Ever After
  • Lori
  • November11th



    Posted in: Lori

    Last December, we found ourselves with a bit of extra money in the flexible spending account. Not wanting it to disappear at the stroke of midnight on December 31st like Cinderella’s princess garb, I opted to get braces. Again. I had them twice as a youth but my wisdom teeth weren’t removed in a timely manner and my teeth became crooked again by the time I was in college.

    (We would have put it toward orthodontics for Ariana, but her teeth weren’t ready for braces yet.)

    After consulting with several orthodontists in the area, I selected Dr. Maria Castano-Rendon to be my orthodontist. I was impressed with her practical approach to treatment, with her genuinely kind and helpful staff, and with the glowing reviews  from a trusted friend who had taken all her kids there. Many of the other offices I visited were too much Frisco glitz and glamour for my liking. Cappuccino bars? Walls of flat screen televisions? Crazy. I loved the down-to-earth feeling of Rendon Orthodontics.

    On December 16, 2010, I walked into Dr. Maria Castano-Rendon’s office to get my braces on. The morning had not gone as planned–I had just come from the vet where I had to put my sweet little Marina kitty to sleep. Having to part with my best friend of seventeen years was the most gut wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do–and I’ve had guts wrenched several times in my life. I only mention these details because Dr. Rendon and her staff were so kind and sweet to me on this tough day.

    The beauty of my orthodontic treatment this time around was that the braces were going on the BACK of my teeth. Because I only had minor “crowding,” I qualified for lingual braces (a 6-8 month limited treatment) that would address “minor tooth movement.” This treatment wouldn’t address all of my orthodontic problems, but I’d end up with straight teeth, and that was good enough for me. It took some getting use to, but after a while, I didn’t mind having braces because no one else could tell that I had braces.

    Sadly,  part way through my treatment, I started to develop an open bite which, in my opinion, is more unattractive than the minor crowding I started with. An “open bite” is typically caused by someone with a tongue thrust problem. I’ve never had this problem, but we speculate that I had unknowingly developed a bad habit of unconsciously pushing my tongue against the back of my teeth because the braces were inside my mouth. Regardless, to correct the open bite and finish the alignment process, the braces had to come off the back of my teeth, and I had to start traditional treatment. If I had known that I’d once again have to relive this chapter from my pre-pubescent days, I’d have tried a little harder to find a more creative way to salvage our flexible spending funds. It didn’t help that, in addition to the braces, I seemed to always have a pimple or two to complete the whole adolescent look.

    But on a positive note, Dr. Castano-Rendon was amazing to work with. She could have charged me for full treatment (quite a bit more than lingual braces), but she didn’t. She and her wonderful staff could have been irritated when I had to bring my kids with me to appointments, but everyone was incredibly kind and accommodating. She could have become frustrated with all my questions and perfectionism, but she didn’t. She did everything she possibly could to minimize the amount of time I had to wear the blasted braces, and on October 5th, less than ten months after getting them on, the braces came OFF, revealing a beautiful new smile.

    Yes, the process was more complicated and lengthy than I had anticipated, but I am so happy with the results.

    And to further underscore how wonderful Rendon Orthodontics is, I have a couple of teeth (one upper and one lower) that just insist on trying to go back to where they had been for the prior 20+ years. I was pretty distraught by the relapse, but Dr. Castano-Rendon had a new retainer created for my uppers, and she expertly tweaked my bottom retainer to immediately correct both problems.

    All whining aside, I know that I am blessed to have been able to go through this process. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to SMILE and not feel one bit self-conscious about it.


  • September29th


    We all knew that Ariana’s transition from elementary to middle school would not be easy, but none of us was prepared for the turmoil it has caused in our home.

    Saturday, Ariana spent ELEVEN consecutive hours doing homework and several more hours on Sunday. Every evening is consumed with homework and studying for tests. She goes to school early every morning and stays late most days to attend tutorials or to retake tests.

    Although I am very impressed with Ari’s level of dedication and her patient attitude, my nerves and her confidence are unraveling because her test scores indicate that she’s not mastering the concepts that she is dedicating so much time to.

    And it doesn’t help her confidence when I become a ranting, raging lunatic and berate her for making the same mistake on a math problem for the fourth consecutive time.

    And it doesn’t help her accuracy when, being the dear little miser that she is, she tries to cram complicated facts and figures into a fractional inch of scratch paper.

    And it doesn’t help our mental acuity when neither of us is getting enough sleep at night.

    And it doesn’t help our sanity when my full-on OCD perfectionism (especially when it comes to schoolwork and the quest for a perfect report card) flares in a very big way.  I lose my grasp on reality and, like a crazed has-been athlete vicariously reliving the glory days through his child, I forget that I am not the student. It is not MY homework, MY test, MY report card. Those things belong to my very capable daughter who is entitled to feel the pain of procrastination so that she may learn to be prepared and to bask in the euphoria of accomplishment when, through her dedicated efforts, she conquers a challenging concept.

    Heaven HELP us!

    Help me to mirror the love, patience and kindness that she extends to everyone around her.

    Help her mind to absorb what she is studying and process the information so that it makes sense.

    Help her to know that I love her no matter what grade she gets.

    Help me remember to show my love for her no matter what grade she gets.

    Help me to not forget that she is only a child, my child, and that she is doing the best she can.

  • April10th

    1 Comment

    Sunday Best??!!?

    Posted in: Lori

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “Sunday Best.”  It think it refers to putting on your best clothes as a sign of respect and going to church for Sunday worship.

    Sadly, on Sundays, I am not at my best.

    Sundays start out with me arising early from a fitful Saturday night slumber and practicing the piano.  My eyes are bleary because I typically have bad dreams about forgetting my piano music, not being able to find the Primary room, or not being able to remember how to play the piano.  So far, two out of three dreams have become reality on more than one occasion.

    After I polish the simple little piano pieces to perfection, I bypass breakfast (with nerves in overdrive, I can’t eat) and go upstairs to get dressed.  I dig through my closet,  shove aside my “Sunday Best,” and reach for anything that doesn’t need to be dry cleaned.  Despite the shivers and shakes I experience as I sit on the piano bench in the Primary room, my armpits produce buckets of perspiration, so I opt for only “wash and wear” attire.

    And remember all that practicing and polishing I did before church and throughout the week? Well, even though I mastered the music at home, my brain ceases to work the moment I try to play in front of people, and Sunday Best becomes Sunday Worst.  There are times that my heart is beating so fast that I think I might just pass out.

    Two Sundays ago, I bawled all the way home … and then some.  I had butchered the piece that we had been asked to sing in Sacrament Meeting on Easter Sunday.  If I can’t master my nerves when I’m playing in front of a bunch of sweet children, I knew that I would suffer a full on nervous breakdown when trying to play in front of all the scary adults in my ward. Thirty years ago, my nerves got the better of me while playing for the Primary in Sacrament Meeting, and I really hadn’t played in front of people since that time until I was recently called as Primary pianist.  And so it has been that, with each passing day, I have become more and more freaked out as Easter Sunday speedily approaches.

    But today, my prayers were answered … literally, because every prayer I utter these days includes a plea to help me overcome my freakish fear of playing the piano in front of people.

    Hallelujah!  The Primary WILL NOT be singing in Sacrament Meeting on Easter Sunday.

    Next up … Mother’s Day … but it is a simple song that I can hopefully play even when impaired.

    Prayers on my behalf are in order, friends and family.  Lots of prayers.

  • February14th


    True Love

    Posted in: Bryan, Lori

    Love is . . .

    • patient and love is kind (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
    • putting out the trash cans.
    • putting down the toilet seat.
    • carrying down the heavy baskets of dirty laundry on Monday morning.
    • holding your tongue when, for the umpteenth time, your wife questions your love for her because you agonized so long over the decision to marry her.
    • holding your wife’s hair back when she is suffering from morning sickness or the stomach flu.
    • cleaning up from the stomach flu.
    • holding hands.
    • changing dirty diapers.
    • giving a hug even when you’re mad.
    • daily phone calls.
    • emptying the trashcan even when you think your wife should be able to stomp on the trash and fit a little more in.
    • putting a new liner in the trashcan.
    • an evening of American Pickers and Blue Diamond Almonds.
    • sleeping in the guest room so that The Littles can have cuddle time with mom.
    • scrubbing the shower.
    • putting your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of the floor.
    • buying a wedding ring for your wife even though you didn’t want to.
    • shaving your head before it looks scruffy.
    • using deodorant daily.
    • brushing your teeth more than you think you need to because your wife likes minty breath.
    • going to estate sales and patiently watching the kids so your wife can browse at her leisure.
    • not complaining when your wife buys things at estate sales.
    • bravely breaking out of “holding patterns.”
    • Quiddler.
    • Mother’s Night Out.
    • not chomping ice in your wife’s ear.
    • Cristina’s when you’d rather have Market Street.
    • overlooking the dirty dishes in the sink.
    • washing the dirty dishes in the sink.
    • putting up with an elderly cat.
    • comforting your wife when her elderly cat died.
    • trips to the ER with your wife after Tad was born.
    • eating mediocre beef stew.
    • never giving your wife a reason to doubt your fidelity.
    • Text Twist.
    • doing yard work.
    • hiring Mario to do the yard work.
    • learning how to grow a garden.
    • being frugal.
    • knowing when not to be frugal.
    • Half-Price Books.
    • helping with Math homework.
    • giving an opinion.
    • knowing when to stay silent.
    • hanging doors together.
    • supporting our family even when the job is stressful.
    • letting your wife pluck your old man eyebrows.
    • taking family pictures.
    • smiling when taking family pictures.
    • late-night surprise stops for frozen yogurt.
    • letting your wife wear your sweats and gym socks.
    • BLT.
    • writing notes to your wife and leaving them in unexpected places.
    • using the yellow towel and not the blue one.
    • cleaning the top of the ceiling fans without being asked.
    • not answering the phone at the dinner table.
    • knowing when to set the family history work aside and pay attention to your wife.
    • eternal.

  • February9th


    Let it snow!

    Posted in: Ariana, Lori

    I think that I am more excited than any school child when I hear that school has been cancelled due to inclement weather.

    Normally BT drops Ariana off at school on his way to work, but a couple of weeks ago he was running behind, so I ran Ariana to school for him.  After she gave me the tenth hug and kiss of the morning, she hopped out of Fern (our car) and walked away, turning only once to wave goodbye.

    As I lingered at the curb for a few moments and reflected on how beautiful and good she is and how quickly the years had slipped away, I hoped that the crossing guard didn’t notice the woman with the bird nest hair and morning mascara smears crying like a baby in the drop-off lane.

    And so I was up half the night last night checking the weather and the school website, eagerly hoping for another day with all the chicks safely in the nest. Once the 5:49 a.m. automated call came, I was finally able to drift back to peaceful slumber.

    Oh, happy day!  I just received word that school is also delayed two hours tomorrow.  February 2011 may just be my favorite month EVER. Let it SNOW!

  • February7th

    1 Comment

    Mother, May I?

    Posted in: Ariana, Lori

    As an enterprising young girl, I had aspirations of making buckets of money by opening my own lemonade stand.  Lemons were plentiful in our little Southern California yard; in fact, they littered the ground around the over-burdened tree at the west side of our home.  I figured that my siblings and I could fashion a table using scraps of wood from Dad’s workshop, Mom could donate the sugar, and we’d be in business.  Sadly, despite my careful planning and detailed business plans, Mom would always say, “NO!”  As an adult, and thankfully one with a forgiving heart and a sense of humor, I now chuckle at the reason she gave for putting the kibosh on our plans: “You’d be operating without a business license and the police would come and get you and throw you into jail.”

    She loved that two-letter pet word of hers and used it often.  Before we could even get the entire phrase, “Mother, may I .  .  . ” out of our mouths, she’d give her damning answer.  (“Damning,” not “damn” . . . in case that matters to someone.)  I promised myself that when I was a mother, I’d say “yes” all the time.

    Fast forward to reality.

    Just ask my kids, I am my mother.

    And so when Ariana asked if she could go shovel walks Thursday morning as a service project for her Faith in God program, I instinctively said, “no.”  All she heard was, “no,” but in my head, I really did have a good list of reasons:

    • No, it is too cold.
    • No, we don’t own a snow shovel.
    • No, it’s still snowing and your hard work would be for naught.
    • No, I’m sure you need some sort of business license to shovel walks.

    And as the words leaped from my lips, I caught the look of profound disappointment in her eyes, and I was transported back thirty years.

    When she showed me the clever flyer she had already created and planned to leave as an anonymous calling card on each doorstep , I became as soft as the falling show she aimed to shovel and acquiesced to her crazy but sweet plan.

    Yes, she learned a few lessons through the experience:

    • Yes, it was too cold.
    • Yes, shoveling snow with a garden shovel doesn’t work very well.
    • Yes, the path quickly vanished under a new blanket of snow.
    • Whew,  Thankfully we didn’t have to post bail.

    But so did I:

    Unless it’s going to get her arrested or killed, say “yes” more.

  • February4th



    Posted in: Lori

    I’m not sure if you’ve heard the news, but I suffer from a debilitating, paralytic condition that has been particularly acute the last several months.

    It’s not brought on by the cold weather, although we’ve had plenty of that.

    It doesn’t seem to flare up when I eat too much ice cream.  In fact, I’ve been depriving myself of my favorite treat as I try to stop the spread of my lower hemisphere. (Doesn’t seem to be working too well, though).

    I could blame it on childbirth, and I think that it may be related to some kind of postpartum fog that I still find myself in even two plus years later, but I get the sense that there’s more to it than that.

    Honestly, I think that the big, bad WHATIF MONSTER is to blame.  He attacks my confidence; he burdens me with doubt; he torments my resolve.

    As I sit and stare at a blank screen or a think of my many craft projects or gaze at my camera with my glorious 24/70 lens just waiting to be used, my heart starts to race as the WHATIF MONSTER approaches.

    What if I write something and I dangle a preposition or split an infinitive?  Or what if I write something and someone reads it and it makes them feel bad?  Or what if I start to write something and I get interrupted and then I get really angry and then I feel bad and then I realize that I really am a bad mom?

    What if I cut into the silky fabrics and I mess it up?  And what if I use my beautiful fabric on this project and then I decide later on that it would have been better to use it on another project and then it is too late and I can’t get anymore?  And what if I knit up this skein of wool yarn and the gauge is all wrong?  And what if I work on a craft project and the husband comes home and looks at the messy house and thinks (but never says) “wife, what have you done all day?”

    And what if I took a picture and the exposure was wrong or the shutter speed too slow or the f-stop too high or the angle unflattering?

    And the longer I think of the what if’s, the bigger the monster becomes.

    I read a Shel Silverstein poem many years ago that I’m afraid may be read at my funeral.

    “Almost perfect . . . but not quite.”
    Those were the words of Mary Hume
    At her seventh birthday party,
    Looking ’round the ribboned room.
    “This tablecloth is pink not white–
    Almost perfect . . . but not quite.”

    “Almost perfect . . . but not quite.”
    Those were the words of grown-up Mary
    Talking about her handsome beau,
    The one she wasn’t gonna marry.
    “Squeezes me a bit too tight–
    Almost perfect . . . but not quite.”

    “Almost perfect . . . but not quite.”
    Those were the words of ol’ Miss Hume
    Teaching in the seventh grade,
    Grading papers in the gloom
    Late at night up in her room.
    “They never cross their t’s just right–
    Almost perfect . . . but not quite.”

    Ninety-eight the day she died
    Complainin’ ’bout the spotless floor.
    People shook their heads and sighed,
    “Guess that she’ll like heaven more.”
    Up went her soul on feathered wings,
    Out the door, up out of sight.
    Another voice from heaven came–
    “Almost perfect . . . but not quite.”

    And so here I am, one of the least productive people you will ever meet because I’m too afraid to try . . . A coward who worries that the outcome will be “almost perfect . . . but not quite.”

    I envy people who bravely start on projects even when they can’t see the end from the beginning. I marvel at the boldness with which they work, shrugging their shoulders at setbacks and moving forward despite mistakes.

    And so I resolve to slay WHATIF and replace him with a soft, cuddly, lovable SOWHAT.

    It’s okay to read books on slipcovering furniture (I own at least three of them) and to pour over countless articles about it on the Internet and to attend a class (can’t wait for next Friday). But then it’s time to put the books down and get to work. And yes, my couch may end up looking like it’s wearing an ill-fitting “mu-mu” and not the tailored Pottery Barn style “suit” that I’m hoping for.  So what?  I won’t know until I try.

    And even though my blog posts may be overrun with run-on’s and my pictures fuzzy and under-saturated, so what?  Someday I’ll be grateful that I captured the moments of my kids’ fast-fleeting childhood.

    So what if I make more mistakes . . . TONS of them.

    I want to be a “doer” and not just a “thinker.”

  • August17th


    Love in a Bowl

    Posted in: Lori

    Chicken soup.

    Simple.  Comforting.  Love in a bowl.

    When a friend, sensing an unspoken need for help, brought dinner in a few weeks ago, I was embarrassed.  I felt guilty.  I tried to talk her out of it.

    Surely her schedule was just as busy as mine, her kids just as needy, her laundry just as dirty.

    She didn’t ask if she could bring dinner in.  She insisted.

    A true friend.

    Kind.  Thoughtful.  Charitable.

    The next time I sense that someone needs help, I’m not going to “ask,” because they’ll invariably say “no.”  I’m just going to “do.”