Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

My grandma has pictures of herself on Memorial Day at the Murray Cemetery starting from 1933.  It's kind of a Thing in our family.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned Memorial Day is about fallen soldiers.  I always thought it was about going to the cemeteries where all your ancestors are buried that just so happen to all be in the same valley.

Tabor and his family stayed with us Sunday night so we were a tad late on Monday morning, but we made it.

Here's the group:

I'm peeking over Tabor's shoulder.  Adam told me to move up and I said, "I'm good."  Also I was wearing heels and standing on a little rise so I could blend in a little with the tall folk.


It was so much fun to see everyone.  I especially enjoyed connecting with my cousin David.  Marianne is the oldest cousin, then me, then Olivia and David.  We grew up together playing Rook and laughing at the crazy competitive firebrands that were Enoch and David's brother Craig.  Marianne and Olivia and I quizzed David a lot about his latest girlfriend.  I think we're the big sisters he's glad he's never had.

This picture isn't so very flattering (why is my head twice as big as Olivia's?  Is that real life?) but here I go anyway.  Because I had that much fun visiting with David.


Also, Olivia is completely on her tip toes.  Who knows why Olivia does things.  (So much for me wearing heels.)

After the Murray cemetery (where I have a lot of kindred dead buried from both sides), we went to the Sandy cemetery.  My great grandma, Arvella Jaynes, is buried there.


We ran into my mom's cousins (from different sides of the family) at each cemetery.  Also in the Murray cemetery, someone came up and talked to Tabor (he swears he has a sign over his head that says Come and Talk to Me) who was also a descendant of Archibald Gardner (who isn't?).  We chatted with their family and realized we're even from the really crazy town part of the Gardner family that doesn't branch.  The part where double cousins married each other.

See?  Don't you just love Memorial Day?

We stopped at the Crescent Cemetery to see where some great great grandparents were buried.  From there we went to Golden Corral (which was a highlight for Mark--teenage boy + buffet = pure bliss).  My grandma had reserved a room to keep us all corralled (see what I did there?) and treated us all to lunch.

After lunch, most of the family dropped out and went on their way but my parents and sisters and we forged on.  We went to the West Jordan cemetery where both sets of my dad's grandparents are buried within 20 feet of each other.  We found a lot of my dad's relations in that cemetery and I said to Adam, "My roots go down really deep in this valley!" All of my parents grandparents lived within miles of each other.

Here are my dad and Hyrum in the West Jordan cemetery, leaning up against one of my dad's Egbert relation's headstone.  I was talking with my sisters about some other ancestors on the other side then turned around and saw them reclining.  I had to snap a picture.

I don't think Samuel would have minded a bit.


Our final cemetery was the Salt Lake cemetery.  We saw the showy gravesite of the prolific Archibald Gardner and we found some ancestors from my mom's side too who had come to Salt Lake at great peril.  Marianne was telling me the story and we both started crying. 

Everything I have and value most can be traced back to decisions made by these people.  I'm grateful to them and grateful for my heritage and for the confidence that wells up in me when I think of my pioneer ancestors.  Their blood is in my veins.  I've got this!

I lifted all these pictures off of Olivia's blog.  She is stellar in so many ways and family history is one of them.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Summertime summertime sum sum summertime


Today we're going to the cemeteries in the Salt Lake Valley that I grew up going to on Memorial Day.  My grandma, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and most my siblings will be there.  It makes me happy.

I remember going to Memorial Day (because we talked about it like the day was a destination) and my Utah cousins would be out of school already and we still had a few weeks to go.

Now my kids are the Utah cousins, that are already done with school.  (They aren't tan and athletic like my Utah cousins were though.)

Still.

School's out.  Summer is official around here.  I boxed up my spring birds and pastels and pulled out the red,white and blue and sea shells and rattan that make me think summer.


I love having a mantle and hearth to dress.  Adam watched me climb up and down, and went and got a stepladder for me.  There's a lot of tweaking involved.  You can't enter into a mantle arrangement lightly. (I could decorate it identically every year to save time but where's the fun in that?)


I have to show a close up of my angel.  I fashioned a suffragette ribbon for her.


She's grateful that women have the right to vote but she's sort of like me and wishing she had different options this year.

At least I'm guessing.

I don't want to think about elections though. It's time for bare feet and sprinklers and good intentions to keep my children productive that will likely melt away with the summer sun.  They always do.

But I still try.



Friday, May 27, 2016

Not my email

Like this email states, this is sad then happy ending.  Sam hit the nail on the head.




First, this one isn't great for my self esteem. It is telling me I need to lose weight.



This one reminds me that I am not athletic.  And even though this is a great opportunity, I'm neither young enough nor what anyone would call a "quality player."  Also I don't live in the UK.


This one points out that while someone is taking a trip--and the booking is waiting to be confirmed--I am not taking a trip.



Then my email got really dicey.


I don't know how to help.  And I feel terrible about it.



...but here's the happy ending.




Thanks Evelyn!  I don't know who you are but I appreciate the validation.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

What is happening?

Things are getting ridiculous.

Facebook is filling up with pictures of graduations.  College graduation is certainly an accomplishment and high school graduation is a Thing.  Yes, this applies...






...but it still is sort of a big deal.  It's not hard to do for most people, but it's a milestone to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Preschool graduation?  Kindergarten graduation?  6th grade graduation?  Before we know it, there will be a graduation for every grade level.  Graduations are starting to be like a participation trophy kids get in sports.

Meaningless.

While I'm being cranky and cynical, public school is a charade.  My children haven't done anything all week.  Yesterday Mark had four classes and watched four movies.  Today?  They're signing yearbooks.  Tomorrow is the "last" day of school.  It's a little over an hour long and the teachers are subtly encouraging the kids not to show up.

But, 180 days are happening.  We're getting our money's worth.

Or not.

(Maybe I would be more pleasant if I had gone to sleep earlier last night instead of staying up to finish my book.  It was a good book.  Come back tomorrow and I'll be more cheerful.)


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mark

Mark: Which one of you pajama pants are going to drive me to school?

Me:  These are yoga pants.

Adam:  (also not wearing pajamas) Your mom.


*****


Mark: Here's a fun Star Wars fact for you.  The Skywalkers were going to be named Starkillers but the fourth grade focus group didn't like it so they went with Skywalkers.

Emma:  Did you make that up?

Mark:  There really wasn't a fourth grade focus group.

Adam:  So it isn't really a fun fact?

Mark:  Well Skywalkers rolled off the tongue better.  Probably.  It's more of a probably than a fact.


 *****

Me:  What should we do when we get home?

Mark:  Introverts unite, separately.

Emma:  Yesssss!

Me:  I want to be with Dad.

Mark:  So we're going to be introverts, uniting separately except Mom and Dad because Mom likes Dad?  We should really come up with an acronym for that....

*****

Mark tunes the radio to 104.7 Mi Preferida every morning on the drive to school.  He doesn't understand a word of the music that is all in Spanish but he has declared that next year he will, since he's taking Spanish.  He adores the fast talking DJs and dances in his seat along to the music.  This morning he said, "This music makes me hungry.  I want a burrito and nachos right now."

Everything makes Mark hungry.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Oldies station plays songs from high school

I'm one of the oldest ones in my book club.  They talk about preschool and the kindergarten bus and how hard it is to go to Target with their children and I have teenagers that I would love to take to Target with me if they would only agree to go.

Like groups of women do, we talk about anything and everything. Usually simultaneously.

I realized that the younger the mothers are, the more concerned they are with their children making their beds.  One shiny faced young thing with preschoolers insists on beds made.  Another mother with children in elementary school said her kids only have a duvet cover so they can pull it up easily.  A mother with kids the same age asks every day if they've made their beds but they usually haven't.

My kids haven't made their beds in years.  I change the sheets once a week and then I make the beds but that's it.  I used to try to care but my current philosophy is, "If it doesn't bother you, don't bother."  And it doesn't bother me.  

The other night, after we'd discussed the book, the conversation turned to social media and hashtags and texting lingo.   The younger mothers were concerned about the slang they don't understand.  They were trying to make sure they understood what was going on in the latest social media.  It isn't so much that I'm too old to learn it all, I just don't care.  I guess age = apathy.  One thing that made me laugh a little though was that I knew all the slang and text shortcuts that left them confused and feeling out of touch.  Because I have teenagers.

The young mothers want to be up to date and aren't.  I don't care, but I know the lingo.

They never have asked me to dispense my wisdom but if they did, here's what I'd tell the young mothers.  Read to them more.  Worry less.  It goes by faster than you can imagine.  There will be plenty of time later for All the Stuff.  Just sit on the couch and snuggle.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The drama banquet



Last week Emma had a big event:  the drama banquet.  She wanted a fancy dress for it.  Last year she just wore a church dress and she was the only one.  Everyone else was in formals.   That's drama kids for you.

We took Adri shopping with us because Emma is always a better shopper when she has a friend along.  We found a pretty dress and Emma was happy.

Thursday afternoon she went to Adri's house, along with Vanessa and Caralyn to have Adri do their hair.  Adri is magic with hair.  Emma came home looking lovely.




She said that Adri called dibs to do Emma's hair for her wedding.

I don't know who would compete with Adri.  Me?  One of her brothers?  I think Adri can have the job.

I had to run to the store and when I got home, there was a small crisis.  The zipper in Emma's new dress was stuck.  The fabric was maybe stuck inside, I don't know the trouble, but Adam was trying his best to fix the problem.  "Don't break the zipper," I cautioned my husband with the strong hands.  Within seconds he had indeed broken the zipper.

To Emma's credit, she didn't burst into tears.

We were less than half an hour before the drama banquet and her dress was in ruins.  I investigated the zipper and there was nothing I could do to fix it.

"What am I going to do?" Emma asked, eyebrows raised and forehead creased.

"Put the dress back on," I said, "and I will sew it shut."

"How will I get out of it?" she asked.

"I'll cut the stitches."

So that's what we did.  I was sewing furiously and the time kept ticking.  "Almost done," I kept saying, trying to be reassuring.  "Almost done."

I finished in the nick of time.  Adam snapped a few pictures and she was off.

It was the most intense stitching I've ever done. (Maybe it was the only intense stitching I've ever done.)

When Emma got home, Adam was talking on the phone with his mom.  He switched over to Facetime so he could show her Emma's dress.  Adam's sister Megan was there too.  They oohed and aahed over Emma then Megan said, "Who did your hair?  I know it wasn't your mom."

"Hey!" I said.

But I know, we all know.  There's no way I could have done it.

this was taken after Emma got home and she was more relaxed
 Adam took a picture of her shoes because Megan said Whitney would want to see them:


And then, in case you're wondering.  I snipped her right out of that dress safe and sound.

Friday, May 20, 2016

His arms are stronger than his compliments

This picture is from four years ago and completely unrelated to anything.  Isn't he cute though?


I wanted to move our king sized bed to vacuum behind it.  I fetched my furniture sliders (which are maybe my most useful possession) but I couldn't lift the bed high enough to slide one under a leg.  I called Mark.  I figured he could slip a slider under while I lifted with both hands.

Except I forgot that part about Mark being a teenage boy.  He lifted the bed with one hand and slid a slider under the leg.  Then he did it three more times.  He helped me move the bed and then, with a pat on the shoulder, said, "OK, I think you can handle this now."

It's amazing how teenage boys get strong all at once.  Just add food.

That night at dinner, Mark said, "I like your hair, Mom."

"Well, thank you," I said, feeling flattered.  (Because my hair is not usually any prize.)

"It's your house cleaning hair," Mark said.  "It's how your hair looks when you've been cleaning."

I realized that I'd had my hair in a ponytail for the vacuuming of the dust bunnies.  I had pulled the elastic out and who knew what kind of crazy my hair was doing.

I'm glad Mark liked my hair, I just wish he hadn't...elaborated.  House cleaning hair?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

True colors

Emma got sick Monday night.  She spent a miserable night, awake a lot, feeling awful.  I recommended she stay home from early morning seminary (even though they offer it release time here, she has her electives priorities and took seminary early morning).  She said she couldn't miss any more days.  (I think you can miss four or something, I can't remember.  I don't have to remember because Emma is on top of it.)

When I woke up she was dragging herself home from seminary.  She was terribly pale.  I said, "I thought you would miss seminary."

She said, "I had to go."

And that is Emma.  She does what she does.

She told me she was staying home until 10:00, then going back to school.  I said OK, because what does my opinion matter?

As the day progressed, she was feeling better.  She had a voice lesson at 5:00 in the evening and at 4:45, I found her asleep on the couch.  I gently woke her up.

She sat up, bleary eyed and dazed.  "Thanks Mom," she said, "I am so lucky to have you."

I think I just blinked.  Because Emma has never said anything like that to me before.  Somehow I gave birth to the most independent soul I've ever known.  "You're voice lesson is at 5:00," I reminded her.

"I know," she said, picking herself up off the couch.  And the spell was broken.  Because she always knows all the things.  She drove herself to her lesson and came home singing like she usually does.  She had dinner and got herself ready for the last choir concert of the year.

I watched her sing, afterward we chatted about the end of year slide show.  We commented on the choir performances.  She went to bed in her own due time because she can't be rushed.

But I will always remember that one time, when her defenses were down and she told me she was lucky to have me.

I am certainly lucky to have her.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

10 percent

It is really easy to make me laugh.  That's not necessarily a character flaw, but when you have children that are funny + love to perform, it's dangerous.  Because you laugh when they are funny and they lap up the attention and try even harder to be funny and you laugh and the cycle continues until it is too much.  Stop.  You're not funny anymore.

Many, many times I used to tell Braeden to only say 1/10 of what he was thinking.

Well, my little boy is growing up.  He emailed us this:
The sister missionaries were sick this week and we called them about something.  Afterwards we were just talking about how they were sick.  Sister Brownlee said, "1 Thessalonians 5:25."  I looked it up and it says "Brethren, pray for us."  I laughed and then read the next verse in my head.  I was SOOOO tempted to say it out loud.  Self control for the win.  Still trying to only say a tenth of what I think of.....
So then Adam and I looked up 1 Thessalonians 5:26.

Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

India

I can't remember what year it was.  I was in college at the time, but which year?  The years blend.  Whenever it was, our family decided to have a "homemade" Christmas.  I don't know whose idea it was originally, but my money is on Marianne.  She's often the idea girl.

Now this sort of thing worked well in our family because of my parents' skills.  My dad made me a silver necklace and my mom sewed me a beautiful dress.  I think I wrote something for each of my siblings which strikes me as sort of a lame present.  (Sorry everyone!)  I can't remember what all my siblings gave me, but yesterday I was straightening up and my eyes landed on the gift Olivia gave me.


I named her India.  She has absolutely nothing to do with the country India, I just liked the name.  Her face is a little dirty (despite my best efforts, she was seriously loved by all of my children as toddlers) but she's still perfect.  I love the happy doll.  To me she represents a little sister (a talented little sister) who loves me.  I love the mix of patterns.  I love the colors.  There's nothing quite like arranging the skirts of a rag doll your sister made for you.  I don't know, it just raises the spirits.

Monday, May 16, 2016

When sunsets prompt deep thoughts

There were hard things about last week and there are niggling hassles about this week.  The calendar is full.  That's the worst kind of calendar.  There are the children school things, the social things, the obligatory things.

I just want NO things.

(I would probably get lonely and bored but it's a risk I'm willing to take sometimes.)

We've been re-watching a few episodes of Planet Earth.  It's beautiful except for when animals attack each other and then I have to close my eyes tight and have Adam tell me when it's over.  (I don't know why animals can't buy their meat at Costco.)  The whole show seems to testify there is a God though.  Over and over the interconnected ecosystems just work.  It's all amazing and wonderful.  Last night I came up out of the basement after we watched about seasonal forests, read scriptures and said a prayer.  It's a cozy time of night.  The kids were heading off to bed and I opened the blinds since the sun had gone down.

I was met with this.




My mediocre camera and even less than mediocre photography skills certainly don't do it justice.  It was breathtaking.  I got an apple to eat and sat out on the deck and just marveled that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us enough to plan that light show for our enjoyment every evening.

Keep looking up!  I learn from the past, dream about the future and look up.  There's nothing like a beautiful sunset at the end of a healthy day.

Rachel Boston



The weather had been a little stormy--there had been thunderstorms during the previous night.  It occurred to me while I sat that it was the clouds that really jazzed up the sky and reflected all the light.  The sunset is never as spectacular on a cloudless day.

So, I thought, when my life is a little stormy, if I can reflect light, it will be something to behold.

Friday, May 13, 2016

7th graders

Last week I checked Mark out of school early.  I had to take out my driver's license and hand it to the school secretary so she could verify my ID before relinquishing the ginger.  While I appreciate the abundance of caution, I wonder just how much of a danger it is.  People trying to make off with someone else's seventh grader?  In my limited but real world experience here's what I know about seventh grade boys.

1-They eat constantly.
2-Sometimes they smell.  Bad.
3-They have an inability to hit the dirty clothes hamper with accuracy.
4-They prefer to walk by an empty and open dishwasher and put their dishes on the other side of it.
5-Speaking of dishes, they have several place settings in their room at any given time.
6-They try to change the radio station in the car.
7-You have to remind them to brush their teeth.
8-And change their socks.

I sort of think if someone was able to kidnap Mark from school it may turn into a Ransom of Red Chief sort of situation.

He is pretty cute though (and funny and creative and affectionate).



 I'll keep him.



Thursday, May 12, 2016

101 things I'm grateful for


This list just proves the statement that there's always something to be thankful for.  Here are just the first 101 things I could think of, in no particular order.

Adam
Braeden
Emma
Mark
Cell phones
Strong women who love and encourage me
Phone calls from my grandma
A wall full of clocks
Candlelight
Diet coke with lime
Bluebirds out my window
Holidays
Geraniums
Silver
Sharpies
Cold milk
Chocolate
Socks
Carpet
Sagebrush
Cars
Computers
Hot baths
Houseplants
Diet coke with lime
Sisters
Brothers
My parents
Movie theaters
Chalkboards
Pizza
Maps
Good pens
Really sharp pencils
Mail from someone you know
Comfortable chairs
Netflix
Reading good books
Popcorn
Ice cream
Bread
Capresse salad
Corn on the cob
Taking walks
Naps
The color red
Heat
Air conditioning
People that feed missionaries
People that text me pictures of Braeden
Vacations
Beaches
Mountains
Deserts
Stocking caps
Gloves
Jackets
Sweatshirts
Horace, the goat
How green everything is in the spring
Fall colors
Snow
Seat heat
Car washes
Clean laundry
Electricity
Adam’s parents
Scriptures
Prayer
Temples
Paint
Ice cubes
Inspiration
Pillows
Sunrises
Sunsets
Indoor plumbing
Music
Modern medicine
Photographs
Raspberries
Buttons
Grass
Trees
Friends
Open windows
Dishwashers
Emails from Braeden
Online shopping
Libraries
Costco
Comfortable places to sit
Repentance and forgiveness
Apples and peanut butter
Sunglasses
Finding cash in a pocket
The women my brothers married
Nieces
Nephews
Cousins
Cinnamon rolls
Hot air balloons out my window

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Keep smiling



My two strongest memories of my great-uncle Shirley are his piano playing and his great smile.  He is my grandma's older brother and along with his wife, Donna, he lived right next door to my grandma on the same street where they both grew up.

He could play the piano by ear and would sit smiling and chatting and playing the piano.  He passed away in 1992 and my great-aunt Donna died more recently.  I wrote about the letters my grandma has from Shirley here.   I've been gradually reading the letters to my grandma.  They're interesting from a historical perspective and from a family perspective.  It gives me a little window into what life was like in the mid 1940s.  My grandma loves hearing them and remembering.  She fills me in on details and smiles abashedly when there's mention of some boy she was dating.  (My grandma = belle of the ball.)  I have to steady my voice to keep from crying sometimes.  This week we finished the letters from him--next we have the letters his family wrote to him while he was away and I'm excited for that!

Shirley mentioned with gratitude the wheat kernels his dad, my great-grandfather, sent.  He wrote about the pleasure it was just to look at them.  They were wheat farmers and far away in war ravaged Germany, a few kernels of wheat were a sight for sore eyes.

The biggest blessing in my life in reading the letters has been the glimpse I've seen inside my great-uncle.  Turns out he was a lot more than a piano talent and twinkling smile.  He was a man with a great depth of character and breathtaking optimism.

He wrote about how confused and horrified he was by racism he encountered when he was stationed in Georgia for training.

He wrote--without fail--in every letter about his gratitude for America and his parents and the way he was raised.  At the same time he pointed out the good in the places where he was stationed.  He commented on the beautiful scenery, the hardworking locals, how neat and clean Germans were.

He generously showed interest in what was happening at home.  He complimented my grandma, his little sister, at every opportunity and encouraged her in all her pursuits.  He responded to questions from home and followed the local high school sports teams.

He embodied what F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "Trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement."  He was constantly upbeat in his letters.  There is one solitary instance of his frustration showing through.  It was after nearly a year of training in artillery when he was switched to infantry and sent to Europe as the war was ramping up.  Not only was it wasted time in all the training but infantry was considerably more dangerous.  By the next letter, he was done complaining and ready to optimistically look ahead.

At the end of the war, he wanted the soldiers that had been there longer and been in more dangerous positions to go home first.  He had been away for years and had a young wife and son at home but he was happy to stick it out several more months because the other soldiers deserved home before he did.

I have wished over and over Braeden was there when we read the letters.  (For one thing, he could fill in the gaps of what is happening with the war.  Braeden knows WWII!)  More than that though, I want some of Shirley's character to seep into the pores of my children.  I want us all to learn from his kindness and good humor and gratitude and optimism.  On every letter he wrote, Shirley closed with these words, "Keep smiling."  Then he would add a tiny smiling face.

It is gratifying to me that when Mark and Emma write Braeden, they close their letters and emails the same way.





Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Double the awkward



When we were teenagers people were often taken back by the sight of us.  They thought we looked SO much alike.



Once someone stopped us and asked us if we were twins.  (Yes, identical except she's 5 inches taller than I am?)

These were accidental matching swimsuits.  The bottoms were different and hers was blue and mine was black.  Still, what were we thinking?


As we've gotten older, Marianne is skinnier than I am and still (a lot) taller and I don't ever think about us looking very similar.

On Friday she was in town with some of her charming children.  At dinner, Marianne and I were sitting next to each other and Mark said, "You have the exact same noses."  Later Adam took the kids to the hotel to swim and Marianne and I did some errands.  We went to Costco together.  The guy at the register said, "You've got to be sisters."  He commented on how alike we look.

Then we stopped by my house.  There were some of the Young Women here.  (They had a YCL overnighter.  I wasn't in charge.  I just provided the venue.)  I introduced Marianne all around and one of the girls commented on how much we look alike.

Marianne wanted to stop by a store for deodorant.  I offered to give her an unopened package I had at home but we discovered we have opposite preferences.  I told her the kind I like but that it's hard to find.

On the way to the store we remarked that maybe we really do look alike still.  We don't exactly see it, but it must be there.  Inside she quickly found the deodorant she preferred.  I looked a few shelves down and I found what I like!  I grabbed two for good measure.  We rounded a corner toward the checkout stands, two sisters with the same curly hair, the same facial features.  We were each carrying two sticks of deodorant and nothing else.

Then we both started laughing because how ridiculous did we look?

Marianne decided she wanted some fruit too.  I encouraged the choice so we wouldn't be so matchy.

Saturday was Marianne's birthday.  I was happy to spend part of the day with her in the rain at a track meet at BYU.  We cheered on Desi and Liberty.  Between events we went to the Museum of Art at BYU.  Before it opened we were seated on a bench in the little garden outside.

From behind us, our curly heads side by side, Carolina said, "You two look exactly the same!"

I like having sisters.  (And Olivia's the lucky one.  When people see the three of us together, they say she looks nothing like us--although she and Marianne share the same legs-for-days thing. For example, I'm wearing heels in the following picture and they...aren't.)



Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day



The best part?

Talking to Braeden.  The conversation went waaaay too fast.  He wanted to hear all about Mark's play and we had Mark sing for him.  Mark sang the song he auditioned with for next year's advanced musical theater class.  Braeden laughed through the whole thing.


actually this may have been when Mark was dancing for Braeden...the computer monitor was angled for optimum ginger dancing watching

He also wanted to hear Emma play the piano and sing.  He cried through that.  There never was a brother who loved a sister so much.  I asked him if he wanted Adam and me to sing and he said, "No, I'm good."

Hmph.

It was wonderful to see his dear face and hear his voice.  He is growing up and learning so much that it mostly makes it worth it.

Oh, but I miss him!

Afterward, I was having my post phone call cry.  I was whining to Adam that it was just going to be so looooong until we see him again.  Adam was saying all the soothing things and then Braeden's friend Brian stopped by.  He saw my tear stained face and Adam explained that we'd just had The Phone Call.  Brian said, "Oh Thelma!" and he gathered me into his arms for a tight hug.  "This is from Braeden," he said.

Brian is tall and has the crazy curly hair, but he isn't Braeden.  He is sweet though.

I wasn't finished whining apparently because I started telling Brian that we still had another Mother's Day.  "Only one more Mother's Day!" he said enthusiastically.  "The time is going so fast!"

"No it isn't, Brian," I said.

"I guess I didn't give birth to him," Brian conceded.

The second best part of the day?

A new barometer.  I got two shiny new gadgets actually.  My prize is the barometer.

Coincidentally, I have a clock wall where this will feel right at home.


I gave a weather update before and after church to my long suffering family.  Call anytime and I'll tell you how the barometric pressure is going.

I also got a new alarm clock.



 My old one was worthless.   This one makes me feel sleek and fancy.

And that's something.





Friday, May 6, 2016

Grandpa Dahl

from left: my great aunt Iris, my great uncle Jim, my grandparents

This picture hangs in my stairwell.  Maybe it's just at the right level but it seems to catch my eye every time I walk up and down the stairs.

My grandpa died when I was pregnant with Mark and because I hadn't lived nearby for years, it seems a long time since I saw much of him.

I dreamed about him all night long though.  In my dreams he was with Braeden and helping him.

I wonder why I had those dreams.  My grandpa lived in Virginia for awhile, not where Braeden is, but closer to Washington D.C. because he worked in the Department of Agriculture during the Eisenhower administration.

It occurs to me that maybe he is helping Braeden.  In this life, they didn't interact a whole lot.  We mostly lived far away.


I think the grown up Braeden would have really liked my grandpa though.  Grandpa Dahl was charismatic and social.  He loved to be on the go.  He had a big laugh and knew how to command a room.  It occurs to me that Braeden is more like my grandpa than I ever realized before.

That is a happy thought for me.  I love my grandpa.  He and my grandma together symbolize what I aspire to.  They define resilience in my mind.  He enjoyed his life and spent it serving, serving, serving.  He was kind to my grandma and to me.

I like to think that he's helping Braeden too.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

The view from here

About a year ago, I thought maybe the best part of my life was drawing to a close.  My oldest child was getting ready to graduate and leave the nest and my youngest child was getting ready to go to public school.

Nothing would ever be the same and it all just felt sad.

Nothing is the same but I'm here to report that it is still good.

I loved homeschooling.  I don't regret one minute of time spent at that pursuit.  I even offered Emma and Mark the other day that if they wanted me to, I would home school my grandchildren.  Emma said, "Um...I'm not going to live in Utah."

Well, then.

Having my kids in school is sort of an introvert's dream though.  All day I have my own schedule and my solitude and then I'm happy to see them and spend the afternoon and evening with them.  It turns out I like it.

It also turns out I like having a son on a mission.  It hasn't been easy.  Sometimes I miss that guy so much that it physically hurts.  And when he's struggling?  You might as well rip my heart out.

But he's also learning and growing in ways I kind of assumed he would and in ways I didn't even dream about.  He's becoming a man.  (Which is weird, because he's my baby boy.)  He's finding reserves of strength and resilience.  He's working hard.  I can tell in ways big and small that he's different.

Except for the parts of him that aren't different at all.



Same. Old. Braeden.

One unexpected side effect of a missionary son is the added closeness it has made me feel to Adam.  We are in this together.  We understand how much the other one misses Braeden.  We read his letters and with just a look, communicate how we feel about what we've read.

I like being married to Adam.

Don't think I'm saying my life is perfect.  I'm not eating sugar, how perfect could it be?  I have the strong willed children (the only easy going one is currently in Virginia).  I have all the hassles and mundane tasks and obligations that are part of life.

Still, life is good.  I'm happy.

That's my report.



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Books I read in April 2016

It must have been a busy month.  Only three books and several days late getting this posted.  Here's what I read in April:



My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares **

I vacillated between two and three stars for this one.  I did like it but it just sort of ended without resolving anything or the reader knowing what is going to happen.  I'm usually OK if everything isn't tied up neatly but I hate feeling like the last chapter must have fallen out of a book.

I like Ann Brashares' books.  (She wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.)  This book was about a man who kept reincarnating but he remembered all of his lifetimes.  Of course there was a woman he loved that kept reincarnating too, she just didn't have the same memory.  So it was good, but the ending was lacking.



Carry on Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton ****

I loved this book.  I didn't totally agree with everything she wrote but I don't think she would even mind me saying that.  She is someone I think I'd like to have over for dinner and a chat.




Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella ****

I love Sophie Kinsella's books.  This one was a YA book and also more serious than most of her other books.  The main character suffered from crippling anxiety.  It made me cry several times but it was also typically lighthearted and entertaining Sophie Kinsella.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

To life!

What fun!  I went to every show because I can't help myself.  I was impressed by the talented kids and committed director.  Adults that create fabulous experiences for my children are held in high esteem by yours truly.

I realized a way Mark is different than his siblings.  After they perform in a play or choir concert, they always want to rehash it.  They want my opinion on everything.   They just want to talk about it.  Mark just wanted food.  A lot of food.  That was all.

Our Women's Conference group went to the show on opening night as well as these cousins and my dad and Ammon. My dad brought the Mark-aged kids (except Isaiah who had basketball games).  They all stayed at our house and I bought all the sugared cereal so I could be the favorite aunt.  (Hyrum said it worked.)
 
Morgan, Mark, Liliana, Hyrum, Azure and Cormac
 The next night Megan and Geri were back and went to the show.


Emma applied Mark's eyeliner for him. She called it guy-liner.

Here's Mark singing about the papas in Tradition:


He was Mordcha the bartender and here he's serving Laser Wolf.


Here's a bunch of pictures of To Life!  The boys were quite...rambunctious.


I can't even tell what's happening with Mark's legs here....



Here Mark is dancing during the wedding scene.  I always felt worried about the smaller boys in the middle of the circle.  Because those boys got a little wild.

Here he's singing Anatevka.


I liked every part of the show but especially the Mark parts of the show.


There were 70 kids in the cast which was a pretty impressive feat for a director of junior high kids.


At the very end of the last show, Mark was about the center of the group.  They presented a gift to their director and Mark left his spot and walked over to give her a hug.  Both our boys have tended to get a little attached to their directors.



Addendum:

Emma picked Mark up from school and took him to Great Clips.  (Having children with driver's licenses is pretty much the best invention ever.)


When Mark came home he said he'd lost ten pounds.  It may have been more though.  That was a lot of curly red hair!

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