is bigger than these arbitrary exclusions.There was much dissonance in every direction about this issue and I mostly felt like it was sending a message of disgust that I disagree with to my core. 

In 2015 we did more art seasonal and otherwise. It was a year of creation and re-creation:

An old aerial photo of Blanding with hand-drawn typography

Mixed Media Frosty painted over a practice canvas when I was getting ready to do the Aspens. 

The kids even helped with these. I especially love the individual styles.

2015 was also the year Landon made Charlie a doll for Christmas (we draw names every year). He named him "Baby Landon" in honor of his brother.

And tie-dye jammies for Christmas:

In December we finished the year off with a bang with our own cupcake wars on New Year's Eve. We stayed up all night, ate way too much sugar and had a blast. The kids even made display stands. 

2015 was a long year packed with lots of change. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Anno Domini

In the year of our Lord, 

Two thousand and fifteen:

 In the cold winter months, we spent a lot of time indoors. 
Sometimes we ventured out for a bit of sledding fun. 
 While indoors we did a lot of projects to keep entertained. This was a day we made rockets because biggest brother got to have a "science day" at school (2nd grade) and the other two were jealous. Landon was only 1/2 day at that point (kindergarten) and Charlie was home with me ALL. THE. TIME.  It was exhausting as a parent because this child is more hands-on than the other two have been and as such needed more constant supervision as a small child. I believe that was the winter we had to get x-rays done because we couldn't find the 3rd button battery to a toy and couldn't be sure Charlie hadn't swallowed it. So we played with a lot of cardboard boxes. 

That winter was hard because we all took turns getting sick and the kids missed a lot more days of school than normal due to illness. There were incidents of bullying on the way home from school and combined with boredom at school it was getting increasingly hard to send the kids to school. Everyone finished out the year strong but it was not without great effort.

Projects and outings helped take our minds off the stresses and so we spent a lot of time on projects when we felt well enough to do them. 

Made matching owl pajama pants because we could: 

 Found a great love for Cosmic Kids Yoga

Got the hearth replaced and it was a beautiful accent to our new gas insert. We replaced the wood-burning insert after a chimney fire in January (I think--though might have been 2014) 

Learned more about slowing down. Making deliberate choices about what to focus on. Saying yes and saying no. 

In February Charlie and I got to surprise my sister Christie, who was coming home from 18 months in Oklahoma. It was a fun adventure. It was a quick trip and our way home led us to "another plane, and another plane, and another plane..." Charlie loved the delays. I did not. But it was certainly memorable.

In March Sean and I went to Orem to see Pentatonix in concert. They were amazing. It was a fun trip. 

Knowing that we had little time left in the area we hiked Dry Wash up to the Ruins in May. It was a good little hike and I'm glad we did it before we left. 
Our group selfie skills have improved as the kids have learned to hold still (and are now taller) But back then this was as good as it got.

Around this time we made the decision to move back to Cedar City. It wasn't easy. I really wanted Blanding to work out. But my mental health was suffering in a remote location far from access to airports (to see family and friends) and resources. Even shoe shopping was a nightmare. There were other factors. My kids were falling through the cracks in school for various reasons and were getting bored. Having the only options be the school they were in (the only one in town) or homeschool (that wouldn't have worked for our family at the time...maybe ever-but certainly not then) was really frustrating. We knew Cedar City had a few more options and it was a town we were familiar and comfortable with.  

This was also around the time of our separate, yet entwined, faith journies. Not being an active participant in our local congregation, even for a small time, led to some really awkward social fallout. That's really a post for another day but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the impact it had on our family. Feeling ostracised in a community of 3000 was incredibly difficult. So many things combined to lead to our decision to move. It was/is heartbreaking. Three years later the sting is a little less but the grief for the dreams/plans we had is still there. 

So we packed up our house. Rented the biggest truck from Moab and trekked across the state.

We loaded up the truck on a Friday. It rained that night and the truck that previously could have gotten off our front lawn was now loaded down with everything we owned and stuck in the mud. My father in law managed to get a heavy backhoe (or something) from work and had enough gusto to pull us out. Otherwise, we likely would have just stayed put another day to let the mud dry out a bit. 

We got into the "just throw it anywhere" mode of unloading the truck right away. Once it was in the house it was easier to sort and get organized and cozy.

Stay tuned for the rest of the 2015 adventures... 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

In The Year of Our Lord

Two Thousand and Fourteen

Let me start off by saying it's not all roses. There will be highlights and there will be carefully selected details displayed but it's not all amazing. 

2014 was a really hard year for our family. For so many reasons. And now that 4 years has passed it's hard to remember all the details- but the overarching theme of the hellacious year remains strong in my memory. 

Relationships are hard. We all come to them with our own ideas and issues and baggage that we think is important and precious so we can't possibly get rid of it. Sean and I were going through a rough patch in 2013-2014. There was a lack of trust on both sides. We said things. We reacted. We cried. A lot. We smiled. We kissed. We did counseling. A lot. Rinse and repeat ad Infinitum. It was really helpful. Our first marriage counselor was awful. We gave her a second chance, just in case it was our bias that was clouding our judgment. Nope. She was a fresh outta the box therapist and we needed someone with more experience. So we found a better one. I firmly believe we are still together- and now stronger- because of the shit we worked through that year. 

In the midst of this emotional turmoil, we got bedbugs. And boy did we ever! It was an infestation that was humiliating and awful. I still cringe thinking about it. The damn bugs were everywhere and I wanted so badly just to torch the house and run away. Luckily we only had carpet in one room. Mind you we lived miles and miles from anyone that had the ability to "tent" the house. Not to mention we had very little money to dedicate to the cause. The bugs were mostly contained to the boys' room but it was unfinished and they like the screw heads of the drywall to hide in. Steamed everything a million times over. Got rid of the bad piece of furniture. Washed everything ten thousand times. And just when it felt like we were making headway a kid would inadvertently scratch at their arm or their neck and I'd find more bites.

"Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite." 

I can't say that anymore without still wanting to cry. It was seriously traumatizing. Might have been less so if our marriage was super solid and I wasn't dealing with personal battles with depression. My anxiety started to get bad around this time, too. Fun stuff.  

On social media, I showed pictures of the projects we were working on but left out the awful truth behind them. 

Painting this secondhand bunkbed was essential in the battle against the bugs. There were too many hidey-holes and raw wood (for some reason they like raw wood- probably for laying eggs on). So we steamed the hell out of this thing. Wiped it down with bottles of rubbing alcohol (thanks google) and then painted it to seal it. That thing took 3 coats of primer in order for the color to be vibrant (and I think another 2-3 coats of the COLOR). So. Much. Paint. I loved how it turned out and I'm proud that in a moment of desperation I could come up with a solution that was both practical and looked great. It was a fun project. But whenever I showed the picture I didn't dare mention the bed bugs. There was such shame that I was a bad housekeeper (which I am- but I'm learning is actually kinda normal) (also- the bedbugs were a fluke- not related to my keeping of house- poorly or otherwise). There was a weird association that because we were poor and lived in a crappy house (that we were working hard to make better) we somehow deserved it (not true BTW). Also, it felt a little like the universe thought that with 3 small children, mental health teetering, marital stress, a project house, a few bedbugs (hundreds) would just do the trick. I very nearly lost my mind. But thanks to social media, I kept my image of being "crafty" and most people would never know the stress associated. 

In the end, we moved up finishing the room in order to seal it well and make it easier to clean/sanitize. We included the kids and they thought it was fun. 

The actual doing of it was, but the stress associated was not. That stress was heightened by hiding the truth of the struggle in social media (I'm still working on that). Getting that room done was a big goal. But we did it (except the window trim/sills). This is part of why it was so hard to sell the house when we later decided to move. Literal blood, sweat, tears, and hours and hours and HOURS of work had been put in by ALL of us.  We were building and mudding and painting a dream. Letting go of that dream still brings deep grief. 

In February of that year, we went hiking with a few friends and had the most glorious time. They knew about some of the real-life struggles. They had their own. It was great to be with them and let our kids run wild together. Our kids got nicknamed "the crazy boys" and that seems about accurate. It was a lovely respite from everyday life and is still a treasured memory.

I started taking more time for myself in order to find some peace and balance amidst the chaos. In March I went to "Camp Scabs" which was really a bunch of us 20-40-year-old women, up in a cabin in Midway. We did yoga. We wore sweatpants and no makeup. We crammed too many people into a hot tub because we didn't want anyone to be left out. We ate beautifully crafted food, lovingly prepared. We talked about the brutal realities of our lives that we didn't share with many others. We loved one another. We healed little bits by showing up and being real. It was amazing. I bought this hat at a gas station on the way home. Inhale love. Exhale peace. 4 years later it is faded and paint splotched from projects but remains a favorite. (If you happen to see one at a gas station-let me know...)

I also did an epic road trip that summer with my mom that was beutiful and healing and came at a critical time. She bought us temporary tattoos, and funky sunglasses. We spent time at the beach listening to our hearts and the waves and spent hours in the car talking. 

Around this time I discovered Glennon. (She is like Cher in my mind and can totally pull off the one-name-thing: also she got divorced and remarried along the way and I'm not sure what she goes by now...) 

Women speaking truth about trauma and real life have always been my guides. It began years ago with Maya Angelou and Jean Little and Zlata Filipovic and continues now with Glennon and Shonda Rhimes, Roxane Gay and Anne Lamott, Rupi Kaur and Rebecca Solnit and many, many others. 

There was also the silencing of women in my church that I was hurt/angry/confused by. In June of that year, Kate Kelly was excommunicated (kicked out and shunned) from the church for asking the prophet to ask god if women could share in the priesthood. As I began to see the many ways women are silenced in society, including church, things began to unravel for me. 

There were incidents with nail polish and freshly tiled floors: 
And family drives to local treasures like "Goosenecks" and "Moki Dugway":
Life is both Brutal AND Beautiful. Glennon calls this "Brutiful". Seems just about right. 

And in the end there is Hope. Painted on your bedroom wall so you don't forget. 

We survived. That's the whole point of telling you so.