Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Goals, Resolutions and Choices.

Even when I was young I was taught to make goals.

Little ones.

Big ones.

It didn't matter.

Just set goals so that I would accomplish something.

I hate setting goals.

Well now, I do anyway.

When I was younger I would set a goal and "voila" I'd achieve them:

Run hurdles in high school track-- check
Run for Student Council and make it in-- check
Beat my dad in a race-- check
Read the Book of Mormon-- check, check, check
Memorize the Articles of Faith-- check
Grow out my hair-- check
Stay in shape (too easy)-- check
Make the high school basketball team-- check, check, check
Earn my Young Women's Medallion-- check
Get straight A's-- check
Get a scholarship to college-- check
Make new friends-- check
Get married-- check
Have children-- ... wait a while....
Find out why you can't have children-- ... wait a while....

Anyway, do you get the picture?

It was like I had been fooled my whole life thinking that all I had to do was set a goal and "boom!" I'd achieve it.

If I didn't achieve the goal it was because I hadn't worked hard enough, didn't want it bad enough, or ... well... I just don't remember not achieving a goal when I was younger... I'm 90 percent sure that might be the rose colored glasses I have to view my past through, but I had so much time to focus on myself and what I wanted to accomplish.

I set goals all the time now and I laugh at myself for doing it.

Setting personal goals that are completely for me, don't seem to stand a chance against all that needs to be accomplished just to be a responsible adult, wife and mother.

I know I made this announcement that I would write more often in my blog and "BAM!!"

I failed.

I thought it was such a simple goal.

But, I cursed myself.

I should never have said it was a goal.

Goal? Resolution? What the difference? Really Rachael, did you think you were tricking yourself into succeeding?


Well, instead of making goals thinking I will check them off like I did as a young teenager, I am going to make strides forward. I mean, heck, I'm lucky to get me and the kids out the door on time every morning... I don't want to wear myself out!

Yep, I am deciding today that my life's success cannot be measured in goals accomplished, but instead, as strides forward... happy moments... choosing happy.

My dear friend gave me a gift. It's this cute little sign with a simple motto:

"Choose Happy"

So I'm just sticking with that.

I am going to continue to make a choice every day.

I've been doing it my whole life.

Some times successfully and sometimes miserable-y, but I choose it most of the time.

No goals.

No resolutions.

Just choices.

Maybe I can do that... but I am not going to make it a goal.

(OK, let's all just face it, I just want to make myself feel better about not writing in my blog as often as I had  hoped.)

((BUT, I did take my daughter by myself to Florida for a week! AND I got a job working at SCERA as a scenic painter!))

photo by me, courtesy of SCERA

photo by me, courtesy of SCERA

photo by me, courtesy of SCERA

Sunday, January 13, 2019


My dad has loved doing jigsaw puzzles for as long as I can remember. I learned how to put one together and I LOVE doing them and the challenge they bring and that it is a challenge I can succeed in finishing.

I am often the sibling that starts a puzzle with him before everyone else gets there on Sunday and they have to jump in to help finish it so we have the table for dinner. Dad and I have learned to do the 500 piece or less so we can succeed in this before dinner is ready. The 1000 piece puzzles are more for the days we are doing puzzles only and not having a big family dinner.

Marc has been so thoughtful with his picture taking lately and I was so happy to see he got this one of me,
my brother and my dad all working hard to place our pieces so we could make room for dessert.

Avery has been really into doing puzzles for about a year now, but it does go in spurts. She gets very nervous that she won't complete it just right when she is first starting, but once she gets past the nerves she flies through them. She has asked Marc often to do a puzzle with her.

Here are couple over the last 2 weeks that they have worked on and completed:

I'm so proud of her for doing these puzzles and really challenging herself

When putting puzzles together with my dad, he always taught me to flip all the pieces over to the picture side up, find as many edges as you can to start building your frame, then find sections and work on the sections as you find them, and when possible, have a reference picture of the finished puzzle.

If I sit down with a pile of puzzle pieces and pick only one out of the pile, I just stare at it for a while not knowing where it belongs.

I know I wouldn't be successful doing it that way. I would get overwhelmed, frustrated and just give up on finishing the puzzle at all.

I do better with a framework to work within and kind of get my bearings on where certain sections of the puzzle belong.

So here I am in my life, slightly puzzled.

Yep, life itself can also be puzzling.

I think I have my framework together and then as I get moving along I realize that I had some empty spots so get hung up on finding that one piece and then I inadvertently skip over the pieces that compile the beautiful sunflower field that belongs in the center. Or, in relation to life... I feel like I am not doing all I can as a wife or mother, which are like the framework of my existence these last few years and I forget to enjoy the pieces that have fallen together without really even noticing-- like the laughter of the kids when they tell each other jokes, the moments they serve and help one another or the hugs they shower me with.

Sometimes the middle comes together before all the framework has been laid in place, but the important part to recognize is that it is the puzzle, as a whole, that shows the entire picture.

You have to step back and look at how your life is coming together beautifully piece by piece.

There may be "empty" spaces that we see as we step back to look at it all, but that doesn't mean that those pieces were lost or given to someone else... it will all come together in time.

We have to trust the Creator that He has given and will still give us all the pieces that are needed to complete the full picture.

Until it is altogether, just enjoy the process of figuring it out, studying it out and the smaller pictures you can depict along the way.

And, ya, sometimes there is a whirlwind that will sweep some, if not all, of the pieces into a pile on the floor. But trust me, you will be able to pick all of the pieces back up and start placing them one-by-one back into place and it may seem more familiar as you go along this time so you just have to soak up the wisdom you have gained in the experience.

I guess I'm saying all this, not because you need the advice/analogy, but more so is that I do.

I need to remember to keep placing my pieces and enjoy the process on not dwell on the pieces I haven't found yet.

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Sinking Feeling

The water pressure in our kitchen sink has been absolutely horrible the last few days.

It has been driving me nuts because I can't rinse things off/out as well as I'm used to. I mean, I am a busy woman, I don't have 2 minutes to rinse out a chili can so it can go into recycle... no! I have 15 seconds. Give me the water pressure back!

Because things seem to go awry so often around here I just assumed that along with the other two leaks we have buckets sitting under, that we had now sprung a new one that was affecting our water pressure. I mean, that would be the logical explanation... think the worst and then if it's just a clogged faucet head then it will seem like an answer to a prayer!

See how I work? I plan for the worst so I can get excited when it isn't so bad. This is how I lead a happy life, it's not a positive outlook, per sé, it's more of a positive attitude toward the negative that gets me through life.

Ha ha!

It's true though.

Anyway, so miracle of miracles, we indeed did NOT have a leak in our kitchen plumbing! We had a clogged faucet head from hard water deposits! Woot! Bring in the hubby to pull the faucet head apart, bring out the ammonia to soak the hard water deposits off and leave the sink undone for a bit.

Then fix dinner.

I didn't know what to fix for dinner.

I wasn't really in the mood to cook... OK, really I wasn't in the mood to tromp out the back door into the cold, down the snow-covered stairs and into the dark garage whose light never seems to light the corner that the deep freeze is in so I have to pull out my phone to use as my trusty flashlight only to realize I left it with Joslin in the house so now I would be rummaging through the dark freezer with my fingertips hoping to find what I thought might be chicken.

Nope, I wasn't in the mood for that routine so I decided to do chili dogs because that was stuff I had in the cupboard and the fridge inside. I had solved my problem before even facing it.

I opened two cans of chili and scraped them out into a pan to cook.

OK, chili in the pan. Burner on.

Wait... my eye sees the empty chili cans. I need to rinse them out before the chili gets all hardened on the sides and makes life worse for those who work with our recycling.

But the faucet head is off the sink and sitting on the other counter...Wait... (I think to myself) it's just the faucet head that is off and soaking in ammonia. The line that slides up and down through the faucet is still usable.

So I grab the end of the hose and begin to rinse out the chili cans! The pressure is back! I am so excited to rinse out this chili can in 30 seconds flat!

The first can getting rinsed out was swift and no issues so I moved the clean can back to the counter and grabbed the other dirty chili can.

But this time the water and the sink had sneaky plans.

Right as I went to pick up the hose running the water a burst of pressure pulled the hose out of me hand and began violently whipping water all over the kitchen and into my face.

This experience was quite shocking and, therefore, I wasn't thinking correctly as I turned to face the offending hose trying to get the hose out of the the neck of the faucet where it had retreated like a turtle or a child who knows they did something wrong.

Then it hit me.

Well, yes, the water... but other than that the clear thought, "turn off the water!" shot into my head.

The fountain of rebellious water was now back under control and the hose had retreated comfortably  in the the neck of the faucet.

Water was dripping from my eyelashes, my shirt and pants were soaked and I could here a dribbling of water behind me.

I looked around and there was water all over the stove and the counter next to it. So much water was on the countertop that it was creating its own Niagra Falls in my kitchen.

My first gut reaction was to scream and yell that it happened and then I caught myself and started laughing hysterically.

"Bwa ha ha ha ha a!!! Who does this kind of stuff?


I wish I could have had it recorded so you could all laugh at the spectacle.

But, I thought to take pictures to give you a slight idea.

The sprayer part that I was cleaning.

Here's the hose that the sprayer goes onto

This is the culprit. This tiny little hose end peeking out of the faucet's neck.

Ignore the mess and look to the left where my hand is holding the faucet tubing. I wanted you to have an idea of how far the water shot out.
Only me, guys! Only me!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The not-so-cheery cheer mom

It's Saturday and I was up at 5:45 am this morning when my phone started chirping it's annoying, yet effective, wake-up call.

I had this day in the bag.

I got up and went downstairs to wake Brighton up so I could be sure to get him to the cheer bus on time.

We didn't have to be to his bus until 7:30, but considering all the work I had to complete today and the fact that Brighton can take some of the longest, most pointless, showers in the world, I knew I had to start early.

He was actually really good to spring right out of bed. He always is when he knows that cheer is involved that day.

I started editing some photos while I let him take his time in the shower since no one else was getting up any time soon so he could hog all the hot water. Surprisingly, though, he was done in 20 minutes! It usually, even with my strong encouragement and guidance, takes up to an hour. This signaled to me his extreme excitement for the big Sparkle Cheer Competition in Roy, Utah.

Seeing him being so motivated and independent this morning got me even more excited for my plan I had set out in my head of Marc, me and the girls driving one hour and ten minutes to go see his competition routine.

We got his snacks ready, his meds, his iPod and HSM (High School Musical) microphone---he was ready to compete.

He looks so handsome in his OHS Sparkle Cheer Uniform.

His Former coaches, Abi and Debi applied for OHS' special needs cheer team to be part of the National cheer group created for people with special needs The Sparkle Effect. So, now, even though Brighton doesn't go to high school anymore, the brought Brighton on as an "Assistant Coach." He loves every minute of it.

I was trying to get housework done while simultaneously getting work done so, as you can see, I am setting the stage for my daily problem.

I try to do too much. I always have some kind of fantasy notion that I can fit it all in before I have to leave to get somewhere.

Needless to say, that between all the work and chores I was trying to get done all while wrestling the girls resistance to getting ready for the day, the constant teasing and dodging to get out of getting ready because they don't want to ever leave the house... we got a late start.

I still had high hopes that we would make it just in time with our miracle smooth drive up into the Salt Lake City area.

But after our final wrestle and threat to get the girls in the van and then once getting in the van trying to calm Avery's nerves down so that she wouldn't explode in the car when it really hit her that we were driving such a "long way" to Roy. She was screaming and kicking the seat and I was beginning to wonder if she would have.

After about a 30-minute drive North we got a text message that The Sparkle Team was about to go on. We still had 45 minutes to go.

We weren't going to make it.

After waking up to my chirping alarm, running around all morning getting work done, housework started, getting Brighton ready for the day, running him to the bus at the high school at 7:30 am, pushing Avery through her anxiety about leaving, dragging Joslin out of bed and getting her ready with all the resistance she could muster all while I was trying to work my job and the household...

I had failed.

Failed as a mother.

Failed as a supporter.

Failed as a responsible adult.

It took everything in me to not completely melt in the car as we got off the freeway just to turn around and get back on to head home.

I wanted to cry.

A lot.

I had to miss his competition last year when he was still in high school because of my ankle surgery. Marc went on his own to represent both of us and his parents even showed up. But I had missed out. I was sad then and thought I would never have the chance to see him perform cheer again.

So when he was invited back to be on the Sparkle Team, I was so excited that I would be able to attend his competition this year.


Not this year either.

I still want to cry just writing about it.

Thankfully though, my friend was there to watch her daughter cheer so she recorded Brighton's Competition cheer and dance for me to see.

I watched it.

Then I cried again.

He was so happy to be there and was so into the whole thing, it was and absolute joy to watch him in his element. He just loves being a cheer leader!

So, because I was upset about that I decided to take my frustrations out on paint and went and painted   some pieces for the newest set for SCERA. I think it helped.

I'm just trying to remind myself that it was the thought that counted... right? I tried. I planned. I meant to be his number-one supporter...

Well, anyway, you'll have to watch the video and then you'll see why I am so proud of him and why I wish I could have seen it in person... I especially would have to loved to be a participant in the standing ovation they received for their routine.

Brighton was so proud.

A standing ovation.

I missed it.


But, I'm going to be OK.


In fact I'm already doing better because Joslin, our youngest, came in and gave me hugs and kisses and kept smiling at me and giving me hugs and kisses and sat on my lap while I finished up some work.

Then she snuck away with my phone.

She was just schmoozing me to get my phone...

... sigh...

Oh, well, it was sweet anyway.

I'll be fine.

I'll just sit over here in this corner while you pat yourself on the back for doing a better job than me today.

It's OK.

Really, I just want you to be happy.

Ha! Ha!

Sorry, I thought I was funny.

I needed a laugh!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Just Goals. Not Resolutions.

I've set so many goals for myself this year.

I don't know why I do that to myself.

I guess I thought goals sounded better than resolutions so I got over excited, I guess.

Baby instigated and directed this photo! She's so funny!

Two days into the new year and I'm not excited anymore.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am excited... just not about the fact that I have so many goals... that is daunting, not exciting.

But, I'm keeping them all just so I can at least, accomplish something.

I've come to accept and be OK with my mediocrity. It's OK, really, I've learned that if I can accept the mediocre that I just get that much more excited when it is even better.

Anyway, one of my goals is to write in this blog 3 or more times per week.

A few years ago I had a goal to write every single day no matter how short, what my "up" of the day was. That was very therapeutic for me and I am realizing how much I miss writing my deep thoughts and posting them into oblivious internet space... whatever works!

Anyway, I'm not going to have a theme this time. Just going to keep my thoughts and experiences here so I can remember it all and enjoy reading back on the memories.

I even started subscribing to Chatbooks to get my pictures in a book every month. I'm in archival mode apparently.

I guess I also just need a creative writing space... whether it is creative or just journaling, I'll enjoy it.

So here's a synopsis of the last 6 months:

Our oldest son started a vocational school for adults ages 18-22 and he loves it. His first job was with a horse stable that does equine therapy for kids with special needs. His line when I comment on how proud I am of him is, "I just shovel poop, Mom!" He's so funny! He was quite embarrassed for the first few weeks of work, but we just kept telling him that any work is commendable. He seems to have gotten used to the idea for the most part. He just loves being around horses.

Our middle one started 8th grade this year and she seems to be enjoying it thoroughly. She is so huge in to reading and gets books all the time. She loves to search for books she likes at Savers, our local thrift store. The books she is most into now is Alex Rider and Percy Jackson books.

Baby is talking up a storm and is completely full of so much sass that sometimes all I can do is laugh. She's absolutely hilarious and we learn new things about her almost daily. Like, who knew what a good rapper she was... I really need to get it recorded.

I've started working more at SCERA as a scenic painter and it has been so much fun for me and having coworkers again is a lot of fun.

Marc had an adventure starting July 30th that led him to needing knee surgery to repair his knee.  You can see how that all started by watching this video:

So that's the catch-up. Wish me luck!

This is my most recent set piece I painted for SCERA--an 80's styled run down garage facade.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cookies, Camp and a Wild Cat

"I made a mistake!!!"

"No!!! I didn't mean to say it! I made a mistake!!"


These phrases were not exclaimed calmly, intently or even distinctly.

She was screaming so hard and balling so dramatically that I almost gave up.

We've been prepping Sister for over a year now to attend Young Women's Camp this summer.

We had prepped her for about 9 months to attend Young Women's Camp last summer, but because she was a little younger than the suggested age of 12 and she was throwing such huge tantrums about it, we thought that maybe it just wasn't right for her that year and committed ourselves and her to coming this summer.

Truth be told: her tantrum this year was bigger than last year's which makes me think I should have pushed harder last year.


I won't go into all the preparation speeches, tactics and plans, but I will tell you that it all seemed to be completely worthless when one hour before departure time I started prepping her for leaving and then it all "hit the fan" as some people say, and boy oh boy, this was not an exaggeration for the actions that took place.

If you're a parent or any kind of caregiver to a toddler you all know the "noodle move." I swear they take a class in the nursery at the hospital to learn things like this so it is instilled to all of them at birth!

The noodle move is an evasive move that causes the caregiver to not get a grip on the person in order to pick them up and carry them to where they need to be. The noodle move means to let your limbs go completely lifeless and limp so that no matter how a person tries to grab hold the evader just slides out of your grip. The thing is that toddlers are still small enough you can usually still carry them even if it means to escort them sideways through a hole in the fencing.

In Sister's case I was trying to get her from the front/family room out to the car and she's no toddler anymore and carries a bit of weight with her... I felt like I was wrestling an octopus and sometimes a kangaroo depending on what limbs were flailing closer to my face. After 15 minutes of trying to grab the octopus-kangaroo girl I just had to give up. It wasn't working!

But, you know me, I don't give up that easily... so I realized at one point while I was holding her feet to stop her from kicking that I was actually able to get a good, firm grip around her ankles and I began to drag her across the floor.

She was screaming all sorts of things... some things I couldn't even understand, but I caught the drift that it was all related to not wanting to go to camp and what a mean mom I am, but the best lines were "I made a mistake!!!" which was referring to Marc and I reminding her that she had told us last year she would go when she was 12 and she promised... well, she was still screaming that she did not want to go this year.

By the time we got to the top of the stairs to go out the front door I realized that the foot tactic was not going to work as she now had the advantage over me that I would easily topple down the stairs with one flailing kick so I miraculously grabbed her around her waist and with my super woman strength was able to drag her down the stairs and out the front door.

I have to admit that after years of doing this kind of thing to get our kids out the door for an activity that I don't even think about what the neighbors or passers-by might be thinking when they hear the blood-curdling screams, threats and sounds of dying elephants. It's just part of my life. It's how we roll around here. So I got quite a laugh when long after this whole thing was over and I was telling my neighbor friends about it they said, "Oh we heard her! We didn't know it was her, we just heard the screaming and ran out to see what was happening. When we saw it was you and [Sister] we were just like, 'oh, it must be time to go to Girl's Camp."

Anyway, long story trying to act short, but still long,...
She screamed and cried and ranted from Orem to Spanish Fork... that's a 25 minute drive...
T w e n t y - f i v e minutes! Non-stop melting.

Then, like a light-switch she was OK. We were talking about camp and the drive and all the new places to see in Spanish Fork. So we went to Burger King and got some dinner.

From there to the turn-off for the camp, it was actually quite pleasant and enjoyable. So it was about an hour of "normalcy."

Then came the turn-off.

I made a huge mistake.

I didn't realize the turn-off had come so soon and had to make a slightly dramatic maneuver. This moment set Sister off in a way I don't know that I had quite witnessed before. She was doing everything she could to get me to turn that car around. She was flopping everywhere and at one point she started trying to grab the wheel, push the emergency brake and wave her hands in my face.

This was all very tough for me to keep my cool as I was driving along, but some how we got to the campsite where the young women and leaders were already.

I opened my door to get out and it was a trigger for Sister to go all "wild cat" and flee from her front seat to the back window hissing and banging on the window to friends and passersby.

Have you ever tried to put a cat in a box?

I am amazed at all the things a cat can do to prevent itself from being surround by cardboard walls. This is the best way to explain Sister's utter and complete meltdown. It was like I had to peel each of her fingers away from the window and back seat and it wasn't easy.

I decided instead of fighting it I would calmly start to remove our things from the car and give her time to process it and scream behind the closed car doors. At this point I was able to witness from an onlooker's naive perspective the site of a 13-year-old girl crouched and pressed in the back window cove of a Toyota Corolla... that's not much space. At one point , while I had the back trunk open to remove some of our things, she had climbed to the front seat only to grab the COSTCO size, flimsy, plastic container of cookies and throw them against the steering wheel and mash them into the driver's seat. (Apparently I blocked that part out completely because I forgot to write about it in my first draft... I mean, it looked like the cat I was trying to pull out of the car had pooped and vomited all over... it wasn't pretty... at all.) Each time I tried to clean the fairly firm, yet melting quickly, chocolate chips off the seat she would stamp her foot in it and scream to go home.

At this point I was ready to give up and just go home, but I told myself I would at least clean up the chocolate "poop" from my seat before giving it all up to go home. I'm amazed at what a mother can clean up while your grown child is stamping on your hands, hitting your face (no wonder I blocked all this out) and maniacally pulling at the controls of the car telling it she has to get out of here! All this was going on while her friends from camp were coming to say hi to her and encourage her to come, she even yelled at them. It was as if a wild cat had jumped into the back of my car for protection from the environment and was hissing threats and unkind promises.

After several attempt by several girls, one girl approached the car and with surprising excitement Sister hopped out of the car to give her a hug.

That moment redirected all her fear and anxiety and the rest of camp was truly bearable.

She was amazing and truly loved every minute of it.

We were there 5 days and it was fabulous to see her interaction with everyone, what a big helper she was. She brought her light to camp and everyone loved her for it.

Was it all worth it?

For sure.

Was it really hard for me?


Was it one of the best times of her life that she still talks about?

Yep, and she doesn't even remember the wild cat... at all.

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Turnover Tumor

Brother turned 19 on the same day my brother, Daniel, turned 37 so, of course, we had a double birthday party at our house!

Daniel and his family came from Florida for Thanksgiving so we tried to pack in as much as possible.

Anyway, back to the birthday party...

My mom made cherry and apple Turnovers (they're little fold-over pies) because Daniel and Brother both like those more than cake.

The turnovers were, of course a hit and there were many side conversations about them, but I wasn't prepared for Sister's immediate drilling questions after talking to my brother, Aaron, about a turnover he had saved out for later.

A: Mom. Wbat's a tumor?

Me: Looking slightly confused after hearing this seemingly random question.  "It's a mass that..." (I explained it as simply and quickly as possible)

A: Where can you get a tumor?

Me: "Anywhere, really."

A: "Does it make you die?

Me: "Well, sometimes that can happen..."

Sister persisted with this curiosity about tumors until she asked, "No, where is it? Why is it on top of the fridge?"


Then I reflected back to the conversation with my brother and how he was explaining to me that he had put the turnover for Chelsea on top of the fridge.


Ah ha! She wasn't asking about a TUMOR, she was asking about the TURNOVER!

Ha! ha! ha!

Always practicing her smile!