Sunday, January 24, 2016

It never goes away

Husband crying. Husband hurting. 

He drives. Not knowing where. 

The car takes him here. To his buried heart. 

She feels closer. Why does she feel closer?

Her tombstone. It looks like a coffin. 

Is she in the pure white snow? 

Can I still touch her body?

Can I hold her?

He aches to hold her. 

To feel whole. 

To have direction and light and peace. 

He snaps this photo instead and sends it to you. 

He tells you her body feels closer because it looks like her white coffin. 

It breaks your heart. 

Maybe the two halves of your jointly broken hearts can fit together as one. 

Maybe she is closer. 

Knitting you back together. 

Never leaving you alone in your grief. 

Never leaving you alone. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ninjago- Peter's first Blog Post

First part of Ninjago-

First we have Kai, Zane, umm, Kole and Jay. And also Nia, but she's not a ninja but she's a samurai. And their master is Sensai Woo. Hiya!

So first their enemy was Lord Darmagon. And there was this clock with this helmet that controls the army. And he was attacking Ninjago City. The people were in danger and he had a secret weapon and it turns people bad. And then he turned into a dragon. And once he was big and he was a dragon he can BLOW purple dark thing at people. And it got Kole and Jay. And Kai and Lloyd were the only ones left.

And Kai had to beat his sister because she got zapped by some goo that makes her turn bad. And so Lloyd also had a broken leg but once he go to the top he was going against Lord Darmagon when he was the dragon. He had no weapon and he could still beat him. And he turned into the gold ninja with a dragon. Then the dragon went around and around and made a ball and the dragon with Lloyd on it was tiny eensy weensy. And ate the dragon and Lloyd but they were still alive. And the dragon was saying, "No, NO, NOOO!" and everything turned back to normal.

Then Lord Darmagon turned good and it was Lloyd's father and he also had his mom. And all the ninjas had weapons that are all golden. Also, they can make vehicles. And Kai's was a motorcycle and Kole's was a car that can go on each side (use hands to show this). And Jay's was a jet. And Zane's was this big car that's like it's different and looong and has big huge wheels and it can fit lots of guys and the top can launch off and fly.

Second part of Ninjago-

Then their was this guy that had this bone thing and it had a snake and he had an army that was attacking. But Kai, once they first came to the base, they had this big huge thing that has this secret base. It's a car and a secret base. And it has shooters and there's lots of stuff to navigate. And it did have bad guys. It had a white (and it had a Lego set of it), it's white. There's a white snake and a purple snake. And the army is kiiiind of different. They have lion bones on their heads. And, uh, on their face, they had half white, half purple. And then purple tiny lines on the white and white lines on the purple.

The master that controls them, there is a Lego set with him. The Ninjago team got a new Ninjago master. And she was the orange ninja. And didn't I mention that Kai is red, Kole is black, Jay is blue, and Zane is white.  And so the battle begun. (And Lloyd's dad was also a master)

And then we have part three--

So they fought the guys. At the end, Sensai Woo turned into bad and then there was this other guy that looked like the green ninja, but wasn't. He was the bad guy. He was black and green. And there was these blades that he wanted to destroy something. And the ninjas thought he was bad but he was really good he was just in his bad suite since he got turned bad. And then he was killed and then the ninjas put a grave and they put all their powers down to him and Zane was the master. He turned and he was the master.

That was the end.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Holiday Hooligans

Christmas was pretty great. Not perfect, (is anything in life?) not tantrum or stress free, but wonderful. I shared a lot of thoughts and stories (and photos, of course) on my Instagram account (@smallyspice), but wanted to share some photos from my nicer camera here. As well as a fun little movie I put together. (iMovie is my new favorite hobby). 

I think what stands out to me most is Christmas Eve. We were invited to spend it with the Hale Family. Brad and Susan are very close family friends of ours. We had originally planned on hosting dinner at our home with a few friends who are single and who were alone for the holidays. I LOVE eating our traditional roast lamb with cous cous, sautéed mushroom and onions. Instead, we joined forces and all of us went to the Hales. It was superb. The food and the company.

Their home is so inviting and warm. After dinner, we sat in the living room and listened to their daughter, Maggie, (a music major at the U) play Christmas songs. The fire was crackling, the kids were playing on the floor, and the prime rib was resting nicely in my tummy. I took a seat next to my dear friend, Michelle. She had her seat reclined due to a foot injury and her eyes were closed as she took in the beautiful music with her soul. 

Michelle has had an extremely bumpy road the last 7 years or so. She went through a very ugly divorce, joined the Mormon church (where I met her), and is desperately trying to find peace amidst the chaos of her life. Unique, LOUD, outspoken, beautiful, and with a heart of gold, Michelle and I really connect with one another. 

At some point during the song, she reached over and squeezed my hand. After her gentle and meaningful squeeze, eyes still closed, with tears running down her cheeks, we continued to hold hands through the remainder of the song. 

It dawned on me that that form of love, that feeling of absolute connection, unbridled by anything sexual, no expectations or disappointments, just the joy of being together, being there FOR each other, is my very favorite form of love. It feels better than anything I've ever experienced. No words, no awkwardness, just two humans who love and care for one another soaking in the spirit of the season while listening to beautiful music. It was heaven. 

That was one of my favorite Christmas highlights. 

But we can't forget about all the sugar (TOO MUCH) and fun. The cousins and the sledding and the magical snow. You may have seen this video on Facebook, but here it is again for your viewing pleasure. (As well as some photos of people I love too much to put into words). 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The perfect christmas gift

Christmas is fast approaching.  Can we make a suggestion for a gift? Give the gift of an experience by taking art classes! You might remember the epic gift I gave Molly last year of "The 12 Dates After Christmas" where I planned dates for each month of the year. Each date was wonderful, but one of the most memorable and enjoyable things we did was take pottery classes together at Petersen Art Center in Sugarhouse.

It was so fun to try something we weren't very good at and learn a bit, use our creativity to make choices about what we'd create and then carry it out, to immerse ourselves in a process simply for the sake of creation. Our instructor Mark Petersen was fantastic. He was fun, he was patient, he was encouraging and helpful. He made sure we had some successes but more importantly, that we enjoyed the process. We met some of the other instructors and they’re all great. It was fun to meet other students as well.  There is one student who makes the drive from Utah County to Sugarhouse for weekly classes. I think that is a good endorsement of the Center.

They offer painting and drawing classes in addition to pottery. Kids as well as adults can sign up! This is better than whatever “thing” you were thinking about giving.  This is an experience. Even if someday our pottery breaks-- our experience endures. This is something we can do for years and years. This was something outside and apart from the stresses of life, the bills, the house projects, the differences in opinions and interests, the decisions about the best way to help our kids or live our lives. This was something that Molly and I could do together. It’s a great date and it's a great way to cultivate a relationship.

We told Mark (our fabulous instructor) how much we enjoyed our classes and that we wanted to say something good about him and the Peterson Art Center. He was thrilled with the endorsement and wants to give or readers a serious deal. You won't regret it! 

Normally, the cost of taking a class (painting, pottery, etc) is $90/month. They are doing a special right now for Christmas offering classes for $49/month (per person). But if you CALL, DROP-IN, or email BEFORE CHRISTMAS and mention our names (Vic and/or Molly Jackson) and that you read this blog you can sign up for classes for just $39/month. This is a steal of a deal! You'll have such a great time, learn a new skill, meet new people, and if you go as a'll have a bonding experience that will bring about world peace. Your house will start self-cleaning and your kids will be perfect angels. It's totes worth it. (I think Molly wrote this last sentence). 

1025 E 2100 S

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bad photo/great story

Picture this:

The Pantheon. Rome, Italy. A beautiful October day. Cobblestone streets, the smell of fresh baked bread, street musicians, and swarms of tourists. And don't forget loved ones. That makes everything better.

Upon entering the building, I got separated from my parents and Tanja for 10 minutes or so. After listening to an audio guide about the history of the Pantheon and admiring the incredible architecture, I decided it was time to sit. I found my dad in one of the church pews (the Pantheon is one of the few ancient historical churches that still holds weekly Sunday services) and sat down for a spell.

Sitting to my left was a lovely woman and a man whom I guessed to be her father. We started up a conversation (I overheard them speaking English--in a British accent, which is always music to my ears). They were so easy to talk to. I enjoyed getting to know a bit about their work, their travels, and the usual info (names, place of residence, etc.)

I learned that Tori (the beautiful gal next to me) is a single mum with a young daughter. She has a great career and a fabulous energy about her. She was so warm and easy and open. I could tell right away she was someone I wanted to be friends with. She asked about me and my family and of course I told her about my kids, including Lucy. I gave the abbreviated version of her accident but still included the major points. She didn't say much after I shared my story and I wasn't sure if I made her feel awkward by sharing.

Just then, an American choir started setting up and began singing. If I remember right it was a somewhat cheesy Josh Groban song. The choir was made up of mostly men and women in their 50's from the Midwest. (an educated guess) They weren't flashy or amazing, but it was an unexpected and pleasant experience to hear their voices floating through that historic building.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Tori wiping away tears. My first thought was honestly, "Maybe she lost her mom recently. Maybe that is why her dad is here alone with her. Maybe talking about Lucy is opening wounds from her mother's death."

I don't remember exactly what I said, but I asked something along the lines if she had recently lost someone.

"No", she replied,

"I'm sorry. I just can't stop thinking about your little girl. You are the strongest person I've ever met."

You guys. I haven't shed tears with someone over Lucy for a very long time. And to have the sacred honor of a stranger (turned friend) shed tears with you, for you, caught me so off guard and melted my heart. Here we were--one of us from Utah, one from England, sitting in THE PANTHEON in Italy, having just met 10 minutes previous, and we are crying together.

It was beautiful.

I wanted them to spend the rest of the day with me and my family! I got Tori's info and added her on Facebook that same night and almost walked away without snapping a photo. I knew it was a moment I would want to remember and I turned around and asked my mom to take this...

And though I don't look great, I felt amazing. I felt broken and vulnerable and alive and so thankful. I felt connected to Lucy and Tori, humanity and history.

You best believe I'll be seeing Tori on my next trip to England! She's the strong one. She left a failing relationship with courage to raise her daughter alone. She has a successful career and the graceful strength to cry for a stranger. The strength of her human heart, and those like hers, keeps Lucy's light alive.

Bad photo--great story.

We are all strong. But together, we are even stronger.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Cenote

Where do I even begin?

It's been a rough couple of weeks. The church I am a member of came out with a new policy that has been extremely difficult for me to digest. (That is an entire separate post that will probably never happen).

The terrorist attacks in Paris.

The Syrian refugee crisis.

Tonight, as I knelt next to Peter's bed to pray with him, I freely spoke to my Father in Heaven about some of these things. Namely, the refugees, or "people with nowhere to live and not enough food to eat, and children with no parents. Help us be kind and always help when and where we can." (I'm constantly trying to reinforce to Peter that the most important thing in life is to be kind).

After I finished the prayer, I stood up to give Peter goodnight kisses and he was wiping tears from his eyes. He didn't want to tell me what was wrong at first..."I'm fine. I'm not sad." But a moment later, " I AM sad. What about those children with nothing to eat and no mommy to help them grow up?"

All I could do was hold his head in my hands and cry with him. "Life is hard, Peter. That's why it is so important to help and do what we can for people. We are so lucky to have our family and food to eat and a warm home." With that, I kissed him and hugged him with soft, motherly fierceness and retired to my room to read.

Through my remaining tears, I opened to the last few chapters of Chelsea Dyreng's " The Cenote" and found myself lost in a Mezzo American world filled with love,grief, laughter, marital strife, legends, and forgiveness. Once again I was in tears. This book is PERFECT for a book club. Her story telling is brilliant and the subject matter is relatable to the vast majority of people. I'm not going to tell you what the book is a metaphor for. Just read it. You must. You must!

Get the book HERE. 

It will enrich your life and open the door to some great questions and conversations. I love books that make you think and stay with you. I prom dress that this is worth the read. 

So with all of these instances of pain and sadness this week--there has been a sweetness and an awakening to them. (Perhaps not with the first issue in this post). I've thought and felt things I don't necessarily feel the need to share, but the bottom line is I have felt a softened love for the human race (once again) and been reminded of how much we need each other, how essential forgiveness is, and how we must love one another or die. 

So say a prayer. Read a good book. And keep on loving. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Lesson From My Special Needs Friend

It was at about mile 4 when I saw him. His large, 3-wheeled, cherry red bicycle headed toward me. I had a mile to go before making it home to the chaos and responsibilities of my life. I was deep in thought about my struggles, my fears, my hopes. And I was also at the top of a steep climb on the paved trail.

I knew this bicycle, and I knew the man on it. His name is Kent and I attend church with him every Sunday. He sits in the very front row, mumbles to himself, and rides his prized bike everywhere he goes. He LOVES ringing the bell at church to signal it's time to change classes. He carries his iPad with him everywhere with a zoomed in digital clock displayed on the front so he always knows what time it the second. I'm not sure what the "label" of his condition is, perhaps somewhere on the Autism spectrum,  I just know he has a kind and innocent heart. 

Determined, he peddled hard as he reached the base of the hill. He had his usual backpack, gloves, hat, and all sorts of other gear with him. I wasn't sure if he would recognize me but without skipping a beat, I continued my run toward him (I was at the bottom of the hill at this point), I switched directions, grabbed the metal basket on the end of his bike and while already pushing him uphill briefly asked, "Need some help?" 

He nodded vigorously and together we made it up the hill in no time. Neither one of us missed a single step or push of the pedal. There was no stopping to say, "Hi, Kent! Do you remember me from church? Would it be OK if I helped you?" 

Not only that, but once he made it to the top of the hill he just carried on and didn't even look back. I loved it. I loved that I was in the right place at the right time to help him up that hill. He got me entirely out of my thoughts and into action, which is what it seems I always need. And it's extremely likely he had no idea who the woman pushing him was. He is childlike in that most endearing of ways. 

I guess my takeaway from this experience, what I love most about it, is that helping him was so easy, so effortless. The way he accepted my help, with no hesitation or apologies, was so refreshing. My act of kindness was so small but something about the way he rode off to his destination without looking back made it even more special for me. I was going my way, he was going his. We were at different speeds, with different abilities, but we helped each other seamlessly. 

I smiled to myself the rest of the way home.

In print, the experience sounds so insignificant. "So a lady helped push some guy biking up a hill." But the feeling, the timing, the innocence, the blue sky and clean Park City air--it brought me back to the root of my spirit and my life.

He was going his way, I was going mine.  But we helped each other and showed love using hardly any words and no judgements or expectations. 30 seconds of bliss.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Goodness, Gracious Neighbors!

Every Halloween, our extremely generous and talented neighbors do FREE Halloween portraits for all the neighborhood kids and their friends. This year did not disappoint!  Honestly, it was a REALLY great Halloween. The weather in PC was spectacular and I loved how our family-themed costumes turned out.  

Of course I thought of our Lucy. My kids do such an incredible job remembering her and incorporating her into our everyday lives. "Let's carve a pumpkin for Lucy." "What would Lucy dress up as this year with us?" Or..."I'll get some extra candy...for Lucy."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Psychiatric Circus

First of all, there are a million and one more photos of my trip to Rome on my Instagram account (@smallyspice). Secondly, you may need to know Bice Family humor in order to understand the underlining theme of our trip--"Psychiatric Circus".

One of the first things we saw as our driver took us from the airport to our apartment was a huge billboard for some sort of (I assume) Halloween show called "Psychiatric Circus." My dad made some comment about it and my mom and I got an excellent laugh out of it. He didn't realize it was a Halloween show and his comment was hilariously misguided.

My dad had surgery on his foot 6 weeks prior to this trip and had a hard time walking. A boot on his foot and a cane on the ready, we slowly made our way through the streets and sights of Rome. It was MAGNIFICENT. But each time my mom and I stopped and waited and looked back to see Russell hobbling toward us, we'd flatly state, "Psychiatric Circus". It never got old. And the day it poured rain and my dad pulled out the trusty emergency poncho I was carrying in my backpack (see photo below) and proclaimed, "Walking on cobblestones is hard enough, but walking on slanted cobblestones is another story," is the day Psychiatric Circus hit its peak and we could not stop laughing. (I know, we are mean. We laugh at my dad a lot. But it is all done in a spirit of love. I don't understand families who don't make fun of each other).

The day we walked in circles on end and tried in vain to catch a bus home, only to end up on the same street corner 2 or 3 times (then later learned our apartment was just up the street) was another popular scene in our Psychiatric Circus. So. much. laughter.

Our little apartment for the week. "La Casa Del Peonie"

Insert laughing until you cry Emoji. 

Read about Michelangelo's giant pinecone in the Vatican courtyard HERE. It's fascinating!!

Psychiciatric Circus on tour. 

Warning to all psych patients: Look out below. Slanted AND wet cobblestones. 

Our 5 star hotel the last night in Rome was such a treat!

This was our view at breakfast. 

Another incredible treat was a weekend visit from our friend Tanja who lives in Switzerland! (As well as the Swiss chocolate she brought for us). She added an invaluable bit to our Psychiatric comedy routine by proclaiming that my dad had a "sweet ass". She meant "Sweet tooth" but couldn't remember the phrase in English! (Please insert laugh until you cry Emoji again). 

These photos are just the TIP of the iceberg, but you get the idea. So much delicious food. So many charming streets. So many well-dressed men. So much history! So many sights--Vatican, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, etc, etc. So much charm. So much fun. So many incredible memories. A huge thank you to my parents for allowing me to tag along. 
More photos below if you feel like scrolling further. Ciao Belle!

P.S. I spent an extra night in alone in Rome after my parents left to fly to Istanbul. THAT was trippy.