Friday, February 28, 2014

Sunday School

Olivia is the Sunday School teacher in her ward.  I wish I could go to her class, because in addition to being a whiz with a dress up box and a formidable force in the world for good, she's also a really great teacher.

In 2011, she was at Women's Conference at BYU and heard a talk about heroines from the scriptures.  She filed the memory away in case she needed it again.  Now she is teaching a Sunday School lesson about Sarah and Isaac and Hagar and Ishmael so she remembered the talk.  (Which is impressive to me.  I just try to remember where I parked.)  She knows I collect the books that contain Women's Conference talks (especially since I can't go lately because of a little thing called Drama Has Taken Over My Life) so she asked me about it.

It's from a talk by S. Michael Wilcox and here's what he said:
The great message of Hagar’s life is that God hears all of us.  He hears because we are important to Him. He hears because we are beings of tremendous value.  He certainly hears the Sarahs and the Isaacs of the world—the story we might say is the main story, the main generational line that will be followed throughout the Bible—but he also hears the Hagars and the Ishmaels.
...On a broad scale, though religions for centuries have failed to fully comprehend this truth, becoming somewhat exclusive in their understanding, God hears the prayers of the Muslims, the Jews, the Christians—Catholic, Baptist, Mormon.  Every year millions of people go to Mecca for the Hajj.  They reenact the story of Hagar by running back and forth between two mountains looking for water.  This is such a powerful story.  God hears because we are important—all of us!
I appreciate Olivia bringing it to my attention.  She's a good little sister...

I also appreciate the message that I know is true.  God cares about us, all of us.  We are all His children.  He hears our prayers.  

I am grateful.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


This year for science, Mark and I are studying human biology.  This is all fine except for now we're learning about puberty.

Which is mostly fine but a tiny bit awkward too.

(I was using a different science curriculum when Braeden was this age.  We didn't have these conversations that are a tiny bit awkward.  So I guess to Braeden all I can say is I'm sorry and you're welcome.)

Yesterday we were reading in a book called Boy's Body Book.  It's all about boys and puberty.  (Kind of makes you queasy, right?)  It talked in the book about how a boy may feel uncomfortable talking to adults about this kind of stuff:

He might be afraid to ask a question he thinks he should already know the answer to.

He might feel like he doesn't know the best (or the most polite) word to use to describe something that is happening with his body.

He might be worried that something he is feeling isn't normal, and that people would laugh at him if they knew what was going on in his head (or his body!).
Mark started laughing and I could tell he thought he was about to be funny because he had that expression on his face.

He said, "Like if I suddenly had a third arm growing out of my chest, I can come to you?  We can talk about it?  I don't think so!  You'd shun me.  You'd throw me out of the country and burn all my clothes."

Then he laughed and laughed.

So, yes, he's crazy...but he makes me laugh and he helps dispel awkwardness.

Also, I told him he can talk to Braeden or his dad if he ever wants to talk about anything (like a third arm growing out of his chest...).

As for me, can we go back to the circulatory system, the digestive system, bones and muscles?  Please?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


There is a new phenomena in our house called Braeden and Mark.  They are six years apart and I have a feeling if they were closer in age, we wouldn't have any furniture still intact.

They've always wrestled, sort of roughly.  Even though Mark was always so much younger and littler, he is pretty stout and Braeden is fairly gentle so it has worked.

It's not working as well anymore.

They tease each other and then it escalates and then Mark hits Braeden (which is nothing new), but it hurts (which is something new) so seemingly without thinking, Braeden strikes back (which is also something new).

It reminds me of my brothers tearing into each other on the lawn until suddenly it would get serious.


Braeden and Mark--five years ago.  They weren't the same height, Mark was up a few steps.
I'm sure there's some biological reason for it all but it seems rather mysterious to me.  Mark wanted to compare himself to the piece of wood Adam's dad created with all the markings of when Adam was measured while growing up.  Mark was almost the exact same height Adam was at twelve and a half.  Then Mark measured me against the stick.  I'm the same height as Adam was when he was fourteen and a half.  That thrilled Mark and he told me I should be embarrassed.


Then there was the evening Mark decided to try to pick up Braeden.  Then Braeden tried to pick up Adam.  Then Adam hoisted Braeden over his shoulder.  "How much do you weigh?" he asked Braeden.

"About 200 pounds," Braeden said.  (Can that be true?)

"I just lifted 200 pounds over my head," Adam boasted to his admiring sons.


Then there's Mark being eleven.  Geri told me when Braeden was eleven that if I could let him live between the ages of eleven and fifteen, I could do anything.

The other night Mark was purposely annoying Braeden.  Braeden would ask him to stop and Mark would give him a sideways look and keep right on annoying him.

Because he's eleven.

Braeden got mad and I intervened before things got too intense.

I sent Mark upstairs and I explained to Braeden that Mark is eleven.  I said, "Once you were eleven and I let you live, so now you need to pay it forward."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A little trip down memory lane

Sunday night Braeden asked me for a story.  He loves a story more than anything.  He wanted to hear about before Adam and I were married.

I started telling him different anecdotes from when we were freshman at BYU.  I even pulled out a photo album and showed some pictures.  Towards the end of the album, there was a picture of Adam that he sent me from the Missionary Training Center where he learned Finnish (sort of, that's a tough language) before heading to Finland.

When Emma saw the picture, she went and got her phone and showed me a selfie she took:

So apparently there is a genetic predisposition that leads to that expression in photographs.

Since I was scanning the picture of Adam anyway, I pulled a few other favorites out of the album.

I love this picture because Marianne and I were both so happy and excited (and fresh faced!):

We are in her apartment (before a dance, hence the dresses) and she is on the phone with our parents and opening her mission call.  We were both so excited our eyes were closed (also eyes closed in photos is my default setting).  Still the picture made me happy.

I love this picture because when I was in college, every time Olivia came to visit she would bring dress up clothes.  Who does that?  Olivia.  These are some of my mom's dresses from the 60s.

Pictured are my roommate Erin, Olivia, me (a skinnier version of me), and our resident assistant Melissa who tried valiantly to make Erin and me behave.  (We did scandalous things like hang a hammock up in our dorm room...)

I love the next picture because it proves that Enoch has always been pretty...tall.  There's Enoch with his friend and classmate, Jesse.  (Guess which was the point guard and which played under the basket?) Also, these boys went on to win the state basketball tournament when they were older. 

What a cute brother though, huh?  He looks like his son Isaiah in this picture.

Speaking of cute brothers, in the history of the world, have you ever seen anything this cute?

Tabor and Ammon.  Now they have wives and children and careers and facial hair.  A part of me will always remember them this way though.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A story about a little girl

Once upon a time there was a little girl with eyes that looked like junior mints.

She smiled and laughed and her parents and older brother loved and adored her.

The little girl had a streak so stubborn and independent her mother gave up long ago trying to bend it.  Perhaps it was about the time the girl was a one year old and would take off her shoes and put them on the wrong foot no matter how many times her mother switched them back.

The little girl grew older but no less independent.  Her mother took her to a Young Women activity one day where they were making aprons in preparation for the pioneer trek they were taking in the summer.

In the beginning stages, because the girl had never really sewn much before, the mother said, "Do you need help?"

The girl said, "No."

The mother was helping the girl iron a fold prior to sewing.  The mother took the iron and the girl said, "I will do it."  The mother quickly handed back the iron because she recognized that tone of voice.

The girl was pinning fabric.  The mother asked if she needed help.


She used one of her YW leader's sewing machines because her mother's sewing machine was uncooperative.  The mother knew it had something to do with the tension but after that her knowledge of such things ground to a halt.

Later, after the girl had been at another table, pinning and measuring, she returned to where the mother was chatting with her friends.  "How are you doing?" the mother asked.

"I'm fine," the girl said, "Why do you keep asking me how I'm doing?"

"I meant with the apron," the mother said.

"Oh.  It's fine."

The mother chatted some more with her friends.  Her voice was more or less recovered so it was nice to be sort of social again.  The girl toiled away on the apron.

She goofed a little.  "Do you want me to help?" asked the mother.

"No," said the girl, "I've got it."  The girl picked out the errant stitches and resewed and sewed some more.

One of the mother's friends said, "You're such a good mother."

The mother was a little surprised.  Where was that coming from?

"You're letting her do it herself," the friend explained.

The mother appreciated the positive spin on her parenting but if the truth be told, the mother had zero choice in the matter.

Friday, February 21, 2014

In all my spare time

So I've been sick.  (Oh, did I tell you?  I'm usually not one to complain...)

I have been doing the bare minimum which for me means school, laundry and the basics of the dishes.  Everything else is just gravy.  As long as I have those things covered, I figure we'll survive.  (That and Adam has been bringing home dinner every night.)

I told Braeden--well I wrote it--that he should be an awesome husband like his dad someday.

I haven't been talking to my kids.  I really wish they all knew sign language.  I learned a little in college and I keep wanting to sign to them--I'm remembering things I forgot I knew--but they don't know sign language.

Between the three of them, they're pretty good at understanding my charades though.  Also, I had Mark sit next to me and read aloud what I wrote.  Emma said he was the figurehead.

Normally I must spend a lot of time talking to them because in all my free time I've taken up watercolor painting.

I've painted Mark doing math by the fire:

the living room:

and a bouquet of flowers:

OK, that was a lie.  I got a new app called Waterlogue.  I take pictures with my phone and then the app turns them into watercolor looking pictures.

I'm bored.

I want to clean my bathrooms and vacuum and take a walk with my friends and talk (and even sing) and laugh and eat a plate of nachos.

Instead I'm trying to rest and get better and not talk and eat soft and pliable foods.

(That and lie on my blog about skills I don't have.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We never talk anymore...

At first it hurt too much to talk so I quit.  I texted Adam.  He was sitting next to me and I peppered him with text messages.  I asked him about his day and then gave opinions on the Olympics we were watching and asked him a million questions because he inherently gets the Olympic events more than I do.

He sent me to bed early and I didn't talk.

I woke up the next morning and didn't talk.

I wrote Mark and Adam a note explaining that I was not going to talk in hopes that my throat would improve.

I wrote a note asking Adam to call the school because Emma was home sick too.

Braeden texted asking if he could come home for lunch. I texted back yes.  He brought Taco Bell for Mark and one of those slushy drinks for me.

It was the first thing I'd ingested in more than 24 hours that didn't cause excruciating pain.  I decided no talking was working.  I typed messages to Braeden and then he went back to school.  (Also he loaded the dishwasher.  I didn't have to guilt him, just point.)

Mark and I had a remarkably productive school day.  He read aloud everything that needed reading and he got his school work done.  Emma finally woke up and looked terrible.  I was glad I didn't feel as bad as she looked.  I wrote her a note.  I pantomimed that she needed to drink water.  I inundated her with written questions about her health.  She asked if she could go watch Netflix.  (I think to get away from my manic note writing.)

Both Mark and Emma became adept at communicating with me.  I'd snap my fingers and Mark would come in the room where I was to get instructions. (Turns out I can snap pretty loudly.)  I even managed to give Mark a piano lesson.  Lots of hand motions.

Last night Adam and I watched the Olympics, side by side.  I had my laptop open and typed him messages.  I'd tap his arm and point to the screen.  I think I'm a lot of fun.  

So what's the point of all of this?  There's isn't a point.  I'm sick.  I don't have to have a point. 

I'm still maintaining my vow of silence today.  I talked to Adam on the phone really briefly yesterday, in a whisper, and it hurt a lot.  I may give up talking altogether. It worked for the little mermaid.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Being sick and causing guilt and sisters

I woke up yesterday with the worst sore throat known to man.  I couldn't eat or drink or swallow without wincing in pain.  Waaaaaaaaaah.

When I wimped out on our morning walk, my friends offered whatever they could to help.  Stephanie called with an offer of soup for lunch but I'd already choked something down.  (Hard to eat with all that wincing.)

I decided to go to the doctor.  I don't like going to the doctor unless I'm pretty sure they will give me antibiotics to make me all better.  (Adam thinks this is kind of crazy.  Whenever he tells me I should go to the doctor, I say, "What can they do?"  He says, "I don't know.  I'm not a doctor.  They are.") 

But I thought it was probable that I had strep throat and I could be fixed.  Sign me up.  I drove myself to the doctor and before I left, I told Mark that if he wanted to, he could load the dishwasher. 

In other words, load the dishwasher.

The doctor was very kind and sympathetic and the strep test was negative and he recommended Halls lozenges which advice may or may not have been worth my copay. (It wasn't.)

So I was a little cranky when I came home and the dishwasher had not been loaded.  Mark said, "You said I could load it.  I thought it was optional."

Then he threw his arms around me and told me he was so very sorry I was sick.  I told him (still cranky) that if he'd loaded the dishwasher, I would believe the sincerity of his concern...

So he practiced the piano...and then loaded the dishwasher.

Sometimes a mother just needs to employ some guilt.

Later I was on the phone with Marianne.  She was telling me about all the funny valentines her children made for her. (If you want to think your children love you, don't talk to Marianne.)  I told her my children had given me exactly zero valentines.  This time I wasn't even trying to create any guilty feelings, I didn't realize Mark was listening to my conversation.

I was still on the phone and he handed me this:

Nothing like guilt induced love notes.  Valentines under duress.

I did enjoy my conversation with Marianne though (besides the fact that her children need to cool it in the valentine department because enough already.)  The day before I'd talked to Olivia.  My sisters are good ones.  They both get all the crazy that I hardly need to explain because they understand.  We tell each other our deepest fears and desires and frustrations and then we put each other back together again.

I owe my parents a lot but I think Marianne and Olivia are right up there on the list of The Best Things They Gave Me.

(Also Marianne gave me a better cure for my throat: tea tree oil and it helped.  It cures everything apparently.  The tea tree oil people should give Marianne a cut of their proceeds.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
Mae West

We had a four day weekend which was wonderful.

We had our Valentine 7 course meal which was wonderful.

We had two birthday cakes.  Do I even need to say it?  Wonderful.

It was decadent but I promise I'll eat broccoli the rest of the week (maybe).

First. the birthday girl with her birthday cakes:

Sunday we celebrated with Grandma Geri.  I made spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese, I made homemade sour dough bread which I'm sort of learning to make but I'm not there yet.  I also made her a cherry cake.

Monday some of her friends came over and I made a chocolate cake with strawberry cream filling.  Any day you make a chocolate cake when you have half a cake sitting on the counter, it's a pretty good day.

They ate pizza and giggled about boys.  They watched a Harry Potter movie which they all knew backward and forward.  They spoke to each other in sign language, French, German and Cambodian.  None of them understood each other but that didn't seem to matter.  (It was maybe one of the nerdiest things I've ever witnessed and that's saying something!) They are all magnificently musical and they sang Happy Birthday to Emma in amazing harmony.

I like these girls.

We had our fancy pants seven course meal on Valentine's Day.  I promised my mom pictures:

bouquet of flowers furnished by my Valentine who knows my love language
Emphasis on chocolate covered cherries because well, obviously...
The only thing we'd change is that the big kids need more food.  All those courses seemed ample but Braeden could have gone for about 5 times that much steak.  

I was just happy with the caprese salad skewers and the cheese and chocolate covered cherries.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Fifteen things I love about my birthday girl:

1) I can't make her do anything--except last week I did make her take a walk with me because I wouldn't log on the computer until after she did.  Over the years this trait of Emma's has made me a little crazy at times but ultimately I'm happy that she is her own person (whether I like it or not).

2) I love hearing Emma make music.  Whether she is playing the piano, singing, or playing the guitar, her music delights me.

3) Her courage astounds me.  She'll do something that seems completely out of character, she'll sing a solo at a concert or the Star Spangled Banner at a football game, she'll join a group of strangers if they are involved in an activity she wants to participate in...all this from a girl that isn't completely comfortable ordering in a restaurant.

4) Most nights she gets up from the dinner table while the rest of us are still chatting and she'll start doing the dishes.  No one asks her to do it, she just does.  Also, she's super strong.

5) She is a talented artist and writer.  She is also able to understand when I forget a word for a person, place or thing.  I say, "Will you go get whatsit?" or "You'll have to ask whatsit..." and she almost always knows what I mean.

6) We are both introverts and love nothing better than being home together...separately.

7) Emma is very funny.  Her specialty is clever plays on words.  She is also good at laughing at herself.

8) She is a generous and loyal and non-competitive friend.

9) Her heart is tender and her eyes leak when she is touched by something.

10) Grammar matters to her.

11) Her handwriting reminds me of my sister Olivia's.

12) She is a conscientious and hard-working student.

13) Her morality barometer is very keen and she isn't afraid to stand up for truth.

14) She is not materialistic.

15) Recently she has started making her bed.  Usually not until after school, but this is progress, people. (see number 1)

 Happy birthday Emma Jayne!  I'm glad you're my girl.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A valentine to Adam

A few nights ago, Braeden was regaling us with arguments in favor of his latest scheme (a friend has invited him along on a family trip to Hawaii this summer).  I've told him that the jury is definitely still out.  He keeps scheming and bringing it up and haranguing us in a way that only Braeden can harangue.

He said, getting up from the table, "I'm not going to bother you about it.  I'm not going to pester you."

Adam and I looked at each other and laughed.  We laughed and laughed.  Without saying a word, we both knew why.  It was funny to us that 1) Braeden didn't think he had already been bothering us and 2) he really expected us to believe he wasn't going to in the future.

Later we were watching the Olympics and NBC had effectively manipulated our heartstrings into pulling for a certain Swiss skier.  Then she won gold and called her grandparents on her cell phone to tell them she won.  Adam and I both looked at each other with tears in our eyes.  The Olympics gets us every time.

That's one of the great things about a long marriage.  You laugh and cry at the same predictable intervals and no explanation is needed.

I also love that Adam orders food he knows I'll want to eat off his plate, he plans ahead for my tiredness or hunger on road trips, and he usually knows what I want before I do.  In the history of Adam I don't think there's been a time when he couldn't make me feel better.  He's had enough on the job training of handling a stressed out wife that I think he could be a successful 9-1-1 operator.  He stays calm.  And he gets me.

Except when he doesn't and I love that too.

I love the ways that we surprise each other and show each other parts of the world that we wouldn't have otherwise known about.

I know more about sports and politics and critical thinking than I would otherwise because of Adam and I like to give myself credit for introducing Adam to Jane Austen.

The longer we're married the more I feel like we're a team.  We each have our strengths and weaknesses.  We need each other.  Life with him is pretty grand.

I love you, Adam.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A valentine to my children

Last weekend Braeden and Emma and I watched some family movies from when they were babies.  It always makes me happy.  It makes them happy too.  I look over at them and they have huge smiles on their faces.

After, Braeden asked me if there were things about them now that I never would have guessed back then.

I thought about it and oddly, there aren't.  The only one I could come up with is that I had no idea I would enjoy them as teenagers as much as I do.  I think I believed the stereotype that teenagers are rotten and to be endured when in reality, I really like teenagers.

In their essence though, my children are the same as their cherubic toddler counterparts.

There are videos of Braeden being Braeden.  He doesn't just sing (everything from Broadway show tunes to songs he learned on Barney) but he also dances and gestures elaborately.  His face is expressive and he makes jokes.  Also, I loved the way it was clear that he adored his dad.  He still does.

Braeden was the ringleader of the action in the videos.  Even when the camera was focused elsewhere, you could hear him singing or chatting.

I also loved seeing the way he interacted with his sister.

About a week ago during choir--which he and Emma have together--Braeden texted me, "I wish you could hear Emma right now."  He thought she was singing beautifully.  Also, last night he told me of his genius move of having his sister proofread his paper.  He thinks she's wonderful.

I think he is wonderful.

I love you, Braeden.

Emma was quieter in the family movies.  She had a smile that, like now, could melt ice.  When Adam, who usually was doing the camera work, would ask her a question, she listened carefully.  Before she had any words, Adam would talk to her and it was plain to see she knew exactly what he was talking about.  She'd watch Braeden from a bemused distance.  Sometimes she'd join in his game and other times she'd do her own thing.  Like now, she was her own little person.

When Emma was small she named everything.  Her all time favorite stuffed cat was immediately named Sally.  She also had Inca and Chinta who were beloved.

Last night I was downstairs, writing on my laptop and she was upstairs in the school room, writing on a desktop computer.  I kept texting her to give me names for my characters. 

I could have walked upstairs and been in the same room as her but as I've said before, texting Emma is a highlight of my life.  Her gift with words extends into her text messages.

The older Emma gets, the more I like her (and I started from a place of liking her a whole lot).

I love you, Emma.

Mark wasn't in the videos we were watching but the same holds true for him.

When he was a baby, he was hot or cold.  Happy or...not.  He still is that way.  There is never anyone as miserable as Mark when he is miserable and when Mark is enthusiastic about something, it's best to just get out of his way.

He was a tenacious baby who moved at full speed and experimented.  He'd put a dishtowel over his head and crawl at full speed until he had terrific crashes.  He spun in circles in the dark until he banged into his bed (he lost a tooth over that one).  Now his experiments are thankfully safer for him but maybe not for our electronics...

When Mark was cranky as a toddler, the best thing to do was get on the floor and wrestle with him for awhile.  He still loves to be physical whether he is tearing through the house with a nerf gun or snuggling.  When Mark was a baby, I was homeschooling his older siblings and he'd do things like fill the toilet with Lego bricks.  He still likes to work magic with Legos--and he is still not a huge fan of school.

I am looking forward to Mark as a teenager.  (And bracing myself just a little bit.)

I love you, Mark.

Do I love my first born, my only daughter, or my ginger baby best?


Wednesday, February 12, 2014


They cause a lot of wha???

They can cause embarrassment and hurt feelings or waste time and energy.

Sometimes misunderstandings just delight me though.

Mark and I are reading a book for school called What Ever Happened to Penny Candy?  It is about economics.  Mark, being Mark, loves the book.  He is fascinated with economics.  I am not fascinated with economics but I have learned from the book.

I was telling Geri about a part of the book and Emma said, "Oh!  I thought Penny Candy was a person!"

She had seen the book lying around.  She thought we were reading a mystery...

An organization that benefits blind people called and asked if I had any donations.  Since I'm on the getting-rid-of-things rampage, why yes, I did have things to donate.  I was having Mark help me move stuff to the front porch for pick up.  I was supposed to put a sign on it that read 'Blind' so they would know it was for them.

One of the items I was donating was a mirror.  Mark was amiably hauling things for me but the mirror gave him pause.  "Mom?" he said, in his best diplomatic-I-don't-mean-to-offend voice, "I'm not sure you should donate the mirror.  Why does a blind person need a mirror?"

I explained that the items would be sold and the money would go to benefit blind people.  Ohhhhhh.

One of my favorite misunderstandings happened awhile ago but it still makes me happy.  Emma asked one of her friends at school (who is also a Mormon) if he'd watched General Conference (it's a televised church meeting twice a year that we love--it means church in pajamas and listening to our prophet).  Anyway. This boy said, "No," in a way to indicate Emma was off her rocker.

Then he said, "Wait, what did you say?"

Emma repeated her question.

He said, "Ohhhh, I thought you asked me if I went to a dental conference."

I've never met that boy but I think I love him.  

My noble little sister told me about a misunderstanding of her own the other day.  It is more serious than these others--it cost her money--but it also delighted me just a tiny bit.  It's because Olivia, all the way down to her core, is a good good person.  She was trying to do something really nice for someone she hardly knew and it ended up costing her way more money than she thought.  Not fun but I love that girl.  She has a heart of gold.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Of late

We were driving home one night and Silver Lake was full of floating lanterns:

Every once in awhile, for no explained reason, the world is just a little bit magical.

Also, I have officially Thelma-proofed by computer.  

Braeden and some of his friends skipped school last week to go to the Seahawks parade in Seattle.   Emma wanted to go too but I didn't think that could be true.  She admitted she didn't really want to go to Seattle, she just didn't want to go to school.

I insisted she stay home with me then.

Let the other kids catch up.  (This is what happens when your mom is a recovering home schooler.)  I am happiest when my kids are home.

Or at Alfy's for lunch with me.

Just look at those virtuous plates of salad.  Despite the occasional truancy, I'm not a 100% terrible mother.

Mark and I went on a date while the rest of our people went on a youth temple trip.  Mark is a good date.  He is funny and pleasant and...organized.  He mapped out the agenda.  (Also he didn't mind when I got lost temporarily.  In Snohomish.  I don't want to talk about it except I'm really not the type of person that should go a different way that I think may be faster...) Essentially we just ran errands which is pretty much normal life but some of the errands were for sheer pleasure so that elevates it all to date status I think.

Mark was patient enough to accompany me to a few of my favorite stores in Snohomish.

We found some statements we could get behind:

We walked through the antique mall that is sort of a glorified garage sale.  It is always fun to look.  I found this cookie jar:

It reminded me of one my parents have/used to have?  (Do you still have it?)  My parents' is cuter and it sometimes had wheat in it (my dad--he likes wheat) or peanuts.  I don't remember cookies being in it that often.  I don't think cookies last long enough to make it to a cookie jar.  (My mom makes good cookies.)

We were going to have dinner at one of our favorite hamburger places, The Blazing Onion, but the line was huge.  I promised Mark we'd go another day, at lunch time.

Because really, Mark and I sort of have a date every day.

We went to the Arby's drive thru instead.  He gave me one of his curly fries.  (Usually one fry is plenty for me...unless it's sweet potato fries.  I love those guys.)

I guess this is all just to say:

“Sometimes, the simple things are more fun and meaningful than all the banquets in the world ...”
E.A. Bucchianeri

Monday, February 10, 2014

I have more issues than Vogue*

On Friday night we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  I love the Olympics and the opening ceremonies is one of my favorite parts.  I started to get uncomfortable though.  In the cultural presentation portion, when they were celebrating Russia's history, I started feeling uneasy during the part about the Soviets.    Our kids thought my reaction was odd so I told them about Mrs. Callahan.

Mrs. Callahan was my fifth grade teacher.  She reminds me of a character from a Roald Dahl book.  She was mean and tyrannical and gave a lot of homework (way more than I had in high school).  It seems like maybe she could be the type of strict teacher that once you got through her crusty exterior she had a heart of gold and loved children and teaching, but I never felt that way.  I was afraid of her.  And also I didn't like all the homework.

She smoked like a train and was overweight and really unhealthy.  She had a blood clot in her leg and missed a good portion of the school year when I was in 5th grade.  I felt like it was the best thing that could have happened to me.  Mrs. Dalton was our substitute.  Mrs. Dalton was benevolent and kind.  She read us novels (Mrs. Callahan actually got mad when she found out) and she didn't give us all the homework Mrs. Callahan wanted us to have.  The principal would come into the room and solemnly tell us how Mrs. Callahan was doing and that she'd still be gone for awhile and I tried to feign concern but I felt like I'd been given a stay of execution.  Mrs. Callahan's illness made me happy.

My clearest memory of 5th grade is the day Mrs. Callahan decided to tell us about the Cold War.  I don't know why she felt compelled to do so.  I don't know if it was somehow related to our curriculum?  I remember her sitting at her podium and telling us about the Russians.  They were coming for us.  They had nuclear weapons and we had nuclear weapons and they were pointed at each other.  She told us that the president had a button in his office and that he could push it at any time and essentially, the world would end.

She also told us that Seattle was a big city and that Russia would certainly target Seattle.  She told us we got our weather from Seattle so we would get the nuclear fallout.

(Now that I live in Seattle, it is plain to see not all the weather here makes it to the desert of northeastern Nevada...)

I started having nightmares about Russians landing at our school.  They'd chase us down and torture us with ice picks.  (Mrs. Callahan didn't supply the ice picks, my imagination did.)

I remember practicing the piano one afternoon and crying from the sheer terror of it all.

I eventually made it out of 5th grade.  The Cold War ended and we've reached a somewhat strained peace with Russia.  The world's not going to end with Russians landing in the playground and chasing me.  Friday night I had scary dreams though, they were vague but the Bad Guys in the dreams all had Russian accents.

Intellectually, I'm not afraid of Russians anymore but there may be a scared 5th grader in me that is still a little terrorized.

Thank you Mrs. Callahan.

*I can't take credit for this title.  I saw it on pinterest and it tickled my fancy.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Books I read in January 2014

Wildflower by Mark Seal***

Wildflower is a biography about Joan Root.  She was of English descent and was born and raised in Kenya.  She was a wonderfully capable woman and lived a full life as a safari leader and filmmaker and naturalist.  Towards the end of her life she worked hard to preserve a lake she loved and to protect the habitat from poachers and pollution.  It ended up getting her brutally murdered which was very sad.  This book was fascinating and made me mad at the same time.  Her husband was a cad and didn't deserve her undying love but he had it.

Eric Liddell by Janet and Geoff Benge***

I don't record all the books Mark and I read together but I liked this one.  It was an interesting story about an impressive and good man.  All I knew about Eric Liddell before I read this was that he was the Chariots of Fire guy.  There's good history in the book too...stuff I didn't know about China's history.  (I could write volumes about what I don't know about China's history.)

House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert DeJong ****

I read this book to Mark too.  I LOVED it.  It was a very sweet story about a little boy--and his pig--who were separated from his family and his resourcefulness and the kindness of strangers.  It made me cry.

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel **

I liked and didn't like The Life of Pi (also by Yann Martel) It was well written and fascinating and I love a good twist but it was also violent and I don't like that.

I was hesitant to read this book for that reason.  I know Braeden LOVED The Life of Pi and I thought maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance so I should give this book a chance.

It was well written and interesting.  And violent.  I don't think I'd recommend it for that reason.  Too much.  Just seeing the cover makes me uneasy now (I spook easily).

The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel ****

I loved this book.  It was such a pleasant relief after Beatrice and Virgil.  I'm 90% sure I'd read the book before but I didn't remember it enough that it detracted from the story.  I don't remember books I've read which is why I've started recording them here.  I'd blame it on my encroaching dotage but I've been that way my whole life.

It's a sweet love story set during World War II.  There's more to it than that of course...I don't have the attention span for proper summaries of books...

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella ****

Sophie Kinsella is incredibly entertaining.  I have enjoyed every book I've read by her.  I love her hapless characters and her wit.  This is a perfect romantic comedy.  You should be warned that there's language in this book that made me cringe and wince but the book was so good, I overlooked it.  Maybe I shouldn't be admitting that?


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