Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh My

All I can say is Oh. And then My.

What a day.

Today:

I found out that the harrowing time of swim team (7:30 a.m.) is going to be changed to 7:00 a.m. Even more harrowing.

Mark with his big excited brown eyes (oh those brown eyes!) told me that tomorrow is Parent Participation Day and he wants me to get in the pool with him. Me. In a swimsuit. In public. Early on a chilly morning.

I don't want to talk about it.

I had to take Braeden to get two teeth pulled at the dentist. Any day that includes a dentist is not going to be a good one.

I found out that we'd accidentally paid two months worth of mortgage payments each month for two months. (Does that make sense?) I had to iron that out on the phone.

It's still not ironed out.

While I was visiting teaching (Visiting teaching! Shouldn't there be a Sisters in Zion Clause that calamities can't happen at home while you're visiting teaching? Maybe going on the last day of the month voids the clause.) Mark took a "bubble bath" with nearly the entire contents of Emma's (expensive!) clarifying shampoo.

It's nearly 8:00 and Adam's not home from work yet.

And I miss him.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better--albeit early--day.

Maybe.

Confession

I did it.

I swore Never Again.

And I caved.

I went to…(gulp)…Wal-Mart.

I’m ashamed.

I sold out.

I have no integrity.

I hate Wal-Mart.

The whole Wal-Mart experience.

But Target let me down.

They had the sunglasses for our kids (I read you can prevent cataracts by wearing sunglasses before age 18 and I believe everything I read).

They had the scrub brush. (I sacrificed mine to scrubbing the vent above my stovetop…then it was either clean the nasty brush or get a new one).

They did not have the drip pans for the burners (I also replace rather than clean those…they are so cheap in relation to how hard they are to clean).

They did not have the fertilizer for the lawn that Adam wanted.

They did not have the microwave cleaner I wanted.

So…we…went…to…Wal-Mart.

Our kids were incredulous.

I’m ashamed.

And I hated Wal-Mart. Especially when they had (except for the microwave cleaner…don’t they make that anymore?) what I wanted for cheap. (that makes it hard to keep my resolve…thanks for nothing Wal-Mart)

Especially when the aisles were so crowded and the employees seemed to ooze incompetence. Like usual.

Especially when I felt like I’d sold my soul the whole time.

I’m ashamed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Eleven More Days


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I’m itching.

I’m itching to pack up everything and tell Adam it won’t fit. No way. Not this year. Whatever will we do?

I’m itching to hear Adam say, “Yes, it will fit. It always does. Stack everything in the dining room. I’ll make it work.”

I’m itching for him to make everything fit.

I’m itching to sit next to Adam for hours on end, listening to the ipod, propping my bare feet on the dashboard, chewing gum and Red Vines alternately to keep me busy.

I’m itching for the pleasure I get out of Wacky Places: “The Palm Springs of Washington”, Bliss, Idaho.

I’m itching for pretty farms and Blue Mountains and long stretches of sagebrush.

Ahhhh, sagebrush.

I’m itching for are-we-there-yet-how-much-longer-I-have-to-use-the-bathroom-no-I-can’t-wait.

I’m itching for the home stretch, south of Twin Falls when Nevada starts to seep into my psyche and make me happy.

I’m itching for all that sky.

Have I mentioned the sagebrush?

I’m itching for “the bumpy road” when we really know we’re almost there.

I’m itching for the sweet sweet scent of willows which makes me want to cry. I love it that much.

I’m itching to turn into my parents’ lane. See their house as we go around that last curve. See the chairs on the front porch. Waiting. See the bird feeder with kamikaze hummingbirds.

I’m itching to throw my arms around them all…mom, dad, sisters, brothers, unsuspecting and somewhat willing nieces and nephews, maybe even Frank the tree (my dad names things).

I’m itching for my mom’s food.

I’m itching to heft my dad’s amazing art in my hands and see it up close and personal.

I’m itching to lie on Marianne’s couch (I first started laying on her couch when I was pregnant with Braeden and I still think it might be my favorite spot in America) and let my sisters and sisters-in-law solve all my troubles with their wit and wisdom and empathy.

I’m itching to let my brothers make me laugh until my cheeks hurt.

I’m even itching for the return journey when I’m road weary and had my fill. I love dropping down out of Snoqualmie Pass and feel the water flow back into my dehydrated-from-the-desert cells.

Home again. My hair will spring back with the humidity and I’ll love my little house all the more after the absence.

Pass the calamine lotion.

Because I’m itching.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Me, Trying to Join the 21st Century


I would tell you how I came to own my little beauty of a bicycle but I doubt you'd believe me.

After owning it for over eight years, I finally took it on a real bike ride as opposed to just joyful little turns around the cul-de-sac.

And I was a little nervous.

I know how to ride a bike. I bounced over the rocky dirt roads of my youth on various bikes...my favorite a pink one with a daisy print banana seat and pink daisies on the front basket where I'd stash my doll and away we'd go.

I'd just never ridden a bike on...um....streets.

The preparation was a lot like going horseback riding with my dad though.

My dad used to inspect my horse's shoes.

Adam checked the air in the tires.

My dad used to adjust the saddle stirrups to the length of my legs.

Adam gauged the correct seat height.

My dad used to load horses in a horse trailer, side by side, one at a time.

Adam put the bikes in the van the same way.

When I donned a bicycle helmet for the first time in my life (I had borrowed Braeden's), it flopped from side to side. I told Adam I needed a stampede string like my dad made for me to keep my cowboy hat on.

Adam took the helmet and adjusted the strap.

It wasn't the first time I wondered if I'd married a suburbanite version of my dad.

One spring I was riding with my dad. Boulder Creek near our house was raging and had washed out the bridge. My dad spurred his big bay, Wellington, into the swirling water and I thought, "Really? You want me to do that?" and I nervously coaxed the horse I was riding, Luke, to follow.

Last night, when Adam zipped across the street in downtown Everett, I thought, "Really? You want me to do that?"

But I did.

And it wasn't bad.

We made it to the quiet streets of Rucker and Grand Avenue in North Everett which is where we want to live when we grow up (assuming we become bank robbers and can afford it).

It was a spectacular night. From the bluff the Sound stretched before us. There were kite surfers and sailboats out. Everything from the soul soaring sunset reflecting on the water, to the salty scent, to the just right temperature made it one spectacular night.

After we'd loaded up the bicycles we headed back to Mill Creek and to The Blazing Onion. It was necessary to satisfy my sweet potato fries craving.

For our dinner we ordered sweet potato fries, onion rings and a blackberry milkshake to share. We eased our guilt by sharing a spinach salad as well.

What more can I say? It was a taste sensation.

I think I love where I live and the man I live here with.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Yam What I Yam


Last night when I was washing dishes I started thinking about my mom. You should know my mom. She’s really something.

I had made a peach crisp. It all started a few days earlier when I was at Costco and peaches reached and grabbed me with their perfect ripe scent and I bought a box. Last night I made a peach crisp with what was left of the box.

I blanched the peaches like my mom taught me to do years ago in her big kitchen on a hot August afternoon when we were canning peaches. I know my mom is not the only one privy to this peach peeling trick, it’s pretty much common knowledge, but it’s a swell trick and I’m glad my mom taught me.



It’s staggering to consider all that my mom taught me.

Staggering.

Earlier when we were leaving the pool, Braeden said, “Why do we have to work every day? We are the only ones that have to work during the summer. No one else does.”

For one thing, I don’t think that’s true.

The only thing else I could do is empathize. I told my children that I used to feel the exact same way. My mom made us work and work and I hated it.

And now I do the same thing.

Emma said, “Well, just stop doing it.”

It’s not that easy.

And I hope someday Emma will tell her whining children the same thing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Striking Out


This afternoon I was supposed to be cleaning my microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, oven and stove top according to my master deep-cleaning-this-summer schedule.

I set the oven to self clean, halfheartedly cleaned some appliances, burned my fingers wiping the front of the oven and gave up to do my errands.

As is their custom, I knew the lovely labor saving contraptions would wait for me.

I went to Great Clips where my hero hair cutter, Titi, works. I love Titi. I love how cheap hair cuts at Great Clips are. I love that I know when Titi works because I would never, no never let any of the other hacks that work there touch my hair. Thank you very much. I have learned that lesson.

I walked into Great Clips, fully expecting to be greeted by friendly Titi, to learn that she wouldn't be there until 5:00 today.

Strike one.

Next I went to Pier 1 Imports. According to my inbox, they were having a 50% off sale on "certain" items. I wondered if the pillow that makes my heart sing--the brown one with birds and flowers crewel embroidered on it--would be on sale.

Nope.

It's still $30. $30 for a pillow? I can't do it. I wish I could. But I can't. Blame my dad and his Scottish ancestors.

Strike 2.

I went to the library to research camcorders. I grabbed the volumes of Consumer Reports. I decided against sitting at the table next to the man who was tunelessly whistling while he worked on his computer.

(Is there anything as horrible as tuneless whistling? I mean besides corn dogs or skittles or rodents?)

I went over to the "quiet" section of the library. Which is sort of absurd because the little library is so small that anywhere in it you can hear the cacaphony from the children's section...especially when school is out.

Quiet is always appealing to me though so I sat myself between two people and started my research.

There was half a page on camcorders and it was not helpful in the least.

The man on one side of me was watching a movie on his laptop...complete with sound. It was turned way down but I thought he must take a page out of Mark's book when it comes to "quiet".

The guy on the other side of me was dressed in drag. I've seen him at the library before. Weird. Why would you get up in the morning, put on a dress, nylons and pumps and spend the day at the library? Particularly if you're a man? I wondered how he found a pearl ankle bracelet big enough for his manly ankle until I had sufficiently distracted myself from my disappointment over the camcorders. Then I moved on.

Strike 3.

the silver lining to the library cloud was that the little boy in the children's section screaming at his mother did not belong to me

On the way home I realized that I'd forgotten the work samples I need to send to my kids' Virtual Academy teachers. And I'd driven right by the post office.

Strike 4?

I think I'm out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Friends

Last night Jeff and Patty and Olivia and Amelia came to visit. They’re our friends from San Francisco.



Nine years ago we lived next door to them for six months. I think it was love at first sight and we’ve been it-doesn’t-matter-how-long-it’s-been-you-can-talk-late-into-the-night friends ever since.

We just adore them.



So yesterday afternoon, I had to do some sprucing up around our house. Things like stuff the shirts to be ironed into the closet and out of sight. Friendships based on deceit and mythical homemaking skills are the best kind. I had no time to iron because I had to set the scene.

a little ambiance



Setting the scene is one of my favorite things to do. I love how guests give me an excuse for breaking out the napkin ring holders.

Once they arrived, Olivia and Amelia were whisked away to Emma’s room where they soon had applied my makeup on their faces in zealous ways.

Braeden hung on every word of Adam and Jeff’s sustained conversation, interjecting enough to satisfy his curiosity about Jeff’s military career.

Mark popped around like popcorn in various costume changes.

And Patty and I just talked. About Everything.


“We are friends and I do like to pass the day with you in serious and inconsequential chatter. I wouldn't mind washing up beside you, dusting beside you, reading the back half of the paper while you read the front. We are friends and I would miss you, do miss you and think of you very often.”

Jeanette Winterson



P.S. Thank you good Adam for cleaning up the kitchen after I went to bed last night. It's not possible to bluff my housekeeping skills with a husband. Thanks for being OK with that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day One

This morning was the first swim team practice.

It was early.

And it was cold.

That pretty much sums up swim team practice.

We left at 7:15 which is nothing short of traumatic to our gentle home schooling psyches. I pulled Mark out of sleep at 7:10 and slipped him from his warm pajamas into his swim suit. I had enlisted Braeden's help in assembling Mark's swim bag. He put in goggles and towel and t-shirt, I put in a pair of pants. I put a groggy Mark in his seat in the van and put a cup of milk in one hand and an oatmeal and raisin breakfast cookie in the other.

And we were off.

Swim team practice (for Braeden and Emma) is from 7:30-8:30, then Mark has swim lessons from 8:50-9:20. Sounds like a long time at the pool but it's actually considerably streamlined from last year.

I shuttled Mark into the boys' dressing room and told him to meet me on the other side.

He took a long time.

He finally came out, dripping wet. He'd taken a shower because he thought he was getting into the pool. He was getting into the pool, just not for an hour and a half.

I'm not sure what the temperature was but it was at least in the 50s.

I wrapped Mark in a jacket and his towel and sat him in the sun. He was still working on his breakfast as he shivered on.

Then he spilled the milk on the towel.

Eventually I pulled Mark's damp little person onto my lap. I put his jacket on his legs, had him wear my jacket with the hood up and wrapped him in his (mostly dry but a little milky) towel.

And we sat while Braeden and Emma swam their valiant first day exhausting laps.

And waited for the blessed hour when Mark could slide into the steamy pool.

A woman scorned has nothing on a cold Mark. His discomfort and displeasure manifests itself in a very angry Mark.

Finally it was 8:50. Blessed 8:50! Mark got into the pool and was happy. I concentrated on sending him mental messages to pay attention to his teacher. He received maybe 60% of the mental messages.

I'll take it.

After lessons, I sent Mark on his merry shivering way to the dressing room. I went to the playground and found Braeden and asked him to go check on Mark. Braeden returned to tell me that Mark didn't have any underwear. Our tag team packing of the swim bag had forgotten that important element.

Braeden said Mark wouldn't "go commando" as Braeden calls the underwear-less state. He said Mark wouldn't do anything and that he was mad.

Somehow I could picture it.

I instructed Braeden to gather Mark and all of his belongings and bring it all to me on the playground. Mark came out with tear streaked face and wrapped like a burrito in his towel.

And he was mad.

I convinced him that his only options were the pants or soaking wet swim suit. He finally "went commando" and I held up the towel as a makeshift dressing room for him. Once he was dressed and had swiped the tears away, he was off to play freeze tag with his siblings and the other kids at the playground.

He ran by and said, "Mom, this is not bad!" I may never get him to wear underwear again.

So that was day one.

How many days in a summer?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Three Fathers

My parents taught me that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me.

My dad taught me what it’s like to have a father who loves you.

So I get that my Heavenly Father loves me too.

I’m not sure what better gift my dad could have given me (although I really liked all the silver jewelry).

Linn gave me a son. A good strong well taught son.

Linn is the kind of grandfather that played on the floor and let the babies crawl over him. He’s the kind of grandfather who listens.

I know, because I’ve got the kind of children who like to talk.

And then there’s Adam.

I could write a book about all the things I didn’t know about Adam when we got married.

Here are some of the things I didn’t know about what he’d be like as a father.

1. I didn’t know what Adam would be like in the delivery room. I can’t imagine how he could have been better. He even let me squeeze his hand so hard when Emma was being born that he couldn’t write the next day.

2. I didn’t know that Adam would be a perfectly trustworthy father. Never too rough with babies. Never giving me a cause to worry. Ever.

3. I didn’t know about the Dad Voice. It stops running away toddlers in their tracks and can bring a discordant room (or van) to silence. It can penetrate through closed doors to bring everyone to dinner. I really like the Dad Voice.

4. I didn’t know the kind of provider Adam would be. He went from not wanting to spend his money on someone else’s wife (seriously, he had other good qualities) to working incredibly long hours for money he never sees so our children and I can have the good things of life.

5. I didn’t know how important my happiness would be to Adam. I didn’t know he’d be willing to step in uncomplaining and with irritating competence every year so I could go away to Women’s Conference.

6. I didn’t know how calm Adam would be as a father in the face of illness/misbehavior/problems in general with our children. And how calm I would not be.

7. I didn’t know Adam would be The Church Nazi and teach our kids to sit quietly sans snacks or books or toys. I didn’t think it could be done. I thought wrong.

8. I didn’t know that Adam would be the instigator, prodder and insister of reading the Book of Mormon to our kids each night.

9. I didn’t know our kids would fight for the privilege of riding with their dad (preferably alone) if we were ever en route somewhere in two cars. I didn’t know I’d be such a boring second-class citizen.

10. I didn’t know Adam would let our kids climb all over him (like his dad).

11. I didn’t know I would marry someone who made me and our children laugh every day (like my dad).

Happy Father’s Day to the three most important, best-loved dads in my life. I love and appreciate you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

Tonight Adam and I ate at the Tulalip Casino. Our kids would have been scandalized but they were home watching Disney Channel so were spared the Sodom and Gomorrah-ness of it all.

I felt like I'd stepped from the Pacific Northwest into Nevada.

It was Nevada right down to the jangling slot machines, garish carpet and vacant expressions of the gamblers.

I worked summers as a waitress in casinos. I felt like I should strap on an apron and start taking orders. I felt like I was home.

I had the prime rib (end cut), felt it my obligation to taste test several desserts and left smelling like an ash tray.

Nevada.

As we left, Adam took my hand and said, "We can come back if you ever get homesick."

I think I prefer the fragrant sagebrush and spending languid evenings on my parents' front porch watching the sunset.

That's where I want to go when I'm homesick.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tender Mercies

This afternoon I want to describe and discuss a spiritual impression I received a few moments before I stepped to this pulpit during the Sunday morning session of general conference last October. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf had just finished speaking and had declared his powerful witness of the Savior. Then we all stood together to sing the intermediate hymn that previously had been announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley. The intermediate hymn that morning was "Redeemer of Israel" (Hymns, no. 6).

Now, the music for the various conference sessions had been determined many weeks before—and obviously long before my new call to serve. If, however, I had been invited to suggest an intermediate hymn for that particular session of the conference—a hymn that would have been both edifying and spiritually soothing for me and for the congregation before my first address in this Conference Center—I would have selected my favorite hymn, "Redeemer of Israel." Tears filled my eyes as I stood with you to sing that stirring hymn of the Restoration.

Near the conclusion of the singing, to my mind came this verse from the Book of Mormon: “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Ne. 1:20).

My mind was drawn immediately to Nephi’s phrase “the tender mercies of the Lord,” and I knew in that very moment I was experiencing just such a tender mercy. A loving Savior was sending me a most personal and timely message of comfort and reassurance through a hymn selected weeks previously. Some may count this experience as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them.


From Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

April 2005 General Conference




This morning I woke up in a cloud. Not because it was cloudy and rainy outside (I was actually a little happy I didn't have to water my garden today). It was just cloudy and rainy inside of me.

Occasionally I have these running away from home fantasies when I can't take what I've been taking anymore. Usually I hatch a plan that I'll board a bus and head to South Dakota and be a waitress in a truck stop. Last night when I was talking to Adam (I guess the cloud didn't show up just this morning), he asked me what would make things better. I said, "Leaving." He said, "Where do you want to go?" I said, "New Mexico."

I'm not really sure where that came from. Sorry South Dakota, it's nothing personal.

So back to this morning. And my cloud.

Mark came to my bedroom wrapped in his bathrobe. He was bleary eyed and with major bed head and major allergies. Even though I was fully dressed and ready for the day, I crawled under the covers of my bed to snuggle with him. He's usually way too squirmy for such activities but this morning he was sleepy enough to relent.

I told him he was precious to me.

He told me I was precious to him.

Then he told me that if I died, he would be so sad he probably would stay home and cry and not even play with his friends.

I appreciated the sentiment.

And the cloud was lifting (inside, not outside my window).

Then my cell phone rang. It was my brother Tabor. Did he get more than he bargained for when he called me and I laid out in great detail Everything Bothering Me? Maybe, but it's not like it's never happened before.

He listened. He empathized. He advised. He validated. He told me it would be OK. He made me laugh.

He told me that he could tell from my emails and blog that I'd been "despairing" and he wanted to call me. Really? I went back and looked over what I'd written. How did he know?

Because he's my Tabor, I guess. He always has been.

So I'll be OK.

Then I talked to Adam. I told him I was doing better. No South Dakota/New Mexico on the horizon.

Then my mom called me. (Do you ever have days when the troops interminably rally around?) She bolstered me as mothers do.

It's so nice to have people around to pick up the pieces when you're falling apart. Like I've always thought, it takes a village to raise a Thelma.

And I have a village. (Thank you, Village.)

So onward...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Humbled

I took algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus in high school. I liked them all (thank you Mr. Swanson!) and I did pretty well in them. I think I got the Top Math Student award in my tiny high school when I was a senior.

I can do math.

Or I could.

This summer I'm working on some pre-algebra with Braeden. (I'm telling you, PRE-algebra.) Here was one of the questions today:

Draw a large scalene triangle. Construct the three medians (see Construction I). Are they concurrent?

Huh? I understand all the words. I even know what scalene triangles, medians and concurrent mean. But, huh?

I would call Marianne (mathematician extraordinaire) but she's somewhere between Washington, D.C. and home today. I would call Olivia but she wouldn't remember. I would call my brothers but they probably wouldn't remember either. Ammon might but I don't want to be That Sister, calling him at work with Stupid Questions.

I didn't want to do it because for some unfathomable reason, my kids think he's smarter than me. (He is but that doesn't mean I have to like it.)

I really didn't want to but as you can see I was out of options.

So I did it.

I said, "We'll have to ask your dad when he gets home."

Darn.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Marrying Well

I didn't marry Adam just so I could be related to his aunt Susan.

But I would have if I'd met her.


This is not the greatest picture I've ever taken...but not the worst either. Susan is visiting from Georgia, so she's freezing in Seattle.
We love her!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Must...Get...Structure

School ended Friday and swim team practice starts Monday and this week we find ourselves between the bookends of structure.

We've accomplished a fair bit: we've done our reading...

Mark decided to read 7 short kindergarten stories today to build his caterpillar.

...and we've done our deep cleaning for the day--downstairs bathroom and coat closet.

But there's a lot of structure gone. After the piano recital of last night...

Pictured here with Emma is their wonderful teacher, Sarah



...there's no more preparing for that.

The school books are sitting quietly alone for the most part.

I've also limited screen time--TV and computer.

And what have my kids decided to do with their new found time?

They've tied each other up (a lot).



They've made really crazy movie clips that make me wonder if they're not a little deranged. (Which I would show you but I'm not smart enough to figure that out. Just trust me, they're crazy.)

Braeden decided to do a science experiment to see how different substances effect fermentation of grapes.



They've made an effusive scattering of all of their belongings.



And as soon as everything is picked up, they're going on a bike ride.

Because I'm tired.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Eventful Life

Last night the realization washed over me that my high expectations for a Less Busy Summer and my high expectations for All I Am Going To Get Done this summer...

...were not going to go together very well.

Sometimes--quite often--reality is no fun.

I was sitting perched on our bed with my planner in hand, lamenting it all to Adam.

I said, "Just look around this room and you can see how behind I am."

Adam looked around the room. He saw things like this sweater that's been there days, weeks, months, decades, since before the dawn of time...I don't know.

And its missing button that's been there at least as long, waiting to be sewn back on.



Adam said, "This just means you're alive. This," and he swept his arm majestically across the expanse of our less than perfect bedroom, "Is evidence of an eventful life."

Aren't you glad I married Adam?

I know I am.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Resolve

1. We decided we are not going to eat out so much.

2. We went to The Tin Fish for fish tacos and fries with malted vinegar sprinkled on top. (Can you hear my soul rejoicing?)

3. We decided we are not going to eat out so much starting now.

Up

Every once in awhile, something works.

This was one of those things:




I made a chart about a month ago. Every morning if our children got their work done by a set time, they got a "balloon" (smiley face sticker) for each task. Once we had 400, we would go see the movie Up.

This seemed like a lot to our kids. 400?! Sometimes people rise to the occasion though and this was one of those times.

The best part of the whole thing? They nagged each other instead of me nagging them to do their work. (Braeden is an especially skilled nagger.) I loved it!

I also loved the movie. I highly recommend it. And take Kleenex. It made me cry. Also, Mark was allergic to something in that theater (maybe the guy next to him glaring each time Mark sneezed?). Finally after digging in my purse in vain for anything Mark could wipe his nose on, I offered him my jacket sleeve. Then my other sleeve.

Adam wondered why Mark skedaddled over to hold my hand when we got to parking lot. I think my snotty jacket sleeves spoke for themselves. You've got to stick with someone who will let you wipe their nose (over and over) on their sleeve.

P.S. Susie, I saw your brother's name in the credits and I thought of you! I wanted to nudge the (glaring) man next to me and say, "Hey, I know that guy! Well, OK, I don't know him but I know his sister...so who's glaring now?"

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Last Day




No more pencils



No more books



No more teachers' dirty looks









(What are you looking for...there are no pictures here. I don't give dirty looks.)

All of this last day euphoria is slightly colored by the fact that there will be some school work happening over the summer.

And my kids will not escape their teacher's dirty looks (not that I ever give dirty looks) through summer's sweet song.

Still...

we're pretty happy around here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mother Bear

Today I was sitting in my school room, correcting grammar tests when I heard a scream of holy terror outside. Since all of my three were outside I immediately lifted the blinds. What I saw were three boys, slightly older than Braeden, chasing one of Mark's triplet friends. I couldn't tell which one it was because he was riding away on his bike, pumping his little legs for all he was worth while the older boys were whooping and giving chase on their scooters.

I wondered if I should intervene but Holden/Payton/Hunter had made it to safety because the boys had come back to the empty cul de sac across from my house.

Next I heard them starting to yell again. I glanced out my window and this time it was Braeden riding his bike down the hill towards our house. They were taunting him, begging for a fight. Braeden's always been a lover instead of a fighter and he calmly rode his bike into the garage without so much as a glance their way.

Now I REALLY didn't know what to do. Would I embarrass Braeden if I said something? If I didn't say something would the next victim of their taunts be Mark who still had to come home from Gavin's? Would Mark tackle them headlong and get beat up in the process? (He's much more of a fighter than a lover...always has been.)

The mother bear won the inner turmoil.

I opened my front door and saw the biggest boy walking into the garage, still trying to get to Braeden. I heard him say, in the sneering voice of a bully, "So you're not a fighter?"

Then he turned and saw me.


I said, "I saw you guys chasing one of the triplets earlier. I know you think it's funny, but it's not. He's little and was scared."

The boy looked sheepish and guilty and said, "He doesn't mind..."

I said, "Really?"

He swallowed hard and nodded.

I said, hands on hips, "Well, don't mess with my kids."

All three kids nodded vigorously and made their way up the street and away from my house.

I still didn't know if I did the right thing. Did I embarrass Braeden by stepping in when he was handling it fine on his own? Braeden seemed unruffled. He came inside looking for a drink and snack and wondering if he could watch TV. I asked him if those boys had messed with him before and he said no and shrugged. It was no big deal.

So maybe it wasn't.

Just another reminder that this parenting stuff is not easy. It never was. Probably never will be.

The Birthday

The Gift


The Grandpa and Sister


The Boy

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's My Birthday, I'll Be Tyrannical If I Want To


Today Mark is 6 1/2. With our tendency for birthdays close to Christmas, we celebrate half birthdays. Just another notch in our making-our-children-out-of-touch-with-reality belt. (Like his siblings before him, Mark wondered why they didn't sing to him in primary.)

Mark also decided he wanted to celebrate his birthday on Tuesday, not Wednesday. No amount of convincing him that wouldn't happen made a difference. He insisted.

Customarily I ask my birthday honorees for menu suggestions. Here's what Mark wanted:

breakfast: waffles
lunch: pancakes
dinner: oven pancakes

We were going to be swimming in a sticky syrup stupor all day.

I tried to come up with alternatives.

About this time my angel son informed me that he was in charge of his birthday and I was not. Whatever he said was going to happen, was going to happen.

Enter Adam with the stern fatherly advice. I don't know if it's the big deep voice or the big size but when Adam speaks, the children listen.

Humbled, Mark acquiesced.

We had the waffles for breakfast.

We're having leftover pizza (from last night's dinner at Alfy's) for lunch.

We're having hot dogs cooked on the grill for dinner.

Don't judge me and I won't look at the ingredients on the hot dog package and I think we'll all be OK.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Photo Booth

Today Braeden and Emma had ridden their bikes to their piano lessons and Mark was bo-ooooored (it's amazing how many syllables he can put in that word). I ran through a list of possibilities that might be fun (and not involve me). He didn't like any of them. Then I remembered photo booth on the computer.

I took a few shots with him...




then left him to his own giggling devices...








He's kind of nuts don't you think?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Not QUITE Yet

Today Braeden asked me if he could make lunch. I said a reluctant OK. He made the one and only thing he knows how to make, scrambled eggs. They were perfect. I marveled as I ate the flawless eggs with ham and onions cooked just right. They were good. My mind-with-the-active-imagination thought maybe Braeden could start making lunch every day. Wouldn't that be nice? I would even eat scrambled eggs every day.

Maybe we'd reached a nirvana state with these children of mine. Maybe it was going to be smooth sailing and lunches I didn't have to prepare. Maybe.

Usually Braeden visits his grandpa while I do my errands but today didn't so I took the opportunity to take Braeden to the store with me. The boy needed clothes. And a new bicycle helmet.

"But why do I have to go?" he wondered. Over and over. Each time the answer was: Because. You. Have. To. Try. Things. On.

Then Mark didn't want to go. "Why do I have to go?"

There was a much simpler cure there though. He watched Home Alone at Christmas time and lives in fear of being left home alone (not that we are the type to ever leave kids behind). I told him in my best spooky voice, "You have to come so you won't be left Home Alone." He quick-stepped it to the van.

So with a scowl and a grumble, we were off.

Emma was remarkably pleasant on the drive. I asked her a question and she said, "Mom, I'm imagining a story I want to write so can you please not talk to me."

At least she wasn't mad at me like my sons were.

At Target we selected bicycle helmets and looked at clothes and various other Target like trappings. Target's an OK store to take the group to because when I'm done with Whatever I Need Them for, they can waltz off to the toy aisles while I find Whatever Else I Need.

After I convinced Mark that I really meant it when I'd told him I wasn't buying him a toy, we were off.

The next stop was the mall. I don't remember having such a miserable time at the mall since the last time I took all three children.

My sister told me it couldn't be that bad considering the ages of my kids. It was that bad.

At least when they were young I could corral them in a stroller and placate them with cheerios and a sippy cup. Now they grumble and complain and don't like anything they see and drift away from me in their angst. Except for Mark. He's as pleasant as a sunny day at the mall. He just doesn't stay near enough for me to enjoy his smiles. He's a whirling dervish of Mark-ness in and out of clothing racks, up and down escalators, writhing out of my grasp. Not getting a toy, treat or movie THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Oh, I was crabby when we left the mall. I was wondering what delusions I live under that I ever go to the mall with my children. I was trying to remember why I homeschool the brood. I was wondering a lot...like how I ever thought we were approaching any sort of nirvana.

Our final stop was Costco. I gave Braeden and Emma half the list and they efficiently met me at the front of the store with their cart. They deftly loaded the contents of their cart into mine. It was quick and snappy and painless.

Maybe easy street isn't SO far out of my grasp.

We're just not there yet.

The Group Effort

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE


I made the cookies
Eric did the artful arrangement (with ice cream and hot fudge they brought)
Adam provided the mint (and took the picture)
Janet cleaned up the kitchen (even though I told her not to)

The kids brought their hearty appetites

And David played the piano

There may be more pleasant ways to spend an evening

But I don't know what they are


Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm Feeling Pretty Safe

Yesterday we cleaned out our garage. Phew. It's an easier sentence to type than it was a task to complete. We sifted through too small shoes and mismatched gloves and got rid of a bunch of stuff. A lot of what we got rid of were things given to us in an act of "here you throw this away."

note to self: say no thanks next time

This was monumental though: Adam decided it was time to bid a fond adieu to his hiking boots. The ones he's had since high school.

Adam is not what I would call a pack rat or even very sentimental. There are a few things however, that he holds onto. Mostly they're things he values because they've served him well and faithfully and it's hard to let them go.

Allow me to illustrate:


These are Adam's scriptures. He takes them to church every Sunday. He reads from them to our children every night. He used them as a seminary student in high school. He took them to Finland. They are marked and cross referenced in his tiniest neatest handwriting. And he's had them since he was eight. Yes, eight.

I have on more than one occasion recommended he get a new set.

You may know about our Saturn and Adam's affection for it. It's every bit as dog eared as Adam's beloved scriptures yet Adam drives it on.

So what does this all mean to me?

I feel pretty safe.

I am quite sure that Adam will not decide to trade me in for a younger sleeker model. He'll hang onto me when I'm old and in tatters.

And that's a good feeling.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Beautiful Words

Marine Air Conditioning.

Those may be some of my favorite words in the English language.

That's what the weather man calls it when things will go back to normal: "our marine air conditioner will kick back in".

Lovely. Lovely. Blessed marine air conditioning.

Last night at 10:00 it was 80 degrees in our family room. It was hot yesterday. It doesn't get very hot very often and we a) can't handle it and b) don't have air conditioning.

Adam and I were catching up on our day. I was contemplating whipping up some frozen hot chocolate. Suddenly the curtains billowed. The box fan in our upstairs window tumbled to the floor from the gust of wind.

And the air blowing in? Cool. Our marine air conditioning had come riding in on its white horse.

And saved the day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

P.S.

Adam's putting the new blinds up and I'm helping him. Sometimes I'm not really all that helpful.

Here's what we did today:

slipped and slid




Sometimes it can be a painful experience:






Sometimes getting a sliver in your foot from the deck and having your crazy aunt Thelma who's deadly with a needle and tweezers pluck it out is plenty dangerous in its own right.

This is my nephew Jackson...(I'm pretty sure) he has forgiven me


Braeden was there for the water time...he just took all the pictures so isn't in any of them.

My School Room

I would take a picture but it would wound my pride too much.

I remember years ago telling my friend Apryl in Connecticut that my desk was a reflection of my well being. When it was neat and tidy I was feeling good and on top of things and when it was a deep pile of books and papers and detritus, I was not doing so well.

I now have a much bigger barometer. My school room.

And let me tell you. Things are not looking so great. I point to too much to do and general slovenliness to blame. (Does placing blame help? Maybe.)

There are stacks of papers on every flat surface except for the floor. The final frontier. There's a sheet tacked in the window. The old blinds collapsed in a dusty frightening crash and the new blinds are sitting in their long narrow box, waiting for Adam. He's busy too.

The sun is filtering in through the sheet.

It's hot.

We're not used to hot here.

And there's also a smell. I don't even know what it is. It's not coming from the laundry room which is nearby and seems a likely culprit. It's not even coming from the kids' bathroom which is further away but not the cleanest spot in America either. I've tried to follow my nose all around the room to no avail. I sprayed air freshener. Braeden said, "Mom, don't cover the smell, eliminate it with Febreze." (Febreze can feel good about its marketing campaign.)

I still smell something.

And my kids don't. I keep demanding of them, "What is that?!" and they look confused and say, "What?"

Grrrrrrrrr.

I could stay here and clean and straighten (and find the smell?) or I could take my children over to Grandma and Grandpa's to their shady backyard to run in the sprinklers.

Pardon me while I go gather swimsuits.

(This school room did not get this way because I'm disciplined.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Six


There's enough distance and time between Emma's ten and Mark's six that six seems novel and like uncharted terrain.

Maybe it's just Mark's version of six.

There are a lot of inconsistencies:

When Mark wants to do something he's too young for, he says, "Mom, I am six."

When he needs to do an unsavory task like clean his room, he says, "Mom, I am only six."

He never (no never) wants to have school.

When he is doing school work, he gets unsettled if he doesn't do every single part of every single page.

There's predictable stuff like enough questions to make me cross-eyed. Then there's the unpredictable stuff like the other night when Adam was telling a story. Mark said, "Who in this story has swine flu? Because it seems like someone is missing."

There's a lot of sighing deeply from me as I have yet another strong personality to deal with in our little school of strong personalities.

Today Mark was learning how to count by two. He figured it out then said, "The problem with this is when you count by two you have no way of knowing how many there are."

I explained that yes you do. I demonstrated by spilling some colored pencils on the table and counting them briskly by two. Then I had him count one by one. See? We got the same number.

He said, "Well it doesn't work for large numbers."

I spilled more pencils on the table. We counted them.

His next argument: "It doesn't work for people that don't know how to count by two."

I told him I wasn't worried about them. I was worried about him and he was smart and knew how to count by two.

He sighed. "Not everyone is smart."

I sighed more deeply.

It's what I do many many times a day.

Monday, June 1, 2009

See This Ammon?

I may have once or twice grumbled the teeniest bit about the weather around here. (who me?) By doing so, I sort of shot myself in the foot.

When it came time for me to convince my brother and his wife to move here (because everyone else is in Nevada and how fair is that?), he laughed at me in his Ammon way.

Following is my photo essay: Seattle's Splendid Weather.

I'm hoping to undo some of the damage.







my three: notice Emma at water's edge...that's the best place to start looking for her if you need her

checking out Mark's spoils




And to prove the above pictures were not an isolated incident, here's from a different day:


So, Ammon? I'm waiting...

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