Friday, April 30, 2010

Princess and the Pea

I’ve seen quizzes, “Which Disney Princess Are You?”  I know she’s not a Disney Princess, but I am the princess from The Princess and The Pea.  Just ask my back and neck and this miserable bed.

Yesterday I felt hazy and like I was recovering from a cross Atlantic flight.  Severely jet lagged.  It was a combination of feeling a little sick, feeling an abundance of the Spirit (which also made me cry periodically) and the miserable bed thing.

It’s been wonderful though.  I have enjoyed everything from the flight with my mother-in-law, to being with her and my mom and sisters, to learning Real and Important things, to visiting the bookstore in the name of stimulating the economy, to seeing my dear cousin Hannah, to visiting with Ammon and Melanee and the captivating Cormac.

One highlight has been to see my longtime friend Lisa and her sister Emily.  Lisa and I were friends in Connecticut back when I only had Braeden and she only had Davis.  We’ve added children and distance and years but the friendship is the same.  We caught up on our lives and children and when I was talking to her about Linn’s passing last September, I burst into unexpected tears.  It’s not like I haven’t talked about it or cried about it enough already (I have).  I couldn’t understand the surge of emotion.

I realized it’s Lisa though.  When you’re met with the face of an enduring friend who Understands and loves you, it’s hard to leave your feelings buried beneath the of veneer of “everything’s great.”  That I could be such a friend!

Last night my mom took us all to dinner at an Italian restaurant I love but all I felt like was drinking a Sprite (see, feeling a little sick).  I did manage to rouse my appetite for one of Melanee’s famously loved brownies when we visited their home.






I miss Adam and my children (and my bed) but I have enjoyed talking with them.  Mark told me Adam bought an “entire chicken” from Costco and he found the “witch bone”.  Somehow, even across the Verizon network, Mark is able to convey his unabashed enthusiasm for everything.   When we talked last night, they told me about playing barefoot on the lawn in the balmy spring weather.

I woke up to this:




SNOW!?!?

It’s the first snow I’ve seen up close and personal all year.  I love snow…in December.  On April 30, not so much.

There is nothing like Women’s Conference to make me appreciate Adam.  He expertly fills my role when I’m gone and generously encourages me to enjoy my time.

Also, he doesn’t wince too much about the bookstore.

 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm Hoping for the First Option

I've prepared a list for my substitute while I'm gone to Women's Conference.  The principal, handsome, strict and better at math (and many other things) than the teacher, will be stepping in.

I think after teaching our children for a few days he will either:

1)  fall on his knees at my feet and tell me that I'm amazing to teach them day in and day out.

2)  refuse to speak to me because I left him with such an onerous task.

3)  do a much better job than me...I'll come home to a tidy schoolroom with a stack of school work neatly corrected (although it was all right in the first place because he taught them so well).

I really hope that last one doesn't happen.

I'll be depressed for a month.


I'm taking The CompĂ© (Braeden's name for my diminutive laptop...he's a Homestar Runner devotee) with me on my trip.  I might blog remotely.  I might not.  I might be too dizzy from being with my mom and sisters, being inspired from amazing classes and eating mint brownies to do anything else.

Congratulations to the Jorgensens on the arrival of their precious new baby girl, Inge Elise.  Born yesterday.  Every time I hold a newborn baby I'm struck by how tiny and ethereal they are.  



Welcome to the world Baby Girl!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For A Moment

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, Braeden tried to mow the lawn.  He began and had troubles of one kind and another.  Later, he began again and tried to get the lawn mower started and this time, it refused.

He asked me to help him.  Which he hates to do.  It insults his 13 year old manhood.  Fortunately for his ego/unfortunately for the productivity of the endeavor, I usually can't get it started either when it's being stubborn.  I gave it a few tries, it gave a few sputters then I gave it another pull and it practically pulled my arm off.  If it wasn't so heavy I would have picked it up and hurled it at something.  Darn lawn mower.

The only person more frustrated than me was Braeden.  My gentle first born.  He was furious.  He said, "Go ahead and go back in the house Mom.  I'll figure it out.  I'm going to MOW this lawn."

But he couldn't get it started.

He said, "I'm such a LOSER.  I should be able to DO this."

I don't like hearing my children talk like that.  I really don't.  For all of the things that Braeden may or may not be, this I know.  He is not a loser.  I told him it was OK.  I said, "That lawn mower is impossible.  Just wait for Dad."

Give yourself a break.

Seconds later I was in the kitchen, realizing that the meat I needed for our crock pot dinner was a frozen mass (nothing makes me a crock pot devotee like our swim schedule).  Aggravation bubbled in me as I contemplated that rock solid brick of meat.  I thought, "I'm such a LOSER.  I should be able to DO this."

Then I realized the echo and I stopped myself.  I realized that instead of thawing meat, I'd been teaching my children and visiting teaching and making lunch and reading an extra long chapter of Ramona Quimby, Age 8 to Mark.  (That boy loves his Ramona Quimby.)  I wouldn't have rated thawed meat above any of that.

It was OK.

In a moment of clarity (and moments are all that illusive clarity will relinquish to me), I felt the love of my Heavenly Father.  For just a moment I knew, knew that for all the things I may or may not be, this I know.  He does not think I'm a loser.

So I shouldn't either.

P.S.  Some days don't work out like you've planned.  Because of an unexpected swim-a-thon (I won't even get into my frustration about the unexpectedness of swimming events coming my way.  As Braeden would say, I need to write a stern letter.) swimming took extra long (hours).  Adam stayed with the kids and I took Mark home.  Adam accidentally left his lights on in his trusty little car and his battery was dead.  Mark and I went on a rescue mission and we all had pizza at Alfy's at 9:00.  Braeden and Emma completely deserved pizza.  They each swam nearly 150 laps (about 2 miles).

We'll eat my crock pot creation for lunch.

All's well that ends well.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Philanthropy and The Thrill of the Hunt

In preparation for our neighborhood garage sale, Emma had been braiding friendship bracelets and stringing bead necklaces all week.  She wanted to sell them and give the money to charity.  She and her Nevada cousins did that a few summers ago and Emma's been in love with the idea ever since.

It didn't matter what kind of cautions I gave about inclement weather and tepid customer volume.  You can't really tell Emma much when she has her mind set.

So early on Saturday morning she and Mark headed out.  It was a blustery--but not rainy!--day.  Braeden also hit the road.  He lives for the neighborhood garage sale.  He wheels and deals and talks to everyone.

He came home with four folk art puzzles for me that he'd purchased for $.25 each. (I like folk art puzzles and he knows it.  I'm building up quite a collection...from Braeden.)  He also bought a gun, light saber and staff for Mark.  So he's outfitted with further plastic weaponry.  Braeden bought nothing for himself but that doesn't matter.  The fun for him is in the adventure and chatting with people.

I decided to go out for a walk and to visit Emma and see how she was faring (she'd set up shop up the hill where there was more traffic).  On the way there I met up with my boys.  Braeden told me he thought she was getting discouraged.  Mark was bubbling over with success at selling his "friend James' mom" some toys.  He said, "I gave her a deal because I know her.  I told her that I'd give a deal to whoever I knew."

We passed a little table full of shivering girls selling lemonade and brownies.  I bought a dollar's worth.

When I found Emma, she was seated on the sidewalk, her wares spread out and Braeden was right.  She looked dejected.  I asked her if I could buy something and near tears, she said, "Yes!  I haven't sold ONE thing."

I gave her a brownie...



and bought two necklaces and a bracelet.

ignore the freckles...I can't help it

After that I convinced her to close up shop and go exploring with me.  Mark wanted to go with the triplets so Braeden and Emma and I went in pursuit of treasure.  


Braeden with his cap on backwards, was our spokesperson.  He loves to talk to people and I...don't.  He'd ask "how much?" for everything that tickled our fancy.

Against my better judgment, I relented to Emma purchasing an enormous stuffed tiger.


I let her buy it on condition that she would get rid of the equal volume of stuffed animals.  She brought me this pile.


Done!  I've been trying to get rid of that stuff for years!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Decided

Adam is the contemplative yin to my impatient yang.  Also we each sort of have our domains around here.  In addition to his green green lawn, his domain is electronics.

When we decide we are going to purchase something like an appliance or piece of furniture, I'm in the driver's seat.  I may shop around.  I may look at Consumer Reports.  I may take a few days.  But then the purchase will be made.

It's how I work.

When we decide to purchase something like a camera, something that even if I researched it I would only get more confused, Adam's in the driver's seat.

And this is how he works:

We decide to look for a camera.  We go to several stores.  He talks to store experts in a language I don't speak.  He eyes the goods.  He says he wants to look up some things online.

He looks online.

He says he needs to go to the store and see them in person.

We never get the camera.

This has happened for both a regular camera and video camera as well as the tent we didn't get  Braeden for Christmas.

And it's OK with me.  Not really my domain.

When this school year started, Adam and I talked about needing another computer.  Our three children and I are constantly vying for screen time during school.  We have an online school.  While I need to mark attendance and record progress and teach Mark his online lessons, Braeden needs to read his online science lesson and Emma needs to take an online vocabulary test.  It's a pain.  There's a lot of disappearing acts that go on.  Children evaporate while waiting for the computer and when they're called to task (and told to close that book and come back to school), they say that they need the computer.

So we were going to buy a new computer.  COMPLETELY Adam's domain.

So we looked.  Online and at the Apple Store.

And Adam deliberated.

And I sort of forgot about it.

Last night, Adam and I were making dinner and he casually said, "What are we doing after dinner?"

I told him we could drop by some stuff for Deseret Industries at the stake center (if he was in a mood for exciting adventure, that is).

He said, "Do you want to go get a computer?"

"Really?"

"Well, what do you think?  Don't you want one?"

Sometimes (always) I really love that guy.

So we told the kids they could read in bed and hightailed it out of there.  The girl at the Apple Store (who I infinitely respect because of her computer savvy) had such crooked teeth I felt like she should be one of our children and I should take her along with the others to Dr. Stieber.  She sold us the most darling little MacBook.



I adore it.

At least I will once Adam gets all my stuff transferred from our other computer to it.

His domain.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Self Inflicted

Next to his "Uncle Rico" pose, this is Mark's default setting when he sees a camera.

Last night I had a meeting. When I'd been home about 20 minutes,  Mark had crashed and hurt himself at least 5 times.  One of his good tricks is to run at full speed and slide on the carpet like he's Manny Ramirez. 

 I couldn't find the photo credit, but it's not mine...in case you were wondering.

Then he moans and groans about the pain that caused.  He leads a dangerous-seven-year-old-boy-existence.

I tell him, "Be careful with yourself.  You're the only Mark I have."

He doesn't listen.

On Tuesday, I was changing the sheets in my boys' room.  My hand slipped mid pillow case removal and I sliced my thumb with the fingernail on my index finger.  (I've since cut every fingernail completely off.) A stupid injury. A real bleeder.  And I did it to myself.

Self inflicted wounds are maybe the worst kind.  Because in addition to being hurt, you feel foolish.

As I was re bandaging my thumb today I started thinking more about self inflicted wounds.  Maybe there are some worse than sliced thumbs.  There's jealousy, over scheduling, refusing to say no, refusing to say yes, eating too many brownies, deciding you're too busy to exercise, impatience...

They all cause trouble.  And they're self inflicted.  My lecture for the day:  for me and you.

Be careful with yourself.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

As Rebellious As I've Ever Been

 Robbie, Rachel, Adam, Me and Erin

In preparation for Women's Conference at BYU (a week from today!!!), I've been perusing the schedule.  There's a lot of considering involved.  Which classes are my sisters going to? (Because that's kind of the point.) Do I know any of the presenters?  Where are the classes?  Are the stairs to the Smith Field House involved?  Things like that.

Olivia pointed out to me that a Certain Former Resident Assistant (CFRA) was teaching a class.

Um.  No, I won't be going to that class.  We didn't exactly like each other.  She thought I was a naughty naughty girl when I was a freshman at BYU.

I should tell you that I'm not really one to live on the edge.  I've never been in much trouble and mostly because I'm not very brave or adventurous.  My dad told me one time that he had only to get mad at Marianne and it would make me cry when we were little girls.  (I still cry when someone mistreats my sister.)  Both of my sisters got suspended for skipping school.  Olivia did for fighting in the hall too. 

I'm really sort of boring.

But at the end of my freshman year, the head resident in my dorm told Marianne (who she adored...shocking, I know) that every year there was a "challenge" in the dorm.  And that year it had been me.  And my roommate Erin.

Here's why.

My life of crime.

The first day of school CFRA found Erin pounding a nail into the wall with the heel of her shoe.

Bad. Bad. Bad!  We were supposed to use plastitak from the bookstore.  The gauntlet had been thrown down.  CFRA was watching us.

We lived on the first floor.  We also lived smack dab in the center of the first floor.  On our floor, every night, I think around 10:00, there was "floor prayer".  Whoever wanted to would congregate in the middle of the hall (outside our room) and pray together.  I went sometimes.  But not always.  I have nothing against prayer but sometimes I was studying, or not.

Sometimes Adam and Robbie were at our window.



When the girls in our hall were merrily rapping on each door to announce, "Floor prayer,"  knock, knock "Floor prayer," our door would fly open because we always left it ajar for Rachel.  She lived next door and dropped by frequently to entertain us.

Often when our door unexpectedly swung open.  Adam and Robbie would be at our window and (gasp!) be seen before we could quickly shut the door again.

CFRA frowned on boys being at our window.  A lot.

Then Christmas came. 

For Christmas, Erin got a hammock.  She was delighted by it and as soon as we were reassembled from our Christmas vacation, we hung it diagonally across our bookshelves.



On one floor-prayer-unintentional-flinging-open-of-our-door night, we were caught, red handed, in our hammock.

We didn't know it was against the rules.

But it was.

CFRA let us know.

Well that didn't set well.  Erin and I had always been good girls, irritatingly good, but wickedness is relative I guess and we were t-r-o-u-b-l-e.  We refused to get rid of the hammock.  We determined we'd just be more careful not to get caught.  We instructed Rachel that the door would no longer be left ajar when the hammock was up.  We'd always open up for her though.

The RA on our floor, Melissa, was good and benevolent.  She was from Mississippi and so sticky sweet she could cause cavities.  She decided to kill us with kindness.  Those rebel girls in room 1111.  She'd rap softly on the door, "Ya'll?  You want to go on a run?"  She'd be in shorts and running shoes and we'd usually join her in a run.  She was trying so hard.

One night though, Erin and I had the hammock up and we were swinging and chatting with Rachel.  There was a gentle knock on the door.  "Ya'll?"

Erin and I froze and looked at each other with wide eyes, "Just a min-ute."

We frantically started untying the complicated mess of knots we'd tied.  Apparently at Girls' Camp we'd only internalized the silly songs and not the knot tying lessons. 

Melissa, knowing full well the dimensions of our rabbit hutch dorm room, seemed to be getting suspicious.  She continued to knock and call to us and we continued to say, "Just a minute..." and try to stifle Rachel's giggles (she wasn't about to get in trouble like we were).

Finally we got one side of the hammock disengaged from my bookshelf and flung it over to Erin's bed.  We draped a blanket over it and Rachel sort of reclined on the blanket in a languorous pose, with a suppressed laugh threatening to erupt.

We weren't fooling anyone when we (finally) let Melissa in.  She mostly looked hurt.

But for the rest of the year...and especially when we got caught with Adam and Robbie at our window (which still happened regularly)...



...we got nothing but pursed lips and arched eyebrows from CFRA. (Maybe it wasn't us, maybe she habitually drank vinegar.)

Incidentally, we relinquished the hammock to Adam and Robbie and the more lax rules of the boys' dorm.  They'd swing in it and shoot baskets in the full size basketball hoop Robbie had mounted to the wall (I'm assuming he didn't use plastitak...CFRA would have had an aneurysm).  They'd let us swing in it when we visited them.  (Although we had to use the door to visit.  They lived on the third floor.)

So there you have it.  My delinquent past.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I May Never Figure It Out

It seems like if someone's been doing a job for 13 years, they would about have a handle on it.

Well I don't.

Mothering.

I've been reading A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam.  It's set in Bangladesh, a place I know nothing about so that's an interesting aspect of it.  Mostly though, I'm intrigued by the main character, Rehana, who is a mother.  She mothers fiercely and sometimes I think, "No, don't do that." She doesn't listen because she's a mother and can't help loving her children (and also, she's a character in a book and can't hear me). 

As I pick my way through the minefield that is motherhood, I consider the quote by Jill Churchill:

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

But I want to be a perfect mother. 

Is that too much to ask?

Sometimes being a good mother is protecting and shielding and forcing and disciplining.

Sometimes being a good mother is releasing and trusting and yielding and allowing.

If I were a perfect mother, I would know when to be which way.

You know?




Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Good Day


Sometimes I remember how much I like being with my children.  I'm with them day in and day out.  But sometimes I really really enjoy it.

Like yesterday.

We went to British Columbia with passports and water bottles in hand.  Because when Mark's thirsty, he makes everyone in the province miserable.  And they ask us to leave.  (Politely, since they're Canadian.)  We went with Grandma Geri and invited/begged her to drive her van with the built in DVD player and also it's 10,000 times nicer than our jalopy.

I'm not sure what Braeden's trying to express with that face...or maybe he's just trying to survive the sunlight.

Our first stop was the Vancouver Temple.  It was uplifting and tranquil and very very beautiful.  There is nothing quite like a temple and we felt blessed to be able to share it with our children.

Again,bright sunlight...Braeden's huddled behind me to shield himThis is what happens to children's corneas in the Pacific Northwest, they get extremely fragile.

We also went to IKEA.  I mean, it was right there.  We picked up some odds and ends since you can't go to IKEA without picking up some odds and ends.

Another highlight of the trip was that besides watching movies in the van, Mark read.   For years I've dreamed of this day.  When in the car, and Braeden's and Emma's noses were buried in books and Mark was needing me to entertain him, I fantasized about the day that Mark too would read in the car.

And it's happened.

He was even reading a chapter book (which makes him very proud).  It's too hard for him but it's a Star Wars book so he doesn't mind.  He said he skips over things he can't read.  And he's OK with that.  And so am I.

Because he was silently and happily reading.  In the car.

I did tell him that he could ask me if he had a question about a word.  This morning he's reading some more and a few minutes ago he asked me what a-f-t was.  I said, "Aft.  It means the back of a boat...or spaceship," I quickly added, since it is Star Wars.  I said, "Does that make sense?"  

He said, "Yeah!  The aft controller."  He was thrilled.  And went back to reading.

This is more exciting for me than when he learned to walk.

There's nothing like sharing things you love with your children (reading, not Star Wars).

And the temple.

Over a dinner of shrimp tacos and bean burritos at Baja Fresh, (I didn't have any dinner preparing in me when we got home and leave it to my children to be hungry anyway) we talked about our day.

We talked about temples and then somehow apostasy and repentance.  For some reason the conversation turned to Adam and Eve.  Braeden speculated about their family history.  He said on Adam's pedigree chart he wrote "dust of the earth".  

Emma added that Eve wrote "Adam's rib". 

All of our conversations don't necessarily end in an enlightening way.

When it was finally time to put them to bed, I didn't really want the day to end.  Most days, after the relentless press of our daily schedules, I'm all too ready for bedtime.  Last night it was only Mark's droopy eyes that prompted me.

Time for bed.  But those children of mine should know, I really like them.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Beautiful Days

Yesterday was a beautiful day.  As my dad would say, maybe the most beautiful day in the history of the world.

Our friends called us to invite us on a Sunday stroll/picnic along the Snohomish River.  We're always game.


It was a picnic-table-conquering...



frisbie-throwing...



hitting-pinecones-with-a-light-sabre...


good time.

Today we're heading north to the Vancouver Temple open house.

The weather there is predicting rain but I'm thinking it will be an equally beautiful day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

You Should Go


If you're anywhere within 100 miles of Glacier Peak High School you should go.



I love Janet like a sister so I think of her children as my nieces and nephews. 

And I'm a very proud pretend aunt.

Last night we went to The Music Man at Glacier Peak.  I LOVED it.

(Janet you don't mind that I stole pictures from your blog, do you????)

David was Professor Harold Hill.


He was magnificent!  I've always known how talented this boy is but I saw a whole new side of him and was amazed.  (He's quite the wooer of maiden librarians.)

Hans was in the quartet, one of the members of the schoolboard.


Hans has an unmatched charisma and a great singing talent.  He was fun to watch.  My kids were distracted by his mustache.  They kept telling me on the way home.  It looked so real.

Freja, Emma's soul sister, was Amaryllis.


I heard the teenagers behind me, when Freja was singing, say over and over, "She's so cute."  I wanted to tell them that she was my pretend niece but I didn't want to interrupt the show.  Emma replayed all the highlights of Freja's part on the way home and she wouldn't leave the school until she'd been able to hug and congratulate her talented friend.

I was also very proud of my "nephew" Leif.

 pictured here with his comic dad

Leif was both too young and too old to be in the play--though he's plenty talented.   During the intermission, I found him and Braeden munching Starburst (ew...and besides you boys have braces and shouldn't be doing that).  Leif was the unsung hero who clocked hours watching his little sister Britta while his mom drove the play practice taxi.

I love the Jorgensen family (in case you couldn't tell).

The play is again tonight and then next Friday and Saturday night.  

Adam and I might go again next weekend.  I might wear a sign:  "I've given those Jorgensen kids a lot of cake.  I think I deserve some credit for their fabulousness."

Is fabulousness a word?


Friday, April 16, 2010

Timeless Tales

There are certain things you need to have read and be familiar with to classify as an educated person.

Sometimes I just wonder why.

In my children's literature book they read the classic Lewis Carroll poem yesterday, Jabberwocky.


Jabberwocky
 by Lewis Carroll

“Twas brilling, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought ──
So rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came Wiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” He chortled in his joy.
‘Twas brilling, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.

Wha???

Maybe I'm not sophisticated enough to see its value.

Maybe though, in an Emperor's New Clothes kind of way, everyone wants to call it a classic and make their children read it because they don't want to be the ones to admit that it's drivel.

The other day I finished reading Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.

Again, it's a classic.  It won the Pulitzer Prize.  

I didn't like it.

I forged ahead from the cumbersome introductions of all the families and how they were connected.  I kept reading.  Pulitzer Prize Peer Pressure I guess.

I recognized that the book was largely a commentary about the society of the time...like Jane Austen.  But Edith, you're no Jane.  Sorry.

The characters were not likable, especially Archer.  He fell in love with Ellen but married May anyway (dumb).  He kept trying to see Ellen when he was married to May (dumb).  After 26 years and after May had died and Ellen's husband, the wicked Count, had died, he had an opportunity to reunite with Ellen, his true love.

Instead he sat in her yard while his son went in the house.

Then Archer walked back to the hotel alone.

And that was the end of the book.

I wasted a lot of time trying to keep names straight for that kind of an ending.

I felt like Mark did a few days ago.  He read Belling the Cat.  The fable about the mice who had a problem with the cat.  One little mouse had the plan to bell the cat.  They discussed it.  They decided it wouldn't work.  End of story.

Mark looked up after reading it and said, "Huh?"

I know the point of the fable is that it's easy to propose impossible solutions.  But still.  What a lame story.

What am I missing that merits the staying power of these stories?  You're smarter than me (I'm guessing).  What am I missing?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

When You Spend Most of Your Time Under Clouds...

It tends to be unbearable when a little weak sunlight manages to filter through the windows.

So much so that practicing the piano is almost rendered impossible.

Until you find a pair of sunglasses to recreate that blissful dim state.


Then, of course, it's best to act like this:


I have such weird kids.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Everyday World

Lately I've been negligent at remembering to be grateful.

Which is too bad because I have a lot to be happy about.

In Reader's Digest (which I love to read and am grateful to my parents for the gift of the subscription every year),  I read their list of Ten Wonders of the Everyday World:

At his website, 1000awesomethings.com, Neil Pasricha catalogs the really little pleasures. He has collected 200 of them in The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things Here, we've collected 10 of our faves.
1. Wearing underwear just out of the dryer
2. When cashiers open up new checkout lines at the grocery store
3. Intergenerational dancing
4. Paying with exact change
5. Fixing electronics by smacking them
6. High fiving babies
7. The other side of the pillow
8. Snow days
9. Bakery air
10. Finding money in your pocket


I can't decide which on this list is my favorite.  When I think about gratitude, I typically think of the big (and important) things:  Adam, our children, our families, health, security, etc.

Sometimes it's nice to think of other things.

Things that won't make or break me but just...

make

life

good.




Something NOT everyday that I'm grateful about.  Last night after a long, tense, I'm-behind-on-my-to-do-list sort of day, I asked Braeden and Emma to make dinner.  I had planned to make shepherd's pie which is easy.


They readily agreed.


I started to tell Emma how to do it.


She said, "I know," in her give-me-a-little-credit tone of voice.


And she did.


Every once in awhile, these kids seem like they are going to pay off.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Am Concerned

Emma recently posted this on her bedroom door.


If there's one thing she hates, it's high-spirited brothers bouncing into her room unannounced.

I'm worried about my poor Emma though.

She has no self esteem.

She has no measure of her worth.

Under the "Please Knock Sign", she's placed this:



She's devised a reward system.  If you knock, you earn points.  If you fail to knock, you lose points.

Who wouldn't want to earn points?  For the opportunity to spend time with Emma?

See what I mean?

No self worth, that girl.

How can I convince her that we all value her?

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Contradiction

What do Starburst have to do with dentistry?

Not much.

Except I simultaneously decided I disliked them both on the same day.

I was a little kid and at the dentist I had a fluoride treatment which very nearly quashed my desire to carry on with this mortal existence (maybe an exaggeration?). And the taste of it reminded me of Starburst. I haven't eaten a Starburst since.

But I like this commercial.



Each child has a dentist appointment today and the two older ones each have an orthodontist appointment. (That's five appointments if you're like me and not good at math in your head...five appointments.)

Would I rather eat a package of Starburst or proceed with this day?

It's hard to say.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Growing Up


When I was pregnant with Braeden, I was a school teacher.  The other teachers...most of them my own mother's age...were thrilled by my pregnancy.  They sprinkled me with motherly advice and often, often told me things like, "Well, you're about to get busy." and "Your life is going to change."

I sort of believed them that I'd get busy but I didn't really know how.  I mean, I wouldn't be teaching school anymore.  How busy would I be?

Busy enough that I thought I may curl up and die.

Then I added Emma to the mix and thought, "How was THIS ever hard?  One little newborn is a breeze!"  And on and on.

I continue to look back with fondness at how busy my life wasn't.

When Braeden was 3 and Emma was 1, I know that I thought I was busy.  For the life of me I can't remember what I was busy doing.  When I think back on that time of my life, it feels cozy and warm.  If I think hard enough I remember lonely and overwhelmed but I can't remember why I was busy.

We had a pretty good routine.  At 9:00 each morning, Braeden would watch Little Bear and Blue's Clues on Nick Jr.  After lunch both little cherubs would nap.  Adam got off work at 5:00 and he had a 10-15 minute drive home from his job on Yale's campus.  Sometimes I'd go to pick him up (if I'd needed the car that day...we only had one).  Once a week I went to playgroup.  We went to the library too.

Does that sound busy?  Or like a vacation?

I've always adored Little Bear.  It reminds me of Braeden and Emma and snug days in an apartment in Hamden, Connecticut.  I was thrilled when Mark read it for school.  Braeden was thrilled too.  He said, "Little Bear!" and sat down to listen to the story.

Last night after dinner, and with a dish of ice cream balanced on each of our knees, our whole family watched a half hour of Little Bear on DVD.  Mark had never seen it and that had to be remedied.

I wanted to cry from the nostalgia I felt for those simple days of routines and sippy cups and graham crackers.  I looked over at my son draped on the couch with his big feet and long limbs.

He was my little bear (sniff).

And if I could talk to Thelma-10-years-ago I would scoff and say, "You are NOT busy, silly."
Will there be a time that I look back on NOW and think, "How could I have possibly thought I was busy?"

Sheesh.  It's a scary thought.  Surely not.  There won't be days ahead that are busier than homeschooling three children and carting them off to various pools to swim.  It won't get busier than this trying to squeeze in dentist and doctor and orthodontist appointments and laundry and keeping the house clean-ish and Target and Costco and Albertson's and what's for lunch and what's for dinner and visiting teaching and will you drive me over to my friend's house and the library and the van making a weird noise and on and on and on.

There's no way.

So I felt somewhat relieved.

This is as busy as it gets.

Then I remembered that in a few years, we will begin our 10 year stint of early (6:00 a.m.) morning seminary.

I'm going to go take a preemptive nap.

In all my spare time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Great, Now I Have a Complex

We are back at swimming.  One of the coaches emailed me and told me our new time was on Tuesday and Thursday.  Before our two month hiatus we had been going Monday, Wednesday and Friday and two days are better than three so I was happy.

On Tuesday I sent Braeden and Emma on their swimsuit clad way and hunkered down to corral Mark's exuberance poolside for the next 45 minutes.  Or try to.

Braeden and Emma came shuffling back over to me.  "The coach said we're not in this class."

???

I went to the coach and said, "Braeden and Emma aren't in this class?"

He said, "No, they used to be in the Monday, Wednesday, Friday class."

I told him about the email.

He said, "Well, they're not in this class.  It's below their level."

Sure enough, all the kids were waist high to them.

I said, "So what should we do?"

He said, "They can swim today but bring them back tomorrow for the right class."

I said, "OK."

And that was the conversation.

But as I was telling Adam later, the coach looked really uncomfortable the whole time I talked to him.  He kept shifting his eyes away from me and then looking at his feet and shuffling from side to side.

I couldn't figure it out.  He's not a big muscular intimidating guy, but then, neither am I.  For one thing, I know he could out swim me if I was too scary.

Adam said, "Maybe he's used to parents that are angry coming to talk to him."

I said, "I wasn't angry.  I was just trying to figure it out."

Adam said, "Well, you don't look very comfortable when you talk to people and I think that makes them feel uncomfortable."

"I make people uncomfortable when I talk to them?"

"Sometimes."

Now I love and adore Adam but that wasn't the most supportive thing he's ever said to me.

It's true that unlike most of the people I'm related to, I don't enjoy small talk with strangers.  At all.  While I've been known to talk the ears off my nearest and dearest, I have also been known to studiously avoid talking to people if I can help it.

But still.  I make people uncomfortable?

I've been defending myself (in my own head) and I remembered the people that used to stop me in the store and ask me what I was feeding my robust bald headed babies.  That seems approachable right?

And then I remembered all the other people that stop me in the store...like the guy who wondered what kind of onions to buy if he was making lasagna for his girlfriend and the grandmother in Costco who begged me to tell her a healthy cereal that her grandchildren would eat.

I'm all kinds of friendly, right?

But now I'm worried.  Am I making people uncomfortable?  By talking to them?  Should I be more smiley?  Chatty?  Somehow that seems like it would be more frightening.

So this is where you leave me a comment:

"Dear Thelma:  You have never made ME feel uncomfortable...by just talking to me."

You can cut and paste that if you want.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Next Time

There's a reason this isn't one of those blogs about wonderful crafts I've created.

Braeden wanted to make a fleece blanket--the kind you tie on the edges.  I decided to make Mark one too.  (He picked the garish fabric.)



 this is Braeden's sleeve and representative of every surface in our downstairs

Next time I'll listen to the woman at the cutting counter who told me the fuzzy strings would go everywhere.  (I believed her but Mark was crooning over the soft garish fabric in an irresistible manner.)


***********

Braeden talked to his cousin Clarissa on her birthday.

As soon as he got off the phone, he wanted a cell phone too.

Next time I'll try to limit Braeden's exposure to cousins that are more fortunate than he is.

***********

Saturday night I had a date with Mark.  On a scale of how-I-normally-am to me-as-my-best-and-entertaining-mother-self, I did pretty well.  We went to a movie, then to Chipotle for dinner, then to Kohl's to buy Mark a Mariner's t-shirt for the impending baseball season.  (I know, he never had it so good.)

Mark said, "How about you buy me a Webkins to thank me for being your hot date?

Next time I'll choose more carefully who I ask out on dates.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The New Side of Me



Ahhhh, spring break.  Yesterday I played hooky all day.  First I finished the novel I'd been reading then I had a long and overdue phone conversation with Janet.  Delightful.

Earlier in the day though, Braeden had been bugging me about his friends.  He gets an idea in his head and won't let it go.  He wears me down and wears me down until I give up.

Just GO Braeden.  FINE.  Pack a lunch.  Be gone for as long as you want.  Just stop pestering me.

I get that this is really a horrible way to mother.

I confessed it all to Janet and she told me that on the bright side, those tenacious qualities of Braeden's will serve him well someday.

Emphasis on someday.

Although they're working pretty well for him now.  Because he certainly gets what he wants if he badgers me enough.  Someday I wouldn't be surprised if I just hand him the keys to the car and my credit cards.

Just for some peace.

When Braeden finally came home I found out what he'd done all day.  I knew which friend's house he rode his bike to (I'm not SUCH a terrible mother, see?) and they'd been there most of the day.  Along with another friend, they'd played basketball and watched some of the movies they've made together.  Then they got the idea to go swimming.

Braeden had come home, while I was upstairs, on the phone.

He'd retrieved his swimsuit and YMCA membership card.

They'd gone swimming at the YMCA (one of the mothers drove them because she was out doing errands anyway).

This all staggered me.

"You came home?"

"Yes."

"And I didn't even know?"

Braeden shrugged.

"How did your friends get in to swim?"

Braeden said, "They didn't even check my membership card.  That place doesn't have very tight security Mom."

For the second time that day, I confessed, "I'm a terrible mother."

Braeden said, "I like this new side of you."

"What do you mean?"

"This hands-off mothering side."

For the first few years of Braeden life I was rarely further than 4 feet away from him when he was awake.  I did everything for him and watched his every move.  He was my world.  I was so smitten with him, I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Thankfully (for both of us) when his siblings arrived, my time was divided and Braeden was no longer the only one for me to orbit in my solar system.

I need to strike a balance between that mother, the hoverer, and yesterday's mother, the delinquent.

Like I told Mark last night when he wondered if we'd even had lunch (we did, sort of), it wasn't a good day.  Tomorrow I'll be a good mother.

So here I go.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter



Yesterday after the end of General Conference, Adam found me with tears in my eyes.  By way of explanation, I told him I was full.

I couldn't explain it...I was full of inspiration, peace, gratitude, joy.  But since he's Adam, he Understood.

Besides the satisfying spiritual feast, we also delighted in these:

finnish rye bread, edam cheese, cucumbers...life is good

After Conference and our happy reunion with our Emma, we convened at Geri's house.  She magnanimously hosted us all after being gone four days.

The children were all sequestered in the family room with blinds tightly closed while the adults hid the eggs.

When there's candy involved, even teenagers aren't too old to carry around a pastel basket and fill it with eggs.




As old as any of them get though, uncle Scott is still the only one that can climb on top of the swingset to get the eggs that invariably get hidden there.

 Mark was the first to spot them.

Traditions bind families together.  Even families that have had a year battered with loss.

Maybe more than the traditions, the binds that make us whole and feel like we can rejoice is the sure knowledge we have.

Because of Christ.

Because of the Atonement.

Because of the temple.

We'll be together. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Perspective

When little things are so important, it's because there aren't any big ones.

I read that recently in the book Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman.  (It's our book club selection for the month.)

I keep thinking about it.

Because it's a profound statement.

I am really (really) good at making little things in my life become important things.  And I shouldn't.

When I can step back a little, I realize that mostly whatever is an annoyance/stress/anxiety/hassle is really just a little thing.   I realize that the reason it feels so big is because I don't have any big problems.

And for that I'm grateful.

Emma's gone to Oregon with her grandma and I took my boys on errands with me.  (What possessed me to do this is beyond me.)

As the errands wore on, I told myself over and over again, When little things are so important, it's because there aren't any big ones.   

When Mark groused about having "to be dragged along on errands when all I want to do is stay home", I thought,  little thing.  


When Mark crawled into the cart at Costco (yes I had to go again) and complained about how much room all the stuff was taking up and he was uncomfortable, I thought, little thing.


When Mark had to use the bathroom and I had to wait endlessly for him, I thought, little thing.


When he forgot his jacket in the bathroom and I had to send him back and wait some more, I thought, little thing.


When both boys thought they'd die of starvation and let me know the supposed end was near, I thought, little thing.


When they asked me every 30 seconds, how many more errands ARE there?  How much longer will this take, I thought, little thing.


When they disappeared in Fred Meyer and I had to hunt them down, I thought, little thing.

When they argued over which movie they thought I should buy them (I chose neither), I thought, little thing?


When Mark leaned on the self checkout sensor and caused it to go haywire and when they started wrestling spontaneously while I tried to appease the self checkout sensor, I thought, little thing?!?


When Mark had to use the bathroom again and I was waiting without a teeny tiny bit of patience left, I forgot the whole "little thing" idea.  I was annoyed.  I wondered why I brought the boys with me anyway?  I wondered why children are such a pain? Why?

The last stop was Albertson's and because Braeden could smell danger in the air, he offered to walk Mark down to Blockbuster while I shopped.  Of course that resulted in the eventual renting of movies but it was worth it.

Then I came home, feeling dejected.  I had been looking forward to Pleasant Spring Break times with my children.  And I'm not very pleasant.

I felt guilty that I'd let my new mantra out of my grasp. 

You can always reinstate mantras though.  Errands with children is a soul sapping, miserable pursuit.  That's all it will ever be.  But only when I have nothing bigger to cause me trouble.

I will gratefully take my little troubles. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Aunts

Kids need to bounce in and out of their aunts houses while growing up.

I did.

I was thinking about it a few nights ago when I made my aunt Claudia's Yum Yum Cake recipe.  I told my kids it was my aunt Claudia's recipe.  They know her vaguely...she's the one that lives across the field from Grandma and Grandpa.  Braeden asked me if I saw her much growing up.  

Yes.

I stayed at her house with my cousin Catherine.  She braided my hair in tight french braids.  She made Swedish Pancakes for breakfast that her kids called "Squeaky Pancakes".  They usually had a cat.  Their cat, H.I., named after the character in Raising Arizona, was a sort of crazy cat and would run headlong into a closed door, ricochet off and then try again.

I saw my other aunts a lot too.  I still remember the way their houses smelled.  I remember the "Ewe's Not Fat, Ewe's Fluffy" sign in my aunt Pam's bathroom...it was complete with pictures of fluffy sheep.  I remember the cake she made every year for my mom's birthday.

I remember staying with Leslie.  I remember how much I loved their house which my aunt Nancy had transformed.  I remember Nancy's omelets which I have tried to recreate but cannot.  I remember her letting Leslie and me make chocolate chip cookies and eat them while watching Jaws on a long and lazy Saturday.  I remember her inviting us in with a flourish when we were Christmas caroling at their house.

I remember visiting my aunt Olivia.  I remember thinking she cooked like our Grandma.  I remember feeling welcomed and loved.

I remember staying with my sisters at my aunt Lynn's.  We were young and she was our glamorous newly married aunt.  She made us finger steaks for dinner which alarmed me until I realized they were really just beef (phew!). 

I remember my aunt Mary cutting my hair (whenever I wanted her to) in her salon and letting me dye her hair one fateful day when I didn't do such a great job.  When I was a teenager, my aunt Mary was the very best ally known to man.

My aunts reflect in my collection of recipes:  besides Claudia's Yum Yum Cake, there's my aunt Mary's chocolate chip cookies and my aunt Launa's wedding cake.

Some of my aunts:

First, an oldie...from Marianne's wedding (I know, what a beautiful bride!)

Nancy, Drew, Pam, Fred, Lynn, Warren, Robert, Marianne, Mary, Steve, Launa, Richard, and my sweet Grandma

A more recent picture (from last summer...notice my dad and his brothers in the background, at least notice their belt buckles).

Jennifer (my aunt, not my SIL), Claudia, my other sweet Grandma and Olivia (my aunt, not my great grandma, sister or niece)

How will my nieces and nephews remember me?

The crazy one that rolled around each summer with kids that didn't know how to ride horses or wear anything except shorts and sandals?

As a remote aunt I have something for my nephew Luke.  Luke who Mark is still in awe of because of his Star Wars like name.  Luke who's allergic to eggs.

Yum Yum Cake has no eggs.

Think of me when you eat it.

Your aunt that loves you.

Yum Yum Cake

3 c flour
2 c sugar
6 T cocoa
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
10 T vegetable oil
2 T vinegar
2 t vanilla
2 c cold water

Measure dry ingredients in 9 x 13 pan.  Mix.  Make 3 holes in dry mix.  Measure oil in one hole, vinegar in second and vanilla in third.  Pour water over all of the mixture and stir until well blended.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

(This is how the recipe goes but I just put everything in my mixer which is easier I think...also 30 minutes wasn't long enough.  Is it my oven?  Is it a difference in altitude...although I think that works the opposite way...I don't know.  It's good though.  Really.)

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