Friday, April 18, 2014

Up next

I guess I'm out of things to say about our trip.  Next up?  The musical!  (a.k.a. The Thing that Takes Over our Entire Family.)

This week I've been on duty helping with setting up, serving and then cleaning up dinner for the cast and crew.  Luckily, there's a small army of wonderful parents that work together.  A few nights ago, a mother hurried in, dropped off a bunch of food and then literally ran out.  She called over her shoulder, "Sorry, I can't stay, I'm cooking for the Relief Society dinner tonight!"

These are the kind of parents I'm honored to rub shoulders with.  Salt of the earth, I tell you.

Tonight is opening night! Exciting stuff.  I've purposefully tried to distance myself from watching/hearing too much of the show.  I will watch it six times and it will be in my brain and infiltrate my dreams enough as it is.

The whole process is made easier by the fact that I have a driver to handle all the rehearsal transportation but it still is a big undertaking and disruption just like anything that takes over your entire family always is.

I have to say it's worth it though.  I love seeing the kids shine.  I love the camaraderie that happens between the kids and between their parents.  I like feeling like we're part of a community and we all have a similar goal:  one terrific show!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Home is where my mom is

While my parents were in Nauvoo on their mission, we went to Nevada a few times.  My sisters graciously hosted us and we were happy to stay with Marianne and be fed by both of them.

There's just something about a mom though.  It was nice to have her back and be staying at her house.  Since college, I have never stayed at my parents' house without my mom making me French toast on my visits.  It's my favorite breakfast and my mom knows it.

At one point in our visit, my mom lamented, "I don't know why there's never enough time to do anything while you're here."

Here's my mom's version of "not doing anything:"
Every day and every meal we ate like kings.

She took Liberty and Emma to town to teach them an organ lesson.

She and Emma sewed an apron.

She read to some of the little grandchildren.

We took walks together.

We sat on the porch and visited a little.

She listened to Mark's long and detailed descriptions of apps he likes.  She didn't act bored at all.

She squeezed in a little time working for my dad's business and checking in with her mother.

She and Braeden talked politics.

She had Adam teach her a lot about her new ipad.  (Here's a key difference between my mom and me.  I don't want to know how things work and she does.)

She taught piano lessons to her local grandchildren students.
She knit me a scarf.

We talked about good books to read and she loaned me a few.

That's just all I can think of right now and that is probably only half of what she did.  My mom is a force to be reckoned with.  She's a terrific mother and a fabulous grandmother.  None of her children or grandchildren doubt she loves them.  When I consider the quote by Oscar Wilde, "All women become like their mothers.  That is their tragedy.  No man does, and that is his," I think that if only I could somehow, possibly, through some miracle, become like my mother, I would be one happy girl.

Fingers crossed that is my tragedy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The kids

The rest of you don't have to read this...

Since this is largely a record for my own use and my children's reading and rereading, here I will indulge myself a little.  I hate to brag...but it rarely stops me from doing so. Here's how I want to remember my nieces and nephews right now.


I stole this picture from facebook.  Clarissa is the pretty girl in pink right in the center. 

Clarissa was Mabel--the female lead--in a community theater rendition of Pirates of Penzance.  She was incredible.  I may have had my eyes fill with tears a few times because she knocked my socks off.  That girl can sing!

photo credit:  Braeden
Desi was largely absent from most of our comings and goings because she is a busy teenager.  She was busy with school and FFA and track.  It was in Idaho so we didn't see it, but while we were there she won the two mile race at a track meet and shaved a bunch of time off her personal best. (Marianne's high achieving children didn't fall far from the tree.)

photo credit:  Braeden
Liberty continues to be the baby whisperer.  All the little ones love her and gravitate to her.  If Ammon is the perfect brother, Liberty is the perfect grandchild--just ask my dad.  She also has more musical talent in her little finger than most people in their entirety.

photo credit:  Braeden
Hyrum is also amazingly musical and I love hearing him sing and play the guitar and piano.  I taught Hyrum how to make toasted cheese and he loved it.  I told him it was a journal moment and he went and wrote it in his journal.  Also I loved seeing him drive a horse with his little chariot.  He looked like a Roman.

photo credit:  Braeden (Clarissa's beautiful costume in the background...Marianne sewed it!)

Morgan rivals Liberty with the babies.  They love him too.  He told my mom he would go and live with Tabor and Katie because Charlotte loved him so much but he had to stay there and "do all his school work and other jobs."  I helped him one day with his schoolwork and that kid has a way of working himself into my heart.

photo credit:  Braeden
Carolina toted her doll Caroline around.  The few times she wasn't with her, Caroline had other plans which Lina outlined for us.  She has more sparkle and pizzazz than anyone I know.  I loved taking walks with her.

photo credit:  Braeden

Liliana is tall and thin like a model.  She is also a model child.  I was amazed that every time Olivia asked her to complete a task, she'd quietly and instantly get to work.  Her smile reminds me of Olivia's so what's not to love there?  I also liked seeing Lili on her horse, Ann. 

photo credit:  Braeden
Ruben.  He melts my heart with his glasses and imagination and the earnestness with which he does things.  I brought some DVDs and other stuff to give to my sisters.  (You know, getting rid of 5 things every day.)  I gave Olivia some American Girl movies for Lili.  Ruben saw them, naturally assumed they were for him, and offered to sell them to Lili.  I love that kid!

photo credit:  Braeden

Marcos always has an impish smile on his adorable face.  I think if he were my son, I'd probably let him get away with anything because of that smile.  I loved seeing him enamored with the pirates in Clarissa's play and I loved seeing a few of Mark's outgrown clothes on him.

photo credit:  Braeden

Ammon and Omar.  They are both young enough and I see them seldom enough that they were a little hesitant to be around me.  They are so cute I want to grab them and kiss their chubby cheeks but I don't think they'd like that very much.  I got Omar up from his nap one afternoon and sat in front of Curious George on TV long enough that he forgot I was his strange aunt he didn't know and he started talking to me about the animals on the cartoon.  I extricated myself from him after awhile to go help Olivia and I set him on the couch next to Ammon.  Without looking away from the TV, Ammon slid over to Omar and slipped an arm around his brother.

More facebook thievery.  Isaiah's in black on the left.
Isaiah is a superstar.  I loved watching him play basketball against some REALLY tough competitors.  Who knew AAU basketball could be so competitive for 11 year olds?  Isaiah's team played an older team because they had thrashed kids their own age so effectively the weekend before.  More than the basketball prowess though, I loved the shy smile and hug he gave me after the game, thanking me for watching.  Even more than that?  I love that he didn't want to play in the tournament on Sunday because he has made covenants (his words) to keep the Sabbath day holy.  I look at him and wonder how so much awesomeness could be packaged into such a skinny kid.

photo credit:  Braeden
Luke is another tall skinny firebrand.  The kids swam in Enoch and Jennifer's hotel pool in Boise the night before Isaiah's tournament.  Luke looked positively fragile with his skinny frame and light complexion.  Braeden was teaching him some swimming lessons and at one point, Braeden was towing Luke behind him and Luke was kicking his legs.  He had his chin jutted out in a determined way and I saw a glimpse of the 2nd grader who played basketball competitively against 5th graders.  He's a fighter.  There's nothing fragile about him.

photo credit:  Braeden
Tabor was talking about Savannah and said, "There's just something about a little kid with glasses."  Just looking at her makes me smile.  One afternoon she came and played with Olivia (Tabor's daughter, we recycle names) and Ruby.  They were beside themselves with joy at being reunited and I love cousin love.  I also loved watching Braeden slowly convince Savannah to get her face in the water in the pool.  She's a delightful blend of sweet and polite and scrappy and independent.

photo credit:  Braeden (Olivia on the left, Ruby on the right)

Olivia feels things very deeply and it is hard for her to live in the wilds of Boulder, UT when so many of her cousins are in Nevada.  A few weeks ago, she told Tabor and Katie, "I don't belong here."  They probed her for more information and she said she wanted to go back to Nevada to be with "her people."

It makes me happy that Olivia and I share the same people.

photo credit:  Braeden
Ruby and Mark were out on the swings and Ruby came inside and said, "Your...daughter..." then she paused, like she knew that wasn't right.

I said, "Mark?"

She said, "Yes.  He fell off the swing and is hurt."  (Mark + swings, usually = risk) 

I said, "I don't know if he'll be more upset that he's hurt or that you called him my daughter."

She thought a second and said, "Daughter and sons are the same thing, got it?"

I said, "Yes."

Charlotte is stoic as only a third born of two vivacious older sisters can be.  She patiently abides being held and cajoled by all manner of loving older cousins and aunts.

photo credit:  Braeden
We only saw Cormac and Azure one morning (and it was early so they were still in their pjs) so I sadly didn't get to spend enough time with them.  We did get to hear Cormac's rendition of the song, "Everything is Awesome" and just as we were getting ready to leave, Azure warmed up to me sufficiently that she gave me a few of her heartbreakingly adorable smiles.

photo credit:  Braeden

I love that Braeden took most of these pictures.  They were much better than any pictures I took.  He brings out the ham-it-up-for-the-camera in just about everyone.

I love all these kids!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Marks

one Mark teaching another Mark...marksmanship

When we were in Nevada, Mark was either outside on the swings or following my dad around.  My mom would say, "Mark..." and they'd both answer.

My dad would say, "Hey, Mark..."

Mark would answer, "Yes, Mark?"

The two Marks, in addition to shooting a real gun, made a gun out of wood and Mark toted it around all week.  At one point, I was making hodgepodge soup which is becoming increasingly clear as a favorite in our family; I think it's genetic.  I told one of my little nieces that was what we were having and her face lit up.  We were raised on the stuff and everyone loves it.  Anyway.  My mom sent me to where the cans were stored for the pork and beans and Minestrone soup (which are an integral part of hodgepodge soup).  My dad has created sort of a Ferris wheel that stores the cans inside the sun room wall.  (I should have taken a picture because that is an abysmal description.)  It was ingenious and I knew Mark would appreciate it.

He was in my dad's shop but I called him in.  He had been using a sander on his gun.  He had on a mask over his mouth and nose and was covered from head to toe in sawdust.  Also he was supremely happy.  Using power tools in Grandpa's shop is pretty much as good as it gets.

The wooden gun Mark made with his grandpa and the sword he made earlier out of a piece of wood he scavenged.  He's a big believer in the 2nd Amendment.

I showed him my dad's storage system and Mark stuck his head up inside it as much as he could to figure it out.  He reverently said, "Grandpa is a genius.  There's Einstein, but then there's Grandpa!"

Here they are on a horseback ride:

Mark's pale skin quickly burned in the Nevada sun so he borrowed a hat from my dad.

 The two Marks.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sibling Rivalry

Adam snapped this picture at my grandma's house.  There's me in the dashing red velvet vest, Marianne rocking a Dorothy Hamill haircut.  Cute Olivia and Enoch are on the bottom and Tabor is in the middle, looking like a baby blob. 

Every evening we were in Nevada, most of us had dinner together.  Big communal dinners.  One was hosted by Marianne, one by Olivia, one by my mom and one by Wendy's.  (The fast food restaurant.  We don't have a family member named Wendy but we were in town for Clarissa's play.)

I loved the dinners.

I was at Olivia's house the afternoon that dinner was set to be at Marianne's.  I fell asleep on her couch (my sisters' couches are supremely comfortable).  Adam and Olivia were having a (riveting) discussion about grammar.  Seriously. Olivia's children were milling around and I was deeply deeply asleep.   That is, until Olivia remembered with a loud gasp that she was supposed to take bread sticks to Marianne's.  She scared the living daylights out of me because I was sure one of her children was in peril.  I think I aged three years in that moment.

At Marianne's the kids that were there participated in a talent show.  There was singing and dancing and violin playing and guitar playing and flute playing and a lot of the piano.

Charlotte showed off her newly mastered walking skills.  We all clapped.

When the dinner was at my parents' house, I was clearing the table and walked by Enoch, who was leaning back in his chair.  "Four on the floor," I said in my best motherly, teacher-ish, big sister voice.

He ignored me.

I gently pushed his shoulders down so he'd have to sit the right way (it works with my primary children).

Then I not so gently pushed his shoulders.

Then I pushed his shoulders as hard as I could.

Then I gave up and let him lean back in his chair.  (Enoch:  don't come crying to me if you fall over and bump your head. I tried.)

At Olivia's, the four siblings in attendance...

(we missed you Tabor and Ammon!)

 ...were sitting across the table from each other.  We were being loud and obnoxious and laughing a whole lot.  For some reason we started talking about driving and who amongst us were the best drivers.  It was an undisputed fact that Enoch and Ammon topped the list.  (Tabor was automatically disqualified because he drove in Salt Lake City without his lights on.  Olivia was also automatically disqualified because she is not a good driver.  She has other talents...)

I maintained I was a better driver than Marianne and she enthusiastically denied my claim.  Adam, my soul mate, my in-sickness-and-in-health husband, started supplying times when I was not a good driver.  (Whose side are you on anyway, Adam?)

The conversation turned to how Ammon is good at everything.  Maybe the best at everything.  As we talked on about his perfectness, my mom, who always strives for none of her children to feel superior or inferior to each other, said that he wasn't very artistic.

You've got to love my mom, throwing out random and mostly inaccurate criticisms of one of her children so the rest of us don't feel too bad.

Braeden had asked my mom earlier in the week which of her children was most independent and she had said Ammon.  Compared to him, the rest of us are needy and codependent.  Enoch slammed his plastic cup on the table in jest and said, "Well, we don't need him."  That made us all laugh because 1) Enoch broke the cup and 2) if anyone needs Ammon, it's Enoch who has been known to call him late at night in the rain to come and help him get bales of hay off the freeway because the load Enoch was hauling lost some of its contents.

So none of us deny how much we admire our youngest brother but I think we all win.

We have each other.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Last Sunday

We got up early and went to Ammon and Melanee's for breakfast.  You've got to admire anyone that invites you over early for breakfast, especially when it is that delicious.  We had a lovely time chatting with them and admiring their cuter than average children.  I didn't take a single picture which is unfortunate.  Our plan was to watch the morning session of conference with them but we were having such a nice time visiting and our visiting time was so short, we all decided we could watch conference later and we would rather spend the time talking to each other.

(It may seem like I'm a bad influence on my brothers because they chose me over conference. I'm glad they did though.  I like those boys.)

We spent a nice morning with them and then high tailed it to the conference center in Salt Lake City for the afternoon session.  There were a lot of us there...

A whole lot of happy Mormons.

We were happy to be among them.

Once inside and in our seats, Emma and I took a selfie because why not?

It was incredible to be in the conference center, especially when the prophet walked in the room.  Twenty thousand people became silent and rose to their feet.  We loved hearing the talks and the choir and the organ.  Mark kept leaning over to me and saying, "What do you think?"  He felt like he was showing it all to me since he had been there the night before for the Priesthood Session.

After conference, we drove to Nevada.  Happy day!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Here you go

Some of my family members here (my favorite ones) have been telling me that they are missing reading my blog.  Also my mom got wireless internet so here I am.

We are in Nevada and the living is easy.

I've even recovered from our initial leg of the journey.  We traveled late into the night on Friday, arriving in Boise at 2:00 AM.

I was lamenting how late we'd be and Braeden said, "Mom, humans are at their best under extreme conditions."

So we were at our best, hurtling through the night toward our Boise hotel. 

The next morning I was less than my best.  Cranky.  Adam pointed out that everyone else was tired as I was.

In other words, buck up, buttercup.  So I tried to.

Saturday we got to Salt Lake.  We got to our hotel and got the boys' clothes ironed and looking spiffy.  Adam and the boys went to the Priesthood Session of General Conference, or Mormon Con 2014 as some of Braeden's friends called it.

They loved it. 

Meanwhile, Emma and I went to my grandma's house and we also loved that.  Visiting my grandma always makes me happy.  She gave us candy and coconut cream pie like grandmas will do.  We discussed curtain options for her bedroom and caught up on each other's news.  I can't describe how much I love my grandma.  I wish I lived by her and could visit her more often. 

Tabor joined us there, opting for sister visiting rather than conference attending.  (He'd watch it later.)  From there he followed me and we went to pick up the menfolk at the light rail station.  At one point I called Tabor and told him to turn on his lights in his truck, since it was, you know, dark.  At another point I drove into the bus only entrance of the light rail station and he followed right behind me.  I felt like maybe I'm a bad driver but I'm in good company.

We had dinner at a restaurant and Tabor handed me his cup and said, "Hey, fill this up for me?"  I hopped out of my chair and was refilling his Dr. Pepper and halfway through I thought, Why am I doing this?

It's because Tabor looks like my dad and it didn't even occur to me to do anything differently. 

I was talking to Adam about it later and he said that if he had said that to me, I would have said, "Are your legs broken?"

Probably true.  I don't know what it is with my brothers.

Braeden and I rode back to the hotel with Tabor, and Adam drove the rest of our kids.  While changing lanes on the freeway, Tabor said, "This might be a bad time to tell you that I have no depth perception." 

Um.  Yeah.

(It's what happens when you are a cowboy and break your face and it heals but your eyes are never the same.)

Emma and Mark went to sleep and the rest of us sat in the lobby of our hotel and talked to Tabor.  There is no one anywhere that makes me laugh like Tabor does.  He is more entertaining than the 50 funniest people I know.  I finally made him leave though because I had. To. Sleep.  Also, I was concerned about him driving back to his hotel in Ogden with his no depth perception if he was sleepy.

Before he left, I snapped a picture of Tabor standing next to Braeden.  Last week at play practice, the costume mistress was complaining about the freaky proportions that Braeden has--the long legs and arms.)  He texted this picture to his director and said, "See? I'm not a freak.  This isn't even my tallest uncle."

Next to Tabor, Braeden--along with the rest of the world--looks positively short and stubby.

I surely love Tabor. I didn't do half bad in the brother department.


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