Friday, January 30, 2015

Now that's better

All sorts of yin and yang take place in a marriage.  His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa so it all works.  (Pretty much works.)

I am an impatient, get it done, don't-let-perfect-be-the-enemy-of-progress type person.

Adam is patient.  He contemplates and waits and doesn't want to settle for less than the best possible outcome.

(I think we drive each other a little crazy sometimes.)

I'm a clutterer, the queen of tchotchkes.  I like decorations and Adam is more of a minimalist.  I decided to hold off taking over one corner of the house and let it be Adam's.  His office.  If he didn't have it figured out, that was OK with me.  I was going to let it be his space and his domain. 

I have restrained myself from hanging pictures (and marginally scary wreaths) on the walls or filling the blank spaces with trinkets and vases.  I have let him be in the driver seat and take the lead.

Except I did get some paint chips for him to choose from because it was time already (a tiger can't change her stripes that easily):

See the brown walls?  Sort of a rust/dirty diaper motif.  Also sort of sponge painted.  Were they going for an old world feel?

Every time I walked in the room, I felt like it was sort of an abomination.  (Are the people that bought our old house staring at the walls and wondering, what were they thinking?) Adam chose the paint and we spent Saturday painting.


Do you know how impressed I am with myself that I remembered to take before pictures?  And the color was way uglier in person.  Believe me.


OK, I did prop those pictures there on the mantel.  So much blank space.  It makes me fidgety.

I like it a LOT more now.

I painted this bookshelf the same color as the walls:

And yes, I put some stuff on that top shelf.  (I can't resist with ampersands.  Adam's initials are AND.)

P.S.  I think I should tell you...I was way too exuberant in my furnace excitement yesterday.  I spoke too soon.  The saga continues but I'm pretty sure we have a resolution and I'm pretty sure this one will stick.  (Don't hold me to that.)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Calling in the cavalry

Our furnace and I have a storied past.  There have been highs and lows; disappointments and frustrations.  And I've been cold.  Adam is usually at work and also not cold by nature.  The big kids are usually at school/play practice and also not cold by nature.  Mark burns enough energy being Mark that he's usually not cold either.

So basically, I'm the main one with a dog in the fight.

Since I'm nothing if not a complainer to my parents, they have been privy to the unhappy tragedy that is our furnace.  A week ago, when my dad was deathly ill, coughing and miserable, he and my mom speculated about whether or not they should drop everything and come see me so my dad could look at the furnace.

I told them it was OK.  We were surviving.  They told me they were going to be in the area this week and they would come and take a look.

Meanwhile, I paid for another company to come and attempt a fix.  (My confidence in repairmen is rapidly dwindling.)

Meanwhile, I was cold.

Meanwhile, I tried to tell myself that my dad may not be able to fix it where so many others had failed.  He is, after all, not a professional repairman.

Meanwhile, I know my dad.  And he fixes stuff.

So Tuesday night they came.  Ammon and family came over too which only boosted my confidence about the furnace.

After some pleasantries, my dad and Ammon and I went to the basement.  (I had Ammon reattach a light fixture I couldn't reach on his way down the stairs.  I mean, if you have the height in the vicinity, use it.)

While they surveyed the scene with the furnace, my mom was upstairs rescuing Emma from herself.  Emma was making tortillas for her online geography course.  (Since nothing says geography like making tortillas?)  My dad and Ammon were downstairs and my mom was in the kitchen helping Emma, so I sat down on the floor and played ponies with Azure and chatted with Melanee.  What else was I to do?

As far as I can tell, we've spent over $800 on furnace fixes that haven't fixed it.

My dad and Ammon spent a little time and my furnace?  It is perhaps too early to tell because it's quite mild out and we'll see what happens when it gets truly cold, but it's working.  It. Is. Working.

Their fix?  Leave the room to the furnace room open. 


(I hate to admit it but Ammon had suggested that fix over the phone earlier and I'd never tried it.)

They didn't charge me a cent (but I did give them some cookies).

It all reminded me how incredibly lucky I am to live closer to my parents (and Ammon).  This is the sort of treatment my other siblings have been spoiled by.  I went a reaaaaaalllly long time seeing them a few times a year and I like this better.

I like Braeden and my dad talking about politics and renewable energy.  I like my mom teasing me about how ugly she thinks my new wreath is.  (It is ugly but I maintain that is a big part of its charm.)  I like Emma and my mom working side by side in the kitchen.  I like Mark orbiting around, hugging people and coming up from the basement after a wild rumpus with his little cousins, red cheeked from the exertion.  Adam had a late night at work and I like that my parents stuck around later than they'd planned so they could wait for him to come home so they could say hello to him.  

Also, I played my ukelele a little for my parents.  I want them to know that I'm not wasting my time here...I have real talent.


Ha. Ha.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It would have to be a pretty great sister...

Yesterday Olivia and I were having a phone conversation while I was shopping at Target and she was driving to town to host a baby shower.  Multi-taskers, that's us.

We talked a little about our sister-less daughters.  Our sisterhood Matters to us with a capital M.  Olivia told me she feels sad that Lili doesn't have a sister.  I maintained that different isn't necessarily worse.  I feel like Emma is pretty happy with her lot in life.

I thought about it for the rest of the day though.  Was Emma sad she didn't have a sister?  Had she just not told me?  She is Independent with a capital I, so it was possible she just hadn't told me.

So I asked her.

She said, "I used to feel sad about it sometimes when I was little but I don't anymore.  I have great brothers."

So then I thought about that.

I was putting laundry away upstairs and looked down and this was my view:

These two are friends. (And yes, those are Braeden's socks.  They are always nearby, except now he tells me when he takes them off, "I will pick these up.")

Emma has a weird, meaningful and real relationship with each one of her brothers.

The more I thought about the sister question, the more I realized, it would have to be a pretty great sister to outpace these boys.

I'm pretty happy with what I've got.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Oh Braeden

One of the best things about motherhood is happy children.  They make me feel like despite the ways in which I am not winning, at least something is going well.

Braeden's UTA conference was a good one.  Every night he came home positively euphoric.  He had a great time with his friends, had fun in his workshops and learned a lot too.

I loved hearing the stories.  It's like Braeden and his friends orchestrated their days just to make me laugh in the retelling.

One person they learned from at the conference was Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn.  Braeden roped his friend Claire into going with him and they walked up to Frank Wildhorn after one of the meetings.

(It's the same Claire that I will love until my dying day.)

Braeden said, "Frank, can I take a picture with you?"

He said sure and was looking around for someone to take the picture.  Braeden said, "I'd rather just take a selfie."

Frank Wildhorn said, "I guess it is a selfie age."

When Braeden told me the story, I said, "You called him Frank?"

"Yeah," Braeden said, "We were on a first name basis.  He had said the day before in a workshop that we needed to be tenacious."  Then he admitted, "Mr. Shelley was kind of embarrassed about the selfie."

Poor Mr. Shelley.  He's the drama teacher.  Can you imagine the moxie it would take to chaperone a group of drama kids?  They are afraid of exactly nothing and in fact look for ways to draw attention to themselves.

(I think I'll love drama teachers until my dying day too.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

The best sort of news

After waiting all week with varying degrees of patience by all of us (forbearance:  not a strong suit with the women in our family... also we're not good at passing driving tests) Clarissa's mission call finally came!

We went to her dorm lobby to be there when she opened it.  Adam and Emma both videoed it and then edited it.  (That Emma...the girl has skills she did not learn from me.)

I obviously am not too expert on videos.  Adam told me there was a BIG difference between the quality shot with his phone and the quality shot with Emma's.  I said, "Which was better?"

He said, "Mine.  Noticeably."

Apparently noticeably is a relative term.

I accidentally started crying right in front of the camera and then I accidentally walked up in front of everyone and hugged Clarissa when I should have stayed out of the way.  It was one of those times when I wonder, "What was I thinking?" and then I realize the problem was that I wasn't thinking.

Perhaps I was propelled by a sisterly urge to hug Clarissa in Marianne's absence?  A proxy hug.

I cry every time I watch it.  How I love this girl!

New Zealand is one lucky place!

I loved on Sunday when Clarissa was over.  She and Braeden were each on a computer, Googling New Zealand.  Braeden had done research about their form of government and history and he had a full report for her.  They told each other little tidbits of trivia and it was one of those times that I consider myself blessed to be where I am.

Then Clarissa and Emma sang together and that's another of those times when I feel like I should pinch my lucky little self and make sure I'm not dreaming.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crime and punishment

Mark and I have been having stalemates over math.

Yes, this is my life.  I get into power struggles with 6th graders.  He's been doing order of operations (My Dear Aunt Sally--who is only trumped by parenthesis) with fractions.  It's been a lot of fun.  Except for the part when he does it all in his head and gets them wrong and then I tell him he has to show his work and then he refuses.

So I told him he had wasted so much time we wouldn't go to the gym--which turns out to be a punishment for Mark.

So he told me that he wouldn't eat lunch.

Did I mention how much fun this has been?

Yesterday he did show his work and we finished school sooner and we--wait for it--went to the gym!  Don't ever tell me we don't know how to have fun.  Mark loves going to the gym because he's old enough to play exercise on the machines.  He spends a few minutes on each one which is perfect for his attention span and I walk on the treadmill and read on my ipad which is perfect for my attention span.

The gym we go to is the Pleasant Grove Rec Center which is right next to the high school.  Mt. Timpanogos was breathtaking against that glorious blue sky.

There's the high school on the left. And see all those vehicles?  They are driven by teenagers who try to kill me every time I get near the school.  Scary.

I love living by a mountain.  I grew up by a mountain and it seems like all is right with the world when you have a big hulking rock keeping watch.

I even like the G.

And, I admit, I like my exasperating red head.  He is stubborn, but that isn't all bad.  Someday he'll move mountains...just hopefully not Mt. Timpanogos.  I like it where it is...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Remember that time when I was on top of things?

I'm not sure I do either...

Here's the most recent example of me not being on top of anything:
Braeden: Mom, I need some money in my account to pay for UTA.

Me:  OK, how much do you need?

Braeden:  $115 and can you do it soon, like before lunch?  If I don't pay today I can't go.

Me:  OK.  How much again?
See, so that wasn't bad.  I transferred the money.  I just didn't really know what I was paying for.  I had a vague idea that it was for the regional competition Braeden is preparing for.  Also, I knew that despite my earlier idea that UTA stood for Utah Transit Authority, in this context it is Utah Theater Association.  I think the competition is sometime in March.  Maybe?  Once Braeden started driving I sort of stopped keeping careful track of his schedule.

I did have other pertinent information in my head.  It seemed unrelated, but PGHS is performing an early showing of The Wizard of Oz on Friday night for UTA because they won last year's state drama competition.

Here's what happened last night:
Braeden:  I am going to have to buy lunch and dinner the next few days.  Do I have a budget for how much I should spend?

Me:  What?  Why do you have to buy your meals?

Braeden:  Because I'll be at UTA.

Me:  What?

Braeden:  Yeah, it's why I needed to pay the money.

Me:  What? I thought the money was for the regional competition.

Braeden: No. Oh, that reminds me.  I have a permission slip for you to sign.

He went downstairs and came back up with a little packet of stapled papers.  It was an itinerary for a several day long theater conference on the campuses of BYU and UVU.   
Me: How did I not know about this?
Braeden: I don't know.  You don't have to read it (he knew I was minimally skimming...reading itineraries for someone else's conference is kind of like reading a syllabus for someone else's class), just sign it.

Me: OK.  Oh, so Clarissa may get her mission call tomorrow.

Braeden: I'll be at BYU!  Maybe I can go see her open it if I have time.

Me: Wait, what? You'll still be there?

Braeden: (patiently) Yes, it's all in here.  (He indicated the packet.)

Me: Oh.  So is this why you're performing on Friday night?

Braeden: Yeah. We have to hurry back to the school in time to get ready.

Me: So you'll be gone tomorrow and Friday?

Braeden: And Saturday.

Me: Really?

Braeden:  indicating the packet I hadn't read
When he left our bedroom, it occurred to me that maybe I'm the worst.  When Braeden left for school this morning, he showed me the page he'd ripped off from the stapled packet that included the schedule he'll have for the next few days.  "I'll put this by your phone," he said.

That kid gets me.  Sympatico. That's what we are.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


There are two things I've been mulling over in my mind:

1) Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don't want. (I don't know the source for this, besides Pinterest.)


2) I read this from a talk by Linda K. Burton: My good friend Bonnie Oscarson recently turned a scripture inside out when she said, “Where much is required, much more will be given.”

I can't stop thinking about either thing.  I'm a world class worrier.  I wish prizes were awarded for worrying.  I'd have to get a trophy case.

One of the things I worry about is that I can't live up to what I'm asked to do.  I think that's why the second quote is resonating with me so strongly.  I need to have faith.  Faith, faith and more faith.

And stop worrying.

The end.

Well, almost the end.  Olivia said I should put this on my blog.  When she's bossy, I'm compliant.  Braeden has a very teeny part in a Mormon Message that was filmed around here.  He was recommended by his seminary teacher and then went through a series of interviews and we weren't sure he'd even make the cut.  Then his friend texted that he had seen the Mormon Message at church (incidentally the linebacker who is good at moving bookcases).  Then Emma's friend saw it in seminary.

Then we Googled it and found it.

So that's the story, and here's the link.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pretty good life

Maybe because I'd just woken up from a nap, but I was in the mood for pancakes or waffles for dinner on Saturday night.  I was in the kitchen, flipping through the cookbook.  "Pancakes or waffles?" I asked no one in particular.

Braeden's friend, Brian, was over.  He said, "It doesn't matter which one you make, as long as you have buttermilk syrup."

I looked at him to gauge his seriousness.  He seemed sincere.

"Buttermilk syrup?  Is that a thing?"

He assured me it was.

"How can you have buttermilk syrup?  I've never heard of it."

He said, "You make it."

"I don't believe you," I said.  So I Googled it.

And buttermilk syrup.  It's a thing.

I followed this recipe except I didn't have buttermilk so I mixed milk and vinegar instead.  Adam and I made a quadruple recipe of whole wheat pancakes (because teenage boys) and I'm now firmly in love with buttermilk syrup.  The stuff is amazing.

Brian told us that he has an aunt, the only person in his family that isn't rail thin, who insists they call her Fat Aunt Pam.  Fat Aunt Pam is the one that introduced Brian to buttermilk syrup.

(For the record, if any of my nieces or nephews call me Fat Aunt Thelma, I won't give you any buttermilk syrup.)

Buttermilk syrup, though.  I think it changed my life.

Brian's parents were out of town for the weekend so, along with Clarissa, he was over on Sunday too.  I was in and out, but the Seahawks game was on...for awhile.  They turned it off after the fourth interception.  It was too much agony.

We were upstairs and Adam went down eventually to check on the score.  We heard a strangled sound coming from him and Braeden bolted for the stairs.  The Seahawks were back in the game!  It was very intense and when the Seahawks won in overtime, I think Clarissa saw a new side of her Uncle Adam that she'd never seen before.

(I told Clarissa that believe it or not, Adam is the most calm one in his family.)

After the triumphant game, we played some games and Braeden and Emma and Clarissa and Brian sang together some.  (I told Braeden if he didn't want to sing when his friends visit he should invite less talented friends over.)  I loved hearing them.  The harmony!

Later in the evening, Adam and I were sitting together in the darkened living room, reflecting on the weekend.

"We have a pretty good life," Adam said.

And we do.  It's as imperfect as can be, but when the sun shines, that helps along our inept furnace. Our kids are healthy and happy.  We have good things to eat (still thinking about that syrup) and a football team to cheer for, and after inviting over a few key people, our home can be filled with beautiful music.

As lives go, it's pretty good.

Monday we had another fleet of boys over to play Diplomacy.  I also had them move furniture because I'm an opportunist.  I called down to the basement for a few strong boys and five ran up the stairs (Braeden was not one of them...not his first rodeo).  They made short work of moving a bookcase.  Later, I chided Braeden for not coming to help too.  He said, "Mom, one of them is a linebacker.  I figured I'd let him do it."

Which is true.  The linebacker was useful.

Here are a few goofy shots of a few goofy boys.

This is an Austrian military uniform from WWII that Brian found in a thrift store a few years ago.  He (naturally) wore it to our house for the big Diplomacy battle (yes, that's the hat tucked under his arm...he walked around like that all day too).  I laughed every time I saw him.  Clarissa marveled when she met Brian.  She wondered how Braeden could find a friend so like him, when Braeden is sort of one of a kind.

It's a good question.  I'm glad there are others in the world too though.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Babysitting is not for sissies

Friday we had Cormac and Azure overnight while their parents went on an anniversary getaway.  I fully remember parenting a five year old and an almost three year old.  No problem...

Some things I didn't forget.  Fast food restaurants?  They're like riding a bike.  We went to Chick-fil-A and I ordered Cormac and Azure each a kids' meal (ah those days of cheap kids' meals...before my children ate like horses).  Cormac wanted to see the toy.  Ah ha!  It all came back to me.  "After you eat," I said.  I remembered how the toy could be so exciting they forget to eat and then they're hungry two minutes after you leave the restaurant.

"What I want is ice cream," Cormac said, pushing away his chicken nuggets.  Azure happily munched fries.

I told Cormac he could have some ice cream after he ate his chicken nuggets.  He looked morosely at his chicken.  "I'm not very hungry," he said, "I'm full."

I said, "OK."

He said, "Aunt Thelma, I am hungry.  For ice cream."

"Hmmm," I said.

He looked at me to see if I was bluffing.  I wasn't.

I felt slightly smug.  I've still got it.

Cormac and Azure finished (Cormac decided he was too full, even for ice cream).  They went to play in the play structure and Braeden impersonated a vacuum on their leavings.  He shared a little with Mark.

Braeden and Mark went to retrieve the kids when it was time to go.  Braeden's long arms and Mark's ability to climb up inside the slide as necessary were helpful assets.  Braeden gathered Azure on his lap and started to put her boots on.

"Where are your socks?" he asked.

Azure shrugged.  I didn't even remember what her socks looked like.  I felt decidedly less smug.  Losing the socks up inside the play structure? The oldest trick in a preschooler's book.  I thought we may swing by Target on the way home for some new socks.

Azure looked up and pointed.  "My socks are up there," she said.

Mark sighed.  "I'll go," he said.

(How did I take little kids around town before I had Braeden and Mark to help?)

Mark was the hero and found the socks.  Braeden carried Azure to the car and Cormac wanted to hold my hand in the parking lot, "Because if a car hit me, I would die."

I promised I wouldn't let that happen.

We headed home and read some stories.  Both kids yawned and Cormac wanted his pajamas on.  I could tell putting them to bed was going to be exactly no trouble.

They had brought sleeping pads and an arsenal of stuffed animals.  We tried to set it all up on the floor in Mark's room and there wasn't enough room.  We dragged everything to the school room and had to negotiate a great many things.  After stories and prayers and another diaper change for Azure and one last trip to the potty for Cormac and drinks of water all around, 45 minutes had passed and they were finally in bed.


This is why I had children when I was in my twenties.

Of course we weren't done yet with the bedtime ritual though.  They were in a strange place and that isn't easy.  I get it.  They got up several times.  I sweetly sent them straight back to bed every time, figuring they would eventually cave.  I realized it's a lot easier to be sweet when you know it's only for one night.

I had to go pick Emma up from the school so I left Mark at the helm.  When I arrived home, Azure had bolted and ran to our room but Mark had corralled her back.  Azure got up several more times.  Finally in desperation, I called Emma upstairs.  "Say goodnight to Emma," I told Azure.

"Good night," Azure said.

"Good night Azy," Emma said, "Now you go to sleep."

"OK," Azure said demurely.  And she didn't get up again*.  

I have no idea how I parented my little kids without the help of my big kids...  It's all very confusing.

*Adam came home from his business trip and he took the late shift when the kiddos woke back up.  It takes a village...

Friday, January 16, 2015

It could be worse

It always could be worse.

I keep telling myself that because:

1) we are having furnace woes again/still (no one is more tired of this than I am)

2) Adam is out of town

3) Braeden is sick--another trip to the walk in clinic

(Didn't cry to Ammon this time.  Olivia was the lucky winner!  It was after all, her birthday.)

All of this has combined to really sabotage my productivity.  It's hard to get much done when you are on the phone with/waiting for/chatting with repairmen or in the waiting room at the walk in clinic.  In an effort to make me feel terrible, the universe was plotting against me all day and I kept seeing silver Honda Odyssey minivans that reminded me of Janet and Stephanie which made me sad because I miss my friends.  (Sometimes the universe is a real jerk.)

It always could be worse though.

I know that.

While I was waiting for Braeden's prescription to be filled, I found myself at Hobby Lobby.  I can't be blamed.  I think I was having an out of body experience.  Some people do destructive things when they are stressed.

Apparently I buy wreaths.

It fits the door!  And probably won't even scare Adam!

It could be worse (as far as destructive behavior goes).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A book review

I announced to my sisters and mom and whoever else was around when we were in Nevada that I wasn't doing book reviews on my blog anymore.  I'm not really that good at it.  They protested.  They like them.

Adam and Braeden think they're boring.

I guess this goes to show that my mom and sisters' opinions matter.  (Would you want those women mad at you?  Their combined willpower would melt steel.)

I read this:

It was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

I love every Newberry Prize winner I've ever read.  Pulitzer Prize winners often disappoint me.  (With a few notable exceptions.  Looking at you, To Kill a Mockingbird.)

As I read, I realized maybe the problem with this book (besides being so long and dense that it took me forever to read and I had to pay an overdue fee at the library) was that it was written by a man.

(Adam and Braeden already hate these book review posts--might as well go all out and offend men everywhere.)

Books by men are often more crude and have worse language than those written by women.  I don't know why.  There were whole sections I skimmed because some of the characters (who were supposed to be despicable, but I think that could have been demonstrated in other ways) were crass.

Also, while there was no real happy ending, a "resolution" of sorts came when the main and likable character beat up two of the unlikable characters and the third (really) unlikable character drowned.

It seemed like an ending a man would come up with.  (A woman would have everyone talk at length.)

Now, for the lame book review part of this post:  It's set in Empire Falls, Maine.  It's about a man who's lived there all his life.  He was at something of a crossroads in his life and I kept reading, despite the at times crude language, because I was really pulling for him and wanted to know what he would do.  There were other likable characters and a whole lot of interesting characters and I think I liked it too because I like small towns.  So I don't know if I recommend it or not.  How good are you at skimming?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A fine line

I found a new wreath for the front door.  It's a any-time-of-the-year wreath.  I like it.  It speaks to me.

Then I hung it on the front door and it was bigger than the front door, wider than the door frame.  It felt sort of tragic.

The space above our bed caught my eye; I could hang it there.

It still speaks to me...and as a bonus, that's sort of how my hair looks in the morning.  I feel like the wreath and I have that in common.

Adam wasn't so sure about the wreath.  He's afraid it will fall off the wall and blind him.  He thinks it's a little scary.

I told Adam what my cousin Rachel posted on Facebook yesterday:

I think it applies.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Someday I will want a picture of my boy on his 18th birthday, opening a gift:

His gifts were all history books or gift cards to likely be spent on gas and fast food.  Two exceptions were the box of mint truffles from the BYU bookstore from Clarissa (mints are Braeden's favorite) and a Bionicle from Mark.  (Mark excels at giving himself gifts in the guise of giving them to his siblings...)

Someday I (may) want a picture of yet another ugly birthday cake I made.  (It seems like I'd get better at birthday cakes.  I don't.)  Braeden wanted a replica of the "frog" cake I made for his second birthday.  He's sentimental about that cake for some reason:

Someday I will want a picture of Braeden sitting with his lit candles while we sing Happy Birthday to him:

Someday I will want to remember the birthday poem (complete with illustrations) Emma wrote for Braeden. 

one little buffalo, walking through the grass.
two mean cows said, "You shall not pass!"
three little stars came to the buffalo's relief.
four hippopotamuses said, "Good grief!"
five flying monkeys passed through the sky.
six derpy kids shouted out "Oh my!"
seven fat pandas led the charge.
eight scary monsters showed up in a barge.
nine armadillos helped the panda bears escape.
ten assorted Frenchmen said, "Hey!  Have a crepe!"
eleven living toothpicks drove by on a sketchy bus.
twelve eco friendly clouds made quite a fuss.
thirteen boring rocks sang a song called "Fry."
fourteen unimpressed garden worms murmured, "Why?"
fifteen rebel leaves flew off the tree.
sixteen judgmental ducks said, "Mercy me!"
seventeen muskrats yelled, "Broz, stop hatin'!"
and an eighteen angel choir sang, "Happy Birthday Braeden!"

Someday I'll have this blog post to remind me.

Monday, January 12, 2015


I got Emma out of school (which is a lot easier since the school is an open campus and I don't have to anger the attendance woman at GPHS any longer) and we headed to Draper to the nicest DMV in America.  (Emma, of course, doesn't appreciate that because she's never been to another DMV.  Oh, sweet girl, you will learn...)

Emma was old enough for her learner's permit in August, but that's when we moved so we had bigger fish to fry.  Since then we've been in a standoff.

Emma and I are really good at standoffs.  It may be our mother/daughter love language.  She wanted to go take the test and I wanted her to study first.

On the way to the DMV, she told me that her "studying" had been reading the book once.

Naturally, (kind of infuriatingly) she passed on the first try.  Emma.  Not only does she usually win our standoffs, but she's usually pretty smart too.

So now she has her permit.

Here we go again.

That night, Braeden invited some friends over to play Diplomacy.  (Diplomacy is like a teenage version of Chutes and Ladders.  It's way more complicated but every bit as arduous and painful.) I had zero role in the entire affair.  Wait, I did buy several 2 liters of soda.  Adam picked up pizza on his way home from work and that was that.

It's weird.

Birthday parties used to be an undertaking.  There were invitations and decorations and food.  There was greeting parents when they dropped off guests and hoping your child was gracious about gifts.  There was keeping everyone happy and damage control.  There were games and singing Happy Birthday and cutting the cake.

Now I just buy several 2 liters.

The boys all drove themselves here.  I'd met nearly all of them before and I've seen them perform. (They're all either drama or choir friends.  Braeden isn't in choir but he's friends with lots of kids who are.)  Now that I think about it, I should have requested they sing for me.  They are in the chamber choir at PGHS, which is amazing. 

They were polite and friendly and appreciative.  They retreated to the basement.  Occasionally I would hear hoots of laughter.  Emma stood in for one of the players for awhile because he was late (there seemed to be a lot of speculation about some kind of entanglement with a girl) and Mark was even allowed to be involved for awhile.

Adam and I were empty nesters, upstairs.

I sent Adam down at one point to take a few pictures.  It seemed like the party for the 18th birthday should at least be somewhat documented.

True to their innate predilection to perform and be expressive, they were in no way phased by someone taking their picture. 

And I am thinking they were having fun.

Friday, January 9, 2015


This weekend Braeden will turn 18.

The last year has not been an easy one for Braeden.  It wasn't his idea to move.  He left behind friends he loved and teachers he loved and a school he loved.  He was plain sad.  And then, little by little, he was better.  In typical Braeden fashion, his native optimism carried the day.  I am proud of the way he's made the best of a hard situation and I know that it will make him a better person.  He is turning 18 a little less carefree, a little more empathetic, a little kinder, a little stronger.

Eighteen.  It feels like such a big deal.  It is a milestone, sort of a guidepost that says, "OK, you are an adult."

When I home schooled Braeden, I realized that his favorite way to learn was to just do it.  He barely listened if I explained how to do an assignment in too much detail.  It was better for him if I just turned him loose on it and he could come back to me with questions.

I know there are more lessons for him to learn and they're lessons I can't teach him.  I'm not exactly looking forward to him leaving home (at all) but when has motherhood been about me?  From the time I took Braeden to get his first vaccination, I had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes, being a mother was doing what was right for your child even if you didn't want to do it.

I can't help but feel excited for Braeden too though.  He is planning on serving a two year mission for our church after he graduates from high school.  He doesn't get to pick where he will go and the possibilities are exhilarating.  I have a lot of confidence in him and his abilities.  He will help people and make their lives better.  It will be hard for me to share my boy, but share him I will.

After his mission, there will be college.  We are still waiting to know exactly where that will be but I'm happy with the options.  From where I sit, his future looks bright, bright, bright.

Here he is world.  My imperfect, maddening, marvelous boy.  I can't express the depth of my affection for him.  If giving him to the world was all I ever did, it would (in my, you know...completely unbiased opinion) be enough.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Around here lately

the view in the morning
1- Adam has a herd of deer he watches over every night in our yard.

2- Emma has a lot of homework, always.

3- Braeden never has any, ever.

4- Mark is feeling better, which is unfortunate for him when it is school time.

5-Adam had a work thing last night and Mark left him this:

there are so many church buildings around they just number them--the numbers aren't actually on the buildings though so it doesn't really help me
 6-Adam's work thing was dinner at a fancy restaurant.  I told him he should have sent Mark a sorry you had to have dinner at home note.

7- I have three overdue library books and, unlike in the Sno-Isle library system (which I miss a lot), they actually charge you for overdue books here.

8- I also have a cold sore.  I never used to get cold sores.

9- I don't like them.

10- At least the sky is pretty.  I take a ridiculous amount of pictures of the sky.

winter sunsets are my favorite

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A day of unexpectedness

Sunday Mark was sick, or was he?  We never know with him.  He was fine at church and then walked around the neighborhood gathering offerings with another deacon and got cold.

It was like Victorian days when getting "a chill" would make you sick.  We went to see my grandma and help her box up her Christmas decorations and we left him home.

When we got home he had a fever and hadn't eaten anything all day.  OK, so he was sick.  The next morning, his fever was gone but he didn't feel up to school.  And he still wouldn't eat.  I decided to take the opportunity to run some of my errands.  First I went to Target.  The store employee at the register was probably in her twenties.  She was scanning my purchases and said, "Last week I had the most random thought.  It was so random I didn't tell anyone.  I thought what if I were pregnant and working and my water broke?  I mean, what would I do?  Tell my manager?"

I wondered silently why last week it was too random to tell anyone and suddenly, it was just perfect to tell me.

She seemed to want a response though, so I said, "It's good to be prepared for eventualities."

"Yeah," she said appreciatively.

My next stop was Costco.  I'm very grateful there is Costco in the world and I'm grateful there is one close to me, but I don't like going to Costco.  I had avoided it since the week before Christmas.  I had cobbled together a milk supply from the grocery store, but otherwise we were in dire need of a Costco run.  I'm pretty sure I bought the entire store so I'm sorry if you went to Costco in Lehi Monday afternoon and the shelves were all bare.

I took my purchases home and checked on Mark.  His fever was back and he was sick.  Still hadn't eaten and wouldn't drink much.  I decided I needed to take him to the doctor.

I quickly stuffed all the perishables in the refrigerator and freezer and left everything else on the kitchen table.  Then I set about finding a doctor that would take both our insurance and new patients.  The recommendation I got from Melanee would not take our insurance so I hunted on.  The insurance website was extremely frustrating and slow and causing me anger management problems.  (This is a problem of living in the digital age.  Occasionally when information isn't instantaneous, it feels like a crime has been committed.)

I finally gave up on the website altogether and called them.  A very verbose man, reading from a rambling script was able to eventually find me a doctor.  Then he kept asking, "Are you satisfied with the level of service this phone call provided?"

Yes.  It was peachy.

About then Braeden and his friend Brian came home.  They burst into the kitchen and saw the contents of Costco on the table and both stopped in their tracks.

"Whoa," Braeden said, "Do you need some help?"

"Yes!" I said, "Will you get Emma after her tech crew meeting so I can take Mark to the walk in clinic?"

"Sorry," Braeden said, "Her meeting ends when play practice starts."

So instead of helping me, the boys helped themselves to a snack.

After I had retrieved Emma and packed my shivering feverish boy in the van, we headed to the walk in clinic.

What wonders awaited us there in the waiting room!  Three adults were there--one appeared to be the daughter of the other two--with a little boy about 4 or 5 years old who had the most elaborate bedhead I'd ever seen.  It was a work of art.  The adults completely ignored the boy and then eventually (like the time he'd pulled the string repeatedly on one of those toys that says, "the cow says moooooo" for about five minutes straight) they'd yell at him to be quiet.  Two women were talking loudly to each other and then on their cell phones and one of them was clearly annoyed with the other one and kept sighing deeply and rolling her eyes.  Two other women were there with masks over their faces.  One of them started doing stretches and deep knee bends.  There was one other guy--a little older than Braeden--and he was talking into his cell phone, outlining all the dreaded symptoms he had.  Mark had his hood pulled up on his sweatshirt and kept muttering under his breath that he should have just stayed home.

He was cranky.

We finally got called into the back. The doctor asked Mark if he'd missed school and Mark said he was homeschooled.  The doctor got excited and said his wife homeschooled their children.  He asked me if I was a part of the local home school group.  I said no, we'd recently moved from the Seattle area.

His jaw dropped.

"People home school in Seattle?"

"Not anymore," I said, "Not since we moved."

(I didn't really say that.  I only say a small portion of what pops into my head in an effort to be more socially acceptable.)

I very much liked the doctor though and I think we should make him our new doctor.  I liked the way he listened.

We went away with a strep throat diagnosis and a prescription to fill which allowed us the opportunity to find a pharmacy.

I guess it all goes to show, you never know how your day will unfold.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Eleven of each

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of? 
I felt pretty safe at the New Year's Eve party since these guys were handling security
Snips and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
the eleven boy cousins
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of? 

Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.

the eleven girl cousins

Monday, January 5, 2015

Celebrating a new year

We had a big party at Marianne and Robert's house on New Year's Eve.  When we were growing up, my mom called Marianne the party girl because she was always either planning or having a party.  (My mom should have called me the leave me alone girl, because that was more my scene, but she didn't.  She's nice like that.)  So it was fitting that the big party was at Marianne's.

I snapped this photo of Enoch before we went to Marianne's.  He had come straight from basketball practice and was accidentally still wearing his whistle.

It was a very fitting shirt for him to be wearing.  If my kids played basketball, I'd want him to be their coach. He is a good and kind coach and his team wins a lot and he's (mostly) unflappable when some of the girls on his team cry.

New Year's Eve is also Morgan's birthday so we celebrated that a little before things got underway.

See the chaos in the background?  That was pretty much the situation.  Look at that dear boy's smile though.  How we love Morgan and are grateful he's part of us now.

Braeden wore his horse head.  Because what's a party without a horse head?

We snacked on a kitchen full of any and every kind of food you associate with parties.  It was quite a spread.  After awhile, things got glamorous.

Enoch and Jennifer

I think my dad was determining which props to use.

Here's what he came up with.

Ammon was feeling sort of lonely without Melanee--who was at my parents', putting their little ones to bed.

Emma and Braeden

So glam they sweat glitter:  Clarissa, Liberty, Emma and Desi

Up until the last second, Edgar had a prop too.  I love that Olivia married someone with an even stronger will than her own.  He won't be pushed around.  And they make a cute couple.

double 'stache

I'm not sure what kind of caption to put here.  I should point out that we're Mormons and there was no alcohol at this shin dig. 

Another cute couple

Don't you hate it when you think the lips are covering yours and then they aren't?  Also, did I marry the Monopoly man?  If so, I want $200 for passing GO and my Get Out of Jail Free card.

We had had a great time laughing and playing games, but there is always someone that wimps out on the party early.  And by someone, I mean me.  At 11:00, my parents took me home.  They were fine to leave too.  I would say that it's because I'm old but I didn't like staying up all that late when I was a teenager either.  I figured it was midnight in Utah, where I now reside, so Happy New Year, I'm going to bed.

On New Year's Day we had a big dinner at my parents' house.  Here's the table in the sunroom--and there was another table set inside for some of the kids (the tweens--they are OK on their own, unlike the littles, and OK not being with the adults, unlike the teenagers).

My mom is amazing.

Here's a parting shot, a random picture of two happy boys, squinting in the cold bright sunshine.

Where are the redhead's shoes?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ladies' brunch

Every year Olivia hosts a ladies' brunch for all the ladies in the family over the age of eight. 

Every year I wish I could be there and this year I was!

Before he made a break for it with all his cute little sons, Edgar took a picture of us:

This picture makes me happy.

It's more than just happy though.  It's approaching pure joy.

I love these women and girls.  When I think of sisterhood, this is the definition.  These women are an interwoven group who are fiercely loyal to each other.  Over the years we've cheered each other on in a myriad of ways.  The mothers are a support to each other, the aunts are kind cheerleaders of the girls, the daughters are true friends, helpful assets when it comes to their younger cousins and a lot of fun to be around.  My mom is the rock solid matriarch that makes everything wonderful.  I love that Emma, who is a lone girl between two brothers, has the opportunity to be a part of it. 

When I say we laughed and cried, I mean we laughed until my cheeks hurt and we cried our makeup off.

The food was amazing and decadent.  We played After the Manner of the Adverb which cracked. Me. Up.  We wrote down some goals and aspirations to be sealed in an envelope for next year and then we made predictions about where Clarissa and Braeden will go on their missions.

I don't know what all will happen in 2015.  I do know that these women will help me celebrate and/or survive whatever it is.


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