Tuesday, December 22, 2015

be about bliss

i need to be a proud friend and tell you about my friend, rachel bliss. coolest last name, right? we've known rachel for close to 15 years. she and i were pregnant together with our first kids and they were both born on the same day, hours apart. we've stayed in touch all these years.
anyway, she recently started a non-profit named be about bliss. within this non-profit, rachel hopes to provide for the needs of children. last year for christmas, rachel provided an entire elementary school with books for each student. this particular school has 90% of the kids on the free lunch program and many of the kids only eat while they are at school. once rachel found out about that, she decided to put together food kits for all 700 plus kids in that school to take home over winter break so that they would have something to eat while they weren't in school. pretty awesome. when we moved out here to colorado, we began helping rachel with this huge project. i wasn't quite aware of how much time, effort, emotion and struggle we'd all put into this project. at times it was overwhelming, especially for rachel. but we all focused on those little kids who would get the food and it made it worth it.

rachel's kids and my kids put many hours into this project. as moms, it was nice to see our kids put energy into thinking about other people. quite a few saturdays they'd spend with us standing in front of the local grocery store telling people about the project and asking for donations. that takes some guts. many times i'd be talking to people as they kept walking into the store, not very interested in what some random chick was saying. but i'd just keep up with them and eventually they'd hear what i was saying and helped us out. people just need opportunities to be generous and they usually come through. but imagine a kid having the guts to follow that person and talk to them. it was cool to watch. izzy was great at collecting money donations. haha. who can say no to her adorable face? she got quite a few $20 bills. i loved it.

after collecting what we could, we shopped for the rest of the food so that the kits would all be equal. our church ward xmas party even involved helping us put the kits together. many, many hands were helpful in pulling off such a big project. 

last thursday we were able to take all the kits to the elementary school. i kept my kids home from school so that they could participate. they handed out the wrapped books to the students. they were smiling just as much as the students. the students were so appreciative of what they were given. rachel hired a man to play santa claus too...those adorable kids lit up when he walked in the room. every minute of it was touching and special for everyone.

this is the link to rachel's website if you'd like to know more.

and i'll just say one more thing about rachel. i've never met someone who thinks about helping people more than her. she's constantly finding ways to improve the lives of those around her. an example of this says it all...a few weeks ago she and i planned on going shopping. she had to run some food to the homeless shelter (see, always giving something) and then was going to come pick me up. she called and said something came up and she'd be about an hour late. no worries. when she arrived at my house, she apologized for being late. this is what she said, "i saw a mom and three kids, about the ages of our kids, checking out of the shelter (they have to check out each day and then come back in the evening to spend the night, first come first served kind of thing) with a grocery bag of belongings. i felt pushed to help her. i was supposed to help her. i took her and the kids to a hotel, checked them in for the night and gave them food to eat while there. i wish i could afford to do more for her. hopefully one night out of the cold in a comfortable place will be okay." she shrugged her shoulders and then she cried for a minute, cause that's what she does...she calls herself a cry baby. haha. i mean for real, who does that? that is christlike love. that is pure service. she's good people, i tell ya!

rachel sitting outside the grocery store. i think she was going on her 9th hour of being there.

rachel's daughter kinsey and my olivia

they took their job very seriously

see, don't you just want to hand over money to that cute face?
rachel and i picking up 500lbs of rice. it's how we have fun on saturday nights.
mark's job...moving food all over the place
see, it's what he does.
books waiting to be delivered

santa visiting a class
happy little kiddos

short hair, don't care. okay, maybe i care a little.

i know, i know. who cares about my hair. pretty much only me. but considering the huge change my hair went through, and how it impacted me, it needs to be documented on this tiny blog.

i had it in my head forever that i wanted to try out short hair. i love it on other women. like love it a lot. it's fun and different and edgy. so when we moved to california and two adorable friends of mine were sporting pixie cuts, i was given that extra motivation to go for it.

i've always said that hair shouldn't define girls. it becomes a security blanket. hey, if you just plain love long hair, i think that's great. seriously, to each her own. i just wanted to see what would happen, how i would feel, without something that was starting to define me. everyone had an opinion. it was kinda funny to hear people talk me into it or out of it. i went back and forth for about a month. did i really want to do it? i knew in the back of my mind that i'd hate it. but i wanted to show myself that i could live just fine without it. stubborn, right? um yeah.

on april 15 at 9am i headed to the salon. before i left i mentioned to mark that i was nervous all the sudden. he, who was always supportive of me chopping off my hair, said, "just remember, you'll always be beautiful no matter what cut you end up with." thank you dear husband.
i went to a chick who cut the hair of my friend with the cute pixie. and about an hour later my hair was gone. i drew a crowd of other stylists who couldn't believe i was going for it. ha!  i walked out of the salon loving my new hair.  i was happy and smiling and thinking that i totally did the right thing. mark and the kids were super nice and kept telling me how much they liked it. i felt awesome.

and then i woke up the next morning.

i cried. and i hate admitting that. it's freaking hair. i was so upset with myself. i felt terrible and totally bought into the idea that i was no longer "cute." holy cow, looking back on that day, i feel like a dork. i was upset over nothing.

my feelings changed day to day for a while. hated it and then loved it. totally confident and then completely weak. it took about two months before i was 100% okay with it every day. i was happy with it consistently.

reactions from people, who i knew and didn't know, were quite entertaining. one evening i went to the movie theater to meet some friends to see pitch perfect 2. i was the first one there and was waiting by the ticket counter for my friends to arrive. there was a dude, probably mid 40s, who kept looking at me and smiling. creepy, right? haha. and then he walked up to me. oh crap. but he very nicely said, "i just have to tell you that i love your hair. it's cool when women have confidence to pull that off. you look great." that was very cool of him. to be honest, i got more compliments from men specifically about my hair cut than women. dudes are supposed to love long hair. weird.

anyway, here's the point. i finally learned real confidence and owning who i was. and to be clear, i've always been a confident person but this took me to a whole new level. sad it took a hair cut for me to grow that way but whatever. i learned and that's the point. i'm glad i did it. who knows, maybe i'll chop it again someday. mark says that i should do a pixie with platinum blond hair. haha. i'm not sure i'll go that far.

still in the salon parking lot. shocked but happy.

a few days later. not as happy.

when i started to really really love it.

first time i tried to add curl.
slight mullet phase.

and how it is now.
i usually pin up the back because it's kinda at an awkward length. i've had quite a few people see me like this and say "you shaved the sides. i love it!" haha. they are kinda disappointed when i show them it's just pinned up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

mero cruise 2015

last november, my brother, evan, called me while i was out running errands. this is what he says to me... "hey em, so we were all talking at thanksgiving about trying to go on a family cruise in march. would you and mark be in?" um yeah! actually, i think i said, "that sounds awesome but let me run it by mark real quick." and then i realized how stupid that sounded...of course mark is gonna want to go on a cruise! oh, and it was going to be over the week of our 14th wedding anniversary. perfect.

march 7th we were on a plane to puerto rico. we stayed the night in puerto rico, ate some amazing local food and explored all the next day before boarding the ship. it was beautiful. someday i'd like to go back and just vacation there.

our stops were: st thomas, barbados, st lucia, st kitts and st marteen.

i'm not sure that i could pick my favorite place. st thomas had the clearest water and whitest sand. we swam with turtles in barbados. took an island tour of st lucia and went to the coolest waterfall. we went zip lining in st kitts and i conquered my fear of heights...in that specific moment. and i met the cutest little monkey that i wanted to sneak back home. man, adorable. okay, so maybe i can say that i have a favorite...every time i think back on the most fun i had, st marteen comes to mind. look up videos about people watching planes take off at the st marteen airport. i wish we had a video of it. i haven't laughed that hard in a long time! trust me, look it up.

probably my favorite picture. ever.

left to right: amy, jess, cassie, rachel, laura and me.

extra props to amy and rachel for surviving a cruise while pregnant. and to laura who had just discovered she was pregnant and pretty dang sick.

chillin. joe, evan, mark and me.

st lucia. rachel, me, amy, cassie.

always a good time with mr steve brown. his face!

puerto rico

mark had our room decorated on our anniversary.

see! cutest thing ever.

leaving st lucia.
 I think cruising is my favorite way to vacation. so many cool places without having to pack and unpack at each place, so much food, sunshine and fun!

disney. all day, every day.

after writing the post title i feel a bit spoiled. and i guess i am. while in CA we decided to get disneyland annual passes. we were only about an hour away and we figured we might not ever be that close again. i have to say, it was one of the better ideas we've ever had. but that's not saying much because we have a lot of bad ideas too. ha!
we ended up going to disneyland/california adventure almost every week for a while. i think i loved going almost more than the kids. it was just so much fun to take a break from reality, enjoy the rides and eat a ton of sugary foods. we figured out which days were less crowded, thanks to an app i had, and we'd hop in the car and go. i'm pretty sure izzy could give you a guided tour of both parks. the point, we were there a lot. and i'm so grateful we had the chance to experience something like that. good old CA blessed us with some fun times.

so that's batman. aka christian bale. aka my favorite newsie. we were waiting in line and suddenly he and his family were at the front of the line. hopped on the ride real quick and then disappeared again. must be nice to use the disney tunnels to go from ride to ride.

ps. my kids look like babies in these pictures. crazy how much they grow up in a year!

Monday, November 09, 2015

showing up. again and again.

you're surprised to see this, right?  ha! i don't blame you one bit. i'm surprised that i'm writing on my blog again! i was thinking the other day about things that make me happy and blogging came to mind. i always loved sharing and expressing myself in this way. i love all the connections i've made through it. it's like therapy sometimes to just sit and type. so here i am. 

quick update. we are living in colorado these days. mark's solar job has brought us out here. over the summer the kids and i were in utah with family and mark was in arizona doing some work training. yeah, we were split up again for 4 months. remember how i said i would never do that again? silly me. sometimes there are other plans. but we are all together again and loving colorado. it's been a huge blessing to be here already. we've really been watched over and taken care in so many ways. this is where we need to be.

so out of the last 22 months, we've moved six times. i'm a moving pro, y'all! also, mark and i have been living in different states for 10 of those months. 6 months here, 4 months there. can i just say, it's not fun to be apart. it's crazy how quickly we became used to doing things on our own. mark was like a single dude. he's had to get used to the kid's noise levels again, which isn't something you'd think would be hard, but it is. we've had to get used to each other again. all the opinions, quirks, moods and so on. and i'm not gonna lie, having my own bed and alllllll that space was nice. ha! but it's even nicer to be a whole family again. i will say, i sincerely have so much respect for single parents. it's so not easy. i don't think i ever got the hang of it. i did my best but fell short in some areas.
i realized the other day that i've only been surviving, not thriving, most of this year. surviving all the moves, surviving all the changes, surviving as a single mom, surviving as me. but i can say that i showed up. showing up to me is taking on all the changes, challenges, issues, opportunities, chances and being present for them. feeling them, not pushing them away. looking at them head on, being unsure and still going for it. being me as much as i know how to be. i was surviving but i showed up. that was me being brave when it was hard.
also, i'm not saying that i haven't experienced joy. i mean, being around family and seeing two (now three) little babies come into the mero family was the best. seeing the kids enjoy cousins and old friends was wonderful. reconnecting with my friends. summer evening walks with my mother-in-law. endless shaved ice. visiting national parks i'd never been to and learning more about myself and my little family has brought joy. but at the core, i was lacking, just surviving.
i'm ready to thrive. to get back to doing what i love to do. to be a happier person. to be a more giving person. sometimes while trying to survive, i forget to give to others. giving is my love language and i had stopped doing it. i blocked that kind of happiness out but didn't realize it. i see that now.

remember all my past rants on this blog about being purposeful? well, i need to take my own advice and give it another try. i survived. i showed up. and now i'm going to be purposeful and thrive. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

california livin

first things first.
the kids and i joined mark in california about a month ago.
about time, right?
i'm sure all my complaining was starting to bug a few people. we are settling in just fine. i love my house and the area. but truth be told, this was the hardest move for me to make. we've lived away from family and friends before but it was never this difficult. i know, i'm never happy! ha! don't want to be in utah without mark, don't want to be away from utah. our neighborhood in utah was the best. period. all my family was living within miles from me. adorable nieces and nephews aplenty! however, i know we are supposed to be right where we are and that makes it a bit easier. but please, come visit us, people! i'm ten minutes from the beach. enticing? any takers? the door is always open.

speaking of the beach, we go at least every sunday but sometimes more. mark and friends play volleyball and then we do some swimming. i can't even tell you the amount of joy i have watching my people enjoy something that i've always loved so much. mark and the kids are mountain people. but they are quickly becoming beach people. it makes my heart happy.

Friday, January 03, 2014

change is here

an oldie but a goodie. the pic, i mean. we aren't that old. yet.
i know you're shocked. but i'm back. too much has been going on lately so this post may just seem like a bunch of word vomit but so be it. it is what it is.

mark left for california this morning. the kids and i are in a new house but in the same neighborhood. i couldn't let my husband go AND leave my neighborhood. that's craziness.

back to mark. he's starting his new job tomorrow. this has been coming for a long time now. i knew during the summer that change was coming. i knew we weren't going to be in our house much longer. i had no clue where we were going but i knew change was coming. and because i knew that, i kept trying to force the change. like every time i heard about a new job, i'd hound mark to apply for it. or if i ran across a cute place to live, i'd set up a time to walk through it and convince myself this was the change i knew was coming. funny thing is though, you can't force things to happen when it's not the RIGHT time. november came and suddenly it was the right time. everything lined up. it was kinda freaky, to be honest. everything kept falling into place. over and over.

THIS was the change i had felt was coming.

so, we moved into the home of a couple in our ward who are currently on a mission. the house is fully furnished. today is our second full day in the new house. we are adjusting.

mark is currently on a plane. he will be gone for a week and then come back for his car and drive back out to california. then we will probably only see him once a month til june.


here's the thing. i quietly cried on the way to the airport (didn't want to freak out my kids by being a mess) and stayed silent on the way home (except when 'thrift store' came on the radio... all four of us couldn't resist singing, i mean come on) after leaving mark at the airport. i sort of adore my husband, if you didn't already know. this situation is not what i want. at. all. and i'm a very independent chick, y'all. mark teases me that the thing i say the most is "i can do it" whenever anything comes my way, whether i actually can or not. and then my pride kicks in and i usually can do it because i'm not going to let people tell me i can't. you get the picture.

but this...this is feeling overwhelming at the moment. it's more difficult than i had planned on.

however, it's the RIGHT thing to do for now. i know that. i feel it. i can do it. we will all be fine.

the sacrifice is small compared to the blessings that have come and are continuing to come.

i was reading through some blogs today that i haven't had much time to read lately and something i read stuck me. it's exactly what i believe and what i've been reminding myself of the last few days, but especially this morning. it's from the blog 'hey natalie jean.'
"i've always believed that every new breath is a new chance to choose happiness. it's been my rallying cry for most of my adult life. happiness is a choice. it isn't a place or a set of conditions, it is a fight that you take on and then take on again, every single day. you can't let yourself forget to choose to be happy. i mean, i let myself forget all of the time, but that's not the point. the point is to remember and then get back into the battle the second you can. i'm generally a very happy person because of it. but i'd forgotten that strength is a choice, too. as is warmth. and laughter. and light. 
i can choose to be light. that is a choice that is worth fighting for."

i choose to do this. i choose to be happy with it. i choose to have strength through it. i choose to be warm and light for my kids. i choose to be happy because this is the change i knew was coming and had to happen. 

and everything will be okay in the end. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

uncle tommy

dad, grandma and uncle tommy. my wedding dinner. 2001.

you know those people who can make you laugh just by giving you a certain look? or people who can tell stories that can keep you entertained for hours? or people who instantly make friends with the cab driver, waiter or street vendor?

my uncle tommy could do all of those things.

tommy is actually my grandmother's little brother so that makes him uncle to my dad and great uncle to me. but he's closer in age to my dad. they always had a good relationship.

tommy passed away a few months ago. his wife, my aunt kathie, wanted to spread his ashes in the san francisco bay (the bay area is their home and a place he loved dearly) but during the winter months having a memorial on a boat just wasn't going to happen. so she waited. his memorial was held this past weekend. my parents and all my siblings, except joe, flew out to california. no spouses and no kids. just meros.

and it was one of the fastest trips i've ever been on. but man, it was great. lots of old stories, inappropriate jokes, eating way too much yummy food, taking the ferry, visiting with extended family, walking the san fran wharf...and that was just in the first 12 hours. that was how we spent saturday.

sunday was the memorial. about 60 of us boarded a boat and set out to a spot that kathie wanted to spread tommy's ashes. the weather was cold and windy and raining on and off. and super foggy. oh the fog! we joked that tommy was looking down on us and laughing at us fools out in miserable weather. but i also know that if he was looking down on us, he was in tears watching all of us gathered together for him. he was a softy. also something that made him pretty great.

while sailing, a cd of tommy's favorite music played and everyone mingled and laughed and enjoyed the moment. kathie started the memorial by talking about some of tommy's loves, including the san fran giants. a giants flag even flew at the top of the boat. then family members shared their favorite stories about him and talked about how tommy's true love in life was kathie. and that's truth.

tommy is definitely missed. and still loved very much.