Why am I a parent?

You know how you follow people on social media and then you feel like you are friends even though they have no idea you exist. Or maybe they do, but you're the 'creepy one' that keeps commenting overly nice things on their photos or sliding into their DM's when something in their stories makes you laugh so hard you pee a little? No? Just me?

Well I have done that to quite a few people and now they're my friends in my head even though we've never met.

All this to preface the story I'm about to tell with, "I was talking to one of my friends..."
So now you know when I say friend I mean friend in my head but they actually think I'm a creeper.

My friend posted something about their kid that was proof he was an incredible little person. I don't want to share the story because it's not mine to tell, but it was incredible. I messaged her saying that that was unreal and incredible. She messaged me back(maybe we are friends?) and said that she didn't know how she was supposed to raise someone so magical and that instead maybe she's supposed to let him raise her. I agreed saying that sometimes I look at Alice and think that she must be here to show me what life is about instead of the other way around.

That got me thinking about parenting. I understand, obviously, that there are a few things I can teach Alice.

Stoves are hot.
Knives are sharp.

But after that, what good am I, really? I can try to show her what I think it means to be kind and generous and accepting. And yes I will keep her safe from whatever I can. But as far as teaching her about life and being a good human and all that--I don't even have all that together myself!

I just don't know that I am able to teach her anything or 'raise' her the way people say you 'raise' children.


And everyone says they've learned so much more from their children than they thought they would or could or more than they could have ever taught them and that's all fine and good. But maybe it doesn't really need to be who teaches who.

Maybe I just get to watch Alice grow and be herself and instead of worrying about who is doing the learning and the teaching maybe I just get to wonder at who she is. Maybe I just get to watch her be and that alone gives me perspective and strength and joy.

And maybe she gets to watch me. And sure she probably watches me and a lot of the time it gives her anxiety but I hope it gives her perspective and strength and joy as well. Maybe I should stop worrying so much about making sure she knows and does 'all the things.'

I don't know. Anyone else have any ideas?


What is The Bachelor franchise actually good for?

Tyler gets 90% of the credit for this post. He said something after we watched ATFR that really made me think and is actually a brilliant analysis of the show.

The Bachelor franchise claims to be committed to helping people find love. They've set up the perfect scenario so that people can find their perfect match and live happily ever after. Well we all know the statistics and have heard a thousand times the numbers on 'bachelor couples' that actually stay together. It's disheartening to say the least. There are very few couples that found someone they wanted to be with and even fewer who have stayed with that person since they stopped filming their season. I'm not talking about that.

The ones who made it to the end, picked someone, and have found happiness and stayed with that someone are great. I think they're the rare lucky ones. Good for them, for basically gypping a system that is built to make you fail. I'm sure they're very grateful for what they have and work hard to maintain it, but like I said they gypped the system.

The Bachelor is not good at helping people find love. It has had a few flukes where people end up happy and in love, yes. But what the Bachelor is actually extremely skilled in is breakups. Heartbreak, heartache, getting dumped, being abandoned, that is the franchise's real talent.

At the end of the show on the final day when the lead is supposed to break up with one person and propose to the other, they always say the same thing. Some form of:

"Well I know it's going to be really hard to break up with (other person I'm dating), but I also know I have to do it to get to my happy ending (being engaged to other person I'm dating)."

And then in the After show and the months that follow that's basically what the show and the media is focused on. One person's broken heart/breakup and the subsequent joy of the other two people's happy engagement. They treat it like there was really only one difficult or true breakup on the season.

But let's take a look at the course of a season. Supposedly 25+ relationships/courtships begin on day one of the show. The women/men who are dating the lead are produced and then believe that they are the one dating the lead.

So then the show goes on and people leave/get broken up with. And then we see people cry. People cry on night one of leaving. And we laugh because we think that's silly that someone would cry for being broken up with after what appears to be 6 hours of 'dating.' And it is silly. In real life that would be silly to cry over someone you met 6 hours ago. But in Bachelor world it is not silly, it is serious and sad and dare I say, dramatic?

The show constructs this environment where you're enchanted and enamored on night one. You're already convinced that [insert location] is the perfect place to fall in love. You're (a little) convinced that the lead is probably the person for you and that you could see the potential possibility of wanting to fall in love with them.

So then when you get sent home, all of that environmental hype is crushed. You feel sad and hurt and embarrassed. And then the producers ask you questions like, "do you even want to find love?," "do you consider yourself a lovable person?," "do you ever think you'll find anyone who will love you?" So you cry, and talk about how all you really want in life is happiness and you thought sharing a house with 25 other people all trying to date the person you're dating would make you happy.

That is what the show is best at. They are professionals at creating an environment that makes you anticipate and want and desire things and then they take it away from you. They dangle some dreams in front of you, even let you smell the roses and then offer them to other people.

Going back to numbers it's almost laughable that they claim to help people find love. They've helped hundreds more people get broken up with than they could ever help find love.

This is not a diss by any means. It's actually an atta boy for the show. Well done for breaking hearts for the last 16 years and fine tuning your craft. Of course they're not going to advertise that they're in the business of breaking hearts, that's just bad taste. Who wants to watch a show where people get broken up with all the time?

ALL OF AMERICA! ME! YOU! We literally relish in seeing people get broken up with on television for 12 weeks. We feed the beast year after year. We don't like the happy endings. I mean those are great, yay for two people falling in love. But what we really want to see are all the tears and the rage and the swearing off of love for good (until the next season starts casting).

So we can't be upset at them for creating the pinnacle of what they are good at. The first unedited, raw, uncooked breakup ever shown on tv, ever?! They're just doing what they do best: heartbreak! So you go, Bachelor franchise. You own your craft, take credit where credit is due. You are the master of the breakup. How you'll top what you did this season, I'm not quite sure, but I'm sure you'll find a way even if it takes several more years. We'll all be here, watching and waiting. Do your worst, or I guess best.

Alice's Birth

Alice was born. I probably read hundreds of birth stories before I was pregnant and probably hundreds more while I was pregnant. And thank you, internet people, for writing down those stories and posting them. I am grateful I was able to read such a wide variety of experiences. There were maybe only a handful that really mentioned how they *felt* whilst having that baby. There were a lot of summary feelings like "crazy experience," "overwhelming," and "unbelievable." And I thought, "okay self, be prepared to feel overwhelmed and crazy and dumbfounded." Check.

I love this photo. The Mother-Baby sign, our baby bag, Tyler's school bag that we used for our stay, and his full hands.💛

Probably the most annoying phrase I heard, but also the most true, in hindsight, was that "you'll just know when labor starts, you'll just know." Every time I heard or read that I just made a gagging noise in my head, and thought in my most sarcastic voice, "mmhhmm thank you so much that's sooo helpful."  Now I understand that you just know.

But I feel like someone also should have said PAIN, REAL PAIN means you're in labor. When the real pain started it felt like I was trying to grasp something that was speeding past me just out of my reach. I was coping, but it kind of felt like I was chasing a train alongside the tracks. You're obviously not going to catch that train unless your Wonder Woman powers suddenly engage. Which I think is what actually happens when you have a baby. Your Wonder Woman powers manifest and you push a baby out.

So after I channeled Wonder Woman, out came Alice. And everything was weird. And then I held her and I just felt confused as to why she wasn't attached to me anymore and how she was going to live without living inside me. I was dumbfounded at how she came to exist. And we just started playing parents. I'll be the mom, you be the dad, and this will be our baby. Oh the baby cries, the baby sleeps, the baby eats. Oh what a cute baby she is. What a nice family we are. And scene.

All of these photos were created by Esther Edith.  We will forever be grateful for this reminder of the day we met our little girl and everything we felt. Esther is not only a talented photographer but a warm and kindhearted friend. 

Prayers and Pie. Thanksgiving 2017

Sometimes when it's my turn to say our family prayer I just start saying thank you for "ridiculous" things. It usually starts because I open my eyes while praying (gasp!) and just start expressing gratitude for the things I see. The ottoman, locks on our doors, a mattress, trees, our mailbox, shoes, silverware, socks, pens, paperclips, tiny perfume samples, receipts, chairs...so this actually just makes our house sound messy.

In the process of the ridiculous thanking, I find myself actually feeling gratitude for all of those little things. Those that make our life so comfortable. The ones that make our life easier. Those are the things that make it so I can focus on the bigger things. 

I get to focus on Alice, to play with her and comfort her and show and teach her new things. I get to focus on Tyler, do laundry or dishes so that when he gets home we get to veg on the couch together.

I get to work comfortably from our home so that we can eat and keep living here. I get to cook meals, because we have food to cook. 

I am so grateful for everything I have in my life. 

We spent our Thanksgiving at the J&A Ranch this year. It was over 60º every.day. 
Wednesday we played with family, started making our pies for the great Larsen Pie Contest of 2017, and enjoyed not working or going to school. 


Thursday we played outside, did some clay bird shooting AKA clay bird shooting and missing and instead shooting the cans 40ft away.

Alice loved riding with Papa until she didn't.

Getting the squint just right.
We had an incredible meal made by Tyler's mom and sisters and to which I contributed nothing, which is probably best.

We went to the movies to see Coco and Alice made it to about the part where supposedly there was a huge twist in the movie and something crazy was revealed. We'll go back another time. Or more likely watch it on Netflix in a few months. 

Then we had our Great Pie Contest 2K17! 
Banana Cream, Raspberry Cream Surprise, Pumpkin, Pecan Pumpkin, Caramel Apple, Key Lime, Cherry Brownie
The Raspberry Cream Surprise was a definite favorite, so light, creamy and perfectly tart.
Our Caramel Apple pie--tasted delicious...the structure however, did not impress.

One of each!
Serious pie judge deliberation!
We definitely chose winners but in the end doesn't everyone win at a pie contest? I think so. 

It is tradition in Tyler's family to drive up the mountain in trucks, then snowmobiles or four wheelers and cut down Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving. We've done it, twice, maybe three times since we've been married. It's always so fun to go up together and sip hot chocolate and hike to find the perfect tree and bring them all back down the mountain to have for the season. Inevitably there are sad babies and it's cold and usually takes longer than planned, but we're still all together and that can make any detour fun, usually. We had one of the sad/tired babies this year so we didn't hike all the way in, or hike at all for that matter. And we didn't bring home our own tree because airplanes don't allow trees, as far as I know. But I think everyone else had a good time.

Alice and her Aunt Rachel. 
We forgot Alice's coat (almost her hat) and had gloves that were too big and no shoes, but two pairs of socks. #winningatparenting
Saturday we slept in a little, ate some yummy leftovers, played outside some more and took family photos. I'll post those another time, but here's a lovely test shot.
Location scouting and test shots for the family photos. Is that a model or my husband? Or both? ;)
Again, I am extremely grateful for everything in my life. 

With and Without You.

There is a phrase that I see every once in a while, regarding one's significant other.
"I can't remember what life was like without you," or
"I can't imagine life without you."

Or something similar. You know what I mean. While I find those things cryptically sweet, I've realized I really don't hold those same feelings. I will never forget my life before Tyler.

Tyler and I met on a "blind date" even though he saw me before the actual date and asked his roommate to switch dates with him because I looked too tall.

Months later, we went long-boarding one summer evening and I remember feeling unabashedly joyful. Laughing and playing and forgetting that there was anything to do in the world but those two things.

We spent almost all of the rest of that summer's nights meandering around town, either on foot or in his truck.

We went to the park at all hours of the day and night. We read books and played games. Chased and tackled each other. And then laid in the grass forever wishing it was our own park, on our own planet, in our own universe.

We went to the lake and sat on the dock until we had what felt like thousands of mosquito bites. We tried to use toothpaste as anti-itch cream and when that didn't work we rinsed off in the nearest sprinklers.

We bought gas station junk food and parked at the top of hills to eat and dream and watch tiny Provo glitter below us.

We drove through the mountains in the rain and the sunshine and the moonlight.

We laid in the back of his truck on blankets, in the mountains, watching the stars come out.

We laid in the cool grass listening to the wind and watching clouds. The minutes seemed to slack so we could stay that way a little longer.

I left notes on his truck and he surprised me at school and work with treats and the biggest smile.

It was like we couldn't sit still with each other. I wanted to make him laugh every second that we were together because it was the funnest thing to listen to.

I asked him questions that lead to long stories so that I could listen to him talk. I fell in love with the sound of his voice.

He put on my jeggings and let me take a picture.

He grew a mustache and wore blue sweatpants and spandex in public because I asked him to be Nacho Libre for Halloween.

When we were still, I felt like I couldn't be near him without touching him. I'd put my legs on his lap and my hand in his hand. Even when we drove I had my hand on his neck or his arm or his leg so that he didn't feel so far away.

Months later, Tyler asked me what I thought the first time he kissed me. Without a breath, I responded, "uh-oh." Because I knew that I never wanted to kiss anyone else for the rest of my life.

Being with Tyler actually lit up my life. Before him I still had happy moments, lots of them actually. But the lens through which I was living wasn't as wide or as bright.

And then I met Tyler. And I finally saw how dim my life was.

Imagine it's the middle of one of the hottest days of the year. A day you wake up already warm. The sun seems to penetrate any layer of clothing you wear and soaks into your skin and through to your bones. You walk through the grass and then you hear that familiar click and burst and your glance is directed downward as a sprinkler pops up and schick-schick-schick.

Tyler turned on the sprinklers in my life. He refreshed a living, but lacking 'me.'

I would never say that I can't imagine life without Tyler. I remember what it was like to live without him. I can never forget how small and gray my life was before him because I now get to live with his light. My two lives are incredibly different and I'm so hashtagblessed I have the one with him in it, forever.

Now please enjoy a couple of my favorite pictures of the light of my life.