Friday, May 29, 2015

I swear I lived

Last night it happened.  My boy graduated.

It was very similar to when my high school class of 23 graduated...

Except for the few subtle differences.

Adam snapped a picture at the moment he was on the big screen to get his diploma (he's the one on the left...the Viking picture serves no purpose in the story), which was nice because we sat on the exactly wrong side:

That's him!  Pretty sure...
It takes awhile to read 600 names but the children came prepared.

We love our handsome graduate.  We'd sit through another 600 names for him.

(He graduated in the vest he wore in the musical at his old high school last year, gifted to him by his former drama teacher.)
Lately the song I Lived by OneRepublic has been in my head.

I'm pretty sure they weren't strictly talking about motherhood, but to me, it works.

Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don't suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you'll say...

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

I dropped off Mark's registration this week at the junior high.  The end of homeschooling and the ceremonial end of Braeden's childhood all in one week, that could kill a person.

We were going to finish school today but yesterday Mark said, "Let's get it all done today!"

In the afternoon, I was about to read the final history chapter to Mark.  I said, "This is my last time ever homeschooling."

Braeden said, "We should all listen."

So they piled around me on the couch and I started crying.  Braeden had to read the chapter.  Emma wrapped consoling arms around me and Mark tucked in on the other side.  I sat there and thought about how difficult it had been to teach Braeden, who was now breezing through the history textbook, to read.  I thought about spelling tests and temper tantrums (theirs and mine).  I thought about math timed tests and long division and story problems.  I thought about snuggling with Mark under a blanket while we read together.  I thought about how Emma wouldn't settle for anything less than perfect penmanship but she took aaaaaalllll day to finish her work.

By the end we were all crying.  All four of us a soggy mess on the couch.  There's really no hope for people like us.

This hole in my heart doesn't feel so very fabulous, but it is proof of something.

I took risks, I advocated, I followed my own path, I nagged and cajoled and insisted and encouraged. I have put my all into this.

I know I'm not close to done with this motherhood gig, but this moment in time and this crossroads give me pause.  Doors are closing and new ones are opening and the adventure continues.  Being a mother isn't easy.  Working yourself out of a job feels startling even though it shouldn't be.  The universality of children growing up and leaving home somehow doesn't feel like it will ever happen to a nice girl like you.  If there's ever anything worth it, it is motherhood though.  Looking back on all the ups and downs, the mistakes and successes, the messes and bone weary work, the sheer joy and the sheer terror, the disappointments and the swear you lived.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ending on a high note

I promise I am getting to the end of our trip recap.

Our last full day, we went to Salem.  I have sort of a love hate relationship with Salem.  I love the history there and the beauty of the place and the connection there is there to Adam's family.

I hate the Halloween-esque witch celebrating darkness aspect of it.

It feels at best tacky and at worst really disrespectful and callous considering the Witch Trials and what actually happened there.  I am just glad I've never been there in late October.

The night before our day in Salem, Adam and I did some laundry and then sat in the hotel lobby and researched some family history on his laptop and my ipad.

We took notes of who in his family was buried in Salem.

We read about John Proctor who is Adam's 10th great grandfather and who was hung in the witch trials.  When we told our kids about them, Braeden and Emma who are familiar with The Crucible, got a little excited.  Adam pointed out the ways that The Crucible and actual history differ.  In The Crucible, John Proctor had an affair with his accuser.  In real life, he'd never met her.

I sort of think that's a key distinction.

Anyway, armed with my scribbles, we headed out.

We started at the National Maritime Historical Site and followed along on a tour hosted by a National Park Ranger.  He was smart and interesting and we loved the tour. 

Here's the USS Friendship, which is a replica of the actual 1797 ship.  We got to go aboard and it was pretty great.  (Mark wants to become a sailor now.  It may have been the cannons that tipped the scale.  Do they still have cannons on merchant ships?)

Here's the Custom House which was key to the Salem maritime trade and where Nathanial Hawthorne worked as a disgruntled government employee:

We went to the cemetery where John Proctor is memorialized, along with the other victims of the witch trials:

We saw only one other grave of Adam's relatives.  I'd like to think we saw more, just couldn't tell that was where they were buried.  About half the headstones are so old and weathered, they are unreadable.

Our next and final stop of the journey was Portsmouth, NH.  Adam and I never went there when we lived in Connecticut and Adam found us a fancy schmancy hotel to splurge on for the last night.

Wentworth by the Sea

It was the prettiest hotel I've ever stayed at, with unbeatable views of the marina out the window.

After being on the road all week in comfortable, but sometimes a little crowded, circumstances, this place had an upstairs bedroom and bathroom for Adam and me which felt like the height of luxury for the introvert in the family.

Here's the view from the upstairs bedroom:

I could get used to waking up to that.

The kitchen was so pretty.  White cabinets are my love language.

Adam and the kids went swimming in the posh pool and I...didn't.  The kids kept telling Adam that he should call me and tell me how great the pool was and that I should join them.  Adam kept telling the kids that that he thought I was happy alone.

He was right.

When they got back we went on an explore around the marina:

Keeping warm in our new Newport sweatshirts...I bought mine because the ocean breeze was cool.  Emma wanted one too but refused to wear it until we left Newport.  She has her own set of rules she lives by in life.

We took a drive around the town and even ventured into Maine, just to say we had.  We loved driving around Portsmouth.

There's no end to the lovely and diverse places there are in the world.

We stopped by a grocery store for crackers and cheese, chips and guacamole, ginger ale and fresh raspberries, and had a lovely dinner.

This picture...Mark fell in love with the bathrobe he found in the closet, Braeden is eating which is completely typical, Emma is looking mournful just because my children like to make faces for cameras.

The next morning it was off to JFK to fly back to our mountain home.

I loved our trip.

I loved finding notes like this (from Emma) in the hotel rooms:

I loved planning and scheming with Adam and making it happen and sitting next to him and enjoying our children's reactions to things.

I loved these three in the backseat:

Time spent, with the five of us together, is a gift.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


It was all about walking the Freedom Trail. (It was also the day I forgot to wear my fitbit and everyone else got over 20,000 steps and I didn't get any credit.  (Do you even step if don't have your fitbit on?  I think not.)

I've heard that people either like Boston or New York City.  I know which one I like.

Here's what Boston looks like:

The history!

The cemeteries!

I love a good cemetery.  The older the better.
The general awesomeness!

I took way too many pictures.  Everywhere I looked, oooh pretty!

This is what love from your first born looks like:

He carried my bag when I got tired.  It's a slightly girlie looking bag, but could have been worse.

This is what sustenance along the way looks like:

Greek yogurt and blueberries at Pret

If Pret ever moves West, I'll be a happy girl.

This is what boundless energy looks like:

It's hard to get a picture of a perpetually in motion child--especially when you don't want to move from your park bench-- but that's him.

We collapsed on benches in the Boston Common for a little break and Mark spotted a playground.  "Can I go?" he asked.

I said, "Yes," and also, "Don't hurt the little kids.  Be careful."

Which is the same thing I've been telling him since he was about a year old.  Because he's always been big and...energetic.

Pretty soon he had organized a game of tag while I contemplated our differences in youth, energy and vitality.  Where does he get the energy?  Then I watch him eat.  Oh, yeeeeeaaaaaah.

Speaking of food, I texted Enoch, who served his mission in Boston and has been back several times, for a can't miss place to eat there.  He recommended Durgin-Park.  We remembered that we had eaten there way back in the day with Enoch when Emma was a baby on my hip and Braeden was a curly headed blondie running around.  He said the prime rib was the Thing.  I texted back, "Will we need a second mortgage to afford it?"  (Because if I know my brother, he doesn't mind spending money on the little luxuries of life.)  He texted back that it was worth every penny.

We walked past the restaurant--it's at the Feneuil Hall Marketplace--and I checked out the menu on the door.

The prime rib?  A bit shy of $50 a plate.

We kept walking. 

We did eat at 99 Restaurant and Pub, a few times.  The food there is more in our price range, including a pasta dish that is so big the waitress said she'd never seen anyone finish it.  (Braeden bases his restaurant choices on how big the servings are.)  He finished the pasta.  We don't have a lot of talent in our family, but apparently appetite is on the list.

We loved Boston.  If I had to live in a big city, it would be high on my list.  It's beautiful and colorful and charming.

When we were walking in the North End, I overheard a conversation with an accent I can't begin to recreate.  A little boy said to his mom, "He was talking North End."

She gave a disgusted hmph and said, "He thinks he's talking North End." 

I can't "talk North End," but I do like to visit.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I didn't take any pictures

It was one of those days that I'm REALLY glad that we live so close to my family.  It was a heart singing sort of day.  It was the kind of day that I brought my camera, but didn't take it out once because I was busy just being.

I'm OK with that.

We drove to Nevada just in time for sacrament meeting.  I didn't take any pictures, but Mark was warmly greeted by his little cousins.  (Braeden and Mark are both heroes among Olivia's boys.  They'll hardly give me the time of day.  Someone needs to inform them that Braeden and Mark are my sons.  Aren't I acceptable by association?)

I didn't take any pictures, but I reconnected with some aunts and uncles that I haven't seen for a few years.  They marveled at my children.  (They didn't mention that I look older, just my kids.  That was kind.)

I didn't take any pictures of me sitting on the front row and my three tall brothers tucking their long legs into rows behind me.  (You have got to get there early, boys.) 

I didn't take any pictures  (it was during church), but Clarissa spoke with poise and conviction and that girl is spectacular.  Also, Liberty accompanied her on the piano and Clarissa sang, which was fabulous.  Also, I cried big tears during the closing song, "Called to Serve."  Because our little Clarissa is going out in the world and wasn't she just a toddler?

(I told Adam he needs to be the kind of man that always has a handkerchief in his pocket.)

(I wasn't the only one crying.)


I didn't take any pictures, but Marianne pulled off, with panache and skill and grace and composure, feeding well, well over one hundred people .  I'd like to think my contribution of a few bags of chips helped?  (I wasn't the main chip person, that was Tabor.  Just ask him.)

I didn't take any pictures, but it was the last time for awhile that we'll all be together. (Except sweet Luke, who was sick.  Why does Luke have to be sick, ever?  His bright smile was one thing I was looking forward to.)  Braeden will leave before Clarissa gets home, then Desi will leave before Braeden gets home and then I don't think I want to talk about it any more because these kids are growing up too fast.

I didn't take any pictures, but I got to see Rachel, who I grew up with.  Like I told my kids, the Knudsens were our Jorgensens.  "Ohhh," they say.  They get that.  The Knudsens must have mattered.

I didn't take any pictures, but there was dizzying repartee that only happens when my quick witted siblings get together.   

I didn't take any pictures, but I got to briefly commiserate with my little brother, the bishop. Sometimes we're asked to do hard things when we would just like to go along our merry way and be left alone.  I love that Tabor gets it.  I love that he's bishop instead of me.

I didn't take any pictures, but my boys and their cousins were involved in very complicated maneuvers.  At least one or more boy was constantly being handcuffed.  There were a lot of toy weapons involved.  And Braeden would occasionally sling a younger cousin over his shoulder to carry them as needed.  Then Braeden would come and bask in his uncles' company.  Then he'd go back and shine his presence on his cousins.  I love the whole circle of life.  Braeden is devoted to his uncles and the little cousins are devoted to Braeden.

I didn't take any pictures, but we reconvened at my parents' house.  My mom gave Braeden the afghan she's been crocheting for him for a graduation present and my dad gave him the silver tie tack he had made for Braeden, and I thought, that's strange you're giving him graduation gifts.  Isn't my baby boy five years old?

Still attempting and failing at the denial.

I didn't take any pictures, but Clarissa broke away from the rest of the party still happening at her house and drove over to my parents' house to say her last good-byes.  My mom was cooking up homemade pizzas because Marianne got that panache and skill and grace and composure from somewhere.  My dad asked me to say a prayer before the meal.  I prayed for Clarissa.  I cried.


A lot of us did.

(People shouldn't ask me to say a prayer.)

I hugged Clarissa and I love that girl and count myself blessed that we got to share so much of her first year at BYU with her. Like I had told my mom and her friend Laurel earlier in the day, Clarissa was a good choice for a firstborn cousin.

Sunday was a day to remember.  It was a day of joy.  Full, full, full.

Monday, May 25, 2015

History and literature

A visit to Lexington and Concord, MA are all about the literature and the history.

First, the history.

We revisited all the significant sites where the Revolutionary War began.  This feels like a good post for Memorial Day.  Those patriots...they were quite magnificent.  American flags waving there mean a little bit more to me.

This is on the town green in Lexington.  The first shots were fired here.  The British got the upper hand and marched on towards Concord where the patriots got the upper hand and pretty much drove them back to Boston under fire.

Here's the bridge where it all happened in Concord. (And here are my history loving kiddos, soaking it in.)

The bridge crosses this lovely river and it is a beautiful and peaceful spot and hard to imagine what a terrible day that must have been.

Going to Lexington and Concord gave me a renewed appreciation for the patriots.  What they did was incredibly bold.  They are the original heroes who deserve the Land of the Free, Because of the Brave sentiment.

We had a picnic lunch in a little meadow outside the Minute Man National Park Visitors Center.  It was a lovely place.  Adam offered Mark all his M&Ms if he could run the remnants of our lunch back to the car in a minute or less.

It's official, Mark is up for anything.


Concord is also a place rich with literary history.  We visited the cemetery where several authors are buried.  It's called Authors Ridge and it's in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Adam thought the offerings of pinecones, rocks, coins and pens that people had left behind for the authors were kind of cheesy but I liked it.  So did Braeden, I guess.  He wanted to know if I had a pen so he could leave it behind.  I said, "Yes, I have one, but you can't have it because I need it."

I think the authors would understand.

We went to Walden Pond.  Mostly because the week we were gone, Braeden had a report due on...Walden Pond.  (And his grades could use all the bolstering they could get.)

I totally get Thoreau's love of the place.  It was beautiful!

Still no towels, but of course, this happened.

I love this picture because it captured the sparkles on the water.  Are there diamonds in Walden Pond?  It was a sparkly place.

Adam and I sat on the beach and enjoyed the scene.  It was quiet and peaceful and our kids were having a great time.  Then the universe decided to gift us with this awesomeness:

A man had been swimming and then got out and started doing these awkward grapevine type exercises up and down the beach.

Then he lay down on the sand, next to his towel.  Then he started doing sand angels (like snow angels, but in the sand).  Then he doused his body with sand.

Then I surreptitiously took a picture.  Can you blame me?  And you're welcome.

his swimsuit was originally black...he just covered himself with that much sand

It only got better.  He flipped himself over and washed more sand on himself.

Finally he got up and brushed a little sand off.  He put on a denim jacket and got on a bike and rode away.  Braeden had noticed from the water.  He said, "That guy is going in my presentation!"

We also took pictures of the replica house where Thoreau lived.

It was teeny.  Braeden stood in the doorway so he could show the scale to his classmates.

There was also this statue of Thoreau.  Was it to scale?  Because that makes the small house seem a little more accommodating...

It was an altogether lovely day.

If you ask me, Massachusetts is where it's at.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Newport, RI

Back to the travelogue...

We went to Newport to walk along the cliff walk and to take a peek at the mansions.

It was quite a place.

More than your everyday kind of grandeur and opulence.

Also, staring at the crashing waves was sort of mesmerizing.

Emma decided maybe she'd want to go to college there.  She's a fickle one.

We found just the kind of seafood restaurant Braeden had been wanting for lunch.

Clam chowda.  New England style.  Yes, please.

For dinner, we did pizza again.

It was a beautiful day and we got our eyes filled with the beauty of nature and the beauty money can buy (which apparently is quite a lot).

I'm wealthy enough with these three though, and their spectacular father.

I just want to make enough money to never have to think twice about adding guacamole.
Kevin Farzad


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