Monday, August 1, 2016

A Decade with Danny (aka Happy Anniversary to me, us.)

August 1, 2006 Danny Mangum and I married. Here are some thoughts I recorded last night before bed:

Ten years ago this evening I was trying to get myself to settle into bed, when I received a call from my fiancé’s mom.
“Have you heard from Danny?” She asked, in a panic.
“No why? Is everything ok?” I asked, mildly freaking out when she said, “He’s been jumped!”

My body went into a mild panic attack before I realized she meant that his friends had kidnapped him for one last night of guy-fun; but my brain had gone to worst-case-scenario regardless.

Fast forward ten years later. My husband is in the garage of my parent’s second home in Southern Utah, putting tie-downs on a bedframe we’re relocating to our place in Salt Lake (which also happens to be the house he grew up in) as I finish up a press release for work.

We spent three hours of the day at Mormon Church in St. George – which is often different than our Salt Lake experience. This “ward” we attend down here seems to always come with a few surprises… like today when the Relief Society teacher was talking about the current political and social climate declared: “It makes me just think we should all get our guns and our year supply and head up to the cabin in the mountains!” She also admitted to spending five hours on Candy Crush at some point, so I wasn’t sure we had loads in common.

This is the same place (ward) where almost 20 years ago a Sunday School teacher spent a good portion of his class trying to make the case that Cain and Bigfoot were the same person. So, I know I’m always in for a treat when we hit up church down here.

Aprés church, the afternoon was spent napping and watching a Harry Potter Marathon – because it’s his birthday weekend and all. Tomorrow we celebrate our family’s birthday – at a musical (Mary Poppins), in Cedar City. Though next month we head to Cancun, for celebrating just “us.”

In the ten years we’ve been married, we’ve lived downtown, and in (one of) the houses of my youth and the house of his. We’ve given birth to two awesome kids – now four and seven. We’ve traveled to Florida & France, Sun Valley & Switzerland; Mexico and Massachusetts, Hawaii and… plenty of other places.

We’ve lost grandparents, and watched our siblings struggle with really hard life experiences. We’ve struggled in our marriage, but found a way to fall in love deeper and stronger than ever before. We’ve looked for ways to understand one another and figured out how to better fill one another’s cups.

We’ve gone to yoga classes, and Crossfit and run races like Ragnar and half-marathons together. We’ve gotten chubby on plenty of occasions and on less of those occasions we’ve lost some weight too.

We’ve enjoyed amazing meals and friendships and laughed so hard it felt like our bodies had been possessed. (And it felt amazing).

We’ve talked about our dreams and fantasies… and some of those have been created into reality and some we’re still working on. We’ve played out various manners of the hypothetical and started to prepare for the worst, even though we’re really hoping for the best.

We’ve asked questions about the future, and the eternities – philosophy and religion. (Well, maybe one of us has asked more of those questions – but the other person has been super supportive of the whole process.)

Sure it’s cliché, but somehow the decade gone by seems like it was just a few months ago…and there’s another piece to the puzzle -- we that can’t remember life without one another.

Danny, you are the leveling force in my life. When I lose faith or hope, I always feel safe putting it in you until the storm passes. Thanks for your patience with me, loving me unconditionally and for starting the journey with me. Thanks for loving me mind, body and soul. Like Ben Folds reminds us: “I am the luckiest.”

Happy Anniversary Cher Danny. Ten down, eternity to go (and I wouldn’t have it any other way.)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Love : Heal : Declutter : Run - 2016 Intention Update

I know people say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions... but I think they're mostly of the religious orthodoxy set and I'm a MormonYogi so I'm pretty certain I get a pass from the couple upstairs.

Around December I decided that this was the year I was NOT going to set a weightloss goal. Because even if I made it, there was a possibility I would "un-make" it and that just leads to trauma. We could get into more of the back story, but I think it 'sufficeth' to say I wanted to take a different approach to personal growth and well-being in 2016.

2015 was plagued with injury and stuff. I wanted to be done with the stuff--and the injuries so one day it came to: "Just pick a mantra." And then I built on that, and instead of a word or a phrase I picked four words I wanted to infuse my life with: "LOVE, HEAL, DECLUTTER, RUN."

So here we are, about a third of the way into the year, and I think I'm due for an update.

What I wanted was to love my family more. Love God more. Love my body more. And it's been happening. We got a little gold bell in the kitchen that I ring as opposed to yelling for my children to "come." Call it old-school Pavlovian response -- but there's something different about our home when I'm patient in the mornings -- and the act of NOT raising my voice, helps immensely with that. I've also tried to just enjoy the time we're in. My kids are growing up -- they're getting more independent and life seems a lot easier to manage with them, but I don't want to fall prey to wishing they'd stay young. I'm really trying to enjoy "this" phase. Right here, and right now. It doesn't always happen, but I'm definitely trying to be mindful of it.

Danny and I have continued with our quarterly couple trips -- anywhere from a night away to a week. We had a wonderful trip to Ventura California last quarter and will be heading to Indianapolis for a work trip (his work, not mine but I get to tag along) and then to Cancun in September to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary.

As far as my body -- that one has been a little more challenging. With my Plantar Fasciitis (PF) reaching an all time low in 2015, working out was not a priority and running was completely off the table. Even yoga and riding a bike was painful. Take that coupled with my love of sugar and chocolate chip cookies and there's going to be a few more layers of me to love.

Loving whatever skin I'm in is not an easy thing for me. But I try to continue to remind myself that my body can do amazing things and to practice gratitude for this skin I'm in. Reading more about intersectional feminism has played a huge role in shifting my framing and recognizing that #AllBodiesAreGoodBodies. And when I look for the beauty in all those around me, it's easier to see it in myself.

I set out at the beginning of the year to heal my heel and foot pain. The physical changes in my PF have come from lots of hot yoga (ideally four classes minimum a week), rolling out with a Yoga TuneUp or racquetball and getting deep tissue release done using the Lokte Method.

But what I've also realized this year is that the foot pain is a symptom, not just the problem. There's a lot of healing that's needed to happen within my religion (I'm talking to you Horrid month of November). I think belief is something that ebbs and flows -- and while I can't deny a personal connection to God, it's easy for me to see that there is Truth all around.

Healing my relationship with Divinity has been a major player in my year. Sometimes I feel like I'm best off treating the LDS Religion like a LeLeche League or AA meeting where they start with the disclaimer: "Take what works and leave the rest." I recognize that to many of my brothers and sisters in the faith will think I soundlike I'm not staying in "The Ole' Ship Zion"... but I'm a PostModern-Feminist member of the Faith... I'm not really fitting into anyone's paradigm with my belief system -- nor do I aspire to.

The good news is, as my philosophical foundation shifts and moves to something more tolerable and less painful (just letting go of all the cognitive dissonance is a real key), I'm feeling more grounded. And with that comes more healing in my body's foundation -- my feet.

I think part of the healing processes has come with decluttering -- physically and emotionally letting go of things that are no longer of benefit (or as the KonMari method would say "Only hold onto things that bring you joy.") The truth is, there is plenty in the LDS Faith that still brings me joy. And plenty to believe in (plenty to let go of as well -- wink, wink) and that has been the key.

As far as the actual physical stuff, I bought the book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" after multiple recommendations from friends and it has been a wonderful blueprint to get rid of stuff. More than 30 bags and boxes of "STUFF" has been sent to the Road Home, a friend, the recycle bin or in some cases the trash. What a wonderful feeling!

This one's a little harder. We had signed up for the Ogden Half Marathon last year and it's just two weeks away. While I started the year with some mornings where I couldn't even walk -- I have managed to get in multiple 2-3 mile runs (ok, jogging really) which sounds like nothing when I remind myself before Z was born I used to run 30-40 miles a week. But I guess everyone starts somewhere. I don't think I'll run the 1/2 marathon -- it's now only a week and a half out, and although it's more than likely I'll finish, I still need a couple of recovery days just for the shorter runs. I'd like to take it slow and start up again when I'm a little more on the up-and-up. But it's progress.

And 2016 is all about the journey -- not the destination.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

This weekend, and what didn’t show up on my iPhone...

 Getting a late start on our road trip to Upstate Utah – but stopping in Ogden for beignets and waffles at Pig in a Jelly Jar on Historic 25th Street, and then heading to Scruds for milkshakes where Holden climbed up to the bar and proclaimed: “We’re not here for beers or alcohols!”

I didn’t snap a photo of the kids arranging flowers for their two “Greats” and Grandma Stevie, or cuddling with Holden in his bottom bunk-bed as we whispered Math Facts into the darkness.

We ate meals around a giant table with four generations present and I watched Holden escort his Great Grandmother to the table and then (with no prompting from adults) watched him pull out her chair kindly and proudly.

She later would tell him about her Mother driving a car pregnant – and he would listen… and then later in a quiet moment to her reflect and remark “It must be hard having your husband gone.”

Zoë would make pictures for the Greats – with pictures of pianos, soccer, and flowers with petals leaves and pollen.

We would jump on the new trampoline – play ‘crack the egg’ and roast smores on the gas fire pit at “The Barn.”  We found pauses in the rain to shoot hoops and walk along the river with Danny’s parents while the kids rode bikes and stopped to look at a tree, a poinecone, smell some flowers or in Holden’s case – discover a snake.

When we stopped at the park he was convinced he found tadpoles – his Grandma and I thought they were a lichen on the river’s rocks, but on closer inspection they were actually some form of worm.

We made it back to The Barn. Holden leading the way and not complaining once about hauling his bike up the hill.

The rain would return but  that wouldn’t stop Zoë from her time on the tramp. At one point, the kids jumped nonstop for almost an hour.

We cuddled. We read stories. Holden started The Jungle Book with his Grandma while I finally got a shower. Danny tried to watch baseball. We all had naps – except Holden. He worked on art projects and spent time drawing comic books and working on art projects.

Stevie and I moved in synchronicity on food prep. Some how bobbing and weaving but not having to say much to one another and she mastered  the grill and we produced massive amounts of food for another meal before catching the Derby race.

The next morning Danny presented me with a flowery card that included purple butterflies. I saw it an immediately knew he had;t picked it out. “Where did you get this card?” I said, chuckling. “Zoë insisted you loved purple butterflies,” he said. He didn’t have to, but I loved we were both in on a secret joke – that was more sweet than silly.

We’d head to Snowbasin for brunch with 15 other family members. And still, I didn’t have my phone for pictures. I was just still taking it all in.

On the ride home, the Great Gradmas would join us, and before the kids settled into games on their electronic devices, Holden suggested we play the “Movie Game” where we’d recite lines from films and the rest of the car members would try to guess where they came from.

After that, the Greats shared a bit about what life was like before television – or even radios in Marion’s case. Holden wanted to know what football was like in Barbara’s (“G.G’s”) day and the most popular sports that Marion (“Nana”) enjoyed.

I thought a lot about my own Mother over the weekend (who is traveling overseas.) I thought about my Grandmas and my sisters. 

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes I also think, it’s better to leave the camera-phone behind.

Monday, February 1, 2016

An Open Letter to Holden on your Seventh Birthday

Holden, at just past 6pm this evening, you’ll officially be seven. Thanks for making me a Mom

I don’t want to tell you to stop growing up, because I am (doing my best) to enjoy the journey as it is happening.  And like a fine wine (apparently), you get better with age.

Things that you have enjoyed doing this past year:
  • Starting sewing class – you gave up on patterns early and now primairly use the time to just come up with your own creations
  • Playing baseball – coach pitch. You love to hit. (Playing defense is coming…)
  • Getting into sports – finally you’re excited about attending a sports event with your Dad, and it’s not JUST about the Dippin’ Dots.
  • Starting first grade – you are LOVING all the studies in zoology, geography, botany, history… I’m especially loving that you hold your teachers in such high regard. They are some seriously SMART women.
  • Learning Spanish and German at school – you prefer German.

Things I am so appreciative about you:
  • Your sense of humor. Holden, you make us laugh. You have been saying hilarious and insightful things since you started talking… which didn’t happen much until you turned three, and then the flood gates were opened!
  • Your questions. Even though there’s been some hard ones (the physiology behind where Jesus came from is always one that comes to mind) and how you just have an indefatigable thirst for knowledge and answers that cannot be quenched.
  • Your patience. You are so patient with Zoë. She looks up to you so much, and wants to be with you and like and is still convinced she is going to marry you. (I know you keep telling her it’s illegal, and eventually she’ll catch on).
  • Your creativity. You still spend hours in your art room, making books and pictures – “video games” that actually require no electricity or internet – just our imagination. Or building cities, planets and entire worlds with Legos. I hope you never stop creating.
  • Your heart. Hugging me, befriending those who need it. Saving the whales. #BlackLivesMatter, using “less petrol,” and on and on.
  • Your Feminism. (Seriously, SO proud!) We saw ‘Taming of the Shrew’ and your biggest concern was how Petruchio was treating Katherina, “No man should treat his wife that way.” You ask questions about equality and bust gender norms (hello, amazing gold sparkle shoes). And you want to vote for Hillary Clinton. I chuckle as I write this because your future partner is a lucky person (also remember, no serious dating until college).

Things I hope for you:

  •  That when the grown-ups ask "what do you want to be?" that you respond in one of to ways: “Happy,” or “I already am."
  • That you’ll reconsider trying to grow a “fro” and embrace the power of the man-bun.

Happy Birthday Buddy.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Memoir (i.e. Annual Brag) 2015

Merry Christmas! Season’s greetings! Joyous Festivus for the rest-of…. well you get the idea.

Before you get too far into this thing, I'll mention if you're just here for the kid's quoteables, you can find them here and here. (Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled post). 

2015 has been an interesting year. Winter is really party time for us – it seems like once we’ve finished giving thanks we move straight in to Birthday Mode. Zoë’s birthday in early December, Christmas, and then Holden and Danny celebrate a year older the beginning of February.

So last winter is basically a white blur – that could also be because we spent more time than ever up at Snowbasin – skiing and eating really expensive French fries (we liked the fries so much we’ve got season’s passes for 2016).

Last January the kids also started ice-skating lessons. It’s the ONLY activity we’ve put Z in (besides school) that she actually has stuck with and enjoyed. Soccer and t-ball mostly ended in frustration and tears (for me and Zoë.)

Once the birthday rush was over, I had a mid-life-crisis of sorts where my brain completely lost its ability to function properly and I volunteered to plan my 20-year high school reunion. So basically, most of 2015 was spent planning a party for people I haven’t seen in years, but had some odd desire to reconnect with two decades later. (It turned out to be a blast, just in case you were wondering – but glad it’s over).

We settled into our new house in Holladay and enjoyed having close neighborhood friends the kids can play with.

Holden (almost 7) and Zoë (who turned 4 on December 7th) are both in school full time. Holden is five full days a week, and Z is attending four days a week. I upped my Public Relations and Communications consulting hours to help offset the cost of private schooling… and was a little nervous about a full-day pre-school. But I should’ve known better. Zoë has loved going to school since she was two years old. She’s thriving, and we’re thrilled.

Both kids are also learning a little Spanish at school – so at least someone in our family will be able to speak the language of our heritage (ok genetics. My biological grandmother is a native from Central Mexico, as you can almost tell from my kids.)

Holden has landed himself in a class with a teacher that is especially interested in Science and hands-on projects… in addition to math, science, art, dance, geography and practical life, he’s also learning German. It’s his favorite language….just ask him.

Both kids are ‘taking’ piano lessons. We try to have the teacher come in twice a week because I refuse to practice with them… or make them practice (they’re barely four and six!) Besides, I’m not trying to raise virtuosos – just kids with a little music theory and a background where they can jam at a jazz club someday, serenade a significant other if need-be, or accompany a few hymns at church.

Holden caught the coding bug this year. We got all excited about the international “Hour of Code” initiative ( and after seeing the possibilities at Neumont University (where I spend most of my public relations consulting efforts), Holden says his number one focus is learning computer programming “so I can make my own video game and learn robotics.” I’m pretty sure when I was six my #1 goal was figuring out how many different shades of pink I could get into my bedroom – but to each their own.

Holden's other passion is his new love for sewing … he’s made a couple of “ugly dolls” (one of him and one for Z’s birthday present); and most recently created an orange demon with black buttons for nipples. His teachers say he’s super creative – which I'm sure is sincere, and is also code for “doesn’t love to use patterns.”

He also enjoyed playing coach-pitch baseball this Fall – so he’ll probably play in the majors in a couple of years. #sogifted #almostcancatchtheball

Zoë’s biggest news is that she invented a new superhero called “Pink Cake Girl.” We don’t know a lot about her, except that she saves the day, has to wear gloves because she has lava hands and she has pink hair… and sometimes a cape…and sometimes a mask…and sometimes is a villain. She’s very free-form.

Another one of Z’s passions is fashion. I started a hashtag on Instagram #stylebyZoë because she’s been really interested in picking out her own clothes and dressing herself lately. #somanyshadesofpink #somanypatterns

We remain active participants in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I say that with an understanding that so many of the friends we send Holiday cards to are not members of the LDS faith (and admittedly it's been an interesting year in Mormondom to say the least). Danny and I are doing our best to teach our children the golden rule. We try to focus on the “fruits of the Spirit”--peace and patience and tolerance. And when we come in contact with a dogma or procedure that seems like it doesn’t quite fit into that vein, we do our best to help our children understand the higher law of Love and focus on what’s working.

So within our Faith, the real key component is our family unit as a focus -- and from that starting point, being a collective force for good on this planet. We’re not perfect, but I think our hearts are in the right place – and we’re trying.

I really love that Danny and I are growing closer in a different way. While I reflect fondly on our time as newlyweds (the giddy joy and wonder that comes with the newness of just being married to your best friend)  I am grateful for the transformation in our marriage that has made us so much stronger. I’m so thankful we’ve made “us” a priority. While we try to do weekly date-nights, our real commitment to one another has been a get-away a quarter. Whether for a night or a few, we’ve taken trips to Vegas, Park City, New Orleans and just downtown Salt Lake. It’s been so great to date without a curfew again. 

Danny is the most caring and tender husband and father. Since he finished his masters last year, we’ve all been trying to figure out what to do with all the extra time on our hands. Wait, what? Unfortunately we all know that life rarely works that way – the time seems to fill itself. But we’re grateful he’s home early most evenings and is also a part of our morning routine. We’ll celebrate 10 years of marriage in August; and I’m looking forward to seeing what this next decade holds for us together.

We hope you and yours are doing well. We are thankful for friendship – those close to us and those we keep in our hearts (i.e. on Instagram and Facebook).

Loves –
Sabrena Suite-Mangum (for)
Daniel “Danny” Mangum
Holden Daniel Mangum
Zoë Suite Mangum

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ode to ZoëBug: Four Today!

Usually I put together my kid's tributes by visiting their birth stories. And for me, Z's is a story of miracles and redemption all wrapped into one glorious package.

But I started penning this tribute to Z early Sunday't-sleep early. It had been a crazy fun Saturday. We kicked off celebrating Z's birthday with a party for her and her school girlfriends at SoCupcake. Then we headed downtown for dinner, the lights and an overnight at Little America (because The Grand was more than double the price tag for one night and Z asked for "the chocolate fountain place" for her birthday dinner, which is Zoë-speak for 'brunch at the Grand.')

The night was pretty perfect... Meaning that nothing really went according to plan, but overall we had a great time -- a big part due to Bryan the Bike-Cab peddling our 400-plus pound family around town. 

He waited at the gates of Temple Square as we popped in for a quick peak at the nativity when it magically started right as we got there. I told Z she could nestle her way to the front, just ahead of the two adults in front of me... I bent down close to her ear and pointed out the Shepards, then stood up and watched for just a moment when I looked down and she was gone. 

I turned back expecting to find her by Danny -- she wasn't there. And then the panic hit me.

"I've lost Zoë," I tell him with a sense of urgency that bordered on frenzy. We split directions down the narrow walk-way. And the two minutes it took to find her were the longest of my life -- where your head starts talking crazy what-if's. 

Somehow she had just missed us in the crowd of adults in parkas, and wandered back towards where we had come from. 

I think that very real feeling of thinking even for a split-second I had lost her, is what is keeping me from settling into sleep this morning... So I figured I might as well start her annual update. 

So, in that light, this is for you Zoë. You're irreplaceable... 

To our Zoë-Bug: 

I like how when two people are lying down next to each other in bed, you'll nestle right on top of them -- push in and then say: "You're squishing me guys!"

In fact, you say a lot of hilarious things now that you're talking. 

Things you love:
Juice -- any kind. From crappy Capri Sun to fresh pressed carrot-apple-beet juice with ginger, you LOVE juice. 

Painting -- you'll paint on anything: paper, pumpkins, sea shells. We go through a lot of water colors. 

School -- I was a little apprehensive about how four full days of school would work out for a three year old. But you love it, and are thriving...the biggest problem is that they get you during your best parts of the day. Saturday night, as you were laying in bed happily singing the names of the continents, I knew we had you in the right place.... "and don't forget Oceania." 

You created a superhero alter-ego called "Pink Cake Girl." She saves the day, and "has to wear 'globves' because she has lava hands. It makes sense, last year for your third birthday I wrote about how you don't talk much but when you do, it's usually to say "Tastes like pink cake!

So "Pink Cake Girl" -- sometimes she has a crown and a purse.
Sometimes she wears a cape. 
Sometimes she wears black running shoes. 
Sometimes she's a villain.

But I think what I like most about PCG -- besides that you made her up, is how she's constantly adapting. 

Your favorite food is fruit. You once consumed a Costco sized container of blueberries in a single day. 

You like the idea of doughnuts more than actually consuming them. 

Sometimes when I ask you if you want help putting on your shoes, or clearing your plate you respond: "You do the honors." 

You want a younger sibling -- a baby. (Sorry, not happening). 

You've been sleeping in your own bed for a couple of years, but recently have decided you love "sleeping with Ho-den." And there are more nights than not that you still join us in the family bed, although usually it's closer to 6am for snuggles. 

You love cooking and baking and would eat pancakes daily if given the option. 

When you grow up you want to be a pumpkin. 

You have the coolest evil laugh I've ever heard from a child, and you've been doing it since you would laugh uncontrollably as a baby. 

You love to dance, but not in classes... more in our living room. 

You take after your Grandpa TOM and would "watch shows" for hours on end if given the option. But thankfully, you like being read to just as much. 

Playing on teams is not your thing right fact, any sort of specific instructional classes outside of school (and your ice skating lessons) you're just not interested in. I think it's a combination of already getting dance, music, art and PE during the school week... and you're at Elizabeth Academy 28 hours a week as it is. So we'll cut you some slack for not wanting to kick a ball around with friends... you need more time for free-play. I get it.

I love hear you play-pretend. From cooking, to superheroes, doctor, mom in charge, astronaut or even when you pretend to work on a computer composing letters or taking important conference calls on your phone... the world is your oyster my dear.

You love washing things. I'll give you a spray bottle with some soap and a sponge and you're a girl on a mission. 

You're addicted to pink -- and that's ok. (Shhh, it was my favorite color when I was younger too).

This year, you finally stopped nursing... That's right, somewhere at 3
1/2 (ok 3.75?) you finally stopped trying to find mommies milk -- even though the store house had been dry for months. When you were born, I basically made a pact with God: help me nurse this baby and I'll let her self wean. So that was that. 

There's plenty more to add. But for now Zoë, please know we love how you spice up our family. Happy Birthday Pink Cake Girl -- indeed, you save the day! 

****PS.  I am having serious formatting issues on Blogger (does anyone even use this format anymore?) But life's too short for me to waste time figuring it out... I mean I already spent 5 minutes and that's more than I'd like to spend. :)