Friday, October 20, 2017

Recommended in Kauai

We just got back from a trip to Hawai'i. 

TL;DR: here's a video:



Full version:

John's daughter was married on Kauai October 10, in a botanical garden on a bluff overlooking the ocean. We all attended a luau the night before. The ceremony was beautiful and sweet, and the rain stopped just in time.

It was my first time on this island, John's second. Andrew (John's son) and Bonnie (John's mom) traveled with us, and we enjoyed exploring the island with the Shaka Guide driving tour app. John purchased three tours, and they were well worth it. Word of warning: the app uses GPS, which makes the tour accurate and fun, but it also sucks your phone battery, and quickly. 

The trip was nice. It rained every day. Many beaches' undercurrents are dangerous and too strong for swimming, especially in the winter months. Did you know there are feral chickens on Kauai? It's true. They're everywhere. Don't feed them. Knowing this makes Heihei funnier. 

Since we were looking for recommendations, and you might be, too, here's a list of some things.

To eat, we recommend: 

Kauai Pasta - Great pasta, salads, and desserts. It's a sit-down, not a grab-and-go, so plan some time. In Kapaa, on the Kuhio highway; the parking lot is in front, so it's set back a bit from the road.

Sleeping Giant Grill - Recommended by a friend, I was skeptical when I walked inside to find a dog standing by the front door. Just the same, I ordered the Ahi Wrap, John ordered the Ono Tacos, and we couldn't have been happier with the food. This place used to be called Kilauea Fish Market, and was featured on Food Network for Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Kauai Juice Co - We actually just stopped here and I ran in, but looking back I wish we would have done this more than once. I bought a bottle of Pineapple Grapefruit Strawberry Lemonade and it was perfection. I will dream about that drink for a long time. I'd have loved to try more of what they offer. More than one location; we went to the one in Kapaa.

Beach House Restaurant - This is where you go when you want a nice dinner overlooking the ocean; I'd recommend it for a date, for sure. Get a reservation, and pay attention to what time the sun will set so you don't miss the view. The food is OUTSTANDING. It's in Poipu.

Uncle's Shave Ice - They have Shave Snow, which is shavings of sweetened condensed milk rather than ice, so if you're into creamy shave ice, there you go. But we totally recommend getting there early in the day before they sell out of the Honey Toast: it's toasted Japanese Sweet Toast with the center cut out and cubed; and that center is filled in with ice cream. Honey is drizzled all over the top. (Don't ask if it's Like French Toast -- they seem to not like that question.) A small order with macadamia nut ice cream is what we recommend, and yes, the small was enough for the two of us to share. We went to the location in Poipu.

Lappert's Hawaii  - Get this ice cream. Just get it. Whatever you choose, it's the right choice. We went to the Hanapepe location, but look for it all over the island.

Ono Ono Shave Ice - John got this drink-thing called a Halo Halo (kind of a Filipino shaved ice sundae), which besides being tasty was also very pretty with purple taro ice cream on top. 

McDonald's - Before you judge, just listen: you know the fried pies? They have one that's made with Taro. That's right, #PoiPie. Get one, just to say you did, and you're welcome.

Other recommendations:

Boat Tour of the Napali Coast - We took a sunset dinner cruise, so no swimming or snorkeling, but a buffet dinner was served, and we were impressed. We chose Holo Holo (there are other companies), and we liked it a lot. Our boat had a capacity of 49, and the crew srsly anticipates and attends to needs you didn't know you have until they offer. They're so great. You can only see the Napali Coast by boat or helicopter, and it's stunning. Take some motion sickness meds ahead of time, and dress in beach wear because you'll get wet.

Shaka Guide (see description above)

Pua Day Spa - Get a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage. The massage wasn't on the beach (still have to try that some time), but it was a nice experience.

Yoga class on the beach - Abhi from Sound Space Yoga taught a class we attended our last morning on the island. It was so refreshing and relaxing and more than I hoped it would be.

Going running 

Going to a Zumba class as a couple

Doing yoga together in the morning on the beach

*****
I've been asked, "What was your favorite part of the trip?" and my answer is, "Being with John Dye." It's true. It's maybe too sappy for many people, but it's the truth: I love spending time with him wherever we are. 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Seventeen

Dear Taylor,


As I’ve been thinking about you this past week it occurs to me: in addition to being mother and son, we’ve got this kind of pen-pal relationship. I’ve always liked writing and getting letters, and maybe you do, too. Anyway, I’m rambling now about how I just feel like I need to give you an update because so very much is new.


I wish you were here to get to know John. We were married on 30 March of this year in the Provo City Center Temple. It was a beautiful day -- rainy, sunny, cloudy, snowy. All of it. A lot of happy, and a lot of sad (which seems like a weird thing to say about one’s wedding day, but it’s true), which is how life just...is. As my friend Tracy recently commented on one of my facebook posts: Life is sure a lot of things.


John is the best man I’ve ever met; together he and I have a lot to learn, and a lot upon which to improve. But here’s the thing: we want to work on it. Both of us. Together. It’s how life is supposed to be, I’m pretty sure. I love him a lot. And he loves me, too. As it is, today-- your birthday-- he’s supposed to be in Arizona on a trip for work, but because it’s your birthday, which he knows isn’t the easiest day for me, he arranged his schedule to be here to support me in missing and loving and honoring you.


Speaking of home...I’ve sold the house in Provo. It was built after you were born, but I thought you should know, as it was a part of our family’s life for 14 years. I almost lost it, but I worked so hard and refinanced it last year (ahead of schedule), and...know what? Never mind. You’re 17, you don’t care about this stuff.

Rae is 18. She graduated from high school and is All Growed Up. She lives with your dad & Betsy, goes to UVU, and works for the Auernigs (at Sodalicious in Springville, and watching their kids). She plans to go on a mission next spring. On Friday she’s having her wisdom teeth removed. (I just remembered, I had my wisdom teeth removed about a week or so after you were born…) I'm proud of her, and excited for her in this season of her life, and I wish I saw her more.


Emma just turned 16 a week ago. She told me the other day she considers you to be her best friend, though she hasn’t met you. In the past year she’s had some serious challenges...like, unreal. She was very, very sick. The good news is, she’s getting better all the time. She’s so kind-hearted, and brilliant as ever. She got a dog not long ago, and don’t tell her, but I think it’s kind of cute.


Clara is 13, and is into ballroom and choir at school, and making hilarious videos on her phone. She’s also got a kind-heart, to the point it sometimes worries me. She carries the weight of the worries of those she loves, and she loves...most everyone. I hope she sees her emotions as strengths, not weaknesses. She is a strong girl, to be sure.


Quinn will be 11 in one week, and he’s like a walking joke factory. Seriously, I don’t know how the kid remembers jokes. I can only remember, like, two jokes, on a good day. He loves dancing and has taken to reading. I think he has a crush on a girl in his class. His giggle is one of the sweetest sounds in our family. He seems to be into Scouts, which-- okay.


Syd is 9, and in the very best way just could not care less. In general. Although...she’s also very inquisitive. She loves to tell me she’s like a scientist because she asks so many questions, and that’s true. I worry she doesn’t have many close friends. Like, it breaks my heart. I still see her as a baby in so many ways (because she’s my youngest), and we still love to cuddle. We’re reading a book together, that’s fun.


You now have a step-sister (and she’s getting married next week), and two step-brothers. I think you’d really love Andrew. Your siblings are, straight up, his biggest fan club.


As for me, I’m just...I mean. I don’t know. Maybe this time of year isn’t the ideal check-in time. Let’s see...I drive a lot, still. I’m trying to finish organizing my things in the home I now share with John, a seemingly neverending task. I have many possibilities of What To Do Next: work options, go to school. For the first time in my life, I have some savings and zero debt (and also no property ownership, so…), which is surreal. John and I love to travel together. We’ve been to Montana, NYC, Italy, California (twice), and have plans to go a few other places soon.


So it’s been 17 years. As I’ve been writing this I’ve been texting with Carina. She asked me if it’s different this year. The truth is, I told her, it is different. Some crazy stuff has been going on in the world (man, if that doesn’t make me sound old), and this is horrible, but I actually had the thought that of all my kids, I don’t have to worry about you. You’re safe. Is that horrible? I feel awful that I even thought it.


But some things aren’t different. I miss you. I wonder if my missing you and talking with you like this (or in any other way) makes me appear, or actually, crazy. This week still hurts. This week I’ve still been extra on-edge, which is followed by extra sad. But I’m grateful Em’s bday is a week before yours, so we can celebrate, and I’m grateful Quinn’s bday is a week after yours so we can celebrate, and I’m grateful for you, though the time you had here was brief.


Speaking of birthdays, we’re going to celebrate yours and Quinn’s together this year. I hope you’re cool with that.


I love you, Taylor.


I miss you.


Love,

Mom



Taylor Week:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sharing (Mother's Day Edition)


When my oldest turned 18 months old she qualified to attend the toddler class each Sunday for 2 hours at church. That was really my first experience with understanding-- and accepting-- that others would be teaching things to my kids.

It’s silly to think about. Of COURSE others will teach my kids. But it can still be a startling realization, a kind of a recovering from a not-my-kid thing on a very elementary level.

*****

Mother’s Day isn’t easy for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, many centered on expectations. For me, it’s been a day when a huge mirror is placed in front of me, forcing me to see what I’m doing. It hasn’t ever felt like a healthy evaluation, but more of an imposed critique while being forced to listen to stories of Angel Mothers Who Never Raised Their Voices and stuff like that.

I’ve loved being a mom; it was the main thing I wanted to be since I was very young. But Nobody’s Perfect is more than a saying on a Garfield poster (ask your parents). And no one needs help feeling bad about themselves.

*****

So much about motherhood isn’t talked about regularly, or in productive ways. I certainly don’t know all there is to know-- and I have so, so very much more to learn-- but I know more than I thought I would 18 years ago as a new mom.

I’ve learned about different personalities and tempers and emotions; diapers and hygiene and puberty; social triumphs and heartbreaks. Kids eat crayons. They break a dozen eggs on the floor just to see what happens. They get in fights at school. They have best friends and lose best friends. They lie. They love. They learn. They succeed. They question. They bully and get bullied. They thrive. They struggle. They get eating disorders. They move out.

Motherhood evolves, as it should. Kids growing up and becoming more independent? That’s not a shame, it’s not a disappointment. That’s how it’s supposed to go, and that’s how it WILL go, so getting on board with that idea has been something I’ve done my best to be conscious of and work on doing well.

Motherhood, I think, needs to be, in its approach, fluid...not as a way of giving up, but as a way of holding on.

*****

You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘Be the kind of adult you needed as a kid.’ I remember being a teenager and prioritizing that for my future. I’m certain I’ve forgotten much of what it’s like to be a kid-- and today is eons away from what it was Back In My Day-- but I’ve held on to the idea of needing to be an advocate for kids.

When I got divorced, I realized my oldest was the same age-- as in, same number of days old, within just weeks-- as I was when my parents got divorced. I took note.

*****

I’m someone who prays. I pray daily. And I pray for people I love to be supported and feel loved, to know they are loved.

Many people are included in my prayers by name, and the past several months have seen a solid pattern in the names I include. Sydney, Quinn, Clara, Emma, Taylor, Rae, Jensen, Andrew, Brittany, and Avrey.

And Betsy, Cindi, and Daneen.

Some of those names are those of my kids. And some of those names are those of my husband’s kids. And some of those names are those of the other moms of all those kids. I pray for all of them. I think of all of them. I want the best for all of them.

I’m a mother who shares kids with other mothers. All these kids are at such different ages and stages, being fluid within Motherhood is critical to being able to know how to best relate with each.

My kids’ stepmom loves our kids, and she brings a lifetime of her own experience to teach them what she can, just like I do.

I love my husband’s kids, and I know I’m not their mom-- they’ve got a mom who loves them. My own dad never remarried, so I’m unfamiliar with that aspect of what they’re experiencing. My goal right now is let them know in any ways I can that I love their dad, and I love them, and their dad loves them.

Having your parents get divorced is hard. Being a mother who feels like she has let her kids down in any way is wrenching.

That list of kids up there? I want them to know they’re loved. I want them to know they’ve got an army of parents who love them, which is SO GREAT! I never want them to feel excluded or left out. With time I think they’ll come to know the intricacies (and the legitimacy and acceptability) of differences in parenting amongst all those who have parental roles in their lives, and see the benefits there.

And that list of moms up there? I want them to know they’re loved. I want them to know they’ve got any number of kids on any given day who at their core just want to know they’re loved by all their parents. And I want them to know that I, as another mother in this village, will reinforce that to each of those kids as often as circumstance presents itself.

This Mother’s Day is the first in a new chapter of a lifetime of Mother’s Days. The only expectation I’m evaluating is my own, of myself, to continue to commit to set aside what needs to be set aside, and to say and do what needs to be said and done, for the sake of the kids knowing they’re loved by their mothers.


Image: Justin Hackworth Photography

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Hamilton Wedding Gift from Jason Lyle Black

Jason Lyle Black is a friend I met just last year. I want to tell you more about how talented this guy is, so I will, but first, with his permission, I share with you this super thoughtful wedding gift he sent to John and me:



THANK YOU, Jason! How very kind and thoughtful of you to take the time to put this together, record, and send to us. Thank you.

Jason Lyle Black, YouGuys. He is brilliantly talented (oh, was that the guy you saw playing the piano backwards on Ellen? Yes, that's him), as one would have to be to not only play so well facing the piano, but also to play it backwards and upside-down. We've seen him in concert where he takes requests from the audience via text message, which I like. He's an award-winning performer, he's professional, he's fun, he's great.

I'm a believer in supporting talented people who are also thoughtful. So if you're not familiar with Jason's work (or if you are), check him out on YouTube, and also check to see if his tour this year reaches a town near you. We're looking forward to seeing him again in concert at the Sandy Amphitheater this summer.

Thanks again, Jason! Your choice of songs to put in this medley was spot-on.

#Hamilton

Monday, March 27, 2017

Riding Bikes

Once I rode a bike.

I mean, I'd been riding a bike my entire life. But even as a kid I looked forward to when I could ride the bike I had been taught I was meant to ride, the right and best bike to ride, the bike that would make me the cyclist I was supposed to be: the bicycle built for two.

It would be easy, now, to criticize my younger self for how quickly I hopped on that bike. It would be easy to say I began riding that bike when I was too young, not ready, or with reckless abandon, but what good does that do? I got on that bike.

That bike requires the work of two, it should go without saying. I remember, early on, doing a lot of pedaling but not a lot of steering. I also added a seat, and rather quickly. The most difficult part of that-- or any-- bike I've ridden was adding a second seat and then having to remove it. I'd end up adding four more seats, one by one, with time for adjustment. Once those seats seemed securely in place, I looked up and found I didn't understand where we were, so I began to do my best to steer, or, to share steering.

My legs got tired from pedaling. Not just tired, but worn out. And I couldn't steer it all by myself and keep the balance of a bike with, in total, seven seats.

I did my best. I tried my hardest.

And I fell off the bike.

It hurt. It didn't just hurt me: everyone who fell off that bike got hurt, and we've each got our own unique wounds and scars from it.

Getting up from the fall, I found two new bikes. The first was like the one from earlier in my life, for one person; the second was just like that, but with five extra seats. Terrified, I took turns riding those bikes, always riding one or the other, learning new things with each ride, difficult things, things I didn't know existed. To be honest, I'm not sure how I didn't fall off one or both of those two bikes; at times I was sure I would. The cost of keeping those rides as smooth as possible was high, but I did what I had to do: I focused on riding those two bikes.

Many people around me were riding the kind of bike I had fallen from. I'd see them and wonder if I'd ever get on that kind of bike again. Sometimes I wondered with hope; other times I wondered while challenging previously held beliefs, trying to reconcile that my two new bikes would be mine forever, working on being okay with the exhaustion, seeing the benefit of such hard work, and being okay with the lessons I was learning. Concentrating on seeing the benefits of where I was rather than where I thought I'd be helped me steady my riding. And, very importantly, I learned lessons I wish I'd learned earlier about how competent a cyclist I can be-- just me, of my own merit, on these, or any, types of bikes.

While getting more comfortable with steadying my rides, I began to get to know someone who, I didn't realize at the time, was riding the same two types of bikes I was. We were fast friends, uncovering similar interests and things in common almost every day. A few weeks into this new friendship he started to tell me about his own experience falling off his previous bike, and about the bikes he was riding. His second bike didn't have as many seats as mine, but was similarly cumbersome in its own way. We had found another shared attribute, similar enough to empathize with and support one another, and different enough to help each other see new perspectives.

As our friendship developed we each continued riding our respective bikes. Together, we'd spend time riding our singular bikes, talking about how those rides affected us. One of us was more embarrassed than the other about having to ride that kind of bike at all (one of the scars from the fall), but we both took comfort in learning to ride side by side. We were surprised at and delighted with how much we enjoyed riding our bikes, though not connected, together.

Though the friendship grew stronger, there were tough times. Sadly, those times would sometimes include bike criticisms: pointing out that the other wasn't riding one or both of their bikes the best way, or expressing anxiety about each other's extra seats. Scars from our falls were emphasized, wounds reopened. There were even times when we each contemplated (even threatened) an end to our side-by-side rides.

But we didn't want to stop, so we didn't. We reminded each other to remember. We worked together. We strengthened each other. We both kept moving. And because we didn't stop, we didn't fall.

Eventually, it happened: while riding together, side-by-side, savoring the joy (maybe moreso because of the shared sorrows and subsequent shared ascents), we saw something and, together, paused.

And looked.

It's like nothing we'd ever seen before.

It's a bike. Built for two, but side-by-side, not front-and-back. And this bike isn't one where you can start from scratch, adding seats one-by-one, and slowly acclimate to the added weight. This bike already has eight extra seats, adult-to-child-sized, plus a permanent laceration from where a seat was removed, plus the current construction of a soon-to-be-added adult-sized seat. It also seems there will be seasons when some of those seats will be heartbreakingly empty; not everyone in those extra seats will want to ride.

This bike is ready-made for the kind of hard work only two people who want to make it work can do.

So that's what we're doing. We're not falling off our bikes this time, we're setting them down as we climb onto our new bike. Together. And we're doing it with intention and determination, and a commitment to keep strengthening each other and keep moving.

It will be simultaneously exactly like what we've been doing together for over a year, and also like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Just like riding a bike.