Monday, May 22, 2017

Seminary Graduation

None of us--including Braeden--have any recollection of his seminary graduation.  I know he graduated.  I just don't know if we were there.

Maybe instead we were at the farewell for Clarissa's mission?

Maybe it was when we were in New England?

Maybe we went to the graduation?  We have the diploma after all....

I saw people taking pictures of their graduates/families afterward and I thought, maybe people do that so they can remember attending.

We didn't take any pictures of Emma.

This is just to say though, we were there.  (In case we all forget.)

All this senior stuff.  Graduating.  I don't like it.  Bah.  Humbug.

Seminary graduation was actually quite nice (except for one of the speakers told a bizarre story).  I was proud of Emma and the other YW I love for graduating from seminary.  It matters and takes sacrifice and commitment--even here in the land of release time.

(Which it must be said, is blissful.  Especially considering Mark will be a freshman next year and we won't have a driver.  When you plan that poorly, you just have to move to Utah.  There's no alternative.)

The closing song was We'll Bring The World His Truth.

That song kills me every time.  I would cry every time the primary children sang it in the Seattle Hill Ward when I was primary president.  My last Sunday there before we moved, they sang it for me and I sort of sobbed.

During the closing song, I just ignored all the feels and soldiered on.  No tears.

After, I was talking to one of the girls (who is a top pick to marry one of my sons) and her mother.  They asked me if I had cried.  I said (quite proudly) that no I had not.  The mother said, "Not even during the closing song?"

I admitted that song's effect on me.

The girl said, "So did you just go to your happy place?"

Yes!  See this is why I love her so much.  She understands about happy places.

I'm going to have to summon all the happy places I can find this week.  My daughter, the only one I have, is graduating and nothing will ever be the same again.

We're not great at graduations.  We don't even remember Braeden's seminary one.  We were late with announcements for Emma.  We're not having a party to celebrate (lack of interest on the part of the graduate).  We're not going in for big expensive gifts.  Graduations aren't really our skill set I guess.

We do have pretty good graduates though.  I like these kids of mine, even if they do rotten things like graduate.

At least I can go to my happy place.

So I won't cry.

Maybe.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Grateful Friday



My grandma will turn 90 this weekend.  Isn't she pretty?

This is her holding me as an infant.


(That's Marianne in yellow.  I am sure her expression belies how thrilled she must have been to have a younger sister enter the scene....) 

I love that I have this picture because my grandma has been there from the start.  She was there for everything important that happened to me when I was growing up.  If I could be the kind of grandma she is, I would consider myself a success.  When she came to visit she seemed to bring magic with her.  Everything was more fun when she came (and she also brought mini candy bars and black cherry soda which contributed to the whole party atmosphere).

Some of my happiest memories are when my sisters and I would stay at her house for a week every summer.  We went shopping and to the zoo and to Lagoon and to movies.  We tried our best to keep up with her.

My grandma has always been more than just entertainment though.  I will never forget when I went to the temple for the first time and she was there.  I was nervous and didn't know what to expect and she calmed my nerves and told me how wonderful it was.

I believed her, maybe because she spent 15 years volunteering as a temple worker.  Her actions spoke volumes.

My grandma has always made me feel special.  She epitomizes unconditional love.  She has always been generous and loving and kind.  She has comforted me when I was sad or scared.  She's given me an example to endeavor to follow.  (Something tells me it will be like when she tried to teach me to roller skate--I wasn't in her league.)

I love that I share her name (she used to introduce me as "my little namesake" to her friends).  I love that we both are particular about how our Christmas trees are decorated.  I love that I can visit her and my children know and love her too.

I love that she's my grandma.  What a blessing she has always been in my life!  I'm glad we're linked forever.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Internet research

Here's what I've been googling:

1) What flowers do squirrels dislike.

I saw a squirrel on the front steps, sniffing the air and looking around in what I assume is squirrel-like confusion.  I moved the petunias and replaced them with marigolds.    I think the internet is right on this one.  The squirrel didn't go up the steps.

Maybe the squirrel is confused by the weather though.  It snowed here yesterday.  Snowed.

2) What's the weather in Gloucester?

92 degrees where Braeden is on the humid East coast.

I don't know which place I'd prefer.  Neither?

I refused to turn on the heat even though I was cold.  It's a matter of principle in the last part of May.  Adam texted that I should turn it on.  "A frozen Thelma is a cranky Thelma."

While that is strictly true, I still maintained my no heater stance. (Until this morning when it was 59 degrees in our house.  It's hard to argue with 59 degrees.)

3) Yellow leaves on a fiddle leaf fig can mean over watering.

A leaf on Felicia is turning yellow near the bottom.  I apologized to her and promised to do better.  Also, I vowed to give her distilled water.  She's a finicky one.

4) The proper way to fold a fitted sheet.

This matters to exactly no one except me but I'm getting a lot better at it and it brings me joy.

5) Family history.

I have been feeling like I'm not getting anywhere.  I have written a list of questions that I need to find an expert to help with.  Then yesterday, I tracked down who a relative was married to.  Illinois, Deaths and Stillborn Index, 1916-1947 for. The. Win.

It was exciting!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mediocrity

Since graduation is, you know, next week, we got Emma's senior pictures taken last night.  We had wanted Robert's sister Deborah to take them (she took our family pictures a few summers ago) but every time Deborah was in town, Emma had some big event like Drama State or a choir competition or work.

At Women's Conference, Marianne told me she wanted a graduation announcement of Emma's.  She wanted to put it on her fridge.

I explained that we didn't have pictures.

Marianne said, "I want an announcement."

And since Marianne is the boss of me apparently (no, not apparently...she is) I got a guy in our ward to take the pictures.

Emma said she was talking to one of her friends about senior pictures and they said everyone they knew had their senior pictures taken by someone in their ward.

It's a thing here in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

So we jumped on that wagon.

Jared is a college kid and he's super personable and I liked the pictures I saw on his website.

He asked us where we wanted to have the pictures taken.  I had zero suggestions.

Emma took her drama sweater for an outfit change because outfit changes seemed like the thing to do.

We followed Jared to a park in Cedar Hills.  He took a bunch of pictures of Emma, some with the sweater.  He asked if she had other outfits to change into.  He asked me if there was a certain pose or picture I wanted.  He looked at me expectantly.

I felt like I should have some opinions.

I said, "I guess when someone is getting their senior pictures a week before graduation, we're not that concerned about them."

Jared's little brother Brandon, who is Mark's age, was along to be an assistant.  He gets ice cream for helping.  He and I chatted about 8th grade while Emma smiled for the camera.  His two favorite teachers are Mark's two favorite teachers and he said he loves seeing Mark in the hall because "he always gives me a high five."

A woman came along and frantically asked if we'd seen a little blonde boy.

We hadn't.

I told Brandon that one time we'd left Mark behind accidentally.  He said, "I think most parents do that at some time or another.  My mom left me at church once."

I said, "Yeah, but your mom has eight children.  I only have three.  I don't really have an excuse for leaving one behind."

"You've got a point," he said.

Someone has to make the other mothers look better.  It might as well be me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Emotions

Disbelief

Emma told me she has four days of school left.  FOUR.  The math is a little fuzzy because there are really two weeks of school left. If anyone ever tells you that American students go to school for 180 days out of the year, don't believe them.

Still.  I can't wrap my mind around my little baby girl who just came home from the hospital wrapped in a pink blanket a few days ago having four days of high school left.

Rage

That is the feeling you get when you plant fragrant and cheerful petunias in pots and put them on your front steps and then you see a squirrel on its hind legs, munching the blossoms off the plant.

Revenge

 

In a mean spirited and spiteful reaction, I sprinkled red pepper flakes down the squirrel's hole.  And I didn't use the feeble red pepper flakes that have been languishing in my spice drawer.  I bought new potent stuff.

I hope the squirrels suffer.  I hope their eyes water and they sneeze.  I hope they pack their bags and move away.

 

Suspicion

I heard an Adele song on the radio. Apparently still basking in the Mother's Day season, the announcer said, "And there's a song from the ultimate mother, Adele."

Did he mean ultimate as in most remote in space or time? Last in a progression or series?  Incapable of further analysis, division or separation?

I started to suspect that ultimate doesn't mean what the radio announcer thinks it means.

 

Overreaction

Emma came home around 3:00 in a state.  She said she was going to fail her classes and BYU would probably change its mind and not let her go after all.  She said she had so much schoolwork she'd never possibly get it all done.  I told her it would likely work out.

At 4:25 she said, "I'm going to go take a nap.  Will you wake me when it's time for dinner?"

"What about all your work?" I asked.

"Oh," she said, "it didn't take as long as I thought it would."

 

Delight

I'm the only one around here that ever cracks the Yale Alumni magazine open and that is only to read the personal ads at the back.


Yale hippie goddess with baroque tendencies.  I have no words.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day


One of the fiercest women I know put this on Facebook the other day.  She is kind and faithful and strong and a fierce mother.  She spoke at Women's Conference and I felt inspired.

Motherhood is a journey that requires fierceness.  Sometimes it requires sitting patiently and waiting.  Sometimes it requires putting on your armor and doing battle.  It requires bravery.  It requires sacrifice and energy and diligence and then the hardest part--they grow up and leave.

I love Mother's Day.  I love celebrating the women in my life that have mothered me or inspired me or loved me.  I love feeling love from my children.  I love being able to talk to my missionary.  I love exploiting Mother's Day for all it's worth.

On Saturday I kept telling our kids that they had to do this or that because it was the day before Mother's Day.  Emma said, "You can't keep milking that."

I said, "Seriously?  You're going to say that to me the day before Mother's Day?"

I made our children pose for a picture.  "It is Mother's Day...."



"Now I want you to smile.  It IS Mother's Day."



I'm grateful to be a mother.  Motherhood has been a classroom for me.  I don't always get it right but I appreciate the chance to keep trying.







Friday, May 12, 2017

Sunshine and rain

One of my favorite things about living here is the sunshine.  The blue skies!  They lift my spirits.  I know, I know, we need rain.  We need those dreary cloudy days that bring the rain that replenishes the earth.

Plants need sunshine and rain to grow.

We do too.

I admit this grudgingly, because I'd prefer just the sunshine, thank you very much.

The last year has been quite a year.  If someone had told me what would happen I 1) wouldn't have believed them and 2) would have run away from home--I would have taken Adam and our kids with me.

There has been ample sunshine in the past year, but rain too.  Unexpected and even startling storms.  We weathered them.  We set out buckets to catch the drips, we battened down the hatches, we held on.

I appreciate the lessons learned.  I have learned more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace.  I've learned to trust even when I can't understand.  I have learned that you don't know what's going on in someone else's life so give them the benefit of the doubt.  Try to, at least.  I've learned that I have a small army of people I can trust and lean on.  There are people from Adam (my ultimate support), to the kind people at church who reached out with love to Braeden when he was home, to family and friends, to bloggers I don't even know whose words touch my heart, to people in Virginia who save the day, to our kids whose hugs heal me.

I'm grateful.

I'm grateful for the sunshine and rain.  I need both, whether I like it or not.  I know. 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Answering service

I called one of my sisters yesterday and talked to one of her sons.  We chatted a minute and then I said, "Is your mom there?"

"No."

"Where is she?" (Because I usually think my sisters have a lot of nerve to not be available when I call.)

"She's on a walk."

"Will you have her call me when she gets home?"

"Sure."

"Don't forget," I said.  "Mark always forgets to give me messages.  Are you a better man than Mark?"

"Um," he said.  "I think I'm about the same as Mark."

And she never called.  I think he was true to his word--about the same as Mark.

Even so, I love both those unreliable message givers.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A good day to have a good day

It was a day of bookends of good time with each kid and productive time in the middle.  (Adam was out of town...Braeden too.)

Also, the sun was shining all day long.

Before the big French AP test, Vanessa came over so she and Emma could speak French to warm up?  Is that a thing?  I made them breakfast and bought them croissants (I aimed for pain au chocolat but couldn't find any--I didn't look that hard).

They were each wearing the striped shirts they bought at Mont St. Michel.

Every bit of Frenchiness helps.

And like I told them, even if they completely bombed the test, they looked cute.

The sausage got a little...done.  I was on my computer and it got away from me.

They spoke French and I understood very little of what was being said but occasionally I got something.  Also, I used Google Translate to help me.

Later in the day Emma reported on the test:

I love texting with Emma.

Speaking of hot messes, Mark and I tackled one in the evening.  Our evening plans changed so we made a new plan.  We went to Target and perused the storage and organization aisles.  Then we went home with our purchases and gathered all the errant cords in the house.

I recognized the ones that go to iPhones but the rest were pretty much conundrums to me.  Mark, however, was in his element.

We labeled and sorted and stowed in little containers.


Stuff like that delights me.  Organizing makes me happy. 

Then we gathered everything up that either seemed obsolete to Mark or was a flat out mystery.


We put it all in a box, declaring it above our pay grade, for Adam to contemplate.

Then we ate chocolate and read.

It is the sweet simple things in life that are the real ones after all.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rue-On

Emma has tried to teach me French pronunciation.  With little success.  My mouth doesn't seem to work.  Also, Emma is an exacting la √©ducateur.  Considering I taught her English, I think she should be less sassy and more forgiving of my mouth when it doesn't work.

After over and over trying to get me to say Rouen to her satisfaction, she said, "Just call it Rue On.  It's fine."  (She said it with just a teensy bit of scorn.)

Still, I'm grateful for the reprieve.  I was tired of trying.

So I can't say Rouen, but I liked the city. I sort of fell in love with this cathedral there.


It had been there already for three centuries when Joan of Arc was killed in the same city.  The age of the place staggers my mind.

I am inspired by Joan of Arc too.   

I am not afraid...I was born to do this.  

And also, this:

 
Words to live by.

In the cathedral there was a tribute to Joan:


A statue of her and her sword


In the Mus√©e d'Orsay gift shop I bought a postcard of a painting of the cathedral, done by Monet.  I put it in a little frame.


I wanted to remember Rouen and the way I felt in that ancient cathedral and the cobblestones beneath my feet on the narrow streets.

Sunday I was dipping my toes in the vast waters of my family tree.  I traced back the Egbert line of my ancestors until I came across Maria Thorel.  In 1649, she was born in Rouen!  I didn't know I had any French relatives.  I imagine its not too much of a stretch (because I'm an American) that I'm a mix of a lot of things. (I think they're mostly Caucasian though.  The undersides of my arms are practically blue they're so white.)

Perhaps, before she left Rouen, she walked down those same narrow cobblestone streets.  Perhaps she worshiped here:


She'd probably feel the same way as Emma does about my wayward pronunciation of Rouen.

Sorry Maria.  It's OK with Emma if I just say Rue-On.  I hope that's OK with you too. 

Ma jolie fille is taking her French AP exam today.  Better her than me!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Spent



You know that feeling when you are so exhausted your eyelashes even feel tired?

That's been me.

I told Adam maybe I had some sort of vitamin deficiency.

He said no, because he knows me.

It's been life lately.  There has been a big trip, a big son returned and then gone again, guests, life altering changes, Mark's play, Women's Conference, a girl getting ready to graduate.  Life, lived to the hilt, joyful, packed, one thing overlapping another.

And I need margins.

I need white space to recharge and manage.  It's not that I can't do stuff.  I can do stuff.

I just don't want to all the time.

This week I'm looking forward to white space.  I'm going to clean my desk and pull some weeds and send birthday cards to my nephews and readjust to life without this one.


My larger than life boy who is endlessly entertaining and leaves chaos (drinking glasses, socks, you name it) in his wake, left a big hole in my heart when he headed back on his mission.

So I'll pick up the socks and cups that I keep finding.  I'll stitch my heart back into place.

And I'll let a margin wash over me.

(except I miss him...)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Grateful Friday

I love Women's Conference at BYU.  I went yesterday (after a predawn airport run) and will go again today. 

I love the lift to my soul.

I love the great and insightful sessions.

I love knowing how to evade most of the crowds (service learning rooms for the win).

I love spending time with my mom, sisters, nieces, and cousins (Hannah and Britta).

I love BYU and Provo and spring.

Last night after dinner we all convened at our house to visit and release trapped emotions (if we had any) and to take personality tests.  It turns out we all have personalities.

There's just something magical about being with women you've known your entire life (or in the case of the nieces, their entire lives).

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Equanimity

The other day I told Braeden I was impressed with the way he was meeting everything with equanimity.

He said, "What does that mean?"

"You're calm," I said.  "You're taking it in stride."

"Well, I don't feel all that calm on the inside, I'm kind of freaking out."

I told him that if he wasn't kind of freaking out, there wouldn't be any need for equanimity.  The freaking out makes the equanimity all the more impressive.

It's like the John Wayne quote:  courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.

Throughout the crazy turn of events where Braeden had surgery, was sent home from his mission, went back to his mission, was told he needed surgery again, was sent home again, was told he would be released early from his mission, was told maybe he didn't need surgery, was told he definitely didn't need surgery, was told he was after all returning to his mission, Braeden has just rolled with it.  We've had a few conversations including trying to wrap our minds around the surreal happenings.  He's confided some disquiet about it all.  Mostly though, equanimity.

At one point Braeden told me that he had already decided a while ago that he would always try to do whatever his priesthood leaders wanted him to do.

He's probably better than I deserve.

He flew out early this morning for Virginia.  Emma graduates three weeks from today.  Adam said, "I would be happy if our kids would just be 17 forever."

I said, "I'd even settle for 18."

Just stay at the age where you are home with us.  Is that too much to ask?

Watching your fledglings leave the nest is not for the faint of heart.

Like it or not, they're on the move.






Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Not my email

I'll start with some random pictures.  This first one was from Berny Chisolm:


No explanation, but thank you Berny.  It's a good lesson in being appreciative for the car I drive. 

Also, there was no information about this one.  Child labor?


Or this:

This is the heading of the above picture:

I don't know if the kid is the one who found a new friend or if he's cousin Connor.

Sometimes these email bring more questions than answers.

Here is something I can understand though.  Thelma (possibly from Australia because the West Coast Eagles is an Australian football team) had a birthday!  I hope she has/had a good one even though she didn't get a $20 discount from her favorite (I'm guessing) team.  I got the discount and it's not my birthday.  I wish Thelma knew her email address so she could tell the West Coast Eagles....


Getting other peoples' email causes guilt.

For example, will Thel and her plus one ever know about the birthday lunch she was invited to?


Also, this:


Thelma in South Africa has a booking to possibly, hopefully go over things like "What's my email address?" and she didn't get the reminder about the booking.

Go anyway Thelma!

Possibly Thelma signed up for the help because she kept not getting things that were being sent to her.

Persistence abounds though, and I applaud that.  Nerisha just wanted to send the newsletter!  She tried from home!  She tried again and again!  I hope she just printed and delivered it in person in the end.






While we're on an international tour of Thelmas, here's this:


To save you the step (let me use Google Translate so you don't have to), here's what it says:

I got multiple identical emails because Thelmas worldwide believe if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

The most intriguing emails directed to a different Thelma have come recently.  A whole series of them.   Here are just two of many:


I could really cause some havoc here in someone's life.  I could edit all sorts of background information.

I won't though.  Thelma solidarity. 


Your secrets are safe with me, Thelma Aniceto.  Home means Nevada to me too.  And if these reports are going to be negative, I'm glad I'm able to shield you from the bad news.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Singin In the Rain!

I loved the show Mark was in last weekend.  So did he!  I love seeing my children enjoy good opportunities.

Friday night my parents and Liliana and Carolina came to the show.  I got a picture of him with my mom but not with anyone else.


I did however eat part of Lili's and Lina's milkshakes.  I'm not sure that's relevant but just to let you know, I was glad they were there.

Here's a picture of Mark with his good friend who came to watch him.


Friends are worth a lot.

Here are some of my favorite shots of him dancing and singing:

He's the one with suspenders in most of the pictures. 

Geri came Friday too and was here for the weekend.



I am grateful for supportive family, time together and seeing my children happy.  I like drama kids.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Books I read April 2017




True Sisters by Sandra Dallas *

I like everything I've ever read by Sandra Dallas.  Except I didn't finish this one.  It's about Mormon pioneers, specifically the Martin Handcart company.  Since the author isn't a Mormon, it was interesting to hear her take on a story I am pretty familiar with.  I stopped reading it halfway through.  As expected, everyone started dying.  I didn't want to read a book about everyone dying.  I know how it ends.



I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg ***

Fannie Flagg is another author I always like.  I liked this one.  The title is misleading.  It seems like it would be about unrequited love but it's about how the main character wants to commit suicide and her plans keep getting thwarted.  I didn't 100% believe that the characters were realistic but I also didn't care because the book was enjoyable.



All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven ***

We read this one for book club and I liked it.  It's one of those YA fiction books that I would prefer my YA not to read!  I found myself siding with the apparently too strict parents.  It's also about suicide.  And not as light-hearted as the first book.  It's also about mental illness.  It made for a really good discussion at book club.




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