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Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Away

Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Away

This last month has been a time of almost constant rain. A desert girl at heart, I generally love rain. Growing up rain was novel and needed; any time it happened was a time to rejoice. At first I did just that. I reveled in the smell of rain and introduced my children to the beautiful sport of puddle jumping. As the weeks went on though, the skies grew darker, the sunny days turned into moments, the basement flooded, my four-year-old Target rain boots failed the waterproof test, and we floundered to know what to do indoors with a string of visitors. Every morning Noel and I would wake up, look out the window and beg the skies to “STOP raining!” Then we’d check the forecast and try not to cry when rain clouds paraded into the foreseeable future. We trudged on, checking the basement window wells to make sure they were dry, subduing our fears of dying in a hydroplaning car accident (maybe that was just me), watching the hourly forecast for an opportunity to dash out and mow the two foot tall lawn, and taking turns slogging through the rain on miserable runs that did little to rejuvenate the soul.

I generally consider myself to be slightly on the optimistic side of realistic, but I was beginning to feel genuinely blue. After a solid week of scattered showers with the occasional torrential downpour to spice things up, a literal ray of sunshine peaked out from behind the clouds. The kids ran outside to play and Noel and I sat in lawn chairs on the porch soaking up the sun Wall-E style. The sun only stayed for a half hour that evening and it would be a couple more days before the sun came out like that again, but it was enough to remind me that life wasn’t so bad and the skies won’t always be gray. The rain has finally eased up. The trails are passable enough for morning runs and we’re able to work in the yard without sinking into a mud bog. Despite what an unhappy month it was for me, I really am grateful for the rain – for how green it has made everything and for how much more I appreciate the sunshine.

This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure . . . as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress.

– Thomas S. Monson “I Will Not Fail Thee, Nor Forsake Thee

Also, I have decided a move to Seattle might not be in my best interest. For those that were missing us, here is a gallery of photos that should catch you up on all our adventures this last month.

 

80 Degrees Never Felt So Good

80 Degrees Never Felt So Good

Maybe you haven’t heard, but Colorado is on fire. We are lucky to be out of harm’s way at the moment, but it definitely feels like the entire state is on fire. We had five straight days of record highs and today is the first day we stayed in the 90s. We don’t have air conditioning or a swamp cooler, so regulating the temperature in our house to keep it from spontaneously combusting has pretty much monopolized all of our free time.

The thermometer on our porch

We’ve been running our awesome whole house fan all night to flush all the hot air out and suck cool air in, but that only does so much when overnight lows are in the high 70s. Thanks to a well insulated house our internal temperature has never exceeded 86, but it’s taken a lot of effort on our part to keep it from soaring any higher.  Four years experience of living without A/C has taught us a lot about surviving in the heat, but this week we’ve really had to use every trick in the book.

We’ve avoided the oven by cooking on the grill, utilizing our dutch ovens, and strategically placing the crock pot on top of the dryer in the cool basement. Every time we heat up the skillet we put it on the porch to cool off. We’ve set trays of water in front of fans to create  a low tech swamp cooler and eaten lots of popsicles. We even tried to move our sleeping quarters to downstairs, but quickly realized we’d get more sleep in our stuffy bedrooms than we would trying to get Cooper to sleep in my sewing room.

Then this afternoon a magical thing happened. A big thunderstorm rolled in and doused us with much needed rain cooling the air down more than it had been for days. I’ve never been more happy to see a thermometer reach 80 degrees. It felt like a cool spring day.  It’s crazy what your body can get used to.

Use the Heat

Use the Heat

We’ve already had some record highs here in CO and the forecast isn’t making us feel much better about things. It’s unpleasant and kind of scary with all the fires we already have, but I’m doing my best to find at least something good in this whole situation. Not only do my clothes dry faster than they would in the dryer, but I’ve found some awesome ideas for channeling the sun’s power to cook. I’ve pinned a few DIY solar cookers I think could be fun to try, some of them look really easy requiring simple things like cardboard and aluminum foil. Then there’s a method for baking cookies in your car, which I would totally try if our car sat somewhere besides our garage. The one thing I actually have tried though is making fruit roll-ups in the sun.

I used this recipe for 100% real fruit snacks, spread the stuff on a pan, covered it with some netting so things wouldn’t get stuck in it, and sat it in the sun for most of the day. Delicious and my house didn’t get heated up. Perfect. My only advice is don’t put two different flavors on the same pan because they don’t cook at the same speed, so my berry side was a lot tougher than my mango apricot side. I’m definitely going to be making more.

Solar Powered Clothes Dryer

Solar Powered Clothes Dryer

It’s strange that a rope strung up between two trees could bring me such contentment. If the extraction of all the original clotheslines from pretty much every backyard in our neighborhood is any indicator, I certainly don’t think most people feel the same way. Or at least they’ve forgotten that they should feel that way. There’s just something about the simpleness of it. A row of sun bleached diapers fluttering in the breeze or a collection of Men’s pants almost as tall as me suspended by tiny wooden clips drying effortlessly in the sun. A baby kicking her chubby legs and cooing as she stares in wonder at the canopy of leaves high above our heads. A little boy squealing with delight as he plays peek-a-boo in between dangling sheets. My mind wanders as I move up and down the line touching on the deep and the trivial. The chirping of the birds and scrambling of the squirrels overpowers the distant whirring of cars on the interstate. Slow Down, the Universe seems to whisper.

During the winter months, I miss this. The dryer is an amazing machine. But, as warm and fluffy as it makes our clothes, it just doesn’t give me the same feeling.  It shuttles its cargo around in a rush, beeping at me when it’s done. Workaholic. At the first sign of spring, Noel loops the rope around two of our yard’s loyal trees, pulling it taught with a Bowline knot on one side and a Tautline knot on the other. I standby with a basket of wet clothes, both of us waiting to soak in the sun.

PS DIY Outdoor Clothesline and brilliant Indoor Space-Saver Clothes Dryer Rack

 

Sundays and Sun

Sundays and Sun

Still no baby, but it won’t be too much longer.

Every Sunday we drive by the Unitarian church and read their sermon topic off their sign. They always have such interesting topics and some Sundays it is so tempting to attend their one hour sermon instead of our three hour block. (One Sunday I was sitting in the last hour of church and one of the other primary instructors pulled out this cartoon.) The past couple of Sundays I’ve dutifully attended sacrament meeting and then taught my bunch of wiggly 7-9 year-olds (Ten of them were there this last Sunday, ten!), but the last hour I’ve been ditching my final meeting -where it’s my duty to sit in an uncomfortable folding chair and shush kids for that excruciating third hour of church. It is seriously debatable who wiggles more, the three-year-olds or me. Instead, I’ve been sitting in the foyer in one of the comfy armchairs. I stare out the window and ponder or talk with other adults (so nice) as they go about their business. At first I felt kind of guilty, but it’s honestly made my Sundays so much better since I leave church feeling more at peace and less like I’m going to kill someone.

On Saturday it was really warm out. Noel went for a run and I pushed Cooper around in the Chariot at a moderate waddle. When we got home I stretched barefoot in our front yard and dreamed about pushing two kids around on sunny spring days. I too often forget how much better I feel when I spend time outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Here’s to looking forward to double the snuggles and more sunny days in the not too distant future.

38 Weeks as of Saturday

 

Sunny Days

Sunny Days

I’m told that Golden has just as many sunny days as San Diego. Although I’m sure our sunny days aren’t as warm on average, we’ve had some really warm days this week. (For our friends and family in actual warm climates we’re talking high 50’s here.) I’ve loved opening my windows to circulate fresh air into the house and being able to let Cooper play outside. Yesterday, we went for a family walk during Noel’s lunch break. There were several people out on walks or working in their yards who shouted out friendly hellos.  I love how warm weather encourages neighborliness. When we got back to the house, Cooper dug around in the dirt while I lounged barefoot on the porch swing reading a book. Glorious. Maybe it’s because of all the health benefits of Vitamin D or the fact that we’re avoiding a face-off with Seasonal Depression, but there’s something about sitting outside in the sun that just makes me happy.

 

Spring?

Spring?

The Poetry of Bad Weather

Someone had propped a skateboard

by the door of the classroom,

to make quick his escape, come the bell.

For it was February in Florida,

the air of instruction thick with tanning butter.

Why, my students wondered,

did the great dead poets all live north of us?

Was there nothing to do all winter there

but pine for better weather?

Had we a window, the class could keep an eye

on the clock and yet watch the wild plum

nod with the absent grace of the young.

We could study the showy scatter of petals.

We could, for want of a better word, call it “snowy.”

The room filled with stillness, flake by flake.

Only the dull roar of air forced to spend its life indoors

could be heard. Not even the songbird

of a cell phone chirped.  Go home,

I wanted to tell the horse on the page.

You know the way, even in snow

gone blue with cold.

– Debora Greger

I love the lines in the poem where the students wonder if all the dead poets have “nothing to do all winter . . . but pine for better weather?”  We’ve had some really nice weather lately. The past couple of days have been stroller pushing, park playing, chaco wearing, jacket forgetting kinds of days. I officially blame the weather for the plethora of half completed drafts I have yet to finish and post. The forecast indicates that winter will be making a comeback, and perhaps the writer in me will come with it. In the meantime, I think I’m due for today’s dose of Vitamin D therapy.

Mornings

Mornings

In spite of how hard it often is to wake up (especially since the arrival of the child), I love being awake in the morning. Everything has a certain crispness in the early hours, a freshness that assures me that all that was bad from the day before is being rolled away with the receding darkness. Smells and ideas are pleasant and distinct. Sometimes I feel as if I am the only person on earth awake, free to dream while the rest of the earth sleeps. My mind has been dusted; free of cobwebs I am able to recall passages of scripture and snippets of poetry that I did not realize I knew. Each ray of sun slipping through my windows bolsters my resolve to be a better person, to try harder than I did the day before. The world is at peace and so am I, at least for the duration of the sunrise.

Here’s what I was thinking about this morning.

Chance of Rain

Chance of Rain

The first summer of our marriage was dry and hot. The mountains caught fire, the grass died, and there were so many people at the public pool you could hardly move.  I know that’s not uncommon for Utah, but for some reason that summer felt worse than others. It was the first summer we both worked full-time 8-5 jobs, and we took it so seriously that we hardly went on any vacations. We were training for our first marathon and the only way we could escape the sweltering heat was to run at 5am (that happened about once) or 10pm with our headlamps. It was also our first summer in the Love Grotto, a quaint and cozy, heat trapping attic. The place came equipped with a tiny window unit that only partially worked, but mostly spit out mysterious black dust. At night we would leave all the windows and even the front door open in hopes that some of the cool night air might seep into our oven-like abode.  Every morning we found both the air and my foolproof home burglary system of crisscrossed brooms untouched.  It took Noel months to convince me that purchasing some fans and a new air conditioner unit wouldn’t be a waste of our resources.  It was miserable.

I’m the kind of person that generally gets excited about thunderstorm warnings. I love how a hot afternoon can change to a downpour with the right combination of air currents  and that summer I prayed for this phenomenon more than ever. Anytime there was 10% chance of rain I took my rain jacket to work, ignoring my co-workers snickers at my unfailing optimism. For months that rain jacket accompanied me home hugged in the nook of my sweaty arm. It wasn’t until the weekend before school started that rain finally came and when it did Noel and I weren’t the only people standing in our yard, faces turned to the sky, beaming as water streamed down our skin.

Weather wise, this summer has been my favorite to date, but I still watch the weather for those blessed thunderstorm warnings. Yesterday my patience was rewarded and I was able to share my enthusiasm with Cooper as I took him puddle jumping for the first time.

I think he likes it. Thunderstorms here are pretty similar to Utah, although apparently they can get some pretty wicked microbursts. We just make sure we put our car in the garage when the sky gets menacing,

This house is actually about a mile down the street from us and got hit pretty bad by a microburst last summer. It's even more dramatic in person

Sun

Sun

Whenever I’m asked to close my eyes and go to my favorite place, I always find myself surrounded by hot, red sandstone. A breeze tickling my face as I completely relax, lizard-like, and absorb rejuvenating UV rays. It’s always a disappointment to come back to the reality of air conditioned buildings with few windows. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still been known to use the A/C and I hate sweating when I’m wearing nice clothes, but in the early days of spring I get excited when I slip into my car and am met with warm air courtesy of the greenhouse effect.

Sometimes I think the sun gets a bad reputation because it’s been known to burn people, but it generally can be avoided with a little SPF 50 (my sun protection factor of choice). Cooper’s first pediatrician told me I should be giving him Vitamin D drops daily because although human milk has supposedly been the perfect thing for human babies for centuries, modern science has found it’s one flaw: lack of Vitamin D. I found this to be somewhat irksome since I don’t have deformed bones and never had supplements (and probably because I’d been previously reading a lot of “Hippie” childbirth books), but didn’t want to chance having the kid with rickets. Cooper hated the liquid vitamins and I only remembered to give them to him about once a week anyway.

Recently I’ve been reading an interesting book (Thanks for leading me to it Lina!) that absolved my guilt for letting my child wander down the slow path of deformity. Now I make sure Cooper and I spend a little time outside every day for our Vitamin D therapy. Besides, I think it makes us both happier.