Saturday, February 2, 2013

Snapshots and Stuff

Monday morning we saw blue sky to the west. Brilliant, glorious, robin's egg blue. And I can't tell you how happy it made me. We'd gone weeks without a glimpse of sky.

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If you're familiar with the Salt Lake valley, you know that during the winter we suffer stints of "Inversion" - capitalized so it sounds sinister and threatening. Because, believe me... it's nasty. 

An inversion is a deviation from the normal change of atmospheric pressure with altitude. Cold air and pollution get trapped close to the ground, acting like a "cap" over the valley. Want to see what it looked like last month?

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photo courtesy of Andy Proctor - thanks Andy

This photo was taken from the southernmost point of the valley above the gunk. Look closely and you can see the Draper Temple - one of the newer LDS temples built at the bottom of the canyon. Can you believe we went almost a month breathing that air??

It is awful to run in, makes your throat sting. 

The pulmonary specialist that works with Eliza moved out of the valley because she sees the health hazards of living in this stuff. (Now don't let that deter you from a visit. The rest of the year, Salt Lake is one of the most beautiful corners of the earth.)

This pressing dome of smog began to affect me emotionally. Not seeing the sun, not breathing good air, made me feel suffocated, closed in. So last Saturday I decided we had to get out.

Doug was working, but I didn't care how hard it was going to be to pull off an adventure alone. I zipped the kids into their snow pants, loaded five sleds into the car, and we drove into the mountains, determined to break through the gray.

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We drove up Big Cottonwood Canyon just below the ski resorts and trekked a quarter of a mile down a snowy road to a great sledding hill. The kids were troopers, carried their own sleds, and although we didn't find blue sky (it was snowing), we did find clean, warmer air, and we had a ball! 

We took off our coats, barreled down the hill together, and even survived a crazy trek into the trees so Eliza could go to the bathroom (all natural). You should have seen us, trying to forge a discreet path to the woods in waist-deep snow. Eventually, I put everyone in sleds and told them not to move (I kept losing the boys into tree holes) and sent Eliza off by herself. I don't think it was very pleasant, but ya do whatcha gotta do, right?

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There have been sledding days with Dad too. Here's Doug doing the "double pull" for Ali and Sami. What a man.

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And funny enough, we discovered a sledding hill in our own backyard. Eliza ran into the tree a couple times, after which Doug created a bank of snow that turned it into a bobsled run.

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We've had all kinds of raucous play inside our four walls. Silly stuff, where the giggling is almost debilitating. Let's face it, being inside most days isn't easy. It makes for crazy indians who conjure up wacky games like galloping around the house roped together by tights and leggings. They call themselves the Bug Horse Team (?).

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One day I found the boys meditating like this. Yoga headstands maybe? When I asked them what they were doing they said. "We just playing. We wanted to see da wood under der." 

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The boys are so busy right now, stir-crazy I think. Every day I have to find a way for them to expend some energy. So I've encouraged outside play as much as possible. Here they are during our last big storm. A 24-incher. 

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I love kissing those frosty, red cheeks when they come inside.

Today we went into the mountains again. I've decided, with the boys being older, we need some kind of outing every Saturday to get us through tax season. Something to look forward to, provide memories, make for happier months. So we hiked up our small, local canyon, tromped through the trees, and rolled down the sides of the mountain. Pretty low-key, but fun.
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A love sign for Daddy.

Here are a few more snapshots of our compact, inside life right now. Nothing fancy, mostly raw, iPhone pics.

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One day I was talking with Kara on the phone - one of these necessary conversations - and by the time we finished I realized the kids had eaten two packages of oreos. I had left the pantry unlocked (yes, we now have a lock on our pantry door) and this was all that remained. Most leftover cookies had the frosting licked out of them.

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These two make me laugh out loud every day. Here they are in their home-made tent. I wish I knew what they were whispering. Top secret conversations maybe... no girls allowed.

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They're not napping anymore, but occasionally they find just the right spot at just the right time, and fall asleep.

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We have a brand new library in the neighborhood, and last week I took the girls to get their own library cards. They were sooooooo excited! I am happy they're loving books as much as I do. 

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We recently discovered the Boxcar Children Mysteries. I've been reading them aloud to the girls and we're hooked. Eliza is burning through those endless Fairy books by Daisy Meadows, and we've been checking out your recommendations from this post.

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This is how homework gets done lately. One-on-one is nearly impossible, but we make it work. "Here we are together, together, together.. Here we are together in our family." 

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One evening I held Gordon all through dinner prep and dinner. Mr. Clingon needed a whole lotta love that night, but I was having trouble eating my food and clearing plates. Eventually, I encouraged him to return to his seat. Sad that I wouldn't hold him, he found someone else who would. And she even fed him! Ali is a good big sister.

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When Kara comes to visit, she's an instant celebrity. Actually, it's Caleb who wins the popularity contest. I wish you could hear the chatter and see my children's faces. They're so enamored with Caleb. Seems like all my children were babies at the same time - so close in age that babies are a total novelty for them. 

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After Christmas eight pieces of our children's nativity went missing. All the decor had been packed away, but I was still wondering where in the world those pieces had gone. While digging through the girls' top drawer one night, I found these lumpy tights. Hmmmm....

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Mystery solved.

And now some stuff.

A good friend and I are putting together a Joy School group for our boys next year. First year of preschool. Ages 3-4. I've embraced Joy School because I think it offers lessons, values, and teachings kids don't necessarily get in regular preschool. I love the joy of it, the awareness, the interpersonal skills, the emphasis on love, service, creativity, and family. That pre-K year I will give them a more formal, "away" experience. But this is my last chance to have my boys at home. I want to be a part of their learning. 

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I know it isn't for everyone. I know it's a commitment. But I'm wondering if any of you lovely mothers with boys that age (who live in the Holladay/Salt Lake area) would be interested. 

We have about three spots left. If so, leave me a comment or send me an email.

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Lastly, a bit on love. I thought this post at Power of Moms had some darling Valentine ideas. 

And if you haven't bought this book yet, you really should. I just re-read Saydi's chapter on love and it's marvelous. I can't stop thinking how powerful it is to carve out little slices of the day when I can be present with each child, on their terms, so I can love them. 

I'll leave you with one of Saydi's thoughts.

"Love can solve a multitude of problems. It can cover up our mistakes. It can make us resilient. It is the strongest antidote to our most serious dilemmas as mothers. While it won't always magically fix or change everything, it will fix and change us."


  1. So many delightful pictures here. I love your plan of doing an outing each Saturday. You will be making so many great memories with your kiddos. It sounds like it's been so cold there this winter…plus with that inversion…hooray that January is over finally! Best wishes with the next few crazy months! Hope April 15th comes quickly for you. I am so glad you're going to do Joy School with your boys. They are so lucky to have that time with you at home. xoxo

  2. Cath, I loved seeing this little splice of your life. I especially love the ones with you in the, covered in kids (and the one of the tights and leggings parade). It makes me want to be a next door part of all that action and love. Love positively spills through these images, it is all around you and those exuberant children.

    Yeah for Joy School! Wish I lived close so that we could join you.

  3. Love it. I still can't believe that inversion. It was like the ghost of Lake Bonneville. Really erie.

  4. Love, love, love those pictures...especially the one of your boys under the blanket together. My boys are just starting to really conspire like that.

  5. Sweet Anne Marie - yes, the Saturday outings will be good. Already, it has been a fun change to venture out with everyone. Always a little crazy, but it's about the memories. How is your new neighborhood and home? You seem so at peace and happy with how things have turned out. I am so very glad. Love to you and your darling boys. xoxo

    Saydi - Your chapter was such a help to me this week. Thanks for your wisdom, clarity, and goodness. I so wish you were next door! Emily Johns is the friend doing Joy School with me. Wouldn't it be fun if you could join us?? Dreamy. xo

    Andy - thanks again for the photo. Perfect.

    Em - You are in for such fun times with your boys. This last year has been so delightful (busy, aggressive, wild and fast-paced) but delightful as I've watched them pal around and interact. Looking forward to next year and getting to know your boys better!

  6. Winter lends itself to all sorts of adventures inside and out. Glad to see that you're finding humor in spite the hard parts.

  7. I loved that horse team picture. Hilarious!


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