Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A list

I have had my nose to the grindstone.  Or the computer.  Or the cell phone.  Being a young women's president and planning a youth conference that is a week from today has been a whirlwind.  I am in a constant state of meetings and text messages and emails and phone calls.  The communication is all varied.  The girls only text.  The people my age seem to prefer email.  The ladies a little older use the telephone for talking.

Sunday after three hours of church, I had three hours of meetings.

(It's not the most fun I've ever had.  I have profound sympathy for Adam and his life which is primarily meetings.)

When I pause from all of the roommate assignments, permission slip tracking down and arrangement making, I have to notice the good little things in life too.  Here's a list of a few of the simple + happy things that have been making me smile.

1- unexpected gifts

On my birthday Janet told me she had sent a gift but it was going to be arriving late.  Then I forgot all about it and was delighted when I got the mail. 

2-hot air balloons

I don't care how rotten your night's sleep was, that's a cheering sight.

I love being in the shadow of the mountain in the morning.  And I love that blue sky.

3- my kids' friends

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on my bed, answering email about...youth conference.  I glanced outside and saw Emma's friend Vanessa on the trampoline.  Emma was inside doing homework.  I said, "Hey, Emma, did you know Vanessa is outside?"  Emma called out the door to her and Vanessa had been on a bike ride and had stopped for a drink of water.  She decided to jump on the trampoline first.  For one thing, how hardy is Vanessa that she rode her bike all the way up to our house?  (There is a steep incline between Vanessa's house and ours.)  For another thing, I love that she stopped to jump on the trampoline first. 

4- Emma Jayne

Friday night Emma and I found ourselves home alone.  We watched Joe Versus the Volcano, leaning against each other, sharing a blanket in the cool basement.  I also loved sitting next to her during the Women's Broadcast on Saturday night.  She reached over and squeezed my hand when they were talking about motherhood.  Having a daughter is where it's at.

5- my people

This is on the spine of my Young Women Binder (in all caps because just organizing all the papers inside this guy took a lot):

It makes me unreasonably happy every time I see it.

I may be harried and busy and all that, but I am grateful for the little things that added all together are a pretty big thing.

Each day comes bearing its own gifts.  Untie the ribbons.
Ruth Ann Schabacker

Monday, March 30, 2015


Maybe it's because I try to care if my kids' rooms are messy, but I can't seem to maintain interest in the subject.  The only times their beds ever get made are once a week when I change the sheets.

Maybe it's because we have inconsistently healthy meals.  I don't buy organic.  Or free range.  I don't steer clear of most of what is supposedly going to kill us.  No one gets out alive.  If the GMOs don't get us the BPAs will.  I'm not as concerned as I should be.  

Or maybe it's because every once in awhile I fail in a spectacular fashion to know what my kids' schedules are or where they are.

Whatever the reason, it's now official (because I wrote it on the chalkboard).

Friday, March 27, 2015

The eagle has landed

Last night Braeden finally had his Eagle Scout board of review.  He took his sweet time doing his project and then the board of review kept getting delayed.

They told him he could wear his uniform or, if his shirt no longer fit him, a white shirt and tie.  He opted for the latter.  His uniform probably doesn't fit him.  He hasn't worn it for years and I think the numbers for Troop 55 are still on it, which was two scout troops ago.

In other words, his mom is behind the times on the sewing.

Adam and I were supposed to go too.  We were going to be able to introduce him before the board.  Braeden's young men's president said it was a great thing to do as a parent.

So we went.  There was another boy there to do his board of review too.  He was dressed in khaki from his head to his toes and was highly decorated.  His parents were there...his dad in a suit, his mom in a dress and heels.

I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  My mom always taught me that it's better to be overdressed than under dressed, but I failed.

We all sat in a room full of men in uniform.  One conducted and talked about the process for the evening.  The two boys were assigned to two different rooms and two different boards.  Their leaders and parents were to introduce them, then be excused for the review.  After, assuming they passed, he explained the next steps in obtaining the award.

He kept using the word appropriate.  As in, afterward we could celebrate appropriately.  Also, there was a flag set up so we could take an appropriate picture after the proceedings of our scout by the flag.

I was supposed to bring a camera?  I had my phone.  Good enough.

Five minutes into the meeting, my phone which was thankfully on silent, vibrated.  It was Emma.  She was at the driving range for driver's ed and was done early.  Could I come and pick her up?  It was dark and she was in a school parking lot waiting.  I slipped away from the meeting.

Dear Driver's Ed instructor:

Don't leave my teenage daughter alone in a dark parking lot if her class ends early.


Mama Bear

So I wasn't there for the introduction.  First they had Braeden introduce Adam.  Then the other way around.  They both cried.  And I missed it!  

I got back a few minutes before it was all over and they emerged from the room all smiles.  We didn't really do anything appropriate (or inappropriate) to celebrate but Braeden did take a selfie by the flag.

It seemed appropriate.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And you can not go on being an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad.

C.S. Lewis

Around the same time I became the Young Women's president, my little brother Tabor became bishop.  I wouldn't trade him places for all the candy the Young Women eat.  (Seriously, they are always eating candy.)  We are both going through something.  He with a lot more grace and confidence than I am, but that surprises exactly no one.

Change is such a complicated thing.  I like some change and hate other change.  It's hard for me to be flexible sometimes.  It's hard to go do new things in new places with new people.  I can resist it all I want, but it's sort of like trying to resist the seasons changing.  Not gonna happen.

A few days ago, Mark went to the junior high for a placement test for math next year.  Mark works through things by talking about them.  We talked about the test at length.  I assured him that it had nothing whatsoever to do with how smart he is.  He was taking the test so we could see how his math curriculum coincides with the school's math curriculum and to make sure he's in the right class next year.  I told him it didn't matter to me at all which class he was placed in, I just wanted him to do his best so it would be an accurate picture.

For the rest of the day, he told me, like it was his idea, that the test wasn't about him being smart and that he really wanted to know which class he should be in.  Because he wanted to be in the right class.

I would just agree with him and tell him he seemed to have it all figured out.

On the way to the school, he asked me if I was nervous.  I said no.  I said, "Are you?"  He said no.  I said, "Sometimes when I go somewhere for the first time and do something new I feel nervous.  I think that's normal."

He said, "Yeah, I guess I feel a little nervous."

I took him to the appointed spot and said, "OK, good luck, see you later."

He gave me that look that my kids give me sometimes that makes me want to gather them up in my arms and take them home and maybe wrap them in bubble wrap.  It's a look of momentary panic and naked fear and then they remember themselves and their native self confidence and smile and say, "OK."

(My parents and siblings are some of the most confident people I know.  It rubbed off on my kids.  I don't know what happened to me.)

He felt pretty good after the test.  He said, "There was a lot of algebra but nothing about pi.  There was just one pie chart, but nothing about pi or area or volume.  If I get to the class and they said, 'OK, we're going to learn about pi,' I'm going to say, 'I already know this,' and then I'm going to leave and go do another elective."

"Well," I said, "you can't do that."

I can tell he's excited about school.  He's a little nervous, but he's also excited.  And he will figure it out.  I know he will.

(Who I'm worried about is me.)

It's ridiculous how transparent my dreams are.  Last night I dreamed I was organizing Mark's clothes (clothes organizing on the mind) and he had all these little jeans overalls and t-shirts.  Everything was size 3T and that seemed about right.

Emma and Braeden are going through their own changes.  Emma is Miss Society lately.  Her social calendar is full.  She got invited to a boy's birthday party for the first time.  She keeps wanting to do stuff and it keeps confusing me because I used to have to coax her nose out of a book.  I am glad she's having fun.

Yesterday Braeden started a new job.  He didn't mind KFC terribly, but the hours were hard.  Getting home at 11:00 on a school night was not fun.  He is now working for an insurance agent, making calls trying to get people to want free insurance quotes.  He's one of those people.  Finishing work at 7:00 each night will be a lot better though, plus he will make more money.  He told me that he wants me to introduce him to people as, "our son that is in the insurance business."

I am watching Braeden figure things out.  He is getting more and more aware of himself and his needs and what works and what doesn't.  He has looked tall and grown up and everything for awhile now, but he seems more grown up lately.  This has been a hard year for him.  I'm sure the hardest of his life so far.  He has fought his way through it.  He's changed along with the changes.  He's adjusted his sails when he couldn't control the wind.

I will just try to follow his example.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My wardrobe

For awhile I've been intrigued by the idea of minimalist wardrobes and wardrobe capsules.  The idea is basically that you have a limited number of clothes and you really like them.

I like the idea because what I do over and over and over again, is find something on a screaming sale and I buy it even if I only marginally like it because what a deal!  I may not like it enough to pay full price but when it's so cheap, I like it enough.

Then I end up with a closet full of clothes I sort of like and that may or may not look very good on me.

I read some blog posts about minimalist wardrobe and read some of their "rules".  I decided that I would try to limit my wardrobe to 25 items.  I bent the rules to not include shoes, church clothes or jackets.

Because jackets.

I love them.

I piled all my clothes on my bed.

It was rather disturbing.

I talked to Marianne on the phone part of the time I was sorting and stewing over clothes.  She thought I was crazy.  She said, "You have space and you like to shop.  What's wrong with that?"

I told her that I also like to eat brownies but I can't just do it all the time.

I want to be the type of person that is disciplined and only wears and more importantly buys things that are really great.  And if they are really great, I won't need too many of them, right?  (I want to be that type of person, but I'm such a make do, settle-for-whatever type of person, I don't know if I'll ever change.)

I enlisted Adam's help.  I tried on clothes and told him to be brutally honest.

We have been married long enough that he knew I didn't want him to be anything resembling brutally honest.  We have also been married long enough that I knew when he paused a second too long before responding or if he said things like, "It's not as flattering as some of the other clothes..." that I needed to toss the article of clothing in the donate pile immediately.

So after discarding what didn't work, I sorted out clothes that are out of season and I tried to limit myself to 25 choices for my current wardrobe.

Then I started cheating.  Kind of like when you cheat at playing solitaire.  It's ridiculous.  I started allowing clothes to stay on the basis of being used when I do things like yard work and I started classifying zip up hoodie sweatshirts as jackets so I could keep more of them.

Baby steps. Rome wasn't built in a day.

The good news is that I filled three garbage bags with clothes I am getting rid of.  My closet is about half full.

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A happy birthday

It was kind of a perfect day.  There was a great mix of time alone and time with Adam and time with our children (although not quite enough time with Braeden because he had to work).

My one request for the day was breakfast at Kneaders.  I had heard about their French toast and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype.

It did.

Then, we went to IFA for weed killer.  I grew up going to IFA (Intermountain Farmers Association).  It smells the same as it always did.  Adam perused weed killer while Mark and I looked at the baby chicks and ducklings.  They reminded me of when we got chicks and ducklings from the IFA in Elko when I was growing up.  (They were cute and fuzzy and then grew up to be ugly and unloved.  Then they all died, either accidentally or not entirely accidentally.)

We didn't buy any of the cute chicks or ducklings.  I think I have PTSD when it comes to animals.

There were rabbits in a cage.  Mark said, "Mom, I don't even want to tell you what those little black things are in the bottom of the cage."

I appreciated him preserving my innocence.

For the past probably five years, Adam has been going to get a new grill for his birthday and then for Father's Day because he wouldn't commit to one for his birthday.  He is a stubborn man.  He doesn't like to spend money on himself.  (Thankfully he doesn't have the same problem spending money on me...)

We left the old decaying and rusted grill behind when we moved, so this birthday, he NEEDS to get a new one.  No more Mrs. Nice Wife.  I mean business.  The night before our birthday he said, "I might wait until Father's Day."

Don't worry though.  I've got this.  He is getting a grill soon, if it kills me.  And it might.

We went to look at Home Depot and Lowe's.  While we looked at grills, Mark sat on ride on lawn mowers, considering the options.  Last summer Mark and Braeden mowed the lawn together, they'd each do a part. He sees a future with his big brother gone though and he is already campaigning for a better option than an aging push mower.

(To which I have to say, good luck Mark.)

We came home and Adam did various chores around the house and I re thought my wardrobe.  I'll have to save that for another post though.  It was a Thing.

We went to Cracker Barrel for dinner, sans Braeden (sniff) and I didn't get French toast like I usually do, because I'd had it for breakfast.  Mark did get French toast again for dinner because it is that good.

The day was otherwise filled with phone calls, text messages, Facebook birthday wishes and emails from people I love.  What a nice world it is.  (I won't say I have favorites, but one niece and one nephew texted me birthday wishes...)

One new fledgling friend even brought me over a cupcake.  She doesn't know me that well and she worried I didn't like chocolate or eat sugar, but she took a risk.  Ha.  Ha ha.

And it was a really good cupcake.

I also want to remember my gifts from my family.  The ways they showed me they love me.

Adam bought me this:

It is the patio furniture I exactly wanted.  I told Adam that I may never leave the deck.  (On Saturday we borrowed Ammon and Melanee's truck to transport it from the store and then Olivia and Liliana helped us haul it to the deck.  I am not above making people work if they are in the vicinity.)

Come over and sit with me and enjoy the view.

Braeden bought me a rocking chair from Cracker Barrel.  I can't explain about our family and Cracker Barrel.  We have an unreasonable attachment.  I think because we ate there so much on our big trip a few summers ago.  It's our happy place.  It's so kitschy and comforting.

Braeden enlisted Alyse's help (because she has a truck) to get the chair.  Then he texted Adam.

Braeden: I've made a huge mistake. Nobody told me the rocking chairs are 150 FREAKING DOLLARS!

Adam:  You should have asked Mr. Internet.

Braeden: That's what Alyse said.

Adam: Go ahead and buy the chair.  I'll pay part of it.

Braeden: Yeah, that's what I figured.

He is a turkey.  But his heart is always in the right place.  And I love my new rocking chair.

Emma was bound and determined to get me a great gift.  She's been asking for months for gift ideas.  I told her I wanted three 8-inch cake pans.  And they had them at Hobby Lobby.  They aren't readily available, that's one of the few places I've found them.  When Adam took Emma there, they were out.  They went to half a dozen stores and no one else had them.  Emma instead bought me two enormous bags of M & Ms, one pretzel and one peanut (my favorites and she knows it).  She said that she will still be getting the 8 inch pans.  And I believe her.  She gets committed.

I told Mark I wanted a letter.  From him.  He wrote a note to me and one to Adam on the same piece of paper.  One was upside down from the other.  He's all about going green.  He also made me this necklace.

He saw an employee at the Lego store with a similar necklace awhile ago and he immediately knew which pieces he needed to recreate it.  And he, of course, had the pieces in stock.  I love it.  Mark often gives me gifts built of Lego bricks and I eventually return the pieces to him.  I may not return these though.

Today I feel loved.  I feel rejuvenated.  And I feel like I have a lot of work to do because I did nothing yesterday.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Turning the tide

Friday the ice maker started working.  It happened all on its own.  Had it just been tired?  Feeling under appreciated?  I kind of feel like we should get to the bottom of it but I also kind of feel like we should just go with it.

In the early evening, Braeden was working, Adam was refereeing basketball games and Emma's friends came over.  Not that long ago I told Emma, "You can have your friends over sometime if you want."  Now we have them multiple times a week and I like it.  They are funny and loud and happy girls.  They occasionally hang out in the kitchen but they mostly stay in the basement.  They do each others' hair and laugh and watch Netflix and talk about weird fan girl stuff.  That, and senior boys.  There seems to be some interest there...

I think a basement is a beautiful thing.

After eating several chicken sandwiches Adam brought home from work, Mark had gone to his friend Nick's house so I had delicious time alone.  I sequestered myself in the school room.  Earlier in the day, I had cleaned my desk.

It doesn't approach the level of tidiness Mark maintains, but any day I can see the surface of the desk is a good day.

You have no idea what this did for my psyche.  I feel like I'll survive now.  (It had sort of been touch and go there for awhile.)  On my freshly organized surface, I organized my life a little.  I made school plans and typed up agendas for meetings and did all sorts of little tasks that soothed my soul and made me feel like my life was more in control.

Occasionally I would hear happy laughter coming up from the basement and I would smile.  I had heard the garage door earlier and so I thought Mark was home and I assumed he was downstairs with the girls too.  A strange phenomena in the Emma having friends over thing is that Mark usually hangs out with them too.  And it works.  It never works with Braeden, who is accommodating and a peacemaker and would do just about anything to avoid a conflict.  He inevitably comes to find me to beg me to distract Mark.  It works with Emma though, who would tell her brother to get lost in a heartbeat if she felt like it.  I don't understand why she rarely does.  Maybe Emma's friends think Mark is funny? Maybe the closer age difference helps?  Maybe Mark is getting more mature?

Pretty sure the last one is not true.  He's very thoroughly a twelve year old boy.

Anyway, I was happy they were all harmoniously enjoying the evening and I was feeling smug satisfaction about how on top of things I was when the phone rang.

It was Mark.

Calling from the basement?

"Hey Mom," he said breezily, "I'm just calling to check in."

My mind couldn't process the information.  I looked at the clock and it was after 8:00 and approaching dark.  "Are you at...Nick's?" I stuttered.

"Yeah," he said.

"I thought you came home hours ago!"

And just like that I was no longer on top of things.

"Do you think I should come home now?" Mark asked.

"Yeah," I said, "It's getting dark."

So the moral of that story is, don't ever think you have a handle on things, I guess.

In other news, today is our birthday, mine and Adam's.  We're forty-two.  Emma said she already thought we were forty-two and so did I.  But no, today is the day.

Emma also bent over the chair where I was sitting to kiss me good-bye before school and then gave me 42 pats on the head.  So I feel celebrated.

Saturday I got to see my sisters and I got to use Ammon's truck (which isn't as nice as seeing him) and my parents took us to dinner to celebrate and we watched Clarissa's concert and then sat outside in the mild evening air and chatted with Marianne and Robert and children over bottles of soda (including but not limited to Leninade--a taste worth standing in line for).

It really doesn't taste that good but the bottle cracks Braeden up.

It was a great way to spend a pre birthday.  In my mind, that had been the celebration.

Then yesterday afternoon, Adam off-handedly (and no one can do off-handed like Adam) said that he was taking today off.  Best. Gift. Ever.

Two birthday kids, along with their red head, painting the town red. That's us.

Friday, March 20, 2015


In our school room, here is Mark's desk:

We keep things like Kleenex, the pencil sharpener,  and the phone (at least the base for the phone) on his desk, so we can find them.  And, I guess, also Churchill Wit, because you never know when you may need some. 

It feels a little like Mark's desk is judging mine.  Is it just me or is it a little smug? 

Here's my desk.

Mark is scandalized.  I think he's afraid it's contagious and his desk will become infected by it's across-the-room proximity to my desk.

Things are pretty bad.

There are stacks of the new Young Women detritus that is overtaking my life.  There are parts and pieces of ill conceived ideas.  There is a lot of school stuff.  There are even gifts buried in there that are for my mom's birthday.  Perhaps the phone is in there?  I see Morgan's tie that he accidentally left here last month and the paper cutter Adam used and then left on Mark's desk.  Mark moved it over to my desk, pinched between two fingers.  He wants no part of any of it.

My desk is never pristine because I don't work that way, but this is seriously out of hand.

I can't work this way either.

I am going to hyperventilate or run away from home or maybe just break down and straighten up.  The irony is that I've been so busy and preoccupied with other things that I let my desk get this way and now I can't function because it's so...well, you can see.

Once my mom told me (about one of my children) that I needed to take the day off and teach them who was boss.

I think I need to take the day off and teach my desk who is boss.

In the meantime, here's something from Albert Einstein:

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

At least my desk isn't empty.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


It's that time of year when I hear birds in the morning.

Fresh strawberries are starting to be in season, so they're inexpensive.

Adam's creation:  how we celebrated after Emma's concert
It's the time of year when the trees have a light green gauzy cloud around them that is the very beginning of leaves.

For the first time in my life I have trees with blossoms.

And I'm in love.

Also, daffodils!  They were a surprise left from the last homeowners:

Apparently tulips are like candy for deer but they don't like daffodils.

Then there's this:

Nothing to do with spring but it makes me happy.  That's Emma with her friend Adri who has the most infectious wonderful laugh you'll ever hear.  Adri is also a genius with hair.  They had been playing around with turn of the (last) century styles for the upcoming play Emma is in.  First Adri did all those curls then she did this amazing arrangement that reminded me of Mr. Selfridge.  (I wish I'd taken a picture of Emma but you get the idea...)

I had to stop at the store and pick up hairspray for the occasion.  We didn't have any, much to Adri's dismay.  I told her that Emma and I don't use hairspray because we're not really good at hair and we hope the wind can improve our efforts.

Three cheers for spring.

Three cheers for friends with infectious laughs and hair skills.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tender mercies

But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

1 Nephi 1:20

So guess what?  I'm the new Young Women president at church.   Coincidentally, I have had a headache for three days.

I'm sure the two things are not at all related.

I have about 40 girls that I'm in charge of.  They are 40 girls with vastly different talents and interests and maturity and confidence and family situation and life experiences.  They scare me and I love them.  And I'm pretty sure most of them don't like me.

It's a confusing time for all of us.

I said OK when I was asked to serve.  I didn't do it because I wanted to, I did it because I was asked.  So I'll do it.  Something happens when you do what you're asked by someone who you believe to be inspired by God.  You're blessed.  The blessings come in a variety of ways.  One of them is this crazy love you feel for the people you're serving.  It's not because of anything they've done.  I think it's because when I pray, I get a little inkling of God's love for them.

Another thing that happens is that happy tender mercies descend.

For example (and this is huge), I learned about Girls' Camp, you know the bane of my existence?  (I love NOT camping.) We're going to be staying in condos.  It's already arranged.  Condos!?!

And then there's Alyse.  She is this beautiful and extremely talented and confident girl who speaks with authority and poise.  She is one of my girls and through no merit of my own, loves me.  She tells me every time she sees me.  (She also hugs me.)  Braeden and Alyse are good friends.  I know that helps me in this situation, but that Alyse.  She brightens up my life.  It's amazing what one girl can do for a person.

Last night there was a choir concert at the high school, which is no small event.  The place was packed and the music was soul stirring.  How can so many talented singers live in the same geographic area?  Alyse is in the amazing and competitive chamber choir.  They knocked my socks off.  I found myself leaning forward in my chair because I wanted to absorb every note.  I didn't feel anxiety or my headache or anything.  I felt elevated by beautiful music.

Afterward, I hugged my Emma and told her that her choir was wonderful (they were).  Then I saw Alyse.  We hugged and she told me she loved me and she apologized for missing our first Young Women activity together, which is tonight (because she has a choir competition).  I said, "I know!  And you're the one who likes me."

Alyse looked me in the eye.  "They will like you," she said firmly, "they'll love you."

(What did I do to deserve Alyse?)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I have:

...sisters that get really mad when they perceive that I've been mistreated.  They both want to saddle up and come to my rescue.  Marianne wants to give everyone a talking to and Olivia just wants to smack someone.  I love those girls.

...a throat that's so sore I think I have sharp knives in my throat.

...trees with blossoms on them.

...a new plant.  I asked Adam to tell me when I have crossed the line and have too many plants.  He said a crazy houseplant lady is better than a crazy cat lady.

...an ice maker that has stopped working.  An ice maker isn't a necessity in the world but now I resent the space it is taking up.

...the best husband in the world.

...a green shirt.  (It is St. Patrick's Day.)

...stellar friends.  The fact that they live too far away doesn't come close to diminishing their shine.

...a yard with spring upon it which means yard work, which means I'd better get busy.

...a lot of laundry. (See above.)

Monday, March 16, 2015

For when things are hard

I remember a day when I was homeschooling Braeden and he was little.  He was frustrated because he couldn't spell and he started to cry.  "Why do I have to learn English?" he wailed, "another language would be easier.  This is too hard!"

When you homeschool your kids, you get that a lot.  There's plenty of, "This is too hard."  Because school is hard sometimes.  And it keeps getting harder.

It's easy to see, as the teacher, that it has to keep getting harder.  If this year's math isn't harder than last year's math, what's the point?  You aren't learning. 

Life is the same way.  It keeps getting harder.

It does.

More is expected of us, all the time.  Just when we think we have addition mastered, subtraction is thrown in the mix.  Then multiplication, then division!  When does it end?

Life keeps changing in it's dynamic lifey way and we adapt, our capacity increases.  And it's not bad, just because it's hard, it just takes adjusting to.  A senior in high school has a lot more on his plate than a kindergartner but the senior probably wouldn't trade places with the kindergartner.  (Being a senior comes with a whole lot of perks too.)

As a teacher, I know that the assignments have to keep getting more complex and they have to be challenging.

As our Father, God knows the same thing.

As a teacher, I am pretty good at knowing what my students can handle.  I have a good idea of what is hard enough and appropriate for growth.

Heavenly Father, being perfect, knows even better what is hard enough and appropriate for growth.

A few weeks ago at church, I was sitting in a class and the teacher was talking about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  One of my favorite scriptures was mentioned:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30

My teacher analogy went a step further. 

When I give a math assignment that is "too hard" in Mark's estimation, he has a few choices.  He can sit there in a grumpy funk and complain bitterly about it being too hard, or he can ask me for help.

I don't give him assignments that at least without a little nudge from me, he can't do.

Heavenly Father doesn't give us assignments or challenges we can't do either. 

We need to ask for help!

And do I ever need help.  I had quite a weekend.  It started on Friday with a visit to the dentist getting old fillings replaced.  And it didn't really improve from there.  There was drama, trauma, worry, tears, headaches, and a disappointing trip to Ikea.  Even Ikea!  Where everything is always happy!  (Except for when it isn't.)

I feel a little like I've been hit by a truck.

But today's a new day.  I have people who love me.  And as uphill as the battle feels,  I must be up to the challenge because it's my battle.

Here I go!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Living in PG


We live in a unique place.  Mormons Mormons everywhere.  There's still a degree of diversity amongst us; everyone isn't the same, but it always surprises me when I realize how much I have in common with nearly everyone I meet.

At the doctor's office and dentist's office, when I took Braeden for his pre-mission checkups, the doctors and nurses knew all about missions.  They talked about where they had served, where their kids are serving, where Braeden would like to go.  It gives me a we're-all-in-this-together feeling that is as surreal as it is nice.

During The Wizard of Oz, Braeden told me the cast prayed each night before the show.  Emma said the crew did the same.  Braeden added that the boys would go in their dressing room, share a scripture and say another prayer.  No adult was telling them to do any of it, they are just kids who pray. 

One night, there was a question and answer session for the cast.  Someone asked the tin woodsman how he held so still at the beginning of his scene when he's rusted.  He said, "I hold my breath and then pray a lot."

A few nights ago, Braeden asked us to pray for the kids doing a one act scene at the drama regional competition.  "OK," I said.

Braeden said, "Micah is in the scene and asked me to pray for him."

I wonder how many prayers are said in that school on a daily basis?

Probably the same amount as I say when I drive.  This place is crazy.

The other day, I was driving down the hill, propelled more by gravity than the lead foot Adam says I have (honestly...maybe).  I saw three police cars parked in a little speed trap formation.  Yikes!  I pushed on the brakes.  I had been going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone.  I was sure I was going to get a ticket, but the police let me glide on by.

Right of ways, turn lanes, lane lines, speed limits, cell phone laws, they are all irrelevant.  I don't know what is taught in driver's ed. besides, "Good luck." Sometimes I wonder just what you would have to do to get a ticket around here.

No wonder everyone prays so much.

Thursday, March 12, 2015



I have an ever lengthening list of books I want to read that are not at the Pleasant Grove Library.  I keep adding to the list.

In a corner of the closet in the school room, there is a pile of unfinished projects.  I keep pinning new things I want to try on pinterest.

Parental Paradoxes

You start out parenthood doing everything for your kids.  You spend your life trying to get them to be independent and then you wish you were still in charge of everything.  So it would get done.  Well.

Another paradox?  I wanted Braeden to get a job and now that he has one, the whole time he is at work, I wish he were home instead.

I Have Weird Kids

Last night, Braeden was at work and Adam and Emma and Mark and I were playing a new card game Emma taught us and eating brownies.  (It is irrelevant to the story, but I won.  Just in case you were wondering.)  Mark started calling me a Wookie.  As in, "Don't make the Wookie mad, or you won't get a brownie."

"Why are you calling me a Wookie?"

He never said.  But he kept doing it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pretty in pink

Sometimes there's the perfect mixture of clouds and light and color.  My camera doesn't do this morning justice.

I stepped outside to check if Mark had taken the garbage can to the street last night like he was supposed to. (He did.  Good boy.)

Then I went to get my camera.

The view out the front door (with the nearest neighbors cropped out).

I took a few steps down the side of the front porch (in my pajamas).

Good morning, lake.

Then, I went to the back deck.

I turned to the other side and saw Mt. Timpanogos peaking over Mt. Mahagony:

There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.

-Bernard Williams

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Some observations

It is easier to have a house full of boys over than just a couple of extra girls.  This mystifies me but it is true.  Girls are really loud and really, really silly.  Boys just eat a lot.
When I talk to Janet on the phone, it fills my soul and it feels like no time has passed since we've seen each other and it's slightly jarring when we hang up because I remember, "Oh, this is my life now."

If Braeden goes to D.I. (a thrift store) with his friends he a) won't remember the bags of stuff I asked him to take to donate and b) will come home in a Hawaiian shirt and teal pants.  (What did I think would happen?)

We are ridiculous people.  We live a half mile from our church and on Sunday, we took all three cars because we had to be there at different times.  Don't tell my pioneer ancestors.

One of my favorite things in the world is when one or more of my siblings come to town and one or more of us get together.  Saturday we had an impromptu lunch:  Tabor and Katie, Ammon and Melanee, Adam and me, and all our kids (except Braeden who was earning his keep at KFC).

Springing forward is the worst.  Except for in the evenings...when it's still light. 

Before I had to harangue/bribe/cajole Emma to take a walk with me but when she has a Fitbit strapped to her and wants to get more steps than me, she beats me out the door.  And up the hill.

And finally, this:

I like being home.  And not just for the Wi-Fi.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sunday drive

Sunday after church we went on An Explore.  We retraced some steps from a little trip to Sanpete County Adam and I took the summer I was pregnant with Braeden.

It's a lovely spot.

It was settled in the mid 1800s by various groups from Scandinavia.  Their stone masonry is beautiful.

I was absolutely convinced this church was in Fountain Green, but Adam disagreed.  Of course, Adam was right.  He's always right.  (But I am better at finding things.  Not things like churches in Sanpete County, things like the secret stash of chocolate in the pantry, or Mark's scout neckerchief that he'd been unable to locate since we moved.)


This is in Spring City:

It's an LDS church but hardly resembles most modern day LDS churches.  I wonder if the primary kids behave better in such a pretty building?

The day was perfect.  Sunshine forever with bright patches of snow here and there for sparkle.  We drove through the little towns and saw the picturesque little homes the pioneers built of stone.  We also stopped in Manti, at the temple.  (I thought of Tabor and Katie while we were there.  They were married in the Manti temple.)

It must be one of the loveliest places in the world.  A grand structure, hewn from local rock, high on a hill.

do you see Adam?

It was an extremely photogenic building.

It was a nice day with these guys, my people.

Our squinty eyes even match--mine are squinty underneath the glasses.  Probably the Scandinavians settlers with their light coloring squinted here too.

On the way home we ate a picnic Adam and I (mostly Adam) had assembled the night before.  None of the kids were smart enough to get the donut box open.  Seriously.

Braeden said it was a Chinese puzzle box.  No, it was from the Macey's bakery.  Cardboard boxes elude them.

I still love them.  It's nice of them to make me feel needed sometimes.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The moment I felt it

A few nights ago, for our Miamaid (church youth group) activity, we were dancing.  Rose, a sparkly girl with enormous dimples and a ready smile had masterminded the event.  She asked her dance instructor to come and teach us.

I, of course, was planning to watch from the side.  Dancing doesn't even come close to approaching the list of Things I Can Do.

Rose had other ideas.  She informed me I had to.

(Since when do I take orders from teenage girls?  Since now I guess.)

I slipped off my shoes and walked sock footed onto the gym floor.  Some of the girls (like Rose) were dancers.  Some of them (like me) weren't.  We all tried.

The instructor, after leading us through some stretches that proved to the world how inflexible I am, had us line up in two lines.  Then we had to do leaps (!) and other dance moves I don't remember the name of across the gym floor while everyone else watched.

It was the best.

We watched each other and cheered each other on and laughed with each other.  (One pretty girl, a cheerleader who can do back flips and crazy jumps couldn't figure out the order of the steps.  She resorted to just running across the gym and fluttering her arms behind her.) The instructor was fabulous.  She was beautiful and graceful and kind.  She kept encouraging and complimenting us.  Her only flaw was that several times she told another leader and me that she was "just impressed you are out here."  Like we were a few steps from the rest home, but look at us try.

She's young; I'll forgive her.

At one point, two older boys came into the gym.  One of them started dancing too.  He was sort of mocking and sort of playing along and the girls were sort of OK with it.  Then the other boy whipped out his phone and started recording because that's what kids do.

Sammie, a lovely, athletic, champion swimmer, non dancer standing next to me, looked at me with wide eyes.  "I don't want him to take a video of this!" she said, panic rising.

She had already insisted on going last across the gym so none of us would watch her (we could all watch her from the other side but that didn't seem to matter as much).

Without thinking about it, I marched over to the boy with the phone out.  "You have to leave," I said, looking up into his laughing face.

He ignored me and kept taking video like it was his birthright.  He's a big football player type kid and as far as he was concerned, he wasn't doing anything wrong and who was I anyway?

I was looking at him (with the look I reserve for such occasions) so he said, "I'm just recording Jordan, not the girls."

I took a step toward the towering boy.

"Seriously," I said, still friendly, but Mama Bear was in the building.

"Fine," he said and he left.  The other boy did too.

I returned to my girls and for the first time, they felt like my girls.

Having this job with these young women scares the life out of me.  They are intimidating and unforgiving and formidable just like teenage girls everywhere.  I am the very furthest away from a cool and fun leader.  I am awkward and insecure, but increasingly, I love them.  They are brave and strong and pretty incredible.

I don't want to mess this up. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A book report

When I think about what I miss most from Washington, it's hands down the people.  Second on the list is the library.

(Endless rain is so far down on the list I can't see it.)

But the library; I didn't know how good I had it.

I think I am reading less as a result of the inferior library here which is a sad truth.

Here are a few books I've read lately:

The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble ***

I got a Kindle version of this book from Amazon and I don't know if you can get a book version.  I liked this book.  It's about a girl whose sister turns into a mermaid.  Sounds weird but it wasn't.  I am not usually a huge fan of fantasy but this one I liked.

Paper Towns by John Green ***

I was lamenting to Emma about the dearth of good reads in my life and she asked her friend Vanessa if she could hang onto the book she had borrowed a little longer so I could read it.

A few pages in, I saw this:

I thought it was the most adorable thing in the entire world.  Throughout the book, words were whited out or replaced and she also penned in a few comments of her own and starred things she liked.

The character Lacey in the book didn't think what was said was appropriate and neither did Vanessa.

So I didn't even have to see it. (I love Vanessa!) 

I am hoping to have Vanessa read everything in advance for me in the future.  Is there anything better than your kids' good friends?

Paper Towns was pretty good.  I would have liked it less if Vanessa hadn't classed it up for me.  I appreciated the crudeness she deleted for me.  It's about a teenage boy who is graduating from high school and his entanglements with his friends.  It was compelling enough that it held my interest even though my son is the one graduating from high school and I am well past that age.

The end wasn't satisfying.  I read this in a book I read to Mark (Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle) and I wish John Green had read it too:
But perhaps you may like to know what happened afterward, for no one cares to leave the thread of a story without tying a knot in it.
I couldn't agree more.  (And Mark and I enjoyed Otto.) 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Topsy turvy

Yesterday was a sort of unconventional day around here.  We still had school, it wasn't that crazy, but it was different.

For one thing, Braeden didn't have to go to school.  Every junior in the state was taking the ACT and every sophomore was taking the practice ACT.  Seniors were "strongly encouraged" to visit college campuses.

I think seniors shouldn't apply to colleges until after they graduate.  They are completely checked out, because they can be.  I doubt one senior visited a college campus.  Mine slept in (a little bit...Braeden is not very good at sleeping in).

At ten, Braeden and several of his friends (who were also not visiting college campuses) were going to meet at Kneader's for breakfast.  All morning we had watched a storm move toward us across the valley.  About the time Braeden was supposed to leave, it arrived.  With enthusiasm.

Braeden came up to the school room where we were having school and looked out the window.  "Maybe you shouldn't go," I said.

"Yeah," he said, "I don't think I should either."

He went to text his friends and I told him he could blame me (which I often say but my kids rarely seem to take me up on it).  "No," he said, "I don't need to blame you."

I told Braeden that it showed maturity and responsibility on his part to miss out on breakfast with his friends because of the weather.  Times like that make me trust him more.

Hours later, Braeden said, "Remember how you said I showed maturity and responsibility?  Will you tell Dad?"  Ever since the playground at our apartment complex in New Haven, CT, Braeden has been wanting to show Adam what he's made of.

He just tries to make me laugh, which is why it's a good thing you have two parents.

Around 11:00, I decided I had to take a nap.  For the previous several nights, I had had hours of insomnia and it was definitely catching up with me.  I handed my cell phone to Mark and told him to wake me up if Emma texted that she was ready to be picked up.  We reviewed all the reasons why he shouldn't wake me up.  1) If anyone in the world besides Emma calls or texts...don't wake me, I'll get back to them. 2) If you are bleeding to death...get Braeden, he knows first aid. 3) If the house is on fire...let me sleep.  That would be a nice warm way to go.

Stuff like that.

A few minutes after I lay down, Mark came in with the news that Emma was done.  I dragged my cranky self to the school and got her.  (It occurs to me that I should have had Braeden go get her.  It was not snowing much anymore.  That shows how tired I was.  I wasn't thinking...)

Anyway, I did get a fifteen minute nap after we returned and that set me up.  Usually that's all I need to recharge for a few more hours.

Then I made everyone pancakes and rejoiced that my big kids were here for lunch.  I love that.

In the afternoon, we dropped Mark off at Adam's office (which is pretty much Mark's happy place), Braeden had his first day at KFC, and Emma and I headed to Southtowne Mall to meet up with Olivia and Liliana.

It was Lili's birthday and she got her ears pierced.  She was very stoic about it and didn't even flinch.  That impressed Emma.  Emma is a world class flincher.

See the earrings?  Me either, but they are there.

We did a little shopping.  I am the only one of the four of us that likes to shop so I felt like I had a big responsibility.  Emma is usually a happier and more successful shopper when we are with other people and true to form, she found a few pretty dresses at Down East. (we love that store!)

After the Cobians left (Edgar was there with the boys too--they spent time at a little playground while we shopped), Emma and I walked around the mall a little waiting for Adam to be done with work.  The shopping mojo was gone and she wasn't interested in one thing.  I found a BYU shirt for Braeden, because BYU! and I found a jacket for myself.  I have a problem and it's called I have way too many jackets.

But it was really cute.

Adam told me about Mark at his office after we met up with them for dinner.  First, Mark walked in (I'm sure like he owned the place) and said to the receptionist, "Is Adam Davis in a meeting?"  She said she thought he was available so Mark went back to Adam's office.  Adam put him to work cleaning whiteboards to earn his soda from the cornucopia that is the break room.  Then Mark sat in on a meeting, climbed on top of the bus (there is a bus indoors right outside Adam's office) to read, played darts and played on a drum kit.  At one point, he found Adam and said, "There's some fried rice in the fridge in the break room, can I have that?"


When I compare either of my sons at twelve to the way I was at twelve, I wonder if they were adopted.  I was as shy as they are not shy.

We ended the day at Smashburger which is always a good thing and I went to bed early which is also a good thing.

Your day doesn't have to be conventional to be a good one.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


unrelated to the post, but what a pretty world...

I am praying for rain and snow, which is familiar.  I grew up in the desert and I grew up with prayers for rain and snow being part of my life.  It's not anything against the mild sunshine-y days we've been gifted with, it's wanting water this summer. (Happily, we have been getting a little snow lately.)

Anyway, I'm praying for snow but ushered spring into my house all the same.

There ended up being a lot of birds around here, which wasn't intentional.  I just gathered up things I like.

See the little pink bird nestled in the rocks of the fireplace?  She has a little blue friend and used to have a little green friend.  I climbed up on the hearth (multiple times) to arrange things and accidentally knocked down the little green bird.  Turns out he couldn't fly.  It was a sad time.
I guess I like birds.

And glass bottles and pretty pillows:

And elephants.

Maybe elephants aren't immediately associated with spring, but I like elephants.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A banner day

I have been telling Braeden to get a job.  I cajoled and hassled and reminded him.  I made loose threats that were effective enough that he picked up a few applications and dropped them back off, but that was it.

The boy loves to be social and that usually includes lunch out with a selection of friends.  (Open campus!  What were they thinking!?!)  Also, he never has homework.

He needed a job.

So then Adam talked to him.  And Adam can be so...convincing.  He didn't even need to raise his voice (and he has a very encouraging Dad Voice).  The next day, Friday, Braeden told me he was going to go look for a job after school.

He was finally motivated.  When Braeden is motivated, things happen.  I told Marianne on the phone he'd probably have a job in two days.

It was more like two hours.  He is a proud KFC employee.  One of his friends works there also.  Adam and I both think he's crazy not to try to get a job teaching swim lessons.  It's more of a process to get a job because of certifications and the like and there are very few indoor pools around anyway.  Braeden wants to try this and I was all for letting him.  There's nothing like working in fast food to make you realize that isn't your life's work.  Sometimes on the job training is the best kind.

(Braeden went to an orientation on Saturday morning.  Among other things, he was instructed on what to do in case of a robbery.  Basically, don't be a hero.  Braeden said that he would tackle someone if they tried to rob him.  He wouldn't let them get away.  I said it wasn't worth it, he could be hurt or worse.  Braeden said it was worth it, then he could have KFC on his headstone.  Killed For Chicken.)

Back to Friday though.

That evening, we went to the school and watched Emma perform on the stage.  She and Braeden both were involved in performing scenes that the students in Drama 4 were directing.  (Braeden's had been Thursday night and he died on stage, which I am kind of opposed to.)  It was thrilling to watch Emma perform on stage.  It's something she's wanted to do for a long time. 

Afterward all the drama kids headed to JCW's for oversized milkshakes as is their custom and Adam and Mark and I headed home which is ours.  Adam and Mark were watching cricket, which Adam likes and somehow knows all about and I was on my computer doing something.  I happened to notice a new email had come in.

It was THE email.  The one from BYU we had been waiting for.  Braeden's admission decision.  In the email there's a link to the website where you can read your letter.  I immediately texted Braeden and told him to come home.  I told him The Email was here and I hadn't read it yet.

He didn't answer.

Because that's the thing.  You buy the cell phone, you pay for the data plan and then they ignore your texts.

So I called Emma.  No response.  (See above.)

So I called Braeden.  He finally answered.  By that time Adam and Mark were there with me and we were buzzing with excitement.  Braeden said, "Just open it and read it to me."

We went back and forth several times, "Are you sure?"  "Yes, just read it to me."

For one thing, this was Braeden's deal.  He should be the one to read it.  For another thing, what if it was bad news?  There he was surrounded by a crowd of people.  For another thing, I wanted to know what the letter said and he kept telling me to read it so I did.

And he was accepted.

I started crying, because I am emotionally unstable and Adam had to finish the conversation with Braeden.

He got in!

It's what I've always wanted for him.  I loved BYU.  I want my children to have everything good in the world.  I knew, especially with Braeden's learning disabilities, that it wasn't a foregone conclusion that he would get in.  The competition is stiff.  I was trying to be OK with his second or third choices.
But I guess my heart was sort of set on BYU.

I think his was too.  When he got home, I was walking down the stairs and he was bounding up to see me.  He hugged me long and hard.

It was a pretty great day.


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