Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Newsletter 2013

Merry Christmas!

I forgot to send out Christmas cards. Literally, none.

We photo-bombed our own pic.

I am busy with grad school, so I'm very sorry about the cards.
However, here's the virtual one. More succinct than last year, i.e. shorter. And a lot more pictures.

We got to meet the newest mini Melissa.

Our year:

Rena: Started grad school.

Cole: Graduated from grad school.

Gavin: Started kindergarten.

Elayna: 3rd grade, PTA Reflections poem received special recognition at school, and then went to regional competition.


The Winter Princess stopped during the parade to get a picture with Elayna.

Travel: In November, we went to Missouri to visit friends and family.

We went to Silver Dollar City,
I heart her!

BFFs since 1994, I think. Since 8th grade. We've been friends for almost 20 years.

The kids got called onstage for the Frosty show in Branson.

The Butterfly Palace,

If I had the time, I'd have made this our Christmas card.

Gavin is sad that no butterflies landed on him.

A living angel, or, as Layne referred to them as "weeping angels". 

The Showboat,
"Gavin, be a sea captain."

Gavin with his wolf, Silver.

Branson, outside of the restaurant where the waiters serenaded the costumers.

The only Santa that the kids weren't awkward around.

The kids were sure excited to see Melissa's kids again!

...Back to the old stomping grounds, Marshfield.
Donuts from Cunninghams (which has a different name now).


Thanks to my best friend in the whole world, we got to stay in a pretty posh cabin (which was more like a townhouse with a cabin theme). Thanks, Melissa!!!

Walks in the woods

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Squee! My 9yo daughter entered a poem into her PTA Reflections contest and won an excellence award! The poem went on to regions. I hope this means the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. =) Course, I didn't get my first writing award until I was pregnant with her. She must be my muse.

It is found poetry, but I didn't take a photo before she submitted it. So here's the words, not the visual:


She listened. 

About what you would like.
Work on your ideas."

A little 
Scared, but         do it with help. 

An idea popped into her head:

Make your heart happy. 

Pictures help her remember. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spine Poetry

Another awesome CUWP activity. Man, I love this organization.
This is spine poetry. You make poetry out of the titles on the spines of books. (It's pretty self-explanatory.)
A light-hearted spine poem. It's not my favorite but still fun. 
Yesterday again.
The summer prince
Finding Zasha.
The look.
Photo-bombed by J. PS. This poem is much better. Darker too. The way poetry should be. *wink*
The 100,
The dead and buried
Vietnam casualties of war,
The ivy empire of bones.
Fire and fury,
A blue book of fairy tales.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Need Caffeine Now

Tip-tap, tip-tap, tip-tip-tap,
across the tile,
Clack open the door handle,
Bump hip on oak.
Clink-tink change in pocket
Clank down the slot,
Gulping gears,
Growl, grind, slam!
Flip, pop, fizzzzzzz.
Guzzle, guzzle, guzzle.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Family Myth, a poem

I'm the monkey.

At dinner, a colleague says, “You’re so smart and talented.”
And I riffle through the words like the leaves of a cabbage.
Is there sarcasm at the heart?
She blinks at me, curious.
Her face says, “What?”
And so I heh-heh, thank her,
Change the subject to the band, the sweet potato fries.
But my eyes lock on the peripheral shadows.
I hope no one heard the exchange,
Because this is not the way of things.
Sam couldn’t carry the ring into Mordor.
Alfred didn’t get to strap on a hard body suit and save the girl.
Xander is and ever will be a Scooby.
And I…
I am not the smart one.
Her assertion is an affront to family myth.
Those others,
They are the smart ones.
They are [insert hoity-toity university here] graduates.
They have test scores
And degrees more worthy than mine.
Whereas, I am…
The one who incredulously read, “Loin King?”
The first time I saw a commercial for The Lion King.
I am the one who was crushed when my father said,
“No wonder you didn’t get into [his alma mater]!”
And laughed.
I am the one who attended college to meet boys,
My ambition, apparently, in my womb.
I am allowed to be the voracious flirt, 
(Nothing says working ovaries 
Like undulating hips and a coin slot in the bosom.)
I'm allowed to be...

The extrovert,
The athlete,
The brat,
I'm a groupie.
But not…
The smart one. 
So, take your accolades elsewhere. 
At best, I'm a side-kick. 
At worst, a groupie. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Accidental Life

Patterned after the admirable Mette Harrison's blog post: My Accidental Life, this post is about my accidental life, which is what happens when all my life-planning does not prepare me for the my actual life.
Accidentally a runner

I never intended on being a runner. I gained a lot of weight in my early 20s. TONS. I weighed 221 lbs., couldn't get pregnant, and had no clue how to fix it. It wasn't until a doctor diagnosed me with insulin resistance that I found my bearings. I became determined to change my life. I cut out sugar, started exercising on tready, and dropped weight fast. I got pregnant with my son a few weeks later. My little miracle was born in March of 2008. In 2009, I ran my first 5K, a little community run that I mostly walked. I ran a few races in the years to follow, and now, in 2013, I've participated in 11 races! And still plan on 2 more.

Accidentally a mom with a career. I LOVE these two. XOXO, my babies.

I never intended on being anything other than a stay-at-home-mom, but during my 3rd year of college, I got married. I literally thought the only option I had was to drop out of school and get a job to support my husband. A friend said to me, "Why don't you just finish college and then get a job?" I honestly never thought of doing that. I don't know how and where and when exactly I picked up this notion that my sole existence was to get married and then LIVE for my husband and children's needs, ignoring my own, but I did.  The spell broke the day I chose to finish school. I enrolled in the education program, became a mom, graduated, became a teacher, gave birth to second child, got a Reading Endorsement, became a CUWP fellow, and started writing for two newspapers. My career saved us financially as Cole finished school and then grad school. Without that choice, he wouldn't have a masters degree, so it's a win-win.
Accidentally a world traveler
I never intended to go to grad school. Like I said I never thought I'd even finish my undergrad. I started school with the hopes that I'd end up with that cliched MrS. degree and then get to drop out and be a homemaker and mother. (Not that being a SAHM is a bad choice--but looking back this was the best path for me.) Now I'm working on my second degree in a subject that I adore: creative writing. By the time I'm done with school, I'll have traveled to Europe 3 times and hopefully be a published or represented writer. I get to do all this and raise my beautiful children. Before, my scope never included anything else; my ambition was truncated at the threshold.

Accidentally a correspondent
I never intended on writing for the newspaper. I wanted writing opportunities in college, so when I saw an ad for writing jobs for The College Times (now, The UVU Review), I applied and somehow with no experience got the job. For a year, I wrote one article a month--on everything from faculty of the month to covering the results for the annual beauty contest. But the experience did give me a lovely addition to my resume. Then YEARS later I saw an ad for a position as a movie reviewer for a Mapleton paper (so small it doesn't even exist anymore, The Foothill Breeze). I didn't get that job, but a few months later, the owner called me to fill a book reviewer position. Even better! Then two and a half years ago, a friend casually mentioned an ad for writers in the Herald. And now my accidental life includes "correspondent for The Daily Herald". When people asked how I got that job, I always give the short answer: "I applied." I guess even if you accidentally come across something, it requires application.

Accidentally a feminist.

I never intended on become a feminist, but at twelve I was molested. The secret, I guess, is out--though most of my family and some close friends have known for years. I spent years blaming myself because I worried that tight gymnastics shorts I wore when it happened might've been too revealing. As an adult I realized how CRAZY that was, but I then realized that I lived in a culture and era where women were not only being blamed for sexual attacks but also taking responsibility for their attackers' actions and THAT was even more insane to me. I realized that many men and women perpetuate this belief that women don't have value unless they are thin and sexually attractive (by society's standards). I still have to talk myself out of these thoughts. I know it's a problem. I see it everyday. Just the other day a kid in my class interpreted that a woman's sour expression in a painting had to do with the fact that she was "depressed because she was heavy and no one wanted her." As women, we've been taught through advertising campaigns--often launched by our own families, friends, and peers--that we don't have value beyond our wombs or, on an even baser level, our sex appeal. I didn't--don't want to live in that world. I want my daughter to grow up knowing her worth has nothing to do with her ability to land a man. But rather had to do with her mind, heart, spirit, and integrity. I don't want to raise a daughter to believe that her mission in life--that everything she does with her hobbies, career, interests, and networking circles--should revolve around her eventual mom-dom. Being a mother is a fantastic role, don't get me wrong. It's the most important role in my life, but I want it to be a choice for my daughter, not an inevitability. And that if she chose to seek beauty--and I hope it's more health than beauty that she desires--it should be because it makes HER feel good about herself, buoying her worth in her own eyes, not in the eyes of anyone else--save, perhaps, God.

Though I didn't expect or intend for these things to happen, and it's abundantly clear that God's laying down the cobblestones of my path, I'll be stomping these paths with my chin up and heels on. Yes, heels. The terrain my be bumpy, but I want to traipse through life in something that gives me confidence and is a reminder of how far I've come.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October with Rena

Happy Halloween tomorrow!

October's been a fun month.
Layne turned 9! I have a 9yo! WTW?! I feel so old.

My first born
She wanted a yellow Angry Birds cake. I tried. I failed. Plus it looks like he's smoking a candle. Whoops. 
I ran a Halloween 5K.
"I'm gonna win!" "No, I'm gonna win!"

And I've been rock-climbing.


Monday, October 28, 2013

My nerd wall.

Here's what I made over fall break. Yes, that is Wolverine, Calvin and Hobbes, Superman, Morpheus, Batman, and Buffy. This is in my living room, btw. High five, nerds. High. Five.
My fave is the one of Spike on the motorcycle. 
Gav's fave pick is the Wolverine one in the middle. 

The blue is darker than it looks in the photo. 

One of my students brought this mask from her Anime Con, and I had to get a pic. 


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