Year of Pleasures #16

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I’ve had these pictures waiting in my flickr account for a month, just waiting for things to slow down a bit so I could get back on the Year Of Pleasures train. This is the 20th week of 2011, meaning I have four more YOP posts to do before I am caught up. Oops.

So, year of pleasure #16: Becky’s coat. This tableau plays out no less than 10 times a day. Becky finds her coat in the closet, tries to put it on, and then follows me from room to room with her coat, whining and crying until I give in and put it on her. Once she has on her coat, she will start bringing me shoes (any shoes, including high heels and Tom’s work boots), and then, if she manages to convince me to put on her shoes, she stands at the door and whines pitifully until I get everyone else dressed and we head outside.

becky's coat

becky's coat

becky's coat

becky's coat

becky's coat

I’m 94% certain she learned all of this from the dog, who will bring me her leash when she wants to go on a walk just like a cartoon dog. These darn Aries, they are trouble.

Left you hanging…

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Oh that was cruel of me to write the previous post and then not update. Great news: the surgery went well (he ended up with a quad bypass instead of triple), and after a few days in the ICU he is now in his own room, and will hopefully being going home this weekend. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet, but my sister and stepmom are keeping me updated.

And, because it’s good to laugh, my attempts at getting a picture of the girls holding up “We Love You” signs to send to my dad.

It did not go well.







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Counting backwards

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My dad’s triple bypass surgery is today, and apparently my subconscious thinks I am an idiot. Usually my dreams are not so easy to interpret (electric eels with legs, who chase me around a supermarket as bypassers throw them Vienna sausages? Please, someone, figure that one out for me) but this was straight forward, dumbed down, heartbreakingly obvious. A narrow path through the woods, a river, my dad walked beside me until my foot slipped and my head went under the water. When I came back up, he was gone. I woke up at 6am scrambling for my phone, a quick text message of love since I had no idea whether he was under sedation or not yet. Everyone keeps telling me that “heart surgery isn’t what it used to be” and that their uncle/brother/grandpa had quadruple bypasses and are fine, but I am not naive. I know parents die. I know my heart is breaking. I know I should be there. I don’t need my stupid subconscious to remind me of what I could be losing.

Reclaiming Mother’s Day

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After the lights came up at today’s Listen To Your Mother show*, I couldn’t help but tear up. I had held it together through eleven amazing, emotional essays, and had even managed to read my own essay about being a motherless mother on stage in front of 100+ people without bursting into tears, but then, when I looked out and saw so many faces I recognized, I nearly lost it. In the years before I had children, Mother’s Day was a day to mourn. In the last 5 years since Ella was born I have been let down by the reality of the “working holiday”. Before today, I don’t know that I have ever really owned Mother’s Day, but when I looked out and saw my tribe writ large, I suddenly got it. Standing shoulder to shoulder with other women and honoring this journey is how I want to spend part of every Mother’s Day from here on out.

LTYM Spokane
(Photo credit Follger Photography)

Well, that and making my kids sing me Mother’s Day songs.

(The first part was because Ella and I were cuddling, and I was telling her how happy I am to be her mama, and that I was so lucky to have met her daddy, and she said “Oh yes, I’m glad you found him in Grandma’s backyard.” I think she thinks I picked him like a head of cabbage.)

So, thank you. Thank you friends for coming, thank you strangers for the kind words afterwards, and thank you to all the other motherless mother’s (and father’s) who came up and shared a bit of your story with me. I’m honored to have lent a voice to this experience.

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LTYM Spokane
(LTYM 2011 necklace)

*The video will hopefully be available online soon. I’m praying my voice sounds less like Kermit the Frog in real life than it does in my head…

Can I also say that this man of mine rocked it this year? We don’t have the budget for big gifts right now, but he handled what could have been an incredibly stressful situation (wrangling three kids, two of who were sick, for hours on end on a college campus) with the kind of grace and humor that makes it easy to pursue my passions outside of motherhood.

Overthinking it: Dress Edition

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Thank you guys for all wonderful comments lately, both here and on Facebook. I wish there was a way to import those comments /have them mirrored here. Any tips real bloggers? I’ve also had a huge influx of new readers, and I’ve had to step away from my google analytics page, otherwise I get intimidated that people, actual people who are not my sister and best friends, are actually reading this. I’ve been writing to the same 20 people for 10 years, so seeing a number with a comma in it on my daily totals makes me both grin like a maniac and want to hide in a corner. So, uh, hi!

Now on to something completely frivolous: WHAT DO I WEAR ON STAGE?!

Dress options

I like the color/print of A & B, but the cut of C. A belted cardigan would make A & B less uncomfortable (my arms, they are white and wobbly). Some general guidelines: nothing too “loud”, no bare shoulders (you look naked at the podium), and I have to look smoking hot. Ready? GO VOTE!

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Overthinking it: dress edition

View Results

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If you choose D, please link me to something to wear, because I have T-minus 26 hours until I have to show up wearing something other than my pajamas.

(RSS readers, you may need to click through to see the embedded poll. )


If you are local, please come to the Listen To Your Mother show this weekend. It would mean the world to me to have friends in the crowd. Bring your mom, your sister, your daughter, your best friend. You can buy tickets online, or bring cash to the door.

If you are not able to make it to the show, I have a favor to ask. Mindi is also reading, and is part of the 46 Mamas Shave for the Brave team this year. A donation to their St. Baldrick’s team would help fund the search for a cure to childhood cancer, and if there is something all mother’s can agree on, it is that none of our children should have to fight for their lives.

28 revolutions.

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A friend told me this morning that, according to the Mayan belief system, when someone turns 28 they stop reliving their past lives and start living their own. I can’t find anything to back this up, but I don’t care. If it’s not Mayan, now it’s Ivoryean. I’ve given all my struggles and issues and anxieties and doubt twenty eight years to work themselves out, and I woke up this morning with the realization that I don’t need any of it anymore. I am living exactly the life I want, not the life I thought I would have, or the life I was expected to have, but the life I want. I chose this path based on joy, and I am so flipping lucky. I don’t have to carry around my past lives any more (be them literal or just the ghosts of my younger selves) because this life, the one where I am sung happy birthday every time I walk into the room, is so full of wonder and laughter that there isn’t room for anything else.

Goodness this is going to be an amazing year life.


(I just have to add this though: newborn Ivory was pretty darn cute. You can stay newborn Ivory, but angsty teenage Ivory has got to go.)

Baby book\

Baby book


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I am crying in the car. It happens a lot lately, since it is one of the only places I can avoid my childrens’ eyes. Keep my eyes on the road, turn up the music and let all the shit I’ve been pushing down rise to the surface. We are at a red light, and I take the opportunity to blow my nose into a fast food napkin that has been crammed into the glove box. Ella is singing along to Ani Difranco, and I laugh at myself, because I have raised a little girl who sings Ani Difranco. I smile at her in the rearview mirror and she smiles back. I realize she can see me, even when I am looking straight ahead.


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My birthday is this week, and after giving birth three times I know that my birthday is not mine alone, and that for 18 years my mom celebrated my birthday, simultaneously wishing she could  keep me small, and joyfully watching me run towards my future. She never got to see what the future she had tried to prepare me for looked like. I had been in college a month when she got sick, but without blinking I packed my things, went home and took care of her for that last month in the hospital.  After she died and I was cleaning out her office, I found a box crammed full of T-ball uniforms, pageant trophies, newspaper clippings, footprint reindeer and 3rd grade report cards. Her belief in me was tangible, a concrete reminder that she wasn’t fooled by my insecurities or doubt.




I could use a little of that faith lately. This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and the Listen to Your Mother show. We had a group read through a few weeks ago, and after each essay I felt both a calm sense of community and a rising sense of panic. I am not a writer; I am barely a mother but by chance and biology; who am I to stand next to these women and claim to know something, anything,  about this journey?

In this little scrapbook of newspaper clippings and awards, my mom slipped in this essay, which I honestly do not think i had ever taken the time to read until the other day when I pulled out the book to find the essay I wrote for Mother’s Day in 5th grade. This essay by Joyce Hifler is out of place that it had to have been a deliberate choice, a small window into my mother’s own fears that she would not be here to tell me these things herself.


The smallest whiff of wind that blows across the surface of the lake ripples the surface, distorting the reflection of trees and clouds and sky – the merest troubled thought ruffles the surface of the mind, giving a distorted reflection of one’s own self image.

There are not many ways to avoid the disturbances around us – and sometimes even those within us. But as long as we can recognize them as something we can correct, even when we are told how impossible, it is possible.

We were never meant to give up, but to put things in their true perspective – to see solutions where there seen to be none. When something happens to make us ask why life has such sharp turns and rough edges, we must know it is not to beat us down, but to make us fight harder, stand taller, and believe even more in wholeness and peace.


Okay mom. I hear you. Eyes on the road, music up loud, singing at the top of my lungs this time.


If you are local, please come to the Listen To Your Mother show this weekend. It would mean the world to me to have friends in the crowd. Bring your mom, your sister, your daughter, your best friend. You can buy tickets online, or bring cash to the door.

If you are not able to make it to the show, I have a favor to ask. Mindi is also reading, and is part of the 46 Mamas Shave for the Brave team this year. A donation to their St. Baldrick’s team would help fund the search for a cure to childhood cancer, and if there is something all mother’s can agree on, it is that none of our children should have to fight for their lives.

Year of Pleasures #15

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Six cubic yards of dirt in my driveway.

Dirt pile

Dirt pile

Dirt pile

Dirt pile

Four more garden beds, a sunflower patch, and calluses on my hands. Spring, please don’t be fooling us again.

Oh yeah, and this happened.

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I keep feeling like I need to come back here and say something. That I’m here? That my dad is doing okay (but is scheduled for open heart surgery 5 days after my birthday)? That I am determined never to get old and/or die? That I am scared witless about reading a piece at Listen To Your Mother about losing my mom two days before my dad’s surgery? That my couches are awesome (even if we didn’t get the walls painted this weekend, due to this pesky mega holiday we kind of forgot about)?

Speaking of Easter, bask in the cuteness of my children.

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Easter 2011
(Sand trap, sand box, same thing, right?)

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Easter 2011

Easter 2011

And two pictures from Cali Jenae Photography. If you are local to Spokane or Pullman, she is wonderful.
Easter 2011

Easter 2011


Alright, I feel a little better. Tomorrow I’ll write something sweet and thoughtful, but tonight I am going to go lay in bed and read book three of the Game of Thrones series. Because nothing distracts a girl from sorrow like reading 2000 pages of scheming, war, and dragons. Oh yeah.


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Retail therapy: not necessarily cheaper than the real deal.

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Yesterday I found out that my dad is facing open heart surgery soon, so I bought a couch.

New couches

And, because I found out about it on Facebook, I bought a loveseat too.

New couches

When I called Tom at work to tell him all of this (“My dad’s heart is going to explode and I found a couch set for a great price and I am going to go pick them up as soon as you get home”) he saw the connection right away. “Why don’t you stop at Home Depot and buy paint for the living room as well?” he asked, knowing that this was exactly what I need to spend my weekend doing – moving, changing, sweating and not thinking. If I wasn’t certain the wall between the dining room and living room is full of asbestos and lead paint, I would be tearing that down as well. (The plan is to pull it down this summer or next, when the girls and I can go visit family.)

I could have sworn I had shared my living room idea board before, but I can’t find them, so here they are again. The couches are not perfect, but are a good balance between the clean lines I want, and the overstuffed monstrosities Tom is drawn to.

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living room

Aaaaand that’s all I’ve got. I do not have the energy to go into all my anxiety about my dad’s health, because I spent all day eating ice cream and painting canvases. Also, eyeballing that wall.