Wednesday, December 7, 2016


It was Adam's idea.

He enlisted Emma's help to find the city names.

Emma didn't have time so even though she's the font guru, Mark selected the font and printed the labels.

I hung them up and changed the times on the clocks.

If Braeden had been here, I wouldn't have had to use a chair.

We didn't put a label on the starburst clock because it is broken.  It is correct twice a day....

If you have a wall of clocks, you might as well use them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Some Christmas cheer

1-  Last night was Pikkujoulu.  (Our made up family holiday.  If you're going to make up a holiday, make it hard to pronounce, I say.)

Here's the somewhat festive table:

Busy day + not my best effort.  Also we didn't just eat cheese and fruit.  We had clam chowder in sour dough bread bowls.  And also cranberry Sprite.  Because we were celebrating, I tell you.  It felt like something was missing (duh...Braeden, for one) but Adam said he thought everyone had fun.

I read Amazing Christmas Extravaganza and Mark didn't leave the room.  He usually gets mad when the neighbors destroy Mr. Merriweather's decorations and refuses to listen.  This year he stuck around.

So that's something.

2- Here are Braeden's Christmas decorations:

He had asked me if he could buy a tree and I said go for it.  Also, happy news!  The Christmas package I sent--which took longer than it should have so I was worried--arrived!  He now has a Seahawks stocking to add to the mantle.

3- I bought this guy:

He reminds me of Rizzo the Rat and I can't see him without thinking of my favorite lines from The Muppet Christmas Carol.

"Light the lamp, not the rat!  Light the lamp, not the rat!"

"Thanks for makin' me a part of this."

Adam said he was freaked out by the thing.  Emma said she was surprised I would buy anything "mouse related."  Mark pointed out he is a rat, not a mouse.

Sometimes people don't share my vision.  But I soldier on.

4- The basement has still not been decorated.  It is a jumble of boxes.  Emma did set up the Christmas village and when Desi was over they pointed out all the high points to her and who was who.  Desi asked if she could be the snowman.


Monday, December 5, 2016

It's the nostalgia

For a few days last week, I felt sort of melancholy.  There was no good reason that I could find, just generally gloomy.  Maybe it was because we were busy and going in different directions?  Maybe it was because anxieties that I lately have been managing to check were rearing their ugliness again?  Adam suggested maybe it was the weather?  Not as sunny?

I didn't know.

Then one afternoon I was talking to Olivia on the phone.  She asked me how I was and I supplied the automatic "fine" and then we talked some more and then I told her I wasn't really fine and then I started talking and it all became clear and I cried and cried.

It's the nostalgia!

I have been feeling a loss and I blame Christmas.  I missed all my friends when I addressed Christmas cards.  Then there's my darn growing children.  The Christmas bears used to get loved and dragged all over the house.  The Christmas books used to get read.  We'd snuggle on the couch and read one every night.  The chocolate advent calendars used to be the highlight of everyone's day.  Now one hopefully made it to Virginia.  (I won't know until I hear from Braeden.) Emma's is still in the shrink wrap.  Mark at least has had a piece of chocolate.  The Nativity sets used to get played with, especially The Little People one.  Pieces would get rearranged multiple times a day.

Now?  Everything is in order.  Always.  And while I can see the value in that (really I can!), it also makes me a little sad.  I miss my kids.  They're busy or gone or too big to play with bears and I miss all of that.

I miss Braeden.  My friend and former college roommate, Erin, sent me a poem about having a missionary son gone at Christmas time and it made me cry.  Then I sent it to some of my friends that are missionary mothers and that made me cry too because I read it again.

And they texted me that it had made them cry.

I was listening to Christmas music while setting the table and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was playing.  "Next year all our troubles will be miles away."  "Someday soon we all will be together."

Next year, if everything goes as planned, my college kids will be 30 minutes away.  It will be so nice.  They'll be busy and have lives of their own but I also think they'll come home and fill the house with Christmas.  (I am not above bribing them if necessary.)

I would give up all the red in my house to hear Braeden's booming laughter.

(And I love all the red in my house!)

So anyway.  Figuring out why I was feeling blue actually helped me feel better.  Then I talked to Marianne.  I told her and she said that she herself had had a meltdown the night before.  Robert, blessed and good man that he is, donated a kidney to our uncle who is diabetic.  Marianne was feeling all the associated stress from his recovery and being away from her kids.  She said it was 11:00 at night and she didn't think anyone would be awake but she needed to talk to someone.  Then she remembered that Desi, the college freshman, would be awake!

She said she called Desi and they talked and Desi made her feel better.  She said, "Desi's like my friend now."

And that is the best possible news.

Friday I met Desi in Orem and we drove to Salt Lake together.  We met up with Marianne and shopped for a snazzy suit for Desi (she's taking a snazzy New York trip in the spring).  It was fun just like shopping with Marianne has always been fun.  Emma was going to pick Mark up from school so I was footloose and fancy free.

Walking down the mall, I saw a mother struggling with a toddler who was arching her back and screaming and resisting the stroller.

At that moment, walking along, laughing and chatting and feeling carefree with Marianne and Desi, I for sure didn't miss having little kids.

I wore my glasses which are pretty similar to Marianne's.  It made us look even more alike.  At one point, Desi was in the dressing room and Marianne pointed out we were standing the same and tapping the same foot in time to the music.

Oh dear.

We struck black suit gold and then went to the hospital to visit Robert.  He is amazing.  The doctor came in to check on him and she looked at me and then at Marianne and then back at me and said, "You two must be related."


So things change.  Kids grow up and there's not the snuggling up with Christmas stories time every night.  They also get to be more entertaining.  I love just talking to those interesting, smart and funny kids (and that's both my own kids and my nieces and nephews).

Some things don't change.

Marianne and I still look a lot alike.  Especially in our glasses.

These goofballs helped decorate the tree last night.

They kept things lively.

And then Adam read us a Christmas story.

Life is good.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Jennifer called me the other day.  She had a punctuation question for me.  There was a lot to love about that.  For one thing, I was flattered that she would ask me when my blog is peppered with grammatical mistakes.  Mostly, I love that Jennifer takes grammar seriously.  Like I told her, apostrophes in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing.

She asked me her question (girls varsity basketball or girls' varsity basketball?) and I wasn't positive of the answer.  I wished Emma was there to weigh in.  I asked Jennifer if she'd googled it.  Of course she had, she said she found mixed results.  I looked up on MaxPreps and also looked in the Deseret News which always has lots of sports stories.  Both places supported no apostrophe.  So that was my opinion.

(When Emma got home, I asked her what she thought.  She said, wonderingly, "That is a good question!"

Then Jennifer innocently asked me how I was doing and I launched into a story about my anxiety about our YW activity and she possibly wished she'd just not asked.

Probably not though.  Jennifer is stellar and very kind.

Our YW activity was caroling at the local rest home.  Caroling is the worst.  I know that is a scandalous thing to say around my sisters, but I find it super awkward when carolers come to my door and so I don't like to inflict the awkwardness on other people.

My laurels wanted to do it though, so away we went.

I found some typed up carols in an envelop in a box in my YW closet.  (That YW closet is sort of like Mary Poppins' bag.  It is an unending supply of just STUFF and how does it all fit?!?)  I thought the typed up words may come in handy.

I handed out the words to the girls and we decided which songs we were going to sing.

Here was one of the songs, The First Nowell.

Did the person that typed these words just type them from memory and not know how to spell Noel?  Did they copy it from another source?  A source that had, "Nowell, Nowell, Born is the King of Israel..."

We all carefully didn't make eye contact while we sang the song, knowing we would start to laugh.

After every song, one lady would cheer and say, "Sing more!"

After our third song, a man who had been enthusiastic at the first, said, "OK, that's enough!"

Sometimes I meet other people that feel the same way as I do about Christmas caroling.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Happy December!

I bought a song book of Charlie Brown Christmas.  It makes me supremely happy to play Christmas Time is Here on the piano.  All I need are some brushes on a snare drum....

Christmas time is here and that also makes me happy.

Our house is well on its way to being ready.

The front door is ready:

The entry way is ready:

Beethoven's ready:

The Christmas bears are ready:

We open the Christmas bear box first.  The kids say each name as they pull them out of the box.  They are named after people or places or events that mattered to us that year so each one represents a bit of our lives.  Such a cuddly scrapbook!

The chalkboard is ready:

The presents are ready:

Well, almost ready.  They are awaiting ribbons.  They're lined up in the hallway until the family room tree is in place.  I've learned from sad experience that I need to wrap gifts immediately.  If I hide them, I forget where I hid them.

The kitchen sink is even ready:

Peppermint!  Makes me want to wash some dishes.  (Kind of.)

These guys are ready.  The two fat Santas are from IKEA and the wizened one in the front is from Finland.  I like to think the big Swedes are defending the Finn.  

The Legos are ready:

The dishes are ready:

I enlisted Mark's help to get them out of the tall cupboard.  I asked him to reach the mugs and he leaped up onto the counter.  Then he had to crouch down because he was up too high to stand.  I told him I meant to use his long arms.

"Oh," he said.

One place that isn't ready yet is the basement.  I decided I wanted to decorate it more this year.  My family was unsupportive.  They said we never go down there.  Which isn't true.  It's where the TV is.  And the laundry room (which I frequent).  And the YW closet (which I frequent).  I told them I wanted to do it and they didn't think it was necessary so I said, "Challenge accepted."

They all looked at me sort of blankly, what challenge?

I don't know.  But it's going to impress them when I'm finished.


In the meantime, it's red, red everywhere.  Making spirits bright.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Books I read November 2016

Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden ***

I have newly discovered her as an author and I like her books.  The cover is painfully cheesy but the book wasn't.  It is about a young woman from Ireland who left home at an (perhaps improbably) young age and has been working her whole life to make enough money to return home and make amends.  She ended up in a small town in Wyoming where there was a population of Irish immigrants at war with the non Irish townspeople.  That seemed a little farfetched but what do I know?  I have only driven through Wyoming.  (And I got a ticket.)

The War That Saved Me by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley ****

This was YA fiction set in England during WWII.  The main character and her brother were evacuated out of London during the Blitz.  They had a horribly cruel mother and were much better off in Cornwall.  It was a good book. 

The Lake House by Kate Morton ****

Kate Morton books do not disappoint.  I love this book.  It made me exclaim out loud toward the end and it was the kind of book I had to tell Adam about.  It was also set in Cornwall.  It spanned generations and was about the mysterious disappearance of an 11 month old boy on Midsummer's Night in 1933.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls ****

I re-read this book for book club.  It is the memoir of the author's childhood and is QUITE the story.  I saw one of my book club friends and she said she enjoyed the book because it made her feel like a good mother.  You can't discount the value of that!  The worst parents you know are probably better than these parents.  I don't know, maybe you know really bad parents?  I also liked that first part of the book that was set in small western towns, like Battle Mountain, NV.  She was speaking my language!  I have been to the Owl Club!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Little flakes big snow

I grew up with a lot of Native American kids.  One of them taught me that little flakes mean big snow.  They said it was a Shoshone saying.  I googled it to see if that were true and apparently several Native American tribes claim the phrase.

Anyway.  Little flakes big snow.

All day.

It started snowing yesterday morning.  It looked very pretty and provided a lovely backdrop to the Christmas decorations.  I listened to a Christmas station on Pandora as I went about my day and as the hour got closer that I needed to venture out to get Mark, and I heard different versions of Let it Snow, I felt like the song was mocking me.

Because I did have some place to go.

I texted Adam:

There were about 6 inches of snow on the ground by the time I left and I made my way on unplowed streets toward his school.  The lower I got the more well traveled the streets were.  I made it there with only one dicey part when I nearly slid into a UPS truck that was stuck on a street.

Mark and I made our way back uphill and it got steeper and more snowy.

A small pickup truck in front of us slid and ended up facing us.  It got over into the other lane so I could keep full steam ahead. 

At one point I had to back up and try again several times.

I made it to our street and about halfway up, I could go no further.  I backed down and parked and Mark and I walked home.

We spent the next 1 1/2 hours shoveling our driveway and sidewalk.  Then we walked down the street and Mark shoveled snow so I could make it home.

Then I texted Adam that I wanted a snow blower for Christmas.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, teenage sons are the best investment of food you'll ever make.  Mark was a beast out there.  He has boundless energy and is pretty strong.

No wonder I let him fill up the Costco cart when he's with me.  I'm lucky to have that kid!

It finally stopped snowing and my estimate is that we have 8-10 inches.  It is beautiful this morning.

And they plowed our street!


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