Thursday, March 31, 2016

Start your engines

It's time to kick into Drama Mama gear.

This isn't my first time so I have an inkling of what I'm getting into.  I'm familiar with the costumes, makeup, rehearsal schedule, tech week.

It is the first time that I am doing it with a seventh grader though.  And Mark?  He communicates like...a seventh grade boy.

Just yesterday we had a conversation about the fact that while it may seem like he has a cell phone for the sole purpose of using all of our data, he actually has a cell phone so he can communicate with me.

He has vague notions about schedules and costume requirements and he thinks they are perhaps on papers in his backpack but he's not sure.  I finally pinned him down to give me a paper of important dates.  He sighed deeply at the unreasonable amount of time it was taking me to go through every item on the list and enter it into my phone calendar.  (Moms with their incessant need to "know when things are happening" can be such a pain!)

I noticed he'd written this on the bottom of the page:

He's been around the school drama scene long enough to know what a cast party means.

Yesterday after school, we hit a thrift store for costume needs.  He needed a white button up shirt.  He thought he should use one of his church shirts.  I thought we should buy him a cheap (disposable) one.  He started to dig in his heels about that being unnecessary and I pointed out the invalid nature of his opinion because it was my money and if I wanted to buy a Mark sized white shirt, I would.  Also, I reminded him it wasn't my first drama mama rodeo and I would prefer his more expensive church shirts in his closet and the thrift store white shirt crumpled up in a heap backstage.

Thank you very much.

Despite my sort of annoyed feelings toward the ginger (you noticed?), I did relent to buy him a knee length jacket that we both decided was too good to pass up.

He modeled it for me when we got home, complete with hat (which he may use as part of his costume), PVC pipe gun, and socks made dirty from the trampoline.  I think the Star Wars t-shirt and track pants (a.k.a. Mark's uniform) really set it off.

Mark insists when he's a grown up he will buy all his clothes at thrift stores because he loves the bargains. 

Am I the only one whose children have an arsenal of props in case of a photo shoot?  (In Mark's case the arsenal of props often includes an arsenal of weapons.)

Civilizing that boy is part of my life's work but it's a project I'm happy to tackle.  He's always been worth the trouble.

He is as happy being involved in theater as his siblings before him.  He sings the songs and shows me the dances and approaches it all with so much enthusiasm that sometimes I have to beg him to stop.  (You've delighted us long enough.)

I am looking forward to watching him on stage though.  Exciting times.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Not my email

Sometimes I just want to sit all these people down and insist they face facts:

This is my email address and it doesn't matter how many times you try to change the password, Apple will send me the email about how to change the password.  Because it's my email address.  I can't reiterate this enough.

I'm pretty sure you have an email address.  I don't know what it is (neither do you).  If I knew, I would forward you these gems.

I don't know who Javaz Dudley is, but message received, buddy.  I will never allow someone to be my priority while letting myself be their option.

Then there is Caz.

Is Caz a collective or is it one of these people?  Or is it the guy in the picture they're holding?  Or is Caz the fuzzy white hat? Also "on the pub" and "at the rugby?"  I don't know.  They seem happy enough.  I'm glad they're having a good time and that they shared it with me.

Here's more improper grammar + not intended for me + what are you even trying to say here?
Thelma will never know that the sender can "make 5th or 7th of April."  But does she deserve to know?  I mean, she doesn't know her email address.

Then, I've received the inevitable emails that have made me nervous:

Thelma started her life insurance application.  She has been given a password.  She didn't get this email (because I did).  How will she be able to continue the process?  Is she doomed to a life sans life insurance because I have unwittingly received her password?  Thelmas of the world?  Please learn your email addresses.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On creating a hunting lodge

Ammon cut down a tree in his yard last summer.  We were over visiting one day and I asked him if I could have a piece of the trunk for an end table.

"What?!?" Adam said.

I explained my hopes and dreams for an end table that looked like a stump.

He said, "Are you going to turn our house into a hunting lodge?"

I'm not sure why this is the danger.  It's not like I have a bear rug, a deer's head mounted on the wall or a collection of hunting rifles.

Ammon prepared me my end table though.  He brought it over one day and I had him put it in the garage.  I think I still had Christmas decorations up and I needed a clean slate before I knew where I wanted my latest acquisition.

When I was ready for the table, my knee was hurt so I waited.

One day I asked Mark to carry it in the house and he couldn't.  Turns out it's pretty heavy.

I casually (so as not to raise hunting lodge alarms) asked Adam to bring it inside one day and he said, "Aren't you going to paint it or do something to it first?"

But I didn't want to do anything to it because it is one big (and heavy) piece of glorious texture.  I think the texture is what I was craving.

Several weeks ago, I decided to move it in the house myself.  I tipped it on its side and rolled it out of the garage and up the front sidewalk.  When I got to the steps I had to go one at a time.  I'd bend over and heave it to the next step.  At one point I hoped no neighbors happened to be glancing out their windows.

I finally got it inside the house but then I realized the underside, the part that had been sitting on the garage floor, was slightly damp.  My plan had been to get it all in place so Adam would realize my vision but I wanted it completely dry first.  The thought of returning it to the garage made me want to cry.  So I rolled it against the wall in the living room, confident Adam would never see it until it was dry and I was ready for the big ta-da moment.  (Isn't Adam a lucky guy to have someone prepare ta-da moments for him?!?)

But then Ammon's family and Marianne's family came over one Sunday evening and Ammon noticed and mentioned something about the stump.  "Shhh!" I said.  "We aren't talking about it!"  I explained my quandary.

Adam said, "I knew it was there."

Later that night when everyone had gone, I asked Adam if he really had known it was there.  He admitted he hadn't.

This is part of the reason our marriage works.  Adam doesn't immediately notice my hare brained ideas, especially when they're in process.  Also he offered to carry it back to the garage for me if I wanted him to, but I was willing to wait and let the desert air work it's magic.

Well, yesterday was the big day.  The stump felt completely dry.  I enlisted Mark's help and we put it in place.  The texture made me giddy.  I put a big overgrown plant on it  (I plan to give a haircut to it as soon as it's warm enough outside).

I took a picture and sent it to Ammon.  (I will let it stay there for awhile before I mention it to Adam.  It will seep into his subconscious and then when he finally notices it, he won't be too surprised.)

I guess until he reads this blog post....

Here was my text conversation with Ammon:

My mom has designated Ammon as her perfect child.  For being the perfect one, he can be a little cheeky.

Cheeky or not, I like my new end table though and I appreciate my perfect brother.  It's handy to have accomplices in your decorating schemes.  It reminds me of when I went through my Southwest phase in high school and my dad dug up a cactus for me to put in my bedroom.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Celebrating weekend

It's a much more low key time of year around here than Christmas, but Easter is every bit as meaningful to me.  (If Easter decorations were red, I'd probably transform my house with them.  As it is, I have a few cute bunnies I pull out Easter weekend.  Pastels.  Meh.)

We kicked off the celebrations Friday evening with me going to watch Adam referee a basketball game, Emma going to the Hale Theater with her friends and Mark staying home alone (at his own request).

Who says we don't know how to party?

I enjoyed watching Adam referee until it started feeling like I was trapped in the play place at McDonald's.  (That's the stuff nightmares are made of.)

It was a men's game--a regional semi finals.  The thing about men that play basketball is that they're pretty young and they have young kids.  The wives come and watch the game but mostly wrangle children and visit with each other.  It was very familiar to me, because I used to be there.  I was the one with the wild redhead that was something of a whirling dervish.  It was all sort of contained until the teams showed up for the next game (complete with wives and toddlers in tow).  It got crazy.  I had unknown children climbing all over me and balls bouncing all around me and children screaming because they were tired and bored and maybe watching your dad play basketball isn't as thrilling as it could be when you're two.

As soon as the buzzer rang, I beat a hasty retreat for the quiet sanctuary of home.  I loved my adorable toddlers--even the wild redhead.  But I really like teenagers.

Saturday was more basketball for Adam (I didn't go watch this time) and chores around the house and appliance shopping.  We're just looking.  Our dishwasher is slowly dying and our refrigerator is fine, we just hate it.  So we're perusing.  Anything's fun with Adam.  Even appliance shopping.  Also Emma and Mark are pretty good company.  Mark buckled up his burrito.

Safety first.

Saturday evening, Emma and I went to the Women's Broadcast.  It was so good.  I love hearing from our inspired leaders.  They make me want to be better.  So does sitting next to Emma.  I want to be what she needs.  The Women's Broadcast always makes me excited for General Conference.  What a wonderful world!

Sunday morning the house was quiet and I prepared little Easter treats for our children.

A few treats and some cash.  Emma's Easter basket is in her closet and I didn't want to wake her up.  So she has a little nest instead.

I know what you're thinking.  Pretty fancy.

After church we had Ammon and Melanee's family over for an Easter feast.  It was fun to visit with them and cuddle with Lucette and teach them how to play Monopoly Deal.

Last night I was reflecting on my week.  It was quite a week with ups and downs.  I was mostly filled with immense gratitude.  I'm grateful for peace in adversity.  I'm grateful for shining examples in the form of young missionaries who survive terrorist attacks with their faith intact.  I'm grateful for a good conversation I had with my grandma about how much the gospel means to us.  I'm grateful for my family...every last member.  I'm grateful for my missionary son who I love more and more each day.  Finally, I'm grateful for Easter.  I love the reminders of rebirth and renewal.  I love remembering the Atonement of Jesus Christ and knowing that because of Him, all is well.

In the face of adversity, there is nothing wrong with hope.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The green table

That makes it sound like the table is reducing our carbon footprint.  And I guess it sort of is.  It's lived several lifetimes.  First it was Jill's table.  Then it was in our school room.  Then it was in our kitchen.  And now it's still in our's just green.

I am terribly proud of myself for remembering a before picture.  I didn't remember it inside the house, just in the garage, right before I got started:

I am happy with the finished product.  It's in no way perfect.  If I had a different personality I would have spent a lot more time making it perfect--or trying to.

There comes a time (soon and often) that I don't care anymore though.

So it's green and I like it.

Speaking of things being new again, (and this is more significant than a kitchen table!) I want to wish you a happy Easter.  He lives!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Birthdays are great

The day before my/our birthday, I was talking to Olivia on the phone and we discussed that maybe our childhood ruined us for adult birthdays.  We were pretty much queen of the realm on our birthdays.  My mom made everything wonderful.  We were The Birthday Girl.  My mom made all of our favorite foods and our favorite cake and we got out of any work there was to do and we got nice gifts.

Now, we're adults....

Except.  My birthdays are still pretty great.

The celebrating started the night before because we were all together and I wasn't sure that would happen on the big day.

Mark and I had devised a treasure hunt for Adam.  He followed the clues (which Mark didn't think were hard enough) and put together a puzzle.

It was fancily painted by yours truly.  It is a "gift certificate" for a new kite to be purchased at a kite shop when we go to San Diego for spring break.

My gift was a necklace from The Vintage Pearl to replace my other necklace from The Vintage Pearl that I lost.  (Which had made me sad because I loved that necklace as much as I hate to lose things.)

Our kids gave me some plants which was exactly what I wanted.

The day was filled with phone calls and text messages and Facebook messages and generous gifts from our parents and emails and small gifts dropped by and that all resulted in me feeling loved.

Adam took the afternoon off work which was wonderful.  I love sharing a birthday with that guy.  We had dinner at Pizza Pie Cafe.  Adam and I haven't had sugar or bread of any kind since the middle of January but we did last night.

(Today we're back to our plan.)

Maybe my birthdays aren't exactly like they were in childhood, but they're a good day.  Any time you feel completely loved, it is a good day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hope smiling brightly before us

Another terrorist attack.  I tried to just avoid the news altogether.  Between the presidential election and ISIS, I'd rather just stick my head in the sand.  Wake me up when it's all over.

Then I heard about the missionaries.

Two about Braeden's age and one about the age of my parents.  They were going about their way, delivering a fourth missionary to the airport and once she was on the other side of security, the bomb went off.  All four were injured.

When you have a missionary son, that is heart stopping.  Maybe it's heart stopping anyway.

The weather yesterday was rotten too.  There was an angry spring mix of hail and rain and snow.  Then there was the wind.  The wind doesn't so much blow around our mountain home as it howls.  Sometimes I wonder if the house will give up and blow away.  Maybe I should get some ruby slippers just in case I need to find my way back from Oz.

The violent weather didn't do much to calm my troubled heart about the violent world.  Then I remembered the Family Home Evening lesson the night before.  (And it would be sad if I forgot it, since I was the one teaching.)

We talked about the Atonement.  I told our children in no uncertain terms that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ there is nothing unfixable.  I know that is true.

It is good to remember on a day when you feel like it's you against the buffetings of the world.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Being kids

 I asked Vanessa and Caralyn if these shoes were their uniform.  They both just said, "No, but they're really comfortable."

Sometimes Emma and her friends have a careworn look about them.  They laugh a lot but there's this underlying tension too.  They're balancing and it's wearing.  There's the school work, the extracurricular activities, the family obligations, the part time jobs.  They also worry about each other.  They seem to wear it all a little more heavily than Braeden and his friends.

Maybe it's all practice for the balancing act that is motherhood.

Whatever it is, yesterday afternoon when Emma's friends were over to practice a scene for a drama performance, they were all business.  They went to the basement and when I walked in the room to put something away, they neither broke character nor looked my way.  They were Concentrating.  It was serious.

Later, I heard laughter through the open window and glanced outside to see this:

They were bouncing a ball and trading off jumping and lying on the trampoline and really just doing nothing.  It made me happy.

Be kids, I want to tell them.  Please, for a little while longer, be kids.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Weekend report

Friday I started my latest project.  I'm painting our kitchen table.  It is a hand-me-down from my friend and former neighbor Jill.  It is a good, solid and big table.  I just wanted it painted.

I will never be accused of mulling things over too long.  I decided to use some of the leftover paint from Adam's office.  I like the color and it's really high quality paint.  I also decided I needed an orbital sander for the project.  I didn't even know what that was until I saw it on a furniture painting tutorial online.  So I did what I do and texted my brothers for advice.  Enoch and Ammon have tools for days.  I figured they could tell me what to get.  Ammon did one better than that and told me to borrow his.  At first I said I wanted to be a grown up and get my own but then I realized that I don't exactly have a lot of tables to paint so I took him up on the offer.

Emma and Mark and I moved the table to the garage which was a tricky endeavor.  Big table + narrow doors.  When you add strong kids, it worked though.  I sanded and painted.  As I was brushing the paint on, I thought, "Does this color even work with the rest of the kitchen?"

Probably not.  I'm the queen of good enough and making stuff work though.  I'm not afraid.

I'll post some pictures when the whole process is done.  We still need to add a million (ball park figure) coats of polyurethane.

Friday night Adam had basketball games to referee (when you live in Utah County there is such a thing as church regional basketball tournaments and they have a sort of endless nature--it's good that Adam enjoys it) and Mark went to a friend's house to watch a movie.

That left Emma and me to fend for ourselves.  We went to Kneaders for dinner because that's a good way to fend for yourself.  Also, sensing the threat of boiling over, I had Emma write a list of everything stressing her out when we got home from dinner.  All the impending doom.  We sat across from each other at the (substitute folding) table and slayed her dragons.  We wrote new lists (I love lists!) and I commanded her to cease and desist from worrying about a lot of the stuff because either 1) her dad and I could handle it or 2) it was too early to start worrying.  I told her it was like worrying now about paying for her eventual kids' braces.

She countered it was nothing like that and I told her to stop worrying!

Why is it always easier to see that someone else is worrying needlessly than to stop yourself from worrying needlessly?  I guess that's why we have each other.

(But "Get Accepted to College" was on Emma's list of distress!  I think someone will take my little straight A student....)

Saturday was more basketball for Adam and painting for me.  Mark assembled my new red wagon that was a Christmas present.  I'm going to fill it with flowers on my deck.

Mark pulled everything out of the box and said, "I love it when something is simple.  I can just tell how this is going to go together."

I looked at the disparate parts and had no idea how it would go together so I'm glad I have that kid.

I got text messages from Luke wondering who I was cheering for, Yale or Duke.  He's a big time Duke fan so I told him I'd cheer for Duke because of him.

Adam got home and reminded me of this shirt I have and told me I should rethink my support.

I then declared I was going for the blue team.   I don't think Luke appreciated my cowardice because he texted to gloat after Duke won.

I'm glad Jennifer lets Luke use her phone to text me.

Saturday afternoon Adam and I hit Winco for steak because we do that every Saturday afternoon (steak for Sunday dinner is a new but honored tradition).  Emma went with us because we were stopping at IFA and she wanted to see the baby chicks.  A store employee saw Emma and me looking at the chicks while Adam was perusing weed killer and asked if we wanted to buy some.

I almost laughed out loud.  Because no.

There was more painting and sanding (it's a process, that table!) and then Adam and Mark and I tried to take the base off the old red wagon (because I have a hare brained idea for a new life for the wagon).  The screws were rusted and the whole bottom of the wagon was rusted through in spots.  I got my sledge hammer and wanted to use it.

I told Adam how much I love having a sledge hammer.  He said, "I know you do," and he led me away from his car which I was near.

We managed to sort of get it apart but I'm going to take it to my dad's shop for some tweaking.

That night, Emma had friend plans so Mark and Adam and I watched Pee Wee's Big Holiday on Netflix.  Mark was super skeptical about the whole thing but Adam and I convinced him.  Pee Wee Herman is the exact right amount of creepy and ridiculous and funny.

At bedtime, unrelated to Pee Wee's Big Holiday, I had hiccups that wouldn't go away.  Adam said, "I think I will vote for Donald Trump."

I knew that wasn't true and was waiting for his punch line.

Finally, I said, "What are you talking about?"

He said, "I just wanted to make your hiccups go away."

And guess what?  They had gone away.  It's the first positive thing I can say about Donald Trump.

Sunday was the dedication for the Provo City Center Temple.  There were three sessions so we watched Ammon and Melanee's kids during the first session and went to the second.

I loved reading stories to Azure and made an elaborate mess out of feeding carrots to Lucette.  I hardly saw Cormac because he and Mark were playing.

I also loved the dedication of the temple!  I feel a lot of sentimental fondness for the Provo City Center Temple and I enjoyed the outpouring of goodness I felt at its dedication.  I know temples are holy places and I'm beyond grateful for the blessings I receive there and for the fortunate proximity I have to temples.

Sunday night ended with a fireside about the upcoming trek this summer.  Emma, based on her past trauma, is dreading it.  Mark, not old enough to go, is jealous.  I ran into Amy, my friend from college at the fireside.  She's going as a Ma.  Unlike Mark, I'm not jealous.

Because of the whole I love not camping thing.

We came home and played a hand of Monopoly Deal (I won't mention who won, but I did).  Emma and Mark each put a toothpick in their mouth and started speaking like they were 1920s gangsters.

The other day on the phone, I asked Marianne how we both got such weird kids.  I said, "I guess because they were homeschooled."

Then I said, "Wait--"

That may have implicated their mothers....

Friday, March 18, 2016

Things I know

We need to share our stories with people we trust.  

When I tell people that care about me the things that I'm struggling with (or that my children are struggling with), it divides the suffering.  Everyone takes their own little manageable piece away from me--I don't know, they put it in their pocket?--and I feel lighter.

Reminders are good.

I bought this bracelet for myself.

I like it on my wrist.  I like keeping in my mind--in any circumstance--what my purpose is.  It changes how I view things.  It helps me get rid of things that don't matter and focus on things that do.

Mark and IKEA are a dangerous combination.

When he was a toddler he got kicked out of Småland so many times they told me I couldn't bring him back.

I don't take him to Småland anymore (I'm pretty sure they really don't want him now) but I still maybe shouldn't bring him to IKEA at all.

Adam had to be involved with basketball again last night so we went to IKEA.  Mark wanted a bigger bedspread for his bed.  He wanted it to cover his feet (Mark + long legs + big feet).  We went in time for dinner but Ammon called me right before we got in line.  Mark was hungry (heaven help us) and started circling me like he was a shark and I was the hapless prey.  Complete with menacing eyes.

He ordered two dinners for himself and ate everything in sight.

We found what we were after and then I had to cajole Emma and Mark to keep going and not to get sidetracked.  I had book club!  They meandered and told each other jokes and pointed out products to each other.

Emma gave Mark a tutorial on quartz and granite counter tops.  (HGTV!)

"C'mon," I kept saying.  "We have to go."

Then, at the end, where the picture frames are, something caught me eye.  "No," Mark said, grabbing my arms.  "Look at me," he said.  "Stay with me, Mom.  Don't get distracted."

"I want to look at that," I said.

Apparently all the food went straight to muscle and Mark was effectively holding me in one place.  Mark bigger than me puts me at a definite disadvantage.   I wriggled away from him and I still have a tone of voice that gets his attention so I was able to get a cute little picture frame that I wanted. 

Mark and IKEA.  Not my best idea.  (He did load the van though--and carry everything inside once we got home.)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Why am I not surprised?

Hyrum loves history and loves to read so I asked Braeden for a suggestion of a good history book.  Braeden emailed that the best history book he's ever read is the AP U.S. History textbook.

I haven't seen Emma with an AP U.S. History textbook.  (Braeden always left his lying around.)  Emma and her friend Hayley were talking about history.  I said, "Do you have a textbook?"

They both looked at each other.

"I think?" Emma said.

"Maybe?" Hayley said.

"It might be in my room somewhere," Emma said.

Emma gets A's because she knows how to get A's.  That may or may not include reading the textbook (or knowing where it is).  Braeden didn't care about his grades but he inhaled the book like it was a cheeseburger and he was a hungry teenager.

Everyone has to find their own way.


I cut Mark (way, way) back on screen time because it had to be done.  Coincidentally, he walked home from school because his rehearsal was cancelled and Emma and I were shopping.  It took 40 minutes for him to walk home (it is a serious hill) and then he spent the entire afternoon jumping on the trampoline.  Then he rode his bike to and from scouts. 

That boy has always had an incredible amount of energy.  Minecraft has caused a slight dormancy, but it's still there.


I took Emma shopping with me and prompted by a conversation with Marianne, about the Easter dresses she bought her girls, I asked Emma if she wanted to look for a new skirt. (I was aiming low--I didn't think she'd go for a dress.  Too much commitment.)

Emma said, "A skirt?  I don't really think I need a skirt."

How do you explain to someone that girls are supposed to want new clothes whether they need them or not?

She has very few wants.  Except her few big ones, like trips to Disneyland and France.


For her birthday someone gave Emma a gift card to Swig, which is a flavored soda and ice cream place.  She has been carrying it around rather than spending it (again with Emma having few wants).  Yesterday her friend Vanessa mentioned she needed to get a Swig gift card.

"I have one you can have," Emma said.

Vanessa was grateful.  And here's why:  she could get extra credit in math if she gave her teacher a Swig gift card.

I think we need Martin Luther to come and perform a high school reformation.  Would he approve of  indulgences for extra credit?


This morning I reminded Mark it was St. Patrick's day.  I said, "You should wear green."

He went up to his room and came back down again and told me he didn't have a green shirt.  I had a hard time believing that because besides his robust collection of Star Wars t shirts, everything he wears is a hand me down from Braeden and Braeden's favorite color is green.

I went upstairs and pulled four shirts out of his closet that are green.

Then I remembered Mark is color blind.  

"They look gray to me," Mark said.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When everyone is having a hard day

The struggle is real sometimes.  For everyone.  (If you're feeling pretty pleased with everything, just wait.)

There are a million bright spots though.  It's still a good life.  For example, there are letters that Morgan writes to Clarissa.

Here's a recent one:

Dear SJ,

It is tiresum here.  I wish I was in New Zealand



That kid is a gem.  Not only can he fall asleep at will (anywhere, anytime), he writes awesome (awesum) letters.

For the times between interacting with Morgan and the boost that gives any psyche, here's a quote from Elder Richard G. Scott:
Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.
I just love that.  Sometimes it gets me through the day.  That and thinking about Morgan.

Yesterday felt rough and I felt exhausted by the time dinner rolled around.

We had spaghetti sauce (on spaghetti squash, which went over better than I thought it would).  I offered five Aussie Fun Bucks to whoever could tell me why we were having Caesar salad.  Emma said immediately, "The Ides of March."

How awesome is Emma?

She said, "Can I have five real bucks?"

(And now I don't even remember what five Aussie Fun Bucks are from.  I just offer them willy-nilly.)

We ate dinner with Emma and Mark telling us about Property Brothers (Emma is trying hard to make Mark an HGTV convert.)

Emma suggested we renovate the kitchen.  (Paint the cabinets?  New counter tops?)

Adam suggested putting up walls and installing popcorn ceilings.

Gasps ensued from the HGTV aficionado.  (The open concept!)

Mark suggested popcorn floors so he could eat the popcorn.

I got an email from our kids' second cousin asking what kind of music Braeden can listen to because he wants to make him a CD.  (I love that Braxton.  He's quality.)

We cleaned the kitchen and then Adam read the first chapter of Tom Sawyer to us.  We checked election results.  The kids and I watched David Lopez vines while Adam went to the church for basketball. 

Did life magically get less hard?  No.  It's just nice to have a family.  They fill in the cracks when things aren't smooth.  Also, Mark is really good at imitating David Lopez vines.  I think he's part parrot.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


1) A watched inbox won't produce an email from your missionary.

(I've thoroughly tested this.)

2) If a toddler is on the loose and wanders by Adam during sacrament meeting, he will grab them.

(He won't even feel sheepish about it.)

3) I'll read a really terrible book if it's for my new book club.

(I want to fit in.)

 4) The self checkout line is almost always a mistake.

(But I keep trying anyway.)

5) Middle children won't be ignored.

(You should hear the way Emma slams the door when she leaves in the morning.)

Monday, March 14, 2016


My cousin Rachel posted this picture on Facebook last week:

It's a picture of our grandma and Rachel's dad, my uncle Joe.  Rachel posted that she misses Grandma.  So do I.  Seeing that dear face brings back sun-drenched rose colored memories.  A whole childhood full of them.

It is more than that though.  Seeing my grandma makes me want to be better.

I love that Joe is shading her face from the sun with his hat.  It speaks volumes about my grandma because without exception, her children loved her.  They appreciated her goodness and steadiness and were attentive to her needs.

I want to be the kind of mother that my children love unconditionally.

My grandma's children disappointed her at times; they are human.  They didn't always measure up probably to what she had in mind.  She was always on their side though.  Always.  I maybe saw a little worry cross her face at times but I never heard her say a negative thing about her children or grandchildren.

I want my children and someday grandchildren to know I love them unconditionally.

If there's one single lesson I learned from my grandma's life, it is her eternal optimism and unshakable strength.  Hard things happened to her.  She moved across the country a few times.  Her house burned down.  Her husband died.  She forged on.  Her faith was strong and she had as much peace as anyone I've ever seen.

I want to trust the Lord and believe everything will always work out unconditionally.

I have my work cut out for me but it's good to have a goal.

Friday, March 11, 2016


It was the second Thursday of the month so I took a group of kids to the temple.  After we were finished and had dropped the last one off at home, I said to Mark, "Your new glasses are in.  Do you want to go get them now or go home and change first?"

"I want to go get the glasses!" Mark said.  "I am excited to get my new glasses, plus..." he sat up a little straighter in his seat and eyed himself in the mirror--white shirt, black slacks, bow tie, "I'm looking swagalicious."

Now Mark and all of his Markness is largely undefinable.  It's hard to put him in a category.  Sometimes though--like when he calls himself swagalicious--he is remarkably like Braeden.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Good news vs. bad news

Bad news: I cut my hand with scissors (I didn't know that was a thing).

Good news: the scissors are sharp.

Bad news: I'm terrible with directions and remembering where places are.

Good news:  I came up with a system.  Places I dislike (the dentist, Winco) are on 800 North.  Places I like (Target, the library) are on Center Street.  This serves me well.

Bad news: I had to wait a long time for Mark to be done at school.  (He had last minute rehearsal but didn't communicate that I sat in the car.)

Good news: I had a book to read.

Adam called me from San Francisco and said, "I have good news and bad news."  I never like bad news when he's on a business trip.  It usually means delayed flights.  He said, "The good news is, the presentation went well.  The bad news is that my flight was delayed.  But I was able to get an even earlier flight so I'll be home 3 hours earlier than I would have been."

I said, "I don't think that's bad news."

Bad news:  Adam doesn't know how good news/bad news works.

Good news:  He came home early.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


The other day one of my friends posted this picture on Facebook:

It made me sigh a happy sigh of longing for summer.

It's on the street where I'll go this morning to drop Mark off for school.  It won't look like that today. Today the trees are bare and the grass is dormant and the mountain is gray.  The sky is even a little gray.

I'm ready for summer.

(I know, it will be hot and I will eventually welcome fall like it's a long lost friend.)

But, for today, summer seems grand.

I'm looking forward to evenings on the deck, I'm looking forward to watering flowers and hearing sprinklers.  I'm looking forward to wearing skirts and bare legs and bare feet.  I'm looking forward to road trips and long Sunday afternoon walks along the Provo River.  I'm looking forward to green green grass.

I get scented pinecones every year as soon as they start showing up in stores.  Last week I painted my leftover Christmas pinecones to look like flowers.  (Maybe?  Tabor was skeptical.)

They're holding me over until I have a pot of the real thing on my deck.  (On my deck so the deer don't eat the flowers.)

The deer are year round.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


I spent a good part of the morning visiting with Tabor and family.  Charlotte helped me make muffins and Emma slept brilliantly through the noise like only Emma can.

I went into the other room when it was time to get Braeden's email.  That requires all my concentration and is the best part of every week.

Hands down.

Yesterday was no school.

I like days like that.

Emma joined Adam and me for our weekly lunch date.  We discussed Braeden like we do and Adam turned to Emma and asked, "Emma, what do you think?"

She said, "I'm sorry, I wasn't listening."

(Emma has always had a rich inner life.)

Emma and I stopped and picked up Vanessa on the way home.  She and Emma went in search of a job and came back with two job applications and a movie from the library.

Mark went ice skating with his friends and had a great time.

(Except the ice skating.  He wasn't very good at it.)

I said, "You can blame me for that."  He said he didn't know how it was my fault.  I told him that I am not an ice skating sort of mother.  It would never occur to me to take my children ice skating.

(They are all very witty children though so I'm not a complete failure.)

Mark said that he had a hard time finding skates that fit.

He can blame his dad for that (and probably credit his dad for the wittiness as well).

What can I say?  I married well.

After dinner and family home evening (which was slightly humbling when we talked about our Sunday observances and our children thought we should nap less...), Adam and I finished Downton Abbey.

Stop reading now if you don't want me to spoil it...

...but I'm glad Downton Abbey was tied up in a neat bow.  I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop on everyone's happiness.  But it never did and I'm glad.

It was a day of simple pleasures.  It was a day that makes me grateful for the little things.  

Monday, March 7, 2016


Enoch and Adam and Isaiah and Luke.   They're all basketball boys.

Enoch asked Adam to go to Nevada to referee some basketball games.  Five of them.  I didn't know if Enoch was crazier for asking or Adam was crazier for saying yes.

After he got home from work on Friday we loaded up the little Subaru (which proved invaluable in the snow in the Pequop mountains on the return trip.  We rolled in late and chatted with my parents a little while (mostly about politics) before bed.  Saturday morning Adam, dressed in his referee garb, headed to town.  I talked to both sisters on the phone and spent time with my mom and then we headed to town too.  To watch a game.

We sat by Jennifer and watched Isaiah and Luke being coached by Enoch and Adam at the whistle, refereeing.  It was fun.  Isaiah and Luke are amazing which shouldn't be surprising because they are being raised in gyms with basketballs in their hands.  Luke is three years younger than the team he plays on and he holds his own.

At one point he made a three pointer after Adam had already called someone for traveling on the other team.  Adam heard me say, "Oh, come on, Uncle Adam."

Well.  It was a good shot.

I loved seeing those cute boys and was only sad that Savannah was sick so I didn't get to see her.  It's also fun watching Enoch coach.  He's absolutely natural at it.  He has charisma for days and the boys want to make him happy; they are working hard.

We headed back to Starr Valley, leaving Adam to referee his fill.  After a delicious lunch, we went over to Marianne's and convened for a walk.  Crunching on the gravel, we headed out in the sunshine.  Mark and all the boy cousins (except Hyrum who was riding his horse) were involved in an intense game including toy guns and a lot of criss-crossing the yard.

My mom, Marianne, Olivia and I were joined on the walk by Deseret, Emma and Liberty.  Just yesterday they were these little cuties.

Now they are practically grown.  They have big dreams and all the confidence accomplished and beautiful teenage girls are entitled to.  Carolina and Liliana whizzed by on their bicycles, Carolina putting her feet up on the handlebars just to show off a bit.  

It felt like a lot of girl power walking down that road.   

I can't wait to see what these enchanting girls all become.

Later, Adam returned and the adults headed to Elko.  My parents treated us all to dinner and then we went to the adult session of their stake conference.  I sat between Adam and Enoch and when it was time to sing, I handed Enoch a book and said, "I want to hear you sing."

It's the same thing I do to my sons.

I guess I started raising boys when I had little brothers.

But, hey, it's working.  Enoch sang really well....

Olivia was a speaker at the conference.  Wow.  My little sister.  Sometimes I wish we looked more obviously alike so everyone would know she's mine.  Marianne said she wants a sign, indicating she's Olivia's sister.  I guess we all do.

It was a wonderful meeting and Adam and I talked later that night about how great it is that we can go to another stake's conference and still be edified and enjoy the meeting.

Life's pretty great.

I was done for when we got home and went to bed and Adam stayed up explaining Google slides to my mom which I neither understand nor really want to.

Sometimes I think I should be more like my mom and want to learn new things and I then I think, nah.  I'm good.

Sunday morning after a spectacular breakfast my parents headed to more stake conference and we headed home.  In a snowstorm.

That night, Tabor and family stayed with us.  We stayed up too late visiting but it was Tabor.

Sometimes my cup runneth over.  Happy me.

Friday, March 4, 2016

An arbitrary collection

Emma and I came home to find loud noises coming from the basement.  Mark and Adam.  We went down and found them in the throes of a shuffleboard tournament (we have a small tabletop shuffleboard).  Mark was being a commentator on his own sport radio station. He was recording it on his phone.

We listened to the "show" and it was pretty funny because Mark is pretty funny but the really surprising part is that he sounded exactly like Braeden.  Their voices are somehow identical.


Emma got her ACT scores back.  She gets her smarty pants ways from her smarty pants dad.  Adam wondered what his score had been.  I ventured a guess--highest score possible?  Adam said no.  He said he thought it was like a fisherman's story and his score kept growing in his mind.  He decided to call his mom to ask her to look up his score.  Before he dialed he said, "I hope Emma beat me."

She did.

(She has the advantage of a really great elementary teacher.)



I pulled out my spring decorations.  Emma approved everything and said, "I like how the angel is spanning the seasons."

I'd never thought of a season spanning angel but now that lady is never going away.

Emma and I may make a patriotic sash for her in July.


Our youth wrote letters to some missionaries in New Zealand (including but not limited to my favorite NZ missionary, Clarissa).  Armed with the horror stories of how much it costs to mail packages to New Zealand, I went to the post office.  I don't particularly like the post office.  The lines are always long and the self serve machine is always broken.  It's a shining example of inefficiency.

When it was finally my turn, I explained what I needed.  The guy produced a flat rate envelope for me to send my letters.  He said it would be $33.  Then he started thinking. "Try this instead.  That is cheaper if it will work."  Then he produced envelope after envelope--they all had some slightly different rate.  He helped me wedge the letters in so that that envelope was as flat as possible.  He honestly spent 5-10 minutes helping me.

The final cost was $13.

I suddenly had a much higher opinion of the post office.


Yesterday was the high stakes event where next year's seniors (shhh...I'm pretending I didn't just write that) could register online for classes.  Emma and her friend Hayley burst through the door.  "My mom's not home," Hayley explained, laptop in hand.  "I need adult supervision."

I said, "I'm not sure I will be any help."

She said, "I really just need love."

Don't we all?

I logged her onto our wi-fi and she and Emma sat side by side at computers.  When the clock struck 3:00, they were off to the races.  After "the most stressful two minutes of their lives" they were each registered for next year. 

Now I need to figure out a way to slow down time.  (Just for Emma though.  I want to speed time up for Braeden.  Does it work that way?)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Life by the swamp

Today I'm going to let Braeden write my blog.  He has material, that kid.  Here are some excerpts from his most recent letters:

...we saw this on someone's front door.  It was a dry erase board that said if anyone knocked or wanted to buy anything on the front porch (there was lots of junk on the front porch) that they would call their attorney.  It also said that we were under video surveillance and needed a 24 hour appointment to knock.  There was a little spot on the bottom for messages.  So we just left our number.  No one's called yet....

We met the scariest man in the world the other day.  Chuck Norris has nothing on this guy.  He is an ex-Navy Seal.  We asked some members if they knew anyone we could teach and they told us that missionaries have taught him before.

He has a Confederate Battle Flag out front (of course) and his house is full of weapons, statues of the angel of death and a zebra fur.  We spent like 40 minutes in his house with him lecturing us on how Muslims and liberals were the enemies of his country and if he could he'd kill them all.  I was convinced he could smell the Bernie on me....

(side note:  Braeden bought a Bernie Sanders shirt last summer which I neither condoned nor appreciated but really, there are very, very few candidates I do condone or appreciate.)

I was so scared.  At one point he looked me in the eye and asked if I was anti-gun.  I lied, I'll admit.  But it's the same as how Abraham had to lie and say that Sarah was his sister....

He really likes us though and likes Mormons.  He lived in Salt Lake for a few years so he knows us pretty well.  When we were leaving he told us that if anyone messed with us then to tell him and he would burn their house down.


We were fed by the B family.  Brother B is straight up crazy.  I heard a member talking about him and they said he was "a few inches off center."  That about sums it up.  He talks in a super monotone voice and he will tell stories about his life that don't go anywhere.  He was driving us home on the dark winding country road and was going like 80 in a 45.  I was convinced I was going to die.   He started telling us a story about how he hit a bear and killed it.  He realized afterward that his car still worked so he just drove it home.  He came back in his truck to get the bear (and do what with it?!?) and he saw some cops dragging it out of the road so he just drove past.

I was trying so hard not to die laughing.  The monotone mixed with the story mixed with the fact that we were going 80 mph did me in.

Then right before we got home he was just like, "That wasn't as big as the horse I hit though."  There wasn't enough time for that story....

So that's Braeden.  And yes, I pray for him every day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March 2

It feels like spring. 

I saw a fly yesterday.  (I got it with my fly swatter.)

I know it's not officially spring yet but I am itching to move things around and box up anything still about that's wintry and pull out my spring decor. 

I need to move all the plants from the windowsills so I can close the blinds now that the sun is starting to beat down again.

Which reminds me I need to wash the windows....

It's almost time to start thinking flowers.  I learned that columbine are deer resistant and since we are foster parents to a herd of deer, that matters.

I need to take one of the quilts off our bed and put away my sweaters.  At least the heavy ones.

The light is different and I want to take a walk along the trail by our house since the ice and snow and finally mud are gone.

The best part of March 2?

The thing that is making my heart sing?

Braeden has been gone 6 months.  He is 1/4 of the way done.  I miss him every day and 1/4 of the way done is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

From the ashes

Sunday night I took my third trip to the Provo City Center Temple.  It doesn't get old. 

Saturday evening we found out that the Young Women in our ward and their mothers had been invited to go to a special tour of the room where the brides prepare for their weddings as well as a sealing room (where marriages are performed).  I scrambled to get tickets and to let everyone know. 

Sunday was a busy day and by the time I sat in my seat before the tour, I mostly just wanted to go to bed. Then they showed us a video about Young Women and temples and...I cried.  Then a couple spoke to us.  The man found out where we were from.  He said, "So this is thirty minutes from your home and you passed a temple to get here.  Plus there is a temple the other direction even closer to your home."

He told us about his wife who is from Argentina.  When she was baptized in the '70s, the nearest temple was 12,000 miles away.

That is staggering.

Not for the first time, I had the feeling that I'd better make something of myself since I have been given so many advantages and blessings in life.

He talked a little about the Provo City Center Temple.  It used to be a tabernacle.  It was used for church meetings and concerts.  Adam and I had stake conference there when we were first married and when I taught at American Heritage School, we had our Patriotic Program at the Provo Tabernacle.  It was a beautiful and serviceable building.

Then it caught fire.

It completely burned except the brick shell.

The bricks were soft and since the building was built by pioneers back in the day, it was not anything close to earthquake proof or sturdy.

Our speaker told us there was a lot of debate about what should be done with the building.  Most everyone thought that it wasn't worth it to repair.  Someone suggested it be razed and a new post office could be built in its place.

But then at the October 2011 General Conference, President Monson made this announcement:

Late last year the Provo Tabernacle in Utah County was seriously damaged by a terrible fire. This wonderful building, much beloved by generations of Latter-day Saints, was left with only the exterior walls standing. After careful study, we have decided to rebuild it with full preservation and restoration of the exterior, to become the second temple of the Church in the city of Provo.

The speaker pointed out that God had a different purpose for the tabernacle.  He then said we are like the tabernacle.  He said, "You are beautiful and do good things now. If you haven't already, you will someday have a fire.  It may be small or you may really crash and burn.  Some people, including you, may think you're worthless, but the Lord just has a different purpose for you." 

He can make something magnificent out of the ashes.

The temple is stunning and gorgeous.  It has been strengthened in amazing ways and is glorious in its new purpose.

It was meaningful to be there with the young women (especially Emma).  As we walked through these elegant rooms that were enhanced by their significance in my life, it was a silent tour but I was sending them telepathic messages.  Urgent ones:  You want this in your life.  You want to get married in a temple where you will be sealed to your husband and children forever.  Don't settle for anything less.  You want this girls.

An attractive college aged woman was leading our tour.  At the end, when we were outside the temple, one of my girls, Rose, said to the tour leader, "I just have to tell you, you are beautiful."  The woman was taken back but smiled happily.  As we were taking the protective shoe coverings off our feet, the girls were still dazzled by the tour leader apparently.  They told her they loved her shoes.  "Thanks," she said, "I got them in New York when I was living in Connecticut."

That caught Emma's attention.  She asked where in Connecticut (south of Hartford).  Emma said, "I was born in New Haven."

"I love New Haven!" the woman said. "The best pizza restaurant in the world is in New Haven."

"Pepe's?" Emma asked.

The delight over being called beautiful and having her shoes admired was completely eclipsed by the Pepe's mention.  The woman grinned widely and gave Emma a high five.  Because Pepe's.

On the drive home I reflected on all I had to be grateful for:

1-close proximity to temples
2-opportunities to serve good girls
3-an eternal marriage
5-my kids who are mine forever

It's a pretty good life.


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