Thursday, October 27, 2011


When I first met Meghan (who I've written about earlier here), she was the gorgeous girl sitting in my orientation for teaching summer school.  I was not a teacher, nor did I have plans to become one, but it was a pretty good summer gig to teach a half day during the summer while I figured out my law school plans.  And with Meghan teaching as well, it was a blast.  She was fun, carefree, and we spent many an afternoon sunning ourselves at the pool.

Some years later, Meghan fell in love with Barton, the cute PE teacher at her school.  How perfect is that?  English teacher marries the gym teacher.

Just three weeks after they were married, Meghan noticed a lump and her neck and was diagnosed with cancer--a rare form, called synovial cell sarcoma.  Barton has been a rock throughout this journey of supporting Meghan, and the grace with which Meghan has handled this diagnosis has been astounding.

Meghan wanted nothing more than to be a mother, and last October she welcomed three beautiful babies into the world.  Having triplets would be a daunting road in itself for anyone, but Meghan and Barton were remarkably calm and joyful with their babies, most notably just a couple of weeks ago as I shared in the celebration of their triplets' first birthday.

Meghan bravely battled the relentless cancer for five years but last night had an unexpected, fatal brain hemorrhage.  Doctors say she didn't experience any pain, that she basically just went to sleep, which at the moment offers me only a little bit of solace.

Right now I'm feeling so sorry for her one-year old triplets who will only hear stories about how wonderful and kind their mother was.  And for her husband, who has been robbed of the opportunity to share his life, and the joy of raising their children, with the woman he loves.

I know there are no guarantees in life, but this one really gets me.

The world just lost a really kindhearted, beautiful, fun person.  Fuck you very much, cancer.

Edited to add: An education fund has been set up for Meghan's triplets.  Anyone wishing to make a donation can mail to:
Barton Joule Triplets Fund
Horizons North Credit Union
11455 Pearl St.
Northglenn, CO 80233

Also, anyone wishing to follow the adorable triplets (Kesleigh, Preston, and Gavin) as they grow can keep an eye on

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


By 7:30pm last night, Kenyon was completely and utterly exhausted.  The kids are always more weary on Mondays, and the Boys vs. Dad front-yard wrestling match that was gearing up just as I skipped out the door to my spinning class likely depleted Kenyon's little three-year old energy reserves. Keeping up with two older brothers is a tough job, and Kenyon has mightily risen to the occasion since way back when crawling was his preferred method of mobility.

Last night, he communicated his weariness with tears--tears that he didn't want to take his clothes off for a bath, tears that his brothers were bathing before him, tears that I told him if he spent too much time crying then we wouldn't be able to read a story.  Parental impatience morphed into motherly compassion, and I skipped the nightly bath routine, scooped up his delicious little wiped-out body and tucked him right into bed with a kiss.  Blanket?  Beary?  Done and done.  Lights out.

He shares a room with both of his older brothers, who were looking forward to some reading time before bedtime.  Alex headed to our bedroom and was immediately immersed into Harry and his TriWizard Tournament drama.  I told Jackson he could read up in his bed with his headlamp.

Twenty minutes later, I headed upstairs to give them the lights out call but was surprised to hear a voice reading softly out loud.  I opened the door to the kids' room and saw this:

Jackson, instead of delving deeper into his Norse tale, The Sea of Trolls, was reading to his little brother from our pop-up 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

As I walked back downstairs, my footsteps felt lighter; strange, considering the fact that my heart felt so impossibly full.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

The secondary title of this post should be "Why I Am Not An Art Teacher".  Considering my husband is an art teacher, you'd think a teensy bit of his talent would have rubbed off on me over these past 10 years.  Isn't that supposed to be a perk of being married??

On one recent afternoon, Kenyon and I sat out on the front porch doing an activity where I would draw an animal.  He'd guess what it was (miraculously, considering the skill level, or lack thereof), and then we'd sound out the letters as I wrote the name.

My first grader eyed the drawings warily and diplomatically said, "You could have drawn a mane on the zebra."  No wonder it looked so weird...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Universe Smiled

Sometimes, there are moments or events in one’s life where everything comes together so harmoniously it's like you can actually see and feel the universe smiling upon you.  It doesn't happen very often, but maybe I'm just not in a place within myself to notice that smiling universe, either.  Regardless, the way Tuesday began gave me no clue as to what it had in store for me when I went to work that morning.

My boys’ Fall Break that happened to not coincide with the rest of the public school system (darn you and your flexible scheduling, public charter school!) kind of threw a wrench in, well, the fact that I have a JOB.  Granted, we should have planned ahead, but I figure my public school teacher husband would have the same days off as my public school children, right?  Ah, wrong, it turns out.

I was a little grumbly about heading home early to relieve the half-day babysitter I managed to scrape together at the last minute.  Alas, my grumbliness was not put to rest as I walked through the front door.  Somehow, in the 3 hours I was gone diligently earning a living, the boys managed to turn the house inside out.  It was as if a pack of rabid coyotes had been spent a week wrestling.  Indoors.  In every room in the house.  The Cat in the Hat story without the last-minute cleaning effort.  You get the picture, and any mom knows that draining feeling when fun mom needs to deal with a bunch of bullshit.

After barking quite a few cleaning orders and reprimands, we all tumbled outside into……… this.
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My mood immediately lifted (honestly, how could someone possibly maintain a sour mood under that color of sky?  I think I actually see the universe smiling in that picture), the boys’ wily coyote selves were tempered, and we all basked in the glorious Colorado sunshine.  We brought out the regular wooden block set, the small wooden block set, the architectural wooden block set and the Magna-Tiles, and proceeded to spend the next 4 hours, no exaggeration, out in our front yard building and enjoying each other’s company.
Brothers collaborating…
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Solo efforts…
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This architectural set from Tuesday Morning Santa is awesome.  I had so much fun working with Alex, my little out-of-the-box thinker, to make some unique, avant garde buildings.
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The nice, orderly, symmetrical, ho-hum front of this building (below) is my design.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but Alex’s work in the back made the piece something I’d love to walk into.  You’d look at this building and know it couldn’t house lame cubicles and tired government workers; it’d have to have frolicking unicorns grazing on levitating dewy grassy meadows, or adorable dwarf baby hippos serving dark chocolate bars while swaying their rotund hips to Latin beats. 
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Sky’s the limit for you, Al Pal.  Sky’s the limit.
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Honestly, if someone had been conducting a scientific observation of our 4 hours of engaged, relaxing, truly enjoyable time together (WHEN DOES THAT EVER HAPPEN??  THREE BOYS GOING 4 HOURS WITH NO PURPOSEFUL FARTS, STICK-WIELDING, WRESTLING, OR BLOOD?) they would surely have come to the only rational conclusion--that we were an alien family, sent from a much more highly evolved, civilized planet.  We did have some nose-picking, but come on, it was damn near a miraculous event here, people.
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It was such a long stretch of peaceful, unstructured yet purposeful, and enjoyable activity, and even though we were all outside together, I had quality, individual time with each of my three favorite people in the world. 
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Who knew that a fall afternoon filled with blocks and boys would end up being one of the highlights of my life?  The universe surely smiled down upon me today, and I've done quite a bit of smiling up at it ever since.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


My husband's keen interest in wilderness survival skills have clearly been passed down to this kid; just check out this post-battle scene...
I guess we know the answer to the two essential items Kenyon would choose if he were stranded on a desert island.  Microphone?  Check.  Nail clippers?  Check.

This ferocious wild animal was clearly no match for those wisely chosen tools, and the skilled outdoorsman now rests his weary body.  Stuffed dog roasted over a campfire will make a mighty fine meal.

Are We There Yet?

The longest flight I've ever been on to date is the Denver-London trip I took eleven years ago to be an au pair for the summer.  I settled in, wearing my travel socks, read deep, philosophical literature trashy celebrity magazines, and happily ate biscuits with clotted cream.  My upcoming flight to Australia will be slightly different.  How, you ask?  Well, I'm no geographer, but my son's talking plastic globe matter-of-factly states the distance between the United States and Australia is 4,028,477 miles.  I may be exaggerating a teensy bit, but it's a heck of a long way away.  The globe doesn't include this little piece of information, but it's basically the same distance of traveling to the moon, give or take a few miles. 

Also?  I'll have a husband and three children under the age of 9 on the flight with me.  You might be thinking, "Ahhh, her husband will be with her so they can help each other out with the kids."  Well, dear reader, what you don't know is that my husband has a heretofore undiagnosed medical condition called Airplane Narcolepsy.  Immediately upon sitting in an airplane seat and buckling his seatbelt, my husband's head tilts back, his lips part slightly, and he falls asleep.  Even the most concentrated poison dart looks coming from me are no match for this debilitating condition.

That being said, our tickets for the year abroad are booked--and despite the ungodly amount of time we'll be traveling, I'm PSYCHED.  Here's the plan...

After spending a few days with my husband's family a couple hours north of San Francisco, we'll fly from San Francisco down to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.  At 10pm, the adventure begins as we board a plane to......drumroll please......Fiji!!  As a family of five, international plane tickets add up quickly so unless a long-lost wealthy uncle passes away we get some screamin' deal, once we're there we won't be able to fly to other countries (or even within Australia, for that matter).  But--building in a 5-day stopover in Fiji only added $100 to each ticket, so it was a no-brainer to break up the traveling time and get in a few days in a new place. 

And get this--because we're doing an overnight flight and crossing the International Date Line, we leave the evening of Dec. 24 and we arrive in Fiji at 5am on Dec. 26th.  Christmas ceases to exist this year for our family--pure genius!  The boys, however, are very concerned about how Santa will manage to deliver their stocking gifts; theories abound, including Santa coming in through the emergency exit or that Santa will be disguised as one of the passengers on the plane.  Alex said he'll be keeping his stocking right on his lap during the flight, and expects to wake up because of its weight on him, laden with gifts.  I told them that Santa knows we'll be traveling, so I'm sure he'll work something out (and I'm trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to manage having their stockings filled with goodies and laid out all Santa-like upon our arrival at our condo in addition to the wee task of packing my family up for a year halfway around the world).  I know we'll have a lot of amazing distractions so we'll thankfully avoid a gift-heavy holiday, and besides, Jackson told me recently that his favorite part about Christmas stockings is getting PEZ.  If that's the highlight of his Christmas, I think I can swing that much.

Maybe it's because I don't get the opportunity to travel to new places very often, but I absolutely love scouring the internet for unique places to stay and great deals for experiencing what the area has to offer.  And no offense to those travelers who immediately scope out the nearest Burger King while abroad, but I love experiencing life differently when I'm in a new place.

We're traveling on Air Pacific, which has some fairly terrible reviews (yay for bargain travel!), so I figure we'll be more than ready for a little beach luxury after peeling our scraggly selves off the worn airplane seats.  I booked us a one-night stay in a beachfront bure where we will stretch our legs, lounge, and swim with this view.

Photos of Uprising Beach Resort, Pacific Harbour
This photo of Uprising Beach Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Not. bad.

We'll fall asleep to the sound of the ocean in our bure, which looks like this--

and since we're living the island life, we'll shower under the stars in this open outdoor shower.

Photos of Uprising Beach Resort, Pacific Harbour

This photo of Uprising Beach Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor

And for $135 bucks for the night, it's a total bargain--I've paid more than $135 for a disgusting hotel with a dead rabbit in the parking lot and a condom wrapper stuck to the side of the building in Winnamucca, Nevada on one of our past Colorado-California road trips.

Tempting as it looks, I'm not interested in remaining at a typical resort for our entire stay in Fiji.  I'd like to get a sense of how people really live there, instead of seeing a resort's contrived Fire Walking Cultural performance or some such nonsense.  I'd like the boys to get a feel for a different culture as well.  So for the next few nights, we're doing a homestay--staying with a Fijian family in a village of about 400 inhabitants.  There, we can play with the village kids, tour the coastline by horseback, go spearfishing, hunt for octopus (there could not be an activity more appealing to my three boys than this very one)...

visit the local school...

and enjoy fresh local food.  The accommodations are much, much more simple than a typical resort, but I'm hoping the experience will in turn be much, much more memorable.  From there, we'll have a hop, skip and a jump of a 4 hour flight over to Sydney on New Year's Eve, starting the new year together and a year of adventure.

Oh, Fiji.  You are my dangling, juicy carrot as I muddle through The Preparations (and yes, I'm capitalizing it from here on out, to show its daunting, formidable nature.)