Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What to Do If You Find Yourself at the Columbia, SC Temple with Time to Spare

I can't. I can't do it. I can't get back on facebook. I have tried. I probably will try again. But not now. I need some space and time to get my blood pressure back down to normal. I just spent the morning googling privacy tips because if there's one thing I'm passionate about it's privacy. Not healthy eating or dog breeding or something normal. In the few years I've been gone, things have gotten even more out of control--my control--on facebook. In a bad way. The way I see it, everyone will know everything about me all the time and in a few weeks time I'll be obsessively checking it every spare moment and stressing over the passive aggressive and downright idiotic and polarizing and self-centered comments from normally nice sort-of-friends.

On the other hand, I did get on instagram awhile ago, but haven't ever posted any pictures and am only following my sisters. I remember to check it about once a month but I don't like to comment because then people will see it. People I don't know or possibly sorta know. I realize it's weird that that thought absolutely freaks me out. I realize these "people" neither know nor care who I am, what I'm saying, or where I am, but that doesn't calm the emotional tizzy I would work myself into by potentially drawing unwanted attention to myself. As an aside, I remember a boy I dated in college giving me the nickname "the queen of discretion", meaning I didn't like to reveal too much about myself. (Wasn't fully intended as a compliment, ahem.) He made it sound a lot cooler than it is. Discretion can be taken too far, methinks. Meknows.

Anyhoo.

Funny stories about the kids! Family updates! Pictures!

A couple weeks ago I got to go to the temple in Columbia with some friends. Hinckley, who had gone with Darron a week or two before and had regaled me with tales of catching teeny tiny frogs on the grounds, came to me with this before I left.

It's a map. Of where to find frogs. For my own amusement and pleasure. Perhaps if I arrived a bit early with time to kill before I went in? Or maybe when I came out and had the overwhelming urge to forage in the bushes for thumbnail-sized amphibious souvenirs? Map was also accompanied by a very detailed explanation of which colors and sizes were to be found in each location. He was quite mystified when I got home and had to confess that I didn't find any. "Wait," (eyes narrowing) "You didn't even look, did you?" he accused. My excuse that it was dark and I was in heels. Not that the map wasn't particularly helpful and clear or that I am really only interested in his frog-hunting excursions, not in conducting my own personal ones. 


Here's a picture of our house, I thought you might like to see. We do like it. It's up on a hill, it's white, and it's pretty cute. 


Hinckley and the gang. At his last meet he beat his previous time by over two minutes. We were so super proud of him. I also just love watching Darron run around during Hinckley's race, trying to reach different points on the track so he can holler and cheer for his son. It does my heart good. Only the fastest siblings can keep up with Dad, and Delilah and I are usually a few seconds too late. 


I am teaching the kids their piano lessons, with results being inconclusive at this time. It was Darron's idea, since we are trying to save money for a house and all. I told him I would try and I am. No has yelled or stormed off during the middle of a lesson. We are all proud of ourselves. The attitudes of the children have been far better than I had anticipated. My teaching strategy "fake smile lots and pretend these are not your children so you don't get snappy" is working for the time being. 

I got called to serve in Cub Scouts with Thomas. I'm trying to set up an effective program with a small number of boys (4 wolves, 1 bear, 1 webelos, 1 11-yr-old) and only two leaders. It's tricky and is causing me stress, but I'm surprised at how much I like being with the boys. Like most people, Cub Scouts was on my short list of the things, I *fingers crossed* hoped I was never asked to do. Well, the list just got shorter, because I like it. Darron got called into the High Priests group leadership and he likes it because he's weird. 

We are happy and really doing well. It is my goal to reach out to my old friends in Utah and other places from other times in my life because, well, I like you and want to still be a part of your lives, so please know I am taking baby steps in that direction. 

Signed,

The Queen of Discretion

P.S. You should know that when I filled out those career surveys in high school, my top three occupations were: long-haul trucker, sheep herder, and forest ranger (I'm assuming the kind that lives alone in a cabin and cares for trails and trees and animals, not humans. I'm assuming.) Do you think there's a pattern?

Friday, September 4, 2015

And Now We're Here

We made it. You may exhale.

The last week and a half of Utah life was beyond hectic. The chaos just continued to build until we were actually relieved to climb into the cars to leave simply so we'd have a minute to just sit. Packing the truck took three solid days. We had to use every square centimeter of truck space because although we'd reserved the biggest truck we knew it wouldn't be big enough. We left a bunch of stuff in our Utah storage unit to be retrieved at a later date. Then the driving. 10 hours (me in the van)/13 hours (Darron with the moving truck and trailer pulling his jeep) the first day, 18 (me)/22 (D) the second, 12/14 the third. It was pretty horrific and we were in a daze when we arrived. When we arrived in a HEAT WAVE because of course when you move to a new place known to be hot and muggy it is going to be the HOTTEST and the MUGGIEST it's ever been.

First impressions:

-Rental house: very nice. We lost 1000 square feet of living space but it feels cozy, not cramped. Hallelujah for that. It's clean. It has FLAT PAINT. Who paints a house-- any house let alone a rental-- with flat paint? The lot is .6 acres which is enormous by our standards. Across the street sits an empty lot--but not your usual empty lot, but woods. With bogs and streams and trees and frogs and fireflies.

-Country roads: long, winding, tree lined, confusing, thank Google for navigation and Verizon for excellent coverage. One month in and I can find the grocery store, kids' schools, and a Walmart (if I concentrate) without navigating. We are burning through data as well as gas, because everything is...down long windy country roads.

-General beauty of place: Wow. Green, hilly, lush even though it's the end of August. I can breathe here.

-Humidity: I find it interesting that although I sweat more here, I don't necessarily need to drink more. Reason? Anyone? Has my body reached some new level of homeostasis? I do not know. On top of that, my skin feels smoother and not as flaky, my hair is softer, and my killer calloused/cracked heels have dramatically improved. I'm gonna rule on the side of...I kind of *like* it???

-People: quite friendly, especially the older they are. Helpful and nice. Lots of waving around here, holding the door open, good manners, even in Walmart. Which reminds me, this happened: while in Walmart the other day, an employee approached me--approached me--to ask if I needed assistance. In Walmart. WAL-mart. I've had people scoot their cart out of my way, ask my pardon if they have to go ahead of me, say things like "you go first", smile...it's just weird.

-Ward: I should be cautious with this one, as I am talking about real people in my new life. The ward has been so welcoming. Much of the awkwardness has been averted because our extended family is in the ward and they've done so much to ease our transition. We've been invited to do things, had offers of babysitting, two people brought us meals.... As time goes by I would like to post about my impressions of in Utah/ out of Utah, but I need more than 4 Sundays before I can consider myself an "expert".

Kids:

-Hinckley: So you know he's a very happy kid to begin with. He was bummed to leave his friends, he had lots of good ones. He wasn't one I was worried about though, because he just makes friends so effortlessly. Everyone likes him, he's fun and nice and loves to have a good time. But for a couple of reasons, he had a rough start. It broke my heart a little. But he worked at it-- never got too down or negative, just kept on going. He prayed for help (on his own!), joined the cross country team, and tried to make friends. To see the growth and the attitude he's taken on, brings me to tears. I have never been more proud of him. He is enjoying early morning seminary (Really. He's said this with his own two lips) and faithfully gets up each day at 5. Hasn't complained, doesn't act grumpy, he's just--- I'm speechless. At church, there is one other boy in his teachers quorum. The first Sunday we were here, the other boy came up and gave Hinckley a hug and said he was so excited to have his quorum size double. And then asked him to help pass the sacrament. He's definitely going to get the chance to serve more in priesthood capacities and in meaningful ways. That makes me so very glad.

-Halle: I was worried about her before we left. She's more reserved, doesn't attract friends as effortlessly as her brother. But wow, has she blossomed. This is her first year of middle school and she's been thrilled for all of it. She is greatly enjoying the no more uniforms of public school. She is bound and determined to ride the bus, even though we drive right by her school on the way to take Hinckley. She loves the bus. Okay, whatever, ride the bus. I think the drama of middle school really appeals to her at this point. The newness of it all. Although her friend-making wasn't instant, she is content to just let it develop. She's been excited to go to school every day and has become braver and more self-sufficient. I don't think she's found her true friend group yet, but they'll do for now. She's happy and learning along the way and there's so much to learn in middle school. She got "asked out" (don't tell her I said anything) today, and came home with a check yes or no note and I almost died holding in my giggles. OH the memories.

-Ava: (sigh) She's getting there. Her journey is still very much underway. Like Hinckley, she had to push through some awkward days. She had such good friends in Utah and she's so shy and sensitive. I know she'll figure things out and get her confidence back. I have great faith in her and her little soul. Church is good because she has a friend she really likes. She also loves her little 6 year old cousin, they have absolutely hit it off. So things are not all bad.

-Thomas: You know? He's just Thomas. He is in little boy heaven with endless frogs and sticks and woodland treasures. It's hard to question him about school friends because he doesn't really care about that stuff, I mostly just hear about how many crickets he found at recess or how what apps they used on their iPads at school. Yes. They get iPads in this school district. I can't tell you how annoyed I am. There is not a way to opt out, they need them for homework and other assignments during class. We are preparing them for functioning in a digital society. Come now. Any kid can figure out any electronic in five minutes. But if they don't teach iPad in school HOW WILL THEY EVER LEARN IT? Where were we? Thomas. IPad, frogs, bugs, and mud= South Carolina rocks.

-Delilah: She just lost her gaggle of friends to school, but she gained lots and lots more Mom time because Mom has no other distractions. She is one happy girl. And I am her "best mom I ever seed". We run errands, do our chores, and hang out. She is being potty trained and just had her third birthday. It was fun and all but what she's really looking forward to is her fifth birthday because I told her that's when she can chew gum.

-Mom and Dad: Well, we're good. It's been hard watching the kids struggle knowing that we did that to them. Even though we are confident it will be to their benefit, it still is hard knowing that it is all our doing. And like I said, we're enjoying the ward, but--and this applies mostly to Darron, but also me to some extent--it's been hard to go from somewhere we felt so needed and known and understood to a place where we're just "the new people". Good for a quick conversation, but not a part of things yet. Now I know that will come with time, we were building relationships for years in Utah, but it's just-- harder than I was expecting, I guess. Darron is running his business in Utah from here, but in his new more hands-off position, he has much less to keep him busy. He's here at home with me during the day, but he--we--don't have much to do now that the house is settled and organized. Normally I would end up shopping too much but everything's far away and Darron is always right next to me, so the opportunities to give in to temptation are--shall we say--limited.

We continue to search for a lot to build a house on. I learned a while back that I can end a sentence with a preposition if it sounds stuffy to word it the proper way. Nothing has jumped out at us, and there's not much to choose from in our actually pretty small school/church circle, so we're just slowly moving along, keeping our eyes open and waiting for something we think we can make work.

Now here are some pictures. I wrote this post before I looked at my cameras so they probably won't match up at all but whatever. My mom wants pictures, pictures she shall have.
Packing up the truck!

So this series of two (although wildly unflattering to me---I was packing!) is cute because of Delilah's expressions in the back. 

Is she copying me? I think she's copying me.

Moving in!

A few days in. Boxes are emptied, but now what?

No really, now what?

Delilah. With a frog on her head. 

First day of school! And seminary!

First day of riding the bus!

So let me just tell you. Darron,in some misguided desire to tidy up my phone photos, erased all "duplicate" poses. Not necessarily the bad duplicates, where the subject may have a questionable expression, or the photo may be blurry, but those duplicate poses which followed the first. Sorry Ava.

Thomas' uncle told him all the kids would think he was awesome if he wore a Clemson shirt on his first day. 

She has no idea that her day is about to get reeaal long and boring. 

Apple picking

Could Halle be subconsciously compensating for my tendency to cut people's heads off in pictures? Well done. 

Downtown Greenville with cousins!!!

Happy birthday! New bike!

And some other things!
She's just so cute.

The counters have been cleaned off. As of yesterday.



Family room

From the other side. The valances came with the house. I'm so vain that I have to put that in. Really, I'm trying to erase it, but I just. can't. make. myself.

Library/Piano Room. We went from four bookshelves down to one. These books are in a very delicate state of balance. I can come in and tell what the kids have taken out to read with one glance.

Piano room side. Also last remaining junk pile holdout over on the left. I am two days in to teaching my kids their piano lessons. It hasn't been horrible.  
I think that's about it for the tour? I haven't cleaned the upstairs.

And that's all! We're doing fine; things keep getting better, and we believe they will continue to do so. We have truly, truly appreciated the prayers and support from our friends and family for this strange adventure we've undertaken.




Tuesday, June 16, 2015

There We All Go

Big news from the Here We All Are clan:

Do you have any idea how many times I watched this movie as a child? 26 years later and I can still bust this out like it's 1989. 

We're flitterin'. All the way to Greenville, South Carolina. And we are so so excited. No big reason, we just felt like we wanted a change. Do you think this'll do it?

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why South Carolina?
Darron has an aunt and some cousins out there, and he lived there for a year, so it's not quiiiite a spin the globe and poke it kind of move.

Have you been there?
Yes. Once. For five days.

Yes, but during the summer? 
No. 

Because you know it's gonna be hot?
Yes that's what I hear. From everyone.

What sparked this move?
Darron visited a few months ago, and the idea was conceived. He came home and brought it up, yada, yada, yada, we're moving in a month and a half. First of August.

You know about humidity, right? 
In theory, yes. 

How do your kids feel about it? 
Surprisingly great. Delilah: doesn't count. Thomas: initially worried, was promised an axe, is now doing fine, dreaming of all the things he can chop. Ava: was promised a dog, couldn't be more thrilled. Halle: was promised new friends and closer proximity to her favorite cousin, totally on board. Hinckley: perfectly happy from the get-go, that kid is always fine. I'm sure as things get closer to actually happening, the sadness and loss will set in a bit more, but we feel confident that everyone will be just fine.

And you?
I can't say it won't be sad and hard. We've lived in our home for 14 years. We've been a part of a fantastic, accepting, supportive ward full of good people we love and admire. I am not known for my ability to stay in touch with anyone really, so this will test me and possibly force me back onto social media. It will also put a distance barrier between us and Darron's family here in Utah and an even greater distance between me and all of my West Coast family. Visits will be more difficult and expensive and time consuming and require much more forethought and preparation. I'll need to make some adjustments for sure. 

So let's just say for example, you take a shower in the morning, do your hair, put on your makeup and deodorant and dry clothes and then you walk outside and bam, a bucket of sweat is dropped on you and you're drenched. And stinking. And your makeup slides off and pools at your feet.
I hear what you're saying--

And also you want to die.
Yes but--

A big, soggy, stinking frizzhead with no makeup. That's what you'll be. 
Okay, yes, okay. It will be different. I know (in my head) it will be hot and humid. I know it won't be like Utah. And I'm looking forward to the changes that it will bring. The weather (yes), the landscape, the places to visit, the proximity to the ocean and historical and church landmarks. A whole new side of the country I know nothing about will be available to us. My kids will be challenged in ways they've never before been, as will I and Darron. We love Utah and I consider it home, as it's been for the past 20 years, but we are ready to try something new and create a new "home". This opportunity has fallen in our laps seemingly from nowhere, but we feel like we can make it into everything for our family. I feel hungry for new adventure and growth and plan to make the most of all of the changes that will come our way as a result of this decision. 

The biggest surprise we've encountered when we've told people about this move is how many people secretly want to do it too...pick up and move somewhere totally new and start over. What is it about doing this that is so appealing? I admit, I've fantasized about it for years. 

Our house is up for sale, We have a rental home ready and waiting and are in the process of finding a lot to suit our fantastical wish list on which to build a house. Seriously can't wait. :)




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Two Birthdays

Halle turned twelve. Woohoo! She also recently got her hair cut. I asked her if she wanted me to cut it or if she wanted to go to a salon. "Well, Mom, even when we go get it cut, you always come home and have to fix it anyway, so you can just do it here."
See her necklace? It's her Young Women medallion. She gets to meet with the "OLDER GIRLS" at church now . Now that she's "OLDER". And not a little girl anymore. By whose standards, that's what I'd like to know. We're allowing her to wear a little bit of makeup, and thankfully she's not pushed the envelope on "little bit".

We have this horrid family tradition where the kids kids bash the birthday girl over the head with her gifts. Sounds fun, don't it? 

Hinckley also had a birthday. Fourteen years old and 59 1/2 " tall according to our pediatrician. Hinckley claims he was caught unaware by the measuring and had he been given sufficient warning, definitely would have been able to eke out another half inch. 


Paybacks

What does a fourteen year old wish for? Handsomeness? A dreamy smile? Eyelashes that just won't quit? Done.

And Delilah!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to Break Up with Your Gynecologist (and other uncomfortable things)

I just don't know.

Oh wait what? You thought I'd have the answer? Sorry, I guess it does sound like a how-to post title, but I meant it as more of a thinking-out-loud-with-a-hopeless-sigh musing-type title. Because it's HARD, by golly, and I'm not sure why.

I'm an introvert. With a long list of things that make me "uncomfortable".
-confrontation
-thinking people don't like me
-phone calls (especially phone calls. I'm bad enough talking to people in person. Take away the visual cues and I'm hopeless.)
-talking to people (people I only sort of know, or am supposed to get to know. Hanging out with other parents at school functions? For example? The worst.)
-social gatherings (UGH)
-asking workers at a store where something is. I live in fear of asking the wrong person at Lowe's where the sandpaper is. "Well, that's not my department and I'm already assisting three people ahead of you but if you're determined to make me go out of my way for you and your sandpaper then fine, I can help. Later though, not right now. I am SO busy."
-going to my gynecologist

It hasn't always been this way. I used to not mind my yearly doctor exam. My first obstetrician/gynecologist was a little strange, but frankly, so was the whole experience, so it may not have been him. Then I had another doctor that I really liked. He was older and experienced and made me feel safe. I trusted his experience and gray hair and middle aged ladies that ran the front desk. He delivered my first baby. His gray hair made him a little too popular though, and I changed again, after growing tired of having to wait an hour+ for my appointments. My next doctors were part of a team of three. They were fine. Two I liked, one not so much. But I could choose who I saw so it wasn't a big deal. Then I had a little incident. I had some physical issues after my second baby and when I told them about my concerns, they were just swept aside. In (what I interpreted to be) a sorry-lady-that's-what-happens-get-over-it manner. Fortunately, in this particular practice, there were five midwives also. So I just decided to switch on over. And it was fantastic! What a change! Those lovely, sweet, kind-hearted ladies listened to me! And didn't rush me out! And asked probing questions and drew me out and acted like they cared about my answers. I was smitten. They had shorter fingers, it's true, but it was a small price to pay.

And then...now... since I'm done having babies, I've been moved back over to the male doctors. They're all new now. Younger. Busier. More important. You know. The doctor I saw yesterday for my yearly exam asked his questions so rapid fire he was biting off the ends of my response with his next question. If I had been experiencing "anymentalissuesanyanxietydepressiondarkthoughtsinabilitytocopewithlife?" I'd tell the 16 year old bagger at the grocery store before I'd tell him. This was actually the third time I've seen this doctor, during which times he has questioned me on 1) my decision to not get a flu shot 2) my choice of doctor for a surgery I had last year 3) my chosen method of birth control. And not a hey let's talk about your options way of questioning, but in a really you're doing THAT you poor misinformed woman? way.

So I'm at the height of frustration, and I am sooo ready to break up but I just can't seem to make myself. I've been putting it off for two years. I realize there's really not much to do. I don't have to call him. I don't have to talk to anyone and present my list of grievances. I'm not going to hurt anyone's feelings. No one will even notice I've gone. I just pick a different provider through my insurance and stop calling the old one. So easy. So passive. But still so uncomfortable. It makes my insides squirm and hurt. I'll have to find someone new. I'll have to acquaint myself with a new office and commute and receptionist. I'll no longer walk the halls that are so familiar to me after 13 years of anticipating and growing and dreaming about babies. Where I discussed symptoms and listened to heartbeats and wept when I saw tiny little feet and hands and spines and perfect little faces for the first time. Where we counted down days and discussed birth plans and dilation. I'll have to admit to myself that I just don't need an OB/Gyn or a midwife as a primary care provider anymore because I won't be bearing any more children.

Oh.

Yes. That is hard.










Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Little of the Kids and A Whole Lot of Nonsense

The week began with Ava's eye appointment. Delilah came along and the girls got to bond over the fascinating world of Daniel Tiger in the waiting room.

Do these kids look like their brains are being stimulated? It's educational tv. I pried the girls away from their grueling mental workout, we saw our ophthalmologist, got the good news that all looks fine and we'll see them in another six months. Too bad I didn't think to get her some new glasses last year when we had reached our out-of-pocket max.

Delilah and I tried out a new donut place that opened up nearby, Beyond Glaze. Yuck. Pretty bad. But Deli says yum.



(With manic eyes and a chocolatey muzzle.)

I've been actively working on NOT being a grouch during the pre-dinner/dinner hour. Some days I did okay. Some days I did really really bad. I have this thing where I can't stand it when my kids ask what's for dinner. Even if they're nice about it and not poised and ready to make gagging noises. Have I mentioned this before? I think I have. Anyway, I don't want it to push me over the edge, but it does, every time. I even practice, silently in my head. ("Stir fry! With mushrooms and peppers and spicy stuff!" she chirps perkily and enthusiastically and not at all huffily and aggressively.)

I bought a cute shirt at Walmart for $9. Then went back the next day and bought another one in a different color. There are three more colors I didn't buy and I'm absolutely regretting it. I'd show a picture but there isn't one on Walmart's website and I'm not wearing it right now and Delilah is asleep and my clothes are in her closet. 

And I cut my hair a bit. I've been wanting to update it for awhile as it's just long and blah these days. Color? Chop? I don't know, I'm just not feeling reckless or that I have the time to deal with redos if it doesn't turn out. But this???

I could do! So I shagged up my hair just a little with some layers and I have to say...I look exactly like Jennifer Garner now. That picture right up there? Me. Look, I'm wearing my favorite dress.

To go with my new hair, I painted my nails the bewitching color of "Mind Your Mittens" by Essie. It's kind of an inky gray/black. They look so fetching as they fly across the keyboard! I bought it last year and I don't use it much because dark colors don't wear well for long. But today? A desire to be cute just flew in the face of reason and dirty dishes!

Delilah is wearing Tart Deco, her go to color. It's all she wears. Not sure why she always picks the same color. Just cause she's precious, I guess.

I think I forgot to say that we saw the last Hobbit a couple weeks ago. Oh. my. gosh. I actually snorted out loud-- in a derisive manner-- in the theater. I don't think I've ever done that in a movie. I think it must be because no one was noticing my eye rolling. Darron was no help at all. He liked it. Hiss. 

Now, if there's one thing you need to know about me, it's that I love chocolate covered cinnamon bears. It's because they are cinnamon bears covered in chocolate and that, my friends, is what's known as perfection. I became hooked many a year ago when I would make alarmingly frequent stops at the candy counter of the campus bookstore during my BYU days, in an attempt to stave off the feelings of insecurity, worry, and homesickness that might otherwise have dragged me to the depths of despair. Healthy coping mechanism? No, but effective, and also we don't judge 19 year olds. So these bears... they're heaven, couldn't be better. But then my husband goes to this candy shop that sells certain of it's candies only during the winter holiday months where he orders our yearly supply of toffee and discovers they have started making chocolate covered cinnamon bears and because he loves me so completely he buys me four! big! bags! La! I'm on my last bag--just had to take a break and go eat one to keep up my strength--and I tell you true, they are they better than BYU. And I'm unnaturally emotionally connected to my BYU candy so that's saying something. They're like the highest level of the third degree, if you know what I mean. It does not get better than these. 

Then of course there was the great excitement of Friday...(see previous post).

Tonight we had a meeting at church for all the kids going to youth camps and I have TWO. Kids going. To youth camps. Crazy things are happening. Of course the year I'm not going to Girls' Camp I finally have a daughter going...ah well. It's probably for the best. I think it will be great for her to be on her ownsome and make her way in a new situation. Oh, but she's just so little!

You know, if I wanted to I could probably go through this post and force some semblance of sense or order into it. But I don't want to. 


Friday, January 9, 2015

Something Exciting

Exciting enough to get me out of bed and showered and made up and hair done before I took the kids to school-- trust me, it's a big deal.

A couple months ago, we started hearing rumblings that Shannon Hale would be coming to our kids' school. For what though? Book signing? Lecture? She wanted a tour? WHAT? Finally, through information gleaned from my more reliable children, I figured out that she was going to be speaking to the entire student body. AND that a few of the kids who were fans would get to have a book signed. And then, joy of joys, I got an email last night at 11:00pm that parents could come. Well, those that check their email at 11:00pm. And that's why we should all be addicted to our smart phones. Lesson learned.

Ms. Hale gave a great presentation on success and failure and perseverance and being who you are and writing and creativity and lifelong learning. She was fun, witty, and engaging (and a fan of the Oxford comma), and we all had a great time-- including Delilah who had a great time right up until the snacks ran out. There were so many things she said that would have inspired me as a girl and several that inspired me as me now. She showed a picture of herself in the first grade, when she first started telling people she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. People would smile and encourage and say it was fantastic to have such big dreams. She showed another picture of herself in eighth grade and was still writing whenever she could. But by this age, when she told people she wanted to be a writer, they would talk her down--that's a pretty big dream, maybe she should pick something easier. *Insert Epiphany* At what age does it become okay to stop supporting my kids' dreams? Or ideas and desires? Why do I have to be the voice of reason? Why does being a parent/adult = being a wet blanket? When I see my kids' weaknesses, I'm so afraid that those weaknesses will make them fail in...building a rocket out of paper towel rolls and old plywood and my good scissors, becoming a painter, making cookies all by themselves with no help (a sampling of dreams I've quashed), that I'd rather take away the chance to fail as well as the chance to achieve. Shannon (we've become extremely close during the last paragraph) eventually stopped telling people about her dream and became a little embarrassed about it, but thankfully kept it alive inside of her and worked and worked for years (19!) to achieve the distinction of being a published writer.

She talked unabashedly about loving her own writing. I was surprised to hear her say this, and she was being funny about it, but she meant it. She said she writes about stuff that fascinates her and she works and works at it until it's the best she can do and she loves it (severe paraphrasing). Why did that surprise me? For someone to acknowledge that they like their own creations? Isn't that...arrogant? Wait--everyone pause for a soul search. It is not arrogance to love what you've made. Not just to be proud of your hard work or accomplishments, but to actually like what you've created, to see that you've made something good, to find joy in it, and to tell people so. It's not arrogance--it's divine.

Lots and lots of other good stuff--she spoke for about an hour and was so gracious with her time, answered questions, interacted with the students, was just overall amazing. I'm still in the throes of the moment, so I may be gushing just a bit, but she seemed to be genuine, normal, and confident. I am so glad three of my kids were there, especially Halle. We haven't had a chance to talk about it yet, but I can't wait to see what she heard and what it meant to her. Halle got picked to have a book (books) signed after the assembly, so I had to accompany her, being her photographer and stage mom and all. There are perks. I used Halle's camera so the pictures wouldn't be grainy, but I couldn't do anything about the photographer, so here are your blurry, backlit photos.

Miles of rejection letters

The book that made me fall in love with Shannon Hale


Waiting in line...almost there!


Delilah, what fun, go stand on those X-es!


So I can buy myself six seconds of I-wanna-binky-I-wanna-drink-of-milk free time! She did her darnedest, bless her heart and sparkly pink cowgirl boots.


Princess Academy

Are you sure you want me to to sign your Nook?
I didn't get to chat with Shannon Hale and instantly connect and become bosom friends and we don't have a lunch date scheduled for this afternoon, but I do have a whole new fantasy scenario wherein I give a speech at a school to an appreciative and rapt audience on account of my NYT bestseller status as well as my oratorial skills. And then afterward meet my bosom friend Shannon Hale for lunch where we chat about our mutual awesomeness. It should be getting lots of play in the coming weeks.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dead Week

Well okay, knowing that I didn't take any pictures this week, are you still with me? Anyone? Just remember, this is for my mom. Actually, she'll probably be more bugged than anyone. I'm sorry, alright? This messed up camera phone thing is really a trial. Actually, now that I think of it, Delilah had a couple selfie sessions (ooh, I hate and despise that word!!!) so I'll tack a couple of those on at the end.

What we did during the 2nd week of Christmas Break:

Kids: Played video games, played briefly in the snow (in order to earn more time to play video games), played more video games.

Me: Vegged for a few days until I felt sick, then worked my butt off for 5 days straight to get Primary ready for the New Year.

Darron: Worked a little, watched football a lot.

Delilah: Had her new Merida book read to her 6 times per day. Everyone would only read it once, except Mom...I did it twice. I love her the most.

No seriously,that's all.

I guess we had our annual New Year's Eve party with some friends and our kids. I still haven't cleaned up the silly string.