The February Garden

February in the garden

February in the garden

February in the garden

February in the garden

February in the garden

February in the garden

We are enjoying this beautiful, temperate spring weather. Everything is blooming and happy. Even the avocado tree is sprouting new leaves and growing. The acacia trees, with their yellow pom poms of pollen are making the entire neighborhood smell heavenly.

Our raised bed garden, fondly referred to as the “dong garden” because of its vulgar shape, is not thriving. We need to pull everything out, turn the soil, add amendments and replant. I have to remind myself it took years for the garden in Tempe to take off. While this is year 3 in this garden space, it still isn’t quite right.

Gardening is a hobby for those who need help with patience. With a few free hours next weekend, we’ll have new tomato and squash transplants in the ground, and hopefully a booming garden come summer.

What are you planting?

~K

Why Can’t We Talk About This?

Baby Quilt for Nonnie

A former coworker, who upon meeting for the first time, asked both my age and if I had children. I was 35, and no, “not yet.” She then pressed her hand into mine, looked me square in the eye, and said, “Well, don’t you worry. Older women have babies all the time.”

It was in that moment I began to despise her. This dislike would grow like cancerous mold during the next few years. She saw what I didn’t want to discuss, my most vulnerable spot, and poked at it.

I saw her again just last week. We no longer work together. The first words out of her unpolished mouth were, “Oh, no baby bump yet? Well, keep trying!”  No longer bound to the rules of the workplace, I replied, “I don’t miss that.” I swallowed the less kind words that also came to mind.

My close friends and family know I’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while. There have been doctor appointments, one minor but very expensive surgery, and countless ovulation tests. There is still no baby. My mother, girlfriends, and anyone else who sees the exhausted anguish on my face, regularly reassure me, “Don’t worry. It will happen.”

Will it? Can we for a moment talk about the fact that it might not, and that this reality will have to be okay, too? My husband has adult children, and one turning 16 next week. He is not interested in adoption or fostering, even though I’ve long wanted to go this route. Either this pregnancy thing happens, or we move on as a married couple without children together.

And that will have to be okay.

The reason I’m sharing my frustration is multifaceted. I’m tired of having people pat my hand, especially friends with children. Sure, tell me again how it will happen because it happened for you. That isn’t the way biology works. I’m also tired of having relative strangers say things like, “Oh, so you didn’t want children?” or worse, “Well, you’d better hurry!” when they hear I’m married and don’t have kids. I’m certain I said these sorts of stupid comments when I was younger and without understanding of how terrible they were.

I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was given my first baby doll. I have no regrets that this didn’t come to be before I met my husband. I love my stepchildren, and yes—I am fortunate to have them in my lives, but again: do not reassure me that “at least I have them.” They have a mother who they adore. I do not fill that role. And also, they aren’t ever to be put in the “at least” category.

My advice is this: if you have a woman in your life who is trying to get pregnant, ask her if she wants to talk about it. Let her vent, if she wants to. And if she doesn’t, let her be. Try your hardest not to put your story on her if she doesn’t ask for advice. If she doesn’t want to attend your baby shower, or hold your baby, understand it has nothing to do with you.

There is also the superstition that a woman trying to get pregnant, or newly pregnant, shouldn’t talk about it. That’s crap. Her words aren’t going to make it be anything other than it is, but the chance to speak about what she is feeling very well may be her saving grace.

I’ve never felt more emotionally fragile, or wanted something more. Thank you for handling me, and others in my spot, with care.

~K

 

 

 

 

A Year of Meaning

 

Spirit Sisters

I’ve fallen into some habits that I’m not fond of. Namely, I spend far too much time on my computer/phone these days, resulting in less time reading actual books and having face-to-face conversations. When exactly did I become that person who looks at her phone when out to eat with her husband? YUCK.

I came up with a list of things I’d like to try in 2018 to give my daily life more meaning. In contrast to 2017, I’d like the next year to include less time online and more time spent reading, gardening, cooking and walking the dogs in quiet. Each month, I’ll tackle something new. The idea is to push my level of comfort and to create new, healthier habits for my relationships, mind, body, spirit, and pocketbook.

The tentative list:

  1. Spiritual practice
  2. Neighboring
  3. Mindful eating
  4. Mindful spending/budgeting
  5. Learning to meditate
  6. Use what I have
  7. Nothing disposable for one month
  8. Knit stockings for the family
  9. Learn a new craft 
  10. Compile family photo albums
  11. Spanish: find a lunch buddy to practice with
  12. Volunteer

Each of these will have a month of focused effort, with the idea that I’ll carry what I’ve learned forward to make 2018 a transformative year. These aren’t listed in calendar order, but in how they popped into my head. Yes, January will be spiritual practice. (There is still time to join our online Bible study, if you are interested.) I’ve got a few blog ideas in mind for areas I’d like to learn and grow spiritually.

As always, this is more fun with company. If you are interested in playing along, please do. If nothing else, I hope to blog more in 2018. This garden could use a bit of weeding and some new seeds.

Wishing you and yours the best in the New Year!

~Kelli

All the Goodness of This Year

Mexico City trip

This time of year, I like to look back and think about all of the wonderful days that we celebrated in some way. There was the trip to Mexico City, which remains one of my favorites of all time. Jason and I loved the culture, walking the city, the food, and definitely the art. Mexico City knows public art. It’s the first place I’ve visited that I loved so much, I’d prefer to go back in lieu of a new destination.

Mexico City trip

There is so much good food. And so much excellent public art.

After the earthquake, our friends from the DF rushed back to help friends and family. It was uncovered, unsurprisingly, that many of the buildings that fell around the city did so because the building codes had been ignored, inspectors paid off. It was also shown, equally unsurprisingly, that the Mexican people flooded the city with offers of assistance. They had to turn volunteers away, so many came to help their fellow countrymen in need.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City tripMexico City trip

Have I mentioned how much I love this country?

Yes, there was the slight blip of us wandering into a tequila bar near the Condessa neighborhood only to realize two steps inside that we were actually in a narcos bar and very, very much out of place. But hey, a quick shot of tequila before any other shots could be taken and we were back out on the streets with a great story in our pocket to elaborate and share with friends back home.

Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend trip October 2017

Also this year, my husband and I both changed jobs. I’m in the same field, and he’s returning to something he loves. We bought an all-electric car and expanded the garden to grow more of our own food. We hiked the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed our first full year of marriage, much of which we spent arm-in-arm happily arguing over who has the best burrito in town.

Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend trip October 2017

For media, a few things to share that I absolutely fell over myself loving:

  1. Novels by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson. His stuff is so weirdly creative, it is a true pleasure to read.
  2. The Crown, season 2, and what it is teaching me about the royal family and 1900s history.
  3. Til the Well Runs Dry, a novel by Lauren Francis-Sharma. I’ve thought about this book several times this year. The characters and the plight of immigrants stick with you.
  4. Africa Solo, which is my favorite non-fiction of the year —namely because I always want to be on the road seeing new places and Africa has my heart. I enjoyed traveling alongside this author.

Let us also remember this year, 2017, as the one where Robert Mugabe was removed from power. I wasn’t sure I’d ever see the day. I hopeful the people of Zimbabwe will find true leadership and inspire the people of Cameroon to boot Paul Biya next.

Wishes for 2018 include more travel, democracy, compassion, and peace around the world.

xo,

K

In the Spirit

knitting

There is knitting…

canning

And canning…

Christmas mantle

And decorating happening at our house.

nativity

And of course it wouldn’t be Christmas without a dash of Africa. Love this nativity from Mozambique.

nativity 2

What I’m not showing you is the sad state of our stockings. Each year we pull out the decorations and I think, “HOW have I not done something about these pitiful things?” They are a mix up of Goodwill finds and personalized stockings, with letters that have fallen off resulting in nonsense. Next year I’m going to either quilt or knit something pretty for the holiday.

What decorations do you love?

~K

Online Bible Study

Prayer journal

A coworker gave me this weekly planner last month. In turn, I’ve been trying to establish a daily Bible scripture study and writing out the verse each morning. I’m starting my day with this, and a good cup of coffee. If I write out the verse, I think about it during the day.

prayer journal 2

This is my go-to online devotional. I appreciate the prayer and summary of the verse. In the past, I’ve followed the Bible in One Year, and I am going to do so again in 2018. There is an app with on-going conversation about the verses of the day, which I’m interested in learning from. If you would like to be a part of this online study, let me know. We’ll have a closed group and have a weekly discussion on what we’ve read.

Here’s to making 2018 a year of improved habits, and more quiet time with God.

~K

My Favorite Week of the Year

Thanksgiving with the W Family

Not only is my family set to arrive within 48 hours, but several of my closest friends are here for the week to be with their families. Everywhere I look, there is a warm meal, a glass of wine, and laughter filling the air!

{Reality: I’m in my second week of a new job, have no paid time off, and am trying to figure out how in the giblets I’m going to get everything done, see everyone, and fit in my clothing with all the stress eating.}

Maybe we could all set up the Christmas tree on Saturday?

{Reality: I’m going to crawl into yoga pants on Saturday after the family is gone and the leftovers are put away, and sit on the couch with my friends at the Hallmark Channel for a marathon of bad movies and good knitting. Do we really need a tree?}

I’m so glad our home is in order and I took the time to get the prep work done so this holiday was as stress-free as possible. It is important to be stress-free, otherwise you get those lines on your face and no one appreciates a frowny hostess!

{Reality: Botox is cheap. Chardonnay for breakfast is a thing on holidays. The cookies ended up flat, and I’m not baking them again. Flat cookies are where it is at this year. Martha said so.*}

Happy week, y’all!

(No, really. I mean that part.)

~K

*Martha very much did not say so.

The Word is Bird

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving prep is underway at our house. The tables soon will be full with family, extended family, and neighbors. For the first time, I’m cooking the bird.

I’m a wee bit anxious. (Okay, it is 5 am and I’m blogging after spending an hour reading recipe reviews and turkey-cooking hacks. Apparently mayonnaise seems to be the way to go.)

Also this week, I started a new job. After nearly five years in state government, I decided to take a position with a health plan. I’m thankfully still working in public health, but with a new ID badge and set of coworkers. This week’s big project includes promoting HIV and TB testing among a specific population. In other words: MY JAM. Walking in the door of the new building yesterday felt much like the first day of school—nervous excitement, and also after two weeks off,  a bit of, “Oh, man. This means no afternoon naps, right?”

There will be no afternoon naps until, perhaps, Thanksgiving. In putting together the menu, and asking everyone to pitch in this and that, I’m most excited to make Orangette’s cranberry compote. I’ve made this before and like she describes, it really is a show stopper. This recipe reminded me how much I enjoy her blog, too.

The other tradition we’ll honor is a large bowl of black olives in a nod to my Grandmother Maxine. She hated olives, but knew her grandchildren loved them, and therefore always had a ready supply. We stuck them on our fingers and waggled them like fools until we were all well into adulthood. Like so many things, Thanksgiving always makes me think of Grandma Max. I miss everything about that woman, down to the way her house smelled when we’d arrive for the holiday. As I remember it, it was a mixture of coffee, all spice, turkey, and Ivory soap.

If the timing goes right, and I drink enough coffee this weekend while prepping pies and setting up guest rooms, I hope to run in our community turkey trot Thursday morning. Put one turkey in the oven, take the other out for a spandex-clad shuffle around the neighborhood. What could be better?

Wishing you and yours an excellent holiday.

xo,

K

The Canyon

On this trip into the Grand Canyon, we took the South Kaibab trail from the South Rim. It is the shorter route to Phantom Ranch at 7.4 miles, but it is considerably steeper. We hadn’t ever taken this path before, and it happened to be an extraordinarily windy day. There were parts of the trail that were terrifying.

Of course, it is still the Grand Canyon. Every turn, each 15 minutes with different light on the rock, makes the view new and breathtaking. (Or, we were just breathing really hard from all the hiking. Either way, you end up light-headed and in awe.)

Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend trip October 2017

Look at that crazed, happy man. Have I mentioned how much he loves hiking? (I love it too, but I give him a hard time that when we visited Mexico City, it didn’t hurt to look at art. Or eat good food.)

Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend trip October 2017

Top of the trail. Look how innocent and clean we are. Four hours later, we pulled into Phantom Ranch.

Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend trip October 2017

I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating: this lodge is a magical, wonderful oasis at the bottom of the canyon. If you get the chance to stay there—and the process is a complicated lottery because of the limited space—do it! The meals are simple, served family style in the lodge at picnic tables. The cabins have bunk beds that are comfortable and clean. The showers are hot. The rest is fantastic. Plus, you can imagine how interesting the people are who come to sit for a minute, either to stay or just to get a snack from the canteen.

We met people from all walks of life. The runners—just stopping to refill their water bladders before heading to another rim. Those on horseback, many of whom looked like extras from City Slickers, especially when they dismounted and tried to walk post-ride. And then there were those like us, who hiked down to hang out for a couple days. We sat at the picnic tables outside, eating apples and sipping lemonade and making up the back stories of the hikers who just arrived.

My niece loves to play games as much as I do. We played more hands of Rummy and Trash than I can count. We sent postcards (via mule!), ate Oreos by the sleeve, and told silly stories. We also woke up early Saturday morning to watch a meteor shower, stars shooting across inky black heavens—quite the way to bring in my 38th year.

We took the longer Bright Angel trail on the way out, about 10 miles of winding switch backs. The last mile, after you can see the edge of the Canyon but you are still not quite there, is the longest 15 minutes of your life. It could be the tourists toddling by, downward, with their ice cream cones and cups of coffee. It could be how good those tourists smell, and the realization you likely smell like a raccoon. It could also be how heavy your feet feel after 10 miles of up, up, up.

The bar in the Bright Angel Lodge has soft chairs, cold wine, average guacamole, and air conditioning. It is glorious.

It was another wonderful adventure with this crazy family of mine.

~K

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is near Page, Arizona — the tippy north center top of the state. It is free to see. You park in a gravel lot and hike about a quarter mile to an overlook.

When we were there last week, construction crews were working on the trail. It seems like the park service is going to make it handicap accessible, which it is not currently.

Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend trip October 2017

It is very pretty. I’d love to have the chance to go back when the water is high and take photos at sunrise and sunset.

It is hard to stand before land that has been carved by slow drips of water and not feel like the universe is huge, we are small, and it is all going to be okay.

~K