Monday, August 31, 2009

Am I Crazy Too? Or is it Just These Two?

Here's hoping it's not genetic...

Because they are slightly unhinged.

My sisters.

They (along with their families) are coming to visit me this week.

And I am HAP-PY.

(Despite their particular brand of lunacy.)

Here are some of the things they've said to me about their visit:

1-Olivia said not to buy any food, she'll stop at the store before she gets here.

2-Olivia insisted on staying at a hotel so her baby wouldn't wake me up in the middle of the night. (I was able to talk her out of this one.)

3-Then Olivia decided anew that she'd stay in a hotel because I was sick. I told her I'm better. She said, "You might get sick again." (I was able to talk her out of this one again.)

4-Marianne also wants to buy food before she gets here...she wonders what I want her to bring (nothing but try convincing her of that).

5- Before we go to see Wicked I was planning an extremely easy sandwich dinner which Marianne vetoed. She said they'd stop somewhere for food because having them all for dinner was "too much".

6- Marianne said, "I do have to ask you something though." I said OK, thinking from her tone it was going to be my first born child or something. She said, "Do you think I could use your washer and dryer while we're there?"

So they're either crazy or they have a really low opinion of me.

I prefer to think they're crazy.

I hope it's not genetic.

And I can't wait for those girls to get here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Look What Showed Up On My Doorstep

I decided to let them in.

I don't know who was happier...them or us. Dinner was a happy, talking over each other as fast as we could delirium.

They brought home a lot of dirt:

And some beautiful pictures:

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier with the cloud curtains drawn

above the Cascades

Braeden by the lake in the early morning

my handsome boy

This is maybe my favorite shot: Mt. Adams in the background with an exhausted scout fading fast in the foreground.

I'm glad they had this time together:

Adam with some nice bedhead...I mean tent-head

But I'm glad they're home.

I missed this kid:

I really did.

And I especially missed his darling father.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Near Head Trauma, Psychological Torture and I'm Not as Young as I Once Was

Tonight we went to the park (again).

Mark took his light saber which I'm not even sure should be in his possession after the furniture he's damaged with light sabers.

He came centimeters from hitting Emma on the head with it as we walked. So close. I told him to put it away until he got to the wider expanse of the park.

He did but Mark can't (I think it's a medical condition) hold still. He was still swinging the light saber and it slipped right out of his hand. Emma and I (somehow because we're neither of us known for our grace and agility) ducked at the right moment and it sailed right by our faces. Fast.

I carried the light saber the rest of the way to the park.

Emma was swinging in a swing and Mark was climbing and the following ensued:

E: Mark!

M: What?

E: Why did you just say what?

M: I didn't.

E: Oh.

E: Mark?

M: What?

E: Why do you keep saying what?

M: I'm not.

E: Oh.

E: Mark!

M: What?

E: Why did you say what?

M: I didn't.

Me: OK, Emma. Stop.

Mark looked at me with a lot of confusion. He had no idea what had just happened.

Later Emma was pushing Mark on the tire swing. At least that was kind.

E: Everything you say is opposite.

M: No it isn't.

E: So you agree?

M: No, everything I say is not opposite.

E: Yeah, I know everything you say is opposite.

M: You're stupid.

E: (smiling) Why, thank you.

Me: EM-ma. That. Is. Enough.

Again, Mark, not really sure what happened, looked over at me.

(Right now Emma is reading aloud to there hope?)

After watching Emma on the swing, I started thinking I wanted to swing. When's the last time I was swinging on a swing? I have no idea.

Swinging was my favorite thing to do at recess when I was in elementary school. And I spent many a happy summer afternoon on my parents' swingset. I sat down and like riding a bike, you don't forget how to swing. My toes pointed up up up and my body scooped down and I propelled myself higher and higher, my hair whipping around my face.

Then I got very very dizzy and had to stop.

And those wrap around swings were more fun before I had hips.

for when I am weak, then I am strong

I'm not sure I fully believe/understand that but I've been thinking about it.

Let me begin at the beginning. My sister Olivia (who is better than me in practically every way) had a little story published in the July 2009 Ensign. It's on page 24. I know that because I keep reading it and it keeps making me cry because I love my little sister so much.

Yesterday I looked on the preceding page. I had read it before but suddenly it meant a lot more.

A person wrote about suffering from a chronic illness and how this scripture changed their life:

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Weeks ago when I'd read that story, I'd just thought it was a nice sentiment.

This time I wasn't so sure.

Because I have been feeling weak and infirm...and not really glad about it.

I am usually a pretty healthy person. And I haven't even been all that sick, just not feeling my best, having to save my energy and pace myself and not enjoying that.

I have a lot to do.

Doesn't my tired body get that?

Last night I took a walk (a slow walk) to the park with Emma and Mark. I sat (gratefully) on a bench and watched them swing and climb and run.

The words of the scripture kept running through my head. Was it possible to take pleasure in infirmities? Really? I thought that I mostly felt grateful that I usually had more energy. I'm not sure that's the point though.

I'm not sure.

I thought about the fact that we were enjoying a perfect summer evening at the park. Usually I would have been home, working working working. Getting my to do list done before school started.

But I was too tired. So we went to the park.

I thought about the increased patience I've had this week. I'm not in a hurry. Take your time getting in and out of the van, walking across the store, clearing the table. Because I'm taking my time too.

I thought about the Littlest Pet Shop village, vast in its complexity spread out downstairs. Emma and Mark have been busily setting it up and playing with it every day. Playing together. Not fighting. And I've let them keep it out. Because I'm tired.

I thought about me praying for help. For the strength I need to do my work. Because I can't do it alone.

So I'm not feeling pleasure in infirmities. I'm not that enlightened. But I have learned a bit. And I'll be grateful for that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The State of Things

Good for the Soul:

Today (at long last) we opened the boxes with Mark's 1st grade school books. It's kind of like Christmas as far as excitement goes (we're a little bit nerdy like that).

Mark insisted I tell him exactly what everything was.

We pulled out one box and I read the label to Mark: Advanced Phonics Kit.

"Advanced," Mark said, "Advanced?!"

Then he puffed out a big breath of air and rubbed his forehead and said, "I am not in kindergarten anymore."

Bad for the soul:

Starting at 7:00 every morning, construction workers are constructing houses (as they're wont to do), noisily, in the field across the street.

Our field. The extension of our yard which we claimed as our own.

Although it really isn't.

Because we would not let those guys dig it up like that if it were. The new neighbors might be really nice but I don't think I'll like them more than an empty field.

Really Bad for the Soul:

I miss Adam.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Good Thing About Living In Seattle... favorite radio program: TBTL.

They're searching for the best joke. Here's their best so far:

Why didn't Hitler drink tequila?

It made him mean.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Little Girl No More

Two this my greatest fantasy or worst nightmare? It depends on the day.

There's an interesting shift in dynamics around here with Braeden gone. Braeden is a go getter...which is the nice way of saying annoyingly driven. Emma is much more relaxed in the getting things done department. Which is kind of nice. We've been working on cleaning her room. She'll happily sit cross-legged and sort beads and contemplate drawings she's done and we've been slowly slowly digging through the disarray.

And guess what? She's growing up. She's never been one to play with dolls much...I guess it's the sandwiched between brothers thing. This year...finally...for the first time...she's willing to part with the rarely opened bin of dolls. (Which is mostly stuff I had as a little girl. I was into dolls.) This year she donated her Barbies that she never ever played with to a family in need. She handed over (and this is a miracle) a box of stuffed animals she's moved on from. We boxed up dress up clothes and play dishes. Without a tinge of regret. Amazing.

We made room for Emma's enormous collection of notebooks for drawing and writing and for all of her craft supplies. Helping her arrange it all I realized how much alike we are. Our interests run in the same channels. This girl who I often feel is something of a mystery to me is actually a lot like me.

I wonder as she's approaching adolescence just what sort of mark she'll leave on the world. Creativity and imagination drip out of her fingers...where will it take her?

Today she also learned a lesson that will serve her well in motherhood.

We were driving in the van and Mark asked her to read to him from the book Emma had. She keeps a library in the car...just in case.

Emma said no.

Then Mark started talking--and that kid can drive-you-crazy-beg-for-mercy talk. After a few minutes, Emma sighed deeply, picked up the book and started reading.

And Mark stopped talking.

Good girl Emma. You're learning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coming Around

J.C. Leyendecker

Much to the chagrin of some family members and visiting teaching companions, my scout enthusiasm is at times tepid. (Have you ever tried sewing on endless patches?)

Every once in awhile I feel warm and fuzzy towards scouts though...because of the leaders. My enthusiasm for the leaders is never no never tepid. They astound me with their devotion and good work.

Adam and Braeden went off to scout camp for a week this morning (pray for them, pray for them). Our house was a whirlwind of preparation this weekend (which I largely wasn't a part of...see tepid enthusiasm). Adam is one of the leaders and acting as merit badge counselor for some of the merit badges so he was busy.

I can't imagine how busy the main leader...Keven Jackson...was though.

Here's the email he sent Adam

Hi Adam,

Here is the list of food and some other items I'll be bringing:

Hot dogs
Hot dog buns
Pancake mix
Orange jice
Pot with lid
refried beans
La Victoria
Mustard ketchup mayonaisse
10 steaks
potato pearls
peas and carrots
Hamburger buns
Aluminum foil
crystal lite
peanut butter
2 pepperoni pizzas
ice cream
cake cookies
2 gallons milk
3 packages of lunch meat
10 bags of chips
4 pounds of ground beef
spaghetti sauce
bread- white and wheat 10 loaves
60 eggs
4 packs of sausage
4 packs of bacon
Hash browns
captain crunch cereal
3 packs of freeze dried food
1 mac and cheese dinner
2 hormel dinners
wash-rinse-dry rack
paper towels
Blue ice
Dry ice

Let me know if there is anything else we need.

It makes me immensely tired just reading the list.

And I so appreciate his efforts. (A Danish Proverb I love: Who takes the child by the hand takes the mother by the heart.)

Braeden was bouncing off the walls with excitement and anticipation.

And I'm so grateful that there are men in the world willing to put their busy lives on hold to take 7 twelve year olds into the mountains for a week.

So grateful.

It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.
Norman Schwarzkopf

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Getting Sick, Giving Up, Then Learning Something

One thing I like about reading blogs (and there's so much to like!) is recognizing myself in other peoples' words. It's delicious.

The other day I was reading this blog which I really like and had to laugh a little when I read this:

I have a medical condition which prevents me from homeschooling–my kids get on my nerves (there’s no cure).

Ha ha, I thought. That's funny. I think I have that same medical kids get on my nerves too. Then (realization dawning), but, I do homeschool.


So I've been thinking about it.

And I've been sick so I've had time to think about it.

I was talking to my sisters about it...fellow homeschoolers so they Get It. I was telling Marianne that I had stuff I Wanted to Do before school started because I wouldn't have time and she was commiserating with me about the time thing and we allowed ourselves a little fantasy conversation about what our respective lives would be like if we sent our kids to school. How clean our houses would be. How we would spend our time on other pursuits. How cranky we (maybe?) wouldn't be.

But fantasy over, we do homeschool and the beginning of the school year is breathing down my neck and I've been sick and haven't finished all my summer projects. Not nearly.

I've been trying to do bits and pieces but on Friday, I sort of gave up.


I gave myself permission to be sick. Good old fashioned I-don't-care-what-you-do-kids-because-I'm-sick. (It all was going swimmingly until we ran out of cereal and yours truly hasn't been to Costco in a looooong time.) Yesterday I stayed mostly horizontal and I think it really did help my illness (that and the antibiotics that are pumping through me).

It also gave me pause. Time to think. And here's the Learning Something portion of the blog post.

Yesterday Adam and the kids cleaned the kitchen (lovely, lovely man) and then went to his dad's birthday party. I sat in my red recliner and read and cut recipes out of magazines (that I'll probably never actually prepare) and watched TV. Incidentally when you have limited basic cable, there's really nothing on ever that's very interesting and especially on Saturday afternoon.

Anyway, I'd wander into the kitchen occasionally (for one of the 7 pills that I'm taking every day) and it would still be clean!


How can a kitchen stay clean all day?

Then it occurred to me that my children were gone and that's why. Then I slipped into that sending them to school fantasy, This is how it would be if they went to school...all day...every day...a perpetually clean kitchen.

Then a hollowness filled me that was more hollow than the empty house.

I really missed my kids. Since I've been sick, I've been sort of a vacant presence in the house. They walk by me occasionally and look in horror at my infected eye and tell me they're sorry I'm sick but I miss them. I miss being with them for all the ins and outs of every day. When I consider how grown they've become (without my permission I must add) in such a short space of time, I can't imagine not spending those precious days, homeschooling them. Them getting on my nerves. Them messing up the kitchen. All the arguing and frustration and exhaustive work of it all. It's my choice. And I love it. Because when they learn something, it's exciting. When they make me laugh, it's better than chocolate. And when I get to spend every day with three of my favorite people in the world, it's a good life.

And I'm glad I remembered that. Even though it took an eerily clean kitchen to remind me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

His and Hers

Adam and I have the same birthday.

So do our dads.

I know, it's weird.


The first time I came to Seattle, Adam and I had been friends for a long time but we were newly dating. His parents were friendly and hospitable and played tour guide for us. His dad, Linn, kissed me good-bye when I left.

Which was really sort of startling.

Adam hadn't kissed me yet.

But it was really Linn. As I learned as time passed, that is the sort of person Linn is. He takes people into his realm of kindheartedness and makes you feel welcome.

It's been a blessing in my life to live near Linn. In the woeful proximity of my own dad, he is the one to turn to for advice on practical matters and he is the one that selflessly gives aid.

But (I know, I know) it's not all about me. Grandfather is the role Linn was destined to play. He is just really, really good at it. And children know it. Even unrelated children in his neighborhood.

He's the kind of grandpa that let toddlers crawl over him on the floor, devises fun, stocks snacks, listens to long and endless tales, and taught Braeden to play chess. None of them, as old as they get, will ever doubt their grandpa loved them.

And what a gift that is.

Now, in the face of serious illness, my admiration for Linn has only deepened. He has met his challenges with grace and composure. He always has a smile to give and an ear to lend to a chatty grandchild.

And we feel blessed.


When I was quite young, back when he had cattle to run, I'd help my dad (which I did before my brothers came along and I had to go inside and do girl things with my mom), he'd tell me, "Thanks for the good help," when we were done. Five words that would make me float into the house on a cloud of happiness.

I was good help to my dad.

(I probably wasn't but what difference does that make?)

Once we were riding and my dad instructed me to ride one way on my poky old horse, South Dakota Pete, and gather the cows towards him and he was headed the other direction on a much younger and faster horse. South Dakota Pete stepped in one of the large holes that peppered the field, dug by some animals. This spooked the horse and he took off at a dead run across the field (I didn't think he had it in him). I was hanging on for dear life...too afraid to even cry out for help. Suddenly, coming up behind me on my right side I saw my dad riding his big black horse, Liberty. He quickly overtook my poor steed and reached down and grabbed the reins. South Dakota Pete came to a slower trot then eventually a walk.

All of the hero worship I'd hitherto had for my tall handsome dad intensified on that day. He had saved me. I firmly believed he always would.

Years later, one heartbroken morning, I wouldn't get out of bed. It was about a boy. My mom sent my dad upstairs to talk to me and he did. And I got up. And felt better.

That's what it was like growing up with my dad.

He quietly went about saving the day and teaching me lessons by his example.

When I was going to seminary (about the only time I was up that early), I'd always find my dad reading in the living room. Reading the scriptures.

My dad is a bit and spur maker and felt the relentless press of starting his own business while raising six children with big appetites and crooked teeth that needed braces. He'd work from before breakfast until after dinner. Except for on Sunday.

And usually, when he was walking to or from his shop (that was happily steps away from our house giving us Access to our dad), he'd be whistling. I never once had the feeling he resented all that hard work.

Or that he didn't welcome me when I went into his shop to have him fix something/take out a sliver/tell me I was OK even though I didn't feel like I was. (He would always tell me that I should get some shoes on but then he'd take out the slivers.)

My dad.

Unfortunately, I can't slip (barefoot) into my dad's shop now whenever I have a crisis.

I can call him though. And I do. I tell him my troubles. I ask for his advice. I ask him What is Right.

And he tells me. And I feel better.

This picture has nothing to do with anything but I like it. It's a picture of my a rodeo clown..well before I was born.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kindred Spirits

“Kindred Spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
Lucy Maude Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I am a person who needs kindred spirits around me. I always have. It is a happy moment when I recognize a kindred spirit. And adopt them for my own.

Janet is one.

We are made of the same stuff. We have a lot of (mostly neurotic in nature) things in common.

For example, we react similarly when our children are around fireworks.

And it’s a good thing we do react this way. Adam was in London when this shot was taken and Eric was taking unflattering pictures of us so someone needed to be exhorting the children.

I wish I were more like Janet though. There are ways I think I’ll never compare. She is more gracious, stylish and proficient than I could ever hope to be.

And you should see her house.

Sheesh. My house stays up at night wishing it could be as clean as Janet’s.

Still, despite my failings, Janet is my unwavering confidant. My kindred spirit.

Happy birthday my friend.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This Isn't Me

I wanted to say, "This isn't me"...

...when I pulled leftover containers of unidentified origin out of the fridge for lunch and pulled into the Taco Bell drive-thru for dinner. I used to plan healthy meals. I used to cook them. I know I did. Really.

...when I climbed gingerly in and out of my van all day. Usually I'm not so infirm. Usually I walk a few miles a day with Stephanie. Really.

...when the ophthalmologist curiously surveyed my wrapped and bandaged toe. No this bandage isn't an over-reacting cry for attention. Yes, this is the result of my clumsiness but I'm usually not so clumsy. Really.

...when the store clerk looked at me contemptuously like I had leprosy and hurriedly and pointedly rubbed her hands with antibacterial gel after my purchase. I don't have a contagious disease. It's dacryostenosis if you must know. I didn't know what that was either but I'm not dirty or transmittable. Really.

...when there are dominoes on my living room floor, legos on my family room floor, a natural disaster occurred in my school room and I don't care. I'm just picking my way (carefully) through the mess. My house does not usually look this bad. Usually I make the responsible lego and domino and natural disaster parties pick up after themselves. Really.

...when I was writhing and crying out in pain in the ophthalmologist's chair as he probed my tear duct with a needle to clear the obstruction ( you love learning new words or is that just me?). Normally I don't like to make a scene or show emotion in front of perfect strangers. Really.

I've not been myself today. Really.

But I remember myself. I'll be back to walking and working hard and not making a spectacle of myself in public soon.


Some People Will Do Anything for a Little Attention

In one of my less than graceful moments, I tripped and fell at Enrichment last night. It was at Nancy’s house. Nancy felt awful and responsible (although I don’t think my inelegance can be blamed on anyone except me).

I learned something about Nancy though. She has worked as an EMT.

Here’s a tip. If you want to fall and bang yourself up, do it at an EMT’s house. They’ll fix you up right.

And hey, I’m already on antibiotics!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On Suffering

Yesterday Mark asked me which super power I would choose if I could have any super power. I thought carefully. I didn't want to waste my super power.

I finally decided that I would want my super power to be that I could go anywhere instantly. (My choice may have been colored by the fact that I was sitting in traffic on the Bothell Everett Highway at the time.)

Then traffic started moving and I tried to see through my murky eye and I decided that my super power of choice would be health.

Healthy all the time. Untouched by any sickness or ailment.

Because I'm still struggling with this eye.

I've been to the Dr. and it is no longer an eye infection (I think they're just randomly guessing at this point) but a stye and sinus infection. They've given me antibiotics but this morning I needed the jaws of life to get my poor eye open.

It is painful and ugly and just really annoying.

Yesterday Braeden got braces on (again). This time on every tooth. He was dreading it and predictably he's in pain and lisping and having a hard time eating.

I feel bad for him. Not bad enough that I want to trade him places and get braces again but bad enough that I spent a small fortune on applesauce, pudding, go-gurt, pre-made clam chowder from Safeway and ice cream.

I tried to reassure him on the way to The Old Spaghetti Factory last night that soon enough he wouldn't even notice his braces.

A new reality.

Adam and I know a young mother who is struggling with cancer. I was describing her situation to Adam and expressing my worry for her. I said, "Her life is just on hold while she has these treatments."

Adam said no, that is her life now.

But why?

Why suffering?

Why can't we all be healthy and strong...all the time. Why swollen eyes and cancer and stubbed toes?

I know a lot of answers but I'm not sure they're all satisfactory. Suffering makes us more empathetic, it makes us kinder, it makes us appreciate more, it makes us stronger.

Sometimes though maybe it just comes down to my favorite line from Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat: Don't give up Joseph. Fight 'til you drop. We've read the book and you come out on top.

In the end, all will be well.

And I guess that's just going to have to be good enough.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it. Garrison Keillor

I have an eye infection.

An oozing, red, swollen eye infection. My face is a little swollen too. Adam and Braeden both keep thinking I'm mad. This is not my mad expression. This is my swollen expression.

We went to the Amazon company picnic today. I looked dreary. I wore my glasses instead of contacts and didn't have the benefit of my benefit make-up. And then I had this eye.

I wasn't all that excited about meeting Adam's co-workers.

He tried to make me feel better. He said, "You don't look that different."

Not helping, Adam. Not helping.

Friday, August 14, 2009

So Now That I've Had My Cathartic Post...

I can blog about what I really want to blog about.

My brother Tabor!

It's his birthday.

I love pausing on birthdays to consider my family members. Writing about them makes me think about them and love and appreciate them all the more.

So pardon me while I regale you with tales of Tabor.

When I was seven I had a particular dilemma. It seems like it was family home evening related. I needed to make a chart (possibly commissioned by my mom) and I wanted to use initials.

My dad (Mark) had the same initial as Marianne so that wouldn't work.

If I switched to Mama and Daddy there was still the M problem with Marianne.

Such troubles for a seven year old.

I told my dad that I was glad there were no other "T"s in the family. He got a wry grin and told me that they were going to name the new baby my mom was expecting a "T" name. I was convinced it was just to spite me when Tabor showed up and was...Tabor.

I really think that's about all of the displeasure he's ever caused me though.

There are three girls in our family then three boys. When we babysat the boys, Marianne, delegating master that she is, declared she would be in charge of Enoch (who really was a pain most of the time...he could--and would--smack us with the business end of his stick horse). Since Marianne was oldest she could handle him. Olivia loved babies and so she got to be in charge of Ammon. I was the sort of lazy one in the middle without very high expectations so I got Tabor.

Because he was easy.

I loved being in charge of Tabor. We would eat something unimaginative like bread for dinner and he'd pleasantly do what I said while Olivia struggled with baby food and diapers and Marianne struggled with...Enoch.

For all his status as the easy keeper, Tabor has not had an easy life. Before he was even born my mom was on bed rest when she was pregnant with him. He was hospitalized with high fever induced seizures as a baby. He's had more ear infections than I can count and has broken more bones than I can count. He was banged up and broken playing football in high school but horses have probably inflicted the most pain.

He's been dragged by horses, bent, busted and broken. He's glued himself back together, had casts and braces and has a metal plate in his face from a nasty run in with a mule.

In a word. He's tough. If I'd been through what he's been through, I'd most likely be dead.

When he was eight years old after numerous ear infections and illnesses, Tabor had his tonsils out and tubes put in his ears. He has always been skinny skinny skinny but after that, he lost 15 pounds. He wouldn't eat because his throat hurt.

I think my mom figured he'd eat eventually.

I figured he was going to starve to death.

I also figured (since I was 15) that I knew more than my mom and it was up to me to save Tabor.

I stayed home from church with him. I made him milkshakes and pudding and convinced him to eat.

He's been saving me ever since.

When Tabor was a teenager and I was a young mother, I'd go on walks with him when I was home in Nevada. He'd listen to my tales of woe, my life in the trenches. He'd advise me and bolster me and I'm not sure how (because what did he know about being a mother?) but always he made me feel better. When he was a missionary he got permission to call me in Connecticut on Christmas. We were both marooned from our family over the holidays but I think he spent the bulk of the conversation encouraging me.

Now when I talk to Tabor about the things that are ailing me with my children and their education he gives me perspective and wisdom. He listens to me, tells me truths then makes me laugh.

He's always always made me laugh.

Here's my favorite picture of Tabor and Enoch (who hasn't hit any of us with a stick horse in years). I shamelessly stole it from my sister-in-law Melanee's blog...I hope that's OK.

Growing up I used to sit next to Tabor at the dinner table...he made me laugh every night.

Tabor giving my kids a ride. I'm telling you, Uncle Of The Year.

Tabor with the lucky ladies in his life. Katie his wife and Baby Olivia

Happy Birthday Tabor! Let me know when the next News 2 dance is.

Because I am there.

I love you.

There's a Reason It's Called Worrywart

Because warts aren't pretty. And neither is worrying.

Which is what I've been doing a lot of lately.

And it's not been pretty.

I'm worried about Adam. I'm worried about my children. I'm worried about my in-laws. I'm worried about my parents. I'm worried about my siblings. And their spouses. I'm worried about the women in my ward. I'm worried about being misunderstood.

I'm worried about all of this worry.

I'm worried that all this worry is a worry.

I can almost see the worry. It's a great big cloud. A net cast over everyone I love.

And it's too much. I don't have the capacity to take care of everyone or help everyone or--it turns out-- worry about everyone.

I just don't have it in me.

So what to do about this big cloud? This ominous Thing weighing heavily?

It occurred to me that there's only one thing I can do. Because there's only One who really can handle all of it. Not me.

I need to pray. I need to cast my burden like I've never cast my burden.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wanted: Dead or Alive

When Mark was this age:

He was known to find a dishtowel in the kitchen, cover his (bald) head with it and crawl around as fast as he could. Often he would crawl headlong into our oak bookcase.

And I used to wonder if it would have an effect on his future cognitive abilities.

When Mark was this age:

He liked to close his eyes and spin around until he collided with something. If you look closely you can see his discolored tooth from when he was spinning blindly and crashed into his bed and injured his tooth.

I wondered if this would have an effect on his future cognitive abilities.

I think I have my answer.

And I think I'll blame all of his head clunking activities.

Because I don't want to blame bad parenting.

The other day, Mark was outside running. In Cinderella fashion, he lost a shoe. In Cinderella fashion he didn't turn around to pick it up.

He left it on the lawn.

(I know, I don't get it either but remember all the head clunking.)

Days later, he went to look for the shoe.

And it wasn't there.

Have you seen it? It looks like this:

ratty and worn but Still. It fits and everything Mark has is ratty and worn so it fits in around here.

I would offer a reward but I can't afford to.

I think I need to buy new shoes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Humiliation

This morning after swim team practice, Braeden had a babysitting job. He was worried about being late for it. I told him we wouldn't be late.

(If you ever stop talking, we won't be late...)

Braeden and Emma skedaddled away from the pool and I was still talking to a recruiter from the Sting Ray swim team. I walked out and found Emma waiting for me.

Where was Braeden?

Was he still in the boys' dressing room from which a cacophony of sounds was spilling forth?

In his impatience had he already gone to the van?

I did what any mother would do. I called into the boys' dressing room, "Braeden?!"

No answer.

I called a little louder to make sure I was being heard.

I called a third time.

Then Braeden came scuttling out. "Stop calling for me," he hissed through clenched teeth.

I said, "Why didn't you answer?"

He said, "Because you were embarrassing me."

So then I said, just so we were clear, "I was calling your name and that was so embarrassing that you didn't want to answer and let your friends know that it was me, the mortifying mother calling you the mortified son? (like they didn't know anyway) If you'd have just said something I would have stopped calling for you. I didn't know where you were."

He laughed a little and realized he was being a bit silly.

As for me, I realized how eternally grateful I am that I am not 12.

And never will be again.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Today was a day I started out with a knot in my stomach.

Today was a day that I feel like I'd just like to sit and stare at a wall for awhile until I relax.

Today is a day that I walked and talked with Janet during swim team practice because I needed both...the walk and Janet.

Today was busy.

Today is a day that Adam's picking up the pizza and we'll eat on paper plates.

Today is a day that I had two phone conversations with two sisters who have my back.

Today is a day that I got two emails from two sisters-in-law who sent me their love and support.

And that makes today, my friends, a pretty good place to be.

The Brute Squad: An Investment In My Future

There's a rally cry around here that always gets a response. I call my Brute Squad and they come running.

I'd like to say that my children always come running every time I ever call them but a lot of you who read this blog know better so I can't lie.

For some reason when I need The Brute Squad, they come gladly. I think they enjoy a challenge.

When you marry a big strong husband and your genetic gene pool is no slouch either, you get some strong kids.

Today's torture (I mean work but as the summer goes along it really is feeling a bit like torture) was cleaning the boys' room (cue dramatic and ominous music). The only place that rivals their room for mess is Emma's room (cue dramatic and ominous music).

Since I have a whole lot of Other Things to do that are making me lose sleep (and frankly I need my sleep, beauty and otherwise), I wanted to get as much done as possible on the boys' room. We unearthed all sort of "treasures" and vacuumed dusty corners and sorted endless legos and bionicles and you don't even want to know.

Braeden decided that he wanted to rearrange the beds. I don't like our boys' beds for many many reasons. Reason number one is that they are heavy behemoth things, impossible to move. Last year when I called the Brute Squad, we couldn't budge the beds but had to wait until Adam got home before we could vacuum behind them and retrieve stray socks.

This year I called the Brute Squad. They came. We conquered. I feel repentant for complaining about how much food they can put away. Those kids are handy to have around.

The beds were parallel and we wanted to move one of them 90 degrees to be perpendicular to the other bed. We had barely enough room for them to work that way but not enough room for the turn.

There's a reason I failed my driver's license test the first time I took it and it's called parallel parking.

I'm thinking Mark won't have a problem.

Mr. Spatial Awareness talked us through which direction we had to move everything. We ended up needing to move another big piece of furniture.

It looks like this, it's as tall as me and full of toys.

I didn't want to unload the toys so I stood on one end, put Emma on the other end and told her to put her shoulder into it. Braeden was in the middle, guiding us and we moved it without unloading a single toy.

Lovely lovely strong children!

I'll keep buying gallon after gallon of milk at Costco. Fuel for furniture movers.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Calgon, Take Me Away

Do you remember those Calgon commercials where everything was falling apart and the woman would say, "Calgon, take me away" and land in a bubble bath, relaxing.

It doesn't work in real life.

I have Calgon moments 10-20 times a day.

This morning, I was doing some math with Braeden in our completely disheveled school room that I'm in the process of cleaning--out with the old school books and materials, in with the new, dusting the tops of the tall bookcases, stuff like's scary.

It's nowhere near a good learning environment.

Emma came in meanwhile wondering if I'd seen her notebook, you know, the yellow one with...and then she stalled, gesturing her hands, trying to think of how to explain it to me.

Emma has several thousand notebooks in her possession so I had no idea what she was talking about.

Then Mark came in the room saying simultaneously that he was hungry and he wanted to tell me about a movie he'd watched last night and he wanted to practice his talk for primary.

Braeden kept telling me that his math wasn't making any sense.

I tried to keep my voice calm.

It was not hard math. He's pretty good at math. My patience was stretched nearly to its capacity. Just when I felt like I was going to lose it, the phone rang.

Emma answered it.

Then handed it to me.

It was our sweet Relief Society president. She's on her way to Utah and the other counselor is also gone so she wanted to tell me about a sister in need. She's been trying to get ahold of her and suggested I try her visiting teachers for help in reaching this sister in need.

I called the visiting teacher. I left a message, asking her to call me back. I started to leave my phone number and then midstream, I. Could. Not. Remember. My. Phone. Number. My friend Stephanie's number kept coming to mind but mine was lost in space.

I fumbled on the phone, admitting I couldn't remember my number. She has a stake directory, she'll figure it out.

What she probably can't figure out is how the rest of the Relief Society presidency can possibly feel comfortable going out of town at the same time and leaving me in charge.

The one who doesn't know her phone number.

I took a deep breath and went back to the school room. I pulled Braeden and Mark, who were wrestling, apart and sat Braeden down. I said, "OK. This is hard so you have to pay attention."

Braeden said OK and sat down obediently.

Then I realized I'd been doing the math wrong. I'd missed a number. I fixed it and Braeden said, "Oh! Now I get it."

So it's one of those days. But Calgon won't come and take me away.

I've already tried.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Don't Know Mark, You Tell Me

Sometimes when Mark complains it is bitter and caustic. Like early in the morning at the pool when he's dragged along to swim team practice and would rather be asleep in bed.

Sometimes when Mark complains he's downright amiable.

Today I gave him a project. He didn't like it. Olivia gave me one of those snazzy new Gospel Art Kits that's bound up like a notebook and in the interest of my ongoing quest for more shelf space, I was having Mark remove the old pictures out of page protectors in bulky binders.

He complained pleasantly as he did it. He'd tell me that his hands "were getting tired" then he'd get distracted and ask me about one of the pictures. Then he'd sing and hum a little then tell me, "This is going to last forever."

I mostly ignored his complaints, busy with my own project and relishing the time to answer his questions about pictures of Jesus and hear his explanation of who the Army of Helaman was.

Then he said, "Why do I have to do this Mom?"

I absently said, "Because I asked you to."

He said, "Is this good parenting?"

I looked up at his impish smile. "What do you think?" I asked.

He said, "I would say, no, this is not good parenting."

I shrugged and so did he and he kept taking the pictures out of their protectors.

I would that everyone could be so agreeable in their grievances....especially Mark, early in the morning, at the pool.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fourteen Years Ago Today

and yes I said yes I will Yes --James Joyce

no comments on how young and fresh faced we no longer are

Monday, August 3, 2009

Grandpa's Boy

March 2007

Mark has always adored both of them. He got his red hair from one grandpa and his name from the other one.

From both grandpa's he got the inclination to build.

I'm convinced either grandpa could build or fix just about anything.

Mark loves Legos. He loves tinker toys and Bionicles and puzzles and blocks and complicated marble runs.

And he loves to build things from IKEA.

Today I was constructing a little IKEA project and Mark found me on the floor in my room...pieces of wood and hardware scattered.

I think he started salivating.

He sat down and grabbed the instructions and pored over them like they were an engrossing novel...not that Mark reads engrossing novels. He reads instructions.

(At a ridiculous age Braeden wondered how checks and balances in the government an even younger age Mark was fascinated by the DVD that came with the Dremel tool with pinewood derby tips and tricks.)

Soon Mark was telling me the next instruction and finding the appropriate hardware and insisting that he do the hammering and screwing in of screws.

I sat back and marveled at the differences of my three children. And the similarities of my Mark to his grandpas.

I have to think he got his affinity for wielding an IKEA allen wrench from his mother though.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 25

I think (think) I made dinner on July 8. I'm pretty sure I did although I don't remember what I made.

Then I made dinner today.

25 days later.

Will I start a pattern here? Making dinner every 25 days? Because if that's the case, I'd better get thinking about what I want to make on August 27.

So what do you make after a 25 day hiatus of dinner making?

Well, Adam actually made it. But I'm counting it. He grilled shrimp and steak. I bought steak because we had some at my parents' house that was goo-ood and I was in the mood for more.

Then I plucked a huge and ripe zucchini from my garden. After parading it around my kitchen awhile showing off to my children and Adam that I had grown such a fine specimen, I sliced it up and fried it like my mom used to.

I added a frappe like my mom used to make (I think I sense a pattern). She used to blend vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet and 7-up together and call it frappe. My dad would tell her that you shouldn't mix citrus and dairy and I must say to my dad, "Oh yes, you must."

It was a grand it ought to have been after 25 days.

I decided since we hadn't had quite enough calories for one meal, to make a bread pudding with leftover blueberry muffins that I'd made for yesterday's swim meet.

Lovely lovely summer.


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