Friday, March 27, 2009

an apology

While I was at the doctor's office yesterday I had a little bit of waiting to be done here and there, and I hadn't brought a book (how ill-prepared of me), so as a last resort I picked up an Oprah magazine. (All you Oprah-lovers plug your ears....Oprah drives me crazy.) I was pleased, though, to find a quote in the magazine that I actually felt compelled to write down. It was just too good for me to pass up.

"Why, I say, should I ever have bitterly blamed [my body] for such trifles as I have blamed it for: for having too much flesh in this spot, too little muscle in that, for producing this wrinkle, that sag, that gray hair, or this texture? Dear body! My dear body! It has gone about its incessant business with very little thanks."

-Janet Burroway

When I had a chest x-ray yesterday and looked at my bones on the film, for some reason, I was surprised. They were so small and....orderly. Or maybe "orderly" isn't the word I'm looking for. But my skeletal structure was oddly dignified. I looked at my bones with awe and respect. I've seen my femur and my knee and my shin on an x-ray; my hands, my arms. Never my ribs, my lungs, my collarbones, my spine. And my stomach! The x-ray tech said, pointing to a fist-sized black spot near the bottom of the film, "You're hungry! You need to eat! Look at that empty stomach." I meekly said, "I...had a cookie?" (For the record, I went and got an enormous Arby's meal after that appointment. I felt horribly sorry for my empty-space of a stomach.)

Anyway, that quote, that x-ray, and just thoughts of health in general made me feel like I have definitely taken my body for granted, and most certainly shamed it for its normal changes now and then. So, Body, I apologize.
Dear body! My dear body! Thank you for going about your incessant business. :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

If you're sick and you know it (clap your hands....THEN go to the doctor)

I think I might have been delirious last night. I was freezing cold when I finally laid down for the night; I wore my pajamas and my socks and my bathrobe and I was still shivering under the covers. So I figured I was still fever-burning through this crud. And tried to ignore the state of my nose--one nostril full, the other painfully empty. I woke up almost every hour and for a few minutes was running through scenes from Twilight. With no reason, and no end in sight. Just hamster-on-a-wheel thoughts and then back to sleep. Completely random and a bit weird. But when I finally woke up for good, I knew that I just wasn't okay. I felt like I had run full-speed into a wall. I kept thinking to myself, "E.R. doctors, you were wrong. It's not just a virus!" I did start coughing up green nastiness yesterday. Which made me think that perhaps I had something bacterial. And then when I woke up this morning my eyes were crusted shut. Ew. So, so gross.

I was pretty much useless today. Got the kids dressed (oh, the pain of moving that much) and got them breakfast. But when lunch time rolled around, I cried at the thought of having to get up. Luckily.....blessedly.....Sarah the Great swooped in and brought lunch to my babies so I could continue to cry on the couch. (Oh Sarah, bless you. You angel.) And then Mary Ann came over at 1:30 and picked up the kids so that I could go see a doctor. (Who says angels aren't obvious?) And what did that doctor say? What did he do, while listening to me take painful deep breaths? He furrowed his brow and said, "Well, I think you're really sick. You don't sound good. Your lungs are snapping and crackling with each breath. I want to find out how much I need to worry about you." Oh thank you, Dr. Moore! (go to InstaCare on Sunset. Such attentive staff; it was a dream.) Another chest x-ray was done, and then they stuck a fat cu-tip up my nose. (Yum.) Not the flu. Not pneumonia.

Bronchitis. (Abby was right. She's always right about my ailments. She's basically a nurse without credentials--although we might count her four children as credentials.) Which was an odd comfort to hear, because then I was prescribed antibiotics. Oh, bless you, antibiotics! I just love being treated for the root of the problem, not just the symptoms of the problem. And for me today, a good thorough doctor is most definitely a godsend.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oh, sweet Reed.....

He sings himself to sleep. Tonight he is humming God Bless the U.S.A., and I'm sitting here, smiling, wondering where he heard it. (School?) His rendition is passionate, though somewhat bogged down with the obvious sound of tiredness; he had a rather physical day. (Phill got him a soccer goal and a soccer ball and soccer socks and a soccer shirt yesterday....a big showing of love, considering for soccer, Phill has a deeply-rooted disgust. My sweet husband, fostering Reed's budding love of soccer. I hear you laughing, Eric, you soccer lover, you!) Reed did the grandmother voice for the book we read tonight. It made me laugh so hard I almost cried. His old lady voice is the funniest thing ever. It's completely unexpected out of his six-year-old-boy mouth.

Oh, Reed. I love you so much it hurts.

E.R. (Eavesdropping Rae)

I have this problem.

I love people. As in, I'm very interested in people and their lives and their conversations and sometimes I eavesdrop.

That's right--I eavesdrop sometimes. I guess you might say I'm still 13 that way? And maybe that's why I like photographing weddings. Because in that forum it's my job to be nosy, to be interested, to be looking and recording. The worst I get is the occasional cranky face or please-no-not-photos! face, and I have to tell you that doesn't sway me a bit. I click and smile. So cruel; now I have your soul in my camera. (Wow. I sound a little ruthless! I'm not, though; trust me.)

Anyway. Yesterday I woke up with fiery burning pain in my chest. Determining that it was not me-about-to-cry and not a quarter-life heart attack, I got up to give the kids breakfast and get them dressed. The second I got up, I was dizzy and could feel my head throbbing loudly. It was all I could do to dress the sweeties, feed the sweeties, then tell the sweeties I had to lay down. Phill dropped by with some allergy medicine. We thought it might be the new green in the backyard. But three hours later I had chills, not to mention no relief from the medicine.

Phill came home (oh, my hero!), and I took to the couch. I did call a few family practices and had no luck with an appointment for that day. So I just thought I'd wait it out. Unfortunately, it puts somewhat of a damper on life in general if it hurts to breathe! So I finally told Phill that maybe we should go to InstaCare. We had a neighbor come over and with Phill, give me a blessing (thank you very much, Mike), and then we went to InstaCare while our sweet neighbors watched the kids. (Have I mentioned my amazing neighbors? They take the cake. Oh! I should make them cake!)

Can you envision what I looked like? It looked much worse than it was. The chills were making me shake like a leaf, my face was flushed with the effort to breathe comfortably, and I had been crying, so little mascara-filled tears had painted faded-black rivulets down my sad face. Oh, poor me. :) They sent me to E.R., saying that more extensive testing was probably needed.

So....this is a long story and you might be drooling as you're asleep at your desk. Sorry. I wax wordy. Zipping forward: Fever of 101.8; they gave me Tylenol and Motrin and got me in one of those key-lime-pie-green hospital gowns that so conveniently open at the back. Every nurse/doctor there was very kind, I must say! Dixie Regional Medical Center. (I read that on a sign about forty times while waiting.) I was thoroughly puzzled over. Chest x-ray, blood test, that other test. (The guy asked, "Have you ever done a urine test?" I laughed. Very hard. Then said, "Well....I have three kids. So. A few times, yes.") Sorry for typing the word "urine" on my blog. Twice.

Moving what I was going to talk about in the first place! While I waited--and oh, did I have quite the wait--I quietly tuned in to the goings-on around me. I knew my problem was low on the scale of emergencies. I was sleepy and drifted in and out while I listened.

I heard a baby cooing to her parents after she had a test done. I heard the lady next door talking to her husband and son, saying, "I'm still waiting. I'm okay. Don't worry." She also said: "I can't think of a better way to spend a day than covered in sugary icing and flour." I smiled and wondered if her cake decorating was as good as it sounded, then thought how cake sounded really good.

I also must shamefully admit that I really listened hard when I heard things like "What we think you have is--"

But this is what happened.

"Okay, good news and bad news. The bad news--CLICK"--the door was shut.
Or "This is what's going on. You have--CLICK".

Thank goodness for privacy, right? (pfft....I was just curious! No harm done...)
Ultimately, though, I gleaned more from this than just a handful of sneakily-gotten information.
I grow ponderous when laying on a bed waiting to hear my fate. Wait 'til you hear what my fate was. It's lame.

I listened to the baby cooing and heard her parents talking about how cute she was, how well she was handling everything, how they hoped she was alright and not too terribly sick. I remembered how when our children have been sick, particularly in the E.R., our hearts turn to them and every healthy thing they do is a revelation and a blessing. I heard a lot more loving words in there, as opposed to stressful talk. It was soothing to hear everything happening around me. (so please forgive me for my well-intended nosy-ness? At least I don't tell other people's secrets--just mine)

Even the lady at the front desk, an elderly petite lady, made helpful conversation while I sat out-of-breath, waiting. A gust of wind came in through the closing doors and she said, "You know, there are so many of those little flower petals blowing around in this wind! Every time I open my garage, they get blown in." I forgot my aching lungs and smiled, imagining this cute lady standing in her garage, flabbergasted and surrounded by white cherry blossom petals carried on wind.

Oh. Are you wondering what I had? Well, I told you it's lame--they don't know. They figured it's a virus (given the fever) and sent me home, my fever down. It's alright. Aside from feeling rather silly and even a bit sheepish today, I'm functioning better and in much less pain. At least I made my little e.r. visit fun for myself, listening to the conversations around me and composing this post in my mind all the while.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Guess what's happening today? Something exciting. Something really exciting. Remember how I bemoaned the state of our backyard? The swirling red dust and cement focal point?

When Phill has to go away for six weeks, the Army likes to say they're sorry by giving you some money. So we got a sweet little chunk (little, but oh-so-sweet) for his San Antonio sojourn. And we're using a bit of it to put down sod in our bowling-alley backyard today.

We don't care that we're renting. We don't care that we'll probably move in 2010. We just want some green, and we had some green, so we used the green to buy some green.....right now. Instead of waiting to have my built-in-the-eighties green-shag-carpet duckie-wallpaper huge-backyard house.


I wonder how the owners of our house will feel. Think we'll get in trouble? "How DARE you put sod in our backyard and increase the value of our home?! What were you thinking?!" Home-Owners Association should have no problem with it; the edge of the grass won't even show beyond the side of the house.

So yay, a little bit of green! Now if only I could have this genius come and paint us a mural on that ugly grey cement wall.....trying to think of a creative way to dress it up without annoying future renters/current owners.

By the way. I found the ambitious version of my dream home. In the historic part of St.George, on 1/4 of an acre, with 100-year-old trees and a swing in the front yard and claw-footed tubs and original moldings and WOO having a heart attack just remembering it. It's a story for another post. I took pictures. I went inside. And when you hear just how expensive it was not, but still out of our financial reach, you might cry too.

Friday, March 20, 2009

read me

I think that in general, I'm an open book. Even when I'm not divulging the twists and turns of my mind's goings-on on my blog, in daily life I wear my heart on my sleeve. I often wish I were subtle or mysterious, but the truth is that I'm pretty obvious.

But when it comes to photography, I realize that I feel like there's this sense of mystique about it. Like I just don't talk very much about my feelings with regard to photography, and really only the goings-on. I suppose part of it is that I'm not an expert on the subject, so why should I talk much about it, other than the results of my sessions? But for the most part, I have no good reason for my silence on one of the subjects nearest and dearest to me.

So I'm opening those pages, breaking the mystique a little. Feel free to dive in, if you're interested!

Have I ever mentioned that when I used to play my cello in front of more than just family, I'd get stage fright? Stage fright that all but immobilized me, and truthfully, sometimes did immobilize me. I remember this recital I did when I was 17. I had two solos. One was this piece by Breval:

....which I felt I had in the bag. I was totally confident about this piece. (Which makes me smile now, because if I were to play that would need some serious tweaking.)

The other piece was famous, beautiful, and one of those cello pieces that you want to master; you want to have this one under your belt. Bach's first cello suite.

Far more beautiful (in my opinion) than the Breval piece. And for me, far more difficult. I really, really wanted this one to come off perfectly. In the weeks leading up to the recital, I practiced madly, obsessively, and with the tortured feeling that I just could never get it to sound exactly the way I wanted it to sound. With a bow-hold that was already lacking in technique, all this tension in my body, tension that extended to my arms, hands, and wrists.....I developed a mean case of carpal tunnel. Which meant that I was crying at the end of these deliriously desperate practice sessions, and my teacher was chastising me and probably very frustrated by my incurable insecurity.

The recital came, and my forearm and wrist were burning. And I used that excuse to only pay the Breval piece.

I didn't play the Bach piece.

And as much as I would like to claim that I am exempt from regret, that my mistakes have all added up to greater good, this is one thing that I always, always regret. I regret most of all that my fear stopped me from even trying. That in this sense, my fear did immobilize me. It's not so much a sense of guilt as it is a sense of loss, and a sadness that I was so bent on perfection that I forgot that absolute effort is beautiful, too. Oh, it still aches. Give me a minute.

What does this have to do photography, are you wondering? Don't worry; I wasn't so lost in my regretful reverie that I forgot my original purpose.

With photography, when it comes to big events like weddings, I still have to some extent those fears of failure. But the difference is that once I sink my toes in, once I begin to take photos and find the light (literally and figuratively, in this case) and compose creatively, my nerves change. Bravery the Lion roars that stupid Fear right into a corner, and I can work. And not just work, but work in a way that makes me happy, and (we hope) makes my friends/clients happy. I get lighter and lighter; happier, more attuned to the process, more outwardly able while internally free.

This miraculous quiet confidence happened only three times in the course of my cello performances. Sometimes I think that if I pick it up again with my newfound bravery in photography under my belt, perhaps the performing side of cello will not scare me so much. Perhaps I'll find that secret sweet spot, that minute when I feel like I'm where I need to be and can do what needs to be done. And it needs to be done. Some part of me needs to do this. I think maybe our talents, gifts, passions--these things are also needs, and are essential to some part of our human development.

Or else why would I suffer so much over the memory of that halved cello performance?

And why would I find myself debilitatingly nervous for the week before I photograph a wedding? That's what I did yesterday; Phill and I went to photograph a wedding. Why didn't I say more about that before it happened? Because I was anxious. Because I was completely withdrawn, turning over again and again in my mind the What Ifs. Before yesterday, I had done three weddings--two of which were for forgiving family. And the last one was in 2007. I had the kind of random panic that made me wonder if maybe I should just back out and stop doing photography for good.

I prayed so much! I prayed, I visualized, I practiced, I talked to myself and to Phill and sometimes to friends.....I made myself as ready as I could possibly be. We even bought a new camera, a camera that ought to have made me feel very, very brave. But we ordered it quite late (due to the fact that we had to scrimp and save until just lately to get the darn camera in the first place). It was shipped on Monday. I waited with bit-down nails and hammering heart, and then when Tuesday came, went out with my trusty XT and shot bridals. Wednesday rolled around, and I thought, "Well, maybe it's best. Maybe I shouldn't try to learn a new camera so quickly before the wedding. It's fine."

Thursday came, and I woke up with a knotted stomach and shaky hands. But I was excited! Underneath it all was a desire to get there and get started! It took until the day of the wedding to feel this way, but I knew I'd be fine once I got there and got started. I knew I was still nervous, but I felt that a sense of calm had come over me, and I didn't think much could shatter it.

Ten minutes before we left, while the boys ate sandwiches and peaches, someone knocked on our door and gave us a box containing my shiny new 50D. The sound I made was a cross between a sob and a shriek. (it was an ugly sound, let me tell you) My hard-won calm was absolutely in pieces. Here it was, so beautiful, so fancy, and what?! I was supposed to use that thing?!

I ran to my room, cried, prayed, laughed, and then shamed myself for looking a gift camera in the lens. This is wonderful, you silly girl! I told myself. Stop your crying! What a blessing! You get out there and figure it out!! So I did. Thankfully, Canons are built much the same across the board; once you've played with one, you can quickly get the hang of another (I say while knocking on the wood of the desk here).

I got enough acquainted--where's aperture? okay. exposure? check. ISO? check.--that I felt like I could get good pictures while using it. We brought both cameras just to be safe, and because the new one only had one battery. The entire way there, I felt nervous enough that I thought I'd throw up. But once we walked in, that blessed sense of calm returned, and almost with tears in my eyes I felt again like I was in the right place, doing the right thing. Not just one of my favorite things--one of my "right" things. One of my Rachel things.

I wasn't a quiet river of peace. I was still nervous here and there. But the subjects were beautiful, willing, and cheerful. The venue was ideal with lots of natural light and classy settings. The event itself was relaxed and elegant, full of poignant goodness and laughter.

Eight hours later, once we were home in pajamas and laying on the couch, I felt like I had conquered my fear and created something beautiful for the bride and groom to reference their memories. I felt blessed, protected, tenderly watched over by Heavenly Father.

I felt like I had played the Bach suite eight years ago, and that even with a missed note or tiny squeak here or there, I had performed well. I felt the way I do every time I come up against something big--be it photographing a wedding, publicly playing my cello, relocating to another country, or birthing a baby: I was worried, but I did it anyway. I was scared, but I mastered my fear and did something I'm proud of.

Just for that day, I made peace with my regret.

I feel like some gifts are given to us in the form of confronting and conquering our fears, and that these gifts of progress and according confidence can give way to great peace. A little at a time, I back that fear into a corner*, until eventually it isn't even worth mentioning. Until one day my weakness is more of a strength.

*Is anyone else hearing the phrase, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"?

**Stared at this post for about twenty minutes before actually deciding to post it. Unsure (still) if I want to make myself this vulnerable. May yank it from the blogsphere if I keep feeling this bare.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's time.....

....for that post about how Savvy is growing up. I'm trying really hard to believe she's actually only 11 months still, but the evidence that she is NOT is right in my face. Unavoidable. Mounting with each day. Demanding to be acknowledged and acclaimed. She will be two--TWO!--years old the end of May. I feel like I've been tricked, like this last year went by in a blink, and that somehow my calendars (and the rest of the world's) are completely off. She's about 22 months. My stomach spasms a little every time I say that.

With all this newfangled growing stuff, her latest and greatest tends to be pretty entertaining. That's the good thing--even as she is blowing me away with the speed of time, she is cute. Which makes it ache about .1% less.

Her favorite thing is to be thrown into the air, then caught, by Phill. She says wawy for ready, then says twooooooo........twooooooooo.......REEEEEEEEE.......REEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! Sometimes it's two-ree-fy (2-3-5) and then REEEEE. You just have to wait to hear which number she emphasizes to know when she's ready to fly.

She has mastered intelligible versions of don't, no, stop, and done. All very important when you are the youngest and the only girl.

Savvy is obssessed with shoes. It is one of her first thoughts when she wakes and her last before she sleeps. We hear her wake up, and it goes like this: "Daddy!!" rattling crib rails....."Mama!" rattling crib rails....."SHOE! SHOE! UH-OH, SHOE! WIZZIT?" (where is it) And before she will cuddle with you in the morning, before she will even consent to walk out of her room, you have to put her shoes on. With her pajamas, even. If by chance she sees a pair of shoes I haven't yet put on her, say, some hand-me-downs that I just pulled out, she pants. And squeaks a little. And pleas with you until they're on her darling feet.

My three-year-old obssession was Chap-Stick and gum. (And panties, a little later on.) That hasn't changed much in the last 22 years, so I foresee implementing a shoe budget for our girl.

When the phone rings, she says, "Poe!" If I don't answer it, she becomes very concerned, using the convincing argument of what-if-it's-dad. "Poe, Mama! Daddy! Poe!!" This morning as I lay in bed ignoring the phone, with Savvy laying next to me, she got right in my face, nose-to-nose, saying frantically, "Poe! Daddy! Poe!! Mama, Poe!!!"

She loves clothes. She frequently pulls things out of her dresser and brings them to you, requesting help to put them on. Sometimes she puts them on herself, with some creative interpretation. (Shirt-pants. Try 'em.)

She is cuddly and even more enamored with Phill after his little absence. She was mad at him for about fifteen minutes when he came home, but once she was certain again that he was ours, and had been punished enough, she would not let him go. (Still hasn't.) If he holds one of the boys, she becomes angry and tries to pull his arms open and pull Jax out. (Very aggressive.) She's usually okay with Phill holding her and one of the boys at the same time, but not him holding another baby and her. That's extremely offensive to her.

Yesterday she decided to join the big boys and got a cup out of their drawer, went to the fridge, and looked at me expectantly. I put about an eighth-inch of water in the cup and watched her take 45 seconds to get it all down. She then handed it back to me with huge happy eyes and said, "Peez? Mo?" I don't think she's ready to give up her night-time bottle, but it may be that she is strictly a cup-drinker throughout the day from now on. That's very, very sad to me. And not just because of the wet floor.

I think she would make her own breakfast if she could. (Sound familiar, Lara?) Yesterday she accidentally dropped her cupcake on the floor. She ran into the kitchen, went straight to the drawer where I keep kitchen towels, carried one grandly over to the spill and began to clean with a strikingly maternal expression on her little face. When she was finished, she looked up, smiling, to our applause and praise. Sometimes when she cleans, she sings under her breath, "'Lean up....'lean up.....'reebody 'lean up.....'lean up"

She loves nursery, the highlight being music time, when she can sing her two favorites, Wheels on the Bus and Ring Around the Rosie. Last Sunday we sang (to the tune of Once There Was A Snowman): "Once there was a baby, small-small-small. Now it's growing bigger, tall-tall-tall." And wouldn't you know it, I got all achy and lump-in-the-throat over that. She's so big and so little and so cute and growing up so, so fast.

Oh, Savvy B. Can you please slow down just a little? I need to catch up.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

creative toy storage

Tonight I happily loaded a fresh ink cartridge into our printer and gladly typed up the new nursery list, then with no problem printed both lists twice--because I realized a couple of mistakes after each printing. The first four pages printed with no problem. But when I had my final edited copy (the one I should have printed in the first place), each time we loaded the paper in and the printer started up, it made that awful grinding noise and wound the paper up inside itself. We tried different thickness of paper, different ways of loading the paper, tricking the printer.....until finally we decided to do what the Word prompt said and take out the tray in the back of the printer. I joked that perhaps Savvy had finally managed to get a toy into the printer without my noticing (and accordingly swift removal of said hypothetical toy).

Well, after only about five seconds, Phill chuckled, tipped the printer, and what fell out, do you suppose?

A Lego-guy helmet. Apparently Savvy has no time for Lego-toy safety or printer efficiency.

*Printer is not broken, just grateful and running well.

Friday, March 13, 2009


To be perfectly honest, whenever I have dreamed in the not-so-distant past about my "dream" home, it was usually a breezy, spotless, contemporary-with-personality, brand-new house.

Phill and I went on a date tonight, a really fun date. We ate at this really great little place in the historic part of town, and walked around for a bit. (Something about acquainting myself with the historic part of any town makes me love it so much and cling to it like a baby. Main Street in Cedar City still pulls me.) Then we got in the car and drove around, going into the higher-up areas of town, both higher-up in altitude and higher-up in price. As we drove around and pointed out the homes that caught our eye and poo-poo'd the ones that we didn't care for, I realized that what I want has changed every so subtly over the last couple of years.

The house we are in is airy and clean and spacious. Its architecture is well-thought-out and the home itself is welcoming. The only thing is this: Our backyard is a sliver. A little appendix, an aborted after-thought in comparison. No green grass graces its ground. The staining red dust of St.George is next to the concrete ten-foot-high wall. The porch is cozy and nice, although to sit on it would mean a view of: grey concrete wall. I understand what the thinking was. Big lots here are hard to come by, and people want more house and less yard, it seems, if they have to make the choice. I am grateful for this house; let there be no mistake about that. It serves us well.

But if we're talking about my dream home, and we are, then let me illustrate how that vision has changed. I would be alright with a house built in the eighties, provided it had no asbestos, faulty foundation, termites, extensive water damage, or any of those other gigantic red flags. And I would be okay if there was blue-gingham-waddling-ducks wallpaper bordering the walls. Or emerald green carpet. Or faux-wood linoleum, or even a pink toilet.

As long as it had a backyard with grass and a fence and perhaps some mature trees.

And then we could have a picnic table, and a swingset, and we could sit out at the picnic table and eat pasta salad and drink lemonade while the babies climb our trees or swing on the swingset or run around chasing each other with the hose. And on Saturdays, long drawn-out Saturdays, we could mow the lawn and pull weeds and plant spearmint and the kids could play with the worms we dig up. We would work hard and play hard and be safe and secure in our backyard.

Then we would go inside, wash up, bathe our sweeties, put them to bed, and then go sit out on the porch swing and watch the sun set, because it is my dream house, and even if it has emerald-green carpet inside, the front of the house has a porch. And because we would be living so vibrantly in this woefully outdated home of ours, with its mature backyard, our home would have the comfortable, inviting feel of being lived-in.

What a dream, I say.

When I imagine with even more ambition, it's an old Victorian with enough windows to make the inside bright. The hilarious thing about that--it would cost lots to have a house like that. So in a way, my vision isn't much less expensive. I'm just willing to pay more for different things now, I suppose. Gimme some grass stains.

Interesting to note: When I was 11, 12, and 13 we lived on 732 Squire Street in Colorado Springs, CO. The house was (split-entry?) white with cheery red trim, two huge trees in the front yard, a side garden, and a HUGE backyard. The backyard hosted a crab-apple tree, a willow tree (which later had to go), and some other sort of tree. We did have a swingset. We did have a paved area where we could bounce tennis balls or pretend to play basketball or stand out in our nightgowns at night and sing My Fair Lady songs as if the concrete was our stage. And in the big tree there was a treehouse, from which I spied on my neighbors and imagined all kinds of dramatic happenings in our neighborhood. The iside of the house had weird grey carpet and black-with-pink-flowers wallpaper border. In the bathroom were tobacco stains on the ceiling, and the carpet downstairs was orange shag. When we had to cut down some limbs of the tree to make the treehouse fit, the entire basement where Abby and I slept was infested with earwigs in incredible amounts. I would wake up in the morning with twenty or so dead ones in my sheets. And still--if ever I live in Colorado again and that home is for sale (actually I checked once when living here, and it WAS for sale and it KILLED me to see that it was only $150,000), I will buy it. Earwigs aside. I miss it that much.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Sometimes I'm really quiet for a long time, because I just can't think of anything to write, or writing what I want takes too much time/effort/thought when I finally get around to it. I like to think of all you readers waiting on the edges of your seats, but I actually hope that isn't the case because I sometimes have these long stretches of silence! I'm working on it. I am. I have a busy couple of weeks coming up here, but I promise I'll make this an interesting piece of internet space soon enough.

Phill was talking about a university that will give him credit for his military service. I think that makes perfect sense. But then I joked, "Oh! Do you think that they give credit for moms, too? Because, I mean, that's....that's a lot of experience, too...." Which started me thinking. Can you imagine a phone call like that?

"Hello, Rachel! This is Life University calling. We just took a look at our records and we'd like to give you some information regarding our school and the way your current education could be put to use here! Do you have a moment?"

"Not really. But I'm intrigued; go on."

"Well, the system goes something like this: Each year of your child's life counts as one school year. And each time they were incredibly sick and you held them and comforted them when you felt like falling over counts as one completed class. We also shave a little off the price of tuition for each time you have to buy food for your family, buy new shoes for each child, get hair cuts for each child, or have to make a doctors' visit co-pay. Furthermore, Mrs. DeVault, we award credit for each stretch mark, each pound gained during pregnancy, each hour of labor, and every time you woke up in the night to feed your baby. And if you were very sick with any of these pregnancies, we'd like to offer you a lifetime supply of gift cards from your favorite restaurant--the one you couldn't go to until you were all better."

What would I be?! Professor Parent? Doctor DeVault? Master Mama?

All of my joking is really leading up to what I'm trying to say, which isn't a joke at all: I am starting to see how progress works. Just a tiny bit at a time, we learn and we expand and our comfort zones enlarge....suddenly a few years have gone by and we're startled to realize that *GASP!* we have progressed!

Some of the things that used to seem so daunting to me now feel like a breeze. A lot of things that intimidated me I have overcome or at least can manage. Although I doubt myself and my strength more as a mother than I ever did, with those daily tests come daily confidence as I conquer. (And daily chances to improve my faith when I fall short.)

I'm not saying that I'm perfect or professional or that I have "arrived".....on the contrary, I am saying that we don't arrive! We learn. We inch along. We take little bites and find in time that we have eaten the whole.....enchilada? My sister told me (from something she read) that progress is meant to be gradual, and that we are wired for progress (Mommy Mantras, Abby? What was it?). That the brain can only handle so much at one time or we simply implode.

When I have an hour or two (or day, week, month) that feels overwhelming and crushing and I am full of thoughts of failure or needed improvement, it helps me to have a little perspective, and realize that all these experiences are good for me. Over a long period of time, I am learning, I am changing, and I pray that I am progressing. These experiences are all credits, and I am very slowly gaining an education.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Breaking the dry spell

Most days it takes every ounce of energy I have to keep the kids happy, clean, and well-fed until I can finally get them in bed and read to by 7:30. At that point I usually 1) give a feeble "YAY..." that I made it through another day with all of us intact, 2) lay down and stare at nothing or cry and then 3) either read a book or watch TV. By that time, I feel as if I have no more brain cells left for blogging, and sometimes even email.

But Phill will be home this Saturday!!! Yep, that's right, only three more wake-ups (and only three more exhausting bedtime routines) until he's back. I've been really blessed to have lots of help when I've needed it, and good friends to entertain me when I'm bored. I actually feel like I grew from this experience--which certainly makes me give more than a feeble YAY!! when I realize it.

With all the energy I have been expending as the only parent physically at home, my poor blog has been somewhat empty, almost echoing with the absence of words. So I thought for an easy way to crash into the quiet, I'd answer an interview from my good friend, Lara, over at Overstuffed. (She's brilliant and funny. Go follow her; it's fun.)

Lara asks:
1. What has been your greatest accomplishment? (Having children doesn't count: I think of them as a work in progress that will someday be my greatest accomplishment...don't you?)
I am rather proud of the way I had my children. My labor experiences are (intense) beautiful memories for me. But topmost, I am really proud of marrying Phill. Permit me to sound smarmy and just say I believe I married the perfect man for me! I'm also proud of teaching myself photography, and I'm proud of having played the cello for as long as I did, even if that was a long time ago. I'm also proud of the diverse places I've lived. I don't know if any of these would really be considered "accomplishments", but they rank high on the list of things that make me feel happy about myself and who I am.
2. What is one thing people can appreciate about you?
I can find humor in most any situation, and I am loyal. And I'm generally a happy person.
3. What is your favorite comfort food, and what is your strongest memory tied to it?
-Chocolate. I remember my dad bringing me Neuhaus chocolate when we were living in Belgium and I almost cried because it was so good, and almost cried because I thought it was so sweet that my dad understood my love of chocolate. (He shares that love, not just understands it) -And....rolls. My dad makes the very best rolls I've ever had, and he always sang opera while he made them, which I think made them better. And then afterwards, we would load lots of them into little baskets and disperse them to families nearby. -And pumpkin pie! My mom makes the best pumpkin pie (and with homemade crust), and I remember whenever she was making the crust, she'd give us a little dough and talk to us about her mother and her mother's mother and it just felt like this multi-generational feast.
4. If you could meet anyone (living or dead) who would it be and why?
My maternal great-grandmother. I have heard so much good about her. She sounds amazing and I just wish I'd known her.
5. What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Lots of spilled water (Jaxon hasn't quite honed the skill of getting himself water without spilling), stinky & empty produce drawers, probably one or two things that should be thrown away, and plenty of eggs and sour cream.