Tuesday, July 31, 2012

All they need to know

Are my nieces going to be unhappy that I am blogging about Mark, again?

Sorry girls.  I will try to give Braeden and Emma equal press time. (Also, you're way too sweet for me to be truly afraid of you. Also, maybe you don't really care what I write about? Also, maybe you don't read my blog anymore? )

Moving on.

All last week, I hung out with Mark and Gavin while Stephanie was off being awesome at Girls' Camp.

This was taken last summer during Girls' Camp and I can't believe how much younger they both look--especially Gavin-- but I still love the picture.

They're quite a pair.  They argue like brothers.  They play complicated games and talk constantly.  They discuss aliens and weapons and video games they haven't played.  They use their shirts instead of napkins.

One night we had "Manners Night."  I would say it's sort of a lost cause but then we were at Costco and Mark ran and pounced on a couch that was on display and Gavin lectured him about how you just can't do that and I saw a glimmer of hope.  At least for Gavin.  (Still waiting for that Mark glimmer.)

I had chocolate leftover from my assignment at Girls' Camp.  (We used it for an analogy which I would explain if I weren't so lazy.)  The boys wanted to know what the chocolate was used for so I told them.  Mark said, "If there's one thing I know about girls, it is that they flip for chocolate."

Gavin said, "Yes.  Girls love chocolate."  They nodded and walked away like they had it all figured out.  They sort of do.  As soon as they get those manners finessed and come to accept that there are napkins in the world for a reason, they're going to get along just fine.

They already know an important truth that will serve them well.

Girls love chocolate.

Monday, July 30, 2012

This weekend

This weekend:

I stewed and fretted about the drama program at Braeden's school.  It's a long story.  And not a very good one.  Who knew drama could be so...dramatic?

I looked for my camera (and didn't find it).

I read this, "This is your home, is it who you want to be?"

I felt ashamed because my home is kind of messy and looks like the home of someone who's been busy with other things.  Like reading a good book.

I read a good book.

I hosted a breakfast for one of my primary classes.

I added another girl to the list of girls my sons could pick from when they decide who to marry.  I am pretty sure they will come to me for the list when they're ready.  That's how it works, right?

I hugged my girl when she got home from girls' camp.

I laughed at my girl when she emerged from a deep nap and couldn't string a sentence together.  Then I felt a little bad for laughing.  Poor tired girl.  Then I thought, She shouldn't have stayed up until 3:00 a.m. just because it was 'the last night' if she didn't want to be so tired.  But I didn't say all that because I'm trying to be a nicer mom.

I'm not sure I'm there yet.  (At the nicer mom destination.)

With raspberries and peaches...don't you love summer and the Olympics and English trifles?

I made an English trifle for the opening ceremonies and was going to make bangers and mash but then couldn't find the potatoes (they were either hiding with my camera somewhere or I didn't actually buy them at the store.)

Adam made bangers and Stove Top stuffing which turned out to be pretty good.

I looked for my camera again.  I found it.

In the balance, a good weekend.  A pretty good life.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grandpas' boy

When Mark was born, my mom said he looked my dad.  I didn't really see it because he didn't have a mustache.

Also, we gave Mark my dad's name.

Then his hair grew in.  Red like his Grandpa Linn, curly like his Grandpa Mark.

And he didn't just resemble his grandpas.  He loved them.  The youngest grandchild, he was always the one on Grandpa Linn's lap.  He ran into their arms whenever he saw his grandfathers.

Then more and more of his personality emerged.  He's a builder like his grandpa that built a house and creates art out of steel and sterling silver.  He's a builder like his grandpa that was an engineer and built airplanes.

Both grandpas were the go to if you needed anything fixed.  They could repair anything.  One lives far away and one lives in heaven and here we are.

Except Mark is starting to be able to fix things.  Like his grandpas.  He can put together an IKEA bookshelf like I can make a cake mix cake.  (Easily.)

A few days ago I had a new lantern to take to Girls' Camp.  I put the batteries in.  I couldn't get it put back together.  It shouldn't have been that hard.  I asked Braeden.  He shrugged.  Then I asked Mark.  He looked at it, he tried.  He couldn't make it work either.  I moved on to other pursuits.  (Sometimes I ignore problems and lanterns that won't go back together.)  A while later, Mark brought it to me.  He said, "I fixed it."  And he had.

Because he is his grandpas' boy.

And I am so glad.

Mark and Grandpa Linn

Mark and Grandpa Dahl
Just Mark.   I couldn't resist.  Where did this baby go?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I think Mark loves school

I have spent considerable time in the last month getting prepared for the new school year.  As mentioned, we are doing a completely new curriculum.  I have been researching and conversing with my panel of experts and reading and ordering and organizing.  It is all rather thrilling for me.

I know I'm not alone in the excitement.  Last week when I was on the phone with Enoch, he said, "Jennifer said to tell you all her school books arrived."  He added, "She said you'd understand."

And I do.  That's exciting stuff.

The other day, I got the entire first week of school planned.  Yes, school starts in September.  Yes, it is July.  Whatever the opposite of a procrastinator is, that's what I am.

Anyway, I excitedly asked Mark, "Guess what I did today?"  I think he did something noncommittal like shrug.

"I planned the first week of school!"

I was expecting a big hug, a look of glee, at the very least a smile.

Instead he gave me a look that was equal parts disgust and how-could-you-betray-me-like this.  Then he collapsed face down into a nearby couch, groaning.

I should have saved my exciting news for Jennifer.  She would understand.

I'm off to Girls' Camp for the day.  (Just the day.  I feel about camping like Mark feels about school starting.)  I am looking forward to seeing Emma though.  She left yesterday.  She'll be happy to know that no one slept in her bed last night.  When I changed her sheets yesterday there was a note tucked inside.  It read, "I TOLD you not to sleep in my bed!"  It may be a huge news flash for Emma but no one wants to sleep in her bed.  We all have beds. 

As nuts as they are, I'd be happy if my kids stayed home with me all the time but as you can see, they don't.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'll be ready

If I ever magically become a cartoonist, I am ready with two ideas.  (Don't you think it's good to be prepared for these eventualities?)

Idea #1:

Deer would be playing soccer with...wait for it...cantaloupe.  The caption would read:  Where the deer with the cantaloupe play.

Nobody around here thinks that's as funny as I do.  Don't tell me what you think and I'll pretend you're rolling on the floor laughing right now.

Idea #2:

Someone would be at Cabella's, looking for clothes.  They can't find them because they are... camouflaged!

I know, that's possibly funnier than the first one.

You don't have to tell me how hilarious I am.  You just may need to tell my kids.  They  keep rolling their eyes at me and crushing my dreams. 

So here's my plan:

1) learn to draw
2) think of more than two ideas
3) think of ideas that people (besides me) think are funny

I think I'm practically ready to be a cartoonist!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gone hunting

I came home with this picture.

My kids sort of freaked out.  "Why did you buy this Mom?"

I said, "I liked it."


"Really, Mom.  Why did you buy this?"

"I wanted it," was my answer.

"Seriously Mom.  Why. Did. You. Buy. This?"

They were getting really agitated.  Their world didn't make sense.  Adam said, "Was it free at a yard sale?"  (Does Adam think I would bring home anything as long as it was free?)

"I bought it," I said.  I showed them the price tag.  The receipt.

"But why?!?"

Here's why.  I wanted the frame.  I was looking for a specific size of frame and couldn't find one.  It was the right size. 

I put the picture in it I bought at the Eisenhower Presidential Library.  (I like it a little more than the Gone Hunting picture.

It must be said that it was kind of fun, those thirty seconds that my family thought I'd lost my mind.  It's about as shocking as I get.  (I'm not a very scandalous person when it comes down to it.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Makes me happy

I love it when there's a pile of my kids' friends' shoes by my front door.

The bigger the pile, the happier I am.  (My kids have good friends.)

It is rare to have a kid from the Pacific Northwest come to my house and not pause at the door to step out of his or her shoes.  It's part of our collective culture.  Kind of like the way we all keep an eagle eye out for slugs when we walk barefoot outside.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I wish I could cook hot dogs with my brother Ammon.  That was always his favorite thing to do on his birthday (today's his birthday and he's all grown up...maybe he doesn't even like hot dogs any more?).  We'd go down to Boulder Creek.  My brothers would fashion hot dog sticks out of willows with their pocket knives.  My mom would bring all the food.  My dad would lay in the grass and pull his hat over his eyes and take a nap.  We'd jump in the water.

I wish I could take Braeden's dresser drawers that are broken to my brother Enoch.  I've talked to him on the phone several times about the dresser.  I've texted him pictures of the drawers.  He talked me out of an unwise purchase at Lowe's.  "Sometimes it's better to leave the store empty handed than to buy the wrong thing," he cautioned.  Enoch told me yesterday while I was wandering through the produce section of Fred Meyer simultaneously picking out sweet peppers and talking to him on my cell phone that he would fix my drawers for me, if I'd bring them to him.

I wish I could talk more with my brother Tabor about my story I'm writing.  He gave me some marvelous ideas the last time we talked.  He was sitting in a parked air conditioned car with sweet Ruby asleep while Katie shopped.  Otherwise we don't have all that much time to talk.  I want to read him what I wrote and see what he thinks.  Does it ring true?  I want to tell him that he's changed some of the direction I'm going with the story.  If I talked to Tabor more, he'd likely give me more ideas. 

I think I miss my brothers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Saving sunshine

I don't know why but it seems like I'm enjoying this summer weather more than I ever have.  Maybe because I'm grateful to be home.  Maybe because I am remembering to appreciate the world around me more.  Maybe because Seattle in July is the loveliest spot on the planet.

Who knows.

How I wish I could bottle it up and save some of the sunshine and warmth and blue blue skies.  (Well, yesterday was cloudy but that's the exception!)

Last week, Emma and I made raspberry jam.  Five batches.  We used raspberries that had been picked that morning at a local farm.  Popping one of them in my mouth made me swoon.  An explosion of warm sweetness and sunshine and the good earth.  Times like that make me grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me.  Why else would there be such delicious decadence in the world?

As I surveyed the pretty jewel toned jars on the counter when we were done, I realized I had successfully bottled up some of July.  In that bottle were sweet fruit, laughter I shared with Emma while she crushed berries and I stirred jam, and sunshine.

All winter when I am making sandwiches for my children to take to school, I will not be spreading raspberry jam on the bread.

I will be spreading sunshine.

(That's what I'll tell myself...I will be needing some sunshine.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When will I learn?

Braeden has swim team practice first.  Adam takes him then I bring the two younger kids later.  Yesterday Braeden asked me to bring his book to read during their practice.  He set it down next to me.  He thought I could be trusted.

I forgot his book.

I usually walk with my friends during swim team practice but none of them were around so Braeden (who didn't have a book to read) agreed to walk with me.  We walked and talked and I enjoy being with my boy.  He's interesting and funny and even though he doesn't agree with me over whether or not the history of our civilization started before the Greeks, he's pretty smart too.

There was one problem on the walk.  We stopped and did pushups.  Braeden said, "If someone saw us they would think we were really in good shape and really into exercising because we stopped to do pushups."  Then he said, "Well I just swam an hour."  As if to say one of us is in better shape than the other.  So then I did more pushups, just to show him.

This morning my arms were sore.

Then I made the big mistake.  I told Braeden.  He looked surprised and then tried to mask his mirth with a poor attempt at sympathy.  Then he gave in to his incredulous disbelief.  "You're sore just from those pushups?"

I could have told Braeden, "No one likes a cheeky 15 year old."  I could have said, "Respect your (feeble) elders."  But I didn't.  I just make him lift everything heavy that I don't want to carry, because he's stronger.

Who's laughing now Braeden?

(He still is.  I am going to keep doing pushups.  I'm just not going to talk about it again.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I have been working on getting our school room whipped into shape.  I don't just move couches.  Sometimes I stack furniture too.
This fall I will start my 11th year of homeschooling.  You don't have to have a reaction.  I usually am uncomfortable with reactions.  People either 1) obviously think I'm crazy, 2) tell me I'm "amazing" (not true) and they could "never do that" (also not true), or 3) say, "oh," like they don't really care either way (that is definitely the reaction I prefer). 

I don't homeschool because I'm amazing ( Ha!) or because I think public schools are bad or because I am trying to shield my children from anything.  I homeschool just because I really like to do it.  It's hard and takes up a lot of my time and just like any job, can be relentless.

But. I. Love. It.

This year I am trying something different.  I am using some of the same curriculum as my sisters  (Quite literally in some cases...I borrowed some books from Marianne.) and using some things I've found all on my own.  Doing something brand new feels freeing and exhilarating.

And scary.  Thank heavens I have a sisterhood of fellow homeschoolers that give me guidance. (I have been exchanging emails with my spectacular SIL Jennifer about curriculum.  I have talked to Olivia 2 or 3--thousand--times.  I have impatiently waited for Marianne to get home already so I can talk to her about it all.  Occasionally she has the nerve to have a life of her own and not be at my beck and call.  The audacity of that girl!)

I have long been skeptical of people that make up their own curriculum.  I have comfortably followed what others have outlined for me to do.  I will still largely do that except for two areas: science and writing.  I am branching out on my own in those two subject areas.  Armed with the state standards for 4th grade, some purchased science curriculum and a membership to the Pacific Science Center we are going to have some fun. 

As for writing.  Oh writing.  I love to write and Mark does not.  I have been rereading one of my favorite textbooks from college, The Art of Teaching Writing by Lucy McCormick Calkins.  As I read it, I remember the feelings I had in college about it.  Yes.  Yes!  It resonates on a deep level as the Right Way to teach writing.  With ten years homeschooling under my belt, with one imaginative red head, with time to devote to the craft, we are going to write.

And I am excited.

Monday, July 16, 2012

An unclimactic half birthday

Braeden's half birthday came and went while he was at scout camp. 

I lifted some pictures from Eric's facebook page. (By the way, there are no bounds to the gratitude I feel for these wonderful men that took time away from their lives to spend the week with my son.  THANK YOU!)

Here's a picture of Eric which kind of says it all.  Exhausted and he got that way taking care of 14 and 15 year old boys.  A whole lot of them.  It tires me out to think of it!  He is a superstar.

Leif and Braeden

Jake, Ben, Braeden, Leif, Max and Bishop Barker--our bishop before we changed wards.  He's also Max's dad and a doctor which is reassuring.  (Ben is a new hero of Braeden's.  He exhibited super human strength hurling boulders off a bridge.  Braeden was impressed.  Also he has feet a lot bigger than Braeden's!)

Leif and Braeden

A few things I noticed about the pictures.

1) Braeden is wearing his hat in almost every picture.  (Score one for the mom!)  He did not come home with a sunburn.  (A concern when you are of pasty white Scandinavian lineage!)

2) Braeden is wearing his green t-shirt in almost every picture.  I commented on this and he acknowledged that he was too lazy to change.  I both don't understand this and feel grateful that I didn't have to smell Braeden all week.

We missed Braeden every day he was gone.  Especially Mark.  When his missing was nearing a fever pitch, I asked if he'd like to help me make a half birthday cake for Braeden's return.

Mark was all in.  We made chocolate with mint frosting because that's Braeden's favorite (and you don't have to brush your teeth after...mint?  Does that work?  I'll have to ask Heather my friend/dental hygienist).

Mark decided to create a scout camp cake.  You'll never guess his building materials of choice.

He made a kayak in a river with "jagged rocks" and a buried treasure at the end.  Because why not?

He worked hard and dug deep in his Lego boxes for just the right details:

We were going to decorate a little but I was distracted (I may have been deep in discussion with my friends over who is taller) and Mark was out playing with one of the many neighborhood boys his age and Braeden came home earlier than planned.  We went to Alfy's for dinner and that was the extent of the celebration.

We're happy Braeden's home.  We're grateful for good men in the world that teach ours.  We're glad for chocolate cake and toothpaste mint frosting.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Watering grass is exhausting

Remember how I said Adam was the one who is good at taking care of anything green?  What does someone from Nevada know about green?  Do you know the only thing you can grow in Nevada in the summer?

...wait for it...

...road construction.

It's one of the few jokes I know.  That and "What did zero say to eight?"

"Nice belt."


(I know I've written that on my blog before but when you know so few jokes you have to recycle your material sometimes.)


We were talking about how Adam is the one that waters, remember?

Except he is also the one with gainful employment.  And that glorious sunshine has been doing it's glorious thing and the baby grass needs water.  I have been dutiful, I have been diligent.  I have been doused with water by a sprinkler with a mind of its own and I've puzzled over sprinkler patterns until my puzzler is sore.  I have checked the perimeters over and over to make sure they're getting water.  I am absolutely convinced the sprinkler is smarter than I am and possibly out to get me as well.

Here's why I am being so dedicated to my task:  Adam.   He wants the grass to thrive and I love him enough to battle every sprinkler in America.

Earlier in the day I texted him from the store that my heart pined for a braided rug under the kitchen table.  I texted him a picture of the rug in question.

He texted back:  What do I know about decorating?  You decide.

I'd water a lot of grass for that guy.  He's a good one.

(And the rug looks as pretty under my table as I thought it would.)

I either stood on my kitchen counter to take this aerial shot or I'm really tall.  Believe what you will.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pay offs

Emma possibly was born interested in words and books.

When Braeden was in 2nd-3rd grade (with effort on my part) he became a bookworm in his own right.

Mark has never (unless Lego instructions were involved) wanted to even look at a book.  He is a good reader, he just wasn't interested.

Adam said, "Maybe that's OK.  If he can read, he'll do fine in school.  Why does he have to be a reader?"

The teacher in me would answer that he needed to be a reader to increase his spelling and vocabulary skills and to teach him more about the world.

But the reader in me just wants my children to be readers.  I want them to enjoy one of the great joys in my life.

It has not been an easy battle.  Mark has never exhibited interest in reading.  He complained bitterly during silent reading time.  He would ask every few minutes if we could be done.  I absolutely persisted.

And guess what?

He packed a bag of books for our trip all on his own and read them.  We drove to IKEA yesterday and all I saw in my rear view mirror was the top of his ginger head.  His nose was in a book.  He sneaks away to read.  He is completely silent during silent reading time and ignores me when I close my book and say time is up.

It feels like one of my most important accomplishments.  Imagine if I cared that much and put that much persistence into keeping my kids' rooms clean?  (I try to care that much, but I don't.)

I recognized another payoff of sorts at IKEA.  This one, I didn't really do much to earn.  It just happened with the passage of time.  In line for lunch, Emma and Mark murmured their desires for lunch then sauntered to a table in the corner.  The mother in front of me, with two children had a discussion with one, "Do you want a juice box?"

"I don't like juice boxes."

"Do you want milk?"

"Is it soy milk?  Can I have soy milk?"

"No.  Do you want chocolate milk?"

"I want soy milk."

"They don't have soy milk."

The other child, the younger sister, grabbed everything off the tray as soon as the mom placed it there and tried to pry open the applesauce before her mom took it away.  I smiled at the mom.  I remembered those days.  (Except my kids never requested soy milk.)  I joined my own two with a tray full of IKEA goodness, complete with a piece of chocolate cake to split three ways.  They were laughing.  Emma told me that Mark was hilarious.  I slid into my chair and wondered why a truce in their usual mild bickering had been called.  For whatever reason, I was going with it.  We had a peaceful and pleasant lunch.  Mark was indeed funny and so was Emma and the chocolate cake was good.

We walked through the store and I thought how much easier my life was than a few years ago.  I was flanked by my two sturdy kids that can lift heavy things (handy at IKEA) and provide good conversation and make me laugh.

Then I remembered the other kid.  The one who's gone for the week.  The one we have been missing every day.

It's not such a fabulous pay off when they get big if they're just going to leave.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


My middle (not very) little brother Tabor manages a ranch.  He knows all about horses and cattle and people.  The farming (haying) part of the operation is his least favorite.  He doesn't really want to be a farmer.

Adam on the other hand, was interested.  He went with Tabor when we were visiting a few weeks ago to doctor an ailing pivot sprinkler.  The huge kind.  I think Adam's secret wish is to have Tabor hire him.  He would happily put up hay and irrigate all day every day.

A few days ago, Adam's agricultural cravings were placated with the delivery of some new sod.

He's a proud papa.  That evening, he surveyed his new turf and contemplated sprinkler patterns.  Our neighbor Matt was outside so they discussed.  Adam and Matt have joined forces before on a thriving little patch of grass between our two front yards.  They planted it together and take turns watering and mowing it in an unspoken partnership. Like every new parent, Adam's had to lose some sleep caring for his baby.  Yesterday morning he set his alarm extra early to water it before leaving for work.  He left before it was done but not before giving me careful instructions in how to finish watering.

At the prescribed time, I turned off the water.  I gingerly walked on the tender new grass and retrieved the sprinkler.  I dragged it to the corner.  I set it up in what seemed to me the right path.  I turned on the water.

The sprinkler turned its saucy head and doused me.

If you heard yelping coming from my corner of the world at 7:30 yesterday morning that was me.  The unpredictable turn that sprinklers can take is a mystery to me.  They are beyond my ability to control.  My two unenthusiastic years of membership in FFA in high school did not do much to prepare me for farming.

The new patio is much safer for people like me.

Good thing I have Adam for the green stuff.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer and freakishly large feet

I love summer.

Maybe my favorite season is whichever season it is. I love them all except late spring.  Just give me a sleeping pill in April and I'll hibernate until July.  There's only so much gloom and rain a person can take.

But I love July.

I love the slower pace of summer, the "hey, we don't have anywhere to go tonight" nights, the sunshine.

Yesterday Braeden left for a week long High Adventure scout campout.  They will kayak and hike and go whitewater rafting and hopefully live to tell the tale.  I'm glad we all lived to tell the tale of getting him ready.  Sometimes he packs himself and that's that.  Sometimes we are a sieve that loses and/or grows out of camp equipment and there are temper tantrums (from me).  And then there are shopping trips.

And then some more shopping trips.

One such emergency shopping trip was for hiking boots.  I told Braeden his feet could not get any bigger.  I told him they were freakishly large and we wouldn't be able to find shoes if he grew any more.  (Do threats make children's feet stop growing?)

He insisted that his feet were not that big.  He thinks they're sized just right.  He said, "They're not as big as Dad's."  (Like that's any excuse.)  We were over at her house at the time and Geri told him she thought they were.  We compared.

Sorry to do this to you, but take a look at these big feet.  (Adam's on the left, Braeden on the right.)

Should I have warned this blog post contains graphic images that may be upsetting to small children?

OK.  That won't happen again.  It's just amazing to me.

As I said, Braeden and his big feet left yesterday morning.  He wore his new hat that I insisted he get.  He didn't like the hat but perhaps also thought people would laugh at the hat and his goal (besides growing freakishly large feet) is to make people laugh.  So he wore it.

Before he left, I made the kid move some furniture.  Just the big stuff.  Because it was that time again.  I wanted to summer-ize (not to be mistaken with summarize) things around here and you can't very well move accessories without moving couches, am I right? Also, it made Braeden grateful to be leaving.  He may or may not like to move furniture.

So I moved and arranged and sorted.

And it feels like summer.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Books I read in June 2012

A lot of June was spent in a car and I can't read in a car because I get carsick.  Sad, but true.  We did listen to some audio books and in the month I read:

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch***

Adam and I like to watch Masterpiece Theater on PBS and this reminded me of something that would be in Masterpiece Mystery.  It was a murder mystery set in London in 1865.  A gentleman, Charles Lenox, solves mysteries as a diversion to his gentlemanly lifestyle of leisure.  In this book there's been a murder and to help his friend, he gets involved.  The book has a gentle pace with lots of charm and Victorian politeness.  It isn't riveting but I liked it because I'm an Anglophile.

I couldn't find an image that looked like the book I read but I was charmed by this one.
Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster ***

I think this book is intended for young adults (I saw it on a list for girls and got it from the library for Emma to read because I'm under the delusion she'll read what I recommend).  I picked it up and read it though.  It was delightful.  (Maybe everyone else read it when they were younger and I'm just slow?)  It's entirely letters written by a college girl who is an orphan.  She has an unknown benefactor that is a trustee at the orphanage where she grew up.  He is paying for her to attend college and wants to get letters from her.  I'm always impressed with writing like this.  It seems like it would be hard to convey an entire story through one sided letters but this book does it.  Read it.  Get your teenage daughter to read it.  (Maybe you'll have more luck than I do.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Something to celebrate

Last night we celebrated Independence with a hastily planned get together with the Jorgensens.  I want to have a larger scale party in our backyard this summer but our backyard is a shambles with half done landscaping and a lot of friends and family were otherwise busy anyway.

We have the summer ahead of us though.

I am still trying to get used to things like making my bed and preparing meals so I forgot to do key things like get the ponies down from their perch in the tippy top of the garage for Britta.  We still had a nice time.

It's always a nice time with good friends.

It was the last night before David left to serve his mission.  Talk about bittersweet.  When Janet was describing the packing I said, "You are making my stomach hurt."

She said, "Imagine how I feel?"

And I do.  I've thought about her so much.  Dear Janet.  What a hard thing to send a son into the wide world.  I hugged David good-bye with a tight hug and told him I was proud of him and his goodness and example.  I bit back my tears and was for once successful at keeping them at bay.  Nobody needed me to start crying. 

Braeden threw his arms around David and my heart swelled with gratitude. (I may have shed a tear or two then but it was dark in the front yard and nobody saw so leave me alone.) You can't choose who your children will decide to emulate.  David's everlasting kindness to Braeden will do more than any amount of "Be like David!" I could try to preach.

This morning I woke up at 5:00 with a slight clenching in my stomach and thought of Janet.  I thought of her taking her boy to the airport.  I thought of the good-byes.

Then, as so often happens, I coincidentally read something that perfectly complemented my day.  It was from Elder Haleck's talk from the last General Conference.  He was talking about missionaries and said:

With faith and courage they leave their homes and everything that is familiar to them because of their faith in the great good they can do as missionaries. As they act on their vision to serve, they bless the lives of many and, in the process, change their own lives.

That perspective tips the scale a bit and I'm thrilled for the Jorgensen family, for Janet, for David.  How wonderful to have raised a son so wonderful that he desires to go to Taiwan and teach people about Jesus Christ.  Is there a better way he could be spending two productive years?  I don't think so.

It seems like a fitting way to celebrate our freedoms as well.  We live in a country where (based on last night) we can eat copious amounts of food that is both delicious and bad for us.  We live in a country where (based on last night) people can buy copious amounts of explosives and light up the night sky.

And we live in a country where we are free to practice our religion the way we desire.

And that means a lot.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Some elves visited while we were gone and we came home to a patio.  (Maybe they were landscapers but elves seem more exciting.)

The other day it...wait for it...rained and I told Adam, "I like the way the stone looks in the rain."

I may post more pictures when it's all complete.  I may not.  I'm not so great with pictures.  But you know that.

Adam said, "That's good.  It mostly rains."

That, ladies and gentlemen, is an optimistic way to look at things.  He is an upbeat guy.

Because I'm ready to go back to heat and humidity, dust, bugs, pestilence, whatever.  I just want my feet to be warm.

 It's been cool and rainy.

Everyone knows that around here, summer starts after July 4.

You have no idea how happy this makes me.  Summer in Seattle, though fashionably late each year, is lovely.  ( I also love how we don't have partly cloudy here, we have partly sunny.  More optimism.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

In summary

Braeden counted the McDonald's we passed on our trip.  He didn't count just seeing the signs, we had to see the actual restaurants. 

We passed 111.

(We stopped at a few--mostly for Cokes and ice cream cones.)

We drove around 4800 miles.

We had a good time.

Now the Karma gods seem to be in retaliation mode.  Too much fun and we have to pay.

Our car window is trashed.  In addition to the rock chip we got in South Dakota, we got two more rock chips and a crack.

I failed to put our mail on hold and the post office sent it back to everyone who mailed it as undeliverable.  Thank you, post office.  (This is especially problematic with our audit from the IRS situation.  Thank you, IRS.)

Adam's car is having issues.

There are half a dozen other irritations.

But we really did have a great time, so we will forge on. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012


When we were in Boulder visiting Tabor and Katie, we had a great time.

Like usual, Tabor made me laugh (and laugh).  Katie was kind and generous and after Marianne's family arrived, fed and housed 16 people.  That woman is a saint.  It was wonderful to all be together.  We visited a lot and admired each others' children and I bragged about my knitting and showed everyone the "scarf" that I'm knitting that resembles Iowa because both sides are so crooked.  (As it gets longer, it may start to look like Florida?)

I loved seeing my nieces and nephews.

So did Horace.

Along with Mark's dog, Squire Junior (named after Gavin's real life Pug, Squire), Horace got a careful inspection from Olivia and Ruby.

Then Horace gave Olivia's bear a ride. 

those brown eyes...

All the girls made candy butterflies to decorate cupcakes.

Clarissa, Ruby, Liberty, Emma, Deseret, Olivia and Carolina
It was all the girl cousins except Lili, Savannah and Azure.  We missed them.

No pictures of the boys which is too bad because those nephews are cute.  (No pictures of adults but they're not as cute.)  I did thoroughly enjoy seeing them though.  Brothers and sisters are a good invention.

We said a family prayer together before Marianne and I headed our separate ways with our families.  We then rotated around the room hugging each other.  I cried.  Someday I may run out of tears.  Maybe.

We drove to Salt Lake City and spent the afternoon with my wonderful grandma.  She is such a fantastic woman.  She always makes me feel so very loved.  She appreciates every tiny thing I ever do for her and I feel like it is an insignificant drop in the bucket compared to the many things she's done for me.  I wish I lived closer to her.

That evening, Ammon and Melanee and Cormac and Azure came and we all went to dinner together.  I had never met Azure.  What a darling little doll Dahl she is!  I didn't take any pictures of them either so you'll have to take my word for how cute they are.  (Do other people have nieces and nephews with as much charm as mine?  Because if they do we are all very fortunate.)  I think I forgot about pictures because I started to feel really sick.  I think it was a confluence of heat and dramatic altitude changes and not NEARLY enough sleep and not enough water to drink.  Ammon kept giving me sideways glances and asking, "You OK?"  He is always so very kind to me. 

Then, after I'd sipped several glasses of Sprite, I felt better and resumed admiring Cormac and Azure.  I declared, "She looks like you when you were a baby."  Then to add validity to my claim, I said, "And I was ten when you were born so I remember."

Ammon looked amazed, like he always does when he reflects on my advanced age, and said, "Holy Cow."

He is always so very kind to me except for when he thinks I'm old.

The next morning we went to Nevada.

We spent the day with Olivia and her family. 

I got to meet Omar whose appeal is vast:

Marcos changed costumes and personas often.  Here he is as a pirate:

I said, "Are you the Dread Pirate Marcos?"

He said, "No, I'm a captain of other pirates."  The kid has ambitions.

Enoch and Isaiah and Savannah came for dinner so in a matter of days, I saw every sibling and their spouses and my nieces and nephews except Luke and Jennifer who were sick. 

We were in Nevada long enough for a glorious sunset...

...then we hugged everyone good-bye and hit the road.

It was odd to be there for such a brief time and to be there when my parents' house was sitting empty.

We are now home. 


We are all exhausted and happy and brimming with good memories.  And none of us want to leave home again.  Ever.  Except we don't have any milk so we'll probably have to.


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