Friday, December 29, 2017

Grateful Friday

I am grateful for this time with our kids.  Yesterday found us in the van together.

Braeden was feeling huffy (or as huffy as Braeden gets which is not very huffy) because as he called it, Emma and Mark were staging a coup and usurping his power as the oldest.

Mark was in charge of the music.  He had an eclectic mix like only he can create:  R.E.M., Yo Yo Ma, Johnny Cash, The Eagles, The Temptations.

We were in Provo so Braeden pointed out the hospital where he was born. He asked me if it was the best hospital (because naturally it would be if he were born there). I told them the hospital where Emma was born was the best one.  Yale New Haven Hospital for the win.  Mark said, "But I was born in a hospital run by nuns.  No one knows how to give birth like nuns."

Time spent with them is time spent trying to keep up with the repartee.  If the goal is to make me laugh, they are all very very good at it.

At one point, I said, "I only had one kind of kid:  weird."

Emma said, "Hey."  Then, "Nah, that's true."

The only thing that makes it better is when Adam is home from work.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

When you have a lot to learn

Yesterday Emma opened her Bob Ross Chia Pet and there were no instructions.  Nothing but a little packet of seeds.

So she googled it, like you do.  Reading the instructions, Emma said, "This does not seem intuitive enough to not have instructions included."  There was a specific amount of water you had to mix the seeds with, you had to stir for a prescribed amount of time, you needed to soak Bob.

I was in and out of the room.  At one point, Emma was stirring the seeds with some water and said, "This is getting thick.  I guess that makes sense since chia seeds can be used to thicken things."

And that, dear reader, is when my little mind expanded.


So Chia Pets and the chia seeds used in health food are the same thing?!?  Am I the only person in America to not realize that?

At dinner I told Adam about the earth shattering experience.  I was pretty sure he would have the same reaction as Emma and think that I was just dumb.

But he didn't.  He hadn't made the connection either.  At least we have each other.

And Emma, who we need to occasionally teach us stuff.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Home for the holidays: a list

1)  I had the last piece of cranberry tart for breakfast.  You have to eat all the unhealthy stuff before you start to eat all the healthy stuff in January.  That's science.

2)  The Lego pieces are officially sorted:

I took the job very seriously and I think my quality of workmanship shines here.

3) I also helped a little with the construction. (I'm better at sorting.)  We are getting close to completion:

The part on the right, with the white lampposts out front, is last year's set.  The part on the left is under construction.
4)  Emma's friends, Rose and Fiona gave her presents.  Rose gave her a Bob Ross Chia Pet, which is perfection.  Fiona gave her a homesick Washington candle.

It actually does smell like Washington.  I think it's the rhododendron.

5) I got some ideas for ornament storage and started testing them out.

top:  egg carton, middle: plastic cups glued to the bottom of the box (for the really fragile stuff), bottom: an apple carton.  We need to eat a WHOLE lot more apples.

Then I realized I was accidentally un-decorating the Christmas tree.

6)  I texted this to the kids yesterday and they cleaned their rooms.

I just didn't want you to think we weren't having any fun around here.

I hope you're having fun too.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Making merry

The kids posed for pictures for a gift for Adam. (They had me take the pictures.)  He gets to choose his favorite and they'll get it printed for his office at work (which is spartan like Adam's offices always are).

They had me take picture after picture of the older two dressed nicely and smiling prettily and Mark in ripped sweat pants, being uncooperative.  This passes as comedy for these people.  Here are two samples:

I'm not sure what Adam will pick...or what his coworkers will think.

The kids lined up all the bears, from oldest to newest:

We reminisced the circumstances of each bear joining the family.  Does anyone else have a stuffed bear scrapbook like this?  Because each bear reminds us of something that happened that year.  And they are the most cuddled scrapbook on the planet.

We read Christmas stories aloud on Christmas Eve.  Adam read Twas the Night Before Christmas and the kids acted it out with the bears.

It was splendid.

Everyone's tucked snug in their beds.  (Emma's crown is from her Christmas cracker.  We aspire to be British on Christmas Eve.)

That's Pa in his kerchief.

Santa had a rocky ride ere he flew out of sight.

Later we watched some old family movies.

I loved seeing Braeden's enthusiastic amiability that hasn't ever changed.  I loved seeing Emma carefully considering every question anyone asked her because she has never not ever wanted to be wrong.  I loved seeing video of Adam's dad interacting with his lucky grandchildren.  I loved when infant Mark came on the scene.  My favorite thing Braeden observed about his new unresponsive brother:  it's like he's dead with his eyes open.

The good news is, Mark got a lot more active as he aged.

Christmas day we had a skiff of snow:

Braeden marked the occasion with a footprint Noel.  Who does that barefoot?  Braeden.

We opened presents that made us feel loved.  Christmas morning is my absolute favorite.  Emma texted me this:

We ate lots of delicious food.  We watched a movie, snuggled under blankets.

We played with Legos.


My job was sorting the Legos into the trays.  I told them I was the wind beneath their wings.

  I took a picture and Emma said, "I made a weird face."  Braeden said, "Same."  Of course they did.

There's nowhere I'd rather be than with this group on Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas

A rare Saturday post, but I wanted to say Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

Last night we went to Temple Square to see the lights.  It was crowded.  And beautiful.  But crowded.

I guess it wasn't an original idea and we didn't even really plan on it in advance but Braeden said he wanted to so we did.

Right after he took our picture Braeden said, "This spot is my favorite spot in the whole world."  I'm pretty fond of the Salt Lake Temple myself.  It's where we got our start.

Vanessa and Omar joined us.  Mark and Vanessa kept having snowball fights.  Gingers.... (They were the same height when we first moved here.)

Omar leaves on January 3 for a mission.  He'll be speaking Spanish in Washington, D.C.  Spanish was his first language + he's an awesome kid.  He will be a great missionary.

Omar's phone died so he borrowed my phone because he wanted a picture of the reflecting pond.

I should have given him my phone earlier to take pictures....

I love the picture and what it means to me.  The beautiful temple represents covenants and eternity and Adam forever.  The Nativity reminds me of the wonderful Gift we were all given, the Savior, Jesus Christ.  The lights, so beautiful and inviting, remind me to follow the Light.  Look up.  Be a light for someone else.

It's OK that is was crowded.  So was Bethlehem.  Merry Christmas!  I hope you have a wonderful time with people you love.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Cinco, cinq, viisi, fem

We sat around reading scriptures together before bed and I was grateful to be five again.  It feels good.

Emma lamented that she forgot her capo for her guitar.  She said, "How can I sing angsty songs without my capo?"

I suggested maybe the lack of a capo could just add to the angst....

Yesterday the three kids went on a shopping expedition for Christmas gifts for their parents (I encouraged them to take their time and take lots of money).  They went to BYU to give Emma's friend Omar a ride to the store.  He needed another suitcase.  He's going on a mission January 3!  Emma stopped by her dorm to get her capo and I'm glad she did because then she played several songs for me that she wrote.

While the kids were gone, our new mattress arrived.  The box was left on our porch and it was covered in caution-this-is-heavy type stickers.  (side note:  Adam didn't think we needed a new mattress but I am basically that princess from The Princess and the Pea and I have been waking up every morning with a sore back.  Also, they were on sale for $200 off the regular price.)  When the boys got home, I tasked them with carrying the box upstairs to our room.  A big bonus of having a strong husband is that you have strong sons, because the stickers didn't lie.  That box was heavy.  (I think I deserve a little credit too because their childhood was pretty much moving couches and bookshelves and the like.)

It's nice to have these kids around.  I wake up and smile when I remember everyone's home.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas vacation

This pile makes me happy.  It means Emma, her laundry, tiger, ukulele, and guitar have arrived!
Have you heard that song, Christmas Vacation?  Whenever it comes up on my Pandora Christmas station, I skip it.

Christmas is about more than vacation.

But I'm happy about the vacation part too.  Christmas vacation = time with our kids.

Braeden read my blogpost and felt guilty (unintended consequence I promise, but I'm not sorry).  He and Emma came home!  I told him he didn't need to.  He said, "Well also, I'm really out of food."

I let Mark stay home from his half day/ last day of school before break.  It was a complete waste anyway.  Actually the two days before that were pretty much a waste too.  Grades had to be posted last Friday, so what's the point?

Because Mark wants to binge watch 24 during the break with Braeden, we talked about his screen time.  We came up with a reasonable time limit per day.

Braeden said, "Can I share some of my unlimited screen time with him?"  Hmph.

Because Mark wants to binge watch 24 during the break with Braeden, he approached me with a deal. (He is always making a deal.  Always.)  He wondered if TV time could be increased if he was on the elliptical runner the whole time.

I said yes.

And that may have been a mistake because Mark has a big motor.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Officially caught up

It's kind of an exciting time.  After 20 odd years of making scrapbooks for my children, I'm caught up!  (That is if you aren't too particular.)

I have an entire set of shelves devoted to the two-inch wide three ring binder page protected scrapbooks.  They are full of pictures and drawings and the like and they make me happy.  (On Mark's recent birthday he and I looked through several of them, then when the big kids came home for dinner they looked at them too.)  They feel like time worth spent.

But then, I decided to make Snapfish photo books.  They are easy and can be done without pulling out all the scrapbook detritus.  As a big bonus, they take up less shelf space.

But then what to do with all the scrapbook type stuff?  The ticket stubs, the play and concert programs, the birthday cards.  I had been collecting all the stuff for a few years and finally decided a scrapbook with just that stuff and no pictures would be boring.

So I bought each kid a box.  I sorted the stuff in less than an hour and some day I will give each kid  their box (I apologize in advance to their future unsuspecting spouse).  Then they can keep it lovingly on a shelf, put it in a scrapbook or throw it away.

In the meantime, I'm caught up.  On one thing.  And that's something!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Thou shalt not covet

Saturday, Emma and her friends stopped here and made cookies on their way home from seeing the lights at Temple Square.  I'm not sure who all came because I went to bed before those crazy night owls made it here.  They did leave me some cookies on the counter though.

Sunday, Braeden's Family Home Evening group came here.  They had a white elephant gift exchange and ate treats and drank Cranberry Sprite (love that stuff!).  There were twelve of them and they were great kids.  I gave the hungry boys a bowl of sliced apples and oranges.  I am a one woman campaign to keep them from getting scurvy.  (They don't eat very healthfully.)

Monday, I was backing out of our driveway to drive Mark to school.  I told him I was jealous of the Porters across the street.

Mark told me that I wasn't supposed to covet what my neighbors have.

I said, "I know, but Sara is home from BYU for Christmas!"

Who knows when my turkeys will make an appearance.  They're in no rush.  I guess I can't have everything.  I can't have a revolving door of them and their friends (which I adore! the more the merrier!) and have kids that are homesick and dying to get home.

Still, I'll be glad when their friends go home for Christmas.  Then maybe they'll come home.  We don't have snow or mistletoe, but I'm ready!  I mean, these halls are decked!

Monday, December 18, 2017


We had a nice time.  It was great to relax and talk and drive through beautiful country side by side.  Turns out I like Moab.  I had never been there before.  There's a lot of Utah I've never been to, considering I grew up in the state next door.

We are slowly seeing a lot of Utah though and I love it more all the time.  What a stunning place!

We went to a really delicious Thai restaurant for dinner.  It's the best Thai food (hands down) that we've had since we left Seattle.

At our hotel we got in the hot tub, well one of the many hot tubs.  There were a network of hot tubs and pools and our kids would love it.  We'd probably never be able to get Mark away.  We chose the hot tub that had the most steam.  Another couple joined us.  Adam wanted to explore but there was no way I was getting out until we were ready to go in or I was uncomfortably hot, whichever came first.  So Adam went to look around at all the pools and that left me engaging in small talk with my new friends.  It was a difficult choice, but I opted to stay warm.

The guy enthusiastically told me all about what they had been doing and gave me unsolicited advice about what we should do at Arches (some people just love to feel like experts).  They told me they were going to camp the next two nights.  I asked, "How cold will it be where you're camping?"

"In the 20s," he gleefully responded.

"I don't like camping in the best circumstances," I said.  Which maybe sounded a little snotty so when we left I told them I hoped they enjoyed their camping.

They cheerfully said, "Look for us in the news."

People mystify me.

There was ice on the sidewalk going back into the hotel.  It was cold.  Which is what happens in December.

It felt like the perfect time to be there though.  The hotel was super cheap and there were no crowds anywhere.  At breakfast Saturday morning, Adam started talking about when we could come back and bring our kids.

Then we hit the National Park.  It was beautiful!  I don't have the adjectives to describe it and the pictures don't do it justice but will have to suffice.  At least there are a lot of them....

I loved this tree. There's something just stark and lovely about the desert.

This view reminded me of the Fremont Troll in Seattle.

We took a few short and easy hikes and it was cold but not terribly cold.  We drove around too and I pointed out to Adam what the rock formations looked like to me.  It was kind of like pointing out shapes in the clouds.

Here Adam and I took pictures of each other:

Because we know how to have fun in a National Park.

I went away feeling grateful for Adam + National Parks + not camping + eyesight + a heated car + Christmas lights at our house when we returned.

Speaking of Christmas, on the freeway on the way home, we saw Santa:

He didn't seem to be the jolly old elf I've come to expect.  Maybe he was cranky because he had to drive and he'd rather take his sleigh.

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.


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