Thursday, July 29, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

This seems to be the summer of preparing for and recovering from trips. 

We are gearing up for one more adventure then it's time to get serious (in the three weeks remaining) about some summer projects and to prepare for (gulp) school.

For now, I'm focusing on the next great adventure.

My parents are currently on a train, heading up the coast to Seattle.  I have some slave labor rewarding leisurely activities planned for them.  Of course first I'll let them recover a little from their 42 hour journey.

After a few days here, we're driving to Nevada to enjoy all that offers.  Happily, Adam will fly to Utah to join us in celebrating my parents' 40th anniversary by attending the temple they were married in with my parents, siblings and their spouses.  (Braeden and Emma are helping to babysit all the cousins--wish them luck!)

I'm also looking forward to a Jaynes (my mother's family) reunion in Utah.  In my world of a handful of visits a year, I don't see my cousins or aunts and uncles very often.  It will be nice.

And then we'll come home.

Which will also be nice.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time Well Spent



Sometime last winter, when it was cold and gray and rainy, I started reading books from Beverly Cleary's Ramona series to Mark.  We'd sit on the couch in the living room, underneath a blanket.  I don't know if I enjoyed the stories more or Mark's insistent snuggling.

Both were good.

When Mark saw the preview to the movie, Ramona and Beezus, he was thrilled.


He carefully remembered the date.  "We have to go," he said.  "We have to go."

So Friday, we did.  (That morning we read the final two chapters of Ramona's World to complete the series and I didn't even plan it that way.)

Adam and Braeden were away so Emma and Mark and I hit the town.

Mark was wriggling in his seat with excitement when it began.  I sidled M&Ms into his hand.  "Hold still."

Every time something in the movie happened that Mark remembered from the book, he'd turn to me with wide eyes.  He'd cover his eyes when he knew Ramona was going to get into a particular sticky situation.  He asked me if I was sad when Picky-Picky the cat died and carefully felt my face for tears.

I did feel like crying but not over Picky-Picky (poor cat).

I was just really happy to have shared something wonderful with Mark.  (And also I'm sappy and sentimental like that.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm Not Quitting My Day Job To Become A Repairman

My dryer has not been drying.

I think that must have been pretty hard on it's self esteem.  If you're a dryer and you don't dry that may present something of an identity crisis.

Well, it would dry, it would just take two or three tries, depending on how many towels were in there and have I mentioned how much these three children are swimming?

I thought so.

This dryer thing has been a raspberry seed in my permanent retainer (I think that's on it's way to becoming a mainstream idiom).  I've talked to my dad about it.  Adam and I have consulted the world wide web and tried to find some time to deal with it.

Did I mention that Adam was gone on a scout camp out for 36 hours?

I thought so.

So yesterday I had a heap of swim towels and other clothing.  And determination.  I was going to figure out the dryer.

We suspected a clogged duct.  Our dryer vent is conveniently located about 25 feet into the air on the side of our house.  Adam promised me that our 20 foot ladder wasn't tall enough.

I decided to see for myself.  Have I mentioned Adam's a lot smarter than I am?

I thought so.

My ladder wasn't working.

Then my neighbor Matt drove up to his house next door.  He's a fireman.  You know how doctors get asked medical questions from friends?  I wonder if it's the same with firemen.  "Hey, want to climb a ladder?"

I asked Matt if he had a taller ladder.  He did.  He brought it over.  I told him he didn't have to climb it and risk life and limb for the sake of my dryer vent but he was about halfway up the ladder by then, in flip flops.

Firemen are heroes.

He said there was a little bit of lint by the vent but not a lot.

"It might be down inside."

I told him my dad said it was a fire hazard.  Matt looked me square in the face and said solemnly, "It is."

I called my dad.  Three times.

On our third phone call I said, "Are you glad I don't live by you?"

He said, "There are plenty that do live by me."  ( I wonder if he ever thanks his lucky stars he only had three daughters.)

I pulled the dryer out from the wall far enough that I could climb onto the washing machine and drop down behind the dryer.  I was wishing that I was more agile and graceful about then.

I vacuumed my little heart out and my hair was a halo of lint.  On my dad's instructions I covered the dryer exhaust with a nylon sock and ran it venting into the house.  It was warm day and warm in the house.  It became a tropical jungle with hot humid air pouring out of the dryer.

My hair went from a lint halo to an extremely frizzy and curly lint halo.

Dryer repair is less glamorous than you'd think.

The clothes still weren't dry and I was thinking it was time to bid a fond adieu to the dryer.

Last night though, after 10:00, Adam convinced me to help him try cleaning out the duct work with a little apparatus we bought for the purpose.  You hook it to a drill and feed it into the duct work and voila!

 look how much fun!

After cleaning the vent...three times, I again pretended to be a contortionist and twisted my body into a pretzel to try to hook up the dryer vent in the tiny space.  Adam was in charge of moving the dryer...and then I left Adam to clean up and I went to bed. 

He's a gem, that one.

I have more laundry today and am writing about it rather than trying out the dryer.  Because if it doesn't work...

I don't know if I can take the disappointment.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Legendary Love = Legendary Speed

Saturday was quite a day.  And when I say that, I mean that by 10:00 a.m. I was ready to call it a day and put in a request for a new one.

A lot went on.

Just one of the things that happened was that Adam and Braeden didn't return from their campout around noon.  Unrealized expectations are the source of 90% of the discontent I feel in this world.  (I still insist on coming up with expectations though.  I don't know why.)

I figured they'd be home around noon.

For no apparent reason other than I wanted them to be home around noon.

They weren't.

As the day progressed, a difficult day for me for other reasons, and I was Adam-less, I felt a rising resentment for scouting in general.  (I had to blame something.)

I was a little cranky.

What was the point of Adam's weekend--his home time, such a precious commodity--being swallowed up following boys up and down mountains?

What. Was. The. Point?!?

Adam called a few times and it became clear they'd be late.  Mark was sick and on the verge of throwing up.  I threatened him Big Trouble if he threw up on the carpet.  He looked a little betrayed but that's just kind of the mood I was in.

Finally, I got him to sleep, in our bed.  With a bucket nearby. 

Adam called.  It was sometime after 9:00.  Adam's had panic in his voice maybe a handful of times since I've known him.  He's even-keeled and a problem solver but he was disconcerted.  He told me that they'd missed the ferry and the next ferry bringing them from Kingston to Edmonds would be at 11:00 p.m.  When I groaned he said, "That's not the bad part."

The boys were on the ferry.

Adam said the boys were restless while they were waiting to board the ferry.  Adam had relented to let them board on foot since they were assured getting the cars onto the ferry.  Adam and Keven Jackson, the boys' leader (Adam's an assistant) were in their cars.

Then they realized they weren't going to make the ferry.

Keven, father of eight mostly grown children, responded in a way that catapulted him to hero status in the hearts of each boy (and their grateful mothers).  He took off running.  Over a speaker, an employee chided, "Get back to your car, Sir."  Unheeded, Keven ran.  He crossed eight lanes of parked ferry traffic and headed up the ramp.  Adam said Keven's legs were a blur.  He'd never seen anyone run that fast.  The employee switched gears and called to the ferry to wait.  She radioed, "A man is running up the ramp, running like a non-smoker would run." 

Keven made the ferry.

And it was at this point that Adam called me.

He asked me to drive to Edmonds to retrieve the boys.  He said he had to stay there with Keven's car until Keven could return.  I instructed Emma vaguely in my haste that I had to leave and told her to go lay with Mark.  I couldn't see my purse in my cursory glance in the closet and just skipped it.  I did grab my cell phone.  There's a new strict cell phone law around here that I completely ignored. 

I called the other parents.  Did any of those boys have a cell phone?  (Keven didn't.)  They had no idea I was on my way.  I didn't want them to return back across the Sound for a night of ferry riding. 

Even though a lot of those boys have nicer parents than Braeden and own cell phones, they are good boys and heeded the no cell phone rule for camp outs.  Darn good boys!

I, with my sketchy sketchy sense of direction, had never been to the Edmonds ferry terminal.  I prayed for direction.  I prayed to be able to find the boys.

I was confused (are you surprised?) by signs for the ferry--I didn't want to get in the loading lane--and by the train tracks but I pulled over in a likely spot and saw 6 gangly boys on the beach.  One of them was mine.  I rolled down my window and yelled into the night, "Braeden!"

He was incredulous.  "Mom?!?"

I've served this same group of boys everything from hot chocolate to pizza to brownies and they've never been as happy to see me as they were at that moment.  They told me Brother Jackson had boarded the return ferry for his car and given them instructions to wait there.  A policeman was there, closing down the beach.  They hadn't known what to do.  All the money they had between them was $.75 in Braeden's pocket.  And no cell phones.

They climbed into my van, wondering how I'd possibly known where they were.  And telling me they were starving.  I apologized that I didn't have my purse or we would have visited an all night drive thru.  Even though they smelled like 13 year olds that had been camping and hiking, I was that happy to see them all.

First of all, I handed around my cell phone and told them to call their parents.  "Tell them we're leaving Edmonds," I said.   Without exception, instead of mentioning Edmonds, they told their parents in breathless tones about Brother Jackson's heroic run.  They said, "He's like 50 years old!"

After they'd all checked in and I'd had Braeden update Adam, the boys couldn't stop talking about Brother Jackson's gallantry.  I told the boys they were very lucky.

"The reason Brother Jackson ran like that is because he cares about you very very much."

There was silence in the van.  I knew that they all understood the truth of that statement.  Brother Jackson loved them.  With a love that propelled him not only to spend his weekend in their company but to achieve super human speeds to come to their aid.

And as a mother, how can I possibly be cranky about scouts?

At 11:00, I had delivered the last boy (have I mentioned they smelled?) and took my weary and sunburned boy home.  All the boys had thanked me for "saving" them.  I felt a little like I'd been given a gift though.  The bond they'd forged through their adventure was palpable.  And besides, I really care about those good boys too.  Especially the one I gave birth to.

Friday, July 23, 2010

There's Hard and Then There's Hard


It is not easy to home school.


It's a lot of work in fact.  It's hard emotional work. 



Because your kids matter so much to you, it feels like a Big Deal.  Sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  And sometimes your shoulders don't feel strong or wide enough.


But then there's this year.


This year, everything is different.  My plan had been for Braeden to cut his teeth on a little junior high then go to high school full time. 

I hated the plan.

I hated thinking of life without my boy by my side.  But I accepted my plan.  It felt right.

Then I had to have a new thought.  I'm not sure it originated in my brain because if it did, what was I thinking?  I broached the topic with Adam, Emma, my sisters, my parents, Janet.  "What do you think of Emma going to school next year, to sixth grade?"

I prayed about it.  Adam prayed about it.  Emma prayed about it.

We all thought it was a good plan.

We started the wheels in motion.  She tested to be in a highly capable class with her bff Freja.  I secretly hoped she wouldn't make it.  We'd shrug and say, "That was that." And I'd keep her home.

The day we got the letter, I was sad.  She was accepted.  And thrilled.  (I would have been sad either way, because she would have been disappointed.)

So she's off.  They're both off.  I feel sick every time I think about it.  I know that today it's going on the school bus and tomorrow it's going to college and I don't know how I'll be able to stand that.

I will.  Because I'll have to.

But I don't like it.

There's a lot that you don't know about motherhood before you embark on it.  No one tells you how bone wearying and demanding it can be.  Or if they tell you, you don't believe them.

The worst secret, the one you can't imagine when you first feel your warm receiving blanketed bundle in your arms, is that someday, you'll simply work yourself right out of a job.  This little soul that you'd do anything for (and that claim is sorely tested) will someday leave.

If you did your job right.

Where's the fairness in that arrangement?

I know I'm a little dramatic.  Or a lot.  Braeden will only be gone for part of the day.  I'll still see them.  Plenty.  I'll somehow figure out how to do this whole Back To School Shopping thing.  (I'll drive my friends crazy with questions.)

And I still have Mark.

The other day, he told me that he was glad Braeden and Emma would be gone.  He said, "I'll have Mark and Mom time.  Those two won't be around to bother us."


Mark's a lot of compensation in this world.


OK, OK.  He looks like this now.


He's still my baby though. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Forget and Remember

What?  No more posts about Yellowstone?

You're welcome.

Here's what else I've been thinking about:  I am a simple, easy-to-please person.  Really.

There's only one thing in life that I want.  Perfection.  Is that so hard?  Is it too much to ask?

I want to be perfect and I want perfect children (because that will of course reflect on me being a perfect mother). 

Usually I forget about all of this and I feel pretty happy.

But then sometimes, I remember.  Sometimes I compare myself to other people.  Sometimes I compare my children to other children that seem better somehow.  That makes me think that their mothers must be better mothers.  It makes me pretty miserable.

It makes me ashamed, because I know better.  I know the soul-less, unavailing nature of comparing.  Nobody wins.  You either feel bad that you don't measure up or prideful that you feel superior.  You don't feel happy.

Not happy.

So what does make me happy?

Living by my own lights.  Hugging my children.  Reading to them.  Accepting my flaws.  Working on them, not so I'll be better than others, but so I'll be better than myself.

I need to forget and remember.  Forget perfection.  Remember what I saw this morning on  Hannah's blog.

Perfect timing, Hannah.  Perfect timing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Family Reunion

Here's the picture I tried earlier.  I got it from my kids' second cousin's facebook page.  Ha!

It was delightful for me to spend time with Adam’s extended family. I got to meet some of his cousins from Georgia that I’d never met before.

I’ve been missing out.

During the days we would all go about on our various adventures, reporting on our escapades and comparing photos from the day each evening. We did karaoke, introduced our children to each other (who mostly took to each other instantly), ate a lot of good food, talked about old times, missed Linn, and the last night, a few of us sat around the table talking and crying happy and sad tears.

Phew.

There’s just something about family.

And I’m blessed that Adam’s extended family (on both sides) are kind and wonderful people who have taken me in. They include me. They insist I stand in the cousin picture too. They make me laugh. They make me glad I married Adam.

(And I didn’t even need another reason.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In All Fairness

I should warn you that I am the type of person that really likes to look at other people's vacation pictures.  I would have been very enthusiastic in the days when people showed slide shows in their living rooms after a trip.

Also, this is SUCH an easy way to scrapbook...

Here are some more random pictures from our trip (and not even all of them...I may be back tomorrow with more...will you forgive me?).

Here's Mark in the loft of our cabin.  He was either running around with a stick casting Harry Potter spells on everyone, building forts in the loft, or asleep.  The kid doesn't have many settings.



We saw this waterfall in The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone:

me, Emma and Braeden
Emma and I bought hats to keep our hair from beating us to death in the wind.
We hiked down to the top of the waterfall:

 
It was impressive and terrifying in its power and magnitude (and the fact that the railing stopped a little earlier than I was comfortable with).


Emma looked cuter in her hat than I did:



This is in the beautiful Old Faithful Inn:


It reminded Mark of Hogwarts (he's big into Harry Potter right now).  I captured him for a picture before he could run away into the Chamber of Secrets.

Why, yes, I was tired.  Why do you ask?

And speaking of tired, this was sometime after white water rafting.  A tremendous yawn:


My three babies.


Their smiling in the sunshine faces and melted ice cream dribbled shirts make me happy.

They're all the reason why.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Mountain Goats


One day we hiked to Mystic Falls.


I got sunburned a little.

It happens when you start out sort of ghostly white and highly reflective.


We hiked up and up and up.  (Huffing and puffing 6000 feet higher in altitude than we're used to.)

Mark asked me,  "Mom?  Am I your little mountain goat?"




I said, "Yes."

At the end of the hike, the aquatic devotees just had to dip their feet in a little river.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh


The Day I Didn't Die

front row: Jackson, Ahlea, Mark and Talia; middle row: Ashton, Braeden, Geri, Emma, Tice, Jamie, Me and Megan; back row: Kain, Adam and Brian

I was terrified to go white water rafting.  Terrified.  I had trouble sleeping the night before.  I tried to figure out a way to get out of it.  I lamented my lapse in judgment.  Why had I decided to go?


Why?

Among death and dismemberment (and the release they had me sign didn't help much) my fears included being cold.  I don't like to be cold. 


They had wet suits.  Hurray!  I asked if I could wear one. The guide gave me a skeptical/pitying look and said, "If you want to..." 


I did.

 it took all of our best efforts to get me squeezed into the wet suit--and by squeezed, I mean I felt like Scarlet O'Hara


I was the nerd of all four rafts, the only one in a wet suit.  But I was a warm nerd.

 
Emma had a LITTLE more enthusiasm than I did.


Contrary to my fears, I loved white water rafting (granted we had a fairly easy run...nothing over a level 3 which means nothing to me but it's the lingo I picked up).  It was just the right amount of exhilaration and adventure for my cowardly self.

that's me, in the baseball cap


Here's Braeden "riding the bull" with his feet out in front and one hand on the "chicken line".  I didn't ride the bull.  In case you were wondering.




Mark decided he loves to row.  He kept trying to get the guide to have us use the paddles.  The guide (in the purple and yellow hat) let the kids try the big oars at the back of the raft.



There were heroics:  Adam pulled Talia out of the roiling water when she fell off the raft while "riding the bull".


There was teasing:  Braeden let this little bug that landed crawl all over him.  Mostly because it had made his cousins squeal in horror.  Braeden named the bug Sterence...then it flew away.






There was plenty of water for Braeden and Emma:  they swam the last mile, bobbing over the rapids while my heart palpitated and I worried for their safety.


Here's Emma:  diving in, unable to resist all that water.




Mark did his best to terrify me by standing on the edge of the raft while the water was calm.  I knew he can (sorta) swim.  I knew Adam would reach in and save him.  Still.  I've spent a lot of time and energy in keeping my kids alive.  It's hard to abandon those instincts even when Mark thought he was terribly clever.


That's Adam's hand.  I kept saying, "Grab him Adam."  Adam kept disobeying but he did keep his hand there for my benefit.


I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
Mark Twain


I spend way too much of my life worrying about what might happen when it usually turns out just fine.


Someday I'll learn my lesson but in the meantime, it's nice to be surprised when I don't suffer a watery death with my head bashed in from a sharp rock.


I made it!





Sunday, July 18, 2010

America the Beautiful



Maybe nothing like visiting an iconic national park makes you appreciate your country.  It’s famous for a reason.  Bee-yoo-ti-ful.

America’s not without it’s problems though.

Take American cheese for example. What an embarrassment.

Then there're those hand dryers in public restrooms.  Is that the best we can do?  Really?

When we visited Old Faithful, there were droves of people.  Diverse people.  And if there's a fashion police, they don't know about the crowds at Old Faithful.

Yikes.

Talk about ugly Americans.

I saw hosts of socks and sandals, some just-because-they-make-it-in-your-size-doesn't-mean-you-should-wear-it, and determined looking souls with big floppy hats and fanny packs.

The winner was a man with flip flops, camo cropped cargo pants, a jacket with buckskin looking trim, a plastic bead necklace and a mullet.

Awesome.

Just when I was starting to despair about my country, I joined the line for the ladies room that formed as soon as Old Faithful worked its magic.  There was a little girl--about 4 or 5 years old-- that seriously needed to go to the bathroom.  She was dancing around in a panic.  The women in front of her said, "Oh, honey, you go ahead of us."  The little girl looked at her mom who gave her the go-ahead and all up the line, women hustled the little girl along.  She needed to go.

The good women of America understood.

I also noticed that wherever we were, if there was a family assembled with a camera, at least ten people would stop and ask, "Can I take your family's picture?"

Americans are generally a very kind group.

I'm proud to be one of them.




Grandma Geri

Every trip has a hero.  Every family has a hero.

I really can't say much about our trip (and remember how narcissistic and a-lot-to-say I am?) without first giving a nod to Grandma Geri.

Adam's mom.


She treated us all to a fabulous cabin with beds and rooms for everyone.

She organized and planned and shopped for and transported all the food.

(And we had good food.)


And most nights, we had a lot of people...extended family gathering in our cabin, bringing their offerings to share.  Because everyone knows a great hostess when they see one.  Everyone wanted to be in the sunshine of Geri's welcoming greeting and accommodating here's-a-plate-here's-the-line-get-some-food.

That's not all though.  Geri made sure everyone had a good time.  It's exhausting to have that much fun and when edges got frayed, she smoothed them.

One night she knocked softly on my bedroom door and hugged me and comforted me.  My edges were sorely frayed.

I don't know how she does all that she does.  What I do know is that I'm grateful.  And I love her.


Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.  
~Marion C. Garretty

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back Online

I've come full circle to the same hotel I wrote from last Saturday.  Our trip is drawing to a close (we'll be home tomorrow) and we are happy and sunburned and exhausted.

I'm brimming with pictures to post and words to write.  I'm narcissistic like that.

For now, I feel kind of like this guy.



Rough around the edges.  (My hair may or may not resemble his too.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Watery Bookends to the Day


The day began way too early at the first swim meet of the season.  I possibly took a lot of pictures of Mark in his little racing swimsuit, bandaged chest and serious expression.

Also a lot of snacks were consumed.


I guess swimming is hungry work.

It's hard to take good swim meet pictures. The kids are mostly underwater.

This is Emma though...try not to be too riveted by the action shot, you're embarrassing me.



After the meet, we went home, packed everything in the van and headed off on our grand adventure.

Some with more energy for the road than others:

It's a good thing he's young.  I wouldn't be able to move my neck for a week if I slept like that.


When we drove through Ritzville, WA, I called my SIL Jennifer.  She grew up around there and I wondered which pretty farm belonged to her family.  She told me it was 20 miles north.

Oh.

She did give me a hot tip to visit the Riverside State Park in Spokane though.

It was a beautiful place.  There were fragrant blooming petunias, delightful scenes of the river, bridges and geese and one really bad saxophone player. 

And then there was the fountain.

It was tempting to these water loving off spring of ours.



 So tempting.



Can we Dad?  Can we?







(He said yes.)


And Braeden's officially mad as a hatter.  A wet hatter.

Before taking the dripping children to the hotel, we stopped to play on the enormous red wagon slide.


I told Mark he was built for parks.



Day One of the Grand Adventure:



Not bad at all.

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