Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Books I read in September 2014



The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini **

This book was OK.  I liked the quilt part (even though I can't piece quilts, I wish I could) and I liked some of the characters.  I particularly liked the reminiscing of one of the characters.  I found other characters irritating.  There was this whole group of quilters who seemed indistinguishable from each other and who sort of annoyed me.

 
A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz ****

I typically don't love non fiction but this book was an exception.  It's about a man's journey to learn about himself and to be a better person based on what he learned from Jane Austen books while he was in graduate school studying them.  It was thought provoking and made me like one of my favorite authors, Jane Austen, even more.


 Rules of Civility by Amor Towles ***

This book was set in the '30s and I liked the setting.  Also I loved the snappy dialogue.  The plot was sort of depressing and the ending unsatisfying.



Hope in a Jar by Beth Harbison ***

This book was quintessential chick lit.  There was the longtime friendship, mean girls complete with a comeuppance and a romance.  It was a fun and quick read although the language was a little rough at times.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Whattaweekend

The highs and lows!

This is one for the record books.

Adam went on a business trip to Seattle of all places.  He left Friday.  You could taste the envy in the air around here.  The walls, ceilings, floors, they were all green with the envy going on.

I decided desperate times call for desperate distractions so we headed to Nevada.  Heading to Nevada is always a good course.

(Partway there the elements seemed to have other ideas.  We were in one of the most violent wind/thunderstorms I've ever driven in.  We persevered, Emma prayed, we survived.)

It was of course lovely, lovely, lovely.  I ate my mom's delicious food and visited with my family and took a walk through the sagebrush with my mom (and Braeden).  My dad repaired my shoes I'd brought specifically for the purpose.  Someday there might be something my dad can't fix but I doubt it.

Mark joined his cousins and uncle Robert for an 11-year-old scout campout.  It was a high point of his life.  He's a lucky boy to be one of four boy cousins roughly the same age--Lili is that same age too and she is a great refining addition to the mix. 

Saturday night we women and girls went to the General Women's Broadcast.  I sat by Olivia which is always a winning idea.  We started giggling at the beginning but then Marianne, partway down the pew gave us a big sister look that ironed us back into submission.  It was a wonderful meeting (of course it was).  I thought wistfully of my friends back in Everett at the same meeting.  I missed being with them but it was a huge consolation to be with this group:

I just wish Jennifer, Katie, Melanee and their sweet girls could have been there too...

That is what your joy being full looks like.  I love every single one of those women.  They make my heart sing.

We all trooped off to dinner (my mom's treat).  Teenagers sat on one end of the table, adults on the other and the little girls sat together and colored.  Olivia provided a good portion of the entertainment which is usually the case.

Sunday Adam went to church in our old ward.  We all felt nostalgic about that and wished we could be there too.  I sat by Olivia in Relief Society though (the others were in primary) and I sat by my dad and Enoch during Sunday School.  Church is nice sitting by tall people it turns out.  Speaking of tall people, there were so many of us on the front row in sacrament meeting, Enoch and Jennifer had to take their family to a different row.  "That's OK," Enoch said to me, "You need the leg room."  He's exactly 13 inches taller than me so I thought it was nice of him to finally acknowledge I need more leg room than he does...

After church at the behest of his cousins and then Olivia--or Ciocia as the adoring nephew calls her--Braeden sang "One Last Kiss" and recited his monologue which he's prepared for auditions which are today (fingers crossed).

I surveyed the loving and supportive group that was standing around Braeden, smiling and laughing at all the right places and I considered how lucky I am to be one of this tribe. 

My kids and I skedaddled home to Utah --which still sounds weird to our ears, home to Utah--because our stake was having a youth fireside and Elaine Dalton was speaking at it.  Elaine Dalton!  We were thrilled.  It was a terrific meeting.  I can't begin to describe it but at such times I feel a clarity of purpose and I know who I am and what matters most.  Emma wanted to meet her and my shy girl elbowed her way up to the front.  She didn't know what to say so she just hugged her.  Elaine Dalton said back to Emma, "You keep smiling!  You have a wonderful spirit about you."  Emma glowed after, she was so happy.

We all came home, grateful and euphoric and then... all hell broke loose.

Emma got a text that her accompanist for the auditions had backed out because the music was too hard (they have to provide their own accompanists here).

Then she realized that she'd forgotten her copy of the music at my parents' house.

There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (Emma) and throwing hands in the air and giving up (me) and problem solving (Braeden).  He texted his accompanist, an angel girl who is as accomplished as she is generous.  (This is not the first time Braeden has saved the day for Emma and probably won't be the last.)

Claire came over and I promised her any treat in my repertoire as well as my undying love.  She could play Emma's music, no problem.  (Emma had quickly purchased another digital copy.)  She gave both kids encouragement and advice and was just generally awesome.

It was the kind of weekend that was wonderful and emotional and frustrating and terrific.

I need a nap.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Things I have lost

1-The ability to sleep through the night.

2-The brain power to remember if it is recycling week or not.

3-The skill to communicate with my children about their transportation needs.

4- The capacity to actually take a photo with my phone when I thought I had.  (I was sure I had!)

Maybe if I get number one figured out the rest will fall into place?

Last night we went to Clarissa's choir concert at BYU.  (Yes, there were hundreds of singers, but it was Clarissa's concert...at least to me.)  It was a choir showcase of the audition choirs at BYU.  The best of the best.  And it was incredible.

When the Women's Chorus filed in, of which Clarissa is a part, I felt my eyes get a little teary.  I blame my dad.  But Clarissa looked beautiful and it was exciting to see her a part of something so wonderful.  I kept thinking, "Marianne should be here!" but then I thought, "I'll just have to be here for Marianne."

It isn't really logical but it made me feel a little better.

So Marianne, your girl was gorgeous.  She glowed like a shiny penny and I'm pretty sure she was the best one (although it was sort of hard to tell).

In addition to the Women's Chorus, the Men's Chorus sang (amazing), the Concert Choir (amazing) and the BYU Singers (amazing).  Our entire family was transfixed (and Mark was also thirsty). 

I kept thinking of the 13th Article of Faith:
...if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things...
Afterward we found our girl and hugged her and tried to express how fabulous it was.  I took a picture of Emma and Clarissa and Braeden together and...it isn't on my phone.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

A girl came up to Clarissa while we were talking to her and congratulated her.  She said, "I'm in your Book of Mormon class!" 

Clarissa said, "Really? Now we have to be friends!" 

The girls heartily agreed and went away with a "See you on Tuesday!"

There is no danger of celebrity going to Clarissa's head.

Adam swung by Sonic on the way home for slushes.  (It was an unseasonably warm night.)  We all placed our orders and waited and waited...and waited.  The kid finally approached with the slushes.  He said, "Is it bad that I don't know what any of these are?"

We said it was OK, we would figure it out.  He said, "Do you want an indecent amount of straws?"

Um...no?

He said, "I'll give you six so you can try all the slushes and don't have to share straws."

I'm not sure how one extra straw would make that happen for us but I'm no math whiz.  The drive home consisted of us passing around the slushes, trying to determine the flavors.  In the end, none of us had any idea if we got the correct one but we just went with it.  The one with the most distinguishable flavor was Braeden's and it was lime, which he'd ordered.  It was also bright red.

We can't all, Sonic guy.  And some of us don't.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Surprised and delighted

At Macey's, the grocery store where I usually shop (I still haven't 100% committed to Macey's...grocery store loyalty can't be taken lightly), there is an aisle with a sign above it that reads, "Prices that surprise and delight."

(I always try to position my face into an appropriately surprised and delighted expression...for Mark.  He's who I shop with.)

Lately, in addition to the prices at Macey's, my boys have surprised and delighted me a little.

1)  When we first moved here, Braeden seemed to purely hate everything and everyone in Pleasant Grove.  Maybe in Utah altogether.  He was against it all.  The other night, completely unprompted, he said, "I like Pleasant Grove.  It's a good town."

Shut the front door!

2)  Mark will tell anyone who will listen how much he hates to read.  He grumbles about it and unlike my other two at that age, I never find that he's slipped off to read.  Never.  He did like one series of Usborne books a few years ago so I got him the first book in another similar series.  A few nights ago he came into our room late enough that I crankily asked, "What do you need, Mark?  I already kissed you goodnight."  (My patience has a nightly expiration date.)  He flopped face down on our bed, groaning, and in a muffled voice said,  "Cliff hanger!"

He had finished the book and was desperate for the next in the series (which I've ordered).

Mark had been reading and I hadn't been making him.  I know, right?

What will happen next?




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Field trip

Mark and I went to the BYU Museum of Art yesterday.  We were going to go to the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum but needed to buy tickets to Clarissa's choir concert so we were by the art museum anyway.  (I would rather go to an art museum than a science museum any day of the week.)

Mark thought this sculpture had a Minecraft vibe about it.


Mark was enthusiastic about the art and you've got to admire an 11 year old boy who is enthusiastic about an art museum.  Also, he and I had about the same amount of attention span for each piece of art which is key when you are at any museum with someone.  There are the browsers and there are the readers of every word and you have to be with someone compatible!

We had a pleasant time walking around and soaking up beauty.  There was an Indian exhibit "Visions of Vishnu" that we enjoyed and also an Indian and Pakistani quilt exhibit.  I wish I could quilt!  You have to be a lot of things I'm not to be able to piece quilts.  Among them is exactness.  In a room there were quilts on the wall and then baskets full of wooden geometric shapes.  We could arrange them into "quilt blocks."  It was easier than fabric!

As you can imagine, Mark took the exactness of it all quite seriously.
The closest I'll ever get to making a quilt block...
 Pretty soon Mark took over completely and started some free form patterns.


He sifted through baskets of shapes like it was his job.

\











After I was done with shapes (Mark would still be there if I'd let him), we joined up with everyone's favorite BYU student, Clarissa, and took her to lunch.  It's always a pleasure to be with her.  At lunch I sat across the booth from Clarissa and Mark and they companionably shared a few Studio C Lobster Bisque quotes.  At one point Mark confessed to Clarissa that he had no friends and Clarissa exclaimed, "I'm your friend!"

I love that girl.

When we dropped her off for class, Mark reached up from the back seat and gave her a farewell pat on the shoulder.  She turned around and gave him a high five.  He called after her as she climbed out of the van, "I love you!"

Clarissa turned back and said, "Ahhhh.  I love you guys too!" and with that we sent her off to class.

I love cousin relationships.  They are like siblings you don't have to argue with about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What a day

Yesterday.

Melanee and our kids and I went on a walk.  We went on a different part of the Murdock Canal trail than we'd been before.  In the past, Mark and Cormac go ahead on their scooter and bike, respectively.  They stop when they get to a crosswalk and wait for us.  The system worked well until yesterday when there were no crosswalks on that part of the trail.  They got WAY ahead of us.  We ended up walking about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Cormac crashed twice.  After, Mark kept telling me how terrible he felt about Cormac crashing.  I said, "Did you...make him crash?"

He said, "No!  I just felt bad that it happened."

Mark is in this middle ground between learning how to be a nurturing older cousin and learning how to not be the youngest spoiled child (which role he has comfortably played for many years).  He's slowly getting it.

Our morning of school was pretty much wrecked after all of that.  We salvaged as much school as we could and then we went early to pick up the kids (Mondays they get out early) and all three kids got shots.  There are different requirements here than in Washington and we, you know, want them to be able to continue to go to school.  Taking infants and babies and toddlers to get immunizations pretty much makes you gun shy as a mother.  This was easy though.  They each sat on the chair when it was their turn and pulled up their sleeve and that was all there was to it.

Deseret Industries, the thrift store extraordinaire, was on the way home and Mark has been wanting to go look for costume pieces for his Halloween plans.  And of course Braeden has never met a thrift store he didn't like.

Mark found a pin stripe suit that fulfilled his Dr. Who wishes and Braeden...


Well, Braeden found this baby blue suit.  The pants are too big around and too short but it's a combination that works because he can just let them be baggy.


This one got a double dose of his aunt Olivia.  That's all I can point to when I start wondering, "What happened here?"

Braeden declared it the best day ever.

I won't go that far, but any time I hear all three kids giggling together (even in the aisles of DI over a baby blue suit) it's a pretty good day.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Homecoming, some Mormon humor, and a Ferris wheel

Well, it was a pretty good weekend.

Friday night, Adam and I went to the movie Magic in the Moonlight which we enjoyed.  I enjoyed it almost as much as the text I saw while we were leaving the theater.

Braeden was at the PGHS homecoming game.  They were playing Lehi and he sent us a picture of a sign some kids made:


Cracked. Me. Up.

Oh, and Pleasant Grove won.

Braeden came home with his face painted and bouncing on the balls of his feet.  He had had a good time.  I am still very grateful for happy children.

Saturday afternoon Emma and I went on an Explore.  We checked out two stores Jennifer recommended, Tai Pan Trading and Rod Works, as well as stores that Marianne and her girls rave about, Down East Outfitters and Mikarose.  They all lived up to their billing.  It's nice to get the inside scoop from people in the know.

Braeden had a Homecoming date.  It was an involved affair.  It started at 2:30 in the afternoon for a "day date" which is apparently a thing here.  Then, they all went home to their various houses to get ready and reconvened at about 6:45.  Braeden was looking dapper.


Adam checked over his face and pointed out the spots he'd missed shaving.  I pointed out that his chin was girl-eye level so he needed to shave well.  Then Adam helped him into his jacket.  Braeden called Adam his "man-servant."


 Adam said, "Call me Mr. Bates."


Adam and Mark and I headed to Scheel's, a sporting goods store (Emma was shopped out).  My brothers had told Adam about it (more familial retail recommendations).  It's a huge store with a Ferris wheel in the center.  (Why wouldn't there be a Ferris wheel in the center?)

Mark wanted to ride and I agreed to go with him.  When we were jerking and rocking toward the top, stopping frequently for loading and unloading, I remembered how much I don't like Ferris wheels.


I do like Mark though.  He made me laugh the whole time.  He was trying to make me feel better and told me that they wouldn't put us on it if it weren't safe.  I said, "Didn't you hear about all those people who died on a Ferris wheel?"

He said, "Wait. No..."

I said, "See, they cover it up.  They don't want us to know."

He assured me we would live.

(Spoiler alert: we did.)

After the dance, the three couple group Braeden was with came to our house for ice cream and a lot of ice water (Homecoming dances are thirsty work apparently) and jumping on the trampoline in formal wear--Adam had wisely turned off the sprinkler system in advance.

I didn't get any pictures of the kids but Adam and I, as parents of the boy and therefore completely helpless in such matters, were happy to see how modestly the girls were dressed.  They all looked beautiful and I could tell the kids were all drama kids.  It's not just drama kids that are look-you-in-the-eye, confident and well-spoken, but I've only met a few drama kids that aren't that way.

I like teenagers.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Perspective

Every day Mark and I have lunch together and every day our conversation is...interesting.  The topics are many and varying.  Often it turns into him asking me a series of "Would you rather...?" questions.  The other day it was would you rather ride this ride at Disneyland or that one?  When he got to, "Would you rather ride the tea cups or California Screamin'" I said I would rather curl up in a ball with a blanket.

Yesterday after lunch we had to go to Costco and the grocery store.  I was dreading both.  A hassle.  Tedious and taking me away from more interesting things I had to do at home. 

Mark started asking me questions.  "Would you rather live in Syria or Iraq?"

I said, "Is there a third choice?"

He said, "The Ukraine."

I picked that.  Safer for a Christian.

Next, "Liberia or North Korea? Gaza?"

Suddenly rather than onerous burdens, Costco and the grocery store felt like the wonderful luxuries that they are.  I drove to the store in complete safety and in air conditioning to boot.  I bought what I needed.  I chatted with my ginger along the way.

Sometimes it's good to remember how good I have it.



P.S.  Here's something else I'm grateful for:  visitors.  We had our college friend Robbie over for dinner on Monday night.  We met each other 23 years ago which is slightly confusing because I don't feel that old...

Also, I just said good-bye to our overnight guests, Enoch and Jennifer and their children.  It was wonderful to have them.  We had a dinner with all of us and Ammon and Melanee's family and it was lovely.  Then we plied Enoch for advice.  Smart brothers are a convenient asset in this world.  Isaiah and Luke and Savannah are delightful nephews and niece.  I am looking forward to getting better acquainted with them.

I'm a looking forward a little less to dealing with Mark today who stayed up way too late with his cousins...

But family.  It makes the world go 'round.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Markness

I gave Mark a haircut.  He gave me very specific instructions about how he wanted it.  A little longer on top than the sides.  He showed me with his hands.  He made sure I got it.  Then he said, "You can do the back however you want.  I can't see it."

I started cutting and realized that it was shorter than I meant it to be.  I said, "You know the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut?"

The saying goes two weeks.  He said, "A month?"

"Yeah."

I said, "I think you're getting what you paid for with his haircut."

He said, "You're not getting a tip."

Then he said, "I miss Titi."  She is the lady who used to cut his hair and she was exceedingly long suffering and patient and listened to all of Mark's long stories.

Also she did a good job on his hair and always gave him a sucker after the haircut.

Mark was having a homesick sort of day.  It's not just Titi he misses. He had lamented earlier about how he missed his friends and is sad he doesn't have more friends here. 

I told Mark he looked like his grandpa Dahl with his hair so short.  He said, "Black hair and a mustache?"

I said, "No, how he looked when he was a kid."

"How do you know what he looked like when he was a kid?"

"I've seen pictures.  Also, I was born when he was ten."

Mark looked at me sideways.

I finished his hair and Mark was shocked by all the hair on the floor.  "Am I going to have to wear a bag over my head?" he asked.  I took a picture to show him the finished product.



He shrugged and cheerfully said, "At least I don't have any friends."




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Domesticity city

Melanee and Ammon have pear and apple trees which is a wonderful thing because they are good at sharing.

Melanee and I decided to make apple butter and apple marmalade.  She brought the apples and I said I'd provide everything else.  I pored over my recipes and put everything I needed carefully into a list in my phone that I promptly left in the car when I was at the store.

So I didn't buy enough pectin and bought more lemons than I needed.

This, sadly, is the story of my life.  I struggle with accuracy.

The apple butter takes a long time to turn to apple butter...which I guess makes sense.  Some sort of miracles have to take place if you're going from apples to butter.

We cooked and stirred and chatted a lot.  I left to go get Emma from school and returned and we cooked and stirred and chatted some more.  Finally, it was time to add the rest of the ingredients so we did.  More cooking and stirring and trying to avoid being burned by enthusiastic splattering boiling apple butter.  We started filling jars and Melanee went to pick Cormac up from school while I finished filling the jars.  I was about done when I realized that I forgot to add the pectin!

All of the sudden, it was OK that I didn't buy as much pectin as I had intended to buy.

This, sadly, is the story of my life.  I struggle with accuracy.

We have pretty little jars full of apple--syrup probably.

You can choose between pectin free apple butter on the left or pectin-full apple marmalade on the right.
When life refuses to hand you pectin...

(Is that an idiom?)

In completely unrelated news, here's my morning view.


I'm not sure I'll ever get tired of it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You were warned

It's right up there in the title of the blog.  I write about nothing.  (And also, lately there's that weird black by the title of the blog.  What is that about?  Adam?)

Here's a bunch of nothing:

1- I handed Emma a handful of books to read and she read them.  OK.  That's not nothing.  When has that ever happened?  I'm pretty sure the last time Emma read something I handed her was when she was four and wanted me to read to her and I handed her one of Braeden's kindergarten books and told her to read it to herself and she did.

2- I love walking on the dirt trail by our house and hearing the gravel crunch underfoot.  It reminds me so much of the walks I've taken in Nevada that I feel happy happy happy.  That and the way the blue sky gets really pale at the horizon.  Oh high desert!  You make my heart sing.

3- I skim any fight scene or battle in any book I ever read.  It doesn't happen often but when I read something historical there may be a battle.  For Mark, when there's a fight scene, it redeems an otherwise boring book.

4- Mark makes me sort of crazy because he never likes anything except...

5- Yesterday he was helping me make my bed and he said, "I can't even tell you how much I love you, Mom."

6- I try to tease Emma and she is way too clever for me.  She doesn't take the bait and she comes back with snappy comebacks.  I blame Adam.  He's also clever.

7- Braeden has to provide his own costume for his Shakespeare competition at school.  Really?  I'm being penalized for having a big son?  I blame Adam.  (Braeden said, "Would you have rather married some little skinny guy?"  The answer is no.  I like my big strong man.  It's possible I also brought some size to the genetic table.)

8- I also have to feed my big son.  Talk about a double whammy.

9- I have never really bought boxed macaroni and cheese because that stuff is kind of nasty.  Emma had some when babysitting and it was a revelation to her.  I bought some at a case lot sale.  It was crazy cheap and my kids can make it for a snack.  Yesterday Braeden and I were in the living room and Mark was making mac and cheese (his first attempt) and Emma was helping him/lecturing him/mustering any and all big sister angst she could get her hands on.  It all just made me laugh.  Those two.  Braeden told me I was a terrible person for laughing at them.  Then he went and ate some macaroni and cheese because good luck making something and not giving Braeden some.

10- Maybe that's why I have to provide his costume for the Shakespeare competition.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Dominoes

Enoch and Jennifer and their kids were coming to town.

That turned into text messages, "Hey, let's meet for lunch."

That turned into Ammon and Melanee and kids joining us.

That turned into Jennifer and Melanee and all the kids coming over to our house while Enoch and Ammon worked on a project.

That turned into my parents stopping by on their way home from visiting Tabor and Katie.

We were all sitting around my family room, visiting and the boys would troop through all toting toy guns, intent on some game.  The little girls came in and out, charming us and I thought, these are pretty swell dominoes.

Sunday added another domino.  We had an early church meeting so in the afternoon we took Clarissa with us and headed to Salt Lake City.  Clarissa is a delight.  She brings an effervescent cheer to everything.  Marianne's loss is certainly our gain with that one.

We went to an organ recital in the tabernacle.  Wow.  Later Braeden said he imagined that's what it would be like to hear the voice of God.  Beautiful and powerful and a little terrifying. 

this is me pretending like I have two daughters
Braeden and Emma love having Clarissa around too and I love listening to them talk.  I wanted to take their picture and Braeden said he doesn't like posed pictures.

The hundreds of selfies he takes on my phone (and every other phone he ever gets access to) beg to differ.  They were chatting and I said, "Look natural."


Goofy kids.

I love them.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Connecting

We were weeding outside and I overheard Mark say, "So, Braeden...tell me everything you know about Hittites."

It was an example of a little brother trying to connect with his older brother.  Mark has been learning about ancient civilizations in school and so he launched a conversation about something he knew Braeden loved.  The next thing I overheard was Mark saying, "Yeah, Hammurabi was pretty bronco."

Every time my boys meet in the middle it makes me happy.  Sometimes it is Braeden getting down on the floor to build with Legos.  Sometimes it is Mark starting a history discussion.   Often it is both of them wanting food.

*********

Yesterday, Mark and I were doing errands.  My phone rang and it was Janet.  I cried.  I have been fine, doggedly going through my days, hanging pictures and doing laundry and preparing meals (or not).  I've been determined to try to look for the positive parts of our new life and I've been striving for gratitude.  There's a lot to be grateful about.  I have been fine.

But somehow talking to Janet brought out the less-than-fine parts.  I miss her.  I miss a lot about before.  It was wonderful to talk to her though.

When I hung up the phone, Mark who had been in the car to hear the conversation--and the tears--said, "Now doesn't that feel good?  I felt really good after I talked to Gavin on the phone."

And I said, "Yes."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Some things I know

In everything give thanks...
Thessalonians 5:18 

In the past weeks Braeden has been struggling, really struggling.  As a result, I was struggling.  It is hard for me to be happy when my children are miserable.  Braeden wasn't acting in normal Braeden ways.  He was closing himself off from the world.  He was looking morose and not laughing enough.  We talked a lot.  We cried together a little.  We both decided to pray more.

I know prayers are answered.  

Saturday night, when a handful of kids from school came and "kidnapped" him, our prayers were unexpectedly answered.  He had a great time.  He connected with the kids in real ways.  He made new friends.  He came home optimistic and smiling and laughing and Braeden-like.  Since that night Braeden is a different kid.  He took steps to be more open to friendships, he had faith that he would be helped if he prayed and he was. 

I am near to bursting with gratitude. Words are too feeble to express it. 

I know Heavenly Father loves my boy.  He knew what Braeden needed more than I did.  I was hoping for a gradual lessening of sadness and a gradual adjustment to his new surroundings.  But in one evening, a switch was flipped.  Braeden is happy and now, of course, so am I.  Miracles happen.

I know we have a lot to be grateful for in life.  Sometimes our prayers are answered immediately; sometimes we struggle along wondering when they will be answered.  Either way, we are learning and growing and getting stronger.  The worst times of my life are the times when I've learned the most.  They are the times when I turned heavenward out of desperation.  They are the times when I've been lifted and strengthened.

If we have faith in Jesus Christ the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing.
Henry B. Eyring

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Errands with Adam

Occasionally we are reminded that we really do live in Utah. 



You never know what will happen when you are doing errands with Adam.  The car wash felt like a ride at Disneyland.  It was long and involved and there was a mirror along the side so you could see how clean you were getting.  All that was lacking was music but Adam sang, "It's a Small World."


At the grocery store, there was Cookie Monster standing out front.  (Why?) Adam stopped and asked if he could take a selfie with him.  He wanted to text our kids...it's where Braeden got his desire to do anything to make people laugh.


I walked away and pretended like I didn't know Adam.

The Cookie Monster selfie turned out so well that Adam took another selfie with a cut out of Cosmo.


Again, I walked away like I didn't know him.  I am perhaps not a very supportive wife.

I do like errands with Adam though.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Some tigers can't change their stripes

When Emma was a toddler, she stayed by my side at playgroup.  Braeden had always explored the perimeter and socialized freely.  I didn't mind that Emma was different from Braeden.  I like them both, shy and not.

Emma's whole life she's hated to order in restaurants or talk to strangers or answer the phone.  I get that.  I am pretty much the same way.

Lately, I've wondered if she's changing.  Some of her new school friends were going to the temple.  Emma couldn't find her temple recommend so she made a phone call and got an appointment with the bishop.  She got her new temple recommend and rode the bus to a girl's house she minimally knew and went to the temple with her friends.  Amazing.  She did it all herself.

Then, she had a hunch she was in the wrong math class because the class seemed too easy.  She didn't tell me and have me fix it, she talked to her math teacher.  He confirmed that she was in the wrong class.  He didn't realize she was a sophomore and she was in a pre-calculus class for juniors and seniors who didn't plan to take AP calculus.  The school had changed their system and she would be better prepared for AP calculus in a different math class.  So Emma made an appointment with her counselor.  She chatted with another counselor while she waited.  He asked her about the Yale t-shirt she was wearing and they made a connection about Seattle too.  He ended up being the counselor to adjust her schedule because the other counselor was busy.  Emma was able to navigate her schedule change and purposely put herself in the same hated computer class that Braeden has.  (They will hate it less when they're in it together.)  Also, she was able to get the same math teacher for her new math class because she really likes him.  Emma told me all of this news and I was stunned.  My Emma!  My shy introvert who doesn't like to talk to strangers advocated for herself and made things happen.

Amazing.

Saturday night we were watching the BYU football game in our basement.  It was all kinds of fun.  Ammon and Melanee and their children were over.  We even stood up and sang the BYU fight song at one point.

Emma has very little interest in football, BYU or otherwise.  She played with her little cousins awhile but then she retreated upstairs to write on the computer.

The computer is near the front door.

Emma heard people come to the front door.  She was the only one upstairs and she did not want to answer the door.  To go down the stairs to where we were, she would have had to walk by the front door.  They would have seen her.  She went the other way.  She went outside to the deck, down the outside stairs and to the basement door.  "Someone's at the door," she told us.  We sent Mark upstairs because he is afraid of exactly nothing and the rest of us were too lazy/watching the football game (they weren't going to trounce Texas without us).  Mark reported there were people to see Braeden.  (In fact they were kids from school, drama kids, there to kidnap Braeden and take him out on the town for some fun.  Thank you drama kids from school!  You don't know what your kindness and inclusion mean to this Mama.)

"Why did you come all the way downstairs instead of answering the door?" we asked Emma.

"I didn't want to," she said simply.

There's the Emma I know and love. She can be brave when she needs to but good luck trying to get her to do something she doesn't want to do.

I wouldn't have her any other way. (Except for sometimes when I want her to do something she doesn't want to do.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Belated

Emma's half birthday was August 17.  We completely ignored the day.  I told Emma we'd celebrate later and then we never did.

On Thursday night, when she and I were driving to our first ever yoga class, taught by the inestimable Melanee, I told Emma that I had not forgotten and we would still celebrate her birthday sometime.

Emma said, "It's OK, Mom.  You don't have to."

And she really meant it because she's low maintenance and very little trouble.  We don't really celebrate real birthdays so if we didn't celebrate her half birthday... that was not OK with me.

The next morning, I got the idea that we'd celebrate that day.  That afternoon, Mark and I went on a quest.  I had gained the inspiration from something I saw on Pinterest.  Here's what we gave Emma:


We even bought a blue yoga mat...for our second ever yoga class next week.  Also there was an Amazon gift card included for the little bookworm.
We surprised Emma when she got home.  We left it up to her where we were going to go for dinner and it took her awhile to decide (see above:  she's low maintenance and very little trouble).  She wanted to know where everybody else wanted to eat.

She finally landed on Zupa's which I thought was spectacular.  The restaurants around here are making me happy!

We came home for cheesecake birthday cake (my energy was spent on tracking down blue gifts rather than baking cake):


I'm glad she's my girl. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

When your mantle and your son are both way taller than you

You know how Braeden, his socks and I have a history?  It's a history of him leaving them around and me getting frustrated and him smiling at me consolingly.

Lately, I have not found any socks around.  My little boy is growing up! I am so proud!

Then, because Braeden could never be truly sneaky (it's just not in him), he showed me his new U.P.P.T.I.

Here's what the fireplace looks like.

I know what you're thinking...what an attractive goat.

Do you see the U.P.P.T.I.?  Neither could I.

When I held my cell phone straight above my head, arms extended, I could take this picture:


Braeden's socks.

I'm slightly less proud.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Progress

The previous owners of our home left a cheesy quote made out of vinyl letters in the stairwell.  I knew it would be short lived.

In related news, Braeden sent me this:


I am a fan of good quotes.  I collect them.  I guess I like to be the master of my own quotes though.  The one in the stairwell was coming down!

I reached over the railing and pulled off what I could reach.  I pulled off some paint too so I got a hair dryer and a ladder.  Heating the vinyl made it less likely to pull paint away.  I only got partway done.  Turns out balancing awkwardly on a ladder with your hands raised high above you isn't easy.

Here's what was left:



Mark surveyed what was left and said, "It's only awkward if you make it awkward."

I don't know where he gets the things he says.  But they make me laugh.

Adam, in an act of heroism, finished removing the letters for me.

I laid all the pictures on the floor that I wanted to hang in the stairwell.

as a bonus, Emma's on the couch...


Adam said, "Forget the wall.  I think gallery floors may be the new hot item on Pinterest."

I don't know where he gets the things he says.  But they make me laugh.

The next day I got a hammer and a bunch of nails and started hanging.  Gallery walls must be entered into with abandon, or not at all.  Especially if you're like me and you wouldn't even know where to start measuring.  I just go for it, I trust my eye more than my ability to be accurate.

It more or less works.



(The one picture is heavy and needs molly screws which are beyond my skill level...Adam will have to be heroic again.)


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy?

Yesterday Marianne commented on my blog, "What a happy post."

Was it?

Am I happy?

Mostly.

Often this all seems surreal still.  Do we really live here?  When will I stop feeling like we're on an extended and bizarre vacation?  When will I stop thinking I'll tell that to my friends next time I see them, when next time I see them will be months away?  When will my kids be really and truly happy?  I worry about them, especially Braeden.  It's his senior year and we wrecked it.

Yesterday morning I took a walk.  I think I feel closer to God on that walk.  I soak up the sagebrush and dirt road.  The wild plants are the same as those in Nevada. I feel supported by the ground underneath me and by the air filling and leaving my lungs.  (I can definitely feel the air filling and leaving my lungs when I'm going uphill.)

I had a few thoughts on the walk.

1) I don't know how this happened and how we got here, but I know that Heavenly Father does.  We made decisions prayerfully and sought to do what was right.  It may eventually make sense.

2) I just need to keep going.  I need to keep trying to get my family settled.  I need to keep teaching Mark school and keep cooking dinner and keep taking care of everyone--including me.  I feel like I'm taking steps forward into feeling settled and peaceful and then I take a few back .  I just need to keep working at it.

Usually I can maintain the Pollyanna/cheerleader facade in an attempt to make everything better for my kids.  Do they need me to do that though?  I don't know. Yesterday it was hard for me to put on a happy face.  In the afternoon, right after I commiserated with Marianne about this mothering thing, I talked to my parents. They gave me the pep talk I needed.  I was all prepared to talk to Braeden and give him a cheer-up-shot-in-the-arm when he got home from school.

I sat him down and told him I'd been thinking about him/worried about him.  I said, "I know you've been unhappy."

He said, "Yeah, I have.  But I've been praying a lot and I think I'm going to be OK."

I told him I thought this would help in his growing up/preparing for a mission/learning to be strong pursuits.  He said, "Yeah.  I know.  I've thought about that.  Also, I think it will help me turn to the Lord more."

So.

Turns out Braeden is pretty awesome.

Who knew?


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day 2014

Yesterday morning, Braeden and I decided to take a walk along our new favorite trail.  Braeden went outside first and then he came back in.

"I think America invaded," he said.

In front of every house, there was an American flag, for Labor Day.  The young men from church had put them in place.


As far as invasions go, not bad.

We took another walk when Clarissa was with us.  We like it that much.  Here we are at the designated end of the line where we are always too tired to continue.  Eventually we'll venture past this point:

Notice I'm wearing my Glacier Peak t-shirt.  At PGHS, the fight song talks about being "loyal to the G".  I'm loyal to two G's.  PGHS and GPHS
It's a beautiful walk:

Emma and Mark sped ahead because they wanted to get a drink.  Adam fell behind because he wanted to take a picture.
After the exertion of our walk we went to Sonic for Happy Hour milkshakes and then watched "Paul Blart Mall Cop" because Clarissa hadn't ever seen it and because "Paul Blart Mall Cop."  It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

Later Emma, Clarissa, and off and on Braeden, were sitting at the piano and singing.  It was delightful.  Braeden said, "Clarissa!  You can sing! You give me chills!"

The girl has talent.

I kept interrupting them to ask advice about picture placement.  I was moving pictures and end tables and lamps and--I feel like there should be a drumroll here...

I found the bird curtains!  They were in a basket in the basement.  What I can't tell you is why they were in a basket in the basement.

Also, I've already decided I wanted these curtains hung there instead:


All that bird curtain angst for nothing...

Speaking of curtains, Olivia requested a picture of the old brown satiny curtains.  I'd do just about anything for Olivia and here's proof:

our piano was one of the first things the movers unloaded from the truck--I guess Braeden was making sure it still worked

Monday, September 1, 2014

My life is prompting me to remember lyrics from musicals...


(First I should say I didn't ever really like the movie Annie.  It was the movie Olivia and I loved to hate when we were growing up.)

If you've ever moved, I'm not revealing any big secret:  moving is a pain.

Also, I miss our old house.  I miss my friends.  I miss our family in Washington.  I miss my book club and writing group.  I don't like the way the library system works here as much as our old one.  My kids miss their old school and their friends.  We have hard water and our water softener is a mystery to me.  I still haven't found those curtains.  I have to go to the DMV to get a new license.  Going to the DMV is soul deadening.

But.

Here are who have visited us in our new home so far.

2 brothers and their families
1 sister and most of her family
my parents
my grandma
the Jorgensens*
Mindy and Jessica*

Not bad for only being here two weeks.  This month my other sister and my other brother are coming too. 

Today's icing on the cake:  Clarissa* is coming to hang out with us for awhile.

The visitors are one thing, and then there's this:



*it is wonderful being so close to BYU!  Location, location, location.








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