Saturday, February 26, 2011

One game away!

Ryan's high school varsity hockey team is one game away (the finals are Monday night) from the State Championship and it feels like we've been living at the ice rink the past couple of weeks during the play-offs.  I haven't had so much fun watching high school sports since I was that age, and we are all having a great time (my parents have been to a game and my brother has been to several).  Caroline especially loves the games because she gets to hang out with all the older kids while cheering on her brother!

A couple action shots of Ryan . . .


Friday, February 25, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thought for the day

"Keep high aspirations, moderate expectations,
and small needs."
William Howard Stein

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Speechless . . .

YES, another movie that literally left Chris and I speechless as the credits rolled.  Biutiful opened this weekend in SLC and we had been awaiting it's release since it takes place in Barcelona and stars Javier Bardem.  Now I can say without reservation that Bardem has solidified his position as one of the greatest actors of our time, a genius.  He is brilliantly cast in this film and handles the enormity of his character with grace and brutal honesty.

I have to say that this movie is not for everyone, and so I hesitate recommending it wholeheartily.  I found the offensive moments necessary for the development of film as art since they weren't glorified, however, there were a few folks who stepped out and unfortunately missed out on a truly beautiful experience by not allowing these integral pieces find their way into the greater puzzle.

It will be interesting to see if Biutiful will take the Oscar over another breathtaking foreign film, Incendies, which I was fortunate to see at Sundance this year.  As mesmerizing and thought provoking as I found Biutiful, I still think Incendies was the more profound overall experience.  Watch for it in theaters sometime late spring.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tell me exactly HOW I'm going to pull this off . . .

Next Wednesday.

Caroline's tennis from 5 - 6:30pm (downtown)
Pick up Sophie's tennis carpool at 7pm (Sugarhouse)
The girls' federation piano recital begins at 7:30pm (Murray)

Oh wait, I'm the YW sports director and we have basketball games at 6:30 AND 7:30pm (Sandy)

Oh, oh, oh, this just in:  Ryan's high school hockey team will play in the next round of the state play-offs at 7:45pm (U of U).

I'll patiently await the arrival of my clone Wednesday afternoon :-).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

In love, there are no conditions; you love for no reason,

 with no justification. You are free to be what you are, 

and you allow others to be what they are.
- Don Miguel Ruiz -

I wanted to post something today and of course, I will be stealing this one from my friend Joan, who without fail always posts the most inspiring quotes on facebook. Thanks Joan for yet another beautiful, and oh, so true sentiment.

Wishing everyone a wonderful day filled with love, warmth, and plenty of hugs & kisses . . . . mmmwah!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Charmed Moments

Now that the moment of bad parenting has passed, I just can't open my blog and have that post staring me in the face.  As always, after the breakdown, life almost immediately presents its better side and I can't contain the joy I feel surrounded by so much abundance.

I want to share an insightful passage from my current favorite book, The Gift of an Ordinary Day  . . .

"There is no such thing as a charmed life, not for any of us, no matter where we live or how mindfully we attend to the tasks at hand.  But there are charmed moments, all the time, in every life and in every day, if we are only awake enough to experience them when they come and wise enough to appreciate them . . .  My challenge is to hold on to that awareness, even on days when everyone's stress runs high, when one or the other of my children needs more than I can give, or when I'm simply overwhelmed by the demands of life with adolescents or saddened by the idea of life without them." (pg. 224)

My own "charmed moments" from the past couple days:
  • Scripture study Thursday morning - my spiritual well was filled.
  • Meeting Liza with a smile and Valentine cookie when I picked her up at school.
  • Acting the part of passenger as my son drives himself to the gym.
  • Listening to Sophie play her guitar and sing her heart out in her room.
  • Dinner with friends that make me laugh so hard I cry, friends that I couldn't imagine my life without.
  • Exercise.  Yoga class and meditation - remembering India and contemplating my own devotion.
  • The peace within our home as I went about my routine without interruption.
  • Spending over an hour on the phone with my best friend and feeling so uplifted afterwards I could hardly contain myself.
  • A few precious moments with Chris alone.
  • Time with Caroline this evening running errands, then watching a movie together.
  • Chatting with Ryan about his day, his friends, school, and his Friday night after he walks in the door - right on time.

No, nothing monumental to record, not a charmed life by any means, just those little things that beg for awareness each day.  Otherwise, I might miss them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not so great mom

Alright, I figured it's about time I let you in on a secret.  There are days when I stink as the mom, yep, really mess things up, and today I my kids clearly thought I'd be a great candidate for "worst mom EVER."

I think it's the guilt.  Guilt for not whisking Liza out of her first grade classroom months ago, and now regretting the lost weeks she has been required to spend in a windowless, dreary school with too many kids stuck in a tiny classroom with a teacher who doesn't believe in letting kids "read ahead" or do any math homework for fear that they will "know more" than the other students.

We pulled her out today and will begin homeschooling in the afternoons.  I should have moved her into a different school when I had the chance back in October, but thought things would get better and that I shouldn't be so hasty.  We tried to switch schools at the Christmas break, but unfortunately the classes were full, so this is my compromise.  She still will go to school in the morning because the class is smaller and after today's experiment, I know I'm not prepared or qualified to have her home all day.

So, with the massive weight of "not being more aware of my child's needs" plaguing me, I added more flames to my guilt fire and systematically offended each of my kids today.  Good one.

Here's the run-down:   anger at the school combined with frustration that Liza hasn't progressed much, led to unwarranted impatience as we were working on counting money (oh ya, and my neighbor came over right in the middle of it . . . always great to hear, "is everything ok" when you answer the door - ugh).  Nice.  Next victim, Ryan . . . I said something that made it sound like I didn't trust him (NEVER let your trustworthy teen think you don't trust them - ugh).  Good one Julie.  Next victim, Sophie . . . who came home from school excited to share the news of the day and all I did was nag about her completed math assignment she forgot to take to school.  Lovely.  Next victim, Caroline . . . I flipped out when she and Sophie let the dog out without supervision and it ran over to the neighbors, almost got hit by a car, and then pooped on the neighbor's lawn (immediately telling Caroline now she was responsible for that mess).  Just wonderful, did I forget anyone?

Alright, there you go, my less than stellar day of mothering.  I did apologize to everyone and my favorite response came from Caroline when she told me, "you can't just freak out like that and then say I'm sorry and act all happy like everything is normal again."  Um, yes I can Caroline, that's what I do :-).

Just so you all don't think I'm completely deserving of the award for the worst mom, we did make it to the store to pick out the little girls' Valentines, and I did manage to make a yummy curry/chicken/couscous dinner (guilt: not eating together, but rather everyone just grabbed a plate dished a serving straight from the stove and sat wherever - sigh).  And most importantly, they all received a big hug and heartfelt explanation that it was just a hard day and I'll try better next time.  Then I accompanied Chris to the first round of the state playoff hockey championships to cheer on our son . . . bonus, they won!

The good news is that tomorrow is a new day and I'll have a clean slate once again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dreaming of SPRING

Please, please come soon.

After my day yesterday of yearning for the dreary weather to make it's gradual change to blossoms and blue skies and green, I was gently reminded today to stay in the present and not rush what "is."  Yesterday morning I found myself thrown into that unsettling emotional state of "freak, I can't handle yet another day without the sun."  By noon I was purchasing bright white vases, faux blossoms, lilacs, and hydrangeas, along with a live topiary and giant bouquet of beautiful fresh flowers.  I came home and placed flowers on bookcases and countertops, then completed the makeover with a few rosy Valentine's decorations.  Ahhh, it's amazing how flowers and the color pink can make you feel :-).

So, as karma would have it, today while sitting in the ski lodge watching Liza zip up and down the hill, I came across this insightful passage in the book I am currently savoring . . .

"We are stuck in the gray, boggy season that follows winter but is, in anyone's book, a far cry from spring.  It is a season that demands forbearance, for beauty is hard to find.  The frozen purity of winter is a memory, spring is a dream. . . . 

We are suspended between seasons, like becalmed sailors waiting for wind.  It used to be that these cold, patchy-snow weeks of in-between time would fill me with discontent, so eager was I for spring, for the warmth of the sun and the turn of the season, for good footing and new, green life.  For whatever might be next.  But on this damp, wind-tossed afternoon, what I feel is not my old restless yearning for something else, but a new, unfamiliar patience.  Why rush the passing of time?  Why long for a future that can't be foretold, only to miss the muddy magnificence of now?"  (pg. 282 & 285)

Well said, dear author.  Thanks again for the reminder not to rush my days and to live in the ever magnificent present.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kindred Spirits

"Kindred Spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
~ Anne Shirley ~ 
(Anne of Green Gables)

This evening I found myself engaged in yet another thoughtful conversation with our ever perceptive teenage daughter.  Sometimes I wonder if moving closer to schools and activities might hinder some of these precious discussions that seem to take shape slowly and deliberately during our 20 minutes of time together in the car.

Of course, what was on Caroline's mind is all too familiar: why we "click" so easily with some people, and others we just don't feel much of a connection, even when they are wonderful people.  I believe it's a question everyone asks.  I find it interesting that the most popular post on this blog is entitled "Soul Connection" which includes an insightful quote on the meaning of these connections, these kindred spirits we occasionally run across during our sojourn here on earth.  Every day my blog receives several hits from google with people searching "soul connection" . . . "what is a soul connection?" . . . "do soul connections exist?" etc.

Our conversation this evening gave me an opportunity to reflect on those unique friendships that have been so meaningful, and help Caroline understand that she will always have these soul connections throughout her life, and most importantly that they will find her when she least expects them and when she needs them the most.  It was rewarding for me to hear which friends of hers she is experiencing this deep bond with at the moment, and how they are influencing her life.  Also, to share with her the special friendships of my own and how I stumbled upon these kindred spirits with whom there was an immediate connection, be it at age seven or thirty-seven.

A month or so ago while listening to a book review on NPR, the author noted, "Our deepest desire is that others will see us as we see ourselves."  I think that is what a soul connection is at it's core.  It's those rare souls who can look directly into our hearts, know who we are, build us up, and love us despite our weaknesses and frailties.  As Jackson Browne so eloquently reminds me in this line from his introspective song, These Days:  "Don't confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them."

How blessed we are to be led to those who overlook our faults, help us grow, and consistently remind us of our strengths.

So, to all the kindred spirits that I have found, and to those I have yet to meet, I thank you for your friendship, love, example, spirit, patience, advice, laughter, and wisdom . . .

May my daughter ever be so blessed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2010 Catch-up post #3


I thought I'd be finished with my "catch-up" posts by the end of January, but unfortunately I still have a couple left.  So, in celebration of winter and since we are currently in the midst of the 2011 ski season, I'll write today's post on last year's season and why it was so special.

Hmmm, not just "special," rather monumental because for the first time since Ryan was born we could ALL ski together, yep, all six of us could ride up the same lifts and ski the same runs  . . . it was a long awaited moment, but last March as we ascended Snowbasin's Needles Express gondola, and then stood together at the top of the hill for a quick picture, I realized this long awaited dream finally came true.  Every person on skis with no complaining that it's too cold, or someone's too tired, or our struggle with boredom on the bunny hill.  For our family (especially me since Chris only skis a couple times a year), this was a HUGE milestone. 

Now this year, Liza stays right up with mom and Sophie has ventured off on her latest adventure - tackling black diamonds.  We have Caroline to thank for that one.  She thought it would be hilarious to take Sophie down "Challenger" at Solitude and watch her struggle and complain since I wasn't around for a rescue operation.  However, Sophie made it down with a smile and probably gained the greater satisfaction by proving her big sister wrong :-).

Some pictures from ski season 2010 . . .

Liza in lessons at Alta

Chris taking it easy on Sunnyside with Liza

FINALLY . . . riding the chairlift together - beyond the bunny hill.

Liza beginning to make her way down the "big kids hill."

Pinch me - they are finally able to ski with FRIENDS - liberation!

And the best part . . . breaking for lunch on the plaza (Brighton last year).