Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Books I read in April 2013

The sad lack of books I read is reflective of my peace of mind this month. Too busy to read is too busy if you ask me.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor  ****

I read this book aloud to Mark as part of our school curriculum.  It led to good discussions for us about racism.  He was horrified.  It's always a little bit sad to spoil some of your children's innocence.  It's set during the Depression in the South.  It made me really glad I didn't live in the South during the Depression.  I loved the family in the book though.  They were real and loving and strong and good.

Hello Goodbye by Emily Chenowith **

This book was OK.  It was about a family--a mother, father and daughter.  The mother had cancer and was dying.  The family went to an inn in rural New Hampshire for a vacation/anniversary celebration and reunion with their old friends.  I thought there were interesting parts of the book--seeing how a family dealt with impending loss.  I also thought the daughter (she was college aged) was kind of a brat and I didn't like any of the friends.  I didn't understand why they were all friends.

A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt by C. Coco De Young **

Another book I read to Mark.  It was OK.  It was also during the Depression, set in a Johnstown, PA.  It was a little simplistic about a not very simple set of circumstances.  It was written for kids not adults though...

Helen Keller in Love by Rosie Sultan *

I didn't finish this book.  It seemed like it'd be good and it wasn't terrible, it just portrayed Helen Keller as someone I couldn't relate to at all.  I had enough crazy in my month that I didn't have time for a book that I couldn't relate to.

Monday, April 29, 2013

15 rugs

You know how sometimes you go into a house and everything looks like a Pottery Barn showroom?

I don't have one of those houses.

Somehow I can't help myself.  I like things a little unconventional and quirky and unexpected.  I found an idea online to sew small rugs together to create an area rug.  I've always wanted a colorful braided rug but I lack rug braiding skills.  I decided I could sew rugs together though.

I bought 15 rugs.  The teenage boy at the store that was zipping rug after rug across his scanner as I was buying them finally said, "I have to ask.  What are you going to do with all these rugs?"

It took a little time and two very long needles (I bent one) and three thimbles (one for my thumb and two fingers).

Last night I told Adam maybe I would fill the entire house with these rugs...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Do you want to be funky fresh like the other kids?

Each of my children has friends that are just right for them.  It's amazing and wonderful and serendipitous to me that they found friends that truly get them and that are just what they need.

Sometimes I look at them and think:  I'm so glad you found each other.

(Because my kids are a little quirky.)

It's incredible to me that in a high school of 1600 kids, Braeden has found other kids that like to discuss and debate politics and world religions.  This is a boy that gets up a little early every morning to watch the BBC in the 5:00 hour.  He's not normal.  But he's found friends that are like him.

For Braeden's health class, they had to do a project to demonstrate what they'd learned.  It could be anything they wanted except a power point presentation.  Two of his like minded friends joined up with Braeden and they created the following video.

I wasn't sure if anyone else would find it as funny as I do.  (The quirky kids came from somewhere.)  It makes me laugh though.  And it makes me happy that Braeden has friends like this:

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Oh it is glorious around here.  If I was a truly good blogger and better at photography and things like that, I may post a picture of how glorious it is.

Because it would knock your socks off.

(But you wouldn't be wearing socks because it is sandal weather.)

I know it won't last.  We all know it won't last.  Spring in Seattle breaks your heart.  You have wonderful sunshine and you bust out your t-shirts and sandals and then the rain returns.

And stays until the 4th of July.

But for now.


I love the blue blue sky.  I love the warm warm sun.  It's all divine.

The best part?

The Cat Walker.

For the past two days when I have been driving (at different times of day), I have seen him.  He's an otherwise unremarkable man, wearing shorts and a tank top.  He pushes a stroller.  There's a cat in the stroller.  It leaves me with unanswered questions but it also makes me really, really happy.

Because quirky unexplained things are delightful.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shooting yourself in the foot

I had been craving a chicken burrito from Chipotle with a powerful craving.  Those things are divine.

Mark and I needed to go to the mall to restock clothing for the pesky children who refuse to stop growing so I decided we would stop at Chipotle--you know, while we were in the area.

Mark didn't want to.

His vote was McDonald's.  There is nothing good at McDonald's (except for the Diet Coke + big straw...that is genius).  We argued back and forth but I have all the power in these sort of situations because I have the car, driver's license, money, etc.  (Motherhood:  not a bad gig.)

I assured him he would love Chipotle.  He promised me he would not.  I assured him I would find something he liked.

On the kids' menu--which Mark often spurns of late because it's not enough food--there was a cheese quesadilla.  Every kid in America likes a cheese quesadilla, right?  It's sort of their birthright.

Mark agreed and I got my lovely chicken burrito.

He eyed the teeny tiny bundle of tinfoil that was his quesadilla.

"So when's the quesadilla coming?" he asked.

I pointed to the teeny tiny bundle of tinfoil that was his quesadilla.  He looked at me with a look of scorn you would not normally think a ten year old capable of.

"That?" he asked, poking it.

It was gone in seconds as were the teeny tiny piles of rice and beans that accompany the kids' meal.  (Note to self:  Mark is too big for the kids' meal at Chipotle.)

I gave him a bite of my chicken burrito.  He loved it!  Good news!  Now he too will want to go to Chipotle!

Bad news.  He ate half of it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This quote has been on my chalkboard lately (it's from the movie, "A League of their Own"):

Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard.  If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.
I think I needed some bolstering.  I've repeated it over in my head a few times every day.  I've been busy...and working at capacity.

Sometimes I look back at myself years ago and I marvel at how my capacity has increased.  When I was growing up, my sisters and I had to trade off making bread on Saturdays.  It seemed like it took most of the day.

Now I can get some bread rising before I start teaching Mark school and I hardly notice.

When I was a brand new mother, things like dishes and errands and laundry were the Main Things I did (besides try to figure out how to be a mother).  Now I squeeze those tasks in wherever they fit.  I load the dishwasher while Mark does his math.  I dart in and out of the store while my kids are at their piano or voice lessons.  I have a load of laundry going every day and I do A LOT of other things besides.  I can't imagine if those were the only things keeping me busy now.  I am a lot more capable than I used to be.

As my dad would say, I didn't get that way sitting in the bunkhouse.

I don't know the point of all this, I've just been thinking about it.  Some days I don't know if I am sinking or swimming; drowning or waving.  It's good to remind myself that saying yes to opportunities to serve and learn and grow (for myself or for my children), make me more competent.

Here's hoping at least.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Applebee's late on a Friday night

"You're an elitist," Adam accused me.

We were sitting at Applebee's and I was facing the door.  So I watching people walk in and out and he was watching my reactions.

Could you keep a straight face if a man with a graying beard walked in holding hands with a generously proportioned woman who was wearing a floor length wedding dress?  The man had on a suit with an untied tie and they looked for all the world like they'd just left their wedding.  They walked in and sat at the bar.


If I wasn't an incurable introvert and if Adam hadn't been accusing me of being an elitist, I would have loved to have talked to them and found out what circumstances lead you to hit Applebee's after your wedding.

Next a gaggle of senior citizens walked in.  The men were wearing Hawaiian print shirts under their royal blue matching windbreakers.  The women were wearing huge round skirts, puffed out by voluminous petticoats. Were they square dancers?  I didn't know there were square dancers in the Seattle suburbs but when you go to Applebee's on a Friday night, magic happens.

I glimsped the back of one of the royal blue windbreakers.  There was a tornado silk screened next to their name, Sky Valley Whirlwinds Square Dance Club.

You can not make this stuff up.

We were at Applebee's late that night because it was opening night for the big musical.  Across the room were about 30-40 euphoric teenagers with traces of make-up, their hair still done in 50s styles.  They were laughing and hugging and yawning.  It was quite a week and quite a show. (You should go!  Two more weekends!)  Just being in the same room and feeling their energy and joy made it a great place to be (not to mention the people watching opportunities).

Speaking of energy, here's the newsreel that is shown at the beginning of the musical.  My claims to fame:  the bedroom scenes were shot in Emma's room and the curly headed boy is mine.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The upside of clutter

The other night, our older kids came home, you know...late.  I (naturally) thought they should want nothing more than to talk to their mama and they were engrossed in a conversation with each other.

About the scriptures.

It was 10:00 at night and they hadn't been home since dawn and they were discussing a scripture and not talking to me.

(The nerve of some children.)

One of the things about these children (and me too, who am I kidding?) is that they (we) are kind of clutter bugs.  We leave stuff around.  I'm in a constant struggle to wrangle it all and keep it somewhat contained.

The upside of children that clutter is finding the notes they write to each other.  This was in the school room:

I'm glad she signed her full name.  You wouldn't believe all the Emmas we have around here and it gets confusing.
I love finding their notes.

I love these kids.

I love their relationship.

I love that they're mine.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My main talent

Yesterday was about Mark's rare talent of blowing a carved bar of soap down a rain gutter.  Today it's about me. 

I have a real gift.

I can worry like nobody's business.  It's superhuman even.

A few days ago, after over a week of on and off tooth pain and on and off stress about it, I took myself to the dentist.  (I have--don't be surprised--anxiety about dentists and I've decided that the cure for that is to have Heather as your dentist's assistant.  She is my friend and one of the fabulous women in my writing group and she is kind to me even when I'm anxious.  What's not to love?)

Heather listened and empathized and x-rayed and told me that she did not see anything grievous on the x-ray.  The dentist took a look too and they both told me that I probably had tooth trauma of one kind or another and was grinding my teeth.

Before I left, Heather called me over to the computer screen to look at my x-ray.  "This is why you don't need to worry about a root canal," she said, pointing to my teeth and explaining why someone would need a root canal in the first place and how that wasn't a concern with those teeth.

I asked, "Is that your way of telling me not to be neurotic?"  She said no.  (See?  She's very kind to me.)

It has been a difficult week for me.  Despite psyching myself up for the challenge, despite reminding myself how much I have to be grateful for, despite knowing my kids are having a marvelous time, it has been a challenge for me.

My older two kids have been at the school until late into the night, rehearsing.  I've been busy with my supporting role as a drama parent.  I see my children in bits and snatches and I miss them and I worry about them.  I worry about them getting enough rest.  I worry about their homework.  I worry about their health.  I worry about imagined and undefined worries just because I can't see them and I don't know if they're OK.  When I picked Emma up at her school and dropped her off at Braeden's and she was cranky, it sent me into a tailspin of worry. Last night when Janet and I showed up at the school with 25 pizzas to feed to 100 hungry teenagers and there were paramedics there, it didn't do much for the nerves...

(One of the cast gashed his head open and needed stitches...hopefully he'll be fine.)

Adam (who coincidentally is having a super busy week himself--I have been worried about him too) has asked me if the worrying has helped/is helping/will help.


Probably not.


I wish I were more like Adam.  He's steady.  He doesn't worry.  He plows ahead.  He does his work and when he has a spare minute or can see me floundering, he helps me.  But he doesn't worry.

I can't see myself becoming as stoic as him anytime soon.  I know my limits.

I decided I will try to be like Heather.  I will be the calm in the storm.  (I will try.)  In those rare moments when I see my children, I will be calm and supportive and reassuring.  (I will pretend.) I will tell them they don't need a root canal.  That's always good news.

I am truly grateful for their opportunities and experiences.  It's wonderful to see them having a great time doing something they love.  It's good for them to sacrifice for something that means a lot to them.  They are learning and growing.

Maybe I need to do some learning and growing of my own.  I need to learn to let go.  I need to learn that my worrying is a millstone not only for me, but for my family.  I need to learn that we are all resilient and fine, just fine.

Growing up is hard.  (At least for me.  The kids seem OK with it...)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

You win some, you lose some

Last night was a Win Some sort of night.

Remember the pinewood derby when Mark lost. Every. Single. Race?

The rain gutter regatta happened last night.  He won every single race.  He carved a bar of soap, removed the mast and sail because it was too top heavy and blew his little heart out.

That's me in the back in pink.  Adam pointed out that I wasn't watching.  I was telling a little boy not to throw a paper in a bucket of water.  So I was doing my good deed for the day.  I'm only one woman.

It's what we've always suspected, the kid has a healthy set of lungs.  (He's also the only one that tucks his cub scout shirt tightly into his running pants.  He refuses to wear jeans.  Who am I to question his fashion sense?)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bubba Dahl's cookies

When Braeden was a toddler, he called my mom, Bubba Dahl.

He called my dad Bubba Dahl.

You really had to pay attention to context clues to see which Bubba Dahl he was talking about.

(For the record, Mark called both of his grandpas 'Bob' at that age.)

(For the record, Emma could pronounce Grandma and Grandpa perfectly.)

Anyway, Braeden.  And Bubba Dahl.  (The grandma Bubba Dahl.)  She made her pressed cookies for Christmas like always and Braeden fell head over heels in love with Bubba Dahl's cookies.

When Emma was born my mom came to Connecticut to rescue us from the shock of adding a new baby to a family and she brought, in a little container, "Bubba Dahl's cookies."  Though it was February, she brought tiny red poinsettas and tiny green Christmas trees just for Braeden.  I put them in the freezer and gave him one every day until they ran out.

He is still sporting his pajamas.  I guess I gave him a cookie for breakfast.  What would you have done?  I mean, look how cute he was.  Also, his mouth looks a little orange-ish.  I promise I hadn't given him Cheetos.  Because gross.

No cookies but this picture melts me a little...Emma screaming and Braeden kissing her.  He called her Be (for baby) Emma. Who gave them permission to grow up?
Recently I found a gadget to make pressed cookies.

I enlisted my girl's help and we pressed cookies "perfectly and effortlessly" just like the package promised we would (more or less perfectly and effortlessly). Emma dyed them all sorts of bright spring colors.

Braeden detoured through the kitchen several times while they were baking.  He'd pop one in his mouth and swoon.  "Bubba Dahl's cookies," he would say reverently, eyes closed.  Even though he no longer calls my mom that, the cookies are officially named.  I think the cookies made his day.

And that, of course, made mine.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Are Mormons Christian?

I guess it would kind of be like if someone told me I wasn't a mother.

"But I am a mother," I would insist.

"No.  You're not."

"But it is who I am.  It's one of the key parts of my life."


"I am a mother!"

"No.  This is how I define motherhood, and honey, that's not you."

It seems ridiculous and unlikely that I'd have that kind of conversation.  But if someone truly believed that I wasn't a mother, if whole groups of people truly believed that I wasn't a mother,  it would offend me and hurt my feelings.

I could ignore them (and would have to), but it would still sting a little.

And that's how I feel when I hear people claim that Mormons aren't Christian.  It hurts my feelings.  It leaves me feeling misunderstood and frustrated and really sad.

But there it is.

Recently I was a participant in a discussion on a Facebook page for Apologia, a company that sells homeschool curriculum.  They have a course that teaches that Mormonism is a false religion and outlines how we aren't Christian.  I joined the chorus of people who disagreed and defended Mormonism.

It sort of fell on deaf ears though and that is discouraging.

There are lots of different kinds of mothers.

There are mothers that have a job outside the home and there are mothers that don't.  There are mothers who daydream about having a career and there are mothers who daydream about staying home with their children full time.  They are all mothers.

There are mothers that homeschool and mothers that volunteer in their children's schools and there are mothers that volunteer in soup kitchens.  There are mothers who are so swamped with the duties of motherhood they wish they had time to volunteer.  They are all mothers.

There are mothers that pack their kids' lunches and there are mothers that write a check for school lunch.  There are mothers whose children get free lunch.  They are all mothers.

There are mothers that give their kids chores to do and there are mothers that do most of the work themselves.  There are mothers that spank their children and there are mothers that give time-outs and there are mothers that plead with and bribe their children.  They are all mothers.

I should be too busy myself trying to be a good mother to have time to judge other mothers.  I would never say someone was not a mother because they were a different sort of mother than I.  If you love your children and are doing your best for them, you are a mother.

There are Christians who go to church every Sunday and there are Christians who watch sports on TV every Sunday and there are Christians who have not been inside a church building for years and years.  They are all Christians.

There are Christians who read the scriptures and pray every day and there are Christians who do not.  There are Christians who give money to their churches and to formal charities and there are Christians who give money to a homeless person on the street.  They are all Christians.

There are Christians who believe that the Bible is it and there can never be anything added to scripture and there are Christians who believe a prophet is on the earth, continuing to give revelation and instruction from God.  They are all Christians.

There are Christians with questions.  There are Christians who are not sure what they believe and what is true.  There are Christians who are so excited about what they believe that they want desperately to share it with everyone because they want others to have the peace and happiness they have.  They are all Christians.

I should be too busy myself trying to follow Christ to judge other Christians.  I would never say someone was not a Christian because they were a different sort of Christian than I.  If you believe Jesus Christ is your Savior and are doing your best to follow Him, you are a Christian.

This video sums up how I feel and what I believe much more eloquently than I could.

Friday, April 12, 2013

When you grow up near the Boeing factory...

Yesterday Mark was quizzing me on the difference between and Boeing 737 and a 787.  He wanted to know all about them.  I had no idea.

Because I didn't grow up here.

When Adam's sister came from Atlanta last month to visit (and for our big party).  Adam asked her about her flight.  She mentioned it was nonstop.  He said, "757?"

"No," she said, "737-800."

Apparently, when you grow up with your dad working at Boeing, when you can drive by and get a glimpse inside the factory when the gigantic doors are open, when you see planes sitting ready to be painted, when you see planes partially painted, then fully painted, when you see a lot of planes in the air, off to be sold to airlines...it all accumulates to some knowledge of airplanes.  Particularly Boeing airplanes.

Just like I know the differences between a hackamore, snafflebit and spade bit (useful knowledge in the Seattle suburbs), Adam and his siblings know about planes.

Before my grandmother's funeral, late one night, especially considering that my parents are currently living in the Central time zone, my dad called me.

"I'm feeling sorry for myself," he said.  "We're trying to get tickets online and your mom is too tired and I'm too stupid."

The flight times were less than convenient and the nearest airport is hours from where they are in Nauvoo, IL.

"This is why it is called a flyover state," my dad lamented.  I told him to go to bed and Adam and I would figure it out.

Because remember Adam?  And planes?

We found them some flights.  I was conscious of the flight times and the cost, Adam looked at the planes and calculated leg room for my dad.

He's a handy guy to have around, that Adam.

We called and woke up my parents to tell them of our findings--I felt bad waking them, but we'd chosen a city for them to fly out of that we hadn't talked about and I wanted to make sure it was OK.  Adam insisted I make sure they know the types of planes/layovers/etc.  It needed to factor into the decision.

And he was right.  He got my parents on direct flights with optimal legroom.  He even got them in the exit aisles.

It pays to know a guy that knows airplanes.

I hope that knowledge gets him home to me today on a comfortable seat.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Into every life some rain must fall

It's no secret that cloudy skies and ceaseless rain depress me.  (Yet I live in the Pacific Northwest.)  The thought crosses my mind, quite often, (especially this time of year which for me, is the worst in the Pacific Northwest) that I hate living here. Because stick a fork in me, I'm done. I think, "Why do we live here?"  "Why does anyone live here?"  "Why is there all this traffic and all these houses?"  "What is wrong with all these people anyway that they would live here?"

Sometimes I'm a lot of fun.

Yesterday I was driving kids hither and yon and there was a sunbreak.  (Happy day!)  It was beautiful!  The trees are blooming.  Heather is bright and purple in yards.  Tulips and daffodils are showing their pretty heads.  The evergreen trees are...well, evergreen...and the deciduous trees, the ones that aren't a riot of pink blossoms, are encased in a halo of tender bright green leaves.  And then there's the grass.  The lawns are greenest green you've ever seen.

And why?

Because of all the rain.

Perhaps me expecting sunshine all the time and this gorgeous verdant landscape is like thinking my house would be perfectly clean all the time if I never cleaned it.  You've got to have the rain.

Then I started thinking about suffering in general.  Like rain and cloudy skies, it's not pleasant.  I don't like feeling overwhelmed or wronged or stressed or weighed down with any of the things that weigh us down as humans.  But maybe, just like Seattle needs rain to put on this show, we need the struggles.  When I think about people I most admire, they have seen their share of rain.  They've been buffeted by the storms of life and like these tall tall trees around here, they've stood their ground.  They've taken strength from the experiences.  They've become better. 

So, for today, I'll appreciate the rain.

For today.

(I'll be OK if it's sunny though.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Late practice has started for the musical Braeden is in.  The other night, I brought him home and he was "starving."

(I must mention that every day I'm grateful that my children don't really know what it means to be starving...they just think they do.)

The sandwich he'd had after school had apparently not made a dent in his hunger.  I told him I had some ravioli in the freezer and I would cook them for him.  While the water was coming to a boil, he inhaled a bowl of cereal.  He ate an entire plate of ravioli without breathing then he looked up at me and asked, "Are there any more?"


He shrugged and sat at the kitchen table and wrote undecipherable words on flashcards.  (Both because he was writing in French and because his handwriting is atrocious.)

I sat next to him and just watched him.  He's been taller than his dad for a little while, but for the first time, I realized that he was man-sized.   I'm sure this is not a unique experience for a mother to have.  For every man in the world, there's a mother who one day sat next to him at the kitchen table and had the startling discovery that he was man-sized.  I distinctly remember wrapping him in soft flannel blankets.  I remember buckling him in his car seat and tying his chunky little shoes.  I remember swinging him onto my hip and carrying him around.

I watched his wrists flick the cards as he finished writing on them.  How did his wrists get so big?  Just when did that happen?

I know, I know, this happens to everyone.

But, wow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Better together

There's this thing about my mom.  She knows how to feed people and she always always errs on the side of two much food.  (You've got to love people like that.)

My sisters were cut from the same cloth.  When they were visiting me, they bought some fruit for the birthday party.  A LOT of fruit.  After they went home, I didn't know what to do with all the fruit.

I put some in my blender.  Just to see.

A star was born.

The fabulous thing about this concoction that has sort of become my passion is that unlike other culinary passions of mine, this one is pretty guiltless and healthy.  It's just fruit (and a few ice cubes).

You start with:

Then you do this:

And you end up with this:

pouring equally is not my strong suit but I evened them out--no Mark was slighted in the creation of this blog post

I love it.  Mark and I are considering other fruit options.  He wants to try kiwi fruit and I told him when we're out of milk we'll go to Costco and get some kiwi fruit (and milk).  He checks milk levels several times of day.  Lucky for him he has a brother named Braeden that could keep an entire dairy in business.

We'll need more milk soon enough.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Filling my bucket

Saturday I was riding in our van with Braeden and Adam.  I realized that I felt incredibly happy.  (This is notable because Braeden happened to be driving and I wasn't white knuckled and trying hard to breathe normally.)

I think I was happy because my bucket has been filled.

It was renewing to have my sisters visit me.  It was a joy to remember my good good grandma and reunite with my family.  It was a blessing to spend a little time with my other good good grandma.

And then we had General Conference.

Every 6 months, we have a broadcast from our church headquarters in Salt Lake City and it is one of the most wonderful ways to spend a weekend that I know.

Saturday morning, Mark said, "Happy Conference," to me like it was a holiday, and I felt the same way.  We had the good fortune to listen to our inspired leaders.  I came away feeling lighter and with added perspective and with a filled bucket.  I feel reinvigorated and like I want to try harder and work smarter and be a better person.

I couldn't ask for more from a weekend, could I?

If you would like a little light in your own life, you can check it out here.  I would tell you which talk was my favorite but there's no way I can decide.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pictures I love

We are home.

And I am tired.

While I am doing laundry and restocking the kitchen and exciting things like that, here are some random pictures--some stolen from Olivia--for you to enjoy. (Hey, she invited me to view her album.  What did she expect me to do, not steal her pictures?)

I love these pictures...

...because my son is super shy, especially when he's singing an Elvis song.

...because I love my mom and dad.

...because Ammon is looking at Melanee with adoration and that makes me happy.

...because seeing a huge uncle put tiny socks on a little niece warms my heart.

...because like father like son. (Tabor had gone home by then or he would have been sacked out right between them--assuming there was room for all their legs.)

...because Nevada is the land of the setting sun.

...because it's good to have entertainment when your mom is busy catching up with her cousins.

...because grandpas are the best.

...because all the brothers-in-law wore red and all the sisters-in-law wore purple and we did not plan that.

...because not only are my eyes open in these pictures (an accomplishment), I'm holding adorable children.  Both children look worried.  I promise, they loved me.  Maybe?

...because I have found the kind of vacuum Mark likes to use.

The end.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Unbalanced and stabilized

I had a flat tire.  Adam wasn't there at the time and I was in my pajamas (and inept).  Ammon and Edgar came to my rescue.  Brothers (and brothers in law) are the best invention.

Later, Adam was going to take it to the one place in town that would be open on Easter Sunday and Enoch said he would go with him--because the people there could be a little...dishonest...but he knew them and would make sure we were treated fairly.  (Again brothers=best invention.)

We got on the road and we headed to Salt Lake City.  I rode with my parents so I could get in some extra visiting and Adam and the kids drove our van.  We stopped at the same rest stop on the Salt Flats.

And I was caught stealing a sip of Adam's soda before climbing back into my parents' car.

The next day we spent a day of mingled nostalgia and hopeful anticipation as we took our kids on a tour of BYU.  Adam pointed out the building where he first saw me.  I pointed out the building where I saw no boys, ever...well, hardly ever.  (The education building.)  We went to Temple Square and it was all delightful.

At least it was delightful until we had to take Adam to the airport so he could fly home to work.

It was pouring rain (isn't that what we were supposed to leave behind in Seattle?) and we went to the hotel where the kids swam a while and I didn't.

Then it was time for dinner which could only mean Cracker Barrel.  (How we love Cracker Barrel!  The peg game!  The insanely big breakfasts that are served all!  Day!  Long!)  On the way there, the light that indicates a tire problem went on.  It could be said that I freaked out.  I was sure every bump and road noise was the precursor to a blowout.  It was still raining and dark and my husband was on an airplane and there I was.  We got to Cracker Barrel and I sent the kids in for a table and I dialed the brother that was closest, Ammon.  It was the kind of thing where I was composed until he picked up the phone and said "Hello," and then I started to cry.  Great swelling sobs.  I think I was really tired and sort of stressed and obviously overreacting.  As I was sitting there on the phone, crying, I realized how crazy and unbalanced I was being but at the same time, I realized how blessed I was to have a brother on the other end.  Ammon calmly listened to me.  He ignored the unhinged crying and talked rationally about my tires.  He promised help.  Even though he was about an hour away, I am sure he would have come right then and gathered me up from the Cracker Barrel but I told him I thought we'd be OK.

Braeden got his siblings settled then came back outside to be with me.  With that sixth sense of his, he must have known that I was ready to crack.  Between the two of them, Ammon and Braeden,  I stabilized enough to go inside and have some chicken noodle soup and a blueberry muffin.  (I recommend both.)

Ammon, with sick children and himself threatening to be the same, was excused from tire duty and an amiable and nearly toothless man at the Walmart tire center the next day was able to get my tires fixed and allay my fears.

We went to my Grandma Jaynes' house. My Grandma Jaynes is the one I'm named after.  She's the one that tried to teach me to roller skate when I was little, but I proved too unathletic to keep up with her.  She's the one that grabbed my hand and Marianne's and ran with us to Star Tours when the gates at Disneyland opened and Star Tours was brand new.  Marianne and I, teenagers, tried our best to keep up.  She's always been a force to be reckoned with.  She could outshop, outclean, outgarden and outcook anyone I knew.  She could play the piano beautifully, by ear, and she embroidered fancy dishtowels for me when I got married.  She always gave me the most perfect and generous gifts.

How I love her.

As she's gotten older, she's slowed down.  Her medicine makes her a little dizzy at times.  Even though she may need to lean on my arm for support, she's still the one that stabilizes me.  She reminds me what is really important in life.  She reminds me that she loves me.  (And that is worth a lot.)  She has not diminished in my eyes at all.  She is still fun to laugh with.  She still gives good advice and is kind and generous and is my biggest fan.

I took her shopping.  Instead of me trying to keep up with her breakneck pace like I did all the many times she took me school shopping, we moved slower.  Instead of her running back and forth from the dressing room with styles and sizes for me to try, I got clothes for her.  I felt honored to be the one helping her.  I wish I lived closer to her so I could see her more often.

Back at her house, I tried to help her a little on her computer.  I called in Emma when I needed reinforcements.  (She understands computers better than I do.)

What I've been thinking about is how perfect, even when they're imperfect, families are.  It doesn't matter the generation.  It doesn't matter the age or experience or stamina.  What matters is that we're there for each other.  We all have something to give and we all have things we need.

Seems like I'm mostly on the needing and receiving end.

I have a lot to be grateful for.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Some photos for posterity

After the funeral, we had a family dinner provided by the good ladies in the Wells Ward Relief Society.  My grandma had seven children, 38 grandchildren, 81 great children.  And spouses.  You do the math.  It was a lot of food.

We took pictures too.

The girls cousins:

trying to get organized...laughing more than organizing...

almost there but something was terribly funny...

And done.

The back row:  Erica, me, Marianne, Catherine, Olivia, Hannah, Jessica and Danielle
Front row:  Sarah, Leslie, Molly, Elizabeth, Shanon, Margaret, Rebekah, Gretchen, Rachel, Susan and Dixie

The boys:

Sorry about the spots.  We'll call them magic dust.
Back row:  Jordan, Tavan, Micah, Lincoln, Jason, Ira, Alexander, Zachary, and Nathan
Front row:  Austin, Harvey, Enoch, Ammon, Cedric and Tabor

Someone needed to say, "Hey, let's not have the biggest boys in the front so we can see everyone in the back."  Maybe no one wanted to.  The biggest boys are...big.  The NFL player doesn't even stand out too much, does he?

Here's my dad and his siblings:

Jennifer, Joe, Demar, Claudia, Drew, Olivia and my dad, Mark
There were 50,000 people trying to take pictures (perhaps an exaggeration) and I think everyone was looking at different cameras.

And here's the whole gang:

aunts and uncles and cousins in attendance (and a few stray great grandchildren too)
Back at Olivia's, we took a picture of our immediate family:

It's not perfect but we are ALL there.  That, ladies and gentleman, is an accomplishment.
Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.  
Anthony Brandt

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My grandma's funeral

I loved that by the guest book at my grandma's funeral, there was a picture of her--complete with her kind and beautiful smile--and her scriptures.

Inside the front cover, were verses written her in familiar handwriting, verses she wanted to remember.  Tucked inside were various pieces of paper and an envelope addressed to "Aunt Margaret" from some apparent niece that I don't know.

My grandma's scriptures mattered to her.  And that matters to me.

Her funeral was wonderful.  Can a funeral be wonderful?  It was.  I loved seeing all my aunts and uncles and so many of my cousins.  I loved hearing her eulogy (and wondering if I could ever be as good as Grandma Dahl).  I loved the talks given by my dad and my uncle Demar.  I loved the piano solo.  I loved being surrounded by sniffling cousins that perhaps all inherited that same crying gene.  Leslie told me that one cousin--I can't remember which-- said, "It must be hot in here because my eyes are sweating."

Yes, that was what it was.

Cedric and Tavan.  I hadn't seen Tavan for years (and years) and he's always been one of my favorite cousins.  We used to catch crawdads together in Boulder Creek.  He made me laugh then.  He makes me laugh now.  I told him that if his band comes to Seattle, I will be very brave and go to another rock concert.  Although it may kill me.  Seriously.  I am too old for that kind of thing.

Gorgeous cousins (and sister).  Susan, Molly, Hannah, Micah and Olivia.  (And some of their children.)
There are 38 of us cousins, 37 living.  All but three of them were there.  I think I hugged nearly all of them.

The funeral was in Wells and we drove to Starr Valley for the burial.  As my dad said, it was the most beautiful day in the history of the world.

I have always loved the Starr Valley cemetery.  It is a serene spot in the sagebrush and near some hay fields.  My grandpa is buried there too.

Every grandson was a pallbearer--they drew names to see who would actually carry the casket.  That's my handsome baby brother Ammon in the front.

My cousin Jessica played the bagpipes in honor of my grandma's Scottish heritage.  It was fabulous.

That's pretty Hannah with one of her pretty baby girls in the foreground.
And then some more cousin pictures:

My brother Tabor and cousin Ira.  I'm guessing they were talking about something cowboy related.
Here's Lincoln, Tavan and my brother Enoch.  Lincoln is about 5 years older than me.  He told his kids about how I used to stutter and say, "Le-le-le-le-let's play house?" when I was a little girl.  I forgave him because he handed me Kleenex on Sunday when I was crying in church.  What? My eyes were sweating, OK?
Here are my dear parents talking to my dear aunt Nancy.  I hadn't seen her for years (and years).  She is Leslie's mother and if you knew Leslie, you'd know how great her mother must be.

Unless my grandma was too busy in heaven reuniting with all her loved ones there, I think she had to have been smiling down on us.  I think she must have been happy that we were happy together, that we were united in a sniffling, tear-wiping mess, loving her and each other.  I hope she knows how grateful we all are for her goodness and love and example.  

I'm sure she was glad that it was the most beautiful day in the history of all the world.


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