Jul 30, 2014

Taking The Amtrack.

The Empire Builder
Okay do not read this post if you hate feeling jealous because it might make you feel jealous when I, in the nicest way possible, brag about the fact that I am going all the way to Oregon on a train. I know, epic huh?

I am so excited about this I can hardly breathe. I have always been fascinated by trains. The pace that they take you through life feels so perfect to me. I rode them a few times back and forth from Utah to Washington when I was in college but I never dreamed I would get the chance to ride on one clear across the country.

This dream all started when I realized back in June that I did not want to take my car with me to Oregon. I have had some strange, very compelling, need to make this break a very clean break. I do not want a car payment ever again so I am leaving the car with Brian. Once I made this decision I needed to figure out how I was getting my stuff, me, and my two girls across the country. As I asked questions and researched traveling by plane versus traveling by train and then made a decision about how I would be moving my paltry possessions the train option emerged as the clear winner.

Gassman Coulee Trestle
I read all sorts of reviews and blogs about traveling by train. I researched the different routes and of course read about the different views I would see on all the train routes. With that information I chose to take the Lake Shore Limited train from Springfield to Chicago this train will go by Lake Michigan, the Erie Canal, and the Finger Lakes Region. They (the Amtrack peeps) boast that this train will be going along some of the prettiest shorelines in the USA.

Once we get to Chicago we have a five hour layover and then we will get on the Empire Builder train and I need to take a deep breath and try not to float as I tell you about this part of the trip....we will get great views of the Mississippi, see the skyline of Minneapolis and St, Paul before dark and then they say when we wake up in the morning we will be crossing the plains of North Dakota....and then we get to cross the Gassman Coulee Trestle which was built in 1899 right outside of Minot, North Dakota....then we get to go through Montana...right through Glacier National Park which I am needing to visit desperately. After Montana we will go through Spokane, Washington and then of course, the Columbia River Gorge and end in Portland. I have seen a lot of these places on drives but you see different things when you travel by train and I am beyond thrilled about this. And it is always better when you do not have to worry about the driving, right?

What I love the most about this trip is that it can take as much time as it wants to. If my Lake Shore Limited train gets delayed and I miss my Empire Builder train in Chicago I don't care. I have no deadlines, no place I have to be by a certain time. I am adoring this. I do not feel anxious or worried about the delays on the Empire Builder due to lots of freight train traffic. It is like utopia :)

Epic right?
I am carefully choosing books to take with me. It is important to have the right books for a train ride across the country. I am packing loads of things for my girls to do. I will of course be blogging along the way about my trip with the free wifi on the train. I need to tell you everything I see. I wish you were going to be there with me we would have so much fun. I love sharing epic fun.

You can check two bags on the train for free and carry two bags with you to your seat. There are two different dining cars one buffet/cafeteria style and one a sit down restaurant. The prices are reasonable and I have two friends that have recently taken the train from Springfield to Chicago and they both have said that the food is good. We are going to pack some food but I am sure we will definitely eat on the train also.

Our train leaves Springfield on Monday at 2 in the afternoon. You do not have to go through security or anything like that so I am planning to get to the station by about 1o'clock. We are supposed to arrive in Chicago by 9 the next morning. The only drawback I see to this trip is that there will be night time and I will not be able to see everything we are driving by. What if I miss something awesome? Our second train leaves Chicago at 2 in the afternoon and we arrive in Portland on the 7th of August at about noon. I called Amtrack yesterday and chatted forever with Doris about traveling by train and all the delays that are happening so all these times are very flexible. But I think I already mentioned that I do not care :) I think that is the key when you travel by train. Making sure your life is free.

It only cost $700.00 for all three of us to ride the train from Springfield, Massachusetts to Portland, Oregon. I was pretty thrilled about this so do not burst my happy bubble and remind me I am only paying for one way tickets :)

As I am pushing through endless packing... and sorting... and goodbyes... and closing accounts...and trips to the dump...and worries about my kids the one thing that has been steady in the distance has been this train trip. I need this. You all know I do. Lots of thinking time. Lots of figuring time. It is like I have been sitting at the table in the kitchen playing a game with all of you and all of a sudden in the middle of the game I rolled a number that made it so I had to go back to the beginning and start over. You know the feeling? Everyone else playing the game with you says "oh,bummer" especially if you were almost going to win. If that is the case they are probably secretly glad you got flung back to the beginning so they can win instead :)

I spent most of my married life working my way across the United States and now I have rolled my dice and I am heading back to the beginning. I grew up in Seattle and California. I love love love the east coast but I am technically a west coast girl. I am giving myself a few months to sit on my parents lawn, look at the lake, eat the steak my dad makes so perfectly, work in the yard with my master gardner mother, stare at their perfectly manicured grass, put out resumes at every library in Oregon, get my girls into school, drive my dad's really old land cruiser just to make my siblings jealous, visit the redwoods, go to the beach, and figure out how to win the game :)

Jul 27, 2014

The End Of Our Fellowship.

“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” 

I was driving down the road the other day thinking about how absolutely horrid I am at the goodbye thing and I had to stop and smile to myself as I realized, "Seriously, Ms.Jennifer, is anyone good at the goodbye thing?" You always hear people say, "I am so bad at goodbyes." But you never hear someone say, "oh my gosh I am so freaking awesome at goodbyes....do you want me to help you with yours?" Hey, wouldn't that be cool if you could just hire someone to say good bye for you? Hmmm....what would be the harm in that? :)

My life is officially in goodbye mode right now. Not my favorite mode. I can't decide which is worse, "goodbye mode" OR "you have to open your presents in front of other people mode OR "giving people hugs mode ?"

I have been in goodbye mode before. I have moved from Utah to New Jersey....from New Jersey to Kansas....from Kansas to Indiana....from Indiana to Massachusetts....I have moved from Washington to Utah....I have moved from California to Washington. I have had to say goodbye to high school boyfriends. I said goodbye to college boyfriends. I have said goodbye to my missionary children. I have said goodbye to kids going to college. I have had to say goodbye to countless dear friends. I have said goodbye to animals. I have said goodbye to weight. I have said goodbye to ...well yeah, you get the picture, I remember good bye mode, I know how it rolls. I could blog about it if necessary. Oh, wait....I am :) You know despite all those goodbyes that I was just casually bragging about I am a little bit afraid that this goodbye is a whole different level....I mean....

I am saying goodbye to a state that taught me more about myself than any other state on the map.
I am saying goodbye to a marriage.
I am saying goodbye to people at jobs ( I have never worked before)
I am saying goodbye to my piano
I am saying goodbye to a best friend who had to hold me together in a most embarrassing way.
I am saying goodbye to joint bank accounts
I am saying goodbye to financial security
I am saying goodbye to my garden
I said goodbye to my big white van.
I am saying goodbye to my Joe who will stay here.

But enough of that heavy stuff. Lets just chat about saying goodbye to people. I hates it. (Gollum talk there :) I hates fighting the lump in my throat. I hates remembering the things you and I did together and how fun they were. I hates knowing it is very possible that I will not see you again and that even if we do see each other again it can never be the same. I really hates not being able to think of adequate words to explain to you what is overflowing in my heart and mind. I hates that nothing I ever do or say will adequately express my missing you to you. This is just not pleasant in any teeny tiny way. But despite all my complaining about the uncomfortable-ness and hating of official good byes, just between you and me, not getting to officially say goodbye to someone may suck a little bit more. To be left with no closure and no words and no opportunity....so icky. Yes, I used the word suck.....just so you would know exactly how I feel :) Shhh don't tell my mom. I won't ever do it again :)

June was the first time I recognized that goodbye mode was upon me. Goodbye mode is often found hanging out with, "last time" mode. Last time mode is when you are driving down certain roads or going to certain favorite places and you realize that this is the last time you will be doing that. I first noticed it when I took the kids to upstate New York to Niagara Falls and Palmyra in June. Two places I love living close to. Two places I love visiting. And when we were there, out of the blue, the last time feeling hit me and I realized this was the last time. UGH

Then the garage sale came. That was when the goodbye reality hit the kids and I...hard. Saying good bye to possessions. Possessions that only we know the story of. Possessions that represent home.

Then came saying good bye to my co-workers at Holyoke Community College Library last Thursday. I did not think I had worked there long enough to have earned the very sweet and thoughtful good bye party they had for me.

Then it was good bye to a few close church friends at another very sweet and thoughtful party on Friday night. As things progress it is all getting harder. I am not going to lie, I keep fighting the urge to run away from all of it. Facing goodbye requires a maturity I am not sure I possess right now. I confess, that I was the first person to leave this goodbye party just showing how unable I am to be classy or mature. But as I sat there and listened to all these sweet strong women chat and laugh I was not sure how much longer I could hold it all in :)

The other night I went out with my dear friend Gail. It is most likely the last time we will meet on a weekend night and shop and eat out and solve life's problems. I think Gail and I have done practically everything together the past 6 years. I love this girl. We love to meet up at Kohl's on a weekend evening and shop and then go eat and then go shop some more. I said to her tonight in my sad, wistful voice after we had just made our purchases at Kohl's...."Who I am I going to go Christmas shopping with now?" Christmas shopping is just the tip of the iceberg. She, and I and our kids have so many traditions together it is incredibly hard to imagine day to day life without her. I have not had many friends who will play with me like Gail. I have not had many friends that will shop with me like Gail. I have not had many friends who have been through yucky things with me and stayed around like Gail has. She has taught me so much I can not imagine not being able to jump in the car and be at her house in twenty minutes. Good bye to this amazing woman who honestly kept me alive is going to be hard. But I know she is going to insist on it... if I even leave to go home from church without saying goodbye to her she freaks out :)

This Wednesday is my last day of work at the Westfield Atheneaum I am not looking forward to this goodbye. These girls I work with I dearly love. Going to work with all of them everyday has been complete joy. I love what I have learned from them. I am also going to miss the patrons and all their little quirks. The adorable seniors who need me to help them find out what is on the New York Times bestseller list. The teenagers who want to find the book that matches the latest movie. The oneries who want to fight with me about their fines. The predictables who need to always have a Dr.Who dvd waiting for them on the hold shelf.

In addition to saying goodbye to people I need to say goodbye to a few places. Am I the only person who does weird things like that? I am saving my places goodbye for next weekend which is my last weekend here. I have two places that mean oh so much to me and I have not been to either of them in 3 years but I need to go see them one last time before I head west.

Goodbye is so incredibly hard for me to do. Those emotions that goodbyes bring to the surface are are a little embarrassing for me. So please do not judge me too harshly if I seem to appear to avoid it or if I do not seem to give it the recognition it deserves.

“What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” 

Jul 24, 2014

Do You See What I See?

My eyes are brown. What color are yours? I have two of them...yes, I know, the chances are really good that you do to :) Mine know how to read, and read, and read. They know how to appreciate views. They sometimes prefer to look away rather than to notice something. They love it if you happen to notice them and decide to look into them when you are talking.They have seen both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean and almost everything in between. They are dying to see Alaska. Okay and Prince Edward Island.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about eyes. My eyes have had a fairly uneventful life. No one has ever told me they are remarkable. I am pretty sure that they are not the feature people use to identify me :) They are just there.

Once when I was in high school I was using my curling iron to curl my bangs, that just so happened to cover my entire 1980's forehead, and for some reason my curling iron slipped out of my hand and touched the inside of my eye.....weird...freak accident....so painful.... I did panic a little bit...but all is well that ends well and I recovered. The only glitch it caused was that I was not able to play the piano that evening for an event I had committed to.

My right eye has been a little onery the last few months very, very itchy, watery, not entirely happy, and it has made me realize that my eyes have always been happy and have dutifully worked complaint free for me. I should probably do something to show appreciation to them. Eye Appreciation Day Anyone? :) Up until just a few months ago I have had contact free, glasses free, allergy free, squint free eyes but now I am the skeptical owner of some prescription reading glasses because one day I noticed I was doing that "squinty" thing when looking at small print on food labels. Getting used to wearing glasses is SO weird. I do not know how the people who wear glasses deal with this constant border around their world. Just so you know I am complaining about just wearing them to read....silly me.

 Speaking of glasses I also acquired some very nice, designer, free sunglasses about four years ago from dear Kristy and I am trying so hard to believe in them. I really hate trying to chat with someone who is wearing sunglasses. I want to see your eyes. They tell me so much. I also need to see the world clearly and sunglasses give the world a bit of a tint. I will be driving down the road all proud of myself because I am wearing my sunglasses and liking it and then I will take them off and think to myself "oh wait everything I just saw with these sunglasses on was not true :)"

I am very careful about what my eyes watch. I have been known to watch movies with my eyes covered. Violence, blood. and icky-ness I just can not do. I have always been this way. I discovered it when I was little and I ended up watching the Disney movie called The Black Hole and let me tell you I could not sleep the whole night because of what I saw :) Yeah, I know, The Black Hole?

It is a little frustrating that what I see with my eyes is determined by my life and not yours. I spend way too much time wondering what you see. I love other people's views. I hate that I recognize that what I see may not always be right. I hate when I think I see something and then realize I didn't. I hate when I see something and I DESPERATELY want you to see it too but no matter how many times I tell you to look for the guy in the red striped shirt and then count four people over and then look diagonally up from that fourth guy you still can not see what I see and I can't make you. How many times have you seen something and exclaimed to someone, "did you see that?" And if they did not see it then the opportunity for a connection and the bonding moment are long gone.

I am so glad that I had a couple good friends with me a few years ago when I saw those girls in New York City wearing only bubble wrap wrapped around them like a mini dress with high heels on their feet and of course a belt....yes, any color belt will match bubble wrap :) It would have been so sad to not have someone actually see that with you. I mean I can tell you about it using the very best words possible but it is not the same as seeing it......even if I took a picture you still would not hear the sounds I was hearing and smell the smells I was smelling. And I will forever have that bond with those friends.

Maybe that is why I hate doing things alone because if you see something awesome or unusual when you are alone you miss an opportunity to create a bond with someone. If I see it and you are with me we are forever and ever friends. And when we get together we can reminisce about that moment we saw together :) Good Times!!!

I am so glad I woke my kids early one Saturday (sleep in day) a few weeks ago to see the big bear in our backyard. Yes, I could have just told them about it but seeing is way better.

Through a weird twist of life events my mother ended up in the delivery room when I had my first baby. Her very first grandchild. She got to SEE Zach being born. She delivered six kids of her own but she said seeing it was so amazing. And she is so glad she got to have a chance to see it. And I am glad she did too.

Tonight I dragged the kids out with me on the porch to watch a storm that was brewing. I love how when someone is seeing something with you often you do not need words. You can sit and just see together.

I hate how there are some times that no matter how I stomp my foot, throw a tantrum, plead, offer you chocolate, and beg you just are not going to see what I see.

What about if I know you saw what I saw but you won't admit it? AARRRGHH that always makes me sad, sad, sad. Why are we sometimes afraid to acknowledge what we saw? Like when you know you saw your sister steal some chocolate chips but she won't admit it.

So why all this chatting about eyes and seeing that is really going nowhere? Well, you know me, I have always loved chatting about views and seeing things....you surely know that. But so many of my views are changing right now. I am seeing things in such a different way in every single area of my life. From my bowl of cereal I have every single morning to a best friend I have had for over thirty years. Even New York City seemed different last Saturday.

So here's to seeing as complicated as it is I do adore it :)

Jul 21, 2014

Last Time In New York City.

The first time I ever saw New York City was in the early 90's. It was not to soon after the murder of that Mormon boy Brian Watkins in New York City Subway. Needless to say I was not sure about New York City. We lived in Princeton at the time and we had a friend who drove us in to the city and basically gave us the driving tour because we had lots of little kids and a new baby.

It was not until we moved to Massachusetts in 2007 that I started to become acquainted with the real New York City. We moved here 6 and a half years ago and I think I have gone into the city at least 3 times each of those years. I have googled top ten things to do in New York City. I have googled not so top ten things to do in new York City. Everytime I go I gain a new appreciation for how much this city truly has to offer. I am always trying to figure out the best way to see New York City. And always trying to find new different things to see.

Madeline got married in March to Carlos and Carlos has never been to the United States let alone to New York City. He really wanted to go. I knew this would most likely be our last time going into the city so I asked everyone what they wanted to see.

Tatiana wanted to go to the Converse store on Broadway. A few years ago Amanda bought her a tiny Converse shoe key chain and she loved it but someone at her school stole it and she has always wanted to replace it. And she needed to buy a Subway sandwich and eat it on the Subway.

Natalie is my sweet tooth she had to go to Magnolia Bakery.

Madeline had never seen the World Trade Center site.

Carlos needed to see Central Park, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty.

So I carefully plotted out our day. I have done all of these requests many a time with many a guest. I ordered tickets to see the newly opened 9/11 museum. I ordered tickets to get onto Liberty Island. I decided we had to leave by 4 in the morning so we could be to our first stop by nine in the morning. I organized food and made sure we had backpacks and water and directions and tickets.

It takes about 2 and /1/2 hours to drive into the city from our house. I always park by Trump properties off of the Henry Hudson Parkway but this trip I was so sad to discover that the parking lot I always used is gone and Trump is building something there. So we drove to our plan b which is a lot on 42nd street just down from Times Square. This lot is a lot more money but it had to be so I did not even think about it. Visiting New York City just costs money there is no way around it. Parking and Subway and tickets to see things. I can not even fathom how much money changes hands in New York City everyday. when I think about what I pay and then multiply it by the nine million people in line with me for something it is staggering.

We headed down to the 9/11 memorial first. I had tickets to see the newly opened museum at 9 in the morning. It was a beautiful morning and not many people were at the site when we got there. I have seen my share of memorials in my life and I have to tell you this memorial is amazing. I wish you could see it. They did a perfect job. There are two squares just like the one in the picture over there. They are exactly the dimensions of the original twin towers and they are in the exact spots where they stood. Water flows down all four sides and down into that void in the middle. we have been to the world trade center site many times throughout the years and slowly but surely it is being reborn and taking shape into a beautiful area.

The museum was huge and beautiful. So much to see and take in. It was weird to do the math and realize that Natalie was not even alive when 9/11 happened. By the time we got out of the museum the grounds were full of tons of people. I always have to go and look at the Survivor Tree. It is a tree that was found mostly alive on the site in the midst of clean up from 9/11. They carefully dug it up and sent it to a nursery and nursed it back to health and then brought it back to the site. I eat up stories like that :)

After we finished in downtown we jumped on the Subway and headed back uptown to about the middle of Central Park and then worked our way down towards the south corner of central park. We stopped at the Mormon temple. We wandered through Central Park so Natalie could pet one of the horses that pull carriages through Central Park. Madeline had never been in FAO Schwarz so we went in there along with nine million other people and we gawked at all the expensive toys and took our pictures with Lego guys.

Then we had to head back down to the tip of Manhattan to Battery Park to catch our boat to the statue. I have taken the boat to the statue a few times and have even purchased the tickets that allow you to go up inside Lady Liberty's nose. But my kids have only ever been on the free Staten Island Ferry that takes you by the statue. So I thought this would be a treat for them. Never ever think that about kids and things you plan.

See Natalie's "I am done" face :)
I have done New York City with kids so many times and it never ever changes. It is just plain hard for them. All the walking. All the waiting, and all the crowds eventually get to even the best of them. Each of my kids had a melt down moment on the trip. Even my darling 23 year old who is perfect in every way. My job on our New York City trips is to convince people that they really can walk more and to trick them into thinking our destination is just a "few more blocks" away. I also need to help them to see that waiting in line is a fun thing. I have many tactics I use to distract them from their misery. Candy in my backpack always works for awhile. And strategically planned FAO Schwarz visits also help. And the big guns are taking the Subway. I really supported the subway this trip. I think I ended up spending at least $40.00 on subway rides. All totally worth it.

I guess it goes without saying that when I go into the city by myself or with my girlfriends I notice a huge difference in my trip :) But I love for my kids to be familiar with the city and for them to have seen all they have seen so I just keep smiling and being happy no matter how they complain. If the pioneers did it so can I :)

Liberty Island was jam packed with tourists. I usually visit New York City not in the summer so it was crazy even for me. SO MANY PEOPLE. All of them vying for a spot for the perfect photo with the statue or the Manhattan skyline.. Sometimes I can not even wrap my mind around the magnitude of it all. All sorts of languages all around you. Jostling of bodies. At times like this when we are all standing scrunched together in lines I entertain myself by looking at peoples shoes. You are so close to everyone you really can not look anywhere else. I saw a lot of Toms :)

After Liberty Island Carlos wanted to go find a store called Century 21. This was the part of the trip where I had to remind Natalie to be grateful she had two legs and could walk. She was not impressed. When we got to the store we then realized how close we were to the Converse store and decided to save money and walk some more. It never escapes me how much like life my New York City trip with the kids turn out to be. Convincing them they can do hard things. Helping them to see the positive. Reminding them they will always be glad that they did it when it is over. Throwing some food and sugar in to the mix. How happy we are when we get to the end and we made it. Lots of distracting from the hard stuff. Yeah, lots of good times :)

After the cool, with benches, Converse store our next quest was to find some authentic tacos. A few years ago I had found this amazing teeny tiny hole in the wall place that had yummy tacos. It was owned by two guys from Tijuana and it was so good. Of course I did not save the address and no matter what I googled I could not find it again. That is the lesson I need to remember from New York City to save addresses and names of places because you will forget even if you think you won't :)

We found a taco place up by Bleeker Street. It was okay. But not authentic and not perfect but we got to eat and we got to sit.

We got back on the Subway and headed back to Times Square to wrap everything up. Times Square can be busy but it was crazy this particular night and it was almost nine o'clock at night and you could tell everyone was done. To just confirm that there were all these very scantily clad women milling about in times Square offering photo opportunities.....we are talking so scantily clad that some of them had no tops on. I was stunned at felt a little sick at how many people were taking their pictures with them and staring at them. I really did not want that image to be the last one in my mind.

As I walked back to the car it hit me that I have no idea when I will be back to New York City and who I will be with when I go and where my life will be. I have loved living so close to New York City that I can just hop in the car and go when ever I want. It is always weird when I get back to my quiet house in Massachusetts at midnight to think that just two and a half hours away all that noise and all those smells and all that hustling and bustling is going on.

I did not get to choose what I wanted to see for my last trip and I have been sitting here thinking what I would have chosen and I think I would have chosen the Brooklyn Bridge....I do love to walk across it as the lights in Manhattan are coming on for the night. I also love to hang out in Greenwich village and poke in little shops. But I will save it for the next time.....whenever that is :)

Jul 16, 2014

Love Languages.

So recently I had a conversation with some friends about the book The Five Love Languages. A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away someone gave me a copy of this book. I must tell you... I flipped through it but I never actually read it. It sat on my shelf for many many years until I gave it to the Salvation Army. I am not sure what my issue was with The Five Love Languages. But I definitely had one.

Maybe I was afraid I would discover what my language was but I would not be able to convince anyone it was mine and that it would be beneficial to them to speak it?

Maybe I was afraid that I would be all five of the love languages?

Maybe I am a little afraid of categories and being stuck in them?

I am not really sure but I know I never read it. Have you?

The conversation I participated in on the Fourth of July made me wonder about this book. These people I was talking to really believed in this book. It helped their relationships.Their words made me wonder so much that I did a crazy thing and placed a hold on the book at the library. I am still waiting for it to come so I still can not give a fair assessment of the book. But did that ever stop me from wondering about it and blogging about it? :)

Do we really all speak a love language? Do we really need love shown to us a certain way? Does it have to be so complicated that I need this book? If you find someone who knows your love language and is willing to speak it does it mean everything will be perfect forever and ever? What if you can not figure out your love language? Is there a Love Languages for Dummies book? :) Do you think my love language is wondering and asking questions? :) I finally just googled "what are the five love languages?" and I procured the list for you in case you did not know.....physical touch, gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation and quality time.

 I know without even reading the book that my love language is not gifts. That will not show me that you love me. Even if you buy me something you are sure I will like. Even if you buy me something I specifically said I wanted. I really do think that my love language might be all of the other four languages at the same time.....and that scares me a little. Who would ever want to hang out with someone who had four love languages ? :) Maybe if that ends up being the case the circus would want me. I could sit in a tent and people could file by and look at me......the woman with four love languages...freak of nature :)

So in the middle of writing this very blog it just occurred to me that there is probably a place on the internet where I can take a test that will tell me what my love language is so I can finally get some sleep :) Hang on just a minute.....let me check....hey, I was right. So I took the test and guess what? I am only two languages at the same time not all four. My top two were tied at acts of service and quality time. So acts of service  means if you do my dishes without being asked I will probably think you love me :) Quality time means if you call me and tell me you want to spend time with me and then you actually do sacrifice some precious time and make me a priority in your busy life I will naturally assume you love me. I was not surprised that these two were my love languages. Actions always have spoken louder than words for every single minute of my life so far. And quality time means undivided attention....I have not had that happen much in my life but I will never ever forget the few times it has happened....I was over the moon.

I get the idea that my top love languages translate into how I attempt to show love to you. Which is maybe why we fail sometimes at showing love becuase we are showing it the way we like it not the way the other person likes it.

The big surprise to me was that gift giving was not last out of my five love languages.....gulp...physical touch was.....everyone who has ever been around me knows I am not a give or take hugs kind of girl. Everyone who attempts to give me a hug laughs merrily as they give it to me knowing I hate them :) So I can not understand why physical touch is last :)

I am still not sure if I believe in love languages. Maybe if I knew what it felt like to have someone consistently speak mine I would believe? But it is an interesting thing to think about. That we all show our love differently and need love shown to us in a certain way. I wonder what makes our love language? Are we born with it? Can it change? Like if I really want physical touch to be my number one instead of my number five can I change it?

I guess first things should come first and I should read the book and then analyze and ask questions and pass my judgement on the book :)

It has been fascinating to find myself realizing what my kids love languages are and what my friends love languages are and even some of my siblings. Not my chickens though....I can not figure out what their love language is.

I do love knowing how to really show someone that I love them. Have you ever felt your heart just overflowing with love for someone for something they did for you and you want to show them how much you love them right back? And you wonder and wonder what could I do? I suppose knowing their love language could help :)

So if you are bored right now.....well not exactly right now because that would mean my blog is boring but in a minute when you are bored again you should google "how to find out what my love language is". There is a main website and right there in front and on top of the page is an option to take the test to "reveal" your love language. You should do it just so when you are hanging out on the fourth of July you can knowingly join the conversation about love languages :)

And I am going to go read the book and see what I can learn from it. And then most likely blog about it because maybe my love language is blogging :)

Jul 15, 2014

Perfume Hunting With A Happy Ending.

Do you own perfume? Have you worn the same perfume your whole life? I was fascinated with perfume when I was a kid. But I usually chose what kind I liked because of what it was called not necessarily because of the smell. I also was known to choose a perfume for its bottle. I remember Loves Baby Soft was all the rage. If I close my eyes and concentrate I can almost conjure up the smell of Loves Baby Soft. I also went through the Primo stage.....one of those somewhat cheap metal like spray bottles. Everyone was wearing it.

Sometime in high school I owned a bottle of perfume called Tatiana....no, that is not why I named my girl number four Tatiana. I think my Senior year I settled on an Estee Lauder perfume called Beautiful and for many many years that was my scent :) We had a girl living with us when I was in high school whose parents lived in Saudi Arabia and during the summer and Christmas break she would go to Saudi to visit them and she would always get us our favorite perfumes very inexpensively.

I am not sure when I stopped wearing perfume but I did stop and a few years ago I came across my big bottle of Beautiful and gave it to my kids. I smelled it again and not one single part of it appealed to me. Natalie loves to spray it and I can not believe I ever wore it when I walk into her room and smell it.

For some reason about 6 months ago I set on a quest to find a new perfume. So when ever I passed perfume in the store I would stop and have to smell it......ALL :) Sometimes I would go so far as to spray some of it on my arm. Finally there was a kind I was sure I loved in The Gap. Every time I would go in I would try it on. When I finally decided I had a perfume budget and I could afford it I headed back to The Gap to purchase MY perfume but I was sad to discover they had discontinued it....gone....the perfume of my dreams. So I was back to my smelling perfume routine. One time when I was in the mall I actually had time and I spent twenty minutes in Sephora smelling everything they had. I could not decide what kind of perfume girl I was. Was I flowery? Was I woodsy? Was I musky? Was I sweet? I needed this decision to be perfect.

I found one I thought I liked at American Eagle. If I was ever in American Eagle with you you could be assured I would make you smell it and give me your opinion.  Then one day I got an ad in the mail from Kohl's and when I opened it out fell one of those little ads for perfume and of course I stuck my nose into the little paper they spray and seal and send to you and I was fully expecting to not like it but I actually thought maybe this was it. So I stuck this little paper in my purse and carried it around and the next time I was in Kohls I found the display and smelled it again and still liked it. I sprayed some on and walked around for awhile trying to figure out if the perfume liked me. I made Madeline and Tatiana spray it on themselves and walk around with me so I could see if I noticed it wafting by me and if I liked it. Yeah, I should win something for my overthinking perfume buying skills huh?

The problem with purchasing perfume is the purchasing part. It costs so much money for just one teeny tiny ounce. And this is why I spent so much time thinking and researching this purchase. How sad would I be if I spent over fifty dollars on something and then could not return it when I discovered I did not like it?

One day I was in Kohl's with my kids and Madeline and her husband Carlos joined in my smelling fest and finally she handed me a bottle with a big smile on her face and said this is the one. She pointed out it was about apples and I do like apples. It was called Be Delicious by Donna Karan. Who names these perfumes? But I supposed I could handle being delicious.It was also the New York City version of the perfume and I LOVE New York City and it would be a good memory since I am soon moving away from New York City. Hmmm this may be it. I was skeptical but to make a long perfume story short she was right it was the one.

Last night I finally purchased it. I posted a picture so that you can go smell it at Kohl's and feel happy :) The reflecting skills of the top of the bottle made it nearly impossible to properly photograph the perfume. My teenager teased me that we could actually take selfies with it. It killed me to pay $48.00. Not even Kohl's cash back on my purchase could assuage the cost. But I love this perfume. I keep opening the top and smelling it and feeling happy. It is not in a bottle I would choose if I was only about the bottle. It is not in a box I would choose if I was only about the box but I am excited to wear it.

Scent is such a part of our lives. Now that I work at the library I recognize how much people's scents stay on their books and dvd's. I catch wafts of them as they check out books or ask me questions. Often their books and dvd's will come back smelling like smoke, or the food they regularly cook, there is even one woman who wears so much perfume that her books come wafting up out of the book drop.

I think about smells and how they bring up memories. I have some lotion that reminds me of someone because I wore it all the time when I was with them. The smell of fire. The smell of freshly cut grass. The beach. In a second a hint of a smell can transport you somewhere and that is why I needed this perfume to definitely be me. So judge if you must :)

Did I really just blog about perfume? What has happened to my life?

Jul 13, 2014

Selling Things In Your Driveway And Going to Court.

Well it is T minus 22 days and counting. I can feel things getting harder and harder and reality is starting to try to press down on me and my kiddos with some remarkable intensity. I knew this would happen but I just had no idea how it would feel. It hit me hard yesterday as I watched the toys my seven kids grew up with,  the gifts friends had given me, and furniture that had seen so much, all walk away with new owners. It is just stuff I told myself as I watched it go. A few of the items I could not resist the need to tell the new owners the items story and make them promise to take good care of what they bought from me. It was hard to walk back into a stripped down house. My 14 year old was at a youth conference in upstate New York and she came home on Saturday evening to a completely different house then what she left on Thursday morning. It was so hard to watch her struggle with this. I knew how she felt because just an hour before she came home I had been standing in the kitchen all alone doing two sinks full of dishes sobbing.

I have been so focused, and centered, and in control until yesterday. But in my defense last week was a tough week. I had my day in court on Thursday. I never imagined a sentence about me having a court date would come out of my mouth. Symbolically my husband was not able to be at our court date. He had commitments for his work in North Carolina. Because it is an uncontested divorce he technically should have been there. But my attorney figured out some ways around it....or so we thought she had :)

 My appointment was in Courtroom number one at 2 in the afternoon on Thursday. I left very early because that is what Jennifer does. I also decided to have a friend who lives in Springfield show me the best way to get to the court house and where all my parking options would be the night before because that is also what Jennifer does.

On the drive over on Thursday I had this sudden realization that because I am who I am I did not really know how to describe, in a short concise way, that I know judges must like, why my marriage was ending. I called my dear friend in a panic praying she would answer and I begged her to her please help me come up with two sentences that sum up my marriage failing thing I can tend to ramble and I did not want to ramble about this divorce. She knows me and with ease gave me a short way to describe why.

 I am glad I left early because all the parking garages downtown had signs displayed that said they were full so it took awhile for me to get brave enough to defy the signs and drive in anyway. As I pulled into my parking spot and turned off the engine in my car I sat there in that parking garage and said out loud to myself "Okay missy, this is go time".

Court was just like it is on tv :) I had to go through security. I had to cram into an elevator. I was in a room with no windows in it. There was a flag in the corner.  There was a seat that was higher than our seats for the judge. I got to raise my hand and say that I swore to tell the truth the whole truth.... There were all kinds of security guards. There were some people wearing their best clothes comfortably and others wearing their best clothes not so comfortably. And all sorts of luscious drama. And all sorts of sad stories.

I had a most fabulous time watching people and listening to all the cases before mine. I sat there all alone on a bench that was so weirdly shaped that when I slid to the back of  it my feet did not reach the floor. I sat there and briefly thought about how my marriage had started with a big cake and matching dresses 25 years ago in Logan, Utah and how I never imagined in 25 years I would be in Springfield, Massachusetts telling a judge it was over. The fact that I was sitting there alone did not escape me.

When it was finally my turn the judge asked me lots of questions and then decided that he needed the husband to be there so he asked my attorney how we could figure that out and we all played calendar together and finally figured out that we could all be there on Tuesday morning at 9. So I am going to court twice. Yay, a sequel :)

The garage sale paid for my train tickets. I still have tons of things left that I need to magically disappear. I still have to pack my stuff. I still need to take the kids to Six Flags and New York City and the Clark museum in Williamstown. I am still working.I have two book club discussions I am in charge of in July. But if I close my eyes I can see myself  on August 4th on the train watching America go by. I can not wait for that adventure.

Jul 6, 2014

Lost In Translation.

I have to tell you that I have had lots and lots of chances in the past three years to think about language, translating, literal translation,and communicating.....

because I have a child that learned Estonian on his mission and married an Estonian.
because I have a grandchild growing up speaking Estonian and English.
because I have a daughter in law that speaks Finnish, Russian, English, German, and possibly more.
because I have a daughter who served a mission in El Salvador and married a boy from Cancun, Mexico and speaks Spanish.
because I have a daughter in the Philippines who had to learn to speak Tagalog.
because I have a daughter in Northern California on a mission who had to learn Spanish.
because I have had my son in law from Mexico who speaks mainly Spanish living in my house this summer.

I simply have to blog about this, "speaking another language thing" today.

First I have to confess that I am so glad my kids watched Sesame Street when they were little and that I paid attention to the songs because at least I can tell my son in law that speaks only Spanish that something is caliente. Who knew that song would come in handy? :)

 I am constantly asking my daughter Madeline what my son in law Carlos is saying. And sometimes she will just say to me, "I am not sure how to say it in English." It makes me sad every time she says this. Why, I wonder?....Why don't our words match up? Why on earth is there no way to say gross in Spanish? I was trying to tell Carlos the other day about something gross and I hollered for Madeline so I could have her tell him the word and there was no word. And that happens way too many times around here....the hollering for Madeline to translate and the lack of words :) I have been very surprised at how many words we have that there is no way to say it in Spanish. I actually googled it....which I am sure does not surprise you....and English does have the most words in it out of all the 6,912 languages that are out there. So many words...so many ways to say things....so little time :) I wonder why the other languages have not caught on to this joy of way too many words?

All of this has made me so aware of words. Not like I was not already aware of words :) The other day I was listening to Madeline tell me a story and I realized how many times she said "like" as she was telling me her story and all of a sudden I had to know if there is a word in Spanish that they use the way we use "like" or "um." My mind is always full of questions.

I had always wondered what it would be like to listen to someone having a conversation and not understand it at all. Although I have to bring up that we all know that sometimes this frustratingly happens with an English versus English conversation. You know that moment when you are chatting away with someone and realize as you walk away that even though you both speak the same language you are not really sure what you were just chatting about. At least with Spanish and English it makes sense that we do not understand each other :) Did you understand that? :) Anyway what I am trying to say is now I know what it feels like to not understand :)

 The really weird part is when I tell Madeline a story and I take five minutes to tell it and then at the conclusion of my story Carlos says to Madeline, "Que?" Which means he wants to know what I said and in one short minute she tells him the story I took five to tell. I always ask, "Did you really just say the same thing because that was too short?" I have watched some movies with Carlos and Madeline with Spanish subtitles and I notice it takes a lot more English to say what they say in Spanish.

Speaking of movies and Spanish versus English the other day Tatiana was in "hysterical, at the end of her rope," tears because on top of everything else in her sad life she had to watch Batman in Spanish. She said " I just want Batman in English." The voices are different then what she is used to and disturb her. You do get used to certain voices being certain characters. Carlos and I compared American Sesame Street to Mexican Sesame Street the other day and let me tell you Spanish Big Bird was ALL kinds of wrong.

Carlos and I are figuring out communication slowly. At one point he did resort to flapping his wings like a chicken in Costco to tell me he needed me to buy him some chicken wings. I got the message and we were both thrilled that we communicated. But there are lots of times we will be trying with all our might to tell each other something and no matter how many hand gestures or pulling of faces we add to the conversation we simply do not understand each other.

I love that he will say the word "careful" at certain points when I am driving....I hope he is saying it to the other drivers :)

Zach and Piret do some translating for events and people in Estonia and I asked them what do they do if there is no way to say it but it HAS to be translated? Some of the stuff Piret has had to translate is computer lingo and there sometimes is really no words that translate computer jargon over but yet it needs to somehow be understood. We also chatted about how some people's talks they are giving are easy to translate and others are hard. It made me wonder about the speed and the clarity with which I speak. I have to tell you that if someone was translating for me I would most likely keep stopping and turning to the translator to ask, "Did you say exactly what I said?" I think about my words so carefully and they are so much a part of who I am what if the translator is gyping me? What if I am only funny in English? :)

Speaking of funny we all giggle with delight when Carlos says something in English. Honestly, I have to tell you nothing makes us laugh more. Even if it is a phrase he really should not know or really should not say we laugh with glee. For example...."I hate you". A phrase all responsible parents train their children to never, ever say to anyone or anything. Well I have to tell you we love it when Carlos from Mexico says, "I hate you." It just sounds so harmless and funny the way he says it. We have been known to make him say it to other people just because it is so innocent and funny sounding :) And I confess he and I say it to each other as a term of understanding and endearment....at least I think we do :)

Sometimes I say to Madeline, "What if he really understands everything we say and he is just faking it?" :)

I am amazed at the Spanish I am picking up just by listening to them talk.....apparently they say, "seriously" to each other a lot because I can totally say that in Spanish now...enserio :)

Sometimes it makes my head spin what all these children of mine have signed up for with their bilingual marriages. It is a little weird to wonder if they will ever truly understand me. But I guess since I am their mother in law that may be a blessing :)

Jul 4, 2014

Where? What? How?

So it is 8:47 in the morning on the fourth of July in New England. The rumor is it is supposed to rain all day so everything we had planned today has been cancelled which has drastically changed the pace of the day. I decided since everyone is still sleeping it would be a good morning to reply to all the Facebook messages I have received since my last blog post. It has been overwhelming and has stunned me how many of you have sent me messages telling me;

What you have seen and know about me
Telling me about the trials similar to mine that have happened in your lives
Telling me what you know without a doubt about my abilities.

 Messages from people I knew in Princeton. Messages from people I knew in Kansas. Messages from people I knew in Indiana. And even messages from dear friends who knew me in high school. All the messages have meant so much to me. I am so grateful to all of you who have felt a prompting to reach out to me and followed through with that prompting. I realized as I was slowly replying to all these messages that everyone else who is discovering my news most likely has the same questions that these people are having. That makes sense...I mean when someone is going through a hard time you wonder how they are and what is going on....so spoiler alert....if a few details about my life will make you feel uncomfortable or freak you out you really do not need read on. And I promise to blog about the chipmunks in my garden next time.

Most of you know I am very comfortable over sharing about my life. Even though I have been burned several times doing so I still do it because just maybe there is a chance that knowing I am real and have a struggles will help you. We tend to think everyone around us has perfect lives. I have been SO grateful for the people in my life who have over shared with me about their not so perfect lives you see, what they have learned and how they have got through their hard times has strengthened me so much. Besides I need to document this so that years from now when those adorable future ancestors of mine are wondering why their Great Grandma Jenny made the choices she did that affected so many lives they can find this blog and at least have the correct info :)

So I had three things happen in my life over the past ten years that slowly opened my eyes to some things that were going on in my marriage. These things scared me and two of them I did not understand how they happened. The third one was out of my control but affected my life immensely. I started going to counseling because I needed to figure things out and as usually happens with counseling I started to make realizations and to see things more clearly. As I reached out and made feeble attempts to change things around me nothing changed. Last year we finally went to couples counseling for several months and that combined with trips by myself to the temple and lots of prayer led me to get an answer that I could never deny. After years of not knowing and struggling and having NO peace all of a sudden peace flooded into my life. It was so amazing. I knew that even though this was going to be the hardest thing I would ever do it was what was right for me. And as time has progressed from that day last September in the Boston Temple I have had this constant, solid, peaceful feeling. Sometimes I try to find drama and it will not come anymore...thankfully. I am so grateful for the incredibly hard things in my life that forced me to turn to my heavenly father like I never had before. This gift of peace and solidness has been amazing. I can not see the future but I have this assurance that there is a loving heavenly father who knows me and my kids and even that darn husband and he cares about us and wants all of us to be happy.

So I told my husband of my decision in October. I told the children by two's oldest to youngest starting in November. By Thanksgiving all of my children knew and my immediate family knew and Brians immediate family knew. The ninth of December was when I decided I needed to start letting other people know because I was now attending a different ward/church congregation than my husband. Divorce is a hard thing to announce. I was embarrassed because I had failed at something and now had to announce I had failed. I did not know who really would even care. So I ended up in a sort of thoughtful but also random way choosing about 40 of my Facebook friends from different parts of my past to send a group message to. I really did not know the best way to do this and I want you to know that if you did not get that message last December from me please do not think it does not mean I do not care about you. I just over thought who would really care about my news and some of you I was just too embarrassed to tell because your opinion of me meant a lot to me. And some of you I did not know you cared about me. I just hoped that the people I told would help spread the news. Because I would rather you share it than me :) Is that weird that I am begging you to please gossip about me? :)

Messages poured into my message box. Almost every single person I sent the message to sent me a note in some form or another. It overwhelmed me the support and confidence in me that was reflected back to me. I had not expected that in any way. I had not known that all these people had been watching me throughout the years and understood and saw what had been going on and had a view of me.

So it has been a long slow process since last October. Required divorce classes. Adding an attorney to my contacts in my phone. Reading lots of articles about faith. Trying to help my kids understand something they may never understand. Making decisions. Getting jobs. Praying my guts out.

So as of today July 4 this is where my life is....just know it is constantly morphing :)

 On August 4th Tatiana, Natalie, and I are getting on a train and heading for my parents house in Cottage Grove, Oregon.This was a hard decision. I LOVE New England. I love my newly acquired jobs at the libraries here.


Brian's bindery bought another bindery in Georgia and he may end up moving there.
Our house has not sold and may not for awhile and we have all been awkwardly living in the same house for all this time and the only way I can leave is to go to my parents....long story.
I also realized my girls need me to not be working as they work though all of this.
I need to take advantage of the support that I thankfully have from my parents.
I will be closer to my kids at college in Utah
And honestly, I can not make a new start here in Massachusetts....too many memories and guck. Yes, guck is real :)

As for the other kids. They are all doing remarkably well or at least they are faking it well :) Zach and Piret and Makeia are in Estonia. Zach is starting his Masters degree program at the University in Tallin and is working at the University. Madeline and Carlos have been living with us this summer since Madeline had a guaranteed job at Brian's bindery. They will head back to BYU in September so she can finish her genetics degree. Miriam will be home from her mission in the Philippines in October and then she will head back to BYUI. Amanda is on her mission in California. Joe will stay with Brian because Brian can guarantee him a job. The little girls will come with me. The cat needs a home and so do the chickens :)

So now you know more about my life than you ever dreamed you could know. So sorry to do that to you. Do not worry about me I am the best I have ever been in a gazillion years. I am just hanging out figuring who I am...learning about how strong I actually am and conquering all kinds of fears.....good times :)