Hello. I’ve missed you. Here is a bunch of random stuff.

While I sat outside the froyo shop eating my lunch (and by lunch, I mean frozen deliciousness) and watching people hurry in and out of the gym next door, my husband was on a mountaintop in Hawaii watching the sun rise. His plane to Taiwan only had two working lavatories so they had to land in Hawaii. He had a Hawaiian potty break.

But I had salted caramel and graham cracker frozen yogurt topped with hot fudge and waffle come pieces. It was my own creation. I call it Hawaiian Sunrise.

My daughter is buried in college applications right now and I find myself saying “Did you do…?” enough that I am beginning to hate the sound of my own voice. I know, I know…It’s her process…blah, blah, blah…She’s in the driver’s seat. But I’m such a good driver.
I anxiously await the day when she hits “submit” for the final time. Then all there is to do is wait. And watch movies. And do some shopping. And eat froyo.

I spent the majority of the last two days purging and deep cleaning bedrooms with my other two kids. I cannot lie. Watching those bags of trash and donations pile up and be hauled away? It makes me kind of high.
Now they all have hampers without lids sitting out in the open in the hopes that the dirty clothes will never see the floor.
To those of you with t(w)eenagers, I can see you chuckling right now. Don’t burst my naive, hopeful bubble.

I am going indoor skydiving tomorrow. I think that is what they call it. I intend on staying alive and shouting “HELLO DOWN THERE” and eating Naf-Naf for lunch. Those are tomorrow’s goals.  Maybe I’ll make pumpkin muffins, too.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

50 Questions

I was tagged by Kari at A Grace Full Life to answer these fifty questions about myself. I love this kind of thing because it takes me right back to the 1980’s when I would lay in my bed and take Tiger Beat quizzes. I hope at the end of this, it will tell me who I’m going to marry and how many kids I’ll have. Oh, wait…

1. What are you wearing?

Cropped jeans, tshirt and, tennis shoes. (And a bra, underwear, and socks, if we are being thorough)

2. Ever been in love?

Yep. I hope, since I’ve been married for nearly 20 years.

3. Ever had a terrible break-up?

No, I haven’t. I met my husband when I was 17 and been with him ever since.

4. How tall are you?

5’10”

5. How much do you weigh?

Between 100 and 200 pounds. That’s as specific as I will get.

6. Any tattoos?

Nope.

7. Any piercings?

Just my ears. And I only own three pairs of earrings, so I rarely change them.

8. OTP (One true pair, favorite fictional couple?)

At first I was going to say Ma and Pa Ingalls, but then I realized that they actually existed. And then I was going to say the TV version of Ma and Pa Ingalls, but then I remembered that they ate popcorn in bed and you know that attracted mice. So then, I settled on the Huxtables. I may have given this one too much thought.

9.  Favorite Show?

Little House on the Prairie

10. Favorite Bands?

Rubber, wrist, and waist

11. Something you miss?

Kentucky

12. Favorite Song?

I really don’t know my answer to this question. If you asked me my favorite book, I would say To Kill a Mockingbird.

13. How old are you?

41

14. Zodiac sign? 

Leo

15. Quality to look for in a partner? 

Charlieness

16. Favorite Quote?

“Don’t Cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.” – Buddy the Elf
“If you want me to drink more milk, you need to feed me more cookies.” – Cheerio, at age five

17. Favorite Actor?

I don’t have a favorite actor. I thought Bryan Cranston was excellent as Walter White in Breaking Bad. Tina Fey and Betty White make me laugh. I will always love Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump.

18. Favorite Color?

It changes with the season. Right now it is the deep orange of pumpkins.

19. Loud music or soft?

Soft – ask my kids.

20. Where do you go when you are sad?

To bed

21. How long does it take you to shower?

5-10 minutes

22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

20 mins

23. Ever been in a physical fight?

Not on purpose.

24. Turn on?

A deep voice – I’m thinking of one in particular – and a modest intelligence

25, Turn-off?

Disingenuousness

26. The reason I started blogging?

A creative outlet

27. Fears?

Losing someone I love
Long bridges
Those little fish that swim up your urine stream in the Amazon – not that I ever intend to pee in the Amazon, but I’ve been traumatized by it ever since I saw it on Grey’s Anatomy.

28. Last thing that made you cry?

Thinking about going to an art show next year with Rosebud and then remembering that she won’t be here to go next year.

29. Last time you said you loved someone?

I know I’m supposed to say my kids or my husband, but they’ve been gone for over four hours now and I’ve probably told my dog that I loved her five times since then.

30. Meaning behind the name of your blog?

Deepest Worth was the name of my Grandmother’s property in the woods where I spent many happy days while growing up.

31. Last book you read? 

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

32. Book you are currently reading?

I am about to start Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

33. Last show you watched?

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

34. Last person you talked to?

My morning walking buddy

35. The relationship between you and the person you just texted?

She’s my mom.

36. Favorite food?

Pizza and pie, in any order

37. Place you want to visit?

All of the places –  Italy probably tops my list because…gelato.

38. Last place you were? 

The bathroom. Before that? The refrigerator.
Last places I traveled were Ohio and Utah and Colorado.

39. Do you have a crush?

I don’t think I’d call it that.

40. Last time you kissed someone?

Last night.

41. Last time you were insulted?

I really don’t know. I probably didn’t know it was happening.

42. Favorite flavor of sweet?

Chocolate.

43. What instruments do you play?

I played the clarinet for one year in middle school until I ripped off the little pads so I wouldn’t have to play anymore.

44. Favorite piece of jewelry?

I don’t wear much jewelry. I lost the diamond out of my original wedding ring, but I like the simple replacement.  I like my Listen To Your Mother necklace because it reminds me of a special time. Lately, I’ve been wearing a ring that my son made me in Metalsmithing class.

45. Last sport you played?

Basketball, while coaching Cheerio’s team last season. Does throwing the frisbee in the street count?

46. Last song you sang? 

“Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC

47. Favorite chat up line?

I assume this means pick up line? Yeah, I don’t have one of those.

48. Have you ever used it?

No.

49. Last time you hung out with anyone?

I had lunch yesterday with two friends. Oh, and I walked this morning with a friend.

50. Who should answer these questions next?

I am tagging Rebecca and Marianne and Erin!
No pressure though.

Room to Bloom

Room to Bloom

I noticed a common theme throughout our several back-to-school meetings and open houses.

Whenever possible, allow your children to advocate for themselves.

I doubt that my parents ever heard these words at my 6th grade Back-to-School night, let alone at the college admissions presentation for parents of high school seniors. I doubt your parents did either. So what has changed? And has it changed everywhere or only in upper/middle class suburban America?

spreading wings

I think to myself: They are not talking to you. You are not overprotective or overbearing. You have already learned, through three children, to allow them to use their own voices.

Yet, when I strolled through my sixth grade daughter’s schedule during Back To School night and noticed her paper hanging in the hallway – the very same paper that was given a zero and marked as missing in the online grade book  – I was very tempted to pop my head into the classroom and quickly remedy the situation. I didn’t do it – I allowed Cheerio to handle it on her own – but I was tempted. It would have been easier. It would have made me feel better to have it all finished neat and tidy instead of letting that zero linger for the several days it took Cheerio to work it out.

Standing alone

I recently read this article from The Atlantic (It was published months ago but only recently came to my attention – Thanks, Tracey) titled The Overprotected Kid regarding the price children pay for our constant supervision and the benefits of allowing reasonable risks.

Just last weekend, Cheerio went to a local school carnival with her friends. She came home on a high – grinning from ear to ear and chattering away about all that they did. I couldn’t pinpoint, at first, what it was about this carnival made her so happy. I’m sure it was partly because CARNIVAL and partly because FRIENDS, but, after reading this article, I realized that it was mostly because NO PARENTAL SUPERVISION.  She spent her own money on ride tickets deciding for herself how much another ride on the Drop Zone was really worth. She ate way more sugar than I would have ever allowed (another contributor to the high she was on, I’m sure). I received a text from her that read “I have had soooooo many sweets.” (Insert 5,342 emoticons here)  There was a plan in place for them to text her friend’s dad when they needed picked up. I told her I wanted her in our door by 9:00. She arrived at 7:45.  To me, it was a reasonable risk with great gains for her. I remember the first time her sister visited the local fair without parents present resulting in similar mile long smiles. I suppose autonomy makes us all a little high.

finding a path

This paragraph from the article resonated most with me.

“But the real culture shift has come from parents. There is a big difference between avoiding major hazards and making every decision with the primary goal of optimizing child safety (or enrichment, or happiness). We can no more create the perfect environment for our children than we can create perfect children. To believe otherwise is a delusion, and a harmful one; remind yourself of that every time the panic rises.”

In other words, we can’t raise them in a bubble, no matter how much we’d like to.

facing fears

With two teenagers in my house, and one ever so close, I find myself floundering at times on what risks are reasonable and on what decisions are still mine to make. When my first impulse is to say NO to a request, I try to pause and ask myself “Am I denying them permission to protect them from harm or to protect myself from worry?” I am successful at this pausing and self reflection about 0.001 percent of the time.

Don’t get me wrong. My children enjoy a reasonable amount of freedom, though not as much as I did as a teenager (which could be a good thing).  That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t benefit from a little more room to bloom or a few more natural consequences to their own choices. Nobody warns you when they are babies and you decide what they eat, what they wear, and where they go, that someday you have to hand control over to them, bit by bit, then bucket by bucket, and let them figure out how to deal with it. Sometimes, they don’t deal with it in the way you would and you very much want to yank that control back out of their hands but you can’t because that would cause more harm than good and your way isn’t the only way even though you are pretty sure it’s the right way.
Whew.
It’s exhausting.
You can only guide and suggest and nudge – but not too much – and…

Oh my goodness.
This is hard.
I like control, y’all.
(That felt like it needed a y’all.)

stretching limits

The other night, I stood at the back door urging, suggesting, nudging Cheerio along so we could get out the door to swim team practice.

Hurry up. Do you have your swim cap? YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE POOL IN FIVE MINUTES!

I could feel my blood pressure rise, along with the volume of my voice, with every tick of the clock.

When we were finally buckled into the van and pulling away from the house, she calmly says to me:

Sometimes you make things into a bigger deal than they really are.

She was right.
And I told her so.

Running late is never a good thing in my book. My book dictates that anything less than five minutes early is “running late.” But this is not my book we are writing here.

She has been given the tools to be on time. She knows the desired departure time and the chauffeur awaits. If she gets to swim class late and has to swim extra laps, if she forgets her cap or her flippers, that rests on her, as much as a blue ribbon in a race would be solely hers to claim.

She jumped out of the car with two minutes to spare, just enough time to remove her coverup and don her swim cap.

It really wasn’t such a big deal.

Soar

I am an imperfect parent raising imperfect children in an imperfect world. The responsibility for their happiness, their education, their punctuality, and even their safety is moving ever so quickly from my shoulders to theirs. I hope that this beautifully flawed world shows them more love than hate, more kindness than apathy. I hope they choose to see the good and to be the good. I hope that by the time they set off on their own, we have given them some of the tools they need and enough freedom to develop their own.

Lessons Learned in Costco

I approached the man who checks receipts at the Costco exit with a cart full of food and a brain full of to-dos.

“You wanna hear something funny?”

Without waiting for my response, he starts his story, and my first thought is of the dog hair tumbleweeds that I still have to vacuum up before my house guests come later that day. My second thought is of the several more stops I still need to make before going home to the tumbleweeds.

I don’t have time for this.

Then, I see his weathered face come to life as he tells me about “these young fellows working here” who didn’t even know who Johnny Mathis was when he told them he was going to see him perform.

“Can you believe that?” he says. “These youngsters don’t know what they missed out on, do they?”

He chuckles and smiles and pats me on the back like we are old friends.

His story lasted maybe two minutes. Two minutes of my time and attention was all he needed to share something with me that he thought was important or funny or valuable.  Two minutes of listening to him brightened his smile and added a memorable human interaction to my day.

Lesson learned, Costco man.

I do have time to listen to your story. For two minutes (or even five or ten) I can hear what you want to share. I will not lose my manners and humanity among the bullets of my to-do list.

Second lesson learned: I will wear makeup to Costco from now on because without it I look old enough to be a fellow Johnny Mathis fan.  Though I do know his work, I would have felt better had Guns-n-Roses or Michael Jackson or even Rick Springfield been the point of reference.

For those “youngsters” out there, I present Johnny Mathis singing “Chances Are,” which, I might add, was released in 1957, sixteen years before I was born.

 

On a side note: I am fully aware that this is my fourth blog post born in Costco.

On another side note:  After leaving Costco, I went on to Trader Joe’s and while picking up a can of chopped green chiles from the top shelf, I dropped the can and caught it right before it hit the ground. It was an amazing catch. I looked around to see if anyone saw it and, sadly, no witnesses. I wanted you to know.

A Strong Foundation

I saw her walk from the fitting room holding a fist full of bathing suits. She thrusts the heap towards her mother, scowl upon her face. As she passes, her shoulders slump and tears threaten to fall.

I want to tell her that we all feel this way sometimes. The slump in my own shoulders took its permanent hold when I was about her age, when I towered over the boys in my class as I suspect she does in hers. It was around this same place in my life that my own mother and I would argue in the mall about the shoes I would buy to cover my size 12 feet – her wanting the good, supportive “old lady” shoes and me just wanting to get the hell out of the Naturalizer Store.

I watch her stomp away and I want to call after her, It will all get better…

But that would be untrue. I cannot deny the moments in my not so distant past (yesterday) when I looked in the full length mirror and wished, if only for a moment, for a smaller frame. Or the times I have walked out of the shoe store empty-handed cursing the length of my feet.

“It means you have a strong foundation,” I can still hear my grandmother say.

Unfortunately, a strong foundation is not high on the list of attributes a teenaged girl seeks in herself. Strong foundations allow us to throw a ball really hard. They help us to reach things on the top shelf. Strong foundations carry our weight and help us to bear the weight of others when needed.
But strong foundations do not often fit into cute shoes.

As she passes me by, I make a wish for her. I wish that she will find an appreciation for the things her strong, healthy body allows her to do.

I wish her the knowledge that the strength she carries in her shoulders will someday carry her.

a strong foundation

I wish the same for me.

IT’S AUGUST ALREADY…

…and I have thoroughly neglected July here on the blog. Allow me to catch up.

Charlie took a different position within his current company which means he spent most of the summer traveling for work. Not ideal, but necessary. And you know what they say, when the cat’s away…
…the other cat and the mice will eat popcorn for dinner.

Teenagers in and out of my house all summer =  eyebrows on my dog.  Those of you with teenagers understand this equation.

Reeses with eyebrows

My Mom received a summons for jury duty. She and Dad went downtown to do a “trial” run so she would be sure of where to go when the day arrived. Cheerio and I tagged along.

She's leading the way.

She’s leading the way.

We went to the farmers’ market and hung out by the lake. There may have been some yoga poses and opera singing involved.

Dad is cool

Cheerio singing Opera

The kids and I took a week and road tripped to Ohio and Indiana to visit family and friends.

Road Trippin'

We played volleyball and whiffle ball and frisbee.
Let me rephrase – the kids played volleyball and whiffle ball and frisbee while I sat on the porch and drank a beer.
There was another college visit and a hotel pool and pizza and card-playing. All good things.
We flew some lanterns and and made smores.  The kids kayaked and fished while I sat by another campfire and ate more smores.

Lantern liftoff

IMG_4034

Sidenote: Apparently if you hang a bag of pennies in water next to your door, it keeps the flies away. These are the things you learn when you live amongst farmers’ fields and have access to the internet. I gave my mother-in-law lots of grief for this but I must admit now in this public forum that there were fewer flies, so maybe she and the internet are on to something.

Floating pennines

This happened. I wasn’t there to see it in real life, but thanks to a couple of friends (Thank You Jen and Michelle), I have photos.

VOTY 2014

A good July, a good summer. And now, here we are in August with its first days of school for my 6th grader, Freshman, and Senior (gulp). A return to routine will be welcomed, but not for a couple more weeks.

Until then, pass the popcorn.

For your viewing pleasure, Reeses and her Dum-Dum.

Favorite Finds in Moab

Favorite Finds in Moab, Utah

Since returning from Moab, Utah nearly a month ago, several friends have expressed interest in making a trip of their own. It is for their benefit, and perhaps for yours, that I am now sharing some of my favorite parts of this beautiful place.

Our Travels
We chose to fly in and out of Denver due to the fact that Charlie would be staying on and working in Colorado for a few days at the the end of our trip. Grand Junction, CO or Salt Lake City, UT would have been closer starting points, but also more expensive. The six hour drive from Denver to Moab was easy and beautiful and we were able to spend the final two nights of our vacation in Glenwood Springs, CO on our way back to the airport.

Where We Stayed
The Aarchway Inn is located between the entrance of Arches National Park (2 miles in one direction) and the town of Moab (two miles in the other). Anyone who has more than two kids knows how difficult it can be to find hotel rooms that fit the whole family. We picked this place  because it had large rooms with three queen beds. It also had a nice pool for our afternoon hiking breaks from the hot desert sun and an included hot breakfast (which my teenage son put to very good use).

Oh, and a view.

IMG_3754

Favorite Food
Let me preface this by saying that we don’t do fancy meals on vacation (because we want to be able to afford to fly home).  We also try to avoid chain restaurants (because we want to try things that we couldn’t get anywhere else). My favorite meal of the trip was a Navajo Taco from The Moab Diner. It was served on incredible Navajo fry bread and topped with homemade green chile sauce.
Sorry. No time for a picture with the scarfing and the chewing.

Favorite Drink
Not what you think.

Matrimony Spring is located just outside of town with a continuous flow of clean water from snow that melted in the nearby La Sal Mountains. It took 200 years for the water to travel through the rock into our awaiting mouths. We stopped by twice to fill our bottles with the clean, cold water. Both times we encountered locals filling their jugs to bring back to their homes. We were all fairly convinced it had magic powers.

Favorite Adventures
We spent a day rappelling and rafting with Red River Adventures. The guides were competent and patient and friendly. I found it so interesting to hear how they live their lives. It is a subculture all its own – one that my teenagers found to be very cool.

Rappelling in moab

Favorite Shopping
Aside from the National Park Visitor Center Gift Shops, we don’t really shop while on vacation. This time we made one exception. Our rafting guide told us that the local Rock Shop was worth a visit. We had driven by it several times before hearing this and had dismissed it as a tourist trap. We had some extra time on our final evening in Moab and decided to give it a chance. I really wish I would have taken pictures of this place. On the surface, it looked like a mess – unorganized tables containing piles of rocks, some glass display cases, tons of hand scribbled signs warning you DO NOT TOUCH, and old newspaper clippings hanging on the wall.

Looking closer at the labels on some of the bones in the display cases and actually reading some of the newspaper clippings made this place a lot more interesting. The owner of this little shop discovered the first raptor bones ever found in Utah, a whole stinking dinosaur, and the Moab Man.

I am always awed by someone with such single minded relentlessness and devotion to a “calling,” even if that “calling” is rocks. This guy is a legend. He’s also kind of grumpy, but I’m pretty sure he was 816 years old, so I am willing to cut him a break on that one. He talked to us briefly before heading to the back room. I would have loved to sit down with him and hear his stories. I did ask him how he knows what he is looking for and he mumbled something to the effect that he is looking for everything. The evidence of that truth was sprawled out in every direction of that shop.

Favorite Views
There were magnificent views everywhere we went on this trip – down Rte. 128 coming into Moab along the Colorado River; in Canyonlands National Park; and from Dead Horse Point State Park (where Thelma and Louise took their final leap). But if I were to pick spots to sit with a cold Stella and a good book, those places would all be inside Arches National Park.

The Windows Section

Turret Arch, Arches National Park

IMG_3739

Delicate Arch at Sunset

Me under Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch at Sunset

Park Avenue

Park Avenue, Arches National Park

Favorite Hikes
This is my favorite part. I will never be Cheryl Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but spending a few hours on a hiking trail every day of our trip is blissful, especially when I get to have a good meal and shower and sleep in a bed at night.

Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail

This is a loop trail if you choose to go all the way around (7 miles). Most people hike to Landscape Arch a mile in and then turn back, thus making the beginning and end of this hike fairly crowded. We chose to go as far as Double O Arch and then turn back making our roundtrip just over five miles. The Arches we saw along the way were worthwhile but the best part of this hike was the hike itself. After passing Landscape Arch and leaving the tour bus crowd behind, the trail climbs up several rock paths until you find yourself at the top of the “fins.”

Primitive Trail, Arches National Park

I wish the pictures did it justice, but it feels like you are walking atop the Earth’s spine.

Devil's Garden Arches National Park

Corona Arch Trail

This trail is actually outside Arches National Park, thus decreasing its traffic. We went on a weekday and in the evening and had the trail mostly to ourselves, just missing a couple of scout troops. It’s a fairly easy hike (3 miles RT) with a few spots to climb.

We spent a lot of time here.

At Corona Arch

 

At Corona Arch

Corona Arch, Moab, UT

I hope that all who wish to will get a chance to visit Utah someday. Call me if you want some help planning your trip.

Okay. I’ll stop talking about vacation now.

Wait. One more thing. On our last night in Moab, we took a walk across the Colorado River on the pedestrian bridge. I asked the children to pose for yet another photo and this is the IMMEDIATE response to my request.

IMG_3992

The two older dropped simultaneously to the ground and Cheerio plopped her foot right on her brother’s back.  The glory of that place will someday fade from my mind. But I really hope to remember this.

Okay. Now I’m done.