Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April's Fools

I love a good ugly face. And I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I make the very best one. THE. Very best one. Like, for real.

In one scene of Les Mis, I play a beggar woman with a young baby. I put the usual "dirt" on my face before I go on stage--but one night, I decided I might as well black out a tooth while I was at it. It was fun to surprise a few people on stage. Marius barely kept it together when I smiled up at him during his first solo of that scene.

But my point is that I was perfectly primed for ugly face photo history. I mean....

I MEAN!!!!!!!!!! (When I texted this to my sister her reply was, "Never again.")

Once this beauty was forever memorialized, it got me a little excited about the potential for other ugly faces from these fierce actor friends of mine. I went around backstage snapping ugly face after ugly face. I got some real gems. I had no idea what I was going to do with them...but I was getting so many great laughs.

That's when Adam Millington walked up to me and said, "You know what you should do with those...you should replace everyone's existing headshots on the bulletin board with these ugly ones."


I came back the next day with my nicer Canon Rebel (as opposed to my phone) and got photos of everyone in both casts.

"Is this going on the internet?? What are these for? What are you doing? Are you putting these on Facebook?"

No, no, no. Calm the fweak down.

There is a giant bulletin board backstage just outside the dressing rooms. For every show that the Hale Centre Theatre does, they take all the headshots (for non-theatre people, a headshot is an 8 x 10 photo of yourself...looking your absolute best, that you use, along with your resume, when you audition for a show. It helps directors and producers remember who you are throughout the audition process) from everyone who was cast in the show and make a collage with all of them. And is it just me (ha..it's just NOT me) or are performers generally very good looking people? Yes. Yes, they are.

Or...they were. Until April 1st.

I really wish I would have taken a "before" photo of the board. (Also, it is RIGHT outside all the dressing rooms. The entire cast, including the tech crew--dressers, spotlight operators, sound guys, etc--walk past this multiple times a night.)

Our stage manager printed them out for me and Adam took time to cover each existing headshot with a "new and improved" version.

This chubby bunny is the tiniest little thing. But her fat kid impression is the bomb. 

Thenardier at his finest. (I can't handle talking to him backstage when he is out of character because the makeup he wears on his teeth is too gross for me to look at...even though I love the man.)

So stinking funny.

I mean...look at these....(A few individual BEFORE and AFTER shots.)

Here is one of our lovely Eponines. Her voice is KILLER!!!! 

So is her ugly face...

And then we have this handsome hunk...

This beauty, Mrs. Rachel Woodward Hansen (Cosette) was ALL OVER the ugly face business. When I asked her, she looked at me like, "Are you kidding?? It's only my favorite thing to do..." 

This fine fellow rocks my world. 

And last but not least...we have this gorgeous goddess of a woman, Mrs. Megan Lynn Heaps, our very own Fantine...Check out her mad skills...

Sure, she had just sold her hair before becoming a prostitute, then she died...(so the makeup and wig help) but still...

I had so much fun taking these and everyone (ahem...except for a few) was such a good sport about it. It felt like a breakthrough social experiment to approach these people and say, "Can you give me the ugliest face you can possibly make? I'm going to take a picture." Because some people were all over it, "Are you kidding? I have so many!" And others were a little hesitant/HAD NEVER MADE AN UGLY FACE BEFORE. Who are these people?? What do they do in front of the mirror everyday? Not have any fun, that's for sure.

I'm not sure what it says about people, but I'm trying to figure it out. I think it says something. I think it says they are confident enough with who they are to look foolish. They don't take themselves too seriously. It might also say they have a little too much time on their hands if they have an entire catalogue of faces. All I know is, the more willing to participate and the uglier the face, the more I fell in love with them.

But I must end on a redemptive note...if you don't mind.

I love these fools! I can't believe the show is ending in 2 weeks. I have made some new life-long friends (life beginning at 36 years old), and learned and grown so much. I will miss their faces to the max! All of their faces...the beautiful and the ugly. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Birthday Interview

Peter turns 5 on April 8th! I'm sitting here at the kitchen table with him while he works on constructing his very first Lego set (we waited until Zoë was old enough that she no longer put every thing in sight into her mouth before we let Peter get little Legos). He's working very intently on putting together his golden Ninajago Dragon.

And I think this is the time to give him his birthday interview. I'm so in love with him I can't stand it.

What is your name?


Peter what?


What's your middle name?


What's your favorite thing to do?

Umm...my favorite thing to do is playing ith my dragon and building it.

What are you hoping you'll get for your birthday?

Some Legos

Who are the people that you love?

Ummm...my friends.

Is there anyone else you love besides your friends?

Just my friends.

What about your family?

And I love my family

Who are your friends that you love?

Soren. Umm...Hayden. Hallie. And, uh, David. And John. And Liam. Tommy and Angel. And Lucy.

Your sister Lucy?

Uh huh. And Zoë. Her have read hair. And I miss Lucy. And I love Mommy.

What about daddy?

Hmmm...Hmmmm...But it's just my friends to eat. But I need a bigger cake, mom.

What's your favorite food?

Ice cream.

Really? Anything else? 

Just ice cream.

What sports do you like to play?

Baseball. And I like to ride my bike. And I'm going to start soccer.

I can't believe you are turning five! (I said this as he sat on my lap, my arms wrapped around his growing chest). You have to always be my little boy and give me loves and kisses and cuddles. And then you are going to be 6! Then 7, 8, 9, 10, 11...then you'll go to high school and on a mission and to college and then you'll get married and then you'll be a daddy and you'll make me a grandma! I can't believe it!

His response to all this:

"But....I don't know how to type!"

I'm glad that's your only concern, son. I love you with all my liver and lungs!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Everyday Magic

Nothing significant happened this weekend. We didn't go to any special events or even have a date night, just me and The Vic Mister. No parties, no fancy restaurants. We didn't spend any money going to museums or bounce houses or the zoo. We just played and played and played. 

And it was magical. 



We started the day at an amazing park in Daybreak (I can't handle the temptation of Daybreak. Every time I go there, which is often, I have dreams of selling our PC house and moving into a brand new place...with kids everywhere, parks, trails...it is so tempting!). It was a bit windy but we played to our hearts content. 

I had to say goodbye to the kiddos and head to my matinee...which went well. I love my job. 

After my show, we headed to Memory Grove. Memory Grove is one of my favorite places in Salt Lake. It fascinates me. We fed the ducks, chased dogs, threw balls, played frisbee, went exploring up the trail, I got to run a few miles, and we just breathed in the beautiful Spring air. It was heaven on earth. 

I CANNOT stress enough to you how insanely adorable this little Zoë June is. I am not humanely capable of handling her adorableness. I can kiss her and squeeze her and tickle her until the cows come home, but I will NEVER be able to get enough. 

Then we've got his little stinker. He's as fun and darling and amazing as he is stubborn and strong-willed. He and I are so much alike it scares me. 

I honestly thought my heart might burst wide open this weekend. My life is not perfect or easy, just like all of you, but there are moments when it seems too good to be true. I spent all day on Saturday (minus my time on stage) in my workout clothes and running shoes. I swear to you that this makes all the difference in my day. I can run and jump and play just as hard as my kids. I feel comfortable and cute and it makes me feel like I want to move my body. I do enjoy dressing in "regular" cute clothes, but MAN...I could live in workout clothes. 

I hope I can continue to take time to look around at the everyday beauty in my life--my children, my spouse, my friends, my health--and see the magic in it. 

Everything in Spring feels like magic. Even though it happens every single year, I am always, always amazed at the grass turning green, the trees starting to bud, the tulips peeking their heads out. The fact that nature transforms like this is simply astounding to me! And no matter how many diapers I change or tantrums I manage to live through, I am constantly amazed at the magic of my children. The way they learn and grow and talk and run and dance and laugh and live. Who are these beautiful creatures?

Even my Lucy watching over us feels magical sometimes. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Don't Have a Title For This

Dear Molly,

You don't know me, and I don't know you but a few years ago I discovered your blog and read about your heart wrenching experience of losing your precious Lucy. Reading your story connected me to you as a mother, I ached for you, a stranger.   I am beginning to realize that life is fragile, motherhood is sacred and our children are a gift from our Heavenly Father only on loan to us for a while. I have learned many lessons from you Molly, and I am inspired by you and your beautiful daughter Lucy.

I wanted to share this with you.....

This time last year we were placed in our home a tiny, fragile 6 week old baby. She was born addicted to heroin and spent the first few weeks of her life withdrawing from drugs, shaking and crying out in pain. She fought for her life the 1st month of her life in the NICU. She was then placed in foster care because her mom is on the street and her dad is in jail.  We welcomed this sweet little girl into our family not knowing what her fate would be.

She has developed and grown into a happy and clever little girl, strong and bright. She has overcome every obstacle that has been in her way in her short life.

We have grown to love her as our very own.

Recently we were given permission to name her.

We have chosen "Lucia" in honour of your beautiful girl who was too special and wonderful for this world.  Lucia =meaning light! We can't think of a more appropriate name for our little ray of light who came from such a dark situation and shines bright and victorious (as your "Lucia" does from Heaven)  What a blessing she is to this world. We ask your blessing upon this name choice, and know how special and sacred a name it is to you and your family.

This week we learned that our baby girl is going to be staying with us forever! We will be officially adopting her on May 27th 2014 a beautiful day for our family. We plan to be sealed to her soon afterwards in the Gilbert AZ temple. There will be rejoicing in heaven and on earth. I wonder if your Lucia was a heavenly helper for our baby to find her eternal family?

Editor's Note-My heart doesn't know how to handle getting emails like this. This family is downright amazing. They have adopted two children, had 2 more via sperm donation, will soon (as mentioned in her letter to me) be adopting Lucia and have 2 more foster children in her care. She is also from Scotland! Which...just makes her down right cool. People have such huge, amazing hearts. I am more than honored to share our Lucia's name with this incredible family. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dear Grandpa (Or...step away from the scissors)

Dear Grandpa, 

My mommy wanted me to write you a letter to clear up any confusion over my fabulous 20's haircut performed by a blind man. 

But before we get into the haircut, I wanted to say thank you for letting me and my brother come play at your house for a day! We had so much fun getting into the cookie jar, swinging on the backyard swing, going to C-A-L Ranch to look at baby ducklings and rabbits. I really, really want a baby rabbit. Maybe for Easter. Please?

I love chasing your dog, Bear, around the house, building trains, playing with blocks, and watching cartoons. You are the best Grandpa in the world! I always feel safe and happy with you and love sitting in your lap while you read me books. Thank you for taking such good care of me. 

My mommy says she had a wonderful day without me and Peter around to bug her. She got to recover from doing so many shows, go on a run, clean the house, and get a lot of things done. I love coming home to a happy and well-rested mommy!

But let's cut to the chase here, Pops. What exactly were you thinking? If I had the words, I would have told you that my mommy pulls my hair back into a pony tail or puts a cute bow in it to keep the hair out of my eyes. It was long enough to braid or even put in two pony tails! But it was fun watching you try to stay steady as I squirmed around and wondered what on earth you were doing to me. 

Mommy was sad when she came home from her show late last night and daddy told her what had happened. She came into my room at midnight and turned on the flashlight so she could get a look at me. It woke me up. So mommy let me get out and play for a while. She rocked me and sang to me and couldn't decide if she wanted to laugh or cry at my new appearance. 

When daddy broke the news to her that "something had happened to one of our children"...she expected something awful. A broken bone, a loss of a limb...so while it was somewhat of a relief for her that neither of those things were true, she was still sad about it. Not mad. Shocked, maybe. Confused. AMAZED! 

But my mommy wanted to tell you that she's not mad. Don't get me wrong...she was very upset. But now that she's had a little bit of time to digest it, things are settling down for her a little. She tried calling today but nobody answered the phone. Maybe you are hiding in a corner somewhere. Or maybe you have gone about your day very happy, knowing that your grand-daughter no longer has hair in her face, obstructing the view of this wonderful world. But no matter the case, Mommy still loves you. My hair will grow back. We will let it grow and in a few years, Mommy will have a "first haircut redo" where she will save my lock of hair for her scrapbook or locket. 

Hair grows. I'm still the most beautiful little red head in all the land. I'm healthy and happy...and I didn't even realize that I look different. Mommy lost my big sister, so losing a little bit of my hair isn't worth getting upset about. Especially because she knows you did it because you love me. She pinned it back today with a clip and you could hardly tell! The problem is that I like to take the bows out of my hair as often as I can. 

I love you, Grandpa. Cutting my hair was a high price to pay for mommy to have a day of peace and quiet. She'll let me and Peter come play with you again. But next time, she's hiding the scissors. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tomorrow Comes

I want to tell you about an experience I get to have every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night.

At the end of Les Mis, when we go out to take our bows and sing the final song, I get to face the audience. It is one of the very few times in the whole show that we actually sing to the audience. And each and every time, without fail, there are multiple people wiping tears from their eyes.

So much goes through my mind at that moment:

I'm so grateful I get to be a part of this production.

This came at such a perfect time in my life. 

I wonder why that woman is crying? I wonder what is going on in her life. 

Did she recently lose a loved one? 

Is she just moved by the beautiful music and story of mercy and love?

Why is that man crying?

What have these people overcome in their lives? What are they dealing with right now? 

What is in their hearts? 

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in their faces. I want to know their stories. At my last show, I was so lost in thought as I looked into the eyes of the people sitting in the section I was facing that after the ensemble took our bow, I forgot I was supposed to move out of the way and face a different direction for the leads to take their bows. I just stood there looking into all of their faces. My cute friend and cast mate, Megan Holmes, had to gesture for me to move. I was frozen there as I watched the beauty in these people's faces.

As one of my blog readers commented a few weeks ago, the lyrics of that final song are extremely moving.

"Do you hear the people sing? Lost in the valley of the night. It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light. For the wretched of the earth there is a flame that never dies. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord, they will walk behind the plowshare, they will put away the sword. The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward. Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see? Do you hear the people sing? Say, do you hear the distant drums, it is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes. TOMORROW COMES!"

Although Les Miserables is a story filled with darkness and death, there is so much hope woven in the epic novel and script. The fact that the very end of the show ends with the words, "Tomorrow comes" is especially powerful to me.

I received a heartbreaking email this week from a lovely woman in South Africa who lost a full term child to stillbirth. She is currently experiencing other extremely difficult challenges in her life. I have not yet responded to her. (I hope she is reading this...) I have been digesting her questions. Her email was very sacred and I don't want my response to her to be quick or flippant. It deserves respect and time and a sincere response. But if I could summarize what my heart is wanting to tell her, it's that "Tomorrow comes." We never know the joys we are capable of one day feeling. We never know how beautifully things can turn out...even though there seems to be no way out. No redemption. No mercy. No light or love. But I believe there is always a way.

It takes a lot of work. We have to educate ourselves on grief, on forgiveness, on working through and with our problems and the people in our life. But tomorrow eventually comes. And somehow, in some way, it can be beautiful. Even MORE beautiful because of the heart break. We just can't give up hope.

I'm so thankful I get to see those sacred tears on the cheeks of perfect strangers every night as I look into the audience. I think they feel the truth of those words--tomorrow comes. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. Even though I may never know the stories that their tears tell, nor will I ever know their names, they feel so much less like strangers when I see those tears...they are the same tears I've cried many, many times.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy List

Did you know I was a Mormon missionary for 18 months? It's true. I was assigned to the Peoria, Illinois mission, which covered most of central Illinois and small parts of Missouri, Iowa, and Indiana. One of my very favorite areas I served in was Kirksville, Missouri. The people we taught, the members of the church, my companion...they were all fantastic. FANTASTIC. 

For most of my time there, my companion was Sister Tangitau, an absolute beauty goddess from Tonga. We got a long SO WELL and were able to teach several outstanding people. (Does it surprise you that every morning as we were getting ready to go do service projects or knock on doors we'd repeat our motto, "You gotta look good."?)

I think back with fondness on the day Vince was baptized outside in a lake, on the poems Rob O'Brian used to write for me, on the crisp fall air and the apple pie I made that spilled all over my skirt, and our early morning walks around the track at Truman State University. I made some life-long friends in that wonderful little place. 

One thing Siser Tangitau and I used to do was create "Happy Lists" every few weeks. We loved the way our neighbor, Donald, had rigged a special horn for his car that was an entire 8 measures of some clown-like melody. We loved the delicious vegetarian dishes that Vince and his roommates would feed us. We loved the Raish family and their adorable little son, Noah. We'd create bullet point after bullet point of all the things that made us happy. 

So that's what I'm doing today. A Happy List. 

-Les Mis. I am so grateful I'm in this show right now. Everything about this experience is exactly what I needed at this time in my life. It is almost too perfect and poetic. 

-Elliot Yamin. You know? One of the runners up on American Idol a long time ago? He has this one song that comes on the radio occasionally and every time I hear it I think, "I love Elliot Yamin...and I don't care who knows it." 

-The sunshine and warmer temps. This goes a little beyond happy. 

-When I come home late from my show to a clean house. Vic has been a rock star during the run of this show so far. I recently read an article that said one of the first things you can do to help someone with depression is get rid of clutter. I SO appreciate a clean home. 

-That Peter had his first dental appointment and they discovered ZERO cavities. I mean...talk about dodging a bullet. (His sweet tooth is something to be reckoned with)

-Zoë June. It is impossible to not be happy when you look at her and nibble her and squeal with her and swing her and watch her dance. She is too much! 

-Peter's gymnastics class at TumbleKatz and his "Let's Play Music" class. Especially his "Let's Play Music" class. INcredible. He is learning music theory, rhythm, sulfage, pitch--all in musical play. I am so proud and amazed at his growth and understanding. He'll be starting piano next year and I can hardly wait. 

-Naps. I'm approaching the one year mark of being Ambien free! Can you even handle it?? I never, ever feel guilty for taking a nap or sleeping in. I only feel proud. 

-The "Happy Song" by Pharrell Williams. You've probably heard it, but if not, google it. Please. Or click HERE

-Babies. There are a few people in Les Mis with little babies and occasionally they are backstage in the green room. I cannot get enough of them. 

-Comfortable and practical yet stylish clothes. They make me happy. 

-Kindness, thoughtfulness, honesty, humility, vulnerability--it makes me happy when people in my life are this way. I try to be this way, but I can be better. 

-Compliments. Even the smallest of compliments. 

-A good book, movie, or TV show. (It is rare I see a movie I love. But I love almost every book I read and there are several TV shows that I really like.)

I'll stop there for now. Except I just remembered one more--Happy Lists. They make me happy. So do you. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jewelry Keepsakes

Today marks one month since I got the news that my dear friend, Justin, passed away. I'm learning how to re-train my brain. I can no longer call him when I have a bad day, or a stupid joke to share, or a business idea. In fact, I was having a particularly awful day a week or so ago (partly because of his death) and I honestly had the thought, "Duh. Why don't you call Justin and chat about it? He always talks you through things." I'm just not used to his absence.

But I'm just a close friend. A very close friend. But I'm not his mother...or his sister whom he lived with. And they are hurting and feeling the emptiness of the space he left far more than I.

With his mom coming to opening night of my show, I knew I wanted to get her something as a keepsake of her amazing boy. I discovered a company called Jewelry Keepsakes and was so pleased with how the necklace turned out. The photos are actually engraved on the pendants. Justin's mother is a very classy woman, so I wanted something simple but elegant. And this was perfect. I like that it is understated. You can see the etching of Justin's face clearer in certain directions or under certain lighting, but in others, it is very faint. There is some symbolism in that for me.

Cheryl loves the necklace. I don't think she's taken it off since I gave it to her. I remember doing the same with Lucy. I wore either a locket with her hair inside, or a photo necklace another angel mom had given me everyday for almost two years. I have several different wonderful necklaces and bracelets thoughtful friends and blog readers have gifted me and I still wear them. They mean the world to me. 

I also gave Justin's mom my copy of the book, Tear Soup. If there is someone in your life who has suffered a loss, I cannot recommend both this company (JewelryKeepsakes.com) and this book (Tear Soup) enough. 

Just yesterday I got awful news that my sister-in-law's brother passed away. I think both of these items are the perfect gifts for her and her mother...along with love and compassion and a listening ear. 

People suffer. Everyday, all around us, people are suffering. I can promise you it makes a difference--a big difference--when you make the time to do small things like this. I'm not always great at it, but I'm trying to be better. 

I'm glad that Justin's mom has her son's photo close to her heart now. He truly was love personified. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Got Older

I did it. I got older. I couldn't help it. It just happened. But I was surrounded by family and friends so it softened the blow. (And it's another year closer to Lucy...)

Vic prepared a delicious meal and invited my brother and his family over for tres leches carmel cake. Oh. My. 


Are these two cousins not adorable?

If I may, I'm going to tell you about something that I'm proud of. See those round cards the kids are playing with? They are called "Cousin Cards". It's the game of Memory but with photos of each cousin. (Two cards per cousin...obviously)

I made a set for each of my siblings and their kids. (I also made a Jackson version for Vic's siblings). So much fun. 

The day after our little family party, we had a short little birthday celebration in the green room before dress rehearsal. 

And if you have been wondering what I've been doing between rehearsals, shows, birthday celebrations, preschool, gymnastics, music lessons, cooking, cleaning, and working out--it's loving on this little nugget!!!

It was a great birthday. I have a wonderful life. I really do. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Conversations in the Car

I talked to Justin on the drive home from the theatre last night. I was exhausted. I've been exhausted all week.

I got to sit in the audience and watch the other cast do their dress rehearsal. It was an emotional experience for me. Maybe that's why I cried the whole drive home while I "talked" to Justin. It hits me now and then...the fact that he is gone. Home to be with Lucy and his grandparents. It hurts. I looked over at the empty passengers seat next to me and cried and cried. I even reached my hand out and put it on his leg and thanked him over and over again for all he has done for me.

There were moments I would look over and smile--laugh, even, through my tears. I don't know exactly what he was saying to me, but I kept saying, "Ok, Ok." I think he was telling me to be better. Do better. And that he loves me.

I asked him if he has seen Lucy. I asked him if he could please let me know, somehow, how she is doing.

I didn't feel crazy. I didn't feel dramatic. I was just grieving and talking with my friend. Does he know how much I love him? Does he know how much he has affected my life? Is he at peace? Is he at rest?

Sometimes I feel I am doing ok at this whole thing...this whole "life" thing. I'm managing. I know for certain I have put up more emotional walls over the past year or so. I don't cry much. When you cry everyday for 2 years straight, I guess you get to a point that you just don't want to anymore. I rarely cry  during the show even though it the most emotional show I've ever done. Even though little Gavroche dies on stage and his little body is carried down the barricade. I don't cry. I don't cry when I have to say goodbye to my lover and then he gets shot and killed. I'm all cried out.

But that changed last night on the drive home and I haven't really stopped crying since.

Justin's parents are coming to the show opening night. Justin loved Les Mis. I love Justin. I love Les Mis. I love his parents. His parents love me. Some of my best friends will be there. It will be on my dad's birthday. It will be Valentine's Day. And...I don't know. The flood gates might be open again. And I'm OK with that.

You can only lose something that you HAVE, not something that you ARE. Justin and Lucy are both a part of me. As long as I am living true to the beautiful part of myself that they created in me, I am never too far away from them. They will never be lost to me.

So I'll keep having conversations in my car. I'll keep listening.