Saturday, December 29, 2012

all thumbs

Balance is a fleeting thing. I yearn connection, but recognize the pitfalls of too much time online. The last many moons I've been limiting my Facebook, blog, and personal email time to down times when I'm nursing baby to sleep or otherwise unable to do something "more productive." The unfortunate fallout of this strategy is I rarely write because I'm limited to thumb-typing which is agonizingly slow compared to full-contact typing. Editing is arduous as well. But I miss this space to share. And I miss a place to record our little triumphs, setbacks, and milestones. So I'm in search of a solution. A new device? A new routine? Stay tuned... (And feel free to offer advice if you have some!)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

dear dad

Dear Dad,

I want to write you a love letter. I want to tell you how important you are to me, how much I cherish your influence in my life, how your love has been a guidepost, a buoy, a sentinel, a foundation in my life.

I am not a vividly visual thinker. My memories are more like impressionist paintings. There is color, an idea of a place and a cast of characters, an emotional landscape. I remember riding on a boat to an island off the coast of Maine, the feeling of the sea air, the wide open spaces and long vistas from that island, and the feeling of awe and privilege to find the eggs of a seabird's nest. I felt exactly as if I'd found buried treasure. I remember following behind your impossibly long legs as you cut the trail through a blizzard in New Hampshire. The snow was over my head and it was cold, but I felt this warmth of connection, like you could protect me from anything, like we were on this wondrous journey together through canyons of snow. It was exhilarating. I remember a rare afternoon of time alone together in our busy household of 5 (soon to be 6), deciding we were hungry, harvesting asparagus from the garden together, finding a recipe for hollandaise sauce, and discovering in equal measure the pleasure of learning something new, preparing a delicious meal, and enjoying it in good company. I remember my nasty, sullen, irritated (and I'm sure irritating) attendance in your seminary class in high school and how you generously ignored me and waited for my storm of adolescence to pass. I remember a service project for young people, helping a family move, where you encouraged and normalized my participation as the only female, letting me know incontrovertibly that I was capable as a girl. I remember the audio letters you'd send me in my first years of college, tying a loving tether across the many miles of separation, honoring my blooming independence and growing intellect.

I don't get much opportunity for reflection these days. Occasionally at 45 mph on the highway. Or in the twice-weekly shower I manage. Or the occasional walk in the woods near my home. Life is full to the brim. There is a house to build, a business to run, children to love and educate, a husband to support, and my own body and mind to care for. Something about my connection to you got me ready for all this. Moors me so the many demands of my very full life don't send me flying in all directions. And gave me the courage and the certainty that I can do hard things. Thank you for that.

We began our journey 38 years, 8 months, and 2 weeks ago and I'm so glad we did.

Your daughter

Friday, May 25, 2012

hike at day's end

Baby Builder has been out of sorts the last couple of nights. Waking more often at night, stuffed up and irritated, and nursing it all off. As a result, Mama Builder was a hot mess of craziness for the first half of today. After a few emergency measures to get me back on a (slightly more) even keel, we topped off the day with time outside.

The Boy Builder has taken on the responsibility of training me for my little wispy half-baked idea of a goal to run in the beginning trail runner events in Park City this summer, so he chose the course. The R-U-N series is still up in the air, my personal trainer has a tendency to stop the cardio abruptly to harvest mountain mint, and I mostly have to train with a wiggly and very cute baby tied to my torso, but what it wasn't in terms of solid training was more than made up for by being good medicine for my soul.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

last day of the season

The last day of the ski season at the resort is a local holiday. Most years, ts season's end there is still lots of snow and the promise of storms yet to come. Typically, it's not a distinct change in our alpine environs that prompts the close of the resorts, but warmer temperatures at lower elevations signal the shift; outdoor enthusiasts trade their snowboards and skis for bicycles and climbing gear. Fewer snowriders venture up the mountain and the resorts wind down for an interlude of end of winter rest while awaiting the arrival of the summertime hikers and bikers.

This year, however, in keeping with the unusually warm and poor snow year, Mother Nature celebrated the last day of the ski season right along with us. The sun was shining, temperatures soared, and the air felt practically tropical.

Celebrants drank more beer than was probably wise, pulled out their barbecues in the parking lot, and sunbathed on their lawn chairs as though on a seaside holiday. There were costumes, bedlam, and nonsense. People skied in grass skirts, bikinis, sequins, and outrageous outfits of all hues. The atmosphere was raucous ebullience with a hedonistic flair. So, of course, we couldn't stay away!
On the way out of the neighborhood. Notice the plowed road!
Blue skies and gorgeous clouds

Some of us catnapped in the sun

Hiking up to the "Dummy Run" on what remains of the half pipe

Waiting for the "Dummy Run"

Boy Builder on the left waiting for the "Dummy Run" with neighbors (Note the snowball in flight in top left of frame)

Resort employees make "Dummies" out of old skis, snowboard, and other junk to run down the hill while everyone throws snowballs at it; this dummy was not moving well on its own so someone hopped on to steer it

The dummies perform a small aerial flight at the end of the run, usually reducing the contraption to the pile of garbage at the end

Beautiful vistas and beautiful skies. You can see our neighborhood in the background to the right of the lift tower in the middle of the frame

Very last run of the season. Wish I had a picture of the awesome jump he did just after this picture was taken!

Sunset color display captured by the Boy Builder from the deck

warming up

It is spring. Oh yes, yes it is. Today the doors were open. In the middle of the day. And it wasn't freezing! The snow is visibly melting, inches a day. Our bodies are unfurling from the winter. My brain is dazzled by the possibilities promised by longer hours of daylight and warmer weather. The Baby's chubby deliciousness is enough to keep him warm without layer upon layer of clothing. The Boy is lured outdoors by the sweet smelling promise of photosynthesis. Forgotten detritus emerges as the ground disappears beneath our feet

Spring is generous and thrilling and delightful. And, to be honest, slightly terrifying. There's so much to be done and so much energy with which to do it. Where to begin?

This is the year the house will be done. This is the year we will move in and not ever move out again. This is the year I vow to once again spread my energies further than the reaches of my own nest. The building of home is where the buoyant exuberance of spring leads me.

While I take on mundane responsibilities like spring cleaning that can be done in fits and starts as the Baby Builder allows, others are finishing walls, finishing electrical, finishing plumbing, taking care of the details that are slowly but surely turning our construction project into a home.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


A celebration of spring in 5 frames:
Sprouting grass in the Easter basket
Basket o' sugary treats!
A hike in the sunshine ...
... with friends ...
... and snowball fights and magic wand duels

Friday, April 6, 2012

5 months

 Dear Torbjørn,

The cliché is hard to avoid. Time passes so quickly! I can't believe you are already 5 months old. And yet, it seems you've always been here, part of our family, making us laugh and wonder at your antics. I delight in the new 5 month old you and mourn the 2 month old you I can hardly remember. Babies keep us tethered to the hear and the now, no matter how hard we try to record and remember the past moments.

This month you have become a social creature. You love to keep an eye on the world from your vantage over my left shoulder, flirting with strangers and friends, flashing them your stunning gummy grin. Your open, curious, delighted glance catches the attention of your would-be baby consort, but it's your sparkly cerulean eyes that reel them in. They are like wells of life-giving water for drought-stricken souls (especially mine). Oh, the delights of a baby! Pudgy, sweet, unconditional charms that regularly veer us off a productivity track and into the timeless, dreamy wonderland of the here and now.

Making friends at the park

These days we can reliably make you laugh and anticipate what will make you cry. Your Ba can make you laugh just by being in the room. There is something you find inherently ridiculous about your dear Papa. Is it the beard? The glasses? The goofy expressions? The chicken jokes? The silly songs? Your big brother can get you going into full-body ecstasies of giggles like no one else can. You delight in his presence and give him big smiley love when he comes into view. 

You seem to be officially past the colicky, nonspecific crying of your first 3 months and it's such a relief for all of us, but I imagine especially for you. You've been off and on teething for the past several weeks, producing gallons of high quality drool, and you find it most unpleasant. But your teething crying is a more pointed, fretting sort of cry. It's specific and communicative in a way that the colicky business just wasn't. Because the crying has changed, I wonder if your experience of the pain has also changed. Is it because you now have some sense of time? You know it won't last forever? Is your pain more specific and less generalized than it used to be? It is less intense? The mysteries of the baby mind I will never know! However, on the subject of crying, you've hung on to the habit of crying yourself to sleep for nearly every nap and frequently at night, too. I don't get it, but I'm hoping you'll grow out of that like the colic. It seems like an exhausting way to put yourself to sleep. 

You've developed more hand-eye coordination this month. You used to wave your hand in front of your face and wait until your movement brought hands in chomping distance of your mouth before you could commence finger or thumb sucking (a favorite pastime). But now you can deliberately put your own fingers or thumbs in your mouth nearly any time you want. You still practice daily "baby foo" hand meditation and all the hard work seems to be paying off. You're also getting more sophisticated with your baby gym toy. You grab the rings and bat at the gymnast figurine with new deliberation. On occasion, you hold onto a graspable object or toy for a short while, but you don't have use for toys yet. I suspect that is coming soon. My favorite hand-eye trick is when you knit with me. You sit in my lap and grab the yarn, shaking it furiously up and down and side to side, inevitably getting us both into a tangled mess.

You've now officially found your feet. In the evenings when I'm getting you dressed for bed (still your favorite time of day), you roll your hips straight up toward the ceiling, heft the sizable weight of your chubby legs into the air, and use your capable fingers to grab your toes. Sometimes in the excitement of grabbing your toes, the curve of your back makes you roll to one side and I see a preview of your upcoming talent of rolling over. The feet-grabbing trick makes you squeal with pure delight, which causes your brother to come running up the stairs and I see you cock your head and perk your ears in anticipation, and this — the anticipation — is really one of your best tricks so far. I imagine I'm peering through a window to your developing brain; you can now remember experiences and start to have expectations. And, so far, because your life is good, anticipation is delicious and your whole face glows, your body tense with the expectation of wonderfulness.

We've gotten a little better this month at predicting when you need to go potty. Poops are frequently preceded by noisy farting. Pee is announced with squawks of discomfort. We still change lots of soiled diapers, but we're getting a little better at getting more of your potty business in the potty. Yay team!

Potty with a view

You are a dedicated observer of your world, and especially the people in it. You've been watching carefully when we eat. I suspect you're noticing interesting smells and appear to think it's fascinating all this stuff we're always putting in our mouths, but you don't seem to have the slightest interest in putting that same stuff in your mouth yet. So far, your own fingers and hands satisfy your baby appetites for chewing and milk is your only desire for food. Your observation skills are especially tuned toward people. The other day at our house, James was 15 feet across the room in the middle of a project when we arrived. He hadn't yet looked toward us, but amongst all the visual clutter of the room you zeroed in on his person-ness and watched him carefully. When he finally turned around, your face lit up and you smiled and flirted, trying to catch his attention. Clever boy. Your ploys were a success and he was smitten.

Sharing secrets at the ski resort

We, your family, are so in love with you, little boy. We can't get enough of your giggles, your funny expressions, your surprise, your yummy chubby limbs, your smooth soft skin, your intoxicating smell. We are all head over heels.

Your Mama

Sunday, March 25, 2012


 Sunny Saturday.
Boy Builder off playing with friends.
 New in-wall speakers arrived in the mail.
Baby napping in the rebozo.
Audio system (well, the speakers anyway) installed!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

we all live downstream

Big Cottonwood Canyon Water Shed
When we bought our property in 2005, it was an "unimproved" lot. This meant there were no utilities to the property. There was a very old water line, but it hadn't been serviceable for years (we discovered when we went to replace it that the contractor for the neighbors had cut our water line to bring the water to their house).

We first moved onto our property in the summer of 2007. We had optimistic dreams of living on our land as we built, in the tradition of so many owner-builders before us. We built platforms and erected two large canvas tents sheltered by an aspen grove and made an idyllic summer home for a Papa, a Mama, and a 3.5 year old Boy.

One of the most memorable parts of that summer adventure was fetching water. We had two 5-gallon water containers and two 2.5 gallon drinking water containers. We had a platform for the large containers that held it at a height making washing and tooth-brushing convenient. We hauled water from a neighbor's outside spigot and used it for drinking, cooking, dish-washing, and washing up. We had a port-a-potty on the site and usually took our laundry to a laundry mat, but otherwise we carried the water we used.

Five gallons of water is not light, and we became very familiar with how much water we used. Our family of 3 used about 3 gallons per day.

Later, we were forced (by interfering neighbors) to move from our summer idyll to a fully equipped condominium. It was alarming how quickly we became casual about leaving the water running too long while we brushed our teeth, or lingered in the warm shower. In future iterations of our transient builder life-style, we lived in a place where the water pipes froze, forcing us again to haul water, and eventually to move to a converted store with a spring flooding problem. Then we lived in our partially built house again, with water this time, but coming through one pipe in the basement wall with a bucket for drain we carried over to the floor drain a few feet away.

Now there is fully functioning plumbing in our house, serving up the winner of the best-tasting rural Utah water for 2011 and I am so grateful for that water. We live in an important watershed and we are careful in our stewardship of that resource.

The point of this story is that water is something I've thought about a lot over the last few years.

Today is World Water Day. There are people all over the world who work much harder than I ever have to provide enough water and food for their families. In fact, nearly 800 million people lack access to clean drinking water. Here are some suggested actions from the U.N. for those wanting to help protect the world's water supply:
There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and another 2 billion are expected to join by 2050. Statistics say that each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres. 
When a billion people in the world already live in chronic hunger and water resources are under pressure we cannot pretend the problem is ‘elsewhere’.  Coping with population growth and ensuring access to nutritious food to everyone call for a series of actions we can all help with:
  • follow a healthier, sustainable diet;
  • consume less water-intensive products;
  • reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!
  • produce more food, of better quality, with 
  • less water.
What is not mentioned in these actions is the tremendous amount of water needed to produce and refine fuel used to transport food, goods, etc. I recommend supporting your local economy as another action to help protect the world's water resource.

Healthy watersheds are critical to the health of our planet and all its inhabitants. The phrase has become a bit of a cliché, but is a truism nonetheless: We all live downstream.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

vernal equinox

It seems fitting on this first day of spring that the boys and I came home tired and sunkissed.

We spent two days at the ski resort enjoying the (possibly) last big storm of the ski season and the rare pleasure of making new friends.