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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

There's Something About Lilacs

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I was driving home from work a week or three ago.

Not a big surprise when you think back on my biking episode—which is the reason why I’ll probably stick to driving to school for the rest of my life. On the particular route I choose to take each day, I pass numerous yards with large green bushes decorated with enchanting purple blossoms around this time of year.

I just love these purple blooms with the aromatic scent that seems to saturate the cotton-fluff air, and is one of the most telltale signs of the shifting of spring to summer.

Now, I’m not a big flowery kind of person; I mean sure, flowers are nice, I enjoy seeing from time to time, but that’s about it. Yet, with these tiny, lavender blooms there is something more. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the elementary school I attended when growing up had several large lilac bushes lining the front of the building. Maybe it’s because they’re the same color as the huckleberries we went out to pick high up in the summited mountains, or even quite possibly it’s because they remind me so much of Shasta grape soda, and the ‘Purple Cows’ my family used to make on occasion instead of root beer floats.

Nonetheless, I’ve always enjoyed the scent of these violetish flowers that usually seem find themselves spent by the end of May.

There’s just something about that fragrance…

Not long ago I was driving home late from work and found myself passing by numerous bushes of varying shades and hue. Realizing that I simply couldn’t stop in someone’s yard and pick these, I enjoyed them from a distance—and yet I longed for that lilac-y smell. That’s about the time I noticed a few wild bushes growing next to the freeway—two or three of differing types. I pulled my car off to the side of the road and picked a couple of the clumps.

They smelled like childhood.

I took them home and put them in water but was discouraged to discover that they only lasted two days before they wilted and were lifelessly gone.

Such is the fate of all wonderful things.

So now I think that maybe it's time to invest in a real-life lilac bush…or perhaps a good air freshener, after all, it will probably last longer.

Oh, and just in case you were interested...I’m posting over at my own blog today, too.

The first photo is courtesy of yours truly while the second was pilfered shamelessly from http://www.myrecipes.com

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Complimentary Complaints

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What flatterers say, try to make true. ~German Proverb

I find that I don’t know how to take a compliment. I was complimented some yesterday so this has been on my mind today.

Working where I do, at a detention center school, it’s important that the students have a lot of positive reinforcement when it is deserved and it is equally important, helpful and generally just an all around good idea for the students to be able to show their appreciation for those around them as well.

Towards this end, at the close of every term we have a little ceremony. The teachers give awards to the students for various achievements and then we bring some kind of food for the guys. Since they basically eat “school food” for 3 meals a day and are teenage boys, any kind of alternative to the regularly scheduled menu is always welcome. Since I like food, I have a lot of experience in preparing food and I have been a mother to teenage boys, I generally take on the task of bringing in the fun food.

This makes me very popular with the teenage boys….at least once every term anyway.

On the side of earning the compliment, I do try to make a good effort with the end of term food. We had the latest party yesterday morning so I (with Ebay’s help) spent several hours the night before making giant breakfast burritos. Last term we had a nacho bar, and the term before that I brought in J-Dawgs (which are some of the greatest hot dogs ever created). In short, I like to make these parties something the guys can look forward to - a break in the regimented detention center routine.

I believe that effort is important.

I’ve come to believe over the years that it is important to put as much effort as possible into programs for young people and for the young people to see the effort and hopefully realize and believe that they are worth it. And also hopefully remember to pass it on - you know, pay it forward someday.

So the guys are always enthusiastic and complimentary about the parties – which is just as it should be and I appreciate it, I really do. But strangely it also makes me uncomfortable. Even though I recently read some advice about how to graciously accept compliments (ironically on a website about social anxiety disorder) as weird as it sounds, I’d really almost rather just drop everything off and not come back till the next day. I’ve been thinking that perhaps I’m uncomfortable because secretly I know I’m really doing it all for me. Doing nice things for these guys, especially for these guys, makes me feel happy. It makes up for all the parts of my job that I don’t really like all that much. So yes, I spent hours cooking 5lbs of hashbrowns, 5 dozen eggs and 10lbs of sausage. But it also gave me an excuse to get away from thinking about the data entry and the spread sheets for a few hours. So guys, if you liked the burritos - I’m glad and the effort was worth it for me…and so are you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Don't Have it in Me

Pin It Usually I go the other direction and link from my other blog to my post here at 4p; however, with the composing of the post last night, I realized that I simply don't have enough in me to write anything else this morning.


However, I'd like to cordially invite you to join me over at Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living today.

I think you'll be glad you did.

Just know though that I'm totally biased...

Monday, May 16, 2011


Pin It It's D-Day. (That's "delivery day," for those unfamiliar with my shorthand.)

Finally. This has seemed the neverending pregnancy, welcome and longed for but exhausting all the same. (I now know why women are more fertile in their twenties.) To make matters even more interesting, we learned that Truitt was breech around six weeks or so ago, and while we've tried just about every method out there, it seems, to get this little stinker to turn, he seems to be pretty happy just where he is. So today Dr. P will at long last remove him from his happy place and make his mommy very thankful indeed.

As much as I am anticipating not being pregnant anymore, a caesarean is an interesting, and not-exactly-fun thing to look forward to. Both Autumn and Lawson were accommodatingly head-down, and thus their births were simple and "natural" by comparison, if you discount the epidurals. I was standing in the kitchen last night at quarter to twelve, chowing down a bagel with cream cheese and around a gallon of grape juice, because I'm not scheduled for surgery until mid-afternoon and I can't have anything to eat or drink after midnight. (As if that bagel will really last until lunch time...) It's traumatic, people. Denying a pregnant lady food? Barbaric! If I hurl on you by accident, I'm apologize profusely in advance.

I'm also being deprived of my usual morning shower....blech. It wouldn't bother me so much, except there are no lotions or deodorants allowed after a shower the night before. Instead, you have to use these really nifty wet wipes laden with some sort of cold, sticky anti-bacterial mess that will hopefully protect me from staph. That's the theory, anyway.

While I must also avoid any attempts at making myself more lovely with the aid of cosmetics, I am permitted to brush my teeth--provided I don't accidentally on purpose swallow any of the toothpaste in an effort to quiet my growling tummy. Clean teeth: that's a good thing. You can handle anything life throws at you provided your teeth are clean, right?

Into the midst of all of these terribly inconvenient deprivations, though, will rise a thin, welcome cry. Into the painfully bright lights of the operating room will emerge a baby, blinking angrily at being pulled so summarily from a warm, dark womb into such a cold new world. It's okay, though. Although I won't be able to hold him for a few hours, his daddy will be there to soothe those wounded feelings.

All in all, pretty worth the loss of a couple of meals and a single hot shower.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring Fever

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Swallow your pride occasionally, it's non-fattening! ~Author Unknown

So I don’t know what it is about me and exercise and me and nature. I just don’t have the best luck with either really. With exercise I am a clutz, I am a spaz, I tend to hit myself in the head with the 10lb weights while doing reps. I tend to run into the edge of the pool while doing the backstroke. I tend to fall off perfectly amiable treadmills (although it was already running and it was DARK.) And with nature, it tends to lure me in with its seductive sensory pleasures and then poke me in the eye with a sharp stick.

I had a run in with both of my arch nemesis (or is that nemesi?) the other day when I decided to go for a hike in the foothills above my neighborhood. We’ve had such a long cold spring around here -I was still scraping snow off of my car not more than 10 days ago. But a couple of weeks ago we finally hit a few days of sunshine. It wasn’t really warm, but at least there was a few hours of direct sunlight here and there between the storms and I just really wanted to be outside. So because of my spring fever delusion, I hit the Bonneville shoreline trail. This is a trail that extends horizontally about 100 miles along the mountain bench formed by ancient Lake Bonneville. It’s a pretty wide and well-used trail and when you’re up on it you can see the whole valley laid out before you. If you’re lucky you can see the clouds and rain rolling in over Spanish Fork while the sun is still shining off the lake near Saratoga Springs.

Now the trail does extend horizontally along the bench, but it still goes up and down - kind of like a like a ribbon in the wind - so there is some good up-hill cardio-vascular opportunities followed by some welcome down “recovery” hills (as I like to call them). Once in awhile you’ll come across a little side trail that extends above the regular trail and kind of goes around the cardiovascular uphill challenging part. Other lazy hikers, like myself, have obviously decided over the years that they just can’t face another up and downhill challenge and have elected to find a pathway that goes around it. The main path is plenty wide enough for a couple of hikers to pass each other comfortably. But the go-around-lazy-trails are only one-person-wide and, since you’re basically walking sideways on a mountain, they’re also a little bit tilted.

So again, there I am hiking along and since the weather is so unsettled, I pretty much have the mountain to myself – not a lot of other hikers. Since I am there to exercise, on the way out I stayed on the main trail and just powered through all of the cardiovascularly challenging up and down hills. But on my way back I got a little lazy. I’d already been up the hills and down the valleys all the way from Slate Canyon to the Y and when I came to this one particular hill/valley combo…I just didn’t wanna (insert whiney voice here). I saw the easier go around path and I took it -ok? But I wasn’t the only one who took the easy path. Ironically, after being alone on the mountain for the past hour or so, I met another hiker coming my way. A young man walking the opposite direction came to the easy-trail split on his side about the same time that I did on my side and he obviously had the same lazy impulse that I did. The lazy path wasn’t wide enough for both of us to pass so as we met in the middle, one of us was going to have to jump off the path to let the other pass. Because he was apparently a nice young man (and probably remembering something about age before beauty) he stepped off the path (on the up hill side) and let me walk past. Unfortunately as he did that, he knocked some rocks onto the narrow path – a path that was only about a foot wide. Well, we can’t be having rocks on the one-foot slightly tilted path – that’s just not safe. So as I got to the knocked-down rocks, I tried to sweep them off the trail with the side of my foot...and I really should have known better. I really should know that I need both feet to walk, especially on a narrow tilted trail and any side-ways motion with my foot was going to upset the balance…well, my balance anyway. As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, my effort at trail restoration set off a chain of events that sent me falling hiking boots over hoodie about 10 feet down the slope. The wide trail below stopped me from rolling all the way back down into town and I landed with a thud right on my fanny pack. Once I caught my breath I looked around for witnesses - specifically the young man who’d passed me (and let’s be honest, the one who was really at fault here). I saw him in the distance still hiking along the trail. Luckily he apparently hadn’t seen me tumble down. Or, had seen me and, perhaps worrying about having to administer some sort of emergency cpr/mouth-to-mouth action, decided to just keep on trucking. Either way once again I was embarrassed. Once again I was bleeding. Once again I’d ruined a perfectly good pair of pants (with holes in the knees not the other…well anyway), and to top it off my brand new fancy insulated non-recyclable water-bottle went rolling off down the hill and landed who knows where.

I limped my way back to the car not seriously injured, but seriously re-thinking my commitment to nature and to exercise and faced with the acute knowledge that I seriously should have known better.

Then I took myself out for ice cream.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What's Up

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*By the way, if anyone left a comment on this post previously, it was deleted in the big Blogger fiasco on Wednesday/Thursday. I would never delete your comments! They are what make my posts even more awesome.

If you don't hear much from me over the next little while, I apologize.

You see, May is totally kicking my rear and June decided to get in on the party.

I get to attend a seminary graduation, a kindergarten graduation, a 6th grade graduation and a high school graduation all within 2 weeks time. (Any other graduations someone forgot to tell me about?)

There are 5 performances on schedule, at least 3 class parties, two banquets and a plethora of end-of-the-school-year activities.

We are going to have out-of-town visitors twice. We get to pack and get ready for a family road trip and then a family reunion.

I get to attend a 3-day interpreter conference (not gonna lie - I am SO excited for this one!).

Four of my family are running in the local 188-mile Ragnar Relay. There will be cross-country practice every morning and basketball camp for a month.

My oldest starts college AND turns 18 (in that order).

Then, of course, we get to live our everyday lives amidst all of this glorious chaos - piano lessons, grocery shopping, chores, breakfast, lunch and dinner... you get the idea.

Don't get me wrong - I totally asked for this life and I thrive on it. (Kind of. Sometimes.)

But life's getting crazy over the next little while and I just wanted to say that even if I'm not posting all the time, I still love you. (Or I at least kind of like you.)


(p.s. HAGS is the new LYLAS or KIT of yearbook signing. In case you were wondering.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Broccoli for Breakfast

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There’s something about my life; in fact, it’s something that I should probably blame on my mom. Funny I should do this two days after the holiday on which we celebrate motherhood in the United States…

You see, when I was growing up my mom never seemed to make anything delicious for us to eat. Oh, I’m sure she did – and probably often – however, it always seemed that mealtimes were inundated with things such as lentils, split pea soup, corn beef and cabbage, and other various foodstuffs that were sure to make one cringe at the word ‘dinnertime.’ Lunches had my lunchbox at school frocked with rice cakes slathered with Adam’s no-stir peanut butter and sugarless jam or honey, ‘healthy’ crackers, a piece of fruit of some type, and a bottle of all-natural juice.

As a consequential result of this, I would often be found trading my apple at lunchtime with JK Walters for her Hostess Fruit Pie. A definite Covey Win-Win (though more a win in my general direction in my eyes).

When I grew up and moved out on my own, I found myself seeking out the things that were always more or less forbidden to me: candy bars, ice cream, white bread, and all of those other wondrous things that make your taste buds go ‘ahhhh.’

Unfortunately, I found that I stopped eating vegetables as often as I should as well.

Oh sure, I ate the obligatory amount of salad or other greens at buffets or at dinner parties, but when it came to eating on my own, places like Taco Bell and foods such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch don’t offer much in the scope of vegetable smorgasbords.

Well, I knew that something had to be done; after all, I knew that I hadn’t been eating as healthily as I should have been for quite a few years; so I decided to start eating broccoli…

for breakfast.

You heard me correctly; I have been having broccoli and cauliflower for breakfast.

Yeah, sounds pretty gross, doesn’t it? While it’s not your usual breakfast fare, to someone who’s not keen on vegetables, it’s become a good way in which to get those vegetables ‘out of the way’ first thing in the morning and then not worry about them the rest of the day.

But wait, teachinfourth…you just eat broccoli and cauliflour? Nope. I also drink a couple of different juice concoctions followed by a can of V8 vegetable juice.

Is it a delicious breakfast?

I’ll be honest: No. However, the bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch afterward tastes like manna from heaven in comparison.

So, in the grand scheme of things I find myself getting my five a day…just all at once.

Image garnered from reason.com

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Karen Carpenter

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I’ve been thinking about Karen Carpenter lately.

Strange that she’d be on my mind. I never knew her. Our paths never crossed in life; well, other than a few songs on the radio – or during the a cappella sessions during the long bus rides in elementary school, all of the kids belting out the lyrics to “On Top of the World” to the extent that our lungs would allow, as the bus wound its way through the towering pines and rolling hills of Summit Valley, Washington. The very air around us seemed to breathe in the exhilaration of life itself.

It was such a long time ago, really. So it seems odd that Karen Carpenter would be flitting about in my head this morning.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that this particular song was used in the latest Shrek movie…quite fitting, really, considering the mood they were trying to engender with the music and Shrek’s feeling of pure, unadulterated delight at being a feared ogre once again.

Brilliant says I.

As I think about this song, another Carpenter’s hit that comes to mind as well which captivates another feeling altogether…a feeling of gloom of sullenness as the first strains of the music begins (I tried to embed the video clip, but it has been disabled by request, you’ll need to click here to access it; the clip is from one of my favorite movies of all time).

“Rainy Days and Mondays” – “On Top of the World.”

Here they are, two songs in such in stark contrast to each other which seem to paint alternating pictures between two diametrically different feelings...almost like the proverbial Ying to Yang.

It’s a little bit funny, too, a friend and I were chatting about this yesterday evening…about those particular days we all seem to have when “sometimes [you] want to quit, [and] nothing ever seems to fit…” and those other days when “there’s wonder in most everything [you] see.”

It’s so strange that we feel both of these things; sometimes within’ moments of the other. One moment the world is our oyster, and the next it is the bane of our existence. Just why is this?




A current choice that we make?

All good ideas I suppose.

I hope that each of us - myself included - can remember that tomorrow is another day, that we all have amazing things about us, too. Yet, even with all of this amazingness inside, we will all still have mountains to climb and valleys to traverse. One day we'll find ourselves standing on a Monday in the rain without an umbrella, and on another we'll be looking down from the highest peaks to the world below us.

After all…

We. Are. All. Awesome.

And while I might not have a letter in the postbox waiting for you to help brighten your day, I do have a little sompth-sompthin for you. It’s been around for a while, I’ve seen it numerous times – and you probably have, too; however, it’s most certainly worth seeing yet again.

Happy Tuesday, to you.
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