Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yes, I'll Be Praying for Them

There are two types of people in the world: people that should travel and people that should not. My parents, who are fabulous at so many, many other things, fall in the latter category.

For one thing, they don't like it. And you're not that great at things you don't like to do. Just ask me about keeping a budget...

My happy childhood was peppered with trips that were pretty miserable. My parents didn't have much money and I know they tried (well my mom tried...my dad REALLY just wanted to stay home).

Maybe our most infamous family trip was when we went to Jordan Valley, Oregon to a rodeo.

You haven't heard of Jordan Valley, Oregon? Well that's amazing because there is nothing there. Not even a grocery store or gas station.

Marianne was home from college and Olivia and I were supposed to be going to "S Day" for seminary...do they still have S Day? Marianne convinced us to skip S Day and go with everyone to the rodeo in Jordan Valley. "It will be fun," she insisted.

I think we really believed it would be fun, which says something about Marianne's persuasive skills.

We packed (and I don't use the word lightly) into our big Cadillac. My dad drove, then my mom and Marianne were in the front...with Ammon on either Marianne's or my mom's lap.

Have I mentioned Ammon was 8?

Marianne got the front because she was oldest. Ammon because he was smallest (for the time being at least) and got car sick.

That put me in the back with my long legged siblings. Enoch would go on to play college basketball and I swear he learned how to be aggressive under the basket with his elbows in the backseat of our Cadillac, vying for space.

It rained during the entire rodeo. My dad got out to talk to prospective customers about his bits and spurs, my brothers got out to watch the rodeo in the rain. My mom and sisters and I stayed in the car. My mom handed out copies of Reader's Digest and we read them in the car with fogged up windows.

Marianne, because she is Marianne, started to laugh and pointed out how funny it all was.

It seemed less funny and more "Why did I miss S Day? For this?" to me.

My brothers would come back to the car (smelling like wet dogs) from time to time to get warm.

Finally we packed it in again (again, not using the term lightly) and headed for home...which was over 300 miles away.

No, it wasn't that fun.

Traveling with our family.

Here's a (sorry, poor quality) picture from that ill fated trip:

Pardon me while I comment a little on this picture because 1) it cracks me up and 2) it is so representative of the characters in my family. I had a fleeting thought they might not appreciate me mocking them but then I remembered I'm far away and they can no longer stuff me in the closet then I remembered that my brothers used to stuff me in the closet and I decided they deserved a little mockery:

First, my dad is still in the car. I am SURE that he was impatient with this little stop and wanted to keep going.

My mom is looking cheerful enough and long suffering. That's my mom.

Marianne (with the awesome late 80s /early 90s glasses) is looking like the enthusiastic party planner she was.

Olivia is posing on the top of the car in a very Olivia-like way.

Enoch is 12-13 and making the awkward transformation from always dressing like a cowboy (see top half of his body) to trying to be more "urban" (see the enormous white basketball shoes). I promise Enoch dresses really well now.

Tabor is typically dressed in his own personal style. He's still like that.

Ammon is embracing the long sleeved shirt buttoned to the very top. These were in his "concerned about skin cancer" years.

I really love this picture...especially since I'm not in it so no one can comment on what crazy get up I was sporting in 1991.


But I digress.

In more recent years, I think my parents are getting better at traveling. Two years ago Adam and I had a great time in Oklahoma City with them. They quite admirably come and visit us once a year. Also a few years ago they took a trip with fellow Traditional Cowboy Artists associates to a fancy ranch in Wyoming and stayed longer than they'd planned because they were having such a great time.

It sort of blew my mind.

Right now my parents are somewhere in the Midwest. They went to Oklahoma City again for the Traditional Cowboy Artists Association big art show and sale. They decided to drive and do some touring on the way home.

They've called me a few times for some googling of directions (because part of the magic of traveling with my parents is that they don't really plan ahead that much).

I've marveled at their adventurous spirit and felt happy they're out there, having a great trip.

Then the other day they called me from Carthage, IL to ask for directions to the Carthage Jail.

The following conversation ensued:

Me: Go west on Wabash Street and turn right on Marion St. Go .2 miles and it will be on the right.

My Mom: (to my dad) Go that way, Mark. (then to me) Thanks, Dear. I'm sorry to bother you with directions again.

Me: No problem.

My Mom: Thelma...we're crossing Adams Street?

Me: You're going the wrong way, you're supposed to be going west.

My Mom: (to my dad) We're supposed to be going west.

My Dad (faintly, in the background): West is that way...

My Mom: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Me (feeling alarmed)

My Mom: Your dad just did a u-turn without looking and a truck almost hit us. And I don't have my seat belt on.

Me (increasingly alarmed picturing my dad with his loose interpretation of traffic laws and my mom without her seat belt on): PUT. YOUR. SEAT. BELT. ON.

My Mom: Oh, I know. You just said it was only .2 miles away...

Me: Put your seat belt on. And be careful.

My Mom: (cheerfully) We will, oh, there's Carthage Jail. 'bye Thelma. Thanks. Pray for us.

Oh, yes. I'll pray for them.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Full Cupboards

Every Sunday I send out an email to the women in my Relief Society summarizing the lesson. Do they read it? Do they delete it? I'll never know (and that's probably a good thing).

I was late sending out today's because 1) It's been a busy sort of Sunday and 2) I've been mulling it around in my head.

Usually mulling around long enough finally prompts some writing to come out of me...for my own sanity and rest for my mulling-weary brain so here I go...

It was a great lesson (thanks Doreen!) taught about provident living. It was based on Elder Hales' recent conference talked which I loved.

There was one thing said that pierced me though (from a talk by Elder Hales back in 1986...yeah internet!):

Unrestricted by programs and projects, bricks and mortar, the Lord’s real storehouse is indeed in the homes and the hearts of His people.



I started thinking about how my heart could become a storehouse...how is it already a storehouse? I remembered things...trials mostly that have enlarged my experience and empathy and made me if not an expert, at least a person who wants to help. Because I'm acquainted with post-partum depression, unemployment, a loss of a dear loved one, perhaps...hopefully, I have stored in my heart help for others in their times of need. What a blessing that my heart has been thus filled when I (certainly) didn't ask for it.

I'm pretty sure I can't adequately express what I mean. I tried to after church while Adam was heating up leftovers and I was emptying the dishwasher and I struggled along in the tangential way I try to explain things.

Adam said, "So you mean, after a trial, your cupboards are more full than before?"

Yes.

Exactly.

The cupboards of your heart.

Why I married that man. He gets me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Scourge of our Gender

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.
~David Carradine



The other day Emma and I were driving home and she told me that she was feeling badly because she didn't fit in with some girls.

I have long known this day would come (ever since I was her age and didn't fit in) but it's still painful.

I told her (because it's true) that it was my fault that she didn't fit in with that group because I had raised her to not fit in with girls like that.

I reminded her of her cousins and Freja...would they fit in with those particular girls?

"No," she conceded.

Before I could congratulate myself on my astute parenting, Emma delivered the clincher (the clincher that yes, she really is my daughter, yes she really is growing up), "But I don't fit in with them either. They're all better at everything than I am."

She listed their strengths and talents and I had to admit that it was probably my fault too. Emma can't sew like Marianne's girls because I can't sew like Marianne.

We sat glumly in the car, driving along and feeling lacking.

Then I looked over at my girl.

It's one thing for me to feel like a loser but I can't sit idly by and let Emma feel that way. Not Emma. Not my dazzling girl with more cleverness and talents than should be allowable by law.

Too bad we can't see ourselves through our mother's eyes.

I talked to Emma about the woeful nature of comparing ourselves to others. It's never good. Either we consider ourselves better and feel prideful or we consider ourselves worse and feel discouraged.

Not good.

I told Emma that it is something that women are particularly good at...this comparison business and it HAS TO STOP.

Paraphrasing a quote I once heard attributed to Oprah, I told Emma, "Your future is so bright I need to wear sunglasses."

She tried not to but smiled at me.

One rarely wants to believe their mother at such times, but I hope that my words sink in. If I could bequeath my daughter with one thing, it would be armor against comparisons, against feeling lacking, against worrying about what other people think. She mostly is better than I am in that arena but it isn't enough. I never ever want her to feel like she doesn't measure up.

Is that asking too much?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Shoe Wars

Chapter One: The Switcheroo

When Emma was this age:

(and don't be fooled by that sweet and innocent bald-headed goodness)


...she used to remove her shoes and put them on the wrong feet. She did it just because she could and because it was a lot of fun to watch me remove them and put them on the right feet again.

I finally gave up and let her wear them on the wrong foot.

Then she stopped switching them.

Because it wasn't fun anymore if I wasn't going to play.

Chapter 2: The Mary Jane Years


When Emma was this age:


(and don't be fooled by that toothy smile and affectionate brother hug)


...Emma started disliking everything I liked (she hated that jumper shown in the picture...according to her it was grey and dumb). My favorite shoes, especially for little girls, are Mary Janes and Emma was decidedly against them.

Every shoe shopping trip was antagonistic. Her tastes ran in more sparkly and Dora the Explorer decal directions. There was a lot of sighing and pouting (and that was just me).

Chapter 3: A Tentative Peace

This girl...


...and I have been getting along pretty well when it comes to footwear. She's past Dora the Explorer decals and since she's been in women's sizes (sigh), there aren't many Mary Janes anyway.

My job is just to make sure she doesn't pick shoes where the heels are too high.

Chapter 4: A New Chapter

Today we went shoe shopping.

And all of the sudden, I care EVEN MORE about what shoes the girl picks.

Because without warning, we are wearing the same size.



I want her to get cute shoes because while her feet are likely not done growing...

...mine are.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Bright Spot in My Life



Lately Mark has been making up scenarios (mostly involving Star Wars characters) that are "INpossible". He spends time coming up with complexities, telling them at length then demanding of us, "Isn't that INpossible? Wouldn't that be INpossible?"

Yes, Mark.

Sure.

Just don't change inpossible to impossible because I think it's cute.

This morning he ran up to me and pulled me away (literally, he's The One Who Can't Be Ignored) from the computer. "Mom, Mom, I have something HO-larious to tell you!" He started to tell me some story but I couldn't even understand it all because he'd crinkle up his nose with the smattering of freckles on it and giggle and fall back onto the futon in laughter.

"Isn't that HO-larious Mom?"

Yes, Mark.

Sure.

Before he started school this morning he had to "organize his desk" which trait he got from his Grandpa Linn which is endearing.

I wish he'd organize my desk.

During math, Mark said, "My brain is amazing!"

Later, under his breath he muttered, "I. Can. Not. Be. Stopped."



When it was time to read to him, I pulled out Sylvester and The Magic Pebble. Mark saw the Caldecott honor on the front and said, "This must be a good book because it has a congratulation on it. Books with congratulations are good ones."



Why the random sampling of why my boy delights me?

Because he brightens my day more than a rare sunny day in March (and if you live in the Northwest, you know what I mean).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Release

Last night I was an exhausted emotional heap. Today I feel a calm center inside of me. Less anxious. More at peace.

Yesterday were the memorial services for my dear father-in-law. It was a bittersweet, emotional, spiritually uplifting day.

My main emotion throughout the day was that of gratitude.

I am grateful for family, good friends, kind strangers and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful that I have explanations for my children. I'm grateful that I have peace for my heart.

I have never felt closer to my good mother-in-law, my funny and sweet brothers-in-law, my strong sisters-in-law, my affectionate nieces and nephews. We're a family. Solidified in our grief, in our grasping for comfort, in our commitment to be there for each other.

And I can't imagine Linn would want it any other way.

Grandpa's Boys




Friday, September 18, 2009

How Did They Know?



Was the person who creates Mormon Messages wondering what Thelma Davis would need?

Because yes, Mormon Messages Creator, you guessed right.

And thank you.

Still Can't Express It But I Have to Try

Today I've been feeling sort of fractured. Like shock is wearing off.

But not all of the way.

I drove behind a truck with freshly cut lumber in the back. Someone was going to build something.

And it startled me.

Building something? How can life be still going on around me? Building something?

I look at overdue library books and an orthodontist appointment in my planner and I feel sort of offended. How can such mundane things have to be dealt with?

Why are those things still around? Why hasn't the world stopped?

Lest I be too dramatic, we are doing OK. We are. Thanks in no small part to the amazing and kind and generous people of the world sending and bringing their love to us.

It matters.

One minute I'm fine. I really am. And the next minute I'm crying to near strangers. One minute my kids seem fine. They do. Then they're overreacting/crying/withdrawing. It makes me nervous watching their every twist and turn on the emotional spectrum. It makes me anxious trying to strike the balance between stability and routine and permissiveness and nurturing.

If there's an instruction book for this, I need it.

There's so much I don't know.

But here's what I do know.

Heavenly Father loves us. I can feel His care at every turn. I have felt Comforted. I have been reminded again and again of the sweet assurance of eternal families.

I also know what a blessing I've had in my life for the past 15 years of knowing my father-in-law. I have never felt so honored to have the Davis name as when I consider this wonderful, wise, funny and good man. I'm grateful for his influence on my children. So grateful for the time they had to spend with him.



It breaks my heart that I can't take the hurt away from my children. But then I realize I wouldn't want to. They cry because they loved. Their grandpa mattered in a big way in their lives...in all of our lives.



I wouldn't have it any other way.



The one who loves you will make you weep.
Argentine quote

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Each Life That Touches Ours For Good

Early this morning, Adam's dad passed away.

We weren't ready to say good-bye.

There is no way for me to adequately express it all but I have to send a cosmic thank you out to the world.

It is overwhelming. And started at 5:00 a.m. when I called Jim Park to substitute for Adam in early morning seminary. Who answers the phone at 5:00 a.m. and tells you it is no problem? The Parks. That's who.

You would not believe the calls, emails, prayers, phone messages, visits and let-me-know-what-I-can-do from people that really mean it.

When you combine the sheer goodness of Linn Davis with the sheer goodness of all these other people responding it is staggering.

Nearly every neighbor of Linn and Geri's came over, arms laden, hearts full. Thirteen year old Marcus from up the street who loves "Mr. Davis" with all his heart came over with a sad countenance and a gift basket as big as a small country.

I was marshaled today to field Relief Society calls. I speak the language. My sister-in-law's fiance wondered if he should start cooking. I don't think he was expecting the mobilization of sisters in zion. Oh, we had food. My brother-in-law's girlfriend who isn't a Mormon wondered about the funeral...would there be a potluck? Uh. No. The Relief Society will take care of it.

Really?

Really.

I wish I could corral each of those women who put their long-as-their-arm-to-do-list on hold to make soup, chocolate chip cookies, homemade rolls,and bring them over still warm. I wish I could corral them. Thank them. Throw my arms around them.

I talked to the compassionate service leader between picking up her kids from school and gymnastics. She's busy. I get that. She wanted to know whatever, whenever, however. She wanted to help.

I am grateful.

I am sad and have a head-ache as big as all outdoors.

But I am so very grateful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September

crisp apples

sharpened pencils

a zucchini "the size of a violin case" (Adam's take) on the counter

new notebooks

sunny not too hot days

christmas trees in costco (my kids hate this but I don't mind)

math books scattered on the computer desk

the correcting basket filled and ready for me

general relief society broadcast

cool night breezes



September and I get along just fine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Self Portrait

Today in art, Mark learned about self portraits.

We studied Henri Rousseau's:



And Judith Leyster's:


Then it was Mark's turn to draw his own. "Notice they're painters and they painted themselves holding paintbrushes and palettes," I pointed out to Mark.

Mark nodded. Contemplated.

This is what he drew:


Mark's explanation:

I made myself a Lego man because I like Legos and I have a light sabre. I also made you, Mom, with "I love Mark" on your shirt and Braeden with "I'm Awesome" and Emma with "Sweet".


Keep your Rousseau and Leyster.

I'll keep my Mark Davis original. With the fire engine red hair. And I Heart Mom on his shirt.

No wonder I spoil that kid.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sugar and Spice


Sometimes the mother daughter relationship around here is on rocky ground.

There was the time I offered to curl her hair and she told me that curly hair was ugly.

Then added a (slightly contrite), "No offense Mom."

Oh, none taken.

As a rule she dislikes any clothing/hairstyle/books I recommend.

As a rule she believes what her dad says and takes his recommendations to heart.

Yet, sometimes.

Every once in a while.

This girl thing is really pretty great.

Today we had a plan. The boys were going to all go to Grandma and Grandpa's house to watch the BYU football game. (I like to--and have been known to--sing the Cougar fight song as loud as I can until my children run and hide in shame but I don't have the fortitude for a football game. Not in this life.)

Emma and I were going to go shopping.

She needed to go to Michael's to get some provisions to make school supplies for her American Girl doll as per her American Girl magazine instructions. (It was a need, not a want.)

I needed to go to Pier 1 to see if my pillow was on sale. (It was a need, not a want.)

I also had a whole lot of errands (mostly returns) that needed to be done and of course a stop at the library.

Then Mark decided he didn't want to go to watch football.

He said he didn't like football.

No one likes Mark more than I do. No one. But he was not invited on our girl errand time. He quickly ruins girl time.

He thought errands might mean buying Legos for him and no amount of convincing him would change that.

Then Adam whispered something in his ear. It was a bribe of some sort and Mark immediately said he'd go with Adam.

Crisis averted.

My hero.




Emma and I bought the craft foam and wooden beads, we bought the pillow (even though it wasn't on sale...it's that cute), we returned pants Braeden hated and jeans that didn't fit Adam.

We sang along to Sheryl Crow in the car and had smoothies for lunch.

We laughed and danced along to the music in the dressing room at JCPenney. Emma told me which shirt to buy.

I pointed out the woman wearing three inch heels that didn't know how to walk in heels.

I instructed Emma that people shouldn't wear heels if they don't know how.

We pondered imponderables like why is that guy wearing socks and sandals? Why would someone want bright green pajamas with bright pink fur trim? Why is that teenage boy wearing tight skater jeans? Teenage boy + tight skater jeans = not a good look.

I take my job to teach my daughter to dress appropriately very seriously. Maybe I've stressed the modesty thing too much.

She cringed and said, "I'll just look at the floor," when we were walking past the underwear.

And when we were driving home and she saw a shirtless guy walking down the street she muttered, "Put a shirt on, Freak."

Next week maybe we'll work on not being catty.

I'm not sure I'm the best instructor though.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why History

Today as part of Braeden and Emma's history lesson, I posed the question,

Why do we study history anyway?

Emma was sullen from Too Much Math and said, "I don't know."

Braeden said, "Well it's really really interesting."

Emma (still sullen) said, "Not to me," and glared.

I talked about learning lessons and not repeating them and understanding situations better if you know the history.

Then, as is my custom on this day, I pulled out my book, A Nation Challenged. It's a book, mostly pictures, designed for children, about today, September 11.

I sat my three down and warned them that I'd cry and Braeden patted my hand and said he knew.

We went through the book and I told the story. I left out a lot of details and skipped over several pages because I want to shield my children from the bulk of the shattering specifics as much as I can and for as long as I can.

I cried though. And they looked at me carefully, never completely sure how to proceed when facing my tears. Braeden's the most sure footed with emotion though and he took over for me when my voice broke. He showed Mark the picture of the Pentagon and explained it to him. He finished telling about the heroes in a field in Pennsylvania when I couldn't continue.

And then I told them that the terrorists wanted to ruin our country.

They wanted to make us afraid.

And have they?

Three solemn pairs of brown eyes looked at me and Mark said, "No. We're not afraid."

And that's why we study history.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip. ~Author Unknown

I can't decide if Lake Chelan or Disneyland is the happiest place on earth.



I just can't decide.




While there we stayed in this pretty house:



Emma had to prove she inherited her mother's talent for core strengthening:

See Braeden reading in the background? He and I each read an entire novel in the three days...reading = good vacations!

I woke up from an uncomfortable night on an uncomfortable bed (because you know I tend to be the Princess and the Pea...I need a good bed!). I recovered when this was my morning view though:



Mark took early morning walks on the dock in his pajamas:


There was a lot of swimming:


And playing in the sand:


We didn't forget this kid anywhere:


We made sure of that.


But mostly, there was a WHOLE LOT of riding on the waverunner we rented:



I even took each kid out for a little spin and Mark immediately said I went too slow and he wanted to go with his dad.

On the way home today we stopped for lunch and Mark didn't get a good toy in his Sonic kids' meal:

This is how a mad and extremely tired boy looks...

He cheered up when we got to Leavenworth for ice cream and the requisite hat trying on session.




And tomorrow we start school!!!!


I'm excited. Wouldn't you be?

Monday, September 7, 2009

These Two

When Adam and I were in a married BYU student ward, Marianne and Robert were in the same ward. Once at a ward party we were all sitting together and someone asked Adam and Robert if they were brothers.

Really?

Marianne and I looked even more alike back then.

They are quite a bit alike too though. They are both kind and generous husbands (and patient...they'd about have to be). They're both Eagle scouts (married into a family of non Eagle scouts). They both have excellent taste in picking a wife...

And they are both compassionate and wise fathers.

Here's Robert teaching Morgan and Mark how to skip rocks:


Here's Adam swimming in the river with Hyrum:


And here they are making the boys fly on the swing:



Just look at their faces, pure joy and terror. What else do little boys love?



“No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.” -William Blake
(so that's why there are dads and uncles)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Funniest Four Year Old In America

Carolina loved the river rocks.



She found their colors were more vivid when wet.

So she got her hair wet.



And painted them with her hair.



Then decided to just wrap the rocks up in her hair.



If you're ever in need of a laugh.

Call Carolina.

Cooperating Cousins


They told us to go to the window.

Then they all yelled, "HI!"

Everywhere is Walking Distance If You Have the Time --Steven Wright

We hiked to the ice caves.


Carolina



it was coooooooold up there by the ice air conditioning

Clarissa

Deseret and Liberty


Marcos and Olivia





And then we were tired.

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