Friday, December 13, 2013

Feelin' Lucky

I am not sure if I will even be able to post this.  As I have been thinking about writing it- it is getting too mushy and sappy for me to even stomach it, let alone post it!  But here goes...

Lately I have been feeling lucky.  Not the "let's go to Vegas and put it all on 7" lucky.  Or the kind of "feeling lucky" that JT feels after he has done the dishes and vacumed the house.  This is a different kind of lucky.

A few years ago I read the book The Power by Rhonda Byrne. (A must read.) It was a life changing book.  (Which is what lead me to The Magic, which may have been an even more life changing book!  Crazy how many times my life has changed in the last few years... pretty soon you may not even be able to recognize me!) The main concept of the book is how the law of attraction works.  Feeling love for things will bring those things to you. This is a hard thing to master when you have struggles, because you are even suppose to love those struggles. (crazy)

Recently I had the chance to teach Riley about this "power".  We were bowling with some cousins and Riley was getting frustrated that she was bowling poorly and others were doing better than her.  (Man, she is the mini-me!) I felt so sad as I watched her missing out on the fun with her family because she was too consumed by her own sadness.  (I remember doing this exact same thing as a child.  I remember my parents being frustrated that I wouldn't "just be happy" and that I was missing out.  I remember feeling even more frustrated that for some reason I couldn't "just be happy" which made me even more miserable!)  My heart broke as I watched her.  I knew she would go home and regret missing out on the fun, but I knew that she had no idea how to stop being disappointed.  We had a minute to go to the bathroom (in a bowling alley-- soooooo grosse!) where I decided to take a risk and try to help.

In the bathroom I told her that I knew the trick for her to be able to bowl better and start having fun.  I am sure she thought that I was going to teach her some new technique (or how to cheat) but instead I told her about The Power.  I promised Riley if she would be happy for her cousins and siblings when they bowled well, that she would start to bowl better also.  I told her she would have to cheer for them, and give them High-Fives whenever they took a turn.  I promised that by being happy for other's good fortune it would come to her as well.  Then I prayed like crazy that the law of attraction was real and would work! I was pretty nervous, since I had made a promise.  But I really believe in the power of love and that in giving love you will receive it. (Mostly because I have applied it and been benefited by it so much in my own life.)

We headed back down to our lane where her cousins bowled.  I reminded her to High Five and cheer, which she did somewhat begrudgingly, when they did well.  Finally it was her turn, and she pushed the ball down the ramp (thank goodness for ramps and bumpers!) and guess what happened next?  The first Strike of the night!!  Riley ran and buried her head in my lap like she does when she is embarrassed and wanting to hide her giant smile.  She was amazed.  I was relieved.  She continued to energetically cheer for her cousin and for Macie and give High Fives after every turn, and she continued to bowl well.  There are probably a ton of explanations for this.  Most likely that being selfless makes you feel good, and when you feel good you do good.  And when you are genuinely happy for others, you feel happier for yourself.  This worked even when she guttered the ball (amazing to still be able to gutter ball with bumpers) she was still able to be happy.

Riley bowling with cousins!

I seriously couldn't get a good shot of Blake.

I am not just feeling lucky that Riley bowled so well.  Or that I didn't have a promise backfire on me.  I am feeling lucky because I have really seen this law of attraction working in my own life lately.

I noticed it at the beginning of summer, when I saw a friend post on facebook about how she wanted her children to learn to do more service this summer.  She wasn't just passively thinking about it either.  She had already arranged to take her kids to a nursing home to cheer up the elderly.  She also had plans for a fun, and academic summer as well.  I was in awe of her motivation.  Summer wasn't just a time for her to read a book while her kids fought over the T.V.  It was a time to learn, serve, and play.  As soon as I was done being impressed by her, I began to be jealous that I am not her!  Why am I not that cool? And then I remembered the Power.  It's OK that I am not her, because I am friends with her!  How lucky am I to be friends with an amazing woman??  I must be doing something right to attract a person like that into my life.  The happier I am for her, and grateful for her example, the more I may become like her.

Once I noticed this it became very easy for me to recognize all of the beautiful, amazing women that I am surrounded by!  I have a friend whose life has been turned upside down the last few years.  By the loss of a still born baby, the change of faith in her family, the change of direction in many ways, but through it all she has been an example of unconditional love.  She has reminded me how to love everything about someone, how to survive grief, how to stay calm and carry on.  She loves and serves and teaches everyone around her.  And she is my friend!  I don't have to be her, (although there are moments that I have wanted to) but I can be blessed that I am around her.

I have another friend who seems to always have the right thing to say.  Our talks started at the gym, of all places, while we were stretching after work outs.  There have been many tears shed on those nasty gym mats as we have had a chance to share some of our most difficult trials.  She is a beautiful, strong woman and it would be so easy to be jealous of her strength and her intelligence, but instead I just feel lucky to have her insights and her advice.

Do you see where I am going with this?  I feel like I am surrounded.  I even have a friend (who has been mistaken a few times for my sister, which is absolutely a compliment!) that loves to think the same ridiculous thoughts as me.  We have fun laughing at the same things, while bonding over very similar struggles.  Our lives have flowed on a parellel line for so long that I feel like we understand each other's paths as well as our own.  She is well loved, and extremely talented.  She is smart in many ways that I am not.  But I don't feel jealousy, I just feel love.

I could even go back 20 years to the beginning of one of my most meaningful friendships of all.  A friend that I could not have lived without during high school and my young adult years.  A friend who is extremely talented and the type that most of us are jealous of!  She has always been able to ground me, while reading my mind, and cracking me up.  While reading The Magic recently, one chapter challenged me to think of someone who had a huge impact on my life and to Thank them in my mind throughout the day.  Of course she was the first person who came to my mind.  She has always had a powerful and positive affect on me, and I have always felt blessed to call her my best friend.

I could go on and on and on.  The close friend that I visit teach that serves me way more than I could serve her!  Whose talents and creativity are boundless!  Every time I am in her home I feel total peace, which is a priceless gift to share with a friend.  (Did you see what I did with that play on words? Priceless?  Ok, that is the only hint I am giving!)  Or another friend who puts her children and family first.  Filling her backyard with amazing toys, a beautiful garden, and tons of opportunities for adventures.  She does this because she loves her children.  Not for anyone else to see, or for any other purpose than to be a wonderful mom.  She does all of this while working part time to take care of women in labor.  She can be exhausted from her hard work, and still have a fun day planned for her family.  I love being inspired whenever I am around her.  And another friend who seems to be the most talented person I have ever met.  I can't think of talent or virtue that she doesn't possess.  She juggles her church service, her family, her friends, her musical pursuits, her dreams, her creativity, her faith, and her many other talents before I even get out of bed.  If she wasn't so absolutely lovable I am sure all women would be insanely jealous of her.  But I am just deeply grateful that someone so amazing would also love me.  Her goodness seems to rub off on everyone around her, which makes it easy to be grateful for her and to feel lucky to have her as a friend.

So you see why I can hardly post this?

It is so sappy, so mushy, so gushy it is almost nauseating   And yet, I have a million more girl friends I want to mention!  (Did you notice how I slipped in how I have a million more friends? So that you would all be jealous of my popularity and how many friends I have?  Don't be jealous, be happy for me  and you will be popular too! ((That's the law of attraction!)) "Just not quite as pop-u-lar as meeeeeeeee!" If you don't know what song that is from, we are not friends.)

I have really struggled to post this because I hate for anyone to feel left out.  I would be devastated if one of my close friends was not mentioned and feels undervalued.  That is not the case at all.  And I sincerely hope that no one feels like that.  I just have too many friends. (just kidding) So I am posting this (at the risk of unintentionally hurting someone) because I know how lucky we all are.  And how blessed we all are to have each other.  Uh oh, time to go, it is getting really mushy and it is almost "that time of the month" so some crazy sappy stuff may start coming out of my mouth!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Having A Christ Centered Holiday

Last month I was asked to give a quick little talk at a Thanksgiving Dinner with the topic of having a Christ Centered Holiday.  I thought I would share that talk here for those of you that are heartbroken to have missed it.... 

When I was a child my Mom’s best friend, our next door neighbor was Donna Semonelli.  Donna is Jewish.  And for Christmas one year she thought it would be appropriate to give my mother the Barbara Streissand Christmas Album (Because she liked the irony of a Jewish friend giving her Christian friend a record of a Jewish singer singing Christmas music.)  That album became our symbol of the beginning of Christmas.  Every year, as soon as my mom played that record, and we heard Barbara’s fast paced version of Jingle Bells we knew it was time for Christmas.

My children and I have a similar tradition; only their favorite song is Josh Groban’s Little Drummer Boy.  It has become a family favorite.  And every time we sing it, I think about the words. (Don’t worry, I will not sing them) 

Come they told me, pa rum pa pum pum, A new born king to see, Our finest gifts we bring, To lay before the King, So to Honor Him, When we come.”

The next verse continues as this young drummer boy explains his gift:
“Little Baby, I am a poor boy too, I have no gift to bring, That’s fit to give our King, Shall I play for you, On my drum?”

According to the song, Mary agreed and he played his drum as a gift for the King of Kings.  And it is reiterated that He is playing to Honor the Baby.  And then he even says “I played my best for him”.

I think my kids love all of the “pa rum pa pum pums” in the song, but I love that little part.  That the poor boy played his best to Honor the Baby Jesus.

Tonight, I have the opportunity to speak about having a Christ Centered Holiday.  In the First Presidency Christmas Devotional in 2011 President Uchtdorf  talks about this Spirit of Christmas.  He said   
“It is usually something small—we read a verse of scripture, we hear a sacred carol and really listen to its words, or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things of life [that] we too often use to adorn it.
“We realize in these precious moments what we feel and know in our heart—that Christmas is about the Christ.”
I love that simple reminder, that we may feel in a song, in a verse, in a Family Home Evening that remind us that Christmas is about Christ.  But how do we continue to remember that throughout the Holiday season?  After all, Black Friday now starts on Thursday!  We have to get out there and start buying our gifts, and climbing our roofs to string the lights, and hunting and searching for the perfect Noble Fir to display in our living room.  It seems so easy to forget those beautiful words of a hymn, or verse about Christ when there are so many other distractions.  Even though some of those distractions are good as well.  (I want to make sure that JT knows he is not off the hook for putting up Christmas lights this year.)

But I think there is a lesson for me in the song my kids love, and also from the story of Christ’s birth. 

President Uchtdorf said that we, “like the Wise Men of old, should seek the Christ and lay before Him the most precious of gifts: a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We should offer Him our love.”

There is nothing I can buy for sale on Black Friday, to offer the Savior.  The only thing I have to offer Him is my heart, and my love.  We each have our own ways of offering this gift.  The Wise Men brought expensive gifts as a symbol and acknowledgement of His Royalty.  The little (and probably fictitious) drummer boy brought his talents.  A few years ago when our family was struggling financially, our friends secretly provided Christmas gifts for our family.  That tender offering was sacred in our home, and was an offering to Christ as much as it was to my children.  Because when we serve our fellow men we are only in the service of our God.  And when we bring tender, heart felt gifts to those in need, we are laying them at His feet as well.  As a missionary, my companion and I sang Christmas Carols at the homes of our investigators.  In a poverty stricken, third world country, I would have loved to have given the material gifts that they so desperately needed.  But the offering I had was simply the beautiful message of a Savior.

There are literally hundreds or thousands of ways that we can be like this Little Drummer Boy and give our best to the Savior this Holiday Season.  I love that the Holiday Season begins with Thanksgiving.  What better way to prepare to celebrate the Birth of the Savior than by giving Thanks? We can start right there, and carry that spirit of Gratitude for the rest of the season. 

As a parent, I feel like one of the ways I can “offer Him my heart and my love” (like President Uchtdorf suggested) is to teach my children.  After all, as the mother in the home, I am probably the biggest contributor to the Spirit in our home.  If I am frazzled by gift wrapping, and turkey, and holiday baking - that may become the center of our holiday.  And I, like the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas may teach them to misunderstand the meaning and purpose of Christmas.  I love when the Grinch hears the Who’s singing on Christmas morning.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
I have tried, over the past few years, to combat some of that materialism by adding in some traditions that help us to focus a little more on the Savior every day and to teach my kids that Christmas does mean more.  The first couple years, I made one of those fun “countdown chains” that the kids could pull off one link each night.  And the link would have a scripture about Christ that we could read together as a family before bed.  I was amazed at how much a simple little scripture helped me to stay focused on the Savior.

Last year I decided I really wanted an advent calendar.  I always loved them growing up, especially the ones with candy behind the little doors!  And while I was scouring Pinterest and Costco for “the perfect advent calendar”, I realized I wanted it to be more than just a chocolate, I wanted it to some how countdown to the Birth of the Savior.  And since pinterest and Costco didn’t have “the perfect count down to the birth of the Savior advent calendar” I had to make my own. (I am not some super crafter or anything, so please don’t get any ideas to call me to Relief Society Enrichment or anything).  And every day, as we placed an ornament on the tree – with a scripture and symbol of Christ, we studied about the birth, life, and teachings of Christ.

This is just one simple way, that my little family has tried to have a Christ centered holiday.  I hope to continue to add more traditions that enable us to offer our best gifts this year. 

I’d like to suggest one last way that we can have a Christ centered holiday and offer a gift to the Savior.  President Uchtdorf suggested that this gift be a “broken and contrite heart”.  This is the offering that Christ commanded the Nephites to offer when He came to the promised land. This was to be there sacrifice.  We all have something we can sacrifice. A bad habit, a sin, even a sin of omission, or something that we have been reluctant to do for whatever reason.  What will your offering be?

 This Christmas, we can focus on giving the purest, and best offering of a pure, contrite, broken, and willing heart.  There may not be a better gift to give to the Christ Child than a willingness to repent and come closer unto Him.  After all, it is a season celebrating Birth- a new beginning.

I love this season.  I love the smell of trees, I love the shopping, I love the Christmas carols and Christmas decorations, I love the giving, and baking, and every other aspect of this season.  But above all of that, I love the Savior.  I am deeply grateful to be a member of His Church and to feel such a closeness to Him at this time.  I hope that our hearts grow like the Grinch’s heart, as we realize that Christmas means a little bit more this year.  And that we can all find an offering to give that brings us closer to Him and centers our lives around Him.

Here is a link to the post I did last year that shows the tree Felt Advent Tree that I made with the Scriptures.  
Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Freedom Isn't Free

Happy Veteran's Day

Blake and the Flag of the United States of America
Today we had the opportunity to go to the Tahoma National Cemetery for the Annual Veteran's Day program.  I was excited to take my kids to something that would honor the heroes that have fought to protect our country.  I didn't want it to be just another day off school to go to the zoo or watch cartoons.  (Not that those are bad things to do-  even on Veteran's Day.  We wouldn't even have those freedoms and opportunities without our Veteran's who have fought for us.) I was excited when one of my friends mentioned the idea and we headed, with many other people, to the cemetery.

I enjoyed the speakers and the program and was especially touched when one speaker quoted President Clinton from a Veteran's Day at Arlington Cemetery.  He said "Freedom isn't Free."  I felt chills run up my back when I heard those words.  Sitting in a National Cemetery for Veterans, surrounded by those who have served, and the loved ones of those who have served, and even the graves of those who have served, couldn't make a more chilling point.  Our freedom hasn't been free.  It has cost lives, and families, and heartache.

At first I was excited to see how many people were attending the program, until I realized how many millions more people have been benefited by these heroes (namely every single person in the United States of America today) and how few were represented there.  Patriotism seems to be dying.  I think there are many people out there who feel that Freedom is free.  There is a generation of us that believes we are entitled to freedom with little or no thought or action on our own part.  Those of us that take that freedom for granted and abuse it.  That use the right to bare arms to kill people.  Those that use the right to happiness as an excuse to receive benefits without work.  Those who think the American Dream is purely about wealth.  Those that forget what our country is really about.

Throughout the program there was music and singing.  And towards the end the small choir sang "Taps".  Taps is the song you normally hear a bugle playing in a war movie when someone dies.  I did not even know there were words to the song.  (If you don't know what I am talking about- you can check out this youtube video.)  As the women's choir began to sing, what may be one of the saddest songs of all time, two young women next to me began to cry.  When I looked closer I noticed the dog tags around their necks.  They could not have been more than 25 years old. I could not hold back my tears as I saw them comfort each other through the song and then the 21 Gun Salute.  My body shook with tears and emotion as my heart broke for these young women.  They were crying in the way that you could only cry for a loved one that you lost.  It was such a sacred moment as I listened to them weep for heroes that had obviously died for our country.  How could I ever take it for granted again?

At the end of the program, the commentator encouraged us to thank a military veteran today.  He was not as politically correct as I would have liked, because he mentioned husbands and brothers and did not even include women.  In our family, both JT and I have sisters who have or are now serving in the Military whose contribution is just as humbling and important as their male counterparts.  I also thought of how important it is to thank the loved ones of those that serve.  Seeing these women made me realize that the families sacrifice as much as the veteran's themselves.

After the program I was able to talk with the girls for a few minutes about the husbands they had both lost in the military.  One of the women clutched her young toddler daughter as she told me that her husband had just been killed in September. Freedom is not free.

I feel like my life has actually been changed today.  That I may never look at anyone in the military (or those that love them) the same.  I was proud when we got home that Blake wanted to color pictures of the flag.  And Riley even drew a picture of the gun salute.  I plan to make this a tradition, so that my children will have many opportunities to thank and hug those that have sacrificed for them like I did today.

Happy Veteran's Day.

The Flag, a helicopter, Riley's Aunt Megan in the Navy (with her sword), and the Gun Salute.

Monday, November 4, 2013

2nd Annual Tyler's Turkey Trot

It's November, that means it's time to start running/walking off the 3.3 pounds of Halloween Candy that the average american has consumed.   And what better way to run it off than training for the 2nd Annual Turkey Trot!?

2nd Annual Tyler's Turkey Trot 5K!!  Bigger and Better than ever (and when I say "ever" I mean last year, because it is only our second  year doing this.)  Thanksgiving Day Thursday November 28, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Bring your family (including your kids on their bikes or strollers) and run or walk on the Cedar River Trail for a FREE 5K event.

The Tyler's Turkey Trot is your chance to be with  your family and friends working off the Dutch Carmel Apple Streusel Cheesecake before you even eat it, while being grateful for all of your blessings.  We will have some fun ways to Be Thankful and express your gratitude while running or walking.

This year we have added a Food Drive to the festivities!  While we are being Grateful for our many blessings we can be mindful of those that have less.   Go ahead and be awesome and collect donations from your friends and neighbors (or invite them to run/walk with you).  Let's see if we can fill my car with donations!  (We will be donating to the Maple Valley Food Bank, that is located across the street from the trail where the event takes place.  Here is a link for things that they need this Holiday season and their website.)

We had so much fun last year, and plan to have even more fun this year!  Everyone is invited, did I mention it is FREE??  Please comment or text me or whatever to let me know if you think you might be interested in participating. (You can even hand out drinks if you are absolutely opposed to walking!)

I will kick off the spirit of the 2nd Annual Tyler's Turkey Trot by sharing one of my "thankfuls".

The past few years I have battled depression and anxiety.  It is infuriating to be a social, happy, outgoing person debilitated by something as draining as depression.  It seems so unfair, and so out of place for me to experience these deep, despairing emotions.  I am happy, and fun, and love my wonderful life!  How can this happen to me? I have been angry as I have heard people tell me that if your leg is broken you go to a doctor for medicine, and likewise if you have a chemical imbalance you would also seek medical help.  I don't want to be "sick"! It isn't as easy as a broken leg. There is no x-ray for depression.  There is no antibiotic.   And  I don't want to ask for help. (Don't worry, I have swallowed my pride and found the help I need.)  But as I have been struggling with these emotions that are way beyond my control, I have realized how physically blessed I am in other ways.  I have two strong legs that walk and run and carry me wherever I need to go.  I don't depend on a wheel chair, or find myself constrained to a bed. What a blessing.  I have eyes that see (they would probably see better if I wore my ugly glasses...if you haven't read that post, you should, so you will be thankful for your eyes too!) to watch my children grow up, and the leaves change in October. I have a heart that beats in rhythm keeping me alive.  I don't have to ask it to do this, it just does.   So while I have health struggles that some times overwhelm me, I am blessed with a physically healthy body.  I plan to use those legs, and that heart, and my eyes to run a 5K with my friends and family.  I hope you will join me and share your  many "thankfuls" with me!
We are missing a few families in this pic- but here is the 1st Annual Run.  Don't you want to be a part of this?!

Friday, October 4, 2013

tongue tied

As we all know- one of my few "talents" is talking.  (Just because we all learn to do it by the time we are two- and it happens to be one of our most basic functions as human beings doesn't make it any less of a talent, ok? whatever) So I rarely (if ever) find myself tongue tied.  If there is one thing I am comfortable doing in an awkward situation - it is talking.  I talk to strangers in the grocery story check out line, women I have never met in the Nordstrom nursing lounge, single dads at the park (that is for anyone who has ever wondered why they see the single dads at the park talking to me, it is my talent) people just feel the need to talk to me- and I happen to be Ok with it.  JT always laughs at the amount of strange information, or deep secrets, I come away with after these random encounters with strangers.  I blame it on the Hairstylist in me.  There is something about sitting in a chair with someone combing your hair that forces you to spill your guts.  And apparently I have that affect on people even before they sit in my chair.  But this isn't about how easily other people talk to me- it is about how easily I talk to them.   Accept for this one time I found myself tongue tied.

You hear about people meeting their favorite movie star and then going completely blank or stammering incoherently until Security is called.  They mess up their one opportunity to exchange conversation with their hero or role model, or heart throb.  That would never be me.  Or so I thought.

Recently I had the opportunity to go to a Retirement Celebration for my favorite High School teacher, Ms. Bedtelyon.  She was my hero.

I had a rare opportunity to be her student for all four years of high school.  Not because I kept failing her class and having to retake it, she was the English teacher who taught the Advanced and A.P. English classes.   So my A.P. English class primarily consisted of the same teacher and students for all four years.  She did have a sort of Team Teacher, Mr. Nicholson (Bob), that taught us Sophomore year and frequently throughout the other years, when you talk about Ms. B you have to include Bob as well.  ( I don't know why we called him his first name, we just did.)

She taught me important facts like: You don't have to have a point to have a point.  ( you will only understand that phrase if you had Ms. B or an obsession with obscure Beattles movies from the 60's)

The Point Poster
pic from here

 She taught me a love for Charles Dickens and a disdain for Jane Austen.  (Fortunately I can still love the movies made from her books without having to love the books themselves.)  She encouraged me to dream about traveling through Europe living off of art and baguettes.  She scolded me for using words like "alot". Oh wait, that is two words.  (You are only laughing right now if you love Ms. B)  She taught me to love writing.  (So if you enjoy reading my blog, you should thank her, but don't tell her about all of the grammatical errors I make... some day when I am rich and famous I will have an Editor to fix all of that.)  Ms. Bedtelyon was absolutely inspiring as a person and as a teacher.  And Bob was about as much fun as you could possibly have while still learning.  Most of my academic memories from high school include them.


Oh yeah, I am writing a post about the time I got all tongue tied and lost my cool (and my only talent).  You would think having spent four years with Ms. B and Bob that I would feel absolutely comfortable talking to them again.  After all, as far as the Language Arts go, they raised me. And as near as I know, they loved me as well.

So how did it happen?  How did I walk in to the auditorium of my alma mater Lindbergh High School and speak jibber jabber?

There he was: Bob.  I was almost speechless. Almost.  He was one of my high school heroes.  The teaching partner to my beloved Ms. Bedtelyon.  My theater teacher and debate coach.  One of my favorite teachers ever (accept for the times he kicked me out of class for talking too much).  He was not Brad Pitt.  He was someone I had spent nearly everyday with for four years.  He was simply a teacher.  He was talking to one of my fellow class mates and it seemed like a great opportunity to say Hi.

I entered the conversation in time to hear this class mate talking about his 3rd Doctorate Degree that he was working on, and the Universities that he is teaching at.  (I should interject here, that I always felt a little inferior in my A.P. class since many of the students were in A.P. everything and I was only in A.P. English.  I also dated The Jock in our High School, and was a future Hair Stylist.  All of which seem to be ammunition for those who consider themselves "Intellectually Superior".)  As I heard him talk about his many intellectual accomplishments I felt my one true talent (talking alot)--- (ha ha, again, you are only laughing at the word alot if you know Ms. B) slipping down my throat.  Suddenly I wasn't talking to the brainiac from High School and my favorite theater teacher- it was like I was talking to Brad Pitt and George Clooney.  Why was I so tongue tied???

That is when Bob turned to hug me and asked what I was up to these days.

Suddenly I felt I had let everyone down.  I don't have three doctorate degrees.  (I don't even have one Bachelors Degree!) I didn't go on to be a famous actress from the time I spent with him in Theater.  Or an inspiring English Teacher following in their footsteps.  I have never even been to Europe to study art and eat baggettes (although I ate my fair share of them in Madagascar.) I had nothing.  I felt my tongue begin to twist and turn.   The title Hair Stylist had never felt so simple.  And really, that isn't even what I consider myself.   I am a Mom.

And that is what I said.  Only I didn't say it with pride or joy.  I said it with embarrassment and failure.

"Oh, me?" I answered weakly "I just stay home with my three kids"

I said it.  For Ms. Bedtelyon the most horrible word in the English language is "alot", for Katie Tyler that word is "just".  And there it was.  Attached to myself and my children.

Just a mom.

I wanted to cry.  I was angry that I didn't have a Bachelors Degree in English.  That I didn't go on to be a writer, or an actress, or any of the things I was sure I would do when I last left that High School auditorium.  I was angry that Bob or Ms. Bedtelyon would somehow know I had never traveled through Europe breathing in the Art and History that they taught me in Humanities.  I felt like a failure.

But more than any of that, I was mad that I used the word "just".

I am a stay at home Mom.  And I care deeply about that career choice.  I chose to have kids and stay home with them - even when I could have chosen differently.  I don't have 3 doctorate degrees,  a stamp filled past port, or a best selling novel- not because I couldn't have those things.  But because, for now, I have chosen something else.  Something that I actually love more than art, or literature, or anything else in the world.  My family.

After my pathetic response, and then the awkwardness that followed, Bob reached out and put his arm around me telling me about his own young child.  (If you know Bob, you are in shock, he was the bachelor of bachelors and seemed to have no intention of "settling down".  Yep, he has a kid.)  He was not disappointed in me.  He didn't think I had given up my potential for some superfluous job.  He was actually happy.  And in fact, Mr. Smarty Pants Tons of Degrees came up to me later to tell me that he would trade every degree he had for my job.

Not only was I tongue tied- I was humbled.

When will I realize that I am a success?  When will I accept myself and my choices?  When will I be strong enough to claim my title as a Stay at Home Mom with pride?  And when will I remove the word "just" from my vocabulary?

So I didn't meet Brad Pitt or anyone famous.  But I did get to hug my two favorite teachers.  (And the best part was Ms. B remembering me-  after years and years of teaching, and hundreds of students- she remembered me!)  Hopefully I get a do-over someday.   Hopefully I regain my talent for talking.  Hopefully I can smile and tell them that I am teaching my own kids a love of the arts and literature.  And hopefully they will be proud of me as well. 

Three reasons I love being a stay at home mom.

Monday, September 30, 2013

You're so vain.

"You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you, don't you? You're so vain."

My mom loved to sing this Carly Simons song to us as kids whenever we were acting a little too into ourselves.  By the way, my mom had a song for every occasion:  Washing your kids' hair? "I've gotta wash that man right outa my hair" from South Pacific.  It's a Monday morning? "Monday Monday, can't trust that day" by the Mama's and the Papa's.  There was a song for everything.  And primarily, the song for me was "Your so vain."

This week, my vanity back fired on me.

It all began a few months ago when I was visiting with a friend who is a P.A. and she noticed my eyelids.  Ok, I am about to reveal something deeply personal and shocking- and even point out one of my saddest flaws: I have puffy, saggy eyelids.  Promise you will not stare at them next time you see me!

I am not talking puffiness under my eyes from lack of sleep from staying up talking at the Weeds' house till 1:30 in the morning last night.   Although I have that too.  (And, let's be honest,  I enjoy the name drop of my most famous friends-but seriously- someone else needs to get famous soon, I am tired of them being my only famous friends!)  I am talking about my eye lids being puffy.

What? You have never noticed? (*phew*)
What? You have totally noticed??  (*aagghhhhh*)
What? You never noticed before, but now when you see me it is all you can look at? (*crap*)

I know you don't think you have ever noticed if someone has puffy eyelids or not.  But some women are blessed with smooth, flat, tight eye lids.  Picture Dana - if you don't know Dana- picture any girl on a cosmetics commercial.

Why does this model's eyes look so pretty?  It is her smooth, tight eye lids.  The perfect canvas for the beautiful art of make up.  You can clearly see the division between the upper and lower  parts of her eyelid.  There is room for shadow and light.  Because of this, there is depth and and an overall look of youthfulness and beauty.

These are not my eyelids.

And when my friend noticed this- she pointed out that there is a surgery that can suck the puffiness out of the upper lid giving you this effect.  And the surgery can be covered by Insurance.  My heart lept with joy at this news. 

Why do I care so much about my eyelids?  They aren't that bad, you say.  

Something about me: I L-O-V-E make up.  I have always loved it.  Not only for the fact that it makes my freckle face look less like a 12 year old boy and more like a 26 year old woman.  But I enjoy putting it on.  In fact, I look forward to doing my makeup from the minute I get up.  For the little artist in me, it is a chance to start out every morning with a fresh canvas and limitless combinations of color and light.  I have heard people say that women put on makeup for other women.  Nope, not me.  I put it on because I love it.  (And I guess I am OK with the results being that I look more attractive with it on)  So when I was told that my canvas could be surgically fixed to give me a better working space for my secret passion- I was thrilled!

This week I finally got around to going to see my friend's eye doctor.  I expected him to give me a referral to have this surgery performed and thus change my life forever.  When I entered his office on Monday I looked forward to the life changing event in store.

But much to my horror - he began to actually check my vision!  What? To get insurance to pay for it, I would need a legitimate reason?  Not just that my eyes get tired at night (from the added weight of puffy lids)  or that I was being deprived of artistic opportunity by my hereditary deficiency.  They wanted to see that my vision was compromised by my lids.  

Let's be honest, I have faked my way through quite a few tests.  Even lied on some (namely: the hearing tests I took in elementary school because I was terrified of getting a hearing aid).  But how to fake a vision test? I was clueless.

By the end of the exam he agreed that my lids were puffy and unsightly.  (Ok, he didn't say that - but he was thinking it) But he laughed at the idea that my Insurance would cover the procedure.  Then he told me that the reason my eyes are tired at night is not because of the added weight of heavy lids- but because I might be slightly far-sighted.


So instead of giving me a referral for an amazing cosmetic surgery- he handed me a pair of glasses.


I will admit that glasses can be a very cute accessory.  I even had a pair of fake lenses once because I thought it was kind of fun to look all smart and stuff.  But to have to wear glasses every day?  Forever? 

The ironic end to this story:

I went to the optometrist to fix my eye lids so that my make up would look even better and so that I could enjoy the eyes that I covet on other women,  and ended up walking out with a pair of glasses that completely hide the make up that I love putting on!  Who cares if you have the perfect smokey eye if your glasses cover it up?

I am still "practicing" wearing the glasses (with the lame- trial glasses frames) to see if I actually need them.  Riley loves them, and insists that I wear them.  I am not sold on the whole idea.  

I guess that is what vanity gets you.


Me and Macie and Glasses

Now the really depressing part. 
I took a million pictures to try to show you how good my make up looks and why this is such a tragedy for me...

 And none of them really showed how good I think my make up looks!  In fact, it hardly looks like I am wearing make up at all.  I guess I shouldn't be so sad about covering up my art work after all!

*** In case you can't tell, these pictures and post were actually taken and written over a year ago.  I have just been too annoyed with these pictures to hit publish. (I am not a good "self photographer" I guess.)  (And too embarrassed of my "four eyes" to wear them in public.)

*** Second disclaimer:  I did end up wearing my glasses in public and not a single person noticed.  Ironic.

Monday, September 23, 2013


On my way to church this morning I was already writing this blog post in my mind.  It was going to be a witty and chiding take on Mormons affected by Ward Boundaries.

(I think I should quickly explain some of this, for those that are not Mormons who have no idea what I am talking about.  One of the characteristics in the LDS church is that we are organized by our geographical locations.  Each unit of the church is called a Ward.  A Ward is defined by a specific geographic area.  Part of the logic in this outlining of boundaries is so that you will go to church with your own neighbors.  And therefore build relationships of support within your own immediate community.  All of our clergy and teachers are non paid volunteers living within those ward boundaries that are asked to minister and support those that live around them.  For some, this might seem to be a burden; being "told" where and when to go to church.   But for me, that has never been the case.  I have never felt like anyone has "told" me where to go, and what to do.  I feel that we are asked to follow these boundaries to best support those within our own neighborhoods.  And I have always felt blessed by those that I lovingly consider my "Ward Family".  The bottom line is that we want all of our members to be ministered to, loved, and accepted.  And it is easiest to do this when they are in your community.  Hope that was clear.)

I knew that today we would be learning about some boundary changes and that some of our Ward would be changed to participate in a new Ward.  I pictured myself, writing my blog, sort of mocking the "mormon culture".  I could make a point that boundary changes are like moving to another state while staying in your same house.  The lines drawn around our homes to define a ward may as well be the electric fence surrounding District 12 in the Hunger Games.  (This is where fellow mormons would laugh and nod).  I could also joke that changing wards is as serious as severing family bonds with a simple line drawn in the sand.  I sat in my "designated pew" at church and racked my mind for funny jokes and little mormonisms that relate to boundary changes, and reveled in the popularity this would bring to  my little Blog. (P.S. we don't have designated pews... but, man, we are creatures of habit)  But then they projected a map onto the wall for all of us to see.  And the redline that divided our house from the rest of my friends' houses was as sharp of a shock as any electric fence could be.  It's funny how without changing houses, or cities, or any move at all; I could instantly feel so far away.

Suddenly it wasn't funny anymore.  Suddenly I couldn't laugh at the idea of being "banished" to another ward and disowned by my friends at church. It all became real.

A year (and some months) ago when we decided to move in to Jennifer's basement, and rent out our own house (to save on money while JT is back in school full time) I knew this was the place for us.  I prayed and felt so strongly that the Lord wanted us to live here and not up in Seattle near campus.  I felt it had something to do with saving money, supporting our friendship with Jennifer, living near close friends, and staying in our ward. I had no idea it would mean changing wards.

After the announcement, on our way home from church, Riley started crying.  She doesn't want to move to a new ward.  She doesn't want to make new friends.  None of the other kids in the new ward will be at her school.  She won't know anyone.  She has a good point.

Of course, since no one is actually "telling" me what to do, I could stay in this ward.  I could ignore the counsel (heck, I have 3 kids at church, I could say I was distracted and didn't even notice the map with the changes!), I could just keep coming to the same place with the same people.  I could use the excuse that the house we own is still in this ward, and that eventually we may be moving back to that house.  I could explain that my 3 year old does not do well with change and is going to scream and cry when she sees a new nursery.  I could even point out how my daughter closed herself in her room this afternoon to cry because she was so sad.  Any of those reasons would justify bending the rules a little.

But I am not interested in bending any rules. Not because I am a rule follower (which I am, and it drives me nuts!!).  Not because I feel like someone is forcing me to make these changes (because I don't).  Not because I think I am too good to bend a rule.

I don't want to bend the rules, because I believe in them.  Really believe in them.  I support the organizational structure of the church.  I believe it is to the benefit of the members to be supported by their neighbors.  I believe that these boundary changes are not implemented to make Riley cry or to pull me away from my friends (or the best calling ever!! Teaching Relief Society once a month!) or to test my faith. (Shockingly, I don't think that everything revolves around me... most things, but not everything.)  I believe that this is done for the benefit and improvement of the members of the church.  And since I want the improvement of all members of my church, I am willing to change wards to do that.

I don't know what the exact benefits and blessings will be by following this counsel.  I don't know if Riley will end up loving it, if I will be strengthened by a new friendship, if JT will grow in a new calling.  I do know that we will be blessed.  We will be blessed for our obedience.  It is the price I pay for peace.  It isn't an easy price.  And I don't do it out of guilt, or fear, or weakness.  I do it out of love.  And not just love for the members of the church, but love for my Savior.  I also know we will be blessed for our willingness.  Things always work out.  It is that simple.  And the more willing I am to submit my will to Heavenly Father's will, the sooner things seem to work out.

So Riley and I may be teary eyed for the next few weeks as we make the transition from old friends to new (while living at the same address, so weird) and Macie may will cry when she steps into the new nursery, but I am confident that we will have peace.  What began as a funny, almost satyrical post, actually ended up being very tender for me to write.  And even more tender for me to live.

P.S.  Is it weird that I am most sad about changing Volleyball teams?  I had so much fun on Tuesday playing with the Crestwood Ward!  I don't think I will ever have that much fun again!! (insert Riley's pouty face and door slamming)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A little flashback

So what if it is September? And I am suppose to be posting pics of the adorable outfits my kids wore on their first day of school.  Or maybe a picture of the delicious breakfast and fabulous child friendly lunches they took with them.  So what,  I am a bit behind.  So I am not be quite ready to post about back to school.

I should probably be posting about the fun we had this summer.  The vacations with perfect photo opportunities.  The outings and picnics and bike rides.  Maybe even the 4th of July.

But I am even more behind than that.

So here we go.  Easter.

I pretty much love dying easter eggs.  (Too bad I can't stand hard boiled eggs, the smell, the texture, the taste, the smell...) And I was happy to see that my kids inherited that love from me.

Can you tell I am feeling lazy? I am not even adding any captions to the pics.  Yep. That is just how I roll today.

Riley and Macie sharing eggs during our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt. Cute.
If you think sharing eggs is cute, holding hands is even cuter.

And being Easter Bunnies is cutest off all.

(these were lollipops, like ring pops)

That was our Easter.  Hopefully by January I will be able to post our summer.  (which was wonderful)

And so that you don't think that our Easter was purely eggs and candy,  here is a picture that Riley drew for Easter.
Jesus Christ, resurrected with Riley.  Pretty sweet, huh?

I feel like that may have been my most bland blog post ever... oh well :)  Just wanted you to all know that we are still alive and kicking (even if I haven't been blogging).  Of course, since the pics are from Easter you really don't have anything current to go off of....

Sunday, June 16, 2013

George Nelson - that's my Dad.

The problem with growing up is realizing what an idiot you were as a kid.

It's Father's Day and this year I am focusing on my Dad instead of my husband... no, not because I almost forgot about Father's Day gifts this year and then couldn't afford the super awesome idea I had so now I have to improvise last minute and who wants to post about a last minute gift for the whole world?  After all, I am all about keeping up appearances.  So naturally, I am going to blog about my own Dad instead.

Ok, that isn't the real reason.  The real reason is that I cut his completely gray hair the other day and got kind of freaked out because he looked like an old man, and not my Dad.  And then I got scared that maybe I am not doing enough and saying enough and all of that stuff that scares you when you realize your dad is not 49 anymore.  And instead of being normal and calling him- I am posting a blog, since I am still dysfunctional enough to avoid awkward sappy conversations with my family.

When I was leaving on my mission I had some friends come to my Missionary Farewell (an opportunity for a missionary who is about to begin their mission to speak in church before they leave).  After the meeting these friends, who I have known since I was 14 years old, said "was that your Dad?" referring to the man who gave the opening prayer.  "Yes" I answered a little confused.  "Wow." they said "In all these years we have never actually met your Dad!"  We had a pretty good laugh about the fact that they had known me for 9 years and never met my dad!  But if you know my dad, you know he is not a "lime light" kind of guy.  

I hate to admit that sometimes I have felt like I didn't even know my dad that well. We didn't have the easiest relationship growing up.  (This is where me being an idiot comes in.)  Now that I am raising Riley (who has some of my most ridiculous attributes) I can see why I might have been a difficult child.  Stop laughing, Nelsons.  And I think because of that and some differences in interests (who knew my dad didn't love parties and nail polish and that I didn't love bird watching and math) we weren't very close growing up.  That is kind of hard to write for the whole world to read.  (yep, the whole world has started reading my blog) But luckily I am growing up and a lot of that has changed.

So here goes a few of my favorite George Nelson highlights.

Graduation (1997) - after graduation the school wanted all of the grads going to the all night Grad Night to stay at the school while we waited for the buses to come (that would take us to gamble, dance, and eventually be hypnotized into stuffing my bra with a ton of napkins in front of the whole senior class) so that we wouldn't sneak out and get drunk, defeating the purpose of the all night Grad Night party.  I was exhausted.  And I was saying how much I wished I had an ice cold Diet Coke to give me a little boost for the night.  Growing up LDS, caffeine had been strictly prohibited... ok, it was definitely frowned upon, and so the idea of my dad (a former Bishop) approving of his daughter consuming caffeine seemed highly unlikely.  But the next thing I knew, my Dad left the excitement and picture taking to run up the road to 7-11 to get me a Diet Coke!  It sounds really simple, but to me it was huge.  It was my Dad saying "I know you.  I know what you love, and even though I don't necessarily approve, I support you."  Maybe it was just him saying "Kate, stop whining, I will go get you the Diet Coke if you will quit whining about it!" I like to think it was the first. :)

About a year later- during the new stage of Post Graduation Freedom I made some mistakes that I was not proud of.  Mistakes that I knew would disappoint my parents.  (Even worse than my Diet Coke addiction.)  After seeking counsel from my Bishop down in Utah, I decided to call home to talk to my parents.  I was pretty scared about how they would react, after all, I was their perfect angel! (Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  That may have been the funniest thing I have ever written on my blog.)  After I talked to my Mom, who was really calm about the whole thing, she handed the phone to my Dad.  I cried when I told him what I had done and how bad I felt and his response literally changed my life.  My dad answered that he was proud of me. Wha?? He told me as a Bishop he had always counseled the youth to share their struggles with their parents and they rarely did.  He was proud of me for applying the Atonement to my own life, and for being brave enough to go to my parents for help.  And then, the best part, that he loved me.  My entire perspective on the Atonement of Jesus Christ changed in that moment.  My understanding of a loving Heavenly Father who cries with us, and desperately wants us to seek his guidance was personified in my own dad.  I think that is a huge reason why I am still active today.  I knew in that moment that the Savior would always be forgiving.  I knew that mistakes were human and part of life.  That using the Atonement to heal my broken heart would actually make my Heavenly Father (and my earthly father) proud of me!  It is one of my most cherished memories with my Dad.

Some less significant, but still favorite moments, with my dad are from a trip we took as kids to Disneyland.  I was about 12 years old, when dads aren't cool.  And I remember my Dad handing us each $20 for food and $20 for whatever else we wanted to buy in the park. We were shocked!  (For a family that shopped at thrift stores, and treated a snickers bar like a huge event, getting $40 handed to me by my Dad was like winning the lotto!)  That is when I found out that my Dad has an extremely generous heart.  Way more generous than I even realize.  I know he has always given freely to our church, to programs that he loves like Boy Scouts of America, and even to his children.  That $40 has gone along ways.  Much farther than the cotton candy I bought.

One last attribute of my Dad's that I have always admired (and one of the things that I looked for in a spouse) is his ability to resist the temptation to gossip about people.  I really have never heard my Dad say an unkind word behind someone else's back.  I have never heard him say anything negative about any of my siblings or any of his friends or coworkers.  I have seen him bite his tongue, and even cringe when others around him begin to gossip.  In fact, when he does talk about anyone who isn't present it is always to praise them.  (I should start having my sister record conversations with him because I know he is bound to compliment me at some point, and it is nice to hear.)  He even has a saying about how "Small people talk about other people, average people talk about things, and great people talk about ideas." And he really lives what he says.  The conversations we have had since I have become an adult (and not an idiot) have been uplifting and inspiring. This is one area where I fear I have fallen short of the example he set. ( I blame it on "being a talker", that I feel compelled to talk about everything and everyone.) But when I think of my Dad's example I am more careful to only talk positively.

There he is.  And obviously, that is  my mom too.

So there it is.  If you have ever wondered if my Dad really exists, he does.  And I am grateful that he is my Dad. 

Happy Father's Day.