Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This morning the phone rang before 8 am. It was a friend. A kind, wise friend who I adore. I don't get to see her very often or talk to her much though she lives just a few doors away. She is one of those friends who I could call and she would drop everything to help me and even though I don't enjoy a daily interaction with her, I know she loves me. I know she understands even when I don't have the words to explain it.

How do I know? She calls me, unexpectedly, like today, to check on me, to leave me with something to think about or lift me up. She seems to call when I most need to hear her voice. She listens to the promptings of the Spirit.

Monday evening I left the soccer field a bit shaken after having a conversation with my Mother in Law about cancer. Her friend is undergoing chemo, so I took a moment to explain my dad's regimen to her. My in-laws are good people who I am sure care for me. But they fail to inquire about my dad or even about how I am doing under the weight of this anvil. It's the proverbial elephant in the room. But the lack of discussion does not dismiss the constant ache I carry in my heart.

Yesterday my sister in law called, also to check in on me. Having lost her own dad a few years ago, she understands all too well the many nuances of this trial, big and small. She is a constant source of support and enlightenment to me. I expressed my frustration to her and my sadness that my mother in law didn't seem to understand my dad's prognosis. She kindly explained to me that life experience effects our behavior. Truly, some people don't understand what to do or say until they have experienced something similar.

I immediately thought back to an experience I had last week while at Nordstrom. Sitting on the couch was a girl I know, deep in conversation on her cell phone. I knew she had recently done IVF and was anxiously awaiting the results of her pregnancy test. The first thing I noticed were the tears brimming in her eyes and threatening to spill out onto her cheeks. Such raw emotion in a public place and in that moment I knew. I knew how she wouldn't choose to cry in the shoe department of Nordstrom, but I also knew how she couldn't contain the pain of her experience. I knew her results. I knew her heartache. I reached out to her and gave her a hug. We did not exchange words. We didn't have to. She knows that I understand.

At the studio where Rachel takes tumbling there are five words painted on the otherwise lackluster white walls. They read "I CAN DO HARD THINGS.". Many times I hear Rachel's teacher repeating this mantra to her students. Now I find myself repeating it to myself. I can do hard things.

The truth is every day I get up and get through the day. I have children relying on me and responsibilities to keep. I really don't have the luxury of wallowing in the grief that I feel. Tony comments on how strong I am, as do so many of my closest friends. But truthfully, I cry every day. Every single day. Sometimes it's just a tear or two which sneaks out while I pray for my dad. Some days I sob in the shower where no one will hear me. Many times it is in the middle of the night when I am unable to clear my mind of childhood memories which come to me in my dreams. Each day I go on because I know that I can do hard things.

This week has brought a new perspective. Perhaps one of the hardest things we can do is to step outside of our comfort zone and reach out to those who most need our support. I am grateful for my trials. I am grateful for these most difficult life experiences which have ingrained compassion in my soul. Mostly I hope that one day when the roles are reversed and I have the opportunity to reach out to someone that I will do so with courage and purpose. I hope I will remember to worry less about my own awkwardness and more about soothing another's troubled heart. I hope I remember that I can do hard things.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Miles first word is more. All day long I hear him chirping more, more, more. More juice, more crackers, more play time with his momma. When he first began to say more, it sounded like "moe", or "more" with a very thick Brooklyn accent, the R sound almost completely absent, with more emphasis on the long O sound. Secretly I hoped he was trying to say Mom, but it soon became apparent that it was only More.

I would like to say that he has gone on to add an abundance of words to his vocabularly, but unfortunately he has not. It is still just more. More. More. More. He does sign it now as well as say it, so I suppose we are making progress.

I don't think Miles really needs anymore words. "More" seems to be a multi-functional word. He will hand me a book and say "more". I know he wants to be read to. He brings me a bottle and emphatically states "more". I know he wants milk. When he wants to be held, he lifts his arms up and utters a sweet "more". I know I should be working with him and encouraging him to use more words, but we seem to communicate very well, Miles and I and our friend "More".

My baby Miles, more is a great word. I think about it a lot and how I wish I could adequately convey to you just how much "more" my life is blessed because of you; how I wish for "more" moments of your babyhood, how I find it hard to accomplish much "more" than simply enjoying being with you.

I love you more. More than chocolate chip cookies and ice cold Diet Coke. More than sleeping in on Sunday morning. More than merry go rounds and fields full of bright red tulips. More than fresh cut strawberries and presents under the Christmas tree. More than slow rambling walks down country lanes and Sunday afternoon bike rides. More than the birds of summer and breezy autumn days. More than drops of warm spring rain and rainbows in a light blue sky. More than wrapped up surprises and my favorite movies. More than quiet secluded cul de sacs and summer sunsets. More than morning dew, more than dance and music and books of ABC. More than boats and ships and sails, more than orange blossoms in the air, more than sugar cookies and cream puffs set out on a plate. More than letters from old friends, more than soft grass underfoot and big pink balloons. More than soft feather pillows, and hand-sewn patchwork quilts. More than stars and clouds and deep-filled soft old sofas. More than secret whisperings from daddy, more than long cool evenings, more than garden swings and daffodils. More than the buzzing of honey bees and rows of summer corn. More than sand between my toes, more than slipping between cool white sheets, more than reading in the tub, more than most things, more, more....just more.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dinner and a Show

Is it just me? Or is it getting harder and harder these days to sit down together as a family and eat dinner? It seems the past few weeks we have been eating in shifts in between Lacrosse practice, soccer and dance. I've come to count on Sunday as the day we can all be together. Usually on Sunday, I make the effort to sit at the table rather than the bar, but lately, Miles is so messy, that it's easier just to eat at the counter.
He was beyond thrilled to have the undivided attention of everyone in the family and put on quite the dinner show. What a ham!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Shameless Plug

A few years ago I was vacationing with some friends. As we sat around the pool we started to discuss our favorite recipes and what kind of things our families liked to eat for dinner.

The longer we talked, the more we were making promises to each other to exchange this recipe or that recipe. Good intentions to be sure, but I knew realistically that these exchanges would probably never happen once we returned home to our busy lives.

By the end of the weekend we had each commited to compile our recipes in a cookbook and Peacocks on My Porch was born.

We took a few months to gather, organize and type our recipes. We then sent the book off to the publisher and a few weeks later, 500 cookbooks landed on my front porch.

That first year, we each gave them to friends and family for Christmas gifts. The book was an instant hint. Soon we were all receiving calls from people wanting to buy our book. Within just a few months, all 500 cookbooks were gone. We ordered a second printing and now those books are also extinct.

It's kind of amazing to me the kind of response our little cookbook has generated. I'm always a little taken back when people tell me it is their favorite cookbook. Not because I don't believe it be great, but truthfully, I haven't spent a great deal of time cooking out of it. Many of my tried and true recipes are in the book, but like most people, I get in a rut and make the same rotation of meals over and over again. That being said, I know my friends are wonderfully, talented cooks, so I am certain that the "tried and true" recipes they have included in the book are fabulous. I really need to spend some time experimenting with everyone's recipes....after all, I've been given rave reviews!

So now it is a few years later and we have decided to do one FINAL printing of our beloved cookbook. Perhaps ten years down the road, we might decide to do another one, but for now, this baby has run it's course. In the spirit of going out with a bang, we have added nearly 300 new recipes, bringing the total recipe count of Peacocks on My Porch to 700 recipes.

I did some editing on our book today and I must say, I'm really excited to cook this week. I'm trying three new recipes from my friends and I get a bit hungry just thinking about it.

If you are interested in owning a Peacocks on My Porch cookbook, this is your last chance. We are ordering pre-sold books only, and will not have excess books available to purchase at a later date. Please leave a comment with your email address or send me an email if you would like to place an order.


Rachel's trio took first place again last weekend at the Hall of Fame Dance Challenge. She won this trophy for 1st place Platinum and was thrilled. But at the end of the award ceremony, it was announced that her Trio also won "High Score Overall" and each of the three girls was awarded $100 check.

The MC interviewed the three girls as she handed them their prize money and asked them who they would most like to thank for helping them achieve this accomplishment.

This is how it went:

Madison: I would like to thank my parents.

Gentry: I want to thank my mom and dad.

Rachel: I really want to thank my teacher, Heidi.

Hmm. I wonder if this is her response to my behavior at last week's competition?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Eating My Words

Last Saturday, Rachel had her first dance competition of the season. I should probably preface this post by explaining that Rachel has been dancing since she was three. She has competed the last two years in several local dance competitions with her company. So while the competition atmosphere is not new to us, she is dancing at a new studio this year.

Yes, I am the crazy mom who drives my daughter to Orem twice a week to dance. But I am also the smart mom who knows to leave the dancer well enough alone, lest I become one of those nazi stage moms who are always involved in one dance drama or another. That being said, I usually drop Rach off and pick her up without spending a whole lot of time actually watching her dance. It's not that I'm uninterested, but this is about Rachel, not me. Dance is a huge commitment for Rachel which I am happy to support. But I want her to do it because she loves it, not because she feels an obligation to me. This may sound pretty obvious to most of you, but trust me, there are a lot of whacked out moms in the dance world who live vicariously through their daughters.

With that little disclaimer, I will say that I love to watch Rachel dance. On Saturday, she competed in two numbers: her trio, Country Girl, and her company number, Le Jazz Hot. We made the trek down to the Salt Palace where we promptly parked in the wrong place, causing us to walk an additional 5 blocks out of our way. Normally, not a big deal...but I am nursing a broken foot and I was wearing flip flops in 30 degree weather because those are the only shoes that fit. Ugh! But I digress.

I hung out with Rach in the dressing room until it was time for Country Girl. I sat in the audience and marveled at my wee one up on stage. Tumbling and twirling and smiling. All the while, I sat wondering where she got such confidence, such stage presence. I always get emotional when she is on stage. I'm so very proud, but also so stunned at how quickly she is growing up and away from me.

After Country girl, we headed back to the dressing room. We had two hours to kill before her next number. So I took my little niece home to Sugar House while Rachel hung out with her team and changed into her next costume.

As I returned to the Salt Palace I had a really difficult time finding a parking spot. Down town was crazy busy and I realized that the YW General Broadcast was going on. I barely made it back in time to watch her next number, Le Jazz Hot. Right after she danced I called Tony and told him I'd be home soon and he promised to take me out to sushi. It was only 6 o clock. We'd been at the Salt Palace for about 5 hours, so I was anxious to gather my girl and get on my way.

Here is where I explain that while I watched both of Rachel's numbers, I didn't stick around to watch a lot of the other dancers perform. Mostly I hung out with Rach in the dressing room. While I thought she was darling and was quite impressed with her numbers, I just figured I was biased. I recognize that she is pretty talented, but I wonder sometimes if I don't give her enough credit or praise for her abilities.

When I found Rachel in the dressing room, she told me she wanted to stay for awards. I was not happy. Awards were not until 8:30. I was done. I was tired, I was grumpy, my foot was hurting, I was starving. The last thing I wanted to do was hang out for another 2 hours. She insisted we stay and I insisted we go. I was so frustrated with her. The more I tried to convince her to go, the more she dug her heels in to stay. I even went so far as to tell her that it was a waste of time and she wasn't going to get an award anyway. Yeah, I know, mom of the year over here. So full of praise and positive reinforcement I am. Ha!
Finally, I acquiesced, realizing how important it was to her. We stayed for awards, but I wasn't happy about it and I let her know it more than once. I am ashamed that I acted so horribly and selfishly. This was such a big deal to her, but to me, it was just one incredibly long day. One that we will repeat three more times this month for other competitions.

So now, I'm eating my words. Rachel's trio, Country girl, took first place, high score overall and also won the award for exceptional smiles. Her Company dance, Le Jazz Hot, was awarded platinum (first place), high score overall and the award for exceptional precision.
My girl was on cloud nine and the long, cold walk back to the car didn't seem so bad as she recounted the entire experience to everyone she loved via my cell phone. I'm still a bit ashamed at my bad attitude. I won't soon forget how my pride in her was somewhat tempered by my disappointment in myself. She teaches me, this little wonder, oh how she teaches me.