Monday, October 31, 2016

Booge

Emma and I like to combine words to create a new word.  She's really good at it which surprises no one.  Emma + words.  Yesterday before church she was putting Fritos in a ziploc bag.  In answer to my query, she hadn't time for breakfast and was going to eat them during Sunday School.

"No."

"I will eat them discreetly," she promised.

"No one has ever eaten Fritos discreetly," I said,  "especially in Sunday School."

"I will," she said. "They'll be discreetos."

Which reminded me of the new blended word I'd heard, Booge, so I told Emma about it.  And that, in turn, distracted me from discreetos and guess who took them to church after all?

shaking head sadly

Booge comes from Superstore (a TV show, not an actual store) and it is a combination of Ebeneezer Scrooge and Halloween.  And it describes me perfectly.

When I was buying the smallest bag I thought I could get away with candy for possible trick-or-treaters, the thought popped into my head, "Halloween is a poor excuse every October 31 to pick a man's pockets."

And, yes, that's a variation on what our friend Ebeneezer said about Christmas.

Maybe three ghosts will visit me and cause me to mend my ways, but I doubt it.  Halloween is just to be endured every year.  (And I seriously wonder about people who claim it's their favorite holiday.  You've met the other holidays, right?)

So I don't love Halloween, but I do love Emma. (despite the discreetos)

And she wanted a Halloween party.

Saturday found us preparing things she had pinned on Pinterest.  The witches' hats and brooms and the little graveyard turned out OK.





The "fingers" were sort of a fail:


One of Emma's friends said they were maybe fat toes instead of fingers.  Which is sort of nasty and I apologize.

Thanks to Adri providing the cauldron and Adam providing the dry ice, the punch bowl was even festive:

I have exactly one Halloween decoration and it is that plug in Jack-o-lantern sitting on the counter there.

Adam and I slipped away to a restaurant but I felt 100% confident the group would be fine.  There's nothing that bolsters your confidence in a gathering more than when they, on their own, pray together before eating.

They are really good girls.


Halloween's ugly and unlovable but these kids are decidedly lovable.  Even when you're a Booge.

When we came back from dinner, the girl looking on Facebook on her phone there on the couch had arrived.  I didn't know her and I asked Emma later if she was a friend or had just wandered in for the Wifi.   She is a friend.  Sometimes you just gotta Facebook, I guess.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Karhu

When Adam was a missionary, he got the nickname Karhu.  It means bear in Finnish.  I think it probably was a result of his size and maybe his bear paw-esque hands.

Perhaps it's because he's from the Northwest and likes to swim in rivers and eat salmon.


(Although Adam doesn't stand in rivers while he eats salmon.  He usually eats salmon after it's been cooked....)

Whatever the reason, that was his nickname.

I have no such nickname, but I have been known to be a little bit (or a lot) of a mama bear at times.  It hasn't always gone well.  Sometimes I'm...let's just say...hasty.

Mama bear has been on the prowl lately.  Emma, who has never had a day's trouble with a teacher in the history of ever, has been struggling a bit with a teacher.  I wasn't privy to it all along because Emma is a private/independent person and I'm a somewhat neglectful mother, especially when it comes to Emma and school.  She's got it covered and I let her.

I marched into the school the other day though, to speak with this teacher.  We had a frustrating but, I hoped, ultimately helpful discussion.

Then yesterday morning, I saw that things were not better.  And I got mad.

I wrote an email, guns blazing.  Now, I've learned from sad experience that these things always go better when I run them by Adam first.  He is calmer and wiser and, OK...more stable.

He was getting ready for work and I sat on the edge of the tub, with my laptop balanced on my legs, while he brushed his teeth at the sink.  "Will you help me with my tone in this email?" I asked.

I read it to him and he said, "That sounds aggressive."

"Well I feel aggressive," I shot back.

"OK," he said, "but you want results."

And he's right.  (Which is why I asked him.)  In these kinds of conflict who is right doesn't matter.  My righteous indignation and desire for justice needed to take a backseat to what outcome I desired.

It reminded me of one of my dad's favorite sayings, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

So, using Adam's suggestions, I corrected my tone.  I sent a better email with words more measured. 

And guess what?  I got back a very kind and supportive email from the teacher.  I think things will improve!  Adam's way, of reacting calmly and thoughtfully, isn't just about getting what you want.  It's also about thinking about the other person and where they are coming from and how your actions will impact them if you demand vindication.  What can I say?  I married above myself.

Here's my takeaway.  Sometimes Mama Bear needs to be less of this:


And more of this:




I'm glad I have my own Karhu to learn from.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Feeling your pain

I've come to realize there is a silver lining to pain.   Empathy.  It feels good to be able to understand, really understand.  It kicks sympathy up a notch.  It feels even better to be on the receiving end of empathy.  It feels good when someone gets it.

When I told my mom I was asked to be YW president, she said, "Oh, Thelma."

Because she'd been there.  She knew it was a Big Job.

When Braeden was born, I felt terrible that I hadn't been more help to Marianne when Clarissa was born.  I felt like I should have been over at her house every day, washing her dishes or something.  I hadn't been, because I didn't know.  I didn't understand how hard new motherhood hits.

When Adam's dad passed away, I remember thinking this is what this feels like?!?  I knew lots of people who had had family members die.  I'd always felt sympathy for them, but now I knew better how it felt.

Awful.

Yesterday Adam's sweet cousin Pam took Branson to the MTC.  Branson is her handsome and quality son.  He's heading to the Virginia Chesapeake mission to hopefully be companions with Braeden.  (Both moms have their fingers crossed.)

Pam texted me yesterday after the harrowing MTC drop off.  She said, "I'm sorry I didn't do more to support you during this time."  She meant when I took Braeden.  She always knew it would be hard, now she knows what it feels like to leave your heart on a cold hard sidewalk in Provo.  (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating.  Or am I?)

Anyway, Pam and I are in a club now.  We're in the mother of missionary club.  Our hearts melt a little every time we see a missionary (which isn't that often in Utah county).  We're part of the group that text each other pictures when we do run across a missionary.

Because we get it.

Adam told Branson to make sure he had his mom's cell phone number memorized so people could text her pictures.


Mamas need pictures.

So life can be rough sometimes, but isn't it nice that we have each other?  Isn't it sublime when someone gets it?


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Not my email

I wish I could include all the political email that's been bandied back and forth between my family members.  Ha!  I'm kidding (kind of).  I love my family, even the ones who think I'm going to hell in a hand basket because of my misguided political views.  (You know who you are.)

Those are my email.  

The following...are not.

In case I was wondering how to fill my time I could learn the antidote to overeating by asking Tami:


My real question to ask Tami is, "Who did you think you were sending this information to?"

In case I'm interested in learning how to manage my money, I could watch a webinar from Mentor Financial Group:



Noticing the date, I think I missed my chance for financial freedom....

This email was very sweet and I wish I could send the love and concern on to Thelma:


But, like Carolyn, I don't know Thelma Yates' email address....

This one isn't even addressed to a Thelma.  It's for Harry.  More political stuff.  


I didn't take the official survey.  I also don't live in South Carolina.

Here I got confirmation for a lottery order.


If Mrs. Thelma Newham wins the lottery, I hope they'll also send me the money.

(Then I'll regret not participating in that webinar on finances....)

I think there is a cultural gulf that I'm not crossing with this one.  I don't entirely get it.


Finally, here's another tragic one for you.  I get a lot of these.  Thelmas, unaware of the fact that they don't know their email address, set up appointments at the Genius Bar to help them with things (like not knowing their email address) but they don't get the confirmation for the appointments.

Because I do.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Parenting when they're almost grown

I don't know if it's just my kids, but in my limited sample, being a senior in high school seems to cause brain damage.

First Braeden and now Emma: at once completely capable, responsible, pleasant, aggravating, stressed and irresponsible.  It seems to be a year punctuated by unexplained tardies at school adding up and procrastination and working hard and being helpful and declining money when I offer it to them.  "No, I got this.  I don't need money."

I can only compare it to toddlers at a park.  They run away gleefully, independent and adventurous and then hurry back to their mother's side.

Autonomy can be an exhilarating but ultimately scary thing.

When Emma isn't freaking out about all the things (college applications, too much work to do, friend drama, school and social obligations) she is being perfectly enjoyable.  With our menfolk camping last weekend we went to dinner together and took a walk together and just checked in with each other several times throughout the days while we worked separately.  She and I are highly compatible.  We are two introverts, doing our thing, talking occasionally but with a look we can see when the other one needs space.

Yesterday Braeden had someone text me and ask if I would send him an absentee ballot.  He included a picture:



It's a look of silent pleading.  "Please, Mom.  I need to vote."

And of course the answer is yes, I'll figure it out.  I want that cute boy to vote too.  He also asked me to research candidates for him and tell him who I was voting for and why.  (Why is the important thing for Braeden.)  He may or may not follow my advice.  I know that.

So I sat down to research.  I already had opinions on some of the candidates but had to do some reading as I went down the ballot.  When it came to the school board candidates, I asked Emma's opinion.  And she had a strong one.  She went to a debate between the two candidates last week.  She helped as part of her AP government class.

I listened to her explain to me why one candidate was superior to the other.

I have always known I have a smart girl but I sort of marveled that she was dispensing her wisdom to me because she's more knowledgeable and experienced in this area.

Times they are a changing.

Sometimes I celebrate their independence.  I lean on them to take care of things.  I expect and value their autonomy.  Then, like the toddler at the playground, I want to run back together.  I want to take care of everything.  I want to fix the fixable and banish the unfixable.  I want to gather them in my lap and rock them to sleep.

That is particularly problematic with Braeden since he's man-sized and lives in Virginia.


 


Monday, October 24, 2016

His

Last Wednesday night I watched the Face to Face with Studio C.  It was a broadcast geared toward youth but I loved it for me too.  I laughed and cried.  (That pretty much sums up my life in one sentence.)

There's one part in particular that I keep thinking about.  One of the cast members, Whitney, has a five month old son.  She said that after he was born, someone pointed out to her how much she loved him even though he didn't do anything to deserve it.  He just was hers.  So she loved him.

Then it was pointed out to her that that is the same way Heavenly Father feels about us.  We are His.  So He loves us.  We don't do anything to deserve that love.  It's because we belong to Him.

It staggers my mind (and was part of the reason why I cried).

Last week in his email, Braeden sent this scripture that I also can't stop thinking about:

My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.
Abraham 2:8
God knows everything.

He is all powerful.

And He loves us.

So when it feels like things aren't going my way, remembering those three things soothes my soul a little.  It encourages me to be patient.  I'm sputtering along in this anxious and flawed state, but I'm His.

So He loves me.

And I'll be OK.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Break

Two years ago, we went to Disneyland during Fall Break.  It seemed like such a perfect idea.

Except everyone in Utah also went to Disneyland.

This year, unbeknownst to me (I think I need to follow Utah on Facebook or something) everyone in Utah didn't go to Disneyland.

They went to the Mt. Timpanogos temple.  I took a vanload of kids there yesterday and I have never seen the place so busy.

We were there three hours.

After I dropped everyone back off except Mark, I was going to pick up a prescription for my increasingly stupid eye.

I got a speeding ticket.

It seemed like rotten luck but I also deserved it.

Afterward, I was driving the speed limit like a good girl and I thought, "Are you kidding meThis is how slow I was supposed to be going all this time?"

I don't know if I can keep that up.

Mark went on a scout campout.

He refused to take a coat, so he's probably really cold but he won't die and hopefully he'll learn his lesson.

(Like me and my speeding ticket.)

Last night Vanessa stayed over because her mom is out of town.  That is the second time Mark has been at scout camp and Vanessa has stayed over.

Emma said we need to keep the ginger component balanced around here.

Today, after work, Adam is joining the scouts, Emma is keeping her nose to the grindstone with homework and college applications.

And I'm not going to get another speeding ticket.






Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pearls

Simultaneously, each one of my family members is struggling.  Nothing too serious; we're pretty blessed and we all know it.  Just irritating things in the form of physical, mental or emotional health.  Or sometimes all of the above.

Also, I am giving a little talk at our upcoming Young Women in Excellence about pearls and faith.  The idea is that pearls are formed a tiny layer at a time, just like our faith.

Pearls have been on my mind.

They're pretty.  And interesting.  It's sort of amazing to me how they form:
Natural Pearls form when an irritant - usually a parasite and not the proverbial grain of sand - works its way into an oyster, mussel, or clam. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is used to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating, called 'nacre', is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed.

So we have these irritants (for example, my left eye which has been plaguing me for weeks).

I can't make a pearl out of it (since I'm, you know, not an oyster, mussel, or clam).

What can I do?

How can I turn my irritant into something beautiful and valuable?

I love reading the words of Bruce Hafen.  He wrote:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28, 30) He spoke these comforting words in the context of asking his followers to develop a love pure enough to extinguish hatred, lust, and anger. His yoke is easy—but he asks for all our hearts.
His words do not describe an event, but a process. He does not request the answer to a yes-or-no question, but an essay, written in the winding trail of our experience.
When I was in high school, I had a teacher who gave all sorts of quizzes and tests.  They were all matching and multiple choice and so easy.  So much easier than an essay, especially "an essay, written in the winding trail of our experience."

We're given this seemingly constant barrage of things, hard things.  We keep having to level up.  The other night I told Emma she was leveling up.  She said, "But I'm failing." (She's not, she sometimes expects perfection.)

But I think that feeling that we're failing is sort of par for the course.  Things get hard and we think we can't handle it.  Then we turn to the Lord.  We ask for Him to share the burden, we yoke ourselves to Him.

How does that help my eye?

I don't know.

I think I can work on becoming more empathetic.  I can learn to take care of myself but in the words of my dad, also learn not to take myself too seriously.

My eye hurts.  So what?  I can still serve others.  I can still do good in the world.  I can still seek to be better.  I can love more.

Maybe love = pearls for us humans who aren't, you know, oysters, mussels or clams.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

C'mon get happy

I read this familiar quote by Abraham Lincoln and have been mulling it over in my head (like I do).

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.

Is that true?

That's what I've been wondering as I've gone about my daily round.  What about the things that are out of your control?

I know, if it's out of your control, don't worry about it.  But isn't that precisely what we do worry about?  The things out of our control?  If it's in my control, I don't worry.  I do something about it.

I have my work cut out for me, not worrying about things I can't control.

So, in the meantime you know what makes me happy?

For over two years I've been plugging in the vacuum in an outlet in the kids' bathroom, vacuuming that half of the upstairs and then switching it to the other side of the house. Yesterday I realized that if I plug in the vacuum in the hall outside my room it will reach the entire upstairs!

The world is just full of happy discoveries, am I right?



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Politics

Yesterday I was driving to meet Adam for lunch (one of the two reasons I love Mondays--that and we hear from Braeden). On NPR they were talking about the election and Utah Mormon voters.  I've never felt so politically understood from a radio program in my life.  They were talking about all the ways that Utah Mormon voters find Donald Trump repugnant (yes, yes and YES!) and then talked about Evan McMullin and his politics and again I was agreeing with everything they said.   From what they were saying, he is the same blend of conservative and moderate that I am.  For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have a candidate I can support and not just one I hate less.

So that feels good.

*****

Sunday Emma asked me a disarming question.  She asked, "Are you satisfied with our relationship?"

Emma's been catching me off guard ever since she was born and the doctors didn't have time to give me an epidural.

I told her that I was satisfied.  Because I am.  My relationship with my boys is easy and uncomplicated.  We can tease each other out of most any bad mood.  They love hugs and food and I am pretty good at dispensing either of those.

Emma is different.  My relationship with her is easy like Sunday morning.  If you're a Mormon woman, you know that isn't usually easy.   Sundays are ultimately rewarding though and so is Emma.  I have to work harder, weigh my words more carefully and choose the right times and places to delve deep into her life.  Or try to.  She's worth it though.

So we started talking about our relationship and the ways we are similar.  She said, "We disagree on politics though."

Of course that resulted in a full scale political discussion between the four of us.  Adam and I have always challenged our children's political views up and down.  We don't want them to live in an echo chamber.  I care less about my children's political views than I do that they have thought about them thoroughly and can defend them.

We used to have similar conversations with Braeden.  He'd get invigorated by the debate and enthusiastically defend his positions.  Emma sat and listened to us.  She intelligently takes everything in and doesn't take offense and is probably silently correcting our grammar.

Having children is just so interesting.  And the older they get the more fascinating they are to me.  They are unique and similar and like us and vastly different from us.

The other night Adam and I were talking about our kids.  We decided that despite the many many ways Emma and I are alike, when the rubber hits the road, it's really Adam who can talk her into things, not me.  And Braeden and Adam have a lot in common, but I can reach him more easily sometimes.  (Except the Dad Voice.  No one can resist that.)

"What about Mark?" I asked

And who knows really.  He's his own person.  Sometimes we need to outsource with that kid.  For example, his voice teacher was able to steer him into a different direction for his audition piece when Adam and I were not.  Emma can talk him into things that I never would be able to and then there's Braeden.

He feels like the last hope sometimes.

Adam made a request and yesterday Braeden wrote Mark some encouragement in that direction.  I also had enlisted his help with Mark.  Braeden wrote back this:

I keep getting requests for what to write him about.  He is gonna get wise :)  Maybe I will.  I'll try to make it casual.  How do you whistle innocently over email?

So there are politics happening all around.  Whether in the country as a whole or just in our family, everyone is vying for power and influence.  I'm just glad I have these four.  They help me talk each other into stuff.  They buoy me and make me feel understood. 

It's like listening to the radio talk about why Utah Mormons aren't voting for Donald Trump.


Monday, October 17, 2016

My songbird

Stella sent me this video. She recorded it when she was here visiting. Emma is singing a song that she wrote. How did I get a daughter who could write her own music? I don't know. But I'm glad I did.





Friday, October 14, 2016

Sometimes

Being a YW president kind of reminds me of being a mom.  Every day you are succeeding and failing.

At the same time.

Every day you try.  Every day you feel like you could have tried harder.  There's always something more you could have done.

Then, sometimes, the planets align.  Sometimes, it feels like, this is working! In both motherhood and young women's, I don't take much credit for times like that.  Because then I would have to take all the credit for the failures too.

Our laurel activity (the girls 16-18 years old) was to go to the choir concert at the high school.  Six of our girls were performing.  Two of the girls who were not in the concert met me outside the doors of the auditorium 15 minutes before the concert started.

Mistake.

The place was packed.  As in, people were lining the aisles.  The Pleasant Grove choir concerts must give fire marshals nightmares.  

(And don't get me started about the sparsely attended volleyball game happening at the same time in the enormous and brand spanking new gym....)

We need a bigger auditorium, but sports will forever and always outrank performing arts.

Anyway.

My two girls and I darted inside, dodging people and looking for seats.  A girl from our stake who is friends with Heather and Emerie flagged us down.  Their YW group was there for the concert too.  "We have three seats," she said.  "Just for the 6th ward."

I gratefully thanked her and she said, "You're welcome!  I'm Jenna, by the way.  Emma's in my French class.  I really like her."

Hurray for Jenna!

(And how did Jenna know I was Emma's mom?)

I didn't have time to ponder that.  I texted Adam, who would be arriving late, that he was on his own and I couldn't save him a seat and then the concert began.

The reason why there are no seats (and Adam had to eventually enjoy the concert from the hallway), is that the choirs are spectacular!  It's always a thrill to attend their concerts.  I liked being there with Heather and Emerie too.  We nudged each other and pointed out our girls to each other when they took the stage.  (There she is!  Second row, third girl in...stuff like that.)

After the concert we joined the crush of people in the hallway.  There was no way I'd meet up with Adam.  I followed Emerie and Heather and they found Emma.  Rose grabbed my shoulder from behind.  We held onto each other's shoulders in a single line and waded through the crowd.  We saw Bekah and kept heading up the hallway.  Finally we found Larisa and a more open spot.  I stood back and watched the girls chatting.  The choir girls had shining eyes and happy faces as they drank in the attention and support from each other.  I sent an emissary to look for the other girls.  It was just a nice convivial time.  Gradually the laurels parted, drifting away with other friends.  I don't know if it meant as much to them as it did to me.  I loved seeing them connect.

It was a bright spot in my week.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tiny notes (to my family)

Dear Adam,

When I texted you that I didn't know how to use the TV (Netflix wasn't working!  The nerve! How am I supposed to get on the elliptical runner without Netflix?) and you 1) didn't mock me and 2) sent me detailed instructions and 3) tuned the cable to HGTV from work using your phone, I knew I was a lucky girl.

Dear Emma,

Well played.  It was a good idea to send the news that you had broken your phone (FOR THE THIRD TIME!) while you texted that you got cast in the musical!  Your first ever casting in a high school musical!  I'm happy for you.

Dear Emma,

Seriously.  Stop dropping your phone.

Dear Emma,

Your dad's comment was, "Maybe we should give Emma your phone and get you a new one?"

Dear Adam,

Sheesh.  I'm glad you love Emma, but you sort of came unglued when Braeden broke his phone that one and only time.  

Dear Braeden,

Your dad loves you too.  He writes you emails with the same intensity that he used to write papers in graduate school.  As in, you need to wait until he's finished if you want to talk to him.

Dear Mark,

You know you've weaseled your way into our hearts as well.  We would walk through fire for you.  And picking you up from school is the best part of my day.  Also, thanks for never dropping your phone.

Dear Emma,

I love when you come home from school in such a buoyant mood.  I am so happy for you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

When you don't decorate for Halloween...


...sometimes the decorations come to you.

Unbidden.

Monday morning I was gathering laundry in the bedrooms upstairs and noticed a big spider on the deck outside the downstairs windows.

As in a tarantula.

I did what anybody would do and grabbed my phone so I could take a picture.

I am not afraid of spiders.  They really don't bother me.  I am terrified of mice and it turns out that mouse sized spiders freak me out a little too.

I decided to get a ruler to better show the size (and let's be honest to get a better reaction out of Emma when I showed her the pictures).

Emma is afraid of spiders.

I texted her the spider picture:


She texted back that it was nice knowing me.

I tried to convince her to come back home.  She texted:


She's always wanted a cat.  Who needs a cat though?  We have Horace our metal goat and if we need something warm and fuzzy, we have that spider friend now too.

Except I don't know where he is right now.

And I am going to watch where I step when I go outside.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Staring down fears

The fears are a thing.  They mostly relate to my children.  Will they be safe?  Happy?  Productive?  Good?

Safe?

Oh, and safe?

I dream about my fears.  I have very specific and scary dreams.  I hash them out with Adam.  (I know, lucky guy.)

Fears are everywhere.  There are terrorists, mean kids, car accidents, people you used to trust.  All these threaten.

And I mostly keep them at bay.  I mostly just stand tall and forge ahead.  I try.

It's comforting when you are able to conquer a fear.  Conquer it with a vengeance.

I recently learned a new word:


I am happy to report I am not plagued by abibliophobia.  I have found an antidote.  And it is a 24 page single spaced word document.  I add to it all the time, subtract frequently.  It is a list of books I want to read.  It's like a security blanket and I love it.

Recently I was reformatting it and Adam helped me because he is a wizard and can do magic on the computer.

He said, "There are a lot of books on this list."

Yes.  Yes, there are.

One fear, down.  

(Now if I could figure out a way to banish the presidential election....)


Monday, October 10, 2016

I already love Gloucester

A nice lady sent me a picture.  Do people know how much I appreciate these kinds of things?


I love that look on Braeden's face.  He is intently listening.  It's a familiar look for me, the one who taught him 9 years of school.  It's the way he looked in our nightly scripture reading time.  And the way he looked when he and Adam were talking politics and Adam was explaining something that I didn't 100% understand.

But Braeden did.

I miss that kid.  If he were here, I would first give him all the milk and cookies, milk and cereal and then glasses of milk he wanted.  (The boy loves milk.)  Then I would sit him down and listen to him.

I want to hear everything.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reliable

I think reliable is a marvelous word.  Reliability makes the world go round!  Here are some reliable things in my life:

1-Sunshine.  Here it is very rare to have a cloudy day all day. The sun is tenacious and almost always peeks through.

2-Yesterday Emma got herself up and out the door in the predawn hours and headed to her Shakespeare Competition all by herself.  Of course she did.  She's Emma.

3-The night before Emma left they had a Night of Shakespeare showcase.  It was my third year running and high school students doing Shakespeare is painful.  You can stitch that on a pillow.

4-Emma's room looks like a tornado struck (as per usual).  I'm not sure if this happened before or after she left but I'm guessing before.

5-Mark and I were talking about a song for his audition.  He refused all of my suggestions.  Because he is one of my children.

6-When I texted Adam yesterday that it was a soup and bread sort of day he stopped at Kneaders on the way home from work.  For soup and bread.

It's so nice to have things you can count on.







Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mama Bear Brigade

Stella was here for Braeden's weekly email session.  We found out he was moving to Gloucester, VA.  Stella told me about the cold wind that comes off the Chesapeake Bay in Gloucester.  She recommended I get Braeden thermals.

I said, "He doesn't really get that cold."

Stella said, "Get them for him."

Stella is 1) one of the smartest people I know and 2) fiercely loyal to Braeden.  So all I could say was a meek, "OK."

I emailed Braeden that Stella wanted me to get him thermals.  I said, "You have another Mama Bear."

He quickly emailed back:

I am happy about all of my Mama Bears :)  I love them all.  You, Janet, Wade, Sister Justesen, Sister Goings.  I'm happy.
(Ever since Stella got baptized, Braeden started calling her Sister Goings.)

I am thankful for Braeden's Mama Bears as well.  They have all saved the day at various times.  And continue to.

Yesterday morning I had a voice mail on my phone from Virginia.  (It's a sit up and pay attention sort of situation.)

It was from a pharmacy in Virginia Beach.  They were calling to let me know Braeden's prescription was ready.  I'm assuming he used my number since his changes frequently.

The only trouble?  He was moving yesterday.  To Gloucester.

In the midst of my what am I going to do now quandary, I got a text from Rebecca Justesen.  It included this picture:


He is going to miss those sweet Justesen kids!  I shot back a quick text, "Is he still there?"

He wasn't.  I explained my problem and Rebecca said if I couldn't get the prescription transferred, she'd drive it to him.

It's an hour and a half away and I'm sure she had a million things to do, but she's amazing.

I started playing detective online and looked for the ward boundaries in Gloucester.  Then I googled CVS pharmacies in Gloucester.  They did not coincide (and Braeden is not supposed to leave his area).

So then I had to call in more Mama Bears.  I called the mission office.  A kind lady answered the phone and I explained my dilemma.  She complimented me on my ability to correctly pronounce Gloucester.  (I only knew because of Stella.)

She said, "Which Elder Davis?  We have 5."

"Braeden," I said.

"Oh!  He was just here!"

She took my number and said she'd try to figure out how to help.

Soon enough a different kind lady from the mission office called.  She'd called Braeden and his companion while they were driving to Gloucester.   The companion has been living in Gloucester.  This dear lady was on the internet finding CVS pharmacies and quizzed him about which was best.  They landed on a winner.  It was in Yorktown, which is why my google search hadn't worked.

She called me with the information.  I thanked her and was relieved as I ended the call.  Seconds later she called back.

"I forgot to tell you the most important part.  Elder Davis was driving so he was on speaker phone, but he asked me to tell his mom he loves you!"

I love him too.  (You know, in case you hadn't noticed.)

I called the pharmacy in Yorktown.  It's all straightened out.

Braeden:  stressing me out for 19 and a half years.

Thank goodness for the help from Mama Bears.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My overflowing heart

When my heart overflows, it is in the form of tears.  And there have been some tears around here lately.  I have had an amazing experience and I am in no way capable of finding the words to describe it all.

I have to try because I want to remember.  Also, I want to record it for Braeden.

It was incredible to have Stella here.  At the airport Stella hugged me when we met.  Then she set her bags down so she could give me a real and proper hug and said, "And that one is from your son."

And that is when the tears started.

She had had lunch with him that day.


There were many things Stella and I bonded over.  We talked about anything and everything much like women that are soul sisters do.  We share a love though and it's for that kid.  We talked a lot about Braeden.  She knows him in ways that I don't now.  I am pretty expert on the first 18 years of his life but she knows him now.

I loved hearing about what he is like now, as a missionary.  I loved hearing about what he means to her.  What mother doesn't love people who love her children?!?

Stella is the most remarkable person I've ever known.  She has had a very successful and full career and her work in Africa for UNICEF has literally saved millions of lives.  She held positions of high esteem and great importance.  Yet, she sat in my kitchen and made me feel like a wonder because I made pumpkin muffins from a mix.

She is wonderfully generous in both her praise and with everything else.  She bonded with our children and they loved her much like I assume everyone who meets her must love her.

I was filled with gratitude when I heard the ways her life has changed as a result of hearing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  She had endured a series of heartbreaking losses but her pain has been lifted.  It is amazing and wonderful.  It is the same miracle that is available to all.  And it is precisely the sharing of that peace that makes it worthwhile for me to send my boy across the country.  I want him to share that message with as many people as possible.

We had the opportunity to go to the temple with Stella.  We performed proxy baptisms for her parents, grandparents, and her son.


Does my face look tear stained?  Because it was one of those occasions when my feelings poured out my eyes.  Incredible!

We attended two sessions of General Conference together in the conference center.  Stella applied the tenacity that eradicated diseases in Africa to getting tickets to conference.  And she got them!


How I loved being there with her!

Sunday afternoon, on our way home from conference, we stopped by and met the Morris family.  Elder Morris has been Braeden's companion and has been teaching Stella also.


The above picture is from Stella's baptism, three weeks ago.

We "recreated" the picture with the moms:


And then the dads...


And then for good measure we had our favorite missionaries' younger siblings pose for a picture:


What fun!

Monday, Adam and Stella and I went back to Salt Lake City and saw the sights at Temple Square and then drove through the mountains which were showing off their fall colors and also dusted with snow.  It was beautiful!


One great thing about spending time with Stella was the fascinating conversation.  We talked about everything from politics to religion to race relations and her unique perspective was enlightening.  Before dropping her off at the airport, I asked her every medical question I had.  It's not every day you share an order of sweet potato fries with an accomplished doctor.

Before Stella came to see us, Braeden emailed that she was like family to him.  She's like family to all of us now.  I never knew Braeden's mission would result in new friends--friends that are like family.

Stella is part of all of us now and I couldn't be more grateful.

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