Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shannon Hale

We had so much fun meeting Shannon Hale last night.  I was a little nervous since I had never been to a book signing before, but she was SO nice and didn't seem to dislike me at all.  Yes, I did buy all of those books, but don't tell my kids.  My lovely friend wrote a wonderful description of our trip here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

brush with celebrity

I have a tiny tendency to worry about things.  I worry about what to have for dinner and how much time I waste on the computer.  I worry about my kids and how I don't parent them well enough.  I worry about the horrible things happening in the world and my inability to do much about it.  I worry about why my hydrangeas are only six inches tall even though I planted them three years ago.  I worry about paint chipping off my house, water flooding the basement, what ward I'll be in next week (sorry I can't help but stew about it -- it could significantly alter my life!), and whether to reupholster the little chairs in the garage or just let them go.  I also worry about completely inane topics like whether to leave comments on people's blogs.  In February I mentioned that a very lovely artist was asking for people to submit stories about motherhood and she would paint little paintings about them.  I was instantly intrigued and although I was a little hesitant to open myself up, I sent in a little story.  She never responded, but I didn't think too much about it.  I follow her blog and have seen her progress with these paintings and have eagerly awaited the end result.  Yesterday she said that she was going to e-mail the people who sent in stories with their image and they had the chance to buy the original if they wanted.  But she didn't e-mail me.  I realized that in the back of my mind I have been worried that she didn't do mine because my story wasn't compelling or I'm just not cool enough.  I worry about things I don't even know I'm worried about -- I will discover in July why my stomach hurts now!  So I said something to Matthew about it.  We carried on with getting people in bed.  About an hour later I brought it up again, showed him her blog and wondered aloud whether I would get an e-mail from her.
 Matthew: "Set a ten-minute limit in the day for worrying about any topic."
 Me: (guffaw) What would I possibly find to do with all that freed up time?  Should I comment on her blog?  I'm not exactly sure what to say.  I want to subtly figure out if she even got my submission without appearing too desperate.
 Matthew: "tends to overplan and overprepare"
 Me: I knew I should have just followed up with her just to make sure...
 Matthew: "accepts guilt feelings too easily and readily"
 Me: What are you reading?
 Matthew: The color code book.  You are SO blue.
 Me: She seems so nice on her blog.  Like we could be friends if I lived near her.  I know she doesn't like me.
 Matthew: Why wouldn't she like you?  She doesn't even know you.
 Me: She knows my name.  It makes me sound like I am a boring, mousy, Amish farmer's wife with nine children and the only subject on which I am conversant is how to milk a cow.  And I am sure that when I e-mailed her I was too chatty and friendly which probably put her off.
 Matthew: "highly insecure about others' acceptance and approval; feels rejected easily; craves connection."
 Me:  Why are you reading me that book?
 Matthew: I've been reading it all evening.
 Me:  Well, put it down!
 Matthew: "controlling - others don't feel free to express themselves"

So I went ahead and commented, but she probably won't approve it.  And I was going to go see Shannon Hale this evening because I just love her and think she is so talented and funny as all get out, but she will probably not like me, too and I am afraid that I would feel guilty for missing my girls' book night.

At least I am being true to who I really am deep down inside.  I can't help myself.

Monday, April 26, 2010

on guard!

The weather since we've been back has been BE-autiful!  But I'm afraid that whatever the temperature, one always feels a little uneasy here in Illinois.  It is difficult to enjoy a gorgeous warm day because one is caught up in analyzing what is behind it.  A couple of weeks ago it got up into the 80's.  Does it portend a scorching summer?  Or is there a freezing wind whipping around the bend?  Should I go ahead and plant the tomatoes or will a torrential downpour accompanied by hail destroy them in their tender state?  
On Saturday there was mild rain throughout the day, but the cooler temperatures in the evening sent in a huge thunder storm.   We were in the basement watching Wives and Daughters (love it!) when we felt a particularly large thunder clap followed by a blinding flash of light.  Baby crying, girls huddling -- hush, hush it was only lightening.  We found out the next day at church from our fireman friend that our neighbor's house was hit!  There is a huge hole in their roof and green terracotta tiles causing their two windshields to break and more strewn across their lawn.  All of their lightbulbs shattered so they alternate between cleaning up glass and trying to keep water out of their house.  No one was hurt, but it is a reminder that one can never let their guard down too much!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

time out

I mentioned that I went with some of my church girlfriends for a much needed time out and here are some photos from our trip.  
We travelled to Indianapolis for an evening session, dinner, late night chatting
And then more speakers and music the next day.

It is so great to have such good friends and relax a little -- even with some laughter and tears.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

trials -- not that I'm asking for some... (now where is that wood?)

I went to Time Out For Women to discover what I knew all along -- I am so blessed.  We heard from some very enlightened women who have been through a lot.  I don't think the intention was to exhibit them as people to be pitied, merely providing a place in which to share their combined experience and wisdom.  So we had heard from the woman who had had breast cancer, been RS president, whose husband had lost his job, etc. all in the same year; the woman who had had cancer on her eye and had to have the whole eye removed; and the woman from Sierra Leone -- no more explanation needed.  Then we were asked to write down our trials.  Did I hear that right?  I stared down at a blank page completely flummoxed.  Trials?  That's a negative.  I don't think I have any.  Let me deliberate on this a little more, there must be something.  We had to eat the same meal twice this month.  I didn't really like my last haircut very much.  I accidentally bought a gigantic pack of 1-ply toilet paper again. Oh, oh, I know!  My five beautiful children healthfully mess up my abundantly sized (by the world's standard) house practically every day and I have to use my fancy vacuum to dust off my shiny floors.  I also have to drive my well-running car with said children to all the activities that we are able to afford and make them practice the piano that we have in our nicely furnished living room.  On a regular basis I have to visit the sprawling grocery store and wade through heaps of fresh, delicious food and actually decide what we are going to have to consume every day.  On top of all that, I have to throw piles and piles of lovely clothing into a fairly recently purchased washing machine that sings a little melody at me when everything is sparkling clean.  And, and, and -- I had to spend the winter in the south of France of all places.  What a pain.  I don't know how I am possibly expected to endure all of this.

Monday, April 19, 2010

you give me fever

I think I mentioned that I was feeling restless and fluttery -- well, the feeling hasn't gone away and has actually somewhat intensified.  It feels as though I am almost, but not quite, to the cusp of the first steep hill of a roller coaster -- there is excitement for what one hopes to be thrilling and fun; there is the foreboding pit in stomach brought on by speed, the unknown path ahead, and the potential danger (how did I get talked into this?); and there is pent up energy knowing that release and liberation from anxiety lay just ahead.  It is a strange brew of happiness, trepidation, and gloom all mixed together so that none are separated and at any moment I could break out in laughter or tears.  Truly on the verge of hysteria.  I have no idea why I am feeling this way.  Is something hard about to happen?  Scary.  Is something amazing about to happen?  Exciting.  Am I losing my mind?  Quite possibly.  The last is most credible since I highly doubt I am so in harmony with the universe that my stomach is foreseeing the future.  A week ago I guessed that it could just be Spring and I have since become even more convinced that that must be exactly what it is.  It is so amazingly gorgeous around here!  I wish the blossoms weren't so fleeting and the heat last week hadn't burnt the daffodils before their time.  After my walk a few days ago I decided to read on the patio and came upon this description in A Separate Peace:
 "...there was a breath of widening life in the morning air -- something hard to describe -- an oxygen intoxicant, a shining northern paganism, some odor, some feeling so hopelessly promising that I would fall back in my bed on guard against it.  It was hard to remember in the heady and sensual clarity of these mornings;  I forgot whom I hated and who hated me.  I wanted to break out crying from stabs of hopeless joy, or intolerable promise, or because these mornings were too full of beauty for me, because I knew of too much hate to be contained in a world like this."

Big sigh.  Yes.  I hadn't been able to put my finger on it, and certainly hadn't been able to put it into words so beautifully, but it must be that oxygen intoxicant -- that rapturous blend of apricot blossoms, longer days, lilacs, warm breezes, and untapped potential.  I have self-diagnosed spring fever.  Now what to do?

One way in which I am channelling the pent-up energy is by trying to lose weight.  I know, the "D" word. I am so tired of worrying about it, but I not only hadn't lost baby weight before our adventure, I also weaned the two year old not so baby and probably ate a few more baguettes than what was expected or required and thus came back with a few extra pounds.  So I am determined to live a new life, be a new me.  I am doing yoga and walking for an hour almost every day, not eating sugar (any!) or flour, and resisting the urge to buy a bigger size as much as I would like to fit into the clothes that I wear.  I even went away for the weekend and was such a good dieter -- going so far as to abstain from the chocolate molten ice cream brownie thing -- dedication at its height!  I highly expected to see great results on the scale this morning only to discover that much to my dismay and chagrin I had regained two pounds!  My body doesn't seem to realize that I am on a tight schedule here and even two pounds lost a week isn't going to be fast enough.  Definitely a setback, but forging ahead and vowing to not eat cake tonight even though it is my bug's birthday -- he is 14 -- we sure do love him!

Monday, April 12, 2010

the dregs of my camera

Aah - back to crazy busy insane hectic bustling ridiculous normal.  And it is actually really nice.  I do miss one of my kids quite a bit -- it was marvelous to have no competition for a few months.

Matthew, I mean Philo, was in NYC for about 4 days last week and things are a little more hairy when he's gone.  Single mothers (that includes women who's husbands travel all the time) are heroic.  Two school mornings with me gone to seminary and then getting back to wake people up (a little later than normal) and three different school start times, etc.  Also I did a yard sale with my friends like last Spring and it was really fun.  Getting it ready isn't fun by any stretch of the imagination, but running it is certainly amusing.  I love to observe and interact with all of the interesting characters who stop by.  However, I was completely exhausted and can only imagine, and sympathize with, how my friends felt with new baby, pregnancy, what have you.

The last two weekends I have felt so uplifted spiritually and hope that I can keep the feeling.  We had General Conference the first weekend in April and then Stake Conference on Saturday and Sunday this week.  So wonderful!  I need it so much.  I'm all antsy or something.  Hopefully it is just excitement for the future and my potential, right?  I don't know.  I really do feel all fluttery in my tummy like something is about to happen.  It's probably just SPRING!

Some more pictures.  I promise these are the last.  Two days before we left I went on my usual walk.  My sister-in-law, Stacie, also has some great photos of our neighborhood on her blog -- she is a real photographer as opposed to my feeble attempts at capturing the grandeur and magnificence.  There are a few different posts from their trip if you scroll down.

::I always started by going on the street just above ours

::I miss that mountain!

::it made be hard to tell, but this car is REALLY little

::our rock -- we had made a goal to climb up there every day of our stay, but didn't quite make it every day

::this was never open that we could see -- just liked the sign

::one of our favorite paths to the boulangerie

::I loved all of the doors

::our across the way neighbors

::so sad I never saw leaves on the trees

::they took all of the plaster off of this house down to the bare stone and then proceeded to replaster -- I won't ever know what color it eventually gets painted

::a stained-glass workshop -- I peeked in a couple of times, but she was always working

::and back to our house to a door so familiar yet we will never open again -- it is amazing, but Phin would always run ahead and then come to a screeching halt in front of our door -- I was amazed that he knew our door amongst all the others -- there were probably some identifiers below 2 feet that I missed

Monday, April 5, 2010

le reve

We've been back a week.  At first I think we had more culture shock than when we arrived in Europe because one expects a different continent to be different, but for home to be comfortable and familiar.  We have been in awe of the vast, and often wasted, spaces; the excessiveness seen everywhere; and how pretty Spring is here in Illinois.  Now everything has gone so much back to normal that it almost seems as if it were all merely a dream and we've woken from our reverie.

Our last evening in La Garde we took the kids to our special place, the Notre Dame de Cap Falcon, for one last look at the Mediterranean.

::one must go through this tunnel to get there
::scrambling up the hillside

::looking down into the lagoon

::Notre Dame looks serenely out at the sea

::so does notre Phin

::little houses at the water's edge -- we'd love to live right there and listen to the constant rhythm of the waves

::one of our favorite sunset watching spots

I guess it was kind of dreamy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

back to reality

We are slowly adjusting to being home.  Saturday we went grocery shopping since we obviously had no food in the house.  At the store we saw some people from church and stopped to chat.  After a few minutes we resumed our shopping and Ella exclaimed, "Wow.  They speak English so well!"  I know!

When we got home, I found this little note on my bed:
I especially love the secret part.

Yesterday I went with eldest to get much needed, after three months, haircuts.  We like to go to the hair school since it is cheaper AND you don't have to pay a tip.  I hate paying tips.  Just be straightforward and tell me how much you want me to pay you and I will, okay?  Add the 20%, or whatever you think is acceptable, to the price.  And pay your employees a regular wage.  Okay, that is off my chest.  So I have always gotten a nice haircut there and yesterday was no exception, UNTIL we got to my bangs.  Girl doing my hair to teacher, "Umm, can you come over here?  She wants a kind of side swept bang."  Teacher:  "Have you ever cut bangs before?"  Girl:  "NO.  Someone always does it for me."  T:  "Well, there's always a first time and you need the experience."  I was just sitting there getting really excited for her to start cutting.  Couldn't they have this conversation somewhere else?  I can hear you.  Needless to say, I am not loving them.  But hey, they will grow.

tragic flaw

I suppose that everyone is aware of their own weaknesses, but there really is nothing like having teenagers to truly bring one's deficiencies front and center.  Sometimes while we were traveling I could feel myself getting snippy, which I know is just immature, but then I would look over to see my two oldest smiling at each other with knowing looks, there goes mom again.  And it would just make me even more cantankerous.  I know already and I don't need you two pointing it out, okay?  Grr.

Since we've been back I've decided that I should finally pull my weight and do seminary duty.  After all, it has been almost two years and I have not one, single, solitary time taken the absurdly early journey to the church with eldest girl.  I had a baby after all.  As with all of my endeavors, I first  had to acquire supplies.  In this case a dvd player so that I can do yoga in a classroom while I wait.  Those extra 15 pastry pounds aren't going to simply walk away without some prodding, I am afraid.  I have been very diligent for the past four days and have enjoyed the solitude as well as the fact that I can't really just roll over in bed and not do it.  I have to go.  So yesterday I was happily following the routine and there comes a part where I am supposed to hold my breath, close my eyes, and start punching the air in front of me.  The guy said, "Become incensed!  Turn your anger into inspiration."  Okay, I am enraged, punching as hard as I can and I start thinking about who I would like to hit that hard.  My husband?  No.  My kids?  No.  Rush Limbaugh...?  And suddenly the only person I could picture was myself.  I had an intense revelatory moment wherein I discovered that there is really no one in the world that irritates me as much as I do myself.  Ooh.  It was sad.  And overwhelming.  I cried alone in that room and hoped that no one would come in.  I have been thinking about it since then.  Why was it such a surprise?  I suppose because I consider myself fairly self-confident.   Also, I have been considering that it is better than it being someone else I wanted to smack because I can't change other people, much as I might like to, but I can certainly introspect and work on refining some of those flaws that bring me grief time and time again.

Right after the punching there was a segment in which I hugged myself while doing twists.  There, there now.  It will be okay.
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