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Month: June 2011

best foot forward

best foot forward

My sister told me recently about a friend she has who took her first trip to Utah recently. Her response? That people were so fake. Maybe that was true, but it doesn’t really mean much coming from a New Yorker. I think what she probably meant was that people were so nice. Like, they didn’t tell you to put a hat on your child, or offer their opinions of your babywearing or whatever. They were smiley and helpful and not so . . . in-your-face.

This reminded me of another conversation I had with my sister (or maybe it was the same conversation) in which we discussed . . . being “fake.” My sister has another friend who claimed that his family was so “fake” when he was growing up. Like, the cleaned the house when people were coming over. See? Totally fake. Oh, wait. No. No it’s not fake at all.

Fake is pretending to like someone you actually hate. Fake is pretending to like grunge-style when you’d much rather sport Dockers and loafers. I think that kind is the word for not making someone uncomfortable in your presence (even if that person is a stranger!). Hospitable is the word for making your house a comfortable place to be (even if it causes you a bit of discomfort to make it that way).

I am from Utah, and therefore somewhat defensive of my fellow Utahns, despite not having lived there for nearly 7 years and never planning to live there again. But I think they deserve some credit. People talk about Southern hospitality, but I think there is such a thing as Utah hospitality, too. Or maybe it is “Western” hospitality. I don’t think the south has a monopoly on making people feel welcome, no matter how foreign it actually feels to those who are being welcomed by it.

So, my question is, when did it become “fake” to try to make other people feel good in your presence? When did it become “fake” to try to put your best foot forward?

(Stephanie Joy — this didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought it would, but that’s okay, right?)

he’s all grown up now

he’s all grown up now

First real haircut. First rejection by a girl. (A redhead, no less!) First attempt at making that darned baby belly disappear. (He was doing crunches in the stroller. Seriously.)

It was a busy Saturday for this kid.

downton abbey

downton abbey

We got home yesterday morning and one of the first things I saw when I walked in the door was a book that was due the day before. Oops. So once we were all awake, dressed, and fed (at 4:30 in the afternoon, don’t judge), we moseyed on over to the library to return it. I also let the boys play around a pick a few books while I sat and watched for 20 minutes or so. Because, why not? They were being great and it sure beat trying to chase them around the playground.

When we checked out our books I was informed we had a DVD on hold. A surprise! I love surprises. It was volume 2 of Downton Abbey, a BBC miniseries. A friend introduced us to it and we are pretty hooked. There are only 6 episodes, and as of last night we are half way through them. Who knew that the lives of the aristocracy of the English countryside and their household help could be so intriguing?

My recommendation is that you snag it on Netflix or your library or wherever you go to find cheap home entertainment as soon as you can.

dinos aren’t real

dinos aren’t real

But Oliver doesn’t know that. We went to the zoo to see the dinosaurs — actually, the animals, but we got to see some dinos as a bonus. They roared and moved their heads and arms and turned fearless Oliver into a cuddly little rabbit. (Unfortunately, because of a luggage mix-up, my camera ended up in Provo and I have no visual evidence that we even went to the zoo.)

The dinos were, perhaps, the wrong way to start the zoo tour, but we fixed our mistake by visiting the elephants next. Baby Zuri, who is only a few months older than Squish, proved to be a worthy antidote to the dino problem. From then on we were always on the lookout for babies. Baby animals, that is. Human babies were a dime a dozen — I’m pretty sure every single group at the zoo had a stroller or two.

The baby lemurs — less than 2 months old — were probably Oliver’s favorite, but we stayed longest at the giraffe house. The giraffes seemed to sense that Oliver has a special place in his heart for them. He has a painting of one in his room and likes to point out the giraffe-like creatures on the curtains next to his crib. He was quite excited to say “hi” and “bye-bye” to them as they got closer and then farther away while we stood and watched them for 10 minutes or so. There were a large male and female that seemed to be quite into each other, and a smaller one that we guessed was a “baby” (probably more like a teenager) that kept Oliver’s attention pretty well. I know that babies like babies, but watching Oliver watch the baby animals was new to me, and so fun.

It’s funny, but when we went to the zoo, I thought it would be all about Simon. I assumed Oliver was just along for the ride and would pass out the moment we got there, since we went during his naptime. It ended up being nearly the opposite. Not that Simon didn’t enjoy it, just that Oliver seemed much more engaged and responsive than I thought he would be.

dear micah,

dear micah,

I was thinking about writing you a love letter for Father’s Day. You know, to let you know how much I appreciate you and how it’s been a pleasure to bear your children and how I’ve missed you so much since you flew back to New York on Monday and left me to fend for myself with these two rascals after me all the time.

But since then I’ve been pretty consumed by being their horse, encyclopedia, safety officer, comforter, nutritionist, trampoline guardian, baseball coach, disciplinarian, translator, ball fetcher, spoon-feeder, and cleanliness expert, among other things.

And, frankly, I’m exhausted. So maybe I’ll get around to that letter next year.

Enjoy your last few days of Father’s Week. I hope you get enough sleep. :)

xoxox,

lizzie.

ps You owe me bigtime.

being home — a crosspost

being home — a crosspost

This is cross-posted on The Mother Runner. I’m still trying to figure out how to decide what makes a Knotty Strings post and what makes a Mother Runner post when it isn’t entirely obvious. I haven’t done much cross-posting, but I may do more of it when I think something I write for Mother Runner makes a good “family journal” entry. Just fyi.

I’ve been back in my hometown for over a week now. I haven’t lived here since I was 18, and it’s odd to be here nearly 10 years later with my two boys and to resist falling back into old habits.

At 10:30 at night, when the boys have been asleep for a few hours, I start thinking about taking the car, going to the grocery store, dancing through the aisles and picking up some junk food. And then I remember that I’m not a teenager anymore. I don’t do that kind of thing. But then I wish my sisters were here, and we could go out and sit on the trampoline and jump and talk and watch the cars drive by while musing on our future lives.

I leave the dishes in the sink because it’s been 10 years since I’ve had access to a dishwasher and I’m not sure how my mom handles it. My clothes (and the boys’ clothes, too) are strewn around my room, unsure of where they should go. In the drawers? In the suitcase? In the laundry basket? My room bears a striking resemblance to the room I inhabited as a teenager, not because of the decor, but because of the mess.

When I drive, I try to let my habits take over. Isn’t that store down this road . . . ? I remember driving this was to get there . . . . And I have to stop myself from taking “detours” — the long way home my sister and I used to take, past all the cute boys’ houses within a two mile radius.

After dinner I get up from the table and take the boys outside. I pull them in the wagon, throw balls, watch them jump on the tramp. Just like old times, only it’s my kids I play with now, rather than my siblings.

Only one of my brothers still lives at home. He was 8 when I moved to Provo, just a few years older than Simon is now. Last night the two of us stayed up later than we should have. We watched a movie, talked, enjoyed what was, perhaps, our first conversation as adults, and forgot that I still had to be a mom in the morning.

Old habits die hard.

I should be so lucky

I should be so lucky

When we got off the plane here in Utah and picked up our luggage, we ran into one of the young men from our ward (he also happens to be our home teacher). He was picking up his sister, who was on our flight.

When we were sitting on the grass waiting for my brother to finish the marathon, Micah realized he was sitting 10 feet away from one of his co-workers whose sister also ran on Saturday.

When I called Micah after I dropped him off at the airport to tell him I’d gotten back to my parent’s place without incident, he said he was sitting next to our former bishop, who had also just left his wife and children to go back to the city.

I can only hope I will be so lucky as to run into a friend from the City on my way back next week. Perhaps they will take pity on me and offer to adopt the boys while we cross the country.

generations

generations

The boys only have one great-grandparent left. There were three when Simon was born, but in the past three years both mine and Micah’s grandmother’s have died. It is sad to me that they won’t have any memories of those wonderful women, and we only have one picture of Simon with one of his great-grandmothers (as far as I know). But there is still my grandpa, who just turned 90 and is as young and spry as he was 20 years ago. We were able to visit him after our race on Saturday and get a picture of our boys with him (and my parents, my married siblings, and their babies, of course).

It meant a lot to me to get this picture. Simon shares a middle name with my grandpa and I hope he grows to share a whole lot more with him as well. Grandpa is an extremely generous man with a wonderful sense of humor. I love hearing him tell us that we’re good kids, he’s just not quite sure what for. I hope I prove to be good for bringing up young men who are as generous and thoughtful as he is.