Thursday, December 8, 2016

Life explained… or at least our Holiday Card

For those of you searching for a little more back story on the hot dude gracing our Christmas card this year… well, that’s obviously my husband. The other guy that is not too hard on the eyes is Stephen Amell: star of the CW’s “Arrow” television show. It’s basically a soap opera with superheroes; and thanks to my seven-year-old son who has a not-so-mild (but healthy) obsession with comics I got sucked in to this particular alternate universe.  You can Google his name and “Salmon Ladder” if you need more fodder.
A copy of a copy... but you get the idea. Seriously, how
did we miss that dot?!?! 

As some of you may know, it’s tradition for me and Holden to attend Salt Lake’s ComicCon each September. Last year, Zoë started joining us; and this year the whole family joined in the fun! Danny noticed that Mr. Amell was doing PhotoOps so we forked out the cost of what one might normally spend on an entire family holiday photo shoot and got about five seconds and a “smile” with him to document our fandom. It only seemed appropriate to use it and abuse it.

So there’s the backstory.  The other piece of the puzzle is the giant white snow boogie on Danny’s face that he and I missed when we both looked at the screen-print. Apparently, we need to invest in hard copy proofs next time. I volunteered to sharpie them out, but Danny said the holidays were busy enough and he didn’t care. If only I could be so cavalier. . . #typeA #ChristmasIsRuined

For those of you looking for the kid’s quoteables, here's your roundup from Facebook.

As far as the other business of the year:

This could've been our Christmas Card...
but it looked too traditional. 
Danny said I couldn’t talk about him doing CrossFit. So I won’t. I’ll just say that if my husband found something physical that he was as dedicated to as baseball, and found some friendships and a community he loved while doing it… I’d think it was pretty cool. And I’d be super proud of him. And I’d want to mention it in our newsletter. But like I said, he said no CrossFit mentions, and since 2016 has really inspired me as a woman to sit back and follow the lead of a man, I’m just going to honor his request and let it be.

So in the place of talking about his dedication to working out, I’ll bring up a few noteworthy things about him:
He likes reading gossip magazines.
He’s super excited about getting a new water softener AND a home humidifier in our house.
He’s NOT a candidate for LASIK.
He's never seen the film, but...Deadpool.
He’s awesome at making chocolate chip cookies – he started a new Sunday baking tradition and we are loving it!

Danny and I also celebrated 10 years of marriage in August with a trip to Cancun in September. It was much more relaxing than the one to Indianapolis we took earlier in the year where we got stuck in Chicago, the airlines lost our luggage and we ended up on two hour Mega Bus ride to Indiana through tornado warnings with a tour that started at midnight from a random street corner downtown in the windy city. We were thankful to brave the storm together – and especially that our kids were NOT with us to experience the madness.  #makingmemories

Speaking of the kids. Holden tried on team sports for size again this past year, and ultimately decided Saturday mornings spent sewing at The Finishing School were a way more enjoyable use of his time. We told him he needed to find some sort of physical activity – so he opted for KungFu and received his yellow belt within the first couple of months of training. As I noted in the quoteables, he said, “My heart is just telling me to do KungFu.”
School Pics -- Are you kidding me?!?!
He’s in his second year of  the “Lower Elementary” Montessori cycle at Elizabeth Academy… which in layman’s terms means we have a second grader. J He still loves the sciences – especially zoology. His current obsession, besides SuperHeroes (and trying to watch as many PG-13 movies edited for content on VidAngel before the Movie Giants put the kibosh on it), is Hamilton. We watched the PBS special, have been listening to the Grammy Winning Soundtrack and have been reading up on the Founding Fathers Stories via Wikipedia and these really cool relics called “books.” Holden really got a kick out of black man playing George Washington. I get a kick out seeing how different my kids see the world than I did.

He’s got a super huge and sensitive heart. Like a good portion of our country (and the world) Holden’s having a bit of anxiety about our new president-elect. #HeWhoMustNotBeNamed

Long before his mother’s pointed brand of feminism could get to him, Holden heard Donald talking on the Sunday Political Roundups his grandfather was watching. He caught on right away that this was not an individual that respected woman. The fact that he “says swears” was another deal-breaker for Holden. We talk about the importance of being kind to others and how now (more than ever) we have a responsibility to help those not in the same position of privilege we benefit from. They are hard conversations, and at times I wonder if I have taken too much of the innocence of his childhood by answering his questions honestly. I suppose only time will tell – but one thing I know is that he is one of the most thoughtful, considerate and esoteric children I have ever met.
School Picture Outtake -- we wanted to intake.

Speaking of considerate – our little firecracker of a daughter inspired us all when she made the decision to have friends bring gifts for the less-fortunate to her party instead of collecting gifts for herself. “Mom, I already get so many presents from you and grandma and our family,” she reasoned.

Often times I am too quick to talk about Zoë’s “sass” or “spiciness.” She is not short on strength-of-mind or stubbornness. (I’m not sure where she gets it from because Danny is so mild mannered, and I am… errr, working on it.) But the truth is, she is such a passionate individual. She weeps for missing animals. She’s just barely starting to read, but has no problem recognizing the words “Lost Dog” on homemade signs.  She’s passionate about our planet ("Mom, turn off the fossil! I call faucets fossils," she tells us) and is very concerned about “glitter” (Garbage + Litter = Glitter.)

Being fabulous is exhausting...
When she asked to take the “I Side With” political quiz Danny and I had been fooling around on, she told me to mark the Refugee Crisis as her most important issue.  Yes, I chose to expose her to children’s books about Martin Luther King, Jr., Hillary Clinton and Malala – but they have come to be some of her favorites, right alongside Doc McStuffins and Wonder Woman.

The family that campaigns together...
Speaking of Wonder Woman, Zoë picked out a three foot tallposter of the Amazonian princess at ComicCon for her bedroom. It says “No time for naughty!” It hangs in between her poster of The Beatles “Yellow Submarine” (which looks like a bad acid trip) and her Alice In Wonderland print with a hookah-smoking-caterpillar. Needless to say, when I set out to decorate my daughter’s bedroom this year, I had a different “vision” in my head of what it ought to be; but Z’s her own woman.

"Holden, you're my little Zika Virus,"
she tells him. 
She tried dance again this summer and is excited to get back to more formal lessons. She also played a little soccer and really excelled at trash talking. I keep telling her it’s better to have the skill set and let your talent be your words, but apparently yelling to other four and five year olds “You’re going down!” gets a quicker reaction. #sugarandspiceandeverythingnice 

She’s in her second year of Early Childhood Montessori – making her a PreK (4); and just turned five on December 7th. She started planning the party months ago: “I want a ‘Frozen’ party with a clown, a snack station and a art station.”  She also wanted 30 of her friends to attend at our house… since I actually love entertaining, and don’t ever want anyone to ever feel left out, we did it. But now I have a new rule – if you’re inviting more friends than the age you’re turning, we’re having the party off site. But truth be told, it was a hit – and leave it to a kid to know what it is kids want. #whoknew?  #shedid

As far as the mother of the Suite-Mangum house: my only complaint is that I wish I had more hours in the day. Lately I have become very aware of my mortality and the limited time we have here on this earth. Maybe it’s Hamilton. Maybe it's #HayesTough. Maybe it’s my spiritual journey – but I have been thinking more and more about how we just don’t know how long we (or anyone) will last.  That is also why I am trying to suck as much out of each and every single day as possible.

We had our fair share of pool time this weekend.
I’m still volunteer teaching yoga at the kids school and helping out with a community yoga class at our church most Tuesday evenings. I’ve been getting back into running after I finally got some help and healed my plantar fasciitis that had been debilitating (and seriously contributed to some extra junk in my trunk and everywhere else the past two years).

I’ve been enjoying traveling with the kids and with Danny this past year: California, Indiana, Idaho, Northern and Southern Utah, Florida and Mexico. We’ve got a trip to Yellowstone planned with my parents and the kids in 2017; and Danny and I head to the Dominican Republic together in February.

I’ve been especially enjoying my work for Neumont University. It may seem odd to some people – I mean, I work in consulting and public relations. But for me, it’s been an opportunity to see first-hand how education can break the cycle of poverty in families. I’ve also been able to help the school in the community outreach with the United Way, and a portion of Salt Lake’s refugee population. The work is truly rewarding; and I get to use my talents and time to do something I love.

My biggest challenge is trying to figure out how to fit everything (family, volunteering, work, running, yoga, worship, spirituality, etc) into the day--and still have time to watch Stephen Amell in Arrow. (A girl's gotta have some down-time).  #salmonladder 

I don’t know the secret. I’ll admit 2016 was jam packed. There were so many ups – and some horrible downs. I have not yet figured out the dance, but I am thankful for a patient and forgiving family for which I get to share the road and journey.

2017 certainly promises to be another wild ride. I will once again focus on Love, Laughter and sucking all the marrow out of Life with my people – so we can give back to this amazing world around us.  

Merry Christmas (if that's your thing, and because it's ours) and Happy Holidays (whatever or however your celebrate). 

Sabrena for the (Suite-)Mangums