Stay Cool in the Stupid Heat

This is our last week in AZ before we leave to spend the rest of the summer with my parents. Not a moment too soon, because it is STUPID HOT this week-- so much so that I forget the hot part and go around saying, "It's just stupid out here!" ;)

We lost a chicken to heat exhaustion yesterday. We tried electrolytes, a cooling bath and plenty of watermelon, but it wasn't enough for one of the older hens. Poor Miss C was devastated. With temps pushing 112 today, we're putting ice in their water and setting up a water mister. Hopefully, that keeps the rest of ladies comfortable.

We humans, however, are huddling in the air conditioning, eating popsicles, and trying not to go crazy with cabin fever. This song is helping-- I love its mix of R&B with 50's danceability, and the message of body acceptance is awesome. Just what I need now that swimsuit season is staring me down!

Stay cool, everybody!!

{image by Evan Robarts}


Time for a Change

A few months ago, this picture was my inspiration for cutting bangs. Of course, I love everything about that picture. The hair, the clothes, the makeup, the bone structure, the scooter-- if I could, I'd just BE her.


Since the fog of depression has started lifting {and thus, the urge to make myself invisible}, I'm taking a tiny bit more interest in style. I have a ways to go before I can fit some of my most fashion-forward clothes, but I can totally rock the hair for now. I'm thinking of going ombre {I know, so 2012}. It seems like a good way to get some of my blonde back {which I miss} while staying low{er} maintenance:

Is that the same model? I think I'm obsessed with her.

Where do you find yourself dipping your toes into fashion? Shoes? Jewelry? {Stuff that always fits!} I wish I was better about dressing the body I'm in, but part of me cringes at the cost-- it seems like a 'waste' if I'm planning on changing sizes soon. But perhaps that's just an excuse. After all, I'm skilled at taking clothes in, and the boost to morale when I dress my body lovingly and proudly can't be given a price.

Yep, pretty sure I'm fixin' to go shopping. :)

Happy weekend, all!

{image 1, image 2}


A Bathroom Makeover...

 ... in iphone photos. Because I'm lazy like that. :)

This happened ages ago, back when I was in my never-ending-depression-of-doom. At the time, projects were the only thing that got me out of bed. That and chocolate.

Now, ideally, if we were going to put money into remodeling a bathroom, it would be MY bathroom, not the kids'. Unfortunately, theirs took precedence once they'd flooded it one time too many and we ended up with water dripping thru the ceiling into the living room. Like so:

{I know it's odd to have an outlet in the ceiling, but we had the room wired for a projector. Then we bought a flatscreen and the projector never happened.}

Anyhow, this is where the kids' bathroom started:

I know. Breathtaking. I remember thinking that this particular green color {Martha Stewart's Hellebore} was so fresh. ha! Instead, it has always made me feel a bit seasick in there. Hindsight.

The fan is there to dry out what we thought was the subfloor. {It wasn't.}We ended up ripping that layer of particle board out, much to my relief. It looked too damaged to save.

I was determined to make the place more waterproof, which meant tile, tile, tile! We went to a local discount tile warehouse and picked out this baby:

J really wanted a classic black and white checkerboard, but the basket weave felt more interesting to me. Also, it was a mosaic tile on a mesh background, which meant 1} they would be less likely to crack in an upstairs location, and 2) that tile-cutting would be much easier than it would be with large tiles.

After ripping out the particle board, we laid cement board {waterproof!} and then started putting in tile. Since the entire room was going to be a big mess, I also took the opportunity to paint the bathroom cabinets white, using the same BM Advance Paint that I used on my kitchen cabinets:

This is where I ran out of tile. {Math has never been my strong suite.} Back to the store!

After spending hours tiling, my eyes were at risk of developing permanent damage if forced to look at that green for one more second. I mixed every left-over can of blue paint I had and rolled over the kermit color.

So much better:

After all that came grouting! E was dying to help out, and I wasn't about to stop him. :) It turned out to be quite fun on the subway tile. For the floor, we used black grout and it was SOOOO messy. I think I was a bit over-vigourous in wiping it clean. I like the grout to feel flush with the tile-- not to divot in at all-- and I didn't quite achieve that with the floor. Still, it's a vast improvement over the laminate that was there before, and it feels good on the feet.

Just when J thought this project couldn't possibly cost another cent, I also went out and bought a new shower curtain, some shelves, hooks, and frames. You know, necessities.

I have to say, I loooooove it. Especially having hooks instead of a towel rod. Chances of having a towel actually make it off the floor increased from 0% to at least 10%.

This all happened back in November, which is really when I should have been doing outdoor stuff. Now it's 108 degrees outside and I'm stuck indoors when what I really want to do is build my shed. :( Brilliant planning on my part, I know.

Anyone have awesome projects in the works? Do tell.


Would I?

"I would never do that," J said the other day in reference to a friend's recent life choices. "And as a parent, I would never enable it."

He was looking to me to agree with him. Yes, he needed to hear, our lives would never, ever look like that. We are more responsible. We are more spiritually in tune. We follow God's guidance and thus would never be put in that kind of situation.

But I didn't reassure him. I couldn't.


Too often in my life, I've felt I was on the receiving end of the "I would never..." statement.

"I would never live in a tent!" said to imply that my father-- the hardest working, most faithful man I know-- was selfishly pursuing a dream at the expense of providing for his family. 

"I would never give birth at home!" said to imply that I, as a homebirther, was a glutton for pain, hated doctors, and would foolishly disregard the safety of my child in the pursuit of some hippy ideal.

"I would never stay in that kind of marriage!" said to imply that if I did, I somehow lacked self-respect.

"I would never let myself go like that!" said to imply that gaining weight would be tantamount to failing as a woman.

"I would never have so many/so few children."

"I would never spend my money that way."

"I would never raise my kid like that."

"I would never say that, think that, do that, believe that, eat that, endure that, trust that, hope that, live that, suffer that, decide that, deny myself that, etc, etc, etc."

The truth is, none of us can say, "I would never" with any certainty. 


There is a story that should be familiar to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of the Martin Handcart Company. The Mormon pioneers that made up the company were converts who had emigrated from Europe and were too poor to buy oxen or horses and a wagon. They were forced by their poverty to pull handcarts containing all of their belongings across the plains by their own brute strength. They left late in the season. Many died of exposure and starvation. 

Years later, a teacher, conducting a sunday school class, said it was unwise to attempt, even to permit, the handcart company to come across the plains under such conditions. This comment sparked sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders among the class participants. 

An old man in the corner listened for as long as he could stand it, then stood and said, in essence, "You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. I and my wife were in that company. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism?

"I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and said, I can only go that far and then I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.

"I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

"Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then, nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company."


I think the essence of the "I would never" statement is fear. What it really means is, "Please say that that would never be asked of me." It means, "Please say that if I make all the right decisions, my life won't be painful in that way." It means, "Please tell me that I actually have control of my life."

I don't think that life is an equation. That if I take righteous desires and add hard work and good intentions, it equals success as I envision it. Yes, God wants people to provide for their families, but that doesn't mean that good people never starve or go homeless. Yes, God wants children to be raised by loving parents, but that doesn't mean that loving couples never suffer infertility. We've all heard it: bad things happen to good people. 


"But what about agency?" J asks, "Don't you believe that some bad things happen because people make really bad choices?" 

Yes, I do. And yes, I've gotten all judg-y about some choices that people have made. I tend to see things very black and white, right or wrong, and it's hard to keep my heart open when I feel like someone is flushing their life down the toilet and hurting others in the process. 

But haven't I flushed my own life a few times? Haven't I made bad choices? Haven't I scarred people along the way? 

I'm not going to make it through this life without making mistakes, both inadvertent and intentional. But all those failures and bull-headed blunders and depressive bouts and holy-schnikes-I-didn't-ask-for-this-in-my-life pains have drawn me closer to God. 

I've learned. I've grown. I wouldn't change things {even though I don't want to live them over again either.}


Our discussion was becoming heated. J kept saying, "How can you think that what so-and-so is doing is okay?" and I kept saying, "How can you think it's our place to judge?" 

It wasn't until later that we realized that what he meant was, "I'm afraid that you would make the same choice if we were in the same circumstance," and what I meant was, "I'm afraid that your version of a righteous and successful life might not match our eventual reality."

Once it boiled down to fear, we were able to finally let it go. 

This person's life is not our life. Their journey doesn't have to make sense to us in order for us to love them. I'm sure our journey doesn't make sense to others from the outside looking in. We all have a price to pay to become acquainted with God. All I can hope is that I can find compassion for others on their way, and recognize that mine is a privilege to pay. 


Alaska Cruise: Part 6

The way J's eyes lit up when he saw our train was exactly the way I felt in Juneau. Trains are J's Kayaks. :)

Originally, the whole family had talked about renting a few cars to drive to Anchorage. J heard that plan and countered it with a scenic, glass topped train ride.

Good call.

Even if nature's majesty was wasted on some:

I know it's redundant to keep talking about how beautiful Alaska is, but really! It was SO beautiful. Like, fill up your soul beautiful. Like, breathe it all in beautiful. Like, spend every minute outside so you can bask in it beautiful. 

I'm sure that like Washington, it's an entirely different story in the winter, {Constant cloud cover + impassable snow + deep, dark days = sadness for this girl} which is why my new motto is-- this is why God invented snowbirds. 

So green! So rugged! Only our Seattle resident looks nonplussed.

And, of course, we have a GoPro time laps taken from this angle:

Thanks to the quickly approaching Summer Solstice, we had super-slow sunsets.

I had to look up the phenomenon when we got home.

It felt like the sun was suspended near the horizon endlessly, making for some truly compulsive photo taking. :)

Of course, J saved his biggest reactions for the train whistle. His brother caught this spontaneous show of excitement:

That's my guy. :) He didn't sit down the entire 3 hour train ride, even though he was tired and sore from our hike. It was a great way to say goodbye to Alaska!


Alaska Cruise: Part 5

Our last port was Seward, where we decided to hike Harding Trail overlooking Exit Glacier. It's supposed to be a 6-8 hour hike, but we only had 4 hours to dedicate to it.

I carried the camera bag, but was so excited by the challenge of the climb that I never remembered to take it out. Consequently, we have a lot of pictures taken by J's iPhone of my backside. ;)

I did get one photo of a marmot, though. It looks like a tiny groundhog here, but it was big.  We discovered throughout the course of this trip that J always spots {and gets excited by} the animals when we're out in nature. I, on the other hand, like the views, vegetation, and physical exertion.

The trail was beautiful. Mountains, trees, flowers, waterfalls-- with each subtle change in elevation, there was something new to see.

While I still have plenty of post-depression junk in my trunk, I felt pretty fit. I was bounding up rocky stairways and speeding up the rough trail to try and get as far as we could in our limited time frame. We were both soaked in sweat by the time we got to the glacier overlook.

At this point, we were passed by a man running up the trail. Not just jogging. He was full out running! As it turns out, Seward is famous for a race up the nearly vertical face of Mt Marathon every 4th of July. This guy was training for it, and $%&@ if I didn't feel suddenly very out of shape! I was impressed. And jealous. And adding Mt Marathon to my bucket list.

J did not feel the same way. Once we passed the tree line and started hiking the switchbacks in snow up to our shins, he began to peter out and fall behind. We wanted to make it to the trail's end {or at least as far as the emergency shelter} but had to turn back or risk missing our ride. We could have done it if we'd had another 45 minutes. 

Even so, I was so happy to get a real hike. As I kept telling J, being outdoors and really using my body had become extremely cathartic for me. I was able to stop berating myself for not looking the way I think I 'should' look, and instead could really relish all that my body is capable of doing. I felt vibrant and healthy and truly alive.

At the top, we ran out of water. Disobeying every instinct my mom instilled in me, we found a stream of pure glacier runoff and {hoping it wouldn't kill us} filled our water bottles with the icy cold water.

Soooo good. And I'm still alive, so, there you go. :)

Then we hiked down {not nearly as fun as going up}, caught our shuttle back to town, and had a fish lunch before catching our train to Anchorage.

I already miss having fresh fish every single day. :( Seward, you were awesome. See you again for the Mt Marathon race. Someday.


Alaska Cruise: Part 4

After Skagway, we had our second of only two non-port days. After all our kayaking and hiking, we were looking forward to relaxing a little. But first, we made sure to wake up at 6am to claim a coveted spot on the helipad as we cruised up to Hubbard Glacier.

Ever wonder what it would look like if you clipped a GoPro to the railing of a cruise ship? Of course you have! And now you know:

J and I were both fascinated by the cloudy green glacier water. Also: the crunching and shuddering of the ship as we plowed thru ice was both disconcerting and thrilling. 

The early hour combined with the proximity to the glacier and the windchill on the exposed deck all made for a freezing few hours of sightseeing. {poor Lu!}

I only managed an hour and a half before retreating behind a glassed in viewing room. {There were some in our group who never made it outside of their rooms. Lucky balcony owners!}

We saw several harbor seals basking on the icebergs as we approached.

And then finally we drew close enough to hear the massive thundering of the calving glacier:

It was almost constant-- a series of terrifying cracking noises followed by the massive splash and tumbling of ice. It looks so tiny in pictures, and yet those ice chunks could crush a fishing vessel.

Again, the blue ice did not disappoint.

Amazingly, the Captain only made a few rotations before heading back to open water. Those who didn't make it out to the deck before 9am missed it all. At least these two fanatics caught every last second on film {multiple angles, several formats, with at least three different cameras} despite the frigid cold:

 Nuttiness runs in the family.

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