Friday, January 29, 2016

Books I read January 2016


Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan ****

I always want to like memoirs more than I do but I actually loved this memoir.  It was just so well written!  She wrote about a pit stop on an around the world trip as a young adult.  She stopped in Australia to be a nanny to earn money for the rest of the trip.  Through her work, she came to know and appreciate her mom and it was just masterfully crafted.  It was an interesting story too.  You should read it.




Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ****

Emma, as a Sherlock fan was a little impressed that I was reading a book by Moriarty.  It was recommended to me by the lady who cuts my hair.  We mostly talk about books and our kids while she cuts my hair.  I like her even though she was stunned when she asked me what math class Emma was taking and I said AP calculus.  She said, "And you homeschooled her?!?"  Some people think that when my kids are smart it is only because they were able to somehow overcome being homeschooled.  That's OK.  I didn't homeschool to impress skeptics.  It was for my own entertainment as much as anything.

Also, this book?  I loved it!  It was the kind of book where I had to put everything else on hold so that I could finish reading.  It was dark and violent and light-hearted and funny.  How does that happen?  It's a little bit like Where'd You Go Bernadette in that it is about the parents of kids that are in the same class at school.  It's set in Australia and was just one big suspenseful delight.




You Before Me by Jojo Moyes **

I don't know how many stars to give this book.  I really liked it until I hated it.  The ending was horrible.  I don't want to spoil it if you want to read it (but you shouldn't read it unless you want to be thoroughly depressed).

That's all.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bizarre

The only one around here who hasn't been acting strangely is Adam.

Me:

The other day at physical therapy I was debating with the college student who works there about NFL quarterbacks.  I said, "I don't care what you say about Cam Newton, I don't like him because he tore down a Seahawks flag and threw it on the ground.  That's rude."

Then I thought, I don't even know who I am anymore.

I watch too much SportsCenter.  Even though I'm reading a book, it soaks into my consciousness.  And mostly I can't read anyway because I'm doing exercises.  So SportsCenter it is.

Emma:

She went to brunch with her friends last Saturday.  We asked her about her time and she was typically sparse with information.  (Much like her uncle Ammon, she would make a great prisoner of war.  You can't get her to fold under questioning.)

Walking into church the next day, I saw she had new shoes.  "Oh," she said breezily, "we went shopping after brunch."

"Really?" I said.  Emma going shopping without me twisting her arm seemed unlikely.

"Yes," she said, "And Adri liked these shoes and if Adri liked them, I had to get them."

(Apparently Adri = fashion guru)

"Adri was glad to have us to shop with," Emma continued.  "Her mom and sister don't like shopping."

You could have knocked me over (literally, I was walking on an icy parking lot at the time).  "You don't like shopping!" I said.  In the history of ever there's never been anyone who hates shopping as much as Emma.

She just shrugged.

So now I don't know who she is anymore.

And then there's Mark:

The other day he confessed to me, "I think I peaked the summer of 2014."

"Really," I said, "why do you say that?"

"I used to make a box of macaroni and cheese and eat the whole thing."

"That's you peaking?" I asked.

"No," he said, "that was the beginning of the decline."

Speaking of Mark and food, we have started a new healthy eating plan around here and on the first night, when I was making dinner I realized I had bought the wrong ingredients (because sometimes when I shop I forget how to read).  Mark put his arm around me and kissed my temple, because that's about where he reaches now.

"Don't worry," he said, "we'll call it First Night Troubleshooting."

It's a bizarre little world with these people, but I like it.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why is Braeden so happy?


For one thing, that's just him.  He's always been a happy ray of sunshine.  He was an easy baby and a cheerful toddler and an exuberant teenager.  It's just who he is.  He is happy on a cellular level. There were many occasions while he was growing up when I wasn't happy...at all...and he would cheer me up.  He would make an excellent court jester.

I think there's more to it than that though.

When I read his letters, I can see that he is just downright joyful right now.  At first glance it doesn't make perfect sense.  If you look at his life in terms of what most Americans view as a happy life, he's not living it.  He doesn't live in a fancy house.  He's living in a trailer park.  He doesn't have a nice car--until recently, he only biked.  Now he has access to a car but with limited miles.  He doesn't have a girlfriend nor is he surrounded by friends and family.  He's not earning lots of money.  (He's earning zero money.)  He's not getting accolades for his success.  In fact, he is mostly rejected in his efforts to share his message about Jesus Christ.

But that kid is the happiest I've ever seen him.

And that's saying something.

In his email this week, he wrote:

...the best part of the week has been being able to feel closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ...

and
Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the way that we can have complete happiness in this life and joy and hope in the life to come.  I know that Christ lives and His Gospel is the way to happiness.
So if my son, living far away from everything he knows, is the happiest he's ever been, can I have that too?

I think so.

We had stake conference last Sunday and our stake president said, "There is no room for discouragement."

I thought, really?  Because I feel discouraged sometimes.  How can there be no room for it?

Then I remembered Braeden and his effervescent joy and I thought, maybe he's right.

Maybe knowing who you are and Whose you are, really knowing, edges out discouragement.

Maybe when you know your purpose and you fully believe it's a worthwhile purpose (which Braeden does), it's easier to stay happy.

Just this morning I read in the January Ensign an article entitled "We Believe in Being Positive".  I love this:
Being of good cheer does not mean being ignorant or naive to life’s challenges. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described cheerfulness as “a deep trust in God’s unfolding purposes—not only for all of mankind, but for each of us as individuals.” Challenges will certainly come, for they are a natural part of mortality, but we don’t have to be weighed down by discouragement and sadness. We can put our trust in the Lord and be positive.
So I'm going to try to remember this.  I'm going to hold a picture of my good-humored son in my mind.

What kind of lucky day was it when I gave birth to Braeden?  He blesses my life even when he's on the other side of the country.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I need extension cords

I am maybe (a teeny tiny bit) high maintenance when it comes to sleep.

It's like I'm the even harder to please, needy mother of the princess from The Princess and the Pea.

I have dry eyes so I've started sleeping with a humidifier.  It makes a nice difference for my eyes.

I have a small fan plugged in next to my bed because I like me some white noise.

Also, according to Adam, I'm a heat sink.  Now, in my defense, this is an inherited problem.  Show me a Dahl and I will show you a person with cold hands and feet.  My dad told me that my grandpa used to say that his feet would get warm on July 24 and be cold again by August 1.

My dad takes a hot bath every night before bed so he will have warm feet.

I take a hot bath every morning so I will have warm feet.  But then at night, they're cold.  Should I start taking a second bath?

I wear socks and my poor feet are still colder than Adam's.  He's very generous to let me put my cold feet next to his, but he also came up with a solution.

In the form of a heating pad.

It is a game changer.  It is sort of a miracle to be in bed and have warm feet in January.  (I had to unplug my lamp because I have so many things plugged in but this seems like a small price to pay.)

Here's the problem though.

Girls' camp.

Should I take a generator or how long do they make extension cords anyway?  We're going in early June.  I don't think my feet will be warm by then.

Maybe I'll heat rocks in the fire and put them in my sleeping bag?

I love not camping.




Monday, January 25, 2016

What I've been thinking about

January is zipping by.  And also dragging.  I feel like I'm in a surreal world broken up by time spent resting my knee, healing.

It is zipping because I am not doing all the normal stuff.  And that's also why it's dragging.

(It doesn't make sense.)

My mom called me after my last blog post about Mark.  She said she knew whether I had won or lost.  "You lost,"  she said. "Don't be blackmailed by Mark."

I guess in a contest between her daughter and her shyster grandson, the daughter wins.  Or maybe she just doesn't want her grandson to continue to be a shyster.

(I still don't want him to play football.)

I've been thinking about an email exchange between Adam and Braeden.  They were writing about me and commenting on how my self confidence doesn't match my capabilities.  (Which was nice of them to say.)  I told Olivia about it and wondered aloud why all my siblings have so much more self confidence than I do.  They're hands down the most confident people I know.

Olivia scoffed.  "You're confident!" she said.  "Of course you are!"

Which is exactly what my mom would say.  They can't fathom not being confident.  It's like if I tried to convince them there's no gravity.

It is very comforting to have a group of people believe in you so thoroughly that the only thing they doubt is your self doubt.

I went to book club Thursday night.  I feel wary there.  I don't fit.  I'm one of the oldest ones and they all know each other--a lot of them went to high school together.  I want to fit because I know book clubs can be a magical place.  So I'm persevering.  Someday I'll fit?

We read Where'd You Go Bernadette.  It was my second time reading it.  I read it several years ago but since I never remember what I read, I read it again.  Adam was out of town that night so I went to bed with the words from book club rolling around in my head.  Some of the conversation had been about our identities, which someone said tend to get swallowed up in motherhood.  Most of them are in the intense physical stage of motherhood where you can't use the bathroom uninterrupted and going to the grocery store alone is an unheard of luxury.

Your identity maybe does get a little swallowed up but then you get on the other side of it and you are left scratching your head and wondering what just happened? And how can I get those people to be little again?

And you're also really glad that it's easier in so many ways now, but forever startled by how hard it is in other ways.

I went from a busy mother of toddlers and babies to a busy homeschooling mother and now I still find plenty to do in the day, but it's just so different. 

I started feeling like maybe I needed to do more with my life (probably because I haven't been working at full capacity and it's frustrating).  Maybe I need a job or something to point to and say, "That is what I do."


Then I thought some more (remember Adam was not here to save me from myself) and realized that instead of more stuff to do, maybe I need to better remember my purpose.

Right now, part of my purpose is to serve.  I serve my family, in little ways they don't recognize if I'm doing my job right.  They mostly don't notice the clean laundry or vacuumed floors or stocked cupboards and I'm OK with that.  I like meeting their needs.  I serve Braeden with letters and emails and prayers.  I serve the Young Women at church.  They take up a lot of my brain power and time.

This is serving season (and knee healing season).  I'm grateful for the time I'm given every day.  I'm grateful for the luxury of being home when my family crosses the threshold.  I'm grateful to be the one who gives Mark a ride (and no longer has to give Emma a ride).

I'm grateful to be me.

The other day on the phone, I said to Janet, "It's hard to be a person."

That's true.  But it's also great to be a person.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Mark

Being Mark's mother? I promise it is never boring.

(Or Braeden's, or Emma's for that matter.  Who knew being a mother was such an adventure?  I guess anyone who's ever been a mother.)

The other night we were at the church to view the broadcast of Elder Rasband for the youth.  Kids from our stake were there so Mark found some friends from school and sat by them.  He was in the row in front of me, down a ways.

And since Mark is forever fidgety and can't just sit still and listen, he soon started chatting with his friends.  He was too far away from me for me to get his attention.  Next to me were the girls Mark's age and then down the row there were some of the older girls, my laurels.  I wished I could get Larisa to poke Mark in the back to get his attention for me but she was too far away.  I didn't want to ask the younger girls, because I didn't want to make them uncomfortable.  Finally, Mark was bugging me too much, "Karlee!" I whispered, "Will you poke Mark's shoulder?"

She didn't hesitate.  She got his attention with conviction and then I remembered that although she is only twelve and the very definition of sweet and meek, she has brothers.

"Pay attention!" I hissed at Mark.  He sort of smiled at me and turned back around. 

Yesterday we had a meeting at the school with a counselor to discuss Mark's schedule and his future.  He had created his own schedule without our input (and employing forgery) and I wasn't happy that he was going to be TA.  I told the counselor and she said, "Are you interested in him doing something more...academic?"

Well, yes.

She asked him what his interests were.  She told about the business marketing class (which I thought he would love).  She said, "They learn about the stock market."

Mark fished his phone out of his pocket to show her his stock market app.  What seventh grade boy has a stock market app? The kid loves that kind of stuff.

"You would like this class," she told him.

And then, because he's one of my younger two children who are impossible to talk into things, he dug in his heels.  "I want to TA," he said stubbornly.  The counselor looked at me with an expression that could only be described as pity.

"Maybe you can still...discuss it," she said helpfully.

Mark looked at me and whispered, "Would you rather have me TA or play football?"

"TA!" I said.  Because as maddening as that child can be, I have no desire to watch him bash his head into other children.

So then Mark smiled.

I walked away from the meeting with no idea whether I won or lost. 


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Unrelated things about people I'm related to

Ailments

I was slicing cucumbers on my mandolin slicer.  There's a nice guard you attach to whatever you're slicing so that you don't slice your finger.  I didn't use the nice guard.

So I sliced off the tip of my thumb.

I called my dad, who is not a medical professional, for medical advice.  Namely, should I glue my thumb back together?  He said no.  And I believed him because he's authoritative.

I had lunch the next day with Marianne and family.  When I showed them my sad bandaged thumb, Carolina thought I looked like Gretl in The Sound of Music.

I guess I could do worse.


Emma's also ailing.  And I'm worried about her.  If for no other reason, she misspelled a word.  Emma does not misspell words.  Ever.

Here's the text she sent me:


She is very miserably sick and has a classic case of burning the candle at both ends.  She also has refused to take a break although I did convince her to stay home today until math.  She absolutely will not miss rehearsal.  She said Mr. Shelley wouldn't understand (although I think he probably would).  I volunteered to be the mother bear and talk to him but she said no.

If she misspells another word, I may have to take some drastic action though.

Beards

In my Nevada family's stake, they are doing a family history project where they are recreating pictures of ancestors.

I love them.

Alexander is our great great grandfather and Jennifer is good with photoshop.





The Johnsons recreated a picture too.  This is my maternal grandfather, Homer Jaynes's family.  (He's the one in the military uniform.)



Braeden

He got transferred and I am very curious to find out about it!  He is now in Barco, North Carolina living in a trailer park by a swamp.  Adam said he thinks that has to be on Braeden's bucket list and I think he's right.  No more living in the 'hood and now he'll have a car.

Also, it finally got cold in that part of the country.


That picture is still in Newport News but it is in the 30s in Barco this morning so I'm sure he's glad for the car!



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oh dear

Mark came home from school with a paper for me to sign.  Since I am trying to be a better person and a more responsible mother, I not only signed the paper, I read it.  (OK, I skimmed it.)

It was for his musical theater class which is where they will rehearse for the musical.  This was on the paper:


"Emotional baggage?" I said to Mark.

"Yeah," he explained (because he loves to explain things to me, his poor mother who knows nothing).  "It would be like if I broke up with my hypothetical girlfriend--or I should say future girlfriend--and we would still have to be nice to each other at rehearsal."

"Are you planning on getting a girlfriend?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "The cast is mostly girls.  Most of the ensemble are girls and then the daughters are all double cast.  I only know three of their names so far, but...."

"OK," I said, regretting even starting the conversation.  I signed the form.

And I'm going back to not reading the forms in case you are wondering.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reclaiming domesticity

Well, sort of.

Since it happened, I have not done much cooking or shopping.  What we have done a lot of are takeout and restaurants and drive thrus.  And we are tired of it.

Sunday night I proclaimed bravely, "It's time I was a mother again!"  Adam gave me an idea.  He said I should take the kids, who would be home from school for MLK day, shopping with me.  I could sit at the cafe in the grocery store and they could gather the items on the list.  He told the kids, "It's time to reclaim domesticity around here."

They were very excited.  (No, they weren't.)

The novelty of being my helper, which Mark was enthusiastic about at first, has definitely worn off.  The other day I asked him to sweep the kitchen.  (It was either that or plant corn in there.)  He said, "I will be so glad when your leg is better!"

You and me both buddy.

Yesterday I woke Emma--who was in recovery mode from her UTA conference--up in time for lunch and she was slumpy and sniffly and coughing and had hours of homework ahead of her.  I had a playdate scheduled with Janet.  We were going to talk on the phone.  I said, "After lunch I'll call Janet and then we'll all go to the store!"  I said it very enthusiastically and they both ignored me which they're very good at doing.

Mark said, "If you're calling Janet after lunch, we'll see you at dinnertime."

Hmph.  Well, actually, maybe.

I had a wonderful conversation with Janet.  And it does take time because we have to hash out everything.  There's the relating of recent dreams, the latest chapter in Most Embarrassing Moments, the church callings, the husbands.  Then there's the childrenThat takes time.  We had to get all up to date on all the hopes and fears and it is completely validating to have Janet in the world.  She gets me.  We love each other and we love each others' children and we always will.  We laughed and cried (mostly I cried).  It's like a marathon therapy session.

Hours later, Emma was still (runny) nose to the grindstone so I left her doing homework and Mark and I went to the store.  While on the phone I had done laundry and dishes and cleaned bathrooms.  I didn't want to leave the shopping in Mark's hands because I didn't trust him to not fill the cart with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and macaroni and cheese boxes.  Emma would have set him straight but Emma was home setting her calculus straight.  So I hobbled around the store with him.

By the time we were done, my knee was complaining.  Bitterly.  So instead of making dinner, I didn't.  I sat myself down and Adam brought home chicken from the store and we had chicken Caesar salad and I decided that another day would be the day I reclaimed domesticity.

 

Monday, January 18, 2016

The more things change the more they stay the same

Last week Emma went to UTA, which I think stands for Utah Theater Association but I am not 100% sure.  I didn't read the permission slip I had to sign.  I didn't read it last year when Braeden went either.

I'm not exactly good at reading forms.

But I soldier on.  I sign them anyway.

Last year UTA completely snuck up on me and I was shocked about how long it was (days long) and by the fact that I had no clue what it even was.

This year UTA completely snuck up on me and I was shocked about how long it was (days long) and by the fact that I had no clue what it even was.

I'm guessing by the time Mark goes, if Mark goes, it will surprise me all over again.

Or maybe more.

Because he may not even have me sign the form.  He already has tried his hand at forging his dad's signature.

I don't know.

Maybe you remember this?  Braeden thought the keynote speaker at UTA last year was completely pompous and ridiculous so Braeden did the only thing he thought appropriate and took a selfie with him:





This year the UTA keynote speaker was, according to Emma, "the most arrogant man".  So she did the only thing she thought appropriate:


Another of Emma's friends asked this guy for a lock of his hair.

He said no.

I'll say this for both keynote speakers.  They have moxie.  It can't be easy presenting to drama students that have zero inhibitions in the world.



Friday, January 15, 2016

Physical therapy

I am new to this.  I have purposefully lived my life in such a way that I wouldn't need physical therapy.  I'm not what you would call a risk taker.  I even order the same thing on the menu.

But here I am.

Physical therapy.  It is a land of contrasts.  The receptionist reminds me of a nervous elf who has had a lot of caffeine.  She is petite with a pointy face and makes lots of agitated movements.

The physical therapist is a huge man.  He could only be described as plodding.  His every movement is slow and he talks in a measured way.

Did some employment agency match them so they would balance each other out?

I didn't take a book the first time which is such a rookie mistake.  I know better than to go somewhere without a book!  SportsCenter was being shown on an enormous screen.  I texted Adam that I could tell him anything he wanted to know about the Alabama football coach.

He texted me back with a question I didn't know the answer to.

So I made sure I took a book next time.  If you can't show off after watching SportsCenter, what's the point?

Apparently physical therapy can turn into show and tell.  A woman brought in a mold of her pelvis.  Just to show around.  They put it in the office to show Kyle tomorrow because he will want to see it.  I'm not sure who Kyle is but it was nice of them to think of him.

Speaking of surreal (because that pelvis thing was), there was one of those Utah County moments that still surprise me.  The woman working on her ankle stretching exercises was talking to a therapist about her son's mission to Argentina and he was talking about his mission to Cape Verde in Africa.  The woman sitting with the main therapist was telling him about her mission she was leaving on soon with her husband so she needed her foot in top shape.  The guy doing an ultrasound treatment on my knee was chatting with me about his mission and I was telling him about Braeden.

People in Utah County bond over missions like young mothers at playgroups talk about labor and delivery stories or farmers talk about the weather.  It's something we can all relate to.

Missions are one thing, but me bringing a book to physical therapy was apparently an anomaly.  Everyone wanted to know what I was reading.

The therapist looked at it curiously.  "It's just a novel," I said.

"So it's not a self help book?" he asked.

I guess I look like a person who could use a self help book.

If I find a self help book entitled How Not to Slip on Ice, I am snatching it up.




Thursday, January 14, 2016

On my mind

You couldn't pay me to be Young Women president.  It is just too hard.  Sometimes I feel like I have a target on my back and there are plenty of people with bows drawn, ready to take aim.  Sometimes it feels a bit thankless.  But I keep trying.  I keep working and messing up and hopefully learning from my mistakes.

I guess it's a true principle that you can't help but care a lot about something if you put a lot of yourself into it.

Last night we had New Beginnings at church.  It is a yearly event for the Young Women and their parents.  We welcome the girls that will turn twelve and join the Young Women organization this year and we tell them about the program and what to expect and look forward to.

It was a Big Deal.  I worked on it from noon on and I had spent a lot of time in the weeks preceding the event working on it too.  My counselors, who are amazing, put in every bit as much time as I did.  Probably more.

The room was decorated (I didn't take a picture but it was sort of elaborate).  The girls were there with their parents, dressed up and looking pretty.  They performed the parts they had been given, everything went more or less smoothly.  The new girls seemed to be happy.

As we were cleaning up and my knee was aching, I felt a little hollow inside.  I couldn't help it and I couldn't exactly name what was bothering me either.  I should feel satisfied, I thought.  It seemed successful.  It's over. 

But I didn't.

Then I realized why.

Not all the girls were there.

One girl had work and couldn't get out of her shift though she tried.  One girl was sick.  Others just didn't come.

They usually don't.

And I could finally name that hollow place inside of me.  I miss those girls.  I want them there.






Wednesday, January 13, 2016

For Mark

I was just telling my mom when we were there that Braeden is my only child that really likes to read my blog.  My other two aren't that interested.

Then yesterday, Mark said, "I haven't read your blog for a long time.  When's the last time you wrote something about me?  And only me?"

"Your birthday?" I guessed.

"You should write about me."

So don't worry about that narcissism.  It's healthy and strong.

Here are some things about Mark:

1-He lovingly greets me every time he sees me.  His future wife is one lucky lady.

2-He confided in Adam that he wants to play football but he knows I don't want him to play.  (When you confide in one of us, you confide in both of us.)

3-I won't stop him from playing football (although I want to).

4-He likes P.E., which is the weirdest thing ever.  I hated every minute of P.E.  Since he has 90 minute classes they spend a lot of time in class doing push ups and sit ups.  And he likes it?

5-He can do push ups while clapping his hands in between.  I told him I wanted to see him clap behind his back.

6-He tried it.

7-That's what he gets for wanting to play football.  (Don't cross your mother is the take away lesson.)

8-We borrowed the series Larkrise to Candleford from my parents.  Mark doesn't really like watching it with us but he's the only one who knows which disc and episode we're on so he has to set it up each time we watch.

9-He likes Journey and found an Oldies station on the radio and set the preset button.

10-He is always, always hungry.

Hyrum told me he hates it when my blog has, "just a few paragraphs and no pictures."  Sorry about this post Hyrum.  You and I both know a first born son deserves more.






Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Surprise!

Olivia is turning 40 on Friday.  Marianne has long been planning a surprise party for her and Olivia didn't make it easy!

We thought maybe she suspected something so I decided to throw her off by wondering why she wasn't having a party.

She texted me, "I think I will have a party."

I called Marianne and said, "I've made a huge mistake."

Pretty soon there were two parties planned, a real one and a pretend one and Marianne was in charge of both.  The real party, the surprise party, was to be on Monday and the pretend party, the one Olivia knew about, was going to be on Saturday.  Marianne had to pretend invite people to that (and tell them it wasn't real) in case Olivia talked to them and she also had to stress the secrecy of the surprise party to people.

The stress was getting to her! 

A few days before the party, I was hobbling off on my maiden voyage to the grocery store since I hurt my knee.  I called Marianne to ask if she wanted me to pick up any birthday themed paper products.  She said, "Actually, I need your help.  The Knudsens are coming and it has to look cute!"

The Knudsens are a family we grew up with.  They have kids about the same age as us and our parents are good friends.  One thing about the Knudsens is that they all have very beautiful houses.  They have a flair for decorating.  I may or may not have told my mom when I was growing up that I wanted to live at Nene's house because everything matched.  Since the Knudsens were coming, Marianne had bought new tablecloths.  She said, "I need help with centerpieces or table decorations."

"OK," I said, (I like this sort of thing!) "What do the tablecloths look like?"

"They have circles..." Marianne said.  "They are different colors....I'm not really good at this."

"So there's a pattern," I said, "And you have white paper plates?"

"Um, no," Marianne said, "They have a pattern too."

There was a pause on the phone as I was trying to picture patterned plates on patterned tablecloths.  "Do they go together?" I wondered, pretty sure they didn't.

"Oh no!" Marianne said, holding them side by side for the first time. "They look terrible together!"

Now it should be said, Marianne did recognize that they didn't match.  It just hadn't occurred to her to worry about it. 

She texted me a picture of the plates.


Then she texted me a picture of the tablecloth:


I texted back:  I am crying inside right now.

Marianne is one of the most capable and amazing people that walks this earth.  It is refreshing that she needs me sometimes.  Because sometimes she really does!

I bought paper products for the party.

Adam and I left our children at the helm and drove to my parents' house on Sunday.  (Teenagers are such a great invention!)  Every time the phone rang on Sunday evening my mom would hush me in case it was Olivia.  We made up a story about why we would be there if Olivia happened to stop by.  We ate ice cream and watched Downton Abbey and it was a nice evening.

Monday morning my mom made bread and two types of soup (Marianne got it from somewhere).  Marianne called and told us about her anxiety dream and she had the idea that my dad should pick up Olivia for the lunch Marianne had invited her to.  Then, he was to blindfold her so she wouldn't see all the cars at Marianne's house.  When we got off the phone and told my dad the plan, he said, "I'm not doing that.  No way."

Marianne called later and I told her our dad's refusal.  She started lecturing me about it and I told her not to kill the messenger.

She said, "Fine.  Let me talk to him."

He was out with his horses by then and my mom said he would be a lot more pleasant if we waited for him to come in.  Marianne agreed.

It was then that I realized my older sister is Lady Mary on Downton Abbey.  She is way more likable and moral but she is Lady Mary.  I tried to tell Marianne that but since Marianne doesn't watch Downton Abbey (and I doubt Lady Mary would either), my mom pointed out that it was lost on her.

When my dad came inside and talked to Marianne on the phone, he agreed to do the blindfold thing.

Raise your hand if you're surprised.

Adam took me over to Marianne's where Carolina and I set the table and I teased Hyrum about anything I could think of.  (I love that guy.)

Guests started arriving and it was lovely to see this very disparate group of women that have one thing in common, they love Olivia.  I had asked Marianne if Olivia would dress up for the occasion of just lunch at Marianne's house.  Marianne didn't think so but she also didn't think Olivia would care too much if she didn't look her best.

It was evident from the way she was dressed that she hadn't suspected a thing!  She was wearing sort of ratty clothes and said, "I haven't brushed my hair!" 

please notice the pretty table :)

Olivia was happy.  She went around and hugged everybody and then she went to borrow a hairbrush and came back with a smoother ponytail.

Like Marianne predicted, she didn't really mind.  No one did.  Olivia is...Olivia.

We had a delightful lunch and then played a hilarious game of Marianne's invention.  It was a quiz on how well we knew Olivia.  When you put all together the crazy things that have happened to Olivia, it creates quite a picture.

Here are some of the things that were on the quiz:

-she stole a CTR ring when she was a little girl so it would remind her to be good
-she accidentally stole a car once in college to go work at the temple
-she broke her finger at a family reunion when her ring (not the CTR ring, a different one) got caught on a nail in the tree house and she was hanging by her ring
-she got in a fist fight and skipped school to go to a hot springs when she was in junior high (they took one of the boy's dad's truck)
-she has been pulled over three times for drunk driving but she has never tasted alcohol (she just wasn't a good driver)
-she had to write an essay on obedience after a high speed chase
-her "job" in college was selling her plasma

I could go on.

That's my sister.

My dad has always said that when he was raising her, he knew that she would turn out any way she wanted to and he had no control over it.

I guess she wanted to turn out really really well.  She collects people that need her and she stretches herself beyond normal human limits to serve in every way she can.  She still has a lot of fight in her but it is channeled in every good direction.

And she may or may not brush her hair.

Who cares?

(Especially if the table looks pretty.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

He's nineteen

He's the one who has always had a flair for fashion.


He's the one who taught me more about teaching than I learned in four years of getting a degree.

there never was a cuter home school guinea pig

He's the one who loves his sister.



And his brother.



He's the one who enjoys cereal almost as much as milk.

this was on the occasion of his 15th birthday


He's the one who jumps in...


...and rolls down the hill...



...and is the first to go in the ocean.



 He's the big brother who makes the birthday party more fun.


He's the cousin who will push you on the swings.


And he's the son who wants you to go camping with him.


He's this guy.



He's the one who loves Seattle (and his uncles).


He's the one who poses with statues in London...


...Seattle...



 ...Kansas City...


...and Provo.


(I'm pretty sure every single one of those pictures were his idea.)

He's the one who poses when there is no statue around.


He's the one who first buys unusual things (mostly at thrift stores), and then wants his picture taken.



He's the one who has good friends.  Lots of them.





He's the one who has always had a piece of my heart.


And he's the one now carrying a piece of my heart around in Virginia.


Happy Birthday Braeden!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Since this blog is mostly about my knee now

I went to the doctor and I am the proud owner of a stylish new knee brace.

I actually love this thing.  My knee feels a lot more stable and I don't feel like it's going to buckle.  I start physical therapy next week.  I have apparently "tweaked" a ligament.

(I'm not exactly sure what that means, except that it hurts.)

In other news....

...there isn't really any other news. 

So instead I'll show you a cute picture of Omar (is there any other kind of picture of Omar?) that I took last week at the museum.  He smiled big for me when I told him I was going to send the picture to Braeden.  Omar is ultimately suspicious of me but talk of Braeden thaws his misgivings.



Thursday, January 7, 2016

Good cheer

The fun is wearing off.  (Was it ever fun?)  I just want my leg better already.

Yesterday Mark stayed home from school because he was sick.  We didn't have juice and I wasn't really in a position to dash off to the store to buy some.  I told him he could make himself some Crystal Light.  He said, "meh."

When he started getting hungry for lunch and I didn't have a solitary idea of what to feed us that didn't involve an excess amount of hobbling, I decided a drive thru it was.  I limped my way to the car and we cranked up the heat and headed toward Culver's.

He was sniffling and coughing and coughing and sniffling.  I said, "Don't touch the radio.  I don't want to get sick."

Of course he did.  Over and over.  Because he's always been that kid.

We got identical hamburgers except his had mayo (bleck) and bacon (I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't love bacon) and mine did not.  Since I was driving, he determined which burger was his and set mine aside for me.  He pulled his burger apart and fished out the pickles (because he's always been that kid).  He took a big Mark-sized bite (sniffling and coughing don't compromise his appetite it turns out).  He said, "I think I have your burger."  He handed it to me, all decimated and germy and I was cranky.  Because I'd started out cranky.

My knee hurt when I got out of bed which isn't an auspicious start of any day.

Besides, it was raining on top of the snow which is depressing.  There's nothing as dismal as slumpy dirty snow.

We got home and Mark retreated to the computer (where he could snivel and cough all over the keys in peace) and I retreated to my chair with a pile of Stuff to Do around it so I could pretend my life held meaning.

The phone rang.

It was my mom's cousin Nancy.  I know I met her when I was a little girl at my great grandma's house but I hardly remember.  She and my mom have reconnected lately and they talk on the phone a lot.  Also Nancy reads my blog.  She was calling me to commiserate.  She was very kind and made me laugh.  My mom has said she is her cousin most like my great grandma (who I loved).  So I like Nancy too, though I hardly know her. 

She cheered me up.

She reminded me that even with a high probability that my rotten son has spread his germs to me, even though I'm hobbling everywhere I walk, even though the snow is slumpy, there is good in the world.

There are reasons to be happy.

I aspire to be more like her.

I'll try.

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be. For I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.
Martha Washington

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sitting down

Adam and Mark have something in common.  They get mad at me if I do something they think I should have asked them to do with my compromised leg health.  So I've sort of given up on moving around too much.

And it's frustrating.

I have found plenty of things to keep myself busy while my knee is healing.  I've caught up on a bunch of Young Women stuff.  (There is always a lot to do.)  I've scheduled temple trips for our youth--both to do baptisms at the Mt. Timpanogos temple and to tour the new Provo temple.  These are intense and high pressure deals.  There's a lot of demand around here for things like that.  You have to be persistent and on top of things.   It's an activity that lends itself to sitting down.

I also created a birthday box for the YW this year.  Last year for their birthdays we purchased and assembled bracelets that were cute but that we didn't see the girls wear one. Single. Time.  This year, I decided to go with something everyone will like, chocolate.  I made a "birthday cake" and we'll give them a "candle" when it's their birthday.

It was a harder-than-normal project because I had what I wanted in mind but couldn't find it on Pinterest!  How could Pinterest do that to me?  It took me three tries to get it how I wanted. (The rick rack was Adam's idea.)


Another activity that was good for sitting.

Here's what I haven't done:  clean the kitchen.

It's rough.

Mark destroys the gingerbread houses a little more every time he walks by.  This is representative of the counter tops yesterday afternoon...


...complete with bits of icing and candy and gingerbread aaaaaall over the floor.

I instructed Mark to clean up.

When Adam got home and found me on the couch in the living room with my book and wood wick candle (I love that thing--it crackles while it burns), I asked him if Mark had cleaned the kitchen.

Sort of.

Adam directed more cleaning.  Then we had dinner Emma and Mark had made.  Then Adam and Mark delivered the rest of the invitations that I had abandoned the other night.

I'm grateful for them and all their help.

And I sort of hate this.

I want to bound up and down the stairs and be able to DO stuff.  I want to cook and clean and not rely on other people for everything.  I lack patience.

But I am improving.  Little by little. 

So here I sit.

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