Saturday, May 9, 2015

Three Reasons I Love Being Your Mom: Holden

Dearest Holden,

Mother's Day is approaching and I wanted to take this unique opportunity to thank you for being such an incredible son. There are so many things I love about you, but I just decided I would narrow it down to three main categories. So, here we go.

1) Your Insatiable Thirst for Knowledge and Truth
People are telling me all the time "He's so smart." I think a lot of people says kids are smart because they are good readers, or can do complex math problems at a young age. And while you are progressing brilliantly at school, it's really how your brain works that makes me swell with pride. You're always asking how and why and where. Because of you, my interest in the Humanities has once again been sparked. You've said your favorite composer is Mozart but Tchaaikovsky wrote your favorite song. I learned about the causes of the Vietnam War from you (because you asked about it, and checked out a library book) as well as the Spanish American War (that apparently was fought via Cuba).  You want to know who came first: Adam & Eve or the Dinosaurs and if we really evolved from apes (because there are skeletons showing it!) And you're the first I've heard of to hypothesize that the Virgin Mary was like an earthworm -- having both Male and Female "parts."

You know we don't keep secrets. And you try really hard to make sure we are all telling the truth. You value knowing. Yours will be a hard battle Holden. The balance between Religion - Spirituality -  Philosophy & Science is a hard one. You will have to search your mind and your heart to find a place of peace... I'm glad I have you to help remind me that it's ok not to know all of the answers, but as we grow -- more light and truth can be gained.

Sometimes I wish we were like Thor, where he says (paraphrased) that in his world, religion and science are not two separate things -- but the same thing.

2) You're Commitment to Fairness 
It's a hard lesson, but this life -- it's not fair. All you have to do is look around and see that the social and economic injustice run rampant. I'm glad you know who Martin Luther King, Jr is... and that you think it's crazy that some people weren't (and aren't) allowed to do things just because of the color of the skin or their religion.

I like that you see the beauty in people's differences. And that even though we are all unique, where it really matters we are the same. You're love of fairness and equality will often be met with pushback in your life. But continue to follow your heart. As yourself "What would Jesus do?" But ask yourself what Martin Luther King and Ghandi and the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa would do too. God is light, and truth can be found in so many places. I have to believe their is a fairness that exists somehow in the Universe -- but it is our responsibility to do what we can to help bring that fairness and peace to our world. Which brings me too....

3) Your Relationship with Peace
I say "relationship" because you are a boy. You love Superheroes and learning about Wars and the atom bomb and guns and so many things that make me sad for humanity. But at the same time, your heart is good. You adopt whales, and chose the child with Downs Syndrome in your class room to help with your birthday snack and tell me "He's my best friend." (The demarcations of "typical" "special needs" and "gifted" mean nothing to you.)

You help your sister and say you "need to protect the girls at recess." You recognize when something is bothering me and do your best to be a comfort.
Everyday you sharpen your skills of diplomacy having sweet Zoë-bug as your little sister.

Even with agression-obsession moments, you have the exact opposite moments...tender, loving, thoughtful moments. Making sure the toys you pick out don't have guns because you know I don't approve of them in our house. When you learn about war, it is already with a peace-makers heart -- asking "why, why why?"

Because of you, I am learning so much more about life.

Thanks you for your amazing mind and your HUGE heart. I love being your Mom.

Thank you for being the guinniea-pig of my experience. Please forgive me as I do my best to try and help you dream, work, love, fly and be there when you fall.

I love you Holdencito.

Happy Mother's Day to Me, ZoëBug

Thanks for the darling (early) Mother's Day present, Z. This year, I'm trying something different and writing letters to you nd Holden about why I love being your mom.

There are so many reasons why I love being your Mom, Z. But here's the first three that came to mind:

You're Strongwilled and Driven
Forget having to be worried about you being a doormat or not having a spine. It was apparent in your not-so-terrible two's that you knew what you wanted and wouldn't hesitate to do what it takes to get it. You don't let gender or size be any indication of who should be in charge.

When brother is doing something -- it's what you want to do. Be it piano, soccer, riding a bike or going to school. You'll find a way to make it happen. (Even though you're "done" with soccer by the third quarter -- you are only three!)

You're Fearless (with reason) 
You've been a climber since you could walk. And you set an example of "how-to" at the climbing gym for Holden every time we go. With few exceptions, you don't get yourself higher than you can get yourself down...and even as a toddler, learning to navigate playgrounds you had a keen spatial awareness of what ledges to stay away from and how to be safe.

I'm not saying you never fall, or get hurt. You totally do. But you're tough. And you don't let an accident get in the way of getting what you want. Last week when you fell 7feet on the playground trying to grab the zip-line; you cried and said "I want to try it again!"

You've learned to ice-skate and taken snowbording lessons -- and Dad even took you skiing (because you have to be four at Snowbasin for skilessons).

You're My Little Nursling
When your brother and I failed to have the breastfeeding relationship I had hoped for the two of us, and I found out I was pregnant with you, I committed at that moment to God that if He would help me be able to breastfeed you, I would let you self wean. Well, at three-and-a-half, it looks as if you may finally be finished. It hasn't come without challenges: a few bouts of mastitis, a nursing strike from you and obviously countless naysayers & critics (friends, family and strangers) because of our choice to keep nursing. We don't care. We connect and what we do has absolutely nothing to do with them...

It didn't happen because you never had chocolate milk, or because you're not independent... it just happened because you kept wanting too --even with me taking a week long cruise to Caribbean. You just weren't ready to let go of the connection -- and it's been a special part of our relationship.

Thanks for helping me see I could really "do it."

I love you for these and so many other reasons. Thanks for being my little Zoe-bug.

Love- Mom

Monday, April 27, 2015

Three Year Old Pectoralis Majors

Our laundry room is directly adjacent to the playroom... that hardly ever gets used unless friends come over -- my kids thankfully prefer our Art & Science room to the toys. (They also prefer watching shows to a myriad of other things, so don;t think I'm trying to brag or anything).

But today, the proximity of play-to-laundry-room provided a conversation I really wanted to document.

Between two three year olds....

A: Hey Zoë-bug, do you want to play dress ups? (She's clad in an awful peptoAbysmal pink number I caved and got for Z for her birthday last year.) You want to be a princess?

Z: No, I be Spider-man!

A: You don't want to be a princess?

Z: No, I be SpiderMan. He fight bad guys.

A: SpiderMan is a bad guy?

Z: No he shoot webs. He fight bad guys.... Oh I help baby crying.

A: Well I'm a special Aurora. I have a bow.

Moments pass. And then Z's friend, points to the built in chest muscles of Z's Spiderman suit.

A: You have boobs.

I interject, "They're called pecs... they're chest muscles."

Z: I have pecs.

A: I have pec muscles too.

Z: No you don't have pecs.

A looks down, realizing there there is nothing resembling pecs or boobs on her outfit.

A: Well I have muscles, but not pec muscles. (Flexes her biceps). But I have muscles without pec muscles.

They both seemed to think this was a fair assessment and SpiderMan and Aurora lived (somewhat)  happily ever after (well, at least through the playdate).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Holden and the Uvengenols

Today I got some (somewhat) devastating news… well, devastating to a six-year old, or his mom.

“I got some sad news today, Mom,” Holden tells me as he climbs in the car after school. “I’ve got to shut down the Uvengenols Factory.”

Just a sample of what he does in an afternoon....
Over the past 2.5 years, Holden has created thousands of these paper pieces. Ranging from the size of your thumb to an entire sheet of paper, they’re super heroes mixed with a blend of whatever he fancies at the moment. On average, he spends at least an hour a day working on them. Many a tree has given its life to the cause.

When he first created them, people were constantly correcting him:

“You mean Avengers?”

“No!” He’d say in disbelief. “Ah-veh-gen-ols.”

It wasn’t until he started to read and write a little that we learned Uvengnelos was spelled with a U. #themoreyouknow

So the brand has been influenced by Pokémon, Skylanders, volcanoes, saber-tooth tigers, mammoths and a host of other things.  I haven’t quite figured out how the game is scored. But I do know that usually I lose when we play.

“Did you know there’s a new Uvengenols movie coming out Mom?” He used to ask me this question almost daily.

“Oh," I’d respond. "I didn’t even know the screenplay had been written.” Apparently it’s a franchise… currently we’re up to about the sixth installment..."but most of the movies are PG-13 because of violence and adult themes." At least, according to the Stan Lee of Uvengenols.

He created Uvengenols to go with his school Valentines.
He created “Starter Packs” to give out and trade.
Uvengenols is how we discovered his love for art… Uvengenols is how we discovered why coloring books were not that interesting to him (why color what someone else created when you have an entire fantasy world already in your mind?)

Much like Disney, he recognizes the value in marketing; and Uvengenols definitely has made it’s own brand.

But today, he informed me that the entire business was going under.

“I’m going into Bots now, Mom.” Apparently, one of his besties at school, is a Bot-maker; and Holden has decided it’s more important to go to work for him, than continue with his small-business.

“William* had me sign this thing…” he shares.

“A contract?” I ask.

“Yes!” He tells me. “A contract. He said if I want to make Bots starter packs, I can’t make Uvengenols anymore. The whole thing is over.”

I should just point out that before William’s second year of Pre-school, he was reading chapter books and finished the ENTIRE Treehouse collection of books before he turned 6. William is kind of a genius, an apparently understands the power of non-compete clauses at a very young age.

So I’m a little bit heartbroken that the Uvengenols are leaving our family. I guess all good things must come to an end.

But wait……

As I’m writing this, Holden has made his way into the master bedroom with a bunch of documents telling me:

“Mom, Uvengenols is up and running again! I just signed papers for it!”

“What are you going to tell William?” I ask him.

“I’m just working to do a little bit of Bot Packs,” he tells me. I hope his new boss is understanding that you can try to take the boy out of the Uvenegnols, but you can’t take the Uvengenolas out of the boy.

*Name has probably been changed to protect the innocent

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sleepless in Seattle, or somewhere else?

Namaste Friends,

I was challenged by the blogosphere community to post a few of my favorite yoga poses for Sleep. So let's just start with a few basics:

Forward Folds -- my little sister says I bend like the Asian stunt-man in Ocean's Eleven. If you've got tightness in the hamstrings, heel toe your feet a little wider for more release in the low back. Also, if the hands don't touch the floor, use a block or some phone books (if they exist anymore?) for your hands.

Uttanasana - Standing Forward Bend
For Prasarita (below) a block or prop under the head can feel super delightful. 
Prasarita Padottanasana - Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend

Or you could always take it to the floor and enlist the help of a friend to feel a nice release. 

Next up, Paschimottanasana ... or more folding -- basically the same idea as above, but seated. (I'd like to thank the photographer Aly Sharette for photoshopping the bottoms of my feet... I'm pretty sure they had a lot more spray tan than you're currently seeing. 

I like to tell my students to let the bend come from the hips as opposed to a rounding in the spine on this one. Think about pressing the chest and heart forward on this pose... and then let the surrender come when there's no more rotation (or bend) coming from the hips. Rememrb to breathe... long inhales and exhales through the nose. 

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

I've seen this next one where the yogi is twisted so deeply, it appears their back is resting on their knee cap. Take a variation that works for you. 

Janu Sirsanana (Head of the Knee Pose) 

Child's pose is pretty standard fare for a grounding, relaxing and restful pose. This pic was taken a year ago shortly after I had had my nails done and purchased this BOSS mat from Affirmats. It says "Look How Pretty You Are." I love bringing it to the FREE community classes I teach for some unassuming student... they stumble on it and get a delightful surprise.  Take the knees as wide as the mat, sink the hips towards their heels, or bring the knees closer together. You can take the hands back towards the feel for more rounding in the spine and less of a shoulder stretch.
Child's Pose - Balasana

My collection of pictures spans a few years -- the first yoga shoot I ever did, and then a few randoms from Instagram tied in. But I will say my kids are the greatest teachers. Holden knows that just being able to sit in stillness is one of the best remedies for rest. 

And Zoe-bug, with her take on Savasanana. Though I suggest just laying on top of the mat... makes it easier to breathe than being a human burrito.

Om Shanti (Peace), and Namaste. 

***Just a reminder, I teach a Vinyasa 1-2 at We Are Yoga SLC every Wed night from 7pm-8:15. If you've never been to the studio, drop me a message as I'd love to comp you as my guest for your first visit. I also am teaching a FREE community Yoga class a couple of Tuesday nights a week at my church in Holladay for the Salt Lake crowd. Drop me a line if you're interested in attending either class. ***

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's been a good Year, 2014.

August 2014: Seersucker, whaaat?!?

Greetings Beautiful Souls,

Last year I hinted we'd try to get a little greener and put this year's Holiday Update online. So congratulations if you're reading this! You just singlehandedly increased my google metrics by 100%. 

We kicked off 2014 with a whole lot of awesomeness: a 7-night Disney Cruise to the Caribbean with the entire Steve & Annette Suite progeny. People think I'm a secret DisneyCruise travel agent because I seem to be able to convince anyone to pay the additional 125% mark-up for their accoutrements. Our biggest complaint was Holden loved the kids area so much, sometimes we'd have to beg him to hang out with our family. 

We had a great trip to California at the end of summer for Danny's sister Brooke's destination wedding (featured left). Holden thought it was a Legoland trip with a wedding we just happened to attend while away from home.

In other travel news, Danny and I just got back from another Caribbean cruise in November. Besides a plethora of sun and sightseeing, one of the trip's greatest highlights included Danny karaoke-ing "Tell Me What You Want" by the Spice Girls with a business colleague: did I mention it was technically a "work" trip for him? #bestplacestowork

Speaking of my better half and work: he's in his fifth year of working for Mountain West Small Business Finance, but the real kicker is that as of December 6th, he's graduated with a Masters of Organization Behavior (ie Human Resource Management) from The Utah State University. #GoAggies! (And Utes, of course, always Go Utes.)

People have made comments on more that one occasion about how excited I must be to "have my husband back." And I don't really know how to respond without making things seem awkward. I mean, it's not that I don't adore having him around -- running a "Man-to-Man" with the kids is ALWAYS preferable to a "Zone Defense." It's just that Danny's done an exceptional job balancing work, school, church and being home with us. The fact that it's an Executive Program helped, and his work has been amazingly supportive, but he's really done a fabulous job keeping his priorities in order. His time watching college football and the number of softball teams he's been able to participate in have suffered, but the rest of us just haven't really been inconvenienced that much.
#timemanagement #sorryimnotsorry #toomanyhashtagsyet?

So onto my babies. The biggest problem is that they're not really babies anymore. Zoë-bug turned three on December 7th, and has graduated from toddler to preschooler this year with ease. She's attending Elizabeth Academy Montessori School (like Holden) at her request. I wasn't quite ready to send my two year old off for morning pre-pre-school, but she's thriving and apparently is a lot less spicy with her teachers and classmates than she is with her Mama. She's talking a lot more -- much like her brother and Einstein, she figured the closer to three the better. Why waste words when you can just point?

Z is fearless in a swimming pool, which is terrifying. So she started private lessons this past year (like her brother).

Zoë loves being read to, baking, making (and drinking) beet juice, school, and anything to do with the Pink-Industrial-Complex. #girltoysareaconspiracy #blamingdisney #letitgoindeed

Our little Zoe-bug also had a few non-well-checkup visits to the doctor's office this year. One for slicing her finger down to (though fortunately not) the tendon. Making guacamole can be hard. And then we were back when her "Mon-mon-eeh" (Zoe-speak for "money") or in this particular case a quarter made its way into her stomach.  I guess she was really worried about saving her dollars (and cents) but we got her a piggy bank straightaway.

Holdencito requires his own volume entirely. For my facebook "friends" you know I try to keep track of these "from the mouths of babes" nuggets under the heading "Holdenisms" -- you can read the highlights here.

Our old-soul of a five year old is enjoying Kindergarten (also at Elizabeth Academy). His current passions include art, volcanoes, saber tooth tigers, mammoths, dinosaurs, tornados, space (specifically black holes), the Seattle Seahawks, Skylanders (eventhough he has plenty of the pieces we have no game console at our home to play them on), earth, nature and Uvengenols: a superhero video game he made up that is primarily played out in our art room via crayons and streams of non-recycled white paper.

And while he's learning to read, add, subtract (even multiply) and a bunch of other wonderful stuff, one of the highlights of this past year was when he wrote to Congressmen Matheson about saving our whales, and then made comic books to sell to neighbors, relatives and random strangers so he could adopt a whale. He raised $30 and currently helps protect an Orca named "Finn" through Washington State's Whale Museum. #proudmama

Holden is creative and inquisitive. He has a somewhat insatiable thirst to understand the world and the cosmos: "Mom, did Adam and Even come before or after the dinosaurs?" And since we have tried our hardest to be honest and "real" about things, it obviously leads to more questions. #praiseforwikipedia

This past year Holden also played soccer, started piano lessons and participated in his first piano recital, and completed his first triathlon (50 yard swim, 1 mile bike, 1/2 mile swim). He said the piano recital was much more scary. He's my buddy for attending all things artistic: plays and the ballet plus he's interested in architecture, composers and painters. He asked me about Seurat and pointillism this morning.

So if you're still reading, I suggest maybe taking a potty break, or getting a glass of water.... but for the last update I guess I'll mention that for me, life is pretty much motherhood with a bit of yoga and public relations mixed in. I'm still teaching at the studio (We Are Yoga SLC) and private lessons. And my primarily-from-home-public-relations/consulting-side-business is coming along: I've got a few clients and have been working as the Director of Public Affairs for Neumont University this past year. I have yet to finish my "great american novel" (i.e. Chick-lit for Mormon moms?), but I did manage to take on planning my 20-year High School Reunion, so any SHS 95-ers, I hope you're planning to attend August 2015.

It seems like as a family we spent a big portion of this year in limbo. My house was the cleanest it's ever been because we had it on the market for 6 months and I had to keep it organized for showings. But this also meant I didn't spend as much time cooking or gardening. But we purchased the home of Danny's youth from his parents and officially moved in this November. It's a beautiful house that is gradually beginning to feel like our own.

Plus the neighborhood is a dream. Holden has a friend he can walk to just two houses away, and Zoë refers to our new place of worship as "Yo-Yay's Chuch" (which obviously is Z-speak for Zoë's-church.)

All around, the Mangums are doing great. 2014 was a big year and now that we're (almost) settled I can finally get back to the things we've missed out on this year -- like composting, naturally.

Seasons Greetings and Namaste.
Sabrena for The Mangums