Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This is me in grade nine

When you ride your bike all summer and you are a quite grown up freshman who doesn't need his mother thankyouverymuch, you ride your bike to school.

Notice the rectangular phone shape in his pocket?  He used that to text me to come and pick him up after school.  That hill is steep and we all know it.


When you're the mother of the emancipated 9th grader, you follow him outside, under the guise of taking a picture, but mostly to make sure he really wears a helmet.

Sometimes this summer he "forgot."

We're back in the school saddle.  Back to "Do you have homework?"  Back to watching CNN 10 over breakfast.  It's familiar territory although Mark is something of a mystery.  Today he has cross training (which is a class he purposefully chose, didn't get into, convinced me to go to the school and get his schedule changed).  Here I thought PE classes were something to be endured, not sought out.  Last night at dinner, he said he was looking forward to cross training.  Who is this kid?!?

I'll have a chance to figure it out.  In a week, Mark will be the only kid around here.

I'm glad we like him so much.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipsing

Yesterday we went to BYU to get Braeden's ID and pick up some books from the bookstore I had ordered for him.  Can I tell you how marvelous buying college textbooks is now compared to the 90s?  Way cheaper and way easier!

The eclipse was happening about the time we got there.


Mark scored us 5 pair of glasses at a rest stop in Idaho on Sunday.  After talking to a guy he walked away with 5 pair.  Mark for president!


Pretty awesome.

We started with Braeden's ID.  They asked for his Net ID and Braeden looked at me and I looked at him.  The nice girl behind the desk said she could look it up.

Next stop was the bookstore.  We needed to log into Braeden's account to get his books.  He has never logged into his account and I have logged in approximately 30,000 times this summer but that doesn't mean I remembered how.

"Let's call Emma," I said.  I didn't know why she would know his password, but she knows everything.  And sure enough, she knew Braeden's password.    It takes a village. 

Walking through the bookstore Total Eclipse of the Heart was playing over the speakers.

Braeden said, "I'm so ready to come to BYU."

And why wouldn't he be?  It's a great place.  I'm excited for both Emma and Braeden.  Except for that part about them moving there.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Catching up

For the sake of posterity, here's a quick update:

First, this.


We got our boy back!  Getting a missionary at the Salt Lake airport is a cultural experience all its own.  We were one of many families and the moms got to stand in front of the barricade that was keeping the rest of the masses in check.  An airport security guy came up to me and said, "Now Sister, we ask that you not run up the escalator when you see your missionary or block the escalator.  Let him come to you."

I was a very good girl and didn't cause any escalator mishaps.  I did cry though.  You'd think I'd have gotten it out of my system.  Ha.

Here he is with my parents.


Having Braeden back?  It's everything.  

The next morning we hit the road early early for a too short trip to Seattle--actually we didn't go to Seattle.  We skirted it and just went to Everett/Mill Creek. 

The drive was nice.  Four drivers make a difference. 

We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our family.  I didn't take many pictures but lifted some off of Facebook for my own blogging purposes.  (Thanks Megan!)

These two look alike--less so when Emma's been in a car for 15 hours but you get the idea.


Grandma Geri knows how to take care of her boys:  chocolate milk for days. (Well, chocolate milk until the boys drank it all.)


These pictures make me laugh because they didn't coordinate on which picture they were going to smile and which they were going to be serious.

Mark, Braeden, Adam and Brian

It all just felt a little bit like paradise.


 
Megan, Mark, Emma, Braeden, Brian, Raelyn, Scott, Adam and Geri

 Kain dropped by later and Megan documented what happens when little boys become man-sized. 




The next day, most everyone went to the lake and I had a playdate with my friends.  It was wonderful.  I met Stephanie for lunch and then Janet joined us and then Stephanie had to leave and Janet and I spent the rest of the afternoon together.  Our family came over and we had a delicious (of course) dinner and Emma and Freja drew pictures and sang songs and the boys played games and Eric and Janet and Adam and I talked about all the things.  We stayed way too late and it also felt like paradise.

(Is the Pacific Northwest paradise?  Some members of my family would argue yes.)

I did not take good pictures but I did snap a few of lighting the candles for Freja and Hans (it was their birthday).



Saturday, our last day there, we went to Everett and played around a little on some of the pianos.

Braeden playing Praise to the Man, using the sheet music on LDS tools, on a Jimi Hendrix piano.  You know, like you do.
I took a picture of the boys on the lighthouse at Mukilteo.


Braeden called down, "Make sure you're above my chin."

It's what I always tell people when they take my picture.  (So I don't have a million chins in the picture.)

It's nice to have Braeden home.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

From there to here


I'm not kidding when I say I felt like my heart had been ripped out.  It felt like nothing would ever be the same again.

It hasn't been.

Nothing-ever-the-same-again isn't all terrible though.  When he entered the scene on a snowy day in January 1997 he made it so things were never the same again.

Thankfully, happily nothing has been the same since then.

The time span of Braeden's mission has been a time of trial and testing for all of us in different ways--and some shared ways.  We've more or less held our ground and I'd like to think that we are emerging stronger and more committed to each other and to the Lord.

Never the same again.

Sunday a dear woman, one of many who took such good care of Braeden, texted me a whole raft of pictures.  She'd fed them dinner and invited our whole family to visit sometime.

Here are some of my favorites of the pictures she sent.




I never imagined that I would make friends that feel like family as a result of Braeden's mission.  Stella is certainly one of those people.  The Justesens are linked to us too.  They got up early this morning and gave Braeden a send off at the airport.

And then, because Rebecca is awesome like that, she sent me a picture:



I couldn't be more happy that he's coming home.

I couldn't be more grateful that he served a mission.

It may feel like your heart is being ripped out at the MTC, but believe the hype.  Missions are worth it.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Adventure time



We had another glorious weekend adventure.  It's been a good summer of discovering Utah beyond the Wasatch Front.  I like the Wasatch Front, but the rest of Utah is straight up amazing.



Friday we went to Boulder to stay with Tabor and Katie.  This adventure was better than most because Emma was there too.  The planets aligned and she didn't have to work.  Tabor and Katie fed us a delicious dinner and then we stayed up too late talking and slept in their luxurious guest accommodations and maybe we'll just move in.

Family is great.

That is all.

We had an amazing breakfast and stayed around the table chatting until almost lunchtime and then we headed out to Capitol Reef National Park.  Tabor told us about an alternate route to get there which included dirt roads and some intense switchbacks.  My vote was no.  I've been on some rough roads in that little Subaru and I don't love it.

Adam was convinced though and I'm not sorry.  It was an incredible road.





The scenery knocked our socks off (well it would have if I hadn't been wearing the same sandals I've worn on every adventure this summer and they are starting to show the peril).

The switchbacks stressed Emma out.



We tried to talk her down while we drove down down down and she almost lost it when she thought we were going to drive with Mark hanging halfway out the car.  (We weren't going to do that.)


Mark is irreplaceable.

It is monsoon season and there were thunderstorms in the area.  As we drove across a soft and sandy stretch of the road, there were a few areas where the road was washed out.  This is the kind of thing Adam looks for with the Subaru.  As he sped through one washed out section, the car slid sideways in an alarming way.  After we emerged victorious, Mark was impressed.  He said, "Dad, that was some sick drift."

Our original plan had been to hike in a slot canyon but the weather precluded that idea.

We stopped and had a snack/lunch of cheese and crackers purchased at the postage stamp sized store in Boulder.  Here I am, slicing cheese with a pocket knife.  It's about as outdoorsy as I get.



Mark and Emma engaged in feats of strength...


Emma cracked us up with her dramatic attempt to leap the fence.  Our children will do anything for a laugh and I almost always accommodate them.

I loved having Emma there.  We all did.  It's great to go on trips with Mark and then Emma makes it twice as good and then tomorrow (TOMORROW!!) we will have Braeden here and everything will be three times as good.

Emma wrote a poem, inspired by the desert?  I asked her to text it to me.  She told me that if I was going to put it on my blog, I needed to let you know "it's supposed to be read in a kinda almost stoner voice and there has to be a whole bunch of pauses for dramatic emphasis."  I wish I could translate her delivery for you.

Hi my name is Clarence and this is a poem that I wrote about heterocapitalism in America and the systematic oppression that I face every day.

A sea of cactus
In a desert of sand.
Raindrops fall.
Raindrops land.

Rain clouds go away.
Sun burns hot.
Some cactus thrive.
Some do not.

A weary traveler
Hungry and lost.
Been in the sand wastes.
Battered and tossed.

He finds no refuge
In the cactus sea
Because he's too different.
That traveler is me.

Thanks guys.




At some point I maybe did something to deserve these children.  I don't know what it was, but I'm glad I did it.   

Friday, August 11, 2017

Grateful Friday

They have added on a new fancy addition to the Missionary Training Center in Provo.  By the time I tried to get tickets for the tour they were all gone.  I was lamenting this sad tale to Olivia and she invited me to tag along with a stake YW trip they were taking.  They had reserved 40 tickets but wouldn't need them all.

So Adam and Mark and I joined up with them.  Clarissa too.  It just so happened that the timing worked for her to take a break from being an EFY counselor at BYU. (Is Provo the acronym capital of the world?  Are Mormons kings of all the acronyms?)

We were walking along the tour, minding our own business when everyone's favorite MTC resident just happened to be walking along!  3700 missionaries and we stumbled upon our own Desi!

Olivia, Clarissa, Desi, me--we all burst into tears.  Maybe Liberty did too and I just didn't notice?  It seems like our birthright, those tears.

There was much hugging and I-can't-believe-we-ran-into-you.

We took pictures.

The aunts:

Olivia and I simultaneously kissed Desi's cheeks after this picture was taken.  I am wearing heels and was on the uphill slope and I was taller than Olivia.  Ha!
The sisters:

Love. These. Girls.
Olivia and I texted Marianne and she didn't answer.  Had she thrown her phone in anguish because we got to see Desi and she didn't?  Was that why she wasn't answering?  Then Olivia remembered, sheepishly, that Marianne was out of phone service because she had gone to get the scouts from their hike, including Olivia's son Ruben.

Later, Adam said that he'd texted Robert a picture.  Oh yeah.  Good thing Adam was there to consider the dad in the equation....

It was my lucky day seeing all these women I adore.  Wonder of wonders.  Sometimes you just don't know what happiness awaits you.

Desi leaves Monday for Hong Kong.

I'm jealous of Hong Kong. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Every. single. time.

I usually take my reusable shopping bags with me when I go to the store.  At Costco, they ask me, "Do you want to use these bags?"

I say, "No.  I just brought them because they were getting bored  hanging there on their hook in the mudroom.  You know, there's not much to look at in there.  So occasionally, I bring them to Costco, just for a change.  They like to look around, try a sample, marvel that Halloween costumes are already for sale.  It's really sort of an adventure for the bags.  I don't bring them to put my purchases in.  I mean, who does that?"

OK, maybe I don't say that.

I think it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One of my favorites

Since we were in France during General Conference, I sadly didn't get to watch it all in one fell swoop over a weekend.  I missed it.

I've watched/listened to/read the talks since, but I always love the heavy concentration of watching them all at once.  It's like getting an IV of spiritual enlightenment.

Still, I love conference!  One story that I've thought of over and over has also felt relevant to me over and over.  It's from Elder Gary B. Sabin:

My father-in-law taught at BYU and loved BYU football but could not bring himself to watch their games because he was so nervous about the outcome. Then a wonderful thing happened—the VCR was invented, which made it possible for him to record the games. If BYU won, he would watch the recording with perfect confidence, absolutely certain of the ending! If they were penalized unfairly, injured, or behind late in the fourth quarter, he wasn’t stressed because he knew they would pull it out! You might say he had “a perfect brightness of hope”!

So it is with us. As we are faithful, we can have equal certainty that things will work out well for us in the end. The Lord’s promises are sure. This does not mean this mortal university will be easy or without many tears, but as Paul wrote, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat:  We've read the book, and you come out on top.

I'm grateful for living prophets that inspire and lead and remind us of things we know.

"things will work out well for us in the end"

What more could we ask for?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BYU

Saturday I was in line behind a guy at the grocery store.  The checker was super chatty and enthusiastic, slamming groceries into bags with a whole lot of force.

She asked the guy for his Smith's card number.  He said, "Oh, I'm from out of state."

"Where are you from?" she asked.

He said, "Texas...well Las Vegas."  The two of them looked at each other with a little confusion and he tried again.  "I'm originally from Brazil."  Then he gestured to the tall kid across the way waiting for him.  "My wife and I are dropping our son off at BYU," he said.  As if that explained his inability to explain where he was from.

My immediate thought was, "Already?  People are already bringing their kids to BYU?"  I'm not ready for that!  There's a big difference between being happy your kids are accepted to BYU (I was!  Happy day!) to actually having them move out.  And then there's the cost.  Spoiler alert, but sending two kids to/getting them ready for college isn't cheap.

It's all kind of dizzying and disorienting and I can totally understand why my friend from Texas/Las Vegas/Brazil didn't know where he was from.  Solidarity buddy.  I get it.  Kids + college is disconcerting.

*****

Emma asked me the other day if I was excited for her to go to college.  I said, "I'm excited for you, but not for me."

She said, "There must be something that will be better about it.  Less work for you?"

"No," I said. "You don't cause that much work.  There's no upside for me."

"Do you want me to live with you forever?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"Then there's an upside."

Who am I to argue with Emma?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Books I read in July 2017



The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery ****

Someone at book club mentioned this book and I was pleasantly surprised that there was a book by her that I hadn't read.  This was a good book.  It's about a woman who has spent a lifetime cowed by her awful family and then she is told she only has a few months left to live to she shocks her family and does what she wants.



Left Neglected  by Lisa Genova***

This is by the same author of Still Alice.  Like it, there's a lot of neuroscience in the book.  A woman has an accident that leaves her with a brain injury where she can't see the left side of anything.  It was interesting.  I also loved the story.  It made me think and made me grateful for my life and the fact that I don't have a high falutin' career.



The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor ***

I had a little bit of a hard time getting into it.  Since I knew some of the characters wouldn't survive the Titanic, I didn't know which characters I should care about and which I should keep my distance from since they weren't going to make it.  I ended up thinking it was interesting read though.




The Things We Knew by Catherine West ***

This was for book club.  I liked the book fine...it's an easy read about a family that is sort of in disrepair and they have a house in Nantucket.  What's not to like?  When I got to book club, everyone spent the first 15 minutes talking about how dumb and lacking in substance the book was.  Hmm.  What does that say about me?

Don't answer that.



Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey*

This one is a Newbery winner so I started it.  Didn't finish it.  The book is short, but so is life.  What isn't short is the list of books that I want to read.  So this one didn't make the cut.  It won the Newbery in 1947 and makes you wonder what the competition was.  Was there competition?  Maybe this was the only book published that year.  It's about a cranky doll whose head is made out of a hickory nut.  I browsed ahead and looked at the pictures and it seems a squirrel eats her head later.  Weird.

Emma was sort of shocked when I told her I wasn't finishing it.  "I thought you were going to read every Newbery?!?" 

Emma clearly has more stick-to-itiveness than I do.




Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark **

This was another Newbery.  It was OK but I didn't love it.  It was about a boy living in the Andes and on sort of a quest to discover his Incan roots.  It was all very mystical and left me wondering what exactly were his roots and what was the secret. 



First Comes Love by Emily Giffen ***

The language was a little dicey.  I need to remember that because I always forget and then recommend a book to someone else....

Also, the ending wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked. I do mostly enjoy Emily Giffen books though.  The characters are interesting and multi-dimensional.  The book was about two sisters who didn't have a great relationship and there was the underlying tragedy of their brother who died young and how that changed everyone. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

22 years

Today's our anniversary.  We've been Mr. and Mrs. for 22 years and it was a smart move on my part.



Adam's a good man and a good husband and a good father.

Even after 22 years there are things I don't understand about him though.  He likes to referee.  Why would anyone like to referee?  People yell at you.  You do get a whistle; there's that.  But people yell at you.

We like a lot of the same podcasts but he likes weird podcasts too.  His repertoire includes but is not limited to First Mondays which is a podcast about the Supreme Court and Brock and Salk which is Seattle sports radio.  I don't understand it.  Literally, I have no idea what they're talking about.

I also don't understand Adam's willingness--no eagerness--to inconvenience himself to help other people.  I would like to fancy myself as a person that is happy to help other people but I realize I'm a self-centered brat when compared to Adam.

Tonight he's going to help Robert with the Ruby Mountain Relay.  Adam will stay up all night and sit on a dark country road and manage runners so Robert can get a little sleep.  He does it because Robert is his friend/brother-in-law and he wants to help.

He's not normal.

But he's mine.

And I love him.



Thursday, August 3, 2017

My morning routine

Every morning I go down to the basement to get on the elliptical runner.  I dig through the blankets to find the remote.  I consider that we have the worst AC in the world.  Our top floor is hot and you need blankets in the basement.

I find the remote and switch on HGTV.

Lately I've discovered Gilmore Girls is playing on the adjacent channel to HGTV.  I switch channels when there's a commercial and it's multi tasking at its finest.

(And look at me, knowing how to find two channels.)

After I'm done exercising, I gather up the dishes our lovely children left the day before.  Yesterday a bowl was literally stuck to the coffee table with some sort of sticky substance.

I walk up the stairs, rethinking my whole life and feeling like I failed in mothering but it's probably too late but they'll move out soon and they can stick their own grubby bowls to their own sticky tables and it won't be my problem any more.

It's a heart warming morning routine.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I am almost jealous...but not quite

Braeden and Branson--Branson is recovered from surgery and back in Virginia

A new crop of missionaries went to the Virginia Chesapeake Mission.  Facebook has been littered with pictures of their district, pictures from the MTC, pictures from the airport, reports of who is going to be companions with who, mothers connecting, reports of phone calls from the mission office letting mothers know their missionaries arrived.  There's talk of a site where there are regular updates and newsletters from the mission.  A group of mothers of missionaries in that mission are setting up a regular lunch group in the SLC area.

When Braeden went on his mission, there was no Virginia Chesapeake Mission Parents group.  I got this one really blurry picture from the airport that some kind soul sent me.



I had no idea if/when he made it to Virginia.  I didn't know who his companions were until I heard from him a week later.  There was no connecting with other mothers.  There was no newsletter.

I would have loved any one of those things. (I love more that I'm counting down days until my missionary is home.)

Rebecca texted me this picture last night:


I love everything about this picture.  I love how over the moon happy Braeden looks (and I know he was over the moon happy because he loves the Justesens).  I love that they drove to Gloucester to say good-bye to him.  I love that there are so many good people in the world.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A drive to Green River

Last night Emma was working and Mark was at scout camp and it seemed like the perfect time to go to dinner to celebrate our anniversary that is later this week.  We had a reservation at a posh restaurant at Sundance and I was looking forward to it.

Then, Mark called.  He had gashed his leg on an unseen underwater pipe when he was jumping into some water.  We needed to go get him.

I cancelled the reservation and I called Adam.  He said, "OK, I'll pack up my stuff right now and come home."

It was doing what we do.  Side by side.  For 22 years it's been us together, figuring out what needs to be done, trying our best to take care of business.  We listened to podcasts and talked and held hands while we drove.  It seemed like a good way to celebrate our anniversary after all.

Mark doesn't need stitches and his tetanus shot is up to date.  He's hoping that a day of resting at home instead of hiking in Arches National Park with the rest of the scouts will cure him sufficiently that he can go back tomorrow for river rafting (Adam was planning to go anyway so he can take him back).  He will recover, his swimsuit not so much.

I'm grateful for the good scout leaders who are away from their jobs and families for the week, taking care of my boy.  They were concerned about him and patched him up and are the kind of men I would love for Mark to emulate.

Sometimes a gashed leg shows you how good you have it. 


Monday, July 31, 2017

Emma and Mark

During lunch

Emma (shaking head):  You're just like your dad.

Mark:  So now he's my dad?

When Adam bought Echo Dots for Emma and Braeden and not Mark

Mark:  Well, I got something they didn't get.  Good looks.

(Then Mark talked to Alexa and preempted Emma's request.)

Emma: (with dramatic anguish) Can't you let me have this one thing?



By the way, Alexa's best joke so far:  How do you wake up Lady Gaga?  Poker face.



These two enjoy each other.  They are sufficiently weird to crack each other up.

In two weeks from tomorrow (but who's counting am I right?) the third weird one will be here to add his razzmatazz.

I like my life.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Grateful Friday

Since Emma started her two jobs, she's not been working on Snapfish books for me anymore.  (Which is a tiny bit tragic because I felt like I was getting a good deal there.)

Anyway, I'm back to being the responsible one for the Snapfish books and I decided I'd better get cracking.

I looked at the pictures Emma had sorted into albums for 2015.  It's fun looking back at the past and remembering what a good life you've got.

2015 was the year the kids swam in Walden Pond:



It was the year we crammed three (fairly) good-natured kids in the backseat of a car and drove them all over New England:


2015 was the year this kid finished public school...


...and this kid started public school.


2015 was the year I left a big piece of my heart on the sidewalk outside the MTC.


(I mostly recovered...I'll be all better in 18 days.)

2015 was the year we discovered The Great British Baking Show--here's my Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry now:


It was a good year.  That's what happens when you hang out with the right sort of people.

I'm pretty grateful for my present too.  I picked two ripe tomatoes out of my tiny garden yesterday and popped them in my mouth on the way in the house.  Are store bought tomatoes and garden tomatoes even related?

Also, we had book club last night and it's a high point of each month.  We laugh a lot.  And last night we, the handful of old ones, taught the young'uns about the glory of Gunne Sax dresses. 

I'm looking forward joyfully to my future.  Did I mention 18 days?  Then I'm looking forward to our trip to Seattle, our trip to Washington, D.C. to be with Stella, holidays with all three of my darlings (four if you count Adam and I do).

I'm feeling grateful today.

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