Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tiny notes

Dear Katie,

It made my day when you forwarded me this from your local hamlet's community board:

Hi Pegboarders,

A really beautiful woodpecker just now met his end on one of our
windows. Wondering if anyone has a good use for his plumage. Let me
know; I'll be in Boulder tomorrow for a drop off if so.


Dear Doug,

I don't know you but you are straight up crazy in delightful ways.  How does your mind work anyway?


Dear Weather,

90 degrees in late September is ridiculous.  I have sweaters I want to wear here.


Dear Mark,

Without your disapproving looks the school room that is now sort of my "office" is getting out of control.  You need to go in there and glare and maybe I'll clear off a few spaces.


Dear Universe,

How many packages sent to your missionary son are too many?  I'm asking for a friend.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lunch for three

Saturdays often mean errands and lunch along the way.  Also our children usually don't want to come with us.

Last Saturday one of the errands included getting Emma's phone repaired.  Emma was at a choir function but Mark said, "I want to go!"

I knew two things.  1) Mark wanted to come along because he thought we were going to the Apple Store and 2) we weren't planning on going to the Apple Store.

When Adam found out Mark wanted to go with us, he was pleasantly surprised.  I told him Mark's misconception.  I said, "We don't have to tell him we aren't going to the Apple Store.  We never said we were going there."

(Does this strike anyone else as pathetic and desperate?  These are the depths of parenthood we have sunk to.)

When Mark found out that we were going to Bad Apple, a repair shop (with a clever name) he said, "What?!?" But I added that if they couldn't fix the phone we would go to the Apple Store.  (More desperation.)

So Mark tagged along.

And I think he was glad he did because he perused the phone cases very thoroughly at Bad Apple and he is now definitely in the market for a new case even though he doesn't need one.  Story of Mark's life.

When we were ready for lunch, we batted around ideas.  The bane of Braeden's existence has always been Adam and me deciding where we are going to eat.  It's a tough call.  There was Wallabys right there and we'd never been.  Adam pulled up the menu on his phone.  It is a BBQ restaurant with an Australian slant (for example Taz Eggs were on the menu which it turns out are pickled eggs...ew.)

Adam read there were ribs on the menu and Mark said, "Shut up and take my money."

We were technically buying the lunch but message received.  Mark loves him some ribs.

Wallabys was a great place!  I already want to go back.  The experience was slightly marred by the football game that was playing on the TV in the corner.  BYU was being slaughtered by Michigan.

At one point, Mark got up to look for the bathroom.  It's a big restaurant and he wandered one direction and then circled back by our table.  As he passed us, we heard him muttering about having to search the entire Outback to find the bathroom.

So now I've decided that every week I am going to pretend we are going to the Apple Store.  I like having Mark along.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Having a migraine

I used to get migraines more often when I was younger.  I don't miss them.

Friday I woke up with a headache (always fun) and as the day progressed it just got worse.  Once Emma got home around 2:30, I decided to let the migraine win.  I was going to bed.  I gave her my phone and told her she was in charge if Mark needed to be picked up.  (He was staying after school to lift weights--what?!?--and had a ride home but I wanted Emma to be on standby in case that didn't work out.)  Did Emma have a slight gleam in her eye that she was going to have the house to herself for awhile?

So I took a nap, then I lay on my bed trying not to die.

Mark came home and I stumbled out to the hall and talked to him over the railing for a few minutes.  It went something like this, "How was school?"


"How was weight lifting?"


"I'm dying so I'm going back to bed."  (It's possible I tend to exaggerate.)

"OK."  (My kids are unfazed by exaggeration.) Did Mark have a slight gleam in his eye that he had a stretch of uninterrupted time ahead of him?

It's different when my only two kids at home are the introverts.  Braeden would have been checking on me every twenty minutes for his own social needs but Friday afternoon I really could have been dying and no one would have been the wiser....

Around 6:00, I decided for a change of scenery.  Adam came home and found me downstairs on the floor, listening to The News From Lake Wobegon on my phone.  (Laying on the floor feels better than a bed when I have a migraine.)

He gathered me up and told me he was going to make dinner.  He had brought home things for Showering Rama.  That is my favorite Thai food.  It is rice and chicken and spinach and peanut sauce.  Very simple and I like it very mild.  Every Thai restaurant in Washington has Showering Rama on the menu and not one Thai restaurant does in Utah.  This is both puzzling and tragic.

I told Adam I didn't want to eat.

He told me I needed to eat.

I said I wasn't hungry.

He said, "I'll make it anyway and you might change your mind."  (This exact scenario has played out identically hundreds of times in our twenty years of marriage.)

He asked me when I'd last taken Advil.  I said sometime in the morning.  I told him my stomach hurt too much for Advil.  He told Emma to get me a glass of water and two Advil.  He got me a cracker and gave me a 1/4 of a bottle of Coke Zero.

And I started to revive.  Within an hour I felt a lot better.  And I even ate some dinner (like Adam knew I would).

My family is good to me and I need them all.  Emma takes up the slack and answers the phone (and told Adam I was sick).  Both kids let me rest.  Adam saved the day like always.

I just needed Braeden to keep me a little company.


Is it just me or is time dragging?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Equal partnership

On any given day, besides earning the money to keep our family chugging along on its merry way, Adam will do some of the following:

-try to fix Emma's broken cell phone
-give encouragement to one of us
-go help a lady in the ward with her computer, after I volunteered him for the job
-figure out any computer problem I have
-advise me on any number of things
-listen--it's his superpower
-be the one to know how to use the TV remotes (I don't even want to know--too much responsibility)
-provide a shoulder to cry on--literally, sometimes that man gets a wet shoulder
-console me on any number of crises I may or may not be overreacting to

In exchange, if he needs help on Word Bubbles, I can usually help him.

I think it's pretty much equal?

I mean, Word Bubbles.

Finding an app that is like Boggle pretty much made my day.

And I need to cling desperately to anything I am better at than Adam.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tiny notes

Dear Young Women,

When I say I can play the opening song on the piano, I don't really mean I can play it.  (You noticed?)  It's more like I'm saying I can't play it but I'm trying to get better.


Dear Eye Disease,

Go away. Seriously. (Please)


Dear Adam,

Thank you for not blocking my number when I text you complaining and whiny texts about my eye.


Dear Adam,

You didn't block my number, did you?


Dear Mark,

Thank you for lighting up with a smile when I brought home a library book for you.  (You weren't always like this.)


Dear Emma,

When you come home from school and sit on the couch and I put my legs across your lap and you talk to me, that is my favorite part of the day.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Precious commodity

Attention from Emma is not just tossed around.  Her MO is in her room, door shut.  Maybe because Braeden is gone (that kid left a hole the size of Texas when he left), she has come into my room a few times--when I was in there with the door shut. (Introverts unite!  Separately!)

She'll say, "What are you doing?"

I will tell her.

She'll say, "Oh," then, "Do you want to do something?"

And I say yes, because when does that happen?

The other night we rented an episode of What Not To Wear from Amazon Instant Video.  We love watching that show together but since we don't get a lot of TV channels we don't do it very often.  Also, I knew that it was a rare and fleeting opportunity.  Mostly doing something with Emma only happens if she wants it to happen.

Yesterday morning, I found this note by my sunglasses.

She gets up super early every other morning for early morning seminary while the house is still asleep.  (My mom knows I don't get up with her and yes, she disapproves.)  And sometimes she leaves notes on those mornings.

Emma is independent.  She rarely asks for anything.  She wants to do what she wants to do and then she does it.  She always knows how much money she has in her bank account and she keeps her car full of gas.  She is on top of her homework.  Always.  And she doesn't take kindly to suggestions or comments (trust me on this one).  If, on a very rare occasion, she doesn't do her best work on homework, it is like the sky is falling and the end of the world.  She has an iron will and I usually just stand back in awe.

So when she goes out of her way to tell me she loves me, my strong and stubborn and self-sufficient girl, I pay attention.

I love her too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Newport News news

Yesterday morning was pretty much consumed with getting Braeden's email.  You think I'm kidding?  He sent a brief one to Emma which I saw so I knew he was emailing so then I couldn't leave my computer.  When I finally got the email, I had to send it out to people on the list and then the list was messed up so I had to fix it.  Then, naturally, I had to write him back.  Immediately.  Because if I didn't do it right away nothing bad would happen but I still had to anyway.

All morning.

But it was a happy way to spend the morning.  He sounds happy.  He looks happy.  He lives in a scary part of town.  He told me not to worry.



Glad he told me not to, otherwise I would have worried.

He sent this funny anecdote to Emma:

Something funny happened the other day.  One of my companions stopped a guy coming out of a store and offered him a pass along card.  The guy turned him down.  This is how it went:
Guy:  No thanks, I'm a devout Catholic.
Elder Garcia: (smiling sincerely)  Oh, OK.  Well I condemn your faith.
Guy:  (confused) ...what?
Elder Garcia:  (still smiling)  I condemn your faith.
Guy:  Um... OK bye.

Commend Elder Garcia.  Not condemn.  We looked up the definition of condemn later and it was all about "dooming to hell" and stuff like that.  Hahaha this is probably why people think we're a cult.

On the one hand, it's kind of a sad story, because I want to find the guy and explain.  He meant commend!  I promise!  On the other hand, it is incredibly sweet.  I picture these earnest young men, out trying to teach people about Christ and trying to connect with other people, innocently and unwittingly using the wrong words in the process.

A for effort, boys.

People of Newport News, they're trying.  And their mothers miss them, so please take care of our boys and don't judge them too harshly.

His mission president sent us this picture of Braeden with his companions.  They normally have groups of two but they live in such a rough area (!) that there are three of them.  Marianne pointed out they aren't small boys either.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I am still trying to get used to what my life is like without being a homeschooler.  I keep adding things and saying yes to good things and meanwhile all the projects that have been patiently waiting for me at home aren't getting done.

Low on the list was pulling out my boxes of autumn decorations.  It is less important than reorganizing the kitchen pantry, which is sometimes a life threatening proposition when you try to retrieve something, or boxing up some of Braeden's tchotchkes in his room that are just going to be collecting dust for the next two years.

It was low on the list, but I did it anyway.

Because I wanted to.

It didn't matter that Adam would be home soon and I didn't really have time to tackle the project before I needed to make dinner and we started on our evening plans.  I wanted to feather my nest a little.  I had been on the go all week and I wanted to do something that is good for my soul.

For me, that means arranging the mantle.

Emma was in her typical Friday afternoon comatose state (she burns the candle from both ends all week and then crashes) so Mark was my helper.  We hauled boxes up from the basement gathered all the summer stuff to put away.

Here's what I found inside a lantern on the mantle:

When Braeden didn't leave his socks on the floor, he'd stash them somewhere I couldn't see.

It's confusing to miss someone that makes you so crazy.

I pulled out the season's throw pillows and Mark...arranged them.

Mark and I got really serious and pulled out two ladders (because the first one wasn't tall enough) to tweak some of the things on the high shelf between our windows.  Mark is highly opinionated on the placement of every object so there was a lot of debate and reworking.

I bought some battery powered candles to perch on the shelf (complete with remote control because this is the sort of world we live in).  Mark was in charge of assembly and batteries because he knows where every battery is in the house and the status of its lifespan.

I took this from on top of the hearth where I spent most of the time.  I texted Adam the shot as in "fair warning, things are in disarray here."

Then I climbed up and down from the hearth thirty times to assess the placement of each item.  Emma woke up and lent her opinion.  I climbed back up and made adjustments.

And then I felt completely refreshed.

I'm telling you, nothing is quite as restorative as vase placement.

And nothing makes me happier than these pillows:

They used to be in my grandparents' house.  They even survived the fire and have the scars to prove it.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Who's to blame?

So this has happened.

Tigger has joined Pooh Bear in the pajama department.

I thought it's maybe just as well Braeden isn't here or we'd have an Eeyore too--or a Rabbit, or an Owl--who knows.

But then I thought, maybe this is Braeden's fault.  He's the one with the horse mask, baby blue suit, a fur coat and several thrift store Hawaiian shirts.  He may have been a bad influence...

Then I thought, maybe it's Emma's fault.  She's the one that started it.

But maybe it's Adam's fault.  After all, as a freshman at BYU he was in the Homecoming Parade dressed as Miss UTEP.  (And I'm pretty sure that cross dressing was against the honor code.)

Perhaps I can blame their Aunt Olivia.  To this day she has a dress up box.

Whoever I can blame, it's certainly not my fault.

But then I remembered both of these were purchased using my Amazon account...

Thursday, September 17, 2015


I have a really simple email address but it comes with consequences. A lot of other people think it is their email address.  Nearly every week, someone is trying to change the password on my account because they think it is their account.

Nearly every week, I get email intended for someone else.

For example:

I was sent this picture:

I don't know one person in the shot but I appreciate that they are all having a good time.
Also, I got invited.  

Then Vic and Ria sent me this (along with all the other invitees):

Hello Hugo and Mary!

We would be delighted to join you in the celebration of your anniversary, and thank you for the invitation. We hope Hugo that you will be feeling better not only for the celebration, but generally so you can enjoy many more years together.

Best regards,
Vic and Ria

So now I'm worried about Hugo.

Often, the Thelmas that don't know their email addresses seem like older ladies.  It makes sense.  Thelma isn't exactly a cutting edge name.

But who knows, maybe I'll want to retire in Warwickshire someday.  It looks lovely.

Marshia added a photo of Thelma to Facebook.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  I hope it was flattering.  And she has no warning now, since I got the email.

Marshia Duke added a new photo.
15 September at 16:51
Telegraph Gardens is having a huge sale and Thelma will never know.

There's a Thelma in Australia who is a West Coast Eagles fan. I get a lot of email intended for her.

She could have obtained grand finale tickets!

But she didn't know her email address!
You will be given second priority to register for the grand final ballot, and your membership barcode/s will be needed in order to register.

Membership barcode/s:

It is strongly recommended that you register for the ballot online at 
Despite the strong recommendation I didn't register for the ballot online.  Although it seems like a fine organization.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What's new with Mark

I miss that kid.  He seems to be fine going to school.  All my kids seemed to adjust to going to school better than I have adjusted to sending them.

He's doing pretty well, except for math which surprised me.  He's always been pretty good at math.  He swears he's never heard of what they're doing and I know that's not true because I did it with him last year.

So I told him I'd check over his math homework before he turned it in.

He said, "Are you sure that's ethical?"

I told him it was.


He's wanting to audition for the musical at his school.  I have enlisted Alyse, a.k.a. one of my favorites of Braeden's friends, as his voice teacher to help him prepare for auditions.  She is a fabulous singer and was involved in drama in high school too.  She's around until she starts school (BYUI) in January.

I feel like I won the lottery on this one.

I decided to stay for the first lesson because Mark communicates like a twelve year old boy.  During the lesson, Alyse was grabbing a new book and Mark walked over to me and whispered loudly, "This is going really well."


Mark isn't sure what role he wants to audition for.  He wants a part, just not a big one.  He thinks he may "get stage fright."

Also, he said he is not very good at a Russian accent.

I could be wrong but I'm guessing most kids at his school haven't mastered a Russian accent either.


Mark has blinds on his windows and they are not blocking enough light for him.  We got him curtains (he carefully picked them out) and we installed them this weekend.  He also wanted to move his bed to the opposite wall.  He's my child most interested in aesthetics and comfort and I love him for it.

He told me the curtains, "Worked like a charm."


It was another busy day and the kitchen was in a state when I walked in the door with Mark from school.  I said, "Sorry about this mess."

He reassuringly draped an arm around my shoulder--he is very nearly as tall as me--and said, "Mom, when you think about all the important things you've done in life, a clean kitchen doesn't really matter too much."

I said, "Well, thank you Mark."

"You've done great things, Mom.  For example, me."

Nothing wrong with his self esteem.


My life isn't as flavorful when he's at school. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Predawn phone call

Braeden flew to Virginia today and he got to call us from the airport.  He sent us an email saying he would be calling in the 6:00 hour.

Yesterday I visited my grandma and I was telling her about it.  I said, "I'm going to make sure and set my alarm so I'll be awake!"

She laughed knowingly and said, "You don't need to do that.  You'll think about him all night."

Well, I think my grandma cursed me.

I could not sleep.  I kept thinking about Braeden and him getting to Virginia and wondering how it would all be for him.  I would drift to sleep and then wake up thinking about him. 

And I was awake before the alarm.

Emma and Mark stumbled into our room like it was Christmas morning (we always convene on our bed before going downstairs).  We sat by the phone (both my cell phone and our home phone just in case) and waited.

Finally my cell phone rang.  Once.  Then nothing.

I quickly called the number back.  No luck.

We waited some more and it was almost time for Braeden to board his plane.  Would he call?  I pictured him panicked and unable to get his phone card to work.

But then he's Braeden and he's never met a stranger.  He asked someone to use their cell phone and he called us.  It was wonderful to hear his voice.  He's excited and happy and ready to go.  It was a brief but sweet phone call and then he had to go and I started crying and he started crying and Emma started crying and Adam had to carry responsibility for the good-bye.  Mark patted my shoulder.

He's off.  This time for real.

A few minutes later I got a text on my phone (probably from the good Samaritan whose phone Braeden borrowed).

Adam said, "Oh, the picture is blurry." (I thought it was just my teary eyes.)

I said, "Braeden is huge."  Just look at his feet compared to his traveling companions! 

(But when I look at Adam's feet it all makes sense.)

I told Adam that if he is ever in the airport and sees missionaries, he should take a picture and text their mothers.

I'm pretty sure it made all of our day.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tiny notes

Dear Costco,

Sorry about that unexpected dip in milk sales.  I used to buy 6 gallons of milk a week.  This week I bought two.


Dear MTC,

Sorry about that unexpected demand for milk.  He'll go to Virginia tomorrow and everything should go back to normal for you.


Dear September,

I love sleeping with the windows open at night.  Thank you for not being in the 80s at bedtime like July and August.  I like you more than July and August (you don't have to tell them that.)


Dear Adam,

It's one thing to go help with flags when the Young Women are in charge so you can help me.  Then you also go help the Young Men so you can help Mark.  At 6:30 in the morning.  You're amazing.  (And we're lucky you're ours.)


Dear Whoever Hung the Flag in the Canyon,

Thank you.  There were all the tributes online and the flags on every house in the neighborhood, but seeing that big flag strung impossibly over the canyon was the best sort of September 11 reminder.  What that flag represents can rise above all sorts of hard times.


Dear Pleasant Grove,

The sorry state of the streets in our fair city has never been more evident than when I was transporting a full crockpot of hot soup.  What's it going to take to get the roads repaired?  I'd promise you my firstborn but he's been spoken for.


Dear Ammon,

It is so much fun to run into you when I'm out on mundane errands.  Thanks for living close by.


Dear BYU football,

I am sorry I went to bed before the game was over.  You keep having these incredible finishes and I'm sorry I missed this one.


Friday, September 11, 2015

What happened?!?

My dad has often told me, quoting Mark Twain, that half my troubles never happen.

I doggedly keep thinking they will happen though.  You’ve got to admire that kind of tenacity, even when it’s misguided.

When I finally took matters in hand and decided to teach Braeden to go to sleep by himself when he was a year old, I braced myself for a terrible time. I decided Adam and I would play Scrabble and drown our sorrows in brownies.  Then Braeden…didn’t cry.  He went to sleep.


I have felt dread about my life changing.  I’ve worried about being at loose ends with Braeden gone and Mark at school.  What would I possibly do to fill my time without homeschooling?  I couldn’t even imagine.  In an effort to comfort myself and plan for those long interminable stretches of time when I wouldn’t have much going on, I came up with a schedule of activities.

This week I’ve had multiple doctor and dentist appointments. (Including but not limited to eye doctor appointments—I love me some eye problems.  Apparently.)  I was in charge of feeding 60 mutual kids at church.  I didn’t have to do everything but I had to coordinate and buy things.  There are a multitude of other Young Women related things that had been on the back burner while I got Braeden ready to go that I need to attend to.  Then there’s all the other daily stuff.  Wednesday, I flung everything I bought at Costco in the kitchen, put the perishables in the fridge and headed out the door again to get Mark from school.  When we walked in the door later, it looked like we’d been robbed.  Or there had been a tornado.  I finally got time to put everything to rights and I honestly don’t know how I would have had time to homeschool that day.

All the spare time isn’t really working out.

I didn’t need to worry.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Arguing is futile

Sunday afternoon we all settled down to write Braeden.  Emma informed us that she was writing him a little each day and she wouldn't be ready to send her letter until Wednesday.

This seemed sort of silly to me.

"Just get what you have written and I'll put it in the envelope."

"No, I want to send the letter Wednesday."

I forgot for a little while that you can't really tell Emma things when she's Decided.  And when Emma Decides, it's always with a capital D.  I pointed out that she could still write him every day, she could just get on the same schedule as the rest of us.


The girls heels were dug in (and she went to her room and shut the door--not an angry slam, just a firm click.).  It's a familiar sensation.  Adam said it wouldn't hurt to send him two letters in a week.  I conceded that I may have other things to send him too.  (Also, I didn't want to keep arguing.  It's hard to reason with a closed door.)

Later I told Emma she could send Braeden a letter whenever she wanted. (Like she wasn't going to anyway.  Sometimes I like to pretend like I have the power.)

"I have a plan," she said.  I didn't know what that meant.  And I didn't ask because by then I had stopped pretending like I had the power.

A few days later, Emma went to her friend's house and on the way home she swung by the post office and bought 40 stamps.  "For my letters to Braeden," she said.

"You didn't have to buy those," I said.  "I'll pay you for them."

"No," she said, "I wanted to buy my own stamps."

I told her that I would just put money in her bank account (because I can be stubborn too).  She said, "Please don't.  I want these to be my stamps."

"OK," I said.  Because why do I bother?  "I'm happy to pay you for them though.  Sometimes I may want to send Braeden something when you do."

"You can put something in with my letters whenever you want," she said.  "You just can't go in my room and get a stamp.  I have to be sending a letter."

Yes, ma'am. 

I am looking forward to Emma having a teenage daughter of her own.  I will pop popcorn and watch the show.

(My money is on Emma though.  My money will always be on Emma.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Subaru trial and living on top of old smoky

On Monday Adam had the day off and we decided to take a drive.  Adam has been wanting to go to Lake Mountain for awhile and see how his Subaru would do. (unintentional rhyming)

Lake Mountain is the unimaginative name of the small mountain range west of Utah Lake.  We set out with snacks and high spirits to test the mettle of the car.

Turns out the car did much better than I did.  It was a narrow and winding and extremely rocky and bumpy road and I got very carsick.  I finally had Adam stop and let me get out to walk.  It was terrible.  Emma got out to walk with me.  She said, "I don't even get carsick and I'm carsick."

The Subaru chugged up the mountain like it was made for such activities.

The view from the top was stunning:

We saw our house! (probably)

Also, to give a sense of scale, those little dots on the near side of the lake are houses too.

We watched a flock of birds that we guessed were seagulls flying waaaay high in the sky.  I took a picture but it's hard to see the birds.

They were thousands of feet in the air.

I drove home which helped the carsick situation.  We went and visited my grandma, helped take down the Labor Day flags in the neighborhood and watched the season premier of Studio C.  It was a good day and I went to sleep happy.

Then about 2:45 I woke up and smelled smoke coming through the open windows.  Living on the edge of civilization during the driest part of the year, it got my attention.  Despite Adam trying to reassure me, I couldn't go back to sleep until I figured out where the fire was.  Luckily, the internet knew.  It was at Deer Creek reservoir on the other side of the mountain we live on.

It made for a smoky day yesterday.

Here's the mountain we drove up Monday.  Hardly visible.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Parent Paradise

We got an email from Braeden Friday evening.  Happy day!  Except.

He was sending a quick email because his shoes did not work.  These are the very expensive shoes we bought him (two pair!).  These are the shoes we told him to wear before going to the MTC so he could be sure they worked and were broken in.  These are the shoes he didn't wear.  At all. 

I love that kid.

(I keep reminding myself.)

He was sending a desperate plea for us to send his old shoes which are quite worn.  He said he was wearing his tennis shoes in the meantime.

So he's that missionary.  The one with the tennis shoes and suit.

Adam and I looked at each other in dismay after reading the email.  We reminded each other that we love that kid.

Then we got online.  (I wonder if people that have always lived in Utah County know how it is in the rest of the world.  This place is so different.  Bizarre in delightful ways.) We found a multitude of same day MTC delivery services around here. 

We went to The Missionary Mall.  We explained our dilemma to the fresh faced young man who worked there who just returned from a mission himself.  He shook his head in a knowing, forbearing way.  He got us bigger shoes.  He said we could return the very expensive two pairs of shoes as long as they were still new enough looking that they could resell them.  (If Braeden scuffed up those shoes, I'm going to need to remind myself how much I love him.)

Adam polished up the worn old shoes and Saturday morning we went to Post Mart to deliver the old shoes and the new, bigger shoes.  There was a whole pile of things parents were sending to their missionaries at the MTC.  You could send as much stuff as you wanted for $3 a day.  We handed over the box and the guy smiled and said, "We'll deliver this in a few minutes."

Also, the very expensive too small shoes?  Braeden can put them in the same box and send them back to us through Post Mart.

For free, because he's a missionary.

Bizarre, ridiculously wonderful Utah County.

As we walked back to the car, Adam said, "Living here is a missionary parent paradise."

Monday, September 7, 2015

Tiny notes

Dear House,

You are so very quiet.  I think I'll like it here.  It will take some getting used to, but quiet is one of my favorite sounds.


Dear Braeden's Empty Room,

You. Are. Killing. Me.


Dear Adam,

You are a genius to arrange for us to have a date the weekend after Braeden left.  You know me.  And I love you.


Dear Illusive Fly,

I will get you.


Dear Red Geraniums,

Thank you for your cheerful blooms all summer.  You remind me of my grandma and you make me happy.


Dear Every Doctor's Office I've Ever Been To,

Yes, that paperwork is correct.  My husband and I have the same birthday.


Dear Snake Emma Saw in the Garage,

You're gone, right?  You're not hiding in the garage still?  You're not going to end up in my bed, right?



Friday, September 4, 2015

Books I read in August 2015

August brought some good books my way.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler ****

I always like Anne Tyler and this was no exception.  I may have liked it even better than her others.  It's about a family over three generations.  It skips all around telling their stories.  The characters were in turns delightful and infuriating.  It gave me a lot to think about.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman  **

This book was OK.  I probably would have stopped reading it, but I read it for book club.  Yes, book club.  I didn't ever tell you because it was sandwiched between too many other things, but I have joined a book club.  I was slightly terrified to go because I sort of like it here in my comfort zone, but I was very glad I did.  I miss my old book club.  I love talking to women that are like minded and I like reading and talking about books.  I even like soldiering on through a book that I wouldn't read otherwise for the greater good of book club!

This book was fine until it ventured into paranormal stuff and I was thinking, "Wha?" I never really got it all, I just thought it was sort of strange.

But I read it!  And I went to book club!

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute****

I feel like I should have read this book a long time ago.  It's been around awhile.  I told my mom about it and she read it years ago.  Where have I been?

It's about a young British woman who is in the Pacific during World War II.  She falls in love and moves to the Australian outback and really makes something of herself!  It was pretty fascinating and feel good.  This is sort of a lame book review (like most of mine are) but I figure you've probably already read the book...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

That's that

Mark went to school but Emma stayed home.  She told Braeden he could wake her up whenever he wanted to.

It wasn't an easy task but Pooh Bear finally emerged from her den.  They sat down and started playing Heart and Soul on the piano together.

It was the first happy/sad occurrence of the day.

Here he is posing with his ceremonial last Coke Zero while his dad loaded the van.  I feel like every picture we get from him while he's on his mission will be silly.

And I don't mind.

We got everything into one big and one little suitcase.  For two years.  Amazing.

We picked up Mark from school and I had to take a quick shot of my three in the back.

It's blurry but my eyes were also blurry.  Braeden was still/always opting for drama.

We stopped for lunch and the waitress is going on a mission in three weeks.  There's nothing quite like Utah County.

His drop off time was 12:45 and we got there early.  We drove up by the Provo Temple and there were little clumps of missionaries and their families milling around.  I didn't make eye contact with any of the other mothers.  A few sideways glances showed me that like me, they were barely holding it together.

Solidarity, sisters.  I get it.  This is tough.

It was time, so we walked back to the van.  Braeden gave me his arm.  We walked along, my arm looped through his and I felt the soft fabric of his suit and his strong muscular arm underneath and I thought, "This is it."

We dropped him off, hugged and cried and a kind elder was there to enthusiastically welcome him and ask him where he was going and our role was complete.

Tear stained and slightly blurry picture, but it was one of those times when I've never been so sad and happy simultaneously.

And crying like nobody's business.

I handed out Kleenex in the car and that was that.

He's on his way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The big day

It's finally here.  His whole life we've talked about the day he'll serve a mission.

And here we are.

I can't even begin to describe how it feels.  Exciting and scary and joyful and full of gratitude and really, really rotten come close.

I'll miss him.  That's all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Other stuff too

I have one and only one thing on my mind and that is the impending departure.

You know, in case you couldn't tell...

Today we have a packed list of last minute stuff to attend to. Just when we thought we had everything, it turns out we don't.  I'm very glad we'll have Adam to help us tonight.  He's smarter and more experienced (at being a missionary and at packing a suitcase efficiently).

Today also, I have some things to say unrelated to Braeden's mission:

1-Happy news!

Meet Lucette.  She arrived yesterday.  All ten. Pounds. Of. Her.  (Well done Melanee!) She is already a well loved celebrity in the family.  She is not only the Baby Dahl (23rd grandchild!) but she also has the distinction of being the biggest at birth.  I can't wait to meet her later today.

2-  This is what Emma wanted for her half birthday present:

She is a silly old bear, much like Winnie the Pooh, but incredibly huggable and cuddly when she wears her new pajamas.

3- I have been enjoying my grandma.

Sadly, she broke her back and is in a rehabilitation center and so wasn't able to come on Sunday.  We've visited her a few times, including last night.  I love my grandma!  She'd already given a very generous donation to Braeden's mission but when we went last night--and Braeden was there to say good-bye--she retrieved a folded bill from her wheelchair and asked if he had room in his bag for that.  She is the kindest, most generous grandma in the world.

Recently, when going through the possessions of their parents' that have passed away, my mom's cousins found a box of letters that their father, my grandma's brother, had written home during World War II.  They made copies and then gave my grandma the box of letters.  I have been reading the letters aloud to my grandma.  She was still living at home at the time and so the letters are to her as well.  They are a treasure trove of information.  I love reading about the history of the time and getting an inside look at the life of a soldier.  I also love the family history aspect of it.  I always liked my great uncle Shirley.  (He was named before Shirley Temple made Shirley a girl's name!) He was a talented piano player and always kind with twinkling eyes.  He was also my grandma's next door neighbor.  It is interesting to learn more about the relationship Shirley had with his parents and my grandma back then and I like to know the kinds of things they talked about.

The very best part is how inspired I feel when I read Shirley's words.  He was incredibly optimistic and upbeat.  He didn't complain about a single thing.  There was one, "Golly it is hot today..." but that's hardly a complaint.  He writes about what they're doing (we're at the beginning of the letters so he's still in training and hasn't gone to Germany yet) and who he is with.  He's complimentary of his fellow soldiers and grateful for the food he's getting (food at home was rationed then).  His letters are also chock full of gratitude to his parents, their way of life and how he was raised.

They make me want to be a better person.


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