Friday, August 30, 2013

Books I read in August 2013



A Good American by Alex George **

This was a book that followed several generations of a family that emigrated from Germany to the United States and ended up in rural Missouri.  The beginning was very interesting.  In the second half there was a lot about hormonal teenage boys which is the worst.  I kept reading because I had been so engaged with the characters at the beginning.  It was a disappointment though.




Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni ****

Fabulous.  Dangerous because I wanted to abandon everything to finish reading.  It is about a girl raised in India by very protective and loving grandparents.  They did keep some secrets from her though.  A great book.




The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo ****

We listened to this book on our recent road trip.  It is young adult fiction and everything young adult fiction should be.  It was inspiring and uplifting and entertaining and I liked it.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bringing in the big guns

Sometimes you just need to hear your parents' voices on the phone.  Conversations with them are few and far between because they are serving their mission but sometimes, a girl needs her mama.  I took a chance and called their little house on the river.

No answer.

I called my mom's cell phone.  I hoped I wasn't interrupting anything too important because it's not like I had a big crisis.

They were out doing errands.

When I heard my mom's voice, I got a little choked up and teary like you do when you are feeling distress and hear your mom's voice.

"What's wrong?" she insisted, a slight edge to her voice, like a mother gets.

"Nothing," I said, "I'm fine.  Really."

Then I told her what was troubling me and she naturally was on my side and bolstered me.  Then she said, "I'm going to hand the phone to your dad while I run in this store.  I'll be back."

My dad's cheerful voice greeted me.  I laid it all out for him too.  He told me I was going to be OK.

My mom came back to the car and my dad handed me back off to her.  His parting words, "I'm glad your problems are just challenges."

Then she proffered some advice, some razor sharp perspective that was exactly, EXACTLY what I needed to hear.

No wonder she gets paid so well to be my mother.

Wait.  She is being paid, right?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Some recommendations

First, I have some apps to recommend. 

Presidents and Aliens



You answer trivia about U.S. presidents and if you get the answer right, you get a shot at some aliens.  Weird, but I thought Braeden, who is currently powering through his AP U.S. history summer homework may be interested in it sometime.

He came upstairs and I said, "Look at this."  He sat down next to me and played for about 10 minutes before he had to go to work.  He thought it was great and was really good at it too.  Random historical knowledge.  That's my boy.

Another one I got was Mind Snacks.



You can select a language and I picked French.  Emma may take French this year.  (Hopefully she'll get to, her schedule is messed up.)  I thought maybe we'd be stuck somewhere waiting for an appointment and I'd say, "Here, practice some French."

I showed Emma the app.  She LOVED it.  She wants to speak French.  A lot.  She has since she was in 5th grade.  (I'm not sure why.)  Emma quickly mastered everything at the free level and begged me to buy the next 50 lessons.  She said I could take it out of her "allowance." (Allowance is in quotes because I always forget to pay them their allowance.)  I gave her the go ahead and paid the $4.99 for 50 more lessons and by the end of the evening she had mastered 60 words.  That's my girl.

I also bought a math bingo app for Mark so he can practice multiplication and division.  I'm not expecting him to love it but it may keep him occupied while we're waiting somewhere sometime.

Also, our family is always on the lookout for TV shows and movies we can all enjoy.  We rarely watch actual TV, but prefer Netflix and Hulu and Amazon instant streaming.  They are family friendly because we can watch whenever we want and as much as we have time for.  Sometimes finding content that is family friendly is more of a challenge.

Here's some things we liked, and you might too:

Studio C



This is a comedy troupe that does short really funny skits.  It is on BYUtv but you can watch episodes online.

As Time Goes By



This is a British series from the 90s.  It stars Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer who are fabulous actors.  They play a couple that was in love when they were young.  He went off to the Korean war and they lost touch then 38 years later they reunite.  It has wonderful characters and we loved watching it.  Our older kids watched it with us some while Mark was on his trip.  I don't think it would have held Mark's attention but they liked it as much as Adam and I.

The Catherine Tate Show


This is more sketch comedy and it's also British.  Catherine Tate plays a variety of characters and they are very entertaining.  (Some of them are rude and we skip them.  Netflix makes it easy to skip.)  I can't decide which character of hers is my favorite.  Funny, funny.

Also, our perennial favorite, Keeping Up Appearances.


Another British sitcom from the 90s.  This is a show about Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "bouquet" by her) and her long suffering husband and colorful family (all the sisters have floral names:  Rose, Daisy, Violet and Hyacinth).

Adam's favorite character is Daisy's husband, Onslo:


Finally, here is a new discovery.  Also British (we would be considerably less entertained around here without British television).

Going Postal


It's a mini series (2 episodes).  It is quirky and steam punk and funny and entertaining.  Several times, especially at the beginning when we were trying to get a grasp on just what it was we were watching, Adam and I would look at each other...wha?  But soon enough we embraced it and all of us enjoyed it.  It is about a con artist who gets caught and his punishment is that he has to be the post master.

Now see, it's not just about pizza this summer.  We also sampled some British TV.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Comfort and joy

I've decided I'm on the One Day at a Time plan.  Looking at the swim team schedule gives me heart palpitations so I'm only looking at today.

And it's doable.  (Hopefully.)

I've also been thinking about mental health.  You know, for Adam's sake.  I'm guessing he doesn't really love being married to a crazy wife.  (Although he is pretty long suffering about it.)

There are certain no fail things that help me feel better when I feel like things are spinning out of control.  One is wearing my brothers' old shirt and my necklace that reminds me of my sisters.


My brothers (except Ammon I think) both wore this shirt.  When I was in college I took it out of their closet.  (That's why Ammon never wore it, I took it before he was big enough for it to fit him.)  I justify my thievery because I liked the shirt (probably not a foolproof excuse) and now it reminds me of them and my growing up years and it makes me happy.  This necklace makes me think of my sisters and when I wear them both together, I remember who I am.  Their sister.  It puts things in perspective.

Spending time with my family also helps.  They are funny.  They soothe me.  Saturday we had our oldest two with us on an errand run.  Mark didn't want to go so he hung out with Gavin instead.  We went to lunch (sorry Mark) and went grocery shopping.  It was just pleasant.  Adam saw a big sign in Snohomish with Smokey the Bear proclaiming "Only you can prevent forest fires."

Adam said, "It seems like it would be cheaper if they just called me and gave me a reminder."

He makes me laugh.  Every day and all the time.  What a happy life it is, really.  It's nice to keep that in mind.

(When things seem to be spinning out of control.)   


Monday, August 26, 2013

Right in the heart of the golden west

(The title of this post? You know, from the Nevada state song?  Everyone knows that, right?)


Exciting news in this part of the world.  Our very own Hans Jorgensen got his mission call--to the Reno Nevada mission!  Hurray for Nevada!  I am jealous of Hans and thrilled for him.  I am also happy for Nevada because they are getting Hans Jorgensen!

Lucky day all around.

I have my dear Aunt Olivia and Uncle Brad in Sparks.

I have three uncles and their families in Fallon.

I have cousins and second cousins scattered all around.

And if Hans ends up here:


Well, then you know what that means:


I was considering what fabulous cooks Marianne, Olivia and Jennifer are.  They will feed Hans well.  Then I remembered, my mom will be home! 

Oh, he is in good hands.


After church on Sunday, I sang the Nevada state song to Eric in the hallway.  (Adam helped me.)

the land of the setting sun

It's possible that I'm a little bit thrilled.



Adam said, "You're really into this.  It's kind of surprising how excited you are."



Adam is right.  I think it's because there is this whole part of me...this Nevada part...that most people don't understand.  Now Hans will understand.  One of my own will get it.  (The Jorgensens, whether they like it or not, are considered mine.) 


He'll know about the way everything turns the gray green of sagebrush at dusk.

He'll see fabulous sunsets that are like nothing else.

He'll see stars, uncluttered by clouds and light pollution.  He. Will. See. Stars.  And the enormous swath that is the Milky Way.

He'll drive on lonely roads where everyone you meet waves at you whether they know you or not.

Ah, Nevada.  I love that place.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A good thing about husbands...and blogs

All week I have felt a low grade anxiety.  Last night Adam told me that this has happened before.  (To his credit, he didn't say it in a "here we go again" sort of way, but in a "I get you" sort of way.)

He pointed out that I'm not good with transition.  I thrive on routines and time with my children.

It's no wonder that I feel anxiety.

My life is on the cusp of being upended.  Back to school means a shuffle of Everything and every back to school means my kids are a year older and I'm at the stage of parenting where I feel like I'm on a slippery slope of time with them so that doesn't help me feel any better.

I wondered if I did feel this way last year too.  I looked at my blog.  (Because it's the closest thing I have to a journal.)  Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote this.

This year feels different than last year.  More intense.  More busyness, less time with my children.

But I survived that. 

And I'll survive this.

I'm glad I have Adam (and my blog) to remind me.  This has happened before.  I keep reminding myself that different doesn't mean worse.

My family is helping me cope.  Emma gave me a wide berth which I appreciated.  Mark and Braeden flanked me on either side and insisted their proximity and back rubs and foot rubs would help which I appreciated.  Then after they were sent to bed, I cried in Adam's arms.  A good soaking cry.  Everything's going to be all right.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

One step at a time

We do not have to become heroes overnight.  Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up...discovering we have the strength to stare it down.
Eleanor Roosevelt 


I love to travel but I only truly sleep well in my own bed.

I love to move furniture, change wall colors and try new recipes but I hate new things.

I don't know what to do with contradictory myself.  

With a new school year about to start, my stomach is in a knot over some of the new things.  For one thing, Emma wants to be on the swim team.  I think that's fabulous and also not.  Because it also makes me afraid.  I am an introvert and the thought of interacting with a whole new social circle makes me want to hide under a blanket.  Also, there is no pool at our school and there is no district transportation so unless I can figure out a carpool, I sort of have a new part time job--Driving Miss Emma.

I am excited for Emma and happy that she has the moxie to enter uncharted territory.  I am mourning the loss of time:  hers, mine and our family's with the new commitment.  I am grateful that I don't have any really real problems to worry about so I'm obsessing about this.  I am dreading what I don't know anything about and may not be terrible at all.

I don't know what to do with contradictory myself.

So I will channel Eleanor Roosevelt.  I will work on one step at a time.  I won't become a hero overnight.  But I'll keep trying.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Making lemonade

No I didn't just suddenly get some photography skills.  All the photos in this post were taken by Aunna.  By the way, if you ever want to embark on anything daunting, get Aunna and the rest of these women on your side.

When Braeden was a cub scout we went to Cub Scout Day Camp.  It was exhausting but fun.  Emma and Mark went as "tag-alongs."  It wasn't the highlight of my summer but it felt like time well spent.  Then Mark went to Cub Scout Day Camp.  Different people were in charge and it was TER-RI-BLE.  No fun.  Disorganized.  Still exhausting.

We decided surely the second year will be better.  It was worse.  Mark got hives and couldn't go after the second day and neither of us were a bit sorry.  It's the first time I've ever welcomed hives.  Because they meant no Day Camp!

A few of the mothers and I talked about it.  We all agreed that we could do a better job.  So we did.

Life handed us Cub Scout Day Camp lemons and we made our own  lemonade.  We very carefully called it a summer pack meeting because it was more laid back than a typical day camp.

Here's what I learned.  If you're going to make your own lemonade, get some amazing men and women to help you.

We had two dads lead hikes.  One mom provided snacks and taught the scouts funny songs.

I love seeing their cute joyful faces.  These are my primary kids.  Aren't they the best looking primary kids ever?

One mom provided the lunch and helped them each paint their own roasting stick.

Mark's expression:  apparently a genetic trait he and Braeden share

One mom taught them how to make survival bracelets out of paracord--which the boys thought was awesome.



Another mom took care of the little ones--including face paint.


A grandpa taught archery and a grandma and another few mothers and older sisters were there helping every step of the way.




Adam taught the older boys to tie knots (then we had a tug of war:  moms vs. scouts. The moms kicked their trash).  Adam taught the younger boys knife safety and delighted them by teaching them about the "blood circle."  Stephanie, who didn't even have a son there, came to teach a ropes course and did team building and cooperative activities.



The other mothers and I congratulated ourselves on a job well done, and a Cub Scout Day Camp avoided.

"Aren't we smart?"  "Why, yes we are."  Actually I think we were talking about hair...I love these women, as well as those not pictured.
The boys were what made it great though.  Our culminating activity was playing on a slip and slide.





The highlight of my day was at the end.  I told them they could each have one more run.  Once the boys went down, they stayed at the bottom and gave high fives to everyone else that went down the slip and slide.  These boys are friends.  In the eight hours we were together, there was no bickering, no teasing, no complaining.  They were enthusiastic and kind and respectful all. day. long.

Some of them wanted to do it again the next day.  And I would.

But I'm tired.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

St George to Salt Lake

We went back to the St. George temple in the light of day.


After chatting for awhile with a senior missionary lady from Wyoming (because Adam is friendly like that) he took a picture of us in front of the temple.


He said something about it being hard to get a good picture because it is "so white" which I thought was kind of rude.

Then he said he didn't mean my legs, he meant the temple.

After that we climbed into our van and headed north.  We had a pit stop in Beaver, UT.


Braeden said, "I love Beaver too, but only to a point."

(I don't know if that point is above or below the level that he would want one of those t-shirts.)

We had lunch at In n Out Burger where the drinks are nearly as big as Mark.


This would not have happened in New York City.

Once in Salt Lake, we went to my grandma's house.  It is hard to think of a better way to spend time than visiting my grandma.  We chatted and schemed about her bedroom.  Her bedspread and window valances were bugging her.  She was ready to be done with them.  Yesterday.

I get this.  She is where I came from.  The aesthetics of her surroundings matter to her and when she wants a change, she wants a change.

Adam and Braeden took the valances down and Grandma and I looked online for alternative bedspreads.

While we were doing that, Adam was down in the cool basement taking pictures of pictures.

Feast your eyes on this awesomeness:

Me, Marianne, Tabor (his posture, I'm glad to say, has improved), Olivia and Enoch
Apparently it was the year of the vest.  And that may be the single time in Enoch's life that he looked shy.

Adam also snapped a photo of me hugging my grandma:

I can't explain what this dear woman means to me.
Right when we were about to leave, my grandma got the idea to put a quilt my cousin Jenny had made on her bed for a bedspread.  It is a beautiful quilt.  I said, "Let's do it!" and she said, "Well, you need to go..."  (My family was in the car, waiting.)

Like I said, I get my grandma.  She wanted a new bedspread.  Yesterday.  I called out to Adam that I would be a few more minutes and he said no problem. We arranged the quilt and it looked lovely.  Then we scampered downstairs for shams to match.  I said, "Just tell me where they are and I'll run down and get them."

She said, "No, I'll run down and get them."

It's only been very recently that I can outrun my grandma but I did get there first.

We were both happy with the results in the bedroom.  I wish I lived closer and could spend more time with my wonderful grandma...

Our next stop though was meeting Ammon and Melanee and their darlings for dinner.  We ate at the Blue Lemon which contrary to it's name, wasn't full of moldy citrus.  It was good food.  Then we went to a park so the little ones could play and we could visit.

My favorite thing about this picture is that Ammon and I are sitting the same way.  I notice this phenomenon a lot with my siblings.  I also loved that all three kids were wearing green.  Team Cousin.
Braeden played with the kids for awhile (not pictured).

Emma got her foot stuck in one of the little kid swings (not pictured--thankfully).

And Mark pushed Cormac on the swing:

Again, it was not long enough but we'll be back.  In less than a month.  Which sounds a little dismal when I've just been in the car so long.  But I'll recover, and be ready to go again!

Monday, August 19, 2013

It was stupid hot

Adam joined us in Nevada (hip hip hurray!) and the next morning we headed to St. George, UT.  In August.  It seemed a little foolhardy (even to us) but we wanted to go to Tuacahn, an outdoor theater in the red rocks that plays Broadway shows.  We wanted to see Starlight Express.  Olivia saw it (twice) in London and when Braeden was four she gave him a cassette tape (remember those?) of the soundtrack.  There's some debate--her word against mine--as to why I returned the tape.  (I'm pretty sure you'd be on my side.)  We all agree though that we loved the music.

So we were headed to St. George.

The scenery was lovely (it was Nevada, of course it was lovely) and even though it added about 8 hours to our original plan, our group is highly portable.  Our kids don't mind how long the road is as long as they are fed and watered (at hotel pools) at regular intervals.

I love St. George.  I want to be a snowbird and live in either St. George or Palm Desert for the winter.  I want a stucco house with cactus in the front yard.  And lots of sunshine.  OK, I got that off my chest.

Our first stop in the fair city was El Pollo Loco.

Thumbs up for crazy chicken.


Then Tuacahn!

At the beginning of the show it was 100 degrees.  We couldn't fault the setting though.  Gorgeous.


By the first intermission:


At the intermission, Braeden said, "It is stupid hot."  And it was.  We were sweating like pigs.  (Do pigs sweat?  I don't have much experience with pigs.  I could say we were sweating like people from Seattle where it is "hot" when the temperature reaches 80 degrees.)

But it was fabulous!  We loved every blessed sweaty minute.  Starlight Express was a delight.  The plot was predictable and it was not Andrew Lloyd Webber's best music in my opinion but the spectacle of it all, the entire thing on roller skates, the fireworks, the way I couldn't decide where to look sometimes because there was so much that was going on that was wonderful, made it completely worth it.

We left the theater happy and exuberant which is what good theater does to you.  (We were also anticipating air conditioning which has a similar effect.)

Driving out of the canyon back toward the city, this was the view:


So we decided to get a closer look:

The St. George Temple.  The building is 136 years old.  It has aged well, don't you think?
I went to sleep that night grateful for talented people whose performances knock my socks off. (Well, they would have but I was wearing sandals.  It was hot.)  I was grateful for this season of life when my children are so much fun to be around.  And I was grateful for Adam, who makes it all possible.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The highlights

Here are some of the things that happened while we were in Nevada:

1)

Mark cut his foot.  He came hobbling over to the deck where we were eating and he was bleeding.  His aunts sprung into action.  Marianne and Jennifer and Olivia hovered around him like he was honey and they were bees.  They got the bleeding stopped before I could even get close.  Enoch inspected the cut and we decided he didn't need stitches.  Then Enoch picked up Mark like he was a sack of feathers (and Mark is not a small boy) and carried him into the house.  It's a good thing Mark isn't afraid of heights.  I got the wound cleaned and Enoch glued it together with superglue...because that's how we roll in the Dahl family.  The next morning it was still bleeding because Mark (being Mark) refused to not walk around on it.  (Also I neglected Enoch's regluing instructions.) In the absence of Adam, Robert gave Mark a blessing and then Mark threw his arms around Robert for a big hug.

And I was grateful for aunts and uncles.

2)

Braeden had a favorite entourage.  They happened to all be wearing the same colored t-shirt, so they decided they were Team Fabulous:

 
3)

Hyrum gave Emma a guitar lesson:


Meanwhile, Mark kept guard in the fort he and Hyrum had created:


(Marianne is probably the most long suffering hostess in America.)

4)

Desi and Liberty were beautiful and charming:



(Clarissa was beautiful and charming too, but she had to go to work.)

5)

We took the kids swimming.  Rather than watch my big kids (Mark on the slides with Hyrum or Braeden terrorizing his sister and cousins...what is it with teenage boys?) I sat with Olivia at the kiddie pool and watched these two handsome lads, Marcos and Ammon:


the inattentive lifeguard sporting the Coors hat inspired a lot of confidence
6)

Braeden's hair hit a new low:

he went swimming, then slept...then magic happened
It was a whirlwind trip with a lot packed in but it was wonderful and obviously productive.  I mean look at that hair.


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