Memorial Day

Is there anything more beautiful than the cemetery on a perfect spring Memorial Day?

I’ve always had a thing for cemeteries:  I think they are stunningly beautiful (in a not at all morbid or creepy way).   I always point them out on roadtrips, love passing them in tiny towns, and include them on my running routes whenever possible (you know, back when I used to run more than 5 miles/year).  I’ve never actually been to visit one on Memorial Day, but I passed the Provo Cemetery on my bike ride yesterday and it absolutely took my breath away.  All the deeply rich green grass, vivid color-pops of flowers, with the backdrop of the Wasatch mountains.  Mmm. . . pretty.  I couldn’t believe how many flowers there were.  Kudos to all of you honoring your dead.  I dragged my little family there for a quick stop-by on the way to a (larger) family party.

I’m tempted to go walk though there all this week on our stroller-walks.  Is that disrespectful?  I just really appreciate the beauty of a flower-filled cemetery.

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day!

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7 quick takes

Linking up with Jen at conversion diary for 7 quick takes

1.  I can’t stop eating.  Biking this much has proven to leave me more ferociously hungry than either gestation or lactation (I almost said combined, but let’s not get carried away–I was one starving pregnant lady)  We may need to double the grocery budget for the next few months.

2.  We had a positively lovely family picnic in the park today, which proved to be the boost I needed between Nap Avoidance Battle Royale #1 (morning nap) and Nap Avoidance Battle Royale #2 (afternoon nap) It took quite a concerted effort to convince Tanner that our picnic would be more fun outside than just eating in Subway because in his words “it’s a trillion degrees out here”  (the high today was 75) but I guess that’s just part of being Mrs. Staples.  We always set up our blanket half in the shade, half in the sun so that I can enjoy it, and so he doesn’t die of heatstroke/complain the whole time that he’s dying of heat stroke.  It’s a nice compromise.

3.  pictures of the picnic  IMG_4011 IMG_4013 IMG_4014

that’s ice in her lap

IMG_4031I’m not in any of the pictures because I’ve fallen into the role of mom who is always the one taking the pictures so is never in any of the pictures unless she hands dad the camera and says “here, take my picture”  meaning even when she IS in the pictures, it’s always awkward and overly posed. That role.  

4.  The mountains in Provo are really green and out of control beautiful these days and there is a long sappy romantic love letter in the works from me to Mount Timpanogos, so you can look forward to that.   Here’s a photo that doesn’t do those green mountains any kind of justice:

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5.  Tanner got a job as an orderly in the hospital!  Which is awesome and really hard to get since there are (it feels like) fleets and verifiable armies of ambitious medical student wannabies (wannabe’s?  wannabe plural?) in this city vying for such positions so they can brag about them on their med school applications.  It’s part time 24 hrs/wk, so he’ll still work at Outback a couple nights a week, but this is good news!

6.  When he got home from work late last night, Tanner heard a too-long perfectly fascinating story from me about how we went to the park and ran into Stephanie who was watching Mandy’s kid and we had to hurry and leave when Kara called me, and in our hurry we lost a little sandle and couldn’t find the sandle anywhere, but it’s because Stephanie found it and left it at Mandy’s house for us. . . .blah blah blah and then I got hear an equally long and just as fascinating explanation from Tanner about server hierarchy and section rotations in a restaurant.  And the point of this whole take is me wondering have we really gotten this boring this young?

7.  Tomorrow (which is almost today)  I’m part of a giveaway on Camppatton and I’m pretty excited about it. Please go enter!  and thanks for supporting my shop! (even if you never purchase anything, just telling me hey dana, your books are cool is greatly appreciated support, so thanks for those of you that do :))

happy happy friday.  May your Saturday include sleeping in and more leisure than mine probably will! (read: toddler+LOTOJA training=exhaustion)

motherhood

This post has been marinating for a while.  I’ve let it sit and sit and whenever I’m feeling frustrated I’ll add to it or change something–maybe that’s why it’s so disjointed.   Camryn has been an absolute sweetheart lately and these hard days are much fewer and farther between, but today I got a little piece of it again and thought it’s probably time to post this.  I kind of don’t want to because it’s such a downer (warning!)  but I think it’s worth it just in case it strikes a chord with someone and makes you feel a little bit like someone else is in your boat.

Sometimes it feels like we’re on opposing teams.  Like my child’s sole objective and purpose for living is to thwart, delay, and frustrate each and every single item on my life’s agenda–from showering, eating and brushing my teeth, to writing, shopping, and exercising –even when most of the agenda items on my list are acts of service for her.  It’s a give, give, give relationship, and sometimes it seems so unfair.  Like when I spend hours meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking healthy meals and being creative about what I feed her, and then she throws the food on the floor and rubs it in her hair.    Like when she flails, twists, and flings herself over the edge of the changing table as I attempt to change her diaper,  stands up while I try to put on her shoes, just plain freaks out while I brush her teeth.

It’s like she’s constantly thinking, “what can I do to make what mom is trying to do harder?” it’s demoralizing and defeating and even though my intellect knows this isn’t the case, sometimes it feels intentional.  Mean-spirited, even.  As if the sound of mom relaxed and enjoying herself is audible and irritating to her and she feels the need to search out the relaxer and make all relaxing cease immediately.

When she refuses to sleep or let me get something done, it’s so frustrating.  It’s like I’ve given her everything from my first waking moment and her nap refusal is her saying that’s not good enough.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve given up my body, my time, my talents and attention, my schooling and career aspirations–everything has been sacrificed for her, and sometimes all of that isn’t enough and she demands more.  She demands all of me when I have nothing left–even the 90 measly minutes of “me” time I have been looking forward to, leaving me, for the day, feeling bereft of the last bits of my sense of self.  It feels like something I deserve has been denied me.  It feels like I’ve been doing everything to fulfill her every need, but then the one little thing I need, whatever it may be that day, doesn’t matter.  It’s so hard when it feels like what I need is so little to ask but I still can’t have it.  Like I can wake up in the morning with only one measly item on my to-do list that should take 1 or 2 hours and I still can’t even get that thing accomplished.  

Motherhood is sometimes selflesslessly, lovingly serving yourself into exhaustion and then having your offering thrown in your face and stomped on.    It’s constantly forgiving when no apology has been offered.

Sometimes I want to throw my own tantrum.  Just throw my hands and say “I cannot be this selfless.  I can’t!”  I rarely feel this way, but it’s little parts of every day.  Or one big part of a bad day.  I know that so many have it harder–more kids, babies that are harder than mine, sleep less than mine, demand more than mine.  But I do feel this way.  And it’s worth it, obviously, one thousand times over no doubt about it, but that doesn’t change that this mothering thing?  it’s hard.

and she walks

 

If such a thing existed as a codified all-inclusive description of parenthood, I’d make sure it included the task of follower:  during the toddler years, your job is to follow the child around everywhere they go, basically attempting to prevent them from falling on heads or down stairs, scraping knees, breaking bones, or pretty much doing anything that will cause them to bleed or ingest poison in any form.  The tricky part in all of this is to avoid the temper tantrums/angry grunts/wails that will most certainly result from you doing anything at all that makes them feel as if you are restricting their independence, i.e. touching them, trying to help them, refusing them entry to any cupboard, room, drawer , or street, or taking away any object they are trying to destroy or eat.

That pretty much sums up the whole of my existence lately.

And though the task of following isn’t always my favorite, it is one of the more soul-swelling, light me up inside, kill me with cuteness parts of the job to watch her toddle (pat, pat, pat) down the sidewalk ,babbling and waving her arms/holding them up like a scarecrow.  it’s. the. best.

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just tell me these shorts aren’t the cutest pants in all the land

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Between the bump/bruise on her forehead and the dirt on her face and shirt, my mother might say she loods like an orphan child.  But if you looked closer and realized that some of the dirt was actually chocolate, you would know she is obviously well loved and cared for.

IMG_3904 picking the neighbors weedsIMG_3907 IMG_3914

 

I’ll follow that around any day.

riding lately

apologies in advance that this post contains an excessive use of parentheses.  it happens to me sometimes.  a lot of the time. . . also, rest assured that I actually do love biking and have been having some beautiful amazing rides.  Those ones just aren’t entertaining enough to share. 

Today was the crappiest bike ride out of all the bike rides.  (so far.  knock on wood one million times)

It was at least 90 degrees (the internet says 84, but you can’t believe everything the internet says) and I forgot my water bottle.

I was kind of in a crummy mood for no reason to begin with, and then few miles in, I jammed one of my shifters and couldn’t get out of a high gear.  I had the same problem once last summer and I knew immediately I’d have to take it in for someone smarter than me to un-jam it.  Fortunately, I was a couple miles away from Timpanogos Cyclery where I bought my bike.  I stumbled on in there and lucky me, there are really really kind people in that place that fixed me up really quick (I just realized my bike needs a name) and didn’t ridicule or roll their eyes at me even though I deserved it.  I feel like a total fool every time I go into one of these places because I have not the first inkling of knowledge on the mechanics of a bicycle or how to care for or fix one, nor do I know how to properly identify more parts of my bike than wheels, handlebars, seat, nor do I know any cycling vernacular.   But I have a really nice bike and I’m training for LOTOJA.  So I feel like a complete fraud.

Things I learned today from the nice people at Timpanogos Cyclery:

1)  It’s cross-chaining not cross-training (when you have one gear really high and the other too low, or vice versa so your chain is dragging against the shifter) and I should stop doing it.

2)  It is quite important to grease your gears–as demonstrated by repair man #1 turning my pedals and saying (you hear that loud grating squeaky noise?  that’s bad.)

after that short pit stop, I rode on in perfectly silent well-greased bliss, vowing to read a book on bike mechanics and also learn to at least confidently change out a tube and grease my own gears.

Other unfortunate happenings on my bike lately:

1)  Someone threw a water balloon at me.  !%!@&!  Out of a third story window of the Liberty Square apartments as far as I could tell.  And THEY MISSED.  Ha.  But barely.  They were close enough that it scared the living daylights out of me (and could have killed me!!  In all seriousness, COULD HAVE KILLED ME) and also may have cause me to swear loudly.

2)  Someone stuck their head out the window and screamed right as they passed me in their car just to scare me.  And it worked.   (got to love living in double college town full of immature underclassmen who do stupid, immature, and potentially harmful things for personal amusement.)

3)  That time where my biggest nightmare/greatest fear came true and the front door opened of a parked car I was passing.  so scary!! fortunately i did live.

 

On a totally unrelated note:  I love Kings of Leon (and really wish Pandora didn’t group them with the Killers who are infinitely inferior)

On another one, grace wrote a really awesome post today that terrified me out of my wits a little bit for medical school/residency.  (Not unlike the documentary Tanner and I watched once that followed 8 students through medical school and between the 8 of them, there were 7 divorces by the time they finished)  but that is beside the point.  I really enjoy her blog and if you are into sarcasm and hilarity, and mothers not professing perfection, you should give her a read.

7 quick takes

Linking up with Jen for 7 quick takes:

1.  I GOT INTO LOTOJA!!!  This little email was in my inbox this morning:  “CONGRATULATIONS!  Your application was successful in our lottery and you have a spot in this year’s LoToJa.  We hope this is exciting news for you!”  I AM SO STOKED.  Oh, and Tanner got in too, which means I will have my riding buddy! 🙂 On my ride a couple days ago I was thinking–I will be thrilled either way.  I’ve been putting in a lot of miles lately and completely loving it.  Utah is beautiful, the canyons are beautiful, I feel awesome, I love being outside so much, I would love to accomplish this thing.  But at the same time I’ve realized what a time commitment it is and how hard it will be on my body (I am sooo tired all day when I do a long ride) There are a lot of things I won’t be able to do because that time will be committed to riding.   So, it was nice to know my fate was in the hands of a randomized lottery.  BUT–holy cow, I GET TO DO LOTOJA!! so pumped right now.

2.  The little lady is walking!  And oh, how my heart swells with pride and joy to watch her zombie toddling (arms outstretched) down the sidewalk.

3.  What’s with all of internetland hating on mother’s day?

4.  I had an epiphany last week while writing my grocery list:  If the daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables is at least 5 servings a day, and I go grocery shopping once a week (who are we kidding, I aim for that and then end up going 2-5 times a week for forgotten items/we-must-have-sugar-now-and- there’s-no-more-sugar-in-the-house runs) for 2 adults, that means that without even taking my toddler into account, I should be purchasing SEVENTY servings of fruits and veggies per grocery trip.  Do the math on a family of 4, or 6 and have I blown your mind yet?  Do with that information what you will.

5.  I am so excited for the new Murdock Canal Trail.  I had never even heard of it until yesterday (even though apparently my dad has been consumed by doing the legal work on it for the past 6 years so good thing I’m a good daughter and take an interest in my fathers work).  I accidentally happened upon it during my bike ride yesterday and it is amazing!!  17 miles of pure, unadulterated, new, smooth, wide and beautiful biking trail.  I’m get bored of my routes to the lake and up provo canyon, and since my rides need to start getting longer this is very very good news.

6.  I promised this blog post would be short, right?

7.  The more I think about quick take #1, the more I realize how disappointed I would have been if we didn’t get in.  Onward!

on authenticity

[blogging is] a way to focus on the good and identify all those things that fill me up and fill me out. as a way of cataloging progress and change.

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world. | Pema Chödrön

–both megafee.com

that night i sat down and wrote every good thing about my weekend into my long-neglected blog. it was maybe just one or two things, but i poured everything i had into making those things sing. i did it every night, and after just a few posts over the course of a week, it was like the day had dawned inside me, brand new.

nat the fat rat

Every once in a while I’ll read a blog post of the confessional type–the type where instead of an outfit post, a vacation recap, or a tender look into a mother-child moment (i’m not making fun of people who blog, I like all of these things ;)) a blogger switches a gear and lets you know what’s wrong in their life.  They admit they are depressed or recovering from an eating disorder.  They are infertile, or they miscarried.  You know those posts.  Where they reveal that their life isn’t all pictures of the beautiful spring blossoms, smiling babies, and relaxed afternoons in cute coffee shops.

And I am always fascinated by the comments.  They always applaud the blogger for being so genuine.  So real, so authentic.  While I know where they’re coming from and what they mean, I have a problem with this.  It is that you only see those kind of comments on posts that are negative in some way– Posts that reveal a problem, a weakness, a sadness, a trial, an imperfection in the life of the blogger.  A confession is made and readers burst forth with exclamations of “oh my gosh, thank you for being so real.”  What I see behind that comment though, is a disillusioned reader who has bought into the falsity that a persons blog is that person–and overall, that what you see of people’s lives, is all there is.  They see what they see and they think–she’s perfect.  She’s got her perfect, loyal, good-looking, hard-working husband, her perfectly decorated apartment, her beautiful well-behaved children, her never-ending fashionable wardrobe–she’s got it all together all the time and there must be something wrong with me because I just don’t!  They’ve (we’ve?) got a wheel running in their heads that says I don’t wear anything more exciting than jeans, my apartment is always messy, my family makes me crazy half the time, my toddler won’t stop throwing tantrums, I fight with my husband, I’m overweight, I can’t have kids, I have depression, I don’t have this that or whatever.  And when they get a glimpse into some tiny stormcloud in that blog-perfect life, it is as if they breathe a sigh of relief–Oh! she has issues too–good!  And then they thank her for being genuine.

But since when does genuine mean negative?  Since when do you have to include the bad and the ugly to make the good legitimate?  Is there anything wrong with an individual creating a space online where she documents only the good and leaves out all the painful messy stuff?  I say no.  I say that it is not the bloggers job to reveal all of her imperfections and problems in the name of authenticity.  I say that it is the readers job to be mature enough to understand the difference between someone’s blog and real life–and to stop reading (!!) if it is damaging your self image and causing you to set unreasonable expectations for yourself.  Bravo to all of those brave enough to share their personal struggles online–I’ve been touched by many women sharing their experiences with infertility, divorce, motherhood, depression, eating disorders, and so on.  I think (when done tactfully and appropriately) sharing these stories is important and it can help other women to know others have gone what they go through.  But I don’t think that such is necessary for the stamp of authenticity.    If you are applauding, do it for their openness, honesty, and courage. 

Blogs inspire me.  The internet inspires me.  I love the beautiful pictures, thoughtful words, bright ideas– by all means, ladies, create beautiful blogs.  Sit down at the end of the day and write down every happy thing that happened to you.  Post pictures of pretty things, exaggerate and emphasize the heck out of every teeny tiny victory in your day.  Rejoice in your successes, find the good, laugh off the bad.  There is nothing at all wrong with this.  It’s not fake.  It’s not unrealistic–it’s a perspective.  It’s optimism.  It’s looking for beauty.  Just also be responsible consumers.  Don’t be a jealous reader!  Don’t hate on the beauty, don’t spitefully criticize the “perfect” lives and things you see online.  Be smart enough to know that they are choosing what to see, they are choosing what to show you, and just like you and your family and the friends you know best–they have demons too.  And it’s perfectly ok for them not to share their demons with the whole internet.