Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So Happy Together (Me and You and You and Me)

To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labor tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution.
Samuel Johnson 

We're an imperfect, sometimes obnoxious group.  My family.  We say too much and get into each others business and try so hard to make each other laugh that we at times cross the line into unkindness.

But on Saturday, when I slid into the church in Wells, Nevada, barely in time for my nephew Hyrum's baptism,  I was taken back by the flood of emotion and was tearful during the opening song.

My family.  

All of us were there (except brother-in-law Edgar who was at work and Adam...sniff).

The long drive was nothing compared to the thrill of being surrounded by enchanting nieces and nephews, my smiling grandmothers, dear sisters-in-law and brother-in-law, long-legged siblings and wonderful parents. 

We love each other.  We love being together.  Flawed as we are, my parents should be gratified by their efforts.

Because when we're home, we're happy.

My grandma and all of my parents' grandchildren (they're not all looking at the camera but there are 18 of them and they're squirmy!)
from back: Luke, Clarissa, Liliana, Ruby, Deseret, Isaiah and Hyrum
middle row: Liberty, Carolina, Ruben and Morgan
front row:  Savannah, Mark, Grandma holding Olivia, Emma holding Cormac and Braeden holding Marcos

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Road Warriors

I've missed my little blog.  So much so that while I wait for this Diet Coke buzz (that kept us alive today) to wear off, I'm here for a little visit.

I have loads to say about our trip to Nevada, (are you surprised?) but for now, since my cognition is not at its peak, I'll save that for later (and for when I can put some pictures with it).

I really like road trips.

I really really like road trips with Adam.

It's just not the same without him. 

The drive to Nevada was fairly uneventful.  We listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Mark's first time) and also to Yellowcard (Braeden had control of the ipod). 

The drive home has been...eventful.  First, I've been sleepy.  Really sleepy.  Dangerously sleepy.  And when you're careening along with three of your favorite people and their lives are dependent on you, that's a sobering thought.

So the Diet Coke.  And then some more Diet Coke.

Then the elements, man made and otherwise were seriously plotting against us.  The only thing you can grow in Nevada in the winter is a beard and the only thing you can grow in Nevada in the summer is road construction.   It turns out Idaho and Oregon are really good at road construction too.  It was  frustrating when I was struggling to stay awake to feel so thwarted by yellow cones and reduced speed limits.

Something came along to jolt me awake though, a tremendous thunderstorm.  There was rumbling thunder and streaks of lightening.  Pelting rain, then hailstones that sounded like rocks hitting our poor van.  It was almost impossible to see the road but I was in a winding mountain pass that didn't exactly lend itself to pulling over.

And it's not like I never drive in rain.

We were hydroplaning along and I had my eye trained on the white line which was all I could see.  I turned off the Junie B. Jones audio book we were listening to and told my kids to pray.  Emma sobbed.  (We're nothing if not dramatic.)  The sun started to shine but still the sheets of rain came down making visibility only worse.  Finally, FINALLY, we outran the storm and drove under blue skies.  I unwound my clenched fingers from the steering wheel and breathed again.

And was suddenly not all that sleepy anymore.

But I surely missed my cool headed husband.  He makes everything better.  Especially thunderstorms (because he would have been driving, and unflappable).

Tonight we are in a dark hotel room, my children are all out cold.  We will be home tomorrow.  Home with Adam.

And that is a wonderful prospect.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sometimes, They Pay Off

Most of the time I'm in a frenzied state of motherhood.  Am I doing the right things?  Why did I let those turkeys go outside and play when their bedrooms look like this?  Am I pushing something that shouldn't be pushed?  Am I not pushing them enough?  Am I doing too much?  Not enough?

Are they going to turn out all right?

Tonight I was granted three wishes by a magic genie...maybe there wasn't a genie involved.  But it felt like magic. 

Mark's on trial for swim team...Thursday is the day of reckoning and if his side breathing isn't better, he's being tossed to the curb.  I had already signed him up for a few private lessons to work on his swimming.  In the many swim lesson sessions Mark has had in the past, he has learned exactly nothing.  The instructor learns his name within the first five minutes and repeatedly calls for Mark to come up from under the water where he's bobbing around and not paying attention.  And that's about all that happens.

I thought a private lesson would work better.

1st wish granted.  Mark worked harder than I've ever seen him work in a pool.  He still doesn't have it down and I'm not sure he'll make the cut but I couldn't be happier about his effort.  He worked hard.  He's progressing.  It thrilled me.

Emma is the quintessential introvert.  She starts to get agitated (like her mother) without small doses of alone time.  She never strayed inches away from me when she was a toddler and we were in social settings.  She's not exactly comfortable with strangers.  Ever.

Tonight she wanted to go to a writing group she heard about at the library.  I was fully intending to rescue her if I needed to.  We found the room at the library.  The fellow bookish looking kids greeted her in a friendly way and I retreated to the main part of the library.

2nd wish granted.  She emerged 90 minutes later with her glowing face that told me before I could ask that she'd had a marvelous time.  It seems like she connected with kindred spirits at the Mukilteo Library.  I think she was too happy to remember to be shy.

Braeden eats like a teenager.  He's occasionally sassy like a teenager.  He's always opinionated and pushy.  He's pretty sure he's smarter than Adam and me put together.

Tonight when I was waiting at the library for Emma, I was cold in the overly-air-conditioned-though-I-don't-know-why-it-needs-to-be space.  I went out to the van to see if I could find something else to put on.  I found Braeden's hooded Seahawks sweatshirt.  I slipped it over my head, snuggling into the roomy, warm-from-the-car softness.

3rd wish granted.  It's marvelous to have a teen-aged son whose sweatshirt fits, who will help me sync my bluetooth with my cell phone and who will carry heavy things.

I'm a happy mother tonight.

I'll keep all those unsettling questions about what on earth I'm doing with these children at bay.

And just enjoy.

Disjointed, But I'm Tired

I can't sleep.  I keep waking up a lot earlier than I need to and can't go back to sleep.  Which is sad.  Because I like to sleep.

It's not that I'm overly anxious about anything.  In fact, my life in the past few days has been easy going and productive with swim team practice bright and early; children playing, playing, playing outside (we've finally had a little sunshine); Braeden's "band" congregating (which consists of several teenage boys sprawled in my living room talking and listening to music and playing a little guitar and piano--and pots and pans); and me chipping away at cleaning the house and scrapbooking (of which I'm woefully behind).

See?  I don't even have anything that interesting to blog about. (Now don't say, "What else is new?"  I know you're thinking it.)

Tomorrow we're going to Nevada.  Or partway at least.  Everyone will be there for my nephew Hyrum's baptism and to celebrate Father's Day a week late.  There's very little I enjoy more than sitting in the same room with my parents and brothers and sisters and their spouses.  It's dizzying trying to keep up with the wit and opinions that fly.  But so worth the effort.

I wish Adam were going.

I'll miss him more than the sleep I'm not getting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


My kids learned the lovely custom of pummeling each other (or me) when they spot a Volkswagon from their cousins.

They kind of forgot about it for awhile but then recently, it lives again.

It gives a whole new meaning to the words defensive driving.

And then I started spotting VWs myself and slugging back whoever had the honor of riding "shotgun" (which believe me, is a Big Deal around here).  I realized I was paying a little too much attention to what kinds of cars were whizzing by and not quite enough attention to driving.

I'm not at all sure that's safe.

Yesterday, my friend Christie (I've never met her but I think of her as a friend anyway) posted about the VW curse on her blog.

It feels so good to be understood.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Who Knows?

It's hard to predict how I'll emotionally react to things.  It doesn't seem to make sense.

Toy Story 3?

I cried.

And didn't sleep well because I couldn't get it out of my head (and at three in the morning, I'm certifiably insane).  When Andy's mom surveyed his bedroom before he left for college, something came loose inside of me.

I don't think you want to be in the same hemisphere as me when Braeden goes to college.

Unless you have flood insurance.

Emma is going to public school next year--or "real" school as some of her cousins call it (and they seem a little relieved to not have such strange family members now).  When I taught her last math lesson of the year?

I cried.

I had a bad day altogether.  My heart was a little broken.

And I don't even like teaching math all that much.

Today in the ongoing and soul killing pursuit of deep cleaning the boys' room (cue ominous music), they both wanted to make room for books by getting rid of the assortment of vehicles (mostly matchbox cars but a few boats and airplanes) and Mr. Potato Head in all his incarnations...most of them Star Wars in nature.  We packed them in a box for "the grandchildren" to contemplate.  (Because Darth Tater?  Artoo-Patatoo?  Spud trooper complete with a potato masher weapon? You can't put a price on that stuff.)

Did I cry?

Did I even feel like crying?  Not at all.  Not even a little wistful.  When my children value books over plastic, I feel like the world is a good place.

It doesn't make that much sense that I should be OK with this rite-of-passage-getting-rid-of-toys.

But I am.

(And my boys still have plENty of toys...that's what makes me want to cry.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Today I'm grateful for my dad.  He's good and wise and funny and steady.  He can be relied on.  He taught and encouraged me.  He loves me. 

I'm not sure what else I could have asked for in a dad.

Today I appreciate Adam, the wonderful father of our children.  He's constantly coming up with new ways to be a great dad.  Each child thinks they are his secret favorite.  Each child has an activity that is theirs alone to share with their dad.  What lucky children they are!

Today I'm proud of my brothers (because I like to think I raised them) and the terrific fathers they each are.

Today I'm thankful for my brothers-in-law and the excellent fathering they give my dear nieces and nephews.

Today I'm sad.

We miss Adam's dad.  We feel his loss, today and always.  We remember his greatness, his love and affection for his children and grandchildren.  His good life that blessed us all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Where Ever I May Roam

Adam knows every single word to the Nevada state song (doesn't everybody?) but he knows two lines of the Washington state song.

Washington, my home
Where ever I may roam

It's a lame song as far as I can tell.

Nevada's song has scintillating phrases like, "the land of the setting sun" and "a place of a thousand thrills."  (Give or take.)

But Washington, my home, where ever I may roam???

Really, the song needs work.  But the state?  What a place!  We saw parts of it yesterday that we'd never seen.  It's beautiful.  (Today I wonder why my home in Washington has to be under permanently gray skies.)

We took a circuitous way home, down the Columbia River for a while.

I think I'm in love with the Columbia River.


We saw scores of windmills moving in their mesmerizing, other worldly way.

I love wind energy. 

I want a windmill in my backyard. (Except my backyard is in no way big enough.  Or windy enough.  Still.)

We stopped at a World War I memorial which is a replica of Stone Henge.  The creator of the monument thought the real Stone Henge was built as a place to sacrifice and thought it was fitting to memorialize the young men who had sacrificed their lives. 

So now I've seen Stone Henge and don't need to go back to England (not really, Adam...I still think I need to go back).

We could never have expected our kids to see all the water of the Columbia and not take a swim.  We went to a state park with a swim beach.

The water was coooooold so we resorted to bribes incentives to psychologically torture encourage them.

Hot fudge sundaes were in order for Mark if he got his entire swimsuit wet (Braeden and Emma had to be completely submerged because they're tough like that).

The hot fudge sundaes were well deserved.

Mark was asleep under his fuzzy blanket about 10 minutes after the sundae was consumed.

I love the variety of Washington.  I love the dry rocky vistas (the sagebrush!), the verdant farms, vineyards and orchards, the mountains, the misty evergreens.

It's a beautiful state.

Even though home is where the clouds are.

(Sorry, I'm always a little bitter about the weather in June.  In July, I'll be as sunny as the sky.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Leave of Absence

They talk of the dignity of work. Bosh. The dignity is in leisure.
  -Herman Melville

Columbia River Park:

 (rock throwing tutorial)

An excess of Chinese food:

Yes, we bought some containers and put it in our little fridge in the hotel.  (It should be noted, we definitely ate our fill at the was just more than we could possibly eat.  Which is saying something.)

The view from our room:

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  

-John Keats

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Calling The Major

At our recent parenting class, we were taught that we should make sure our kids don't think we're perfect. 

I love it when I have mastered something so completely.  If my kids ever thought I was perfect, I don't know when that was.  My trick is to teach them school.  It really brings out the flaws.

Today Braeden and I were multiplying and dividing a polynomial by a monomial.  Now stop being so jealous.

Braeden thought I was trying to kill him. 

I, on the other hand, couldn't figure out why we were getting such a woefully wrong answer.  I said, "We may need to call in the Big Guns."

Braeden said, "Dad?"

I said, "No, Marianne."

Braeden said, "Is she good at this?"  (He was probably thinking, why did I get stuck with this mom?

I said, "She majored in math in college."

I kept getting the woefully wrong answer.

I told Braeden to get my cell phone.

He said, "Are you calling the Major?"

On the phone with Marianne, a.k.a. the Major, I realized that I was reading the problem wrong.  Where I was dividing, I was really supposed to be multiplying.  It all was much much easier and Braeden felt less like I was trying to kill him.

Everyone needs a Major in their life to call, who won't laugh at them when they're least while you're still on the phone.  Marianne sent me on my way, telling me she loved me and she would call me later because she has a Story to tell me.  I love a good Story.

I love my Major.

So I Don't Get An Inflated Sense of My Worth

Yesterday was quite a day.  In addition to a Dr. appointment and back to back visiting teaching, I had a dentist appointment where I had my cavity filled and teeth cleaned.  (If you have to go to the dentist, I recommend where my friend Heather works because my friend Heather works there.)  Also I had a Relief Society presidency meeting and a Relief Society parenting class.

I was home very little.  Like an intermittent three hours.  I felt terrible leaving my kids for so long.  Adam said I'd make up for it on our little mini-vacation coming up.  But I felt bad.  My kids!  They need me.  They love me.  They want me home.

I got home and Mark was already gone with the wind (Gavin's).  Emma was waiting for me to log her onto the computer and Braeden was waiting to ask for permission to go to a friend's house too.  (Somehow Mark gets his permission from Braeden but Braeden waits for me.  Don't ask me, because I don't know.)  I said to Braeden and Emma, "But I just got home and I'll only be here an hour before I have to leave again."

Emma said, "Still.  Will you log me on?"

Braeden, who is more conscientious about my tender motherly feelings, said, "Well, OK.  I can stay home."

I said, "It's OK.  You can go."

And he was gone.

And then Emma said, "So Mom?  The computer?"

So there I was with my one-sided separation anxiety.  And laundry to do.

What can I say?  I lead a glamorous life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Making Merry

My cousin Hannah gave me the idea for a Seven Days of Dad celebration for Father's Day.

If someone deserves seven days to be honored, it's Adam.

We brainstormed ideas and rejected a lot of the proposals.  Emma wanted to do an Island Getaway night, except she-who-cleverly-names called it an Island Get-To-Stay.  She and I went to Party City for all of the necessary accoutrements.

everything tastes better from an umbrella straw

Our plan (Emma's plan) was to eat on the deck and then fan Adam with palm fronds.

It was too cold though (our "island" weather is more tepid than tropical) and it turned out the night coincided with the kids' piano recital (and we didn't exactly have palm fronds). 

Everyone was dressed up and ready to tickle the ivories:

OK, not that dressed up

We did get some slave labor out of Emma post Island Get-To-Stay and pre-recital though:

washing dishes in her favorite dress, a lei and an apron...why not?

The recital was a little taxing, making sure Mark sat between his siblings to keep him quiet and struggling along with Emma as she combated stage fright. (She said, "Could you tell I was shaking and dizzy?"  No, but I could tell she was having a hard time.)  I love the recital every year though.  It makes me happy to see such earnest effort and know the hours of practice that are behind all the performances.

Mark's very first recital

Then, it would hardly be the recital without a stop at The Spotted Cow for an ice cream cone.


Grandma Geri gave each child a congratulatory gift card to their favorite restaurants.  She told Braeden, "I thought food was better than flowers."

Braeden said, "I've lived my life by that principle.  Food is better than _______."  Spoken like a true 13 year-old boy.

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
Oprah Winfrey

Here's to children that practiced long and hard, their loving and kind-hearted piano teacher, and to a dad that makes our world go 'round!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm Not One Of Those Mothers

You know those mothers that make amazing, professional looking cakes for their children on their birthdays?

I'm not one of those mothers.

I try, but no one will ever mistake my cake for a professional.

When Mark was 6, he wanted a Lego cake.  Blue.

I think Ole Kirk Christiansen rolled over in his grave (the Lego creator, I googled it).

Also, no Lego bricks are pastel blue but I think too much food coloring tastes revolting and taste is king around here.

When Mark turned seven, he wanted another Lego cake.

When he turned seven-and-a-half, he wanted another lego cake.

I don't know if he's hoping I get it right sometime:

Or he thinks they're so great he can never get enough:

Either way, I'll keep making what he wants, as ugly as the cakes end up being.

Because he's my boy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Roger That

I was surprised when Mark's (half) birthday present, a set of walkie talkies, came earlier than expected from Amazon. 

I was not surprised when he loved it.  He and Braeden immediately started talking to each other.

"Go outside, Mark. Over."

"Roger that.  I'm putting my shoes on. Over."

I was surprised when the batteries lasted about 15 minutes.

I was not surprised when I promised devastated Mark that we'd go to Radio Shack and get more rechargeable batteries.  (What kind of spoiled youngest child would he be if he couldn't get immediate action out of me?)

I was surprised when Gavin came over with a gift. (We invited him over but said, "No gifts.")

I was not surprised Mark loved the gift.  He would love an old shoe if Gavin gave it to him.

I was surprised that even though I found more batteries, they were much more interested in playing with knights and dragons than walkie talkies.

I was not surprised when their knights made shooting noises and Mark and Gavin ended up wrestling and then abandoning the game to go outside.

I was surprised when Emma and Braeden begged to not go to McDonald's for dinner.  As per Mark's request, that was our destination.  I said, "What will you eat at home?"

Braeden shrugged, "Cereal?"

Emma said, "We're too big to play there and it will be loud."

I was not surprised about the loud thing.  Mark + Gavin = loud.  Add any more children to the mix?  Can I stay home and have cereal too?

Since Adam's out of town, I took the two scamps to McDonald's.  We had an enthusiastic and rollicking time, like you can only have with Mark and Gavin.  I enjoyed the trip.

And that wasn't surprising at all.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

And a Half

Do you remember being 7 1/2?  I don't.

Today is Mark's half birthday.  In the way of our children, he thinks this is a Big Deal. 

Here's what I want to remember about Mark, at seven-and-a-half years old.

He loves the following:

-to build with Legos

-Star Wars

-his friend Gavin

-snuggling under a blanket

-being read to

-insisting that you also get under the blanket while you read to him even if you try to convince him you're not cold

-gourmet cheese

-collecting sticks

-testing the limits of his body


-telling people he has one grandpa's red hair and one grandpa's name

He has the following:

-a keen sense of smell and no qualms about expressing his abhorrence at the smell of lotion, vinegar, or certain foods...somehow his own feet don't seem to bother him

-a supremely messy room

-the ability to quote funny lines from movies

-trouble sitting still


-an arsenal of light sabers

-really big teeth--our orthodontist (who we're single-handedly supporting) sees dollar signs every time Mark goes into his office with one of his older siblings

-a tidy school desk--he straightens it up every day before school and it gives me hope for his bedroom

-his own clothing requirements--he refuses to wear jeans or t-shirts with anything written on them (although he's been known to make exceptions if the Something On The T-shirt is deemed worthy)

-a tendency to be really chatty when his beloved Titi cuts his hair (she's our favorite curly hair expert at Great Clips--and she's patient with verbose little boys)

This morning, to celebrate the Big Day, Braeden played Lego Star Wars with Mark before breakfast:

our camera struggles to keep up with Mark's motion

I told Mark to smile for me...he acquiesced then said, "So you know, I'm trying to play a game here, Mom."

There's a saying, "The days are long, but the years are short."

Sometimes the days are short too.

Does anyone know a way to freeze children so they'll stop growing?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dangerous Addiction

I have a sister who carefully avoids addiction.  Everything from chapstick to TV shows.

She's wise.

I have no such policy and I almost departed this worldly existence when the mango salsa with peaches wasn't in it's normal spot at Costco.

Then I found it around the corner.

Still.  I think the whole experience aged me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Expertise

I didn't have English teachers in high school.  I had a former P.E. teacher who taught me English one year.  I had a drama teacher who didn't teach me English the other two years (though he was supposed to).  My senior year, I was in English 101 and 102, taken from the local (50 miles away) community college.  I was in English 101 and 102 because I was supposedly above the level of senior English at my little school.

I wasn't above the level of anything.

And I also didn't learn anything in English 101 or 102.  We met with our teacher two days a week in the school library.  He "taught" us who knows what and every Friday we went, as a class, to The Burger Express for french fries.  Because it was fry-day.

This is all by way of excuse/explanation.  I avoid taking the blame if I can possibly manage.

I wasn't taught.  You've likely noticed from my blog posts that my grammar skills are sketchy.  (Adam notices.  He has learned not to act like he notices...he's smart, that one.)

So now I'm teaching grammar to my offspring and it's harder than the rudimentary grammar that I know.

I'm terrible at it.

Today, as Braeden and I were struggling through his assignment, trying to remember when numbers have hyphens and when they don't (it's something to do with when they're used as adjectives or nouns?) and trying to figure out the rules of colons.

Braeden said, "This is really the blind leading the blind isn't it?"

I agreed.  I said Emma should be helping him.  She gets grammar.  Braeden said, "How does Emma know this stuff?  You didn't teach her.  Is it instinctual for her?"


Also, I should add that I have no illusions of dignity in this motherhood thing.  That left during childbirth and continues into grammar.

On the way to the orthodontist, we were talking about Father's Day and I told Braeden I was going to get Adam a Bluetooth for his cell phone because they mean business around here about cell phones and driving.  Braeden said, "Will it work with his phone?"

I said, "Braeden, who do you think I am?  I have no idea.  I strictly know about punctuating with colons, that's all."

My dear son earnestly asked, "So Mom, what do you know about?  I mean, I know you know stuff, you're good at stuff, but is there a topic you know about?"

I told him I got the vocabulary award in 6th grade.

I'm pretty sure he was impressed.  I think he was.  Maybe.

(I thought of this later...maybe my greatest area of expertise is raising cheeky children.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Something's Missing

We have a new deck and I love it.  It was so exciting to watch the process of it being built, that I documented it (I'm nerdy like that).


Uninspiring, pathetic, square of aggregate concrete.  Approximately the size of The Complete Works of Jane Austen.  A hefty book, but still...

Step 1:

It was raining.  Are you shocked?  Don't be.

Step 2:

Not raining.  The builders said they understood why we wanted it partially covered.  The sun (when it's around) beats down.

Step 3, 4 and 5:

The cover.


(although it needs to be stained and painted...waiting for sunny weather)

The deck makes me happy every time I look at it.

And cranky too, because we haven't been able to use it much.

Melanie Connor for the NY Times

It's been raining with very few breaks.  I am tired of rain.  So tired.  I'm getting gloomy and disconsolate and Adam's tried to cheer me up with suggesting I take Emma shopping (it helped) and inviting us on his business trip to southeastern Washington in a few weeks.  (Will there be sun?  We're in!!!)

Saturday was sunny and I thought, I may survive this June after all.

Then, the sky was irritatingly incontinent again.

I may just do something rash.  Something bold.  I may just go somewhere.  Somewhere that starts with a Nev. And ends with an Ada.

I hear they have sun there.

I may not come back. (Except I'm not taking Adam.  So I'll come back.)

But there had BETTER be sun by then.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Point

Take from the altars of the past the fire-- not the ashes.
Jean Jaures

It matters to me that my grandparents lost their wonderful brick house.  I would love to slam the dark green screen door one more time (even though I would likely get in trouble, again, for doing it).  I would love to linger in the fragrant air around the lost lilacs and yellow roses. I would love to ascend the steep narrow stairs to the cool dim upstairs and try on a few hats.

What matters more to me than the house though, is what I learned from my grandparents.  Over a lifetime of watching them and their responses to varied heartbreaks and hardships, I saw a constant reaction:  strength.  And as a result:  peace.

And I know why.

My grandparents life was marked by righteous choices and service.  They knew what mattered.  They believed in God.  They forged onward and with integrity.  

While I would love to show my children their brick house, my childhood playground, what I want more is for them to learn who my grandparents were.  What they believed.  And how it sustained them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Being there when my grandparents saw their destroyed home for the first time was heartbreaking.

But I'm glad I was there because you learn about people in their response to adversity and tragedy.  My grandpa put his arm around my grandma's shoulders, both of their backs straight and strong.

"We're young and we have our health," he said.  "We'll rebuild."

He was 75 and she was 70 at the time.

Grandma and Grandpa stayed with us that night.  I assumed they'd be staying with us for awhile.  (And I was kind of excited about the prospect.)  The next day though, they went into town and bought a trailer.  There was no way to diminish their brand of independence.

They hired builders and began work on cleaning up the burned ruins and starting again.

On Christmas Eve, eight months after the fire, we helped them move their belongings into their beautiful new log home.  It contained a mix of things that had survived the fire and new items.  On a low table sat a new conversation piece, silver dollars melted together into a lump.  The silver dollars had been in the fire proof safe that turned out to not be exactly fire proof.

My grandma filled the new kitchen windows with red geraniums.

The hub that was grandma's and grandpa's house changed quite dramatically but they were the same:  strong, smiling, self-reliant.  So the house was, in an essential indescribable way, the same.  And filled our need for stability and tradition and family.

Adam and I had our wedding reception at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Braeden and me, stopping to see Grandma and Grandpa on a visit to Nevada from Connecticut.


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