Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Butter's Day

My Mother's Day was sort of...lame.

I'm not one to complain. No never. But somehow, my family learned that I was a little bit cranky about it.

Today, they surprised me with "Better Mother's Day" or as Emma said, combining the two, "Butter's Day."

Emma (my cleverest of daughters) made some clues that sent me on a treasure hunt.

To find the gift that lies ahead
Look beneath your eldest's bed

Under Braeden's bed I found:

To find the gift for which you search
Look inside Emma's dress for church

Inside one of her dress pockets I found:

To find the gift that lies in store
Open first the freezing door

Inside the freezer:

To find the gift you wish to find
Search the child first left behind

(As the "second left behind", Emma's not really letting me forget)

Inside Mark's pocket I found:

To find this hard to find thing
"Lift up your voice and with us sing"

On the page of All Creatures of Our God and King in the hymnbook I found:

To find your gift (nearly there!)
Look in all your tupperware!

There I found a stapled together book with letters and pictures from my children. They were very sweetly written love letters from them to me. I would tell you about them but just like how I never complain, I never would want to toot my own horn.

We ended the evening with dinner at the Diamond Knot in Mukilteo. First we sat outside, up against rhododendron bushes with blooms as big as our heads. Mark was shivering so we went inside and sat diagonally from the "WARM BEER, LOUSY FOOD" sign. The kids each made their own pizza and I had "The Old Darby" calzone. I have no clue who Old Darby was but he made a great calzone.

You should go. And get the ginger coleslaw.

You'll thank me.

It was a good day and made me happy and I'll stop being cranky about...I mean I'll stop "never mentioning"... Mother's Day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wanderlust Cure

I heard about a hot springs in Oregon. A retreat of sorts. For a reasonable rate, you could have accommodations, "three bountiful, organic vegetarian meals daily, 24 hour access to the hot springs, and daily Well-Being programs." You could also pay extra for a massage. There are 154 acres with hiking trails through the forest. There's a stone labyrinth, pools and saunas.

I thought it all sounded great. The goofy looking hippy guy pictured on the website that runs the place and sends "his love and prayers" seemed nice enough. It would be an adventure.

I wanted to surprise Adam with it for our anniversary this summer.

Then I read the small but Oh So Important print at the bottom.

"Most people do not wear swimsuits."

OHHHhhhhhhhhh.

Never mind.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Always My Answer

Lately I've been wanting to throw a shoe or other blunt object at the chalkboard by my front door.

It's because of the quote I wrote there.

It's from Ghandi: There is more to life than increasing its speed.

When I feel like I'm racing to and fro late and harried, this quote really bugs me.

I have left it there either because I haven't had time to change it or because I like the idea of it...

I don't like being busier than I can handle. I'm not a person that thrives on busy-ness. I'm not. I want to read the stack of books I have from the library in the shade on my front porch.

And that's all.

But I don't.

Because everyone wants something. From me. (Well you don't, and I appreciate that from you dear blog.)

I am not one to suffer in silence (sorry about that) or to accept suffering very readily so I came up with a solution that I presented to Adam last night.

I told him I wanted to move.

He said, "OK."

I said, "To Europe. Probably Italy or France."

He said, "OK." (He's long suffering like that.)

I then explained that they get so many more holidays than Americans...government mandated holidays. They must have better lives. And my perception of Italy and France is that they have cultures centered around enjoying life. Eating copious amounts of pasta and good bread and chocolate. Sitting on the front porch reading the stack of library books. Things like that.

Aside from things relating to home/family/holidays/domesticity in general, Adam thinks about Everything Else a lot more than I do. I very rarely bring an idea to the table that he hasn't thought about more than I have. This one was no different.

Adam acknowledged everything that I said then told me all the reasons why that wouldn't be so very ideal...the Europe dream.

OK. I guess he's right.

But what then?

This morning as I was tapping my fingers impatiently while Mark was sounding out words in kindergarten (I'm guessing that's not the best learning environment) and feeling a lot of anger towards my chalkboard and it's mocking quote, I thought, what then? What is the answer?

Later I was driving down the freeway. It's a spectacular day here. It's the kind of day that makes me feel like I should apologize to the Northwest because I ever doubted her. I live in a really really beautiful place. The evergreens were holding court down the sides of the freeway, tall and stately, the shorter deciduous trees were filling in the gaps below with green green green. The sides of the road were a carpet of purple and yellow and orange and white wildflowers. Off in the distance was Mount Baker, white and regal against the bluest sky in America. Amazing. And I live here.

And there was my answer. Gratitude. It's almost always my answer. If I can just pause for a second to be grateful, everything else works out.

And I know that. It's why I painted this quote on my kitchen wall to remind me:

All the great blessings of my life are present in my thoughts today.
-Phoebe Cary


I know that.

So here's another quote (some people collect stamps, I collect quotes)

If you're not happy in one place, chances are you won't be happy anyplace.
-Ernie Banks


So I'll try to be happy. Here. Now.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Living Dangerously

There's a difference between wanting to write a blog post...

and having anything interesting to write about.

I find myself at that crossroads today.

Then I remembered the near death experiences I've had lately. I think near death experiences are notable.

Yesterday I almost drowned.

I bought a new wand attachment to the garden hose because Adam dropped the old one off the roof when he was cleaning the gutters (that's a whole different near death experience and I'm infinitely glad he dropped the wand rather than himself...Fred Meyer carries new wand attachments and they don't carry new Adams). The old wand was bent beyond hope so I bought the new one, screwed it onto the hose and started to spray my windows. It was time to wash the downstairs windows and let the glorious sunshine stream in unfettered by dirty windows (including the clods of mud Mark and his friends had decided would be fun to fling at the sliding glass door).

But as ever, I'm dodging too many tangents and not telling my story...

The new wand attachment leaked...a lot. I yelped for Braeden who was sitting on the front porch with his friend Dillon to TURN OFF THE WATER. Braeden sauntered into the garage, carefully moving things out of the way to reach the faucet and yelled back, "Which way does it turn?" I got soaked. Soaked.

Why didn't I drop the leaking careening hose and walk away?

I'll never know.

But I was more wet than if I'd been swimming. Then I washed the windows and got more wet (can you get more wet if you're already soaked? I don't know, but I did).

Nearly drowned.

Then I almost died last night.

This time from laughing. Sometimes when I watch a movie with Adam I laugh so much that it makes Adam laugh more which makes me laugh more then pretty soon I can't breathe and I'm gasping and missing the rest of the funny movie.

Laughing. What a hazard.

Then there's the risk of Janet's onion dip. I'm sure it's doing bad things to my arteries.

I don't think I'm out of the woods yet. My life is still in peril. This afternoon I'm taking Emma shoe shopping. Have you ever taken Emma shoe shopping? It's not for the faint of heart.

I think I can make it though. If I can survive a leaky garden hose and a funny movie, I think I've got the moxie for a little, "But I hate those shoes."

After all, I'm made of pretty tough stuff.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You're Going To Like Me More After Reading This

Or less...

(It depends on how you feel about really delicious but really fattening food.)

Because I am gifting you with a recipe. It may or may not be the best recipe ever. (It depends on how you feel about really delicious but really fattening food.)

Janet knew I wanted it and delivered it to me with a container of The Pan-Fried Onion Dip, which Eric calls Evil Onion Dip and you may agree with him. (It depends on how you feel about really delicious but really fattening food.)


Janet even delivered the dip with a bag of chips. Do you have a Janet in your life? Because if not, go get one! Quick!


So here's the recipe. Sorry I'm not including a container of the dip...


Pan-Fried Onion Dip

2 large yellow onions
2 T unsalted butter
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c good mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8 inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about three cups of onions.) Heat the butter and the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Try it! Do! But don't hate me if you eat the entire thing at one sitting and feel bad about yourself. Because I warned you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Too Far Away

I often feel too far away from my family.

And today is one of those days.

Today a lot of my family is gathering to go to cemeteries in the Salt Lake area. In high school, my friend Marie thought it was a bizarre way to spend a holiday. I think it's probably one of the best ways.


1991



2007

In the Murray Cemetery, there's a cannon that my cousins and brothers used to climb on, in 2007, we made the trek to UT for Memorial Day and here are my kids with their cousins on the same cannon.

Because of these yearly sojourns to the Murray, Crescent, Sandy and West Jordan Cemeteries, I have a better sense of my roots.

We would always start at my grandpa's grave, my mother's dad that none of the grandchildren knew. My grandma spent Saturday preparing flowers and we'd clean and decorate the graves with irises and pansies and care. I never once had the sense that my grandpa was actually there, in Murray Cemetery. I know he's moved on to better places, but going there to lay flowers and remember (or regret not remembering in my case) made me feel connected to this man who called me "Little Toad" when I was 15 months old. I know he loved me and that I'll see him again someday. In the meantime, I loved visiting his grave on a sunny Monday every May.

My grandma holding me, my grandpa holding Marianne


After seeing my grandpa's grave, my family would spend time on my grandma's parents who, along with my grandma's brothers, are buried right next to my grandpa. We'd visit some Dahl and Wood ancestors in the same cemetery and I'd figure out how everyone was related and hold it all in my head for a little while. In the Crescent and Sandy Cemeteries we'd visit Jaynes relatives. When my Great Grandma Jaynes was alive, she'd show us her sisters', parents' and husband's grave and I'd look at the small, bent-over-with-age grandmother with sparkling brown eyes I loved and marvel at the losses she'd had in her life and her strength. I'd wonder, "Did I inherit that strength along with those brown eyes?"

I still wonder.

There's my great grandma, with the purple pants and black sweater, the kid with the belt buckle and watering can is Tabor. Ammon is the one with the tightly tucked in shirt. My cute brothers...

In the West Jordan cemetery we'd see my dad's grandparents Olivia and Wilford Egbert and Amanda and David Dahl. (yes, we're the family with little geographical variety in our pedigree) The Dahl graves had a big show-offy headstone which my mom once said was typical.

I think she was right.

By the end of our Memorial Day observances, we'd go back to my grandma's house to eat and reminisce and be teased by my uncles.

I loved it all. I miss it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Infamy


Remember that crazy lady that lived on the corner and sprayed us with sunscreen?

That's what Adam told me Mark's friends will say some day.

What can I say? I'm a fan of sunscreen. You think I got this pasty white being unprotected? I think not.

I'd like to think that in their reminiscing the boys will say, "Oh yeah, I remember that crazy lady...but aren't we all glad she spared us from skin cancer?" "Where is that lady now?" "We should send her a thank you note." "Or a gift." "Or a new car."

I can see it happening.

And boys....you're welcome.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Yale Alumni Magazine

Adam is the one that gets the Yale Alumni Magazine but I'm the one who reads it.

I like it.

I like the pictures of New Haven where I really loved living and I like reading the compelling articles which are interesting and smart.

I equate Interesting and Smart with Yale.

I like the quirky and bizarre. (Does the secret society, Skull and Bones, really have the skull of Geronimo? Did they rob the grave as a 1918 letter reports?).

I equate Quirky and Bizarre with Yale.

Maybe Yale wouldn't like that description but I was there on Easter Sunday when an undergraduate showed up at church in a light blue and white seersucker suit so I'm sticking with quirky and bizarre.

My very favorite part of the magazine is The Yale Classifieds though. They hint at a world that's about as far from mine as you can get and still be in the same country. There are ads for antiques and art and real estate that is waaaaaay out of my realm.

Then there are the personals. Who are these people? Besides "so cute, so cool, so smart and sexy-smashing looks, sharp intellect, and generous dash of irreverence", who are these people? And are men aged 57-71 answering the summons? And why 71? Is 72 just woefully too old?

I want to call these numbers just to find out who is on the other end. They are all highly entertaining to me but the best one I read: "Academic with no time for the academic blahdy-blah; allergic to attitude."

Do any of us, really, have time for the academic blahdy-blah? And does Zyrtek work as well for allergies to attitude as it does to grass pollen? I hope so because I have some children on the cusp of being teenagers and I might be allergic to attitude too...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Getting My Vitamin D


Today the sunshine called my name and we answered. Lately we've been swimming with Grandpa Linn on Thursday but he couldn't come today. So I decided we'd take a walk instead. Braeden and Emma were immediately on board but Mark said, "Are you trying to kill me?" I told him he'd walked the exact same trail last summer and had survived. He said, "Barely." With that enthusiastic start, we began.

We walked one of our favorite trails from McCullom Park to Central Market for lunch. We could not have asked for more perfect weather. Heady from the fragrant wild roses, we saw a duck family and several million spent dandelions. Mark of course, thought it his duty to kick the heads off every puffy white dandelion.



Two different people stopped to ask me for directions. Me. Braeden was shocked but I told him that people ask me things. Mostly I field retail questions. In the produce section recently a guy wondered which kind of onion to buy. He was making lasagna to impress his girlfriend (had the recipe in hand). A woman asked me at Costco which kind of cereal her grandson would eat that was low in sugar. Another woman asked me for a workbook recommendation. There's something about me that must scream "Mom". Actually it's three somethings and they all have brown eyes.

I digress.

We made it to Central Market and ordered their delicious fish and chips. While lunch was cooking, we visited the bulk candy aisle and ended up with mint chocolate chip malt balls, brite gummi worms, peach and green apple rings, and root beer, green apple, tangerine and sour cherry jelly bellies. I think between the fried lunch, chocolate milk and candy we sufficiently negated any health benefits from our walk.



(Just so you know, in our scientific taste test, the mint chocolate chip malt balls were a clear winner followed by the peach rings and root beer jelly beans.)

We walked right by the University Book Store and who can resist its siren song? Not us. I told the kids, "We are not buying any books. NO NO NO."

Naturally they did not believe me. They each gathered up books they wanted, needed, perhaps could not live without. I reminded them of the walk we still had back to the van. I reminded them that I was not buying them any books. They reminded me that I owed them their allowance. They promised to carry their own books. I held my ground. I made it, by the narrowest of margins. (I promised they could spend their allowance at Amazon.com complete with employee discount and no carrying of the books several miles.)

We walked back to our van which always takes longer. Mark switched off whining about being tired and running ahead of me. Near the end, he wondered if he could play at the playground at McCullom Park before heading home. He said, "Then I can get exercise." I told him he'd had enough exercise and suddenly he was way too tired to continue. By then we'd emerged back into civilization and a diesel truck rumbled past. He said, "What if that guy stopped and asked if we wanted a ride to our car?"

I said, "We'd say no thank you because we don't take rides from strangers." (I know what you're thinking, way to put a plug in there for stranger danger!)

Mark said, "Why not?"

I said, "Because what if they wanted to kidnap us?"

Mark looked at me skeptically, "But you're a Mom...besides, I could put the K.O. on them."

(sidenote: Mark and his merry band "put the K.O." on each other. So far they've not actually succeeded at knocking each other out, but they've tried.)

I still was trying to teach the little lesson. "They might have a bigger K.O."

Mark said, "It wouldn't matter, I'd already have knocked them out."

I don't know how to teach Mark to be more confident.

Besides failing to instill in Mark a healthy fear of being abducted, we had a lovely time. I think walking among the tall trees made us taller and the moss that had collected (on our north sides) during the winter fell away.



Wonderful sunshine!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Power of Lists

I believe in lists. I always make lists. I make at least one list every day...sometimes more. I never undertake anything without writing a list. My brain connects with written words. It's how I work.

After Braeden was born, we lived in a tiny apartment in Provo. It consisted of a small living room which was the same size as the small bedroom. A hall sized kitchen and a closet sized bathroom were in the middle. My mom gave me a book that someone had given her, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It was a book about simplifying your life...taking time for simple pleasures.

My mom said, (and she wasn't even trying to be funny) "I don't have time for this!" And she passed the book onto me.

Prompted by the book one day, I made a list. I listed everything I thought a house should have. What it needed to make a house a home. None of the items on the list would have even fit in that shoebox apartment but I wrote them anyway.

On the list was a piano.

For Christmas and my birthday last year I got a piano. (For Christmas because that was when we ordered it and for my birthday because that was when it was delivered.)

I love the piano.



And it does make our house feel more like a home.

Today our former stake president (who sold us the piano in the first place) came to tune it. For a half hour the plink, plink, plinking was doing nothing for the headache I woke up with this morning.

Then he said he was done and sat down and played an impromptu concert for us.

Braeden and Mark came running and reverently stopped short of the piano and listened. (Emma was reading, behind several closed doors, as is her custom.) I caught Braeden's wide eyes and he smiled at me.

I'm making a new list.

At the top of the list I'm writing, Make the Piano Sound Like That.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What It Looks Like

What it looks like when you comb or hair with an egg beater...or when the curls are just starting to come back.



What it looks like when a kid from the Northwest plays with Lincoln Logs:


the logging equipment

the dock for the canoe


He calls them "leaking logs" which also may have something to do with living in the Northwest.

What it looks like when Braeden is your brother and he tells you jokes:


The joke (by Emo Philips) was:

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.

Exactly the kind of thing that makes Mark laugh and laugh.

as you can see...still a fan of the plain white T

Sunday, May 17, 2009

When I'm Glad My House Isn't All That Clean

Photographic evidence that I live with a Lego builder. Legos on the stairs...



on the kitchen floor...



on the counter...



and the ever present Lego magazine.


My friend Susie linked to an article by Tiffany Gee Lewis on her blog. (Thanks Susie, I liked the article.) A line from it keeps haunting me though.

One day, every single Lego will make it into the box and stay there.


Really? That is at once a heart breaking and exciting statement. Time just keeps marching on and my children keep growing and growing. They used to grasp just one of my fingers with their little hands and now their hands are almost the same size as mine. I miss their wispy curly heads and stubby chubby limbs and I probably always will.

I can't honestly say I miss changing diapers and buckling seat belts though.

I guess the trick is to enjoy the now. I need to enjoy what the Lego scattering represents...a creative and imaginative little red head who's a builder. And someday, when they're all in the box and stay there. I'll need to enjoy that too. I'll need to try.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Susan

My last semester at BYU, I did my student teaching. Through the luck of the draw I ended up in a class that was banished to south of Provo (if there's one thing Provo doesn't need at any given time, it's more student teachers). To my great and everlasting fortune, I was assigned along with three other students to a school in Goshen, UT.

None of us had ever heard of the small town. Jenn, Janna, Susan and I became carpool buddies though. We drove the 30 miles each way every day, leaving early and piling into Susan's black Nissan. Janna was from Penticton, B.C. She had a slight Canadian accent that we teased her about. Susan and Jenn were both from the Los Angeles area. Jenn was engaged and always sipped a Diet Coke. Susan was the one I think I felt closest to in the group.

Maybe we all felt closest to Susan. Some people are like that.

She always had peppy music playing in her warm car on those cold bleary mornings that we met to drive to Goshen. She would laugh and squeal in delight at every thing funny that was said and hit her hand on the steering wheel. I think she made us all feel fascinating and terribly witty.

Adam and I became engaged during that semester. Susan wanted to hear all about everything. My carpool were among the first who knew I was engaged. They were among the first who saw my ring.

Janna and I taught with middle school teachers, Jenn worked in a first grade and Susan worked in a fourth grade. We'd wearily gather each other up at the end of our teaching days and chat with each other's cooperating teachers.

Susan's cooperating teacher had one complaint about her. Susan, it seems, was too effusive in her praise of the students. I wondered then (and wonder more today still) if such a thing were possible.

Occasionally we didn't go to Goshen but would meet with the other student teachers for a day of seminars. These were mind numbing. We passed notes like middle schoolers. Susan, Janna, Jenn and me. We were friends.

They had us sit in alphabetical order at our graduation in the de Jong concert hall. Happily that put us four right by each other. Jenn (Bird) was seated directly in front of us. Susan (Cummings) got her diploma right ahead of me, then Janna (Cutler), then me, Thelma (Dahl). It made the long graduation with some 200-300 elementary education majors receiving accolades more bearable. We giggled and chattered quietly to each other, just like during those long seminars.

Susan and her parents sat by Adam and my parents and me at the graduation banquet after the ceremony. We promised each other we'd keep in touch.

And we did for awhile.

She came to visit me after I had Braeden. Since she was a good friend, I relented to showing her pictures from the hospital. Me holding Braeden and looking like I'd been through a very long war. I looked terrible. Because Susan was a very good friend, she exclaimed, "That looks NOTHING like you!"

I thanked her.

Time passed and we lost touch with each other. I got her wedding announcement. We exchanged Christmas cards and then moved too often and slipped away.

Then this morning, I learned that Susan recently lost her seven year battle with cancer. She left behind her husband and three young daughters.

My kids found me crying and wanted to know why. I pulled out my college scrapbook and showed them some of the silly mad libs we'd passed to each other during those painful seminars. I showed them pictures. I showed them my program from graduation. On the back it had Susan's slanting handwriting. She'd written her parents' address in California, wrote that she wanted me to come and visit. Then she wrote, "I love your guts."

Because Susan did not do things halfway.

It's not just because I loved Susan that I cried today though.

I cried for her husband and daughters who must go on without her daily happy presence in their lives.

I cried for Susan, who had to leave them.

She probably praised them too effusively all the time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Good Advice

Am I blogging excessively?

Don't answer that.

I just wanted to share this wise counsel from my 12 year old.

There has apparently been a black bear sighting in our neighborhood. Upon hearing this, Braeden turned to Mark with all the seriousness that a bossy older brother can muster and he said, "Mark, this is important to remember..."

(I listened in...what did my boy scout have to say about this? Is a black bear something you try to scare away or something you roll into a ball and cower from? These are the types of things suburbanite women need to know.)

Braeden continued, "If you are out with your friends and you see a bear, you don't have to outrun the bear. You just have to outrun your friends."

Mark nodded solemnly and said, "OK."

The Movies We Watched

Growing up, our childhood culture was shaped by two cinematic genres, westerns (mostly the John Wayne variety) and musicals. You can guess which parent influenced which genre.

I blame all that early exposure to John Wayne for Tabor being fingerprinted a few days ago for a concealed weapon permit.



I am not sure I want to live in a world where my brothers carry concealed weapons.

But they didn’t ask me.

I can also blame that early exposure to the likes of Barbra Striesand for the fact that I know (and am sort of delighted) that Tabor is 28 ¾ today much like Cornelius Hackl of Yonkers, NY.



When I announced this 28 ¾ milestone to my children they gave me very blank looks. Alas, they are more strongly influenced by Star Wars and Harry Potter. (You can guess which parent…) We even made a Star Wars analogy during scripture reading time the other night. We were reading about that tricky Amalickiah wreaking havoc among the Lamanites and Mark said, “So where’s Moroni all this time?” I told him it’s like in Return of the Jedi when it shows Leia and Han on Endor...

...and Lando attacking the Death Star at the same time...


It cuts back and forth between them.

Ah-ha!

(I know...way to liken the scriptures am I right?)

Today I am here to wish my brother a happy 28 ¾ though. Unlike Horace Vandergelder, I do not think you have to be 40 before you’re worth a cent.







You’re worth more than that. (and that line’s for you Olivia…can you place it? Can you?)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reclaiming Thelma

Sorry about the whining yesterday but it really did help.

And tonight I decided this far and no more.

I reclaimed what was mine.

I reclaimed my time with my children. I gathered them around me tonight and didn't let them go.

I reclaimed my daughter. After her repeated requests for time with me, we did a cooking show while we prepared dinner (and now I'm going to ask my lovely assistant Emma to stir these onions while I expertly chop the peppers). The black bean burgers turned out much better this time and I think it was all of the silliness flying around the kitchen that did the trick.

I reclaimed the kitchen table. After dinner and over strawberry/banana/chocolate milkshakes (we started adding things and couldn't stop) we taught Mark how to play Skipbo. I love that he's old enough to learn more games. He was highly offended that trading wasn't part of the game.

I reclaimed the futon upstairs. I burrowed between arms and legs and children leaning over and into me and I read them a story from the Friend magazine. When is the last time that happened?

And I lost a few things.

The impatient clip to my voice.

The deep crease between my eyebrows.

While it was not perfect and still had it's share of Mark flicking his milkshake around the table with his straw, Emma scooping ice cream...up to her elbows, and Braeden arguing his way along, it was altogether better to be here than anywhere I could have been. And it's been a long time since we were home for a peaceful (relatively peaceful) evening.



If you were here, you could see the smile on my face, repentant after yesterday's angst.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Have You Ever?


Have you ever:

-- had a son tell you he needed new church shoes because they were too tight then act like you were torturing him when you suggested a shoe shopping trip?

--realized you were double booked, no triple booked for tomorrow?

--agreed to a project which uselessness is only eclipsed by how time consuming it will be?

--had your schedule interrupted so many times that it's beyond recognition?

--have children that still need to be fed and want clean laundry even when you're so busy you can't think straight?

--whined (excessively) to both of your sisters? (sorry girls)

--directed all your frustration at your son even when he's only responsible for about 10% of it? (sorry Braeden)

--wandered aimlessly around Target looking for an obligatory gift for someone you hardly know? Trying to strike that delicate balance between, "I don't want to spend too much money and I don't want to show up with a cheap gift"?

--been cut off in line at Target by a bustling lady with about 20-30 bottles of Suave shampoo (I am not kidding) in her cart ? She looked at me, startled when she realized she'd cut me off and I sweetly said, "That's OK, go ahead," because I firmly believe that even though I don't feel at all charitable on the inside I can at least (occasionally) pretend to be kind on the outside.

--bought a package of fun sized Snickers bars?

I so deserved it.

So how's your day been?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just a Regular Guy


I recently read Jay Leno being quoted in Reader's Digest. He said, in speaking about politicians as guests,
They're my favorite guests. Arnold Schwarzenegger came on and announced he was running for governor. John Kerry drove a motorcycle onto the set. Newt Gingrich brought on a pig to show he was a regular guy. I love that stuff.

Then I reread the last bit: Newt Gingrich brought on a pig to show he was a regular guy.

Really? Really?

I tried to imagine the conversation he had with his wife the night before.

Newt: I need something to make me look like a regular guy...

Mrs. Newt: How about wearing jeans?

Newt: Not regular enough...

Mrs. Newt: How about taking a pet onstage? A dog? Cat?

Newt: Not regular enough...

Mrs. Newt: A farm animal?

Newt: Maybe...

Mrs. Newt: A sheep? A cow?

Newt: Not regular enough...

Mrs. Newt: A pig?

Newt: BINGO! Regular guys almost always carry around pigs. Especially when going on the Tonight Show.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Child Left Behind

You know how on Mother's Day there are stories and sentiments floating around that make you feel slightly guilty, "I'm not that good of a mother..."

Well never fear, I have a story for you that will make you feel really good. You will think, "I am not that kind of a mother....I'm so much better!"

I'm just really kind like that. Remember this story? It seems like a pattern in my motherhood.

Last night we were at the church, assembling gifts as a Relief Society presidency. I had Adam and Emma and Mark there to help (Braeden was babysitting). We had two cars there because Adam had met me at the church.

The carrot dangling in front of the working children was that we'd go to Alfy's for pizza afterward.

As we were turning lights off and locking up and stowing the assembled gift baskets in the clerk's office for safe keeping, I called out to the parking lot to Adam to go ahead to Alfy's and order the pizza and I'd be there shortly. I thought he had both kids with him.

After a few minutes I too left the church and drove the short distance to Alfy's. We waited for the pizza to arrive then gathered the kids from the arcade area to come and eat.

Except for where was Emma?

We searched.

Then realized she was still at the church.

Adam thought I had her and I was SURE he had her. Adam rushed back to the church and I nervously looked at the pizza sitting on the table and couldn't eat any because what sort of terrible mother am I anyway?

Adam and sweet Emma with tear stained cheeks entered and relief flooded me.

When I had flipped off the light in the women's bathroom at the church, Emma had been inside. She'd been plunged in complete darkness. When she finally made her way out of the bathroom, the church was empty. She went to the parking lot and realized it was empty but the church was locked and she was stuck outside. She wisely (good girl Emma!) decided the busy street shouldn't be crossed to get to Alfy's. She also decided where she'd sleep (behind some bushes) because she assumed that if we were dumb enough to leave her in the first place, we were probably not smart enough to come back for her.

Happily all was well at last.

And we have a new policy: No Child Left Behind.

We'll work on that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I'm Blushing

Mrs. Ascani, who is the wonderful teacher we work with in the Washington Virtual Academy, sends a question a week to her students to which she expects a reply. This week the question was, "Tell about a special woman in your life."

Here's the response Mark dictated to me:

I love my mom. My mom is so awesome and gives me hugs and kisses when I come back from Father and Son Camp. Did you hear about Father and Son Camp? I'm going camping with my dad and Braeden and my friend Gavin (who's not in my family) is going camping with his dad. I'm going tonight (or today). We're going to have marshmallows. We're going to have hot dogs too.

About this time Emma told him that it needed to be more about Mom so he threw me a bone:

My mom will miss me. I have an awesome house. She teaches school with me in the house.

Can you feel the love? It seems like the main thing that's "special" about me is that I'll miss him and will give him proper accolades when he returns to me.

I guess I should take what I can get.

And be thankful to Mrs. Ascani for trying to eke some appreciation out for me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Big Sister

At Women’s Conference I had a combination of up too late and up too early and a bad bed.

I was tired.

On Friday morning Marianne and Katie and I went to the Creamery on 9th to grab breakfast. I was too tired to decide what I wanted for breakfast. I finally gave up and followed Marianne around and purchased every single thing she did. Then I put it all in her bag for her to carry for me.

Sometimes in moments of weakness and exhaustion you fall back into the familiar.

I’ll never know if she was the leader and I was the follower because those were our personalities or because of our birth order. Nature v. nuture.

Marianne was my older sister in every sense of the word. She was my example, always at least half a foot taller than me. A leader. An achiever. My advocate. When in public, she comfortably took a step forward to speak for both of us and I comfortably took a step back. She made everything more entertaining. She wrote skits for us to perform for our parents on holidays, she planned big parties with her many friends, she always let me tag along.

She made everything fair. She devised a Federal Land Bank when we played Monopoly so no one would completely fail. She divided up babysitting and cleaning and dishes jobs.

She was a leader.

I would have sooner hated my own self than hate her but sometimes I hated being her younger sister. She excelled at everything. She was ambitious and bright, charismatic and worked hard. She was the lead in the school play, the drummer in the band, the star of the basketball team and the smartest one in each of her classes.

I…wasn’t.

My parents assured me different from Marianne was OK; was good. I rarely believed them.

I did love being her sidekick though. I took the wheel when she put on her make-up on the way to seminary. We sang a lot of country music really loudly in our 1969 Chevy Impala. We shared clothes and opinions and secrets and were together through waitress jobs and car crashes.

It was a desolate day when she went to college and a worse day when she left for her mission.

If I wasn’t Marianne’s sister, who was I? If she wasn’t here to follow, where would I go?

Shortly before she left for her mission, our dad was diagnosed with cancer. In the days after she left, our parents were in Salt Lake City, our dad in the hospital and I was the oldest at home, taking care of my siblings. Marianne was inaccessible like she’d never been. It was just me.

And I survived it.

And I guess I gradually grew up. I had a better idea of who I was. As much as I’ll always need her, I had an identity apart.

And it’s a good thing because within a few years I was in New Haven, CT and she was in the middle of sagebrush with no phone service.

It wasn’t long before she had a phone and we were each other’s lifelines. We talked about our babies, motherhood and Everything Under the Sun. What to Expect the First Year and Parent’s Magazine were our sources of all information and I can’t imagine surviving teaching my children to sleep through the night and be potty trained without Marianne on the other end of the phone.

Somehow we’re on the same ground now. It’s not that I’ve caught up to her, she is still an achiever and I aspire to her great heights but I’m me and she’s Marianne. And that’s great.

I’ll always be grateful to my big sister. By trying (and failing) to be her, I learned to be me and by watching her advocate for and protect me, I learned I was worth standing up for.

Today’s her birthday. I love you Marianne!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Will This Be On Your Blog?

Nearly every time I took a picture while in Nevada, the subject of the picture (if they were old enough) would say, "Will this be on your blog?"

Yes.

Yes.

And Yes.


Visiting Katie and Baby Olivia:





Birthday Lunch at Marianne and Robert's house:

Liberty, Deseret and Emma

Grandma Dahl, Grandma Jaynes, my dad, my mom and Katie

My parents, baby Olivia and Katie

Clarissa (who's almost as tall as me!) and Enoch (who's much taller)

Ammon and Melanee (who will be parents in October!)


Ruben and Morgan

The picture that made me miss Mark because they're all his age: Liliana, Hyrum and Isaiah

Olivia, Jennifer and Marianne


The pop sensation, Tina Trampolina:

Emma, Liberty and Deseret, a.k.a. Tiny Trampolina, performed their original songs and choreography for us all, Clarissa was accompanying them on the piano


Clarissa, Emma, Deseret and Liberty, complete with white t-shirt and pink tank top uniform


Dinner at The Star:

Tabor, me and Enoch

The after party:

Grandma and her girls, baby Olivia and Savannah


Comfortable on the piano bench: Olivia, Tabor, Robert and Marianne

Enjoying sweet Savannah

Four generations

My dad: sound asleep on the couch


How most of the time was spent: laughing

Enoch, Tabor and Ammon
Marianne, Thelma and Olivia,
Dad and Mom

Sunday morning:

Isaiah

Jennifer feeding Savannah and Luke wearing the vest Braeden wore to Enoch and Jennifer's wedding. Was Braeden that small? I ask you.

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