Friday, October 30, 2015


I have been reading and loving the book Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong.

I feel like change and I have been introduced and I could use a little help with the relationship, so I bought this book.

Yesterday, I read a part that has stuck with me.  She pointed out that a definition for thrive means to grow well.

Thriving, according to Kristen Strong, "doesn't mean we are running sunny-faced, skippy-dippy through life with our head filled with Pollyanna cliches.  No, to thrive means to grow well.  And a big part of growing well is seeing change with the eyes of heaven and knowing that God will always, always use it for us."

I needed to read these words; I need to read this book.  Because I don't always feel like I'm thriving.

I certainly don't feel sunny-faced and skippy-dippy all the time.

Sometimes I'm just plain sad.  Sometimes this is just plain hard.  Sometimes I wonder why we uprooted our kids from their happy and comfortable friendships.  (And my own happy and comfortable friendships.)

At such times, I remember that moving felt like the right answer when we prayed.  OK, but I didn't sign up for this.  Crashing on the heels of that thought is that this is exactly what I did sign up for.

This is life.  This is what will make us learn and grow.  How can you ever learn to forgive if no one ever wrongs you?  How can you learn empathy if you're always happy and comfortable?  How can you understand loneliness until you're lonely?

I read an article in the Ensign by Hillary Olsen.  It was about patience which is a whole other topic I need to work on.  She wrote, "When it comes to serving the Lord, He cares about the instrument as much as He does the task at hand."

We are the instruments.  We need change.  We need hard.  We need discomfort.  We need to learn.

Because then, we'll thrive.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tiny notes

Dear Smoke Detector,

In the middle of the night when you are beeping because you need a new battery, it is hard to appreciate the value you bring to the table.  In the future, work on needing a new battery at more convenient times.  Thank you for your consideration.


Dear Furnace,

I tried to hold out and wait until November.  Couldn't do it.  Welcome back.


Dear Musical Auditions my Children are Involved In,

You are killing me.  Two auditions at two schools for two different shows in the same week.  Just wake me up when the cast lists are posted.


Dear School Room/Office,

You are also killing me.  I have got to get in there and organize you but you get kicked to the bottom of my to do list routinely.  Sorry about that.  And thanks for waiting so patiently.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Anybody want some milk?

We have serious problems around here without Braeden.  Milk problems.  I went to Costco the other day and hadn't been for two weeks (when has that happened?).  I opened the fridge to assess the milk situation before I left and we had three and a half gallons of milk!  What is happening to my life?  BUY MORE MILK used to be one of those unavoidable things, like death and taxes.

Saturday, the three full gallons of milk had reached their expiration date.  Talk about panic.  I bought pudding mix and instructed Emma to get to work.  We needed to have pudding.  Stat.

I also conceded victory to Mark in the Great Cereal War of 2015.

I had refused to buy him more Cinnamon Toast Crunch until the other cereal we already had was gone.

(Don't tell Braeden about the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  This was never a kind of cereal I would buy because it's basically dessert but now I buy it for Mark because that kid just wears me out, I guess.  It's probably the same thing that happened when Ammon was the only one at home and my mom started buying Cocoa Puffs.  Suddenly who was that woman?  Well, Ammon turned out OK.)

Anyway, I wouldn't buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Mark stopped eating cereal altogether.  I told him that was fine.  I would outlast him.

Then, cracks in the armor, Chocolate Cheerios was on sale at Costco a while back.  If you're already buying Cinnamon Toast Crunch, what's a little Chocolate Cheerios?  (Here's a warning:  Apparently Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a gateway cereal.)

I bought the Chocolate Cheerios but put them up high and out of reach for everyone unless they had a ladder (this also only works with Braeden gone).

I dug in my cereal heels.  That kid could eat toast or go hungry.

Then we had three gallons of milk that were expiring!  I got out the Chocolate Cheerios and put them on the kitchen table and told Mark to go forth and eat.

He obliged.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

That time of year again

I texted this picture to Adam:

I'd wrapped my first Christmas present and I told him, "It's on."

He texted back, "Wait, really?  Now I feel pressure."

Which is silly because for one thing, I do this every year and for another thing, he doesn't need to feel pressure yet.  He's a last minute kind of guy and it works for him.

I'm an early bird and that works for me.

Opposites attract.

I have been thinking about what to get Mark for Christmas.  For the last decade, it's been a no brainer.  The answer has been Lego sets.  Easy.  Lately, he hasn't been spending a lot of quality time within his Lego sanctuary.  Maybe it's time to diversify?  Get different types of gifts?  Friday night I brought up the topic with him.

Saturday, he sat himself on a kitchen stool and spread the Lego catalog out on the counter.  He had a pen in hand and a blank piece of paper.

"Mom, you know how you said you didn't know what to get me for Christmas?  I'll make you a list."

"Oh. OK," I said.  Mostly because that's the easiest response when he presents me with information like that.

"Don't worry," he said, "I will be reasonable in my list of demands."

"Your list of demands?"


He came up with eleven Lego sets that he wanted.

"Eleven?" I said, "You may want to narrow that down a little."

"OK," he said, "I'll cross one thing off the list."

About then he knew he'd lost me.

"Mom," he said, "How about this--these things on the list can give you ideas of what kinds of things I like.  These are only ideas.  You can get me what you want to get me."

Wow.  Thanks Mark.  That is really pretty generous.

If any other career goals don't pan out for Mark, I think he could be a very successful dictator of a small country.

Monday, October 26, 2015

When annoyance is a luxury

I was putting some things away in the coat closet and noticed something balled up in the back of the top shelf.  I reached up on tip toes and pulled out a sweater.  A Braeden sweater.  A practically new sweater that would be perfect for him right now on his mission.  That is, if he'd taken it.

I recognize that tip toe for me is chest high for Braeden with his long limbs, but he makes me crazy.  Why does he always hide things up out of my reach?  Is that kid part squirrel?

Seeing the sweater, all wrinkled and big and Braeden-sized, I felt a bubble of intense missing-my-baby-boy well up inside of me.  I buried my face in the fabric to see if it still smelled like Braeden.  It didn't.  It smelled like a sweater.

Last week at book club, one of the women whose son has been home from his mission for a few months, was telling us how much her son is bugging her.  She loves him, of course she does.  (I hardly know her but I recognize that light in her eyes when she talks about him.)  He also infuriates her like sons do to mothers.  She wants him at college, in a dorm room, not messing her house up, thank-you-very-much.  She is in a more sane frame of mind, where she can just go ahead and be annoyed by him.

I'm stuck on this lonely island where my son's annoying habits make me want to wrap my arms around him and smell his sweater.  It is something of a luxury to have someone around to annoy you.

I miss my sanity.

I miss being able to get frustrated with my son like any normal mother.

I miss Braeden.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Slowing down

It's no secret I love listening to the choir concerts at Emma's high school.  There are five choirs and they work hard to produce a great evening of entertainment.  The award winning elite chamber choir is especially amazing.  I think my favorite part of each concert is when the Women's Choir sings though.  It is one of the non-audition choirs.  This year, there are three girls in the choir with Down syndrome.  These three pretty girls stand near the front.  They smile and sing their hearts out.  Sometimes, often, they are very off-key.

The girls around them, fellow choir members, don't flinch.  They sing their hearts out too.  The choir director leads on.  After each number, the audience members clap their loud applause and Mr. Wilcock turns with a smile, bows, and then gestures toward the choir.  He indicates and acknowledges that they deserve the applause.

I love the experience because no one cares that they're off-key.  In a concert that I look forward to for its beautiful music, those off-key notes and the absolute acceptance of the off-key notes are a beautiful thing.

Yesterday, I took a carload of youth to the temple to perform proxy baptisms.  Among them was one of the laurels who has special needs.  Sometimes she has a difficult time understanding what's going on around her.  New experiences are hard and multi-step instructions are hard.

She really wanted to perform a baptism for her grandmother though.

When we got in the car, she didn't have the card she needed with her grandma's name.  I don't think she knew that was a thing.  We picked up some boys and they told me some other boys wanted to go too.  So we drove to their houses.  One of the boys was in shorts and a t-shirt.  He said he'd quickly change.  While he did, I started texting to try to locate the name we needed for a baptism.  No one had it.  It was assumed the group that had gone that morning at 4:30 must have inadvertently done the baptism already.  (I'm glad I'm not in the 4:30 a.m. group, by the way.)

Since we were gathering more boys, and we were across the street from one of the Young Men leader's house, I decided to go get more names from him for the boys to do.  I had a little time while the boys were getting ready.

He handed me a stack of cards.  On top of the pile was the card for my dear girl's grandmother!

It seemed like such a small thing, but it also seemed like a great big enormous thing.  Through a confluence of coincidences and mishaps, miscommunications and boys not ready to go, we were able to find the name!

It was slow going at the temple.  I needed to explain and reassure all along the way.  My girl asked me a lot of questions and she had a smile as big as I've ever seen.  It meant the world to her that she was able to be there for her grandma and it meant the world to me that I was able to be there for her.

Both of these experiences have reminded me of an important truth.  Heavenly Father loves us.

That's all there is to it.

Watching and hearing the off-key chorus that was accepted and loved like it was perfect, reminded me that when we are off-key and struggling, we are accepted and loved.

Seeing the series of small tender mercies unfold so a sweet 16 year old girl could get baptized for her grandma, reminded me that Heavenly Father knows us.  He knows what we want and what we need and He will help us.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hip hip hurray

Three cheers for:

Emma's friend Adri.  Emma went over to her house to get her hair done before her choir concert.  In a family that's hair challenged, it's nice to be able to outsource.

The choir concert.  The choir program is easily my favorite thing about the entire high school.   And now I have a whole new appreciation for their teacher, Mr. Wilcock.  There was a student teacher directing some of the music.  Same talented kids, but they didn't sound the same without him.  Mr. Wilcock for president!

Fleece lined leggings.  I felt like I was getting away with something all day. They feel like I'm wearing a really comfortable and warm sweatshirt on my legs.  Life changing!

awkward mirror selfie...I was that sure you would want to see my leggings

Adam returned safely from his business trip. I always miss him more than seems reasonable when he's gone. 

Mark.  He told me he loved me more than I loved him.  I told him I loved him as much as the law would allow.  A slow smile spread over his face and he said, "I broke the law.  That's how much I love you."

I love that cheesy redhead.

the sandwich one can put sandwiches away like Mark can


Wednesday, October 21, 2015


More misdirected email:

What's better than someone else's vacation photo?

Especially when it's blurry and you don't understand what's least they nailed the grammar.

Then there was this one, from Jo Jo.

I hope this Thelma is OK after her "first night out" too.  Although I have no idea what that means.

These misdirected email brought me guilt:

Chatham has terrible flooding!  RainReady can help!  Except Thelma, the one that lives in Chatham, didn't get this email.

This Thelma needs to pay her Virgin Media bill, but she didn't get the bill because she doesn't know her email address.  Give her another chance!  Don't take away her entertainment! 

This was the worst one:

Thelma is interested in going ITT Techinical Institute in San Antonio and Gilda is ready to help her.  But Thelma never got this email.  How can she contact Gilda?

Gilda!  She's still interested!

Don't give up on Thelma!  She's harbored a lifetime dream of ITT Technical Institute.  Don't let a little thing like not knowing her email address stand in the way!



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lucette's day

Sunday we celebrated Lucette's blessing.  We went to church with Ammon and Melanee.  Lucette wore the incredible dress Melanee had crocheted for her and Ammon gave her a beautiful blessing.  It's possible I teared up a little hearing my baby brother give his sweet baby a blessing.  That Ammon turned out well.  My sisters and I try to take credit because we mothered him as much as possible, but I doubt we deserve too much credit.

After church we convened at their house for a lovely dinner.

Living in the next town over from this delightful family is one of the great blessings of my life.

Here's a closeup (stolen from Melanee's facebook page) so you can see the dress:

Isn't she the cutest cherub you've ever seen?  The chubby perfection! And that dress!

Here's the Grandma and Grandpa shot:

Grandchild number 23

I had high hopes and good intentions of taking a lot of pictures so I could send them to Braeden and I sort of failed.

I did get these two pretty ladies:

And Adam took this:

Never enough sister time.  I love those girls.

Since it is soon Cormac's birthday, Melanee made these great light sabers out of pool noodles and the little boys went to town in huge battles.  It was pretty much perfect.

I particularly loved the way they stored their light sabers when they were not in use.

Cormac opened some gifts and I think he liked the Yoda.

Speaking of gifts, Hyrum told his mom he wants a baby sister for Christmas. 

I'll let you know what happens on that one....

Monday, October 19, 2015

Road trip

UEA is one of those occasions that the whole state knows about and everyone outside of Utah has no idea there was even an event.

Kind of like the 24th of July.

It's also known as Fall Break and the kids get school off for three days and it coincides with the Deer Hunt (which is a whole other Thing).

Last year, along with what seemed like everyone else from Utah, we hit Disneyland.  This year we went for a more exotic location and headed to Boulder.

we took Adam's car at Mark's request..he wears shorts and a t shirt and likes the heated seats in the back

Here's how you get to Boulder.

1) Go to the middle of nowhere.

2) Turn left.

3) Go to the end of the earth.

4) Keep going.

It's a place like none other.  Achingly beautiful and incredibly remote and my brother lives there along with his girls--as he fondly calls his wife and three daughters.

We stopped on Boulder Mountain to take a few pictures:

Is there anything better than aspen trees?

The mountain tops out at about 10000 feet and a lot of the leaves were already gone (and in Pleasant Grove they haven't even turned colors for autumn yet):

Even if it weren't so breathtakingly lovely there, I would happily go anywhere to see Tabor.  I love that kid.  He has a disarming blend of self deprecation and blatant self confidence and charisma that when mixed together, charm me.  He makes me feel more confident and also shines a light of perspective on things.  I could talk to him all day and be better for it.

He is also wickedly funny.  He accused me of making him more obnoxious because I laugh at his jokes.  He said our sister Olivia does the same thing to him.  So I guess you can blame the two of us that he isn't better behaved.

Adam enjoyed spending time with Tabor and helping him a little with ranch work.  Emma and Mark enjoyed their darling little cousins and I enjoyed visiting with Katie and helping her cook.  By helping her, I mean I sliced the tomatoes badly.

(If you ever need something sliced badly, I'm your girl.)

Tabor took us on a wild ride in his ranch truck up on the mountain.

Katie and I sat in the front seat with him because we both are prone to car sickness.  The road was rough and Tabor, shifting gears around Katie's legs and pointing out sights and checking cattle along the way and regaling us with stories while he drove, didn't do much to allay our car sickness.

Katie's cousin and his friends were there to hunt deer so we were also leading them on an expedition to find good hunting sites.

This picture was taken about the time I pointed out the baby deer to the hunters and told them not to kill the babies' dads.  They told me we didn't know for sure they were the dads.

I am a happy carnivore but I'm glad Adam doesn't hunt.  I prefer my meat boneless + skinless from Costco.

Finally Katie and I declared we'd stay put and he could pick us up on the way back.

Tabor said it was good for him to have us along, getting car sick, so he realized how rough the road is.  Usually he has a horse in a trailer behind his truck on that road.

I told him if horses could throw up, he would find digested hay all over the floor of the trailer.

Poor horses!

Seeing where Tabor rode also gave me insight as to why when I hug him around his middle--which is the only place I can reach--it's like hugging a surfboard.  That guy has abs of steel and he gets them riding horseback up and down steep mountains.  Pilates instructors wish they had the core strength of Tabor!

The girls effectively had their cousin Mark wrapped around their little fingers.  They were involved in an elaborate game of pretend and they gave Mark definite instructions about who he was and what he could do in the game.  He happily went along.

I mean, wouldn't you?

(Their hair was a little rough because the air mattress Emma had slept on was a ship and there were all sorts of storms and lamentations...not pictured is Charlotte who was part of the game but on a rocking horse.)

I told them we needed to leave in the morning and we ended up leaving around 1:00 pm.  I knew that would happen so I purposely set an earlier time.  We could visit endlessly.

Who knew my pesky brothers I used to babysit would end up being some of my best friends in the world?

I took some pictures as we were putting our shoes on.  I always remember these things too late.

Here's Tabor and Charlotte:

The little dress up skirt was all part of the horseback play and Tabor is living proof that sometimes the good guys wear black hats.

I took a picture of the whole family to send Braeden:

See that look on Tabor's face?  That is him about to say something cheeky.  It is a familiar look.

Finally I got camera shy Olivia to look at the camera!

I love this whole family!  What a blessing it is to live in the same state.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Things that shouldn't surprise me

(but still do, somehow)

1- Remember when I grievously fell on my elbow?  I had whiplash from the incident and have been to the chiropractor twice to put my ribs and neck back into place.  I was finally (finally!) feeling a lot better and then I carried five big bags from the car (full of YW stuff) and heaved them onto the table and now my back hurts all over again.

It shouldn't surprise me, but I'm old.

2-We have a lot more leftovers and milk around here.

It shouldn't surprise me, but Braeden ate a lot.

3- My hairdresser has her hair styled in one of those bump type ways which results in big hair.

It shouldn't surprise me, but I left my appointment with bigger than normal hair.

4- Speaking of my hairdresser, I really like her (big hair and all).  We talk about books we've read and our kids while she works her big-hair magic.  She was asking me if my daughter, who is a junior, is busy with hard classes like her daughter, who is also a junior.  I said yes, but happily, students in AP calculus are required to also sign up for a lab period so that cuts down on her homework a lot.

My hairdresser said, "Didn't you home school your daughter?  And she's in AP calculus?!?"

Yes.  Despite that damaging experience, she's a pretty smart cookie.

It shouldn't surprise me, but some people think homeschooling isn't a very good education.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hiding out

The other night I was lying on our bed and Adam noticed my striped shirt blended perfectly with our striped bedding.

He took a picture (I covered my face with a pillow to further the effect.)

It's a silly picture but not a silly concept.

I'm going to remember my good hiding spot (and I'm looking for some striped pants).  I especially need to utilize this camouflage every Wednesday starting about 4:00 in the afternoon.  My phone starts going crazy.  I call it the Mrs. Flink Effect.  When I taught third grade, there was a student whose mother, Mrs. Flink, called me nearly every morning to chat about her child.  She always called right when I was busy getting ready or worse when I was about to go out the door.  I finally told Adam that if someone called and asked for Mrs. Davis, to tell them I was gone.

The next morning she called and asked for Thelma.  She was tenacious, that one.

Every Wednesday, the Mrs. Flink Effect is now about our Young Women activity.  Every week we meet at the church at 7:00 for about an hour.  There are very few exceptions to that pattern.

Every week, a few parents, some other leaders and some girls text me to find out what time we are meeting and where. (Despite reminders that everyone gets.)

Then they have several follow up questions including but not limited to when we'll be done and what exactly the activity is.

All of this is happening while I am frantically trying to prepare for the activity and get Mark to do his homework and make dinner.

I'm going to just start hiding.

As soon as I find some striped pants.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


This morning I listened to President Uchtdorf's talk from the Women's Broadcast session of General Conference while I walked along the mountain path near my house.  I've never heard a talk quite like it.  The entire thing is a story.

This resonated with me:

God didn’t design us to be sad. He created us to have joy! So if we trust Him, He will help us to notice the good, bright, hopeful things of life. 

I started noticing some of the good, bright, hopeful things in my life.

It's been such a whirlwind of change the last few years.  I hardly recognize my life.  Sometimes I mourn my old life.  I miss homeschooling, our friends and family in Washington, the kids' old high school.

I miss Braeden.

Here's what I noticed this morning though, what I thought about as my feet crunched on the gravel and my lungs filled with the cool morning air:  here's what I like about living in Utah

1- Blue skies.  Nearly every day.  I never get tired of blue blue skies.

2- Seeing my family.  A lot. I never get tired of that either.

3- The temple is very close and when I walk up on the mountain, I can see four temples (well not clearly, but I know the new Provo one is there).

4- I like dry air.

5- I love seeing the mountains every direction.

6- I always know which way is North, South, East or West (see above--the mountains help me).

7- There are many really close, really great places to take a walk.

8- Provo.

9- The high school performing arts.  They're competitive, but my kids love being involved.

10- I get to visit my grandma often.

In the constant shifting and rearranging that is life, I'm grateful for a God that created us to have joy.  I'm grateful for a world that is designed to be a beautiful, varied and ever changing place where we can learn to adapt.  Sometimes I resist change kicking and screaming, but that rarely helps...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My boys

It's a small world:

I found out that my cousin is married to Braeden's mission companion's sister.

(So they're practically related.)

(Did you keep that relationship straight?)

When you have fifty cousins, chances are you have a cousin for everything.

I'll file this away with other things that aren't going to happen:

Braeden wrote in his last email--in response to my queries about his accident,  "I know it goes against your nature, but I hope and pray you don't worry about me too much."

Not. Going. To. Happen.  Worrying is kind of my superpower.  Stick with what you know, I say.

He started the email with, "Oh my goodness Mom, I'm fine!" and sent this picture:

He said it looks worse than it was and he thought the nurse was bored so she bandaged him extra.

I'll never learn:

Or Mark won't.   He needed a haircut so I was planning to take him after school.  Then I started contemplating driving him there and sitting and waiting and the stuff I had to do around here and I convinced him to let me cut it myself.  He never likes it when I cut his hair and I was sure this time would be different and I persuaded him this time would be different.

It wasn't.

He doesn't like it.

I think he looks cute.

typical Horace:  photobombing

I always think he looks cute, even when he is doing math homework with a haircut he doesn't like.  (And also, he hadn't seen that picture of Braeden with the nearly identical pose. )

Where did I go wrong with those two?

Another thing demonstrating I will never learn: in that picture Mark is wearing a new Star Wars t-shirt I bought him Saturday minutes after I told him I would definitely not, never-not-ever buy him a new Star Wars t-shirt because he has a closet full of them.

But did you see how cute he is?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mama kisses Santa Claus

I don't know how to describe it.  I guess a nice way to put it is that Mark is enterprising and resourceful.  He likes to work angles to get what he wants.

And he always wants something.

When topics like "What I want for Christmas" come up and they do, if something is deemed too expensive by me, he will respond with a "then I'll ask Santa for that."

This always has caused worried looks between Braeden and Emma and me.  I mean the kid is twelve.

Last summer I tasked Braeden with having The Talk with Mark.  I thought it would be better coming from him.

For one reason or another, it never happened though.  (My theory is that Braeden is, in the end, too tender hearted for such tasks.)

Last week, Emma and I went to dinner together.  Over our exceptional Mexican food at Costa Vida (mmmm...mmmm), we talked about the Santa problem.  I told Emma she had to take care of it.  She can have the emotional detachment of a surgeon or she can also throw her arms around you, eyes filled with sympathetic tears.  It depends on what the situation calls for.  I told her that she had to take care of this situation and she said she would.

We nervously contemplated the outcome, possible emotional scarring, etc.

A few days later, Emma reported back to me.  Their conversation had gone something like this:

Emma:  Mark, we need to talk about Santa.

Mark: Yeah, I have known for years.

Emma:  You HAVE?  Mark!  We've been worried about this.

Mark:  Hmm.

I don't know what to think about Mark.  He is a many faceted puzzle, that one.


Friday, October 9, 2015

He is going to be that kind of brother

After a girl is grown, her little brothers — now her protectors — seem like big brothers. 
Terri Guillemets

Every time I get my brothers to help me with something--which is often--I tell Mark, "I hope you're going to be that kind of brother."

(Most recently I called Enoch when I had an electrical situation so he could assure me I wasn't going to burn down my house.)

My brothers are good at Stuff and Mark is good at Stuff so I want him to help his siblings when they need it.

The other day I was sifting through the detritus that is my former-school-room-but-too-disorganized-to-be-called-an-office-yet.  Through the open window I heard Emma get home from her voice lesson.  She got out of her car and called Mark over.  (He was on the side of our house, digging a hole. Like Elder Haynie said during conference, sometimes boys dig holes.)

I heard Emma tell Mark that her car indicated low tire pressure.  From my upstairs perch, I saw Mark show Emma how to find out what the tire pressure should be.  He retrieved the air compressor and explained how to use it.  Then he filled her tires for her, talking to her carefully the whole time so she could do it herself in the future if needed.

I like brothers that are good at Stuff.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

When the call is from Virginia, I pay attention

I was on the landline phone with my mom yesterday afternoon when my cell phone rang.  It was a Virginia number.  I quickly hung up with her and answered my cell phone.

It was a lady--I don't remember her name--but she was with Braeden.

First, she assured me he was OK.

Then she told me he'd been in a bicycle accident.

She had taken him to a doctor's office and he wanted her to call because he didn't know his social security number.

My mind reeled with a thousand unasked questions and I propelled myself to the file cabinet where the social security numbers are filed.

"So he's OK?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, "He scraped up his arms and hands but he's OK."

"How's his bike?" I was trying to get a sense of the scope of the accident.

"His bike is fine."

But how is he?!?

I said, "So he's seen a doctor?"

"No," she said, "We are waiting.  He thought he needed his social security number for the forms he needs to fill out."

I said, "Will you tell him he doesn't need to write it down?  I will give it to you but he can just say no to writing it down."

She said, "OK."

I read off the numbers to her.

"So he's OK?" I asked again.  (Poor long suffering lady.)


Then I heard him talking in the background which just. About. Killed. Me.  Every cell in my body wanted to talk to him.

"Thank you for taking care of him.  Tell him I love him and to be careful."

"He can hear you," she said.  I thanked her again and we said our good-byes.

I dialed Adam's cell phone and then I burst into tears.   It really wasn't much of an event.  He crashed his bike and got a little scraped up and is OK.  End of story.

But I can't talk to him and I don't really know any details which is hard when for the past eighteen years, my life has revolved around the details.  Adam understood.  He said all the right things to make me feel better.

Being the mother of a missionary is not for the faint of heart.

Being the wife of Adam, you can have a faint heart.  He's good at that sort of thing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In addition to practicing

I bought a Beethoven bust for the top of the piano.

So far, I haven't noticed a marked improvement in my piano playing, but that doesn't mean a bust of Beethoven won't help.

When Emma saw my newest acquisition, she commented on the somewhat...eccentric...collection of items surrounding the piano.

She said, "You have your bright red ukulele, Beethoven, a pumpkin and spurs."

To which I could only shrug.

I stand by my choices.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


A few hours after Emma got home, Adam left on a business trip.

There are still three of us around here but of course a very different dynamic.

Sunday afternoon, we took a walk.  We drove to the Provo River and walked along the trail towards the lake.  It is a lovely walk.  The river is on one side and there are houses backed up to the other side of the trail.

We walked by a house with a crazy amount of ducks in the backyard.  And one goose.  It's like the one kid who keeps says, "Duck, duck, duck duck..." while walking around the circle and never says goose.

(Annoying kid.)

I had Mark on one side of me and Emma on the other which was also lovely.

On her trip they had told a lot of jokes (and unlike me, Emma can actually remember jokes she hears) so Emma started telling us jokes. Mark--also a joke rememberer--added some jokes of his own.  Emma would spring a joke on us that would loop back around to a previous joke and Mark would almost fall off the trail laughing.

It felt magical to be walking along on a warm Sunday with yellow leaves swirling around and my children laughing on either side of me.

On the drive home, Emma, still under the influence of the teenage girl overload she'd experienced, directed us in a game of Marry, Kiss and Kill.

You name three people and the other person has to say which of the three they would marry, which they would kiss and which they would kill.

Mark kept saying he couldn't pick because he was a boy, which was a fair point.  (It's hard for 12 year old boys to play teenage girl games.) 

He did however contribute lists of people for the game.  Here are some of their combinations:

Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Ghandi

Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Voldemort, Snape and Malfoy

When we returned home, we played Monopoly Deal.  I kept losing and not just losing but being annihilated.  It's mostly a game of luck so I don't know how to change the situation.

I finally decided that whoever won would have to load the dishwasher.  It didn't help.  I still lost.

And I made both kids load the dishwasher.

They deserved it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Conference weekend

I like having my days my own. I wake up happy when I consider what I have ahead of me on most days.  Our house is consistently cleaner than it has ever been and I'm not just wistfully shifting things around on my to do list, but actually finishing tasks every once in awhile.

Some days turn up lonely though.  Friday a confluence of events brought on the loneliness.

October 2 meant one month from the time Braeden left.  One month?  That is completely depressing.  Twenty three to go.

Twenty three!?! (imagine me saying that in my best whiny voice)

Combined with that, Emma was gone.  She went to Cedar City for a Shakespeare competition.  (They tied for second overall!  Yay PGHS!)  I missed that girl.

I miss the swirl of my children. When I homeschooled all three of them, by afternoon, I usually had tension right between my shoulder blades.  It wasn't easy.

But I wish I could go back.  Knowing how fleeting the time was, I would do a better job.  I would enjoy it more.

This was my favorite weekend of the year, General Conference.  When we lived in Washington, Janet and I would get together with our daughters while the men went to the Priesthood session.  We would talk and talk and talk like we can do.  I miss Janet.

To make matters worse, with Emma gone, I didn't have anyone to hang out with during the meeting.  It's not like I can't be alone--I quite like it--but when it has traditionally been a celebratory girl time, it felt kind of sad.

I must have been a desolate and tragic figure because Adam prompted Mark to invite me to join them for dinner after their meeting.  It is traditionally their time and it was kind of them to include me.

We had a nice dinner together.  Over bowls of pasta they told me all about their meeting and during some of the stories they told me, I started crying.

(Nothing quite like creating a scene in Noodles and Co.) 

I guess the moral of the story is that traditions can shift just like families shift, crying over inspirational stories is a good kind of crying and listening to conference lifted me above any sadness I could have.  There's something about hearing truth that sets me aright.  Remembering who I am and whose I am soothes all my perceived little woes.

And it made me happy knowing Braeden was listening to it too.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Some random stuff

1- A few days ago I fell walking down our stairs--missed the last step--and landed on my elbow.  It is very bruised and sore and I feel a) old and b) vulnerable.  When little kids fall, they pop back up and run around some more.  Me?  Not so much.

2- We got an email from Braeden's mission president outlining evacuation plans for the impending hurricane.  Now it looks like the hurricane is going to miss them but there will still be a lot of rain and the possibility for flooding.  If I know Braeden, he is thrilled.

3- Marianne directed me to come up with a craft for Thanksgiving (like the bracelets last year).  She's my older sister so she is the boss of me and I am taking this responsibility very seriously.  I am trying to come up with something that is not too expensive or difficult or cheesy and I called Marianne to report my progress.  She thinks I'm better at crafts than I am.

4- Emma is gone on a school trip so we are getting a taste of Life With Mark.  I have a feeling a lot of time will be taken with me stopping Adam and Mark from breaking things.  Those two throw things.  Recently, Adam would throw a football in the direction Mark was going to leap.  Coincidentally it was in the direction of a lot of breakables.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Books I read in September 2015

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion ***

This book follows The Rosie Project. It was good although I think I enjoyed the first one more.  These are entertaining books with lovable characters and sometimes they made me laugh out loud. 

A Long Time Gone by Karen White ***

I like most everything I've read by Karen White.  (My favorites are her ghost stories which is weird because I don't like ghost stories.)  This story is set in rural Mississippi and is about a young woman who's returned home and also about her mother and great grandmother.  There's a lot of mystery and intrigue and romance and a little whining.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah ****

Kristin Hannah never disappoints.  I love her books.  This book is set during World War II, in France.  It's about two sisters and their different experiences and fight to survive and also a bit about the French Resistance.  


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