Monday, November 20, 2017

2017 Recap: A different family update than the usual—

But an update nonetheless….

Honestly friends, I can’t believe it’s been another year. In retrospect, I know it sounds a little over the top, but last year at this time Danny and I were having serious discussions about how to uproot our entire lives and relocate to Europe. I was devastated. While our country overwhelmingly did not cast their vote for the Cheeto in Command, Trump (and the Russians’) electoral college victory had me seriously thinking about what type of country I wanted to raise my children in. A “Shining city on a hill” it seemed, we were not.

Holden Turns Eight and Decides to get Baptized! 
But ultimately, through prayer, meditation and a lot of introspection, we came to the conclusion that the best answer to our current political state was to be part of the solution. So we made plans on how to move forward.
Chicago trip... got to see "Da Bears"

How to effect change.

How to be part of the solution.

So we joined with millions of women and men across the country and marched. 

We marched in January at Utah’s State Capitol to acknowledge our privilege and to support those who were not born with the same luxuries we have been afforded. 

We marched in Maui (on our first day of vacation) for science and for the environment. 

And we marched on Tax Day to support transparency in government.

And when I say we, I kind of mean me, and my family was good to come along for the ride. In true Danny fashion, his ability to “roll with the punches” and not get overwhelmed, meant he has been a shinning example taking it all with grace and patience, talking me off a few ledges, letting me vent when needed, and supported my new found passion for fighting for the causes of social mobility and economic justice.

So yeah... 2017 meant donating to a lot more causes and supporting the rights of the oppressed. It has meant working to be engaged in a way I hadn’t before. I've tried to spend more time listening to marginalized voices and look for ways my own prejudices were affecting not only my thoughts and actions, but how I was raising my family. I took to heart the wise words from the New York Transit Authority: ‘If you see something, say something.”

Yellowstone with Mama Suite & GrandpaTOM
We continued our scripture study as a family, and made Family Home Evening even more of a priority – making sure that in our house, the most important principle in our lives was the edict to “Love one another.” 

The year pressed on with the pieces of everyday life one might expect. The kids are doing great in school. Holden tried on baseball for size – and decided it didn’t fit too well, but visiting with friends in the dugout did. He asked if we could have an “open house” for his team this summer, and Danny suggested a “pool party” might be a better fit (Holden agreed.) H found a love for sports with boards and wheels—trying his luck at everything from skateboarding and surfing (ocean and lake) to biking.  

Salt Lake ComicCon 2017
 Z danced, and played soccer, tore it up on the ski slopes with her brother, and enjoyed trying news sports as well (“Mom, when can I go back to Hawaii and take another surf lesson?”)  Both kids are playing piano and we’re finally to a point where I can say “go practice” and I don’t have to be sitting next to them to make sure they take time on the instrument.

But what I’m most proud of when it comes to my kids are their skills that don’t come with participation ribbons or trophies. --And yes, I’m totally aware this is something you would expect a parent to say when they have kids that have a low-level of natural talent when it comes to organized sports.--I’m ok with that.

Both Kids took up Skateboarding... Z gettin' her sticker game on
At Zoë’s parent teacher conference, her teachers told us she was very passionate about “social justice” and wants to make sure she and her classmates are sensitive to the nuances and challenges of race, and even cultural appropriation. She’s in Kindergarten. She turns six on December 7th.
Cub Scouts meets Dr. Strange

Holden has been enjoying being a cub scout and made a critical decision to get baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this past year. Not to say it wasn't a little touch-and-go for a while, but the kid’s got a serious affinity for the Norse Gods… and ironically, has some understandable concerns when it comes to Biblical Literalism.

I think Holden’s greatest accomplishment for the year has really been his inclusion of his little sister. We were  a couple of months into the school year before I realized that the kids play together at recess almost every day (the rare exception is usually because they aren’t on the playground at the same time). Zoë shared one story about how she got sad because one of H’s friends said he didn’t want to play a particular game if Zoë was going to play. “But guess what Mom?” she explained, “Holden said, ‘don’t worry Zoë, I’ll take care of it.’”

Living Wax Museum: Napoleon! 
I'm happy to say we continued our love of travel this year. The kids enjoyed learning to surf this year while we played in Maui with Danny’s family, took a trip to the Dominican Republic celebrate a bunch of my girlfriends (and me) turning forty -- and then went to New York in September to "officially" celebrate me turning 40 and seeing the Tony Award Winning "Dear Evan Hansen" on Broadway. 

In the summer, we took a trip to Yellowstone and my Dad and Holden were in geological sulfur-scented heaven. 

We also got to achieve our life-long family dream (OK, at least our dream for the past couple of years) of seeing “Hamilton” on a trip to Chicago. We looked at art, went to museums, were underwhelmed by the Jurassic Park exhibit and realized that it would be a few more years before we took the kids to Europe because Zoë's a trooper, but her short little legs put her at a serious disadvantage for long walks with a family that's been stroller-free for most of her life. 

Danny saw loads of success in the professional world – named Mountain West Small Business Finance’s “Top Producer” by dollar amount, and made it past his two-year anniversary as part of Crossfit Nation. I share this with you because while “the first rule of Crossfit is ‘Talk about Crossfit,’" Danny has been pretty shy about his successes in the Box. Also, I told him if he ever posted a picture of his hand callouses/ripped blisters on social media, there would be consequences. J

Just two dudes, and a shared love of Calderas. 
The kids wish he was a SAHD (Stay at Home Dad) because he’s so good at parenting. Sometimes I think they may be onto something we could explore a little more deeply. But that would severely cut back on my volunteer hours, so alas! We press forward.

And speaking of volunteer hours, I started volunteering at the jail teaching yoga this summer. There’s more to the story, so if you haven’t heard about our advocacy or the “Pillows for Prisoners” project my sister and I launched in October, please take a look (The Salt Lake Tribune also did a great piece on the project.) 

As always, you can find the highlights of the things my kids said this past year that I remembered to record by clicking here.

We Did IT! Finally Made it to Hamilton! 
In the meantime, I get it that this letter is a bit more political than I tend to share. And some would say that the holidays are one of the few times we should leave that stuff alone, but something about this past election has created a shift that (as I previously mentioned) I just can’t deny. In pretending that our lives just continued in the same way would be anything but a fair representation of the past year.

One thing that does remain the same though is our gratitude for one another and the love we have for all God’s creations. We are thankful for your friendship and for the relationships that enrich and bless our lives.

May 2018 be a year of health, hope and healing for our families, the nation and our world.

Sabrena, for the (Suite-)Mangums

Holdenisms & Life with ZoëBug

Kids Say the Darndest Things….
A sampling from 2017 (at least the ones I remembered to capture on Facebook) with this year's school pictures. 

Holden: "Mom, do you know what I don't like about Greek Mythology?"
H: "There's so much sex."

"Show me what uh-mography looks like!" Zoë, barely five trying to chant "SHOW ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!” at the Women’s March in Salt Lake at the Capitol.

Reading in the New Testament for our before-school scripture exploration, and we’re graced with the “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” verse. Which lead to Holden to asking the obvious question: “What’s adultery?”
From the top of my head: “Ummm, it’s having an inappropriate intimate relationship with someone when you are married, or having an intimate inappropriate relationship with someone else who is already married….”
“Oh,” Holden says thoughtfully. “…like Bill Clinton -- or Hamilton!”

During a game of "would you rather" between the kids.
Z: Hoe-den, what would you rather have--stay at home and eat ice cream all day or play video games?
H: Play video games.
Z: Wrong.

I send Holden upstairs to see if "Pan" is available to watch on Netflix for a family movie.
Time passes as he's scrolling, scrolling, scrolling...
Then he yells down: "Mom, I thought Annie was black?!?!"

It's a "water day" at preschool tomorrow, and as Z's organizing her clothes for school I suggest that instead of her "Star Wars" one piece swimmingsuit, she wear bikini bottoms and a rash guard for ease of using the restroom.
I grab a pair of her shorts, "Do you want some shorts to cover your swimsuit?" I ask.
Z: "No, I just want to wear my swimsuit bottoms."
Z: "What? My body, my choice."

After listen to a version of Aesop's "Boy Who Cried Wolf," I asked Z for a recap and what she thought the moral of the story was.
"The lesson, Mom, is that you should never ask for help unless you really, really need it."

Earlier this week, we were discussing the value of volunteer work and the benefits of service.
It was quickly obvious I had not properly explained the value of community service to Zoë, because she began chiming in saying "It's not fair that people don't get paid if they work hard!"
So I tried again, "Zoë why do you think I do Pillows for Prisoners...Why would Mommy spend her time trying to raise money to give it to someone else?"
And then my five-year-old daughter, with a cut-throat but (almost) admirable capitalist caché (that I could only laugh at) replied: "Well, it sounds like Mom is making a really poor choice."

It's evening and Zoë yawns. So I say, "Sounds like you need to go to bed."
She gives me a look of disappointment, shakes her head softly and says: "Mom, I already told you, when you yawn it means you're tired. When I yawn it means 'more games and shows.'"

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pillows for Prisoners: My Sister's #metoo Story

This summer, my little sister was incarcerated for a month and a half at the Salt Lake County Jail for drug and alcohol related charges. The experience has affected her, our family and our community in the most unexpected of ways. Her #metoo story, is one with life-changing consequences.

I hope you'll take a moment to read about Celeste's story and consider making a donation to a neglected and forgotten public. Find out more at

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I sit down for a chat with my eight year old...

Interviewed on February 2, 2016 (one day after officially turning eight.)

SSM: How does it feel to be 8?
HDM: Weird, cause your five year old sister is so hard.

What’s your favorite color?

What are your favorite foods?
Brownies, macarons and the other kind of macaroons… and bushes [giggles]. I’m joking. You seriously didn’t write bushes did you? [I nod.]

So what are you favorite healthy foods?
Grapefruit and oranges. 

You favorite restaurants?
Um… let’s see, what is that place that cooks in front of you?


What are you passionate about? What do you love to do, or think about?

Kung Fu.

What are you most excited about with turning eight?
Going to scouts.

What are you most concerned about?
Getting baptized.

How come?
Because well, cause I have to go to the Bishop’s office.
[We pause the interview and talk a little bit about the purpose of meeting with the Bishop. For those not familiar with the customs and rites-of-passage in the LDS Faith, one of the steps in being name eligible or named a “candidate” for baptism, to be included as an official “member” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is to meet with your congregational leader (or Bishop, who holds a similar roll to a pastor as “Father” of the local church.) I tell him it’s not anything to be concerned over. One thing the Mormon are known for is trying to get as many people to ‘join’ the church as possible, and he (our Bishop) is going to do everything he can to help get Holden to become an official member. That seemed to assuage his fears. So we move on….]

What’s your favorite thing about Zoë?
 I don’t really know. She’s kind of mad at me all of the time….[now I giggle].

What do you like to do with her?
Whack toys, I’m joking. [Sees me typing his answer.] Noooo!

OK what then?
Um, playing legos.

Alright. What are some things you like about school?
Playing “Three Little Creatures.”  [I’m perplexed.]

What subjects?
[In German Accent] de zoology.

What does that mean?

And your favorite bands?
ACDC! And the Beastie Boys.

If you could see any show in the world, what would you see?

When you grow up what problems do you want to solve?
I want to destroy the wall… cause it’s baaad.

I’ve noticed your fascination with Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. Are you a libertarian?
I’m half libertarian.

Which half?
I think I’m like 80% Hillary Clinton and then another 80% whoever that guy is… did you seriously have to write “whoever that guy is?”

Anything you want to document about turning eight?

Watching Gremlins and Beetlejuice.