Friday, June 27, 2008

It Takes A Lot Of Slow To Grow


A Lazy Thought

There go the grown ups
To the office,
To the store.
Subway rush,
Traffic crush;
Hurry, scurry,
Worry, flurry.
No wonder
Grownups
Don't grow up
Any more.
It takes a lot
Of slow
To grow.


I don’t know the author of the poem, I was introduced to it by a college professor. I like it though. Back in college, I thought it was nice…it takes a lot of slow to grow. A nice little thought.

It’s harder in practice. It’s hard to slow down. I was raised by parents whose measure of a day was how much you accomplished. Adam has tried valiantly to infuse my life with spontaneity from time to time but I have mostly not learned my lesson. I strive for efficiency and tasks checked off the list.

It mostly just makes me cranky.

This week we are full tilt into “The Summer Schedule” that I carefully crafted because I love making plans. I like to run a tight ship. In theory. My ship’s crew isn’t cooperating though. I promised them we would be done with all work by 2:30 every afternoon. Considering the fact that until 11:00, I am involved with their swimming practices and lessons, I thought this was a magnanimous amount of free time.

The problem is, my children don’t have the vision. They don’t realize that if they’d just zip through their tasks, we’d all be done. We’d all be happy. We’d be so darn productive!

I’ve been steadily getting grouchier, less patient and downright mean, as I have to pester my children to stay on task. I threaten and yell and say sarcastic little comments and no one, including me, wants to be around me.

Today (uninvited) the words to the above poem sidled into my head. I realize the error of my ways. Sadly, it's a lesson I seem to always need to be relearning. I’m going to just relax. I’m still going to give my children their tasks to complete but if they want to take all day, that’s OK. Being The World’s Worst Mother isn’t helping anything or anyone. It’s going to be all right if I don’t get all my work done. I’m going to enjoy this (all too brief) time of sunshine, swimming, ice cream cones and flip flops with my children.

At least I’ll try. It takes a lot of slow to grow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

And We're Home

We’re home! No one could be happier about this little fact than I am. I’ve had a newborn baby three times to care for, I’ve had mono, I’ve lost sleep twice on international flights and I have NEVER been as thoroughly exhausted as I was last night. I could have cried for Adam who must have been equally tired and is headed to London today. Poor Adam!

We had an eventful and wonderful trip. I have some pictures to add but first I have to tell you, for future reference, our breaking point. It’s Wendy’s in Ellensburg, WA. And involves chocolate.

Emma won the contest of who could suck on her crème saver longest without it disintegrating (you have crazy contests when you spend too much time in a minivan). Her prize was that she got to pick where we had dinner and she picked Wendy’s. After all of the eating out that we did in the past week, I couldn’t face another hamburger and French fries so I decided that I’d have a frosty for dinner. (Healthful eating habits are diminished some by excessive minivan exposure also.)

I leaned over Adam in the drive thru as is our custom and ordered all the food. He doesn’t want to be involved in the ordering process. I KNOW I ordered a frosty. It was my dinner after all. When we got the order (after a long wait in the drive thru—apparently Wendy’s wasn’t an original idea), there was no frosty. Adam said we didn’t get our frosty and the guy said we hadn’t ordered one. Indeed it wasn’t on the receipt so Adam asked if we could add one to our order. With a smirk on his face, the guy said, “No, there are 4 cars behind you in the drive thru”. Adam asked if we could just pay with cash and get one. No. Adam said fine and we pulled away, determined to go next door to McDonald’s for a milkshake instead. Then, Emma, the only one who had wanted fries, asked for her fries. They weren’t there.

Adam’s breaking point.

He said, “I’m going back.” I told him it wasn’t THAT big of deal but he was already irritated by the frosty thing.

He parked and walked inside and came back outside with a REALLY BIG frosty and a bag with two REALLY BIG orders of fries. He said, “Well, that wasn’t a very positive interaction.” He’s a REALLY BIG man and when he gets disgruntled, people usually sit up and pay attention.

We were just about to get back on the freeway, determined to never darken the door of Wendy’s again when Mark asked for his chocolate milk. We, of course, didn’t have any chocolate milk. If we’d had ANYTHING else to drink we would have just skipped it but our water bottles were empty. Adam turned the van around and we returned to Wendy’s. I said I’d go in this time. I figured I’d save the Wendy’s employees from Adam. I went in and there was a huge line. I cut to the front of the line and (very nicely, I promise) told them that they’d forgotten my chocolate milk in the drive thru and could I get it please? The lady looked at me and then at the huge line and seemed like she was about to tell me to go to the end of the line. I said, “This is my second time coming back because my order was messed up, can you just give me the chocolate milk?” Again she just looked at me.

Thelma’s breaking point.

I don’t have Adam’s size but I think at that point I may have had fire in my eyes. I said, “Go. Get. My. Chocolate. Milk.” She looked startled and said to no one in particular, “Where’s the chocolate milk?” She then walked over to the fridge and retrieved it. My manners returned and I thanked her and we were on our way. Chocolate laced dairy products and all.

The temperature dropped 30 degrees when we went over the mountains in Western Washington. The sky is cloudy today and I am missing the warm sun but I wouldn’t trade anything for the divine sleep I had last night in my own bed.

And now…the pictures.


Mark and Hyrum...Star Wars meets sagebrush

Braeden on the water slide.

Deseret and Emma


The Bionicles enjoyed Nevada too.

Clarissa, Carolina and Braeden
Carolina (never without a dress) playing Duck Duck Goose at the traditional "Grandma Party"
Deseret and Emma helping baby Olivia play Ring Around the Rosies.

Ruben

Mark and Liliana


Some of my favorite flowers in the world, yellow roses, were kind enough to bloom while I was there

An amazing moon rise. See all the clouds? No? Exactly.

Pretty Liberty

Mark feeding a calf. Deseret was feeding animals for a friend and let the "city kids" tag along.

Emma and a different baby calf.

Emma was "Young Clara" in the play, Rumplestiltskin.

Braeden was a gnome in the play. He's the one in middle, front row.

My favorite thespians.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Side of the Story

I feel like I should write about our tire trouble. Adam gave me too much cedit and him not enough. He takes good care of us.

Yes, we had a tire blowout. It was scary and I'm very grateful that the tire was all that was destroyed. Through some combination of being a manly man, capable and strong, Adam was able to fix it. We were prepared enough to have a flashlight in the van but not smart enough to make sure there were batteries in it. I filched some batteries from Braeden's gameboy but then the flashlight had some sort of short in it because it worked sporadically. (Getting a working flashlight with batteries is a new goal of mine.) Our next problem was that the spare tire apparatus that comes down in the back of the van, was stuck. The metal was bent somehow. While Adam was struggling with that, I climbed back in the van to say a prayer with our kids who were more or less awake. I told Braeden to keep praying and got back out to try to get the flashlight working.

That's when the swarm of bugs started to happen. Poor Mark, who was beyond tired, had hundreds of bugs swirling around his head. He was not happy. As time passed, Emma and Mark reached new heights of freaking out so while Adam was applying his strength to the lug nuts and jack, I got back in the van. He was doing what dad's do so I did what mom's do. I tried to soothe. It's amazing how calm you can make your voice when you need to even though you don't feel particularly calm. "No, of course Dad's not going to get hit by one of those enormous trucks whooshing by." "We'll be in our hotel very soon." "The bugs will leave, don't worry." "We're safe." I sort of believed what I was saying and our kids eventually seemed to also.

By the light of the flashing hazard lights and trucks zooming by, Adam was able to get the tire changed and we continued on our merry way. The entire incident managed to give us a big shot of adrenaline and we were in no danger of falling asleep. We made it to our hotel...after 3:00 a.m. The kids stepped out of their sandals and slipped under their covers.

This morning we are in our hotel room and Adam has gone to Costco to get a new tire. I took the kids to the pool to make them happy. I bought myself a diet coke to make me happy. It worked.

I was joking about our new habit being going to Costco on Sunday morning. Maybe. Maybe not.

Tomorrow--assuming I can make myself get out of my comfortable bed, I'll write about some of the happy things that happened on our trip. I'll post some pictures too.

What a Man Wants

Yes, it is 4 o'clock in the morning and no, this is not Thelma. Thelma is asleep in one of the two queen beds in our hotel room. The boys are sharing the other bed. Emma has the sofabed to herself. As for me, I'm still trying to recover from tonight's drama--and I'm thinking how grateful I am for a good wife.

We knew it would be a late night. As you probably read in Thelma's previous post, Braeden and Emma spent the week participating in the Missoula Children's Theater. Tonight was the night of the big show. Well, two shows really. The kids start swim lessons and swim team bright and early Monday morning. I need to be at work equally early and am leaving later Monday for a week in London. As much as we would like to have stayed an extra night, our busy schedules meant leaving after the final show and making the intermediate trek to Boise.

Shortly after midnight we found ourselves somewhere near Glenn's Ferry. Everyone was asleep but me. I was passing a big rig on the left and hoping the horrible sound coming from it wouldn't wake anyone. The noise grew louder and louder as I accelerated quickly past the truck. I came clear of the truck. The noise didn't stop and our van began to vibrate violently.

Then it happened. The front tire on my side of the van exploded.

Thelma woke as I was coercing the van from the left lane to the right shoulder, somehow avoiding becoming roadkill to the truck I had just passed. As Thelma told me later, she knew instictively to begin praying as soon as she awoke. I brought the van to a stop and just sat there on the shoulder feeling sick to my stomach. I'm thankful Thelma acted on inspiration. I wish I had.

A few days before leaving for Nevada the thought came to me that I should have our tires rotated or even do it myself. I mentioned to Thelma that the front tires were looking a little more worn than the back tires and could stand to be swapped. I told myself that I would take the van into the tire store if I had time. I didn't. Then, a few days ago, Thelma and I were driving through Wells when I saw the Les Schwab store. Again, the impression came to me. Again, I thought about it but didn't act.

The children began waking up as I sat there on the side of the road and tried to compose myself. I must have looked a mess. Thelma had to remind me that we had a spare tire under the van. I was already thinking about tow trucks. It was my fault that we were in this mess. Thelma could have jumped on my case for not rotating the tires. But she stood by my side literally and figuratively.

Our poor children were in tears. Mark was sitting in a swarm of Idaho bugs that had been attracted to the bright lights when we opened the door near his seat. Emma thought the dark night and flashing lights reminded her of her nightmares. At one point as I crouched down out of site, the children thought I must have been run over by a passing truck.

It took an hour to change the tire there in the dark with a faulty flashlight and other mishaps. There was no criticism from Thelma. No complaining. She kept thanking me for how hard I was working and taking care of everyone. I felt sick and guilty. She stood there on the side of the road supportive and sympathetic.

Last month Thelma wrote a blog post about What Every Woman Wants. I think what every man wants--or at least this man--is to know he is loved in a way that transcends his faults. I love Thelma for the many things she does for me and our children. I love her for who she is. Tonight, I love her for the many things she didn't do and didn't say but could have.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Home Means Nevada To Me

I'm in Nevada right now. I'm sitting in the truck wash that my brother owns and my other brother manages. That's a little bit unsettling to me because I still think that my brothers are high school age. It's a nice place though. I'm proud of my brothers (and appreciate the free computer time).

My children are at the elementary school (the same one I attended) participating in the Missoula Children's Theater for the week. It's sort of like a day camp and the kids are learning a play and then they'll perform it on Saturday. (Let me know if you want a ticket...whoever sells the most tickets gets a free t-shirt and Braeden wants to get one.)

We left the clouds behind when we crossed Snoqualmie Pass and I've been deliriously happy with all of this sunshine. The landscape got drier and drier as we drove and now I'm here in the high desert, loving life.

Sunday we celebrated Father's Day together. We had stayed in Boise the previous night (we're way too wimpy to drive all the way in one day). We were dressed in our church clothes and hurrying to make it to Wells in time for church. Breakfast at our hotel was a madhouse so we decided to hit a drive thru somewhere instead. Adam decided to grab some breakfast for everyone except himself--he's that kind of good dad--because he couldn't carry everything. We stopped at Costco in Twin Falls, ID for gas. I took Mark in to the bathroom and bought Adam a hot dog. So there I was in a dress and heels, schlepping around Costco with a hot dog on Sunday morning. It was a first. It was also a first for a Father's Day brunch for Adam. It may become a tradition though and we'll swing into Costco every Father's Day on the way to church for a hot dog and coke. Happy Father's Day.

We all convened at our parents' house after church. Everyone was there except my brother Enoch and his family because his wife is about to give birth. We gave my dad his birthday present early which is a book we compiled of family stories. We sat around and read the stories aloud to each other and laughed and cried and laughed some more. For me, my wickedly funny siblings equate with pure joy. Some of us inherited the crying gene from our tenderhearted dad so we had to read each other's stories instead of our own or we would cry too much. Gathering ourselves up for more of my mom's amazing banana cream pie kept things from getting too sloppy.

Other highlights of the trip (so far) have been painting flowers on my nieces Clarissa and Liberty's bedroom wall, taking early morning walks in the morning sunshine (nothing can top the scent of willows and sagebrush in the morning), watching Emma and Adam walk through the field holding hands while visiting the horses, zooming my nephew Ruben around his house with his arms outstretched like Buzz Lightyear, seeing the glow in Mark's eyes when he returned from my dad's shop with a small piece of metal with "Mark" stamped on it. Mark is named after my dad which is thrilling to no end for Mark. He proudly said, "I got this from MARK in his shop. There were two Marks in the shop."

Later today we're going to Elko to go swimming, go to the museum, then out to dinner at a Basque restaurant. I'm having a dangerously good time. I'm not sure I'll go back to Seattle.

When you're in paradise, why would you leave it?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Getting Ready

There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.
- Charles Dudley Warner

We are finished with school (hallelujah!) and today is the day we’re getting ready for our trip to Nevada. I love getting ready for trips. It appeals to the part of my personality that loves to organize. I’m pretty lousy at staying organized but that’s OK when you’re preparing for a trip. You don’t need staying power, just initial order.

I have boxes of clothes my kids have outgrown that I’m giving to my sisters. I have books to return to my mom. I have a necklace I need to have my dad repair. All assembled neatly at the foot of my bed. I have a tidy box of books and magazines, audio books and action figures and drawing supplies for the trip. I have snacks at the ready, DVDs selected, the ipod all set to load. I love it!

And then there are the lists. I relish lists. I have lists for today’s tasks, a packing list, a list of clothes I’ve already packed this week, while I’ve been doing laundry.

I understand that this organizing obsession is peculiar but it is balanced by the loose paper explosion surrounding me as I type in our cluttered school room. I’m not so good at keeping control of everything. I can do a bang up job getting ready for a trip though.

We’re all excited about the trip. I couldn’t say if we’re more thrilled by the prospect of seeing our family or seeing the sun. I can’t remember which we saw last but I know it’s been a long time either way.

As for me, I’m looking forward to hours and hours in the van, with my bare feet propped up on the dashboard, talking to Adam. I’m looking forward to watching my kids play with their cousins. I’m looking forward to sitting on the counter in my mom’s kitchen with my bare feet propped up on the side of the refrigerator (I see a theme here?), talking to my mom.

I’m looking forward to taking pictures of my kids going on a buggy ride with their grandpa. I’m looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day with my dad, which I don’t think I’ve done for 13 years. I’m looking forward to seeing all of my tall siblings and hugging them and laughing with (and at) them. I’m looking forward to seeing their spouses and children and painting flowers on the wall of my nieces’ bedroom.

There is nothing reassuring like the ritual of going home, reconnecting, sleeping in the shadow of the same mountains that kept you safe through your childhood and waking up to sunshine, real live sunshine, streaming through the windows.

Now I’ve got to go pack. Finish ticking lovely items off the list!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy (Half) Birthday

There are certain advantages of being an adult. You’re never forced to try food you don’t want to eat, you can drive, and you can invent holidays. Especially holidays involving birthday cake.

Back when Braeden turned 5 and somehow had four birthday celebrations that year in addition to his birthday being 17 days from Christmas, we decided to start celebrating half birthdays. When we learned Mark was due on Christmas day, our resolve was strengthened.

We’ve never looked back. Everyone gets two birthdays a year (except for Adam and me because we usually forget when our half birthday is). The upside of this tradition is that the kids get gifts in the summer, far away from Christmas (they still get birthday gifts from grandparents on their actual day so no one suffers), and the cake. You can’t argue with cake.

The downside of the tradition is that we’ve pretty much ruined our children for normal life. They think everyone celebrates half birthdays, they think they should be acknowledged and sung to in primary for their half birthdays, and they are very adamant that they be regarded as 7 1/2 not 7 (or whatever the case might be). So in addition to the therapy they’ll be needing for our April Fool’s traditions (another story entirely), they’ll have to spend some time getting a grip on the reality that no one else really cares about half birthdays.

Today was Mark’s half birthday. He is now proudly 5 1/2. He’s growing up fast but he still likes to curl up on my lap and he actually let me read to him today (something that happens less and less all the time) so I’m not complaining.

Happy Half Birthday Mark!

Mark's birthday breakfast (complete with Lego creation he is rarely without, morning hair and the "special plate" from my family's tradition).
Present time

At his request, Mark got a corn dog for lunch. Since I don't consider corn dogs food and usually the only time they darken our door is when I'm at Women's Conference, this was a Big Deal.
Dinner at the Blazing Onion in Mill Creek. It was our first time and I recommend it! I also admired Mark's steadfastness in eating when he was too tired (or full?) to be upright.
(1/2) Birthday Boy!

Fat and Happy

My sister-in-law, Jennifer had a good idea. She wanted to start a recipe blog and invited my sisters and sisters-in-law and mom to join her. Jennifer got the idea from a healthy food blog started by women in her ward. I told her I was on board with the blog but I thought we should have the theme be more Fat and Happy and less Healthy Eating. I think everyone agreed.

I set the blog up because Jennifer is in the last stages of pregnancy and she deserves a break. Adam is my in house creativity guru and he thought “all spice” was a good name for the blog. That was taken so I added a “D” to make Dahl Spice (Dahl being my maiden name.)

I know what you’re thinking, “So CLEVER Thelma!” What can I say?

Check out the recipes though. So far there are just a few from Melanee, the youngest sister-in-law who we all love in spite of how gorgeous she always looks. I promise more to come!

dahlspice

Monday, June 9, 2008

Surviving the Piano Recital


Emma, Sarah (their teacher), and Braeden

The hardest part of tonight’s recital, of course, was the preparation. I’m not talking about the piano practicing. That was arduous…and sometimes painful…but getting ready tonight just about killed us all.

Emma couldn’t find white tights. She has four million pairs of white tights (give or take) and she couldn’t find one of them. I was frantically making dinner and arguing with her brothers about getting ready and the dispute involving whether or not the thick cotton cream colored tights matched her lightweight blue and white dress was too much. You’ll just have to wear no tights! She was shocked and horrified but finally accepting.

The sock theme carried over to Braeden. He had on khaki pants, his brown leather church shoes and white socks. He wore them to church yesterday too (hopefully not the same ones!) which is another story altogether and a side-effect of my 8:30 Sunday morning meeting and not being home to help get everyone ready for church. We volleyed back and forth about the suitability of white socks. I said, “You look like PeeWee Herman!” Since he didn’t know who PeeWee Herman was and thinks I’m mostly wrong about everything anyway, it took him awhile to ditch the white socks.

What is wrong with these people and why won’t they believe me? Didn’t their mother teach them anything? Oh, wait…

Then Mark was wearing shorts. Since he wasn’t actually participating in the recital, I decided not to die on that hill. Wear the shorts, Mark. I have to conserve my resources for the hair battle.

Emma wanted her hair just left alone (read unkempt). I lured her into a ponytail by letting her wear one of my barrettes. She was actually compliant about it (finally).

Braeden liked his hair the way it was. “Don’t I have a right to an opinion?” Not really. The pitch of my voice was getting sharper and sharper with each of these discussions and I was banging around the dishes in the kitchen with more and more enthusiasm. Braeden decided to cut his losses and let me attempt to tame his mop.

As soon as I was done he ran his fingers through it.

Next was Mark. I tackled his mangled thatch of red curls with a vengeance and he cried and stamped his feet. Sorry Mark. I’m going to subdue that hair if it’s the last thing I do.

As soon as I was done he ran his fingers through it.

Adam came home then. I asked him if he wanted to fight about his clothes or hair. He suggested we just eat. Sounded good to me.

So we made it to the recital. We looked more or less presentable (Adam even convinced Mark to put some jeans on). Braeden and Emma played their pieces well (and now we can have a little hiatus from hearing them, YES!) and we celebrated by going to The Spotted Cow for ice cream…Grandma and Grandpa’s treat. All’s well that ends well, right?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June

And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days; Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune, And over it softly her warm ear lays.
James Russell Lowell


What a crock! At least around here. This morning Adam and I were lying in the dim light of early morning, trying to summon the willpower to get out of bed. Adam said, “I hate June. It’s always like this. It’s nice the end of May and gives us hope and then THIS.”

It is pouring rain today. And 50 degrees. And I’m so tired of it! Gray soggy days. That’s what we’ve got. Even when it’s not raining, it’s not sunny and warm. In my mind, June is supposed to be sunny and warm, not like this.

When I’m in this “why do we even live here” melancholy, I try to conjure up why we even live here. So this is for my benefit. An attempt to cheer myself up:

Emma on the ferry


Amazing tulip fields in Skagit Valley

Braeden burying his nose in a tulip

The day the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln came home into Everett

Mark playing in the water at Picnic Point

Even though the Mariners are the worst team in baseball, you've got to love Safeco Field

Mulkilteo Beach at sunset

Where the swimmers in our family love to swim--the Stillaguamish River


Bowman Bay

An early misty morning (OK, sometimes the mist is pretty)

A perfect day in a Umiak on Lake Union

Emma and Braeden in a pumpkin patch

Lake Stevens

Smiling, even though we're being enveloped by a cloud

I feel better. I remember why we live here. Why I like living here. June won't last forever. Besides, I have an umbrella and as my friend Mara tells her children, we are made of waterproof stuff.

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