Jan 26, 2015

A Hot Tub Is Surely A Need.

So I started this blog about a week and a half ago so do not get confused when I make references to days, times that are not anywhere near today :)

Right now I am sitting in my car on my break at transportation. On Friday's I have some pretty long breaks that I rarely use wisely. The sky is blue with grey/white clouds floating around in it. It is nice enough outside that my coat and scarf are off and the window in my car is down. I can hear the kids at the middle school talking in the courtyard. I can hear some of the buses getting ready to leave for their afternoon runs. I can see a mountain with pine trees all over it in front of me.

My mind is very full and I never seem to be able to blog when it is this full. So many thoughts racing around. I am feeling a, "sit in the hot tub and do nothing night" coming on. Hmmm maybe I should blog about the hot tub. Have I never told you about it? Of course it is my parents hot tub....not mine. I had no idea that hot tubs were a need until I moved here in August. Can I possibly explain to you how awesome this concept is? Water, open sky, stars, moon, cold air, hot water, jets, bubbles, cool lights, candles, neighbors barking dog(yeah, ruin the ambiance much?), distant chicken noises.

So let me tell you how the hot tub experience goes down.

First you have to realize you need quiet time. You think for a minute about what kind of quiet time you need and you realize you need the quiet, outside, in the dark, in hot water, with bubbles kind of quiet time. So you try to secretly get in your swimsuit without anyone knowing so you can be selfish and be alone in the hot tub. That last part rarely works, my girls always figure it out and want to come with me. Which is fine I love them so it works.

I try to get in my suit first because I want the best towel...yeah, still being selfish, but in a most passive way. My parents have this one towel that is huge and soft. It covers most of my body and it is so cold on the way to the hot tub I really like having this towel when I can. If I can't get the good towel then I put on my coat over my swimsuit, suck it up, and choose a less soft and less big towel to take with me.

Oh wait, I forgot to tell you before I get my swimming suit on I go out and lift the big, heavy awkward cover off the hot tub and make sure everything is ready. This part is important. Trust me I know. I have been out there in the rain and cold trying to heft that big cover off wearing nothing but my swimsuit and it is just not right :) Definitely makes you feel like a pioneer :)

When you walk out to the hot tub you go out a door in my parents bedroom door so that you do not have too far to walk in the cold. You wear flip flops. And you never, ever run or you will slip and slide on the stone steps and get all muddy and grassy....yeah, we know this from experience.

The hot tun is on a cement pad and has a wooden structure built around it with two walls. The walls have three window like squares in them and then the whole structure has a roof. I sort of wish the roof was retractable but that would probably be a first world problem. That is not the only wish I have. I need a huge screen so I can watch movies out there. And a best friend oh and how could I forget I need candles....yeah, need much?

So when you get out there you hang up your towel and climb up the two steps to get into the hot tub. Just be prepared because when you first step in the hot water burns your toes since your toes are very cold. It will take a minute for your toes to get used to it and stop burning. Just talk about it and grimace and the time will go faster.

I confess that I have been casually complaining to my dad that this hot tub experience needs lights. I love lights anytime....anywhere. For some reason the hot tub light is not working. My dad likes to tell me about how awesome the light is when it is working. Not to make me feel sad just to inform me :)

I think my asking about lights stayed in his mind because a few weeks ago he did some research and bought these three, really fun, solar powered, floating lights that have changed our lives. They flash all sorts of colors and make colored dots all over in the water and even better...if you pick them up and hold them upside down the dots shine on the roof and make you feel like you are at the disco.

While playing with the lights and talking about life we all rotate around trying all the different jets and fighting over the favorite spots. Sometimes we just turn all the jets off and just play with the lights. Sometimes we just sit back in the jets and relax. Sometimes I try begging the girls to go in early so I can be alone and do my thinking about life thing.

When the moon is full the hot tub experience is the best. A clear night with all the stars out is not too shabby either.

I have solved a lot of life problems in the hot tub. I always come in relaxed and ready to let every struggle in my little old life just roll off of me. Who knew that hot tubs could be therapy?

Jan 23, 2015

Practice Makes Perfect.

When was the last time you practiced something? I mean really practiced? Focused so much and worked so hard that your head hurt? In my life I have had opportunities to practice the piano. Practice my singing. Practice gymnastics. Practice math. Practice running track. Practice sewing. Practice being nice to my siblings. Notice I said that I " have had opportunities" to practice, not that I did practice.

Why do we have to practice? I read once in a Malcolm Gladwell book....I am pretty sure it was in his book Outliers....that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Lots of times we think that people who are really good at something were just born with that skill but Malcolm argues that is not the case. They are good because they have practiced and practiced.I confess, I believe Malcolm.It does not mean I immediately made a chart and bought 10,000 star stickers....but I believe it. It makes sense. People who achieve usually work hard for it.

I can not remember when I started playing the piano. I just know that by the time I was 12 years old I was able accompany. I loved playing the piano and I feel like I played a lot. But I should have practiced more. My problem was I never spent my time practicing new things. You see when I sat down at the piano I wanted to play something perfectly that I already knew. I did not want to be bothered with having to stop, break it down, and play it over and over. Since I am in full on confessing mode, I have to tell you, I always wanted my piano teacher to play the song for me once because if I heard it I could usually pick it up faster. He caught onto my evilness and before I knew it he would not play for me how it was supposed to go and expected me to...gasp...practice.....and even bigger gasp....figure it out.

I tried gymnastics.....I ran track until high school....I took voice lessons....I learned to sew. But as I list these things I am realizing I always learned everything just enough to get by. I never was willing to practice enough to be exceptional at something. And I always wanted to be good at something fairly quickly and if I was not I gave up. Do not worry I am smarter now :)  I have noticed that people who really excel at something are people who practice. So if that is indeed true then I can declare to you that I am really good at talking on the phone. I am really good at making breakfast for dinner. I am really good at road trips. And I am excellent at buying Reeses :)

I always wanted to make rolls well. So I asked my dear friend Laurie for her husbands famous roll recipe and I started trying to make them. I was deeply afraid of yeast when I started. But I kept at it and then one Thanksgiving a friend asked me to bring all the rolls for a fairly large gathering of people. I made 8 cookie sheets of rolls. All that practice. And guess what? The practice paid off. I can make rolls with my eyes closed now :)

I used to be afraid of driving in the snow. Because I never had done it. Then we moved somewhere where I HAD to drive in the snow....no choice. And as I ....practiced....I became more confident and now I know how to drive in the snow and I am not afraid to do it. Not my favorite thing to do but I can do it.

Why am I thinking about practicing? Well let me tell you. The other day I was having a conversation with a dear friend and I was telling her how awful I am at this dating thing. I really am bad at it. She said lots of fabulous things to me through the course of our conversation but one thing that I have been thinking about was when she said something about practicing. What? Are you sure? 10,000 hours of dating if I want to be good at it? Maybe I will just be a sorta-good dater :)

I have been trying to think about the times in my life now when I really honestly have practiced hard for something. When I play the piano for someone who is singing or when I am asked to play a piano solo I practice hard....now that I am older :) I go over and over each measure. I mark up my pages with tons of writing. I talk out loud to myself. I focus so hard my head hurts when I am done practicing. It is hard but it is so rewarding when I can play that piece effortlessly and without fear of messing up. I can play it like it is a part of me. I wish I would have understood this when I was taking piano lessons when I was a kid.

I think about how hard I studied and practiced to pass my commercial drivers tests. I wrote the school bus pre trip instructions over and over again. I recited the steps in my mind. I worked so hard my head hurt....again. But it was so rewarding when I did it. I passed all the tests. And not only passed but passed with good scores.

I could not write about practicing and not write about watching my Amanda when she was learning how to walk. She was so cute. She would slowly and carefully walk a certain distance and then very carefully and slowly she would turn herself around and then walk back to her starting point.Then she would carefully and slowly turn herself around again. And back and forth she would go. None of my other kids practiced walking like Amanda did. She was so methodical.

I remember watching Madeline teach herself to ride a bike. So diligent, and focused, up and down the street in Lawrence, Kansas. Close enough to the curb to set her foot on it if necessary. Never giving up. I really admired that. And then when she was done learning she realized that riding a bike is no fun if you do not have a friend to bike with so she grabbed her sister Miriam and taught her....practice,practice, practice.

So here I am,46 years old and dating again. I am having to practice reminding myself I am an amazing person. I am having to practice telling myself to just be myself. I am having to practice realizing I am not perfect and it is okay. I am having to practice being okay with being short....yes, you can practice this :) So hopefully the practice will pay off and someone will see through it all and just simply love me.

I love what I am learning as I struggle along through all these new experiences. I am focusing so hard and practicing so hard. It is so strange to be fully aware of what you are doing wrong and want with all your might to stop it and yet have to practice it and practice it. I wanted to progress and learn and
 grow. I need to remind myself of that. Yes, I am frustrated that I can not be good at something the first time even though I know no one is. Yes,I am frustrated that I am going to fail and make a fool of myself as I learn. But I got this...I am sure of it. Or at least that is what I am practicing saying :)

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” 

― Aristotle,

Jan 4, 2015

The Gate Is Shut.

Yes, I am blogging about a gate. Yes, this has been my intention for quite awhile. But today is the day that I finally remembered to take the pictures that need to go with this blog so today is the most fascinating, "blog about the gate in my life" day :)

Do you have any gates in your life? A gate is a "movable barrier, usually on hinges, closing an opening in a fence, wall, or other enclosure." I have always had the idea in my mind that they are quaint. Often pretty. Very functional. And most times necessary. I loved opening and shutting my garden gate when I had one. But that gate is in the past. I did not have to open and close that gate ALL the time. Now I have a gate in my life that is very important. It protects my parents hard work. It keeps all the veggies, fruit, delicious shrubs, and carefully manicured green grass safe. It must be open and closed most times you leave or come back to the house.

So my parents house is set back from the road. Hidden from view. You drive down the driveway and you come to a gate. I have a love/hate relationship with this gate. This gate does not know that every single day it reminds me about vigilance. It reminds me every single day about the importance of protecting what is important. Protecting what you have worked hard for. I smile at the numerous life lessons this gate teaches me as I get out of my car, open it, drive through, get out of my car, and close it. Sometimes I feel frustrated at this gate but I know the consequences if I leave it open so I never do. Sometimes I wish this gate had a remote control, or a guard, or a secret code you punch in. But it doesn't.

My parents entire property is carefully fenced. They put a lot of work into their yard and their gardens. Which is why weddings, receptions, and senior pictures have all been here. My parents also have an animal loving neighbor who has single handedly built her own little herd of deer....we will refer to her as Snow White to protect the innocent. These deer are SO tame they will eat out of your hand. They are so unafraid of people. They love my parents yard. Very smart deer. They go the neighbors house for the main course and then they often saunter up the hill to attempt dessert at my parents house. The gate must be closed at all times. The minute we lull ourselves into thinking we do not need to close the gate we will be eating our breakfast, lunch or dinner and see a deer head appear where there should not be a deer head.

Every morning when I leave at 6:20 am for work and to take Tatiana to seminary. Rain, snow, sleet, or hail....or even clear skies I must open the gate. It is always dark. So I back up into the turn around then I drive up the hill. I stop and put the car in neutral...I pull up on the parking brake. I usually say something to the effect of "well here I go" to Tatiana and grab my umbrella if necessary, open my door, get out, walk up to the gate, lift the latch, and open both sides. One side you have to walk over to the big rock on the side of the road and make sure the long metal rod rests behind the rock. If you miss this step the gate will sassily swing back and make you feel frustrated. Did I convey to you well enough that I have had experience with this? :)

After both sides of the gate are wide open I get back in the car and drive through the gate. Always make sure to drive far enough so you can close the gates...sometimes you have to get back in the car and move further if you are not attentive. But it is all a character building moment regardless :) When you close the gate you do not have the headlights shining on the gate to light your way so this time when you get out you must grab your enormous flashlight that is always in your car. Take the umbrella again if you need it. And here is the hard part. When you close the gate there is a teeny tiny hollow metal circle that the metal rod has to fit down into and you have to shine the flashlight on the driveway to find it. Trust me you need the flashlight. Once you find the hole you twist the rod into the circle and grab the other side of the gate, latch it, and voila the inconvenience is over. Well that is unless it froze the night before. If it did that be sure to bring a cup of hot water from the house to pour into the hole to melt the water that froze the gate shut. Sometimes there are stray bits of gravel that you must use your fingers to extract out of the hollow circle so the gate will close properly.

What is the opposite of a gate? Wide open, right? A gate is any means of entrance or access. We all have gates in our lives. Sometimes they involve lines we have had to wait in. Sometimes there are tests we had to pass to get through a gate. To me a gate often means progression. Remember for my parents the gate is protection. A guarantee that something will not be harmed. I have vivid memories of animals getting out of our farm gates when I was a kid. So much work to find them and bring them back. They never seem to appreciate that the gates are for their good. Sometimes we look at gates as a nuisance. I can not tell you how awesome it feels to drive straight down the driveway and not have to stop at the gate. I remember having gates to protect my toddlers from stairs they did not understand. Gates are usually for our own good. They send a message. "You shall not pass :)" I do love to say that whenever I can :)

People have been known to crash gates. I dare you to watch an action film that does not involve a gate being crashed into or climbed over in a scrambling manner. There are also gates to get into heaven....so they say.

Do I have gates in my life? Hmm good question not as many as I should have but that would mean I would have to keep track of keys or think of passwords....it much easier to just deal with the pain and trouble that comes when you did not protect yourself the way you should have...right? :) JK

Jan 1, 2015

Dating Websites, Much?

Okay so no one laugh and no one judge me but I decided that on January 1st I would subscribe to a dating website. Are you done laughing? :)

Let's be clear, not a marriage website. A dating, making friends website. I have a job. I have kids. I have a church calling. I have family. I have friends in other states but I have nothing in the dating/friendships with boys part of my life. And a girl needs balance, right? Do not worry about me I will not get married again for awhile. And when the time comes I will definitely want all of you to approve the choice and have your say :) HA HA

I recently received some encouragement and some perspective on what these dating sites are about and it gave me a bit of courage. So I spent way too much time yesterday setting up an account on LDS Mingle. This is a site for Mormons looking for other Mormons. My religion is a huge part of who I am I can not deny it. I have seriously considered the possibility of having a relationship with someone who was not a member of my church and if they really loved me and we had a great relationship I have to confess I might be in. But I have no one in that category right now.

The first thing they ask you to do is pick a username. AAARRRGGGHHH. This is the name that everyone on the website knows you as. It is important. (or so I thought) I debated long and hard about this username. Does that surprise anyone? I thought about what would get someones attention? I thought what would represent me? Overthinker68? Yeah, someone would surely want to date that :) I could not for the life of me think of what represented me....schoolbusdriver46? Oh wait how about size2shoe? Or washescolorsandwhitestogether86? Yeah, this was hard. So finally I just decided I had to stop and choose something and so...are you ready? My username is...chocolateandpeanutbutter. Maybe, just maybe, I can find someone who loves Reeses as much as I do :)Yeah, if there is anything wrong with that username now is probably not a good time to tell me. Wait a few weeks :) Now that I have actually been on the site and seen what men choose for their usernames I am realizing it did not matter. I am having the most giggles I have had in a long time checking out these usernames....iamforyou.....youandmeforever23....celticgod. Yeah, good times.

After the username then you have to start answering questions about yourself and telling about yourself. It was incredibly exhausting. I have never thought so hard about what I like and what I do not like. How do you tell someone about yourself? I am a wordy girl and you all know this. My introduction was enormous.

And then after you tell about yourself you have to...gasp...tell what you want in a person. Yes, I almost gave up. But I knew this was good for me. And honestly there are not many opportunities to meet Mormon, single, normal-ish guys where I live, in small town Cottage Grove, Oregon so I knew this was important. So I powered on.

I had to tell what I would do if I had ten million dollars. I had to list three areas I have for growth....I wrote putting the lid on the toothpaste....folding socks and ironing. Honestly, I am perfect otherwise :)

Part of the process is taking a personality test. And my children and my mother had to be there for that process. It was thirty questions that required you to think back to the kind of child you were and answer with that in mind. SO HARD. But I tend to stress out if there is not an answer that fits perfectly. I quickly let go of that notion. And just went with my gut. And watched my mother inwardly smile as I realized what sort of child I was :)

When it was all done I was neatly put in the color yellow category. It alarmingly described me perfectly. And I quote,

 "I am motivated by fun. I am inviting and embrace life as a party which I am hosting. I can be extremely sociable and persuasive." Yeah, note the word extremely. I should probably have a warning sign walking around before me :)

 "I seek instant gratification." WHAT? Take that back this instant :)

 Here is the hard part. "Yellows need to be adored and praised." Fine. It is so true.

 The list of traits included "carefree, trusting, forgiving, charismatic, enthusiastic, hopeful, playful." Yeah, you get the idea. Let's go to Disneyland now, shall we?

I loved filling in the spot about how tall I was. And choosing which height of guys I was interested in. The choices went all the way up to 7'6" and I debated long and hard about that :)

Uploading pictures to the site was all sorts of drama. But I am so proud of myself I figured it out all by myself. I do not know what it all meant but I did it. It included all my dear friends:
 and GIF,
 opening Paint,
 and copying

 but I did it. Now I am in my, impatient, instant gratification, sort of way waiting for the super powers at the website to approve my pictures and upload them onto my site. The word on the street is these boys need to see a picture of you before they decide if you are worth it :)

My Natalie and I sat on the couch last night and scrolled through page after page of men ages 36-51 last night. It was overwhelming. I have no idea what to do. And this is not the way I really want to do this. But I am going to hang in there for six months and hopefully find some friends who like chocolate and peanut butter :)