Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Pain and the Joy

Being a step-mom IS NOT EASY. Obvious, right? Well, I tend to think things will be easier than they are--a blessing and a curse.

When I met my husband, I was immediately smitten. I didn't really think about how complicated it can be marrying a man with children, I just knew I wanted to be with him always.

He was divorced--I got it.
He had two kids--no problem.

None of this bothered me. It all just felt right and his kids took to me quickly. I fell in love with them as easily as I fell in love with him. And after a ten month courtship, we were married.

Easy peezy.

But it hasn't been easy. There are times when I feel completely out of it, like I was drafted midseason. I doubt myself all of the time. And then there is the guilt and the pain I share with them. These kids have been through more than my husband and I ever went through when we were their age. When they hurt, I hurt. Funny how that works. For twenty-eight years I only had to worry about my own pain. Then I married my husband and his kids and because of that, there is this invisible chord that somehow binds my heart to theirs. When they hurt, I hurt.

And then there is the joy that makes it all worth it. The joy that melts me. The joy that makes me forget the doubt. The joy that infuses my love for them so deep within my heart, it takes my breath away. This joy has a way of sneaking up on me too. Sometimes I'll be driving with the kids, a song will come on that we all love, we're all singing and laughing, and BAM, the warmth of love and joy permiates through me from my heart to my toes. It's like that for me, real quick and random, but very powerful.

Last night was powerful too. Our daughter delivered our bedtime prayer. Her prayers are always my favorite because they're innocent, full of details, not scripted, and very insightful. In her prayer she blessed her father and me that we would have fun and continue to love each other, she blessed her brother, that he would have fun too. She blessed our plants, that they would grow. And then she blessed Rosy, a friend of ours who is recieving cancer treatment right now. She always blesses Rosy.

So yes there is pain, more than I thought there would be. But there is also joy--oodles and oodles of joy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The BEST Olive Oil (Extra Virgin That Is) You've Ever Had

I happened upon this bottle of deliciousness a couple of weeks ago while at my neighborhood Wal-Mart. I needed to get me some EVOO and thought I'd branch out from all the Italian sounding brands I usually buy. It said "California" and "Fresh" on it's label (I'll buy just about anything that says "California" and "Fresh"), and the bottle was dark, so I gave it a chance, and boy am I glad I did.

I get seriously tongue tied when I try to eloquently describe the love I have for this product. It is amaaaaaazzzzzing. Now I love EVOO as much as the next gal, but this particular brand takes my love to the next level, like lick my fingers and then the plate level. It's fruity and citrusy, and olivey, and tastes like its fresh from a California grove, and I love it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I Teach

It's hard to believe, but the end of the school year is here. Every year I ask myself the same question...Where did the year go? I never have an answer. It just seems to speed by in a swirl of kaleidoscope colors.

The best I can do is this: we wrote, and wrote, and wrote. We read, and read, and read. Poetry, short stories, essays, and books. We laughed. We shared. They learned. I learned more. I prayed a lot, hoping that I was doing the right thing, teaching the right thing, saying the right thing. I fell in love with each and everyone of them, knowing that after ten months with me, I'd have to send them on their way where they'd soar, learn more, and remember what I taught them (fingers crossed).

I love being an English teacher. I love introducing them to Matilda, and Percy, and Turtle. I love helping them find their voice and showing them how to use it to shout as loud as they can with paper and ink. I love my craft. But I love my students more. They are the reason I do what I do. Every year they find a way of creeping into my heart, where they stay.

The other day I received this note in my box.

Let me tell you, my teacher heart smiled for days.

I'm grateful for so many things in my life, but as I reflect on summer approaching and the school year ending, I'm especially grateful I get to teach for a living. I love what I do, and I don't think everyone gets to say that.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Graduating and Temple Square

It's officially official. I'm done with school...for now.

My mom flew into town to attend my graduation and all of my husband's family were there as well. You know you're loved when people wake up early on a Saturday morning and then drive an hour to attend the most boring (seriously) ceremony in existence. Thank you to my mom, my husband, and the Rogers clan. You all made my day so special!

After my graduation, we took my mom to Temple Square to bask in the glory of the tulips. The beauty of this place is breathtaking and I couldn't get enough pictures of the tulips. After a while, I'm sure the men were mentally rolling their eyes at how us women just couldn't stop loving these flowers. It was glorious I tell you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


It's been raining for the last few days, which I love, although I think most would really appreciate some sunshine around here. But I find it cozy and romantic and absolutely lovely, so I'm not exactly protesting. Instead, I'm going to snuggle under a blanket and dive into the book I'm reading right now, which is lovely as well. In fact, The Wednesday Wars just might be the loveliest book I've read in a while. So lovely, that I'm now reading it slowly because I don't want it to be over. I'm just not ready to say goodbye to Holling Hoodhood.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

For My Mom

I took a personal day tomorrow because a very special lady is coming into town.

My mom.

She's here for my graduation, but it also happens to be Mother's Day weekend, so I'm doubly excited for her to stay with us.

We all love our moms. Their wombs were our first homes. They love us no matter what. And I know for me, my mom always knows how to make me feel better, especially when I'm discouraged.

So this post is dedicated to my mom and I'm going to love on her for a minute, bloggin' style.

I need my mom more now than I think I ever have before. Now that I'm helping to raise two sweet kiddos, my mother's influence is stronger than it ever was before. She is the voice in my head and I find myself asking, "What would mom do?" quite often.

I'm grateful she stayed home with us kids while we were little. It meant everything to me to have my mom there when I came home from school. My parents made sacrifices for my mom to stay home, but when I look back on my childhood, I don't remember the fancy vacations we didn't go on or the new cars we didn't have. I just remember my mom was there and how happy that made me.

I'm pretty sure my love of education comes from my mom. She was constantly encouraging me to go to college, not to put it off, no matter what. Thankfully I listened.

There is no one I'd rather spend an afternoon with, eating lunch with, gossiping with, and shopping with. Girlfriend time is priceless and my mom is my favorite girlfriend.

I completely agree with Abraham Lincoln when he said, "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother."

Love you mom.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mushrooms You'll Love

I was inspired the other night by a program I saw on the Cooking Channel. The guy cooking was Italian, which in my book means he knows his food, and I will listen to him, and do whatever he says. Well, he taught me a little trick that I'm going to share with you.

He first cooks his mushrooms in a hot pan totally dry, no olive oil or anything. Then he puts in the goodies. He pointed out that by doing this you get a lot of the moisture out of the mushrooms. But whatever, the mushrooms were amazing, so I will continue the dry method from now on until forever more.

My goodies were the following:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
fresh thyme
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
and then,
the best ingredient of all,
a splash of balsamic vinegar right at the end

Oh my, it was good.

We put the mushroom goodness on top of our meatball sandwiches, but now my mind is thinking of all the other wonderful things I could do with these mushrooms which includes, but definitely is not limited to...

grilled steak
grilled chicken
lemony garlic pasta
the list goes on...