Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eavesdropping

I’m that kind of mother. The type that listens in on her kids. And I hear good things. This afternoon Mark and his friend Gavin were playing in Mark’s room. I was in the next room, on the computer, listening to their conversation.

First I have to say something about Mark and Gavin. They are quite a pair. They are rough and tumble. When I can’t find Mark after church (and he’s not in the tree he likes to climb in as soon as he escapes primary), I look for Gavin. They yell at each other and argue and spend as much time as possible together and would defend each other to the death. Once when some older boys were chasing them (they may or may not have deserved it), they attacked, wielding croquet mallets from our garage until I intervened. They are usually dirty and making big messes and pretty much having a marvelous time.

Today, incongruously, they were having sort of a theological discussion. Gavin (who’s older and therefore the authority) was informing Mark that G-o-d was a bad word. Mark insisted that it was not. He said, “How could it be? It’s His name?”

Gavin said, “It is and you’d better not say it.”

Mark said, “Well in our family it is not a bad word.”

Gavin said, “I won’t say it. Even if it isn’t a rule here. Are you SURE that’s your rule?”

“Yes,” Mark stubbornly insisted.

Gavin said, “I’m going to find Braeden.”. As Gavin zipped down the stairs to find him, I told him Braeden wasn’t home. I asked if I could help him. Gavin paused and said, “Is Emma here?” She was also outside.

Right then, Braeden came in the house. Gavin ran down to him and I heard this:

Gavin: Is G-o-d a bad word in your family?

Braeden (sounding sort of horrified): Yes!

I called Gavin upstairs and also called to Mark. I said, “Can I explain this to you?” I smiled at these two wild boys with their earnest dilemma. They are the trial of their primary teachers (I know because I was Gavin’s and I’ve talked to Mark’s) but they do know things and I think would defend their little growing testimonies as much as they would defend each other. I explained to them the difference between talking about God in a respectful way or in a way that IS a bad word…in vain. They both looked at me carefully, trying to digest that. I said, “So you are both right.” Slow smiles spread on their faces and they went back into the room to argue about who was playing with which toy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Recipes

The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.
--Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I have some sort of sickness that periodically prompts me to do projects that don’t actually need to be done. Maybe because they delay frightening projects like cleaning my closet (which really does need to be done) or mundane tasks like dusting and laundry (which also need to be done).

So my latest project has been typing up all of my recipe cards. I have very slight (though Adam would argue with how slight they really are) obsessive tendencies. Tendencies that make it difficult for me to have some recipes on 3x5 cards and some ripped out of magazines and some printed from emails or websites. I want things uniform. With such chaos in the world aren’t little pockets of order reassuring? I think so.

When I told Adam what I was doing he said, “And then you’re going to put them in page protectors.” He knows about my love affair with page protectors. Although certain corners of my house beg to differ, I really love neat and tidy and could you get more neat and tidy than a page protector?

For the past several weeks, during school while my children are working on their assignments and I need to be in the room to be the taskmaster, I’ve been typing recipes. I finished today (and yes I’ve been slipping them in page protectors) and I’ve been lost in the memories and history that my recipes represent.

I have a recipe for banana bread from my Great Grandma Wood. I have my Grandma Dahl’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and my Grandma Jaynes’ peach pie. I have lots of recipes from my mom. Recipes of some of my very favorites. My soul food.

I have the recipe for chocolate filled cupcakes that Olivia, our cousins Hannah and Britta and I made one summer when we were young.

I have the recipe that was served at my aunt Launa’s wedding. I don’t know the real name—we’ve only called it Launa’s Wedding Cake. I have my aunt Claudia’s recipe for Yum Yum Cake and my aunt Mary's chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have a recipe for bread pudding that my mom used to make and I like mostly because she told me that my Grandpa Jaynes liked bread pudding. (He died when I was 15 months old so I don’t remember him but love hearing about him.)

I have recipes from my mother-in-law. (swiss enchiladas, clam chowder and lasagna that are similar to but easier than my mom’s) I have Marianne’s pancakes. I have a sloppy joe recipe from my college roommate Trista and a sugar cookie recipe from my other roommate Erin.

I have recipes that invoke Connecticut. Mindy’s caramel popcorn, Tara’s quesadilla’s, Lisa’s cinnamon rolls (that I make every Christmas). I have recipes of Apryl’s that remind me of her apartment that was always fragrant with the scent of baking bread. I have Marina’s chicken paprika and Lynnette’s chocolate lava cakes and pumpkin cake.

I have a sweet and sour meatball recipe and amazing cookie recipes from Patty in San Francisco.

I have the recipe for the carrot cake Janet made me for my birthday and her chicken pot pie which is the ultimate in comfort food.

Do I love all these recipes for their own merit or because I love who gave them to me? Both.

I have recipes that I found on my own. Recipes that transform me to crisp fall days (pork chops with apple onion stuffing) or hot summer ones (Fourth of July Cherry-Cola Cake). I have a recipe for frosting that I found last summer. Braeden called it “peace on earth on a cupcake” so that’s what I named it in my cookbook.

I found a recipe for pastel four-layer cake that reminds me of the cake my aunt Pam used to make every year for my mom’s birthday. I have the recipe for Alabama Chocolate-Pecan Christmas Fudge Pie which is every bit as decadent as it sounds. I ate the pie in its entirety the Christmas I was pregnant with Emma. (Adam’s very nearly forgiven me for not saving him a piece.)

I have the recipe for mint brownies, which is an institution in our current ward and known for its Mother’s Day appearance in Relief Society and my new bread recipe is from Anne who made this version for an Enrichment meeting.

Upon reflection, I don’t think my recipe upgrade was quite as useless as I originally feared. I was reminded of this important truth:

No one cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.
--Laurie Colwin

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Excited for Tomorrow

I am looking forward to tomorrow. Mainly because it’s not today.

Today I lost Mark. Probably for less than a minute but it was sheer terror. We were at the Outlet Mall and he ran out of the Children’s Place while I was gathering up my receipt and wallet and purchases. I thought he was still in the store but he moves fast and he was outside. I found him and he was safe and sound but I’m telling you, sheer terror.

We bought Mark wide sandals at Stride Rite, which is our custom for our favorite red head with wide feet. I also picked up some black shoe polish…the liquid kind with a sponge on top of the bottle.

When I got home, I relished the fact that I had a call to return to Janet. I hadn’t talked to her for about a week and I was just settling in for a good chat when Braeden burst into the room and told me that I’d better get downstairs—fast. I looked at him skeptically and wanted to continue my phone conversation and he said, “Emma has black shoe polish all over the floor!”

What?! Is she a one year old and I can’t leave things like that within reach?

I hurried downstairs and upon seeing the kitchen, got off the phone immediately. Emma was standing in the midst of black shoe polish splatter marks that would make a forensic expert’s head spin. She was sobbing. Apparently she had been sitting at the table, fiddling with the bottle of shoe polish (why?) and decided to pop the top off. (why?why?) This caused the stuff to spray EVERYWHERE. It was on the table and chairs, on Emma, on the floor, counters, dishwasher, in the sink and on the cupboard fronts. Impressive for such a seemingly small and innocuous little bottle of shoe polish.

Braeden was at the ready to help so I mobilized him with Clorox wipes. Emma was still in a stunned sobbing stupor and I sent her to the laundry room to stick all of her clothes in the wash…THEN GET BACK DOWN HERE AND HELP.

I sent Braeden for the Goof Off, which is worth its weight in gold. It got all of the shoe polish off of the wood. Comet worked in the sink.

Braeden told me that I was taking it all very well.

Emma started talking and I told her that I was still too angry to talk to her…or listen to her…so keep scrubbing and talk to me later. Mark and Holden, one of the triplets, sat at the kitchen table, playing with knights and horses throughout the crisis, completely unfazed. When Gavin came over to play too I sent the group outside. I didn’t have the stamina for too many small boys or ANY more mess.

I had puzzled all day about our evening plans. I had Enrichment meeting to go to and Braeden had scouts. Emma didn’t want to go to the nursery…deeming herself too old and she was adamant that she and Mark could stay home and watch a movie. I acquiesced thanks to my cell phone and the knowledge that I was 10 minutes away if they needed me. My problem was that I’d get done at 8:30 and Braeden wouldn’t be back at the church (they went swimming) until after 9:00. I didn’t want to leave Emma and Mark for that long. Braeden’s scout leader assured me that he’d give Braeden a ride home or make sure he had a ride with someone else. Problem solved.

Enrichment was enriching on some levels but also frustrating. We were supposed to be assembling 72 hour kits and doing some canning. I had prepaid with my rice and cans but the canning machine wasn’t working and I had to get home to my kids so I loaded up the empty cans I’d purchased and my sack of rice and came home. I don’t know what I plan on doing with the empty cans? I didn’t want to leave my kids for too long though.

A little after 9:00, when I was just getting Emma and Mark to bed, Braeden called and said, “I’m at the church now. Will you come and pick me up?” I was confused and asked, “Can’t you get a ride home?” He said, “OK.” I said, “Call me again if you can’t get a ride and I’ll come and get you.”

9:15 came and went. 9:30. I was getting worried. Had he or hadn’t he gotten a ride home? I didn’t want to leave and pass him on my way. At 9:45 I decided to call his scout leader. Maybe he was giving multiple boys rides and it was just taking longer?

Braeden’s scout leader was home. I asked him if he knew where Braeden was. He said, “Well, I left him at the church.” Apparently since there were still cars there (people who hadn’t given up and irrationally brought their empty cans home?), he thought that all the parents were still there.

And that’s when I started to cry.

Apparently losing each of my sons in a 24 hour period is my breaking point. I stared at the phone trying to figure out what to do then I called the church. Someone answered the phone. I asked and they said Braeden was still there. I said, “Will you tell him that I’ll be right there?” I told Mark and Emma that I was leaving…again and would be back soon and stay in bed.

I was backing down my driveway when my cell phone rang. It was Braeden. “Hey, Mom, you don’t NEED to come and get me. I have a ride with Joey’s mom.”

“Debbie’s still there?”

“Yeah, we’re just cleaning up. Are you OK?” No I really wasn’t. I’m probably losing my mind. I told him I was fine though and I’d see him soon and I went and told Emma and Mark that I was home again/still. Emma gave me a note in which she apologized profusely for the shoe polish. I told her she was more than forgiven and loved and to go to bed.

Braeden hugged me when he got home and I hugged him back. I probably won’t let Mark or Braeden out of my reach tomorrow.

And I probably won’t let Emma within reach of any shoe polish.

Still, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It’s not today.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Yesterday

Yesterday was a long day. Maybe because it started early. Most days around here, we’re eased awake, shrouded in a gray mist. Yesterday the sun was shining and the window and curtains were flung open and birds were singing. It was different. And different is good. I woke up early.

One of the first things I did was call my mom and find out how she makes potato salad. I wrote a previous blog on the joys of potato salad making with my mom but I’ve never made it solo. Yesterday Braeden wanted some though. I guess inspired by the sunshine, he wanted “summer” food. As expected my mom didn’t have a potato salad recipe. She told me the ingredients (which I already knew) but she didn’t know the quantities. She just makes it. One thing I knew was that I needed to scale back. She starts out with her (huge) roasting pan full of potatoes and with a dozen eggs. After talking a few minutes, I thought I had it figured out. I hoped.

Adam had a full day of yard work planned and I wanted to clean the entire house. I gave Braeden and Emma a choice. Help Dad or me. They all picked Adam. I didn’t want to show my hand so I celebrated only on the inside. Sometimes teaching your children to work is for the birds. I sent them all out the door, slathered them with sunscreen (which Braeden detests…how can someone have such strong feelings about sunscreen?) and went inside…alone…to clean. It was wonderful. What new levels of pathetic has my life reached when cleaning my house…alone…is sheer pleasure? I don't know but I’m there. I swept and mopped, vacuumed, dusted and cleaned bathrooms. I didn’t nag anyone to get to work. I didn’t break up any fights. I listened to my eclectic mix of cleaning music (Depeche Mode, Aretha Franklin, Dixie Chicks and Barenaked Ladies) and worked in peace. The only time my tranquility was interrupted was when Emma came in for a quart jar for the frog Braeden caught in the yard. I thought you were supposed to be weeding, not catching frogs. Then I remembered that was Adam’s problem, not mine and I went back to work. Zen with a Swiffer.

I got my house cleaned much faster than most Saturdays and Emma and I headed off to an Activity Day Mother Daughter Luncheon. Any way you slice it, having a daughter is fun. We had left Adam sweating it out in the sun, planting grass in the front yard we share with our neighbors. When we came home, he walked outside and said he was just heading off in search for some lunch. The van was already air-conditioned and the temperature was climbing up into the 80s in the house so I said we’d all go along. We hit Taco Bell and then Lowe’s for some new sprinklers (‘tis the season). Our next stop was Adam’s parents to borrow something. The Preakness horse race was about to start so we waved a hello to Adam’s mom in the front yard and zipped into the house to turn on the TV. We watched Big Brown blow away the competition. I got a call in to my dad before my brothers could to comment on the race. My dad tunes in to exactly three sporting events a year, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. I can’t fault his taste. They are exciting and impressive and short lived. What more could you ask for?

When we got home I roped Braeden—since it was his idea in the first place—into helping me peel potatoes and eggs. We were both skeptical as I guesstimated how much mayonnaise, mustard, sweet pickle relish and the all important dill pickle juice to put in. We mixed it all up and grabbed forks and tasted summer in Nevada. It was like my mom’s! Forget Big Brown, I was the true champion!

I turned my attention to preparing the upcoming school week, Braeden drifted off to hide in front of a fan somewhere and Emma and Mark put on swimsuits and washed the cars and helped Adam and our neighbor, Matt, finish with the new lawn.

When we had our hamburgers, baked beans, corn, potato salad, lemonade and ice cream cones (around here you’ve got to seize the summer moment when it hits), it seemed like the culmination of a really REALLY long day and I was tired and ready to just melt into my chair in the cooling house.

Not to be. I remembered that Adam (unfortunately) was leaving for London today and I needed to help get him ready. So 10:00 last night found me doing laundry and ironing shirts (that have been hanging, neglected in the laundry room for far too long). While I was being the laundry queen, Adam had the freezer literally taken apart and was trying to figure out why it was leaking.

We finished our various tasks—successfully, happily—and collapsed in bed.

Maybe I had too much sun yesterday or I’m just getting dumber because my brain is addled today. I messed up my before church meeting schedule, I forgot money I was supposed to take to church for an upcoming HFPE meeting, I conducted Relief Society in the completely wrong order and then got a phone call this afternoon that I forgot to send in Braeden’s scout camp registration that was due on May 15!

I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I don’t like it. I need a secretary, smarter brain or less to do…something.

My potato salad DID taste like my mom’s though…and there might be a Triple Crown winner this year. What’s a mixed-up mind when compared to such goings-on?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What a Woman Wants

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and mother-in-law and sisters and sisters-in-law and all my dear friends that love me enough to read my blog. I learn from all of you and your examples of good mothering and the good mothering you give to me.

Adam asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day (mixing bowls) and what I wanted for breakfast (French toast). He rose above and beyond with a vase of pink tulips, which I adore. My children gave me nice cards and gifts and love.

As we were leaving for church…later than I wanted to be…I was running around in high heels turning off all of the upstairs lights and muttering under my breath that next year for Mother’s Day I want to be ON TIME. Next year I want my gift to be that I don’t have to remind and remind my children to hurry. Next year I want no complaints about how I comb their hair.

I’ve changed my mind though. I know what I really want for Mother’s Day.

There was an elder speaking in church today, prior to going on his mission. He started by bearing his testimony. Could there be a better Mother’s Day gift? Is there anything that beats righteous children? Surely not tulips and mixing bowls. Not French toast or chocolates or even smiling children singing “Mother I Love You” in sacrament meeting. I know what I really and truly want. So what am I doing about it? I waste too much time flitting around on less important pursuits. I need to have all my energies focused on the goal of my children someday bearing humble and sincere testimonies, going on missions, marrying in the temple, raising righteous children of their own.

So that’s what this woman wants for Mother’s Day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Making Mistakes

Yesterday was the primary talent show. We had some mother-son trouble prior to the event. On Monday I told Braeden to play his song for me, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” on the piano. It wasn’t great. I tried to gently break the news that he needed to play another song. He got mad. I told him that it wasn’t that he’s not a good pianist. It was a hard song. Didn’t help. He said, “I can do this. I want to.” I agreed but said it would take a lot of practice. A lot.

He didn’t practice again that day.

So I called in the Special Forces team in dealing with our children…Adam. When he got home from work, I explained the situation. He talked to Braeden in that irritatingly calm way they respond so well to and I can’t duplicate. Braeden played an alternative song for Adam but said he still wanted to play “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

Tuesday and Wednesday Braeden practiced a tiny bit and still insisted he would have it ready in time.

And I seriously doubted him.

Yesterday afternoon…the day of the big talent show, I was going on a visit with Wendy, our new Relief Society President. I mentioned to her that we had the talent show in the late afternoon. She asked me what my kids were doing and I told her my woeful tale.

Here’s why I love Wendy:

She told me that it was GREAT that he was willing to play in front of people. She told me that it was a good message to other kids who might be nervous about making a mistake if an older boy made mistakes in his playing. She told me how wonderful it was that he was confident. She told me that someday when he’s a missionary, he wouldn’t be afraid to play the piano even if he makes some mistakes.

I caught the vision.

When I got home I told Braeden that if he wanted to play “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” it was OK with me.

And it was. He played and fumbled around some but smiled a big smile and played the song he wanted to play.

I’m so grateful for Wendy. Teaching me that it’s OK to make mistakes. Teaching me that I was a silly ninny to be worried about how Braeden (and more importantly I) would look in front of the primary children in the Everett 3rd Ward and their mothers and teachers. When I grow up I want to be like her.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Heartfelt Mother’s Day Appreciation

With Mother’s Day a few days away, the love and accolades have already started around here. My children are showering me with homemade gifts, bouquets of flowers and spontaneously bursting into song. They’re singing Mother I Love You and I Often Go Walking so much that it’s starting to get embarrassing.

Or not.

Yesterday during school when it takes all my powers to keep everyone on task, Mark wanted to build Anakin’s star fighter. We have a big bin full of LEGOs that are all mixed together. We have in the past attempted to keep the instructions in one place but they invariably get mangled and ripped and eventually thrown away by yours truly. I wish we were organized like a certain unnamed friend (Janet) who keeps the LEGO sets and their instructions in individual Ziploc bags or in their original boxes but we’re not. Sadly no.

Mark asked for help finding the instructions. He is a tenacious and insistent kid. I value that about him and I’m sure it’s a survival instinct for the youngest in the family but it’s not so easy when I’m trying to do something else. Like teach Braeden and Emma school. I gave the room a cursory look. No, sorry Mark, no instructions. He would not be satisfied with that. I sent Braeden to look. I told him to try to build the ship anyway. All of this while trying to keep things rolling with school.

Finally, in utter despondency, Mark climbed into bed and pulled up the covers. This is my indication that he is really unhappy. Part of his successful persistence is that he is my baby and utterly charms me and there’s nothing I like more than to see him happy. I told him I’d look online for the instructions. I looked at several sites. Did several Google searches. Mark climbed on my lap and was full of enthusiasm. He kept saying, “Click on Instructions, Mom!” There was unfortunately no instructions button to click on. Braeden and Emma couldn’t sit idly by and do their school work when there was a Google search underway so soon they were also gathered around the computer, giving me search tips.

“Get back to work! I’m sorry Mark, I CAN’T do this right now.”

Then I softened a little (you would have too if he’d pointed those brown eyes your way) and I printed a picture of Anakin’s star fighter. I thought that would be helpful. He trotted off to his room, pleased…for about 2 minutes.


No, that wasn’t helping. Braeden had new ideas. (You’re supposed to be working on homophones Braeden, not coming up with new ideas.) He said to look for Obi Wan’s ship because it was similar, just different colors. I found that ship and while it didn’t have instructions either, it was a better picture. It had short-lived satisfaction as well.


I tried one last Google search. This time I typed in LEGO set instructions and I came upon a site called Brickery. It had directions on any LEGO set under the sun…or at least Anakin’s star fighter, which was all I cared about. (Braeden said, "I wonder if this is illegal?" Be quiet, Braeden. No one asked you.) The instructions were tiny but Mark assured me they were just fine and he was bubbling over with glee as I printed it off and sent him on his way. Within minutes, I could hear him hurling LEGOs around the room.


One of the tiny pages of instructions. This was the actual size.

What’s wrong Mark?

It’s too small to see.

It truly was. I was in so far already that I had Braeden show me how to enlarge each image, save it to my desktop and then print the 30 pages. One. By. One. It took forever. All pretense of focusing on school was gone. Mark was dancing around and pulling the ink drenched sheets out of the printer as soon as they were done. (I’m sure we used nearly all of the colored ink.)

By then, it was time for the mad dash of lunch and off to piano lessons. We dropped off the older two then Mark and I headed to the library. After, he wanted to play at the anemic little park by the library. I told him we had to go mail something instead. I said, “It’s the paperwork for you to be in kindergarten.” I was sure that would be exciting for him. Um. No.

He got mad and said, “The ONLY way I’m doing kindergarten is if I can go with the triplets.” The triplet boys on our street are in kindergarten this year. They also go to a private school. Mark doesn’t get that even if he went to kindergarten next year, it would not be with them. As for me, I suffer from this delusional, teetering on insane desire to home school my children so I don’t want him to go anyway.

I said, “Why do you want to go to kindergarten?”

My amiable little son who had effectively wrecked our school morning said, “So you won’t be around to bother me so much.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What Would Sheri Dew?

I just returned from Women’s Conference. Adam said that the previous post (the one about going to Women’s Conference) was too full of sugar. What does he expect when there’s no caffeine on BYU campus? Sugar is the next best thing. Anyway, I’ll try for less saccharine in this post, but really Women’s Conference at BYU!

First we had our baby shower for Jennifer at her house. My big little brothers were there also but were relegated to Enoch’s office when it was time for the shower. I met baby Olivia and twin babies Laurel and Maisy. Babies make the world go ‘round. We passed around babies and ate candied apples and oohed and ahhhhed over pastel baby girl clothes for Jennifer. We called upon the boys when we needed pictures taken. They each came out to point and shoot. I gave Ammon my camera and caught him zooming in on just his wife. Few people have ever been in love as much as Ammon is with Melanee.


Marianne and Laurel or Maisy (sorry Hannah, I can't tell)

Olivia with Laurel or Maisy and Hannah

Katie, cutting candied apples...mmmmmm

The group

It was snowing when we left Enoch and Jennifer’s house. Yes, on April 30.

We checked into our dorm room (which Geri aptly compared to a prison) and geared up for the next day, Women’s Conference. I would follow Sheri Dew to the very ends of the earth and she was the opening speaker. I wrote while she spoke as fast as my hand would go. I didn’t get everything but here’s a bit to inspire you:

If we unleashed the influence of covenant keeping women, we would change the kingdom of God overnight.

If I could hang onto the following, my life would be a better place:

Ask the Lord what he would have you do rather than feverishly work through your to do list.

And…

You’ll be less likely to feel like life has spun out of control if you view life as a ministry.

And finally…

Pray for who the Lord needs you to be rather than living to impress others.

See what I mean? Sheri. Love her.

I also went to good classes and among others, heard John Bytheway, Mary Ellen Edmunds, Julie Beck and President Monson speak. Not a bad way to spend a few days. The Marriott Center was a packed house…packed with chatting and laughing women. When President Monson walked in, an immediate silence rolled over the crowd as we rose to our feet. We were in the presence of a prophet of God. I looked over at my sisters and they had tears on their cheeks just like I did.

Thursday night we went to possibly the best play I've ever seen at the Hale Theater in Orem. My mom treats us every year and she is wonderful to do it because I adore going to plays. Ammon was along with Melanee as the token male. He bought me frozen yogurt afterwards. As far as I'm concerned, his position as token male is safe.

We went to Nevada Friday night and stayed until Sunday. It’s good for my soul to be there. My mom cooked the foods I love and handed me books to borrow. My dad fixed my broken bracelet and gave me a ride on his buggy. My dad has a Belgian horse, Goldie. I’m pretty sure he loves my mom more than Goldie but his children less. Goldie had a baby, Ann, two years ago and this winter she gave birth to Andy. It’s a toss up if my dad loves Ann and Andy more or his real grandchildren. I think we’re afraid to ask.

Goldie and baby Andy (you can see a little of Andy's dad, Dan in the background)

My dad harnessing Ann for the buggy ride

I also got to quilt with all the women…including my nieces who seem to get prettier the taller they get. Sitting around a quilt with women I love is a high form of bliss for me. I was tired though. I went over to Marianne’s couch, which I’ve spent a lot of time lying on over the years…reaching back to when I was pregnant with Braeden. Katie brought over baby Olivia and Olivia and I snuggled up and snoozed in the sunshine streaming in the window. Sunshine! That’s something I don’t see too much of.

Quilting Queens: Clarissa, Liberty, Marianne and Deseret

Other highlights were celebrating Marianne’s birthday, putting baby Olivia to sleep during Sunday School at church, and talking on the phone to six different cheerful and helpful BYU student employees at Heritage Halls because I’d left my cell phone in my dorm room. I told one girl that my brother would be picking up the phone for me. She asked his name. Ammon Dahl. She said, “Was he a freshman last year because there was an Ammon in my ward.” Sorry, wrong Ammon but isn’t it reassuring to talk to eager young women who had an Ammon in their ward last year and are excited to reconnect?

We headed back to the airport and then home into the enthusiastic hugs of my children and Adam. I missed them. They liked the gifts I’d paid a queen’s ransom for at the BYU Bookstore but Mark said he actually wanted more than I’d brought.

Many times during the conference when I was overwhelmed by the incredible speakers, sheer power of so many righteous women or fabulous mint brownies, I thought of Adam. He's so good to cheerfully send me on my way while he stays home to capably pick up my responsibilities. What a lucky woman I am.

So I’m home. My suitcase is still packed, there’s a stack of papers and books on every flat surface in my bedroom and I have a new calling in Relief Society that I am COMPLETELY clueless about. I think I can do it though. I’m trying as hard as I can to keep a firm grasp on the encouragement and perspective I felt at the feet of such wonderful speakers. Wish me luck.

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