Friday, March 27, 2015

The eagle has landed

Last night Braeden finally had his Eagle Scout board of review.  He took his sweet time doing his project and then the board of review kept getting delayed.

They told him he could wear his uniform or, if his shirt no longer fit him, a white shirt and tie.  He opted for the latter.  His uniform probably doesn't fit him.  He hasn't worn it for years and I think the numbers for Troop 55 are still on it, which was two scout troops ago.

In other words, his mom is behind the times on the sewing.

Adam and I were supposed to go too.  We were going to be able to introduce him before the board.  Braeden's young men's president said it was a great thing to do as a parent.

So we went.  There was another boy there to do his board of review too.  He was dressed in khaki from his head to his toes and was highly decorated.  His parents were there...his dad in a suit, his mom in a dress and heels.

I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  My mom always taught me that it's better to be overdressed than under dressed, but I failed.

We all sat in a room full of men in uniform.  One conducted and talked about the process for the evening.  The two boys were assigned to two different rooms and two different boards.  Their leaders and parents were to introduce them, then be excused for the review.  After, assuming they passed, he explained the next steps in obtaining the award.

He kept using the word appropriate.  As in, afterward we could celebrate appropriately.  Also, there was a flag set up so we could take an appropriate picture after the proceedings of our scout by the flag.

I was supposed to bring a camera?  I had my phone.  Good enough.

Five minutes into the meeting, my phone which was thankfully on silent, vibrated.  It was Emma.  She was at the driving range for driver's ed and was done early.  Could I come and pick her up?  It was dark and she was in a school parking lot waiting.  I slipped away from the meeting.

Dear Driver's Ed instructor:

Don't leave my teenage daughter alone in a dark parking lot if her class ends early.


Mama Bear

So I wasn't there for the introduction.  First they had Braeden introduce Adam.  Then the other way around.  They both cried.  And I missed it!  

I got back a few minutes before it was all over and they emerged from the room all smiles.  We didn't really do anything appropriate (or inappropriate) to celebrate but Braeden did take a selfie by the flag.

It seemed appropriate.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And you can not go on being an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad.

C.S. Lewis

Around the same time I became the Young Women's president, my little brother Tabor became bishop.  I wouldn't trade him places for all the candy the Young Women eat.  (Seriously, they are always eating candy.)  We are both going through something.  He with a lot more grace and confidence than I am, but that surprises exactly no one.

Change is such a complicated thing.  I like some change and hate other change.  It's hard for me to be flexible sometimes.  It's hard to go do new things in new places with new people.  I can resist it all I want, but it's sort of like trying to resist the seasons changing.  Not gonna happen.

A few days ago, Mark went to the junior high for a placement test for math next year.  Mark works through things by talking about them.  We talked about the test at length.  I assured him that it had nothing whatsoever to do with how smart he is.  He was taking the test so we could see how his math curriculum coincides with the school's math curriculum and to make sure he's in the right class next year.  I told him it didn't matter to me at all which class he was placed in, I just wanted him to do his best so it would be an accurate picture.

For the rest of the day, he told me, like it was his idea, that the test wasn't about him being smart and that he really wanted to know which class he should be in.  Because he wanted to be in the right class.

I would just agree with him and tell him he seemed to have it all figured out.

On the way to the school, he asked me if I was nervous.  I said no.  I said, "Are you?"  He said no.  I said, "Sometimes when I go somewhere for the first time and do something new I feel nervous.  I think that's normal."

He said, "Yeah, I guess I feel a little nervous."

I took him to the appointed spot and said, "OK, good luck, see you later."

He gave me that look that my kids give me sometimes that makes me want to gather them up in my arms and take them home and maybe wrap them in bubble wrap.  It's a look of momentary panic and naked fear and then they remember themselves and their native self confidence and smile and say, "OK."

(My parents and siblings are some of the most confident people I know.  It rubbed off on my kids.  I don't know what happened to me.)

He felt pretty good after the test.  He said, "There was a lot of algebra but nothing about pi.  There was just one pie chart, but nothing about pi or area or volume.  If I get to the class and they said, 'OK, we're going to learn about pi,' I'm going to say, 'I already know this,' and then I'm going to leave and go do another elective."

"Well," I said, "you can't do that."

I can tell he's excited about school.  He's a little nervous, but he's also excited.  And he will figure it out.  I know he will.

(Who I'm worried about is me.)

It's ridiculous how transparent my dreams are.  Last night I dreamed I was organizing Mark's clothes (clothes organizing on the mind) and he had all these little jeans overalls and t-shirts.  Everything was size 3T and that seemed about right.

Emma and Braeden are going through their own changes.  Emma is Miss Society lately.  Her social calendar is full.  She got invited to a boy's birthday party for the first time.  She keeps wanting to do stuff and it keeps confusing me because I used to have to coax her nose out of a book.  I am glad she's having fun.

Yesterday Braeden started a new job.  He didn't mind KFC terribly, but the hours were hard.  Getting home at 11:00 on a school night was not fun.  He is now working for an insurance agent, making calls trying to get people to want free insurance quotes.  He's one of those people.  Finishing work at 7:00 each night will be a lot better though, plus he will make more money.  He told me that he wants me to introduce him to people as, "our son that is in the insurance business."

I am watching Braeden figure things out.  He is getting more and more aware of himself and his needs and what works and what doesn't.  He has looked tall and grown up and everything for awhile now, but he seems more grown up lately.  This has been a hard year for him.  I'm sure the hardest of his life so far.  He has fought his way through it.  He's changed along with the changes.  He's adjusted his sails when he couldn't control the wind.

I will just try to follow his example.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My wardrobe

For awhile I've been intrigued by the idea of minimalist wardrobes and wardrobe capsules.  The idea is basically that you have a limited number of clothes and you really like them.

I like the idea because what I do over and over and over again, is find something on a screaming sale and I buy it even if I only marginally like it because what a deal!  I may not like it enough to pay full price but when it's so cheap, I like it enough.

Then I end up with a closet full of clothes I sort of like and that may or may not look very good on me.

I read some blog posts about minimalist wardrobe and read some of their "rules".  I decided that I would try to limit my wardrobe to 25 items.  I bent the rules to not include shoes, church clothes or jackets.

Because jackets.

I love them.

I piled all my clothes on my bed.

It was rather disturbing.

I talked to Marianne on the phone part of the time I was sorting and stewing over clothes.  She thought I was crazy.  She said, "You have space and you like to shop.  What's wrong with that?"

I told her that I also like to eat brownies but I can't just do it all the time.

I want to be the type of person that is disciplined and only wears and more importantly buys things that are really great.  And if they are really great, I won't need too many of them, right?  (I want to be that type of person, but I'm such a make do, settle-for-whatever type of person, I don't know if I'll ever change.)

I enlisted Adam's help.  I tried on clothes and told him to be brutally honest.

We have been married long enough that he knew I didn't want him to be anything resembling brutally honest.  We have also been married long enough that I knew when he paused a second too long before responding or if he said things like, "It's not as flattering as some of the other clothes..." that I needed to toss the article of clothing in the donate pile immediately.

So after discarding what didn't work, I sorted out clothes that are out of season and I tried to limit myself to 25 choices for my current wardrobe.

Then I started cheating.  Kind of like when you cheat at playing solitaire.  It's ridiculous.  I started allowing clothes to stay on the basis of being used when I do things like yard work and I started classifying zip up hoodie sweatshirts as jackets so I could keep more of them.

Baby steps. Rome wasn't built in a day.

The good news is that I filled three garbage bags with clothes I am getting rid of.  My closet is about half full.

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A happy birthday

It was kind of a perfect day.  There was a great mix of time alone and time with Adam and time with our children (although not quite enough time with Braeden because he had to work).

My one request for the day was breakfast at Kneaders.  I had heard about their French toast and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype.

It did.

Then, we went to IFA for weed killer.  I grew up going to IFA (Intermountain Farmers Association).  It smells the same as it always did.  Adam perused weed killer while Mark and I looked at the baby chicks and ducklings.  They reminded me of when we got chicks and ducklings from the IFA in Elko when I was growing up.  (They were cute and fuzzy and then grew up to be ugly and unloved.  Then they all died, either accidentally or not entirely accidentally.)

We didn't buy any of the cute chicks or ducklings.  I think I have PTSD when it comes to animals.

There were rabbits in a cage.  Mark said, "Mom, I don't even want to tell you what those little black things are in the bottom of the cage."

I appreciated him preserving my innocence.

For the past probably five years, Adam has been going to get a new grill for his birthday and then for Father's Day because he wouldn't commit to one for his birthday.  He is a stubborn man.  He doesn't like to spend money on himself.  (Thankfully he doesn't have the same problem spending money on me...)

We left the old decaying and rusted grill behind when we moved, so this birthday, he NEEDS to get a new one.  No more Mrs. Nice Wife.  I mean business.  The night before our birthday he said, "I might wait until Father's Day."

Don't worry though.  I've got this.  He is getting a grill soon, if it kills me.  And it might.

We went to look at Home Depot and Lowe's.  While we looked at grills, Mark sat on ride on lawn mowers, considering the options.  Last summer Mark and Braeden mowed the lawn together, they'd each do a part. He sees a future with his big brother gone though and he is already campaigning for a better option than an aging push mower.

(To which I have to say, good luck Mark.)

We came home and Adam did various chores around the house and I re thought my wardrobe.  I'll have to save that for another post though.  It was a Thing.

We went to Cracker Barrel for dinner, sans Braeden (sniff) and I didn't get French toast like I usually do, because I'd had it for breakfast.  Mark did get French toast again for dinner because it is that good.

The day was otherwise filled with phone calls, text messages, Facebook birthday wishes and emails from people I love.  What a nice world it is.  (I won't say I have favorites, but one niece and one nephew texted me birthday wishes...)

One new fledgling friend even brought me over a cupcake.  She doesn't know me that well and she worried I didn't like chocolate or eat sugar, but she took a risk.  Ha.  Ha ha.

And it was a really good cupcake.

I also want to remember my gifts from my family.  The ways they showed me they love me.

Adam bought me this:

It is the patio furniture I exactly wanted.  I told Adam that I may never leave the deck.  (On Saturday we borrowed Ammon and Melanee's truck to transport it from the store and then Olivia and Liliana helped us haul it to the deck.  I am not above making people work if they are in the vicinity.)

Come over and sit with me and enjoy the view.

Braeden bought me a rocking chair from Cracker Barrel.  I can't explain about our family and Cracker Barrel.  We have an unreasonable attachment.  I think because we ate there so much on our big trip a few summers ago.  It's our happy place.  It's so kitschy and comforting.

Braeden enlisted Alyse's help (because she has a truck) to get the chair.  Then he texted Adam.

Braeden: I've made a huge mistake. Nobody told me the rocking chairs are 150 FREAKING DOLLARS!

Adam:  You should have asked Mr. Internet.

Braeden: That's what Alyse said.

Adam: Go ahead and buy the chair.  I'll pay part of it.

Braeden: Yeah, that's what I figured.

He is a turkey.  But his heart is always in the right place.  And I love my new rocking chair.

Emma was bound and determined to get me a great gift.  She's been asking for months for gift ideas.  I told her I wanted three 8-inch cake pans.  And they had them at Hobby Lobby.  They aren't readily available, that's one of the few places I've found them.  When Adam took Emma there, they were out.  They went to half a dozen stores and no one else had them.  Emma instead bought me two enormous bags of M & Ms, one pretzel and one peanut (my favorites and she knows it).  She said that she will still be getting the 8 inch pans.  And I believe her.  She gets committed.

I told Mark I wanted a letter.  From him.  He wrote a note to me and one to Adam on the same piece of paper.  One was upside down from the other.  He's all about going green.  He also made me this necklace.

He saw an employee at the Lego store with a similar necklace awhile ago and he immediately knew which pieces he needed to recreate it.  And he, of course, had the pieces in stock.  I love it.  Mark often gives me gifts built of Lego bricks and I eventually return the pieces to him.  I may not return these though.

Today I feel loved.  I feel rejuvenated.  And I feel like I have a lot of work to do because I did nothing yesterday.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Turning the tide

Friday the ice maker started working.  It happened all on its own.  Had it just been tired?  Feeling under appreciated?  I kind of feel like we should get to the bottom of it but I also kind of feel like we should just go with it.

In the early evening, Braeden was working, Adam was refereeing basketball games and Emma's friends came over.  Not that long ago I told Emma, "You can have your friends over sometime if you want."  Now we have them multiple times a week and I like it.  They are funny and loud and happy girls.  They occasionally hang out in the kitchen but they mostly stay in the basement.  They do each others' hair and laugh and watch Netflix and talk about weird fan girl stuff.  That, and senior boys.  There seems to be some interest there...

I think a basement is a beautiful thing.

After eating several chicken sandwiches Adam brought home from work, Mark had gone to his friend Nick's house so I had delicious time alone.  I sequestered myself in the school room.  Earlier in the day, I had cleaned my desk.

It doesn't approach the level of tidiness Mark maintains, but any day I can see the surface of the desk is a good day.

You have no idea what this did for my psyche.  I feel like I'll survive now.  (It had sort of been touch and go there for awhile.)  On my freshly organized surface, I organized my life a little.  I made school plans and typed up agendas for meetings and did all sorts of little tasks that soothed my soul and made me feel like my life was more in control.

Occasionally I would hear happy laughter coming up from the basement and I would smile.  I had heard the garage door earlier and so I thought Mark was home and I assumed he was downstairs with the girls too.  A strange phenomena in the Emma having friends over thing is that Mark usually hangs out with them too.  And it works.  It never works with Braeden, who is accommodating and a peacemaker and would do just about anything to avoid a conflict.  He inevitably comes to find me to beg me to distract Mark.  It works with Emma though, who would tell her brother to get lost in a heartbeat if she felt like it.  I don't understand why she rarely does.  Maybe Emma's friends think Mark is funny? Maybe the closer age difference helps?  Maybe Mark is getting more mature?

Pretty sure the last one is not true.  He's very thoroughly a twelve year old boy.

Anyway, I was happy they were all harmoniously enjoying the evening and I was feeling smug satisfaction about how on top of things I was when the phone rang.

It was Mark.

Calling from the basement?

"Hey Mom," he said breezily, "I'm just calling to check in."

My mind couldn't process the information.  I looked at the clock and it was after 8:00 and approaching dark.  "Are you at...Nick's?" I stuttered.

"Yeah," he said.

"I thought you came home hours ago!"

And just like that I was no longer on top of things.

"Do you think I should come home now?" Mark asked.

"Yeah," I said, "It's getting dark."

So the moral of that story is, don't ever think you have a handle on things, I guess.

In other news, today is our birthday, mine and Adam's.  We're forty-two.  Emma said she already thought we were forty-two and so did I.  But no, today is the day.

Emma also bent over the chair where I was sitting to kiss me good-bye before school and then gave me 42 pats on the head.  So I feel celebrated.

Saturday I got to see my sisters and I got to use Ammon's truck (which isn't as nice as seeing him) and my parents took us to dinner to celebrate and we watched Clarissa's concert and then sat outside in the mild evening air and chatted with Marianne and Robert and children over bottles of soda (including but not limited to Leninade--a taste worth standing in line for).

It really doesn't taste that good but the bottle cracks Braeden up.

It was a great way to spend a pre birthday.  In my mind, that had been the celebration.

Then yesterday afternoon, Adam off-handedly (and no one can do off-handed like Adam) said that he was taking today off.  Best. Gift. Ever.

Two birthday kids, along with their red head, painting the town red. That's us.

Friday, March 20, 2015


In our school room, here is Mark's desk:

We keep things like Kleenex, the pencil sharpener,  and the phone (at least the base for the phone) on his desk, so we can find them.  And, I guess, also Churchill Wit, because you never know when you may need some. 

It feels a little like Mark's desk is judging mine.  Is it just me or is it a little smug? 

Here's my desk.

Mark is scandalized.  I think he's afraid it's contagious and his desk will become infected by it's across-the-room proximity to my desk.

Things are pretty bad.

There are stacks of the new Young Women detritus that is overtaking my life.  There are parts and pieces of ill conceived ideas.  There is a lot of school stuff.  There are even gifts buried in there that are for my mom's birthday.  Perhaps the phone is in there?  I see Morgan's tie that he accidentally left here last month and the paper cutter Adam used and then left on Mark's desk.  Mark moved it over to my desk, pinched between two fingers.  He wants no part of any of it.

My desk is never pristine because I don't work that way, but this is seriously out of hand.

I can't work this way either.

I am going to hyperventilate or run away from home or maybe just break down and straighten up.  The irony is that I've been so busy and preoccupied with other things that I let my desk get this way and now I can't function because it's so...well, you can see.

Once my mom told me (about one of my children) that I needed to take the day off and teach them who was boss.

I think I need to take the day off and teach my desk who is boss.

In the meantime, here's something from Albert Einstein:

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

At least my desk isn't empty.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


It's that time of year when I hear birds in the morning.

Fresh strawberries are starting to be in season, so they're inexpensive.

Adam's creation:  how we celebrated after Emma's concert
It's the time of year when the trees have a light green gauzy cloud around them that is the very beginning of leaves.

For the first time in my life I have trees with blossoms.

And I'm in love.

Also, daffodils!  They were a surprise left from the last homeowners:

Apparently tulips are like candy for deer but they don't like daffodils.

Then there's this:

Nothing to do with spring but it makes me happy.  That's Emma with her friend Adri who has the most infectious wonderful laugh you'll ever hear.  Adri is also a genius with hair.  They had been playing around with turn of the (last) century styles for the upcoming play Emma is in.  First Adri did all those curls then she did this amazing arrangement that reminded me of Mr. Selfridge.  (I wish I'd taken a picture of Emma but you get the idea...)

I had to stop at the store and pick up hairspray for the occasion.  We didn't have any, much to Adri's dismay.  I told her that Emma and I don't use hairspray because we're not really good at hair and we hope the wind can improve our efforts.

Three cheers for spring.

Three cheers for friends with infectious laughs and hair skills.


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