Friday, December 15, 2017

Grateful Friday

We've never been shy about celebrating made up holidays (here's looking at you pikkujoulu).  Today is a holiday for us.  It's our 50/50 day!  Today, Adam and I have been married exactly half of our lives.  We are able to have this day in common because we share the same birthday.  It's like a super anniversary (even though it isn't our anniversary at all).

We're going on a little getaway (which seems perfectly timed because Adam has been busy and I haven't seen enough of that guy lately).  We're leaving Braeden and Mark at the helm.  I fully expect an emptier fridge/freezer/pantry when we return.

Where does one go for a 50/50 day?  I'm glad you asked.  We are going to Arches National Park.  In December.  Why not?  The weather will not be sunny and warm but like Dean Martin's song, "what do I care how much it may storm, I've got my love to keep me warm."

I'm grateful for half a lifetime spent with Adam.  He's everything good in a husband and father.  We are all lucky to have him.

half a lifetime ago

Thursday, December 14, 2017


The inversion is terrible.  I think the elementary kids are staying in for recess because of the air quality.  Also we have no snow to speak of, the deer are everywhere and if the cougar is still around (there was another sighting last week in our neighborhood) it should at least not be going hungry.

Gearing up for the return of all my chicks back in the nest, I changed sheets and pondered the differences of our children.  I put the nice quilt on Emma's bed because she's the only one that can be trusted.  She sleeps like a normal person.

Mark and Braeden both shun top sheets (which seems barbaric to me).  I picked which pillows Braeden has been using when he comes home to sleep (he grabs them from another bed) and put new pillowcases on them.  Why fight his preferences?  I heaved the six (not kidding) heavy blankets off Mark's bed to change his sheets.  I put three back on.  He's the only one besides me that sleeps cold around here.  He's very picky about how exactly the covers are arranged and I almost always do it upside down.  That's why I stopped at three blankets.  He'll redo it all anyway.  And then it will be a weird nest of blankets that only makes sense to him.

There's something soothing to me about slipping fresh sheets on their beds.  I mostly don't see them as often as I'd like and a small thing like clean sheets is something I can do for them.


Since it's nearing the end of the year, I'm coming across Best Books of 2017 lists. I'm carefully adding everything that looks interesting to my ongoing list of books I want to read.  I have a document that is 15 pages long.  10 point font.  It is at once ridiculous and thrilling to have that many books that at one time or another seemed enticing enough to me that I put them on my list.


Laundry has its seasons too.  We lived many summers where I was washing towels and swimsuits daily.  I think I breathed as much as chlorine as our kids did, even though I didn't get in the pool.  Now it's referee season.  Adam is a high school referee in his not very free time and it's striped shirts and black pants in my laundry basket.  I don't mind a bit.  I (perhaps weirdly) enjoy doing laundry.  Folding neat fragrant piles for people I love makes me happy.


Yesterday my visiting teachers came.  One of them asked, "So are you ready for Christmas?"  I said yes.  She was taken aback, "Really?  I was not expecting that answer!  I didn't think anyone was ready for Christmas."

An awkward pause followed, like she didn't know what to say to me after that.

I didn't say it but I think my sisters are ready for Christmas too....

I realized that it was one of those times when you are supposed to say the answer people expect.  Like when someone asks you how you are, you are supposed to say fine.  They don't really want to hear how you are.

And people don't want to know that you're ready for Christmas.  It's not polite apparently.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My mom and dad

Yesterday morning I was talking to someone about difficult family situations.  I found myself over and over saying things like, "My mom taught me..." or "My dad told me one time...."

It would seem like I have wise parents.

And I do.

We had dinner with them last night and then we went to Mark's voice recital.  It was sort of long and with of talent.  Braeden came too (Emma was at work) and later when I was driving him home (their car was at work with Emma) Braeden said, "That was the ultimate in grandparent love, coming to that recital."

I'm grateful for the grandparents our kids have.  Without exception they are loving and supportive.  It's nice to have moorings like that in the world.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Two more adventures with electricity than I wanted


Our outdoor Christmas lights stopped working.  I fiddled with the fuses like I knew what I was doing and I had Braeden unplug and replug the lights but then I was pretty much out of ideas.  I called the company that hangs our lights and a guy came to look at it.

He cut the cord and installed a new plug.  He asked me to flip the switch.

A horrible and scary sound ensued, kind of like a train was running through the house. There was popping and black smoke coming from the outlet.  "Turn it off!  Turn it off!" the guy yelled.  I did then we looked at each other with wide eyes.

He said, "That shouldn't have happened."

I couldn't agree more.

He told me his plan of how he'd fix it.  I said, "Christmas lights are not a necessity.  If this isn't safe, we don't need them."

He assured me he could fix it and he did.  The lights work.  I may even get brave enough to actually turn them on.


As promised, Mark and I went to the DMV after school.  We waited in line and got the book.

We went back to the van and it wouldn't start.  Nothing.  Mark popped the hood, and after talking on the phone with Adam, was going to check if the battery connector was OK.  A guy nearby asked if Mark needed any help.  "I think so," he said.

As luck would have it, the guy was a mechanic.  Our battery was indeed disconnected.  This has happened before and I completely blame the really terrible roads in our fair city.  We didn't have any tools in the van and he didn't have any tools.  He was with his girlfriend.  She had a socket set in her car but the one socket that would fit was missing.

He was chatting with us while he tried to make the wrong sized socket work.  "So are you here for a driver's license renewal?" he asked Mark.  I explained that Mark had just turned 15 and we were there to pick up a book.  The guy looked at Mark and said, "Wow, really?  I thought you were a lot older than that."

"Just 15," I said, "He's tall."

The guy was super short.  He smiled up at Mark and said, "Yeah, I get that all the time too."

I love it when you meet real life heroes who just stop what they're doing to help you.

He couldn't get the connector tightened but he set it on and said we might be able to make it home.  And we did!  It was a little nerve wracking but Mark read the driver's manual to me while we drove.  (Which is not as interesting as it sounds.)

Mark had watched everything our mechanic friend had done.  When we got home he said, "I can fix the van.  I have the tools I need."

Of course he does.  In a few minutes, Mark had it running fine.

I like people who can do things!  And I'm going to start keeping the right tools in the van.  Mark will just need to tell me which I need.

Monday, December 11, 2017


Is this real life?  My baby?!?

Mark at fifteen:

1) Some nights he won't go to bed until we've snuggled.

2)We are going to the DMV today to get him a book to study for a driver's permit.  He's ready.

3) He is stubborn and has strong opinions.

4) He is funny.  He told me the other day that just because American doesn't mean Ameri-should.  He is all the funnier when he is with Braeden.  Their latest idea:  a new version of the LDS Tools app.  It's for all the people in your ward that annoy you.  Mark said, "For example, the guy who can dunk the ball but won't show up for church basketball.  You think, what a tool, and you put his name in LDS Tools."

5) He's also all the weirder when he is with Braeden. (They've started calling each other "youngblood" for some reason only they understand.)

6)  I made Mark French toast for his birthday breakfast.  He ate nine pieces.  They were small, but still.  He eats an astonishing amount of food.

7) Every time we pull into the garage, he asks if there's anything to carry in from the van.

8) He loves music--a great variety of genres, including but not limited to 80s rock ballads.

9) We went out to dinner Saturday night to celebrate his birthday.  He wanted to go to a buffet.  I tried to talk him out of it, because blek, but he told me about the categories of restaurants. Fast food restaurants are for just getting food fast, fast casual is for going with your family, sit down restaurants are for formal occasions (not sure what that means exactly) and buffets are festive.  He said, "A birthday is festive, so I want a buffet.  And also a lot of food."  (I had been blissfully unaware of all these rules.)

10) He's the kind of kid who smiles when you ask him why he's limping and tells you about playing tackle capture the flag with his friends.  He happily told me his friend "laid him out," but Mark still scored the winning point.  Then he proudly showed me the big scrape on his arm.

11) Nearly all of his friends have been hit by cars.  Seriously.  (Mark has been too.)

12) He likes to tell me he's "not as smart as Braeden and Emma," but he can transform his D in Spanish into an A- in less than a week if that D means he can't hang out with his friends.  (Also, I homeschooled him so he's not fooling me.  He's smart.  He just needs to, you know, turn in his assignments.)

13) He is good at building things and fixing things.

14) He loves cars.  He loves reading about cars, looking at cars, telling me about cars and I know he'll love driving cars too.  Pray for us.

15) He has spent most of his life firmly believing he is my favorite child.  (He probably still thinks that.)  He isn't my favorite, but he's the best Christmas present I ever got.

If Mark had a uniform it would be a white t-shirt.  I'm pretty sure 90% of the pictures I have of him, he's wearing a white t-shirt.  Here he is opening his gift from Grandma Geri.  

Mark wanted his cake decorated with Lego candies.  I gave him the candy and told him to decorate it.  His brother and especially his sister had a lot of comments/criticism.

He didn't appreciate their opinions.

I love this kid!

Friday, December 8, 2017


I finally decided enough was enough and I was pulling Mark out of his English class where he isn't learning anything.

I mulled over options and called the school to get an appointment with the counselor to discuss.  He called me back but wouldn't let me have an appointment.  I even said, "So you won't make an appointment with me?"

He said with all sorts of false friendliness, "I really don't think we need to."

I said fine, he could send home the class schedule for me to pick another class.

But I didn't really want to pick another class.  I wanted to talk to the counselor about options.  And what I really wanted was for Mark to not have a class that period so he could be home and we could work together on his online English course.

Mark was skeptical.  "I don't know if they'll let you do that."

I am my mother's daughter.  I said, "Oh, they will."  Pretty much the only time I'm 100% confident is when I'm going into battle for one of my children.  Because I will die on that hill.  (Whatever hill it is.)

I went to the school yesterday with a book in my purse.  I was prepared for a stakeout in the counselor's office until he would meet with me.  I tried to think of Adam (who insists that to get results I will get further if I'm not too concerned about being right) and my dad (who taught me you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar) but in the end I was a little vinegar-y after all.

I sat in the counselor office waiting room for 45 minutes waiting for my chance.  There were a fleet of students in line ahead of me with green slips because they needed to change classes for next semester.  I was very grateful I'd brought my book.

At one point an English teacher (happily not one Mark has ever had) marched in and scolded one of the boys waiting to see the counselor.  "You've missed all this class time!" she shrieked.

"I'm waiting to see the counselor," he said meekly.

The teacher spoke to him with astonishing disdain and disgust.  She said, "Get back to class, now!  You've wasted all this time."  She stormed away.

He sunk lower in his chair, but to his credit, he stayed where he was.  He was, after all, next in line.  I wanted to put my arm around the morose boy with greasy hair and bring him home and feed him cookies.  After he met with the counselor the receptionist in the counselor office quietly apologized to the boy and told him he had done nothing wrong.

I felt ashamed of both the receptionist and myself that we'd let someone bully a child and we'd done nothing to defend him.  I was thinking with regret that I always seem to miss these chances.  Then I was startled to realize that the last time I felt regret about not speaking up, it had involved the same English teacher.  She and I had been selling tickets for The Importance of Being Earnest and she'd said something very racist and I'd been stunned into silence, only wishing later I'd said something.

What is it about that woman?  Maybe I should look up her email address and send her all the belated things I want to tell her.

I finally got my day in the sun and was able to see the counselor.  He looked around the waiting area with a big smile, like he was proud of his popularity.  "Everyone wants to see me today," he said.  "Yesterday no one did."

So that's when I got a little salty.  I told him that I was the one who had called him yesterday.  I said, "Since you refused to make an appointment with me, I decided to come and just wait until you'd see me."  Then he was suddenly Mr. Helpful.  He tripped over himself trying to be accommodating.

To my credit, I didn't roll my eyes.  I told him what I wanted.   I asked him about online courses.  I told him I was considering using BYU independent study and he said that was a great option.  He said it was a very simple process to get Mark out of a class period and I just needed to talk to the registrar.

The registrar sent me to the district office (which is in American Fork so not quite the promised simple process).

The people at district office cautioned me to use an accredited English course.  I said, "I'm considering using BYU independent study."  They told me that was not on the district's approved list.

It was 20 degrees outside and the counselor who told me BYU was "a good option" had been wearing sandals.  I should have known not to trust him.

All's well that ends well and I came home with my notarized paper giving Mark permission to stay home for A1 next semester (they have an AB schedule and I'm going to have to start paying attention which day it is!).

Our kids have had some really stellar teachers.  They've had teachers that inspire and motivate them and encourage and love them.

I wish we could box all the rotten teachers up and send them away somewhere.  Somewhere with no cookies.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Online Shopping Wizardry

Or voodoo.

I don't know.  Strange things are afoot.

A few days ago a package arrived on my doorstep from Lowe's.

It had my name on it but I didn't open it because I hadn't ordered anything from Lowe's.  I waited until I could ask Adam if he had ordered it, in case he ordered something for me from Lowe's that arrived in a medium sized box?  Maybe?

Adam hadn't ordered anything from Lowe's either so I opened the packing slip.  It was addressed (and obviously delivered) to me but someone name Ki Fani had placed the order and used a MasterCard to pay.

I have a MasterCard debit card but I never use it.

I called Lowe's customer service.  In case you were ever thinking of making a quick call to Lowe's customer service let me save you the trouble.  Don't.  After going through a dizzying maze of options, none of which resulted in talking to a person, I finally pushed 2 and listened to their really horrible hold music while I waited to possibly talk to a person.

(Why is all hold music in America terrible?  It's like the terrorists are winning on that one.)

While I was on hold, I tidied up the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher and then got online to check my other packages that were on their way.  (They were experiencing longer than normal wait times, like they do.)

According to Amazon, I had had a package delivered on my front porch.  My immediate thought was that maybe my package had been stolen because a few people in my neighborhood have had packages stolen recently.  Then I decided to rip the box from Lowe's open and just see if it was what I had ordered from Amazon by chance.

And it was.

I have zero explanation for any of this and I'm really hoping that Ki Fani got what they ordered, which probably arrived in an Amazon box with a packing slip of what I'd ordered.

Who knows.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sometimes you just need your grandma

Grandmas were a wonderful invention.  I was blessed with grandmothers that inspired me and loved me and helped me to be better.  I love them both.

I'm blessed with dear grandmothers for my children.  (And really, when someone loves your children, that's pretty much the best thing that can happen to you.)

Both our kids' grandmas are fun to be around, generous with their gifts and praise, and good women worthy of emulation.

We loved having Geri here.  It made our kids so happy to see her and spend time with her.  Some of them are better at showing it than others, but I can tell.  Those kids love her.

Grandmas are always on your side and I can't wait to be one someday.  (Well I can wait, I'm not in any rush, but I will welcome the adventure when it comes!)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Last night we went to the Hale Theater to watch A Christmas Carol.  Often when we go to the theater, Emma is working but last night she didn't have to work and we got a ticket for her too.

As the intermission was drawing to a close, Emma noticed something was amiss that the ushers should have taken care of.  There was a barrier across one of the stage entrances that had been placed there for the intermission but that needed to be taken down.

As the lights dimmed, Emma went to the booth to let them know of the problem.

When she came back she whispered to me, "I just saved Christmas."

And Christmas is worth saving.

Sunday a little kid was bearing his testimony in church and he said that Christmas is a time to give, not a time to receive.

Braeden whispered to me, "That's not true."

And it isn't.

I was struck once again (I cried and had make-up smudged raccoon eyes to show for it) by Christmas during the show.  There's something about live theater and the way they portray A Christmas Carol at the Hale Theater.  It gets me.

In the last scene of the show, Ebenezer Scrooge sings this:

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Because of Christ's birth, because of what He freely gave us, we are saved when we have gone astray.  We are lifted when we sorrow.  We have Light in the darkness.  Comfort and joy indeed.

I'm grateful for what we receive on Christmas.  It is about receiving, receiving the glorious gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

(I also like giving gifts.  Especially wrapped in red.)

Monday, December 4, 2017

A jolly holiday

Braeden gave Hobee (Braeden's favorite bear) a ride on Horace

Well, we've been having fun.

Geri came on Friday evening (and so did Braeden).  We introduced her to Quiplash (and she soundly beat us) and we spent the evening visiting and enjoying.

Saturday people sort of came and went but we had lots of together time too.

Except we missed Emma.  (She had a performance Friday night and Saturday afternoon and homework and the like.)

Saturday night, we went to her concert.

How I loved it!  As part of the concert, they showed this video.  You can see Emma really briefly several times.

I can't get over how blessed we are 1) to be able to go to lots of BYU stuff because those kids are amazing or 2) that our kids get to go to that great place.

Each choir was spectacular and then the philharmonic orchestra played the Nutcracker suite and Sleigh Ride.

No one can be uncheered by that sort of business.  The entire evening was uplifting and we cried except Mark (who possibly has ice water in his veins or perhaps is too young for the curse of crying).

We happily greeted our songbird after and Adam and I took pictures at the same time so no one is looking at the same camera.

Emma had a gala event for choir after so had to rush off to get ready for that.

After every other concert, we've taken Emma out for celebratory ice cream after.  When we were driving home, Braeden said, "You know...I don't need Emma here to eat ice cream."

Adam stopped at McDonald's.  Because if you give a son ice cream, they're going to want a burger to go with it.  That's science.

Mark introduced Braeden to the "McChuckle."  It's Mark's own invention where you stick a McChicken inside a McDouble.

Mark is giving Braeden a bite but keeping his hand on the creation so Braeden doesn't get any ideas.

I stick with the Hot Fudge Sundae.  That and Diet Coke are the only palatable things McDonald's has to offer.

Sunday we celebrated Pikkujoulu.  Last year whenever I heard Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, when I heard, "next year all our troubles will be out of sight," I thought about this Christmas.

Nestled next to Braeden on the couch (both sons = world champion snugglers), I realized that my last year's Christmas wish had come true.  Life is never perfect but it is better and I love having my boy back.

We ate all the normal spread (clam chowder in sour dough bread bowls) and the treats.  The kids opened their ornaments (from us and from Geri) and Adam read A Wish For Wings that Work.  Mark read parts of the Christmas story from the scriptures in Spanish, Braeden played music for us and testified of truth.  Emma read Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve.

Two exciting things happened amidst our celebration:  the first snow and the Christmas bear arrived.

Braeden built a mini snowman in the skiff of snow:

The Christmas bear is a girl and guess who was thrilled by that:

We named her NoĆ«lle.  

I love my people.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Grateful Friday

Wow.  This week has been a busy one.  Starting with Thanksgiving, I feel like I've been running on a treadmill that keeps speeding up.

Marianne and I were talking about stress yesterday.  She and I are the same.  We are do-ers (you can't be Coralee Dahl's daughter and not be a do-er).  We get stuff done.  But we have a threshold and when we have more to do than we feel like we can comfortably do, we get stressed.  Marianne told me (based on an article she read) that stress is bad for your health for people like us but some people thrive under stress and it isn't bad for their health.  So we need to be like those people.

Embrace the stress.

I don't know if I can teach this old dog that trick.

Here's something though.  One of the things taking a whole lot of my time this week was the Relief Society Christmas party.  I'm on the RS board.  (Apparently around here if there's a committee, put Thelma on it.)  This week I spent hours with the other women on the board.  We made ornaments together and planned and set up and cleaned up and carried stuff across the street from Susan's house (Susan has all the party stuff you ever need in your life) to Michelle's house (Michelle decorated her house in a stunning magnificent way to host the party).

Initially I felt a little (or a lot) begrudging about all the time spent when I had a busy week anyway.  Last night when I drove home late and with sore feet (because I wore the cute shoes that aren't super comfortable) the only thing I felt was grateful though.

I like those other women on the committee.  I enjoyed laughing with them and working together.  I loved the very real conversation we had about raising children.  Sometimes these things just happen when you're sitting around a table, painting and mod-podging.  I need time and shared experiences to make friends.  I'm grateful for opportunities to get to know good women, even when I thought I was too busy.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Books I read November 2017

Not many books.  It's been a busy month.

Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman ***

The is book was about Jewish people of French descent living in the Caribbean.  One of the characters was Camille Pissarro, the impressionist.  It was a good book with great characters and setting.  Also it made me want to go look up paintings by Pissarro.

The Secret Life of Fat by Sylvia Tara **

We read this for bookclub.  (The single reason I would ever read this book, especially at holiday time.)  It was a bit interesting at times but mostly I skimmed it (at the car dealership while I was getting my oil changed).

The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz ***

This book was a modern retelling of Persuasion by Jane Austen.  It's one of my favorites and this was a good retelling.  It's set in Boston among elites who inherited their money.  Her family was sufficiently insufferable, she was practical and the only voice and reason and her long lost love was the hero you expect in a Jane Austen retelling.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

When Olivia saved the day

Last night Olivia and family (except Liliana--busy teenagers....) stopped by.  I had been sitting at the table folding Christmas trees and Olivia said, "Let me help you.  Teach me how to do them too."

That is Olivia's personality in a nutshell.

I said, "OK, I'll show you but first you have to tell me what I can do instead of make 90 of these trees."

I explained the whole dilemma to her of no budget for decorations.  She suggested I have people sign up to bring a table decoration.

That had been my first thought but when I considered how many tables, it didn't see doable.  Now, with 32 trees under my belt, she pointed out we could do some tables with trees and some with table decorations people bring.

I think I heard a choir of angels singing.

Marianne had already told me not to do the trees but I think I needed to have already wasted spent a lot of time on them before I would listen to reason.

Sometimes you just need your sisters.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I know, I may be crazy

For the decorations for the ward Christmas party that I got somehow roped into (they asked Adam--he said yes on my behalf), we are doing the decorations.  For the tables, I wanted something really cheap because we don't exactly have a decorating budget.  I saw these darling little origami trees that seemed to fit the bill.  As a bonus, they aren't tall so no one will have to dodge around them to see the person sitting across the table from them.

Three down.

87 to go.

If you're shaking your head right now and wondering what on earth I was thinking, I'm right there with you.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Decorating for days



Of all the things I'm not, a minimalist at Christmas decorating time maybe tops the list.

Friday I went on a cleaning spree.  I took down and boxed up everything autumnal and put everything neutral (all the plants, etc.) on the kitchen table.  Then I cleaned every flat surface, even the high shelf that needs a ladder to reach.

In the afternoon we went to my grandma's to decorate her house for Christmas.  I love doing it.  For one thing, she's super appreciative and makes me feel like a hero (who doesn't like to feel like a hero?).  For another thing, my grandma and me?  Our souls are the same.  I get how she likes things.  Emma and I were decorating her tree and were about to put on the red beads as a garland.  There were two sizes of beads and almost simultaneously, my grandma and I said to put the big beads on the bottom and the small beads on the top.

My favorite ornaments of my grandma's are the vintage glass ones in battered boxes.  They're beautiful and the price tag is still on each box.  I think at $.67, she has her money's worth.

We came home to do a little more decorating around here.  The good news is that our kids are big and strong and tall and can haul boxes up and down stairs at either our house or my grandma's like champs all day long.  The bad news is, they're also busy.  Emma had work and Braeden had a big paper he was working on but they wanted to be involved so we worked around them.

Saturday it was more decorating and sorting and deciding where to put plants.  The last time I wanted to buy a plant, Adam stopped me.  He was wise.

In the afternoon we went to the BYU women's basketball game.  Paisley is fun to watch.  Dillon (who Braeden hadn't seen since before Dillon's mission, so at least 5 years ago) was there and I asked him how he got such a tough little sister.  During one of the breaks between quarters Gavin shot free throws (against Dillon) and Mark rebounded for him.

Mark and Gavin make me happy.

On a sidenote, can we just all decide that cheerleaders should wear shorts?  It seems way more practical.

BYU didn't end up winning but my grandma knew that we were going to watch so she called me while we were driving home and we discussed the game.  She said she'd looked for me on TV and she thought they could have at least showed her granddaughter.

Sunday we finished up with the tree.  Three of Emma's friends came to join us for dinner and fudge making and tree decorating.

I'm a little bossy about tree decorating.  I told Adam that I hoped I wasn't a pain when we had guests helping us.  Adam said, "Well don't be."

OK then.

I held my tongue and then rearranged a lot of ornaments after everyone was gone.

Peter, Emma, Vanessa and Omar
Peter is straight up amazing on the piano.  He played Christmas songs (with lots of extra chords and embellishments) and we sang.

This is what is on the piano.

That's Adam on Santa's lap when he was a baby.  No wonder we had such cute babies.

I bought this in Dinan, France. (Well, Emma did all the talking with the shopkeeper and I just handed over my credit card at what seemed like the appropriate time.)

Here's the living room tree, with Lars and the biggest pukki standing guard:

We got this little friend at a Finnish store at Pike Place Market in Seattle last year.

Scandinavian Christmas speaks to my soul.

Friday, November 24, 2017

A happy Thanksgiving

So far so good on the cougar front.  We did see enormous tracks in the mud when we took a Thanksgiving afternoon walk though.

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Busy.  Exhausting.  Fun. I didn't take enough pictures. (It wasn't in the Thanksgiving Binder to take pictures apparently.)

I did take this shot of our table the night before:

The table is my favorite part of hosting a dinner.  Followed by dessert.

It was fun to have a house full of college kids.  Mark was the only one who has never gone to BYU.  The food all turned out pretty well.  Towards the end of the preparation, when it was all sort of coming together, I was a little surprised that it had actually worked.

There's magic in a binder with page protectors.  (I'm not saying it was the page protectors that made it happen, but I'm not saying I could have done it without them.)

We went to Coco last night.  Wow.  I cried.  And also I think there should be a link to Family Search at the end of that movie.

I love Thanksgiving.  There are many things to be grateful for in my life, but mostly I'm grateful for my people.  I'm grateful for my grandma, the grande dame of Thanksgiving.  She always created magic and on a scale that I can only aspire to.  I'm grateful for my mother and mother-in-law.  I thought about them yesterday and all the work they have done to create wonderful Thanksgiving meals I've been able to enjoy.

I'm grateful for Adam.  He not only washed a million dishes (ballpark figure) over the last few days, but he can make everything fit in the fridge.  He might be a wizard.  I'm grateful for Braeden.  He brings a party wherever he goes.  He's always up for anything and his sunny disposition and booming laugh make everything better.  I'm grateful for Emma.  It's so nice to have a girl.  When I mentioned nude nail polish the other day she was the only one who knew what I meant.  Everyone else sort of sputtered "what?!?" and Emma and I looked at each other with solidarity.  Also she is a great consultant on everything (table linens for example) and helpful in the kitchen.  I'm grateful for Mark.  He gamely goes along with whatever is happening.  When our guests arrived yesterday, in the first awkward minutes when you try to get a disparate group together, I told Mark to go find someone to talk to who was by themselves.  And that's exactly what he did.

And now for Black Friday!  (It should be called Red Friday around here because it's when we start opening up all the Christmas boxes.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I may never leave my house again

Mahogany Ridge is our neighborhood.

Also in our neighborhood, we have two separate pie nights the week of Thanksgiving.  (Maybe that's why the cougar came?)

Last night at Pie Night I, someone wondered how the peacocks (that also roam the neighborhood) would fare with a cougar afoot.

It's a jungle out there.

(If I go silent the next few days on here, it's because I'll be busy + soaking up all the time with our kids I can.  I just didn't want you to think that I'd been attacked by a cougar.  Also, Happy Thanksgiving!)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Yin and yang

Saturday morning I woke up and saw this text from Adam on my phone:

He had talked about it the previous day.  He said there was a meteor shower that would peak at 2:00 AM.  I said I couldn't think of very many things I would be up for at 2:00 AM and stargazing was definitely not on the list.  Sounds cold.

I had no idea they had gone though because I was sound asleep.  Adam and Emma are night owls.  I don't know if they can stay up late because they have the ability to sleep in or they sleep in because they have the ability to stay up late.  Whichever talent they possess, our boys and I don't share it.  They both could sleep in a little as teenagers but they're up pretty early.

Saturday morning I also got an early phone call--in the 8:00 hour.  As I was going to find my phone, I thought, "It must be Braeden, no one else would call me this early."

And yes, it was Braeden.


Further proof of opposites attracting:

We are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year.  At last count in the ever changing guest list, we are having twelve people.  Mostly they are our kids' college friends but we've never met a few of them.  I am nothing if not a planner so I have been planning.  I assembled a binder (yes, with page protectors because anything with page protectors makes me happy).  I have a menu, shopping lists, timeline, recipes, plans, plans, plans.

Things ramp up this week and I have tasks to complete every day.  The biggest day will be Wednesday when I bake pies and rolls and set the tables and prep everything.

Last night, Adam and I were talking and he was asking when the kids get out of school.  No one has school on Wednesday.  When Adam realized that, he said, "Hey, maybe we should go to Great Basin National Park that day."

After a stunned silence I said, "Are you kidding me right now?"

"Oh, right.  Never mind."

I mean, hasn't he seen the binder?!?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Grateful Friday

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary.

Edgar Allen Poe

Yesterday was a gloomy day.  It started at 3:00 AM with insomnia and then a little more captured sleep to wake up with a headache.  Lovely.

The weather was overcast and gray.  It was altogether that sort of day.

I decided to light candles and play music.  I cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom.  I vacuumed.  In the evening I turned on the lamps.

I started to feel better.  Light is what always makes me feel better.  Wiping the counters I thought about light.  And also Light.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalms 27:1

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mind your towns that start with G

I did my student teaching in Goshen, UT.  Every morning that semester my friends Susan, Jana, Jen and I would drive there in Susan's black car.  Jen would always have a Diet Coke, Jana would have likable angst (it's a winning combination where some people can just shine) and Susan was just Susan.  She was VERY enthusiastic about everything and sometimes would take her hands off the wheel and clap them excitedly.  We had fun together.  They knew I was engaged to Adam before my roommates did.  Even though it was a drive and by the luck of the draw my classmates doing their student teaching in places like Provo didn't have to get up as early as we did, I liked Goshen.

There's a new young couple in our ward and they are on the committee to plan the Christmas party with us.  Adam, who is unfailingly good at making small talk with people, asked her, "Now are you from Goshen?"  (She had mentioned in a talk a few months ago where she was from.)

She scoffed and said no decidedly.  She seemed a little offended that anyone would even think she was from Goshen.  "I'm from Genola," she said.  It was like someone thought she was from Goshen and she was really from someplace like New York City.

Here's the thing about Genola (population 1484).  We used to drive through it on our way to Goshen (population 929) and I didn't even know there was such a place until Tabor told me he had to drop off some livestock in Genola and I said, "Where is that?"

Now I feel like I need to go to Genola again and see what all the fuss is about. Maybe it is THAT much better than Goshen.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Years ago I was the primary president in our ward.  At ward council, the bishop asked me what I thought about a Halloween carnival for the children as a ward activity.  I said, "I'm not a good person to ask because I don't like Halloween."

He said, "OK, you're in charge of it."

Wait, what?

Then I was YW president and had to go to camp even though I don't like camping.

Now this:  I don't really like ward Christmas parties.  (I know, I'm a terrible person.)  Adam and I were asked to be on the planning committee for our ward's Christmas party this year.

There is a pattern in my life.

So now, I'd just like to put it out there and make it be known.  I would hate new carpet.  I wouldn't like it if a mouse never came in my house again.  I don't like a clean kitchen or getting my oil changed.

Do you think it will work?  I'll let you know.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Family Home Evening

Last night for Family Home Evening, we decided to create a scene from the Book of Mormon out of legos.  We were thinking maybe we'd make a stop motion video.  We decided to recreate Lehi's dream.  We didn't have time to finish, but there will be other Mondays.

When you have a Mark, he's the builder. Adam and I were relegated to sorters.

See that little pile of green and brown legos?  I don't want to brag, but I did that.

While we were sorting, Mark started with making people.  He carefully selected faces for each person and asked our opinions on which face looked more like Lehi or Sam.  Even though Ishmael's family and Zoram aren't mentioned in the dream, Mark made them.  "I think they were there," he said.

And who's to argue with him?

Mark finished the tree and I thought we were done for the night but then he snapped together a rod of iron.

The kid is just good with legos.

There is Lehi, holding a piece of the fruit.

And the takeaway?

Don't be Laman and Lemuel:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Right where I want to be

Last Friday we had lunch with Olivia and Edgar and family.  It was fun.  I like those guys.  My favorite part of the meal was when Edgar asked me if I could keep Olivia quiet and I said I'd been trying for over 40 years to no avail.

Edgar doesn't always say a lot but when he does say stuff it often makes me laugh.  I can't imagine a better husband for Olivia.  (Or dad for those cute Cobian kids.)

We had dinner that night with my mom and Marianne and Liberty and Carolina.  I like those guys too.  They came to watch Emma's choir concert which was so nice of them.  We had tickets for Saturday night so we saw them before and after the concert.

In between, we went to the BYU Women's Basketball game to watch Paisley play.  I think it's the beginning of a new pastime!  Stephanie and Brent were there and I loved sitting next to Stephanie.  Old friends are the very best kind.  You pick up where you last left off and it feels wonderful.  Stephanie just gets me.  We saw Morgan, Emma's friend from Seattle Hill ward days.  She's in the BYU Cougar Band and was there with her trumpet.  We saw Jennie, Emma's friend from Everett 3rd ward days.  Being around all my Everett people makes me miss my old life.  Mark and Gavin were happy to see each other and started talking and continued the conversation they started when Mark was two and Gavin was four.  They are practically brothers.

We loved watching Paisley play!  I was remembering one day years ago when I was watching Paisley and Gavin.  We went to the little park in our neighborhood.  One of the swings was looped over the beam way up high and Paisley shimmied up the pole and grabbed the chain and swung it back over.  Her athleticism was sort of astounding and now she's a college basketball player.  And a pretty incredible one too.  The game was awesome!  With three minutes left BYU was 10 points behind.  They rallied and tied the game and it went into overtime.  (It was a lot for this drama/choir mama to handle.  I'm used to more sedate viewing experiences.)

BYU ended up winning!

The only sad part of this story is that I forgot my phone at home and so didn't take one picture.

Saturday we headed back to BYU to watch Emma's concert.  I cried for several of the songs because they were so beautiful.

And I cry easily OK?

As a bonus we could actually see Emma this time and didn't have to just take it on faith that she was up there.  I love watching her sing.  It's like the whole world has melted away and she just feels the music.

After, we met some of her friends...

...and saw Hayden Call who is from Washington and was in plays with Braeden at GPHS.  He's super talented and always has been.

We went to Wendy's because Mark is apparently in charge.  (He worked so hard to convince us to go there Braeden asked him if he had stock in Wendy's.)  We went to the Wendy's right by campus so it was full of college kids.  One boy didn't have a shirt on which seemed weird.  Isn't there a no shirt no shoes no service rule?  And also, November.  Braeden offered Mark $5 to go up to the guy and give him his flannel shirt that he was wearing over a t-shirt.  I said no.  Mark, ever the mercenary, asked Braeden if he'd give him $10.  "Yes," Braeden said, "Right now, do it."

 Mark asked Adam if he'd match it.  Adam said he would.

"No!" I said.  For one thing I don't like to draw attention to myself (I am pretty much in the wrong family), and for another thing I didn't want Mark to give away his shirt.

"Adam, no," I said again.

Mark said, "Dad, I don't think Braeden and I are getting any more mature.  I think we make you less mature."

Emma said, "That is SO true."

We ate and laughed and did draw attention to us whether I liked it or not.

When we dropped Emma off, I walked up to her dorm with her to help her carry stuff.  When I got back to the car, the boys in the backseat were laughing so hard they were practically hyperventilating.

We dropped Braeden off next and I realized something.  I miss our friends and family in Washington. I do.  I miss who I was there and I just miss the history.  I don't have friends like that here, at least not yet.  But going to BYU and being uplifted by all the goodness there, watching Emma perform, hearing our children laugh together and spending time with our college kids is a blessing.

I'm right where I want to be.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I'm grateful for mundane things.  Our washing machine broke a few weeks ago.  A repairman came and then ordered a part and then several days later when the part arrived, he came to fix it.

Turned out there was more wrong with it than he originally thought.

So he ordered another part and told us it would be another week.

This was in no way a tragedy, but it was inconvenient!  Thankfully there was a laundromat we could use and there was Adam to carry the heavy baskets full of wet laundry (we dried them at home).

A few days ago, the second part arrived and our repairman fixed it up.

I immediately started washing loads of laundry.  Mark said, "I've never seen anyone so excited to do laundry."

Last night Braeden was here and we were watching the Seahawks game.  The boys took turns snuggling up next to me (Adam was on my other side).  I told Braeden I had washed a shirt he'd left home awhile ago.

He squeezed my shoulder, "Is it nice to have your washer back?"

It really is!  I'm grateful for all the labor saving appliances that make my life easier.  It truly is something of a miracle that you can insert dirty clothes or dishes into a machine, add detergent and press a button and come back later to find the work done.

What a wonderful world!

(It's also nice to snuggle with my boys + Adam.  Also the Seahawks won.)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

When a mouse is a blessing

I'm grateful for a little mouse which is weird because I hate mice.

They are terrible.

I would rather have snakes, spiders, mutant ninja turtles, anything in my house rather than mice.

Last week, I was putting something away in the dungeon.  It's the fond name we have for our cold storage room.  (And this time of year, it really is cold.)  Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a mouse dead in a trap.  I couldn't give it a good look because I am too squeamish.  I did what any sane person would do in that situation, I averted my eyes and went in search of Adam.  He feels about mice like I do but he is more of a grown up in these situations.

He headed to the basement to look at the trap.  I stayed in the kitchen.

He said, "You have to come with me."

"Why?" I asked.

"For moral support."

I walked halfway down the stairs but that was all of the moral support I was able or willing to give.

My worst suspicions were confirmed and Adam came upstairs for a bag to deposit the mouse in before throwing it out.

"I love you," I said in an encouraging way.

"If you loved me, you wouldn't make me take care of the mouse," he said.

"I love you 99%," I said.

Then I went upstairs because I didn't want to see the mouse or even the bag holding the mouse.

Our pest control guy came over (we get periodic treatments on account of the tarantulas and the like) and I told him about the mouse.  I confessed my mortal fear of mice and he confessed that he's afraid of frogs.  Frogs?  No judgement though.  When stuff is scary, it is scary.

He inspected the basement and set more traps and was naming all the possible entry points he would inspect.  One of them was under the kitchen sink.

So I went upstairs to clear out beneath the sink.  It was wet and there were the beginnings of mold.  There was also a really slow drip coming from the disposal.

I cleaned it all up and we got a new disposal (which Adam and Mark, the wunderkind, installed).  Getting a new disposal wasn't really a dream come true for us but catching the leak before it caused more damage made me realize the mouse was a blessing.

And I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

When you're happily married

Last weekend we were playing Codenames with our kids (including extra roommates).  Mark wanted to be on the same team as Braeden and friends but Emma knew enough to stick with Adam and me.  We're pretty much the dream team.  (Not to brag or anything, but yes to brag.)

In Codenames, you say one word that somehow links other words you are trying to get your team to guess.  Because it was Adam, and I was trying to link Canada and bed, I said Coquitlam.

"What?!?" our kids said incredulously.  They had no idea where I was going with that one.

But Adam did.  There is an IKEA in Coquitlam, B.C. and where do you buy beds (if you're us)?  IKEA.

Soul mates.

Then yesterday, we were doing errands and I realized I didn't have a book.  Rookie mistake.  Adam suggested we stop at the library so I could pick up another one.  Who does that?  Adam.  I told him I would try to be quick.

He said, "I'll stay in the car and keep it warm, take your time."

I had no idea how smart I was being when I married that guy.

“I want all of you, forever, you and me every day.” – The Notebook

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Brother and sister

Emma and Braeden have three classes together this semester.  I love picturing them meeting up frequently and sharing experiences.

One day in their theater class, someone mentioned to Emma how nice it must be to have a class with your brother.

Another guy said, "Wait.  You're brother and sister?  I thought you were dating."

Emma and Braeden both said, "No."

Recently they were in their American Heritage lab on two sides of the aisle in a debate in a "Constitutional Convention."  They were debating states' rights and American Heritage/Constitutional Convention type things and Braeden and Emma, having years of experience under their belts in adversarial discourse, were really going at it.

Someone asked, "Are you two brother and sister?"


Emma said something particularly zingy to Braeden and a guy on her team said, "Retweet."

(I don't know what zingy things Braeden said because Emma is the one who told me the story.)

Later, when a vote was called, Braeden was one of the few still in opposition.  Instead of "nay," he said, "oh, heck nay."

Yep, these are my kids.

Sunday they came for dinner along with Sam and Scott (two of Braeden's roommates).  We were having "experimental turkey."  We are having our own Thanksgiving this year and decided to practice.  Sam and Scott were up for the adventure.  They, like Braeden, have proven they will eat anything.  (Seriously, it is amazing those boys are still among the living.)

The four kids left to go to their various choir practices and the like.

Awhile later, Braeden called because they had been in an accident. That's just the kind of phone call you don't want.

My quick question was answered that they all were fine.  Emma had been driving and we talked to her, we could tell she was rattled.  I was heading out the door for a meeting but Adam headed out to be with our girl.

The other driver was at fault and told the police the same.  No one was injured.  All was well.  Adam sent the boys in his car and he stayed behind with Emma.

When they were done with the police, they drove to Provo too.  Emma told Adam, "I don't know what I would have done without Braeden there."

I'm beyond grateful no one was injured.  I'm grateful they have each other.  In the way of brothers and sisters everywhere, they argue and struggle to share the same car and make each other a little crazy at times.  But when the rubber hits the road (or when another car hits Loki) they have each others' backs.

Siblings were a very good invention.

Monday, November 6, 2017

I'll always have a fond place in my heart for Jack

Mark's play was this last weekend.  The Importance of Being Earnest.  I loved the show when Braeden played Jack four years ago and I love the show still.

And now for the zealous drop of cell phone pictures I took.  I make up for the poor quality by the sheer volume.

The play was double cast so here is Mark with each of the Algernon's (although most of my pictures are with the second cast because my seats were better):

I loved that they were both ginger.

I loved that this Algernon reminded me a little of Jaden who was the Algernon to Braeden's Jack.
They had all the romantic partners the same throughout all the shows.  They were matched for height.  Here's Jack proposing to Gwendolyn:

Mark had the same Lady Bracknell too.  She was played by Braeden's friend Nate's younger sister and she was AWESOME.

Here's Mark in his garb of mourning announcing the death of his poor brother Ernest:

And here he is refusing to shake hands:

During the muffin eating scene, the muffins were so dry the boys really struggled to keep talking.  Braeden was sitting next to me and kept laughing so loud that Mark fought hard to not laugh himself. I kept poking Braeden and telling him he had to be quiet.

I've included this picture mostly because I was so enamored with Lady Bracknell's dress!

Here Mark thinks he's discovered his mother, Miss Prism:

And here is the conclusion where Lady Bracknell accuses  Jack of triviality but he declares, "I've now realized for the first time in my life the vital importance of being earnest."

And they take their bows:

It was great fun to watch.

I love that Braeden and Mark have had this experience to share.

Braeden helped some with the rehearsals because he needed to volunteer for his theater class.  I loved seeing the junior high boys excited to see Braeden and giving him high fives.

Friday night my parents and Tabor's family came to watch.  I'm really terrible at getting good pictures after the show but I did manage to capture Mark with Tabor's girls:

We were grateful they came to watch.  (Tabor and family stayed with us that night.  Tabor and I stayed up way, way, way too late talking.  I'm grateful for brothers and sisters who love me.  Talking to them always heals something in me a little bit.)

Mark, more introverted than Braeden (everyone is more introverted than Braeden), is not sad that the show is over.  He enjoyed it but he's glad to "get his after school" back.

And I'll be happy to see more of him too.


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