Thursday, December 31, 2009


Modified from a list I found on's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge, here's my year in review:

Best Trip:  Disneyland

Best Restaurant Moment:  dinner celebrating my mom’s birthday at the Star in Elko, NV.  My cheeks hurt from laughing.

Best Article:  article about helping children deal with grief…from the BYU alumni magazine.  It helped.

Best Night Out:  Wicked with my family, sisters, their families, a lot of friends.

Best Book:  I read way too many to remember.  I did really like Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.  Maybe because I read it on a lounge chair on the sunny shore of Lake Chelan.  Maybe a text book on quantum physics would have been equally delightful in that setting.

Lesson Learned:  Don’t cut Mark’s hair too short.  He hated it and it made me sad until it grew.

Best Conference:  Women’s Conference at BYU…it’s equal parts great to be with my sisters and mom and amazing to be taught for two days.  One thing that stuck with me from a talk by Carole Stephens:  We can’t have faith in our request but faith in the Lord.

Challenge:  Losing Adam’s dad.  We’re not over it yet.  None of us.

The best place: home

Best new food:  quinoa…not very earth shattering but I'd never tried it before and it’s good stuff.

Best car ride:  always the trip between here and Nevada.  I love what’s on both sides.  I love sitting next to Adam.  I love propping my bare feet on the windshield and having Adam tell me that if we crashed, my legs would break.  I tell him not to crash.

Biggest laugh of the year:  on the drive back from Canada on the 4th of July, we listened to Real Men of Genius commercials (Adam’s brother said we’re the only people in the world that have commercials on our ipod).  We laughed until we couldn’t breathe.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why I Love It

One place I really like around here is Third Place Books.  I haven't been there many times, (I'm really not sure I could find it sans Adam.  Are you shocked?) but it's a happy spot.

About a month ago we took Mark there for a Lego Star Wars party.  (Again, are you shocked?)  That boy and Lego Star Wars...

He posed with some of the characters on the scene:

Later he tentatively approached some storm troopers for a chat:

Then he got very brave and approached Darth Vader (in a Santa hat, which must have softened his image).

It was a good time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Wii Bit Irritating

There were the days when our children were younger and their games weren't that enjoyable.  Mind numbing would describe them better.  Candyland, anyone?  Chutes and Ladders?  Hi-Ho Cherrio?

There's been a shift.  Now instead of boring, they're too hard.

Although entirely too late for our kids, we finally bought a Wii.  They requested games for Christmas:  Mario Kart and Mario Party 8.  On Christmas day, they were so busy with Lego building, the games weren't even opened.  After they were in bed, Adam and I decided to see what Mario Party 8 was all about. 

It's about this-doesn't-make-any-sense-and-I-don't-get-it.

We felt aged.

The colors were bright and flashy, the music was irritating.  Was I in a casino?  Instructions flashed on the screen that we didn't exactly get.  We'd maneuver around only to find we'd made a wrong turn somehow.

Forget it.  We watched a DVD instead which is much less dangerous.

The next morning we told Braeden about it and he gave us a sort of condescending look.  I think he may have actually felt sorry for his poor over-the-hill parents.

Last night the Jorgensen kids were over.  After a brief tutorial where David taught Braeden some basics about his new guitar and tuned it for him, they sat down to play Mario Kart. 

Now I get how to play Mario Kart.  You drive.  And I also know how to drive.  Mostly.

But Mario Kart is out of my skill set.  I always finish 12th.  Which is dead last.  I volley back and forth, crashing into either side.  It takes all my focus and concentration to come in dead last and I usually end up carsick.

These four boys played with ease.  They sat around casually, Wii remotes loosely in hand.  They zipped around the course, talked a little video game trash to each other, told some Chuck Norris jokes.

When the boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. 
 When Chuck Norris jumps into a lake, he doesn't get wet, the lake gets Chuck Norrised.

Through all of it, they placed in the top four places.

Even when Emma and Freja joined they could hold their own.

Is it the birthright of children born into homes where the internet was as common as refrigeration and indoor plumbing to just naturally get how to play video games?

I wonder.

One of the reasons I even wanted to get a Wii was for the Wii fit.  It sounded great.  I requested one from Adam for Christmas.  Adam and I also tried it out on a recent evening.  I went through the steps of setting it up; endured being weighed.  Then it had me do a test for my balance.  I had to shift my weight from side to side as instructed.  I thought my balance was fine.  Apparently not.  The cheeky little machine asked me if I find myself tripping much when I walk.

I tried to think of a snappy comeback besides, "Oh yeah, well at least I CAN walk."

But I couldn't come up with anything.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Golden Age

We're in the Golden Age.  I wasn't up until 1:00 a.m. with a fussy baby like my brother Tabor was on Christmas night and none of my little chicks have flown the nest yet.  Life is good.

And Christmas during the Golden Age?  Even better.

We had my favorite Christmas Eve in a long time.  We stayed home.  The house looked it's most festive and we shared the evening with family and friends.  I didn't cry because I wished I were in Nevada.

And that my friends, may be a Christmas miracle.

The kids acted out a Nativity scene:

a shepherd, Mary and Joseph...not my children but you've got to admit they're cute

Also on Christmas Eve, Mark lost his other front tooth.  We all wondered if Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy would come on the same night. To her great credit, for once in the history of our family, the Tooth Fairy came on the first night and didn't need a repeat or two to remember.  Must have been magic in the Christmas air.

Everyone had a Timex watch in their stocking.  (We know a guy that works at  One of his clients is Timex.)

It was a Christmas of themes all around.  2009...the year of the Legos.

For the first time Emma even got a few Lego sets this year.  She's enchanted.  On Christmas she kept exclaiming, "I can see why the boys like these so much!"

Her creations:

It was all a wonderful holiday with many highlights.  One of my favorites though was the stack of drawings Emma gave to Mark as a gift.  Mark and Emma have been known to snipe at each other and proclaim their mutual dislike but Emma spent hours drawing clever Star Wars pictures for her little brother.

Joy to the World!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Is the Hymn Mocking Me?

Today in church we sang the hymn Gently Raise the Sacred Strain.  It's a fine hymn and one I've always liked just fine.

When we got to the second verse, "Holy day, devoid of strife..."

I wondered if W.W. Phelps, who wrote the song, ever fought with his daughter about what dress to wear, prodded children into the shower...then out of the shower...then into their church clothes.  I wondered if scriptures, belts and shoes got lost and were scrambled for on Sunday morning.

I wondered if he realized one Sunday morning in late December that his SEVEN YEAR OLD doesn't know how to tie his shoes(!) because it's always just been easier to tie them.

Maybe someday we'll have a holy day, devoid of strife.

Not today, but maybe someday.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Better Part

I know I should be done blogging already and get to the business of Christmas downstairs for instance is not ready to receive our honored party guests tonight and I still have some food to whip up but my heart is full and I have to sit down for a few minutes and share.

I just talked to both of my sisters.  They are terrific women.  I wish I could be more like them.  There are few people I admire more.

I hear inklings about their good works but I know they are largely unsung heroes.

Olivia is a person that collects "the least of these."  They are drawn to her like she's honey and they're bees.  Marianne is Olivia's support financially pitching in on anonymous gifts and taking care of Olivia's children in a pinch and helping whenever she can.  (Although Marianne's busy enough in her own right taking in a motherless boy in addition to her own five.)

There's a family that Olivia adopted...or they adopted her.  She's given them furniture, clothes, countless rides to town and who knows what all.  They are Mexican immigrants.  They don't speak English, don't own a vehicle (although they can't drive anyway).  They arrived in Starr Valley with little more than their clothes.

Here's a picture stolen from her blog of Olivia taking their kids to get a Christmas tree:

It is in my sweet sister's nature to just do things like that.

She told me a few days ago that this family was moving.  They were supposed to be gone by today but Olivia heard that they hadn't left yet.

She immediately wondered if they needed any help.  That's how she is.  She was ready to offer them a place to stay if that was needed until they could get on their way.

She tried to call them but didn't reach them.

She couldn't get them out of her head.  My sister who lives her life by promptings of the Spirit, abandoned her own house, her own middle-of-Christmas preparations that nearly every woman in America is engaged in right now and drove to their house.

She found that they had a ride to their destination (Texas) and that a man was coming from Los Angeles to pick them up.  While she was there, the dad answered a  phone call.  It was the man from Los Angeles.  He said that they'd have to meet him in Las Vegas which is 400 miles away.  The dad's face fell when he heard this news.  This little destitute family had no way to make it to Las Vegas and so no way to make it to their family and opportunities in Texas.

Olivia rallied my mom and Marianne who were ready and willing to pitch in to buy them bus tickets to Las Vegas.  Then Olivia found out the family was going to pay their ride an exorbitant sum for the trip.  She found them bus tickets all the way to Texas.

Then she realized the bus left in an hour.

She helped them pack up their meager possessions and hustled them to Elko...a 45 minute the bus.

Marianne happily agreed to keep Olivia's kids while she was gone.

Olivia got them loaded on the bus and charmed the cranky man who said their bag was overweight to let it slide.  She wished the Cranky Man Merry Christmas and said good-bye to her friends.  They were wearing nice coats she'd provided and taking gifts other kind people had given them.

Olivia called me on her drive home.

She told me she still had a lot of work to do and wasn't ready for Christmas yet.  Marianne had already told me the story of how Olivia was spending her day.

I have to think that Olivia, who truly chose the better part, is a lot more ready for Christmas than the rest of us.


We almost had a white Christmas.

At the Vancouver Aquarium they had a "snow machine" that was actually bubbles...we got to savor a little snow and get cleaned up in one shot...those efficient Canadians!

Mark can almost officially want his two front teeth for Christmas (the one remaining is loosey goosey).'s almost the big day!

As a person whose love language is giving and receiving gifts, there's nothing better than Christmas.

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day.  Don't clean it up too quickly.
-Andy Rooney

Enjoy the mess and... 

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why I Love It

Remember last week when I said we might go to the zoo?

We went to the hospital instead and got a CT scan for Braeden which is almost as much fun.

But not quite.

Lest you worry, it looks like all is well (and I already logged enough worry time in for both of us).

Today we're heading north.  Adam took the day off work and with passports in hand we're going to Vancouver, B.C.  We're going to the Vancouver Aquarium (which always makes me happy).  We'll stop off somewhere to buy Season 6 of Corner Gas.  (It's a Canadian TV show that we love.  We own seasons 1-5 but you have to get them in Canada, eh?)

We'll also get Adam's brother Scott some ketchup potato chips which we've only ever seen in Canada.  They're as nasty as they sound.  He likes them and we get them for him every time we go to Canada.  Once I asked Adam, "Do you think he really likes them or is he just nice about it when we keep bringing him some?"  (Kind of like I believed for years Milky Way was Adam's favorite candy bar and it wasn't.)

Adam said, "He really likes them."

Like it or not.  We'll get him chips.

Because while we don't like the chips, we do like Scott.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Things To Be Happy About

1- Do you hear that?  Me house is silent except for the humming of the dryer and ticking of the clock.  My kids are with their grandma and cousins making gingerbread houses.  The occasional silent house is heaven on earth. (I did spend a good portion of this alone time running errands and on the phone...both things I could do with my kids in the background.  But still, silence.)

2- I have my gifts to deliver to friends and neighbors ready to go.

3- My house is tolerably clean.  ("No going to Grandma's until your rooms are clean.")

4- I got this great picture from my own Grandma Dahl. 

 (Sorry about the picture of a picture...when I grow up I want to buy a scanner.)

I love her habit of sending copies of old family pictures with her Christmas cards.  This is the West Jordan Bishopric sometime between 1890 -1910.  I'm related to all three of them.  The two with beards are my dad's great-grandfathers.  The one on the right holds his hands the same way my dad does.

And I love that.

5- It's been sunny off and on today.

6- Speaking of's a longer day than yesterday and it will just keep getting better.

7- I love this time of year...every bit of it.  Even my To Do list that's two columns long today.  (Braeden said, "Just don't do it Mom...take a vacation.  Oh Braeden, Braeden, Braeden.  Moms + Christmas do not equal vacation.)

Will someone tell this child there are jeans in his drawers that don't have holes?

I hope things are happy at your house too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

No Respect

on the beach somewhere between here and San Francisco October 2005

A while ago I wrote down a conversation I had with Mark because it made me laugh.  Today I found the paper.

Mark:  Mom, who's the best person in the family? (fully expecting the answer to be him)

Me: Dad

Mark:  No, honestly, Mom.

The Latest

When Adam and I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple, it was in a tiny basement apartment.  Our furnishings included hand me down chairs from my grandma and a table and four wobbly chairs discarded by a middle school.  When Adam brought home a Christmas bear for me and proudly promised a bear every year for Christmas it seemed like a good idea.

Now we have a lot more stuff.  And a lot of bears.  The first bear had plenty of elbow room in our sparse apartment.

Now we have a furry pile of fluff that grows every year.

What have we done?

Adam said, "We'll stop getting bears when Mark leaves home."

When Mark's 18 we'll have 25 bears.

Twenty five.

Adam said we're going to be the crazy people with the bears.


But how we love the Christmas bears!  They transport us to the year they were added to our family.  They are so cute and cuddly.  They are the first box we open when we pull out the Christmas boxes.

And we have a new arrival:  Lad.

He's adorable and soft and I just want to hug him when I see him.  Also he's different from the other bears:

 this is courtesy of Emma

He has talent.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No More Forever

Last night Adam and I made a heartbreaking realization:

Next year, if we send Braeden to a partial day of public school like we're planning to do, no more this:

For the past few years we've gone to Lake Chelan AFTER school started.  Everything's half price but more importantly, the lake is empty and the weather is sublime.

This is sad, this no more going to Lake Chelan at the perfect time, but what really makes me gloomy...and caused me to lose sleep last night...was that this is symbolic.  The beginning of the end.

Once Braeden goes to school for part of the day he'll soon enough be going to school for all of the day.  Then he'll be going to college...on a mission...out into the world.  His sister and brother will be right on his heels.

The delicious freedom of home schooling on our own schedule will be replaced with the delicious freedom of me not having to home school them.

But will it be as delicious?

Change is distressing.  Especially when you've been happy. 

Maybe if I'd sent Braeden off to school when he was five this would be easier.  I know our family was more malleable then.  We didn't have the established habits...heading off to Lake Chelan or Vancouver, B.C. at our whim.

I wouldn't trade it though.  All of those lowly humdrum days of teaching my children day in and day out.  Eating lunch with them.  Hearing their laughter and endless stories.  Crowding on the couch to read.  Letting them go will be harder than it would have otherwise.

But I wouldn't trade it.


Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm Starting My Own List

This morning I was looking at a science assignment Emma turned in yesterday.  There was a question about Pangaea.  She wrote, "I don't believe in Pangaea."

I'm not sure why Pangaea is such an odious concept to Emma but I am going to make a list of things I don't believe in.  Then I'm going to follow my daughter's example.  I don't have to be held responsible for things I don't believe in right?

Here's what I now don't believe in:

preparing meals
paying bills
preparing talks for sacrament meeting the Sunday before Christmas
answering questions
answering the phone
stopping at red lights
paying my homeowners' association dues
correcting assignments
telling my children to pick up their shoes/coats/tiny Lego pieces/books/underwear off the bathroom floor
grocery shopping

I can no longer be held responsible for any of the above.  If Emma doesn't have to answer a question about Pangaea based on her strongly held beliefs (?), then I don't have to do my list either.

A flaw in my logic is that I'm going to hand this paper back to Emma and tell her to answer the question anyway.

A girl can dream though, right?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why I Love It

The Woodland Park Zoo

How can you tell if an elephant's reading over your shoulder?

You can smell the peanuts on its breath.

We don't go often enough.  Maybe I'll take my kids.  Maybe I'll take them tomorrow.  It's cold and rainy but we're waterproof...and so are the animals.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This Time It's For Clarissa

For you Clarissa, anything.  I'll even repaint flowers on the wall of your new bedroom (or anything else) if you want.

I'll also write something about Braeden.

For you.

Braeden is staring down being a teenager.

A brave new world.

Sometimes he's grumpy.  Sometimes he's morose and sometimes he's downright surly.

Since these have not previously been part of his disposition, I blame adolescence. There have been times over the last few weeks when I've thought, "Here we go."  And not like, "Here we go, off to Neverland!"  More like, "Here we go, off to the dentist."

Here's why I'm not too worried.  So far, we can still make each other laugh.  So far, he still fits into my arms for tight hugs.

And there was last night.

I was reading The Gift of The Magi to my family.  I love that story.  At one point, when the sentimental and sweet story was too much for me, there was a tiny catch in my voice.  Braeden instinctively reached out and took my hand.  Before anyone else, he recognized that catch.  I handed off the book for him to finish.  I'm a sap and my children are used to me tearing up at anything from Friend magazine stories to Folgers Coffee commercials when the big brother comes home for Christmas.  But Braeden is the first one to notice.  He intervenes.  He takes the book to finish reading for me.

When a boy starts out that understanding, I can't believe that a little teenage angst can do much damage.

We'll see.  We're off on a ride but like Joan of Arc,

I am not afraid.  I was born to do this.

that's what I'll keep telling myself

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Constructive Criticism

I'm not going to blog about Mark's birthday party.

forget you saw this

And not because I'm trying to block out the memory of seven screaming, yelling, competing, singing different Christmas carols loudly at the same time (off-key) boys.

No, I'm not going to blog about Mark's birthday party because my nieces (who are otherwise very supportive) are displeased that I write about Mark more than my other children.

Mark may beg to differ but he really isn't my favorite.

I think he ends up often being my muse because he's usually swirling around me saying, "Mom, Mom, Mom" while I write and also he doesn't read my blog.  I can get away with more.

Emma and Braeden read my blog.

And Emma especially tells me I got it wrong.  Adam explained to her that I write like an Impressionist painter paints (which I'm OK with...who doesn't admire Monet?) and all I have to say is, "Write your own blog then."

Because she who writes, writes history.

So, for Desi, here's something about Emma.  Actually it's by Emma (I asked for permission) which will make Emma happy because if I'm copying her writing, can she tell me I got it wrong?

Emma presented this to me the other day.  She said, "It's the prologue to my new book."  (At any given time, Emma has about three books in the works.)

She said, "Think about the Mona Lisa while you read it."

(I caution you, it's creepy.  Where does she get these ideas?  As Mark would say, it will freak your freaky out so much it will leave the building...oops sorry girls, there I go again with Mark.)

"No!" a black haired woman cried, "Please, no!"

A cold laugh erupted from the shadows. "It is too late for you now, my dear," the voice said, "And how will I ever make any money if you leave?  But for now there are other matters to attend to."  There was a short scuffling noise and a man left, carrying with him a picture frame with a painting of a room inside.

The woman looked around frantically.  She was in a dark valley in front of mountains.  She had to escape!  She ran around looking for another frame.  There one was!  She ran to it as fast as she could.

She never got there.  A hand closed on her shoulder, and she was forced into a chair.

Her scream was cut off as the man stretched a paintbrush onto her face, and her face was changed to an expression of calmness, forever freezing her in front of the frame.

She would now forever look at the world she could no longer be a part of.

I told Emma it was spooky and she said, "Don't worry, in the first chapter she's going to have a dream about chocolate and marshmallows."

I guess that makes it all better.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bear of Very Little Brain

“People who don't Think probably don't have Brains; rather, they have grey fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake.”

-Winnie the Pooh

I think I've finally lost all my marbles.  My cognition has been compromised.

Is it Christmas preparations that are getting to me?

I have a pile of presents under the tree which is good for my anxiety.  They're wrapped!  They're done!

What's bad for my anxiety is that I can't remember exactly what's in them.  I have counted several times to see if my children have an equal number.  Then I realize one child has more.  I get more gifts for the other two.  Then I remember that I still have stuff coming from Amazon.  Then I panic.  Now how many gifts does everyone have?

I remember things I've purchased. Are they wrapped?  Are they hiding in my closet?

Will I have to just unwrap everything and see once and for all what I really have?

This is no way to live.  I don't know what to blame for my gifting indiscretion.  It could be that I'm busier than I've ever been in my life.  I feel like my To Do list is chasing me every day and I'm staying ahead of it by sheer force of will. 

And losing my marbles all along the way.

Take this for example:  I have phone troubles.  And by phone troubles I don't just mean my phone isn't working.

Although it isn't.

Remember this?  And then there was the time last summer that I gave my neighbor my phone number so she could call Braeden to babysit.

Except for I gave her Janet's phone number accidentally.

Then since my phone isn't working, I've been troubleshooting it (between trying to remember what exactly is under the tree and Everything Else),  I plugged in an old phone to see if the phone was the trouble.  I dialed my number from my cell phone to see if the old phone would at least accept a call.

Except I dialed Janet's number accidentally.

Yesterday I was still troubleshooting the miserable phones (between trying to remember what exactly is under the tree and Everything Else).  The phone company, which was trying to be helpful but mostly just frightened me with talk of $91 for the first half hour if a repairman came, told me some things to try.  I wanted to call Adam to make sure I knew what I was doing.  So I dialed his cell phone.

Except I dialed Janet's number accidentally.

She said, "Did you mean to call me?"

I said, "No," sheepishly.

Really though, if you're going to keep calling someone, accidentally, don't you think Janet is a great choice?

I do.

Birthday Boy Part Two

This morning a blur of arms and legs and wild red hair hurtled into my bed. "It's my birthday! It's my birthday! I'm seven!"

I said, “Happy Birthday!”

He said, “You’re the first one to tell me that,” like it was a big honor. “Braeden just said to let him sleep for another hour.  He’s almost thirteen and he needs a lot of sleep.  I’m glad I’m still a kid and not like Braeden and Emma.  My WHOLE JOB is to play.”

I thought about pointing out they’re still kids too but he didn’t really give me the chance to respond.  He was off to the races and talking a mile a minute.

That’s my Mark.

He is noisier than his other siblings put together.  He makes more messes and has ruined more things.  When he was younger he was kicked out of the play area at IKEA.  More than once.  He’s broken furniture with his light saber and broken the handles off the sliding doors of our van by hanging on them.  I tell him I’m going to give him a bill someday of all the things he’s destroyed.

I’m only halfway joking.

For all his misconduct, I wouldn’t trade him for all the gold in Elko County.  (my brand new idiom I just made up).  He’s bright and funny and enthusiastic beyond all reason.  When he laughs his uncontrollable belly laugh, you feel like you’re basking in golden sunshine.  He remembers all the witty lines from movies and he’s outgoing and cheery.  The youngest child, he’s the dessert:  sweeter than a sugar cookie.

He does nothing halfway and that includes love his mother. 

When he throws his arms around me and kisses me and tells me he loves me.  I know he means it.  And I know he’s part of my life’s work.  

Because if I can channel all of his energies into a constructive direction, I know I will have accomplished something.

And now, I can't help myself:

Please somebody stop me...

I'm telling you, I wouldn't trade all the gold in Elko County.


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