Madame President

You’ve heard that we have a Presidential race in the running.

I was thinking about being President.  No, no, no- not as in “Hello, Madame President Lynley”, but as in relation to crushed goldfish and melted crayons in the deepest recesses of our mini-van:  Parenting.

Being a parent is kind of like running for President.

First off- there’s no other job like it.  It’s a position you aspire to and hold in deepest respect.  I dreamed of being a parent ever since I remember, just like LBJ dreamed of being President since the First grade.  It sounds wonderful and for the most part, looks like everyone doing it is getting along  fine.

Now before you’re a president or a parent, you know just exactly what to do. You know what’s best for the country and why under the current administration, it’s all going to Hell.  Yes, there’ll be some hiccups along the way, a few tight spots, but you’ve carefully watched others parenting and have come to figure out what they’ve done wrong and  how you will do things much differently.

You make promises.  You intend to keep those promises, but little do you know that promises are hard to keep when you don’t really understand the job at hand.  And it’s a job you can’t  truly know about until you are in the thick of it.  But promises are made nonetheless and hope is talked about and we have visions of great success.

Congratulations.  You were elected!  You are now a parent.  Lots of fanfare and slapping on the back.  And it really is beautiful and wonderful and  life drips with sweetness that only a newborn can provide, or a swearin-in.  But as time goes on, the honeymoon comes to end and the “job” part of  the job begins to grind.  It’s hard.  There’s a lot riding on my shoulders.  And, and, and: This is NOT what the movies make it out to be.  Dam the movies!

Decisions.  You’ve got to make decisions!  Suddenly, life isn’t so clear anymore.  There’s more guesswork than you ever thought.  Every situation is different and though one move might have worked for one event, its not gonna work for the other.  Egypt is not the same as Iraq.  Addy is very different from Kaite.

And you lose your temper- a lot.  You have to get after people- make them do their job.  Why can’t they just do their jobs on their own?!  Where’s my manual?  I need some directions here!  But everybody tells me something different……  I feel so guilty loosing my temper.

And who’s on your side anyways?  People turn on you- suddenly you’re the “worst mom in the world”.  Your poll numbers are down.  You’ve lost the confidence of the people.  They don’t like you taking away their allowance.  They definitely don’t like you telling them what to do.  We can eat candy all day!  I hate practicing the piano!  Long-live unemployment benefits!!

So why would anyone want to be President anyways?

Well…. I’m not the best parent to be asking, but I have 4 children and in between the hard, there’s a lot of good.  A good you can’t get with any other experience.  And its in the simplest of moments that your heart soars and refuels you to keep up the good march.  Moments that cannot be captured on TV or in a book.  No one can tell you about these moments.  They come and go like fireflies in the dusk.  Blessed am I when I remember to catch those moments.

As President of the United States, you are a super parent to the world.  As parent to your child, you are the world.  And that is very special.  Let us all remember.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Marilyn and Elvis

 

 

 

 

 

How do you become a one word household name, like Marilyn or Elvis? 

Why are they so popular, so fascinating?

 

As I get older, I seem to appreciate these icons with a better sense of awe…. but not so much in my younger days.

Maybe that’s because I thought that I too, was one-of-a-kind.  That anybody could be anything they wanted.  And what you wanted was always:  the stars.  I was going to be something… didn’t know what… but something big… or important.

I didn’t understand that one-of-a-kind, means just that:  one-of-a-kind.  One in a million, one in a generation, a century, one in the sea of humanity.  These people are not a fluke- there is something to their awe.

It’s not easy to do:  icon status.

It doesn’t come to you merely by birthright or hard work or by your genetic make-up.  That kind of behavior grants you top-tier, but not icon status.  Yep- lots of people have serious credentials, impressive resumes, but they are no household name.  So what is it?!!

One evening, I was at Barnes and Noble and spotted a book on Marilyn.  I decided to take a look at her once again, and see if I could see why about half of everyone on the planet knows her name.  Growing up, I knew who she was, but never could understand her enormous appeal.  I had figured that for her time, she was a stand-out because she pushed boundaries and of course, was very sexy.  Whatever.

I began to look at her pictures.

And that’s all it took

There is something incredible about her, and something I have yet to see duplicated, even in our age where women have shown everything and then some and where we have endless possibilities with computer editing.

Recently, I read a book about her called  “Fragments:  Poems, Intimate letters,  .”  She was a little bit crazy and a lot bit genius.  But so captivating, that there I was reading a book about her.

She was a siren and a vixen.  She was delicate, naïve, innocent and certainly guilty.  She is creative, focused, confused, determined and lost.  She has a face like a diamond and of course her body speaks for itself (outloud).  Her eyes are irreproachable.

Nowadays, there are so many pictures of incredibly beautiful women.  But for the most part, there is something lacking in them- in their eyes, their face, their posing.  I can’t really describe it, but to say that it is the “x factor” that makes Marilyn still captivating.  If you read about her and look at her pictures, I think you will see what I mean.  Whether you like her or not, there is some magic to her.

I’m not alone here.  Millions of people see this in her.  Indeed, she is a pin-up girl, and if you google her name, you’ll see image after image of her desperately trying to look sexy.  It seems ridiculous to me, but for her, it was what she poured her whole soul into and all that seemed important.  She had a rough upbringing -shake that up with a naturally robust libido and some unfocused genius, and you get the Marilyn cocktail.  She was mixed up and mislead and made many mistakes, but her desire was genuine.   I had not thought she was genuine- but you can’t get more so.

Another icon, I am appreciating more and more these days is the big one:  Elvis

Just watch this little clip and you’ll see what I mean:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yyw3H3o_Tw&feature=related

Is he adorable or what?  The gleam in his eyes, the natural charm.  The crazy dancing, the chocolate soda voice- he was incredible.  I can see why he was such an earthquake on the scene in the 50’s.  Just look at the guys who are the background singers.  That’s how everyone else acted.  Then there’s Elvis.

He was an original.  He had true creative thought, doing whatever came bubbling up from his very soul.  And of course he was talented.  But it’s that creative thought- originality, bringing something all new to the table and the audacity to do it.  So difficult for the rest of us, but so easy for Elvis.

It’s icon status baby!

As for me?  My icon-making days are over and squandered- and really, were never there in the first place.  And rather than placing great value to it, I look at iconicism as more of a fascination than something I want to be.  Besides, I can barely make do with one household knowing my first  name.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Chamomile

When Eli, my fourth child, was around 4 or 5 months old, I began to have problems sleeping.  More than the usual sleeping problems that come with a new baby.  I would wake-up with a jolt, sit straight-up like a Jack-in-the box and gasp.  I’m sure there’s a term for this, but that’s the description.  My dreams were restless, not restful and I found myself hoping I wouldn’t dream every night.  I knew something was wrong, I knew I was only on a hill… going down.

I began to realize a pattern in the dreams.  They were all about me forgetting something:  like a child.  I would be at the park, watching a friend’s son or daughter.  I’d load my kids in the car and drive off.  Later, when the mom came to get her child, I wouldn’t know where she was and realize I had left her at the park.  And feel awful.

Or I would leave Eli, in his baby carrier, on top of the car…. Like my dad would leave his scriptures on his way to church.  Then I would drive off and some passerby would honk wildly and tell me there was a baby on top of the car!  I would go mad wondering how in the world I had forgotten to put Eli inside the car!?

I had variations of these scenarios for a couple of weeks- it began to be a real problem.  After reflecting on what was happening, I realized that I had….. ANXIETY.  I guess having four children, and lack of sleep with the baby, had pushed me over the edge and started to affect my mental health.  There were so many things to remember to do, so many things to be responsible for, so much to forget, four little children to protect and nurture…..  My sleep-deprived brain was not handling it too well, and this came out in my dreams.  There was also an aspect of social embarrassment to it- because many of my dreams would involve disappointing others and me being very embarrassed.

I was surprised to know that anxiety was affecting me in a very real way.  Most people think I am pretty laid back… maybe too much.  But thinking back to my childhood, I realized I have some innate personality traits that would lead to these feelings.

I would have broke the piggy bank for these little dandies.

I remembered I used to organize my clothes in my closet.  I would put up tags:  long sleeve section, short sleeve, skirts, pants, sweaters, etc.  All my closets were organized and decorated.  My room was almost always clean.  I had read that classical music would help your brain while sleeping, so I tried sleeping to Mozart for several months.  I always had to go to the bathroom, the very last minute before I went to bed.  If I had gone 20 minutes before, I would still go.  I had to kiss my mom and dad goodnight every single night, right before I went downstairs to my room.  I had to check all the entry doors in my house, the stove and even the rarely opened basement doors to make sure everything was safe, every night.  I was the seatbelt Naziz.  Each time the family climbed into the car, I would make sure everybody had their seatbelt on.  I felt strongly that these things needed to be done, to protect the family, and if I didn’t do them, no one would.  And then it would be my fault if something happened. At the time, I didn’t know I was being obsessive complulsive.   I just thought I was doing what was sensible.

A couple of things helped me stop:  My sister.  She was the exact opposite.  Very messy.  Stayed up late, slept in late, clothes all over, nothing organized, always late, very relaxed… never knew if the basement door was locked at night.  I had to share a room with her… and through many fights and extreme frustration, she mellowed me out.  She would tell me I didn’t need to go to the bathroom- that I would be fine.  And I was.

Also, I realized one day that I didn’t really need to go through my nightly lockdown routine.  I was tired of it and something in the back of my pragmatic mind, told me it wasn’t quite right to be so emphatic about it.  (My parents never caught on to my behavior, and thus were not able to steer me right)  So I stopped. But it wasn’t easy- I really had to talk myself out of it.  I told myself- so what?  Let the burglar come!  I’m not going to worry about it.   And if I had climbed into bed and didn’t check the stove… so what!  I would make myself stay in bed.  THE HOUSE WILL NOT BURN DOWN.  In the car, I’d limit myself to only one reminder (instead of 15) to put on seatbelts, and then I let it drop.  I didn’t want to be the nazi anymore.  And eventually, those compulsive, anxiety-ridden actions began to sluff off.  I knew I didn’t have to do all that craziness.

I still kissed my parents goodnight.

But this behavior all stopped by the time I was about 10 or 11.   Since then, I don’t remember having any other bouts of anxiety.  So it had been a long time.

The dreams were more unique.  I couldn’t just say:  stop dreaming!  I didn’t see a way I could control them.  I knew I had to get more sleep, so that’s what I tried to do.

As a rule, I stay away from chemical drugs and always try a more natural approach first.   A friend of mine recommended taking chamomile tea before bed.  I looked into it and decided to try it.  I have great faith in herbal teas.

So every night, about an hour before I would fall asleep, I brewed up some chamomile tea and drank it straight and strong, after it had cooled down.

Fresh chamomile flowers. Daisy-like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chamomile tea is made of the dried flower heads.

It worked.  I stopped bolting up like a marionette doll.  I began to fall asleep easier and faster and soon I felt sleep was once again, a restful activity.

Recently, my son was having a hard time sleeping because he had read a series of books that were scarier than he had anticipated (the Skeleton Creek series- gotta check them out).  He couldn’t sleep for three days straight.  Seriously.  He was up in our room at all hours of the night.  The fourth and fifth night I gave him chamomile tea and he slept sweetly.  He’s a believer.

These books are classic scary and unique as you read a little, than go online to see a video of the next bit of action.. than back to the book. Really brings the characters to life!

 

But don’t take our word for it.  There have been a few studies performed on the calming effects of chamomile tea, and more to come:

http://www.timeforwellness.org/blog-view/chamomile-relieves-anxiety-76

 

http://www.livestrong.com/article/120653-uses-chamomile-tea/

 

In general, there aren’t many great studies on natural products.  Why?  There’s no money in them.  Drug companies want a unique, complicated pill they can make in a lab and exactly control so they can then patent it and make millions.  You can’t patent chamomile.

Chamomile has helped me- so I wanted to share this with you.  Mine was a case of mild anxiety, but I believe it would have blossomed like a cancer if I hadn’t done something about it.  We have to take these things seriously, and nip them in the bud… chop them off if they’ve flowered.

Here’s a little more info about chamomile:     Chamomile is well-renowned for its tranquilizer effects and, as such, it is often used to help combat anxiety and insomnia. The constituent apigenin may be the active ingredient responsible for chamomile’s anti-anxiety and sedative powers. In addition, chamomile tea can promote a real relaxing effect after a hectic day.

One of the most prized benefits of chamomile is as a digestive aid and carminative. It is considered very useful for managing many gastrointestinal complaints such as colic, indigestion, gastritis, diarrhea, and peptic ulcers.

Posted in Health | 3 Comments

Sweet Summer and a Blueberry Tart

I am back from Summer’s Leave of Absence.  Yep, I had zero desire to write on this blog, as that would require me sitting down, formulating thoughts, writing, re-writing.  Certainly not going to happen in the heat with all my kids home, and my sister’s kids and no air-conditioning.  And I can’t waste even one precious second of summer’s dripping idleness.

I have just looked through the many hundreds of pictures we took these past few months, and wanted to share some of my favorite Summer times.  All these pictures are nostagically generic- you’ve been there before.  I picked them to bring you back, to those sweet memories of Summer’s heat.

Summerness

First day of Summer is when it's hot enough to get wet. These days, city water parks are all the rage. Remember laying on the hot cement to get warm?

(:

Summer reminds me Freedom isn't Free

Big fireworks are great, but there's nothing like holding a showering torch. Whoot!

Snakies.  It's a fascination.... like popsicles.

Snakies. It's a fascination... like popsicles.

Sunny parades, on the curb

The best view of the parade. Long live Candy Parades and cinnamon taffy.

Summer is when the clowns come out.

A Summer's test of courage... and trust.

Swim lessons! Goggles are so cool.

Summer's comraderie

The Roman baths of Summer

Motoring up the ridge line to see the view.

A time to breathe the best air in the world

Like moths to the light. I'm bored! Can I play Spore on the computer? "No." Please, mom! "No!"..... OK, Fine, but only for 30 minutes." (Three hours later... still playing) Ahh, summer.

Lagoon, Six Flags, Boondocks... smell of asphalt.

Lagoon, Six Flags, Boondocks... smell of asphalt.

I remember every year getting my face painted at the Utah Arts Festival. I loved it.

Summer brings trips to...... places. Like Kennecot Copper Mine. This is one of the tires used on a gravel truck- big as a house!

Cabbage seeds sent home from the elementary at the end of their "plants and living things" unit. They worked- we were all amazed.

So much time in the summer..... time to just do anything.... right Eli and Max!?

Punchdrunk

I'm ending with this one, because me and my kids on a lake, in a river or at a beach is my ultimate ideal of Summer.

Summer is full of good food.  I can’t leave off my epitaph without a favorite dessert, which is……….  the blueberry tart.  Ohhhhhh, you are in for a treat today!   It doesn’t look like much, but that’s the power of perfected simplicity.  It has a buttery, shortbread crust filled with cooked and fresh blueberries.  The process of the cooking, turns the blueberries into their best “blue” flavor and served with a dollop of fresh whipped crème…. It’s a pleasure.  This is a little gem of Summer.

First had this at a skincare home party put on by a darling neighbor in Carnation.  She picked the blueberries from her inlaws bushes.  I was pleasantly surprised, it was so good.  A full year later, I asked for the recipe when my sister, Jaclyn was visiting Carnation and we had picked 12 pounds of exceptional blueberries from Remlinger’s fields.  Again, it didn’t disappoint.

The recipe comes from the cookbook:  Albertina’s Exceptional Recipes- Albertina Kerr Centers.  A collection of recipes served in restaurants where all proceeds go to children’s care centers.  Albertina’s was originally an orphanage.

Blueberry Tart

Crust:                                                      

1 cup flour

¼ t. salt

2 T. sugar

½ cup cold butter

1 T. white vinegar

Filling:

5 cups blueberries, divided

2/3 cup sugar

3 T. flour

½ cup whipping cream, whipped and sweetened for garnish

To make crust, combine flour, salt and sugar.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until the dough resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle vinegar over the top and mix in until ball starts to form.  Gather into a ball.  With lightly floured fingers, press into a greased, 9 inch spring form pan, about ¼ inch thick and extending up the side one inch. (this takes a little time)

To make filling, put 3 cups blueberries into the crust.  Mix sugar, cinnamon and flour.  Sprinkle evenly over berries.  Bake on lowest rack in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and gently stir sugar mixture into berries.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 15-20 minutes until crust is brown and filling bubbles.

Remove and sprinkle with remaining 2 cups of berries.  Cool and serve with whipped cream.

Posted in random, Recipes | 3 Comments

Circles

To do two things at once, is to do neither.

When I had my first baby, I started watching The Today Show with Katie Couric.  She was the only news person I quite liked on all the morning shows.  She knew the right questions to ask, made people feel comfortable and just seemed to be someone you could identify with- she was good at genuine.  News casters have a hard time with that personal connection- a tough balance to try and be issue-neutral, report the news without bias and also to get their audience to like them.  Katie knew how to do it- she was brilliant.  However, I have not liked her so much as an anchor- and I think she recognizes it is not her strength.  I knew before she became an anchor, as whenever I would see her host a late night, news show, she all of a sudden seemed stiff and awkward.  I guess you can’t have it all.

So I was watching the Today Show, many years back and they had a psychologist on the show.  She was talking about stress and time management within women’s lives.   She made a statement that surprised me and has stuck with me ever since.  She said that often women and mom’s are proud of the fact that they can multi-task.  But that actually, multi-tasking is BAD.  Rather, one should focus on completing tasks before moving on to the other.  The brain likes to complete tasks and it helps the brain become stronger.

I found an article online with this information:

Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, says that for the most part, we simply can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.

What we can do, he said, is shift our focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed.

“Switching from task to task, you think you’re actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not,” Miller said.

“You’re not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly.”

Miller said there are several reasons the brain has to switch among tasks. One is that similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain.

“Think about writing an e-mail and talking on the phone at the same time. Those things are nearly impossible to do at the same time,” he said.

“You cannot focus on one while doing the other. That’s because of what’s called interference between the two tasks,” Miller said. “They both involve communicating via speech or the written word, and so there’s a lot of conflict between the two of them.”

My 60 year old aunt once told me that she has a harder time reading, than she did when she was younger.  She said it was harder for her to sit down and focus.   I thought that very strange and tried to wonder why.

Now watch this three minute video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oHBG3ABUJU

Scary huh!  I think most moms who see this video, will identify just a bit with this woman.  I find myself having so many things to do, starting something here, than realizing I need to do this other thing, etc. etc.  And the very most difficult part:  interruptions from children.  This is what causes my “ADD.”  In fact, this woman’s ADD was labeled as “age induced”- but what about the “children induced” diagnosis?

It’s so true.  Mom’s have lots of time at home, but very little uninterrupted time- a block of sweet concentration that they don’t have to change a diaper, fix lunch, clean-up the goldfish crumbs on the floor, read a story, find a band-aid, answer a question, answer another question, than another.  In fact, in trying to type this post, I have already been interrupted five times.  The boys wanted to play a computer game, Kaite wanted to go to the rec center with friends, Jack needed to do the dishes, babies waking from naps, etc. etc.  It’s hard to get back into my train of thought and to even really think.  It’s annoying too.  My brain doesn’t like it.

And I’m behind on this blog.  It’s summer, the kids are home 24/7 and there’s so much fun in the sun.  Any free time I have is spent catching up on bills and emails or reading or watching BBC Victorian dramacomedies (Larkspur to Candleford).  And anyways I never feel like thinking when I’m sunburned.

Years of this add up.  I’ve been more aware of this lately as I try to get through the pile of tasks that are mine.  I have to really focus on going  from A to B to C and not starting something else before I finish the original task.  Otherwise, I run in circles like the woman from the video and don’t get much done- though I flap my wings a lot.

The fastest way from point A to B is a straight line

And I’m talking simple things here too.  Like waking in the morning and wanting to start a load of laundry, so I get out the clothes, but than I see that one of Addy’s shirts needs to be mended, so I get out the thread, but then Eli wakes up and I get some cereal for him.. what was I doing?  Oh, yeah, the laundry.  I go to put it in, but then realize that Eli has spilled milk on the floor, put the laundry bag down and wipe up the floor.  Eww- the floor is really dirty.  I should sweep it.  So I go to sweep it, but then Jack and Kaite get in an argument that I have to go moderate.  I do my best at that, and return to… what was I doing?  Then I see the camera lying on the table and think “I need to get those pictures in the computer so I can put them in the album”.  I turn on the computer and instead of downloading the images, I check email and respond to some facebook message.  I am just about done with the message, but before I send it, Addy comes in and asks me to do her hair.  So I put braids in and see the laundry basket on the floor next to the machine and realize I haven’t put the laundry in yet….

Yep.  Not cool.  I can do better.  So I’m trying to push through with each of my tasks.  Get one thing done before I go on to the next.

I just got back from making dinner and desert (is my house the only place where we still have desert every day??)  And I was thinking.  How in the world can I really not multi-task?  There are so many things happening at once, all the time, in this household. (just a minute, Addy wants to show me her castle)…. OK.  I’m back.  So…. Um, yeah.  Really, how do I better this situation?  Lots to do, lots of interruptions.

This is what I made... ooolala

I guess it comes down to mental awareness.  Being aware that I need to follow through on tasks, focus on a few at a time, finish before starting another.  Another “duh” answer, but there’s power in the basics.

I just don’t want to go crazy.  Interesting though, I never have a problem completing a desert.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Goblin Valley

It’s January.  You’ve just been through Christmas- one of the busier times of the year.  You’re taking down the decorations, vacuuming up tinsel and the last of the pine needles.  The days are darker and colder, scarves sit at the door, ready to be wrapped around neck and face on the day’s errands.   Night comes quickly, a perfect blue sunset to sip hot chocolate and wonder if you’ll make some New Years resolutions.  Most importantly, you’re breathing a sigh of relief , welcoming this quiet month from the hustle and bustle of December.

Errrrrkk.  STOP!  Stop relaxing.  You’re allready running out of time.  Cause it’s time!  Time to begin planning your summer camping!!  Get out of that heated recliner and start wondering where you’re going to hike and explore this Spring.

It’s the awful truth.   These days, if you don’t reserve 6 months in advance, you most likely won’t get a spot- at least to the State and National Parks, which is where we love to camp.  I remember growing up, my parents would decide they wanted to camp at the beginning of the month, call for reservations for the end of the month and they never had a problem booking a sight.  Nowadays, the park ranger chuckles in the receiver, if you think you can get a spot with such short notice.

I don’t understand WHY the campsites are so full all the time.  We don’t know any families that camp as much as we do- very few of our friends even camp once a year.  It seems like people camp less, not more.  Is it because there are more people in the world, from when I was a kid???  It’s a mystery.

This Summer, I knew we wanted to take the kids out hiking all over Utah- to my favorite spots as a kid.  We haven’t been in Utah for the past ten years, and aren’t sure if we’ll be here next Summer, so this was it!  I figured I wanted to camp at least twice a month and seeing as our kids are older now, we can wear them out and not loose our marbles.  Kids pass a certain age and instead of exploding into uncontrollable screaming fits when they don’t take naps and get worn out, they actually just fall asleep faster at night.  It’s a wonderful thing.

Every summer, we like to camp.  But to sit down…. you know: take the time…, figure out WHERE we want to go and WHAT we are going to do when we get there, then finding a place to stay,etc. etc, is a pain.

Where to go, what to do?  Where to go, what to do?  Seems like there’s always places and ideas we think we want to go, but when you actually have to make plans, the mind blanks out.  Yep- remember writing those school papers- you had to come up with your thesis- the main idea of the whole paper.  Man! that took forever.  It was by far, the hardest part of the entire paper.

The thesis of camping, is the WHERE.  Once we have that, the rest isn’t so bad.  But that thesis can leave me sitting fruitless for hours and days on end.  Seriously- just taking the time to figure out what we want to do is a killer.  If I was rich, I’d hire my own personal events planner.  How sweeeeeeet would that be.

This year was different.  I knew exactly where, and happily,it was a matter of limiting the choices.  And then I got to thinking that someone else might want their own personal events planner, and here I am:  sharing my ides with you, so you don’t even have to fret!  A gift. ( your sitting there, smile on your face, thinking “and I’m not even rich”)

With four kids, ages 6-13, we have requirements:  the hikes can’t be too long or too hard, but we want to push our kids.   We like to have one big, all day hike with a destination, like a waterfall or arches or something really memorable.  We camp Friday-Sunday to limit days off work and it seems to be a perfect amount of time for lots of trips.

Goblin Valley       In May, we drove 4 ½ hours south to Goblin Valley.  You want to camp Southern Utah in May and no later than June, as July and August are too hot hot hot.  Even though I called in March, there were no reservations available at the State campsite.  However, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has land available to first come/ first serve and it’s free!  No water, showers or toilets- but beautiful sites right up next to the red rock swells.  We stayed off of Little Wild Horse Road- just past the gravel pit.  We came down Friday afternoon and there were plenty of spots- even better  than the state campsite, except for the toilet situation.  But not such a situation if you don’t mind driving a few extra minutes to the state campsite and using their toilets: once in the morning, once in the afternoon, once before bed.  (could you do it?)  And if you’re a woman- stick to your guns.  Men don’t know what they’re talking about as they belittle you for wanting to drive to the state site to use the potty.

Our campsite on BLM land

Our day hike:  The Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Loop– round trip 8 miles.  Yep- 8 miles was a bit too long for the little ones.  My recommendation to you (if you have kids aged 8 or under), would be to just hike Little Wild Horse Canyon, which is an up and back slot canyon.  You could hike for an hour and a half, turn around and hike back.  Little Wild Horse is the best of the two canyons- beautiful narrows that everybody will love hiking.  It’s an easy, flat hike through the slot canyon with a little bit of scrambling.  These are some of the best narrows in Utah!  If you enjoy a longer hike and seeing beautiful country, than take the whole loop- just know kids get tired of the same scenery very quickly.  To them, it’s a lot of looking down at the trail putting one foot in front of the other.

Here’s the long part of the hike- circling Bell canyon into Little Wild Horse. This is where the kids get tired.

All kinds of rock sculptures with the soft and hard sands throughout the swell

Looking for next year's Christmas card? This is my sister Carrie's family.

Additional hike:  Goblin Valley.  This isn’t a hike, but an exploration. Totally cool valley, you have to visit this place.  Lots of red rock shaped as mushrooms and melted ice cream cones lined up across a huge flat sandfloor, surrounded by red rock walls.  We played hide and seek here during the day and came back in the evening to play flashlight tag.  Really really fun- kids loved it.

Goblin Valley

Can you see the little spot, who is Addy? She's a bit of a red rock goat.

The Goblins

Hide and Seek

This is the first installment.  Next time, I’ll write about Zions and Calf Creek.

Posted in things to do | 4 Comments

The Green Thing

My mom doesn’t get on Facebook, she doesn’t read blogs (mine included), she searches on Google… maybe once a month? (just doesn’t occur to her to use it when she has a question about something- like the number to the post office), and she will NOT buy anything online with her credit card (fear of identity theft, not to mention she just started using a debit card a few years ago).  You might wonder what does she do on the internet?

Can’t answer that, but this I know:  she sends email… in two categories.  She is the care that holds the family together- so category one is: family happenings (a million thanks mom!).  And category #2- “pass it along” emails- the kind that always end in:  “if this made you smile, please pass it on to twenty friends” or “make sure this gets heard and hearts are touched”.    

And most of them do make me smile and often warm my heart.  The interesting thing, is there’s a certain trend to them- a generational trend.  I like to see what she sends as opposed to friends my age- there really is a difference, especially if the topic isn’t cute pets or inspiring landscapes.

I think her favorite emails to pass-a-long are about the good ‘ole days.  My mom is a postwar baby, who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s in Ogden, UT.  She absolutely thinks that her childhood was ideal and misses those days of Sunday drives, buying delicious hamburgers for a dime and sitting on the porch as the sun sets, chatting with neighbors and family out on walks.  She sends us emails that talk about fond memories of the way things used to be and most of them seem to be a slight affront to the current generation.  Though I think that is more out of the fear of being over-looked and underappreciated, then truly wanting to bash.

A week or two ago, she sent me this email:

In the line at the  store, the cashier told the older woman that she should
bring her own grocery  bag because plastic bags weren’t good for the
environment.
The woman apologized to him and explained,
“We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”
The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.
The former  generation did not care enough to save our environment.”
He was right,  that generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, they  returned their milk bottles,
soda bottles and beer bottles to the store.
The store sent them back to the plant to be washed
and sterilized and refilled,
so it could use the same bottles over and over.
So they really were recycled.
But they didn’t have the green thing back in that customer’s day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they

didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building.

They walked to the grocery store and
didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine
every time they had to go two blocks.
But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.
Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers
because they didn’t have the throw-away kind.
They dried clothes on a line,
not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts –
wind and solar power really did dry the clothes.
Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters,
not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady is right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.
Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the  house – not a TV in every room.
And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief,
not a screen the size of the state of Montana.
In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because
they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you.
When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail,
they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it,
not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline
just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power.
They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club
to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she’s right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty
instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time
they had a drink of water.
They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen,
and they replaced the razor blades in a razor
instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus
and kids rode their bikes to school or walked
instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.
They had one electrical outlet in a room,
not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And they didn’t need a computerized gadget
to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out  in space
in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks
were just because they didn’t have the green thing back then?
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

And my thoughts in response?:

All those energy saving actions performed in the past, were done out of economic necessity, not out of thought or design for the environment.   People returned soda and milk bottles to the store because it saved them money, not because they cared about over production.   They walked up stairs, not from choice, but because there were no elevators.  They walked to the stores because they wanted to save gas money or simply didn’t have a car- not because they wanted to get in some exercise or burn less gas into the environment.  They used cloth diapers because they didn’t have the amazing gel diapers available today, not because they were trying to save the landfills.

I could go on, but you get my point.  All these energy saving actions performed in the past were great, but were not done out of concern for the environment.  Most people didn’t even know what environmentalism was- in fact, using less energy wasn’t about reducing greenhouse gases, but about reducing the electric bill.  It was about saving money$$.  And certainly, you can see how history shapes the path.  My parents grew up in a home that had been through the Depression and WW2.  Their issues of the day were about survival.  Their hard work, frugality and sacrifices during those difficult days have led to our current comfort of living, so that we can even begin to think about environmentalism on a local and world wide scale.

In the email, the author acknowledges that many of these “green things” were done out of simple necessity.  I think the author really just wants us to understand that even though they weren’t environmentally aware, they were not as wasteful and consumptive as the people of today and should be given respect.  I give them great respect, but the people that really blow me away and have my “awe” are those who throughout the decades, have purposely lived the Green Thing, despite the trend.

I guess this just got me thinking of how environmentalism has become more mainstream.  I find these processes very interesting.  I never thought about recycling, until someone else did.  I didn’t worry about air pollution, until someone else read the research and shared their findings.  I’m racking my memory, trying to think of an environmental idea that was before someone else showed me the way.

Good news- I can think of one!

Todd and I were about to buy a Family Car.  We wanted at least 7 seats.  We researched our favorites on consumer reports and narrowed it down.  At the time, we lived in Dallas and I was still in my 20’s.  A mini-van was soooooooooo considered FRUMPY.  I thought to myself:  “Nobody will look at me if I’m riding in a mini-van.  I’ll be a soccer mom (?&*).  Minivans are boring.  Minivans are for people without style.”  I didn’t want one- I preferred the more sleek and upscale Toyota Sequoia OR the super swank, all HotMommaTexans were driving them:  Black Suburban.

Minivan:  not cool.  Blah.

Black Suburban:  Go girl!

Welllll, Todd didn’t seem to have the same hang-ups.  He pointed out that the minivan was the safest and had the best gas mileage.  I was thinking that maybe I’d pay a little more to drive my image.

We continued weighing the pros and cons, and seeing how 9/11 had just happened, we talked about oil, gas and how it fuels all those corrupt regimes across the Middle East and Africa.  We thought about how cars pollute the environment with their low gas mileage ratios.  Finally, I realized that the minivan really was the best choice for the environment (not to mention world peace).

I like this image

Ohhhh it was hard to come to that decision.  Nobody I knew bought a car based on it’s environmental footprint.  I know there were people out there, but nobody I knew.  And so we bought the Toyota Sienna.  And Lordy!  It drives like a dream!

But back to the post.  The author forgot to praise our generation for actually being aware of the environment and making conscious choices to protect our beautiful planet (unlike their generation).  We are amazing (and terrible), and it is just the beginning.  And mom, lest you forget, be proud of the current generation:  you raised us!

Posted in Environment, random | 5 Comments