Monday, February 23, 2015

The Desert Waterfall

Green!  Green!  Doyouseethegreen?!?!  And, guess what?  It's a.l.i.v.e.  Truly. And no one is paying anything to water it.  This is called nature, folks, and it only lives an hour away from us.  The first thing I noticed as we drove into the mountains was the fresh smell of life.  I didn't even realize I'd missed it until it started circling through the car, reminding me of itself.

This isn't even what I would consider the most beautiful type of green... but it is such an improvement from my new day-to-day life of red dirt that it was incredibly beautiful to me.  I may have shed a tear or two.

We were in Mt. Charleston, on our way to see a waterfall.  The Mary Jane Falls, to be specific. But we kept getting sidetracked along the way. Children, remember branches.  Please do not forget, moving forward in the desert life your father and I have chosen for you, that they have been a giant part of your young childhood. 

Except for you, Teek.  Sorry.  But you'll get to have amazing winters where you can play outside all day every day if you'd like. So, there's that.

The hike up to the falls was rather strenuous for the little legs... but they didn't complain once because it was an unpaved trail that kept them climbing and jumping and sliding the whole way.  Even Teek wanted to climb by himself (though he needed a little encouragement to please. keep. walking. and ignore the millions of tiny treasure rocks you are finding.  McKenzie was the best at giving that encouragement).

Along the way we saw a cave in the side of a cliff that I knew would elate the kids.  "McKenzie!" I said with my arm extended towards the cave.  "Look!"  I watched her gaze follow my arm until it rested on the dark hole in the mountain before us.
"WHAT?! Ohmygosh! A CAVE!" She bounced up and down and Brian ran off ahead to catch the boys to show them.

Minutes later, he came back and shrugged his shoulders.  "They didn't actually care."
"What?!" I asked, surprised.  "Did you show it to them?  Like, did you point it out and make sure that they saw what you were talking about?" My kids love caves and hideouts and all things mysterious, so it seemed completely uncharacteristic for them not to fall all over themselves about a real, true cave.  But,
"Yeah - they saw it.  Carson just said, 'meh'."
"I don't even know what to say..."
I thought it was cool anyway.

When we finally arrived at the falls, I immediately realized that I should have done a quick Google search before our hike so that I could have prepared myself.  McKenzie knew what I felt.
"Uh, mom?  This isn't a waterfall... it's more like a watertrickle."

Indeed.  It was a wet smear across a dry mountain is what it was. 
"Well, dear," I said as I put my arm around her shoulder.  "I guess that's how the desert does these things."
Thankfully, the disappointment of the waterfall itself did not detract from the beauty of the hike we had just been through.  I wished for a wide-angle lens... and even then I'm not sure it could have been fully captured.  

Crunching it all into one panoramic photograph makes it seem small and slanty... but it gives you an idea.

Anyway... it was beautiful and peaceful up there on top of that mountain, so Brian and I let the children play unsupervised on the rock faces and stretched out in the sunshine.

But finally it was time to pack it up since the sun was refusing to slow it's path and we were concerned about the temperature fall when the sun was no longer warming our skin.  The way back down was just as fun... even more fun in some ways since the older kids ran off ahead and Teek slept in Brian's arms, leaving Brian and me to chat away at whatever we fancied.

Now I have a place to go whenever I need a little bit of life infusion.  We'll be back Mary Jane Falls... we'll catch you when you're actually falling one of these days...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ice Skates and Purple Snowpants

"Mom, do you think that people will make fun of me because these snowpants are purple?" Miles was standing in the middle of the room looking down at the snowpants he'd spent the last five minutes wrestling his body into, and realizing, for the first time, that they were severely lacking in the manly department. 
"Maybe," I said with a shrug.  "But they'll keep you warm and dry."
A tough predicament.  But it only took him a couple of seconds to shrug his own shoulders and decide that he'd rather be Feeling Comfortable than Fitting In.  Yay Miles! my mama heart cried. I wanted to shout out the lessons: Stay away from comparisons! Always make decisions based on what feels right to you! Never worry about what other people think of you!   but I was worried about what he would think of me, so I didn't. 

When we arrived at the Midway ice skating rink and began switching our shoes for skates, TK caught on fast to the idea of 'ssoo ah?' and promptly took his shoes off.  He was dismayed to find that he would need to be keeping his 'ssoos' on, but when we shoved an ice trainer in his face and told him to go play on the ice, he forgave us.

Remember how Michelle and Jake are newlyweds?  So stinkin' cute.  And weird.  Jake is weird.  Miles, be weird like Jake.  I think he would totally feel comfortable in purple snowpants, too.

I watched from the sidelines this time because of a cute little condition called Sacroiliitis that has decided to plague me... but it's amazing how much more you see when you're slightly removed from the action. I stood by my mom and watched my family skate around the rink; my dad, my sister, Jake, Brian, and my kids fluidly moving, around and through and in and out, independent from each other. Oftentimes they were scattered all across the rink - but it was beautiful and symbolic to me when the scattered fragments gravitated towards each other again and again and again.  I love being part of a family.

And I also love this next photo.  Mostly because of what is happening to Carson in the background.

It made me happy to be standing next to my mom, chatting about life and laughing at the skaters when they fell (I know... but I couldn't help myself. Is there anything funnier than people falling?).

Teek flew around the rink a couple of times in the arms of that handsome man.  So that made him happy.

And my winter princess... I just love this girl.  She is turning into such a great mini-adult.  She looked beautiful on the ice and took such happiness in helping her littlest brother around.

Carson won the Most Improved Trophy.  He went from spending most of his time on the ground to looking pretty sharp skating all on his own around and around and around.  It was interesting to watch the path of his determination.  At first it was fun determination... he was laughing at himself and having a great time - and then by the end, when he'd started improving in leaps and bounds, his determination turned into rock.  The fun had been seeped out of it and he just hit it again and again and again.  It was completely foreign to me - - - if ever I do something optional that starts to lose it's fun, I just stop.  I love that he has that drive in him.

In the end, the purple snowpants kept Miles warm, and the fatigue helped us all sleep well that night.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

January Harvest - Moments Edition

1) It was the last blackberry.  Plump and ripe, it found itself being pushed around and around the small bowl with a small spoon held in the small hand of a small boy.  He was patient, the small boy; or perhaps I should say that he had been patient since the increasing energy with which he attempted to scoop up the berry seemed to indicate that his patience was not, in fact, endless.  Each time the blackberry felt cornered the small boy would stab and scoop through the oatmeal with all the ungraceful motions of a two-year-old, and the berry would fall... realizing that, in the small, round bowl, there were no corners to be cornered in after all.

It was the last blackberry.  Wearing the deepest purple, it's drupelets began to burst, leaving a bright, rich purple trail like a map behind it.  The small boy's mother sat close, her elbow propped on the table to give support to the hand that cradled her chin, and watched her son with a comfortable, easy smile.  She watched as the last ounce of patience seeped from that small boy, and she bounced with quiet laughter as he dropped his spoon, extended all five of his fingers, and plunged his hand into the remaining oatmeal to grab the berry.  He noticed her laughter as he pulled it from the bowl and turned his head in his mother's direction.  His eyebrows pulled together in confusion as if her laughter had reminded him that there were other things in the world besides him and that blackberry.  She couldn't know what he was thinking, but she watched him force his own smile at her from behind the confusion, and soon he was following her example by forcing a laugh, too.  They sat like that in one beautiful moment.  A small boy holding a small blackberry in his small hand, oblivious to the ill-mannered mess of the dripping oatmeal, staring at his mother, laughing with her at a secret something that only she had found amusing.

2) The mini-van hums quietly along the dark streets. It's just me inside if you are counting humans, but my Les Miserables CD plays loudly through the speakers and keeps me in beautiful company.  The quiet notes of one of my favorite songs starts and I feel my hands, light on the steering wheel, begin to dance with the gentle beat.  My heart swells with the music as the lyrics begin:  God on high, hear my prayer.  In my need, you have always been there.  As the song goes on, I am taken back twenty years to when, as a 13-year-old, my dad was teaching me the beauty and majesty of Les Miserables on a road trip for just the two of us.  I had watched him sing this song as it played in our small car; I had stared at him, really, with all the unashamedness of a 13-year-old.  Today, as my mini-van hums quietly along these dark streets, I can still see him lifting his eyebrows to reach the highest notes, I can still hear his soft and gentle voice, easy and beautiful.  I can still feel his passion and love for the music.  And reliving those beautiful moments brings me new beautiful moments, sitting alone, with Les Miserables in my ears, and my dad in my heart.

3) I opened the junk drawer.  I try not to do that very often because it kind of stresses me out... but sometimes it just has to be done.  In sifting through the mess of trinkets and papers, I stumbled upon an envelope that I hadn't seen before.  In the shaky writing of an older hand, the words 'Dr. Alder' were printed.  So, naturally, I opened it.  And my heart filled with happiness as I read sincere words of gratitude from a complete stranger who had regained her sight at Brian's hand.  I know he's doing good in the world, but something about that thank you card helped me see it, too.  And as I closed the card with my full heart, I noticed that she had taken the time to put eyeglass stickers on the front, and it made me laugh.  I found myself wondering about this lady.  Is she someone that has drawers and drawers full of stickers for every occasion, or did she go out and buy eyeglass stickers just for this occasion?  Either way, I'm grateful to her for taking the time to say Thank You to the man I love. 

4 -The fresh air hits my face as I walk to my car from Starbucks.  The roads are slightly damp, and there is moisture in the air.  My skin soaks it up and I breathe it in. 
5 - TK brings me a book. "Wee? Wee? Wee?" he asks.  "Yes," I answer with a smile,  "I'll read to you."  He gasps in excitement and follows me into his room. It's that part - the following me - that snags me.  Beautiful little foot patters.  Trusting.  Expecting.  Excited. 
6 - I watch TK's eyes open in excitement as he hears the garage door open.  And then comes my favorite part: "Da-dee?!" he asks.  I love the slight hesitation between those syllables... the way his lips pull wide in a smile and exaggerate all movements around the vowel sounds. 
7 - I finally took down the kids' Christmas tree.  Packed all the decorations and ribbons and branches into their boxes and carried them down the stairs.  Vacuumed the stray, artificial pine needles and sat, in a beautiful moment, in the clean corner... vacuum lines leading away from me (or is it towards me?) and felt the peace of cleanliness and order. 
8 - Finished my morning chores with time to spare this morning.  So I grabbed a handful of cashews, sat at the breakfast table, and stared out the back doors over the sun sparkled golf course.  The palm trees swayed in the wind and I grabbed the beautiful moment. 
9 - I smell it before I taste it - the chocolate.  The salted macadamia nuts are hiding beneath that lumpy brown coat, and I know the caramel is there, too... just waiting to fill my mouth with deliciousness.  The bite is my favorite part.  I love the way macadamia nuts seem to explode in the pressure between my teeth.  Oh, chocolate macadamia nut cluster. I thank Costco for you.

10 - After being sick with a fever for two days, Miles looked at me with clear, happy eyes.  "Oh, you look like you're feeling better!" I exclaimed with a giant hug.  His grin widened off of his face and he exclaimed, "Happy Birthday!"  I love looking into those clear eyes. 
11 - I wheeled the garbage can back into the garage - totally not my job, but it made me happy to do something for my wonderful husband. 
12 - The weight of TK sitting in my lap, covered in a soft blanket, resting against my chest.  Carson sitting next to me on the hard benches of the school.  We watch as McKenzie receives honor awards for being so awesome.  My kids fill me. 
13 - A swarm of black birds soaring down from an electrical wire into the trees.  A graceful dive. 
14 - The warm sun pulls me outside today.  My handsome husband pulls two chairs onto the grass turf, and we sit in the sunshine in the middle of January. 
15 - Driving with the sun roof open. 
16 - TK emptied a whole Costco-sized container full of fabric softener into the corners and crevices of the laundry room.  After pulling out the washer and dryer to sop up the liquid from underneath them, we threw the towels we'd used into the wash.  Today, weeks later, I walk into the bathroom and notice I still smell the fresh scent coming from those towels folded on my shelves.  We will not be using those towels any time soon unless it's to sop up more fabric softener.  Delicious smell.

17 - Opening the blinds in my room - sunshine!
18 - Eating a fresh-out-of-the-oven doughnut from Krispy Kreme.  No one does a doughnut like Krispy Kreme does a doughnut. 
19 - Enjoying the sunshine again today.
20 - I love the moments when the tennis ball connects with my racket.  I love the sound, the feel, the power...
21 - Sinking, sinking, sinking into the soft blankets for story time with Miles. 
22 - Pollen falling from the trees.  Each tree seems to be planted in a pool of yellow.
23 - I stood and admired the magnificent pillars and fun stucco on the side of my house today.  I do love them.
24 - Chatted with a new friend about real things tonight.  It made my heart happy.
25 - One of the young women started playing a song on the piano tonight in between volleyball games.  She played it beautifully, and the girls who stood around her singing the lyrics were beautiful, too.  I love the youth in this ward.
26 - TK folding into my shoulder while not feeling well.  He is such a sweet boy.  I love the way he curls right in.
27 - Napping on the couch (a beautiful moment in and of itself) when Miles came to snuggle.  His curly red hair tickled my face and made me smile.
28 - McKenzie worked so hard on her state project and finished it tonight. I feel so proud of the work she has put into it.
29 - Diaper change turned tickle fight.
30 - Helping TK blow his nose, he was whining and unhappy until he saw himself in the mirror.  His whines turned into an excited smile and he greeted his long lost friend with a wave and a, "Hi tee-tee!"
31 - The small hands, dimpled at the knuckles, reaching up to me from the crib.  The sleepy smell as I pull him out.
32 - His strums are perfect; his fingers are sure; his face is stoic up on the stage in front of the school.  Carson works that guitar while accompanying the third graders in their school assembly, and I feel Happy Mommy Tears catch in my throat.