Last Saturday I realized it's been exactly 3 months since we arrived in Utah. Those 3 months have flown by.
Some days it still feels like we are on vacation. Some days it feels like we've lived here forever. Some days I'm frustrated that we have no definitive plan for the future. Some days I'm just plain tired. But some days I look back at the experiences we've had since coming here and I'm left with a deep sense of gratitude and wonder. My sister had a baby, andI was here to help, to meet my new niece, to play with my nephew. My girls have been able to spend time with both sets of grandparents, with aunts and uncles, with cousins. We've had family dinners, shopping trips, ice cream runs, and extra help with homework. My mom made amazing Halloween costumes for my girls, no USPS required. We had to decide where to go for Thanksgiving, because we had options. It's pretty incredible that we've been given this opportunity to not only be in Utah and see so much of our family, but to live with my parents, to spend quality time with them, to learn from them and enjoy them. I know it isn't ideal, but instead of wishing it was over, I have come to realize that we are uniquely blessed to have this time with them.
Life is fleeting. No one knows how long we have on this earth, or how long our family members have. To have this chance to create lasting memories of those we hold dear? It's priceless. I enjoyed our adventures in the Midwest, but I am so grateful we get to be back home, with our families. I'm certain our girls will look back on this year and be grateful too.
Here's a smattering of photos from my phone. I clear out my camera roll pretty often, so it's really not many.
I found these paddles in the gym closet at school. I'm not sure what one would use them for. Tableless ping pong?
I made a pie. It was delicious. And pretty, courtesy of my mom's mini heart cookie cutter.
Trivia night at the Salt Lake library is always a good idea, even when you are down a man (Clark ditched out and headed to Vegas). 3rd place this month!
Another mystery item from the gym closet. May-pole dancing? Crazy group jump roping? I'm at a loss.
Ella's cup overflowed today when the slight chance of snow developed into fat fluffy flakes that actually stuck to the ground. That girl is a snow princess if I've ever seen one. Remember when she was allergic to the cold? I think she's going to spend the rest of her life trying to make up for all lost opportunity from that one winter.
Parks and Rec: This is our current favorite. I watched the first season a few years ago and said, "This is a dumb show." Then I was told by multiple people to keep going. I watched the first few episodes of the second season, and said, "It's still a dumb show." Then someone told me to watch just a little bit further, and I was finally rewarded with a show that is laugh-out-loud funny and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. But I could have done without the first season, and the first few episodes of the second.
The Office: I watched The Office way back when it was airing on TV, but rewatching it on Netflix is always a great idea. It's a good one.
Parenthood: Clark and I just blew through Parenthood a couple months ago. Those Bravermans make terrible choices, but I just can't look away!
Once Upon a Time: I'll admit, this show has gone on a season or two too long. There are new episodes on Netflix that I haven't brought myself to watch yet. But it's a fun, fluffy show to watch while you fold laundry.
Friends: Because, I mean, it's Friends. Of course you should watch it.
Frasier: It's been a while since we watched the whole series, but only a few nights since I queued up an episode. This show had a great little formula going during its run.
Arrested Development: A little crass, but it makes me laugh so hard. I never finished the last "Netflix Only" season, though. Not as good as 1-3.
Gilmore Girls: I watched this one on my own. I love the Lorelai's witty banter, mixed in with soap opera drama.
North and South: This is a miniseries, only 4 episodes long, but it's so great! It's based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, set in Victorian England, a love story set against the backdrop of social class issues and the industrial era. It's definitely worth the 3+ hours to sit through it.
The Great British Baking Show: I love cooking shows. I love baked goods. I love British tv. This show gives me all three.
The West Wing: One of the best television programs ever created. I think we've watched the entire series at least 3 times, maybe 4. The writing and the acting are spot. ON.
Stranger Things: I'm basically obsessed with this show right now. It's scary and funny and nostalgic and sad and sweet. It's all the feels. Beware: Once you start, you won't want to stop. So you'll need to set aside about 8 hours of your life to get through the first season. Also, prepare for some crazy dreams. The upside down messes with your head.
I've missed a couple days. You know why? I'm tired. I'm tired down into my bones. I wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and yearn for the day to be over so I can get back in.
I'm not exactly physically tired, although that is part of it. Turns out you are running around all day when you teach PE. But I'm emotionally exhausted. I'm tired of my current situation. I'm tired of feeling stuck. I'm tired of uncertainty. I'm tired of waiting to move on from our temporary circumstances. I'm tired of my girls fighting every waking moment of every single day. I'm tired of trying to make new friends and be social. I'm so tired.
But I keep trying to find little rays of light. We've had lovely fall weather. I have a job, which eases some of my anxiety. We've spent tons of time with family, which is always delightful. We are in a safe place. I'm surrounded by people who love me. There is a lot to be thankful for.
But I'm still tired. Which means the last thing I want to do is write up a blog post about who knows what. So instead you get a post about me being tired. Keeping it real here on Blogburger.
I have a special place in my heart for Veterans Day, and for the veterans we remember on it. The past few years we've gone to Cantigny Park and enjoyed seeing the luminaries they set up for the occasion, and then strolling through the First Division Museum, a military museum dedicated to telling the story of the First Division, from WWI to today. It always felt like an appropriate way to commemorate this holiday, and it always left me shedding tears of gratitude for our soldiers.
Since this isn't an option this year, I'll instead look through my pictures, and remember the emotions stirred attending this event, as well as the day we went to Arlington National Cemetery (that place is sacred ground, and was absolutely a highlight of our trip to DC, and in fact, a highlight in my life). I'm so grateful for the men and women who have served our country in the military, who have risked their lives for our freedoms, who have sacrificed themselves so we can live the way we do. God bless our soldiers.
Whew, writing every day is hard. I'm running low on ideas, so you get a random thought today: I love bridges. I love 'em. If there are two paths, and one involves a bridge? I'll take the bridge every time, even if it means going out of my way.
I love big bridges like the Golden Gate bridge or the Mackinaw bridge. I love logs across streams. Covered bridges are particularly picturesque. I go across at least one bridge on my current walking paths. I would go across a bridge daily on my old walking path in Illinois. I'll walk over them, I'll drive over them. I just love them.
Why? I don't know. Something about being over water, maybe. Or something about connecting land that otherwise wouldn't be connected. Or maybe it's the coming together of nature (a river, a lake, a stream) and man (the bridge). I absolutely love sitting on a bridge and watching the water go underneath my feet, legs swinging. It's carefree, reminiscent of the lazy summer days of childhood. (And yet I don't think I spent a lot of time on bridges as a kid, so that's weird.)
Anyway. I just thought you should know that about me.
March: Book One by John Lewis: I don't normally read graphic novels, but I won this one at our last trivia night, and it was so good I checked out book two and book three.
Calvin by Martine Leavitt: Kim reviewed this over on Bookburger, and it sounded great so I checked it out. It was definitely worthwhile reading.
The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein: This was a book club pick. It's about growing up in industrial England on a street that was half Jewish and half Christian. I made it all the way to the epilogue before I realized it took place just before WWI, not WWII. Doh. Still a good read, though.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt: I read this one for Julia's library book club. It's about a girl who has dyslexia, finding a way to navigate the world. It's a good one to remind kids that everyone has their struggles, and you should quit being a jerk. PS, I love that Julia goes to a book club. Good job, Salt Lake County library.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie: I reviewed this one on Bookburger. It's an oldie but goodie.
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott: I just finished this one today. Another book club pick. It's about a young girl who tries to escape her life of servitude by sailing to America with a wealthy designer. Only they sailed on the Titanic. And that didn't go well. A fascinating look at what happened after the ship sank and everyone made it back on land, which is something I had never thought about before.
Last night our Relief Society held a progressive dinner (appetizers at one house, dinner at another, dessert at yet another). I was determined to go, but I was pretty nervous. I've been to a few activities here already, and most of the time I sit by myself and wish someone would talk to me. Same thing on Sundays.
Tonight was different. I met a lot of new people, had some great conversations, and genuinely had a good time. I was so relieved.
Which got me thinking about the term Relief Society. When I focus on that word "relief" I think about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, relieving the poor, that kind of thing. But tonight was a relief for my soul, a safe haven, a place to feel welcome and loved. It was a glimpse of what Relief Society is all about, what it can and should be. It made me realize that sometimes we need to offer spiritual relief, as well as temporal.
I recently read this article on By Common Consent about what sisterhood really looks like, and my heart ached for the tight bonds of friendship and love she describes. I've been so blessed to feel those bonds in other places I've lived, and I hope and pray that we can create the same thing here. It's what we all crave as sisters. Women need other women. We need the strength more experienced women can offer. We need new perspectives and insights. We need that sisterly love. As a church, we need good, strong, functional Relief Societies.