Thursday, April 28, 2011

this is how i fundraise

i've never been a fundraiser. when asked to sell wrapping paper and christmas wreaths in high school to pay for choral trips, my stomach sank. i would rather just pay for it myself. there really is not much worse in my opinion than asking others for money. 

but there's one cause i believe in enough to do just that. 

her name is leah. 

most of you know her story. many of you have seen her blog. you may have even gone the extra step and donated to her strollathon team {that raised more than $3600!!} or researched rett syndrome on your own, including other fundraising successes and promising steps in research towards treatments and a cure. 

and it's those promising steps that help me keep going. knowing that there are others out there who believe in leah as much as i do. and who help me believe in her on days where i simply don't have the strength.

so, in an effort to raise funds for rett syndrome research in a hopefully-non-intrusive way, {and to clear out my etsy shop, emjay creates, before we move across the country},

50% of all proceeds will go to the 
International Rett Syndrome Foundation 
in honor of miss leah. 

also, use the code 
to get 10% off your order. 

click here to go to my shop

there are some great gifts for moms and wives {and for yourself!} if you're still searching for a mother's day gift. and if you place your order by tuesday, may 2, i'll make sure to ship it in time for it to arrive by mother's day. spread the word!

thanks in advance. 

team leah bean

p.s. does anyone know how to put a banner on etsy? my page is so boring!

Monday, April 25, 2011

just google "hanging meat"

i really have no words for this post. i'm laughing too hard to type, to be quite honest. 

got an email from julia today. the same julia who came to china with us nearly three years ago. she got a comment from a random googler, who happens to be an artist in nyc, on this blog post from 2008 saying he was inspired by one of her pictures {a picture that happens to be one of my favorites from the entire trip} and decided to make it into a 24x30 oil painting.

his muse? me. and random animal tongues hanging in an outdoor market.
the outcome? this. 

apparently, if you google "hanging meat" this picture of me appears. 

all i'm wondering is how i can get my hands on a print to hang in my bedroom.

**image from his website**

easter feast

we were lucky enough to share our easter feast with some good friends, one of which is an amazing cook. seriously amazing.

the menu included:

my first-ever glazed ham

mashed potatoes and gravy

green bean almondine

spinach salad

jello-o per sydney's request

homemade rolls

shirley temples

and personal pies with ice cream for dessert.

the kids {and ryan?} watched a movie so we could chat

kristen and i had fun in the kitchen

and ryan and david got their first ever picture together. somewhat reluctantly. these boys see each other every workday of the year and they've never had a picture together? they must be male.

we also dyed easter eggs. mba style. 

emery preferred the plastic variety. 

and i'm still full.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

a very happy easter indeed

i had a great week leading up to easter. i taught a special lesson for my young women on sunday. i thought about it and prepared for it a lot throughout the week. saturday night ryan and i attended the temple. saturday morning, i watched my step brother's little girl audrey while he and his wife went to the temple. friday night kristen and i went to the oakland interstake center to attend a performance of "the lamb of god" written by rob gardner. i sang in a number of performances under rob's direction in college and have some great memories of them. rob happened to be there and i was able to chat with him afterward, which was fun. sunday morning leah woke up and was in a great mood. we searched for easter baskets {ryan found his in record time. we need a bigger house!}. 

then we dressed in our sunday best {including the new arm braces i made for leah to match her easter dress! go me!!}. i sang in the choir at church and gave my lesson, which went pretty well. 

after church leah posed for us while taking pictures. 

it was an easter miracle. 

a very happy easter week for sure.

Friday, April 22, 2011

early office closing

today ryan called us around 1:00pm and asked if we could come get him at 2:00. his office was closing early for the holiday weekend. what a fun surprise! so, just after 2:00 when leah woke up, we hustled up to e.p.a. to pick him up. i had the beginnings of a migraine so when we got home, i popped a vitamin e {e for excedrine} and asked ryan to come get me in 10 minutes. he and leah went into her room to play. the giggling started almost immediately. i knew they were building towers, but wondered what else could be so funny. after 5 minutes, i had to go check. i opened the door and found this:

i honestly laughed out loud. and still laugh out loud when i think about it. they were having such a great time!

here's a glimpse into the real ryan. 

and the real leah. 
they stacked and destroyed for a loooooooong time.

and then about an hour later, i walked in to find this. 

my migraine was successfully thwarted in no time. 
i like early office closing days.

Monday, April 18, 2011

tuckie for life

our trip to hanover was a whirlwind. but a successful one. we truly enjoyed ourselves and are now more excited than ever to make this giant leap to the east coast for two years. our days were jam packed. we took the red eye thursday night and arrived {after a sleepless night} at 5:30am east coast really, 2:30 in the morning as far as we were concerned. we hopped in our rental car and made our way two hours up the 93 and the 89 to hanover. we stopped for an hour at a rest stop to sleep and then got something to eat before we went the rest of the way. when mr. garmin told us we were 5 minutes away, i told ryan he must be kidding. we were in the middle of nowhere and there was no way we would be at our destination in 5 minutes. garmin wasn't lying. hanover really is in the middle of nowhere! 

we stayed at a student's apartment just off campus and she was gracious enough to move out for two nights so we'd have room! we checked in at noon and the butterflies began. so many people we didn't know. such a different life. and then michelle came up and hugged me. we'd only met online, but i really felt like we were already friends. throughout the next two days, we all went to panels and lunches and speaker sessions and tuck 'tails {um, happy hour}, dinners at students' houses, dinners at restaurants around town {there are probably 20 - way more than i thought!}, trivia nights {with more drinking}, tours of campus, recreational activities, dessert receptions and dance parties. it was honestly non-stop. and there was a lot of drinking. 

we met lots of wonderful people - including three other LDS couples who will be joining us in hanover next year! i'm afraid the 8 of us might be the official designated drivers. but i'm certain these ladies will make moving 3,100 miles away from what we have called "home" for the last 4.5 years much more bearable.

ryan learned all about life as a student and i learned all about two years of life without my student. insurance, housing, family life, activities, and more. 

the weather was...different. it snowed a tiny bit and hailed some. it was gloomy most of the time and...cold. i'm afraid i have become that california girl who shutters at the thought of 50 degrees. actually, it got much colder than that, but i can't say i was comfortable with the high. 

we took a tour through the administration building where ryan introduced himself to mr. tuck {i think sometimes ryan regrets acting on his instincts the day he laid eyes on me. the things i make him do...}

we also saw pictures of each graduating class at tuck. 1904 must have been a lonely year.

the first day, i wore these shoes. 

i was cold. 
so the next day i wore these shoes. 

much better. 
i donned a yellow jacket the entire weekend. you couldn't miss me. 
especially when we went out to "the green" and called a few family members to take a look on the live webcam to see us. thanks for the pictures, kelli!

and when it rained i layered it with my floral rain coat. 
i love this rain coat. ryan said i looked like his grandma. and, because i think both of his grandmas are super cool, i will readily take that as a compliment. and i know this picture suggests otherwise, but i am not 8 months pregnant.

hanover is a quiet, quaint town with a darling main street.
and i have a feeling i will be frequenting its only non-dartmouth clothing store quite a bit while we're there.
we ended our stay with a sunday morning hot chocolate at the dirt cowboy with a family who has a 19 year old special needs daughter. they gave us some great tips and contacts as we start all over with little miss leah. {insert huge sigh of relief.}

the flight home was delayed a few hours, and was the worst flight ever {the only way it could have been worse is if leah was with us...seriously}, but with a little help from harry potter 6 and a $25 credit to the airline for having to check my carry on because there was no room, we made it. 

leah was in good hands while we were gone. a huge thanks to the katzs and thomanders for feeding her, dressing her and otherwise entertaining her while we were away. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

are first impressions really that important?

headed to small town new hampshire on the red eye via boston tonight. to make some first impressions. 

are they really that important? if so, i'm a little nervous. we're going for the weekend to meet the people with whom we'll be spending the next two years of our lives. and i kind of want them to like me. 

either way, i'm excited to see what dartmouth is all about. the classrooms he'll study and learn in. the halls he'll walk every day. the gym he promised me i could get a membership to {as running in zero degrees is not really my thing}. the schools leah might attend. the playgrounds we'll play on. the home we might live in.

to see if i can really hack it in a place where there isn't a target, costco or trader joe's within a stone's throw. just a wal-mart. yuck. maybe new hampshire wal-marts are different. 

i'm excited to see new england nature first-hand. i know the snow is just melting, flowers most likely aren't in full bloom as they are here in california and the ground is covered in mud. but i'm excited to see what it's all about. 

wish us luck. it's going to be a whirlwind of a weekend full of firsts...and first impressions.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

be still

i made a resolution in january. but not your typical resolution. it wasn't about exercising more or losing those last 5 lbs. it was more a theme to live by during 2011. a mantra, of sorts. 

i did this last year - with simplify - and it was actually a great experience. i wrote my "theme" in various places that i might happen upon during the course of a day as a subtle reminder of a goal i felt was worth reaching for. i needed simplicity in 2010 after such a lovely end to 2009 and, with that reminder, was quite successful. 

this year, i changed my theme. i again wrestled with a handful of words, wondering which might serve me best during 2011. and i chose be still.

turns out, i really needed this one. and it's only april. 

i've found myself in a whirlwind of emotions and circumstances in a short three and a half months. some of those emotions and circumstances have been public domain while other remain much more private - perhaps to be discussed or remembered when they're not to raw. "be still" as my mantra has proved to be a lifesaver.

we live in a world where our switches are always flipped to the 'on' position. we go go go. we do do do. we rarely take time to just be. to enjoy what is here and what is now. to take time to look for the bigger picture and see how it's all fitting together. if we find ourselves waiting - in line, in the car - we're flipping the stations or checking our phones. if we're not doing something, we're not being productive. and if we're not being productive, we're being lazy. 

yet we've learned that being still and taking time to meditate, think and be can do wonders for stress management and emotional well being.

i'll admit, this is a big problem of mine. i like to go. i like to do. i enjoy sitting, but i'm rarely just sitting. i'm usually doing something whether it's important or not. 

this year, i want to take time to think. 

to stop {and smell the roses with leah}. 

to not worry about things that are not in my control. 

to learn. to grow. 

to read. to reflect. 

to take deep breaths. 
to count to ten.

to take time for me so i have energy for others. and yet to take time for others so as to not only focus on me. 

to force myself to be still. 

to do less of the unimportant.

to remember i'm not alone. that there is a plan. and i am part of it. 

like i said, it's going well thus far. i don't have my visual reminder in plain site, so i'll work on that. {this is fun. or this, although a little more noticeable.} there is  also some religious meaning implied in my choice of these two words and i want to study that out and find some even deeper meaning for me. but most of all, i just want to be still. 

what about you? do you have a mantra? a theme? a resolution for the year that you're still hanging onto?

what to do...literally.

i'm feeling like a crappy mom lately. 

mostly just a crappy mom to leah.

i have no idea what to do with her. how to play with her, engage her, stimulate her, help her learn and grow.

ryan takes care of the fun stuff. he and leah tackle and wrestle and giggle and goof off every night. that's not how leah and i interact. sure, we have our regular dance party, but i feel like i'm responsible to fulfill different needs for her than ryan is. and it's in those areas that i'm lacking.

ironically, i feel like i'm pretty good with others' kids. sure, i don't know all of their quirks and might make a mistake here or there, but overall i feel pretty successful. when i watch my friends' kids, i have things to say to them, games to play with them, activities to engage and involve them. and it's not hard for me. granted, i'm not doing this day in and day out, but i feel resourceful enough that i could - and i could be quite good at it. 

but i have leah. to set the record straight, i truly think of leah as the crown jewel. i would not trade that sweet girl for all the wealth in the kingdom. but i have no idea what to do with her!

without hesitation, i could list off 20 people more qualified and able to give her the care, support and stimulation she requires. people who are awesome at advocating or ingenious when it comes to adapting everyday life to a non-verbal, non-hand-using child. people who could incorporate amazing therapies into the day-to-day without so much as the blink of an eye. 

and yet here i am. here she is. the both of us together. 

i'm a do-er. a list maker. i like my projects  and crossing things off a list. i love that feeling of accomplishment. but if i were to stimulate leah in a way a normally developing child is naturally stimulated, it would be a non-stop job. i wouldn't be able to do anything! i can't give her a snack while i prepare dinner. i have to feed her that snack. i can't clean the kitchen while she eats her lunch. i have to feed her that lunch. i can't ask her to play in her room while i make a phone call or send an email. she needs me to help her play. to read her a book. to blow the bubbles. to hold the crayon. to think of conversation that might intrigue a four year old. 

i'm just not that able. there are some who are. and perhaps i'm not completely able because i'm a bit selfish. i can admit it. i need my projects. my lists. my accomplishments. so leah watches tv. she spends 1.5 hours in her room each day - and sometimes she doesn't sleep. so how horrible am i that she sits in her room doing nothing while i put a check mark in a box of a list i've made. probably pretty horrible.

but i don't have another answer. we don't have a nanny or a home therapist liek some. and leah was stuck with a selfish, unimaginative {resourceful, maybe but definitely unimaginative} mom. i copy ideas where i can to give her the best life i know how to give. but i'm not sure it's enough. 

i guess it's a learning process. we're both leaning what to do and how to be all day long. i just hope one day i won't feel so crappy about it.

my deep thoughts on a sleepless tuesday night

{seriously, it's 1:00 in the morning...}

it's a funny thing, life. 

not one of ours is the same. not even at the beginning. i've talked with many friends and we all have varying conception stories, pregnancy stories, birth or adoption stories. and that's just the entrance of one's life. then there's parents and siblings - or the lack thereof. and age differences. and family dynamics. and even that is just the start. 

our entire life is a unique combination of the circumstances we find ourselves in {whether by choice or not}, the people we become acquainted with {whether by choice or not}, and what we do with it all {most often by choice}. 

there's schools and friends and family and finances. social status and personality traits. jobs and living situations. disease. physical attributes. talents. hardship. temperament. religion. education. the list is truly endless. 

each one of us is so uniquely - and purposefully - being carved into us...connected in varying ways to a webful of friends and acquaintances who are also in the process of being uniquely and purposefully carved. all living life as a result of our ever-unique pasts and our dreams and desires for the future. 

some of us are truly happy with our lives thus far. others are hanging on by a thread. some are simply satisfied, but nothing more. others yearning for - and perhaps working toward - change. and yet we're all here together, for the same reason {or so i believe}. helping one another shuffle along because we all want the most out of life and to simply be happy. 

that's all. it's a funny thing, life.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

anne with an e

i've mentioned before that i'm completely comfortable being a nerd. i'm aware of it. and i'm okay with it. which is why i didn't even hesitate when the idea of having an anne of green gables party was brought up. of course ryan immediately scheduled a guys' night out as there is no way he would be caught at home when anne was on tv {even though he's the one who bought the movies for me!}. 

we had some tasty anne-themed treats and a very enthusiastic audience. it is hands down the best three and a half hour movie i've ever seen. 

 am in love with these popcorn bags.

 am also in love with these orange polka dot cupcake liners.

 yes, i really found a recipe for raspberry codial online. and yes, i really made it. it was delicious!
 leah was excited about the party until she realized it was her bedtime. next time leah, next time.

next time i watch, i'm doing so with a pen and pad of paper in hand so jot down all of the amazing quotes. 
matthew is still my favorite.
if you were on the guest list and are bummed you couldn't make it, we're having a sequel party. don't fear. 
if you weren't on the guest list and want to be, let me know!