Thursday, June 30, 2016

Empty nesters

This week we've been on our own.  Emma has been on a trek youth conference and Mark has been at scout camp with his Nevada cousins (and long suffering Nevada uncles).  Braeden's been the one we've been in touch with the most because he emailed Monday and also we got a text message from my patron saint Rebecca Justesen that included an audio text of him telling me he loved me.  (Why I was saved for these latter days, I tell you!)

Mark was excited to go to scout camp in Nevada.  Emma was sort of dreading trek.  Maybe it was because of her miserable experience last time she went when she got heat stroke.  Unlike her brothers, she's never been overly affectionate.  It indicated the level of anxiety my tough as nails girls felt that she was hugging me long clinging sort of hugs the night before.  I told Adam that I would love to just tell her never mind, don't go.  Stay home.  I also know she needs to do hard things though.  Children + hard things = not easy for the mom.

Adam and I have been saying to each other with sad disbelief that this empty nest is how it will be in six years but we've been wrong.  We've been thinking that since last summer and really now this is how it will be in five years.  Time marches on.

The good news is that I really like being with Adam.

Monday night we went to Salt Lake City and went to the church history museum.  We perused some exhibits and voted on our favorite art in an art competition.  We found a tiny hole in the wall restaurant to have dinner.  It was Afghan/Indian fusion in the back of a little grocery store.  We walked in and the elderly Afghani man who worked there was scolding a shoplifter and pulling things out of his pocket.  To Adam's credit, he just kept walking.  (Ever since he tackled a shoplifter years ago, I've been telling him that is not his job.)

After falafel for me and kebab for Adam, we stopped by to visit my grandma.  That's always a good time.  I want to be like my grandma someday.  That's all.

Tuesday we hit the theater for $5 movies.  We saw Love and Friendship which was funny but also left me a little disappointed.  I am a Jane Austen purist.

Wednesday evening we hosted a party for Adam's primary class.

Other highlights:

We ate fresh tomatoes grown on our deck (I believe that to live and work on a good farm is pleasant as well as challenging--you had to be in FFA in high school to get that reference).

We found a dead snake on our lawn.  It had claw marks and I think a bird dropped it.  In the absence of Mark we decided to leave it and let another animal take it away.  (Mark, by default = animal removal.  He doesn't particularly like that sort of thing but he's youngest so the rest of us pull rank.)

I sent a howler to Braeden via Rebecca.  I told him before his mission that I would figure out how to send a howler if the need arose.  It arose.

Emma came home from trek last night.  She was happy!  She seemed to have a great time and she excitedly told us all about it.  We were happy she was happy and also happy she was home.  I told her it was weird that Braeden was the child we were in contact with the most and she said, "I wished I had my phone!  Every time I used the bathroom I wanted to take a picture of the sign and send it to you."

What can I say?  We bond over bad signs, particularly unnecessary quotation marks.  (Emma's battle cry:  Quotation marks are not for emphasis!)

I handed her a piece of paper and told her to recreate it.

I missed her.  I'm glad she's back.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Not my email--not my birthday addition

It stands to reason that other Thelmas have birthdays too.

It stands to reason that I would get their birthday greetings.  (Wait...why does that stand to reason?)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cleaning bedrooms

Last week, in anticipation of the big festivities at our house, bedrooms were cleaned.

Emma's still working on deep cleaning and getting rid of stuff.  She came across a treasure trove of Emma-ness.

This just cracked me up.  Even though I'm not funny, I find other things funny.

I also loved this.  Poor Emma.  I should have been worried about her self esteem back then.

It said to circle ten qualities and she couldn't limit herself to only ten.  She and I both thought it was funny that she didn't circle stubborn.  I think if I'd filled it out for her, I would have just circled stubborn ten times.  (Perhaps that is the kind of comment that won me the not funny designation.)

Emma also created a scrapbook:  The Go Crazy Scrapbook!  Apparently Cinderella and Ronald McDonald captured the right Go Crazy attitude she was looking for.

Here Emma is dipping her toes in playing with words, Chick or Tweet:

It occurs to me that maybe Halloween became my least favorite holiday this year when I created that costume for Braeden.  It was a black sweat suit and I cut the bones out of contact paper.  That was a pain.  Cute kids though....

I am adding a caption to this picture to say that I love Emma's captions

"We're dressed up, there's plenty of flowers, let's take a picture.  Heck, let's take two pictures!"

"Climb high--reach goals!"

This is maybe my favorite though.  Here Emma quoted the wisest person she knew, herself.

For emphasis she capitalized every word in her quote.  Also, I love that she corrected herself from front yard to side yard.  Accuracy is king for Emma.  Always has been.

Mark texted me this:

Because naturally you 1) video yourself cleaning and 2) text it to your mom so she knows you're done.  Each of our children march to their own drummer.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Jorgensens

We laughed a lot and talked about all the everything and there may or may not have been several times that Janet's and my eyes filled with tears (happy or otherwise).  Here are some of the highlights I want to remember:

Emma and Freja sitting at the piano, singing.  I especially loved it when their dads walked up behind them and joined in.

Emma and Freja also got it in their minds to make ciabatta.  They finished about midnight.  (Or so I was told...I went to bed before that.)

Britta and Inge running in and out of the house, loving the trampoline.  Why didn't I get a picture of that?!?  I love those sweet girls.

The look of wide eyed shock on Britta's face when we told her about the time when she was a baby and Mark was about five and (with the encouragement of Emma and Freja) he proposed marriage to Britta.

Mark basking in the company of his surrogate big brothers, Leif and Hans.

Driving to Provo to see the temple.  Boys in one car, girls in the other.  (Because we, you know, still had so much to discuss.)

Mark, Leif, Hans, Eric, Janet, Inge, Freja, Emma and Britta

The last morning pausing in the front yard before they left to say a prayer together.  Eric offered the prayer and prayed for all of us and OK, maybe I cried then too.

After they drove away, Adam said, "I could have done with another day of them being here."  Me too.

They're our forever friends.   Even though ours is a friendship impervious to time and distance, it was hard to say good-bye.  I'm pretty sure we'll all live in the same cul de sac in heaven.

Dream big, I say.

Friday, June 24, 2016

What a happy day!

Yesterday we celebrated with the happy couple, David and Shari.  They were married in the Mt. Timpanogos temple.

Adam and I got to sit next to Dillon Johnson who we hadn't seen for several years.  (That's what you get for moving when a kid is on his mission.)  It was a beautiful wedding and I loved that we could be there.  I squeezed Adam's hand during the ceremony.  It reminded me of us and reminded me of forever and forever is a really wonderful thing.

We hustled home afterward to prepare for the luncheon that was at our house.  Eric's sisters, who are not surprisingly lovely women, had helped prepare the food and Janet and I darted around getting things set up and I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to have Janet in my kitchen.  I got Leif, in the absence of Braeden, to reach things off high shelves and the lovely Freja and Emma kept asking, "What can I do to help?"  It was slightly chaotic but mostly really really great.  People thanked us for hosting and I just felt grateful to get to be involved.  We were the lucky ones.

I stole the rest of these pictures from Facebook:

This is Shari's dad, reading a letter Shari wrote to him when she was a little girl.  Then he read his response.  It was very sweet.  There's Dillon in the background and those are...ahem...his girlfriend's arms around his waist.

Now we have a delicious day ahead of us of more time with the Jorgensens.  The only thing that would make this better is if Braeden were here.  We miss that kid.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

When tragedy strikes

In the last few days I've heard about sad things happening to two different families that I care about.  My heart is aching and my little troubles seem minimal and I wish I could fix things for everyone.

I can't fix things.  Life throws us curve balls and there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to it all.  It should be that terrible things only happen to terrible people, but terrible things happen to really good people too.

The only source of comfort for me is to remember that there is One that can fix things.  I read this a few days ago--before I even knew about the sad things.  It comforted me then and it comforts me now.

Life may get hard, confusing, painful, and discouraging.  I bear you my witness that through the companionship of the Holy Ghost, the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ will cut through the confusion, the pain, and the darkness.  Whether it comes in a remarkable burst or in gentle flow, that glorious spiritual power will infuse healing love and comfort into the repentant, wounded soul; dispel darkness with the light of truth; and cast out discouragement with hope in Christ.  We will see these blessings come, and we will know by the witness of the Spirit that it is the Lord Jesus Christ working in our lives.  Our burdens truly will be "swallowed up in the joy of [our Redeemer]."
 Elder Kim B. Clark

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


It's a summer of walks with these two and Adam.  It looks like they're holding hands, but they're not.  Mark just struggles with personal space.  I do hold Adam's hand while we walk.

It's sunsets on the deck.

And getting pictures and updates from this one.

(I didn't say I always understand the pictures.  I just said that I receive them.)

The sun goes down and this happens.

And we start all over again.

The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, June 20, 2016

What the world needs

Father's Day caused me to reflect on fathers in general.  My conclusion?  They're pretty great.  I'm blessed by my father.

 He is loving (and tall):

He is an example of goodness and service:

He's a good grandpa to our kids:

I'm blessed by Adam's father.  Not only did he raise an excellent man for me to marry, he played a big and important role in Braeden's, Emma's and Mark's childhoods.  His absence is all the more felt because of the way he loved them.

I was looking over some old pictures and just skimming through paints a picture of Adam and what kind of father he is.  He is the one with all the good ideas.  He's the one that lets them swim whenever and wherever our adventure takes us.  He's the one that cleans the sand off their feet after they swim.  He's the one that takes most of the pictures (which is good news because he's a better photographer than I am but bad news because he isn't in many pictures).

He is the best one at wrapping you up when you're cold.

He's the one that is responsible for three children that love water and swimming...

...and waverunners.

He's the one that provides for our needs...and a lot of our wants too.

I don't just mean he provides for us monetarily.  He provides counsel and wit and support and listening ears.

He's a good sport even if Small World isn't his favorite ride.

He shares good things he knows.

And inspires good things from our kids.

Marrying him was the smartest thing I've ever done.

I'm grateful for good men and good fathers.  They make life happy and inspire me to be better.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The horse and his boy

No, I'm not talking about the C.S. Lewis book.  I'm talking about a different boy, the one I miss every day.

He asks me to pray for him.  Um...really?

I do, kid.  And sometimes I even pray for you without crying, but not too often.

He's having so many amazing and hard and wonderful and intense experiences and I know he is growing and improving in breathtaking ways.

And then he's still Braeden.  So very Braeden.

Rebecca Justesen sent me these pictures:

My first thought was, "Did he take his horse head?!?"  I looked in his room and didn't see it.  I found this picture (and texted it back to Rebecca).

(I can't believe how teeny Mark is in the picture.)

Then I found myself comparing horse heads.  Is it the same one? 

Is this my life now? 

Comparing pictures of my son wearing the same/different horse heads?

Did he take his horse head on his mission? 

The follow up question, of course, is why?



At least he didn't take his fur coat.  I know that because he left it in the trunk of his car. Along with the rest of his costumes.

(Because you never know when you'll need a costume apparently.)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Emma's room

Emma wants to paint her room and make some changes to what furniture she has (get rid of the clunky desk and trade it in for a bench with storage).  I'm all for renovating (we're not really renovating, but that's what we are calling it since we watch HGTV).  I love changing things.  I also love negotiating.

I told Emma we could make the changes to her room if she got rid of stuff.  A lot of stuff.  A whole lot.  Emma is a dangerous combination of sentimental and creative.  She was very prolific as a child, filling notebooks with stories and drawings.  She used more glue and tape than any ten children and if I ever needed the scissors or stapler or hole punch, chances were they were in her room.  She is also as stubborn as anyone you'll ever meet and when I suggested my terms for the painting, she started to dig in her heels and tell me that she didn't want to get rid of ONE THING.

I said, "OK.  That's fine."  And I walked away.

But then, I had her.  Because she wanted to paint her room.  (It is so rare that I win in these situations!)

For the first step, I dragged three enormous boxes labeled EMMA out of the dungeon.  (The dungeon is our very aptly named storage room in the basement.)  I instructed Emma to go through the boxes and get rid of what she could.  The boxes hadn't been touched in nearly two years.  I was betting she didn't need what was inside.

Emma made three piles.  A (quite large) keep pile, a throw away pile and a give away pile.  She eliminated one whole box which was progress!  (Now we can fill that box up with stuff she's unwilling to part with, but willing to box up from her room.  Baby steps I tell you.)

I was looking at the give away pile and deciding what her cousins may be interested in.  In her throw away pile, my eyes landed on a notebook.  It was one of many notebooks in the pile but it looked familiar.  It was the dialogue journal she and I wrote to each other when she was 9.  It obviously means more to me than it does to Emma.  She threw it away, but to me it is a treasure.

There are lots of pages like this:

I would write something quick (I was busy) and Emma would write something long.  Usually a description of her dreams.  No one could describe their dreams like Emma!  I finally would tell her she could only tell me her dreams if it took under 30 seconds.  Writing them was a good solution.

I just loved looking through her writing and remembering those home schooling years when my children were the center of everything.  It was a bustling, immersive time.  I would end most days with an ache from the tension between my shoulder blades.  There were lots of power struggles and tears but also a lot of cuddling up to read together.  There was that irresistible thrill of seeing my children understand something I was teaching them.  It was magical and just plain hard.  I wouldn't trade a minute of it.

I wish I'd realized how fast it would fly by.

It's been a while since I've been invited to a tea party but I know to still knock before entering.  Girlie loves her privacy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My brother

Did you hear the story that happened last week in rural Oregon?  Outside of Walmart, a guy stole a lady's bike.  Another guy got his horse out of his horse trailer and roped the would be thief.

The only thing I could think was that that is exactly what Tabor would have done. 

Mark stayed with Tabor while we were at Girls' Camp.  I felt a little anxiety in advance because I always do when my children are going to be away from me.  Then I would remember, it's Tabor.  I trust Tabor.  I knew that he would not take any guff from a teenage boy but that he would also be kind.

Mark was excited to go because he loves Tabor and Katie and especially his cousins.  He also knew that Tabor was going to pay him to work.  You could not make Mark happier!  When we were driving home, he reveled in telling me all about the hard work he did and how dirty he got.  Also, he had to mow the lawn three times--because Tabor insisted on it done right + Mark was a novice on the ride on lawn mower.

Mark didn't mind.  He sort of thrives under being pushed physically, especially if it's by someone he likes.  He loved how hard his PE teacher pushed him.  He enjoyed the little swim clinic he participated in that was a fund raiser put on by the high school swim team.  Mark's teacher was a big senior boy who told him that he was going to make them work hard and he would be, "the monster under their bed."  Mark thought that was the best thing ever.

I don't know.

Another thrilling part of Mark's time with Tabor was that Tabor introduced him to the Dave Ramsey show on the radio.  "It's all about money!" Mark said.  "It's about staying out of debt and he just told people what he thought about their choices."

I'm grateful for siblings.  Sometimes I feel like we're pitching in and raising our kids a little bit together and I love that.


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