Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Several different Jake attempts
I sat beside Dylan at a loss for how to help as he hung his head heavily in deep despair.  Strewn around him lay several attempts at drawing Jake, the most recent of which had caused him to declare, "This looks nothing like him," before taking his forlorn pose at the table.  Somehow, his plans to draw a book about Jake had taken a turn for the worst, and I knew better than to think that my high praise of his drawings would do anything to change his own critical eye.

"Should we call Aunt Michelle?" I asked.  "Maybe if she came over to draw a picture of Jake, you could try to draw one like hers."  It was the only idea I had, and I was pleased when he agreed. 

Artists at work
"What part of his drawing is he upset about?" she asked over the phone. 

"I don't know.  He just says they look nothing like him, and he is really upset."  I added details about the pile of discarded Jakes all over my table.  "There must be six attempts here, and he isn't happy with any of them.  Is there any way you can come over?" 

Well, Aunt Michelle came to the rescue, and the pair got straight to work.  Jake even got in on the fun, posing for his portrait.  I had to laugh when Michelle started criticizing her own work, erasing a too-long neck.  "I think it looks perfect," Dylan said.  "It is just right."  But Michelle pointed out that he likely gets his perfectionism from her and proceeded to work on the proportions. 

Michelle's quick sketch
They studied the dog, trying to get his spots in just the right places.  And Dylan, usually stingy with his compliments, pronounced the final product to be "so good."

And then he realized his kindergarten motor skills wouldn't be able to accomplish the detail.  "I'll never be able to draw it like that," he complained, back to his dejected square one. 

This time, I knew what to do.  I taught him how to trace Michelle's version onto his own piece of paper.  It was like magic.  He was thrilled to be able to get the basic shape right using the guide and then color it on his own.

Later, in speedy and high-pitched tones, he told his brothers all about his process. 

"Are you satisfied?" Adam asked.

"No!  I'm not SAD!  I'm happy!" he answered.

Kirk and I giggled silently while Adam carefully tried the question again.

"No, Dylan... are you sat-is-fied?"

"I don't even know what that means."

Finally sad-isfied

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Gift to be Simple

I think Jack was in 5th grade the year that he gave me my favorite present I ever received.  That year, the school he attended held some sort of activity where students could exchange tickets for gifts for their family members.  Jack had carefully selected one item for each member of the family and informed my mom that he wouldn't need any help Christmas shopping that year.  He had it under control.

He wrapped each gift and started what became a several-years-long tradition of including a handwritten note in each.  I don't remember exactly what mine said, but I still keep the gift he gave me displayed proudly with my prized possessions. 

I had been collecting porcelain dolls for several years, generally receiving one each birthday and Christmas.  By this time, I must have had nearly twenty, with two favorites in particular marking important milestones in my life.  My mom gave me a beautiful doll with brown curly hair clad in a beautiful gold and black dress when I graduated from high school.  The second I received on my wedding day. 

I guess Jack knew this about me, although I hadn't realized he had paid any attention.  But when it was my turn to unwrap my gift, I revealed a six-inch tall porcelain doll in velvet and fur carrying a Christmas package.  That he'd picked it out on his own meant so much to me.  That he had paid for it with his own tickets added to its sentimental value.  But that Jack knew I loved porcelain dolls has stuck with me ever since.

It's that time of year when I probably ought to start thinking of Christmas.  When gifts need to be bought and wrapped in preparation for the joy of Christmas morning.  As I head out into busy stores with flashing lights and noisy advertisements, I hope I can remember my joy on a Christmas 12 years ago and remember 'tis a gift to be simple.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Important Questions

There I am, fully engrossed in Scarlett's giggles, when I hear Dylan's still-tiny voice pipe up from a few feet away.  "It's fun to have a baby around, isn't it Mom?"  I nodded and smiled, still cooing and receiving huge baby grins in return.  He continued, "Maybe we should get one."

I laughed and asked him where he thought we should get one.  "I don't know," he said, pausing to think.  "Maybe you should ask Michelle.  She knows how to get one."  I laughed, and he looked up questioningly.  "Oh... are you just kidding with me?"

"Yes, I am just kidding, honey.  I know how to get babies."

For the record... bad answer.

"Oh.  How do you get babies, Mom?"

I gave him a brief, euphemistic explanation.  "Well, usually babies come from moms and dads who love each other."

"Well, you and Dad love each other every day."  Another long pause.   "I think you might accidentally get a baby." 

And so explained that Daddy and I decided not to get any more babies.  So the doctors made it so we can't accidentally get any.  I reminded him that is why we get so excited when Aunt Lisa and Aunt Michelle have babies, because we get to borrow theirs.  I told him he would have to wait until he finds a girl to marry before he gets any more babies.

"But you and Dad will be dead by then!" he exclaimed. 

"No, we won't.  We get to be your babies' Grandma and Grandpa."

"Oh.  Will I still be living at this house?"


Glad we cleared a few things up.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Are We Friends

I love to sort through my blog drafts and find half-written gems I can finish.  I especially love the super random kind that make me wonder, "Where was I even going with that...?"  It is in that spirit of generally questioning my own sanity that I bring you a quiz I wrote in January. 
1 point for each of my siblings that you can name
2 point for each of the Casdorphs you have met
5 points if you know what Casdorph means
5 points if you can tell a funny story about Charlie
5 points if you have played games at my house
10 points if I have played at yours
5 points if you have been awkwardly hugged by Kirk
10 points if you don't think it's awkward
5 points for every time you have seen me cry
10 points if we hug regularly
1 point for every show
    We were in together
    You saw me in (or that I directed)
    I saw you in
    Or a member of your immediate family was in with me
10 points if you can name one of my favorite authors (James Dashner isn't one, btw)
1 point for every time you brought me food
And... go.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Simple Answer

"Okay, so this part is one of my favorites," I explained as I paused track 6 on the Newsies CD currently playing in the car.  "When he says, 'Pulitzer may own the World but he don't own us,' it is a play on words. The actual newspaper that this guy, Pulitzer, owns is called The World.  But Pulitzer also acts like his is powerful enough to own the whole world.  So that lyric is really clever because it really means two things at once."

This is what the kids and I do on long drives; we pop in a musical they haven't heard before, and they listen to the music while I narrate.  Sometimes I have to generalize the plot a bit (as with this week's selection, Evita), while other times I am stopping between each track to tell the character's names, their backstories, and their motivations.  I like to think it is kind of like a literature lesson, but with music.  And my boys eat it up! 

Along with the actual plot, plenty of my history tends to seep through.  Maybe this week, I will tell them about my friend Becca who first introduced me to great musicals like Evita and Chess.  Maybe when they get older, I will tell them about how the first time I saw Newsies was on the bus to California for choir tour, and how a cute boy named Scott held my hand throughout the whole movie but then ignored me for the whole trip.  I'll draw the connections to the actors and actresses, too.  When we listen to Once on this Island, as we often do, I will tell them that Aunt Michelle once played TiMoune and how awesome she was. And that this was the origin of Dad's "happy tree, sad tree" schtick.

I know I don't just do this with my kids.  Ask me about Into the Woods, and then sit down for the run down I am sure to give.  And it isn't just musicals, either.  I promise: you do not want to get me started on Anne McCaffrey's books set on the fictional planet Pern.  I think it is basic human nature to want to share the things that shaped you.  To shout their lessons from the rooftops in hopes that maybe one person will see the world in the same way you see it.  If not human nature, it is definitely my nature. 

While I could continue on in the same vein, I've actually written these four paragraphs as an introduction to my current opportunity to be a part of the musical The Drowsy Chaperone.  I know it isn't a well-known show, and I have had many people ask me what it is about.  The complicated answer includes four weddings, some monkeys, a plane crash, a tap number, and an Aviatrix (that's me).  But the simple answer is paralleled by my long-winded introduction.

The Drowsy Chaperone is about that CD you always play when you're feeling a little sad.  The one you use to turn your mood around.  It is about the way you talk about it when you try to explain it to someone else.  The way you are forced to realize that Billy Joel's Stormfront isn't all chart toppers.  The disappointment when a scratch interrupts your favorite track, and you are left trying to explain that it really is great... I promise.  This show is about the memories that come flooding back when you hear a song that was popular when you were in high school, or when you realize that there are huge gaping holes in the plot to Miss Saigon that you're really just guessing at, because you will likely never get a chance to see it live.  The Drowsy Chaperone is about using music to escape, and I am fairly certain it is a theme that is universal.

For the record, it is also hilariously entertaining!  But that isn't why I want you to come see it.  Come be the passenger as Man in Chair narrates his favorite musical.  Let him stop and start the music to fill in bits of the plot and pieces of his own life.  Give him the opportunity to shout its virtue, to downplay its follies, and to let this piece of something that he loves so much find a place in your own heart. 

Oh, and I am on stage, too.

Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays - September 11 through Oct 3rd - Empress Theatre in Magna, UT.
If you would be interested in discount tickets, let me know.  There is usually a discount code the week before the show opens, and I will keep you posted.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Unsentimental Journey

I am not a sentimental person. I was raised by a mother who thinks flowers are a waste of money and in a home where special occasions just weren't that big of deal. Add to that the fact that I tend to be quite private about the things that are most important to me, and suddenly it makes sense that only once since joining social media have I publicly acknowledged my anniversary. But I have to say that lately, my already incredible husband has intentionally stepped it up a notch, leaving messages on my mirror, taking me on more dates, and going places he really has no interest in going, just to be with me. It's like every day, he wakes up thinking, "How can I make her fall in love with me today?"

Most days, I just get awkward. Although I love the attention, I don't always know how to process it. Instead of sweet messages, I write silly things on his mirror. But one recent day, I was randomly struck by the desire to reciprocate his romanticism. So I did what I do, and I wrote.

We don't usually celebrate anniversaries at our house. It may sound cheesy, but when you have the kind of every day we do, it just doesn't seem necessary. But I thought this year, maybe I could give Kirk a small gift.

To publicly recognize fourteen years of friendship, partnership, and love:

Once upon a time, there lived a Princess. This Princess wasn't quite like all the others. She wasn't bound by glass or hidden in a tower. She wasn't in an enchanted sleep or under any curse. In fact, the only thing that held this Princess back was Time.

She was also quite different in that her search for a Prince was over. He waltzed right in one day, and without even having to slay any Dragons, he won her heart.

Still, the Prince knew life with this Princess would not be easy; every single day he would have to watch her fight against Time. Some days, he would be right there in the battle. Other days, he would watch from afar. And on the worst days, she would battle alone, returning only to sleep by his side.

And unlike any other Princess that ever existed, her monster simply could not be vanquished. For in place of a heart and lungs, she'd been given a timepiece. The very force that enslaved her was also the one that gave her life, for she drew breath along with the secondhand. Her heart beat to the careful rhythm of Time.

Slowly, the Prince and Princess learned not to fight against time, but rather to learn to control it. To bend it. To manipulate it. To trick it. To steal it. 

Slowly, the timepiece became not a burden, but a power.

And unlike all the other Princes and Princesses fighting so hard just to like each other still, these ones fought every day just to get to be together.

And every day the Princess felt grateful to have found a Prince who demands nothing. Who instead simply holds her hand

And lets her battle Time.

Oh, and I also got him a mug. It says #fiveyearplan, which is an inside joke we share with my mom. Fourteen years in, and I feel richer than he ever promised.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Real Question About Dreams

Last night, Michelle and an old friend Zack Hatch danced together at a Renaissance Fair.  Not actually, but in the dream I had just before waking, it definitely happened.  I was running late, having stopped at a window to buy a custom dress.  I was being pinned into the yellow fabric as the salesperson cut out my leather corset when they entered.  Michelle was singing lyrics I've never before heard to a melody I definitely have, which lead me to believe the song was from Moulin Rouge (though upon waking, it most certainly wasn't). The dance was incredibly technical and athletic, which made the woman working on my dress gasp repeatedly in disapproval, as the costume Michelle wore clearly highlighted the fact that she was about six months pregnant.  The song itself was angry; clearly Zack was a jerk and a deadbeat dad, and she was completely willing to point out all his faults.  There were 8 or 10 male backup dancers as well, who facilitated the many lifts and throws.  The Renaissance crowd erupted with applause at the conclusion of the dance, and I promptly awoke.

...wondering, not for the first time, how I can dream stuff like that.  I mean, it isn't really surprising that I frequently dream in musical, theatrical production numbers.  But here's what I don't get:

Who wrote those lyrics I have never heard?

And who choreographed that dance?

These were not vagaries.  I popped immediately out of bed this morning to pen my thoughts before they completely vanished in the daylight, and by intentionally grasping at them, I can still picture a few of the acrobatic stunts.  This was no general impression of amazing dancing and SYTYCD caliber choreography.  This was the actual deal.

How does that happen?  Where did those images and ideas come from?

It makes me think of the great master composer, Mozart, who didn't so much write music as write down the music that was already playing in his mind.  It makes me wonder if, for those of us less genius than Mozart, there is some great barrier in consciousness that blocks our ability to tap into the raw creativity of the subconscious.  Are we really all masters, but with varying abilities to access it?

Then I kind of think of the great comedians, actors, musicians, and artists afflicted by substance abuse.  I wonder if the drugs and alcohol weaken that boundary?  Allow them to dream in consciousness?  Allow them to say, to be, to write, to represent things that otherwise would be trapped and accessibly only in dreams.

As an amateur lyricist, composer, and choreographer, I can't help but wake up wondering, "How did my mind do that?  Was that me?  Do I have the potential to be that great?"  And then I just wonder at the logistics.  I mean, it would take me hours to choreograph a piece of that length.  Another set of hours to determine the costuming.  At least an hour to rewrite the lyrics.  Let's say I am 10 mental hours into a project of that scope were it real.  Logistically, when did those hours happen?  Did I carefully think those thoughts, one by one, without seeing them on the Dream Screen?  Have I been piecing it together over a week's worth of sleep?  Or, as if by spontaneous combustion, can my brain do all of that, simultaneously and instantaneously, in its literal sleep?

I wish that in waking, I could do that.  I wish you all could have seen the dance.  It was powerful and moving (and I am fairly certain was probably a representation of my feelings regarding my best friend's impending divorce).  Besides, Michelle was singing, so of course I wish I could share it with you.

To be or not to be?  Nah.

How to be... imaginative uninhibited masterful detailed emotional creative

as the girl who dreams while I sleep.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Not Exactly on the Bucketlist

"Have you ever hitchhiked before?" I threw the question over my shoulder then fixed my eyes on my bare feet, carefully choosing the path of least pebbles as we walked along Idaho's Highway 55.

Jack responded, "No, but it is on my bucket list."

I jabbed my outstretched thumb toward the road and waited as gorgeous Corvette after gorgeous Corvette sped past us, seemingly with nary a glance.  "They're never going to pick us up," Jack said as we discussed the many and varied reasons why.  We continued to walk, swimsuits dripping and bright yellow life jackets shining like a beacon in the afternoon sun.

Finally, we spotted a man in a Bob Marley t-shirt, coming toward us from an RV pulled into a turnout.  "Do you guys need some help?" he shouted.

"We just need a ride to Banks," I responded.  "My mom got injured on the river, and we need to get a car down here.  Hers is parked at the rafting put in at Banks."  He invited us into the RV, introduced us to his traveling companions and his dog, offered us a beer, and welcomed us to sit anywhere.  On the short drive, we filled him in on the most essential details.

Shortly into our morning's river run, we had stopped at a rope swing that hangs out over the river.  After many of us jumped, my mom decided she wanted to try, too.  She expressed a concern over having enough arm strength, but decided she would like to go for it anyway.  She later told me that standing there, she had wished she could have done things like that when we were younger, but she had always been too anemic.  So in spite of her fear of heights, she climbed the jumping rock, grasped the rope, and swung toward the river.

It almost seemed like slow motion, watching as her grip slipped slightly causing one foot to drag on the ground.  That force pried her hands from the rope and propelled her upper body forward.  She slid down the rocky bank, her body just barely reaching the shallow water.  My dad and Skye rushed to her side just as the water near her foot turned red, much like a scene from Jaws.  Skye turned immediately to Adam and Alex (and friend who was with us) saying, "It's bad.  Don't look."

I asked a nearby family if I could borrow the phone they'd been using to take pictures at the swing.  Kirk hadn't come on the river with us, so I hoped he could bring a car.  When he didn't answer, it was decided that Jack and I would swim across the river and hitchhike to Banks, the procurement of a car being the number one priority behind the t-shirt tourniquet that had already been tied around Mom's foot.

Jack and I returned with the car, amused to find that Suman had been sent to make certain we didn't pass the spot on the river.  Apparently some discussion had ensued after our departure regarding the fact that they had sent the two least observant people on the errand.  Skye and my dad carried Mom up the river bank to the car, then continued to discuss whether it would be better to take her up the road to Garden Valley or down the road to Boise.  After one last gruesome look at the wound (we could see tendons and bones), the decision was unanimous.  Boise.

From there, it is hardly my story to tell, having heard it only second- or third-hand.  Mom went to St. Luke's on Eagle Road where they took her into the operating room to clean out the wound.  The doctors reported taking rocks and leaves out, but praised my dad for choosing to keep her wound in the cold river water as long as possible.  They equipped her with a wound vacuum, which constantly pulls the fluids away from the wound to reduce swelling and infection.  They assessed the damage and determined a transfer to the University of Utah Hospital would be necessary, because reparing the gaping hole in her foot was going to take the skills of a specialist.

She spent Sunday in the hospital bed, wondering whether the hospital would in fact be able to arrange for a portable wound vac.  With one, she could be loaded into her own car, and my dad would drive her to Salt Lake.  Without one, she would have to be flown; the risks of not having the vacuum on were too high.  At 4:53 on Sunday evening, in response to a brief "any news?" text from me, my dad reported, "Just arriving at hospital in 1 min."  The choice had been made, and my parents flew in to Salt Lake together.

At 10:31 on Monday morning, again in response to an inquisitive text, Mom responded, "I am out of surgery for today. I haven't seen the doctor yet, so I don't have any real information."  When I was able to get to the hospital last night to visit, however, she had been given a full projected timeline for her recovery, which she asked that I share here.

  • Thursday, July 30th - Grafting surgery #1 - This one involves moving some muscle and tissue into her foot.
  • FIVE DAYS of in hospital recovery with foot elevated 100% of the time
  • Wednesday, Aug 5th - Best case scenario release date
  • TWO TO THREE WEEKS of at home recovery in wheel chair with foot elevated nearly all the time.  She will be allowed to be in the school if she chooses, but will only be able to point at what needs to be done.  
  • Wednesday, Aug 19th - Best case scenario date for Grafting surgery #2 - This one involves covering the huge exterior hole in her foot.
  • FIVE DAYS of in hospital recovery with foot elevated 100% of the time
  • Tuesday, Aug 25th - Best case scenario release date
  • ONE MONTH of recovery - She will be able to put weight on her foot, but it will take about one month before she will be able to stand on it for an entire day.
  • Monday, September 28th - My birthday.  :)  And also maybe a good projection of about when she will be returning to normal.
Mom said, "Tell people I am okay, and that there is really nothing that anyone can do except maybe visit to keep me company.  It is going to be really boring."  If you want information about her room number, text or Facebook message me.  I can also send you really gross pictures if you're morbidly curious.  

I don't know if Mom will read this or not, but if she does:

I would just like you to know how excited each of us kids was, watching you conquer your fears just to do something fun (and maybe a little stupid) with us.  We're sad you didn't get to enjoy the rest of the river run, and I am really grateful you wanted us to continue on without you because we had a really great ride.  Thank you for being the kind of Grandma who, when Alex visited, expressed your desire that he not be afraid of rope swings in the future.  You have always been and continue to be an example of strength to each of us.  I know you are feeling a little stupid, having a two month recovery from a dumb rope swing.  But we are all just happy that you wanted to be with us.  Thanks for coming on the river.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Show Before the Show

My reasons for vacationing in Garden Valley, Idaho this summer were threefold:

1. See Michelle perform as "Mrs. Meers" in Thoroughly Modern Millie and as "Calamity Jane" in Calamity Jane
2. Get to spend time with my niece and nephew, Scarlett and Ryder
3. Enroll my kids in the Starlight summer camp, because they could do a week of theater before football starts

I easily accomplished these three items and so many more!  Around the campfire on our last night, I asked the kids about their favorite parts of the trip. After listening to their answers, I considered what my answer would have been and ultimately settled on a tie.

First, I loved watching my children enjoy the same things I enjoy.  Whether it was seeing their happy faces return to camp after a long three hour rehearsal, watching Adam "jump" off a 25-foot bridge (he says he fell...) or Alex during his first ever whitewater rafting run, it was so much fun to have them with me, so willing to do things that I find exhilarating.

Second, I got to sing with Michelle.  At Starlight shows, there is almost always a "preshow" - just a number or two the audience can enjoy before the real show starts.  Generally, it is planned.  But sometimes (like Monday night when Michelle came with us to sit in the audience for Seven Brides) Eddie calls Michelle out of the audience, explains there has been an anonymous audience request for her to sing "When I Look At You" from Scarlet Pimpernel, and starts her music.

Other times, he approaches me in the middle of a river run and says, "So what could you and Michelle sing for preshow tonight?" So we hustle back to camp, download music, get cleaned up, make dinner for the kids, practice for 20 minutes, hustle to the theatre to throw on mics and hand the tech table our soundtrack, and enjoy getting to sing together.  (We decided that this school year, we will work on a portfolio of awesome female duets so we will already have something worked up should the opportunity present itself again.)

Sidenote; look how I am noticeably taller than Michelle.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rescue Jake

“No, Jake!  Don’t jump!” I shouted to my dog as he hunched down and prepared to launch himself off the bridge.  Had he jumped closer to the center, over the river, I wouldn’t have worried.  But he had run close to the bank and from there, the drop would be ten feet down to a pile of large boulders.

I guess I should have known it would come to this three months ago on Jake’s first day in our family.  Having spent the weekend in a shelter, Jake was displaying some serious separation anxiety.  He hated to be in a different room than me, so when I prepared to take a bath, I was careful to make certain he was in the bathroom with me.  I went about my typical routine, shaving my legs and shampooing my hair.  I went under the water and began to swish my hair from side to side to remove the suds.  Suddenly, I was covered by one very wet Border Collie who had apparently felt the need to rescue me from the perilous danger of my bathtub.

I wasn’t the first to jump from the bridge.  Actually, I wasn’t even the second.  We brought one of Adam’s friends along for our Idaho adventure, and Trae was the first to make the 25 foot drop into the frigid river.  After Trae’s jump, Jake jumped in from the far bank, crossing the river easily and getting out only after it was clear that Trae was safe.  After significant coaxing, Adam went second.  Technically, according to him, he actually slipped and fell instead of choosing to jump, but I’m applauding even that.  Having promised to jump if he jumped, I went third, leaving a very anxious Jake atop the bridge.

I could hear him whining above the wind and the current, and I could see his nubbed tail shaking furiously at me for having jumped off a bridge.  I shouted up to him.  “I’m okay, Jake!” but he was less than convinced.  For a moment, I thought he would actually make the jump in after me, and I wasn’t too worried about that.  Then I saw him hurry to the bank and assumed he would climb down and swim in after me.  I laughed at his commitment as I swam closer to the bank, knowing I was completely safe and in no need of rescue at all.

I stopped laughing, however, when I saw his focus shift.  He was going to take a shortcut and jump onto the rocks.  I worried for his safe landing; not only was the bank steep and the boulders smooth, but Jake has genetically bad hind knees and limps most of the time.  Although we plan to have doggie knee surgery done this winter, for now he gets by on two pain pills a day and rests when his limp gets too horrible.

And so I shouted up at my dog, but he didn’t listen.  I watched him jump.  And I watched him land.  However, verbs like “crash,” “slide,” “roll,” and “bounce” may have been more accurately descriptive.  He found his footing as quickly as he could and navigated the rocks down to the river’s edge.  He jumped in and swam to me, accompanying me the rest of the way to shore.

It was almost funny to watch how little he cared for the safety of other jumpers at the bridge.  He never once hurried to the side of a stranger.  But each time one of his family (extended to include Trae for the week) jumped, he insisted on chaperoning them to safety.

And it didn’t stop there.  We changed locations from the bridge to a place the locals call Flat Rock.  This area features a small jump into a shallow, sandy pool – perfect for the younger kids we had with us.  For fun, I decided to make the three foot jump.  I was prepared to be startled as my feet abruptly met the sand; I was not prepared to have a dog jump right on top of my head.  Which he did.

In fact, he wouldn’t even let me swim to the middle of the river without him.  If I went into water any deeper than my ribs, Jake insisted on checking on me routinely.  Sure, he kept an eye out for the big boys, but he wouldn’t let me out of his sight.

And then the little boys (Ryder and Dylan) wanted to jump.  I stood in the pool ready to catch them with Jake circling me much like a shark.  He wouldn’t leave the water until the small boy had safely completed the jump.  I didn’t understand the height of his anxiety until he actually nipped at Dylan – not out of aggression, but in an attempt to grab him by the skin and pull him out of the water.

Jake may not be a perfect dog.  He may poop in my house on occasion, bark at my visitors, and eat the cats’ food every single day.  Sure, he needs expensive surgery this winter.  Yes, it is inconvenient to have to make arrangements for him when I go out of town.  But in only 3 months he has become so loyal to my family that he will drag my son out of a river and jump from a bridge to try to save his Mama.

Welcome to the family, Rescue Jake.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Solemate Theory

Having watched Pixar's Inside Out this past weekend, my philosophical fire has been lit leaving me with an undying urge to flesh out an analogy.  I've been turning over the idea of soulmates ever since April's book club meeting as my friends and I sat around discussing our individual views.  "I don't buy in" was basically my view in a nutshell, citing General Authority advice that any two people living righteously can be happy together.  But the longer my thoughts have ruminated, the more I have been forced to acknowledge a few more variables.  So here they are, in what I am certain will end up being just a sample of the bizarre ways my mind demands that I make concrete from abstract.

First, before I can discuss soulmates, I'm going to have to break this compound word into its component parts.


A snapshot from Mirriam-Webster declares SOUL to be:

  • the spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever
  • a person's deeply felt moral and emotional nature
  • the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc. states that the scriptures speak of souls in three ways:
  • spirit beings, both premortal and postmortal (Alma 40:11–14; Abr. 3:23)
  • a spirit and a body united in mortality (Abr. 5:7)
  • an immortal, resurrected person whose spirit and body have become inseparably connected (Alma 40:23; D&C 88:15–16).
But I have to go a bit rogue here and admit that this explanation is the most concrete to me, and therefore will have to be the basis of this particular mind-journey.  From an article outlining a Christian view on the difference between the soul and spirit:
  • Our body functions to allow us to interact with the physical world and the things in it through our five senses.
  • We can live our human lives in continuous contact with the Lord by using our spirit. (My own LDS views vary from this a bit, believing my spirit to be much more than a conduit for contact, but I'm not trying to define spirit here...)
  • Our soul is basically who we are—our mind, our emotion, and our will. 


  • either member of a couple and especially a married couple
  • either member of a breeding pair of animals
  • either of two matched objects
Hm... that one was a lot more simple, but I still have to decide which definition applies most.  For my theory, I'm going to go with two matched objects and introduce the linchpin of this analogy.  

The Analogy.

When I think of mates, I think of socks.  In theory, when the wash is done, each sock should have a mate, right?  

For some socks, this process is pretty easy.  Some socks were bought in a package of 10 identical pair of black socks with green Hanes across the toe, and their only goal is to find one of the 19 possible mates.

Other socks, however, would have a pretty tough job making sure they end up with the ONE sock meant for them.  I guess that's why I loved the fad that started 10 or so years ago with all the teenage girls wearing mismatched socks.  Yes!  I thought.  This is how socks should be.

Consider this sock:

I mean, this one has been given some pretty specific information about what kind of sock to look for.  Adidas brand.  Ankle sock.  Purple base.  Green stripes.  And yes, I guess technically this sock was in fact purchased with one EXACT mate, so I guess technically there's one SPECIFIC sock intended for this guy.  So for now, let's say he really does have a mate.  How many days is he supposed to hang out in the un-mated box waiting for purple-green-adida-ankle-mate?

Let's say he meets this sock instead.  Yeah!  If I was the purple striped sock, I would totally go out in public with that green sock.  And I'd feel all spunky and happy and unique and like I'd found a sock that didn't offer the exact same things I already had going for me.  I'd walk around thinking, "Wow, this green sock really brings out my green stripes!"  But I technically wouldn't be able to say, "I've found my mate."

In fact, I could end up instead with this sock.  We'd have tons in common, what with Adidas branded right across us both.  But I could have so much fun being purple where he was orange and green where he was purple.  Think of the discussions we could have knowing that we were so much the same and yet so totally different!

So maybe if I was a that cool purple sock, I'd have a few options.  And I really think I'd be a happy sock with any of them!

If I was a plain orange sock, I could see so many different possibilities.  So many great socks for me to choose to pair with.  (Please read that without innuendo!... Oh great, now you went back and read it with innuendo.)  I think that orange sock could live a pretty awesome orange sock life, even if it never, ever found its one-and-only orange solemate!

The Conclusion.

So do I believe in soulmates?  Sorta.  I guess I can buy into the idea that for every purple and green striped Adidas sock on the earth, there is at least one other purple and green striped Adidas sock.  I mean, I am not the only one that bought that pack of socks at Walmart.  So I guess I sorta believe they are out there.

But I think that if I was looking (definitely not... I already chose my sock), I would be looking for a SOUL mate, not a SPIRIT mate.  I'd be looking for someone who fits well with my mind, my emotion, and my will.

Do I believe that I was sent to earth to find the one SOUL that matches mine?  Nope.  I believe I was sent to BE the kind of sock that can match a lot of socks and with the AGENCY to choose what kind of sock I wanted to walk around with.

Do I believe that some green-and-purple-striped-Adidas find each other?  Sure do!  And I love to hear their stories.

So I guess maybe it's not that I don't believe in soulmates.

I just don't believe it's important to find 'em.

In fact, I think I'd be much more amused if someday I saw my purple-and-green-striped-Adidas-solemate walking around with the solemate of the sock I picked.

Yeah, I like that theory!

*No socks were harmed in the making of this blog, though as I found them by dumping the unmated box, many did find their solemates.*

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Maslow, Locke, and Me

Before the Declaration of Independence listed the unalienable right to pursuit happiness, John Locke expressed his opinion that the government should protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of property.  Approximately three centuries later, psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his Hierarchy of Needs - more or less his ideas of the road map to happiness.

Then, late in the 20th century, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints published "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" which outlines the responsibilities of both the mother and the father in the home.  "By divine design," it reads, "fathers are... responsible to provide the necessities of life... for their families."

With all these thoughts, philosophies, and beliefs floating around in my head one day, I suddenly realized that as part of a happy marriage based on the principles found in the Proclamation, I definitely take it for granted some days that Kirk will just provide.  I am incredibly grateful to feel like I am at the top of Maslow's pyramid pretty much every day, just looking around and thinking, "Wow, I have it pretty great."  But lest Kirk think his job is done, I realized that there 3 specific things that I look to him to provide.

Here it is: my earth-shattering, highly philosophical list of needs:

1. Safe and reliable transportation.  I need to be able to get to and from work.  I need to be able to take an injured child directly to the emergency room if necessary.  I need the freedom that a V-6 engine, four-wheel drive, and ample trunk space allows me.

2. Hot water.  To wash our dishes.  To wash our clothes.  To bathe in luxuriously.  Not only does my husband make certain the hot water flows from the faucets, but he even goes out of his way to make certain that it is always available in whatever quantities I desire.  He showers on Saturday night so I can fill our tub way too full with water that is way too hot, leaving none left for anybody else.

3. High speed internet.  To me, this may just be the very definition of self-actualization.  And if it breaks, it is somehow Kirk's fault (and definitely his responsibility to fix).

To be fair, I could technically provide these things for myself.  And to be honest, I do realize that this whole post needs to end #firstworldproblems.  And while I jest, it's really out of gratitude for all that I have.

When I announced this list of needs to Kirk in the kitchen one day, he laughed.  I told him he's required to provide them for me - it's in the Proclamation.  He laughed again.  Then he stumped me with a question.  "So, what are you required to provide for me?"

I couldn't answer right away, but finally responded.  "The kids' education.  Ultimately, it is my job to make sure they are receiving a proper spiritual and secular education."

In retrospect, I guess that's not really something I "provide" for him so much.  Rather something I do which means it's done.  And when I consulted the Proclamation, it turned out I was pretty much right.  "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  And since I pretty much suck and hugs and soothing, I've decided to translate "nurture" into "education."

Hmmm... brief break as I go consult Mirriam-Webster on that one.

Nurture: "the sum of the environmental factors influencing the behavior and traits expressed by an organism"

Oooh!  I like that even better.  My job is the environmental factors that influence our kids.  That's what I do.

And to do it, I will definitely need a car, the internet, and a bath!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Only Thing Constant is Change

In November 2013, I made a big, scary decision to leave the Empress Youth Theatre program.  At the time, it seemed super permanent.  I posted about it, citing my excitement over spending the last 3 weeks of summer with my own kids, needing to be sideline at football games, and all sorts of other really awesome reasons why I needed the change.

And then I had a super awesome 2014 summer.  I went to Puerto Rico with my family... right in the middle of EYT.  I spent 10 days with my sister in Arizona.  I relaxed.  I came and saw the EYT production from the comfy audience seats.  And the decision to leave still seemed super permanent.

During the 2014/2015 year, I traded my music room at school for the walls of a 5th grade classroom, a choice I have truly enjoyed all year long.  But one that means less music on a daily basis.  And one that I'm deciding to keep pretty permanent.

In December 2014, I announced another big, scary decision - this time to step down as director of the Dickens Festival.  Again, I posted about it, this time in silly poetic form.  As I look forward to my first Christmas in 5 years that won't be overshadowed by call times and news promos, it's definitely feeling permanent.

But I am quickly discovering that no matter how much I try to predict what I think I am going to want in the future, sometimes I just don't know until I get there!  So here I am now, staring Summer 2015 in the face and wondering...

Where did it all go?  

Somewhere in the de-cluttering of my life, I managed to clear my summer so completely that I have nothing to look forward to except endless hours of camping and traipsing around the country like a gypsy woman.

Oh, wait!  That sounds awesome!

And I'm totally gonna do that for June and July.

But while I'm on the road, my brain needs a project to chew on.  So much so that I have been chewing on this ridiculous idea:


(Andrea's Basement Choir)

In that daydream, neighborhood kids would come do a week-long show choir session in my basement.

Which is ridiculous.

Anyhow, when the Empress Theatre contacted me and asked if I would be willing to be involved in this year's EYT production, I knew that was a WAY better way to spend my mental energy than organizing show choirs in my unfinished basement.

And so here it is.

What I thought was permanent wasn't so much.  Instead, I'm finding myself in a whole new position, this time as Producer.

What does that mean, exactly?  It means I get to help this year's director, Chalese, make all the ideas in her head appear on a stage.  It means I get to spend at least a bit of time with the kids who make the EYT program so great.  It means I get to stay up way too late working on audition forms and typing blogs and feeling...





All the things that have honestly been just a bit beyond my reach lately.

So I guess I'm making another announcement, and this time I will fully acknowledge that I have no idea what is around the next bend.  But as for this summer...

Who are we?


Friday, May 22, 2015

Just Call Me Addison

A fun little name generator ran on the TIME website earlier this week, and after running my own name, I was curious to see the names of others in my family.  Just for fun, here are the results:

Andrea Kirk Adam Alex Dylan
Today Addison Cash Colton Elijah Christopher
2000's Mary Alvaro Vincent James Luis
1990's Brittney Tracy Spencer Robert Travis
1980's Christine Ron Johnny Jeremy Derek
1970's Debra Reuben Henry Thomas Aaron
1960's Carolyn Elvis Howard Kevin Roger
1950's Virginia Armand Edwin Donald Carl
1940's Marie Major Mike Edward Earl
1930's Ruby Dewitt Maurice Paul Francis
1920's Grace Gustave Sidney Walter Anthony
1910's Beatrice Asa Horace Harry Theodore
1900's Mattie Son Earnest Walter Elmer
1890's Jennie Seth Dan Walter Benjamin

In other words, if we'd been a family in a different decade, you might stop by to have dinner with Ruby, Dewitt, Maurice, Paul, and Francis Fife!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Something I've learned this year: some books are better out loud.  Well, maybe not the book in terms of the plot.  But the book in terms of the individual words the author carefully wove together to tell it just so.  I'm pretty convinced that this new theory only applies to some books, though.  Because I'm equally convinced that many authors are blessed with the ability craft a plot like nobody's business, while only a select few have a way of making the words themselves beautiful.

Something I've learned this year: Wilson Rawls is one of those out loud authors.  Sure, I'd have probably still noticed his alliterative flair and penchant for similes if I'd quickly skimmed the paragraphs on the hunt for action verbs.  But I wouldn't have enjoyed the way each word felt leaving the tip of my tongue if I'd never experienced reading them aloud to my students.  

"For seconds his deep voice was still, and silence settled over the mountains." 

These kinds of words were just meant to be read aloud.

Something else I've learned this year: good literature needs no interpretation.  Some stories are told so well that the connections make themselves.  And so, because I never want to forget them, here are a few excerpts from Chapter 19 of Wilson Rawls Where the Red Fern Grows.

Old Dan must have known he was dying.  Just before he drew one last sigh, and a feeble thump of his tail, his friendly gray eyes closed forever.

At first I couldn't believe my dog was dead.  I started talking to him.  "Please don't die, Dan," I said.  "Don't leave me now."

I looked to Mama for help.  Her face was a white as the bark on the sycamore tree and the hurt in her eyes tore at my heart.  She opened her mouth to say something but words wouldn't come out.

Feeling as cold as an arctic wind, I got up and stumbled to a chair.  Mama came over and said something.  Her words were only a murmur in my ears.

Very gently Papa picked Old Dan up in his arms and carried him out on the porch.  When he came back in the house, he said, "Well, we did all we could do, but I guess it wasn't enough."

I had never seen my father and mother look so tired and weary as they did on that night.  I knew they wanted to comfort me, but didn't know what to say.

Papa tried.  "Billy," he said, "I wouldn't think too much about this if I were you.  It's not good to hurt like that.  I believe I'd just try to forget it.  Besides, you still have Little Ann."

I wasn't even thinking about Little Ann at that moment.  I knew she was all right.

"I'm thankful that I still have her," I said, "but how can I forget Old Dan?  He gave his life for me, that's what he did--just laid down his life for me.  How can I ever forget a thing like that?

Mama said, "It's been a terrible night for all of us.  Let's go to bed and try to get some rest.  Maybe we'll all feel better tomorrow."

"No, Mama," I said.  "You and Papa go on to bed.  I think I'll stay up for a while.  I couldn't sleep anyway."

Mama started to protest, but Papa shook his head.  Arm in arm they walked from the room.

Long after my mother and father had retired, I sat by the fire trying to think and couldn't.  I felt numb all over.  I knew my dog was dead, but I couldn't believe it.  I didn't want to.  One day they were both alive and happy.  Then that night, just like that, one of them was dead.

* * *

Two days later, when I came in from the bottoms where my father and I were clearing land, my mother sad, "Billy, you had better look after your dog.  She won't eat." ... My dog has just given up.  There was no will to live.

That evening when I came in from the fields, she was gone.  I hurried to my mother.  Mama told me she had seen her go up the hollow from the house, so weak she could hardly stand.  Mama had watched her until she had disappeared in the timber.

I hurried up the hollow, calling her name.  I called and called.  I went up to the head of it, still calling her name and praying she would come to me.  I climbed out onto the flats; looking, searching, and calling.  It was no use.  My dog was gone.

I had a thought, a ray of hope.  I just knew I'd find her at the grave of Old Dan.  I hurried there.

I found her lying on her stomach, her hind legs stretched out straight, and her front feet folded back under her chest.  She had laid her head on his grave.  I saw the trail where she had dragged herself through the leaves.  The way she lay there, I thought she was alive.  I called her name.  She made no movement.  With the last ounce of strength in her body, she had dragged herself to the grave of Old Dan.

Kneeling down by her side, I reached out and touched her.  There was no response, no whimpering cry or friendly wag of her tail.  My little dog was dead.

I laid her head in my lap and with tear-filled eyes gazed up into the heavens.  In a choking voice, I asked, "Why did they have to die?  Why must I hurt so?  What have I done wrong?"

I heard a noise behind me.  It was my mother.  she sat down and put her arm around me.

"You've done no wrong, Billy," she said.  "I know this seems terrible and I know how it hurts, but at one time or another, everyone suffers.  Even the Good Lord suffered while He was here on earth."

"I know, Mama," I said, "but I can't understand.  It was bad enough when Old Dan died.  Now Little Ann is gone.  Both of them gone, just like that."

"Billy, you haven't lost your dogs altogether," Mama said.  "You'll always have their memory.  Besides, you can have some more dogs."

I rebelled at this.  "I don't want any more dogs," I said.  "I won't ever want another dog.  They wouldn't be like Old Dan and Little Ann."

"We all feel that way, Billy," she said.  "I do especially.  They've fulfilled a prayer that I thought would never be answered."

"I don't believe in prayers any more," I said.  "I prayed for my dogs, and now look, both of them are dead."

Mama was silent for a moment; then in a gentle voice, she said, "Billy, sometimes it's hard to believe that things like this can happen, but there's always an answer.  When you're older, you'll understand better."

"No, I won't," I said.  "I don't care if I'm a hundred years old, I'll never understand why my dogs had to die."

As if she were talking to someone far away, I heard her say in a low voice, "I don't know what to say.  I can't seem to find the right words."

* * *

Papa came over and laid his hand on my shoulder.  "Billy," he said," there are times in a boy's life when he has to stand up like a man.  This is one of those times.  I know what you're going through and how it hurts, but there's always an answer.  The Good Lord has a reason for everything He does."

"There couldn't be any reason for my dogs to die, Papa," I said.  "There just couldn't.  They hadn't done anything wrong." ...

"I think it is a miracle," Papa said.  "Remember, Billy said a prayer when he asked for his pups and then there were your prays.  Billy got his pups.  Through those dogs, your prayers were answered."

"If he gave them to me, then why did he take them away?" I asked.

"I think there's an answer for that, too," Papa said.   "You see, Billy, your mother and I had decided not to separate you from your dogs.  We knew how much you loved them.  We decided that when we moved to town we'd leave you here with your grandpa for a while.  He needs help anyway.  But I guess the Good Lord didn't want that to happen.  He doesn't like to see families split u.  That's why they were taken away." ...

"Now say your prayers and go to sleep.  I'm sure you'll feel better in the morning."

I didn't feel like saying any prayers that night.  I was hurting too much.  Long after the rest of the family had gone to bed, I lay staring into the darkness, trying not to think and not able to.

* * *

"Mama," I asked, "do you thing God made a heaven for all good dogs?"

"Yes," she said, "I'm sure He did."

"Do you think He made a place for dogs to hunt?  You know -- just like we have here on our place -- with mountains and sycamore trees, rivers and cornfields, and old rail fences?  Do you think He did?"

"From what I've read in the Good Book, Billy," she said, "He put far more things up there than we have here.  Yes, I'm sure He did."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

33 Days of Happy

One year ago today, I got an email from my best friend, Logan, who was currently serving an LDS mission in Chicago.

"So here's the thing, right now is rough Andrea. And I just need something happy. Will you send me something happy? Pictures from the new house, a recent blogpost, anything really. Thanks! Love ya!

-Elder Logan Gifford"

I replied:

"Let me know if this gets super annoying. I kinda wanted to do this thing everybody is doing on Facebook. But I hate those sorts of things, because they clutter up everyone's news feed. So instead my hundred days of happy is going straight to Logan. I had actually already taken a few, because I was trying to think of a cool way to do this. So here's what I have already, and there will be more. Unless you say I'm an annoying distraction."

He gave the green light to my plan, and what followed was 33 days of happy.

Day 1:
I designed these cool screens to cover my TV when we are not using it. I designed them, and Michelle thing to them. And I love them.

 Day 2:
We saw this bunny yesterday while we are walking to church.  Dylan said "I didn't know we were going to see a bunny."

Day 3:
I see so many beautiful skies on my way to work.

Day 4:
I saw this in the store the other day, & I really wanted to buy it. I have really been enjoying decorating my house. It's kind of calming in a way.

Day 5:
FYI I don't guarantee that it will be 100 consecutive days days of happy. But I will send 100 days. And then I will go through and download all the pictures I sent to you, and retroactively do 100 days of happy blog post.

That's going to be a pain.

This is a picture of the product label for my new Smart TV. Its all Samsung all the time at our house.

Day 6:
The front of my mother's day card from D.

Day 7:
Even though it is nowhere close to finished, having a place for the boys is awesome.

Day 8:
The time my sister in law reposted this with the status "It comes natural."

And I HAD to comment.

"I tried to resist, but I just can't seem to hold it back. It comes "naturally."  'Cause it's an adverb. Sorry!"

I may pay for that one. I hope it was worth it.

Day 9:
When Alex sets the table for breakfast for everyone, without being asked

Day 10:
I am the proud mother of a kid with a cursive license. :)

Day 11:
The camera that came with our new alarm system lets me keep an eye on Alex when he's the only one home.

Day 12:
Living close enough to spend a lazy Saturday morning at Skye and Michelle's and getting to see poor, sick Ryder laying on a pillow like this.

Day 13:
Dylan is feeling left out at the eye doctor this morning. He says he needs glasses because "red sometimes looks like pink" and that he can't see in the dark.

Day 13: (the 2nd, because I can't count)
When we moved, Roxie took a particular liking to the boxes and box lids. Wanting to makes her feel at home, I put a nice soft towel in a lid for her. She won't touch that one, but sleeps in an empty adjacent box each night.

Day 14:
Everything about this. That my sister would take him swimming. That Kirk beats me home and gets to spend some time with the Pickle. That technology let's me see this, too. That this ginger is mine.

Day 15:
Watching the siblings of two of my favorite missionaries perform and receive awards (best senior alto and best senior tenor) at Cyprus' last choir concert.

Day 16:
When my class scores above state and school averages in 4 of 6 categories on their writing assessment (and at the state average in the other 2).  Did I mention I am new at this? :)

Day 16 (again):
Reviewing for UTBA. I wouldn't normally drive an hour to the show I know nothing about.  But in this case taking that risk meant being an awesome show.

Day 17:
Sunday night is now Disney Night at Skye and Michelle's. Tonight we're watching Wall-E.

Day 19 (to make up for the double 16):
Knowing that all these papers are graded. Which they aren't. But when they are I will be really happy. :)

Day 20:
This shadow. The kid's not so bad either.

 Day 21:
Eating the classroom emergency supplies because they won't keep until next year. :)

Oops... I missed a few days.  But here it is.  Room 23. My home next year as a full time 5th grade teacher.

Day 22:
It's like Christmas when Grandma cleans out her classroom.

Day 22 (yeah, I suck at this...):
When a cheap yard sale find means games at the picnic table.

Day 23:
After we fed the missionaries and took them to get frozen yogurts at Menchie's, Adam asked the missionaries to ride bikes with him.

Day 24:
I drove home from church to grab something really fast, and I ended up here. Not my house.

  Day 25:
When a warm summer rain means sitting next to Dylan under the "berella" at the baseball game.

Day 26:
I just noticed this tree gives gorgeous morning shade to my picnic table. Things like this happen all the time at the new house. I know Heavenly Father wants us here.

Day 27:
I don't have to do this again for 10 months.

Day 28:
Kind of having a sucky day. So here's my store bought happiness.

Cuddly brothers.  'Nuff said.

Day 30:
My random children (in this picture they are apparently statues).

Day 31:
Spent the last 3 days at girls camp with the meese.

Day 32:
When Adam asks if he can bring a book along for a car ride.

Day 33:
Kirk got sunburned today and then shaved. Now he looks like he's wearing makeup because he shaved and his beard had protected the bottom half of his face.

On Day 34, instead of a quick picture, I ended up sending a long message and a video that would turn out to be the last email I sent to "Elder" Gifford before he returned from his mission:

Jack's homecoming was today, and my family got together yesterday to practice the song we were going to sing today.  As I sang the same words I've sung countless times, they suddenly had all new meaning.  I asked my family if I could send you a video of us practicing, and of course they agreed.  Please ignore the fact that I'm in a hat and pigtails (we'd spent the day at an air show at Hill Air Force Base) and that Michelle looks like the 80's threw up on her (she's singing with Channel Z, an 80's cover band, and was on her way to a gig).  Ignore also the fact that my mom and Lisa managed to stand outside the video and that my dad couldn't practice because he had a migraine.

Instead, think of this:

I always thought of this as meaning prayer, but I realized for the first time yesterday that it's not prayer at all that the song is talking about.  

"In the presence of the King, bow the knee."

Whatever happens really is God's plan.  And it might be REALLY hard.  And I wish it didn't have to be.  But God does know.  He knows how much it sucks.  He knows how much you hurt.  And He has a purpose.  I know he does.

"In the presence of the King, bow the knee."

Give in.  Not to Satan.  Not to temptation or to laziness.  Not to giving up. Give in to whatever the Lord has planned for you.  Don't fight so hard for control.  Bow down and let Heavenly Father know that you are ready to live His plan.  And whatever happens, He is here for you.

Stay strong, but not so strong that your Father and Brother can't help you.

I set out last May on a quest for #100daysofhappiness, but that really isn't enough for me!  I am eternally grateful for the Plan of Happiness and the knowledge that all that stuff I sent to Logan last year is just as true for me!

33 days of happy?  Nah!  I'm shooting for eternity.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sound Off: Type A

Once upon a time while earning my bachelor's degree through the University of Phoenix, I belonged to the highest functioning team I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of.  I honestly don't know if I can even remember their names.  I'm going to take a stab that they may have been Tyler, Mike, and Kim.  But the beauty of this team is that despite working together for over a year during a time period in which the good ole UoP still required a face-to-face team meeting weekly in addition to our night of class, I don't even remember these people's names!  That's because in all the time we sat around a table at the Union Park Barnes and Noble, we didn't get to know each other at all.

And the others in our class simply called us the OA's: over achievers.

I was never so content working with others as I was when I had the chance to work with three people who understood perfectly what, apparently, "Every Type A Personality Wants You To Know."

1. We're not impatient, just efficient.
Oh how I wish I could go back in time and direct a certain television personality who asked my Dickens cast, "Is she always like this?" to this article.  I still feel really badly that I cut off his sentence.  I just already knew what he was going to say, and it seemed to me like time was of the essence, and me listening to apologies I didn't need for offense I hadn't taken just seemed inefficient.

2. Arriving late to anything is agonizing.
Actually, for me, arriving more than 5 minutes early is agonizing.  Think of what I could have accomplished with that 3 minutes I wasted waiting for the meeting to start!

3. We live by to-do lists.
Yes.  Every day.  Everywhere.  I even put my leisure activities on my list so I can earn the satisfaction of crossing something off.

4. Each task we're assigned is urgent.
One of the hardest things about becoming a teacher was learning to have an ongoing list that didn't necessarily all have to be done today, because things come up and a good teacher puts people before tasks.  Now I call my list my "wish" list.  I "wish" I could do everything on it today, but some of it will almost always have to roll over to tomorrow.

5. We're extremely goal-oriented.
Yes, and my goals take up precious mental space when I am trying to sleep.  Sadly for me, I have a healthy dose of laziness to go with my lofty goals.  Otherwise I would mostly certainly have made millions from one of my dozen schemes and inventions.

And sometimes, apparently, this makes me scary.  I have been told that when I'm focused on the goal (like when I am directing), I get a little intense.

6. It's hard for us to relax.
I can relax!  As long as I planned to do it.  Having friends over for games is the perfect mix of relaxation and activity.  But just sitting on the couch watching TV is definitely difficult for me.

7. We get stressed out easily.
According to the article, "We also tend to default on the worst possible outcome when working through a situation."  So true!  The first time I remember doing this was when my parents' ended up on a later flight back from a trip they'd taken.  I was certain the plane had gone down and I was already planning which cars to sell and how I would take care of my siblings.  Now I plan for every contingency just because I deal poorly when my plans get changed.  Some people find it macabre.  I find it calming.

8. We have nervous habits.
I clench and grind my teeth.  I also doodle when I feel like my time is being wasted.

9. We're emotional.
According to the article, this is because we care too much.  I'd like to say it's because we care about the people too much, but I think it may be because I care about the system too much.  Not sure that's due to the Type A... more likely do to my love of logic.

10. We're constantly ruminating over something.
For me it is conversations.  Ones I have had.  Ones I wish I could have.  Ones I think I am about to have.  Ones I plan to write.  Ones I may have written but can't remember for sure.  Always words in my head.  Always!

11. We have a competitive side.
What?!  Not me!  I have never dislocated a pinky trying to beat Chris Kennedy in a blow up obstacle course.  Or broken a blood vessel in my hand accidentally hitting a teenager while trying to win at States or...  okay.  Fine.  I'm competitive.

What's funny is that I see most of this as my strengths, though I have read personality tests that shed a different light on these traits.  What I've learned over the years is that not everyone is going to like me.  Thankfully, I have a husband, family, and friends who seem to, and that's enough for me!

Sunday, May 10, 2015


"Where are you going?" the kids asked as they watched me pack a suitcase on Friday.

 I beamed ear to ear.  "I'm going on a Mommy sleep over!" I chirped excitedly, ready to hit the road and head for Park City.  Our Relief Society had planned an overnight women's retreat, and I was looking forward to 18 hours of food, fun, and friendship.

A few years ago, this scenario would have filled me with dread.  I have never belonged to a group of female friends, preferring instead to be the honorary female accepted as part of an otherwise all-guy group of friends (the wolfpack about which I theorized back in 2011.)  I have never felt confident navigating the waters of "girlfriends," too afraid of... well, of what I can't say for certain.

But then a wayward text changed everything.

At the time, Amy was an acquaintance I knew from being in the same ward, attending the same book club, and from casting her son in a few productions.  One April day, Amy texted her best friend Janene, inviting her to go to the new Nicholas Sparks movie, The Lucky One.

Meanwhile, I got a surprise text... a message from Amy inviting me to go to the new Nicholas Sparks movie, The Lucky One.   I sure didn't expect it!  I mean, girls never invited me to do stuff.  I got all geeky and excited the way I do, and although I was ridiculously nervous, I accepted the invite.

The movie was playing at a Bountiful theater, and since Skye was managing the Sizzler up there, I figured he could hook us up with some discount dinner, too.  Amy and I made a date of it, and we quickly became friends.

She didn't tell me until over a year later that the text was never meant for me, or that she had desperately tried (to no avail) to get Janene to attend, too.

Unlike me, Amy is constantly surrounded by a close-knit group of mom friends.  There's the Zumba crew, her Bunco group, and the eat-out posse just to name a few.  And being friends with Amy meant a seat at each of those tables and a warm welcome from the women who were more than happy to bring one more into the fold.

Being friends with Amy means receiving invitations to events like "Megan's husband is out of town and she doesn't want to cook, so we're going to Winger's" or "we're going to a movie right now - we'll pick you up."  Being friends with Amy means that she and Janene show up at my house on a Sunday with Arby's because they noticed I wasn't at church and were worried about me.  Being friends with Amy means that when we choose to stay up all night playing games, she might randomly announce to the table that "when you get to know her, Andrea is actually really cool."  And then laughing together as everyone makes fun of what a complement that really wasn't.

But the best part about being friends with Amy is that she has taught me how to be friends with more than just her.  She has helped me branch out and realize how wonderful women in general are.  She has taught me that there is something incredibly sustaining about having a group where literally no topic of conversation is off the table and where someone probably understands exactly the trial you happen to currently be going through.

I explained to Amy yesterday between Park City outlet shopping and lunch at a Mexican restaurant that I still feel a bit like a guest in Amy's group (my own fault for sure, not that of the ladies we hang out with) but that in another year or two I'll probably wonder how I ever navigated motherhood without this kind of support.

And so on Mother's Day, I just want to give a shout out to all the incredible ladies I have gotten to know over the last 3 years and to all the others with whom I am certain to become friends in the future.  You are incredible people, each with diverse talents and equally unique challenges.  Knowing you has made me a better wife and better mother, and I also know you're helping me become a better person.

Thanks for listening to me recite prepositions at 3:00 a.m., for never telling me I talk too much, and for seeming to genuinely enjoy the real me.  Having the title of Mom seems so much more special when I think about the incredible women with whom I share it.

Sappy?  Hmm... maybe I should have slept a bit more at the retreat!