Friday, January 30, 2009

Lacking Skills

We just returned from a Washington Virtual Academy (of which we're a part) field trip. It was roller skating.

Here's knowledge I gained growing up in the shadows of the Ruby Mountains in rural Nevada.

1-How to cross a barbed wire fence.

2-How to saddle a horse.

3-How to cook and eat Rocky Mountain Oysters.

I could teach my children any one of those things.

Here's what I don't know how to teach them.

How to roller skate.

It's not a real common skill you learn when you live on the end of a dirt road.

I've been roller skating exactly two times in my life. Once my grandma took my sisters and me.

I was an unwilling and uncoordinated student.

The second time was at FFA state in Reno. They took the country bumpkins to a roller rink. Some of the kids were OK at it. I refused to try. I know my limits. Rick Moon (who was a senior boy) took my hands and insisted I give it a try. When you're a shy freshman girl and a senior boy takes your hands and drags you out on the rink, it becomes harder to refuse.

Again, I was an unwilling and uncoordinated student.

I do not know how to roller skate.

I felt anxiety from the minute I knew about the field trip. But my kids wanted to go. So we did.

They looked at me for instruction.

I had nothing.

Mark flailed around and finally gave up and went and watched older boys play video games. (I didn't get my $5 back even though he didn't even enter the rink.)

Emma clung straight legged to the side and made two friends with other side clingers. They enthusiastically exchanged phone numbers when it was time to leave.

Braeden thrashed around and struggled but actually managed to learn to skate tolerably well. He had some spectacular crashes but insisted he was having fun every time I asked him if it was time to go yet. (please?)

I felt like I was in one of Dante's circles of hell.

...new torments and new tormented souls I see around me wherever I move, and howsoever I turn, and wherever I gaze.

There's No Comparing

Our tenth wedding anniversary coincided with us being in Nevada that summer. We had planned/hoped to go to Maine and leave our kids with my parents but couldn't get it worked out. We came up with a different, more easily executed plan. We went to St. George, Utah.

I know that you're thinking, St. George in August? We were wondering the same thing when the thermometer in our van told us it was 114 degrees outside.

We spent nearly all our time either in air conditioning or a pool.

And I thought it was beautiful.



But then, I love the desert.

One highlight for the trip was going to Tuacahn. It's an amphitheater in the red rocks with outdoor theater. The show we were going to see was Beauty and the Beast.



And it was amazing.



During the climactic scene when Gaston is rallying the town to "Kill the Beast!", there was a sudden thunder storm. There was lightening. And rain. And they ended the play.

(Something about actors not wanting to be struck by lightening.)

How rotten was our luck to be in St. George on one of the probably three days it rains?

We spent the rest of the evening pouting and dissatisfied.

We got a raincheck to see a new performance on another night but we weren't sticking around so gave it to my friend Rachel in Cedar City to use.

This year on Christmas morning there was a ticket to see Beauty and the Beast in each of the kids' stockings. And Adam had given me tickets as well.

I loved it.

All throughout the first act, I kept squeezing Adam's hand. I wanted to tell him,

I love you.

I love the expressions on our kids' faces.

I love this gift you gave us.

I love this play.

During the intermission Adam said, "It's not as good as the Tuacahn production." (Adam's one for critical analysis--I blame graduate school.)

I quickly defended the Village Theater. "I think it's as good."

As the lights went dim to start the second act, I started thinking about it though. The Tuacahn production was much bigger. The stage and cast were bigger. The costumes more elaborate. It took some of the shine off of the play.

I started comparing everything...what about Lumiere, isn't this Lumiere every bit as funny as the one at Tuacahn? I love those tap dancing salt and pepper shakers, did they have those at Tuacahn? Ooooh, I remember Monsieur D' Arque at Tuacahn, he came in an actual horse drawn carriage.

I was spending my time comparing and just like in the rest of life when you compare talent, beauty, or material possessions, it took all the fun out of it.

So I did what I (try to) do in those cases. I told myself to stop it. Stop it and enjoy the show.

I stopped comparing. And I loved the show.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What I Didn't Do

Today I didn't:

1-Put anything in my hair to make it less curly/frizzy (yikes)

2-Make my bed

3-Do any laundry

4-Teach my kids any school (besides what they could do on their own)

5-Wash any dishes

6-Read anything out loud

7-Get dressed

8-Cross anything off any list

9- Correct any school work

10-Call anyone on the phone

11-Leave my house

12-Exercise

13-Cook anything (unless you count the microwave)

14- Write an email to my family

15-Let any neighborhood children inside my home


Tonight I told Adam I was woefully bored and discouraged by what I didn't do.

He said what I didn't do didn't matter in the least.

I said, "Are you telling me what I do every day doesn't matter."

Adam (who is really smart and knows dangerous waters when he approaches them) said, "That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying it's OK to be sick. You can take a day--or two--or three--off and the world won't fly apart."

I said, "Thank you."

My throat hurts. I ache. My head, she may just explode.

And I've been the laziest person in America because tonight we have tickets to all go to Beauty and the Beast at the Village Theater.



I want to feel up to the challenge.

(I will try not to breathe on anyone.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So I Can Move On


Are the voices in my head bothering anyone else?

Sometimes I need to write a blog post so that the ideas swirling in my brain will be transferred elsewhere…and I can start thinking about something else.

Like what to make for dinner.

Last night our book club met. I love our book club. When I go to book club I feel like I’m in a warm cocoon of love and stability. These are good women.

We read a book called Escape by Caroline Jessop. And we discussed it last night.

And discuss it we did. It was a lively dialogue.

Escape is a book written by a woman who escaped from a polygamous group. They call themselves FLDS or Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. I felt a little trepidation about the book. Plural marriage is part of our history as Mormons. It’s not a part of our history I’m always comfortable with. It takes a certain degree of faith for me to accept that I don’t have all the answers and to know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me. And it will all make sense some day.

Did I want to read a book that would dredge up those pesky polygamist thoughts that are troubling?

I went ahead and read it.

I’ve always been mystified that people think Mormons aren’t Christians. Mystified. It’s like people claiming Americans don’t value freedom…or cheeseburgers. Just not possible.

It was more than a little shocking as I read this book to realize that maybe this is why people don’t see us as Christians. Maybe they’re associating us with the horrors found on the pages of Escape.

At book club last night, I think several of us went away with the resolve that we need to make our voices heard a little bit more.

THIS IS NOT US!

Stephanie had heard someone say they considered the FLDS people to be like Mormons—only the FLDS were living the religion at a higher level.

Not true!

I wish I had a forum larger than my anemic blog with its small following.

I wish everyone in the world could have been at our book club last night (and you’re all welcome, any time). I wish everyone could have heard the faithful and wise women I’m lucky enough to be friends with talk about the inherent value of women and free will. I wish everyone could have heard these beautiful women talk about the amazing privilege each person on earth has to be able to pray and find out for ourselves what is truth.

And what is not.

I wish.

For the record, I want to include what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has to say about polygamy (from LDS.org):

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. At certain times and for His specific purposes, God, through His prophets, has directed the practice of plural marriage (sometimes called polygamy), which means one man having more than one living wife at the same time. In obedience to direction from God, Latter-day Saints followed this practice for about 50 years during the 1800s but officially ceased the practice of such marriages after the Manifesto was issued by President Woodruff in 1890. Since that time, plural marriage has not been approved by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any member adopting this practice is subject to losing his or her membership in the Church.


There.

Now maybe I can think about something else.

What should I make for dinner?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

She Was Me All Along


When Emma was one year old she’d take her shoes off and put them back on the wrong feet. I’d change them back. Then she would change them back.

And so it started.

When Emma was two and stamped her feet and exerted her will my mother-in-law told me I was in “so much trouble” when Emma was a teenager.

I believed her.

One of my very favorite things about Emma is her will. Her stubbornness. Her unwillingness to cave. If there were such an award, she’d win, “Least Likely to Succumb to Peer Pressure.”

One of the things that makes me crazy about Emma is her will. Her stubbornness. Her unwillingness to cave.

All this time I’ve blamed my sister Olivia. I even accidentally call Emma Olivia sometimes. She reminds me of her. There have been times when Emma gets a certain set of her jaw, a certain gleam in her eye and I think—Olivia.

I used to pull Olivia’s hair at such times. It never worked so I haven’t tried with Emma (besides I’m a big girl now and supposed to be the grownup).

At Christmas time Emma insisted she had an idea for her dad’s present. I tried to give some input. Emma (looking very much like her aunt Olivia) said, “Is this gift going to be from me or is it going to be what you want it to be?”

I backed down.

Adam is the sole person that has influence on Emma. A few years ago when my parents were visiting, my mom wanted to buy our kids each a book. We went to Borders and Emma chose a silly non-substantive preteen chick lit book and I tried to convince her to get Harriet the Spy instead. It was a standoff. Adam walked up and asked me what was going on. He bent over and whispered something in her ear. Emma shrugged, replaced the brainless book on the shelf and picked up Harriet the Spy. I was mystified, grateful and jealous all at the same time. How did he do it?

Right now Emma and I are planning for her tenth birthday soiree. I have spent time scouring the aisles of craft stores for materials for invitations and party favors. She neither wants to come along nor do I particularly want her to (my children and retail experiences don’t favorably mix) but I’ve tried to get her opinions beforehand. I’ve tried to think of colors and styles she likes.

She’s been opposed to everything.

I’ve started to realize that she’s opposed simply because it’s what I’ve picked out.

Today I was talking to my sister Marianne because she is and always has been The Party Girl. I needed her party input and advice. I told her of my vexing daughter. I said, "I can just imagine when she gets married!"

Marianne said, gently, "Like you."

Then it hit me.

I remembered the Summer War of 1995. The year Adam and I got married and I fought with my mother every day.

I was opposed to every wedding decision imaginable. Looking back, I don’t know why. I don’t know why I cared so much about something that mattered so little. I don’t know why I made my poor mother’s life so miserable.

And I don’t know why it took me so long to realize. Emma has been me all along.

I liked the opposite of what my mom did. Just because. Sometimes my mom would turn me over in exasperation to my dad. He could talk to me more easily.

She was me all along.

And I need to apologize to my mom.

Sorry to be such a pain.

And where, oh where did you get the patience?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Entertaining

On a few of Adam’s London trips, a kind man named Adrian and his wife entertained Adam. They took him to restaurants and plays and I was grateful. I was glad Adam had something fun to do and savvy locals to do it with.

I told him to invite some of his friends from London over sometime when they were visiting.

I teased him that he must be embarrassed of me because he never did invite anyone.

Then he did invite them. Yesterday.

Chris and Rob, co-workers from London were in town and Adam invited them over for dinner. Then he called another co-worker, Jean-Michel (who is French and I may or may not be spelling his name correctly). Jean-Michel lives in Mukilteo with his American wife and teenage daughters. Adam invited him and his wife.

We talked about what to serve. Our kids voted for their British favorites, bangers and mash or fish and chips. I told the kids they’d be gone babysitting (Braeden) or upstairs watching a movie having already eaten dinner (Emma and Mark) so their opinions didn’t matter too much. We decided to go “American” and had Mexican food. I came up with a dessert (brownie sundaes), which is always the most important part of the meal to me.

Then I started to feel nervous. Thanks to the steady stream of dinner guests we had growing up, I’m not intimidated by having people over for dinner. I actually really enjoy it. Strangers for dinner is a whole different matter though. I’m mostly scared to death of strangers.

My mother-in-law stopped by to see my rearranged furniture. I told her of my fears. She said my house looked great so not to worry.

Adam said, “She’s not worried about the house. She’s worried about the people.”

I called Janet for reinforcement. I told her I needed a pep talk and she gave me one.

I took a deep breath and set the table. I wondered how it would go. Jean-Michel’s wife (who it turned out was named Michelle which sort of delighted me) works for the Democratic Party in Washington. I wondered what she’d think of my stay-at-home Mormon wife life. I wondered what she’d think when she knew I took peculiar a step further and home schooled.

Adam went to Seattle to pick up the men from London (to spare them an enormous cab fare). I was humming along with my preparations when he called. He was almost home and he’d talked to Jean-Michel and they were also on their way and bringing their two teenage daughters.

(!)

Our six capacity table was set for…six. We’d have enough food but where would we sit everyone? I had to come up with an answer quick. I didn’t want to put them at the counter. Our six-foot long folding table was too big. I raced upstairs and tossed everything off Adam’s desk, which used to be our table in a former, childless life. I enlisted Emma and Mark’s help to carry it downstairs. I looked frantically for a tablecloth for the new table that would match the one already set. No luck. I whisked plates, napkins, silverware, cups and lighted candles off the table. I whipped out new tablecloths, reset the tables, found new napkins that matched, found new napkin rings that matched. I finished just as Adam and Chris and Rob walked in the door.

Jean-Michel and his family arrived close behind. He (of course…he’s French!) came with two bottles of wine.

We sat down to dinner, explaining we don’t drink wine. They thought that was fine (more for them?) and asked for a bottle opener. I scanned my drawer and pulled out a can opener and presented it to Jean-Michel with my apologies. He sent one of his daughters to the car for a bottle opener. Apparently he doesn’t mess around when it comes to wine.

We ate our beef or shrimp tacos and the table was a lively convivial place. I started to breathe.

The accents (French and British) enchanted me. I especially loved how Rob said, “crikey”. Michelle was warm and friendly and didn’t even miss a beat when she asked me where our kids go to school and I told her upstairs. I found out her ancestors were Mormon pioneers and she still has family in Delta, UT. She told me their names in case all Mormons know each other. Estelle and Margot, their daughters were smart and charming.

Altogether it was very nice.

After dinner we played games. We played Catch Phrase, boys against girls. We girls had the advantage of all being American. Adam had the word “Columbus” he was trying to get them to guess. He said, “Christopher ______”

Chris immediately yelled, “Robin!”

We also played our favorite game Hoopla, which employs a certain amount of pop culture. we all did pretty well...especially Jean-Michel when he had to draw the Eiffel Tower...but we did have our cultural hiccups.

At one point Chris gave up completely on the Yankees and told Rob he’d have to guess it (the word was comic books) and he started saying British comics, Dan Dare, Daredevil…

I was glad we stepped outside our normal circle and made some new friends. Even with our blaring differences we found a lot to talk about: good chocolate, education, the British Library, Seurat, how to maximize shipping costs from Amazon.com. Good stuff.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one” - C.S. Lewis

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fair Warning

Dear Adam,

As you know, yesterday I had about 5 inches cut off my hair.

Today I moved the furniture around.

Tomorrow I may paint the entire house...purple. Who knows?

I blame you because the only reason I live in this sun-forsaken wasteland
(can you call a place with so many many green trees a wasteland?) that does crazy things to my brain is because I'm crazy about you...and this is where you live.

Love Thelma

p.s. Hurry home because the TV doesn't work (I had to unplug all the cords to move it and I have no idea how to hook it back up). Braeden will be one mad kid when he realizes M*A*S*H is on and he can't watch it.

p.p.s. Thanks for the genetic contribution you made to our kids. They are strong...that armoire practically moved itself.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sometimes

Sometimes I forget I bought a membership to the Pacific Science Center.

Sometimes I forget that as a home schooler, I can go in the middle of the day in the middle of the week in the middle of January and the place will be empty.

Sometimes I forget to take time to listen to the poetry Emma writes (that she can easily read to me while I drive).

Sometimes I forget how spectacular it is to soar over the Ship Canal Bridge when the sun is shining.

Sometimes I forget how funny Braeden is.

Sometimes I forget how Mark's enthusiasm and energy can be contagious and pull me along if I let them.

Sometimes I forget how truly wonderful it is to walk amidst tropical butterflies.

Sometimes I forget how much I like watching millipedes and centipedes and how they remind me of one of my favorite stories from childhood, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (whom I told my classmates I was related to...a lie) and how funny it was to me that the centipede had to put on all of his boots.

Sometimes I forget how small the earth is compared to Jupiter and the Sun.

Sometimes I forget how small I am compared to the earth.

Sometimes I forget how small Braeden isn't when I tell him I won't pay for him to ride the motion simulator at the Pacific Science Center and he pulls money out of his pocket and goes anyway. And buys Mark a ticket too. (Emma didn't want to go.)

Sometimes I forget what it's like to enjoy my children all afternoon.

Sometimes I forget how fun it is to sit on the floor with Mark and construct giant bugs.

Sometimes I forget how much better Adam makes my life. Every day.

Sometimes I forget what it's like to not have my shoulders hunched up from stress at the end of the day.

Sometimes I forget that pasta with browned butter and mizithra cheese from the Old Spaghetti Factory is probably what the Greek gods called ambrosia on the top of Mount Olympus.

Sometimes I forget that it's more pleasant to put a kids' cd in the cd player, turn it up really loud and sing along on the ride home rather than try to listen to multiple children talk to me at once.

Sometimes I don't forget though.

Sometimes I remember.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Perilous Times


Motherhood is not for the faint-hearted. Frogs, skinned knees, and the insults of teenage girls are not meant for the wimpy.
-- Danielle Steel

More and more I understand what my mother meant when she knowingly laughed at me. I was wishing away the "hard" part of motherhood...the potty training, the not getting enough sleep at night.

If I could go back in time I would laugh knowingly at myself too.

Motherhood. It just may kill me.

Sadly, I have a sinking feeling that someday I'll look back at this time and think it's easier than the next thing.

Help.

Yesterday my friend Janet and I were talking about the fact that her daughter will be nursery age next Sunday. It's a big milestone. I was remembering my own children starting nursery. It felt something like throwing them to the wolves. Nursery is a rough place. I've been nursery leader a few times and I have witnessed first hand the pecking order. Those eighteen-month-olds don't stand a chance. They get their toys snatched. They get smacked. When they trip over the inevitable scattering of toys with their already wobbly steps, they get trampled. Nursery was an uneasy threshold to cross.

We stepped across a different threshold last night. I think it was even more unsettling.

It was the first Youth Stake Fireside for Braeden. Parents were welcome to attend. But did that mean they were supposed to attend? I didn't know. I left it up to Braeden and he said he wanted me to be there.

So I went.

I was the only parent there who was not a leader also. That didn't bother me. I thought it was endearing and short lived that Braeden would want me there so I decided I'd enjoy it while I could. Braeden and his friends dismissed me from sitting by them so I was invited to sit by some friends of my own. (YW leaders who wondered what I was doing there. I explained. They understood. They're mothers too.)

Then I started looking around.

Then I got scared.

I've served in young women callings two different times. I was never (too) frightened. This was completely different. I was once again throwing my child to the wolves. Around me there was a lot of flirting/mischief/power plays going on. A sad girl stood all alone, waiting for an invitation
that never came to join a group. Girls talked too loud to attract attention from boys. Boys shuffled around, eyes averted. You could smell the insecurity in the air. It was nothing new but now my son was in the ranks. He seemed happy enough. I guess he didn't sense the impending danger I was sensing. He would turn around and smile at me from time to time. He was like the toddler at a playground who wants to be free of his mother but keeps returning to check in.

I was proud of my handsome boy in his white shirt and tie.

I was terrified.

I've made an alarming discovery. I didn't leave adolescence all behind like I thought I had! How terrible to have to relive being the only one not invited to a birthday party or being shunned socially through your children! It will be worse this time around though. I just know it.

Go ahead. Mistreat me. I can take it.

Just don't be mean to my children. That I can't handle. They're my very heart, unprotected, exposed to the world.

See what I mean? Motherhood. It just may kill me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mumphy Feeling

Today was a typical Saturday. Adam got up early to go referee a young men's basketball game (and was ridiculed by men who never grew up which irritates me because he's volunteering...and it's church basketball. It doesn't bother Adam in the least though so I won't let it bother me...much.)

Anyway.

Mark climbed in bed with me and told me that even if he HAD another mother, I'd still be his favorite and I told him that even if I HAD another Mark, he'd still be mine. That launched a discussion of whether or not the other Mark would look and act just like him...

Typical Saturday.

We cleaned the house from top to toe. I got the next school week planned for.

Then I felt mumphy. I told Adam and Emma to leave me alone (the boys were gone or I would have told them too). Because I was mumphy.

Yes, I said, I am making that word up.

Maybe it's because Adam's been feeling sick and that's no fun. Maybe it's because it's been foggy for two straight oppressive days. Maybe maybe.

I flipped on my gas fireplace and climbed in my chair under a fleece blanket and read. I finished my book and it didn't have such a satisfactory ending.

Still mumphy.

I hatched a scheme to go to the craft store. I was thinking creativity would help mumphy-ness. It did.

I combined my true loves of buttons and the color red and made this:



I also bought myself a flower:



And some chocolate:




And if all else fails, this guy would love me most even if he had other moms.



Take that, mumphy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Sister

Today is my little sister Olivia's birthday. She is one of my favorite people in the world. She's everything a good Mormon woman should be...faithful, a loving wife and mother, diligent in her church callings, a cracker jack visiting teacher.

That really does not tell the story of Olivia though. While she is ever a champion of the underdog and obedient and valiant to a fault. She is wickedly wickedly funny.

And sometimes just plain wicked.

My dad has told me on many occasions that he knew from a young age that she would do whatever she wanted and he just had to hang on for the ride and hope she chose to do right things.

She did. She graduated from college, she served a mission, she married this handsome guy in the Salt Lake Temple on a cold winter day.


She also lied to her teachers and skipped school. When she was told she should stop beating on our younger brother because he would someday be bigger (he is), she replied that he would never be meaner (he isn't).

She started calling our dad "Big Guy" when she was about in junior high. He didn't like it. He thought it was disrespectful.

She still calls him Big Guy.


The rest of us were more or less intimidated by our "Big Guy" of a dad when we were young.

But not Olivia. One day he demanded she not leave Enoch because he was making her late for early morning seminary.

She left anyway.

My dad got in a different car and chased after her. Finally he pulled in front of her car, forcing her to stop. I was in college when this happened and I think I had to sit down when I heard the story because the thought of my dad chasing me in a car caused me to quake.

Not Olivia.

Here's Olivia in a high school play. She was mostly the lead in our small town high school plays. She always stole the show.


Here's Olivia (and our sister Marianne) in a community play last spring. She still loves to perform.

She also loves to dress up. One year she came downstairs on January 14th for dinner, dressed in one of my mom's high school formals. She declared it "Olivia Eve".

I am a fairly sedate (boring) and wanting-to-be-in-the-background sort of person. I have all these pictures of me dressing up with Olivia though...going completely against my nature. Olivia will do that to you.

This is when Olivia came to BYU to visit me one fall. She brought my mom's old high school dresses for us all to wear. (I think my mom must have anticipated Olivia when she saved some of her clothes.)


this is my roommate Erin, Olivia, me and our friend Melissa

She brought these clothes when she visited us in the spring:

me, Olivia, and Marianne...yes, Olivia has a band-aid slapped across her forehead and she made us eat in a restaurant dressed like this


Here we are at our parents' house.


Olivia (I'm sure to our parents' relief) has calmed down considerably. She puts her creative energy into motherhood. She is raising three adorable and bilingual children.

I'm just bragging but look how cute they are:

Ruben


Liliana

Marcos and Ruben


Happy Birthday sweet sister. I'm glad you were born. You've made my life a better, more lively place.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fun for the Whole Family

Tonight on a whim I bought the Original Space Bags at Costco--not to be confused with those pesky knock offs. Are there pesky knock offs? I don't know.

My linen closet was a scary proposition...sheets, extra pillows and blankets all fought for space and tried to escape whenever the door opened. If there's one thing sheets, extra pillows and blankets like it is their freedom.

I was definitely a candidate for the Original Space Bags.

I enlisted Mark and Emma's help for the project. I marketed it as a lot of fun. While Mark was watching me try to stuff four pillows into the extra large sized bag (it didn't work...only three will fit). He said, "Are you sure this is fun? Did the box say Fun for the Whole Family?"

I promised it would get more fun. Then I put him in charge of the vacuum. He'd turn it on and off for me.

Still not an enormous amount of fun.

Then he realized he could make a Mohawk if he sucked his long red hair up into the vacuum. Emma told him that was not safe. Emma randomly decides what is and isn't safe for Mark. Then they started arguing (which is what they do) over whether or not it was safe and I said no more playing with the vacuum.

So even that wasn't fun.

The good news is the closet.


I wish I'd been forward thinking enough for a Before picture but usually I just dive headlong into such projects.

Believe me. It was scary.

And the project wasn't all that fun.

Just ask Mark.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Come and Gone

My mom and dad and grandma came.

We ate fish and chips at Pyramid Alehouse (we didn't have any ale.)

We surveyed flood damage.



This is the view from my front door. There is normally a field there, not a lake.

My mom and grandma taught Emma to crochet (because I can't).


My dad played with electricity with my sons (because I can't).


We posed for a new picture for my parents' living room since Mark's a toddler in the current one.


We attended church and Braeden's ordination.

We had a big dinner with both sides of our family (my parents made the roast and gravy...because I can't).

We celebrated a twelfth birthday with cake...

chocolate cakes with mint frosting--the birthday boy's specifications.

And presents...


I took our guests back to the airport today.

I cried a little.

I came home and had my friend Stephanie work on my sciatic nerve which was woeful.

I think that's what she was doing...either that or trying to kill me.

It's amazing such a petite gentle person as Stephanie can make me writhe on her living room floor.

She fixed me though.

I took a nap for over an hour.

I have some catching up/laundry/school planning to do.

I didn't do any of it.

Here's hoping for tomorrow.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My 'Tween Boy

Braeden's twelve tomorrow. Twelve. This seems like a Big Deal. And he is really truly a 'tween. He was sort of too old for toys for Christmas but was sort of disappointed when he didn't get many (and you can't blame him...toys are fun to get, and give). And being a Mormon boy that's twelve adds a whole new dimension to 'tween-dom. He has one foot in primary and one in young men's. He will become a deacon and receive the Priesthood (Big Deals).

My brother Ammon (the baby of the family) said, when talking to me about Braeden being twelve, "You are old." Thank you Ammon. Isn't he darling?

Braeden is on the bottom of the staircase with all the teenage experiences up ahead of him, almost in reach.

The other night Adam and I were discussing this and asking each other if we were ready for Braeden/twelve/almost a teenager.

Our answer: we're not.

But we're like Kuzco and Pacha in one of my favorite funny movies, The Emperor's New Groove:

[Kuzco and Pacha are tied to a tree branch floating in a river]

Pacha: Uh-oh.
Kuzco: Don't tell me. We're about to go over a huge waterfall.
Pacha: Yep.
Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?
Pacha: Most likely.
Kuzco: Bring it on.

Bring it on indeed.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Matriarchs are Coming to Town

My mom and dad and grandma are coming in several hours (luckily by plane since the roads into Seattle are mostly closed right now.) My dad mainly just intimidates when a young man is asking for his daughter's hand in marriage but I get a little intimidated when my mom and grandma come. It’s like I’m Luke and Obi Wan and Yoda are coming. (Sorry about the Star Wars reference, I’ve been involuntarily exposed to Star Wars for years...like second hand smoke.)

They are who I patterned my life after. They’re who I want to be like when I grow up. They taught me everything I know about homemaking.

Am I measuring up? The sad truth is no.

My house will never be as clean (but they kindly don’t acknowledge this and will instead tell me how nice everything looks).

My parents will be sleeping in Emma’s room, which is typically the messiest room in the house. My grandma will be sleeping in the boys’ room, which is typically the second messiest room in the house. We’ve tried to clean them but my grandma’s house mostly resembles something in a magazine photo shoot.

So you see the problem.

And while I can bake a dessert that will knock your socks off, I can’t cook as well as they can.

Yesterday Adam stayed home from work in the afternoon to keep me from having a nervous breakdown (his words). He went grocery shopping with me and raised his eyebrows when I was throwing bagged salads into the cart. He said, “Oh, that’s right. Your mom’s coming.” My mom makes these incredible salads in her huge wooden salad bowl with every kind of delicious fresh vegetable chopped up and tossed inside. I open a bag of salad and dump it in a bowl. (It’s why I was saved for these latter days…that and Costco.)

So you see the problem.

Also my kids aren’t perfect like my mom’s are (ha ha…I couldn’t resist).

The good news in all of this is that I know (because it’s happened before) I will not feel judged. I will feel appreciated. They will thank me for my meager efforts. They will shower my kids with attention. They will insist on taking us out to eat. My mom will help me prepare the roast for Sunday and they’ll wash every dish the second it’s dirtied.

That’s why I want to be like them when I grow up.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So Long, Samson

Braeden and I made a deal: long hair until his 12th birthday.



Guess who's turning 12 on Sunday?



Just call me Delilah.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Have Nothing to Say

So you are obviously wondering then, why are you writing a post?

It's because I don't want to do anything else. I have a lovely to do list in my lovely planner.

But I don't want to do it.

I don't like Christmas vacation being over.

I don't like reading other people's blogs where they're exulting in the time they now have that vacation is over and school is back in session and their children are gone.

I don't like it because I'm jealous.

I want to be exultant because I have free time.

I'm not.

I'm busy. Busier than I was during vacation. Busier than I want to be.

And who is to blame?

Me. (I chose this tumultuous mothering/homeschooling life of mine. I chose it.)

It's dark and windy and cold outside (and inside my soul).

Here's what helps: Adam. Here's what he sent me today after I emailed him my angst about going to Target for ONE MAIN REASON, and promptly forgetting it.

Repeat after me:

I am not an idiot.

I am smart.

I am beautiful.

I am busy.

It happens.

I am married to the funniest man in the world.


I love you.


Adam makes everything better. And he'll be home soon. And he will make me laugh. Because it's what he does. I think I'm going to go light a million candles (give or take). When a day is dark sometimes all you can do is add some light of your own.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Poem for Northwest Mornings

Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.


If Charlotte Bronte were still around, I'd ask her what a lot of morning rain foretells.

I hope days are pleasant all around.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Afternoon


I watched a football game this afternoon.

That may or may not be a blog-worthy statement but I mention it for two reasons:

1. I can't remember the last time I watched an entire football game. I was thinking maybe when I was a freshman at BYU and cute boys like Adam were involved in the football game watching experience (I had season tickets with him and about 15 of our friends). Then I remembered we did go to the Yale-Harvard game for the cultural experience of it all.

And it was a cultural experience.

Limos dropped off alumni who had catered "tailgate" parties with linen tablecloths and napkins. There were women in fur coats and men in tweed jackets smoking pipes. Adam and I felt a little out of place in our Yale sweatshirts.


I don't know who this guy is but you get the idea...


I digress.

2. My cousin plays for the Atlanta Falcons who were in a play-off game today. Adam knows how to pause our TV (which seems like a strange feature but handy if you want to take a picture of your cousin).


He's the same height as my brothers but twice (three times?) as thick. He's also much more amiable in person than he looks in this picture.

The Falcons lost the game. (rats!)

A Long Post About a Little Vacation

I recommend Vancouver as a vacation foray. I recommend this guy as a travel guide/idea man/photographer extraordinaire.


Our first stop was Peace Arch Park at the U.S./Canadian border. The past few times we've been to Canada we've crossed elsewhere so we let our kids get out and run around and relish standing with one leg in a different country.

It was beautiful, but it was COLD. Here I'm kissing Braeden less out of maternal love and more about trying to get my nose warm.


This tree line is the border. There are houses in Canada and a playground in the U.S. This led to our imagined scenarios: "Mom, I'm going to America to play." "OK, be home for lunch."

Oh, we're witty.


Once in Vancouver we soared over the Frasier River on the Lion's Gate Bridge. This picture in no way does it justice.


Some Stanley Park shots (why doesn't Seattle have a park like Stanley Park?):




Inside the aquarium, Mark declared that he was (once again) having the best day of his life.

Here he is, his first glimpse of the beluga whales:


I must admit, I'm rather taken with them myself.



We also saw the adorable sea otter:


And the impressive, leaping dolphins:


Some of us had a better view than others for the show:


The tropical fish:


My two favorite photographs Adam took:

After leaving Stanley park we navigated around Vancouver, took a few wrong turns and finally found our destination Gastown, named for Gassy Jack. Braeden wondered if he was named Gassy Jack for the reason he thought he was named Gassy Jack. No. I try to get Braeden to not be a (very nearly) twelve year old boy but then I remember, he is a (very nearly) twelve year old boy.

The Just Say No to Drugs people need to include a drive down Hastings street in Vancouver to their curriculum. It's a sad and scary lesson in why you don't want to do meth. Our kids asked us thirty times if the doors were locked.

They were.

We rounded out the visit with one of our favorite go to restaurants, The Old Spaghetti Factory:


And none too soon because our tired kids were hungry...and getting crabby. (or was that me?)

Mark slept almost the entire drive home. We stopped at Costco in Mount Vernon for hot dogs for the kids who were (somehow though why am I surprised anymore?) hungry. Mark woke up and staggered around holding his hot dog. While I was shepherding him back to the van he sleepily said, "Mom, something is strange. They changed Costco." I told him it wasn't our regular Costco.

Later when we got home, he mentioned the Costco in Canada. I told him it wasn't in Canada.

He walked away from me, thoroughly confused but not caring anymore.






And now you're going to need a vacation if you valiantly suffered through all these pictures.

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