Friday, January 30, 2015

Dreaming of Sunshine and Beaches.

I don't know what caused it.... the fact that Lars and Caitlin are currently sipping on coconuts in Costa Rica or because I am back in school or I spent the last two days reading all my blogposts from my Europe trip a few years ago....

But I got an itch.

And sadly my itches are only cured one way.

Plane Tickets.

So...... where are Jason and I going for Spring Break 2015????


Jason has a friend that lives there and said he'd love for us to come stay in their guest room.... we found flights for $350 round trip from Vegas.... so off we go!

Now I just want to dream of sunshine, palm trees, beaches, and a week in paradise.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Post Surgery

I can't believe how much love I have felt during this whole experience.  The text messages and phone calls, it has been absolutely wonderful.  The gory details of recovering from anesthesia and having your insides burnt to shreds.... not so wonderful.

It was a great week off from the world.  I got to sleep in...... clearly only because of the drugs, play with Joanie for a morning, and drive up to Franci's in Idaho for a day.  (Too bad the day with Franci was the worst day of the whole recovery.)  

It was really a great week.

But the best part?  Seeing the excitement on my students' faces when they walk into my room and saw I was back.  Priceless.  

The sub really did get it right when he concluded his notes with, "Overall, your students are awesome!"

And now I just need to remember that..... well at least to get me to Spring Break. ;)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It was.... Soap Poisoning.

Who ever wrote The Christmas Story was just absolutely genius with Ralphie's imagination.  I feel like every kid dreams of the day when his parents realize the pain they caused them.  In the absolutely depths of despair they ruined their child's life.  And then Ralphie smiles.... ah so classic.

Just like any other kid, I had two things that all growing up I just couldn't wait for them to see the truth.  Then they'll be sorry.  Then they'll feel so bad!

1. My allergy to carrots.  Raw Carrots.  Sounds silly I know but as long as I can remember carrots have always made my throat and ears itch to an intolerable degree.  Now I get it, seeing how I was the girl that hated ALL veggies why would they believe me that I was allergic to carrots.  I remember as I was sitting there chocking down carrots just imaging what my parents would feel when they finally found out that I did in fact have an allergy to a protein in a lot of raw veggies including carrots.

I was 21 when I finally went to an allergist.  He wanted to test me for hay fever, molds, and animals.  I let him run those tests but most important for me was to finally prove after all those years of forced eaten carrots, that I was allergic to them.  I came running home so ecstatic to inform my family that all these years I wasn't lying.  I believe the first response I heard was, "Yeah, yeah, doctors will tell people anything these days."

2. TMI: I have had the worst cramps imaginable my entire post-kid life.  20 years of the worst things you can imagine.  Now coming from a very male dominant family... I never got much sympathy.  My mom tried.  Oh she tried.  She understood.  But to the mass majority of my family, I was just an incredible wimp who needed to, "Rub some dirt on it and get back out there."

Well today was the day.  The day that I got an explanation for the years of pain and agony, lying on the floor in bathroom in the fetal position just wanted to die.  I have endometriosis.

Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region.
In endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.
Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during your period.
Now if you are wondering why it took 20 years of absolute insane pain to diagnose me... Endometriosis can't be diagnosed without surgery.  So yesterday was the day.  And I can't tell you the relief I felt when Jason told me the surgeon found so much tissue throughout my abdomen that he has to do 3 incisions instead of the planned 2 to get to all of it.  And burn all of the extra tissue off my organs.
The pain of this surgery is so worth it.  Because now I know I wasn't just a wimp!  I wasn't crazy.  

Sadly (actually probably not sadly, probably a good thing) years later.... I'm not like Ralphie, I'd get no pleasure if my parents felt bad.  I am just thrilled to finally have answers.

Friday, January 16, 2015


I was just reading one of my favorite bloggers talk about hard things.  She and her family just spent the last 4 months in Shanghai.  It's been amazing reading their journey.

The post I was reading was kind of her final post about their experience in China.  I was so touched by this paragraph.

This trip has changed us in so may ways.  It has opened our eyes and knit together our hearts.  It has taught us so much gratitude.  For cultures.  For differences.  For languages.  For the world.  For growth from trials.  For HOME.  And for FAMILY.  It has been tough.  We came here with eyes wide open that it would be hard, but how can you really brace yourself for "hard" when you don't even know what kind of "hard" is coming your way?  But oh how grateful I am for all we have learned in the process.  

All the time we do things, or hopefully some times, we do things that we know will be hard.  It's one thing to know that something will be hard, it's another thing to face that same hard thing day in and day out for a long period of time.

We make decisions all the time is a more accurate description of life.  We try to have our eyes wide open to the difficulties or challenges ahead.  Of course sometimes we still get blindsided.  But often I think it is the challenges that we willingly take on that can wear on us the most.  We chose it.  We thought we were strong enough.  We thought we could handle the challenges.  But especially when it's a different kind of hard than we are used to, how do we brace ourselves?  How do we find the strength?

The other day I got an email from the PTA president saying I was nominated to be the teacher of the year.  I had to smile when she sent me a list of questions to answer, pretty much saying, "Go ahead tell us why you should be the teacher of the year."

One of the questions was, "Why did you become a teacher?"  How do you answer that?  How do you describe the inner burning I've had my whole life to spread truth and inspire others?

Another question, "What do you like most about teaching?"  How do you describe the satisfaction that comes from helping someone recognize truth or learn a little bit more about themselves because of a lesson learned?  Especially how do you answer that in an email in 2-3 sentences? Maybe I should have copy and pasted this post?

Teaching is definitely one of those things that you think you understand the challenges that will come, you think you can brace yourself.  And then time in and time out you are surprised by how hard it can be.

I wrote this post yesterday morning..... and it's so funny how thoughts can change so much from day to day.  This morning all I keep thinking is the joy of when hope comes shining through.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Things I Never Post

Sometimes in the early morning I like to go through my old blogposts.  Not the ones I've posted... the ones I didn't post.  The ones that I thought were too revealing, too exposing, made me too vulnerable.  Someday maybe I'll make a blog book of just those posts.  But until then.... I was reading through and found this gem.  It's funny how life has changed so drastically since I wrote this post but the concept still exists.  The longing is still there.

So here is a post that was written probably 5 years agoish.

I'm so happy for you.

It's an interesting statement.  What does it mean?  Really?  "I'm happy for you."  I mean easily I could say, "That's fantastic news." or "How wonderful!"  but for some reason there are times when someone tells me something and the only fitting thing to say is, "I'm so happy for you."

It should be a happy statement right?  It clearly means that someone I care about has some wonderful news... something worth celebrating is happening in their life.  I should be thrilled to say it.  But I think there is an underlying reason why we say "I'm so happy for you" rather than an easier statement like, "That's great!"  I think it has to do with our journey through this life together.  We say this statement to people we've been traveling together with on this stretch of the journey.  We understand how much this person wanted whatever they are finally getting.... but even more than that, underlying "I'm so happy for you" is the jealousy of wishing for the same thing.

Well this week was a brutal week for me and that statement.

Saying it once, I can handle just fine. I can smile... hide the pain.... and pretend to be happy.

Twice, I'm tough, I can take it. (Although Lars might beg to differ.  When he asked about the phone call when I had to say it, he saw huge alligator tears.  His poor roommate who was in the room at the time was so confused by my tears that in her thick German accent she said, "Uh, I go make tea.")

But by the end of today when I had to say it the third time.... Three people who have been on this journey with me for the past five years.... Three times this week I had to grin and lie through my teeth.  It was exhausting.  One was a phone call telling me they are having a baby.  One was the text message telling me that she said yes.  And one was in person, which is always the hardest to fake it, when I randomly ran into an old crush and his fiance.

I can't wait for the day that I finally get to hear someone say  to me, "I'm just so happy for you."  Scratch that.  More important, I can't wait for the day that I say, "I am just so happy for you!" and mean it.

Ok, back to present time.

Oh how things have changed over the last 5 years since I wrote that post.  What hasn't changed is there will always be people who are getting exactly what we want, things that we long for, things that we think we deserve.  But what I really do hope I am learning with time and experience is, life is so much better being happy for them.  Relishing in their joy and celebration.  Not with the mind set that "Someday I'll be happy too." but just being happy now.  I saw this on Instagram this morning.

Although she is talking about races, I want to feel this way about life.  So my goal for 2015, not wait for anything to be happy.   Be content in the moment and enjoy the ride.

Monday, January 12, 2015


*** Spoiler Alert*** Don't read this if you are planning on watching Magic in the Moonlight.  Which for the record, I highly recommend despite its mediocre to horrible reviews.  Even as we were watching it with my family my dad kept saying, "I don't understand why the critics didn't love this movie."  It is a beautiful movie with wonderful music and a fun story.  So if I have convinced you at all to consider watching it, stop reading.  Be prepared to see Mr. Darcy in all his glory.  Relish in it, love it, because if you are like me, I just can't get enough of him.

So the movie.  I just love everything about the movie.  Beyond the 20's music, the gorgeous French Rivereria, and even Colin Firthe, I loved the movie because of the message.  It hits on a message that I feel so passionately about.  I know it's not true of everyone.  Some are much more fortunate than me, they are just believers.  They just naturally know.  Lucky ducks.  But then again I am so grateful for the lesson I seem to learn over and over and over again.  Choosing to believe is so much better than the alternative.

I love this concept so much.  A life of belief gives us hope that all the logic and reason in the world can't replace.  I want to believe.  I love that in this movie so visably we can see how much better Stanley's life is when he lets in a bit of magic.  Often times I think of Will Durant an athiest philosopher and historian that I love so dearly.  He suggests that religion throughout history has been used to keep the lower classes pacified.  That's a gnarly idea when I think about it.  A way to keep people whose lives are typically pretty darn miserable at bay.  Keep them working in the fields.  Keep them sweeping the gutters.  Give them a false hope in a future that doesn't actually really exist.

I have had to wrestle with this idea quite a bit.  Is a belief in a God or an after life just magic?  A way of amusing ourselves until we are dead?

And for this exact reason I absolutely loved this movie so much.  I mean, I can understand why someone would suggest it is blasphemous.  Stanley knew that Sophie was a fake, a fraud.  But he decided a life with her, a life with a little bit of magic is way better than a life soley based off reason and logic.  It's a good reminder from time to time.  We all need a little magic.

"I have irrational positive feelings for Sophie Baker."

Monday, January 5, 2015

Christmas Vacation 2014

Christmas 2014 was more than I could have hoped for!  I really need to start focusing on getting more picture of people rather than a beautiful sunset.... someday.  But until then, here is what we got.  

We started with dinner in Cedar on our way to head south.  The only picture I took was of the Christmas tree.... my mom's Christmas tree for years was a "fancy matchy matchy" tree.  I am so glad she's changed.  Gone back to a more traditional mismatch ordiments tree.  My favorite are these little German ornaments called Steinbach ornaments.  My mom started collecting them on her 6 week journey across Europe years ago.
I felt like LA really welcomed us with the most beautiful pink and gold sunset as we drove to Glendora.
As soon as we got to Glendora we headed to a huge Glendora Stake production of Lamb of God with a full choir and orchestra.  Both Nils and Raine particiapted but Nils had many solos which made it so amazing for me!
After church on Sunday Raine and Nils had to rehearse again and do another performance and so we stole Lars and Caitlin and made them go to the Getty with us.  I am always blown away when we go to this amazing muesum.  I absolutely love this place!  I must say I think Sunday might be the best day to attend this museum.  It runs right along the 405 Freeway... AKA the freeway from H#$%.  It was amazing to drive straight there and straight back without any traffic at all.
I will always be grateful for my love for art.  It is something that I will never be able to do.  I understand that.  But I am so glad that I have such a fond appreciation for the work of others.  It is so fun to get to share that love with Jason.  It's so fun to watch him whenever we go to an art gallery.

But of course at the end of the day, no matter the beauty created by an artist... I am always so much more blown away by nature.  And boy it was such a beautiful view and sunset.

The next day I went on another glorious California Christmas run around Glendora.  California recently FINALLY received some rain and so we were greeted with the most beautiful green blanket of grass every where we went.  Three of my favorite views from my run.

And of course....... one more picture of my favorite house of all...
What I wish I would have captured in Glendora: Sunday night late after Nils and Raine came back from their last performance of Lamb of God, along with Lars and Caitlin, we sat around the fireplace by the Christmas tree and opened a few small gifts to each other.  It was just a special moment, the 6 of us.  Raine had painted Caitlin a darling painting of Donuts (her favorite.)  Lars had helped me surprise Raine with a gift she really wanted.  It was just a perfect little experience I am so glad I got to share with 5 of my favorite people.

We then headed down to San Diego county to spend the next few days until Christmas with Jason's family.  Honestly, the weather was almost a joke.  It was 79 degrees at the beach.  So of course I went for an amazing run while Jason went surfing.

Jason's one of those guys...

What I wish I could have gotten pictures of: Jason's sister Jennifer and little boy Reid came and joined us at the beach.  It was fun to get to spend some time with her and just talk as we basked in the sun.  It was fun to watch Jason play with Reid.  It always pulls at my heart strings...

After we went to a Swarmies by the pier in Oceanside that had a super fun mural on one of the side walls.

Of course one of the happiest things for me about the California sunshine was tomatoes in George's garden at Christmas!!!  I tell ya, California is paradise.

On Christmas Eve we started the day by driving down to San Diego airport to pick of Jason's little brother Jared.  We made a stop at La Jolla Cove.... our first visit since our wedding day.

 After we decided to go out on paddle boards around Oceanside Harbor.  Don't get any crazy ideas... I didn't dare leave the harbor.  The waves scared me.  But we had a great time paddling around the harbor looking at all the boats.  The weather was amazing!
We spent the rest of the day at the house with Jason's family.  Here are my only two pictures of Christmas day.... This is how Braithwaite's do Christmas.
And here is my Christmas workout outfit.  Yes, I look very much like an elf.

After an amazing dinner we headed out to try and make it to Cedar before everyone went to bed.  Of course we got stuck in horrible traffic headed up the Pass..... but we made the best of it by opening up a present to my parents.  Trivial Pursuit Party Edition.  It was a super fun game and loved playing it in Cedar.

Cedar of course was filled with lots of food, including the yearly tradition of the crab feast, hours of card playing, and of course football in the background.

One day Jason wanted to go check out his favorite climbing spot up Cedar Mountain.  So we went for a hike.  Sadly there was too much snow and WAY too cold to climb but it was fun hiking through a winter wonderland.

My coat you ask?  My dad's "bear huntin' coat" is the warmest thing ever.  

My family was so good to me and didn't do our traditional Christmas carol singing until Jason and I got there.  I tried to get a panorama picture of the whole group... here is as good as I could get.

Matchy Matchy Sunday....

We took Broc, Craig, Marcie, Chad, and my dad rock climbing down in St. George.  It was super fun having my family see Jason in his element and trying it out.  The highlight of possibly the entire trip was when my dad was doing a pretty difficult climb.  He actually did better than most of us in the beginning but then got tired when he was almost to the top.  It took all 4 of them to heave my dad to the top.  Funniest thing ever.

Jason helped my dad fix his snow blower and was super excited to go out and use it.  There was a -15 degrees wind chill so Jason dressed up accordingly.

Nils, Raine, Myra, Kenneth, and Natalie joined us on New Years Eve.  Sadly I was pretty sick but we made the best of it with card games, trivial pursuit, yummy food, and lots of good fun.  I didn't even come close to making it to midnight.... maybe next year.

Jason needed to get some more climbing in so we went down to St. George again on Friday.  It was unbelievably cold.... like 28 degrees.  But that didn't stop me from going on an amazing 10+ mile trail run and Jason climbed with some friends.  It was an amazing day.

The trip ended with my niece Sophie's baptism on Saturday.  After a tasty luncheon to celebrate her baptism we headed home.

It was a wonderful trip.  But the crazy thing is.... going home was just as wonderful as leaving.  I guess this is what it feels like to grow up.