Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dinner Quotables

Me: "Jaxon, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Jax: "A teenager."
Reed: "But can only be a teenager for your childhood. After that, you have to be something else."
(they settled on Jaxon being a video game player)

Me: "Reed, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Reed: "A cop who plays with his kids on his days off."

Friday, January 29, 2010


I realized that not all of you are on Facebook, so you may not have heard--

Phill's name was on the list to deploy to Afghanistan, but the list is not yet finalized, and there is a chance--slim, but a chance--that he won't have to go. We are praying, hoping, and feeling the calming power of many others who so generously have given their prayers in our favor, too. I don't know when the list will be finalized. Soon. But what does "soon" mean?

In the meantime, tonight I meet with dear friends for a weekend filled with thrift-store-hunting, sushi-eating, unhindered baking and cooking, and undoubtedly lots of laughing, mixed with some tears for good measure.

About this possible deployment, I am alternately filled with dread and then hope. I'm trying to see the good possibilities here. I'm grateful to have so many wonderful friends and supportive family. You take the bitter out of bittersweet.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I have had lots more (than usual) to do lately, and lots to contemplate as Phill's reserve unit gets their list soon of soldiers deploying to Afghanistan this year (woke up with my stomach in knots every morning the last few days, wondering if he will be going this time), so it follows that I have had some darker, heavier moments the last few days. Several times I simply shut down--or broke down. But through this somewhat rocky couple of weeks, I have been humbled to see the hand of the Lord in my life--through other people. One in particular, my dear friend Sarah, has been quietly sustaining me through these last few days that have really tested just how much I can do and how much faith I can develop (I'm getting there...slowly but surely). I want her to know how grateful I am that she allows herself to be directed towards those who need her strong spirit. I definitely do.

My beloved sisters and friends have surprised me with perfectly-timed phone calls or emailed words of encouragement or good humor, and have made daily life sweeter.

My precious children have behaved uncommonly well, and have gone the extra mile to do their part when there is lots to be done.

My willing husband laid his hands on my head last night to offer me words of comfort from our father in heaven, and soothed my troubled soul.

I do know that if Phill has to be deployed this time, I will not be lacking a strong support system. I am surrounded on every side.

Last, a quote from President Spencer W. Kimball--"God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other."

Source here

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

and we dance

I know I say it a lot, but it's only because it's true: I feel immeasurably blessed/humbled to be married to Phill. And I'm only saying it again right now because it's a lead-in to my favorite part of today (so far, I still have some chocolate to eat and reading to do):

Phill dancing in our living room to "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude" with Savvy holding onto his fingers (this includes bouncing up and down as if jumping rope....incredibly exhausting, but little 2-year-olds do it for five minutes non-stop without breaking a sweat), and the boys rocking out nearby in their respective styles. (Jaxon laying lax on the couch, nodding his head up and down, chill as can be; Reed running around in circles, somersaulting, and bellowing with abject happiness.) We laughed so much tonight that my stomach hurts....Savvy was using a light saber as a microphone stand (she caught some Fergie today with me on TV; Glamorous held her spellbound)

The boys are in their beds, with their headphones in and their mp3 players on. Reed is singing, "NAA-NA-NA-NAAAA....HEEEYY JUUUDE" at the top of his lungs (unaware, of course, of how loud he is being to the rest of us), and Jaxon has his eyes closed, only quietly humming here and there, off in dreamy Hendrixland.

Oh, these babies. I used to wonder what it meant when people said, "My heart swells with joy"....and I am telling you, I get it. I feel like my heart is so full, at times like these when we are all laughing and smiling and connected and dancing and free, I wonder that my heart doesn't simply beat its way out of its cage of ribs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I was having a little wall-to-wall conversation on Facebook with a family friend--one who was my older sister's best friend when they were 12 and I was 9. I was thinking how wonderful it is that as we grow up and become moms or do the things that many other people do, too, the age number just melts away. I was trying to organize those thoughts and this is what I came up with--

Motherhood is the great equalizer.

Suddenly those who are five, ten, or several years older are made ageless with the things we have in common--pregnancy, birthing, nursing, nourishing; teaching, protecting, guiding; service, anguish, exhaustion, joy; uncertainty, frustration, hope and faith.

In these ongoing and fatiguing endeavors, we are without the emotional tethers of the year in which we were born. Our maternal experience is unique, but we are all in this together.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cara Jean Means, D.I. Denizen: The Interview

What made you create the D.I. Denizen, and what do you hope to accomplish through the D.I. Denizen?

It started because I used to send pictures of funny things I found at DI, or call and tell a friend about what happened or what I bought at DI, on a weekly basis. And then I know, I have enough material that I could blog about this! Also, people often ask me..."how do you know how to do all this stuff?" So I figure, why not educate and entertain at the same time?

My two goals with the site are to inspire others to find and confidently use their creativity and to walk away having learned something new, feeling encouraged, and hopefully laughing.

What is your response to those who insist that nothing worthy can be found in thrift stores?

That's fine, leaves more for me! Also, you just don't have the magical powers that I do. Maybe you should read my blog.

How would you describe your style?

Colorful, organized and a little unexpected.

Is there anything you don't like about thrift stores, Deseret Industries in particular?

I really hate it when an item is priced higher than other items strictly because of the brand name. DI is just as guilty as the rest of them!

What is the most exciting item you have found at a thrift store? (I once found a lingerie onesie--circa 1980--at a thrift wasn't exciting, but I did laugh loud enough to make a few people look at me with annoyance.)

I wanted an easel badly so I would quit breaking my back from painting flat on a table, but they are fairly expensive and we were strapped for money at the time. I walked into the "yard" at DI, which is where they keep mattresses, golf clubs, etc. and there, with beams of light from heaven shining down from it, was an easel! I clutched it with a look on my face like, "It's MINE! Don't anyone come near me or I'll spear you! Oh and it was 5 dollars.

What is the worst item you have found at a thrift store?

I once almost tried on a pair of white pants that weren't so white in the crotch anymore, if you know what I mean. I practically threw them out of the dressing room.

What do you dream of becoming, in your wildest of dreams? (Or in other words: What do you want to be when you grow up?)

I want to be in movies but I don't want to be an underfed starlet with addictions and metal problems. I just want to be like one of the untouchable movie stars that likes to act but goes on to have a normal life that no one really hears about, because it is mostly, well, normal and uninteresting. Like Emma Thompson, or Cate Blanchett or Helena Bonham Carter.

Do you think that being creative in how you view underestimated items at thrift stores helps you be creative in other areas?

That's a really deep question. That's a really deep question. That's all I got.

What inspires and drives you to create?

I am a very aesthetically oriented person. I like things to be pleasant to look at, and I like to look at and try to repeat pleasant things. So sometimes the amazing colors in a rooster's feathers will cause me to want to see if I can repeat that with paint. Or I will see a color combination in bricks on a house and the bushes in front and want to try to wear it, or use it in my house.

What are enemies to your creativity, and what do you believe are, in general, enemies of creativity?

Doubting uncreatives. Or rather, people who don't consider themselves creative and have decided to turn their nose up at others who are creative and offer a snide, teasing opinion of what you are doing. We are all creative; but fear, complacency, mediocrity, and doubt often stop us from realizing it.

Is there an art piece, re-fashioned piece of clothing, or rehabilitated piece of furniture that you are most proud of?

I am really proud of my entire kitchen make-over. I made a mistake with the first design plan and was able to realize it, and make it right. You will have to stay tuned to the site to see it!

What would you say to those who believe they are not creative, but want to be so?

Stop being fearful, lazy, a pawn to mediocrity, and stop doubting. Throw caution to the wind and try something! Ignore the critics! Don't be afraid to fail! And do it because you want to, not for money or fame or acceptance.

What renews you?

Time to myself. I LOVE the times when I get to go to DI by myself and look with no one distracting or rushing me. You know your obsession goes deep when your husband says, why don't you go out tonight and relax, and all you want to do is go to DI.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coming Soon: Interview with


Get to know the quirky genius behind an awesome refashion like this--

From nursing home comfort,
to fresh vintage cool!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Savvy's Word of Today:


As in:
"Ma, where's my baby?"
"I don't know."
"You don' know? Maybe she in da crib?"
(cheerfully, thinking I might be right) "Maybe!"

"Mama, where's da baby's bottle?"
"I don't know. May--"
(triumphantly interrupting) "MAYBE it's right HERE!"

"Ma, where's my nuk?"
"Maybe it's in your crib."
(very quietly) "Maybe."

Oh man, it was cute to hear her learn/try out/enjoy that word today. :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

In which I lose my balance--and get right back up on the beam

Oh, friends.

Guess what I did today? I'll give you a hint--it wasn't in keeping with my resolve to lead a more balanced life.

And I still feel incredibly stupid/guilty about it.

I stayed up late last night--about an hour later than usual--because Phill and I just love to talk to each other sometimes. Sweet reason, but holy moly, was I tired when I woke up.

So tired that I didn't feel a bit less tired after I dropped Reed off at school. So tired that breakfast didn't do a darn thing to perk me up, and I felt like I'd been drugged. So I felt a little nap was warranted. Note: I'm thinking 20, 30 minutes--just enough to rejuvenate me or trick me into thinking I'm not tired anymore.

I fell asleep at about 10:30. I slept the heavy sleep where I couldn't get my limbs to move, and where my dreams were long and detailed. I slept. And slept. And slept.

Until I woke up! And wondered quietly what time it was, assuming that it was probably about lunch time--about noon--and got up just as Jaxon asked me if he could go answer the knock at the front door.

It was my beloved neighbor/friend, Sarah. "Phill tried to call you to remind you to get Reed because it's early-out. He couldn't reach you--" (oh my word oh my word oh my WORD of COURSE he couldn't reach me because remember? I was sleeping the heavy sleep where I couldn't get my LIMBS to move and ANSWER THE PHONE and REMEMBER IT WAS FRIDAY SO REED WOULD GET OUT AT 1:15 and it is 1:37!)--"so the school called me." She said it all with a calm smile, no judgment, nothing but goodness in her. My heart dropped to the floor and I asked her if she would get him--much faster than me needing to get ready and get the kids ready and THEN go get him--and sat on the couch and sobbed. I know it's not about me--but when I do something stupid, I feel stupid, and tend to have a long while where I wonder what on earth is wrong with me.

Sarah brought him home, in one smiling piece--bless his heart. He was fine. And as children so often are, he was completely forgiving. You fell asleep, Mom? For 3 hours? Straight through when school got out? It's all good. No problem.

I read to him for a while, cuddling him on the couch, looking deep into his big brown eyes and kissing his cheeks, telling him that I was so, so sorry, while he just smiled at me and reassured me that he was indeed intact.

I suppose I'm sharing this because
a) As mentioned above, I still feel guilty, and somehow sharing makes me feel a little less so.
b) If you've done this before, well, now you know I'VE done it, too, and who knows? maybe this makes you feel a little more forgiving of yourself.
c) By sharing this, I am HOPING to correct myself and NOT do this again--that is, not to miss picking up my child because I slept through it! This pounds into the ground for me the importance of going to bed at a decent hour....note to self: How about you don't start conversations with your husband entitled "How We Will Parent Them When They Are Teenagers" when it is already midnight, especially when you are still very much in the throes of Parenting Them While They Are Little, and the Teenager conversation has caused you to slip a bit on While They Are Little!!

Friday, January 1, 2010


I am not so much of a resolutions-girl anymore.

For most of my years, though, I was quite the goal-oriented person, feeling a little thrill with every endeavor I put in writing. I made huge lists of changes to make, getting myself so excited and pumped. It was great--except for the fact that two days later, the wind was gone from my sails, and I was horribly discouraged at my inability to instantly change every area of my life that needed reform.

My issue--which is a common one--is that I am sometimes so well-intended that I bite off more than I can chew, and then of course end up choking on those big old chewy intentions. It is obvious to me (and most definitely to those of you who read LuLu) that I struggle with balance.

When I finally realized how ineffective was my new-year's-reformations current method, I started narrowing my focus. Picking only one or two things to improve. But even that was daunting, because I made them so specific.

An example of my process and how it changed:

My typical age 12, 1996 goal list--
Write in journal 3 pages every day.
Never fight with Abby.
Be mature.
Shower every day. (I don't even do that now. You think that's gross? Whatever. Every other day and some deodorant does me just fine.)

Age 17, 2001 goal list--
Write a novel (HA!)
Work out 6 days a week for 45 minutes each time (even while training for a marathon, this didn't happen.)
Lose 2 inches in my thighs (I will tell you that I secretly hoped this would happen in 2 weeks....oh, me and my thighs. We're still in counseling together. It's a rocky road.)
Get a job, save up enough money to get my own apartment (haaaHAAAAA.....)

And even as a mom, my more ambitious (and less realistic) lists--
Never lose my temper (actually, I still have hope that one day I will not have the habit of yelling. Anger may come and go, but the yelling thing....that's one that I have to be mindful of every day.)
Wake up early every day (I've already run this issue into the ground; I've concluded that it is something I'll have to work on off-and-on forever.)
Work out 6 days a week for 45 minutes each time (Hi, 17-year-old Rae! Where did YOU come from?!)
Lose 2 inches in my thighs (Shut up, 17-year-old Rae. Just shut up.)
Write for an hour each day (I still have that novel in mind--no joke)
Practice my cello 30 minutes each day (told you this was the more-ambitious less-realistic list)
Drink 2 liters of water every day
Have only one small sweet treat a day--or none at all

It all comes from a good place--that part of me that so badly wants to do as well as I can at the things that matter.

I know that there is nothing wrong with ambition, and nothing wrong with a desire for improvement. But when I try to do it all at once, I am simply going to shut down. It is too much. Too much for anyone to do at one time.

The new way I think about how I want to improve--new as in only maybe last year and this year--is that I am very broad about it. Some people like one word to remind them of their areas of focus. I like to consider what is good about what I'm already doing, and then decide what most needs attention.

Oddly enough, this year, one word does sum up all of my areas of focus.


This is a word that reminds me of women with soothing voices on yoga DVD's, telling you to balance your energy or balance your chi or your breath or your mind or whatever--a word that has, I think, been thrown around loosely. But in its purest sense, this word is just right for me.

At my worst, I am all-or-nothing. I can't play my cello today because I might not be able to play it consistently for the next few years. I can't write only a page today because I might not keep writing tomorrow. I can't do the dishes because I need the whole house clean first. I can't clean the house until I work out, I can't work out until I eat breakfast, I can't eat breakfast until I drop Reed off and I can't drop Reed off until I wake up and if I don't wake up early then everything goes south and--you get the point. Tying myself in knots.

At my best, I am mindful that a little bit goes a long way. Each effort has merit. Each day leads into another, with more opportunities to finish what I didn't the day before. I remember that progress is gradual, and that I might not see the fruits of my labors until much later. But none of my hard work will be for nothing. We get out what we put in.

So in a gentle way, I am applying the word "balance" to my life. I might not get up early every day, but I will keep chipping away at it, and maybe 7:00 will become habitual. I may find my temper flaring at moments throughout the day, but maybe with practice, it will become second-nature to act with patience and a quiet voice in these heated moments. I may not publish a novel this year, or next year, or in the next decade or two or three....and I might not be a virtuoso cellist....or have photos published in some notable magazine or win a prestigious photography contest or book more shoots this year than last. But I can still do something creative each day, and enjoy the things that feed my soul.

Even if the end result might not be perfection, the effort is worthwhile. (What a balanced sentiment!)