Friday, April 30, 2010

see mj write: day 30 {whatever tickles your fancy}

{a letter to my high-school self.}

dear maren,

it's me! i mean, you! well, the future you. 10 years from now.

i want to send some advice your way. just some things to keep in mind so when you become me, you don't up and freak out.

a lot is going to happen in the next 10 years. some of it's planned. some not. some of it's good. some not. some of it is exactly like you dreamed. again, some just isn't. but it's all going to turn out okay.

first, you get to go to college. um, you already know that. you got your acceptance letter last month. but you're really going to like it. you will decide on a major {but not the one you're thinking about right now}. you'll find great friends and learn wonderful things. just remember to enjoy it. don't spend all your time studying. go out and have some fun!

second, you will get married. i know, total spoiler alert. and he's cute. i really think you're gonna like him. he's smart and witty and he loves you to pieces. he's a lot nicer than you, so you really luck out. you're a lot alike, but you're also very different. sometimes so different that he'll drive you nuts. but mostly you're just gonna love him. he's really great.

third, you will have kids. well, at least one. scary, right? you have no idea. but maren, it is more than worth it. at times, you might wonder what you've gotten yourself into, but that little girl {oh, right, she's a girl} will make you melt. i know you have lots of dreams for your future children. but i just need to warn you that you might need to let some of those dreams go. and it's okay. this little girl is incredible, but she's going to be a little different. people are going to stare at her. kids aren't always going to want to play with her. but man, is she amazing.

you're going to get a lot of praise and recognition for being her mom. at times it'll be nice because the day-to-day is hard. it's really hard. but really, you'll just feel undeserving. after all, you didn't choose this route. it was handed to you. and you're just going to have to do your best to take it with a smile on your face. your sweet little one is going to endure a lot of suffering in her life, but she is incredibly strong. plus, she's super cute and has great hair. you have a lot to learn from her.

you're probably going to be afraid to have more children. i have no advice on this subject.

you have great friends. really, truly great. everywhere you go, you're going to find wonderful people to share your smiles and sorrows with. you won't be able to adequately thank them. it just won't be possible. but try to let them know you care. they're there to help. they're there to listen. and they'll do a great job. remember to do the same for them. their struggles will be different than yours, but they will struggle in their own way and you can learn a lot from them.

you will be friends with your siblings and step-siblings. really! it's gonna happen. you probably won't live anywhere near them and you'll often wonder what you were thinking. but do what is right for you and your family. it'll be worth it in the end. your path isn't their path.

remember to keep learning. your education doesn't end with your college degree. the more you learn in all aspects of your life, the better you'll be able to cope and live and become a better you {i mean me}.

remember the basics. life might get chaotic, but those basics will be life savers. pray every day. read your scriptures. go to church. speaking of church, you will have callings other than piano. it'll take a few years, but it will happen.

try not to do anything you'll need to apologize for. it's just not worth it. curbing the sarcasm might be a good first step.

take some time for yourself. you're gonna need it. take care of your body. take care of your mind. just take care of you. i will thank you later.

and tell your husband you love him. he doesn't get the credit you get, but he's every bit, if not more deserving. so just tell him you love him.

it's a good life. i promise. it's different than you imagined, but it's good. just keep up the good work and i'll see you in a few years.

love,

me...
you...
us.

see mj write: day 29 {hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days}

at the beginning of the year, i made a list. remember, i like making lists.

this was a different list than any i had previously made, however. this was a list of words to live by. i wanted a theme - a one-worded theme - for my year. a word to focus on, periodically, as i went throughout my days. a word to keep in mind when things got hard. a word to remember when things were going well. a word to consider when prioritizing my activities. a word to help me live little more and be a little better for the next 365 days. it could be a verb, a noun, whatever i wanted it to be.

the list was pretty long: believe, dream, hope, faith, trust, learn, live, be, do, simplify, appreciate, smile, write, help, pray, family, mother, and gratitude were just a few of many. i think there were upwards of 50 submissions for the word.

i really have been thinking about it for four months. so i guess, because it's almost may, i should probably decide on one:

simplify.

i really need this in my life. i do a lot of things. some things are important. some things are not. i want to be able to purge what isn't and focus on what is.

in know this is easier said than done, but i've really been trying to focus on it lately, and i think it's working.

i'm simplifying my closet. i've already been to goodwill three times this year. i just don't need it all. i've had things in my cart at target and, more than once, i've put them all back and walked out of the store empty handed. {i'm pretty sure i deserve a standing ovation for this, by the way.}

i'm simplifying my schedule. you wouldn't think as much by looking at the list i wrote earlier this week, but i am. i don't go to every party, every girl's night, every this, every that. sometimes getting out is what is needed, but not always. sometimes things conflict, and i try to choose what would be best for our family. i love singing. i used to sing in a choir. but it wasn't the best thing for me to be away from our family each sunday, so it's gone. for now.

i'm simplifying my chores. i've tried really hard to divvy out my responsibilities and perform certain tasks on the same day each week. bathroom on tuesday and saturday. laundry on thursday. floors on friday. it's working! i'm finding that certain days are best for certain activities and things are getting done. {but let's be honest, ryan is still the best dishwasher.}

i'm simplifying our belongings. i went through our kitchen and purged what we hadn't used in the last year. there was a lot. some items i only had because, well, my mom had one when i was growing up. but i had an epiphany: i'm not my mom! i cook differently than her and so i use different kitchen items than she does. i also went through leah's things. i packed away the baby toys and broke the toys that made me mad. not really. but i honestly got rid of some perfectly good toys that just brought back bad memories.

i'm simplifying my necessities. there are certain things in my life that need to be done. and sometimes those things were pushed to the back burner because i was filling each minute with second-tier items.

i'm simplifying the reasons i do things. i don't run because i want to be like someone else or because i want to beat a certain time. i run because i know my whole day will run more smoothly if i do and it truly makes me a better wife and mother. those endorphins do wonders. and now, more than ever, i truly enjoy actually running.

i read to leah not because it will make her smarter or because that's what good moms do, but because i love watching her expressions as a story unfolds or as we look at a certain picture. i love spending that time with her.

i'm sure more simplifying will unfold as the year goes on. i truly hope it will.

i plan on having a word each year for a long time to come.

maybe next year i'll simplify and the list won't be so long.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

see mj write: day 28 {this year, in great detail}

how about {lack of} great detail for this one?

this past year in words:

2009.
april.
2 year old walking.
2 year old talking.
to utah by air.
to run a race there.
easter with fam.
strawberry jam.

may.
6 years of us.
start school {not on a bus}.
successful 10k in hills.
half marathon sans thrills.
swimming and hiking.
cheering and biking.

june.
finish what i start.
long days in the park.
great escape for just girls.
leah's hair in long curls.
trip with high school friends.
quilting that never ends.
guitar for the hub.
for the babe, running club.

july.
independence day.
leah running, hooray!
big move for new job.
back porch i did hog.

august.
drive up to heaven.
seven-eleven.
my brain's in a whirl.
what's wrong with our girl?

september.
new mattress and manping.
wish i were camping.
getting no sleep.
so tired all week.
got me a hair cut.
blood draws suck butt.

october.
happy birthday to me.
paint the wall green.
run race in the city.
family pictures are pretty.
leah's words are all gone.
will life still go on?

november.
30 days of thanks.
is rett syndrome a prank?
trip to see dan.
of mri's, not a fan.

december.
loving the sounds.
night out on the town.
recital of mine.
invisalign.
cuddling in the rain.
unclogging the drain.
mmm...scones to eat.
yummy christmas treats.

2010.
january.
2010? here's to hoping.
with katie's clinic, we're coping.
grandparents come.
san fran & monterey are fun.

february.
ryan is 30 minus 1.
at grownup prom, had some fun.
sleepy, sleepy leah girl.
three years went by in a whirl.
graduation and ballet.
big race in the hills one day.

march.
babysitting. ruined shoes.
mom has some new-school blues.
preschool turning out just fine.
rett study blows my mind.
new friends and information.
weather here is a sensation.
ryan to china, business class.
grandma visits, have a blast.

april.
rainy days. writing blogs.
lots of biking. maren jogs.
big vacation tickets booked.
not too many meals cooked.
getaway. cannot wait.
better go. it's getting late.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

see mj write: day 27 {this month, in great detail}

m. layton reporting


business & finance:
ryan continues to enjoy his work as a sr. associate at d&p. he currently shares an office with mr. katz, making it possible for them to quickly share sound advice about issues at home. maren's piano studio is coming right along. practice schedules are being tracked and three students are vying for first-place status. all 11 students are preparing themselves for the upcoming spring recital, to be held the first week in june. maren will be performing alongside two of her students in accompanying duets. this is an event not to be missed.
education:
april has been a big month at leah's preschool. teachers and pupils started off the month by discussing animals of all types - in the wild, at the zoo and on the farm. earth week came next and leah has been much more aware of her carbon footprint. she also brought home an incredible paper portrayal of "leah's world." it was sparkly and breathtaking. spring break came and went. it was mostly consumed with rainy days, but the sun showed itself for the last day or two and leah and maren were able to enjoy some time with friends including one day at the pool. today marks the first day of "crazy week". leah sported her crazy hat {which was, by far, the craziest in the class - go leah's mom!}. forthcoming events are crazy hair day and pajama day. this morning after class, maren was informed her daughter consumed a pom pom during arts and crafts. we will keep you updated on this situation. ryan continues to study off and on for the gmat. he is also considering flight school and retirement.
health & wellness:
seasonal allergies have taken hold of the layton house. ryan and leah have scarce been found without a runny nose or itchy face all month. maren continues to evade these symptoms. leah got her first bloody nose this month, but emerged triumphant. no blood stains were found on any pieces of clothing. the man of the house has put his bike to good use this month. after escalating arguments arose in regards to transportation, he decided to bike to and from work multiple times each week. the chain fell off once and a flat tire occurred on his way to work twice {one this morning in the rain} which is a potential problem as they have yet to purchase a bike rack. maren continues to run and participate in strength training workouts. she is hoping to revisit the arms of her earlier years. things are looking hopeful. leah does not stop. ever. rett syndrome continues to suck.
weather:
temperatures have been pleasant in this area of the country. mostly warm with little wind and occasional rain storm, which is typical and welcomed with open arms. all members of the family are consistently switching back and forth between jackets, rain boots, and long pants and short sleeves, flip flops and bermuda shorts.
travel:
things are looking up in this area. as a family, the laytons have not traveled anywhere together since last august. ryan had the pleasure of visiting utah twice as well as china while maren and leah held down the fort. a business trip to japan fell through earlier this month. maren is looking forward to a weekend away with two friends to relax and rejuvenate herself. travel accommodations have been made for grandparents to care for leah while maren and ryan visit the hawaiian islands in the very near future. this will be maren's first visit to hawaii, ryan's second.
sports:
maren was just reminded that ryan might be joining a baseball league with his fellow coworkers this summer and needs to ask him about it {ryan, comments?}. ryan is also thoroughly enjoying changing all of maren's urls from gmail, blogger and the like to nba playoff scores. maren enjoyes switching them back.
religion:
the beginning of the month marked the 180th annual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of the six sessions were watched by at least one adult member of the household. Easter was enjoyed by all, including ryan who, without help, consumed two bags of cadbury mini eggs. ryan continues to teach the elder's quorum and maren enjoys teaching the 12-13 year old girls in the youth program. the hormones and mood swings of 11 girls keep her on her toes. leah continues to enjoy nursery, especially snack time.
food:
all members of the layton family are greatly anticipating the commencement of the los altos farmer's market next thursday. they have thoroughly missed their weekly fare of curry, corn and baked potatoes, not to mention the fresh fruit samples and company of dear friends. all members are trying their best to keep junk food out of the house with the exception of joe joe's and root beer floats. according to sources close to the family, those will always be allowed.
opinion:
the laytons are of the opinion that people should clean up after themselves in the laundry room, follow all traffic laws {especially in accordance to pedestrians and bikers} and not make phone calls to their home before 7am {excluding emergencies}. the above would make their lives much more enjoyable.
their opinion of rett syndrome is not suitable for a public audience, and as such, will not be printed.
science & technology:
maren is moving up in the world with the recent upgrade to a smart phone. the phone was shipped, delivered and activated last week by someone other than maren, however. the fraud department was contacted, the phone was killed and a new phone is on its way. more on this topic is sure to come. ryan will be disconnecting his utah phone number early next month. because its only current use is an alarm clock {a commonly snoozed one, at that}, family members decided those funds could be better utilized elsewhere each month. although the phone number was the original number obtained as a family unit, they are feeling okay about the separation. rett syndrome research is at the forefront of the family's thoughts. for more information, see leah's fundraising page or rettsyndrome.org.


all comments are directed to the "comments" section of this blog. all comments, if tasteful, are welcomed and will be posted.

Monday, April 26, 2010

see mj write: day 26 {your week, in great detail}

i'm a list person. i love writing them. i love marking them up with little checks or x's.

love it.

you can always find an assortment of lists all throughout our house. one of them, hopefully, being a checklist of things to accomplish throughout the upcoming week. i usually have it sorted out by days with bigger items at the bottom or off to the side needing to be completed by week's end, but not particularly on a certain day.

so, in true mj fashion, here is my week's checklist:

monday:
drive ryan to/from work {check}, drive leah to/from school {check}, grocery store {check}, costco {check}, wash leah's carseat cover {after first blowout in more than a year}, call about jury duty {EXCUSED!!} {check}, strength workout {check}, call about absence of new phone {shipped, delivered and activated by someone else; fraud department is on the case and a new phone is being shipped to me right now!} {check}, watch castle, finish girl power 2 cure gift.
tuesday:
drop ryan's bike off at shop so he isn't stranded with another flat tire and so his chain doesn't fall off {like last week}, drive ryan to/from work, drive leah to/from school, crazy hat day for leah at school, target, teach a little bit of piano, run 5 miles, clean bathroom, vacuum, watch a.i.
wednesday:
drive ryan to/from work, drive leah to/from school, crazy hair day for leah at school, teach lots of piano, research study, run 5 miles, hopefully get my new phone in the mail, clean floors, watch a.i. results.
thursday:
drive ryan to/from work, teach a medium amount of piano, leah's 30-day IEP checkup, invisalign appointment, lunch with leah/jack/sarah, hopefully pick up ryan's bike, strength workout, 4 loads of laundry, clean bathroom, clean kitchen, vacuum.
friday:
pajama day for leah at school, run 6+ miles, day #1 of the great escape {drive to so cal with kristen and linds!!}, chillax
saturday:
SLEEP IN, more chillaxin', beach?, pool?, mani/pedi?, read, eat yummy foods
sunday:
SLEEP IN, final minutes of chillaxin', drive home, celebrate SEVEN years of marriage with my one and only.

all days: check apartment resident boxes, clean laundry rooms, clean on-site, organize maintenance requests.

+:
mail mother's day packages
mail girl power 2 cure gift
read this, then this
blog daily assignment
get anniversary gift {wood/copper = traditional, desk sets = modern}
write thank you notes
schedule orthotic appointment for leah
schedule EKG leah
schedule EEG for leah
shedule respite certification

ah, the power of a list.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

see mj wrtie: day 25 {your day, in great detail}

i know i'm supposed to write about today. but, this is my blog. and i reserve the right to change those rules. so i'm writing about yesterday.

ah, yesterday.

yesterday was one of those saturdays. the way a saturday should be. i haven't had a saturday like it in quite some time.

first off, my friday night ended a bit too late {game night with friends...and, i still have that darn habit of staying up too late to read}. saturday, i was slated to run about 6 miles to prepare me for an upcoming, very hilly 10k. i planned to run at "the dish" near stanford. most of my friends were doing different runs, so i had no one to report to. and, when 7:00 came...and then went...my bed was simply too comfy.ryan was kind enough to get up with leah when she woke way too early. i'm pretty sure he put on a backyardigans dvd and fell back to sleep on the couch. but i didn't have to move.

when i finally decided to greet the day, i made yummy, delicious, homemade pancakes. leah helped me stir the batter. have i ever mentioned i'm kind of a pancake snot? ok, really a pancake snot. and a syrup snot for that matter. my mom used to always make her own pancake batter and her own syrup and it's just sooooo good. none of this bisquick or mrs. butterworth's junk. yuck. homemade for this girl. you will never see me eating pancakes at a restaurant.
after pancakes, we cleaned up a bit. that always makes me feel better.

then, because i skipped my run, i figured i better get some sort of physical activity in for the day. so i did a strength/cardio/ab workout. while working out, leah did some amazing things with the squirt bottle on the floor. yay, leah!

and leah doing good things + endorphins = happy maren.ryan was out running some errands while i worked out. he brought back subway sandwiches. and, except for the mayo he mistakenly had the subway employees put on mine, it was a perfect order. we walked to a nearby park and had a little family picnic in the california sunshine. i even wore my yellow sneakers.
when we got back, leah took a great nap. and so did ryan. i did some organizing and some lesson planning for my church lesson today and a little bit of reading. ryan said, because it was such a nice day, he still wanted to go on a run after his nap. and then i was going to go when he returned. when he woke up, he changed his mind, so it was up to me to get the motivation, again, to get out the door. just a quick, flat 6 miles.

then he suggested the dish. that's where i was supposed to run in the morning. it's hilly. really hilly. and i needed to go 6 miles, which meant i needed to run it twice. so, out we headed, jogging stroller and leah in tow. ryan pushed leah once around and i ran twice around. i didn't have high hopes for this run. i just wanted to to finish in about 1:05 or less and i wanted to run as much as i could without stopping. i finished in exactly 1:04:39 and i only stopped to walk three times, and only on the hilliest parts of the longest hills.when we finished, we were pooped. so we got some jambas one the way home {with a lovely two-for-one coupon}, then made tacos for dinner. mmm...fresh tomatoes.

leah went to sleep like a champ, i had a root beer float for dessert and ryan and i watched part of a movie before i decided i was too tired to finish {ryan was already asleep on the couch} and we headed to bed. but, of course, brushing my teeth and all the other going-to-bed chores woke me right up.

so i stayed up late, reading.

it was a good saturday.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

see mj write: day 24 {whatever tickles your fancy}

i'm not sure what i was thinking when i entered into the world of public relations.

more than anything, i wanted to be a journalist. but after a lot of research and prayer and thought, i knew it wasn't the route for me. business was next. i enjoyed many of the courses, but could have died from boredom in some of those finance classes. i never had much interest in the softer sciences of mfhd, psychology, sociology or education like most of my female counterparts at byu. in fact, you won't find a single class of the like on my transcript. i got a letter from my econ 110 teacher asking me to consider majoring in economics, based on my final grade. apparently most students don't even pass that class, let alone get a B+ or above?? but, econ wasn't for me either. i liked math and science, but again, not enough to make them my life.

and there was that entire building down a massive set of stairs, that, for some reason, i never even considered. maybe it was the stairs that turned me off? i'm not sure, but in hindsight, i think a major in exercise science or nutrition and food science or occupational therapy might have been better for my life's path. or even special education - i wouldn't even have had to walk up and down those stairs all day long.

i enjoyed public relations. i still enjoy some aspects of it. but i never ever, not once, considered working in the actual field labeled pr.

and now, i'm entering a whole new world of education i never dreamed i would need.

my vocabulary is rapidly increasing. i've heard more words ending in "itis" and "ology" and "osis" to last a lifetime. if i had a penny for each time "mutation" or "gene" or "syndrome" was presented, i'd be rich. "development", "neurological" and "disorder" have become my right-hand men.

i'm becoming proficient in smiling and nodding each time i hear someone tell me something to the effect of how great "this age" is. "don't they say the funniest things?" or "i'm amazed at how much a three year old can do!"

i want to be excited for my friends and all that their children are learning and doing. and most of the time i am. i truly am. but i'm not perfect. and sometimes i wish we all had the same trials - just to even things out a bit, you know?

sometimes i wonder if this will ever feel normal. the other day i woke up pouting. ryan asked what was wrong and i replied, "i just woke up. and leah still has rett syndrome." it's like a bad dream that just won't go away.

but we're learning.

and really, if i step away from the pity party once in awhile, i realize i really do have it good. this is my life. it's not the life i initially imagined, but it's mine. and i'll take it.

i'm learning. i'm giving myself an education. i'm delving into all the "itis-es" and "ologies" and "osis-es" with as much gusto as i can muster. my teachers are the doctors, the specialists, the families who have gone before. they're some of the best teachers i've ever had. i'm learning about speech therapy and occupational therapy and physical therapy. i'm learning how to read her and understand the things she wants. i'm learning how to interact with her and what makes her giggle and what makes her sad.

we learn new things and then we work and we work and we work again. we try and fail and try and fail to the nth degree and then, hopefully, we succeed. it's hard work - for everyone involved.

but if i've learned anything from hard work, it's that it usually pays off.

and today it did. leah ate her pancakes with a fork this morning. i put it on the fork, she picked it up out of my hand and brought it to her mouth all by herself. by herself, people! i was so proud. she was so proud! it emanated from her all morning. then as i did a workout video, she proceeded to pick up the water bottle that was on the ground to help smooth her pigtails and put it to her mouth to take a sip all by herself. by. her. self! i even saw a hand transfer in there. that is big news.
if i've learned anything from an education, it's that it's usually good for something. maybe not what we initially imagined. sure, i could have learned a lot from exercise science or occupational therapy that would be beneficial, but right now i'm working on relating with my public.

maybe it wasn't such a bad major after all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

see mj write: day 23 {a YouTube video}

i don't often respond to the countless email forwards i get from friends, family and old coworkers telling me to do this or view that or my 2nd cousin's aunt's sister's dog is going to die. but every once in awhile, when i have the time, i view whatever it is they thought was important enough to send to 342 people.

and that is how i first saw this video {probably because i can't get the tv station at my house}.

and i laughed and i laughed and i laughed and i laughed.

and, because it has millions of hits, you've probably seen it too. but, it's definitely worth another laugh.

they've taken the full video off YouTube because it's an SNL clip, but pieces are still there.

enjoy.





Thursday, April 22, 2010

see mj write: day 22 {a website}

i spend a good portion of my free time perusing the world wide web. yes, sometimes it is time well wasted. but most often, i consider it time well spent.

i communicate with others. i purchase pretty things. i learn new ideas. i educate myself. i form new friendships. i am inspired by others.

i consider all these things to fall in the category of time well spent. not wasted. i try to not go overboard. but really, the dishes can wait.

one of my favorite websites to meander through is craigslist. oh, the things you can find and sell! i'm not sure if it's just the area in which i live, but craigslist is huge huge huge here.

if you find something good, it goes fast. if you find something mediocre that is in high demand, it goes just as fast. i like to browse more than i like to actually bite the bullet and make a purchase. and oh do i have fun browsing!

we bought the bean the cutest little toddler bed through craigslist. it's white and plastic {so she can't bite it and ruin it} and it was $30. can't beat that. and she is currently sleeping soundly in said toddler bed for the 11th night in a row. {yay leah!}

my latest and greatest search is for housing. i won't sicken you with the prices i enter as my maximum, as the cost of living for a dumpy 2 bedroom apartment here is more than most people's mortgages on a 4+ bedroom home elsewhere. but i've had so much fun lately trying to find a house. not an apartment. a house. at ground level. with a garage. and a yard {yah, right}. and more than 2 bedrooms. and more than one bathroom. hey, a girl can dream.

and someday craigslist is going to help my dream come true.

time well spent.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

see mj write: day 21 {a recipe}

i have a disease.

when i want something done, it's hard for me to trust another to get it done. i usually just do it myself. it's not because i don't think they can do a good job. usually, it's just because i know they'll do it differently than the way i imagined and that stresses me out.

enter church cookbooks.

when i was in college, my ward, or church group, wanted to put together a recipe book; one compilation of everyone's bests. a book that would become a go-to for easy, yummy, quick, hearty, wholesome meals.

so of course, i headed up the project. i didn't want some half-hearted effort. and i definitely didn't want it to be edited incorrectly. the book obviously needed a good font {and not too many} and it needed consistency with terms and layout and...you get the idea.

so, i nagged and nagged and nagged and eventually collected enough recipes to compile into a book. i spent countless hours arranging and rearranging the text so recipes fit on pages correctly {we don't want any widows, now do we?}, checking for spelling and grammatical errors and organizing the recipes, alphabetically, into like groups.

and then, because i worked at the on-campus copy center, i was in charge of the printing and collating and binding. and i hand-picked which of the employees would be allowed to help me.

when all was said and done, and the recipe book was in my hands, i was almost too tired to start cooking. but, it was pretty. oh, it was pretty. and i think i've only found one or two mistakes in the entire thing. not too shabby.

i swore i would never do anything like that ever again.

but, as with most student wards, the population quickly changed and we had a whole new group of girls interested in compiling a cookbook.

so i volunteered again.

see, i never learn my lessons.

same thing all over again. countless hours. tired eyes. extremely annoyed husband. but, a second cookbook in hand; and this one had a slow cooker section.

and then i moved to california. i got together weekly with a group of moms and, each week, whoever hosted provided lunch. and let me tell ya, these ladies are good cooks. so of course, i needed a cookbook. and of course, i volunteered my services to compile said cookbook.

i'm pleased to announce that these cookbooks have become my go-to for almost all of my daily cooking. the recipes are tried and true and downright delectable.

so, with no further adieu, my own most-requested submission. it was given to me by my mother in law and i've never turned back. i entered it into all three cookbooks because it's so easy and so yummy and so fool-proof.

crock pot lasagna:

6-9 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 lb. ground beef or turkey, browned and seasoned with Italian seasoning
1 jar (28 oz.) spaghetti sauce {any flavor}
16 oz. cottage cheese
4 0z. mozzarella cheese {give or take}, grated

1. spray crock pot with non-stick spray.
2. layer 2-3 uncooked noodles, 1/3 meat, 1/3 spaghetti sauce, 1/3 cottage cheese and 1/3 mozzarella cheese in crock pot.
3. repeat layers two more times.
4. cook on low heat for 3 1/2-4 1/2 hours.

*note: i have a round slow cooker, so i have to break the noodles and do three layers. if you have a large oval cooker, you could probably get away with two layers and might not have to break the noodles. also, try to not cook for longer than 4 1/2 hours.


really. it's that easy. we have it probably 2-3 times a month {we had it tonight!} and it is inhaled by all who are present. even the bean. she loves it.

it might not be as pretty as your traditional lasagna, but it is every bit as tasty.

see mj write: day 20 {a hobby of yours}

i think my friend described it best when she said she had 'hobby a.d.d.'.

i'm afraid i'm in the same boat.

since one of my talents is not being afraid to try, one of my sicknesses is not being able to say no, one of my obsessions is painting {especially furniture}, one of my thrills is finding a great deal, i'm pretty good at starting a lot of things.

oftentimes, i start multiple projects at once. currently, there is a stack of fabric on my floor, a pile of yarn in a bag next to it, a collection of canvas balancing on the wall nearby and a file folder of photos on my desktop all awaiting a few minutes of my dedicated time to make them into something beautiful. fabric will hopefully turn into five beautiful baby blankets for 5 of the 47 people i know who are currently pregnant. yarn has plans to be a surprise for some rett syndrome friends. canvases are on the agenda to become family member silhouettes. file folder photos will be beautifully organized into leah's third year book.

hobby attention deficit disorder? i think so.

thankfully, i do finish projects. i finish lots of them, actually. and the hobby i know i want to continue to obsess over is reclaiming old furniture and turning it into pure magnificence.

to date, i've finished two of these projects. i'd love to do more. i'd be all for scouring yard and estate sales this weekend if i had the verbal and/or written consent from my significant other.

but i don't.

his excuse it that we don't have a yard...or a garage...or a balcony...or a patio...or even a porch...that would allow space for such a project. that's why we're currently taking donations to rent a house {contact me for details}.

and yet, even if we did have these things, the aforementioned significant other wouldn't necessarily be on board.

case in point: valentine's day 2009. i was on my way home from target and i saw the most beautiful chair on the side of the road.

okay, it wasn't beautiful. but i had plans for this chair and those plans were beautiful. so i picked it up and set it at the top of our stairs.
ryan's parents were in town visiting at the time and ryan and his parents all looked at me like i was a crazy person. but, after some dissasembly, sanding, sanding and more sanding, painting, cutting, stapling and reassembly, i'm very proud of the finished project. and so is ryan. he was amazed with what i did...and even tried to claim the sander i bought as his very own. nice try.sadly, leah claimed it as her chew toy {to her credit, that arm is the perfect height for her hungry mouth}. i'll fix it when she grows taller.

case in point #2: independence day 2009. i was on an early morning run with my cousin and saw the most beautiful end table. ok, again it wasn't beautiful...yet. she offered to pick it up later that day as her car is more spacious than mine. she thought i was so strange for wanting this particular piece of furniture. i explained how i loved the curves and the lines. she got more and more confused as i continued to speak, so i stopped, and graciously accepted her offer for its delivery. when i got home that evening, there was a piece of furniture in our carport, only it was the wrong piece of furniture. she had picked up a ratty old desk that was literally falling apart. it was old and boring and gross. and definitely no unique lines or curves. i immediately burst into fits of laughter and understood why she thought i was a crazy person. so, ryan and i went back the next day and {surprise!} my coveted side table had still gone unclaimed.

so, against ryan's will, i claimed it.

and after much stripping, more stripping, some stripping and more stripping, then sanding, priming, priming, painting, painting and painting, i'm in love with the outcome.and i'm more antsy than you can imagine for that yard {or garage, balcony, patio or porch} so i can continue this obsession. i have biiiiiiiiig plans. big.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

sf ballet: take four

by FAR my favorite night. hands down. no contest. i loved each and every number.

first, rush. this was fantastic classical ballet with a bit of funk thrown in. i'm seriously amazed at what these people can do with their bodies. i loved loved the music and loved, loved, loved the dancing. that's all.second, classical symphony. probably my favorite of the night. the girl's tutus were so fun. they were a thin, tight mesh that stuck out like pippy longstocking's hair. they seriously were like bike tires around their waists, but so soft and feminine. they had a white floral pattern on them that i just loved and the way they rigidly yet fluidly moved added so much to the number {of course i couldn't find a picture}. again, i loved the music. the dancing was classical ballet with a bit more movement. just not as rigid, i guess. more upper body movement and a bit more foot work. it was the world premiere. it was incredible.

third, the concert (or, the perils of everybody). this was a theatrical comedy choreographed by jerome robbins (west side story). the dancers came to see a piano performance of frederic chopin's music. the solo pianist on sage was in.cre.di.ble. incredible. amazing. fantastic. i love chopin. always have. and this performance made me love his music even more. {julia, you would have DIED.} the dancers very literally got lost in the music. the choreography was based on their imaginations, dreams and fantasies influenced by the music. it was also kind of a play or words of some of chopin's music {"butterfly" etude, the "minute" waltz, the "raindrop" prelude, etc.}. i love the dancing. i loved the humor and i more than loved the music.

and i left vowing to go home and practice the piano. never thought the ballet would make me do that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

see mj write: day 19 {a talent of yours}

hmmm...

sometimes its hard to think of something you're good at when you can quickly think of a handful of people who are better at that particular task. especially on a day like today when i just feel like sulking in the corner.

i've proven myself able to do a lot of things. i play the piano and like to sing and i guess i'm talented when compared to some, but definitely fall short when compared to others. i can cook, but i'm horrible at presentation {i'm workin' on it}, which often defeats the entire cooking session. i like to run, but i'm not necessarily talented at it, i just do it...slowly.

i'm good at editing and correcting grammar and spelling mistakes {and yes, i know i make a mistake or two out of haste every once in awhile}.

i can wrinkle my tongue up into three distinct loops. i'd take a picture, but i'm the polar opposite of attractive today.

i'm really good at being sarcastic. probably too good.

mostly i like to create things and am not afraid to try. i'd love to take a class on screen printing or letterpress or writing or quilting or a handful of other things. i'm always looking at pictures and wondering how i could make a certain item myself and constantly have a new project {or three} sitting in front of me. i guess i'm slowly learning that not being afraid to try is definitely a talent and one i'm getting better and better at by the day.

i love the thrill of trying, creating and succeeding.

and if i fail? oh well. better luck next time. there's always something new to create. and once in awhile, the outcome is downright hilarious. it was worth trying just to get in a good laugh at the finished product.

i usually appreciate the product more when i spend time to create it myself. like that skirt i just can't seem to part with...even though i haven't worn it in three years...because i made it. or that basket full of note cards or bucket full or hair bows or bookshelf full of photo books or couch full of ruffle pillows or toddler bed covered in a handmade quilt or windows draped with an mj original.

gifts are a lot more fun to give when you've put a little bit of yourself into them. thank you notes are a little more meaningful when you've taken time to pen them yourself {no keyboard invovled}. my home is a little more enjoyable when i realize i've taken hours and energy to make it mine. to create a home where i want to be.

ryan probably doesn't appreciate the stacks and piles of ribbon and mod podge and fabric {oh, the fabric!!!}. but he's a good sport. and hopefully he enjoys some of the creations too.so, i'll keep trying. and failing. and trying again. and maybe succeeding every so often. and i might not be the best, but i won't be afraid to try.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

see mj write: day 18 {whatever tickles your fancy}

we all have at least one.

small or big, it doesn't matter. it's happened to each of us.

that one experience in our childhood that was so completely and utterly unfair, we are still, to this day, holding it against our parents.

in my case, the grudge has been disputed and ongoing for about 14 years.

i refer to it as "stubble."

stubble seems a strange name for something to be upset about for such a long period of time. i know. but i didn't come up with the name. they did. my mom and my sister, kelli, three and a half years my junior.

you see, i'm the oldest girl in my family. and as such, became the natural guinea pig for all things girl. curfew for one {i know i have older brothers, but apparently it's a different thing for your daughter to be out late?? and it didn't help that that second brother of mine had a tendency to disregard his curfew. thanks for that one, dan}.

or the rule in our house about no pierced ears until 12 years old.

but i'm not here to talk about either of those. i'm here to talk about stubble. another rule for that golden age of twelve: no shaving your legs.

this might not seem like a big deal to some, but when you're 11 years old and your long, dark, leg hairs are exploding out of your thick, white tights, it's something to be concerned about. all my friends had rid themselves of that particular embarrassment, but not me. i had to wait until i was twelve. it was a big deal.

but, twelve was the rule. and so i waited. and on the evening of october 8, 1993, i'm pretty sure i opened the shiny gift wrapped razor blade first. my forested legs just couldn't wait any longer. this isn't to say i wasn't nervous. my older and wiser neighbor jenni made sure to warn me not to go too fast - she had a scar to prove that wasn't so wise.

that first shave was slow going. and not because i was scared. the clumps of hair kept getting caught in the blades and i had to stop to clean it out countless times. it took for. eh. ver.

and when i finished. oh. the. glory.

smooth legs. i couldn't stop rubbing them. i'm pretty sure i used an entire bottle of lotion that night. and every night for weeks. i couldn't get enough of them. if the 12 year rule had no other purpose, it definitely made me appreciate the smoothness when it came.

and i knew, in traditional older sister style, i had almost three and a half years to make fun of the growth protruding from my sister's bright white tights. she already had the skinniness and the shape that my calves would never have, so i needed something on her. and hair was the key. it was going to be great.

fast forward about two years. i was standing in the kitchen. i don't remember the exact conversation, but i do remember my sister was mouthing off. this wasn't unusual. she got away with too much {back me up on this, dan}. but this particular night, after her snide remark, my mom very quietly whispered to her, "stubble."

"stubble? what's stubble?," i asked.

"oh, nothing," she replied. and kelli smiled.

i was persistent and after much badgering to no avail, eventually looked down at kelli's legs to see the absence of a forest. smooth, perfect, skinny, shapely, beautiful, kelli legs. smooth. no hair. just smooth. and she was barely 11. maybe even 10. doesn't matter. all i know is she was NOT 12.

the scene that ensued was not pretty. and definitely not appropriate for a public audience.

for the past 14+ years mother and younger daughter have denied everything while older guinea-pig of a daughter wallows in her misery. i got the cankles, the straight calves and the hair. she got the skinny ankles, shapely curves and the smoothness. and she got away with talking back.

life just isn't fair.


p.s. mother and younger daughter will not be allowed to comment on this post. they will be swiftly removed if you try. your view point, for once on this subject, will not be heard.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

see mj write: day 17 {an art piece}

i love all things art history. i find it so fascinating to learn how paintings, drawings, sculptures, architecture and even music intertwine throughout the ages. how they influence each other. how new inventions or trends in society can drastically change how we think and feel about our environment and thus how we choose to portray it in art.

it's interesting to me to learn about artists who were way ahead of their time or really pushed the limits with whatever new technique they were trying. and yet, many of those pieces are so commonplace for us. so normal.

i think it's incredible that some of the now-famous artists and musicians were relatively or completely unknown or unappreciated in their time.

i have lots of favorites. after learning about many pieces in depth in my AP art history class in high school {i got a 4} and an art history class at brigham young university {i got an A}, i have lots of favorites to choose from. althought i do love the work of some not-so-well-known artists, i think some of my favorites are from vincent van gogh.

i love the colors and the brushstrokes. i love the depictions of every day life. i love that the titles were super easy to remember for tests {starry night, wheat field with cypresses, sunflowers, wheatfield with crows, woods and undergrowth...you get the picture}.

i think my favorite is starry night over the rhone. i've always loved the night sky. i love being the passenger in a car at night and just staring up to see tiny bursts of light scattered across a black abyss. this particular night sky reminds me of sleepovers as a young girl with no cares in the world. we used to curl up in our sleeping bags on my friend mindee's trampoline. we made up songs about the big dipper {"the big dipper, those little stars. oh how they shine, against the blue, blue sky"....pretty original, no?} and felt the cool utah breeze on our faces. the reflection on the water reminds me of lake merwin on a still, summer night in washington. sitting on the dock reflecting on god's creations. even as an adult, with cares and stresses and worries, the night sky seems a comforting and safe place to be. a close second is almond branches in bloom. love the turquoise and the new signs of life. just a painting about the every day. something i might walk by and not even notice if i was in a rush, but when i take time to notice, it's almost breathtaking. if i were to choose an architectural piece or sculpture, i'd have to stick with the corinthian column. always loved it. none of this doric or ionic nonsense. it's corinthian for me. serves such a common purpose, but i think the designs are just incredible. the fact that people not only have the physical ability to carve so intricate a design out of stone, but that they actually have the foresight to imagine what it might look like before they start chipping away is incredible to me. definitely not a critic. i can appreciate most pieces of art. just the fact that someone took time to create is oftentimes enough for me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

see mj write: day 16 {a song that makes you cry}

music, far more than television or movies, makes me very emotional. more than once, i have found myself a complete sobbing mess because of the lyrics of a song. i've done it in public. i've done it in private. i've done it in the car. i've done it while running on a trail. and there's something so refreshing about bawling your eyes out to a song, you know? maybe you don't. but if you don't, you should try it sometime.

and if i have to pick just one song that makes me cry, it's "she's with me" by collin raye. i first heard this song a few months ago. ryan sent it to me via email. he should have warned me because his computer keyboard was almost completely ruined from golf ball sized teardrops streaming from my eyes. mr. raye wrote it about his granddaughter who has some sort of a neruological disorder...she developed normally for about two years and then digressed. hmmm...sounds eerily similar to something i've come to know all too well since last fall.

it's on his most current cd never going back. according to him, he placed it last on the cd because he always puts his favorite last. a song he thinks can't be followed by anything at all.

and i love it.

it so completely wraps up all of my emotions in one little song it's incredible. it makes me so excited to hear her cute little voice when we get to heaven. you best believe i have a laundry list of questions i'm planning to ask that little girl.

it makes me think. it makes me smile. it makes me sad. it makes me proud. it makes feel. it makes me happy. it makes me realize just how blessed i am, even if the every day is hard.

and yes, it makes me cry.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj6GXVTAOiU

Thursday, April 15, 2010

see mj write: day 15 {a fanfic}

ten minutes ago, i wasn't even sure what a fanfic was. so i did some research. and, in a nutshell, it's a piece of work written by a fan of a certain work about the characters/settings of that particular piece of work.

sounds kind of creepy to me. and no, i've never read anything of the sort.

so, instead, i'm going to share the top ten things i'm a fan of today {in no particular order}:

{trader joe's vanilla joe-joe's. mmmmm.}{sunshine}

{jillian michael's 30 day shred}
{my new-ish red watch}
{the milk pail market. yay for local, fresh, yummy produce}
{organic vanilla yogurt with fresh berries and homemade granola}
{leah's new water floaty...broken in today!}

{hulu.com}
{my new blue glasses}
{old navy flip flip flops for $2.50 - this year's color: bronze}

{the end.}

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

see mj write: day 14 {a non-fictional book}

i'm an avid reader.

okay, i used to be an avid reader. i used to stay up late at night, reading from the light of my pink nightstand lamp until my mom came in {for the third or fourth time} and said it was really time for bed. at which time i would begin to read under my pink and white striped sheets with only the light of a flashlight and the green glow of my alarm clock. i read and i read and i read and i read.

i still like reading now just as much as i did then, but i guess other things fill my time. and i cherish my sleep a little more now than i did then {which is why i'm typing this at 11pm, right?}.

currently, my goal is one book a month. i'm not batting 100% for 2010, but i'm close.

i very rarely read books more than once, but when i find one that really hits home or makes me think or compels me to be a better person, i have no problem flipping its pages a second, third or fourth time.

the last lecture, by randy pausch did this for me. you've probably read it. if you haven't read it, you very likely could have seen part of his actual last lecture. if you haven't read or heard it, you've most likely heard of him. and if you haven't heard of him, then you like in a cave. {just kidding. kind of.} he is a college professor, a husband, a father, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at a much-too-young age.

his messages are simple. although his last lectures reached a worldwide audience, he wrote them for his kids and first gave the advice to a group of college students. he knew he was going to die and he wanted to give his kids, who were too young at the time, some advice that would be helpful for their futures. i think we can all use this kind of advice. the pure, unadulterated advice from someone whose true intentions are in our best interest.

the book is simple and humble and funny and sad. it's about hopes and dreams and triumphs and love. and also about tradgedies and trials and defeats and heartbreak. it's a relatively quick read, but still leaves you wanting for more. more advice for you, as a child {or an adult who still feels like a child sometimes} from your parent who you know loves and adores you and wants nothing more than for you to succeed and be happy.

it's the kind of book i want my mom to write so i can always have her with me. it's the kind of book i would be reading, late at night, amidst the glowing green light of my alarm clock {which is now my cell phone}. hopefully she wouldn't make me put that one away just to go to bed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

see mj write: day 13 {a fictional book}

"fictional" is a pretty big category for me, so i really need to narrow it down.

don't really like science fiction. never have. can't see myself liking it it in my near or not-so-near future, either.

not a fan of historical fiction. i don't like when books mix real characters with fake ones or real characters with fake happenings. just give it to me straight OR make the whole thing up. not a little of both.

so...as for true fiction...since i don't read much of it, i'd have to say my favorite books include mr. harry potter himself. all seven of them. sure, i like some more than others, but all together, they allowed me to escape to a world far away from my own.

i love harry for lots of reasons, but mostly because he's good. he has been surrounded by not-so-good for a majority of his life and he's still kind and amiable and good. he's a true friend. he has more strength than he'll give himself credit for, which i think is the case with a majority of us. others see our own strengths much more than we ever do. he makes mistakes. he's imperfect. but he's learning. and he's good.

i'm in love with the weasleys. theirs is a home in which i would have loved to spend time after a long day at school. they're quirky. they're old fashioned. they don't have a lot as far as the world is concerned. but there is love in their home and in the end, that proves to be very valuable.

most of all i love dumbledore. albus percival wulfric brian dumbledore. i'd say he's wise beyond his years, but his years are many, so maybe not. maybe he's perfectly wise for his years. he sees the big picture. he thinks things through. he believes in his students. he knows that good can win even when it seems evil is heavily tipping the scales. when he is around, there is a peaceful feeling. things will work out.

i love the way the books connect and link to one another. ideas and objects and people and their pasts weave in and out of each book and are all tied into one pretty tapestry in the end.

that's my kind of book.

p.s. the movies are good too, but not as good as the books. too much is left out in the movies. and there are many things an imagination can do that film just can't. i did see daniel radcliffe in nyc in 2008 after i ran the marathon. he really is super little. that's him wearing a hat and signing autographs.

Monday, April 12, 2010

see mj write: day 12 {whatever tickles your fancy}

you know who tickles my fancy?

leah.

usually. she didn't tickle my fancy by screaming bloody murder and not falling asleep until 10pm last night, but usually she tickles my fancy.

rett syndrome does NOT {with a capital N, O and T} tickle my fancy. but leah does and she has rett syndrome. so, if i have to choose one thing about rett syndrome that tickles my fancy, it would have to be the people.

i've met, in person, a handful of people that are simply amazing. and i know, were it not for rett, we never ever ever would have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted. i've also met, via internet land, lots of other families and incredible people; and i hope to be able to meet them all in person one day.this past weekend, we were able to spend time with another rett family. they live relatively close by and we met at the natural history study last month. i was blown away with the similarities between leah and their daughter. let alone the similarities between myself and the other rett mom. i was a little nervous to go to their house. we had exchanged lots of emails over the course of those few weeks - felt a little bit like my pen pal days from mrs. green's 3rd grade class at heartland elementary. but the actual meeting day had all the anxiety of an eHarmony date. will they like us? will i say something silly? are we going to have things to talk about for the entire afternoon?

well, i think they liked us. and if they didn't, they put on a good show.

i probably said something silly. i usually do. but they didn't seem to mind.

and we definitely had things to talk about for the entire afternoon. and many more afternoons to come.

it was so fun to see leah play the same way another little girl plays.
it was so nice to have leah lick their kitchen table and have it be completely normal.it was wonderful to watch leah and her new friend grab at puffins and apples and jelly beans on the table, only to have it strewn across the floor. which then created perfect smashing grounds for the both of them. and it was ok! not just "oh maren, don't worry about it. it's okay" but "oh, that really does happen here more than once a day. it really is ok."
ryan and his new friend sat on the couch and watched the masters like any two sports-loving men should do.

i ran around inside and out chasing two tornado-esque girls and one delicious little brother with my new rett bff. we chatted about all things rett as well as our similarities in books, food, exercising, and lots of other stuff.
it was well worth the hour's drive.

and i'm going back next weekend, alone, to help plan the first-ever northern california strollathon to raise money for the IRSF and katie's clinic, where leah has been seen. if you're interested in donating, click here to view team leah bean's fundraising page.

any donations, small or large, or support/participation in the actual strollathon would greatly tickle my fancy.

{and just for kicks and giggles, here's a flier i had to make for another fundraising opportunity.
i have to admit, i'm proud of the little birdie i created with leah's name as the wing.}

Sunday, April 11, 2010

see mj write: day 11 {a photo taken of you recently}

this is me last sunday. is that recent enough? and the two lovely girls flanking my sides are ryan's cousins, allie and brinn. we were lucky enough to have allie, brinn and their parents come visit us on easter while they were vacationing in the city by the bay.

apparently the "city bunny" doesn't hide easter eggs in hotel rooms. this was news to the girls. and not good news, at that.

thankfully, the easter bunny did visit our house and left plenty of eggs to be found. i helped mr. bunny hide them, so it wouldn't be much fun for me to find them. leah wasn't so much interested in finding them. ryan thought i was ridiculous for helping mr. bunny hide them in the first place. so that left allie and brinn. and they were more than excited to do the finding! they spent a good half hour opening up every cupboard, drawer and cabinet, moving baskets and clothes and shoes and books and pillows and appliances and everything else you can imagine to find all 45 eggs. and find them they did. leah was their constant shadow as they searched each room and she reaped the rewards when it came time to enjoy the fruits {okay, candies} of their labor. it was a win-win-win.

i love these girls. they were not more than leah's age when i first met them and they are growing into beautiful young women. {in fact, the first time allie actually met me, she ran away in sheer anger - she was quite upset i was stealing her boyfriend from her. but, by the end of the night, i won her love and she hasn't turned back since.}

{allie and brinn at our wedding, may 2003}

they played their piano recital pieces for me and updated me on boys and school and all else that consumes the life of a 'tween. and i loved it. we ate some yummy food and leah entertained us with her never-ending runny nose. the booger bubbles were something to be proud of. ryan's aunt thalene is one of my favorites, so it was so fun to catch up with her. and ryan and steve chatted on the couch, oblivious to the chaos around them, for the full two hours. they even brought a present for leah and yummy chocolate for me {and ryan??}.

a good time was had by all.
a big thanks to the fairbanks for taking time out of their vacation to stop by. we love visitors!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

see mj write: day 10 {a photo taken of you over 10 years ago}

okay, so this photo was taken of me more than TWENTY years ago, but who's counting?

the back of the picture says it was taken on christmas eve 1987, but i think the back of the picture lies because if it were christmas eve, we'd be in brand new, most likely matching jammies. but i'm pretty sure it was 1987.

i love this picture and everything about it. i love the knick knacks hanging on the wall in the background: the kinnersley crest, the hand-painted decorative chess board {nice, mom}, the hanging beeswax cutouts and crosstiched ducks.

i love the couch. oh, the couch! isn't it a beauty? so many fond memories on this couch. we built forts in it, used the couch cushions to jump over hot lava, laid on it when we were sick, cuddled on it to watch the weekly disney movie, had birthday parties surrounding it. isn't it funny how a piece of furniture can be such a part of your life?

i love the subject matter: scott, the oldest, on the left with his excellent glasses and dashing footballasaurus pajamas. i love scott's smile in this picture. so real and genuine. scott was often serious. he had to be. scott had to grow up too quickly and was expected to be serious. so i love that he's smiling and is one of the kids in this picture. kelli, the youngest, next to him. kelli was the family entertainer and could be counted on to make any of us laugh. she never got in trouble for anything. ever. i always took the blame for her. but looking at this picture makes me realize how. aren't her 3 year old cheeks just squishable? dan is next to her. dan was the family clown. he did get in trouble lots, but he basically deserved it all. he used to regift his garfield comic books to me for my birthday. dan only ever read one book {ty: the ty detmer story} when he was younger. i think he used it for book reports in every grade. loving the karate kid jams, dan. and then there's me. of course i'm wearing a nightgown. i loved those things. except they got all twisted up in bed. remind me why i love them again?

i grew up in a great house. we didn't have much in the ways of the world. my dad was sick for most of my early childhood and we had a lot of medical expenses that didn't leave funds left over for much else. but my incredible mom made do and never made me feel like i was lacking. of course i didn't get everything i wanted. but i definitely had all i needed. and, even though i can probably count on one hand the number of days all of my siblings and i got along, we made it. and we're great friends now. and i'd include my mom in that 'great friend' category.

growing up, i couldn't have asked for a better family. {or a better couch.} and this photo is such a great reminder of that.

Friday, April 9, 2010

see mj write: day 9 {a photo you took}

i like to take self portraits.

so what!? i think it's fun. and i'm pretty good at it. i rarely miss people in the frame.
and this, my friends, is how you take a self portrait. i got everyone in the frame, first try, waddling up walter's wiggles while hiking to angel's landing at zion national park last summer {except for chris...he was off being a hot shot running up all the wiggles and had already turned the corner}.i highly recommend the hike {so long as you have no fear of heights}. i highly recommend the company {these guys are great}. and i highly recommend taking a self portrait as you go {but good luck getting one as good as this}.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

see mj write: day 8 {a photo that makes you angry/sad}


i know...she's smiling. she's happy. she's cute.

but she can't do this anymore, and that makes me sad.
once in awhile it makes me angry, but mostly it makes me sad.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

see mj write: day 7 {a photo that makes you happy}

i've been given the monumental task of recording my grandpa's 89 year history.


okay, i gave myself the task.

but it wasn't really my fault. i was at work one day about six years ago. i didn't really love my job and it consisted of mindless writing...so i let my mind wander. and wander it did. i kept getting this nagging feeling to interview my grandpa. i put it off. and then the nagging continued. so i called him up and scheduled a date to go and talk to him. i came prepared with a video camera and loads of questions and i think it turned out to be a great interview.

and then, sadly, my grandpa died just eight months later.

and now, i have to compile it all, along with thousands of pictures ,and create a book. that's my fault too. i'm not the kind of person who can just 3-hole punch a few stories and scotch tape some pictures alongside and call it good. i want it to be great. i want to be proud of it. i want it to adequately reflect the wonderful life that was his. i don't want to leave anything out. and so...because i secretly know it will never be perfect...it's still not done. it's barely started. but it's started. and it's {one of} my next big projects. and now that i've admitted it, i guess i have to follow through. hmmm.

anyway, because i've had the privilege to hear, firsthand, so many incredible stories and see so many beautiful pictures, i have many reasons to feel happy and blessed to be a part of his life. so i chose this photograph to illustrate something that makes me happy.


i love this picture for a lot of reasons. first, i love it, because i love my grandpa. he's super cute, don't you think? he's blood. he's family. my family makes me happy.

second, he's in the navy. i'm so blessed to live in a free county. my freedom makes me happy.

third, when in the navy, you have to physically exert yourself. exercising gives me endorphins and makes me happy.

fourth, when in the navy, you also hopefully have downtime. vegging makes me happy.

fifth, he's reading the scriptures. i'm a religious person. my religious beliefs and knowledge make me happy.

sixth, this photograph was taken circa 1945. for some reason, this time period fascinates me. i know it was a horrendous time for many reasons, but learning more about it makes me happy.

and really, i love this picture because there's a story behind it. it's not just a picture. it's a person. i've invested many maren hours learning about and loving this person and it just makes me happy.

and this picture, taken in 2004 on the day i interviewed him, makes me happy too.