Friday, June 29, 2012

"the colors of farm life"

a few weeks ago, in a cute little boutique, i stumbled onto a picture book called "the colors of paris." inside the book were beautiful photos of paris. all kinds of things, food, buildings, and small details. i decided to copy this book and start featuring "the colors of" wherever i go. this "colors of" spotlights my grandparents' farm in idaho falls. enjoy!

that time i fell in love with sixteen drug addicts.

do you ever have so many emotionally packed experiences in a short period of time that you feel like you can't keep up with processing/understanding them? let alone writing them down. that is how the last few weeks i've had have been. for now though, i think i'll just focus on my new job.

as i mentioned, i am an adolescent substance abuse counselor at a residential treatment facility. basically what that mouthful means is that i work with kids who come from non-traditional backgrounds, meaning they are in the foster care system or living with relatives etc., who were mandated by the legal system to receive treatment for their addictions and kind of take a "time out." they aren't allowed to leave the facility. there are locks on all the doors. i carry keys with me at work and if a kid needs to get into their bedroom, that kid has to ask me to unlock the door. we lock up the knives and count them every day to make sure no one is hiding a knife in their room. when the kids clean up, we have to unlock the cabinet holding the chemicals and spray down the counters for them. we search their bags and clothes and bedrooms for drugs. we learn how to hold an adolescent who is being aggressive and threatening the safety of others. when a kid comes in for the first time, i have to watch her pee into a cup to make sure she doesn't sneak in some other kid's pee. (obviously when i work on the boys' unit, i don't watch this process.) we also run group counseling sessions and drug education.

all of that is a little out of my comfort zone. but the thing that really, really gets to me, is hearing the stories.

i will never forget an experience i had my first day working on the boys' unit.

i did my first day on the girls' unit. my boss thought it might be easier to learn in that atmosphere. (and it was terrifying actually. one of the girls kept smiling at me. i thought, this isn't going to be so bad. and then she marched up to me and informed me she wasn't really smiling at me. she was mocking me for smiling at her. this 16 year old blonde girl, all up in my face, asserting her dominance, telling me i have a baby face and look younger than her. i almost walked out right then and there.) so anyway, back to my first day on boys. i had no idea what to expect. would someone make crass comments about my body? would there be any ass-grabbings? would there be a fist fight i would have to help break up? i was pleasantly surprised to find a group of boys who were polite, kind, and sweet. sure, one kid made a joke about touching my butt, but he had just had his wisdom teeth out and was still loopy from the anesthesia. none of those boys said anything worse than comments boys had made about me in high school.

one boy immediately became my best friend.
"hi, i'm ____. and i'm gay, so you don't have to worry about me making any moves on you."
(i was concerned that the other boys would harass and torment this kid who was so openly proclaiming his homosexuality, but they were actually very kind to him. "when we went to ream's the other day (when they get enough privileges, they are allowed to walk to reams with a counselor to buy a treat) so the other day when we were at ream's, one of the baggers was checking ____ out and we were like, oh we'll kick his ass if he messes with ____." at which point we say, watch your language and although it's a nice gesture, we don't kick asses to solve problems.)
so, ___, who is gay, tells me he is a dancer. and we start talking about dance, music, art, etc. they whip out the guitar and ask if i play, and i end up singing for them. ____ talks to me about his dance education and before i know it, he has used some of his priv money to buy radio time and he is performing his dances. and he is incredibly talented. he shows me ballet, jazz, modern, and i'm mesmerized at his graceful ability. the other boys are complimentary. i ask ___ about his drug of choice and he tells me cocaine. and that he is 14 years old. but that he has been sober for 120 days.

see, it's one thing to read about drug addiction. it's one thing to watch the news or dateline and see stories. you think you get it. it's completely another thing to talk to a 14 year old boy who is brimming with talent and beauty and hear that he uses cocaine and ecstasy. and then you read his file and learn that he was molested at a young age and had zero parent support. you sit and watch a shy boy play the guitar and sing in his untrained voice and he looks to you for approval and you wonder what ugly things he has seen. my heart is broken and so filled with love for these kids. i just want to bring them all home and cook for them and keep them safe.

then there was the experience i had on the girls' unit this week. i have been having a difficult time getting the girls to open up to me. they are much more shy than the boys and much more guarded at first. i knew if i could just get them singing or playing guitar that we would have common ground. several of the girls were singing quietly and have gorgeous voices. i mentioned that i play guitar and piano and could accompany them if they wanted. suddenly we were having an impromptu voice lesson. it was as if all the training and practicing i'd ever done had led me straight to that moment on the piano, surrounded by young girls singing old evanescence songs i'd learned in junior high.
one of the girls, a 13 year old, told me her dad was going to teach her guitar. i told her how great that was and that she should be sure to learn.
"well, that was before he went to prison."
as a sex offender.
my heart. is broken.

but these kids are resilient. some of them still have hope. they joke around with each other. they sing at the top of their lungs during math class (their teacher lets them take turns "spinning the tunes" as he calls it.) they are happy to see me. they talk about their addictions openly and about life "on the run." living in abandoned houses, shooting up, and partying.

kind of makes my middle class, two parent household, summer vacation, family pet, dinner at 6 every night upbringing seem like paradise.

i have been changed forever. i had no idea i would fall in love with these kids so fast. i cry for them. i pray for them. travis made a joke to me the other day about us having children.
"i have children." i told him. "sixteen of them actually."
it's exhausting and sometimes terrifying. and i love my job.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

forever friends, forever friends who birth pretty babies, road trips, casting spells like HP, sexy treasure hunts, and big girl jobs.

holy smokes.
so many things happened in the past week.
like, for starters, today was my first day at my new job. wait what? new job! yep, someone decided i was worth hiring.
and, yesterday i got to meet my sweet niece amelia! she's healthy and beautiful.
and my momma and i took a road trip to idaho falls for the weekend.
oh and i got a library card!!
see, so many great things. 

ok, starting at the beginning. 

last week travis went out of town to make the big bucks working for his uncle's cabinet business. it was the longest nine days of my life! so to help the time fly by, i partied all week.

spent time with my hawaii girlfriends, bonnie and alyssa. ate SO MUCH frozen yogurt, went shopping, talked about everything, and enjoyed the unique closeness we share. we were just missing the 4th member of our foursome, erika dick.

(sorry if we are instagram friends and you've seen these already.) 

ok, so what else. oh yes, the library card. now that i'm a resident of the city of south jordan, i figured it was high time to check out their library situation. one of the greatest joys of my life has always been found in the quiet sanctuary of the library and south jordan did not disappoint. when i was a college student, i used to dream of having time to read fiction, to enjoy those made up fantasies and wonderful imagined stories. i wasn't prepared for how much my tastes have changed. i didn't expect to leave with titles like, the working poor, invisible in america, and the flipside of feminism. oh psych degree, how you have changed me! it is definitely a treat to have time to ready whatever i please instead of poring over textbooks.

then on friday, my mom and i left for idaho falls. it was nice to spend one-on-one time together like that. my mom and i have always been besties and i'm thankful for that. we did crafts and went shopping with my grandma and ate so much ice cream from my uncle's dairy, "reed's dairy", and if you're in IF you need to go there.always good to get out of slc for a little bit and see some new scenery.

... yeah, pretty much like this the entire time. 
more pictures from my real camera to come.

amelia was born! she is perfect and healthy and liana did it without meds! she is pretty much my hero. getting to hug liana and hold amelia in my arms was a really emotional experience and i'm so thankful for both of them. 

the sweetest! 

and then today was my first day at my first grown up job! 
i'm now a counselor at valley mental health's boys drug rehabilitation facility and once in a while i'll work with the girls'. this is a job i have always thought would be so rewarding and eye opening. so thankful to have found in job in my field during this economy. funny where life takes you sometimes.

headed to my first day of grown up job! a candy cane in this year's christmas pageant...

ok, so even though i look like a grown up, (or maybe not, since i was mistaken for a 16 year old on sunday.) today at work, i was not a grown up. and the pressure was on! 

in the first hour, i managed to smear chocolate from a granola bar all over my brand new shirt. then when i found it, i obsessively started checking my elbows for chocolate. the girl next to me kept looking over at me and then i realized it probably looked like i was checking out my own boobs.
i was the only person in the room who had to ask for help filling out the W-4 tax sheet. everyone did a collective eye roll at the girl who didn't even understand taxes.
when we were waiting in the hall to get into the computer lab, and no one could open the door and no one would answer when we knocked, i instinctively blurted out, "alohomora!" AND THE DOOR OPENED! but then only one person laughed and the rest of them looked at me like i was the craziest, geekiest nerd ever known to man. which i apparently am. 
when we took pictures for our id badges (and i was so excited for an actual id badge!) my picture. is the dorkiest. picture. ever. sometime when i'm not pooped i'll upload it so you can laugh at me.
basically i don't think i'll ever be an adult. you feel the same, right? 

oh and then there was the adorable surprise travis had waiting for me when i got home from idaho last night. 
i'll spare you the details, but he had tricked me into thinking he had to work, (even hid his bike so i'd think he was gone) and then he left clues all over the house directing me to a surprise. the surprise included, but was not limited to: travis not being at work and a relaxing bath. plus he did all the laundry, including putting it away, which is a BIG DEAL, and he had made guacamole and marinated steaks for dinner. so sexy, that man. 

so yeah, that was my busy week. life is so exciting isn't it? even when you're a geeky twelve year old. and especially when your best friend gives birth, and you start one of your bucket list careers, and your husband leaves you clues instructing you to take off all your clothes. 

gosh, i can't help myself when it comes to overshares. 

but really, life is going pretty damn well. 

follow your dreams. HARRYPOTTERFORLIFE!


Friday, June 8, 2012


right now, in a hospital in murray, a miracle is taking place.
one of my dearest friends is having her baby!

obviously, a baby is a wonderful, incredible miracle. that two people can combine in such a way as to create life, actual life, is one of the most mysterious and beautiful aspects of our world. but this baby's birth is a little more personal to me than the mysteries and glories of procreation. this baby reminded me why i wanted to live.

as i have mentioned previously, last fall i came very close to ending my life. to say i was unhappy doesn't describe it. i felt completely hopeless and broken. have you ever been hopeless to the point of embracing the end? have you ever stopped caring, about yourself and about the people who love you? so hopeless the only option that seems to make any sense is for it all to end? i had felt these feelings before, when i was fifteen and actually attempted suicide. (another story for another time.) on some level, i was a little worried to recognize these feelings of hopelessness in myself again, but the apathy i felt for my own life drowned out everything else. as i write this, i can hear all the arguments about suicide, about how selfish those people are. anyone who can say that has never been there. anyone who can say that wasn't there with me, sitting at my kitchen table all alone, considering that bottle of prescription pills. how it was so sunny outside, how i had just sat through church services alone and left feeling even more alone.

tonight, i was at liana's house, drawing the gaint tree on the nursery wall, and as i looked around the room, at the ruffly baby clothes, carefully selected crib, and pink and grey walls, i thought about the day i found out liana was pregnant.

it was the day after i almost killed myself. she and her husband had been away on an anniversary trip. she hadn't known how low i was, no one had. travis had been out of town working. when depression hits, i never talk about it until it passes. it's always been that way, and although i'm trying to fix that, it's tough to ask for help when you really need it.

liana called me and said she needed to tell me something. her period had been late before she left, and i had known she thought she might be pregnant. while still on the phone with her, i sprinted to our inlaws home where they were staying while looking for a house to buy. she showed me the pregnancy tests she had taken that morning, and everything changed. as i walked home from their house, i realized i wanted to meet this child. i wanted to be involved in its life and be a positive influence. tears streamed down my cheeks as i felt something. not apathy, not hopelessness. a spark of something i hadn't felt in months. i knew i was choosing to live and that somehow, everything would work out.

travis came home and i actually opened up a little, i started counseling, and although it's been tough to confront and face everything, i'm so far from where i was last fall when i sat at my kitchen table that sunny sunday afternoon. so, little amelia, thank you for saving my life and reminding me why it was worth sticking around. i can't wait to meet you!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

what to do when you're unemployed and finished with school.

since graduating college, i haven't had much to do. no deadlines, no papers, no job. instead, this ish has been going down.

shopping with my mom. here is she wearing size 22 men's shoes.
my mom is always so supportive and caring. 
plus we always find something good to laugh at. 

spending time with my mr. taking bike rides, cooking, and 
eating out at our new favorite mexican place, {geckos}

 workin' on my fitness. 
for fifteen days, i went mostly without sugar. 
mostly? you may be wondering what that means.
this means that i stopped eating dessert after every meal and every half hour.
one shouldn't be sucking down junior mints at 8am. 
but i discovered how much eating sweets is a part of how i enjoy life. 
like when my dad makes homemade chocolate mousse for 
sunday dinner. i'm just not saying no. 
so for me, it's about eating sweets in moderation and 
at appropriate times, not just because i'm bored or sad. 
also, since i sprained my back, i have been pretty gun shy 
about the gym. but the past few weeks, i have gotten back into
kickboxing, weights, and step class. it feels so great! 

 liana and i at the bees baseball game. 
she could have her baby any day now. 
to keep her from going insane waiting, we have been 
doing all sorts of fun things, like taking more maternity pictures,
eating gelato, painting a giant tree in the nursery (pictures to come!)
laughing A LOT, taking walks by the lake, and going for thai
at this {new amazing place}. they just opened, so please go and support!!

 sneak peek from their shoot. more to come. 

 tried a new recipe, chicken parmesan. 
very easy and so delicious!
go {here} for the recipe.  

 today my dad and i headed to draper for some mountain biking. 
mountain biking always takes me way out of my comfort zone. 
i fall off the bike, cut up my legs, and am humbled by my dad, aka 
"the mountain goat" who is an expert biker. 
he's a great teacher though, and encourages without mocking. too much. 
i feel so blessed to have such supportive and fun loving parents. 

oh also, i had a promising (i hope) job interview with a 
boys' drug rehab program. i'll find out if i got it next week. 
travis is going to be out of town all next week
working with his uncles, so if you want to go adventuring,
let me know! 

here's to enjoying warm weather, eating sweets, and working them off. 

dream house: front porch edition

i have always lusted after big front porches, lush with pots of geraniums and pansies. hanging swings and rocking chairs. idealized the thought of my lover and i enjoying countless sunsets with tall glasses of cold lemonade.

those idealizations have become real life.

turns out i also have a huge passion for growing things. i'm still an amateur, but i really enjoy planting and caring for flowers. yes, i'm that crazy woman who talks and sings to her flowers while she waters them. no, they don't have names.

there is just something faith promoting about planting things in dirt and watching them bloom. i draw a lot of parallels between nature and God's love for us. it's also really nice to have an excuse to get outside and get your hands dirty.

and once in a while, i have a crafty streak.

buy a straw wreath-y thing, string yarn around and around and around forever, then use hot glue to make it stick permanently. then cut strips of felt and wrap them artistically to create flowers. add lace, buttons, and sew details into the leaves. easy peasy.

lovin' the house. travis and i both agree we never want to move again.

hope your weekends were full of sunshine and family.


Friday, June 1, 2012

trying to write a post about how beautiful life is, but instead you end up talking about adult sex toys.

i have a new best friend. remember how i like to think of inanimate objects as alive? like how our old house hated us and wanted us out and the new house has embraced us with loving, daybreak arms? my new best friend isn't technically alive, but that small detail hasn't stopped us from creating a wonderful, intimate bond. (the kind of bond you only seem to make with things that are all up in your crotch. and now i realize how much this sounds like i'm advertising adult sex toys. bike seats, you pervs! i'm not erasing this.)

behold, my new bff.

travis and i have been trying to cut back on our gas bill, reduce our carbon footprint and all that, so we have been riding our bikes a lot more. we are lucky to live in a place that is close to a train, so travis just rides to the train and then to work. i've been using this beautiful bike to get to friends' houses and to meet up to do shoots. it's been great to notice all the small details of life you miss when you drive, like the geese by the lake, the neighbor's gorgeous peony plant, and secret parks with swing sets. plus, my calves and hamstrings are getting pretty strong.

traveling on a bicycle seems to slow life down. and in a life as beautiful as ours, what's the rush?
and sorry about the distasteful dildo jokes.
but not really. 


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