Don’t call us, we’ll call you

April 22, 2013

The Noodler

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , — llcall @ 10:23 pm

I’m writing again, guys! Once I started pushing through, it got easier (though not easy) and more cathartic. I told Neal to remind me of that the next time I tell him I want to quit blogging. On Friday I spent a solid 5 hours on my adoption update post — but it’s still not done. (If that seems excessive, I direct you to my favorite quote about writing: “How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?” At one point I think I wrote about 5 sentences in an hour, but by the end, I was sure it was a representation of what I think and how I feel and that felt really good.) I’ve got a Life Writing class this week, so I’m taking a little break from adoption talk and trying to work on that piece about body image.

Which is all unrelated to this, but I found it while searching through old drafts. When Addison was younger, she was most often The Rod — it’s entirely possible that her little body was too small to even do a proper Twister. But now The Noodler seems to be her bag. She thinks it’s hilarious to go so limp that I can’t position her anywhere. The thing is, it is kind of hilarious. God bless toddlers.

From The World According to Toddlers

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April 20, 2013

Thanks, friends

Filed under: History, Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 6:00 pm

When I initially planned to give thanks in 2012, one of the first posts I was planning was a little shout-out to my most frequent blog commenters. Not that I keep track and rate friends accordingly, but apparently WordPress does because every January they send me a summary of the top 5. They also prompt me to send a thank you note; they’re very polite.

So a belated thank you to my most active commenters in 2011:

And to those most active in 2012:

I could write pages about each of you ladies and your influence on me (and hey, with any luck you could get a personalized thank you before the year o’ thanks is out!). But in the meantime, know that I appreciate you caring about what I have written. You’ve taken an interest in my life and inner workings, and reminded me that what I think and feel has meaning to others. That’s no small thing.

And thank you to all those who read and comment, no matter how “actively,” because it means a lot to me to be having a conversation with such a variety of thoughtful people.

And thank you to all those who read and don’t comment because I value you as well! Writing this blog has been one of the best choices I have ever made. Ever. It’s helped me through some rough times and it’s allowed me to help some others through some rough times. I’m ever so grateful.

This kind of sounds like a farewell post. And to be honest, I’ve considered it lately. On a practical level, I imagine what the future holds for the coming years and it’s hard to imagine how I’m going to carve out blogging time. On a psychological level, I noticed over the last several months of relative silence how eventually I stopped feeling frustrated when I couldn’t carve out the time for this self-expression. Oh well, I guess the self-expression phase of my life is over. And to be doubly honest, I’ve written a few posts over the last year that hit up against some ugly things from the past, and I thought (to paraphrase a favorite movie), That’s too much reality for a Friday night. They didn’t sign up for that. And all of this ties in to adoption and my one-word theme for last year and therapy and . . . maybe you can start to see why I don’t know where to go next. Since last summer, I have had weighing on me this feeling that I should write about “this thing.” I’ve made some progress in talking about it with Neal, but it was also a little ominous when his conclusion was, “You better tell your mom before you post it on your blog.” It’s not about my mom, but of course, it’s good to remember that everything we say about ourselves may appear to be a reflection on the people we are closest to. It’s obviously a perennial writerly issue: how to express the truth as you see it while hurting as few people as possible.

Sheesh, this post is getting ridiculous! It really was just about thanking all my loyal commenters and readers alike. Preceding paragraph notwithstanding, I’m not closing up shop. I know this blog is going to keep changing someone’s life: mine.

So the 2013 most active commenter title is still up for grabs; I’m gonna do my best to give you more to work with.

April 19, 2013

2013: Thanks

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , , , , , — llcall @ 6:17 pm

I think only Lauren specifically requested a one-word theme update, but I’m trying to ease back into this whole baring-my-soul writing thing and this seemed like an easy one to tackle.

I originally picked out this theme for 2012, but scrapped it after my rocky start to the year. Now when I think about how it derived it’s kind of amusing that it came from reading a book . . . title. Yep, just the title:  365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Gratitude Changed My Life. I’ve tried to be a decent thank-you note writer for most of adulthood, but I was charmed by the idea of writing a thank you note every single day, especially the thought of reaching back into the past to thank people for things they may not even know they did for me. (Not that I know if the author John Kralik did that — I’d probably have to read the book for that.)

Despite the charm of writing a thank you note a day, I did not actually resolve to do that. In January, that seemed like too tall an order with the new demands of teaching two classes. Good decision. Instead I decided that every Sunday I would reflect on the week and think about who I could reach out to in thanks. I started to take a little package of stationery to church and write cards or envelopes as thoughts came to me. Sometimes I look around in Sunday School — at least 100 of us meet in our cavernous chapel — and think about those who have made a difference in my life. And then I try to tell them. I think this is one of the best things about coming back to this old, familiar place after a decade or more away.

Of course, my main concern with selecting this theme was the stamp costs. Don’t worry, spreadsheets were made. Cost-benefit analyses were conducted to determine the effectiveness of email notes vs. postcards vs. envelope-card combinations. (It’s possible my spreadsheet usage will someday be a diagnosable mental illness.) In the end, I decided to just go with the flow. An emailed thank you may not be as elegant or delightful as an envelope in the mail, but it’s better than keeping an expression of gratitude trapped in my mind. Still, I have probably managed to mail out at least 30 or 40 cards since the new year so . . . awesome, right?

When I first conceptualized this one-word theme, the foregoing is all I had in mind. But something happened in November that made me realize I was missing a huge piece of the gratitude puzzle. It’s always been relatively easy for me to give thanks to the people around me; their kindness and generosity is so obvious, so present. Thanking God, on the other hand, is a much more difficult feat. If I could write a thank you note and mail it, I absolutely would. But it seems He wants me to talk to Him . . . as if He’s there, listening. Prayer, then, is part of how He wants my gratitude and it’s a thing that I’ve struggled with for . . . ever.

This topic could shoot off in a thousand directions and encompass my whole life story, but instead, I’ll just say that I decided on two concrete activities to try and give more thanks to God. First, I’m trying to pray more (and differently) than I ever have before. That thing that happened in November (which was kind of like a crazy-intense therapy session, but not exactly) set me off in a new direction of how to try and actually talk to God. I’m sorry to say I probably only manage it once a week, but I’m okay with being a work in progress (I better be, since that is all we ever are). Second, I’ve started keeping a journal again. I call it a one-sentence journal to take the pressure off, but let’s be honest, I have rarely said a single sentence about anything in my entire life. Influenced by my friend Victoria, a challenge from my mom, and this great talk from President Eyring (which I was struck by at the time he gave it, but never did anything about), I have focused this journal on answering the questions, Did God have a message for me today? Have I seen the hand of God in my life?

Thus far I have 11 entries in my journal. That’s almost a message from God a week! Most of them were just for me and their influence probably went no further. But every once in a while, those messages from God helped me make a difference to someone who was suffering, and there is nothing I feel more gratitude for than that. So thanks.

April 17, 2013

Lists: Girl Scout Badges

Filed under: History, Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 10:06 pm

Your writing suggestions have been duly noted and I have this Friday blocked out for a non-stop write-a-thon (my belated Christmas gift from Neal)! Yeehaw! In the meantime, an amusing little thing I found a couple of weeks ago . . .

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My anniversary gift to Neal this year was to get back to processing and decluttering. On Sunday, I found my old Girl Scout handbook in which I dutifully kept track of all the requirements I did between 1989-1991.

It was fun to be reminded of my Girl Scout years, which I initially hated because I was the semi-bullied outcast, but eventually came to love. And in fact, I have stayed in touch with my wonderful troop leader and her fantastic daughter (whom I’ve written about before, though somewhat obtusely).

My troop was what you might call a “party troop” — we were light on the badges and heavy on the beach camping. With my troop, I did these badges in two years:

  • Community health and safety
  • Exploring foods
  • First aid
  • Sports sampler

But on my own, I was kind of an overachiever. A checklist to complete? Sign me up! At home, I did these badges:

  • Books
  • Dance
  • Theater
  • Swimming
  • Water fun
  • “Collecting” hobbies — coins, postcards
  • “Doing” hobbies — ballet, saxophone
  • Computer fun
  • Do-it-yourself — household and car repairs
  • Water wonders
  • Architecture (I planned to be an architect as a youngster)
  • Local lore
  • Math whiz

My favorite part of this handbook discovery, though, was the few badges that were specifically marked with an 0, but never worked on:

  • Child care
  • Tending toddlers
  • Home living
  • Healthy eating
  • Personal health

I see two possibilities — either my Mom circled them to encourage me to work on them OR I marked them with a zero to specifically announce my intentions to not do them. What do you make of that list?

April 8, 2013

Psych. I’m gonna talk about the death penalty again.

I know no one requested a death penalty post, but this NY Times article profiling a case in which a less culpable defendant received the death penalty while his co-conspirators did not was screaming for a share. I think you all know my position: in short, our criminal justice system is far too messy, unfair, and inconsistent to impose an irreversible penalty. This article hit on some of the reasons why.

Does it not give pause when a judge reviews a death sentence and finds it legal, but still feels the need to rebuke the prosecutor for seeking the death penalty for someone who “even under the state’s theory, did not cause the physical death” of the victim? I sure hope so.

April 5, 2013

Getting back in the saddle . . .

Two months! I think that’s the longest silence since that first year of “blogging” when I only vaguely understood what a blog was. You can infer at least two things from this drought: (1) teaching two online classes has kept me busy and (2) I’ve been sleeping at night!

That said, this week my allergies have given me grief so I’ve been awake between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m. many days. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to blog a bit, but it turns out it’s harder to get back in the saddle than I expected. I was trying to jump into some heavy self-reflection, which used to tumble right out of me, but today it felt more like pulling teeth. I guess I’m out of practice, having had to somewhat muzzle that voice in my head in order to plow through the semester.

In an effort to ease back in to things, then, I offer instead a semi-ordered list of recent happenings.

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THIS! This, my friends, is Addison’s poop chart. FINALLY covered in stickers. All it took was a complete overhaul of her diet. How do you think your digestive system would respond to this DAILY diet, which she was on for two solid weeks before we saw any action:

  • Fiber cereal
  • 12 ounces prune juice
  • Laxative, adult dosage
  • Beans
  • No/limited dairy

Yuck, right? Her pediatrician says it’s no biggie because “she can be on a laxative every day for the rest of her life and it won’t hurt her.” But personally, I’m a little unnerved by the fact that my very small child needs that much assistance to do a basic bodily function. On the bright side, at least she’s doing that bodily function on the toilet now.

For maybe the first time ever, I actually got my taxes filed in February. It turns out that a sure-fire way to make doing taxes super easy is to earn only $3,700 in a year!

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On March 20, Neal and I officially went on the best date ever. It was a long time coming — 8 years to be exact — but the Banff Mountain Film Festival was worth the wait! We were first supposed to catch the festival way back in March of 2005, but for reasons beyond my control, I stood him up. (Also, I cried about standing him up though it wasn’t even a proper date; although I had only known him a short time, I think I already had a strong sense that any day not spent with him was a bit sad.)  We tried again in 2006, but it was hard, living in different states and all. On the day he proposed in 2007, he already had tickets but I decided vomiting would be more exciting. We tried again each year we were in Utah, but little things always seemed to come up — like giving birth to Addison, for instance. So obviously, on the drive to this showing, I was sure we would get hit by another truck. But we didn’t! And it was fantastic! If you like mountain culture and sport, Australian mates walking across Antarctica, or small dogs, this would be right up your alley!

Also in March, Neal was spotlighted on a fellow dadblogger’s site. I even got a little shout-out in which he acknowledges that he only started blogging in order to crush me. Thanks, sweetie!

Later in March, my Dad and I took Addison roller skating for the first time. I was going to include just one of these pictures, but the whole sequence was pretty indicative of how the evening went.

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My favorite moment of the whole night (probably my favorite of the year, actually) came right at the beginning. I had not told Addison that we were going for a ward party, so you can imagine her surprise when she got to the rink and started recognizing people. “There’s Hunter. There’s Fisher. There’s . . .” Turning to me, waving her arms frantically, and screaming at the top of her lungs: “ALL MY FRIENDS ARE HERE!”  It’s not very often that you totally blow your kid’s mind!

Despite my love of dental hygiene, I officially got booted from the task of brushing and flossing Addison’s teeth. Although her dental check-up went fine (aside from the fact that she has jacked-up teeth that are too big for her little mouth), Neal decided that I wasn’t dedicating enough time to Addison’s teeth. He has a unique flossing method, indeed:

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That’s a pillow under her head, in case you were wondering. Is it possible he missed his true calling in life?

Just last week we went with some friends and one of Addison’s BFFs to the Orange County Great Park. They were about to start charging money for the hot air balloon — there’s nothing like a last chance at a free ride to motivate me to get out of the house!

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Although Addison insists her favorite part was seeing a lizard, I’m pretty sure it was actually when she stole one of their OREOs and hid in the cavity of the big rock she’s standing on above. It gave me a little scare, thinking she had been abducted, but it turns out she did the abducting.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I cooked THREE whole meals in one week. REAL meals, too. My Aunt Helen has a new product called MealRecipes that include menu plans, grocery lists, and cooking schedules. She let me test-drive a 3-day MealRecipe to see if even a delinquent like me could do it (those are my words, not hers). I am happy to say that I made 3 tasty meals, including a phenomenal stir-fry that my Mom said was the best she’d ever had and Neal wants me to make on a weekly basis (yeah right!). I didn’t even substitute any ridiculous ingredients and I only asked one really stupid question; I’m pretty sure the recipes are fool-proof!

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I heartily recommend you make your own fantastic asparagus stir-fry or Amatriciana pasta!

Phew! I was gonna say that pretty much covered February and March, but I just remembered that it skipped a few big events: Addison’s birthday (you can get the scoop on the former here), a Bakersfield visit for Ayda’s birthday, me taking multiple exercise classes (sign of the Apocalyse? maybe), Easter. But it’s better to start somewhere, right?

I picked up a second class for Spring semester (goodbye easy taxes — we’ll probably break $12,000 this year!), which means that I think my blogging time will still be limited. But I’m determined to not cut it out completely like I have been. That said, I could use a little push to get me going again. For those who are still hanging with me, which of these topics (all drafts in various stages of development) are you most interested in me finishing?

  • Forgiveness and restorative justice, part II
  • Did I get stronger in 2012? Last year’s theme recap
  • 2013’s one-word theme (yes, I have one, and I’ve been working on it)
  • “Baby” update: 3 years
  • Mommy update
  • Dearest Addison (3rd birthday letter)
  • Adoption update — New life story, part III
  • “Dang, I look good”: Reflections on self-confidence and body image
  • Marriage counseling: 8 Lessons

And Nikki, I’ll give your vote special preference since you were kind enough to bring my blogging hiatus to an end!

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