Friday, January 31, 2014

Phone photos

Yesterday Mark was cold during math and wanted to go get a blanket.  Blankets and math aren't a great mix.  (Blankets and reading are a natural and winning combination.)  I told him to go put on a sweatshirt.  He came back with a hooded sweatshirt and his cloak that Grandma Geri made him for a Halloween costume.

I snapped a few pictures because it looked like a bat was in the school room and you've got to document things like that.

I scrolled through some of the pictures on my phone that have not been deleted yet.  (For some reason, I delete photos on my phone but I have a trillion unread messages--give or take.)

I still have this picture from last May:

Wouldn't you also keep something like that?  I like to document talent when I see it.

I have this picture from a hike I took with the Webelos last summer:

My son is the one throwing something off the hill while everyone else is posing nicely.

I found these pictures taken at Larabee State Park last summer:

I miss summer and blue toenails and starfish and sparkling water...

Here's one either Geri or Whitney texted me last summer:  Mark and Aunt Whitney going to the World of Coca-cola in Atlanta.

I found this picture of Braeden taken for unknown reasons:

I don't know if he was impersonating Hagrid or his uncle Enoch...

I found this selfie of Braeden which is one of the millions of selfies he takes on my phone.  I delete 99.9% of them:

Here's a picture of Emma's new haircut, from December.  I took a picture to text Adam:

Pretty girl.

And here's maybe my favorite photo I found on the phone.  Adam and I had to go to Wal-mart to return a gift and I took this picture and sent it to Braeden:

Then, Adam was driving home and I was texting Braeden and this happened:

When we got home, he came running out to meet us, in slight distress.  He had the same look on his face that he gets when he's eating food he doesn't like but pretends he does because he doesn't want to hurt my feelings.

It all made me triumphant because I never can trick people. Despite growing up in Nevada, I don't have a poker face.  Texting is a good medium for me and trickery.

So photos are cleared off my phone.

Now I should do something about the email...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A list

I've had a week of not getting enough sleep and freaking out about things that I didn't need to freak out about and it's gray and wet outside and the lightbulbs keep burning out.  The downstairs ones that I can't reach even if I stand on a chair.  Also, my to do list is neglected and I'm not getting to things at an alarming rate.

There's nothing to do at a time like this but write a list.

Here are things that redeem being tired, freaked out, too short to change lightbulbs and unproductive:

✩ homemade bread--it makes the house smell wonderful and I love it

✩ the seat heaters in my van

✩ library books

✩ umbrellas

✩ walks (see above)

✩ our fireplace

✩ our children love me...sometimes I think more than I deserve then I remember that I carried them inside me for 9 months, I gave birth to them, I have helped keep them alive and clothed and fed for all these years so no, they probably do not love more than I deserve...

✩ Adam loves me...sometimes I think more than I deserve

✩ this morning I heard birds singing at sunrise when the sky went from black to dark gray to lighter gray

✩ also this morning, I start with a clean slate just like every day...maybe today I will show that to do list who is boss

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I remember going to the amusement park Lagoon in Salt Lake City when I was growing up.  There was a rickety roller coaster.  For some reason I allowed myself to be dragged onto it--I think more than once over the years--and every time I thought I was going to die and that riding that roller coaster was the worst thing that ever happened to me.

I don't like roller coasters.  I can't even watch the California Screamin' ride at Disneyland.  (I can't watch the Tea Cups either but that's a different story.)

I don't like roller coasters but I have a teenage driver and an over active imagination and that's almost as deadly a combination as that Lagoon roller coaster and me.

Last night I was making dinner which I usually like to do.  I was making a recipe that everyone loves which makes it an even better pursuit.  The house smelled good, Adam was on his way home, I was warm and safe.

Then, Adam walked in the door and told me about the horrific traffic.  He said there must have been an accident because there was a lot of traffic on a street he drove that usually doesn't have much traffic.

Braeden wasn't home yet.

And when I hear the word accident and my boy is out in the world, my heart stops a little bit.

It was past the time I was expecting Braeden to be home.  I grabbed my phone and tapped on the app that locates Braeden's phone.  (I always feel a little like Big Brother at such times.)

He couldn't be located.  His phone has been buggy lately.  Adam says he needs to get Braeden a new phone.  Maybe Adam just wants to go to the Apple store...

Anyway.  I wrung my hands a little.  Where was Braeden?  I don't like to call him or text him in case he's driving.  (I don't want to test my theory that he ignores phone calls and texts while driving I guess.)  I wrung my hands some more.  All the simple joy I was feeling minutes earlier had left.  I kept telling myself to relax.  I texted Braeden. 

No response.

I called him.

An automated voice told me that the phone didn't have a voice mail set up.  I don't think anyone ever calls Braeden anyway, texting is king.

I was ready to get in my van and go look for Braeden.  Adam told me the traffic was terrible.  He told me Braeden was fine.  He told me that just because Braeden's phone was dead, that didn't mean he was in an accident.

In my mind I protested that a dead phone didn't guarantee he was safe either.

I also decided that if he wasn't home soon I would go looking for him.  Even if it was on foot.  It's a well documented fact that I'm not a stable person when I'm worried about my children...

Then Braeden walked in the door.  "HelLO!" he called his familiar greeting.

Relief and gratitude all flooded back in and Braeden pulled me into his arms because he could see I was stressed and because this isn't his first rodeo.  He knows me.

"My phone died," he said.  There had been an accident and so a closed road and diverted traffic but also he'd stayed late to get his hair cut by his director.  "I knew you'd be worried, I'm sorry."

He hugged me several more times, probably until he could see the furrows in my forehead smooth themselves out.

I don't like roller coasters.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Yesterday was another no school day.  I love those!

Braeden had several friends over to work on a school project--they created a radio broadcast from the 1930s.

Emma had a friend over to practice a song they want to perform at solo/ensemble.

(These two things didn't exactly go together from a noise standpoint but they worked it out.)

Since I was going to have extra hungry teenagers for lunch, I decided I should swing by the store for provisions.  I always dislike going to the grocery store when I've already done my shopping but I needed to pick up Emma's friend anyway so it worked out.

I was looking toward dinner and realized I was missing not one but two key ingredients for what I'd planned.  Am I the only person this happens to?  I decided when I took Emma's friend home, I could go to the grocery store.  Again.


While Emma and I walked into Safeway for the second time in hours, I said, "This is a stupid day.  Anytime you go to the grocery store more than once it is a stupid day."

Emma walked amiably by my side.

"Actually, you make it better," I told her.

"That's me," she said, "Making the world less stupid."

(And I think she does except she does prompt a lot of silliness in her brothers sometimes.)

Inside the door, I got distracted by flowers.  "Should we buy some?" I wondered.  Emma directed me back to the task at hand.

"What was it I needed to buy?" I asked Emma.  I honestly could not remember.

She sighed.  "You are making this stupidity really hard to counteract," she said.

If you are going to be terribly inefficient and distracted and waste your time, I recommend you take along someone like Emma.  At least they'll make you laugh.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Another story

Today a link/reminder about our 6 Chicks writing website.  Here's the story we published last week.

(This is me, trying to do my part in the promotional department.)

It's pretty easy to promote something you love.  I love writing.  I love the ladies in our group.  I love the funny/sweet/sad/crazy stories we write together and separately.

I think you'll like this story too.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Talking myself into optimism

Lately I've been wondering if the best part of my life is almost over.  It's depressing to think about.  The other night I talked to Adam, he assured me that was not true.  He said life would keep getting better and better.  He then cajoled me with thoughts of grandchildren.

The problem is that I'm really happy right now (How is that a problem?  Am I Eeyore?) and maybe I'm nervous to let this stage of my life go.

I am certain I want to teach school and intimidated to get a job and worried that Mark will be a latch key kid.  I think I may shrivel up and die without my children around. 

Yesterday Olivia and I hashed it out on the phone.  She tended to agree with Adam and maybe I will feel the same way.

For one thing, there is a pile of Braeden's clean laundry in front of (not in) his dresser.  Why?  Things like that make me feel less qualms about booting him out my door.  (Not really.)

For another thing, I was telling Olivia how fabulous it is to have a son that is a driver.  I love that I don't have to pick him up from play practice or his social endeavors.  I love that I can commission him to go pick Mark up from his friend's house and I love LOVE that I don't have to do the early morning seminary driving.  Proof positive that my life got better.

The older they get the more interesting and insightful and funny my children become.

Maybe the best really is to come.

(Yesterday Braeden texted me from school:  Good news!  His director said he could get a haircut.  Not that he needs one...  As a bonus, his director said she'd cut it.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I told Braeden I was going to post this and he said, "Who are you and what have you done with my mother?"

This may be one of the most out of character blog posts I've posted.  I am not a real and true football fan.  I watched a bit of the NFC championship game and it was exciting and all, but I've watched very little of the Seahawks otherwise.  Still, I'm glad they're going to the Superbowl.  I like driving around and seeing all the excitement here...the t-shirts and jerseys, the 12th man flags, the blue and green porch lights.  It feels festive.

After the game I heard that there was a lot of hullabaloo about Richard Sherman and his comments at the end of the game.  I am not really a news watcher or reader--I have other things I'd rather do; those novels aren't going to read (or write) themselves.  People that are not Seahawks fans may be rubbed the wrong way by Richard Sherman but I didn't really give him a thought either way.  I usually don't have the attention span for videos linked on Facebook but for some reason I watched this and then I was glad I did.  It was fascinating.  I went from being ambivalent about it all to being a Richard Sherman fan.  He is smart and hard working and a really good football player.

I know that the personae on the field aren't always who they really are.  My cousin Harvey has been called "The Meanest Player in the NFL" but he is a really nice guy

I enjoyed this video.

I'm officially on the bandwagon so I'll just go ahead and say it. Go HAWKS!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A glimpse of the future

Someday Mark will go to school.

(Moment of sad silence.)

Yesterday he was invited by Geri--who works at a middle school--to go on a field trip with the sixth graders to the Boeing factory.  Mark and I were both excited about the trip.  Mark because he likes that kind of thing and his grandpa worked at Boeing and it meant a day of no math or grammar.  I was excited because like I told Geri, any interest Mark has in Boeing works toward my not so secret plan that Mark work at Boeing someday and live near me always.

Mark got all ready for the trip and told me he was taking a book "to read on the bus."  I told him he wouldn't need it because the bus ride was going to be 10 minutes at the most.  I felt a brief moment of triumph though.  Turning Mark into a tote-along-a-book-for-the-road-reader has been a hard fought battle but I have won!  My boy loves to read.

He was uncharacteristically quiet as we got to the school.  I asked him if he was nervous.  He said, "A little."  I was a little nervous too.  I had given him a talking to about manners and not embarrassing his grandma who had gone to extra effort for him to be included on the trip.  Sometimes he's still a three year old in my mind.  A three year old with no impulse control that got kicked out of the IKEA playland every time we went.

"You have to stay by Grandma," I cautioned, "You can't run around."

He assured me he'd be good.

A group of kids was lined up to board the bus.  They were all Mark-sized.  I forget he's a big kid.  Also I noticed he was not just the only red head, he appeared to be the only Caucasian in the group.

I knew he would be easy to keep track of; he wouldn't get lost.

On the drive home, I called my dad.  I had this unscheduled freedom that was both foreign and elating.  He chided me for not watching the news--the right news (right in more ways than one).  In my defense, the only thing on the radio around here is Seahawks related.  We had a nice chat.

Hours stretched in front of me in a silent house.  I alternated my to do list with 30 minute spurts of writing.

My mom called (she hadn't been home when I called earlier).  "You're home alone?!?" she said, "How sad--but maybe a little nice."

And it was, both sad and nice.  On the one hand, I ate a quiet and solitary lunch but on the other hand, I got first pick of the leftovers.  Someday this will be it.  My children will have flown the coop.  I hope to teach school when that happens, otherwise the silent house may overwhelm me.

I picked Mark up at the appointed time and he threw his arms around me.  How delightful.  He chattered on about 777s and 787s and 767s and his personal favorite the 747-8.  He loved it.  He loved the planes.  He loved telling me about the factory and the contest they had building and flying gliders.  He loved that his team won.  He loved that his grandma gave part of her lunch to him so he had his lunch plus.  He seemed ambivalent about the other kids, they didn't matter to him as much as the airplanes.

Here are some pictures Geri texted me:

I was so happy to get my boy back that I took him for frozen yogurt on the way home--it wasn't really on the way home but since we had to stop by the library too it was kind of on the way home.

Someday Mark will go to school.

Thankfully that day isn't here yet.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Keeping house

Yesterday my kids were home which was wonderful.  To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr., I had a dream of my own.  It was to clean out the coat closet and various other tidying jobs around the house.  We had a planning meeting and I told my children what I expected of them.

Braeden (because he's an oldest and I swear there's a dividing-up-jobs training meeting oldest children attend before they're born) took it upon himself to divide up the jobs.  They were shockingly unequal, Braeden having the easiest job by far.  He is a natural born swindler and Emma was still bleary eyed from having just woken up and Mark is usually game for anything so they were being duped.  I pulled the plug on Braeden's scheme and the jobs were reassigned more equitably and they all quickly finished their assignments.

Why weren't they this much help back when they were home all day every day?  It's astonishing how much they can get accomplished now.

I still had intermittent tasks for them.  I called them to set the table/empty the dishwasher/move the chairs and rugs so I could quickly sweep the floor before lunch.  That "Cups" song was on, you know, the "You're Going to Miss Me When I'm Gone" song?  I don't know the correct name.  I told Braeden, who was heaving kitchen chairs over the couch instead of walking around it because his arms are long like that, "You're going to miss me when I'm gone. When I'm gone, who will give you work to do?"

Under his breath, Mark said, "His wife."

I guess in Mark's world, that is the natural order of things.  Right now I tell him what to do, someday his wife will tell him what to do.

He could do worse.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thelma: read this to remind yourself next time

So, Primary.

Some times, like yesterday when a little nine year old boy and I were bonding about the Ryan Lewis/Mackelmore song about the Seattle Mariners, are wonderful.  They are really great kids and I love spending my Sundays with them.

Other times, I go home feeling like a limp rag that has been rung out and dropped to the ground and then kicked around awhile.


It is usually the hardest part of my week.  We have a whole bunch of kids which is wonderful and overwhelming.  I was having a problem finding enough classrooms for the children to meet in.  We have children with special needs and children with unsettled home lives.  We have around 75 children between the ages of 3-11 that are missing lunch and sitting through 3 hours of you know, not much to deal with. 

During the past week, when confronted with new and ongoing challenges, I finally gave up.  I went from constantly thinking, "I can do this, I can do this..." to realizing, "I really can't do this."  I remembered (again) that as much as I love these children and want what's best for them, they have a Heavenly Father who knows and loves them better.  He loves me too--and will help me.

I went to bed thinking, "He will help me."

Because I didn't know what else to think.

And guess what?  The lesson I need to keep reminding myself of was made manifest again.  Everything slid into place.  Ideas popped into my head that seemed workable.  I checked in with all the smart people that know the children and circumstances and I got their input.  They gave me creative solutions to make more space happen.  (Magic!)  I thought and prayed and thought and tweaked and planned and prayed and thought.

Yesterday worked amazingly well.  There was a feeling of calm where before there had been chaos.  I didn't go home feeling like I'd been hit by a truck.  It was wonderful.

I should have given up a long time ago.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Ginger sitting

For Christmas we gave Braeden and Emma tickets to go see Les Miserables with us at the Village Theater. 

Tonight's the night of the show and I am excited.  As the time approached, we talked about different ideas of what to do with Mark while we were gone (we didn't get him a ticket because we didn't think he'd like it all that much).  He's eleven so we leave him home alone from time to time in small spurts and mostly in the daytime but this is late at night...

He thinks he's too old for a babysitter and I agree that I'm not going to get a twelve year old girl to come over!

So Braeden and Emma came up with a new name for it:  Ginger sitting.

Leif will be the ginger sitter.  He's more than old enough to be fine late at night and still young at heart enough for Mark to feel like he's having a play date.  It couldn't be more perfect.  Our favorite ginger is excited and feels like being left behind with a sixteen year old boy/idol is a big treat.

Also I may get treats to make the night even more festive.

What do you serve for a ginger sitting?  Ginger ale?  Gingersnaps?  Gingerbread?

Mark probably just wants chocolate.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I feel like a grownup

Our writing group met the other night.  It always results in wisdom dispensed, creativity displayed and a whole lot of laughter.

And chocolate.

Heather, because she's awesome, presented us each with a gift:

Yes, that is a big old stack of business cards!

I feel like a grownup.  A real person.  I have business cards.

Want one?

I have a...few.

Mark looked at one closely.

He was disgruntled and wanted to know why my name was last.  I pointed out the names were in alphabetical order.

"Hmph."  He was unconvinced.

Then he looked through the stack.  "Did you know these are all the same?"

I said yes.

He asked, "Was that on purpose or a mistake?"

I explained how they are like an advertisement and we can give them to people to tell them about our website.


Then he started giving me ideas about how to distribute them.  We both think putting them on every car at Costco is a good start. 

Thanks for the cards, Heather.  Thanks for the everything, 6 Chicks.  I love my writing group!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Win win

Yesterday afternoon, before siblings and neighbor friends got home from school, Mark declared himself bored.

I did what mothers everywhere do when their children are bored.  I had him help me clean the bathrooms.

He doesn't think it's a form of punishment like my other two would.  He loves swirling around suds and water.  (The child is generous with cleaning products.)  I showed him how to use the handheld shower head to reach over to rinse the nearby bathtub in our master bathroom.  He thought I was a genius.  I confessed it had originally been his dad's idea.

"That's the secret to a happy life," I told Mark, "Marry someone smart."

Mark nodded, thinking.  "I don't know if I can marry someone as smart as dad.  I'll try though."

He happily helped me clean the bathrooms and then I sat him down at the kitchen table with all the various reward cards and punch cards and who know what kinds of cards that are bursting at my wallet's seams.  I told him to sort them.  He did gleefully.  I entered all the reward cards onto an app on my phone and that made my wallet skinny and svelte.

Mark, no longer bored and thinking his Legos had sat unused long enough, said, "Do you mind if I go upstairs now?" 

I teach Mark school every day but he teaches me a lot too. I need to keep him busy.  He's happy to help me. Everyone is happy being useful and needed.  Also, I want to bottle up Mark's enthusiasm for projects and diffuse the room with it.  Life's pretty great.  Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get to slosh warm suds around a room and then sort brightly colored plastic cards into piles.  What's not to love?

P.S.  Happy birthday to my dear little sister today.  If you want to laugh at her witty writing and be delighted by pictures of her cuter than average children, you should check out her blog.  Olivia is the chocolate chips in my cookie.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tabor Dahl

This picture is from 5 years ago.  Braeden and Tabor.  Does every uncle teach their nephews how to tie them up?
We got home from our Sunday night visit at Geri's house and listened to the answering machine.  Braeden took a big drink of water while we were listening and had to spit it into the sink to keep from choking because he was laughing so hard.  I carefully listened to the message to transcribe it here.  It's not as funny without Tabor's voice delivering it, but it still makes me laugh.  Happy is the girl that calls Tabor her brother.

Hello, this is Tabor Dahl*.  

It is about 8:30 Mountain Time on Sunday evening.  I was just calling you, Braeden, for your birthday.  I realize that was yesterday, but when I had a chance to call you I knew that the Seahawks game was still going on.  I wasn't sure if you folks were involved with that or not--I guess I thought maybe you ought to be if you weren't.   I hope you had a good birthday.

I still haven't talked to Mark for his birthday.  I left a similar message then.  This answering machine may just be in a dark storage unit somewhere that nobody ever checks.  If you do check it, happy birthday and I hope all is well.  I will be more diligent at calling in the future.  My ancient cell phone went the way of all the world and so at some point I need to start over with putting numbers in my new phone that I can't activate yet because we live in the middle of nowhere.  I'm not sure if this is all relevant or if any of it is, but I hope things are going well for you and I'll talk to you later.

I love you.


Here we are at a Seahawks football game a few years years ago (our cousin Harvey was playing and yes, we were as cold as we look):

Come and visit me again, Tabor (Dahl).  You don't have to break your leg again, but come and see me. 

*He always says it's Tabor Dahl just in case I 1) don't recognize his voice--I do--or 2) know a lot of Tabors--I don't.  Actually I tease him about it but it isn't his fault.  We are genetically predisposed to like the name Dahl.  It's a family trait we are all afflicted with.  We wear the name Dahl pretty proudly.

Monday, January 13, 2014


The weekend was blustery and rainy.  A perfect weekend for staying inside. 

Friday night Braeden had his party, the one that wasn't a party but "just a couple of friends over."  It ended up being nice though, great really.

For one thing, I missed most of it.  On his way home from work, Adam called me and suggested Emma and I go to a movie during the party.  He'd stay home and hold the fort down and keep Mark, enamored to a hero worship frenzy around all those teenage boys, contained.  Really?  Yes, please.

Emma and I made an escape--and ended up seeing a lot of people we knew at the theater which was fun.  I loved sitting next to my girl.  We put our heads together to whisper to each other during the previews and we both liked the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  We laughed at all the same places.

The party was still in full swing when we got home and I loved the convivial atmosphere.  These boys really and truly like each other and it's fun to have a big pile of shoes by the front door and a bunch of entertaining boys in the house.  A few of the boys brought funny cards--I decreed to every mother I talked to that it was NOT a birthday party, no gifts.  I always marvel at how in the world Braeden found friends that are just as quirky as he is.  One boy's card, homemade, was filled with hilarious memes, political and satirical in nature.  He had written a message on the card that was filled with inside jokes and political jokes and smart jokes and I thought, "Wow, I like this kid." Braeden, from the time he was a little boy, has been keyed into the political process and interested in that sort of thing and now he invites whole roomfuls of boys over that are the same way.

How did they all find each other?

Towards the end, I was chatting with a mother who was there to pick up her son--she's a teacher.  It occurred to me that three of Braeden's good friends have mother's that are teachers and another one has a dad who's a middle school counselor.  I get these people.  So while the mother and I were chatting, Braeden sat down at the piano with a ring of his friends gathered around and he started playing the song, Prima Donna from Phantom of the Opera.  He sang it in a really high falsetto because that boy will do anything to get a laugh (and it worked).

Over the weekend Adam and I had several great heart to heart conversations about our hopes and dreams.  It's so nice to communicate, really communicate, and feel heard and feel like I hear him.  I like that guy.

Freja came over and she and Emma sat at the piano for awhile then they went up to Emma's room and did whatever they have done for the past ten years they've been friends.

Braeden and Mark played with Legos.  I feel grateful at such times because I know Braeden is being kind to Mark and humoring a little brother desperate for his big brother to shine some light his way.  I also feel grateful because I know Braeden is enjoying himself too.  He's not too grown up yet.

The big bonding, the Big Deal which everyone in Seattle bonded over, was the Seahawks game on Saturday.  (Don't tell anyone because I sort of think it would be considered treason in Seattle but I didn't watch the game and didn't really care about the outcome.  Don't hate me, Seattle.)  Adam and our boys watched.  From upstairs I could hear the agony and ecstasy of it all unfold, the cheering and the moaning and groaning.  I heard Mark chirping questions about the game and Adam and Braeden's deeper voices answering.  Because of my nonathletic influence, our kids aren't all that into sports and I think Adam feels that loss just a tiny bit.  It made me happy to hear them gathered together, cheering with the rest of Seattle (the rest of Seattle, except me).

That night we celebrated Braeden's birthday with Grandma Geri at a Thai restaurant he loves and then came home for chocolate cake.  I decided I should start a bakery and call it It Tastes Better Than It Looks.  Sometimes lumpy and homely cakes are the most delicious kind.

 Rather than looking at his mother, who carried him for nine months and has kept him alive for seventeen years, he is looking at his sister, who makes him laugh. Whatever.

Nothing too out of the ordinary.  Nothing extravagant or complicated.  It was just a nice weekend where we enjoyed our friends and each other.  A good weekend for bonding.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Braeden's birthday is tomorrow. This week he's been asking me if I'm going to write a blog post with seventeen things about him.  (Word to the wise:  writing blog posts about your children possibly encourages their native narcissism.)

I told Braeden that seventeen was too many.  There weren't that many nice things I could say about him.  He just smiled at me.  He and I both know that isn't true.  Like I told his drama teacher earlier this school year, I am a card carrying member of the Braeden fan club.

Here are seventeen things I love about my boy:

1) He's a drop everything and help me kind of kid--and he can reach the high up places.

2) He is funny.  So funny.

3) He knows who he is and who he isn't and he's OK with that.

4) He knows who I am and who I am not and he's OK with that.

5) He's a spectacular big brother.  These kids don't know how lucky they are.

6) He is kind to people.

7) I trust him enough to take his life and Emma's life and the life of a little white car into his hands every day and that makes my life a lot easier.

8) If I have a question about history, he'll explain it all to me without giving me too many boring details.  If he doesn't know the answer, he'll say, "That's a really good question, I'll have to ask Mr. Parker."  I wonder how his history teacher likes having a student that into history?

9) He tries to do what's right.

10) He loves little children.

11) He likes to learn new things.

12) Sometimes when he walks past me, he puts his arm around my shoulder and bends over and kisses my forehead.  I think I used to do the same thing to him when he was shorter.

13) He is entertaining and makes everything more fun.

14) He laughs at himself and doesn't take himself too seriously.

15) He is fiercely loyal to people he loves.

16) He is sentimental.

17) He admires all the right people for all the right reasons.

I am lucky Braeden is my boy.  He will be an adult sooner than I want him to be.  I haven't had long enough with him.  When I finally do have to send him out in the world, it will be me giving one of my prize possessions up for the greater good.

You're welcome, world.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Getting my oil changed

Yesterday I needed to go get my oil changed, which isn't fun.  There's nothing fun about it.

I dreaded it and procrastinated it long enough that I decided I could leave Mark home with the other kids because they were almost home from school.  I told Mark and he was supremely grateful, "Thank you Mom, thank you!"  It was like I'd saved him from the guillotine at the last moment.

I asked Braeden if we wanted to go with me.  He said, "Ha!  Nope."

I asked Emma.  She shook her head and smiled at me kindly, like you would at some poor sap who was asking the impossible.

So off I went.  I had a book to read, how bad could it be?

Pretty bad.

The room was sort of smelly and a big TV was blaring.  There's a reason I don't watch any daytime television.  Ever.

A host of people rotated through the room.  There was the couple who seemed to be together but she was much older than he was--not quite old enough to be his mother, but older.  There was the man snoring, loudly, in the corner.  There was the man sitting next to me speaking Chinese on his cell phone, loudly.

An older woman sat next to a window.  It was raining--you know,  Pacific Northwest--and the window leaked.  This launched the older man sitting across from her into an animated conversation about the time his motor home leaked.  I tuned in and out of the conversation because my book really wasn't very interesting.  They began talking about Mexico (I missed the segue) and how distrustful they were of the place in general.  And they also hated Arizona.  The man told about a time he visited his sister in the Phoenix area and couldn't wait to get home.  His sister had air conditioning, but all that air hurt his lungs.  Or maybe it was the dust.  Whatever it was, he was happy to get home.  "I don't mind the rain," he said.

"I quite like it," the woman said.

"Except for when I'm driving on the freeway," he said.

I started daydreaming about how much I would love to be in Arizona.  And not at the Honda dealership.

The man who took my keys came in to check in with me.  He told me they ran out of the oil I needed and so had to go over to the other service center.


I finally abandoned my book altogether.  It just wasn't good.

Another employee came in.  He poured himself some coffee.  He said, "Do you want some coffee?"

I said no, thank you.

He said, "I'm buying..."

Just go get me back my van, I thought.  Please. 

A woman across from me started complaining bitterly into her cell phone about how long it was all taking.

Finally it was my turn.  My van was done, an hour and a half later. 

As I drove home--in the rain--I had one clear thought:  my children are geniuses.  If I haven't done anything else, I have raised children smart enough to avoid oil changes if at all possible.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I'm starting some 3x5 cards

When we were growing up we had some good family friends, the Knudsens.  When their son, Andrew, went on his mission, his mom said she had some 3x5 cards with things about Andrew that made her crazy so she could remind herself not to be too sad.

I think it's genius.

Braeden (completely without my permission or encouragement) is turning 17 on Saturday.  We're not a birthday party every year sort of family.  Well, more accurately, I'm not that sort of mother.  The kids wouldn't mind birthday parties every year.

Braeden had an invite-half-the-free-world birthday party last year.  There was not one slated for this year.  He wondered if he could "have some friends over"for his birthday.

I said, "You're not having a birthday party."

He said, "Oh, I know.  I just want to have some friends over." (Braeden knows that I'm almost always OK with that.)

"How many?" I asked.

"Six," he said, "Seven."

"OK," I said, "Seven. Probably. I'll think about it."

Then Monday--because he's wily--he texted me from school, "So can I invite my friends?"

I texted back "OK."

He came home from school. and told me who he'd invited.  "How many?" I asked.

He wrote a list, counted them up.  There were 14 on the list.


"No," I said, definitely.  "No."

"I already invited them."

Braeden carefully explained why he needed, in his complicated social world, to invite each individual.  Without invitations, there would be people feeling left out, there would be hurt feelings, there would be the boy that doesn't know all these other people as well but knows that one.  Then there's the one you can't invite without inviting this one.

I looked over the list and saw noisy, big, hungry.

Adam asked, "Are there girls on the list?"

"No," Braeden said, like that made it better.

"I wish there were girls," I said.

"Why?" Braeden asked, startled.

"Because they're smaller.  They eat less.  They smell better."

It's not the boys.  I like them all.  It's not the food.  Little Caesar's Pizza will do the cooking (one per boy is a winning ratio.)

It's that I feel taken for a ride, bamboozled, and blind sided by my first born who knows me well enough to expertly take me for a ride, bamboozle and blind side me. 

It's going on a card.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Every once in a while I don't have much to say

Last night after family home evening,  we were lounging around talking.  I asked my family what I should blog about today.  Adam was shocked.  "You mean you don't know what to blog about?"

Which I think was his way of saying that the day I don't have a lot to talk about it that day he doesn't recognize me.

Everyone provided unhelpful suggestions.

I was sitting on the couch with Braeden's head on my lap and I was fiddling with his curls.  (His hair could provide hours of entertainment.) I pulled one tiny curl down on his forehead and had Adam--whose phone was nearby--take a picture.  Emma was lying on the floor and started taking selfies with her phone so Adam did the same.  Mark was doodling on the dry erase board Emma had used in teaching her lesson.  He wanted me to take a picture of him.

Someone said, "Maybe you could post all these pictures on your blog."

It seemed like as good of an idea as anything else.

Here's the little boy with the little curl right in the middle of his forehead:

This is who we can blame for the children who take bizarre pictures of themselves:

Here are some shots Emma took:

Not to be outdone, Braeden texted me these, he calls them his magnum opus:

He texted his director during Christmas break to ask if he could get his haircut.  (With the musical coming up they need approval for those sorts of things.)  His director texted him back the picture with the mullet wig.  Braeden and his friends like to commandeer her phone and fill it with goofy pictures.  I guess that is a job hazard when you associate with these types...

Here is Mark's contribution.  He has to be old school with his expression because his unenlightened parents can't get on board with him needing a phone as well.

Is the stick figure dreaming of a cell phone?
 In the background you can see that I still haven't arranged my new bookshelves into anything...

In the selfie I took, I looked like a drug addict.  Braeden said I could call it #methmama.

Instead, here's a picture I found on my phone that I took to send to Geri.  It was the day I bought a new vest with the gift certificate she gave me for Coldwater Creek.

I'm saving the picture because 1) my eyes are open and that doesn't happen too often in pictures and 2) I don't look like #methmama.


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