I am not like other blogs

For better or worse, I don’t have any interest in maintaining a blog that attracts a lot of readers. I actually don’t care if anyone but me reads this (although I know my mom and dad will read it, because they are cool like that). Because I care so little about being a Big Deal Blogger, and because I’m an impressively lazy person, I don’t usually have pictures with my posts, or links, or fun recipes. It’s just me (and occasionally Jarom) writing about life.

Actually, I was skimming through the past few posts recently and overall it was pretty depressing. If I wrote more frequently, you’d have a better glimpse of what life is really like, but the blog makes it sound like I’m still in the depths of despair over Christian.

Such is not the case.

Ramona is soothing, happy sunshine for my heart. She is the joyful center of attention in our house. Certainly, having a new baby has brought up some painful feelings about Christian – the past four months have flown by, and I feel guilty for taking any moment with Ramona for granted. It’s just how life goes, though, you know? You can’t live so intensely. Not every waking moment with Ramona can be sunshine-filled, heart-bursting euphoria. And not every waking moment after Christian was despair-filled, heart-wrenching anguish, either. Thank goodness for all those regular, unremarkable moments in between the anguish and the euphoria.

Anyway, I got off track there. Or maybe I didn’t have a track to begin with.

Right now Ramona and I are vacationing at my sister-in-law’s house in Washington. I’ve never been to Washington before – so green! So rainy! It reminds me a great deal of winters in northern California. This summer, I’m coming back with all the kids, and I’m excited to see how different (or similar) the foresty wetlands are in the warmer months.

Taking a break from nearly all my responsibilities has been wonderful for me. It gives me enough emotional distance to see what I really want to emphasize as a priority in my home, and what things I’ve just gotten stuck insisting we do. It inspires me to spend more quality time with the people I love, doing things we love. And it gives me a much-needed chance to recharge and to figure out how I can be more me. Deep down, I like me a lot – it’s just so tricky to avoid getting bogged down by obligations (real or imagined or self-imposed) and expectations (the same), and body image and envy of others, their talents and their seemingly perfect lives and their got-it-together-ness. Why don’t I have it together yet? Oh yeah, I’m working on it. And this is a great reminder that even as I work on getting the all-encompassing “it” together, I have to make sure it isn’t at the cost of the Really Important Stuff. You know, Jarom and the kids and the compassion I so desperately want to show to others.

I guess this vacation is like one of those giant Pause buttons I always wish for. Life is still happening while I’m here, but I’m not in the thick of it, and my only responsibilities here and now are to feed Ramona and to change her diapers. Those are so easy that I can do one of them in my sleep. The rest of the time, I can reflect on where I am in my life and how I want to help my life continue in its beautiful direction.

This blog post has zero direction, obviously. And you don’t get any pictures, either! So there!


101 things I didn’t do

A long time ago, I made a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. And guess what? Didn’t finish. My 1001 days ended the day I graduated from BYU – so it’s been a good two years now. But why not revisit my list and see what I’ve managed to cross off since then?

Goal progress: 64/101

1. eat a Kong Kone
2. go fishing
3. keep the house tidy for 1 week
4. catch a butterfly
5. have a family portrait done
6. eat lamb. RARE lamb.
7. go walking at least once a week for a month
8. take lunch to Jarom on campus
9. make a pillow
10. see a movie on opening day
11. read 15,000 pages in a year
12. potty-train Evan
13. memorize the state capitals
14. donate blood
15. fly a kite with Evan
16. finish my degree
17. finally make that quilt for Grandma Hillery
18. go horseback riding
19. hike the Y
20. have a picnic
21. watch It’s a Wonderful Life
22. watch Miracle on 34th Street
23. teach Evan what noises animals make
24. go to the dinosaur museum
25. bring my total reading to 100,000 pgs since 2004
26. get a pedicure
27. drink an entire bottle of Martinelli’s
28. go Christmas caroling
29. hang up the laundry when it’s done for 5 loads
30. go to the temple every week for a month
31. go to a photo booth even though Jarom thinks I won’t
32. make bread
33. drink enough water every day for a week
34. complete the 100+ Reading Challenge
35. complete the Classics Challenge
36. complete the Countdown Challenge
37. complete the What an Animal II Challenge
38. complete the What’s in a Name? Challenge
39. write a letter to my folks
40. take a picture of the kids every day for a month
41. stop eating dessert/snacks/treats for a month
42. invent a recipe
43. enter a cooking contest
44. give a talk or lesson in church
45. go camping
46. win something
47. volunteer
48. buy 5 books
49. paint a picture
50. make this mirror
51. fill up my moleskin journal
52. write in my journal at least once a week for 6 months
53. talk to the landlord about a recycling bin
54. play chess with Jarom
55. buy a vacuum
56. read at least 50 of the books on my list
57. eat 5 servings of fruits/veggies daily for a month
58. no fast food for 2 months
59. get our portraits framed
60. read 5 books to Evan
61. find an album for our wedding photos
62. buy new cushions for the kitchen chairs
63. open a savings account for Evan
64. don’t get a haircut until 2011
65. watch 10 new movies
66. write a poem
67. create a piece of art and frame it
68. travel internationally
69. send 5 postcards
70. make a birthday calendar
71. teach Evan to sing 3 songs
72. create a “me” style
73. make a pizza from scratch
74. bake madeleines
75. make maple-walnut cup pies
76. pick fresh fruit off the tree
77. get a 4.0 one semester
78. stick to a routine for 1 week
79. go to the lighting ceremony at Temple Square
80. finish reading Crime and Punishment
81. make root beer
82. host a Murder Mystery dinner
83. get away for the weekend with Jarom
84. finish the cool onesies for Krista’s babies
85. grow herbs in the kitchen
86. win a game of six-dice
87. learn a new word
88. go on a bike ride with Jarom
89. buy a bike trailer for Evan to ride in
90. start or join a book club
91. write a living will for myself
92. do yoga 5 times
93. write a personal statement for my law school application
94. read the Book of Mormon in 1 week
95. bring cup pies to the sisters I visit teach
96. grow a hyacinth
97. watch at least 1 extended edition Lord of the Rings
98. watch all the Harry Potter movies in 1 week
99. introduce myself to 5 new people
100. do the assigned reading for church before class for 2 months
101. go to the zoo with Evan

Well. The few things in red are my since-graduation accomplishments. Here’s the deal, though: a lot of these are goals I no longer care about. For one, I have no plans of going to law school anymore, so #93 (write a personal statement for my law school application) is irrelevant. I’m not willing to submit myself to a Kong Kone (#1) again because it will just make me sick, which is a stupid thing to do intentionally. And do I really want to go fishing? I’d rather stay home and sleep. Or read. Or discover a way to sleep AND read at the same time.

So I’m revising my list, replacing some undone items with more reasonable and relevant goals. (As a side note, I must have originally started before we had June!)

1. have lunch with Brandon Sanderson
2. make a king-size crochet blanket
3. keep the house tidy for 1 week
4. go to a temple open house
5. have a family portrait done
6. eat lamb. RARE lamb.
7. go walking at least once a week for a month
8. take lunch to Jarom on campus
9. make a pillow
10. see a movie on opening day
11. read 15,000 pages in a year
12. potty-train Evan
13. memorize the state capitals
14. donate blood
15. fly a kite with Evan
16. finish my degree
17. finally make that quilt for Grandma Hillery
18. go horseback riding
19. hike the Y
20. have a picnic
21. get 50 people to participate in Doubleplusgood Day 2015
22. watch Miracle on 34th Street
23. teach Evan what noises animals make
24. go to the dinosaur museum
25. bring my total reading to 100,000 pgs since 2004
26. get a pedicure
27. make a crochet doily like my great grandma did
28. go Christmas caroling
29. hang up the laundry when it’s done for 5 loads
30. go to the temple every week for a month
31. go to a photo booth even though Jarom thinks I won’t
32. make bread
33. drink enough water every day for a week
34. complete the 100+ Reading Challenge
35. complete the Classics Challenge
36. complete the Countdown Challenge
37. complete the What an Animal II Challenge
38. complete the What’s in a Name? Challenge
39. write a letter to my folks
40. take a picture of the kids every day for a month
41. stop eating dessert/snacks/treats for a month
42. invent a recipe
43. enter a cooking contest
44. give a talk or lesson in church
45. go camping
46. win something
47. volunteer
48. buy 5 books
49. paint a picture
50. complete my 30th birthday reading goals
51. fill up my moleskin journal
52. write in my journal at least once a week for 6 months
53. talk to the landlord about a recycling bin
54. play chess with Jarom
55. buy a vacuum
56. read at least 50 of the books on my list
57. eat 5 servings of fruits/veggies daily for a month
58. no fast food for 2 months
59. get our portraits framed
60. read 5 books to Evan
61. find an album for our wedding photos
62. buy new cushions for the kitchen chairs
63. open a savings account for Evan
64. don’t get a haircut until 2011
65. watch 10 new movies
66. write a poem
67. create a piece of art and frame it
68. travel internationally
69. send 5 postcards
70. make a birthday calendar
71. teach Evan to sing 3 songs
72. create a “me” style
73. make a pizza from scratch
74. bake madeleines
75. figure out how to actually do calligraphy
76. pick fresh fruit off the tree
77. get a 4.0 one semester
78. stick to a routine for 1 week
79. go to the lighting ceremony at Temple Square
80. finish reading Crime and Punishment
81. make root beer
82. host a Murder Mystery dinner
83. get away for the weekend with Jarom
84. finish the cool onesies for Krista’s babies
85. grow herbs in the kitchen
86. win a game of six-dice
87. learn a new word
88. go on a bike ride with Jarom
89. teach June how to read
90. start or join a book club
91. have Jarom do a will for me and whatever other legal stuff would be useful
92. do yoga 5 times (4/5)
93. frame a picture of Christian
94. read the Book of Mormon in 1 week
95. design the most amazing baby announcements EVER
96. grow a hyacinth
97. watch at least 1 extended edition Lord of the Rings
98. watch all the Harry Potter movies in 1 week
99. introduce myself to 5 new people
100. do the assigned reading for church before class for 2 months
101. go to the zoo with Evan


Miscellaneous

So here’s a little update on life in general.

I’ve been doing moderately well with my Etsy shop. I try to add something new about every 2 weeks, and I probably sell something about twice a month. That means right now I make enough to buy new supplies and a few much-needed McDonald’s play area outings. (Sitting with a good book for an hour or two or even three while the kids run wild, without the mess and stress of being at home – it’s amazing.) I’d definitely like to do a little more business, but I realize it mostly means updating the images I use for my items. Since I have no photography skills and not enough revenue to hire a legit professional photographer, I’ve been using a black-and-white drawing of frames that I can insert any new item into. It works okay, but when you look at the whole collection of items in the shop, it’s too busy and confusing – and it makes it hard to really see what the products are I’m trying to sell. Anyone have bright ideas on how to fix this? Want to trade paper goods for photography services? Unfortunately, I’m well aware that my work is far too amateur to be worth much of a trade.

June has entered the terrible not-quite-threes. Evan did the same thing; for most of his two-year-old year he was sweet and obedient and wonderful, but then everything turned upside down. June is grumpy and grouchy and really, really hard to deal with. She screamed/sobbed/wailed for 40 minutes straight the other morning because I told her she needed to put pants on before going outside. And last week she threw a 30-minute tantrum because she couldn’t find the underwear she wanted. It’s exhausting – for me! June never seems to be as drained as I think she should be after a tantrum. I wish she were still as loving and sweet and happy as she used to be. These days I expect at least one meltdown, probably more, before Jarom gets home from work. I know it’s a stage and eventually she’ll move past it, but it sure makes life harder for all of us.

Evan loves preschool. He goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in the afternoon, and he’s supposed to bring a snack. One day I was stressing about getting everything and everyone ready to go, so when Evan came and asked me what his snack was going to be, I told him it was a surprise. (When I’m stressed, I hate answering questions; I tried giving an answer that would be the most effective in preventing any more questions just then.) Now Evan tells me he wants a surprise snack every time! He’ll run out of the kitchen covering his eyes if I say I’m getting his snack ready. And when he gets home from school, he’s always excited to tell me what his snack was. Recent favorite: butterscotch pudding. He was crazy about it. Right now their class is putting together “All About Me” books that they’ll bring home, all finished, next week – I’ll scan his to show you. Apparently for his family picture he drew himself as a zombie. No surprise there, honestly.

I’ve been a little on edge for a week or so. I don’t want to read, or cook, or paint, or even waste time playing games – I just feel slightly irritated about everything. I still manage to get things done, mostly because I’ve learned to embrace my moments of “I’m ready to get things done” feeling. I definitely don’t feel depressed or mopey, just . . . irritated and a little bored. I like food, but when I think about cooking, every dish I can come up with sounds roughly the same. And for some reason, right now I don’t want hot food. Weird.

What have you been up to lately?


Things

I have about 20 different post ideas floating around in my brain, but because I am endlessly lazy you get to read them all together, jumbled and somewhat unrelated. Enjoy!

Thing #1. My body has changed a lot since having Christian. The combination of grief, my age, and just having had 3 kids has taken its toll – yet I’m reluctant to start doing responsible things like eating better and exercising because in a way, this leftover weight is one of the few tangible things I have left of Christian. Also, donuts. Guys, donuts are amazing and I love them so much. I don’t want to give them up. Ever.

Thing #2. Last week I took Evan shopping for some school clothes. After we were done, we got cupcakes at my favorite bakery and drove home in an intense storm. Evan loved all the lightning and the pouring rain. I had the wipers on as high as they’d go, and I could still barely see. It reminded me of watching lightning storms out the window when I was a kid. Getting to spend some time alone with Evan was really fun, and I’m trying to do it more – as well as be more patient and calm. Evan is so thrilled about preschool; I find that I’m a little terrified that he’ll be 5 before too long.

Thing #3. As much as it has continued to surprise me whenever I have a sad day (the pain does seem to come back strongly, though much less often), it surprises me even more that I can feel so good lately. Not just that I’m not sad – I’m happy! For extended periods of time! I’m getting things done, slowly but surely; I’m remembering who I am and figuring out what I want to do; I’m making plans and looking forward to the future, not with fear or anguish but with excitement. This is what I hoped to find – that life would go on and be enjoyable, even though Christian died. There are definitely hard moments; seeing small babies, of course, is still difficult, and when I have trouble falling asleep I tend to get emotional and torn up about how things have turned out. But most of the time, my not-misery is even better because I remember how very miserable I have been. Like when you’ve had a headache for a while, and later (maybe the next day, when drugs and sleep have finally helped) you notice that your head doesn’t hurt – and it’s so nice.

Thing #4. I mentioned before that we have a box of mementoes of Christian that I keep on top of the piano. If you’ve been to our house recently, I probably showed it to you. What I realized recently is that this box gives me purpose. The woman who put it together for me – I don’t have words for how much she’s impacted me. What a selfless gift she gave me. One of the times we thanked her, she just said that someone had done a box for her, so she wanted to help others. And that’s exactly how I feel now. I’m not ready yet to go to the hospital and see the heartache of a family whose world has just shattered, but eventually I will be. I have always wanted to save the world or make a difference somehow. This box is what made a difference in my life. The quiet, loving care that went into putting it together is what I want to give. It won’t unbreak anyone’s heart. It won’t bring a baby back to life. It won’t change circumstances. But in some tiny way, it will help. This is what I can do.

Thing #5. Um, June will be 3 next month. Let’s collectively say What on earth?! In some ways it feels she was born forever ago – it was before I went back to school, before we graduated and bought a house, and when I had her I was a different me. She’s getting so big! And out of nowhere, she has demanded a pink birthday party with a pink cake and pink candles and pink dinosaurs and pink presents. She also wants to be Hello Kitty for Halloween, which I think I will try talking her out of. Other costume ideas?

Thing #6. I finally designed our Christmas card. I say “finally” because I’ve been toying with different ideas since February. After talking to Jarom about getting family pictures done, we decided to be unorthodox this year. But we will send out a card and picture. You’ll just have to wait! I’m already brainstorming Christmas plans. The fact that I’m looking forward to it – to anything in the future, really – is just wonderful. So I’m trying to enjoy the joy as much as possible, even if it means planning Christmas a few months early.

Thing #7. On the questionnaire I did with Evan, he said his favorite sport was “the animal one where you touch stuff.” Honestly, I had no clue what he was talking about. I wondered if he even knew what sports were. But I figured it out! We have the kids do “races” – it’s actually a way of wearing them out – and we (usually Jarom) will tell them to hop like a kangaroo and go touch the back door, then run like a cheetah and go touch the couch, then spider-crawl to June’s room, etc. It’s a very fun game as there’s a lot of room for creativity on all sides.

Thing #8. There aren’t really going to be 20 things in this post after all. I guess I only had 7.

xo Mika


Notes

1. No baby today. Kind of a bummer.

2. Recently when June woke up, she told me, “I had beautiful dreams in my bed!” It was adorable.

3. Jarom asked Evan how much he loves me. Evan replied, “An elephant stacked on another elephant stacked on another and another and another and another, all the way up to the sky! And a rhinoceros on top.”

4. I saved up money and got a used iPad (1st generation). I loooooooove it! June came with me to buy it from a college kid, and I mentioned getting a toddler-friendly case. The guy thought I was buying the iPad as a toy for June. June and Evan think I bought it for them, too.

5. Evan refuses to come to the store with me to buy donuts. It’s child neglect if I leave him here. Oh, dilemmas.


Cheery

While we were in Southern California for the funeral a few weeks ago, we had a chance to look through some of the stuff Jarom’s grandma had collected over the years. She had an extensive fabric collection, and it was fun to see the patterns that would now be considered vintage. I fell completely in love with one fabric but knew I’d never get around to doing anything with it.

So it was delightfully delightful to get this pillow in the mail yesterday! Jarom’s cousin’s wife Crystal, a master with a sewing machine, used the awesome fabric to make a phenomenal pillow for my orange couch. Isn’t it cheery?! I wish I had a dozen of them!

P1000877

Also, the kids have been pretending that the dog on the pillow is Ender (it does look awfully similar), and they talk to him. A lot. It gives poor Ender a break from their attention!

P1000878


Grid

I was so behind on holiday preparations in December that I forgot to ever buy a 2013 calendar. About a week into the year, I finally got one, but for whatever reason, I didn’t look at the back first. When I put the calendar up in the kitchen, I was horrified to see that the calendar grid was tiny! At least a quarter of the page was just a white border around the actual squares, which were way too small to write more than one item a day in.

Last night I had a meeting to go to, and afterwards went to the store to buy more ZzzQuil. (I meant to get it a few days ago – but I missed it on my list, and ended up just grinding some of the Walgreens pills and drinking the powder in apple juice. It was disgusting.) And it occurred to me that there might still be some 2013 calendars hiding in a clearance rack somewhere. I didn’t want to ask for help, because who waits until late January to buy a calendar, and I also was enjoying shopping without kids. So I spent about 40 minutes wandering around before I found the calendars.

Then it was a matter of finding the right combination of tolerable pictures and decent-sized calendar squares. I ignored the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar, the Marilyn Monroe calendar, and the Tim Tebow calendar. I had to consider the various animal themed-calendars and inspirational calendars, though, because there weren’t a lot of choices left. Eventually I settled on a Majestic Mountains one. Interestingly, I hated the “large grid” calendar – it had no pictures, so each month took up 2 pages and the days were very tall rectangles.

One of these days (I mean, years), I’ll look ahead of time for a calendar that I actually like, instead of just grabbing whatever cheap calendar I can tolerate.

By the way, I keep my wall calendars. I have them going back to 2000.