Saturday, April 9, 2016

Some work bragging from Kate

As part of my updates, I wanted to do a little bragging about the work I've done in the last while. I'm rocking the work-from-home thing (okay, "rocking" is a bit strong; I'm accomplishing it with varying levels of success) and finally even have a babysitter three days a week to make it happen (thank you, Elyse!)

I've mentioned this before, but after my job with the scrapbooking/crafting magazines disappeared, I took some time off to have a baby and then started doing freelance and contract work. It was stressful to start working for myself that way, but the miracles flowed in (and then again) and it's been a great experience, even if the stress of working from home gets me down on a regular basis. 

Between my 3 1/2 years with the magazines and the 1 1/2 years of freelance work, I can say I've been writing and editing professionally for 5 years, which is awesome and sort of amazing to me still. This is what I wanted to do, career-wise, and I am making it work the way I wanted to do it - at home, part-time. English major victory!!!

At least half of my jobs have been to write content for various websites, so I actually get to see my name in (digital) print, which is really cool! (My next goal is getting published for something I wrote creatively for me and not for a job.)

First, my stint with writing for eHow last year, which did not pan out but I completed my 3 articles and got my $50 bonus so, sweet, right?

How to Make a T-shirt from Fabric
How to Make an Adult Tinkerbell Costume
How to Make Accordion-fold Books

Second, I spent last summer writing company reviews for thebestcompanys.com, though sadly, none of my reviews have my name attached. If you care to browse, I ended up writing about DNS providers and life insurance, business loan, personal loan, and payday loan companies (don't EVER use a payday loan company is the moral of that story).

And third, my current really awesome job is writing content for ASecureLife.com (owned by Clearlink, if you've heard of them) and I've had a couple of articles go live already. These have actually been really interesting to research, as I've covered a pretty wide range of topics in just the two months since I started working there. These are just the start of many articles to come:

Do Security Systems Really Work?
Funding Circle Reviews: An Exceptional Loan Experience?
Updated: Prosper Reviews: Our #2 Pick for Peer-to-Peer Lending
More updates:
Best Smart Locks: A Look at the Top Locks on the Market
Best Digital Door Locks: Security and Convenience
Best Wi-Fi Baby Monitors: Peace of Mind from Far Away
Lending Club Reviews: Our #1 Peer-to-Peer Lending Company

All this researching random topics makes me feel like a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. Except, of course, for the researching and writing part. I've got that part down.

P.S. I should mention that the other half of my freelance work has been writing educational materials (another job where I got to research all kinds of random stuff in order to write reading passages for various grade levels) and editing all kinds of papers. I worked for an online editing/proofreading company (don't anymore, I just quit last month) that accepted almost anything, so I got to edit (mostly poorly written) essays about a huuuuge range of topics. I mean, everything from marine biology to emergency room procedures to the materials used to make dentures to Italian painters to health administration reports to literature reviews to the best bituminous mixtures to make asphalt, which, funny enough, I though was another paper about dentures for the first 2 pages. I don't miss that particular job but it definitely kept me on my toes!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Hello, Blog and Welcome Back

Hello again, little blog of mine. 

I am writing to you, little blog, because you are the receptacle for my memories and photos and bits of life that I want to share. (Sometimes other people read them too, but it's really just to you that I am writing.) I have sadly neglected to keep you in the loop over the last year, but I have some decent reasons.

Yesterday marked one year since Life Happened and things Changed, and now that we are a year down the road with some hindsight/perspective, I am finally feeling like I can start writing through it. Sometimes, when Life Happens, it feels impossible to put into words everything that is happening on the inside of you, and documenting only the things happening on the outside begins to feel inauthentic. And truthfully, I feel like I am still in a muddle a lot of the time, and sharing what I'm muddling through feels like Too Much. But. If there is one thing I've learned from Brene Brown over the last year (bless her), it's that vulnerability leads to connection, and that daring to show up as ourselves is one of the most courageous things we do. 

So. As a place for me to pour out all the inside things, here we go, little blog. 

Yesterday was one year since Tim was laid off from his intern position at Novell. It marked the beginning of a lot of uncertainty and fear and confusion and stress, as well as some miracles and learning and growth. When I mentioned the anniversary to Tim yesterday, I also added, "I don't miss that job." He very quickly and emphatically agreed. We are both much happier with his current position, in spite of the reduced income it provides us. But a year ago, it was terrifying and bewildering. It was an Ending with an unclear Next Step and marked the beginning of a hard 6+ months of "Now what???"

Additionally, the day before the layoffs was the funeral for my sweet Grandma Black (my mom's mom) and everything that went with that. The day of the layoffs was also the day my Grandpa Black had a stroke and was hospitalized just a few days before his 90th birthday. (He passed away a few short weeks later.) I mean, it was A LOT all at once. Plus we had a one-year-old Rosie just learning to walk and a 2 1/2 year old Georgie who suddenly became unreasonable, demanding, hysterical, and even sometimes mean overnight. Tim finished his last few weeks of a horrible semester that very nearly broke us, emotionally. And I started looking for more work, which was its own story and stress. 

But - or rather, "and yet" - the miracles came when we needed them, though they were often disguised as coincidences and timely responses. The parental learning curve began, steep though it was. We worked through a lot of frustration and anger and successfully made some hard decisions. And though in some ways it feels like we're in the very same place as we were a year ago, the process is ongoing as we continue to figure out what we're meant to be doing and where we're meant to be going. 

A healing step for me is reviving you, little blog, so I can feel a little more present in my own life again as I try to hold onto what is good about where we are while processing where we've come and figuring out where we want to be. I think I was a bit depressed for a while I don't want to disengage so badly again. So. You up for some confessions, ramblings, and super cute pictures of my kids? Oh good. I knew I could count on you, little blog.

Yours (quite literally), etc.Kate the Wife/Writer/Editor/YW leader/Reader/Player of Games/Organizer of All the Things/Mother of these two silly girls:

Monday, October 5, 2015

3 years of Georgie

How in the world did we get from this tiny, precious baby...
 to this silly, playful, talkative, beautiful girl?
Our amazing Georgie girl turned 3 last week and she is quite the queen of the house (excuse me, princess - she always corrects me if I call her Queen Georgie). She talks and talks all the day long, until she decides she is sad/frustrated/temporarily deaf and ignores all questions and comments directed to her. She is also very skilled at rolling her eyes, pouting, and glaring. Three-nager, anyone?

We love hearing Georgie's funny phrases and wild stories/songs, which she shares constantly. She weaves everything into each other - real life and TV shows and book plots and songs - so her animals get names from the scriptures as they run away from dinosaurs at the zoo in the Umi Car to find Cinderella. She is proficient at talking now, but she still has a few funny quirks; for example, instead of "forget" she says "get-for" as in, "Oops, I get-for my shoes!" She is my little parrot and everything I say, good or bad, gets repeated back to me: "Sweetie" and "Here's an idea" and "Let's make a deal" and "You're not listening to me!" (She hears that a lot lately.) Mostly, she is so much fun to talk to!

Georgie's favorite toys are her kitchen things: play food, dishes, utensils, and pretend appliances are her go-to every day. Her other favorite toys are the little people and animal figurines we're accumulated. She also loves dressing up from her shoes to her hats and putting things in bags (usually the play food and/or figurines). She loves reading and art time, especially the homemade play dough I just introduced her to.

Georgie is becoming less of a picky eater, mostly because I can tell her that if she doesn't try something, she won't get a treat (she'll do almost anything for candy). Her latest new favorite is kiwi. Interestingly, she does not love bread or rolls in any form, not even muffins or cupcakes, though she will eat bread with peanut butter sometimes.

Georgie is still very very sensitive to emotion. Getting excited and genuinely thrilled about something (for example, "This is my favorite part of the movie!") is the number one way to get her to dance around in excitement. Yelling at her or even just raising your voice is the number one way to make her cry. She's very tender and sweet, and she is learning to watch out for her little sister and take care of her (though there is still plenty of hitting/kicking/pushing going on).  

She has grasped the concept of death and we talk about it almost daily. Literally two or three times a day, Georgie asks me, "You remember Grandma Great and Grandpa Great pass away? And Daddy's Grammy? And Gumps?" We talk about how they are living with Heavenly Father now and sometimes she starts to cry: "I don't want to live there! I want to stay here!" She's definitely processing some things. She also gets VERY concerned about "owies" and every little scratch gets noticed. Bleeding super upsets her, and she will both fight tooth and nail to avoid getting a band-aid put on and then fight tooth and nail when you try to take it off. 
Georgie takes a nap maybe once a week now, but she still gets about two hours of quiet time while Rosie naps in the afternoons. She is nowhere near potty trained because she doesn't want to be and I'm not willing to make it an issue yet. Maybe next month? She loves to go outside, loves nursery, loves to say "Hi Temple!" every time we drive past it, loves to go to Nana's house, loves to watch shows, loves to help me in the kitchen, and loves to do all sorts of things she knows she shouldn't. In spite of not listening and testing her boundaries a lot lately, she really is a wonderfully sweet and good little girl who we only just keep up with. We love this Georgie girl of ours and love every bit of who she is becoming. Here to another busy year!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

18 months of Rosie

I failed to do an extensive "Rosie at 1 year old" post, so I'm making up for it with an 18 months post. Get ready, because at 18 months, Rosie is basically a person already. When did that happen?? (Mostly I can't believe that this is how old Georgie was when Rosie was born. I can't imagine adding a brand new baby to the mix.)


At 18 months, Rosie likes:
- Reading
- Playing
- Doing whatever her sister does
- Climbing up and down (the stairs, the couch, chairs)
- Throwing things on the floor (the bigger the crash, the better)
- Doing things by herself
- Saying "Nnnnnoo!" and then smiling like it's a game
- Getting tickled and chased
- Rubbing food in her hair
- Bath time
- Birds (I can't even attempt to type how she says "birdie" but it's always said with extreme enthusiasm)
- Watching "Umi Zoomi"
- Eating cereal, strawberries, bananas, chicken, ranch dressing, yogurt, and crackers
- Going outside ("go" was one of her first words, followed closely by "out")
- Snuggling, especially when she wakes up at night


Rosie does NOT like:
- Having things (toys, markers, pens, open cups about to spill) taken away from her
- Getting sat upon by Georgie
- Being ignored
- New people (she warms up relatively quickly but has definitely perfected her distrustful scowl)
- Having her hair washed or brushed


Rosie LOVES with all of her heart:
- Her blanket ("wah-wah" as she calls it)
- Her adored and idolized older sister
- Her parents
- Her baby doll (mostly because Georgie has a baby doll)
- Her two mini board books she picked out at the book store recently. She literally slept with them the day we got them.
- Her kitty, which she initially called "Bunny" and is now referred to as "Me-ooo" (instead of "meow")


 Some other things about Rosie:
- She talks, almost in sentences. We've got a couple of phrases put together but stringing more than two words together has not quite clicked. She's really close though. Her favorite words: "Do-dgeee" for Georgie, Mama, Dada, "peeease" for please, wah-wah (her blanket), baby, "juuuuuuice," "yyyyyyah! and "nnnnnoo! (with the first sound dragged out), cracker, cereal, "nilk" for milk, "meooo" for cat, house, "goooo," and "out!" She newest phrase is "Help meee" which I find very helpful. I love this stage when I can actually communicate with my child!
- She generally sleeps through the night, though she frequently cries at least once. Most of the time I let her cry (I think she's usually still asleep) but lately I've been getting up with her. I've found the best way to get her to go back to sleep is to snuggle her in my bed, which seems like a slippery slope but I'm usually too tired to care.
- She love to be helpful, especially when it comes to wiping off the table or floor.
- She finally has eight teeth in front, plus her first four molars. That eighth tooth took literally months to cut through - literally. months. Ughhh.
- She is super observant and picks up on things incredibly quickly. Words, actions, processes, everything she sees, she will (at least try to) do after just one time - especially if it's Georgie doing or saying it. She knows a lot of body parts and even recognizes some numbers already.
- She loves loves loves music, singing, and dancing. I even think she's already got a good sense of pitch. Favorite songs are "Happy Birthday" and whatever little song she decides to make up and sing to herself.
- She is one tough cookie. Must be part of the 2nd child package, but Rosie takes in stride getting pushed and pulled and kicked, and even recovers really quickly from bigger things like falling down the stairs or falling off the couch. With just a few quick loves, she's pushing away and back into the fray.
- We had some concerns in the last six months about her eyesight and walking but everything seems to have worked itself out and she's totally healthy.
- She is great at following directions. I love this so much. I can ask her to put things away, take things to another room, go find something, and she will do it right away. It's still a game, thank goodness!
- She is becoming her own, independent person, which is exciting and exhausting. When I tell her to get down from the back of the couch or stop eating the crayons or to quit throwing food, she loves to shout, "Nnnnoo!" and then smile at me because she knows she's making her own decisions. It's cute and even funny sometimes, at least for now.


Rosie is such a happy girl. That isn't to say that she doesn't cry and scream and wail when she's frustrated or doesn't get what she wants or has something ripped out of her hands by her sister, and there were probably four solid weeks of extreme crankiness while she cut five teeth at the same time (all four molars plus that last dang tooth in front), but in general, she is so happy and easygoing. She smiles easily, is quick to laugh, and is just generally playful. What's the word? Mischievous. She's very affectionate and gives me kisses every time I ask. Even though she likes to glare at strangers and can be very clingy and shy in new situations, she really loves people and would rather stay up and play than sleep, no question. No one is more adored than her big sister, and they get along pretty well most of the time. I can't imagine our lives without our happy Rosie girl and I truly can't wait for her to keep growing so we can get to know her even better!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Returning to our Happy Place: A Vacation(!)

In the midst of Life Happening in the last month, Tim and I both had the thought (separately, but at the same time) that we should take a trip to Torrey. Torrey is in southern Utah just outside of Capitol Reef National Park, and it's been a special getaway for my family and for Tim and I. We really needed some family time and the thought of being in Torrey again literally brought tears to my eyes, so we took advantage of Tim's week off between school semesters to head down.

The last time we went down to Torrey was two years ago when Georgie was only 7 months old, so this trip was way overdue. We've done very little traveling since having kids, which sometimes makes me feel like a wimp, but the price of not sleeping is usually just too high. But for Torrey, we decided it was time to brave it. It was literally this huge, freeing epiphany when I realized that we could take extra measures to make it work and we could, in fact, have a vacation. (As a side note and for posterity's sake, we put Rosie in the tiny bedroom in the pack-n-play and set up our baby gates in the loft to create a pen for Georgie so she couldn't wander during the night. We also let Georgie stay up super late so she was tired enough to sleep through both nights. Whatever works, right?)

It was rainy and cold for 2/3 of our trip, which meant no stars, and we never did get to take the girls hiking (we had a low tire that we wanted to take care of before it went flat and ended up missing our hiking window), but we got our family time and we got to be in Torrey - the only two things that really mattered. The best part, for me, was when we went to the park for lunch on our second day and had a blast flying a kite, swinging, and just playing all together. The sun came out on our last day and we had another wonderful picnic before setting out for home (and as a bonus, the girls slept for most of the car ride home). It was a great first vacation as a family of four and we will most definitely go back!
Rosie's first looks-like-a-selfie-but-wasn't
We're in Torrey! We prepped her on how exciting it would be and she reacted appropriately when we got there. Granted, she may have just been happy to get out of the car.
Dinner at Slacker's!
Tim got the girls to look at the camera by blowing raspberries, which of course, they copied. Love those lips.


Let's go fly a kite!
She insisted on going higher and higher...
Rosie asked to get back in the swing at least three times while we were there. I'd say she loved it.
It was super-duper windy. Can you tell?
The view from the back porch. I take this same photograph every single time (usually, multiple times) we're down there. I can't help it, it's so beautiful!
Awkwardly laughing selfie, but we had to document that we were there.
Just drinking some juice on the floor while Mama tried to do dishes, no biggie.

Eventually they ended up on the back porch so I could finish packing us up. They loved it for about twenty minutes and I love this picture of my littles soaking up our view.
Our one "hike" to Panorama Point - again, super duper windy!
Sometimes Rosie poses for the camera; other times, she specifically and pointedly will not look at me. This is as good as we got.


This one is getting printed. I just love everything about it - my girls, they're holding hands, the gorgeous cliffs in the back, the blue blue sky and green trees - seriously. It does not get better.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Easter and Remembering My Grandma

Easter flowers at the Provo temple
At the end of March, my sweet Grandma Black, my mom's mom, passed away. Her health had been declining, but she went downhill pretty rapidly at the end. A few days before she left us, Georgie asked and asked to visit "Grandma Great" and I was so grateful we did. It was just for a few minutes, but I'm glad I got to see her and tell her I love her and I'd see her again soon. 
Grandma always had tulips in her yard - this picture was for her.
Easter was that next weekend after her passing, and it was especially poignant for us. Helping Georgie understand what both "death" and "resurrection" meant brought into focus the importance of Easter and the reality and tangibility of why we celebrate it. 
Grandma's funeral was the day after Easter, and it was both sweet and sad. All of her children spoke, and then two of my cousins and I shared some short memories from the grandkids. My mom's cousin Cathy sang the song my dad arranged for my cousin Nigel's funeral, which she then sang at my dad's funeral. That part was especially hard to get through because of the memories it brought up, but overall, it really was a sweet funeral. 

It was and is hard to think about being without Grandma, but I'm also so aware that, more than with any other goodbye that I've experienced, her family was waiting for her to rejoin them and she really and truly is home. From the time we knew she did not have much longer to be with us, I had my perspective broadened to see and remember that while we're here on earth, we are actually away from home, and that now Grandma gets to be back with so many people she knew and loved.

Rather than writing up new memories, here's what I shared at the funeral:


In trying to pick a memory to share of Grandma Black, I found myself sifting through years of sweet memories, and little tidbits came to the surface—her special “jumbo” cookies, a long line of stockings at Christmas, matching pajamas for the grandkids and other handmade gifts, new works of art on the walls, camping and hiking in Southern Utah and taking refuge in the motorhome when it rained—the list goes on. I asked my siblings, Rachel and Ethan, for their memories of Grandma, and their answers matched what came to my mind as well. We remember how much a part of our lives Grandma was, and how much she cared for us. In spite of not always being able to hear us, she engaged and participated in our lives. We remember her love of beauty, expressed especially in her paintings, and her cooking—she’d never let you leave the table without second or third helpings. And we especially remember the cabin in Star Valley, Wyoming, and what a magical place it was. As cousins, it was our ticket to adventure and exploration and pure childhood fun. There is one specific memory from Wyoming that I cherish and would like to share.

We always traveled to Star Valley during the summer months, but some years, we also braved the Wyoming snow to spend Thanksgiving at the cabin. Sledding was our activity of choice, and one year, we discovered a perfect sledding hill on one of the back mountain roads a few minutes away from the cabin. The hill was about a quarter of a mile long, and just steep enough at the top that you could ride it all the way down, assuming your sled didn’t dump you into a snowbank on the sides of the road first. We had a collection of sleds of various sizes and styles. One of the sleds was a Flexible Flyer—a small, wooden sled on runners, which meant the rider was sitting up off the ground by a few inches, steering with his or her feet, and holding on for dear life to a rope tied to the front of the sled, all of which made this sled both exhilarating and slightly terrifying.


Grandma usually came with us to our sledding hill, and occasionally, would even take a run down the hill herself. And there was one time, as the cousins and aunts and uncles were claiming sleds and forming trains, that the Flexible Flyer was left unoccupied, so Grandma said, “I’ll take that one!” Those of us still at the top helped her get settled on it a little nervously, as we could only imagine what would happen to our 70-something grandmother if she crashed, and held our collective breath as she pushed off. She went down the initial drop, then as she came out of it, we could hear her, joyfully screaming her lungs out, EEEEEEEEE, all the way (safely) down the hill. I’ve always remembered that moment, not only because it made me laugh, but because I admired then, as I do now, how Grandma was game to join in the adventure, no matter what it was; how she took on challenges that were both exhilarating and slightly terrifying; and how she joyfully and whole-heartedly took part in her own life, throughout her life. Thank you, Grandma, for showing us how to do it and for sharing yourself with us. We love you and miss you.
Nana with her three grandbabes in their matching Easter dresses.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hee Haw Farm in the rain

There are many things to update and many posts waiting for me to finish them and many bits of Life waiting to be documented, so I'm starting from today and working my way back. Stay tuned...

My mom treated her grandbabies (and their parents) to a trip to Hee Haw Farm today. Yes, it was cold, windy, and rainy and yes, we didn't stay for very long, but yes, Georgie (and Rosie) were completely enthralled. Thank you again, Mom! Let's definitely go back!
Nana also babysat for us while we went on a much-needed temple trip; hence Tim's white shirt at a muddy farm.

Petting a baby bunny! Georgie: "Daddy's being so soft!"

My beautiful sister and her darling Eleanor. Doesn't motherhood look good on Rachel?

I remembered to get a picture of me! Rosie: "Point!"

The best part of the experience was going inside the pen with all the goats and sheep. It was so funny (and slightly overwhelming) to watch and listen to them all looking for treats. After a little initial hesitation, Georgie was beyond thrilled to be there. I was so proud of her for being brave enough to get down and close to the animals.
Georgie was having such a good time running back and forth between all the animals that she wouldn't look at the camera for more than two seconds. This was the best I could do with the goats/sheep.

Waving to the pony

Finally a smile (and some ducks)!

Rosie enjoyed everything but her favorite part was the corn pit and she wasted zero time getting the corn kernels into her mouth. 

Sisters!

Right before we left, we checked on the baby pigs. They were sleeping when we first got there, but they'd woken up and Jase bravely chased one down so Georgie could pet it. She talked about it the rest of the night: "Piggies sleeping but then they wake up!"