Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Family Pictures! Alpine Loop (Part 2)

Fall! Fall! Fall! 
You probably all know by now that I am totally pretentious, so when I see people quote things like, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers" everywhere (Instagram captions, Pinterest prints, fall-craft-decor) I get weirdly defensive. I feel like that particular quote maybe belongs to me. (I know man. It's irrational.)
First I think, "You probably don't even know anything about Anne Shirley," and I revel in my sure knowledge that no one loves Anne like I do. (How could they?) 
Then, I think "You probably don't even like fall as much as I do." Because how could anyone love fall as much as I do? When I sit down to the very important task of ranking months by how much I love them (A task I take to pretty regularly, because I know how to use my time in a valuable way,) October is always, always firmly at the top. (Followed closely by April and December. And then November. And then June. Okay. You get it.)
(February, obviously, is dead last.)
Sorry. Moving on. 

Anyway. The gist of this psychotic rant is this:
I am so glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers. 
Because October is that month when, no matter what, everything looks like this: 

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014


There. I've gotten most of my need for CAPITAL LETTERS out of the way.
You may proceed without fear.

Here is a story:
Travis and I went into the mountains with our family. We were not at a campsite, we were not on a trail.
We just pulled over by the side of the road and had a picnic in a clearing. There was a fire pit there.
When it was time to leave, I realized that I'd misplaced my phone and we spent an hour looking for it.
Then the boys and I went home and Travis spent another hour and a half combing through the underbrush and dead leaves looking for my phone.
But it was a goner.

Over the next week, we tried to decide rationally what to do.
We couldn't really afford to get me a new smart phone- and yet, without a smart phone- I would undoubtedly spend all of my time driving in confused circles shouting things into the air like, "Siri! Is there a Target near me?" only to be ignored by my dumb phone.
(To be clear, Siri does not help me. 99% of the time, she says "I'm really sorry about this, but I can't take any requests right now."
And 1% of the time, she says, "I don't know your mother's name." And I say, "Mom cell! Call Mom cell!" And she says, "Should I remember that Jonathon Call is your mother?" Siri and I have actually had that exact conversation At. Least. Three. Times. What's the definition of insanity, again?)
I kept saying, "I really need to get a new phone," and Travis kept saying "We really need to figure out the phone."
And we both kept putting it off and feeling like something would "turn up."

And then. Something turned up.
Over a week went by, and I was sitting in my bed, nursing my baby. Travis' phone was on the table next to me, and I glanced over at it just as the screen lit up with my face and the word BECKY.
Becky was calling.

I snatched the phone up, feeling slightly hysterical and highly disbelieving.
"Hi. Um. So I was in the mountains..."
"Yeah, yeah. I have your phone."
Turns out, someone else had stopped in the same place as us and pulled out a metal detector. Three minutes later, they had found my phone- perfectly intact, hiding under a pile of leaves.
They brought it home and knocked on neighbors' doors until they found someone with an iPhone charger (Can you even believe the dedication to doing-good here?!)
They charged it up and called "Mom Cell."
"Hey, we found a phone, you're listed as Mom. Know anyone missing a phone?" they asked.
And my dumb mom said.... NO.
"You don't know anyone missing an iPhone?"
And then the lights clicked on. "Wait. Did you find it in the mountains in Utah?!"

I got a lot of comments on Instagram saying things like, "What an amazingly good person!" or "My faith in humanity is restored!"
But truth is, I'm impressed, delighted, and happy that someone returned my phone. But I'm not surprised. I still have a lot of faith in humanity.
I lose my phone about once a year. And once a year, someone calls Mom Cell and says, "I have your kid's phone."
I've had multiple iPod's (when they were still a thing) turned into Lost and Found boxes, I've had my purse returned to me intact.
I am a loser of all things, and a receiver of all things.
To me, the amazing, mind-blowing, insane detail of this story is that MY PHONE WAS FOUND INTACT IN THE MOUNTAINS. In the middle of nowhere. That somehow, a man with a metal detector decided to stop for a little treasure hunt in the same random place that we stopped for a picnic.

I know that it was kind, amazing, honest, and GOOD of someone to give my phone back. But was it unbelievably good? I think that most people are good. Most people want to do the right thing. I think most of the people who read this would return a phone if they found it. Right?Give yourself some credit, and give the people around you the benefit of the doubt.

Because I bet, if someone found your phone in the mountains, you'd somehow end up with it again.
Either that, or I am just extremely lucky.

1. My mom isn't dumb. I'm sorry I said that. I just can't get over her saying that she doesn't know anyone missing a phone when we usually talk on the phone together for an hour plus a day. 
2. I know! I am extremely lucky either way, right?

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Photo a Day: October 5-18

I'm not labeling these pictures with dates that are probably false.
So. I made some resolutions for myself. The first is to take more pictures. The second is to take less pictures.
Somedays, I cart my camera around with me all day trying to snap just one good shot from the whole day. And I'm annoyed when all I have are thirty dark, out-of-focus pictures.
Somedays, I have my camera with me and snap one good picture and think "Okay, I don't have to take anymore today. I got my one for photo-a-day. " When in fact, I would have enjoyed taking and having more pictures from that particular day or event.
I love my photo-a-day pictures and I have loved doing it for the last two years. I've learned a ton about photography and my life and have hundreds of photos because of it, but lately it's become a chore. So I'm trying to turn it back into a joy.
So here are some pictures from my last two weeks. There's about one for every day.
But not exactly.
 Micah is obsessed OBSESSED with Batman. He wears this costume almost all day, every day. // Grey driving with Grandpa. Grandpa actually lets them steer. (Be still my heart.)

 In China Town in San Francisco. // August and Daddy. I love this little boy and his concerned little eyebrows.

 My three boys. I tried so hard to get a good shot of all of them, I don't even mind that it's blurry. // Travis and me on our anniversary.  He looks silly, but it's hard to hold up a 10 pound camera and take a selfie. It's no iphone!
 Our family.
 My handsome Grey. // Family night fall artwork. Travis had to show us up and make something amazing because he's sooo great. 

 First we gathered leaves, then I channeled my great-grandmother and dipped them in wax. Once in wax, they keep their colors for weeks! I just picked up "canning parafin" in the baking section at the grocery store and melted it in a double boiler. They were really easy to make and super fun. Now they're hanging up in my house.

 My happy littlest brother. // Travis on a motorcycle that I don't totally hate.

And a little boy on a little pony.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Alpine Loop (Part 1)

Like all good Autumn-loving Utahans, we recently did the drive through the Alpine Loop in the mountains. It is essentially a windy road through canyons and up peaks covered, covered, covered in the most breathtaking fall colors. 
I have often told Travis that Utah isn't very good at fall. In the valleys, the leaves often shrivel up and die before ever changing color. Actually, there aren't that many leaves here to begin with (at least compared to my lush forest home.)
But the mountains! Ain't nobody got nothing on Utah's mountains in the fall. Driving and hiking through them makes you want to sing opera and hymns and take one million and seven pictures. 
We went with my in-laws, and they were kind enough to drive their car packed with our kids, so Travis and I could take the motorcycle up canyon together. It was phenomenal and beautiful and I really did take about one million and seven pictures. In fact, we managed to get some gorgeous family pictures that I am really excited about. My mother-in-law rocked the camera and all my kids magically smiled at the camera (at the same time!) for the first time in history. So here is part one of the photos. The photos of our family that aren't "Family Photos."  You know. 

"Oh, Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made...
Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art!" 

My mother-in-law is the baby whisperer. She has bounced my kids to sleep more often and always more successfully than anyone else.

You guys. I love fall. I love it. October is the best month of the year.Hope you aren't sick of these autumnesque photos yet, because they're not about to stop.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

All things bright and beautiful

Most days are a mix of good and bad. Some days, all the crappy things seem to pile up.
And then, every once and a while, a day comes along that is practically perfect. Today was practically perfect.
August  woke up at 7 to nurse, and then went right back to sleep. Everyone else was still asleep, too. So I snuck through my still dark, quiet house to the kitchen and started my day with scriptures and a cup of herbal, autumny tea. It was just the perfect peace and stillness that I needed.
When my boys woke up, they all woke up happy. For some unknown reason, they almost always wake up crying- whether they've slept half an hour, or twelve hours.
But every one woke up happy. We all ate french toast. And then, since my husband had repaired the vacuum the night before: we started cleaning.
The boys even did chores, folding wash clothes and kitchen towels, sucking dead flies out of the windowsills with the vacuum (sounds pretty good at our house, huh?)
We cleaned my room, we cleaned their room, we organized closets and filled up bags with things to donate and throw away.
And nobody whined. And the boys played happily together, and happily with their bestie Elanor.
Then, glory of all glories, everybody took a nap at the same time.
All three of my boys slept for two hours at once. And I cleaned my house. I cleaned it like it hadn't been cleaned since August was born.
And the windows were open and candles were lit, and I watched Gilmore Girls on Netflix while I ate leftover curry for lunch.
We went on a walk, and Grey gathered up handfuls of little purple-flowered weeds, and gave them to me, and told me I was "bootiful."
Travis got home, and let me take a nice long, hot bath with candles lit in my newly-cleaned bathroom.
And I read poetry aloud to my kids, and they semi-listened (but not really.)

Isn't it funny how none of those things even seems that great? Getting up earlier than necessary, vacuuming up dead bugs, organizing stretched out clothes, eating old home-made Indian food on stale rice.
But it was good. It was all good. There was no whining, there was alone time for me to gather my thoughts and bask in the stillness, there was a clean, delicious smelling home at the end of the day.
And now it's time for bed.
My house isn't even clean anymore.
But it's pretty clean.
And, more importantly, it's full of joy and love and good vibrations.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Collecting Autumn

"Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower."  Albert Camus

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cratch and Guacalina

Perhaps the saddest thing about losing my phone is that I've lost over a month of Conversations with my Three-Year Olds. (I'm also sad about losing lots of contacts, calendar appointments, and pictures!)
I just didn't get around to posting them to the blog, so I kept adding them to my Conversations Note on my phone. And now they're gone.
There were a lot of conversations about Cratch and Guacalina.

Who are Cratch and Guacalina? you ask.
They began as Micah's imaginary friends. He would tell us about things he did with them, or insert little facts about them into conversations, "Cratch ate so many crackers!" or "Guacalina has blue hair! It's so funny!"
Then Grey adopted them, too. And they started having conversations with them, calling them from hotel phones or shouting to them from distant rooms.
If I ever ask if Guacalina and Cratch are around, I am assured that they are, but they are sleeping, eating, using the bathroom, on a walk, etc.

Me: What is Cratch's favorite food?
Micah: Cratch loves hotdogs!
Me: Hmm. What's Guacalina's favorite food?
Micah: Guacalina always LOVES hotdogs, too!

**On a pretend phone**
Grey: Hi Guacalina What are you doing? . . . Oh really? I'm in the car. . . . Hmm? What's that? Donuts?! . . . Let me ask my mom. Hey, Mom! Can we go get donuts?
Me: Not right now, we are going to the store.
Grey: My mom said no. . . . Well, why don't you go get donuts yourself? . . . Okay, you can go with your brother Cratch. . . . Okay. Bye! Have fun getting donuts!

Grey: Are Cratch and Guacalina here?
Micah: Let me check! **Runs to the front window** Hmm. Their car is here, so they must be here.
Grey: Where could they be!?

Here's a record of a recent dinner conversation. I love it so much, our family is strange, funny, and wonderful.

Micah: Is peanut butter a plant?  Haha, NO!
Me: Well, peanut butter comes from peanuts, and peanuts do grow in the ground, so peanuts are from a plant.
Grey: But what about chocolate?
Travis: Chocolate does come from cocoa beans.
Grey: No. Chocolate comes from the store.
Micah: Or outer space.
Travis: No, there's nothing in outer space.
Me: Sure there is! Guys, tell Daddy what's in outer space.
Grey: Stars! The Moon!
Micah: Ships! Cratch and Guacalina!
Me: Wait. Are Cratch and Guacalina from outer space?
Micah: No. They are from Caca City.
Me: Carson City? Where Grandma Polly lives?
Micah: No. CACA City. It's soooo far away, but Cratch and Guacalina drove all day to get to Grey and Micah's house.
Me: Hmm. How big are Cratch and Guacalina?
Micah: They are so tiny, like this! *Holds his fingers an inch apart* But when they were little babies, they were so tiny you ever saw! So tiny you couldn't even see them!

I love the crazy imaginations on these boys, and I love that they take each other in to their little fantasies. I know these pictures don't really relate, except that looking at their little profiles, I can almost see their little minds whirring away.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Through iPhone Tinted Glasses

I am broken-hearted to announce that my phone was lost this weekend. Lost in the mountains! So it's almost definitely a permanent loss. So, in homage to that little device that I loved so much: here are some recent (and semi-recent) Instagram pictures.
I love my house of crazy boys!

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

More on Marriage

An essay about marriage. But first, a bunch of pictures!

In case you missed it, Travis and I just celebrated our five year anniversary. I know, in that life-long scheme of things, five years is nothing. Both his and my parents have been happily married much longer than that, our grandparents- even longer.
We both come from long lines of happy marriage, and I have no doubt that Travis and I will be together for.ever.
Five years is still just the beginning. But still. I'm pretty proud of that little number, in this day when so many people we know have been married and divorced in less time than that.
After mentioning my old blog a few posts back, where I talked about young-adult Becky, I went back to reread some old blog posts. On our twelve hour road trip home from San Francisco, I read old blog posts aloud to Travis.
And cringed.
There was a lot of cringing.
I posted about Travis the day after our first date. I posted about him many, many times after that. Rereading these posts, I am astonished that Travis and I fell in love. That we got married! 
I was loud, brash, sassy, opinionated, lazy, passionate, self-absorbed, crazy, confident, sentimental, nostalgic, and did I mention loud and sassy? (not all bad, and not all of those things have disappeared.) I was 19, and full in the throes of my teenage rebellion. I wanted to be different than the people around me. I wanted to be cooler - and I certainly thought I was.
And Travis! Travis was quiet, thoughtful, good, hard-working, passionate, kind, a bit dorky, forgiving, old, and so sincere. If words came out of that man's mouth- he meant them! I would pledge, fight, promise and declare things that I hadn't ever even thought about. Just because I said it, didn't mean that I meant it. And I certainly didn't believe in "private" information. Anything and everything was a potential topic of discussion or fodder for a blog post (not much has changed.)
But not Travis. He seriously must have thought that I was insane.
He was 25 and I was 19.

I remember once, Travis and I went to a movie together and I posted about it on my blog. Afterward, his parents called him - worried about the content in the film. They came over to his apartment. Travis and his Dad went on a long walk discussing the inappropriate sexual content of the movie.
And I flipped out. I couldn't even believe it. He was a grown-man! His parents still wanted to control him, and worse! He was totally letting them! If my parents called to give me advice, I 100% completely ignored them unless they managed to convince me that what they were saying was my idea all along.
That was almost a deal-breaker for me. I talked about that incident a lot, with my roommates and friends, with my parents and sisters, with Travis. I couldn't believe it.
(Now, over  five years later- I can completely respect everyone involved and all of their motives, but at the time? No way. It was inexplicable.)
Travis' mom used to read my blog all the time and call Travis with concerns. I couldn't handle it. It made me so angry! But now, knowing this woman- and her houseful of sincere, not-outspoken people I can understand her. I used to rant to my own mom, "Why does she take everything that I write so literally?" Oh. Because that's honesty. No wonder she was upset by the stuff I wrote. I reread it now, and I am a bit horrified, too.
No wonder everyone thought we were crazy for getting married. Why, how, why did we decide to get married? When Travis called to ask my dad's permission to propose to me- my dad laughed aloud!
I still can't figure it out.
I literally don't know.
I kind of think that it began like this: I was a manic pixie dream girl (a little, maybe not quite). But I was pretty, silly, and crazy and Travis liked that. So he was willing to put up with the fact that I was also insane.
And Travis was doting, affectionate, and took care of me and bought me stuff (ha!) and I liked that, so I was willing to put up with the fact that he was kind of a dork.
And then, quite by accident, we fell in love.

And then, since we were in love, and since we were good Mormon kids- we got married.

I'm over-simplifying, I'm exaggerating, I'm story-telling instead of making a graph of the pertinent information (all things that I do constantly, but which confuse and upset the overly-sincere reader, I think).
But that's what life is, really, right? A story that we tell, that we live, that we dream out and strive for.
Mine is the best love story I know.

Because we got married, and never, ever once- not even in the darkest, saddest, angriest corners of my mind have I ever regretted that. Being married to Travis is the best thing that could have ever happened to me, it is the perfect, shining moment that set the rest of my life off on the right foot. Being married is never hard, being married is only wonderful.
And since you're probably wondering: Let me tell you what I mean.
Sometimes it is hard that Travis and I might want different things.  Sometimes I am frustrated or angry with him because he is dumb or I am dumb. Sometimes we are both stupid, or neither of us is stupid- but we're different.
But we're not that different, and we never want extremely different things. It's not like he wants to move to Africa and I'm forcing him to stay here or I want ten more babies, and he's making us wait. It's more like, I want him to stay home from his trip and he can't. Or I want to buy our own house and we can't afford to.
I don't think that those are even things where one person is at fault. That's just life. So we aren't angry at each other. And sometimes I want ice cream in a waffle cone, and he's like, "No. Let's just go home, what a waste of money. We have a gallon of ice cream at home." And I'm like, "PLEASE. I just want a freaking waffle cone, I've been craving one all day!" And he's like, "YOU'RE DEMANDING!" And I'm like, "YOU'RE UNKIND!" And then he buys me a waffle cone, and I pout about it, and then we forget and no one is mad anymore. Because how can you be mad when you have ice cream?
So sometimes, we fight about ice cream or baby names. But those don't even count as fights, and they're quickly resolved and forgotten.

I am grateful that Travis and I got married when we did. Because I was a bratty teenager, I mean... a petulant child. No. Umm... I was immature and opinionated.
There. Let's go with immature and opinionated, since that is less offensive to myself.
I was ready to start the rest of my life. I was in the midst of self-discovery and "becoming the fullness of Becky" (a phrase my BFF coined).
I probably could have gone any which way. And I know that modern society and philosophy would encourage me to have grown-up, discovered and become "myself" before getting hitched.
Because it's true. I am a different woman now that I would have been if I had not married Travis. He has changed, shaped, and molded me into someone I wouldn't have been.
But being yoked with someone who always thought and expected the best of me, who loved me fiercely and passionately, who believed that I could and would do anything I wanted, who respected my opinions, laughed at my jokes, and told me that I was smart, good, and beautiful: it made me better. It made me so much better than I ever could have been alone. It has, and continues to be, what shapes me into a better person. Every day I think and hope I am a little bit better because of Travis.

He didn't stifle me, change me, or force me to grow up and learn to cook. He just loved me completely, flaws and all. And ours is the best love story I know.
Here's to five more years! And fifty more! And a billion! And all eternity!
And maybe midway through our eternal marriage, we'll find that somehow his goodness has cured me of sarcasm. So far, it's doing a pretty good job. And I'll go ahead and take some credit for the fact that Travis is definitely cooler than he was when we met. There. That is my contribution to the last five years. A little cool factor and three cute babies.

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