Friday, March 29, 2013

A Letter, Part 2

Dear The Present,

I never imagined I'd meet you. Well, not like this anyway. Of course I always knew we'd become acquainted, but I figured I'd have company.  I'd be surrounded by my own contrived memories and perfect plans.  But, now that I think about it, there is something liberating about meeting you face to face and realizing you're not interested in my carefully constructed story.  You prefer the raw footage. 

Now that we've finally met, I feel displaced.  I'm stuck somewhere between the past and the future, but belong to neither.  It feels so strange.  It's a little like floating.  I let go of control and now I bob up and down with the gentle ripple of the water, staring up at the summer sky. I can't direct myself to the right or the left without causing a disturbance. So I choose to float.

Meeting you has familiarized me more with the concept of progress.  You've shown me how far I've come and how far behind I've fallen.  You pointed out to me how much more I can lift now that I've grown in stature and simultaneously ridiculed me for not yet being tall enough to touch the stars with my finger tips.  What do you want from me, anyway?

Don't misread me.  I'm not angry.  While there are many things I haven't learned, I do know for certain that no one is perfect.  Not even you, even though I once thought you could be.  But I'm glad you're not. It would make me feel ashamed for harboring weakness.

So let's be friends, you and I.  We have a lot in common and our time together is fleeting. Hand in hand, we could eventually reach dry land. 

With Gratitude,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Letter

Dear The Past,

So nice of you to drop by.  It took a long time for me to get used to the fact that I wasn't going to see you again.  In fact, I kind of liked the idea.  And then you show up on my door step, years later.

The first time I met you was on a doorstep.  Although most other things remain foggy, that memory is clear.

So here you come, tap dancing your way into my present, doing circles around me as I stand in the middle, confused.  You know I'm there, but you don't speak my name.  I once would have been overjoyed to see you.  Would you have felt the same?

You want something you lost.  But you don't ask me if it's in my pocket or anywhere on my person.  Instead, you look over my head, to my right, to my left, anywhere but in my eyes.

It's too bad you never asked me where to find it.  I've been carrying it around with me for years.  You forgot it when you left. It was lying there with no one to claim it so I picked it up and took it with me. At first, it was so heavy that I had a hard time walking upright.  But over time, the weight become part of me and I adjusted. I didn't even notice I still had it until I heard you were looking for it.   

I'll leave it outside on my doorstep in case you remember where to find it because I probably won't answer when you knock.  I don't live in the safest part of town.  But by the time you get to it, it will have melted into nothing and it will no longer be a burden to you or me.  I'm sorry you didn't come get it sooner. 

All the best,


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Seize the Day

If "Seize the Day" wasn't our motto for this weekend, then I don't know what was! Yes siree, we arose, and we seized.

And we did it pregnant mama style.

Since two of us were pregnant with number 2, we got to see how the other half lives for four days.

Briana, Shelley, Kate and I met our freshman year at BYU.  Shelley and I lived together in 3223 of Chipman Hall.  Kate lived on the other side of the floor, and Brie lived downstairs.  We stayed very close after our freshman year and all lived together again as seniors in college before missions and marriage and such.  The purpose of this weekend trip was to celebrate 30 wonderful years on planet earth (our 30th birthdays are all this summer), and also to start a tradition of reunions every other year with some of our favorite people on earth.  First stop? New Canaan, Connecticut, home town of Ms. Shelley. 

These two joined our circle of friendship more recently, and were therefore guests of honor at this reunion:

It took two cars to get our group around!

And if I said I wasn't doing a little matchmaking in my head, I'd be lying.

We did lots of talking (in which some of us preferred snuggies over blankets)...
...and plenty of laughing...
...and even some crying (not pictured).  Tears of happiness; tears for dreams yet unrealized; tears for each other, both on behalf of the trials we're experiencing and for the dreams that have come true since we met over ten years ago.

We arrived on Saturday morning and did a lot of catching up in that first day! Shelley was a fabulous hostess and made sure we had clean sheets, towels, and food on the table three meals a day. We were very impressed with her efforts, but not at all surprised...that's our Shelley.  Saturday night, we all talked about the five most significant things that had happened to us since we met in college and what we learned from those experiences.  Among those things mentioned were studying abroad, missions, becoming wives, becoming teachers, learning to listen to the Spirit, and more.

On Sunday, we went to church and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and doing some more catching up.  We found ourselves reflecting on deeper issues relevant to us today that we never could have imagined we'd be facing.  It was amazing for us to band together as women of the same values and talk about how we can stay strong in a world that poses increasingly difficult challenges.  Even though we're all at different stages in life in terms of family, employment etc., we noticed that we experience all the same feelings at this crucial time.  Am I doing enough? Am I  good teacher? Am I a good mother? Am I making a contribution to the world as a daughter of God?

Church is a different experience with little ones.  It was so fun to see our dear friends as sweet mothers.  They humbled me and empowered me with their ability to love and to lead their children.  Hearing Emmy sing "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" and watching Stephen folding his arms for prayer were such precious moments. 
Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures...
...such as trickery. I used Angry Birds to get Emmy to sit in my lap.

One of the (surprisingly) most enjoyable parts of of the weekend was cooking together.  We were trying to keep costs down on our trip so Shelley did a big grocery run and we ate in for most every meal.  3 of the 4 of us would probably rank cooking low on our "I love it" lists, but we did a pretty good job capitalizing on all of our strengths: Shelley with the crock pot, me with mashed potatoes, Kate with fruit (and food design), and Brie with dessert.

It happened to be my half birthday on Sunday, which we celebrated with a flourless chocolate cake!
Can. You. Even.
Handle. THIS.
I wanted to get a shot of the matching Mommy/Daughter pearls.
I loved seeing the similarities between the kiddos and their mommies!

Monday was the day of our "Girls Night Out on the Town."  In the morning, before we flew solo, we reveled in the littles. 
Where froggy was, Emmy was never far behind.
I distracted her with Horton Hears A Who in order to accomplish the above hair-do.
I wish I could adequately describe Emmy's sweet little voice and imagination as she walked around on her tip toes serving imaginary cupcakes, asking things like, "Do you want grapes or not?"

These pajamas just killed me. They were SO cute. 
This is one happy boy.  He would give the biggest heart melting grins every time you looked in his direction.  It was so much fun to see how ecstatic he got over oranges (we had to hide them in order to get him to ear the rest of his dinner!) and how fast he would slither down the stairs on his tummy, especially when Ba-Ba (Grandpa) was at the bottom.  He would say, "Ah-za!" in this deep little voice whenever he gave something to us or wanted to show us something.  Emmy started saying using his lingo by the end of the trip!  Despite the year age difference, the two of them got along famously.

In preparation for our trendy night in NYC, Kate and I filled Brie in on what's cool to do with nails now.  We got too many excellent model poses of this to just include one.

This is my favorite.

Just before we left, we watched a video we made before Shelley and Brie went on their missions to Taiwan.  They opened their mission calls minutes after each other in our apartment complex and were called to two different missions within the same country! They reported to the MTC on the same day!  I had the opportunity to see my 21 year old self VERY up close and personal. Wow.
Heading to the city!

I was sitting there marveling in this gridlock and Shelley was like, "What?" I noticed another lady nearby, obviously an out of towner like me, was exclaiming over it to her husband at the same time.  Shelley obviously grew up near the city!

The girls were soooo sweet to be very sensitive to all my gluten needs.  We found this cute little Italian restaurant that had a gluten free menu.
We met up with Rebecca, another friend from freshman year.  She is an architect in NY.
This picture has a funny story. We asked a random woman on the sidewalk to take a picture of all of us.  Later, as we were walking away, someone stopped Brie and Rebecca and asked, "Do you know who you just had take your picture?!" Apparently it was a huge star on Broadway who has played Galinda in Wicked in the past and other big roles.  She must have been surprised when we asked her to take a picture of us and not with us!
There are many competing cupcake places in the city. We stopped at "The Crumb."  I may have committed a gluten infraction by indulging just a little (?). I just seriously couldn't help myself.  You try resisting!

Walking in the city felt so glamorous.  It felt like the world was our oyster!

The big event was seeing Newsies on Broadway.  What a thrill!

It was inspirational.
And dare I say exhilarating?
It even won a Tony for best score and best choreography.
I was especially proud to see two veterans from "So You Think You Can Dance" in the cast.  I felt like they were my sons, as I followed their journeys in recent years on the show :-).  The dancing was out of this world. I could have watched dancing the entire show through and then some.  There were some beautiful new songs. I was a little sad at some of the changes made to the music, but overall, it was exactly what a Broadway experience should be!
We made sure to jam our last day together full of fun.  First, Brie, Shelley, and Kate surprised me with an activity they put together for my half birthday (or at least that's what they said...I'm still suspicious as to why I got picked...I think it may have to do with me being the only single one left but they will never confirm that).  I was totally taken off guard.  They had arranged for us to tie a "How do I love thee, let me count the ways" blanket for me to take home and they went around and said thirty things they loved about me. I was EXTREMELY embarrassed and felt very undeserving, but it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.  They even made me cry when they compared who I was when they met me to Anne of Green Gables and who I am now to Anne of Avonlea.  Leave it to me to cry at an Anne analogy! She's my fictitious hero so I took it as a huge, tear jerking compliment. 

We all took a turn cutting and tying.

We ultimately decided to make this a "Sisterhood of the Traveling Blanket."  I get to take it home this year and in two years when we reunite again, we will spotlight someone else who will get to keep it until our next meeting. 
I am so, so, so lucky to have met these wonderful women. 
And here's the whole crew! It was a miracle everyone was looking with a self-timer!

One of the trip highlights was a visit to Stew Leonards, the world's largest Dairy Store.

I found some delicious gluten free cookies!
Emmy was thrilled (?) to see Clover the Cow.

And then my friends yet again made my dreams come true by agreeing to eat at a little Brazilian place for lunch.  This was legitimate Brazilian food. The owners didn't speak very much English and the food was so authentic! I was nearly jumping out of my skin with joy. 

These are "x", pronounced, "Sheece."  They have all kinds of things on them, including a fried egg!

And this is my favorite Brazilian dish of all time, Brazilian Stroganoff! I was in heaven, truly.  What a way to end the perfect weekend trip.

Getting home to Utah wasn't as easy as I would have hoped. I was supposed to be in my little bed at 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. and didn't walk in my apartment door until 5:00 a.m. the next morning (and I taught school 2.5 hours later).  The good news is, I am the proud owner of a $200 voucher courtesy of Jet Blue to take another trip later! The hollow, "it will only be another hour" promises were absolutely worth it in the end!

This was the perfect trip and I can't wait for part II (and III, and IV, and XX, etc.).  The Lord knew who I needed in my life to bring my joy, hope, and reassurance through all the good times and the difficult ones.  I can't adequately thank Him. I wish I could have reunited with everyone of my dear college roommates and mission companions and childhood friends who have made such an impact on my life. You know who you are! I love you.