this, that and the other

That's basically what has kept me away for a while... I'd get into more details, but what it boils down to is lots of boring every-day stuff, plus my new iPhone 4s.

{Me + Siri = TLA}

Let me try and catch up on the past several weeks through a few pictures:

Tyler earned his varsity letter on the golf team this year; banquet was a few weeks ago. He missed going to regionals and state by a hair (actually, by about two strokes!)... but to letter as a freshman is pretty awesome. Great job, Ty, we're proud of you!

More than ever, Dingo wants to go for rides in the car. None of us can leave the house anymore without him thinking he's hittin' the road, too... so when we can, we take him along. (See how happy he is? Seriously, how can you resist a face like that?)

I'm not the only one who has a crush on Siri... Dave finally made the leap from his BlackBerry to iP4s, so now he's a member of the Apple cult as well. Tyler got one, too... but that's another story, one that deserves a post all by itself here pretty soon.

Now that golf is over and Weather has decided to head into the crapper for the next six months (welcome to winter in Utah), Ty needed something to keep him occupied... so he's lifting weights. These days he spends a good portion of the evening in the basement pumping iron... truth be told, I think he spends a lot more time finding songs on the radio than he does lifting weights, but that's just me.

"Hey, are you going somewhere? Can I come?"
Going to U of U football games is our big family activity. This is the Utes' first year in the PAC12 conference, so the season has been a little sketchy... but the games are still lots of fun. Halloween weekend was the "blackout" game, where everyone dresses in black. Would ya get a load of these thugs? Good thing I was wearing neutral gang colors...
Halloween! I think we had just under 12,000 trick-or-treaters come to our house, which was AWESOME... nothing like pumping Spiderman, Mario and Lady Gaga (yep, she totally showed up on my doorstep) full of sugar and sending them home to their parents.
"You're driving four blocks to get gas? Sounds AWESOME! I'm ready."
Ok, ok, Dingo... let's go.


grey smatter

There are days when my brain refuses to engage properly... when my grey matter can only manage spastic episodes of Complete Misfire before returning to its default state of Lame Idling. In honor of this phenomena, I affectionately call the mush in my skull "Grey Smatter."

Today, friends, is a Grey Smatter day.

So far today (btw, it's only lunchtime), this phenomena has caused me to:
  • Change clothes three times into what was essentially the exact same ensemble. Three pairs of black pants, three grey shirts and 30 minutes later, I realized what I was doing and just left the house wearing the last black/grey pairing I put on.
  • Almost leave the house in my slippers. I was backing out of the garage when I happened to look down at my feet and thought there were two baby skunks camped out on my floorboard... a split second later, I realized I still had on my black fuzzy slippers. I was so caught up in the epic battle of the Black Pants and Grey Shirts that, of course, putting on shoes completely escaped my attention.
  • Run a red light because, for some reason, it registered green. Let me qualify this by saying that I have been known to intentionally run "orange" lights from time to time... but this morning I actually rolled through an intersection (a sparsely-traveled one, thank goodness) thinking the light was green. Seriously, who does this?? People over the age of 80, people under the influence of alcohol... and people whose noggin is non-functioning.
  • Completely forget a prior conversation that is pertinent to a current conversation. All morning I was under the impression that we had to meet a noon deadline. When I asked my boss about it -- rather urgently, because a big part of my job is making sure we meet deadlines -- he reminded me that the deadline was moved to Wednesday. He also reminded me that I was in the room yesterday when we were informed that the deadline was moved to Wednesday. [Helpful Hint: When suffering from temporary stupidity caused by Grey Smatter, never ever tip off your boss, as he/she might mistake it for a permanent condition. Just spend the rest of the day sitting quietly at your desk, do the best you can to stay productive, and take deep cleansing breaths until it passes... or until it's time to go home.]

This is exactly what I will be doing for the entire afternoon so that, at worst, I am not a danger to myself or others... and at best, I get through the day without people thinking I'm a complete idiot.

Thanks to a head full of Grey Smatter, it's a long shot. Wish me luck.


go, fish

Behold: A new little fish at a big pond called Stansbury High School.

Classes started Tuesday. That morning he was his usual calm, collected,
no-need-to-make-a-fuss-it's-no-big-deal self.

But the night before, he came to me and admitted to having a butterfly or two.
"They'll be all these older kids there... which will be freaky."
{Freaky = Scary}

I reminded him that he knows lots of those older kids, and they'll be cool to him. I also reminded him of all the other freshmen, many of them his friends, who would be swimming right along with him... and in no time, they'd all be going with the flow.

"It's going to be a lot more work than junior high... and, dude, that sucks."

Yep, it will be more work. And from now on, it counts. So, my darling child, get a handle on that concept today. Right now. Otherwise, the suck factor you speak of will be of EPIC PROPORTIONS.

{Note his brooding above, over the prospect of Epic Suckage.}

We quickly changed the subject and talked about all the cool stuff.
He made high school the golf team, which he is loving,
and so far has qualified to compete in every tournament... not too shabby for a minnow!

We discussed the various clubs and activities,
which are great opportunities for him to get involved.
We also chatted about the games, the assemblies, the dances...
and all the other epic grab-ass that is High School.

{Note his elation above, at the prospect of Epic Grab-ass.}

As Tyler's Retired Diaper-Changer/Nose-Wiper/Lullaby-Singer, I gotta tell ya... he seems awfully big to me. {I mean, are ya lookin' at these photos?!} But in this context he is, indeed, a little fish in a big new pond... so my final counsel was short and sweet:

Stay alert. Stay close to good friends. Pray. Stay true to yourself.

"You're gonna rock high school SO HARD!" I chirped, all excited and smiley. "Do these things, honey, and you'll be just fine." He smiled, hugged me and went to bed. And then I cried.

Not because I'm worried about him. Not because I'm afraid he won't succeed. The tears were flowing because I know what high school really is.

For Tyler, it's a thrilling new beginning. For me, it's the beginning of the end.

And I know it's as it should be.

{Go, fish... and know that I love you.}


Fam Photos Part I

Last month my sister, Christine -- also known as The Darling of the Family, Vitamix Dynamo and Photography Wunderkind -- came to visit for a few weeks. The minute I knew she was coming I pounced on her, asserting whatever "I-Am-The-Oldest-You-Will-Do-What-I-Say" influence I might still possess and asked her to take our family pictures while she was here. She was happy and excited to oblige... and, in fact, was completely unaffected by my big-sister bullying. Which is precisely why she's The Darling of the Family.

Seriously, if you sat the Dirks down right now and asked us all to vote, she'd have it sewn up and IN. THE. BAG. Actually... the first round of voting would be thrown out because, being the self-absorbed narcissists that we are, we would all vote for ourselves... except for Christine, who would write down:

"In a million years I could never pick just one of you, because each of you are darlings to me. Please don't hate me for not picking, I love you guys so much! xoxoxoxo"

DIRK FAMILY: Do I not speak the truth? (Feel free to corroborate.) Which is why, when we voted again for real, Christine would take it in a landslide.

I digress. I meander. I tangent. Where was I? Oh, yeah... family photos.

The last time she took our photos was December 2009; they were taken in front of a totally cool barn that I'd driven past for years, and they turned out awesome. About a year ago I chose our next family photo location, another place I drive past all the time: An old abandoned railroad way station, sitting on the salt flats next to the Great Salt Lake, adorned with graffiti (the artful kind, not the ghetto subway station kind). Next to the building is a rusted out railroad car that's also bedecked with urban artwork. BINGO. The next time Chris was visiting in the summer, I knew that this was the place.

This first installment of photos features my faves of the Whole Fam Damily. Then I'll post my faves of Tyler, and then my faves of Dave and me. Actually, they're ALL my faves. I love this location, I absolutely LOVE how they turned out... and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my little sis for being so talented, so accommodating and... well, so damn darling. Thank you Chris!

{Thanks also to the Fam Damily for, once again, humoring your wife and mother... and for being so handsome and photogenic.}


fresh, man.

High school registration was yesterday. So we went to the school and filled out the forms...

Paid the fees ($226 -- and, for the briefest of moments, homeschooling seemed appealing)...

Got his yearbook picture taken (thank goodness he'd showered; he was even wearing school colors!)...

Got a locker (on the end, so he's got a little elbow room)...

Found his classes ("Whoa, I didn't realize this place was so big!")...

Found his friends (waaaay easier than finding his classes)...

And, finally, humiliated him by making him stand next to the mascot statue so his sentimental mother could take his picture, plaster it on her blog and preserve this moment forever. 

It's official: Tyler’s a Stallion!

{Also official: Mom's emotional! But we won't discuss that right now.}


pooh + keane = *sniff *

Last night I was in the throes of about five different projects at once when this came on TV. It caught my attention because I love, love, love the song "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane... but it was the music and the images that made me stop everything I was doing.

As crazy as it may seem, by the end I had full-on goosebumps and a honey pot in my throat! Listening to that song while watching my old friends -- friends I had all but forgotten as an adult, but cherished dearly as a child -- march over that bridge together brought tears to my eyes. In less than two minutes I went from a 41-year-old mom sorting bills to a four-year-old mophead sitting in front of her Fisher-Price record player, listening to Pooh's adventures while following along in her tattered-but-loved storybook.

"Oh simple thing... where have you gone?"

Back to the Hundred Acre Wood... where life is indeed simple, and sweet, and as wonderful as I remembered.


manners? yes, please.

So I found this list called 25 Manners Kids Should Know, and thought I would pass it along... not as a hint -- I repeat, not as a hint -- to any of my peeps, but merely as an item of interest. I came across it over the lovely, long holiday weekend...during one of the many, many hours I sat on my patio with a cold drink, doing next to nothing.

I can feel some waves of jealousy crashing in -- particularly from those who had 17 places to get their families to over the course of three days. You're all, "Yeah, so, how the hell did you swing that one, sister?" How, you ask, did I score a grundle of leisure time during one of the least leisurely weekends of the entire year? I'll tell you how:

  1. Because I made a deliberate decision to ignore the laundry
  2. Because it didn't occur to us to make holiday plans with family and/or friends, mostly because:
  3. Tyler is on a camping trip with his dad for a week and I had nobody to worry about, boss around or disappoint with my stupid Motherly Rules & Reasoning -- which resulted in a ridiculous, almost shameful, amount of free time
Quite frankly, that free time -- specifically, the copious amount I had in my son's absence, and what I did or did not do with it -- was surprising, unsettling... and may need to be explored in a future post. But in my defense, I did not say "absolutely" nothing. I said "next to" nothing because, HELLO, the list!

Speaking of the list... you'll find it below. The good news is my own kid has about half of these down pat. The bad news is my own kid has about half of these down pat.

Read 'em and weep -- or read 'em and cheer, and then march right over and give your Miss or Mr. Manners a big hug and kiss for being so polite and lovely!

I mean, please march right over... and thank you.


#1: When asking for something, say "Please."

#2: When receiving something, say "Thank you."

#3: Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

#4: If you do need to get somebody's attention right away, the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

#5: When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

#6: The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

#7: Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.

#8: When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

#9: When you have spent time at your friend's house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

#10: Knock on closed doors -- and wait to see if there's a response -- before entering.

#11: When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

#12: Be appreciative and say "thank you" for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

#13: Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.

#14: Don't call people mean names.

#15: Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

#16: Even if a play or an assembly {OR CHURCH} is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best… and you may actually learn something.

#17: If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me."

#18: Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't pick your nose in public.

#19: As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

#20: If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- again, you may learn something new.

#21: When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

#22: When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

#23: Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.

#24: Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

#25: Don't reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.


i see him

Can you see him?
The young man who used to be my baby boy?

I swear.
I turn my back for FIVE MINUTES and there he is...
Looking suave and sophisticated in a purple shirt and tie, 
moving easily among his fellow eighth-grade graduates.

He's got a LOTTA nerve, that one.

He and his friends complained about dressing up.
But secretly they didn't mind,
because the female demographic of this group
isn't shy about telling them they look hot in dress clothes.


Lord, help me.

The rate of maturity this year has been astounding. Alarming. 
But not the four-inches-taller-and-20-pounds-heavier part... the
"you're-calmly-defending-yourself-and-I'll-be-damned-if-you-don't-have-a-good-point" part.

I have no idea where he picked that up... probably on the bus. (Honestly, the crap these kids learn on the cheesewagon...)
At any rate, his newfound ability to behave rationally and reasonably is FREAKING. ME. OUT.

But don't be fooled by the rare moments of clarity. 
The hormones are still eating his brain like alien zombies
and he still visits the Land of Complete Boneheads nearly every day.

And there were PLENTY of shenanigans this year...
maddening and baffling and redundant to the point of total insanity.
In fact, rarely an afternoon would pass that
I wouldn't daydream about stopping by a liquor store after work,
because "taking the edge off" sounded very much like
Heaven wrapped in Nirvana sitting on a frothy cloud of Utopia.

Don't even get me started on the ground covered in the Cute Girl Department this year. This photo (and his goofball grin) should be explanation enough, right?

He learned a lot about girls this year, and some of that learning hurt. A lot. His heart got banged up and broken, and my heart broke for him.
"That's why they call them crushes. If they were easy,
they'd call 'em something else." (Name that movie!)
But we Recovering Adolescents know all too well there's usually 
only one way to move through those lessons: The hard way.

As it turns out, Tyler wasn't the only one learning lessons the hard way this year... I learned a few myself.
In parenting a 14-year-old, I made a really big mistake: I forgot what it was like to be 14 years old. I lost sight of the fact that this year is fraught with hard lessons and harsh realities. I forgot how hard it can be to find acceptance without compromising your values or your individuality. And instead of remembering, I spent months and months lecturing and punishing.

For most of the year, I totally flunked Unconditional Support.

And then, in April, I became desperate and miserable enough
to get on my knees and beg for help. And I finally, finally, saw things differently. I saw that I was the one who needed to change.

Now I see that he will make mistakes - the same ones, in fact, over and over and over again - and it will still be frustrating and disappointing.
But I cannot take it personallyHis choices are not a personal affront to me (although they seem like it). He does not make stupid decisions to drive me crazy (although they do).

He makes stupid decisions because making stupid decisions is how teenagers learn to make smart decisions.

Most of all, I see that this is only temporary.

I finally understand that adolescence is just the place he must pass through on his way to becoming the man I know he can be. This is only a pit stop, not the final destination... and understanding this crucial fact makes it SO much easier to accept him for the brain-dead, hormone-infested dork that he is.

I see him.
The young man who used to be my baby boy.

I see him immersed in his world, finding his own way.
And as I continue my retreat to the sidelines, 
once in a while he glances my way... just to make sure I'm still nearby.

I see you, son.
And more than words can express, I love what I see.



Is May gone already? Sorry. Lots going on this month... LOTS. I'll need to lose some sleep to catch up on a few posts that I need to write.

But until then, let's look at some vakay photos shall we?

Last month, while Dingo was locked up in the Petitentiary, we went to Arizona for a week. The guys played golf four times, and the pinnacle of the trip was their round at Grayhawk Golf Club. This was the first fancy schmancy golf course Tyler's ever played... and, of course, he loved every minute of it. He and Dave thought they had died and gone to Heaven. (In fact, they REALLY hope the track up there is as nice as Grayhawk.)

I dropped them off that day, because I wanted to see the course and take some pictures of them in action. When I went to pick them up, they weren't quite ready to say goodbye. So I sat on the patio, had some dinner and watched them on the practice greens for about an hour... and it was very easy to understand why they were lingering as long as they possibly could.

Grayhawk is a gorgeous, tranquil oasis in the Arizona desert... as you will see... and the highlight of our trip.