Monday, July 31, 2017

Emma and Mark

During lunch

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

Mark:  So now he's my dad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like my life.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Grateful Friday

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

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

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

2015 was the year the kids swam in Walden Pond:

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

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

...and this kid started public school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm feeling grateful today.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

We are family

Yesterday Emma was rejoicing that today she only has to work at one of her jobs.  Adam said, "You should trade cars with me and when you get home, you guys should drive up to Tibble Creek."

"To what end?" I asked.  He's really the one that likes to go on drives.  I like being with him, but when he's not there, the drive seems pointless.

"I think I'd rather just be home," Emma said.

Adam shrugged.


Last night we sat on our deck and watched the lightning.  It was a spectacular show punctuated by a few stray fireworks left over from past festivities.

While we were out there, Adam was looking at pictures and videos his family sent him from their vacation at Banks Lake.  Adam said, "Next year I want to go to Banks Lake with them."

"Let's do it," I said.

They were texting back and forth and Adam said next year we are coming too.

Brian texted back, "But Thelma doesn't like the boat or waverunners."

Adam replied, "But she likes pontoon boats, I'll rent one of those."

I don't know that I do necessarily enjoy pontoon boats any more than other boats or waverunners.  I like them all fine, for about 10 minutes.  Then I'm ready to find a place to sit and read.

From the first New Year's we spent with Adam's family and they were all watching football in one room and I was reading in the next room, I've been sort of the weird one.

They love water (boating, swimming, waverunners) and camping and sports.   I love sitting on the beach, reading and hotels and eating garlic fries at Safeco Field. 

The other day when Marianne and Clarissa were here, we were talking about the inevitable in-laws that will join our families some day.

If one of my children marry someone that doesn't like theater or British television or moving furniture or discussing current events (I don't know...trying to come up with things that define our family here), I hope we're as nice to them about it as Adam's family is to me.  They're a little mystified by my boring preferences, but they mostly just shrug and are happy to see me anyway.

It's nice to belong.  Even if you're the weird one.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How it's supposed to be

Monday Marianne and Clarissa came for the evening and stayed the night.  We played games and laughed and ate and watched the 24th of July fireworks from the deck and it was wonderful.

Olivia and Edgar are coming to town next weekend.  I asked Olivia if they'd like to come for dinner.  She said, "Well...there are a lot of us."

I said, " have kids?  Never mind."

I talked her into it and I'm glad.  We have had a drought of people-over-for-dinner ever since we left Washington.  Did something about the arid climate turn me into a hermit?  Is that a thing?

Last night we had the Porters over for dinner.  They are our brand new across the street neighbors.  In my email on Monday, I told Braeden we had met them all at church and that they seem like a better more talented version of our family.  Braeden said, "Most families are better and more talented versions of our family, but you didn't tell me the most important part, are the daughters cute?"

Adam and I sometimes text back and forth with the information we get from Braeden when he's emailing.  I told Adam what Braeden had said and he said it was weird to think they are more talented than us.  He texted me, "It doesn't make any sense to compare.  It just biases against visible talents.  No one ever says, 'Hey, look at that invisible guy!'  But that's some talent."

Which is true.  We'll be grateful for our invisibility talents?

When Emma heard me say they were a better version of us, she said, "Hmph!"

So I guess that tells you a difference between Adam and Braeden and Emma.

But I digress (that could be the title of this entire blog).

We enjoyed having the Porters for dinner.  It turns out we know some of the same people and we've had some parallel experiences.  Their children are very similar to ours.  They are our sort of people, which we already suspected, but it was confirmed over plates of pulled pork and corn on the cob and watermelon. 

Life is meant to be shared over a dinner table.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I miss primary

Sunday I was asked to substitute in primary.  My class was the six year olds.  It was delightful.

In sharing time, they were asked to draw a picture of something they could do to keep the sabbath day holy.

One little girl was sitting morosely and not drawing.  I asked her, "Do you want to draw something you can do on Sunday?"

She looked at me with a drop dead look (that I hitherto thought only Emma was capable of).  Without breaking off the stare, she ripped her paper into two.

It was awesome.  Because 1) I'm not her mom and 2) I'm not even her regular teacher so what do I care if she rips up her paper?

One little girl leaned over to me and looked at me suspiciously and asked, "Are we doing anything fun today?"

I nodded enthusiastically because you have to sell it.

Shortly after we made it to class, a little boy bonked his head against a chair and immediately started to cry.  "And this is after I got bit my dog Charlie yesterday," he wailed.

I quickly pulled some goldfish crackers out of my bag, placed there for just this sort of situation.  "Here," I said, "This may help you feel better."

He smiled and took a few crackers.  "They're the snack that smiles back," I said.

That was apparently new to all of them and they found that incredibly wise.  All of the sudden their suspicion of me had vanished and they were on my side.

After the lesson, we were playing a game.  They would roll the dice and depending on where they landed on the board, I would ask them a question, they would pick a song to sing, or they would draw a picture on the chalkboard related to the lesson.  After each turn, I tossed them a goldfish cracker.  I said, "This is like at Seaworld, you are the dolphins and I'm tossing you fish."

Well that, my friends, was hysterically funny.  I am hilarious (to six year olds).  Then they each related their best Seaworld stories.

A little boy told me in great detail about being in the splash zone and getting wet during the dolphin show.  "It wasn't a dolphin though.  I can't remember what it was."

"Orca?" I asked, "Killer whale?"

"No," he said, like I wasn't very smart.  "I'm pretty sure it was a shark that splashed me."

"Maybe," I said and I tossed him another goldfish cracker.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Carry on

Saturday's adventuring found us in American Fork Canyon.

We went to Silver Lake Flats (not to be mistaken with the two other Silver Lakes in those mountains).  There seemed to be a dearth of good lake names.

Maybe it's because of the holiday weekend (24th of July, it's a thing here), but the words of a hymn kept ringing in my mind:

Firm as the mountains around us,
Stalwart and brave we stand

On the rock our fathers planted
For us in this goodly land—

The rock of honor and virtue,
Of faith in the living God. 


They raised his banner triumphant—
Over the desert sod.

We’ll build on the rock they planted
A palace to the King.

Into its shining corridors
Our songs of praise we’ll bring,

For the heritage they left us,
Not of gold or of worldly wealth,

But a blessing everlasting
Of love and joy and health.

And we hear the desert singing:
Carry on, carry on, carry on!
Hills and vales and mountains ringing:
Carry on, carry on, carry on!
Holding aloft our colors,
We march in the glorious dawn.
O youth of the noble birthright,
Carry on, carry on, carry on!
*text by Ruth May Fox

It was a lovely day.  I'm pretty sure I did hear the hills and vales and mountains ringing.  And this is what my feet looked like by the end (hiking in sandals again).

Happy 24th of July!  I am liking it around here and I will carry on.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Grateful Friday

This has been the summer of Mark.  And then it will be the fall of Mark (sounds serious) and then the winter of Mark and so on.

He's who I have left and I'm really happy I enjoy being around him so much.

Yesterday we went to Salt Lake to visit with my parents and grandma.  He was in charge of the playlist in the car.

After we had lunch, the two Marks went to Callister for horseshoes.  It's a store that sells cowboy/horse kind of stuff and I'm sure the smaller Mark fit right in with his Star Wars t-shirt, shorts and flip flops.

My mom and grandma and I did some of our own errands.  When we were at the grocery store, I felt sort of like a little kid again.  It's been a while since I have grocery shopped with them.  I considered asking my mom if I could have a treat if I was good (my kids got it from somewhere) but then I remembered she bought me lunch.

The Marks ended up at the doctor's office where my dad had an appointment.  The office is right by the hospital in the enormous Intermountain Health Center complex.  Mark texted his dad, "I'm at the hospital."

Adam texted back, "What?"

Whose idea was it to give Mark a phone anyway?

When we finished our errands and had delivered Grandma home (and helped put away her stuff), my mom and I went to the Marks.  The parking lot is huge and my mom wanted to park near their car so she could give me the sunglasses that were left there a few weekends ago.  We drove around looking and finally found it.

Then I noticed my phone:

It was from Mark.  He had been watching us from the 6th floor.

When I saw him I said, "I didn't see your texts.  I was driving."

Whose idea was it to give Mark a phone anyway?

Phone or not.  I'm grateful for that kid.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Let's do this!

The other day, my stake president asked me to make sure I worked with youth with my Temple and Family History Consultant calling.

It took me a few days, but then I remembered I have a youth living right here under my roof!

I know, right?

I asked Mark which line of the family he wanted to work on.  He said Davis.

So we moved past the Linn Adams and Lester Van Horns (there are two of each, alternating--Adam broke the pattern by not being a Lester Van Horn.

We got to Mary Hitchcock (who was the first Lester Van Horn's mother) and then looked at her family.  What a mess!

Mary is one of 15 children, her parents listed are Heber and Elizabeth.  The oldest and 13th children are both named Lois and then Heber has a second wife (after Elizabeth died) named Lois.  They have no children but eight of Heber's children were born after Elizabeth died.

Confused yet?

There were obvious mistakes (the wife Lois and one daughter Lois had the same ID number for starters).

Mark and I decided to make a "forensics wall" to try to keep it all straight.

It's possible we've watched a lot of British murder mysteries.

We have pretty much concluded there was an Elizabeth but the one that died in 1806 was not married to Heber.  She was married to Jacob.  Elizabeth is buried at Copp's Hill Burying Ground in Boston.  We've been there!

(but she's not related to us)

The 1800s are no match for Mark and me!

(or the other way around)

Wish us luck.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

An Emma update

Yesterday Marianne asked, "So did Emma make it home?  Adam's really great but I would think Emma getting home would make a mention on your blog."

Emma made it home.

Late.  And when I blogged yesterday morning, she was still sleeping.  She woke up and we chatted and then she went to work.  Here's hoping all will get unpacked and put away eventually.

Last night I was washing blueberries before dinner and Emma said, "I know the reason I've never liked blueberries.  Because I grew up eating these."  She pulled a little container of blueberries from Geri's yard.  "They just can't compare."

She had a great trip and I took screenshots of some of the pictures Adri (who is an amazing photographer!) put on instagram. (So quality is diminished by multiple screens, not Adri's fault.)

Emma and Vanessa at Mukilteo Beach

Emma and Vanessa at Deception Pass


Emma on top of the Space Needle

Adri, Vanessa and Emma at Woodland Park Zoo.  Adri said it made the Hogle Zoo look like a knock off Walmart brand zoo.  Pretty much.
Geri sent me this picture from when they went to the Canadian border:

Emma, Adri, Vanessa and Raelyn

And this one from the waverunner:

Here's a picture Megan sent me from when they went to a play Freja and Britta were in:

I think what it comes down to is when it comes to aunts and grandma's, Emma is in pretty good shape.

Seeing the pictures and hearing about the adventures made me miss Seattle.  It's a nice place.  Especially in the summer.  I'm looking forward to going there next month.

And then there will be college.

As I wrote down the dates Braeden and Emma can check in to their dorms on my calendar and got them registered for New Student Orientation, it made me feel a little melancholy.  Time is marching on.

Have you seen this IKEA ad?  It could be Emma and me.

One of us is sad about this college thing and it isn't her.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I think he's a keeper

I dropped a library book in the tub (!) and I had carefully dried the pages and I was using some clamps to flatten them out.  (These are the best ideas someone who dropped a library book in the tub can come up with.)  He took the clamps off and turned them the other direction because I was further damaging the book.

He told me not to feel guilty about me being the one who gets to fly to Washington, D.C. with Braeden to go through the temple with Stella.  (In fact it was his idea that I be the one.)

He left for work a little late so he could be Mark's taxi instead of me.

He warned me about some typos in my blog so I could fix them.

He texted me to let him know when I was done at the chiropractor.  Then he directed me to a park where he brought me lunch and we had a picnic in the shade.

These are just a few things in the last 24 hours.  Some people just keep getting better and more likable all the time and Adam is one of those people.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekend adventures

Emma is still on her adventure (she's had a glorious time).  She will be home tonight (fingers crossed and prayers said) and we will be happy to have her back.

We had our own adventures this weekend though.  Adam and Mark and I headed to Vernal.

When Marianne and I had braces growing up, our orthodontist also had two other patients who were sisters that lived in Vernal.  Without fail, he'd ask us how Vernal was.  We'd say, "Um...we're not from Vernal."

Then he would explain that he had two patients from Vernal who were also sisters.

Every month.

I told Marianne we were going to Vernal and I could finally tell Dr. Hurst how Vernal was.  She said, "Is he still with us?  Maybe you should call him."

And I don't know if Dr. Hurst is still with us or not.  In addition to not being great at remembering which set of sisters were from where, he wasn't a great orthodontist.

I needed braces a second time.

But I've been to Vernal now!

We left Friday after Adam got home from work and had a pleasant drive over the Uintahs and across the state.  I'd never been beyond Heber in that direction and I always like seeing new country.  We stayed in a Springhill Suites, the kind that is decorated in the modern style Mark likes so well.  We hadn't been there for a minute when Mark hit the pool.  After awhile Adam and I joined him (I just got in the hot tub) so that was sort of unusual.   Usually I just let them swim while I read in the quiet hotel room.

A big sign on the wall where the pool was said not to let children 14 or younger swim unaccompanied by an adult.  We've been letting Mark swim unaccompanied by an adult for years in hotel pools.  He usually gets up before anyone else in the morning and goes for a swim.  But since he's a way better swimmer than I am, I think he's just as safe whether I'm there or not.  It will be nice when he's 15 and we can live within the rules.

Saturday morning we headed to Dinosaur National Monument.

There's a huge indoor quarry (air conditioned!) there where you can see the fossils.  There was apparently a flood and then a logjam (bonejam?) of dinosaur bones so they're all crammed into the same spot.

It was pretty incredible to see.

From there we took a little drive and then a few little hikes to see petroglyphs.

It was beautiful and the petroglyphs were neat to see.  We took one slightly bigger hike up to see some of them.

This is partway up when we stopped to catch our breath.

Mark clamored up rocks like a mountain goat and ran down the trail and I told Adam it must be nice to be a 14 year old boy.

The view was beautiful (there's our little Subaru!).

Adam and Mark--Mark likes to stand on outcroppings.  He said he "feels powerful."
It was HOT but Mark gave me lots of drinks out of his Camelbak once my water bottle was empty and just like the other men in my life, he takes good care of me.

We headed back to Vernal and to a really good Mexican restaurant.  The decorations were delightfully quirky.

For example, this bull's head was stuck into the wall.

Why?  There was red paint on its horns and ears from when the wall was painted.

After lunch we went to the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum.  Sheesh!  Did someone get paid by the letter to come up with that name?

It was a great museum though.

Outside there was a dinosaur garden.  I can't see a T-rex, triceratops or "long neck" (as Braeden called them) without thinking of my kids.

I used to give them dinosaur vitamins and there were three kinds.  Through reasons known only to them, Mark insisted on the T-rex, Emma wanted the triceratops and Braeden the long necks.  Woe be to me if I gave a kid the wrong vitamin.

Little kids are weird.  And then they grow up and become big kids that are weird.

I like my weird kids though.  It's fun to go on trips with Adam and Mark.  We travel well together.

Adam said, "We should come back and bring the kids."

I guess he meant Emma and Braeden.  And I agree. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Grateful Friday

Things I'm loving // a summer list:

-my new stainless steel water bottle (worth the hype from both Marianne and Emma)

-nightly scripture reading on the deck

-reading good books

-drumsticks (the ice cream variety, not the musical variety)

-filling the watering can every morning to make the flower pot rounds

-lunch with Mark and sometimes Emma too

-counting down days until Braeden's home


-fresh fruit

-weekend adventures

-Maverik (see above)

-air conditioning

-stirring up a pitcher of Crystal Light every night for dinner (I love that stuff.  I don't have enough respect for dire warnings about aspartame.)

-nothing too dramatic happening

-a book showing up from Amazon that I didn't order (Marianne ordered it and had it sent to me.  She's an eclipse evangelist.  Is that a thing?)

-planning to see the eclipse (see above)

-stunning sunsets

-my feet are not cold (unless we watch a movie in the basement which is an icebox)

 Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.
Marcus Aurelius

Thursday, July 13, 2017

My favorite child

My favorite missionary is coming home soon.  (Oh?  I mentioned that?)

I think about it all the time.   For example, when emailing him last Monday, I realized I'll only email him 5 more times.

I am more than ready to hug him and listen to him and talk to him and laugh with him and trick him into converting to 1% milk.  I know his favorite cereals and I'm not afraid to use them.  Even with a few "intermissions," two years has been a very long time without my boy.

We got his final travel itinerary.

The same kind person that sent me the above picture of the missionaries at Williamsburg sent me the tracking number for his bike that has been sent home.

We found out the procedure for him getting released by the stake president (call when we leave the airport and he'll be ready for us).

This is getting real and I couldn't be more happy.

My favorite traveling girl is on a trip with her friends.

Happy girl at Grandma's house

They went to Seattle in intrepid little Loki.  I didn't think it was such a grand idea but Adam did so I guess you know who has the most clout on such matters.

Here they are miniature golfing (with Freja) in Snohomish.  The game looks intense....

The lucky girls are staying with Geri who is an excellent hostess.  She is helping them with their plans and helping me feel better because she assured us she will make sure they go to bed early the night before they drive home.

It's nice to have a mother on both ends.

Geri hosted some of Emma's Washington friends for dinner which was very kind.

from front left, Addy, Freja, Emma, Morgan, Adri and Vanessa.  I love each one of these girls and the role they've played in Emma's life.

Last night I was about asleep when I saw she'd texted.  She said, "Are you awake?  Can I call you when we get back to Grandma's?"

That's worth waiting up for when you have an incredibly independent daughter who you haven't heard from nearly enough since she's been gone.

She was bubbly and happy and had had a wonderful day showing her friends the Seattle sights.

I'm home with my favorite sidekick.  Mark is our only child that doesn't mind shopping.  I'll say, "Hey do you want to go to the store?"

He'll say, "Sure," and then inevitably wonder if there will be food for him involved.  (The answer is usually yes.)

Our other two kids shop under duress (they always have) but Mark is game.  He used to wander away to look at toys, now he wanders away to look at electronics but he touches base often and he's happy to give his opinion on anything and everything.  He's also strong and takes it as a personal challenge to carry all the groceries in when we get home.  We talk about current events and cars while we drive and he prefers the oldies radio station.  He knows more 80s music than I do and I was alive then.

The other day we were doing a few errands and he named a few other stores we should maybe "stop by while we're out."  He then noticed Old Navy was having a 75% off clearance sale and he thought we should check it out.

I asked, "Are you sure you want to?"  I felt like we'd been shopping long enough.

"Mom," he said, draping his arm around my shoulder, "the day is young."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Not my email

At our family reunion I was talking to some of my cousins about the emails that I get that aren't intended for me (like you do).  Micah and Cedric said I should change my email address to thelmabutnotthatone.

"But then I'd miss out on all the emails," I said.

I have received A LOT of email from the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). According to one of the emails, they are "beyond livid."  While I can empathize, I do after all have the squirrels, I have yet to do what they've requested and that is to send in $1.

And it's true.  They all emailed me.  Multiple times.

Zendental in California continues to email me and I'd like to refer the DCCC to them.  At least to the zen part.  I think they could use it.  The tone of some of the emails have a definite hysteria to them.

Well, Barney.  Paranoid much?  If the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is watching me, do they have any squirrel suggestions?

Here's another one that made me feel like I should be helpful but I wasn't.

I didn't ever email Fiona.  I did receive it.  Sorry Fiona.

Finally, here are two sort of bizarre emails:  

Russ, I appreciate your upbeat attitude (will you email the DCCC and encourage them to be more optimistic?) but I think if you have a "nice new apple keyboard", probably all the keys should work.  I spilled Diet Coke on a keyboard once, incapacitating the Z key.  So I'm here to tell you that if all the keys don't work, even the Z, it makes life harder.

This is maybe the best email I've ever received:

It's kind of like saying, "Please knock on my door.  I won't answer it, I'm not home."


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