Friday, September 30, 2011

31 Days of Gratitude



When I'm worried and I can't sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep. 
Irving Berlin


Once when I was in college, I was having a rough time.  It seems silly and insignificant looking back on it now, but at the time, I was devastated.  I felt heartbroken and betrayed, homesick and lonely for my sisters (neither of whom were at school with me at the time).

It was finals.  I had one test left then I was going to go home for the Christmas holidays.  One final.  But it seemed insurmountable.  I was, as Anne Shirley would say, in the depths of despair.

After a lifetime of learning to “Count My Blessings,” I knew what I had to do. When I should have been studying, I pulled out a notepad. I still remember it.  It was sky blue, lined paper.  I started a list of things to be grateful for.  I started with big things like family and friends and health.  But I kept writing.  I wrote and wrote and wrote.  I still have the list.  I added things like brownies, silver jewelry, colored markers.  There seemed to be an unending supply of things to be grateful for.

I realized then the restorative power of gratitude.  It brought me up by my bootstraps and reminded me that even though I was feeling rotten at the time, life was good.  As long as there were a myriad of Lipsmacker flavors and milkshakes in the world, life was OK.

Join me this month for “31 Days of Gratitude”.  Each day I will write a post to remind us all to be more grateful.  To count our blessings.  To give thanks.


I am joining a bunch of other bloggers, writing 31 Days of...


Books I Read in September



Saving CeeCee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman***

I reread this book because my book club read it.  I didn't love it the first time I read it, I think I liked it more the second time around.  There are some great messages in it and a lot of hope and kindness.  My complaint about it is that some of the characters don't seem real.  They seem like caricatures of every movie you've seen and book you've read about the South.  Also, some of them were so sticky sweet you just wanted them to do something rotten so they'd seem alive.






Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin**

The polar opposite of the previous book, this book was raw and distressingly real.  It involved a person disappearing, illness--mental and otherwise, grief, addiction, you name it.  It also included a lot of hope and kindness.  If you could get past the cringeworthy language and actions of some of the characters, it was a compelling story with some very likable characters.  (And some characters I didn't like at all.)





The Geometry of Sisters by Louanne Rice***

This book was sort of a dramatic tangled mess.  It had it all:  tragedy, lies, secrets, kleptomania, paralysis, teen pregnancy, a runaway, a ghost, unrequited love...

Phew.

What I loved about it though were the sisters.  There were several sets of them and they all loved each other and needed each other in the same way I love and need my sisters.
 




The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald***

This was a fascinating book.  It was set in the 40s-60s with some interesting looks at culture then.  (Yikes to the 60s drug and free love scenes portrayed.  Yikes.)  The book is about a baby that is a "practice baby" at a college in the home economics class.  It explores how messed up a person can be when they don't have proper attachment as an infant...no constant mother figure but a parade of practice mothers.  The answer is pretty messed up.  I liked a lot of the characters in this book and the end broke my heart and gave me hope as well.


Cramming in what I cleaned in September because The 31 Days of Gratitude is upon me.  I cleaned my family room.  It's a pretty easy room to clean because there isn't near the clutter of say...one of my children's rooms.  I got rid of every VHS tape (except the one Adam uses to record the Superbowl each year so he and Braeden can watch it later).  Also, I/we did move some furniture.  Braeden wondered where we were going to put the Christmas tree with the new arrangement.  I just smiled at him.  He groaned.  "We'll be moving furniture again, won't we?"


I didn't have big strong kids for nothing, did I?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Unrelated Thursday Things

Alternative Title:  Fun With Alliteration

1) Have you seen our TV remote?

It is completely missing.  I never watch TV (I do my TV watching on the computer, on Hulu) so I don't even know the last time it was used.  Adam decreed no TV until it's found.  The kids have looked and looked and looked.  Mark said, "We need to look in the most remote place."

And that pun delighted Emma.  (It's not every day that the things Mark say delight Emma.)

I'll tell you where the remote is not:

in the fridge
in the freezer
under any furniture
in any of the kitchen cabinets
the coat closet
any bedroom
any bathroom
the laundry room

They are running out of places to look.


2) Here was the conversation on the way to piano lessons the other day:

Mark: What would you think about serving a mission? I think you should go. As much as I would miss you, wouldn’t you like to teach people about Jesus?

Me: Now's not a good time for me to serve a mission. I need to take care of my kids. Maybe when I'm the age of Grandma and Grandpa Dahl, I'll serve a mission like them.

Mark: (changing tactics) You know how a lot of the Dahl family live by each other? That’s what I want. I want to live by you when I grow up.

Me: (Thinking that's very sweet.) I'd love that Mark.

Mark: Do you think you’ll live in our house forever?

Me: Maybe. I don't know. (And then he stopped hinting around and got right to what he really wanted from me.) 

Mark: What if I give you a little bit of my money and you give me our house and you can find another one?

Don't sugarcoat is Mark. Tell me how you really feel.


3) And finally, what's more embarrassing than being at the YMCA and accidentally blaring your music throughout the gym instead of through your headphones like a normal person?

Not being capable of turning the iphone off.

I hate it when technology is smarter than I am.  (And that's mostly always.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Under Construction




It's a well known fact that I love to change things...small things.  And my blog is one of them.  I was ready for a change and lucky for me, my wonderful husband is always willing to help me.  The dust hasn't quite settled around here...I still want to make a few changes.  But I'm happy with what we (and by we I mean Adam) have done so far.  I loved the old pictures across the top but went for a less narcissistic title rather than just my name.  And really, I do write about nothing in particular.  It is neither a recipe blog nor a decorating blog nor a craft blog...just a blog.

While I'm in a new mood, I want to let you know I'm trying something new in October.  I will be joining other bloggers and writing 31 posts...one each day...about a particular topic.  Time will tell if I can keep it up but I welcome the writing exercise.  A new challenge always helps you know you're alive! 

Thanks for reading.  It makes me happy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pillow Perfection

You know how I could rival the Princess and the Pea for persnickety-ness when it comes to sleeping conditions?  Adam and I bought a new mattress last week.  Exciting!  More comfort!

Except it wasn't.  Rocks are softer than that thing.

It is a memory foam mattress and it did plump up a little bit after the first few days, but it still made my back hurt.  To complicate matters...we'd given our old mattress away.  Poor old mattress.  We should not have been so cavalier with it.

I decided that with this (much) firmer mattress, maybe I needed a (much) firmer pillow.  The hunt was on.

Friday, Adam and Emma had a date (a father/daughter BBQ with Eric and Freja), Braeden went to the high school football game so Mark and I decided to have a date ourselves.

I thought we'd eat dinner at The Blazing Onion (sweet potato fries) but Mark wanted pizza. I relented to Alfy's with the condition that I'd get to decide what we did after dinner.  (I had planned all along to decide what we'd do after dinner but it's fun to pretend sometimes like Mark has a say...who says I'm not a fun mom?)

I ordered a large pizza because there was a special so it was the same price as the small.  Also, I figured Braeden would be hungry after the game.  Because, you know, he's 14 and always hungry.  I would give him the leftover pizza.  I ate a hearty three pieces of pizza.  Wow.  That was a lot of pizza.  I was full.  Mark ate 5.  I had to absolutely insist he stop at 5, even though he tried to convince me he should have 6 pieces.  For heaven's sake.  He's not 14.  He is not allowed to be that hungry.

Our next stop was Kohl's.  (Yes, my choice.)  I wanted to look at pillows.  I perused the pillow offerings, soft, medium, firm, extra firm.  Extra firm was touted as "perfect for side sleepers."  As a side sleeper seeking a perfect pillow, I was interested.

Here was the problem:  all of the extra firm pillows in the brand I was looking at were high up on a very top shelf and pushed back far.  They were completely out of reach.  Mark was lurking around, pretending to spy on me and peaking out behind displays.  I called him over.  (He said, "How did you know where I was?")

I cupped my hands together in the same fashion my cousins and I used to do when we asked "for a boost" up a tree or onto the back of Crossbars, my grandpa's horse.  I told Mark to step on my hands and I lifted him up above my head...with a lot of his weight on the shelves he was leaning against/climbing.  He reached and grasped a pillow and pulled it along as I lowered him to the ground.  It was a marvelous pillow.  Perfect for side sleepers.  I decided I needed to get Adam one.  This time I put one of Mark's feet in each hand and I pushed him higher because the next pillow was even further back.  It was really very heroic.

As we were walking out of the pillow area, we saw one of those big aisle displays.  One half of it was the exact same pillow, perfect for side sleepers, perfectly within reach.

Mark did the open hand to the forehead thing.

I don't think it was a wasted experience though.  If I ever decide I want to, I think I can have a future as either a cheerleader who lifts people up above their head or even a circus performer.

(Of course, they have to be approximately Mark sized and there has to be a shelf to climb/support some of the weight.)

Also, I should say, the pillow is indeed perfect for side sleepers.  Happy sleep has been restored.

Monday, September 26, 2011

All Ready For Next Year

Last week was Curriculum Night at Emma's school.

We were given our student's schedule then we went to 10 minute periods with each teacher.  They told us things like their grading policy and how to get in touch with them.  They also told us how to find out what the assignments were...how we could find them on their websites.

This always makes me feel confused...wait, do I need to do these assignments?  I think I got all of the micromanaging of my children's educations out of my system when I homeschooled them.

I went to the gym for Emma's P.E. class.  I walked in and someone asked, "Are you here for 8th grade P.E.?"  I said yes because, you know, I was there for 7th grade P.E.

I walked across the front of the bleachers and sat on the front row...as far away from the door as I could get.

Then the teacher started speaking.

Wait, that's not Emma's teacher.


Wait, Emma's not in 8th grade.

I couldn't leave.  1) They had specifically asked me if I was there for 8th grade.  (And I had said yes.)  2) I would have to walk in front of everyone to leave.  3) I felt like the teacher was directing all his remarks straight at me.  (Braeden, who had him last year--you know, in 8th grade--said he makes you feel that way.)

So I sat there and listened.  I'd like to think that rather than missing out on what Emma's actual P.E. teacher had to say, I am way ahead of the game.

I'm ready for next year.

Friday, September 23, 2011

OK, Marianne

When I added a post this morning about Mark's haircut(s), I thought, "My sisters are going to want to see a picture."

Sure enough.

So here you are.  Pictures snapped with my phone during school.  Front and back view...all while practicing handwriting...and dressed like a clone.  Do most third graders wear clone costumes when they practice their handwriting?



Maybe not.  Mark's really not like most people.


But the Sasquatch family can't have him back.

He's all mine.

Three Haircuts

I cut Adam's hair and I cut Braeden's hair.  I do an OK job.  I usually take Mark to Titi who is as friendly and gracious as she is good with the thick red curls of a restless 8 year old.  She's been cutting Mark's hair for years and she even patiently listens to his non-stop chatter.

There's only one problem with Titi.  She works two days a week and she is very popular.  She works at Great Clips, where you don't get an appointment, you just walk in.  But then you wait and wait and wait for Titi because there's always a line.  The other three women that work there have nothing to do when Titi is working because everyone is willing to wait for her.  ( I wonder if they love that or hate that.)

I decided that to save time (and a little money), I could cut Mark's hair.

So I did.

We cleaned up the copious amounts of hair (it's not for nothing that Braeden and Emma try to convince Mark that he's really a Sasquatch and their own brother is really living with a Sasquatch family in the forest...Braeden says, "Poor hairless kid.  He's our real brother.") and Mark took a shower and got dressed.

Then I started looking at him.

I told him the bad tidings that I needed to cut his hair again because I hadn't done a good job.

Mark sighed and complained but complied.

The next day, I started looking at Mark's hair some more.  "I need to cut it again," I told him.  The front was longer than the rest.

Mark said no.  Enough is enough.

So I bribed him with a trip to Skinny Dip for frozen yogurt.  He finally relented.  This time I got the clippers and removed all of my little Sasquatch's hair...he's down to fuzzy remnants.

It was the only way.

I told Adam, "I just wanted to save time and money."

"How's that working for you?" he asked.

Not well.

Titi is decidedly worth the wait.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Orthodontics

Emma got braces!


I picked Emma up at school to take her to the orthodontist.  As we drove, I asked her how her school day had been thus far.  She had a quiz back from algebra.  She was not happy with her score.  Laid back Braeden would have been unfazed. "Meh...I passed."

Not Emma.  She doesn't get poor grades.  She doesn't miss answers.  She was distraught.  I told her it would be OK.  I told her it was just one quiz.  I said, "Lucky for you, you have a mother that is a brilliant algebra teacher."  (Sometimes I express disproportionate amounts of self-confidence in the face of my children's faltering confidence.)

Emma could not be comforted.  She dug the quiz out of her backpack and started telling me what she had missed and demanding to know why each was wrong.

Finally as we were nearing the orthodontist, I told her we were almost there so let's drop it for now.  I told her we'd look at the quiz later.  I said (again) that everything would be fine.   She sat up straight and swiped away her tears and took a deep breath.

"You're right," she said, "Orthodontics and algebra do not go well together."

While Emma was getting her teeth accessorized Mark and I went to the grocery store and got things that do go well with orthodontics:

soft food to subsist on for the next few days

Braces, algebra quizzes, middle school...raise your hand if you're glad you are no longer 12.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sisterhood



Breast Cancer.

It could happen to any of us.  It has happened to one of us.  Our friend Lauren.  She used to live in our ward, but moved a few years ago.  She's still one of us.  She's a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, an aunt.  We all want to do something for Lauren.  We want to do something big, like eradicate cancer from the face of the earth.  In our inability to do something big, we're doing something small.

Lauren's sister-in-law, Heather is planning a garage sale/bake sale to help raise money for Lauren and her family.  (If you live around here, it's Friday and Saturday and Heather lives across from Monroe Elementary.)

I have been amazed (but not really) by the groundswell of activity associated with this sale. 

I ran into Heather and her family at Five Guys the other night.  (I love a woman with good taste.)  We talked about the sale and she told me she needs to create a spreadsheet to keep track of all the offers for help.  Women are posting information on facebook, spreading the word.  I have seen offers for cash donations.  I know women are gathering items to sell.  I know women are preparing to make their celebrated specialties for the bake sale; Anne her bread, Cynthia her mint brownies.

(I am trying my hand at cake pops.  For not the first time, I am trying to create a fancy new confection under the kind tutelage of Janet.   If you go to the sale, feel free to pick Janet's rather than mine...I'm pretty sure they'll be better.)

Lauren is young.  She's lively and spunky and has a fighting attitude.  I hope and pray she'll be just fine.    Meanwhile, I have sensed a tightening of ranks.  I've heard about some of the things women in Lauren's current ward are doing.  They're helping her with the dailiness of motherhood while she's going to doctors.  They had a garage sale of their own.  There's no hysteria or panic but quiet support and love and a steely strength.

A sisterhood.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No Appreciation

After my careful refashioning from summer to autumn, Adam and Braeden each had one (unsupportive) comment.

Braeden wondered if my esteemed apples, the ones covered in lovely textured bark, were just really, really moldy.


Jill was with me when I bought them and she was a little suspicious of their worth as well.

But I like them.

Adam asked me if I was going for an entry in Catalog Living.


Something along the lines of "Gary could sleep better knowing Elaine kept the pear safely in a cage."

Ha. Ha.

Luckily for everyone involved, they don't have to like it.   Besides, it will all be changed before they know it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Change

I have a love/hate relationship with change (not the kind you get at the store when you pay with cash, the other kind).

I don't like changing my schedule or plans.  I don't like changing my wake up time (because it's always a change for the earlier).  I don't like when people die or move away.  I don't like when children grow up.

Also, it depresses me when people express the sentiment that everything changes, whether it's bad and will get better or good and will get worse.

I don't want to think about things that are great, changing.

But then there's the kind of change I love.  The kind of change I crave and need or else I start getting itchy all over (figuratively itchy).

I love rearranging things (mostly furniture).  I love organizing.  I love new nail polish colors.  I love new recipes.  I love changing seasons.  Every season comes packed with different foods to enjoy, different light quality, different weather, different clothing, different ornamentation to scatter around my house.  There is nothing as exhilarating as the first sunny day you wear short sleeves and feel plenty warm unless it's the first delicious day of wearing a toasty sweater.

So as the seasons change, I'm happy.  I am gathering up seashells and bright floral pillows and making things cozy and autumnal.



Switcheroo.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Admiration Of My Children

A while ago, Braeden and Emma were grumbling to me about Mark and all of his typical little brother-ness.

I told them that my little brothers used to be pests sometimes (I'm looking at you Enoch) but then they all grew up and now they talk over my head (literally, they're tall) and I try to keep up with them (literally, they have long legs).

I said, "Someday, Mark will be taller than you and cooler than you."  (These, of course, are not things I can verify for sure but they worked in the context of the conversation.)

Then Braeden and Emma started talking about how all of my brothers and sisters are cooler than I am.

What?!?

I demanded to know what they meant and they told me about all the ways my siblings are preferable to me.  I would write them but in case my siblings read this, I don't want them to get more conceited than they already are.

Emma finally conceded the point that I do have a good phone.

Then Braeden said Enoch does too.

Fine.

***

Last night, after ruminating over it for weeks, I decided it was the moment.  Time to move the family room furniture.  The complete angst of three offspring cascaded over me.  We don't want to/it won't work/we need Dad/why are you so crazy were among some of the comments.

"Of course we can!" was my response.

And we did.

While I was rearranging and gathering up Wii remotes to put into their home, Braeden said, "Mom, I have never seen you play on the Wii.  I've never seen you use a Wii remote.  Do you even know how?"

I reminded him of Wii fit.  I reminded him of when we first had the Wii and had it password protected to curb their obsession.

"Oh, yeah," he said, "I just can't imagine you sitting on the couch, playing a game."

***

So the point to all of this?  Besides my bruised ego?  My kids don't think I'm very cool.  I'm OK with that.  Because I realize that if phones and Wii playing are their gauge, maybe it's not that important.

Besides, if I'm going to play second fiddle (or 6th fiddle?), Marianne, Olivia, Enoch, Tabor and Ammon are pretty good heights to aspire to (literally, they're all tall).



A year ago today, I wrote this.  Today's been two years.  We love and miss our Grandpa Linn every day.  And remember him fondly.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unexpected Benefits

Wednesday is our day.  We drive the seminary carpool.  We drive 4 kids from our neighborhood to the church (including Braeden) then we pick them up at the church 50 minutes later and drive them to the school.

It's early.  And dark.  And I yawn every 30 seconds.

Yesterday morning we picked up Chloe first.  She climbed into the van with a smile on her face and a chipper, "Good Morning!"  (She must have inherited her mother's sunny disposition.)

Hans was waiting for us on the corner.  I have never seen him anything except amiable as long as I've known him.  He's also always conscientious and on time.

Adam (not my Adam) climbed in last, dressed in a shirt and tie because today's a football game.  They all four chatted pleasantly.

At the church they shuffled out and several of them thanked me for the ride.

Fifty minutes later, after a stint at the YMCA,  Adam (my Adam) and I picked them up again.  This time Jared joined us too.

As the last of them were climbing into the van, Brother Brown, Braeden's teacher, came outside to get in his own car.  Braeden quickly rolled down his window, "Brother Brown!  Bye!"  Brother Brown stopped to chat a minute, to tell us Braeden was a great kid.  Jared and Chloe teased each other as we drove away.  Braeden asked if he could stay at the school after a meeting to watch Adam (not my Adam) play his football game.  They all helped troubleshoot the best time/place for me to meet Braeden after school to give him dinner and a cell phone because he'll be there for the evening.  They were all five polite and kind and friendly.  I dropped them off at the school.  They climbed out and thanked me again for the ride.

Uneventful.

As we drove home, Adam (my Adam) read me an article by David Brooks in the New York Times from my phone.  (First he said, "You don't have a NY Times app?"  No.  But I have Angry Birds.  Just as valuable?)

The article was entitled "Young Adults Left Adrift in Sea of Moral Relativity."  It was a good article.  I like David Brooks.

It led me to thinking more about Braeden, Chloe, Hans, Adam (not my Adam) and Jared.  Those five are not victims of moral relativity.  I know (and admire) all of the parents of our carpool.  They are trying their very best to teach their children.  They are doing a fantastic job.  I thought about teachers like Brother Brown, who unpaid, gets up in the predawn hours every day to teach good kids to be better.  He's doing the kind of job that prompted Braeden (who had just seen him two minutes ago) to want to call out a greeting to him.

The uneventful pick up and drop off from home to seminary to school was sort of delightful really.  I knew seminary would be good for Braeden.

I didn't realize the boon driving around five teenagers would be to me. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Because She Loves You So Much

Mark has a cold.  It's a Big Deal.  Just ask him.  Emma had a cold.  She was miserable but stoic.  Braeden had a cold.  He was miserable but stoic.

Mark...

And it's all my fault.  He's my baby.  What am I supposed to do besides baby him?  I have no idea. So I baby my baby.  He was far far far too sick for school.  Just ask him.  I cajoled him into a little bit of school.

He moaned and groaned.  "I can't even think," he complained, "My head hurts SO much."

My poor baby.

I hugged him and coddled him and sent him to rest.

He started playing with Legos and I heard him singing in his room.

So how sick is he?

I had a planning meeting at Alfy's, along with Heather, my fellow Wolf Cub Scout Leader. I told Mark maybe I would cancel since he was sick.  He assured me he was well enough to go.  So we went (because it would have been a pain to reschedule...we really needed to plan).  On the drive there Mark said, "You know the good thing about being sick?  Snuggles with your mom and you get lots of good sickness food and your mom keeps saying, 'how are you?' and taking care of you because she loves you so much."

I wasn't sure if Mark would feel like eating much.  I bought a cheese pizza, thinking I'd give most of it to Braeden and Emma when they got home from school.

Mark ate the entire pizza.

So how sick is he?

I went to the store and stocked up on juice and Dimetapp and ice cream.  (Remember, he's my baby?)  I asked Mark what kind of juice he wanted.  He wanted orange juice and cranberry mixed together...our kids drink that by the bucketful in Nevada at my mother's breakfast table.  He said, "Can I have apple juice too?"

I told him he could have anything he wanted.

"A Lego set?"

"No, any kind of juice you want."

"Can I have a juice bottle filled with Legos."

"No."

We don't drink much juice around here, mostly just when someone is sick.  Mark was watching me stir the orange juice.

He asked, "What's that yellow thing?"

I explained it was some of the orange juice concentrate and I needed to stir it more.

Mark was grouchy.  "Well," he said with disgust, "Maybe if the people who make juice would concentrate a little more it wouldn't take forever to stir the juice.  Forget it."

And he climbed back into the red chair and resumed playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii. 

I kept stirring the juice.

Because when you're eight and feel sick, that's what your mom does when she loves you so much.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Personally

Yesterday at lunch Mark was telling me some involved description that involved Legos or Star Wars or both and I was listening...more or less. I was also thumbing through the Yale Alumni magazine that Adam had left on the table. I turned to the personal ads which are my favorite part.

I wonder what I would write if I were to write one of my own.

I used one of the personal ads in the magazine to get me started.  Here's what some dazzlingly confident person wrote:

Abiding Curiosity, Adventuresome Spirit, great smile, healthy irreverence. Companionable, very good-looking blonde--toned, easygoing, quick to laugh, eager to learn.  Slender, athletic, self-professed foodie, avid aspiring photographer.  Lively, generous, philanthropic, proactive.  Seldom complains ("unless I've just hit tennis ball over the fence").  Loves a challenge:  composing photo shots, skiing headwall, streamlining committee programs, working on advocacy case.  Game to do nearly anything.  Passionate traveler:  Myanmar, Paris, Savannah, trekking Grand Canyon.  Loves being home:  cozying up with book, cooking for friends, sneaking out to local Philharmonic or movie.  Seeking athletically inclined, fit, savvy, professional 58-78 man, 5'9"+, curiosity to travel, explore the world.


And so here's mine:


Mildly Curious, Mostly Don't Care, needed braces twice, rarely swears.  Companionable, very curly brown hair--not all that toned, a little high strung, quick to laugh, reluctant to learn.  Nonathletic, foodie, least photogenic person in America.  Busy, preoccupied, try to be helpful and serve others but sometimes miss the mark.  Complains a lot (doesn't know how to play tennis).  Usually steers clear of anything too challenging:  takes fuzzy pictures, can't ski (doesn't know what skiing headwall means), cub scout leader, broke the copy machine every time volunteered at school.  Game to do what I want to do.  Passionate traveler:  Nevada, Lake Chelan, London, trekking IKEA.  Loves being home: cozying up with book, cooking for friends and family, sneaking out to local Village Theater or movie.  Seeking handsome, patient, long suffering, witty man exactly the same age as me (same birthday a must), 6', curiosity to travel, explore the world (as long as it doesn't involve camping). 



Monday, September 12, 2011

The Eye of the Hurricane

Braeden, Adam and Emma swimming in the lake.  (Adam's the one with a kid on his shoulders.)

 The weekend felt like a breather.  A much needed breather.

Last week was, with the start of a new school year, hectic and exhausting and jarring.  This week is shaping up to be much the same.  It was wonderful to go to my Happy Place, Lake Chelan.

The early morning view from the front deck of our cabin.  That's Braeden in the water.  Before 7:00 a.m.


The view mid-day.  I'm related to whoever is on that waverunner.
The dusky view.

We rented waverunners which are a little bit exhilarating and a whole lot terrifying.  While I was clinging to Adam for dear life as I rode behind him on the waverunner, I realized two things.

1) I am too young to die.

2) Trying to stay astride a waverunner as it bounces and jumps along waves is similar to trying to stay astride a horse that is bouncing and jumping.

My brother Tabor, who earns his living training horses, would be brilliant at waverunners.

Except for he hates water and I'm not completely sure he can swim.

Details, details.

Adam and his mom, Geri, and Braeden and Mark rode them for eight hours with a couple of small breaks.  Mark stood up most of the time and urged whomever he was riding behind to go faster, faster, faster!  Now that Braeden is 14, he could drive himself.  Adam was behind him at one point and became unseated.  He bounced along the surface of the water, did a few flips and Braeden wisely stopped and turned back to rescue his dad.

Adam put together a video with footage from Adam's favorite toy Braeden's waterproof video camera.



Emma and I stayed away from most of the action because she unfortunately felt sick with a cold and I, as I've mentioned, was mostly terrified.  Emma and I spent time in our pretty little cabin.  We watched HGTV and the Disney Channel.  We played cards (she beat me every single time).  We read and napped and I rubbed her feet.  It was lovely.

Though sick, Emma can't be near that much water and not swim so she did swim a little.



Yesterday, as we drove home we stopped at Red Robin in Wenatchee for lunch.  It was a memorable lunch.  For one thing, in a rare turn of events, I watched football over Adam's shoulder instead of the other way around.  The St. Louis Rams were playing and my cousin Harvey plays for them now.  I told Mark what I was watching and he was impressed.

"So you're telling me your cousin is on TV right now?"

"Yes.  He's right there, number 62."

"Mom, you're famous."

(I think it's going to take a little more than that to make me famous.)

During lunch, a man walked up to us and shook Adam's hand and told him that he'd been our daughter's P.E. teacher last year then he walked over to Braeden and Emma's table...they were sitting at their own table; it helped us get seated faster.

I had seen Emma's P.E. teacher last year and I didn't recognize the guy.  When he got closer to Emma he realized he had the wrong girl.  "Well you've got a twin in Wenatchee," he said as he walked away.  I felt kind of bad.  I wish Emma had been the right girl.  He seemed like an awfully nice P.E. teacher.

Maybe we should move to Wenatchee.

Most memorable of all was our waiter.  He was completely creepy.  We decided we could dress as him for Halloween and scare the pants off people.

Maybe we shouldn't move to Wenatchee.

We were, as always, happy to see our home.  But we're also happy in the knowledge that Lake Chelan is there.  Waiting for us like a jewel glittering in the desert.




Until next year.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How Lake Chelan is Different than Las Vegas

Apparently what happens in Lake Chelan does not stay in Lake Chelan.

After we watched Kungfu Panda 2, Mark was still thinking about the panda's parents leaving him behind.  He said, "You'd never leave me, would you Mom?"

"Of course not," I said.

"Except in Lake Chelan,"  Emma muttered.


We don't talk about that.  We are forgetting it ever happened.  It's just that I'm the only one that remembers that we are supposed to forget about it. 

We're going to Lake Chelan today.  We're going to bask in dry heat and splash in cold water and zip around on waverunners (well, I'm not much of a zipper...I'm taking books to read).

What we're not going to do is leave anyone behind.  (Because you never hear the end of it.)




This morning I read this by my former college writing professor/heroine in this world.  I even forgive her saying Louise is a step up from Thelma...because I love her that much.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books I Read in August

First, I remembered one of the books I read in July:



Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson***

I liked it and I remembered that I read it.  (So that's a bonus.) It's set in England so satisfied all my anglophile tendencies.

Then there was a bleak spot in my August reading.  I read and didn't particularly like:





Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer*

It was about three sisters.  I'm one of three sisters...what's not to like?  The three sisters in this book.  They were particularly immoral and flat as characters go.  Why did I keep reading it?



As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs**

This was a sort of a murder mystery.  I liked the fast paced narrative, disliked the intermittent crass language.  I am also a sucker for a good murder mystery so I read it. 


Being Polite to Hitler by Robb Foreman Dew**

Along with the other books I read this month, I don't really recommend this book.  August was a sad reading month for me.  This book was, I think, meant to be a look at life in the 1950s and maybe had some feminist message in it or another.  I mostly found it really confusing.  The family relationships were very convoluted and I spent way more time than I should have just trying to figure out who was who.  I didn't like the author's style but was mildly interested in the historical aspect of it and didn't have a stack of more interesting books waiting in the wings, so I read it.

Sad.  I hope I read better books in September.  I'm at the mercy of the Sno-Isle Library system.  (And the Kindle Deal of the Day.)


Here's something that's putting a smile on my face today though:  Braeden and I decided we don't need to wake up as early as we have the last two mornings.  Ten minutes more sleep.  And any time before 6:00 a.m., ten minutes make a huge difference.  At least psychologically.  Of all Braeden's stellar qualities, I think I admire most how quickly he can get ready in the morning.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of School

Going through the back to school rituals like buying school supplies, picking up schedules, navigating classrooms...it all reminds me of last year at this time.

Last year at this time though, I was a little bit fractured.  I was in mourning and felt like I would fly into a million pieces if I didn't hang on carefully.

Last year at this time was awful.

This year I feel a tiny knot of anxiety because both older children are starting at new schools but I'm also excited to begin school with Mark again.  I love the stretches of uninterrupted Mark time.

After reading some exultant sentiments expressed on facebook about school starting, I wondered if there was an upside for me.  Yes, the house will be quieter and more calm.  But quieter and more calm is highly overrated.  I would rather have my kids home than gone.  Even when they're messy.  Even when they're loud.  Always.

I makes me sad to send them to school.

But is is easier than last year.

And easier is better.

Last night, in order to celebrate the end of summer/first day of school, we went to The Blazing Onion for dinner.  I even decreed there was to be no caffeine consumed in mixing drinks in the amazing Coke fountain machine.

 
I wanted good sleep for my young scholars.

At dinner we talked about our summer and what made it memorable.  Mention was made of the 10k, the triathlon, the 22 mile walk.  We sound a lot more athletic than we really are.  It was a good summer though.  Busy and productive and lazy all at once.  There was a bit of structure and some spontaneous adventures with friends.  Everything a summer should be (except not all that warm).

I am optimistic about the new school year.  Ready for new adventures, new lessons learned and time spent snuggling with Mark under a blanket, reading.

And now for some pictures:

Let me just start by saying early morning seminary is...early.



Really.




But a sister with rock star hair, giddy-first-day-of-seventh-grade excitement and an old referee shirt for pajamas helps brighten the mood.



Emma got all cleaned up:


Complete with enormous backpack:


And she was off...to Hannah's house before heading to the bus stop.

Jill said our lawn is dormant, not dead.  We're going with it!


Sniff.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What I Did (and Didn't) Clean in August

August was Emma's room.  Wow.  Emma's room reminds me of my room when I was growing up.  Cluttery (yet another word that isn't) and a reflection of a sentimental girl who uses a lot of paper to draw and write.

Moving 9 times since I've married has cured me of a bit of my clutterbug nature.  A bit.

But Emma...

We divided her closet into two days.  We cleaned The East Side of the closet one day and The West Side of the closet another day.  That may give you an idea of the state of things.

In a further reflection of Emma's 'tweendom, she was ready to part with many things:  Polly Pockets, magnetic paper dolls, beads.  She is still clinging to stuffed animals, her Littlest Pet Shop collection (which from its orderly appearance hasn't been played with since last time we deep cleaned her room) and her American Girl doll paraphernalia.

Also, the girl volleys between needing me to direct her every cleaning move and dismissing me because she wants to do it herself.  I allowed her to sort and sift and organize solo.

Like nearly every other aspect of this mothering gig.  It's a process.  I am trying to teach her how to organize and arrange things so they'll have a prayer of making it back.  I am trying to teach her to get rid of stuff she doesn't need.  I'm trying to teach her to put it away/throw it away/do something with it besides leave it on the floor.

I don't think I'm making too much headway.

But I'm not giving up.  Greater women than me have forged the way in this battle.  (My mom with me for example.)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grasping What We Can of Summer

Last week, we were reading silently, lounging around on chairs and sofas.  It was quiet except for Mark's periodic, "Can I be done?"  "How about now?"

(Silent reading time may be Mark's favorite time of the day.)

I looked up from my book and saw Braeden and Emma bent over their books and felt a little sigh bubble up inside.  Summer was almost over and they'd be at school.  I want to keep my children with me all the time.  Is that too much to ask?

Later that afternoon, we went to Cascade Park.  There was a time a few years ago that we went there several times a summer.  That was Before.  Before mutual activities and scout campouts and all the other summer busy-ness that seems to dominate our lives.

Adam grew up swimming in the Stillaguamish and he taught our children the secrets of using the currents to help them, not wash them away.  He also influenced them, perhaps genetically, to withstand cold cold water.

I sat in my usual spot, in a chair on the riverside.  But that day I had a sweatshirt on because it was that cold.

Emma's friend Hannah came with us.  She was heroic and got in the cold water along with my nutty children.  I was impressed with her.  Then she got out.  Her petite body was shivering and shaking and she was freezing cold (See what I did there?  My z key still doesn't work but I figured out a way around it!!!).

Mark, who's perhaps the most sane of our children when it comes to temperature, left for awhile to play at the playground and warm up.  Braeden and Emma continued to dive and float and splash and assured Hannah that they were used to it and the water was fine.   Adam came from work and I retrieved a wool blanket from his car and wrapped Hannah in it and tucked her into a chair.  I wanted to avoid explaining to Jill how her daughter got hypothermia on my watch.

Mark rejoined the group and Adam and our children swam and swam in cold water on a cloudy day when the temperature didn't top 70 degrees.  There is little more pathetic than this "summer".

I'm not sure what Emma's doing...she must have scraped her arm on a rock.  Mark is sporting his neoprene shirt which I bought for the express purpose of allowing him to stay in the water as long as his never cold siblings.
They dove in the water off of A Hippo Rock (which Mark is standing on above...it looks like maybe he's levitating but it's just A Hippo Rock) which they named back when Emma was 3 and Braeden was 5.  I cautioned them like I've done every year to dive a shallow dive.  They chorused, "We will," like they've done every year.

I also enjoyed the lovely surroundings.


Later we (and by we I mean Adam and Braeden) built a snappy warm little fire.  We had dinner and roasted marshmallows for s'mores.



It turned out Hannah had some real skill at toasting perfect marshmallows even though she prefers them black and molten.

It turned out Emma had some real skill at sliding into pictures and posing for the camera.

Emma also lost the new "kid cell phone" that we'd acquired the day before.  You know, the one I told her not to take to Cascade Park.  We walked around looking for it and calling it with my phone.

Then we called Jill and had her "break and enter" into our house and listen for the phone while we called it.

No luck.

When we got home, Emma found the phone in the van, under the seat!  I think the little phone didn't get an adequate signal at Cascade Park to make its presence known.

We were all relieved.  Most of all Emma.

(Because she was sort of in the doghouse.)




Today we're going to Cascade Park again for our ward's annual Labor Day Salmon BBQ.  Today the forecast is in the upper 70s!  (heatwave!)  We'll be packing swimsuits (for them) and a book to read (for me).

I'm putting dinner in the slow cooker or otherwise I'll never be able to convince my family to get out of the water.  (We've got to GO, dinner is READY.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

They Walked and Walked and Walked

One of Emma's Young Women leaders at church (the one that's also our favorite dental hygienist... Heather makes the dentist bearable) was inspired by Elaine Dalton's talk at the Young Women General Broadcast in the spring.

In the talk, Elaine Dalton, who is the president of the entire churchwide Young Women's organization, said this:

Last summer a group of young women from Alpine, Utah...determined to focus on the temple by walking from the Draper Utah Temple to the Salt Lake Temple, a total distance of 22 miles (35 km), just as one of the pioneers, John Rowe Moyle, had done. Brother Moyle was a stonemason who was called by the prophet, Brigham Young, to work on the Salt Lake Temple. Each week he walked the distance of 22 miles from his home to the temple. One of his jobs was to carve the words “Holiness to the Lord” on the east side of the Salt Lake Temple. It was not easy and he had many obstacles to overcome. At one point, he was kicked in the leg by one of his cows. Because it would not heal, he had to have this leg amputated. But that did not stop him from his commitment to the prophet and to work on the temple. He carved a wooden leg, and after many weeks he again walked the 22-mile distance to the temple to do the work he had committed to do.

The young women in the Cedar Hills Sixth Ward decided to walk that same distance for an ancestor and also for someone who was their inspiration to remain worthy to enter the temple. They trained each week at Mutual, and as they walked, they shared what they were learning and feeling about temples.

Emma's leaders decided early in the summer that they wanted to do the same thing.  They also trained and prepared.  This morning at 5:30, Emma headed out the door to get a ride with Stephanie to the meeting point.  She was equipped with band-aids, water bottles, a lunch.  And her mother's prayers.

What I loved most from Sister Dalton's talk was this part:

...As they started out, I was impressed with their confidence. They had prepared well, and they knew they were prepared. Their eyes were set on their goal. Each step they took was symbolic of each of you as you too are preparing now to enter the temple...As these young women continued to walk, there were distractions along the course, but they stayed focused on their goal. Some began to feel blisters forming, and others felt knees starting to protest, but they kept going. For each of you, there are many distractions, hurts, and obstacles along your path to the temple, but you too are determined and keep going. The route these young women took was mapped out by their leaders, who had walked and driven the course and determined the safest and most direct way to go. Again, your course is marked, and you can be assured that the Savior has not only walked the course but will again walk it with you—every step of the way.

Along this journey to the temple there were fathers, mothers, family members, and priesthood leaders acting as guardians. Their job was to ensure that everyone was safe and protected from danger. They made sure each young woman stayed well hydrated and had enough nourishment to maintain her stamina. There were aid stations provided by their priesthood leaders, with places to rest and to drink water. Young women, your fathers, your mothers, your bishops, and so many others will be your guardians as you walk your path to the temple. They will call out cautions and direct your course, and should you become injured or hurt or get off course, they will help you.

I was impressed that in the final miles of their walk, brothers, other young men, and friends came to support these determined young women and to cheer them on. One brother lifted his sister, who had large blisters on her feet, and carried her on his back the final distance to the temple. As these incredible young women reached their goal, tears were shed as they touched the temple and made a silent commitment to always be worthy to enter there.
The temple walk is a metaphor for your life. Parents and priesthood leaders stood guard along the route. They provided support and aid. Young women guarded and encouraged each other. Young men admired the strength, commitment, and stamina of the young women. Brothers carried sisters who had been injured. Families rejoiced with their daughters as they ended their walk at the temple and took them safely home.


I can't read her words without getting a little teary eyed.  I was a little emotional all day from the time I sent Emma off to the millions of times I thought about her and her wonderful loving leaders who helped her along.  What an undertaking!  And truly what a metaphor for life.  Youth with a goal, being helped and loved and supported along the way.  Parents and leaders knowing it's worth it, praying their children are strong enough to do what it takes.

A band of parents gathered at the temple to greet our girls.


Their arrival caused quite a stir amongst us:

What a sight to see our beautiful girls in pink round the corner!


We hugged our heroic girl.




More than once:


I want Emma to remember that she can do hard things.  I want her to remember how strong she is, how important worthy goals are, how loved and supported she is.  That she wants to go inside the temple someday.

I am forever grateful to these exhausted companions of Emma's.   They helped her and cheered her on and I think will always remember today.


I love this girl!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Deciding to Obey

Last Friday I hurt my back.  I'm not exactly sure how.  I wish it was in some heroic way.  It may have been when I was trying to wrench the garage door open that was jammed thanks to certain children and their shutting the hose in the door.  (I haven't mentioned it to any children though...I'm not one to guilt my children....)  All I know is that I hurt it and that it makes me feel old and sad.

I have taken a copious amount of ibuprofen and was more or less doing fine until the other day when I decided to throw caution to the wind and move some furniture.  Braeden warned me not to.  He said to wait until Dad got home.  I told him to grab a corner of the desk and move it.  Emma grabbed another corner.  I promise I mostly let them do the work.  But that day I also swept and mopped and folded laundry and did all my other daily dailiness.  And that night my back really hurt.  More than before.

It made me feel old and sad.

Adam and Braeden both lectured me.

Adam told me I shouldn't have moved things.

Braeden said he'd warned me.

Adam told me to listen to Braeden.

Then he told me that I have strong and capable children and then he told them to be my workers.

I went to the doctor which was also Adam's advice.  According to my doctor I have strained muscles and a pinched nerve.  She told me to tell my husband I need a housekeeper for two weeks. I'm not to lift or bend or "torque" my body.

I told my husband what the doctor said but I have three housekeepers already.  Ready made.  I told Mark and he got a sly grin and said, "Dad and Braeden and Emma?"

"No.  Try again."

"Gavin and Cal and Alex?" (three of his friends)

My three children have been great helps.  They're old enough to be worthy assistants and also (bonus!) I don't have to carry any of them anymore.

So my children have watered and weeded and planted a new plant.  They have done dishes and laundry.  We went to Costco and Emma pushed the cart and Braeden lifted everything that needed lifting into the cart.  I walked around like a sovereign pointing to things and having them do my bidding.

When we got home, the boys unloaded the car and Emma put things away.  They really are good kids to their poor decrepit mother.

I wish my back didn't hurt though.  It's never as much fun to be the sovereign pointing to things and having others do my bidding as it would seem.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

When My Mom Tells Me To Do Something...

...I always do it.

It's perhaps why I'm her favorite child.  I've always done every single thing my mother ever requested.

I don't know why my children aren't more like me in this regard...

I was telling my mom about Emma's freshy cute new haircut and she told me to put a picture of her on my blog.



I love running my fingers through her newly shorn hair and Emma told me that bugs her when people do that.

See, since I'm such a stellar and obedient daughter, I would let my mom run her fingers through my hair all day long if she wanted to.

Your hair may be cute, Miss Emma, but you're not the daughter I am.

No one is.


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