Thursday, February 28, 2013

Just happy

This morning Mark and I are the only ones awake and we are having breakfast on the balcony.  (My boys have always been the early risers.)

Is it just me or should we move here, where you can have breakfast outside at 8:00 a.m. without a shirt on in February?  (I have a shirt on, just Mark doesn't.)

I'm feeling happy this morning and grateful.

Braeden texts me throughout the day.  He gets cranky in one of his classes every day.  He is happy with the play and having fun with his friends and his grandma.  (She kindly sent us a video clip of their performance of a number from the musical for curriculum night.) He doesn't seem to feel too neglected (although I feel bad he's not here).  He is deep voiced and affable and laid back on the phone.  When I talk to him, I'm struck by the fact that he sounds like my brothers.  Exactly.

The first day here we were walking around the resort and decided almost immediately that Emma, rather than I, should be the navigator.  (Who didn't see that coming?)  She is long suffering and points me toward our building when we leave the pool.  She is hard to wake up every morning (in the history of the world, there's never been a more successful sleeper than Emma) but then she's happy to be awake.

She loves the rabbits.

Mark left this note inside the coffee pot.

He is like a Labrador puppy.  Imagine a Labrador puppy in a hotel room.  A Labrador puppy that wants to go to the pool.  I think everyone knows Mark is here.

(I appreciate the heads up though.)

Every day, I'm glad these three are mine.

I'm kind of fond of their dad too.  In fact, I was even willing to step way outside my comfort zone and take my introverted self to a dinner at a fancy restaurant last night with him and some of his coworkers.  I always feel awkward at such times.

I texted my sisters beforehand for some bolstering.  Marianne texted back some encouragement.  (Because she's the oldest sister and knows how it's supposed to work.)  She also mentioned that she and her husband were meeting a group of friends for sushi.

That was a pretty good pep talk, because at least I didn't have to have sushi for dinner.

(The dinner turned out fine...there was caprese salad and chocolate cake, so how could I go wrong?)

Today will be more time at the pool.  I'll read, I'll write.  I'll stare at the blue blue sky.  I'll try to get as much sunshine as I can before I go back under the cloudy skies of Seattle.

Just another day in paradise.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From where I sit

Right now I am sitting on the balcony of our room.  Emma and Mark, exhausted from swimming are getting less intelligent courtesy of the Disney channel.

Here's the view from the balcony:

Occasionally someone goes by hitting a golf ball.  (Is it just me or does golf seem completely impossible?  I couldn't even hit the ball with success, let alone aim.)

Occasionally I see rabbits in my peripheral vision.  They're nibbling on the grass below my window.  I think I'm in paradise. 

Adam spent a good part of today at his conference (but now he's here by me with his laptop) and I trailed behind Mark and Emma at the pools.  It was warm enough that even I went for a dip in the water.  After, I was sitting by Emma in the sun.  She said, "Wow Mom, we are really white."

It's true.

I'll never be like the woman I saw earlier.  She was really, really tan.  She had carefully teased and bleached hair, dagger long manicured nails, expensive looking sunglasses and pursed botoxed lips.  She was standing carefully in the pool, her bare back exposed to the optimum amount of sun, her arms held away from her body so they would be evenly laid bare to sunlight.  She had a kindle propped poolside so she could read.

Someone has to be the pasty white one, moving to shade after a few minutes because she doesn't want a sunburn.  That will be me.

I've made peace with it.


When I was a teenager, I decided I liked the Southwest, the desert.  My dad brought me a skull from a steer with long horns for my bedroom.  One day I came home from school and there was a cactus that he'd dug up and put in a pot.

(Do the designers on HGTV know about my dad?)

I still love the desert.  It is stark and beautiful and sunny.

Today after blinking like moles in the light once we landed and emerged in the sunny Palm Springs airport, we rented our car and headed for the hills.

We went to Joshua Tree National Park.

We weren't exactly sure what a Joshua Tree was, but now we know.

There were also a lot of amazing rock formations...

Easter Island?
 (which Mark loved to climb on)

...and plants.

In one part of the park, a lookout, you could see the San Andreas Fault (comforting?!) and Palm Springs and Palm Desert and as far as Mexico.

The desert makes me happy (so does my girl).

Monday, February 25, 2013

The pros and cons

I am coming to you live from the airport.  We have a little time because we missed our flight.  (I know!  This is just the sort of thing our mothers warn about.) We excel at cutting it close.  Usually it works.  It works when everything goes right and this morning nothing went right.  But, we're leaving on a jet plane (eventually).   It's last minute and slapdash but the forecast for Palm Desert is in the 70s and 80s.  Blue skies. Yes, please.

Mark and I went last year too and joined Adam on a business trip.  I wanted to take all three children but Braeden has obligations with his school musical (and that crazy little thing called hard classes). Emma said she wanted to stay home with Braeden too.

Then she reconsidered.

She was waffling.

Mark tried to convince her to go.  He said, "I'll have so much more fun if you're there."

(It should be said that I'm a lot of fun.  I sit on the side of the pool and read my book and want to be left alone.  Now, that is fun.)

Emma said, "I don't know what do!"

I asked her for the pros and cons.  She said, "Well, the pros are: it would be really great to go, I would have fun, I could miss school. The cons are: I would have a lot of school work to make up...but I could maybe get some of it ahead of time.  Wait, there are no cons!  I'm going!"

(I love when you go over the pros and cons and realize there are no cons.)

My only con is that Braeden can't go.  He assures us he's fine and will have a good time with his grandma, which I know is true.  Still, we're not us without everyone.  I miss Braeden already.  Sniff.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Sharpie is mightier than the sword

When Braeden got Cookie Crisps for Valentine's Day, Emma said she wished she could get some sometime.  For her birthday I bought a box and wrapped it up.  (We're nothing if not exciting around here.)

Also, we're not so good at sharing.

Here's how Emma indicated her feelings for her brothers:


Just some sweet and loving sisterly messages.

The boys heeded her warnings, wouldn't you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making everybody/nobody happy

We were going to go to Canada last weekend and go to Harrison Hot Springs and rest our weary bones in some hot water.  It sounded lovely.

The bad news was, our kids' passports had expired.

The good news was, we discovered it before we were at the border.

We batted around ideas of alternative activities.  We kind of came up empty.  Emma said, "Whatever we do, let's not do a staycation.  I hate staycations."

I am unaware of traumatic staycation experiences in her past but then, I don't know everything.

Adam seized on it as a fine idea.  He said there were a lot of things we could do around here.  Emma groaned.

(Poor Emma.  She has such a hard life.)

We decided that we'd each pick one activity (approximately two hours long) for the family to do.

We started well.  Adam's idea was to go out to breakfast.  You can't be uncheered by going out to breakfast.  Restaurant hashbrowns = good stuff.

This is what happens to Emma when she has to have a staycation:

This is what happens to Braeden:

Then we lost a little momentum on the fun scale when we ran errands.  (Among the errands, passport photos at Costco.  I will not give up on that hot water dream.)

Back at home, we did Emma's activity.  It was that each family member would pick a couple of songs to play for the whole family.  For Emma it meant having us listen to One Direction songs.  For Mark it meant playing on the piano.

For Adam it meant falsely accusing me of not having good music on my computer and then finding what he was looking for after all.  (I forgave him for the slander.)  We lay on the floor with our heads together to listen to music.  Self portraits ensued.

I'm not sure what prompts this compulsion of ours.

Braeden's activity was next.  It was to play the game Diplomacy which I've decided is like Chutes and Ladders for teenagers.  It there anything worse than Chutes and Ladders?  Yes.  Diplomacy.  Unlike Chutes and Ladders, there are lots of complicated rules.  There's a lot of strategy involved.  There's negotiating and allies and deceit.  Like Chutes and Ladders, it takes forever.

I don't think I'm cut out for board games.

My activity was to go to Snohomish and browse through some antique shops.  Braeden felt about that sort of how I felt about Diplomacy but I made him do it anyway.  Emma and I decided we will go back sometime soon, sans boys.

In the evening we watched Rango, Mark's choice.  It was OK but Adam and I ended up sitting in the living room by the end, chatting.  It didn't really hold our attention.

So I guess the moral of this story is, we don't all love the same things but we had a pretty good day anyway.  Also, we shouldn't have let the passports expire.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seattle + sunshine + science

Friday there was no school.

Also, it was sunny.

I must be living right.

I asked my progeny if they wanted to go to Seattle.  We could have lunch with Adam and then go to the Pacific Science Center.

No and no.  Granted, it was before breakfast and you shouldn't make requests before breakfast because people tend to be unenthusiastic about everything.

I am not above guilt trips though.

They are especially effective with Braeden.  "So you don't love me?" I asked.

"Of course I do," he said.

"Then will you go with me?" I asked.


And that was that.  Because how Braeden goes, so goes the nation.  Emma and Mark were willing.

(I'm not proud of being manipulative but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do.)

They got more eager for the trip once we hit the road.  Emma was controlling the music, Braeden was reading the Iliad and stopping occasionally to discuss it with Mark.  The sun was shining.  Mt. Rainier knocked our socks off.

We picked up Adam on a street corner near his office and I (wisely) relinquished the wheel to him. (Back in angled parking?  Are you kidding?) We ate at Zeeks Pizza, with a perfect view of the Space Needle in the sunshine.  (Doesn't everything look better with a blue sky behind it?)

I handed around my phone for entertainment while we waited for our lunch.

You have no idea how much fun the combination of straws and condensation and instagram can be.

Braeden takes picture after picture on my phone of himself making faces.  I think I know where he gets it from.

Sadly, Adam had to go back to work, but the rest of us went to the Pacific Science Center.

From the time Mark was mobile, Braeden has been worried about him getting hit by a car or abducted or both.  He has very limited trust in my mothering capacity in such matters.  As soon as we started on the walk of a couple of blocks to the Pacific Science Center, as usual Braeden turned into a border collie, shepherding Mark.

Since Braeden so thoroughly would take care of things, Mark decided to take the opportunity to walk with his eyes shut. (Why wouldn't he?)

There is something incredibly sweet about a sixteen-year-old letting his ten-year-old brother hang onto him while they walk.

What's kind of ironic about it is that when Braeden was ten, Mark was four and back then he thought he was the only thing keeping Mark safe too.

I wonder when Braeden will trust Mark to walk down a street?

At the Pacific Science Center, I gave Emma and Braeden the job of teaching Mark one thing.  (You can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can't take the classroom out of the teacher.)

Lessons in planets:

And attention spans:

It helped when Mark had something to fiddle with during Emma's discourse:

We did everything there was to do except the gift shop was closed (and Mark remembered to bring some money!  The travesty!) and Mark refused to go in the butterfly exhibit because he said it freaks him out.  (Butterflies = scary?)

Emma beat me soundly (twice) at 3D tic tac toe (why do I even try?) while Braeden tried to keep Mark close by.

Finally, we packed it in and drove home.  In the sunshine.

I wish my kids never had to go to school.

I wish it was sunny every day.

I guess I wish for summer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Someday you'll be the mom of a missionary

From the time my boys were babies, I have told them that someday they'll serve missions for our church.  It's what I want.  It's what we all want.

Now though, some of my best friends are sending their eldest sons on missions.  I feel like I'm sliding down a steep incline with nothing to grab to stop the fall.  Noooooooooooooooo!  Besides his ability to reach things off of high shelves, I see little upside to Braeden getting older.

My heart is with Stephanie.  Her son is leaving today.  Today.  We were talking the other day about how hard it is, but how it is really and truly what we want.  How could we have gotten ourselves into this mess?  She said, "Someone should have been telling us all along, 'someday you'll be the mom of a missionary.'"

When I was pregnant with Braeden, towards the end, I was enormous.  And conspicuous.  I felt like the freakiest freak in all of Provo.   One day I was at the grocery store and the thought occurred to me that every single person I saw had at one time been inside their mother.  How could something so universal be so personal and momentous to me?

It's the same with sending children off into the world.  How many millions of mothers have done the same?

It's not easy to birth a baby.  It takes planning and patience, courage and pain. There's some suffering.

It's not easy to send them on a mission, to birth a man, responsible and righteous with experiences that can't be duplicated in any other way.  It takes planning and patience, courage and pain.  There's some suffering.

But over the world, mothers keep doing it.

Since when have mothers flinched from challenges when their children's best interests are at stake?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Emma Jayne, birthday girl

Yesterday, my little girl turned 14.

Having lit the candles, Adam is doing his swallow-a-lit-match trick.  Mark looks concerned.
Fourteen plus years ago, as a mother of just Braeden, I thought of everything in relation to him.  He was pretty much the emperor and I was his minion.  I wondered how having a new baby would impact him. How would he feel about sharing the limelight?  Also, how could I possibly love another baby as much as I loved him?  I comforted myself that I was giving him a sibling that would bless his life.

Enter Emma Jayne on a February morning in New Haven, CT.

The second I saw her I loved her every bit as much as I loved Braeden.  And I was right that giving Braeden Emma as a sister is probably the best thing I could have done for him.

Olivia, does Braeden remind you of Ruben here?

(Also, unfazed by siblings, Braeden still firmly believes he's the center of my world.)

Things have a way of working out.

When I found out Emma was going to be a girl, I was immediately worried about the fact that I am not good at doing hair.  When I went shopping for little girl clothes, I was immediately aware that they were a lot more fun than little boy clothes.

That's being the mother of a daughter.  You're painfully aware of your failings; you think the girl things are a lot of fun.

I would not trade my girl for anything (sometimes she's the only one that laughs at my jokes).

Happy birthday, Emma.  Thanks for filling our house with music and poetry and art.  Thanks for being you.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine cheer

cherry and white chocolate pie

My mom sent our kids Valentines.  She sent some from my dad too but either my dad's handwriting has changed or I'm suspicious that she signed his name.

She is a very inclusive person.  My mom gathers people in her wings regardless of their age.  Or regardless of their status as living or made of metal apparently.  She sent Horace a Valentine too.

It made Mark's day and I think that's what my mom was going for.

I think they really bonded when we took him to Nauvoo.

My mom and Horace, making friends.

I love my mom.

We got envelopes full of Valentine cards from cousins.  Seeing my nieces' and nephews' handwriting made me happy.  I am afraid they are smarter than most kids.  No offense.

from Marcos:  an s is a tricky letter

from Olivia:  the niece, not the sister

I got a homemade Valentine from my friend Apryl.  She sends me one every year.  It is the great desire of my heart to live in the same cul-de-sac in heaven as she does.

I read an email from a dear friend while I was in the lobby of the YMCA, waiting for Mark who was at his homeschool P.E. class.  It made me cry, right there in the lobby of the YMCA.  I don't know why I am such a ninny (although I blame my dad who doesn't sign his own Valentines).  It was the kind of email that assures you that the world is a wonderful place full of wonderful people.

We feasted like kings.

Valentine's Day: a lot to love.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


How could I not love Valentine's Day?  I love love, chocolate, the color red, and garish red and pink pairings. 

I used to think that Valentine's Day should be a romantic date with Adam.  Not anymore.  I'm not opposed to romantic dates with Adam, but I've learned that it's hard to get a table at a restaurant on Valentine's Day and it's easy to create expectations in your head that are unreasonable.

I like to spend Valentine's Day now celebrating what I love about it and forgetting the rest.  It's lovely to be in charge of the celebrations--a huge perk of being the mother.

Valentine's Day is about indulgence.

It's about the fancy meal tonight when we'll indulge in delightful course after fancy course.  The menfolk decided they're in charge of the meal this year and they are doing all of the preparations.  I am, however, making the dessert.  Some things you just can't leave up to chance.

It's about indulging our home in red.  Glorious red.

It's about indulging my three darlings with simple treats:

for the hungry one:  cookies for breakfast

for the girlie one:  a gift I can borrow

for the Lego one:  because we don't have quite enough of these...
And finally, Valentine's Day is about this:

I have a pretty good life.

He's why.


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