Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mooners and Flashers

When the boys were little, it was so easy to find things to blog about. They were hysterical little people whose toddler shenanigans were almost always blog worthy. And then they grew up. They're hardly grown, of course, but I don't have hilarious poop stories to regale you with anymore.


Just kidding.


I mean, I'm glad that he'll soon enter the stage where everything that comes out of his mouth is funny as heck. He's not there yet. Where he is right now is throwing food, yelling at the tip top of his lungs, and refusing to say any words except, "Ah-duh," which translates directly to, "All done."

My older boys are playing sports and doing homework and generally living life in that stage between little kid and teenager. In some ways, it's the sweet spot. The place where they don't throw food anymore but all the testosterone hasn't flooded their cute brains and turned them into raging hormone monsters. But the sweet spot doesn't lend itself to funny blogging stories very often.

You might not know it. You may not even believe me when I tell you, but I spend a great deal of time trying to make sure my kids don't turn into ax murderers or juvenile delinquents. Consistency is my number one parenting goal and I strive--full force--to be stable and steady in my mothering. They'll make their own choices and their own mistakes but by golly I'm going to do everything in my power to shape them. I want their reputation to precede them in only positive ways.

Which is why I stormed up to the door of a neighbor I'd never met two days ago to give him the WHAT FOR.

There isn't a confrontational bone in my body, actually. So the fact that I was hammering this dude's door with my fist is astonishing. 

See, Garrett had come in from playing outside and he was laughing about how a neighbor of ours thought he had mooned him. HOLD THE PHONE. WAIT ONE SECOND. WHAT, NOW?

"So, he was getting his mail and he asked me if I was the one who showed him my butt a few days ago. I said I wasn't and he asked me which house I lived in. I pointed and he said, 'It was you then.' I told him it wasn't. He said, 'Well, he looked JUST like you.'"

Showing his rump to a random neighbor is about the last thing I can think of Garrett doing. So, off I stormed to inform this guy that my child absolutely was not the one who had mooned him. First, we were out of town until Sunday. Second, our Sundays are very busy and the boys rarely get a chance to play out front and I knew they were never out on Sunday. Third, Monday they were at a church soccer camp in the morning and then running errands and doing chores until evening when we went out to dinner to finally celebrate Father's Day.

Up I marched to the neighbor's door. Garrett, at this point, was hot on my heels and in tears because he was so mortified about whatever I was about to do. I was concerned that his tears were a confession which is ridiculous because, as I've just mentioned, he hadn't been out front. Did I assume he sneaked outside in the middle of his chores for a good ole fashion mooning? "You better tell me right now if it was you."

"It wasn't me! I'm just nervous about whatever you're going to say," he answered. I'm sure that inside he was thinking, MY MOM HAS STRAIGHT UP LOST HER MIND! Bang! Bang! Bang! I rapped on the door. Now, I had absolutely no idea what this guy looked like. He lives down around the corner and I was taking the word of my eight-year-old neighbor--who looks and, occasionally, acts exactly like Dennis the Menace--that this is where the man even lived. The door opened.

"Hi," I said. "Did you just get your mail?"

"Yes," he replied slowly.

"Okay..." I started. And then I built my defense. My kids weren't out. It wasn't my son. I raise my children with a certain level of integrity and I didn't want anyone in the neighborhood thinking they were little miscreants. 

The thing is, my kids will find enough trouble on their own. They will be punished for it. I definitely don't want them getting a reputation for something they didn't even do. 

The neighbor told me that he simply asked my son if it was him and then informed him that he needed to tell his friend that behavior like that was going to land him in jail. Apparently, said neighbor was on his way to church when said miscreant pulled down his pants and wiggled his goods before spinning around and shaking his rump. Unprompted. Unwarranted. 

Now, Garrett hadn't told me that the burden of lecturing this kid (who we believe is our next door neighbor's nephew) had been passed on to him. It's not his friend. Garrett wasn't part of the situation at all. I'm still unclear as to why he needed to be the one to pass this information on. I also think it might be a stretch to assume that this kid is headed straight for the slammer because of a mooning.

"I just wanted to make sure you knew it wasn't my son," I said.

"Oh, sure. He said it wasn't him. He looks like a good kid." Sure. Except five minutes ago, he looked like someone who would flap his business at strangers.

"Alright, thanks. Have a nice day," I said and I headed off.

I do not normally go all Mama Bear freak out. I basically always believe an adult who tells me that my kid did something. They are not sinless little angels. But, when I am 99.99% sure they didn't do something, you're darn right I'm going to defend them. And thank goodness, as of yet, they are not the town flashers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Exactly is the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program?

When I was in high school, we had a Play Productions class, band, several choirs, dance, art electives, and, during my time there, a drama class was born. Also during my time there, a beautiful theatre was built. I was a good little girl who got all of her actual course work out of the way before taking any electives. I got to take Beginning Drama as a junior. By the time I was a senior, I was taking both Play Productions and Advanced Drama. After lunch, the only thing I had left to do was theatrical. It was, probably, the first time I couldn't wait for the weekend to be over. On Saturdays and Sundays, I desperately missed my performance classes. I have a vivid memory of walking to my car one Friday after school. I was fighting tears because a) I was dramatic and b) I didn't want to wait TWO FULL DAYS TO GO BACK TO MY PRODUCTION CLASSES.

It is my understanding that my high school no longer offers drama or theatre of any kind. 

When I was in college, I started off as an Elementary Education major. Every time I walked past the little white theatre that was centrally located on campus, I just wanted to walk inside in the worst way. I wanted to find my people. I wanted to belong. There. In the dark with the curtains and the energy and the aliveness of it all. I cannot explain it. It certainly wasn't the most level headed decision I'd ever made. But I simply had to walk into that building, change my major, and live frugally ever after. And so I did. I learned a lot of things that prepared me for my future. I worked extremely hard as the Production Manager and, sometimes, stage crew or stage manager or director. I found a home. I graduated with a Bachelors in Theatre and a whole heap of English Education course work.

My university no longer offers Theatre as a major.

When I was fresh out of the hospital with my brand new baby boy nearly 11 years ago, a high school drama teaching position literally fell directly into my lap. I was only able to do that job for a little over a year before we moved to Utah. I loved it. I loved watching those students, energized with the fun and force of creating their own story. I loved being a place where they could escape the structure of the core subjects. I loved helping them fall in love with--or nurturing an existing love for--the theatre.

I am a firm believer that the arts MUST be a part of our school systems. I am so proud of Utah's desire to include the arts even at the elementary level. My boys have had drama and music in their own school in past years. This is the introductory video I was sent when my sons' principal hired me as a Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program Theatre Arts Specialist for the upcoming school year. It explains a little bit about the program and the goal to reach our youth with the arts.

I'm overwhelmed by all I need to do to prepare. I'm excited. But above all, I'm proud to be able to partner with the BTS program to bring the arts to our children.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Vacation

My parents took my boys (the older two) on an epic cruise two weeks ago. They flew them to Houston and left out of Galveston. The boys went to Honduras and Mexico, enjoying all the amenities of a cruise and participating in some incredible excursions. Soon, I'll have a bunch of pictures and will be able to tell you all about it.

They had a blast and even ate escargot. 

At the end of their adventure, my parents flew them to San Diego where I was waiting for them with Will. We stayed with my parents for the week. There are always so many people I want to see and so little time. I wish that I could see all my friends and family every time we're there but there are not enough hours in a day. This time, I focused on seeing family. I hadn't seen some of my extended family members since we were there last summer.

I have three living grandparents so we made sure to stop in and see them. That same day, we had dinner with my aunt and uncle. It was a great day hanging out with my family.

On that same day, the younger two boys and I went to visit Kate. Garrett and Matthew still talk about Kate with great frequency but they process her death very differently. Garrett is quiet about it and does not like visiting the cemetery. Matthew is much more open and always wants to go with me if he can. Garrett stayed with my grandpa and looked through his Navy books while the rest of us took our girl flowers.

Later in the week, we had a BBQ at my other aunt and uncle's house and swam in their pool. We'd spent the first half of the day with my father-in-law, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew. The boys had tons of fun playing with their cousins and swimming in my aunt's pool.

We met my friend, my other sister-in-law, and my niece at the zoo one day. I learned that my children are represented in three gorilla brothers that live at the San Diego Zoo. There is Maka, "The Ace." He's intelligent, sensitive, and brave. Mandazzi, "The Comedian," has boundless energy, is a show-off and a real cut up. And Ekuba, "The Peacemaker," is curious, playful, and loyal.

So, I mean, I don't think you even have to know us in real life to know that these adjectives basically describe my kids perfectly. 

On our last full day, we headed to the bay. It was gray and chilly for most of the afternoon but we had tons of fun anyway. We BBQ'd hot dogs and played at the park.

I have a lot of pictures to sort through but we're home now and already thinking about our next trip. Tahoe is just a few weeks away.

Friday, June 16, 2017

You Can Call Me Dawn Lazarus: Part II

No. I didn't have another "episode" thank goodness. Let's just get that outta the way right off the bat. I did go to the neurologist though so that I could find out what had me all Dawn Lazarus-y.

He looked at my brain scans and asked me to recount the situation to him. I talked about how long it had lasted and what had happened and he told me I was very brave for not going straight to the emergency room because it sounded exactly like stroke symptoms.

Except that if I had THOUGHT at the time FOR ONE SECOND that I was having a stroke then OBVIOUSLY I would have gone to the emergency room. I had no idea what, on earth, was happening to me. Also, I mean, is it really bravery to sit around waiting to die when someone could help you. No. No it is not. Other than his (obviously sarcastic) quip about my heroics, I liked him just fine.

I'm not sure I mentioned anywhere in my original Dawn Lazarus post that I started getting a migraine in the middle of the whole situation. I did tell the ER doctor about it and, turns out, that was a pretty important mention. It wouldn't have been weird at all for me to leave out that detail because I typically don't talk about my headaches.

I know a few people who have chronic headaches that never go away. So I don't talk about mine--which do go away. But I get headaches several times a month. (I know, I know. The chronic headache people would give a limb to only have a headache a few times a month.) Inexplicably, this began happening immediately after moving to Utah. I would blame it on altitude or lengthening my proximity to the equator or something but, now that I get them, I am not immune to them in California or any other place we go. They also seem to be hormone related. So I have no idea why they started when we got here and whether or not Utah was some sort of trigger. It was CERTAINLY A TRIGGER FOR MY TERRIBLE EYE ALLERGIES SO I WOULDN'T PUT IT PAST HER. Oh Utah, you dry, fickle minx.

At my last annual exam, I mentioned to my doctor that they had gotten worse and more frequent. She did give me a prescription for a headache medication but I never filled it. Excedrin still works--I just have to take more of it now. This working Excedrin phenomenon is, I believe, directly related to the fact that I almost never, ever have caffeine (because it makes me urinate like a racehorse, if you must know and I hate that) so when I shoot caffeine straight to my brain, it kills the headache. Anyway. None of that is important. I could have simply said, "My headaches have gotten worse." But, then you wouldn't have had that beautiful horse imagery. And, now that I think about it, why do we say that? Do racehorses go more than other animals?

I googled it. "Racehorses are commonly given Lasix which is a powerful diuretic. They pee a lot right before they race, we're talking gallons and gallons. The medication is thought to help prevent nasal bleeding, which sometimes happens when racehorses supremely over-exert themselves." So there you have it. I feel sorry for racehorses.

My headaches have gotten worse.

And this was also very pertinent information for the doctor who diagnosed me with a complex migraine or, as it is referred to now, migraine with aura. The aura--which can be anything from seeing strange light to lost vision to the inability to speak--typically lasts less than an hour. The ensuing headache can last up to three days.

On the one hand, I'm pretty glad I'm not dying. Other than a big giant and potentially embarrassing pain in the neck (or, in this case, head), the only lasting effect is that it does slightly elevate one's risk for stroke. On the other hand, this could happen at any time and in any place. It can also begin happening with regularity. GOOD TIMES.

If I get one and my symptoms are the same, I do not need to do anything about it. If something similar happens but my symptoms are not the same, I have to make quick to the emergency room. I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't print up a card that says, "Hello. I am having a neurological episode and cannot speak or read. It's likely a complex migraine. I'll be fine. In the meantime, I need you to call my husband."

Triggers include (but are not limited to): Stress, pressure or altitude change, and hormone levels. Good thing those are easy to avoid, right?

Anyway. I truly am glad that it's nothing more serious. I'm pretty happy that I didn't have a stroke at 35. And I'm blessed to only have several headaches a month. But just a warning: if I seem super disoriented and unable to speak. I probably am. You can just call me Dawn Lazarus.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bon Voyage

Years ago, my parents asked us if we'd be open to having them take our boys on a trip--when they were a little older. Of course, we enthusiastically agreed. They talked about all the different options. We were really up for anything. I mean, we're the parents who took our kids to Israel when they were four and seven so, short of them planning a trip to Afghanistan or Syria or maybe the Gaza Strip, we were fine with it. 

The time has come. At eight and almost eleven, the boys are ready for an adventure with their grandparents. It's a combined birthday present (and, really, it could count as their birthday gift from now until forever) and they've known about it for several months. They've been receiving twice weekly clues to try to figure out where they're going. 

Clues like:
You'll need a passport
There may be an animal in your room from time to time
Many cultures come together
You will have the opportunity to go back in time

And so many more.

Garrett was dead set, most of the time, on it being a cruise. Matthew wasn't quite as invested in the clue situation as Garrett was but was very excited when he found out that there would be a lot of opportunities for eating.

I had told only a limited number of people because I was so worried that the surprise would be ruined. When I told people, most of them made requests for my parents to adopt them as grandchildren. Most of these people are close to my age and I'm not sure my parents are looking for adult grandchildren but I GET IT because this trip is AMAZING.

My parents flew in on Thursday and told the boys on Thursday night where they were going. They're cruising to Honduras and Mexico! (And, yes, their parents are JEALOUS!) Here they all are just before we took them to the airport...

Last night, they stayed in Houston and this morning they went on to Galveston. They've boarded the ship and are waiting to set sail.

They've already found lots of yummy food and have enjoyed one of their favorites...crawfish.

My parents booked the MOST FUN excursions for them. We cannot wait for pictures so we can live vicariously through them. We hope they know how very blessed they are and we hope they're minding every last manner. Bon Voyage, Boys!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Happy Birthday, dear Will

Dear Will,

There's no way I could have known, one year ago, the way you would change me, the happiness you would bring me, the incredible blessing that you would be to me. Twelve months ago, when you came into the world, I didn't even know it. I was watching a softball game and laughing with friends and then, two states away, you were living and breathing and existing.

I didn't know. For two entire days.

But then, when you were two days old, this picture of you came across my phone.

I don't think I used to believe in love at first sight. I loved your brothers the moment I saw them but when I saw them they were tangible and squishy and in my arms. It may well have been love at first snuggle. But you, Will, I loved the second I saw your picture. I loved a photo so intensely that I couldn't stand the thought of being away from you for one more second. I became a powerful believer in love at very first sight.

You were wonderful, precious, delicious--even. I almost couldn't believe that you were mine. I took twenty gazillion pictures of you, knowing that, though the nights were long, you would stay like that for no more than a quick minute.

Summer faded into fall and we tried to figure out how to get you to sleep without being swaddled. It was rough. I thought we might have to send you off to college with a large blanket, some strong Velcro, and solid instructions for your roommate on how to wrap you tightly. We pushed through and, it turns out, you won't even go to preschool still needing to be swaddled. Your pacifier is another story. That thing may be hanging out of your mouth in the third grade.

Seasons are prone to moving quickly. One jumps on top of the other and soon, an entire year has gone. How much quicker they go when raising children. Fall turned to winter and on that first day of the season marked by snow and frigid temperatures, we officially adopted you. It was a beautiful day and my mama heart--the one that always hopes and always believes but is always just a little afraid that something might happen--exhaled a sigh of love and dreams and endless possibilities. 

You. Were. Mine.

The winter turned into "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which, in most places, is called spring. You didn't seem particularly bothered by the cold weather of winter or "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which is weird because you spent your womb-months in Riverside. It is H.O.T. in Riverside. But, you are definitely my kid and a So Cal boy because you will remove your socks and shoes at every opportunity. You want to be barefoot all the time, with your feet in the sand and a non-alcoholic umbrella drink in your hand. (I'm guessing on those last two but, I mean, who doesn't?)

"Little Bit Warmer Winter" has turned into "Hot Summer" even though summer won't officially be here for another two and a half weeks. You've taken to playing in the backyard, swinging in your new swing from Grandpa Jon and Grandma Ginny, splashing in your new water table from Grandpa Gary and Grandma DeDe, climbing on your brother's old helicopter toy, and working on your tan. I assume your olive complexion will turn sun-kissed brown in a matter of days.

You are determined, noisy, strong-willed, feisty, joyful, and smiley. There is so much personality in your teeny tiny body and you are so full of life that I sometimes wonder if you'll just spontaneously burst and send glitter and confetti flying everywhere. Your smile lights up the entire room. Your giggle ripples through us all until there is a symphony of laughter that shakes our world in all the best ways.

You crawl at lightning speed, toddle everywhere, and aim to destroy absolutely everything absolutely all the time. One of us has to redirect you every 2.7 seconds because you will almost positively kill yourself if we give you a five second head start. Outlets, cords, and heavy objects would be your toys of choice if we turned our backs for only a moment. You will, occasionally, play with your actual toys but are much more fascinated by ALL THE THINGS IN THE WHOLE WORLD that are not toys. On her resent visit, your Grandma DeDe commented that everyone should just get you random household items for your birthday. You were thrilled to play with her dental floss for a good ten minutes. I'm thinking of taking your presents back and getting you your own checkbook, a set of Tupperware, several rocks, a ballpoint pen, and disposable baking tins. Because those are, quite literally, your favorite toys.

You eat ALL THE FOOD. Certainly, you have your favorites and bread is not among them. I worry for you in this family. If it's true that you are what you eat, your oldest brother is a walking carbohydrate. While you enjoy taking a few bites of pancakes and toast before throwing chunks on the floor, your favorite foods include blueberries, bananas, vanilla Greek yogurt, carrots, and beans.

You carry around burp cloths like blankies, enjoy throwing--but not reading--books (I will persevere. I will win. You will, ONE DAY, sit in my lap for more than three pages. Annnd, dude. It's not like I'm asking you to sit through three pages of Dostoevsky. We're talking about cardboard books about farm animals and dinosaurs for crying out loud!), find Peek-a-boo to be utterly hilarious, enjoy bath time, love your brothers and your dog and cat and the hamster (who does not love you but, can you really blame her? Her experience with you is limited to a couple of very rough encounters.), and you thoroughly enjoy babbling incomprehensible chatter.

You say, "All done," although it sounds more like, "ahduh!" You say, "Dada," although less so lately. You, apparently, say, "MOM!" but only when I'm not around to hear it. And that is about it. It's fine. If I had a child who attempted to speak before he was twenty months old, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Eh. Einstein didn't talk until he was four and it turned out alright for him.

They say that in parenting, the days are long but the years are short. I don't even know if the days seem so long to me anymore. I've got your big brothers as proof that the world just keeps spinning faster and faster with each phase of the moon. But it does seem impossible that almost a year has gone by since I first saw your face on my phone, since I first stepped up to your bassinet in the hospital and laid eyes on you, since I first lifted your tiny body up into my arms and snuggled you in to the place right next to my heart, where my love for you had grown for all those many months.

Happy Birthday, Will. It's been an amazing year.


The way that God designed things, a rainbow often appears after a storm, giving hope of better things to come. That is why a baby born after the loss of a child is called a Rainbow Baby. The literal definition of a rainbow is an arc of prismatic colors appearing in the heavens opposite the sun and caused by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in drops of rain.

Will, you are prismatic colors--vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, blues, and violets. You are the reflection of sunshine. You are all I waited for and so much more. Everything about you is warmth and wonder, crisp and clean. You are the way the world looks after it has poured down rain, after a storm has wreaked havoc, after the sun has come back out again and made everything new.

"There may be storms that rip up your world, but heaven can come down and brush a rainbow across all that pain like a sacrifice--and make you believe the promise of justice and wholeness to come." -Ann Voskamp

You are the rainbow that Heaven brushed across my life. Happy Birthday, dear Will. Happy Birthday to you.