Sunday, September 21, 2014

Prima Ballerina

She was three years old when I enrolled her in a ballet class at the community rec center. After one class she refused to go back. Walking back and forth across the floor holding their hands at various angles above their head looked nothing like the ballet she had seen in Barbie's 12 Dancing Princesses. We opted for tumbling instead. Through her years of dance she has taken several ballet classes, but they focused more on learning dances for the performances instead of perfecting the technique. Starting ballet here reminded me so much of our first experience at that rec center. The teacher was strict. She expected perfection. She spoke the instructions only in French. She threatened to kick her out if she didn't get it right. They didn't leave the bar the entire class. It just wasn't fun. I had mentioned earlier about how the director was so generous to offer her a scholarship, but I found myself stuck in between a rock and hard place. There were many tears shed that first term, mostly because she had a three hour Saturday class so while the boys were in their pajamas eating cold cereal and watching Phineas and Ferb, she was stuck behind a bar perfecting her Grand Battement. I told her she had to stick with it for at least one term and then she could decide if she wanted to quit. I promised her it would get better, but I wasn't so sure myself. I assumed the scholarship was only for one term so when the next term came we compromised that she would just take one class a week. And then the director was so kind to extend the scholarship and let her take all of the additional classes at no cost, and I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to fight her every class for another term, but there's no way I could say thanks but no thanks after she was so generous. I finally left it up to Kylie, I told her that if she really didn't want to continue then that was fine, but she would have to be the one to tell the director. She was even more scared to tell her than I was, so she decided it would be best to stick with it. We talked to her teacher and worked out a better schedule, no more Saturday classes and we added a few more fun ones like Urban Jazz, pilates and Pointe prep. That term was the turning point (no pun intended). She really invested herself and has improved so much. We're on the third term now and she is able to see the results from all those grueling bar exercises and has earned her right to prance around the room like those Barbie princesses. She is so beautiful and graceful and I love how anxious she is to show me what she has learned when she comes home from class. I love the sound of classical music filling the house as she teaches Ryder and Maddox the proper way to plie. She never complains about going to class anymore, even on the days that she goes straight from school and doesn't come home until long after dark. Warming up her dinner in the microwave while she sits at the table in her leotard and perfectly tight bun laughing about how her teacher tells them to squeeze their bums so they don't jiggle like jingle bells. I want to remember these moments. I'm proud of her for sticking with it through the hard times and not quitting, I hope this is a life lesson she won't forget. She really has been given an incredible opportunity to learn from the best, from teachers that have trained and performed all over the globe. Such an honor, and I feel so grateful and indebted to her director that has made this possible. They had their first performance and since I couldn't take pictures during the recital I snuck in a few from the doorway during the rehearsal. The lighting was beautiful and I loved the industrial vibe mixed with the elegant beauty of the dancers. I was dying to do a whole photo shoot of just Kylie, but this will have to do. In between the rehearsal and the performance we snuck out for some dinner where I adjusted her fake eyelashes over pizza while vowing to go out on more girls nights. I loved watching her perform that night, she was flawless. My prima ballerina.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A time and a season

I don't rely on a calendar to tell me the change of seasons, I put my full trust in Hagley Park. Even though next week has a 90% chance of mittens and hot chocolate, today the sun was out, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and I'm calling it like I see it. Spring is officially here. And quite frankly, it's about time. Sometimes I get all introspective as I run along lip syncing to Iggy Azalea. I think about how anxious I am for winter to be over. I used to be just as anxious for summer to be over in Arizona. I remember wearing boots to Jayden's soccer game in October. It was fall. It was my duty and obligation as a human being. And I sat there with a forced smile plastered on my face while everything below my knees was slowly getting drenched in sweat. The modge podge wooden Happy Halloween sign was up in September. The artifical Christmas tree limbs were in their color coded piles waiting to be assembled as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes were cleared. Come March we start planning our first lake trip and dreaming of summer vacations. I'm always anxious for the next season. Excited for what lies ahead. I need to work on slowing down and appreciating the beauty that comes with each season. And of course you know there's a metaphor coming. Because, ya know, introspective. And stuff. In figurative terms, I'm in the playdough/Disney channel/peanut butter and jelly season of life. It's my summer. The first part of my life was my spring, the season of developing and blossoming to prepare me to reach my potential. What I was meant to be. And I was meant to be a mother. I read every single Babysitter's Club book cover to cover and majored in Early Childhood Education. Of course every parenting and child development theory I learned went out the window the minute I was handed a baby that at 5:30 every single evening cried for two hours straight and didn't sleep through the night until she was a year old. And the Babysitter's Club failed to mention the part about suppositories when your baby hasn't pooped in a week. I've been in this summer stage of life for the past twelve years and sometimes I'm that girl dying my hair black in August, anxious for the next season and the slow hibernation of winter. Anxious to add the "25 Silly Songs" CD to the donation pile. To watch movies without anything furry, green or animated. To clean the car and no longer hold my breath in anticipation as to what I might find hiding under their carseats. To go out to eat as a family without french fries being thrown at the table next to us. But mostly I'm that girl wearing white jeans past Labor day, trying to stretch summer out as long as I can. This season of life is golden and thankfully there are still forts to be built, Goodnight Moon books to be read, band-aids to be put on chubby knees, dance recitals to tear up at, soccer goals to cheer for, Friday night homemade pizzas to be made, the weight of a sleeping toddler on my chest to be felt, and macaroni necklaces to be worn. As challenging as this season of life is, I'm not quite ready to pack away my swimsuit and say farewell to summer. The promise of adventure still awaits. I'm learning to take the good with the bad. The warm soup with the howling wind. The dip in the pool with the scorching heat. The love notes with the temper tantrums over socks that just don't feel right. There's a time and a season. So go carpe diem it up with some pumpkin bread and cinnamon scented pinecones while you soak in the moments of whatever season of life you're in. I'll be over here cutting a fresh bunch of daffodils for my kitchen window and contemplating dying Easter eggs. And then I'm going to read the Magic Treehouse to some boys who are just dying to find out if Jack and Annie discover the mummy.

Magnolia trees make me swoon. Even though every time I see them I think of Steel Magnolias. The image of Julia Roberts doing the ugly cry will be forever burned in my retinas.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Happy Kiwi Father's Day

By 6:00 pm Jason was curled up in the fetal position on the couch. The jet lag hit him hard this time. He had four days worth of travel for a three day conference and by the time he got home he looked like he was on the tail end of a weekend bender. He did manage to get all the Christmas shopping done while in the states, which never in the history of ever has happened by September. And our pantry is stocked with Halloween candy, a month's supply of cold cereal (a month's supply for the average family, more like a week for us), Libby's canned pumpkin for a Thanksgiving pie, and seasonings that I can't get my little paws on here.  After eating spaghetti for like two weeks straight in the motel when we first moved here I remember being so excited to finally be able to cook a proper meal. Tortilla soup was the first meal I made in this house and I learned the hard way that ground chili is most definitely not the same thing as chili powder. A tablespoon of ground chili is like a nuclear explosion in a pot. We were glad that Jason and the chili powder made it home safely, and just in time for Father's day. Mother's day is celebrated the same day as the states, but for some reason they celebrate Father's day in September. I was sweating bullets during my first attempt at french omelets, then the rest of the morning was dominated by BYU football and nerf wars. We had the missionaries over for a lasagna dinner after church then rounded the night off with a daddy Q&A session where we wrote down any questions that have been burning deep in our bosom. Among others, Ryder wanted to know if he went to kindy and what cereal was his favorite. Maddox wanted to know what he played in the olden days before ipads and what his hair looked like. Jayden wanted to know when he started becoming a trouble maker and who his best friend was, and Kylie wanted to know where he got his first job and who his first crush was. It was fun sitting around the table laughing as he showed how his mom put a bowl on his head to cut his hair and demonstrated the important role he played as the Pistol Pete's Pizza mascot. I loved seeing the kids with smiles on their faces and eyes only for their dad as they were caught up in his stories. He's a good dad. He's a good husband. I have a hard time putting my feelings into words. It's so much easier for me to write about insignificant things, like my paralyzing fear of aluminum cans (I'm certain my finger is going to be severed by a whole kernel corn lid at some point in my life), than it is for me to write about things that are closest to my heart. Maybe it's a defense mechanism, like the way I always laugh whenever I'm uncomfortable and don't know what to say. As a general rule of thumb, it's not appropriate to crack jokes and make light of serious things such as prostate cancer. Ever. Maybe it's just that the feelings I have for my family are so personal and special to me that I want to keep them for myself. Maybe I don't want to come across as cliche'. Maybe it's a little bit of everything. So this is me not saying "He's the best dad and husband in the world". Instead it's me saying that I'm grateful for this man who tells me my cinnamon rolls deserve an award. Who makes out with me in the corner of the kitchen when the kids aren't looking. Who is sensitive to the fact that I get the nervous poops every time I fly. Who rents "Ride Along" because he knows I've got a thing for black men. Who tells me I'm a good mom even when I pretend to go to the bathroom when really I'm just sitting on the lid of the toilet playing candy crush. There is such a sense of security knowing that he is aware of all my faults and chooses to love me just the same. It might be a bit presumptuous to claim that he is the best dad and husband in the world, but in our world he is just that.

Thursday, September 04, 2014


Jason traveling used to mean nothing more than mac & cheese for dinner and a chance to get caught up on Desperate Housewives. He had such a demanding work schedule that we didn't see much of him during the week, so his traveling didn't wreak too much havoc on our daily routine. But now I'm just plain spoiled, I've gotten quite fond of having him around so his trip to Florida this week threw me for a loop.  I sulked about having to drag the garbage bins to the curb and drive the kids to school in the frigid mornings. And imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the dinner dishes don't magically get cleaned up while I put the kids to bed anymore. But the one thing I look forward to is having the kids take turns sleeping with me. It's something we started back in AZ when he would travel and I would lay in bed replaying the schpeal the security salesman gave to me about how easy it is to break in through sliding glass doors and then I would swear I just heard someone tripping over the cozy coupe. It was just comforting having the security of a warm body next to me in bed. Because, you know, a six year old could totally protect us. I'm not scared anymore, but I've grown to really look forward to the one on one time with each of the kids. We watch movies and eat ice cream with sprinkles then lay in the dark talking about life while they drift off to sleep. As soon as the lights switch off I always unload the worries and excitement of the world on Jason as he manages to slip in a few "uh-huh's" every now and then. It's a combination of feeling less vulnerable in the dark, having a quiet moment where I can actually put my thoughts into words and a loose tongue from feeling sleepy.  My kids are the same way. Maddox tells me about feeling left out because his friends always want to play ninja kitties and he thinks it's lame. I'm with you on that, bud. Jayden reports about how my advice to compliment girls and to offer to help them really works. They batted their eyelashes when he carried the bucket of crosswalk flags for them. Not that I'm encouraging him to like girls, I just want to teach him to be a gentleman and to make girls feel special. Kylie and I talk about some of the choices her friends have been making, Back to the Future, Turkish accents and everything in between. Ryder just asks for more suckers and a different movie. At least every ten minutes. But he will let me cuddle him. Jason and I came to a mutual agreement when we were first married that we're not the cuddling type. The minute we would snuggle up to watch a movie or something, I would get a complex. I would feel an itch on my elbow. And then an itch on my back. And then an itch on my eyebrow. And then I would sit and wonder what is an appropriate amount of time to wait in between itching without looking like I have a nervous twitch. And then my arm would start to fall asleep, but if I lift it up to help the circulation then that would put my armpit approximately right square in his face. And then if you have to fart you can't squeeze your cheeks together because then he could feel it, but you can't just let it out because he would most definitely feel that. But I was willing to try and control my epileptic twitching so that he could have someone to cuddle with, so it was a huge relief when he confessed that he prefers having a little space to relax. Crisis averted. But kids are another story. They don't judge you if you just scratched your shoulder for the fourth time in the last minute. And they do their fair share of farting under the sheets. After Ryder would fall asleep I would lay there tracing the outline of his face with my finger as I listened to his little grunts and steady breathing. By bedtime I usually don't want to see or hear anyone under five feet tall, but I really enjoyed sacrificing my "me" time to spend some quality time with the kids. I'm not saying this to toot my own mommy horn (don't give me too much credit because after this week I'll be back to enforcing the "nobody's allowed to say 'mom' after 8:00" rule), but as a reminder that emails, pinterest, netflix and blogs will all be there waiting for me, but it won't be long before my ten year old boy will outgrow laying his head on my shoulder while we watch Inspector Gadget. But it will be good to have Jason home, I really like that guy and miss having him around. I don't like having him all the way on the other side of the world, his plane isn't allowed to crash because I don't know any of the passwords to our accounts and he better not leave me to file a tax return on my own. Of course there's the whole bit about my life not being complete without him, but let's not go there. Besides, eating ice cream every night is not doing wonders for my pre-Fiji diet. All I want in life is to find the perfect pair of ankle boots and to not gain two pounds every time I eat a bowl of ice cream. Is that really too much to ask?