October 15, 2021

just dance

My childhood dream was to be a dancer. 

My soul has always yearned to express itself through movement. Particularly, ballet. 

I believe that childhood dreams are meant to become reality. Even if you are not so much in your childhood anymore. 

What started as a 3 lesson date night Groupon just for kicks, has turned into a 6 month (or maybe more!) journey to become social ballroom dancers.

It is so much fun! We laugh, we are challenged, and we have such a good time. Since this picture, we have both bought our first pairs of real ballroom practice shoes. We are learning the Waltz, Cha-cha, East coast swing, and Foxtrot. We have dabbled in Bachata. And we just have a really great time together each week. I would definitely be on the dance floor more often if I had the time. In just two weeks we will do our first performance at the Fred Estaire dance party. 

Maybe this doesn’t have to do with dance entirely, but Eric and I got to be a part of our church youth group Lip Sync battle. We were producers for a group of youth and chose a song and choreography for the battle. We chose the song “Hair Up” from Trolls. We had wigs for everyone and bright clothes and it was a dance party up on that stage as they performed. We almost walked away with a win, but came in 2nd place instead. Next year we will take it all!

Eric and Laura as producers: 

I should’ve worn this wig when I was bald…

October 14, 2021

a grieving heart

It has been important to me to stay present these last few weeks. Life’s challenges demand it sometimes. But today my grief is heavy and I need to write just for a few minutes. Though Mary Oliver wrote it best:

To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.

Letting go is hard. The pain of heartbreak and mourning is intense. It does not make a difference that I knew this could happen at some point. I chose to love her with all my heart for as long as I could. That’s what I did. I’m so glad of that. But that doesn’t take away this grief.

How do I mend my grieving heart?

I don’t have all the answers to that. 

But I am trying a few things.

1. Let myself be sad. Be ok with however I am feeling and for however long it takes. It the past I have tried to resist my pain, hurt, and grief. This time I am letting myself feel it without shame or guilt or worry that it will last forever. I’m trying to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

2. Share my grief. We need each other. I feel lighter as others have reached out and mourned with me. It is humbling and strengthening. Pain is more bearable when someone is there to carry it with you. I’m not embarrassed of my sadness or trying to pretend I’m ok when I’m not. Talking about it in a safe place is a relief. 

3. Be kind to myself and give myself space to grieve. I recognize that it is a lot that I have gone through. And instead of pushing through and continuing to do all the things, I am slowing down and giving myself time to relax into this. Like watching a show cuddled up in my bed, giving myself time to read a book, and we even canceled our big Grand Canyon hike we have been planning all year mostly because we just don’t feel emotionally ready with everything going on this week. I need time to heal and grieve. Instead we shifted our plans to something else and that feels so right and healing.

4. Remember my purpose and look forward with hope. When I look at the bigger picture and keep an eternal perspective on things, I understand my role and why I chose this. That gives me comfort and strength to know that I am fulfilling my mission and purpose in life. I’m proud of that. There is also other things that I can go and do in life. Heavenly Father needs me. 

5. Look for the good. I’m trying to notice my thoughts and remind myself of some of the good that comes from this—like what I have learned and what I have to look forward to. Some of the “good” is mixed with sadness because I’d much rather have her here with us, but I can deliberately find some positives.

6. Trust Heavenly Father. I have to put it all in His hands and trust Him. I have to trust Him to carry me through my grief. I have to trust that He will watch over her. I believe we are all God’s children so of course he wants this for everyone’s sake. I have to trust that I will be ok, that she will to, that God is helping everyone, and that He is in the details of our lives and also the big picture. 

I feel more in control and I feel like I know what to do with this heartbreak better than I ever have in the past. I am confident that I can grieve, I should grieve, that I know how to grieve, and that I will learn and heal through the process. 

October 13, 2021

The Arboretum

Before heading home from California, Perry and I spent a few hours wondering around the Arboretum of LA county.

I think there are probably better times of the year when more things are in bloom. But we still found plenty to enjoy.

There were parts that felt like we were walking through jungle. It was quite refreshing.

The rose garden has seen better days, but we found this rose that smelled like lemon! I loved it so much. I’ve never smelled a rose like that and didn’t even know such things existed. I always thought a rose smells like a rose. I guess it does, except for when it smells like a lemon. magical! 

How unique and beautiful! 

I loved these gorgeous flowers, too.

The view of the mountains was pretty enchanting!

The Arboretum was actually quite big and I did not have time to wonder down all of the paths. But I am so glad I turned down this one and ended up on a meditation path. Along the way were various statues and benches. There were quotes to ponder on engraved in the sidewalk and the statues. 

This was one of my favorite spots. I plopped myself right down on that wooden path and took a minute to pray.

When we had been up higher on a different path, I noticed a little spot with a bench. Though I couldn’t access it from where I was, I felt something pulling me to the spot and I yearned to sit there and read awhile. Imagine my delight when the meditation path I happened upon led me to this very spot! And this most wonderful quote.

“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful—an endless prospect of magic and wonder.” -Ansel Adams

There were peacocks roaming all over!

At the end of our visit, we came upon trails that took us through Australia and Africa plant life. I can’t remember which trail we found this at, but I fell in love with its uniqueness (to me) and it’s small vibrant green leaves.

Glad we got this little stop before heading home. 

September 29, 2021

family time

I have been feeling a little disconnect in our family. Everyone’s a little busier these days. Or a lot busier, depending on your perspective. Friends, activities and work pull us in all different directions. I know we have been carrying some extra stress between school, court, and medical appointments, too. We have needed some quality family time. Some in our family may argue that fact, which is probably a good sign that yes we do.

Last night we made sure that everyone was home in the evening. Someone mentioned a couple days ago that we haven’t played hide and seek in the dark in this new house. With the changing seasons, it is now dark again by 7pm. It was a perfect time to play. 

We sat on the floor and put our feet in a circle. An Allen family tradition to determine who will be it: “my dog died last night. What color was his blood? ____. Y-e-l-l-o-w spells yellow and you are not it.”

Layla was last one standing so first one to be it. She was feeling terrified of the dark so I helped her. (By round 3 she was as comfortable as could be.) We searched and felt our way through the dark house finding everyone one by one. It was a pretty intense game in our big house. But it’s another one of those rare, perfect activities for our big family with kids of all ages. I’m so glad we played together!

Families need fun.

A couple of weeks ago we took our camping trailer out on its maiden voyage with our family. Trees, cool air, fire, and uninterrupted family time!

Kyler helped Perry make a walking stick for our family walk.

Poor tough Kacin was hobbling on his crutches and boot because of his slip n slide injury.

Layla found us some “toilet paper” leaves.

We pulled out some candy while we were playing card games. Kacin chugged the bottom of the sour coating on the sour belts—I don’t know how he did it. That’s intense flavor.

I don’t have a good explanation for this picture. Just love for her.

We spent the afternoon at Blue Ridge Reservoir. A gorgeous place for our paddle boards!

Perry and Layla were on kid kayaks and the rest of us got on paddle boards.

Gorgeous trees.

Perry was obsessed with making fires all weekend. Even when it started to rain and most of us were hiding in the trailer, he would run to the fire in between downpours to keep it going.

During one of the big downpours we got all cozy inside the small space.

It was beautiful at night to watch the moon rise and the stars pop out one at a time.

The vastness of the sky is so humbling yet empowering.

These sweet girls gathered wildflowers on our last morning there. 

Whether it be camping trips or family games, it is so essential to connect with some fun as a family. We need each other!

September 26, 2021

Perry’s trip

We have a tradition to take of each of our children on a one-on-one trip when they are 10 years old. Unfortunately, because of covid, we never got Perry's trip to work out when he was ten. But the night before his 11th birthday I looked at our calendar and let's do it!

Right after school on his 11th birthday, we had our quick family birthday celebration and then Perry and I hopped in the car and drove to California to go to Universal Studios.

We were both so thrilled to have this time together. I was so excited to show him Harry Potter land!

He has listened to all the Harry Potter books over and over again so it was so fun to show him all the details of this incredible place. To immerse in the world of Harry Potter for a few hours.

We rode all of the rides at universal studios 2 or 3 times.

It was so cool to take him into Ollivander's.

He was the one chosen for the wand fitting! It was pretty amazing to see him up there. He even knew one of the spells before she even told him what to say--he just needed a minor correction.

The right wand chose him!

Unfortunately, he did not choose the wand though. He wanted to scope out all the whole park before settling on his one souvinor.

He chose a transformer stuffie. Perfect for him.

We got lunch and Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks. Man, writing this is making me crave a frozen Butterbeer!

He loved the Jurassic park ride.

A little dancing with the minions...yeah, Perry just stared at me.

A highlight of the trip was the Transformers ride! He even got to meet Bumblebee.

He was mad at first that the doughnut was pink. But he changed his mind after the first bite. Those doughnuts are actually SO good!

I am so grateful to parks for providing a disability pass. We would not be able to get out like this if we couldn't bring the wheelchair and use their wait system. I am so grateful. 

Had a lovely day with my boy! His "ten" year old trip was perfect.