click here to open post Dec 21, 2011 | posted in Personal | 23 comments

This year, in lieu of Christmas cards, I’ll be sending friends and family this spotty little video (again, I wholeheartedly own the reality that I am NOT a videographer–this is only my second attempt, so go easy).

The Back Story.

This year for Christmas we’re headed to Utah.

With all the luggage, all the gifts and all the humans I need to transport to make the season bright, travel was just turning in to a big, hairy nightmare. PLUS, we were originally planning to leave Sunday afternoon post church, but I came down with the plague, so  by Monday night, as we were still just sitting around waiting for mom to buck-up and DRIVE already, we decided to brighten up the evening (and lighten up the cargo) by having our first annual “Fake Christmas.”  BEST.IDEA.EVER!

We ran to Fry’s and bought a teeny tree, wrapped it with a half lit string of lights and some home made decorations, and went to town.

Relaxing, spontaneous, us*.

Merry Christmas to YOU!

I’m taking the rest of the week off; see you Monday! xo, N

*Side note: One of the things that is always tricky about Christmas is all the pressure to get everything just right. It’s also hugely challenging to keep everything in perspective and maintain the true spirit of Christmas–it’s even harder to try to instill that spirit in your kids! Jumping the gun and opening most of our presents early, alleviated any and all pressure about what the day should or shouldn’t bring, and freed up the 25th to be more centered on what Christmas really is all about. Don’t you worry, Santa’s still a comin’ to town, but his sleigh will be a whole lot lighter than usual.

I am so sick.

Like, the kind of sick that makes you wish you were dead.

The kind of sick that makes you pull the car over every half hour or so to take a quick cat nap so you don’t pass out and kill the cute little Christmas elves in the back seat.

The kind of sick that makes you climb into a shopping cart and make said elves push you around Toys R Us, because you sincerely cannot stand for more than 2 minute intervals. And yes, the other Toys R Us patrons really loved our little show.

Sometimes I forget how strange our family must seem to other people. . . we kind of just do what we do and never think a thing of it until we see someone else’s reaction . . . but I digress. . .

Richie has been out of town for the last week (aside from Wednesday night), so I’ve been flying solo with the crazies. Side note: check out this darling cell phone pic (Instagram: NatalieNorton, find me!) of the boys at their Christmas dance recital on Friday. Love them.

So today, Richie was home again (jiggity jig/huge sigh of relief), so I sent him to church with the boys, while I took a 4 hour nap. . . and after a full 8 hours of sleep last night, I’m very impressed with myself. The sleep was great (and the HUGE dose of Advil wasn’t bad either), but let me tell you the thing that rocked my world harder than anything else.

Hello, Columbia’s awesome baselayer.

Earlier this fall, Columbia Sportwear sent me a bunch of winter gear to review. Can I just say, I love working with Columbia?! Unlike other vendors that send me their products for review, Columbia has NO EXPECTATION whatsoever that I’ll blog or otherwise promote their products (which is good, because if I don’t love something, there is NO WAY I’m writing about it anyway). What makes Columbia even cooler, is that they SPECIFICALLY ASKED me that if I did decide to share my thoughts on the gear, that I would be completely honest (even if that meant a negative review). Gosh. Talk about integrity. What an amazing company they are.

Happily, I only have a 5 star review for them thus far.

Enter: The Baselayer. It’s essentially long underwear, only a thousand times cozier and not nearly as sticky and sweaty when you’re wearing it indoors. It has this weird, alien looking, metallic lining they call Omni-Heat® + Omni-Wick™ that actually works to reflect your body heat back to you in the areas you need it most and to wick away sweat in high-perspiration zones. Beyond all that, it’s comfy as can be, totally easy to move in, and has some kind of “antimicrobial treatment” that keeps the fabric feeling and smelling fresh through high exertion or when. . . saaaaaaay  . . . you’re sick and don’t shower or change your clothes for 3 days straight (whatever you do, don’t tell mim). What? Don’t judge. I said I was dying.

I have the bottoms pictured left as well as a matching top, that I’m not finding online. The closest match I’ve found is the Men’s version that has gray stitching instead of red. Richie has plain black. Sleek meets cozy. Love.

I’m probably the only psycho on Earth who would ever do this, but yesterday night I actually wore them outside (yes, JUST my baselayer). I had to run out to the car really quick and wasn’t willing to change my clothes. It was 35 degrees out, I had a fever of 102,  and guess what? I did not even feel the chill, not at all. Bam! You go Columbia, you GO! Thanks for swaddling me through this funk.

I’m excited to wear these bad boys (and the awesome jackets they sent Richie and I) skiing in Park City next week.

Wish me well. I’ve got to kick this thing by Wednesday morning or Christmas is ruined. RUINED I SAY!

xo, N

The road called “life.”

I’ve been thinking a LOT about life the last few days.

It never gets easier, does it? I used to think that I’d get to a point along the road of life when things would settle down, ease up, fall in to place. I’ve come to the realization that this kind of expectation is elusive. . .AND that it really doesn’t matter. The very second I let go of any and all expectation about what life should be (what I deserved it to be), the MOMENT I faced life with complete acceptance, no matter the circumstances, EVERYTHING changed for the better. It’s amazing what a small dose of humility and acceptance can do for a soul. Remarkable really. I am a happier human being (infinitely so), I am filled with an overwhelming sense of confidence and optimism for the future, and my heart is utterly at peace–all from simply accepting what is without anger, without offense, without regret, and then continuing to move forward in gratitude and faith. Ultimately it’s not about where you’ve been, or even where you currently are, life is about where you’re actively headed.

Lean in and enjoy the ride.

Now. . .

Funnies just for fun:

1. I recently decided that it was a good idea to iron the fly of my pants. . . while they were still on my body. This was, in fact, NOT a good idea.

2. Lincoln has decided that his favorite word is “Sexy,” pronounced “Saaaaaxssssy.” Don’t worry, hearing him sing it to himself EVERY.WHERE.WE.GO isn’t at all embarrassing.

3. This morning, Cardon decided that he was going to stay under the kitchen table until we let him wear his pajamas underneath his school uniform. He outlasted me and went to school looking like a homeless marshmallow.

4. Christmas shopping is fun, aside from the fact that I get all teary eyed whenever I pass something that would be the perfect gift for a 2 year old boy. Oy.

5. The peppermint milkshake at Chick-fil-a is the second best thing that ever happened to Christmas.

aaaaand. . .

The Weekly Digest:

Because I want to jump up and down. . . and throw some dirt.
Curly Girl: the curly girl’s Bible.
The Higgins Family!
The Breathe Intensive | Las Vegas.

Have a beautiful weekend!

click here to open post Dec 11, 2011 | posted in Inspire, Personal | 12 comments

I’ve been working SO HARD the last few weeks; it’s been dizzying.

Remember being a kid and trying to dig a hole at the beach? The sand seemed to fill the hole as quickly a you could dig it, and then, once you finally DID make measurable progress, what happened? A wave crashed to shore, and that was that.

Life anyone?! I’ve been living that analogy like crazy over the past few months, and here’s the thing, I refuse to let this BEAUTIFUL, PERFECT time of year pass by this way! None of us should! If there is ONE time of year that we get to call “Uncle” and jut LIVE LIFE without worry, without inhibition, without fear, THIS.IS.IT.

The goose is officially FAT! Let’s deck our halls, eat our figgy pudding, and make our Yuletides gay (for crying out loud)!!  I’m ready to jump up and down and throw some dirt, just because I’m a grownup, and that means I get to act like a kid whenever the heck I feel like it! So there!

Merry Christmas everyone! Let’s DO this thing!!

PS. Just for fun, here’s a ridiculously hilarious (and purposefully obnoxious) little Christmas song Richie and his friend Chris recorded (in his bedroom) about 10 years ago. Enjoy!

Richie Norton Christmas by natalienorton

Look at those bright eyes and that beautiful, toothless grin!

It’s so hard for me to write these words, to own this reality of my life on paper.  I’ve battled with the decision to blog the details of my journey with Cardon for so long. I would never want to betray my beautiful little boy. But, I really want to share my authentic journey. I think my ability and willingness to do so does something significant. Not for the world at large, I’m not that much of a narcissist, but for me, my family, my heart. . . is that simply a form of narcissism in disguise? I sincerely hope it’s not.

Sometimes it’s hard . . . mothering a child like Cardon.

Hard in the way that pushes you a hundred miles past your breaking point and then a hundred more, only to wake you up, in the middle of the night, to start the process all over again.

Hard in the way that shoves all the preconceived notions of your younger years about parenting (and discipline, and education, and medication, and nutrition, and meditation, and love, and hate, and world peace. . . forcryingoutloud!) right back down your ignorant little throat. They taste much worse on the way back down; I’ll tell you that much.

From the outside, looking in, it’s impossible to see. Even our very closest friends and family are oblivious to the specific challenges we face. Until you’ve lived it, day in and day out, until you’ve seen all the faucets, experienced all the complexity, it’s simply impossible for even the most well intentioned, empathic friend on Earth to fully understand.

My son is special. Remarkably so. It is impossible to explain just how dear, and brilliant, and passionate, and charming, and perfect he really is.

He is a born Creative. He is, beyond argument, artistically gifted in every.single.way. He excels at math, and he is more giving and generous than anyone I have ever met. He is tender and loving, genuine and kind, trusting and sincere.

There is not a mean or malicious bone in that solid little body. Not a one.

He makes a room bright, just by being in it. You could never find a better friend the world over.

Cardon makes the world seem as if anything were possible, and for a soul like HIS? I really believe that anything is. . .

But there are storms. Storms that bring out every one of my weaknesses, until they are blaring in my face, threatening to swallow me whole.

Sometimes, there is so much screaming. Top of the lungs, screaming. The kind of screaming that would be bound to make the back of his throat burn and his eyes hot from the pressure. I do my best to calmly breathe my way through the noise.

Sometimes, he simply can’t let go. He becomes so rigid and completely fixated on a certain plan (or pattern,or expectation) that there is NO way around, only Hell to pay for the rest of us. I do my best to breathe my way through the high water.

Sometimes, when things have spun completely and totally out of control, I can’t find my breath. I get so angry and frustrated. I feel like my heart is going to explode and my lungs are going to collapse as I try to breathe my way through it.

NONE of this is Cardon’s fault. And NONE of it is mine. He is a good son. And I am a good mother.

For such a long time, I worried that my speaking openly about Cardon’s difficulties ran the risk of making him seem wrong, broken, somehow damaged. He is not any of those things! Cardon is BRAVE and BRIGHT! Cardon is more capable than anyone I’ve ever met in my life.

But, at least for a time, Cardon is going to struggle. Certain things are going to be difficult for him, no matter what.  He is going to have to learn his own special way to move through these challenges, academically, socially, emotionally. It’s these realities that give me the courage to discuss this openly.

Right now, I have the power to help my son navigate these unavoidable challenges in a healthy way. Right now, I have the opportunity to give my son something that is more valuable than anything else I could ever give him: unconditional love and a confident heart.

And if my goal genuinely is for Cardon to learn to confidently advocate for himself, and it IS, then I have to be ready to release any and all taboo–right at the starting gate.

As I write these things, I believe in my heart of hearts that I am doing my part to offer normalcy to Cardon (and others like him). At the very least, I’m offering some normalcy and understanding to our crazy life. Our crazy life that I truly would not have ANY.OTHER.WAY.

Eventually, I have complete faith that Cardon will learn to stand solidly on his own two feet. That remarkable spirit, that has ALWAYS been too big for his little body, WILL find a healthy equilibrium. We’ll all learn to courageously navigate these challenges in a healthy way, and his spirit will be even MORE robust and wise from the journey.

The reality is that our challenges together, (all of us: Cardie, me, Richie, Raleigh, and Lincoln) bless us all far more than they hurt us, and in all the ways that really matter. There is more to be learned, more about patience, true love, loyalty and humility from this little spirit than we could find anywhere else, not in a million years.

Cardon blesses us all more than words can say. I feel so deeply honored that God has entrusted our family with a child as exceptional as him.

I love you, Cardon Gregory. With all of me. I do.


Post Script: To those of you who do understand the intimate details of parenting a child like ours, from one “special mommy” to another, I offer my most heart felt and genuine namaste.

Post Post Script: I know. Parenting is hard for all of us. LIFE is hard for ALL.OF.US. We each have our own, insurmountable challenges that absolutely push us beyond ourselves. I’m not sharing this to belittle anyone else’s journey. I’m simply sharing a part of my journey that makes my life particularly challenging. There’s no comparison here, no weighing in of battle wounds. Only words.