Friday, May 30, 2014

Books I read in May 2014

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella ***

I always enjoy a little Sophie Kinsella for a lighthearted read.  Her characters are so flawed that you almost don't like them but then they are so likable you don't mind their flaws too much.  Reading Sophie Kinsella is like eating cotton candy.  You can't live on it or eat it that often but every once in a while a little dose is good.

Return to Tradd Street by Karen White ***

More lighthearted fluff.  This is the fourth in a series.  They are ghost stories set in Charleston, South Carolina.  I maybe didn't like this one as much as some of the previous in the series but it was still good.

Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy ****

I read this book to Mark for school.  It is one of my very favorites I've read to him.  It was about a young girl who went to win her fortune, disguised as a man.  It was romantic and there were parts I skimmed over when reading aloud to Mark but not because it was too inappropriate.  He's just an 11 year old boy...

Someday Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham ***

I love Lauren Graham as an actress and I like her as an author too.  This book is set in New York City in 1995 and is about a young woman trying to become a professional actress.  It was well written with great characters.  The language is a little dicey at times but overall I liked the book.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I can't help myself



a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse.

I know, I know.  I am a broken record of I-can't-believe-how-fast-time-flies.  Here's the thing though.  I have three graduation announcements on my fridge that take my breath away.

I met one of those kids hours after she was born and I was there a few years later to see her prancing around with a mop of blonde curls on her head.  I watched her grow up from a cherubic little girl with an infectious smile and more sweetness than should be allowable by law to a beautiful young woman with an infectious smile and more sweetness than should be allowable by law.  Also, that girl can sing.

How is she old enough to be graduating from high school?

I met the other two graduates when they were toddlers in New Haven, Connecticut.  I was friends with their moms and we took our babies to parks and on stroller walks and to each others' houses.   We were part of a date night group where one of us would watch all the kids so the other couples could go somewhere inexpensive because we were all living the high life, married to graduate students.  Those two toddlers were some of Braeden's first friends.  They made up games together and took turns going down slides at the park and ate cupcakes at their birthday parties.

How are they old enough to be graduating from high school?

Adam surveyed the fridge recently and said, "They all look exactly the same as they used to."

And it's true, they do.  But they're also different.  They have this light and promise shining in their eyes.  They were all pretty great toddlers and they're going to be pretty great adults.

I can't help being such a cliché.  Where did the time go?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Crisis averted

When something happens at the school I get texts from both kids, an email from the school and a phone call from the school.  Usually all at the same time.

They were temporarily placed in a lockdown yesterday because "a community member called to report a suspicious person."  The person was a student and "the student was dressed for medieval afterschool activity and was not in possession of a weapon."

It all seems a little silly but I know, like the school officials know, that things happen and it wouldn't be at all silly if it were real.  (I fall heavily in the camp of wanting them to overreact.)

Braeden did check in with Emma via text during the lockdown but then he enjoyed the experience to its fullest extent.  He and his friend Griffin got under their drama teacher's desk and I can only imagine.  He told me they were laughing so hard they were crying.  I'm sure they were very...dramatic.  

For Braeden and his friends, the world is a safe place.  Real tragedies in their lives are few and far between.  The nearest thing to physical danger in Braeden's life is his own driving.  He is pretty much out of harm's way.

Every day I pray it will stay that way.

(There were a lot of rhyming words in that last sentence.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Northwest flavor

We spent the first half of Monday at a funeral.  It was sad but also nice like good funerals are.  There was a woman involved in the service (I'm not sure in what capacity because it was my first Catholic funeral) who had on a floor length white robe.  She had jeans on underneath and Birkenstocks.  Also she was wearing socks.  (Which according to the Pemco insurance ads is Northwest Profile #56, Sandals and Socks Guy.)

Later in the afternoon, Braeden and his friend Jadon and I were sitting around chatting in our living room.  They were talking about the lip dub which was at their school last week.  Jadon (who has strong opinions on everything, which is part of his charm) thought they weren't organized very well.  Braeden (who also has strong opinions and loves to argue, particularly with Jadon) disagreed.  Braeden contended they were all in their various clubs and organizations; Jadon conceded the point but insisted that the clubs weren't in a logical order.  For example the drama club was across the hall from the recycling club.

Wait, what?  The recycling club?

Yes.  They have one.  Both boys agreed that its creation was probably just about padding someone's scholarship applications because everyone already recycles.  "It's the Pacific Northwest!"

In the early evening our family took a walk along the Snohomish River.  It was beautiful.  We saw a couple walking a dog.  The dog was wearing a tutu.  (That part was less beautiful and more like, "Was that dog wearing a tutu?")

Braeden drove his own car to the river because he was then going to hang out with his friends.  I wonder if we'll even miss him when he flies the coop.  It will be pretty much like how it is now.  Except I won't have to do his laundry.  Or buy as much milk.

The rest of us went to Ivar's for fish tacos and to create drink sensations with the freestyle soda machine.  When we were clearing away our table, there were several slots for garbage, compost, and recycling.  Mark looked it all over with vigilance before he threw anything away.  You can't be too careful.

We still had sunshine so we headed to the beach next.

There was all kinds of gorgeous light so we started snapping pictures of each other.

Mark and his very rich inner life.

Mukilteo Beach:  very photogenic

Emma and I saw a seal frolicking in the water.  I tried to convince her it was an orca whale but she wouldn't go for it.

Emma is no fun sometimes.

Mark took off his shoes and dangled his feet off the dock.

I took his picture and then noticed that a guy next to me who had been taking pictures of the ferry snapped a few pictures of Mark too.  I told Mark later and he said, "He was taking pictures of his family and then said--oooooooohhhhh a ginger!"

Adam said our kids are weird because of me.

Here's a parting shot of Braeden, from last Friday, to show that even though he abandons us on a regular basis in favor of his friends, we still love him.

If was taken at Alfy's where we went to lunch.  It's possible our kids played hooky took a mental health day on Friday.

Adam said that's also my fault.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Last week a story I wrote was featured on our writing website.

Click on over if you'd like to read it.  It is a re-imagined Rapunzel, written at the Snohomish public library, surrounded by interesting people.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Recently, Mark and Braeden were supposed to be going to sleep (when has that ever deterred them?) but they were watching Studio C on their phones.

(You're probably thinking all sorts of red flags about them having their phones in their rooms when they're supposed to be asleep and you're right but Studio C is really about the only content they can get on their phones which Adam has essentially crippled.)

Braeden was laughing about what he saw and he called Mark over.  (Braeden had been watching using ear buds.)  He unplugged the ear buds so Mark could hear too.  There was no sound.  Braeden was just kind of scratching his head at it all and Mark--who is more tech savvy--realized the sound was going to be piped into Kantele, which is our wireless speaker.  (What?  You don't name your wireless speakers?)  They quickly shut everything off and dove under the covers with their phones buried under their pillows.

Meanwhile, Adam and I were downstairs, near Kantele.  It didn't take us long to figure out what was what.  Adam went into their room where both boys were innocently "asleep."  "OK," Adam said, "hand them over."

Braeden said later that he was just going to keep pretending he was asleep and let Mark take the fall but then Mark said, "OK, here," and handed over his phone, so Braeden did too.

Adam came back downstairs with the phones. (The phones are supposed to stay downstairs at bedtime anyway.  We have some issues.)

Later, Braeden and Mark were talking about it and Braeden said, "Mark, I think we bonded over that.  Shared idiocy really brings people together."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands

Mark had scouts and the rest of us had nothing scheduled.  Isn't nothing scheduled the best thing EVER?  We decided after we dropped Mark off, we'd take a walk on our favorite street, Grand Avenue in Everett.  (Braeden felt severely misled when we stopped off first for an errand at Lowe's.  I said, "Hey, we're still walking...")

It was a beautiful evening and Grand Avenue never disappoints.

When we picked up Mark we were all munching on a bag of crisp snap peas, the weird fried cracker type.  I don't really like them but they are sort of addicting at the same time.

Adam offered Mark some and a few minutes later Mark handed up the empty bag.  I must have looked somewhat alarmed and by way of explanation, Mark recited a maxim of scouting, "Leave no trace."

I'm just not sure it's supposed to be applied to food.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My grandma

My grandparents, young and in love.
My grandma is 87 years old today.  I love my grandma!  I talked to her a few days ago and I had been outside planting flowers.  We talked about that for awhile and my grandma lamented that she couldn't do much work in her yard anymore although she wanted to.  She said, "Don't die young, but don't get old either."

I said, "OK," and she laughed because she knew she was asking the impossible.

my grandma at 17
The last time I visited my grandma she told me to remember her how she used to be instead of how she is now.

I remember her as my grandma that picked herself up after young widowhood knocked her flat.  She moved to a different state and had a beautiful house built and also built a fulfilling and full life for herself.

I remember her as the grandma that took me to Leatherby's for ice cream and to movies and roller skating and to Disneyland.

I remember her as the grandma who I tried to keep up with when the gates at Disneyland opened.  She grabbed my hand on one side and Marianne's on the other side and ran toward Star Tours.  She was fast.

I remember her as the most fun person to shop with. Ever. (Also, I struggled to keep up with her shopping.)

I remember her visiting us and bringing treats and games and all of her time.  She got up with us at 4:00 a.m. on Christmas morning and played a game with us while my parents slept.  (It was one of the gifts she was planning to give us for Christmas.)

I remember her as the hardest working and most generous person I know.  I remember her as being a stylish and classy lady with an eye for beauty.

I remember her as being by my side the first time I went to the temple.  I remember her support and love at every low and high of my life.

And I also want to remember her as she is now.  Even though she is not able to do a lot of things she would like to do, she is still my grandma.  She still loves me and I still love her and I want to be like her although I'm neither as beautiful, athletic or capable.

She told me the flowers she was wanting to have the family plant in her yard on Memorial Day.  She wants white and red petunias and blue lobelia.  They are the exact same flowers and colors as the flowers in my yard.

It's a start to becoming like her and I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A clean room is overrated

Someday I will walk into my boys' room and I won't have to step over something like this:

It is treacherous.  I wish I had a nickel for every Lego I've stepped on in my life.

I will miss it though when it's gone.  I will miss marveling at the ingenuity of the creations and the innovative use of blue blankets and shirts to represent water.

I also wonder if Mark's wife will someday make the request I make.  Will you at least make a path from the door to the bed?

Monday, May 19, 2014

The birds say good morning

It was a tough weekend, punctuated by a tragic loss for an extended family member.  It's been kind of a tough few weeks for our little family too. 

Without really planning to (but we're soul mates like that so we work in harmony), Adam and I have the insomnia covered.  He has a hard time sleeping for the first part of the night then he passes the baton and I punch my time card and don't sleep in the earliest part of the morning.  (That ceiling isn't going to watch itself!)

I've noticed at about 4:00 a.m., before it's even light, the birds start a vibrant chorus.  They chirp like they're ecstatically happy.

Since the last thing I am that time of day is rational, I started wondering what they could be so thrilled about.  I realized maybe it's just a new day. 

Nothing might be fixed today or even tomorrow, but if the birds are that excited to start a new day, I'll put a smile on too.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Choir girls and boys

Braeden didn't exactly want to be in choir in the first place but Emma convinced him because then they'd have a class together.  (They spent a lot of time in the same classroom when they were homeschooled and they miss each other.)

Emma loves choir and Braeden doesn't.

They spend the bulk of their time in sectionals.  Emma is an alto and she loves her alto section leaders. They brought treats for all the altos' birthdays and Emma made brownies for them when it was either of their birthdays.  She's told me many times how "amazing" they are and she loves them.

Braeden doesn't like his sectionals.  The boys are pretty much rude and crude when they're on their own.  It kind of tortures Braeden.

(When one of the boys from choir was on a team playing lacrosse opposite Braeden's cousin Kain, Braeden took quiet delight every time his classmate, who was goalie, was scored on.  He said, "I'm not going to mention that I saw this in class tomorrow but that guy is such a jerk."  The classmate threw a small fit every time Kain's team scored.  He'd scream at his teammates and smack his lacrosse stick against the goal post and act generally...classy.)

Last night was the end of year concert.  They sounded pretty good.  I don't think I've ever heard the choir sound so good.  At one point they announced they had sectional gifts.  The soprano girls went off stage and came back with two bouquets of red roses and two baskets full of chocolate. They presented each of the soprano section leaders with roses and chocolate.  They all hugged.

The alto girls had gone early and made gifts for their leaders.  They'd made these posters they had all signed and they had a t-shirt they'd customized for each section leader.  They all hugged.  (And all the altos were wiping tears because one of the section leaders, a senior, had sung a farewell song.)

Such a lovefest.

Then one of the boys, the frustrated goalie in fact, grabbed the microphone.  He said, "Uh...we would like to give our section leader...our undying love."  Their section leader was sitting at the piano because he was going to accompany their next song.  The boys walked over and all put their arms around him in a big group hug.

It's possible boys and girls are different.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three children, three methods

Sometimes it feels like parenting is either a manipulate or be manipulated endeavor.  I feel like I'm never on top of my game enough to get the better of these three clever/stubborn/independent offspring.  Sometimes, every once in a while, I am triumphant though.

It's the small victories, people.  Very small.

Yesterday I had a texting battle with Braeden.  He wanted to skip school--for about the 35th time this year.  (Why he texted for permission is sort of beyond me and endearing all at the same time.)  I told him to go ask the attendance secretary.  I knew that wouldn't work.  She is slightly scary and has lectured me many times because I don't always comply properly to her attendance parameters.  He texted me back that she wouldn't go for it.  (Sorry, Braeden.  It just amused me to think of you asking her.)

Last Friday he had dropped out of sight and hung out in one of his teacher's classrooms instead of going to class.  He texted wondering if I'd received a call that day that he was unexcused.  I hadn't.  I felt my power slipping.  He texted me that he was going to leave school.  I had to think fast.  I had already texted him,  "No.  Don't do it.  I'm serious."  But guess what?  The boy has car keys.  I texted that I would be mad if he left school.  Godzilla mad.  (He has plans to see the midnight showing of the movie this weekend with his friends.)

My stubborn son with car keys and the will to leave school, turned into a kitten.  He texted back a meek little, "OK.  But I hate this place."

And I was OK with that.

One of my parenting mantras, instilled by my own parents is, "You don't have to like it."

Emma is a completely different case.  (Wouldn't that be easy if they were all the same?)  She won't go clothes shopping.  Really.  And she's a teenage girl.  It is mystifying.  There are no threats that would convince her to go--even though she could really use new clothes.  Her friend Freja is the secret weapon.  If Freja comes, it's suddenly fun.  Also, if Freja mentions she likes something, Emma is willing to try it on.  (If I mention I like something, it is immediately disqualified as a viable option.)

Friday we are taking Freja shopping.  Emma has even consented to go to multiple stores.

And then there's Mark.  Mark hates the piano.  He flat out refused a while ago to take piano lessons.  No way.  But here's the thing, he is musical.  Also I think piano lessons are good for him.  Also he has a LOT of free time.  I let him quit piano lessons from his teacher (who he liked a lot, it was the piano he was against).  He is still having piano lessons (from me) but I think he doesn't quite realize it.  I let him pick the songs.  I have him work on just the top hand, then add the second hand a week later.  It is a slow and inefficient pace but he is practicing every day and getting better.

Three examples of wins. Outsmarting my children exhausts me. I won't tell you about all the battles I've lost.

Too depressing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What everyone brings to the table

It is fascinating to me to consider all the ways people are different; all their wonderful attributes that make them unique and valuable.  I love times when people can shine.  The end of the school year seems like a shining time.

Last week we had the cast party to honor the drama kids.  One of the boys received one of the booster club scholarships.  When he was accepting the award, his peers called out for him to give a speech.  Drama kids rarely need much of an invitation.  His speech made me happy.  It is wonderful to see his confidence which coincided with the love and support mirrored on the other kids' faces.  After his speech, all his friends gave him a standing ovation.  I love this stuff.

We also attended Night of the Arts at GPHS.  Braeden and his friend Jadon were the masters of ceremonies.  I challenge you to find two boys more comfortable in front of microphones and crowds.  Emma sang a few songs with her friends and then she sang and played on the piano a song she had written.  She looks about as comfortable as a deer in the headlights in front of a crowd and microphone but I was proud of her music.

Mark ventured over to where the robotics team had set up a booth.  He went away with stars in his eyes.  They had a Lego contest.  There was a tub of Lego bricks and you could make whatever you wanted then it would be judged.  Mark of course parked himself and got straight to work.

Adam and I roamed into the gym where visual arts were displayed.  There were offerings from the local elementary schools and displays of photography and paintings and sculpture.  We ran into one of the very shy and quiet girls that is on the crew of most of the plays.  Her very shy and quiet mother was there too.  Adam and I admired the girl's photography that was on display.  Adam asked all the right questions and knew the right compliments to give.  The girl was positively glowing.  (And her photography was really good.)

Some boys from the CAD class were there.  One of Braeden's friends, Austin, was among them.  I loved the pride on his face when he was showing us the 3D printers making things like Lego bricks.

Finally it was time to go.  Mark didn't want to leave because he was sure that he would win the Lego contest.  Adam finally said they could give his prize to Braeden if he won, because we were leaving.  (We hadn't had dinner.  We were hungry.)  Mark zipped over to the robotics booth and pointed out his brother to them, for potential prize giving purposes.

I was considering the extent of Mark's self confidence as we walked out the school.  Then he said, "It's not really fair, Mom."

I said, "What isn't?"

"It's not really fair to everyone else.  I mean, Legos are my life.  No one else has a chance of winning."

Then he started telling me about the other amazing things the other kids in the Lego contest had made.  I said, "They're like you.  Maybe Legos are their life too."

He thought about that awhile and then conceded that maybe he wouldn't win.  Maybe he'd only get second place.

When Braeden got home, Mark was long since in bed but Braeden had a package of M & Ms  for him.  Mark had won!  The next morning I congratulated Mark.  He said, "Yeah.  I was kind of hoping for a certificate though."

That kid...

Perhaps one of my favorite things about Mark though is that the confidence he feels extends to his confidence in people he loves too.

He was remarking on the poor spelling of something he saw (it had been written by a non native English speaker) and I told him not to criticize because some of my favorite people were not good spellers.  He gave me a questioning look.  I said, "Braeden can't spell."

Mark said, "Yes he can!  His handwriting is just messy."

"No," I said, "he really can't spell."

Mark said, "Well.  He is a very good pronouncer."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mini writing conference

This picture was snapped with my phone.  Heather said, "Are you going to put it on Facebook?"  I didn't think I could because I didn't have my phone cord to attach my phone and computer.  Everyone looked at me like I was a crazy person.  A really low tech crazy person.  Then someone pointed out I could access Facebook from my phone.  Oh.  Instead, I told Heather not to confuse with me her voodoo and texted this picture to her.  She added the words so that's better anyway. 
There are only three of us pictured here but there are actually seven chicks now!  (The more the merrier.)  On Saturday night we had a mini retreat.  It was everything a mini retreat should be, productive, rejuvenating, inspiring and a whoooooole lot of fun.  We laughed a lot and ate a lot and I know neither of those things have much to do with writing but they were still pretty great.

We had a last minute venue change and met at a hotel in Lynnwood.  Heidi had secured us a suite where we could all spread out.  The mini fridge was loaded to the gills with drinks and the counters were full of snacks.  In preparation for the meeting, we'd all started a story.  Then we drew names (it felt like Christmas) and added to the story that belonged to the person whose name we drew.  We kept writing and passing on stories and distracting each other and then getting back on task.  JoLyn brought her adorable baby so we had chances to get a little baby snuggling in too.

At one point four of us ventured to the hotel restaurant for dinner, someone pulled a fire alarm--no, not any of us!--and we had to be evacuated.  Heidi had the baby and she refused to go outside in the chilly evening.  No one questioned her (if they had I would have told them good luck).  Over dinner we divulged all the latest happenings in our lives.  (OK, it was just me but they are very good listeners.)

All told we were there about seven hours.  We wrote a LOT and I'm excited about our stories which will soon be posted on our website.

Our writing group is one of the very best things in my life.  I love those women and how close I have become to them.  There is nothing in this world like good women, united in purpose, working and supporting and buoying each other.

It's pretty much like magic.  (Kind of like, did you know you can post pictures on Facebook directly from your phone?  Magic!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

The best part of Mother's Day

Maybe it was the breakfast my children made for me--French toast.  Emma found a recipe for the egg/milk to bread ratio and decided to eight times it.  So that effectively used every egg in the house (and I needed to make a cake to take over to Adam's mom's house).  Turns out 16 eggs is more than you need for a few loaves of French bread...

(Turns out Adam was able to figure out how much of the leftover egg/milk mixture I should use for my cake.)

I loved those monkeys for trying.  Braeden insisted that he thought it was too many eggs but Emma is as stubborn as she is sometimes lacking in common sense so there you go.  It was delicious though.  And Braeden made sausage and used a meat thermometer to make sure it was done because raw meat--even questionably pink meat--is the worst.  So I felt loved.

Maybe the best part was the gifts.  My kids are pretty fast learners and after my birthday--and no gifts--they came through for Mother's Day.  The best part was that Adam was hardly involved--besides the great lantern he bought me.  The kids gave me flowers, jewelry, books and a message made out of Lego bricks.  It's hard to beat that.

I loved these books that JoLyn got at her baby shower and my children surprised me with them:

I don't think I'm too old for board books and I guess they don't either.  These books completely charm me.

Maybe the best part of Mother's Day was the primary kids singing in sacrament meeting.  They are so very cute and watching them sing always makes me happy, especially yesterday when they were all singing directly to their mothers.

Maybe the best part was when the boys Braeden's age sang, the priests quorum.  There are about ten of them and they are all approximately the size of my boy.  They stood in a row--which covered the entire stand--and sang, "Mother dear I love you so..."  It delighted me and made me want to laugh because I'd never heard such deep voices sing that song. 

Maybe the best part of Mother's Day was after the chaos of handing over the primary reins to the insistent men that wanted to give all the women a break, I slipped into Relief Society next to Janet and there was this calm and quiet in the room that is never achieved in the primary room where wiggles and giggles reign supreme.  Then we had chicken salad sandwiches and strawberries and mint brownies.  We also never get that in primary...

Maybe the best part of Mother's Day was after church when Braeden--who had helped in primary--told me that whatever I was paying those teachers wasn't enough.  Hah!  They don't get paid anything and it isn't enough.  (There are some pretty great teachers.)

Maybe the best part was when Mark presented me with a candy bar.  His primary teacher had given it to him to give to his mom.  Then Adam gave me another one, with the wrapper torn.

Mark had assumed the candy bar was for him.  His teacher stopped him from eating it and gave Mark a new one for his mom.  It's possible Mark was teased a lot on the way home from church about this.  He protested but what was he thinking? "Hey, I have a mom.  This must be meant for me."

(Mark's primary teacher doesn't get paid enough...)

Maybe the best part of the day was when we gathered at Geri's.  Adam's cousin from his dad's side and his aunt from his mom's side and some of their families were there too.  Plus it was warm enough that we could be outside for awhile.  Bonus!

Really though, the best part of the day was at its very end when I finally had a chance to call my mom (and my dad). 

Speaking of motherhood, here's an essay I wrote that is on our writing website.  Speaking of our writing group, I will tell you more about that tomorrow.

Friday, May 9, 2014

My mom

My thought are turned to my mother this weekend.  I could write (and write) my gratitude for all the things she has done for me and for my children.  Instead though, I am thinking about who she is.

First, my mother is a person who loves.  Fiercely.  Completely.  She loves her children to the point that she thinks they can do anything and she gets particularly irritated when anyone (especially her children) doubt that.  She loves her children and their spouses and her grandchildren to the point that none of them could ever wonder how she really feels.  She loves to the point that her rotten children roll their eyes and tease her when she lectures but they all know that everything she says and does comes from a place of love.

It is comforting in the world to know that someone loves you that much.   

My mother is also faithful.  In my mind, the word defines her.  She is faithful in the loyal and trustworthy sense.  She can be depended on.  Absolutely.

She is also filled with faith.  I cannot count the times when I have faltered and turned to her as my anchor.  Just the other day when I was spinning my own little web of panic over the phone in a conversation with her, she reminded me.  She always says, "Now Thelma..." and gently prompts me to recall what she knows and what I know.  Because my mom taught me, I know I have a purpose in life.  I know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and is mindful of me. 

Everything important that I know is something my mom taught me.

Happy Mother's Day! (And I'm sorry about all the times your rotten children have rolled their eyes and teased you...not me, I would never do that.  I mean those other guys.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Because it won't last long enough

A few days ago I was exhausted from a bad night's sleep and decided to take a nap.  I was so tired, I didn't even want to go tell my children my plans.  Mark was out playing but I texted Braeden and Emma.  Emma immediately stopped playing the piano and I knew Braeden would be the gatekeeper and keep everyone away.  (Texting is so convenient when you are too lazy to walk downstairs!)

I fell asleep for a lovely little 15 minute nap and felt better.  While I was still groggy, I reached for my phone and texted my two:  I'm awake now.  Thanks. The piano resumed it's song and Braeden saw an opportunity for a captive audience and came into my room.  He lay next to me on the bed.  He started telling me about all the homework he'd been doing and how accomplished he was.  (It had been 15 minutes but it's all relative.)  I said, "I need to get up and fold laundry."  He was laying on my arm.

He said, "Nah," and stayed right where he was.

I said, "I really do." But I also stayed right where I was.  I remembered him as a baby in our teeny sunny apartment in Provo.  Sometimes I'd lay by him for his nap, my body curled around his little self.  I would think that I needed to get up and do something else but sometimes I'd just stay by him.  I told him about that and I said, "But back then, you were about as big as your foot is now."

He smiled and then asked me if I'd beat 2048 yet.  I said no and he said, "Good, at least we have each other."

Adam and Emma are annoyingly good at everything and they've both beaten the game.

So I reached for my phone and we played 2048 for a minute.  Then I said, "I really need to fold laundry," and he said fine and took his curly head off my arm (which was a little numb by that point).

I should have stayed longer, both when he was a tiny baby I could curl myself around and now.  Laundry keeps better than growing boys.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Letting go

Last night I was invited as primary president to the Activity Day Girls' talent show.  There were eleven acts.  The girls, ages 8-11 performed.  Several sang or played the piano, one girl did both at the same time.  A few demonstrated cooking skills and a few showed off artistic ability.  It was all delightful.  There was a big difference in the levels of poise and confidence the girls possessed as they performed but they all looked at their mothers for reassurance while they were at the microphone or taking their bow (which I loved).  At the end, the leader said they would now have the "Let it Go" chorus.  As many girls as wanted to could come to the front and sing the song from Frozen.  They all had big smiles on their faces; they know that song.  Because they were all there together, they were uninhibited.  They threw their heads back and sang their hearts out and I felt glad all the way to my toes.

Mark was also at the church for scouts.  He had his first ever board of review.  Adam asked Braeden to help prepare him.  Braeden told me that one of his instructions to Mark was to not try to be funny.  (I'm sure Braeden was told the same thing by Adam when he was preparing for his first board of review.)  There's a common theme with our boys and it's usually, "Don't try to be funny."

After, Mark was exuberant and he said to me, "Who has two thumbs and is a Tenderfoot Scout?  This guy!"

I had him tell me about it.  He said he wasn't at all nervous; they asked him easy questions.  One question was what to do in case of stinging nettle.  He smiled and said, "I was a little jokey."  He told them a story about a time they were hiking and one of the boys hid to try to surprise the leader but the boy ended up being surprised because he was hiding in stinging nettle.  He said they used sword ferns to rub on the stinging nettle.  Mark said, "They all laughed."  He had the same gleam in his eye Braeden gets when he makes people laugh.

Oh boy.

"So then," Mark said, "When they asked me about the buddy system, I told them why that was important.  I also said you needed to make sure you could run faster than your buddy.  They asked me why and I said, 'In case a bear is chasing you.'  Then they all laughed a lot."

So much for don't try to be funny, but sometimes you just have to go for it, I guess.

When we got home, Braeden (and his hair which takes on a life of its own when unchecked) greeted me.

"I need a haircut," he said.

"Yes, yes you do."

"Right now?"

And I said sure because he's like me and when he decides he wants a haircut, he wants a haircut.

9:00 last night found us singing along to '60s songs and cutting his hair.  (He was exposed to a bunch of '60s songs in his US history class.  He played them for me and I already knew every word because of my mom.)

Emma pointed out that Braeden's head was a lot smaller post hair cut. 

I texted Braeden at school and told him to send me a picture of his hair.  This is what I got.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Giving a false impression

Yesterday afternoon I had a tutoring student, Max, coming over.  (Which I love!  Tutoring makes me happy.)  I instructed Mark to pick up all his stuff from downstairs because I was going to be tutoring.  Mark was hefting a box of light sabres upstairs (why a box of light sabres was downstairs is beyond me) and he said, "I feel like we're going to give Max a false impression."


"With this cleaning up," he said.

"When is it OK for you to leave all your stuff downstairs?  When has that ever been OK?" I asked a little testily (because it had been that sort of morning).

He agreed and picked up his pace because he recognizes a cranky mother when he sees one.

I started thinking about false impressions though. Maybe I give a false impression on this blog.  I like to document and remember things that make me happy and grateful.

Things aren't always sunshine and roses around here though.  In fact there's not nearly enough sunshine.  (I'm so tired of rain, I really am.)

Yesterday my blender kind of exploded when I was making our lunch smoothies and sprayed the brownish mixture of strawberries and kale all over.  And I was wearing a white shirt.  And then the smoothie wasn't even all that good.

While tutoring (geometry) I got to an impasse.  I told Max we needed to do what I always do in an emergency and that is call my big sister.  He asked if he could talk to her.  I said sure and handed him my phone.  Marianne wasn't home.  (Sometimes she has a lot of nerve, like when she's not home when I have a geometry emergency.)  Next I texted Adam and he called me and of course knew the answer to my random geometry question.  I told Max that was why you needed to marry someone smart.  (Marrying someone smart has really worked out well.)  Max agreed that Adam is great and he didn't even mock me for not being a very smart tutor.  It helps that Max is one of the coolest kids on the entire planet.

Still, it's hard to not be a very smart tutor...

That's not the only less than perfect thing around here though.

Often Mark entertains me with his quirky conversation and sometimes I think if I have to hear another word about the Clone Wars I am going to go screaming into the night.

Also, there's the issue of Braeden's socks.  Everywhere.  Always.  I would inflict bodily harm on that kid but he's so much bigger than me.  Maybe I'll pull his hair?  His leg hair?

Emma doesn't do much to irritate me but her bedroom is quite often a pit of despair.  As in, leave a bread crumb trail for yourself if you're going in there so you can find your way out.

Just didn't want to give a false impression.


Monday, May 5, 2014

When the chips are down

Saturday I was slicing poblano peppers for our lunch.  Then when I was finished and without thinking, I touched my eye.  "OWWWwwww!" I hollered because it burned.  (Which surprised me; poblano peppers are really mild.)  It's not like I'm a quiet (or graceful) cook.  I cry out when I misread a recipe (it happens quite often) or break a dish or even drop something unbreakable.  My family has largely learned to tune me out at such times but they must have sensed, like the mothers of toddlers do, that I was actually in pain.

Instantly Emma was from the piano to my side, Braeden bolted from the computer to the top of the stairs, "What happened?" they all wanted to know, "What do you need?"  Emma got me a clean dish towel and I asked Braeden for eye drops.  He had Mark help him find them--Mark, the one with allergies, knows where to find such things.  Then Adam was there.  I don't know where he had been earlier but everyone convened in the kitchen for the big event:  Mom Got Pepper Oil in Her Eye and It's Burning.

Adam told me eye drops wouldn't help and he said I needed to rinse my eye with water.  He coaxed me toward the sink like I was a skittish horse.  (I hate having anything put in my eye.)  He got the water to a good temperature and held my hair while I leaned over and he sprayed my eye with water.  "Keep blinking," he said calmly, "Open your eye wide and blink."

And then I felt better.  It wasn't such a big deal.  What was a big deal to me was the scramble.  I felt loved by the way they all rushed to my aid.  Even with something small, I live with four people that drop everything when I need them.

It's kind of worth touching your eye with pepper oil on your finger.

(Although it does burn.)

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Magnum Opus

Something about warmer weather and springtime fruit in the store makes me want smoothies.  I have been making one every day.  I put in an assortment of whatever fruits I have along with kale or spinach.  Sometimes Greek yogurt, sometimes ground flax seeds, ice.  Every time I announce, "This is my magnum opus!  The pinnacle of my smoothie career!" because my kids don't always love the smoothies and marketing is everything.  (I just tell them they don't have to love them, they just have to drink them.)

Yesterday I was out of kale and spinach so we had pink smoothies, heavy on the strawberries.  I put in a spoonful of Nutella because I thought that sounded good.  Soon I had pink smoothie all over the counter because I didn't get the blender base tight enough.

"Oh no," I said, "That's a problem."

Mark scooted onto a stool to watch the show.  "That is a problem," he said.  "And smoothie problems are the worse kind."

I cleaned up pink smoothie while he watched.

"I guess terrorism is worse," he said.

"Or death and dismemberment," I said.

"Yes," he agreed.

We drank our smoothies with our lunch and Mark decided Nutella was a no.  He said it was good by itself and the smoothies were good by themselves but not together.  He said, "It's like mixing pie and pizza.  Doesn't work."

Mark also encouraged me in the future to just add green food coloring rather than kale or spinach.  Then he tried to come up with the worst possible smoothie recipe.  His final:  Kraft macaroni and cheese (which is so nasty it never darkens our door) and Peeps (ditto) with kale and salt and pepper. I agreed that sounded pretty terrible.

We left for swimming and on the way saw the cat walker.  You know it's a good day when you see the cat walker.

"Hey look," I said, "The cat walker got a tattoo."

The cat walker was leaning over the cat.  Mark said, "He's trying to explain the tattoo to the cat."

"Hey buddy, it's still me."

"No, I don't even know you anymore.  First the beard and now the tat?  Besides I don't like this stroller as much as the last one."

Then the debate ensued between Mark and me.  Can the cat leave?  Is it mobile?  Mark would like to think he will run away because the tattoo was a step too far.

This conversation got us all the way across the valley and after I dropped Mark off I considered how my days are always full of bizarre conversations just like that.  My weird and chatty kids, imperfect  as they are, always delight me.  They always entertain me.  They always ensure that even the most mundane tasks are not mundane.

They are really my magnum opus.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Can't. Stop.

Emma came home from school a few days ago and had a new game app she wanted to download.  She said one of her friends had showed it to her at school and she thought it was fun.

"I think you'd like it too," she said.

I said something noncommittal like "hmmm" because I don't like games and usually have about 30 seconds of attention span to devote to them.

I got her the game.  It's 2048.  Then I downloaded it too.  And it's like crack cocaine.

She and I both played it and then Braeden wanted to know what the big deal was so I downloaded it for him too.

The next night Braeden came home from school with all kinds of 2048 tricks up his sleeve.  I said, "How did you get so GOOD at this?"

He said, "I had teenagers telling me all day how to do it."

Since he was telling me some of the secrets to success, I chose to ignore the fact that he--and all his friends apparently--were playing 2048 all day at school.

(Why is America falling behind in test scores?)

Later that night we were all sitting around playing 2048 (Adam was out of town).  I said, without looking up from my phone, "Mark!  Why aren't you playing this game?!"

He said, "I don't have it."

I stopped the game I was playing and quickly downloaded it for him.

Emma sat in the chair across from me and I had a boy on either side of me and we were all playing 2048.

The zombie Apocalypse in our living room.

I decreed that as soon as the last person lost their game we'd stop and read scriptures and they'd go to bed.

The next morning Mark and I decided to just play 2048 for school.  I said, "There's math."

He said, "Tons of math!  And reading!"

"Yes," I said, "And history.  You have to remember what you did last time.  Learn from your mistakes."

"And science!" Mark said, "There's definitely a science to the game."

"Yes," I said.

Mark waggled his finger triumphantly, "And P.E."  Surely all that finger swiping counts for physical activity.

I took my walk and then we got assembled for school.  Mark said hopefully, "I know you were joking about 2048 being school..."

Yes.  I was.

(Adam is home and he has the game now too.  It's only a matter of time until he's better at it than I am.  Against my better judgement I told him Braeden's secret to success.  I should have enjoyed being better at something for just a little longer before giving him help.)


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