Friday, October 31, 2008

October 31

Tonight my children will don their costumes and hurry from house to house in our neighborhood. They will ring doorbells, say “Trick or treat!” be handed some candy by a friendly person, say “Thank you,” (maybe...hopefully) then rush off to the next house.

When I was growing up in rural Nevada, trick or treating was a different experience. First we’d take a car. Miles separated our neighbors and us. We often went trick or treating with our cousins. We’d either caravan or one memorable year we all piled in the back of a pick-up truck with a cover and bounced along the dirt roads together. When we got to the various houses, we’d knock and be invited in. Whoever lived at the house would know us—or at least our parents—well. They’d exclaim at how beautiful/scary/funny or creative (one year my cousin Margaret was a McDonald’s French Fry Guy) our costumes were. They’d have us spin around for the full effect. They’d give us full size candy bars, sometimes more than one, or homemade cookies or (at Eleanor’s house) a mushy red apple. That was trick or treating.

When I was in college, we had trick or treaters come to our door. I answered the door and invited them in. There was an audible gasp from both the little girls at the door and my roommates. One of my roommates stepped in front of me, tossed some candy the girls’ way and shut the door in their faces. She explained to me how the rest of the world does trick or treating. Maybe in that moment some of the charm of Halloween was lost for me.

We didn’t have to go to school on Halloween when I was growing up. It was, after all, Nevada Day. On October 31, 1864, Nevada was admitted to the Union. It did not have the population to become a state but it was during the Civil War and the Union wanted and needed Nevada’s silver.

Nevada may have its faults (legalized gambling and prostitution) and its quirks (when I was in elementary school we learned everything from Nevada's state song, "Home Means Nevada" to its state fossil, the ichthyosaur--who has a state fossil?) but I loved growing up there. Even though nearly half of my life has been spent not living there, in many ways it is still my home.

The best way to describe where I grew up in Nevada is to start with where I didn’t grow up. Not Las Vegas—which is everyone’s assumption. I grew up in the northeast corner of the state. Not Elko which is the nearest big town and not Wells which is the nearest small town. Not Deeth which is the ghost town where we got our mail (there is little there except a tiny post office) and not Star Valley (which only has one “r” and is in Wyoming). I grew up in Starr Valley. Which no one (except people that don’t know the proper way to trick or treat) knows of.

Starr Valley is a place of tall mountains, fragrant sagebrush and more stars at night than you can imagine…especially if you live in the clouds or in light pollution or both (like I do). Sometimes I miss the stillness, wild beauty and sunsets so much it makes me ache.

Happy Birthday Nevada.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Tale of Three Pumpkins

I am admittedly the Ebeneezer Scrooge of Halloween. The Grinch of fireworks on the 4th of July and the Scrooge of Halloween. In my defense, I really REALLY like Christmas. Since I am such a grievous disappointment to my children with my lack of appreciation for all things spooky or Halloween-ish, I decided to redeem myself by buying 3 pumpkins this year. Adam thought I did it just to torture him (I guess he's not really into the Halloween scene much either).

Braeden loves everything about Halloween except cleaning out the pumpkin. This was him in 2003:

This is him in 2008:

More hair, taller, same horrified expression.

I told him that since he wanted his own pumpkin, he had to clean it out.

Emma on the other hand, relished the task. She'd scoop a big handful of the goopy stuff out, drop it in the bowl and flick her wrist spreading seeds and strings of pumpkin innards around the room. Lovely, lovely holiday tradition.

Mark was the creative consultant for his pumpkin but I took over after he flipped a seed into his eye while trying to spoon it out.

And what was Adam doing during all of this? I asked him to take some pictures and then he started wandering around the house taking some artistic photos. I've got to admire his illusive-ness when it came jack-o-lantern time. He did take all the remains of the pumpkins and newspapers out to the garbage though. That deserves some high praise.

Here are some of his shots:

And the pumpkins:

This is Mark's. It's The Cheat which is from Homestarrunner which you may or may not know about depending on if you have tween sons and/or are friends with the Jorgensens (who introduced the world of Homestar and Strong Bad and the gang to us).

Another Homestarrunner character, Pom Pom. This one is Braeden's.

Emma did an old school jack-o-lantern.

After tomorrow, people will start to take the garish decorations off their house, I will have a supply of chocolate to pilfer from my unsuspecting children (who am I kidding, they'll suspect me), and carving the pumpkins will be 364 days away.

Life is good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things Making Me Smile Today

Mark: This morning in science he was learning about things that are alive and not alive. Here’s the conclusion he drew from the lesson, “Sometimes you’re alive but you can’t move like when you’re knocked out.” Astute assessment.

Braeden: Yesterday when I was finished with my dentist appointment (you don’t even want to know), I called my kids to check in and see if they were all still alive. Braeden asked me about the dentist and if I’d fired him (we were debating the merits of firing the dentist or egging his office.) Braeden said, “Just so you know Mom. We all support you.” Good to know.

I have book club tonight.

I crossed “change the boys sheets” off my list because I don’t want to (and no one will make me).

Another sunny day. In October. In Seattle. Amazing.

I found a good book to read.

Adam: This morning he and Mark were discussing transformers—a new passion of Mark’s that almost eclipsed Bionicles in importance but not quite. Mark was asking Adam if transformers have limbs. Adam pointed to one of the several transformers on the table and said, “See, these are limbs…or maybe they’re pre-limbs.” He looked out the corner of his eye and yes I was laughing. I know I’m easily amused but he’s funny.

I got the biggest pile of laundry known to man folded and got to talk to Olivia on the phone while I did it.

And finally:

The Warrior cats that are scampering all around my upstairs this afternoon, spinning tales and completely wrapped up in their fertile little imaginations.

October High Jinks

Mr. Spontaneous rides again. Last night about 5:30 Adam announced we should go to a corn maze. Our kids have been wanting us to go and it hasn't ever been squeezed in...until last night.

We went to Stocker Farm in Snohomish. The maze looks like this:

But really, when you climb up on one of the bridges for a view,

it looks like this:

If you've been feeling guilty because your kids have been wanting to go to a corn maze and you haven't taken them, you can stop. It wasn't THAT exciting. The kids loved it but they also love things like skittles and corn dogs so can you trust them?

Besides, there were scary things in the corn:

After the corn maze we went to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Snohomish, El Paraiso. I know (because two of my Spanish speaking siblings told me) that I don't pronounce it correctly but I love the food. They have homemade corn tortillas that are probably similar to the ambrosia the gods ate on Mount Olympus in ancient Greek times.

They also have really fabulous decor.

Notice the duct tape on the flamingo and the rubber ducks on the edge of the fountain.

Mark threw a penny in the fountain and took great care to make a good wish.

And one of the scary creatures from the corn followed us there.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.
Alex Haley

Great fathers get promoted to grandfathers.

A house needs a grandma in it.
Louisa May Alcott

Have you ever seen anything sadder than Emma's face here? The darn boys already had the game established and would only give her a few pieces to play with. It's hard to be the girl.

Building A Bear

We took Mark to Build A Bear for an early birthday present from Grandma and Grandpa.

The stuffing...

The bathing...
Finding the clothes...
The adoption process...
Grandchildren: the only people who can get more out of you than the IRS.
-Gene Peret

Boeing Factory Tour...sort of

We tried to take a tour of the Boeing Factory but since the machinists are on strike, it had to be a modified tour. Luckily we had Adam's dad along who worked for Boeing for 30 years. He kept my dad entertained with all the details that glaze over the eyes of people like me but interest people like them.

Emma and Mark at the controls

As close as we got to the actual factory.

Braeden and Grandma

The grandpas

Someday Mark will likely be chatting about aeronautics with the grandpas...he's that type.

The End Result

Once upon a time there was one hassled mother and three restless children at the Saturday practice for the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program. The mother, bereft of adults at home, wanted to steal 30 seconds to visit with her friend Janet. She sent the children to her van...with a digital camera to buy herself a little time.

Here's what happened:

Mark looks devious about I want to know?

Seats were climbed on...
And the drama queen was on hand...
The End.

Getting a Kick Out of Soccer

Since my blogging hiatus is at it's end, here are some pictures:

Mark of Orange Tiger fame

The victor and his spoils. To Mark his trophy meant that his team was the best team...and he was probably the best player. I won't tell him every kid got an identical trophy if you won't.

Falling Apart—Belatedly

I have a bunch of pictures (raided from my parents’ camera) to post from the glorious week we just had while they visited. First things first though. I’m sort of falling apart. According to Adam’s estimations, he’s taken 21 trips to London. He’s also taken several trips here in the good old U.S. I think I can safely say that I have had my meltdown every time. My I Can’t Take It Anymore Cry-fest. It’s as much a part of the trip as the divine chocolate Adam brings home to me.

Here’s the problem this time. Since my parents came and I was carried through the first week by the excitement of them coming and then the second week by the adrenaline of having them here, I didn’t really ever fall apart.

This morning Braeden said, “You’re still wearing the green sweater.”

Hm. I guess I still need it. It could be because Adam (after being home for less than 24 hours) is gone again tonight camping with Braeden and the 11 year old scouts. It could be that my jaw is aching and swollen and I had to go to (count them) THREE dentist visits in the last two weeks. It could be that the much-anticipated visit by my parents is over. It could be though that sometimes, a girl just has to wallow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Don't Know Who Everyone Else Calls

My dad

I remember when I was a very little girl sleeping in the middle bunk of the trundle bed my dad built for my two sisters and me. I remember being thirsty and unwilling to get up in the dark (and more importantly walk by the scary back porch which I always thought housed mice ready to attack me). I would call for my dad and he'd bring me a glass of water.

I wonder if I'll ever stop calling my dad when I'm in distress.

My whole life he has been the fixer of problems. He could repair broken things like toys or books or jewelry or feelings.

In high school my sisters and I drove embarrassingly old cars that somehow got us to town and back between repairs by my dad. If we ever had a flat tire or a car that wouldn't start (or had just driven through a fence--accidentally of course), he was who we would call. He always came to rescue us, fix the problem and usually laugh at us in the process which turned out to be somehow comforting. Maybe it wasn't the end of the world.

He's still rescuing us. I've called him with theological questions, automotive problems, home repair quandaries and furnace trouble...and that's just recently.

Today--of course since Adam's gone, when else would such a thing happen--our furnace stopped working. I did the only natural thing, I called my dad in Nevada. Although he's never owned a furnace that runs on natural gas, he was my troubleshooter and adviser. He helped me decipher the owners manual which seemed to be written in English but not really.

It means the world to me that I could call my dad and get his reassurance. My enormously fortunate sisters live within walking distance of our dad and I'm green with envy most of the time. I'm glad he's on the other end of my phone calls though.

I don't know who else I'd call.

My dad makes things like this when he's not solving my problems.

Here's his shop...and fan club.

And here's the house he built. (OK--now I'm bragging...)

Things I Know

1. I know my dentist visit didn't go well yesterday when my dentist called last night to see how I was doing and to apologize for the visit.

2. I know Braeden's getting old when he popped out a tooth without ceremony and asked me if the tooth fairy had cash today.

3. I know I need better forms of entertainment when I'm reading a book that isn't that interesting (but I'm still reading it) and last night sat through a movie that was just kind of odd. It's a Lebanese movie, Caramel, and according to the box was highly acclaimed. I don't think I really got it.

4. I know I'm going to the library today. There has to be help out there for people like me--people in need of a good book to read.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I didn't want to get out of bed this morning. For one thing, I have to go to the dentist and get two fillings replaced. Not an exciting prospect. If I just stayed in bed would it make it so I never had to go to the dentist? That was what I was contemplating.

I also don't like that my bed looks like this when I crawl out in the morning:

I miss Adam.

Here's a compensation though. This morning I was hugging Mark and telling him that I love him. He said, "I'm precious to you. I'm the most precious thing in the world to you." (still working on his self esteem issues)

I agreed with him and the precious element. He said, "If I died you would cry every day."

Again, I agreed.

Then he said, "You'd always have pictures of me though."

I'm not sure the pictures would be enough.


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